Does Private Internet Access Work With uTorrent?

TORRENTS Updated on: 16 November 2018

Yes, PIA works with uTorrent, how could it not?

When living a pirate’s life, the VPNs are your top ships, leading you across the treacherous seas of the cyberworld. They will keep your activities invisible to anyone who’s even thinking about tracking your traffic.

No longer will you meet any opposition when downloading copyright-protected material. It happens that some users will receive warnings from their ISP if they are detected to torrent illegally. The complaints of the copyright holders and the DMCA are usually heeded.

As such, there’s no better way to override these interdictions and conduct your torrenting under the radar than by using VPNs. And it just so happens that PIA is one of the best for this, not necessarily because of the crazy-speeds it brings, but because of the no-logs policy as well.

There are plenty of VPNs out there who wave about the no-logs flag, but few of them are actually genuinely sticking by that principle. PIA is definitely one of them.

1. Top of the line torrenting features

Putting aside the genuine zero-logging policy that PIA takes to the next level, we can also talk about an evident support shown towards P2P filesharing users. Torrenting is actively pushed forward.

No torrents are ever blocked or banned, no matter their content.

Here are the main features, just to accommodate you with the level of professionalism and excellence that PIA provides:

Kill Switch – Any good VPN should, in theory, hide your real IP address from torrent peers. However, even the best ones out there are prone to small glitches and errors from time to time.

If the VPN disconnects, your IP will be uncovered and stripped naked in front of the world, flashing all your private parts for a good show.

To avoid this, we have the kill-switch, an automatic system that kills off your internet connection when the VPN fails to connect. This will keep you and your privacy enclosed in an impregnable cyber-sphere.

Port Forwarding – a special software for PC and Android that allows you to access higher-level speeds while torrenting, especially if you’re on a private network that enforces certain regulations to its users.

SOCKS5 Proxy – the vast majority of BitTorrent clients allow their users to use proxy connections for one more step towards perfect anonymity. In this sense, a Socks5 proxy is the single most effective way of doing this.

PIA gives you access to their Netherlands-based Socks5 Proxy with any subscription.

2. Proxy or VPN? Or both?

PIA offers its clients both a VPN service and anonymous SOCKS proxy services, irrespective of the plan you purchased. Therefore, you have many options to choose from with regard to the methods you use to make your torrenting anonymous.

You have access to 5 simultaneous connections as well, so you can totally use both VPN+Proxy at the same with double if not triple the benefits.

1. Torrenting with the PIA VPN

There’s nothing easier than directly using the VPN client when using uTorrent. Most users prefer this because it’s more comfortable and swifter.

Advantages:

  • Strong encryption protocols
  • Kill Switch – prevents IP leaking
  • Easy to set up – the process is automatic when you start the torrent client

Step-by-step process

First of all, you have to choose the right encryption strength. I would recommend PIA’s default 128-bit AES with 2048-bit RSA handshake. It’s the best of both worlds when it comes to security and speed. It should be a little faster than the 256-bit encryption.

In order to switch from one to the other, just go to the advanced settings section on the main PIA client. From there, search for the Encryption heading.

Secondly, you must enable the Kill-Switch. The whole purpose of a VPN is to make sure no one can get a glimpse at your real IP address, not even trackers or torrent peers. If the VPN disconnects for some reason, you’ll have a backup plan on the ready.

To activate it, go to the advanced settings section in the client. And if you’re there, consider looking at the IPv6 and DNS leak protection options. Generally, torrent users are tracked down by monitoring the IPv4 address which is protected by the VPN as a default.

But then again, you can never have too much protection, can you?

Thirdly, you have to know which location to choose when torrenting. What most users don’t know is that, while PIA gives you access to any server location to use when torrenting, they actually reroute the torrent traffic.

This, in turn, will increase the latency and slow down the speeds slightly. As such, you should avoid the rerouting and choose torrenting-friendly locations from the get-go.

They are:

  • The Netherlands, where the Socks5 proxy is located
  • Switzerland

Last but not least, check if the VPN is actually working by using an IP tracking torrent. The reasons could be many for why PIA is not working properly, and your IP could be leaked.

2. Torrenting with PIA’s SOCKS5 Proxy

On any PIA subscription, you have access to an unlimited bandwidth and great speeds on the Socks5 Proxy in the Netherlands. What’s more important is that nearly all BitTorrent clients of PC have support for such proxy protocols by default.

Pros of using Proxy over VPN:

  • No IP leaks if the client disconnects from the network
  • Generally faster (no encryption is set up, so no time delays)
  • The Torrent IP is different than the IP of the browser

Cons:

  • Reduces the number of available peers
  • Some torrent clients selectively ignore the proxy settings
  • Your ISP might throttle or straight-out block some torrents if there is no encryption in place

Step-by-step process

Firstly, you need to get your new credentials for the Socks5 proxy because they’re not the same as the ones linked to your account.

Just log in to the account panel on the PIA website, and scroll down until you see the PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS Username and Password section.

Then, just click on the Regenerate Username and Password button. You just copy-paste those credentials in uTorrent when setting it up, and that’s it. You’re also going to need the Server Hostname/Address, and the Port.

Secondly, you have to configure your torrent client and the proxy settings. To do this, just navigate to uTorrent’s settings and access the Connection section. There, look for the proxy settings and make the following changes:

  • Type – SOCKS5
  • Proxy Address – proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com
  • Port – 1080
  • Authentication – Yes
  • Username/Password – Generated in previous step
  • Use the proxy for peer connections and hostname lookup – Yes

Thirdly, you have to work your way around the proxy privacy settings as well. This is just to make sure that the proxy doesn’t leak out any confidential information. Also, it would determine the torrent client to follow these guidelines instead of ignoring the proxy tunneling altogether.

The recommended settings for uTorrent are:

  • Disable features that leak identifying information – Yes
  • Disable connections unsupported by proxy – Yes
  • Disable local DNS lookups – Yes

Finally, to make sure that the proxy doesn’t encounter any problems or stumble upon an error, try using a Linux test torrent.

If you can’t find any seeds on a torrent that should reasonably be swarming with them, then it means your ISP is blocking out port 1080. As such, you have to resort to the old-fashioned VPN method instead.

3. Torrenting with PIA’s VPN + Proxy together

It’s worth knowing that this method doesn’t give any significant privacy advantages, so most people don’t use it at all. It will also affect your speed, when compared to using either the VPN or Proxy alone.

The reason you choose to use both at the same time is that your torrent IP will be different than your browser IP address.

When I last recommended you use the Netherlands or the Switzerland IP’s for torrenting, I neglected to mention one thing. You will start getting weird google results in Dutch or other strange languages that you most probably don’t know. I mean, let’s face it, Dutch doesn’t even sound like a legit language. It’s more like the babbling of an LSD-stricken Elon Musk. And we’ve all seen what he can do with pot.

That’s because the network identified your IP as being from another country, and so it provides you with relevant search results.

In order to avoid this, just use a local VPN server near your home turf, as well as the Netherlands IP address for torrenting purposes.

To do this, follow the next steps:

  • Follow the aforementioned setup instructions for the proxy
  • Before opening your torrent client, connect to a VPN server of your choice

If you somehow open your torrent client first, and then connect to the VPN, you will receive a proxy error. What happens is your IP address changes when connecting to the VPN, thus interfering with the proxy protocols.

Most probably, you will be disconnected from the network and you will have to wait for a few minutes before trying again. This time boot up the VPN first.

3. Common problems with uTorrent on a proxied PIA connection

Some users reported having problems with using uTorrent when on a PIA subscription. Apparently, nothing they did could fix the issue. Everything just came to “Connecting to peers 0.0%”, with no changes whatsoever.

In order to counter this sort of issue, pay attention to the way you tweak the settings:

  • The NAT-PMP must be enabled
  • Randomize port must be enabled
  • Resolve hostname – disabled
  • Make sure you’re using the correct SOCKS5 credentials. Just to be sure, go to the PIA control panel and generate new login info
  • Double-check if the port is set to 1080, the proxy protocol is set to SOCKS5, and the proxy address is proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com
  • You could also try replacing the proxy address with an actual proxy IP address. You can get the list from the PIA website

Other users have complained that, when they turn off the VPN and the kill-switch, the IP of the torrent client is shown as the real one, not the proxied one. In this case, selecting the port mapping option could be of help.

Moreover, in order to check if everything is working as it should, you should use a few IP checkers to see if the security protocols are set up correctly. More specifically, if the Proxy servers are established.

Sometimes, using PIA without the SOCKS5 proxy enabled will slow down torrenting speeds considerably. The cause remains unknown for now but it’s probably something from the user’s end.

Ideally, people who have this problem should file a report with the PIA support team and ask for clarifications. The ticket system is perfect for such situations, let alone the fact that the Customer Support is extremely prompt and provides detailed answers.

From what I’ve seen on the forums, in order to have uTorrent work seamlessly with a proxied VPN connection on PIA, you must enable port forwarding, copy the provided port into uTorrent, and then see if it works.

To avoid getting slower speeds, disable the UTP, along with any other traffic management options in the torrenting client. They interfere with the networking protocols of the proxied PIA connection.

You should also set the Protocol Encryption’s mode of operation in BitTorrent to Force. You can find this section in the BitTorrent category of the uTorrent preferences. Enabling this will encrypt all outgoing connections, and it will pause all processes should the connection fall.

These are the options for the protocol encryption:

On the Outgoing menu, you can choose the type of encryption you want uTorrent to use, and the encryption is 2-way:

Disabled – this will force all outgoing connections to be unencrypted

Enabled – this will give uTorrent the power of decision over what outgoing connections to encrypt, depending on how the peer responds to the handshake. This is the default option because it allows you to connect to the largest number of peers available.

Forced – this option will ignore all peers that don’t support encryption. Simply put, uTorrent will only connect to the peers that it can encrypt. You should only enable this option if you know your ISP is actively monitoring any outgoing unencrypted connection. It will severely impact your ability to connect to peers.

Also, the Allow incoming legacy connections section basically comes to strengthen your security even more. It will make the torrent client ignore all incoming unencrypted connections.

Disabling IPv6 when using proxied VPN connections through PIA seems like a good solution to most users when they tried to use uTorrent.

From what I could gather, the mistakes people made when configuring their Proxy Privacy Settings were responsible for the problems with uTorrent:

  • Incorrectly inserting the port
  • Incorrect proxy credentials. For this, just generate new ones and it should work
  • When using both SOCKS5 Proxy servers and the basic VPN functions, take care to first boot up the VPN, and then start-up uTorrent
  • If all else fails, turn towards the PIA website. There is plenty of FAQ material there, and many detailed guides showing exactly how to set up your connection to allow for P2P filesharing
  • If this will not solve your problem, contact the support team

4. Conclusion

Private Internet Access VPN works with uTorrent impeccably. In fact, it could be said that one of the core tenets of PIA is to support and promote torrenting. You will never be blocked from downloading any material on the internet, not even copyrighted data.

However, you might come across some problems with setting up the connection, even more, if you want to use both SOCKS5 Proxy servers and a VPN connection.

Following the aforementioned steps should point you in the right direction, hopefully.