What to Expect from this PIA VPN Review?
Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most reliable VPN services out there, offering a wide range of features and a cheaper price tag. PIA has been around for quite some time, but it’s still one of the best. Although its streaming capability needs some improvement, overall, you are looking at a secure, fast, and cheaper VPN. In this detailed Private Internet Access review, we’ll take a closer look at PIA features, pricing, speed, security, customer support, and more. We opened an account, like any customer would, to comprehensively evaluate user experience. From signing up to customer support, we are going to cover all aspects of Private Internet Access.
Pros and Cons
First, let’s give you a brief overview of exactly what we thought about PIA, the parent company and the VPN itself.
About Private Internet Access
The Private Internet Access, a branch of London Trust Media, is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Although Denver is a great place, we were surprised about where PIA is located. I like when my VPN Company is located in a place or country that is not a member of international Surveillance like Hong Kong.
The fact that it’s headquartered in the United States means that Private Internet Access is subject to 14 Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Five Eyes alliances. These are alliances between jurisdictions that make it legal to access citizen’s data. The mere fact that Private Internet Access is headquartered in the United States is definitely a downside. They can be forced to hand over user data.
Another important thing you need to know about Private Internet Access is that they have more than 19,000+ servers in 76 countries. The number of servers as well as where they are located is usually very important. You should make sure you are closer to a server for a fast connection.
Private Internet Access At A Glance
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Number of servers:||35,792+|
|Number of countries:||76|
|Platforms supported:||Android, Windows, Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Linux, iOS, and Mac|
|Supported protocols:||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN|
|Support:||Knowledgebase, email, live chat|
Private Internet Access VPN Plans
Private Internet Access OpenVPN
OpenVPN is a popular VPN software that’s often used because it’s completely secure. OpenVPN is excellent at bypassing firewalls, an important VPN quality, but it doesn’t substantially slow down your connection. The main reason why OpenVPN is so popular is that it’s crowdsourced, not created by an organization. As a result, the VPN community continuously works to ensure surveillance agencies don’t tamper with it.
Private Internet Access VPN Features
- Kill switch
- 10 Simultaneous connections
- Encrypted WiFi
- P2P Support
- Multiple VPN Gateways
Will Private Internet Access Log My Data?
Most VPN services stress the fact that they don’t log user data. This means they won’t know when you are utilizing the VPN, your IP address, and the websites you’re visiting, and for how long you’ve used their VPN service.
Although it’s based in the United States, the company has emphasized time and again that they don’t log customer data. To prove this, Private Internet Access keeps a transparency report showing the number of times they have received a subpoena and the number of times they have responded without any logs. Private Internet Access no logs policy has been verified by different real-life cases.
As a result, you can use the VPN service with complete confidence that your web activity or IP address isn’t being stored or used to track you. The commitment that they don’t log or collect any traffic makes it an excellent VPN service amongst competing services that usually collect user data. As mentioned above, the company releases transparency reports that outline the number of data requests received from government entities. For instance, in 2020, the company received six subpoenas but couldn’t produce any logs.
Does Private Internet Access Have A Kill Switch?
Also known as the network lock feature, a kill switch means that any website or software automatically closes if your VPN connection drops. This means you’ll still be protected from the public network. We are delighted to note that Private Internet Access has a kill switch.
A small downside of PIA VPN is it does not offer split tunneling. This means users can’t be on a public and private network simultaneously. Rather, all your data goes through the same VPN tunnel. This utilizes more bandwidth as compared to split tunneling.
Encryption converts your data into encoded data. This is what prevents other users from accessing your sensitive data without authorization, which is exactly why you need a VPN. The good news is that Private Internet Access allows you to select your encryption method.
Can I Use Private Internet Access For Streaming?
Private Internet Access offers trustworthy access to BBC iPlayer, US Netflix and has a user-friendly VPN app for the Amazon Firestick. Also, our tests found that PIA works perfectly with other streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, and Disney+. Moreover, Private Internet Access fast speeds mean you will not be experiencing any lags. You can enjoy Private Internet Access Netflix streaming without any hassle.
Can I Use Private Internet Access For Torrenting?
Private Internet Access is an excellent option for torrenting. It offers port forwarding, fast upload speeds, unlimited bandwidth, and a no-logs policy. Port forwarding increases the number of torrenting peers that users can communicate with. Also, Private Internet Access allows file sharing and P2P activity on all its servers.
Private Internet Access protocols
Protocols control how data is dispatched through a network. Think of these protocols as different routes that you must take to a specific destination. Some of the routes are shorter and, thus, faster, while others are safer. Therefore, Private Internet Access utilizes different protocols to achieve both security and speed.
PPTP or Point-to-Point Tunneling protocol has been commonly used since the late 1990s. Instead of doing the encryption itself, PPTP builds a tunnel that compresses the data packages. PPTP works with another protocol that performs the encryption. PPTP isn’t so secure on its own.
Try to think of L2TP and IPSec as Robin and Batman. Although Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, also known as L2TP, creates the tunnel, IPSec deals with the encryption, ensuring the tunnel is entirely secure, and checks to verify the data arrived intact. On the other hand, IP Security, otherwise known as IPSec, encrypts the entire data packet or just the single packet message. Together, both L2TP and IPSec make sure the VPN is entirely secure.
SOCKS5 is the proxy that assigns you a new IP address before you are taken to a new location. Although SOCKS needs more bandwidth than a standard VPN, it is not encrypted and, therefore, less secure. It’s for this reason why PIA utilizes SOCKS alongside other encryption methods.
This is a free crowdsourced communication protocol and software application that uses VPN techniques to build secure point-to-point connections in bridged and routed configurations. WireGuard is even faster than OpenVPN.
How Fast Is Private Internet Access?
Every VPN service promises an ultra-reliable network and high speeds, but the reality could be very different. For this reason, we look beyond enthusiastic marketing and put all the VPNs we review through our own tests. We started with the US servers and download speeds from the nearest servers weren’t so impressive at 66Mbps – 75Mbps, slower than other VPN providers like Hotspot Shield (360Mbps), ExpressVPN (210Mbps), and Surfshark (100Mbps).
However, shifting to the UK servers saw some substantial improvements, though the downloads only averaged between 150Mbps and 160Mbps. After we switched to WireGuard from OpenVPN, the speeds jumped to 373Mbps. Also, download speeds from distant servers were not bad. We switched to the New Zealand servers (location with higher latency), ran tests, and got download speeds of between 15Mbps and 30Mbps. While this was a notable drop, it isn’t a surprise considering how far the servers were.
Private Internet Access Subscriptions
Finally, let’s get into what you’ve been dying to know all along – pricing plans. Considering its quality, PIA is one of the most reasonably priced VPN services on the market. There are three subscription plans that let’s you pay monthly, annually, and every 24 months plus two months free. Long-term commitments come with lower prices.
Private Internet Access monthly package is available for $11.35 per month. The prices can reduce to $3.80 per month if you choose the annual plan. The best value comes with the 26-month plan that’s available for only $3.05/month. An 82% discount over the basic monthly plan. Although Private Internet Access has for many years been among the most cost effective VPNs on the market, the recent feature additions and price reductions have made PIA great value for money.
Although they don’t offer a free trial, there is an extensive moneyback policy. Choose any of the available plans, and you can expect a 30-day refund guarantee. This means you can download Private Internet Access, use the service and gain access to all the available features and request a refund within 30 days. Also, there is a wide range of payment methods available, including gift cards, debit cards, PayPal, and even cryptocurrencies.
There is nothing that can be as frustrating as having to contact support for technical issues. It takes a lot of patience to wait for a support agent to help, especially if you have urgent matters. Therefore, when choosing a VPN service, we want to ensure we choose one that offers professional customer support.
Customer Support Features
Private Internet Access customer support was once criticized but has, over the years, improved. Now, you can contact support through the live chat support that’s available during US business hours. This is a lot of improvement for a VPN, which means customers have instant access to support.
It’s also important to take note of the fact that Private Internet Access has always been reliable. As a result, users rarely need any assistance. However, if you have any problems using this VPN service, you can count on a live chat or email ticket system. We got a detailed response within hours of creating the ticket.
Private Internet Access offers great customer support tools. The official website has a comprehensive FAQ section and guide that provides fascinating articles on different topics, including legislation, tech, and privacy from across the globe.
Customer Support Ratings
Better Business Bureau gave PIA an A- rating. It lost a few points because of the duration that the business has been operational, which is one of Better Business Bureau’s weird idiosyncrasies that we wouldn’t delve much into anyway.
To find legit Private Internet Access customer reviews, we switched to Amazon. On Amazon, PIA VPN has a 3.6 rating, which is ideal but not stunning. Out of the ten customer reviews that mentioned customer support, seven were positive, just above 60%. Although we were delighted that most customer reviews were positive, it was with a tiny margin. Some users said the response time was fast, but others did not receive any response.
With regards to payment options, Private Internet Access accepts payments made using PayPal and credit cards. Also, you’ll be glad to know that Private Internet Access accepts cryptocurrency payments such as litecoin, bitcoin cash, and bitcoin. This is a great way to make sure your payment details can’t be traced back to you.
How To Cancel Private Internet Access?
You just have to log in to your Private Internet Access account and navigate down to ‘Turn off auto-renewal.’ Next, you need to verify that you would like to deactivate auto-renewal. After you’ve confirmed what you want to do, you should contact the PIA support team through email or live chat and request a refund or cancellation.
Private Access Internet APP
When it comes to different operating systems, Private Internet Access is pretty versatile. You can easily download PIA apps to your iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, and Windows devices. Moreover, there are browser extensions for Opera, Firefox, and chrome.
All Private Internet Access applications are easy to use and intuitive. The great design is quite appealing to the eyes, and you can quickly choose between the light and dark themes. Furthermore, you will not have any issues with the installation process because it’s smooth, quick, and doesn’t need any prior knowledge.
The Windows app of Private Internet Access is easy to navigate and slick. The main window allows users to manage their VPN connection, whereas the settings window allows them to customize the VPN to their needs.
The macOS app looks similar to that of Windows. Most of the features have been included here. These include the kill switch and port forwarding.
Installation and usage of the PIA app on Linux was easy. It has the same interface as Windows and macOS apps. The app offers the same features as macOS and Windows.
Private Internet Access Mobile Apps
The design and outlook of both Private Internet Access mobile apps (iOS and Android) is nearly identical to that of the desktop versions.
Private Internet Access vs. NordVPN
Both Private Internet Access and NordVPN have many things in common. However, we’re comparing both VPN services to find one that’s better than the other. Unlike PIA, which has a stringent no-data logging policy, NordVPN keeps some basic information.
Private Internet Access vs. NordVPN Features
|Feature||Private Internet Access||NordVPN|
After carefully going through both VPNs’, we strongly believe that NordVPN is a better option than Private Internet Access. However, both VPNs provide secure Internet access, where your online activities are protected and encrypted; a few things make NordVPN stand out. First, NordVPN is based in Romania, which isn’t a member of the 14 Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Five Eyes international surveillance jurisdiction. Furthermore, if you are a regular Mac user, there are substantial speed differences when using NordVPN.
Private Internet Access has the edge over NordVPN because of its dynamic IP address, broad global reach, and ability to connect more devices simultaneously. You should choose Private Internet Access if you want
- High Speeds on Windows: NordVPN download speeds were relatively slow on our Windows PC, while PIA only caused negligible slowdowns.
- Affordability: NordVPN is more expensive than Private Internet Access at all subscription levels. Plus, they offer a 30-day moneyback guarantee.
- Connecting to up to 10 devices: Private Internet Access allows users to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.
- Randomized IP addresses: Private Internet Access gives users new IP addresses every time they log into the VPN service, making it harder for them to track you down.
On the other hand, you might choose NordVPN if you want:
- Extra secure encryption – Unlike PIA, NordVPN provides multi-hop encryption, whereas the PIA doesn’t.
- Zero surveillance: NordVPN is based in Romania, which means it isn’t a member of the international Surveillance alliance. As a result, no government can compel them to share user data legally.
Finally, Private Internet Access is an excellent option if you’re looking for a fast, secure and reliable VPN.
We’d recommend PIA if you are looking for:
- No data logs – The Private Internet Access is fully committed to your privacy with regards to no data logging.
- Speed on Windows PC – PIA worked very fast on my Windows PC.
- Highly rated app – PIA has excellent ratings both from Android and iPhone users.
However, look elsewhere if you do not like:
- Based in the United States – While the company doesn’t log user data, they can be legally compelled to share user data to other members of 14 Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Five Eyes.