This VPN provider didn’t leave its name up to interpretation and it represents its main goal clearly – retaining private access to the Internet by hiding your IP with a VPN. But does it live up to its name? How does it compare to other VPN services? We’ll test that fully, especially in areas such as logging data, torrenting, streaming, bypassing VPN blocks, ease of use, and the degree of security. Furthermore, we will focus on speed and latency when connected to their servers, since they offer the largest server base on the market. So, without delay, here’s our Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN review.
Private Internet Access (PIA) Features
We’ll begin our review of Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN with some of its top features:
Private Internet Access (PIA) is owned by Kape Technologies. This is an is a United States-based corporation with head offices in the United Kingdom. Neither of the two is ideal since both countries are part of the 5, 9, and 14-Eyes alliances. However, it is not a cause of concern because of the feature below.
The VPN provider has a strict zero-log policy and doesn’t store your traffic history nor keeps tabs on your browsing activities.
Number of Servers
Private Internet Access offers 29600 VPN servers in 77 countries, making it the VPN provider with the largest number of servers. For comparison, most of the top-tier VPN providers offer between 3000 and 5500 servers.
We began our speed test with a base download speed of 75 Mbps. When we connected to a Private Internet Access VPN server in the same country (in Europe), we saw a reduction of 13%. Connecting to a VPN server in the US, we noticed a reduction in speed of close to 50%. A server in Germany showed a speed decrease by close to 20%, while a Canadian VPN server gave us far better results than the US – it only reduced download speed by 32%. In our test, we’ve had the worst result when connecting to an Asian server (Hong Kong). Our speed dropped by nearly 80%.
Bandwidth and Data Usage
PIA offers unlimited bandwidth and unmetered data usage when connected to any of their servers. While many VPN services tend to limit their bandwidth even after offering unlimited (with an asterisks) bandwidth, Private Internet Access doesn’t seem to limit the user bandwidth. So, if you are a power-user that require a lot of traffic to flow through the VPN tunnels, PIA seems like a pretty good option.
No IP or DNS leaks
When we used a few test sites to check the VPN, we discovered no IPv4, IPv6, or DNS leaks. Seems like a solid solution to hide your online identity.
PIA offers AES 128-bit encryption by default. However, you can change the application settings to increase it to AES-256-bit, a golden industry-standard.
Streaming Service Unblocking
Besides the ability to bypass Netflix VPN block (US, DE, UK, NL, MX, JP), PIA unblocked:
- BBC iPlayer
- Amazon Prime Video
Private Internet Access offers 10 concurrent connections to the VPN on one user account. This isn’t as high as seen in our Windscribe review, but still, more than what most providers offer.
Private Internet Access (PIA) supports WireGuard, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP protocols. The only exception is their iOS app since it only uses IPSec.
Does Private Internet Access work in China?
Private Internet Access cannot reliably bypass the Great Firewall of China. Some users reported minor success with the L2TP protocol, but this could be a one-off event.
Here are some of the additional features of Private Internet Access (PIA) that might prove useful:
Every VPN server in PIA’s infrastructure is safe for P2P transfer without compromising your privacy.
Private Internet Access comes MACE, a built-in ad, tracker, and malware blocker. It’s available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android, but not iOS.
PIA comes with support for SOCKS5 protocol on certain servers, allowing you to trade a little bit of security for an increase in VPN speed.
This PIA feature kills Internet traffic automatically if your connection drops, thus preventing identity and location from leaking. A kill switch will be extremely useful for those who have unstable internet connection. While protecting your data is the utmost priority, a VPN with kill switch will come to the rescue.
This feature allows you to choose which apps pass through the VPN tunnel, and which should use your Internet connection directly.
This is perfect for those who want to make VPN always on. You can choose to forward ports in the app or through the VPN setup on routers.
24/7 Customer Support
PIA offers 24/7 Customer Service via live chat, contact form, or social media. From our tests, they were pretty responsive. The email support seems a bit slow compared to many other competitors. However, the live chat and social media support team were quick enough.
Private Internet Access (PIA) Installation and User Interface
PIA offers applications for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, which are minimalistic, use a Dark Grey-Green theme, intuitive, and user-friendly. As soon as you enter your username and password, you can press the big Power button to be automatically connected to the fastest VPN server nearby. As a way to check a VPN, you can see your real IP and VPN IP side-by-side. Tapping on the current location brings a list of countries and servers, sorted by latency. To narrow down the massive list, you can use the search bar at the top, and bookmark your favorite servers.
What else is Private Internet Access compatible with?
PIA can be installed on routers that support pfSense, DD-WRT, and Tomato, and offers VPN browser extensions for Opera, Chrome, and Firefox. So, you can easily integrate the service with any of the popular operating systems, browsers, or devices.
Private Internet Access (PIA) Pricing
Although it has no free plans nor does it offer a free trial, PIA has three paid tiers:
- 1-month plan – $9.95/month
- 1-year plan – $3.33/month or $39.95/year with discount (regular price: $119.40/year)
- 2-year plan – $2.69/month or $69.95/2 years with discount and 2 months free (regular price: $258.70/2 years)
All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and the provider offers one of the most affordable 2-year plans on the market. It even beat the cheapest VPN providers in the industry, NordVPN, and CyberGhost VPN, which require a 3-year commitment to reach or beat this price. You can also retain anonymity by paying with cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, for example) and all major gift cards such as Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy, etc.
- Zero-log policy
- 29600+ servers across 77 countries
- Supports paying with Bitcoin and gift cards
- Torrenting supported on all servers
- Unblocks major streaming services
- 30-day money refund guarantee
- Among the cheapest premium VPN services
- Built-in ad, tracker, and malware blocker
- Minimalistic, easy-to-use apps
- 10 simultaneous VPN connections
- Up-to-date VPN protocols
- 24/7 Customer Service
- Based in the US with head offices in the UK
- Inconsistent, sometimes slow VPN speed
- Doesn’t work in China
Our review of Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN has come to an end. We concluded you’ll undoubtedly get the bang for your buck, especially since you can remain anonymous by paying with cryptocurrency and gift cards. A great bonus to that is the ability to establish 10 VPN connections. Furthermore, the security is not only on-par with other premium VPN providers but proven in reality. PIA had multiple chances to assist a government investigation with user data, and couldn’t. P2P transfer is also supported on every server, and users can unblock some major streaming servers. We would love if PIA worked in China the VPN speeds weren’t so unpredictable and sometimes slow.
Private Internet Access Review
Private Internet Access is a powerful VPN service for anyone wants to protect their online identity.