Private Internet Access Review: How Does It Fair to the Competition?

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Private Internet Access

If there is one VPN provider known for its strict no-logs policy and commitment to user privacy, then it’s (PIA) Private Internet Access.

But is PIA truly as trustworthy as it claims when it comes to protecting user privacy and anonymity?

We put it to the test in categories like streaming, torrenting, and how well it performs in safety.

During testing, we discovered that it has one of the best user-friendly interfaces, has enhanced security features, anonymous torrenting, and can support ten simultaneous devices.

On the downsides, it was clear that it has variable speeds and inconsistent access to popular streaming sites.

However, while it unblocks Netflix US and UK, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and many others, it can’t access Netflix from any other country or BBC iPlayer. NordVPN had more consistent results on this front.

Price and Plans

Private Internet Access Pricing

Private Internet Access has some of the lowest prices in the market. It’s one month plan goes for $9.95/month while its yearly plan will cost you $3.33/month. You can save a lot with its two year plan at $2.69/month+2 Months Free.

The popularity of PIA is attributable to its lower prices. Many premium VPNs with similar features charge more for their service. If your main interest in VPN is security, anonymity while browsing or torrenting, PIA offers excellent value for money. When you consider the significant discounts offered on more extended subscription plans, the value is even better.

PIA does not offer a free trial, so you can purchase an affordable monthly subscription to try out the service. But if you decide PIA isn’t for you, you can take advantage of PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

How Compatible is PIA to my Device?

PIA is compatible with all major platforms, including:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Linux

The above features are similar across apps, with the only exception being the iOS app, which lacks the MACE adblocking tool and uses the IPsec protocol rather than OpenVPN. It also offers secure browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. PIA offers in-depth installation guides for users who prefer manual installation. It can also be installed on compatible routers, including DD-WRT, Tomato, and pfSense.

How many Simultaneous Connections Does PIA Allow?

PIA’s big advantage service is connecting up to 10 simultaneous devices with one single account. This feature gives it an advantage over its competitors.

How does Private Internet Access fair in streaming? 

Popular streaming sites like Netflix have put in place stringent measures to clamp down on VPN use. Using the most feared proxy server error tool to geoblock streaming content, deploying a VPN is not guaranteed to overcome this hurdle. But after testing, we were able to access Netflix content in the US, Canada, and Australia without being geoblocked.

Unfortunately, we could not access Netflix in other server locations that we tested, including Germany, Mexico, and Japan.

NordVPN is a more reliable choice if you want to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites worldwide. Its consistent, secure and offers unlimited device connections.

How Does PIA Fair in Speed and Performance?

Speed Test without PIA

Speed Without PIA

Speed Test With PIA

Speed With PIA

Streaming and browsing activities require consistent speed that is devoid of buffering, PIA was able to give excellent speeds in some locations, but it went down significantly in some.

For PIA, the performance may vary depending on where you are physically located and which server locations you regularly use.

Number of Servers and Locations

With an extensive network of 3,266 servers across 30 countries, there is less crowding, generally good news for a VPN’s speed.

Private Internet Access Servers

Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?

With full P2P support, PIA allows torrenting on all their server networks. Strict no-logs policy by the provider is excellent for anonymous torrenting. Features like kill switch, which can keep your P2P activity secure even if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly and port forwarding.

How Secure Is PIA?

PIA has a robust security and anonymity feature that is focused on safety. This feature keeps your connection secure with IP masking, data encryption, IPv6 leak protection, DNS leak protection, and a firewall.

When we tried to connect to PIA before touching any of the settings, the VPN successfully protected us with no DNS or IP leaks.

Encryption

PIA offers liberty to customize encryption algorithms and protocols. The setting protects your connection with AES 128-bit encryption. This feature is exceptionally secure, but not at the same level as the now-standard AES 256-bit encryption.

For this interface, you can manually select your algorithm and handshake encryption as per your preference. This might sound alien, but PIA has gone out of its way to explain in detail each encryption type and how you can decide which is the best for you.

There is also a Manual configuration feature supported with OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SOCKS5 Proxy. For purposes of transparency and accountability, PIA has open-sourced all of its desktop and mobile apps. This measure allows anyone to review these apps’ source code to ensure PIA does not offer the stick’s short end.

  Does PIA Offer Split Tunneling?

Split Tunneling is a tool that allows you to choose which app will access the internet directly and which one will pass through the VPN first. This gives you even more freedom on how to use and manipulate your online activities. With this feature, you can use PIA to protect your essential data or be secure while torrenting, to stream or web browsing outside the encrypted VPN tunnel on the same device.

To use this feature, click the Network tab, click App Exclusions, and finally add the programs you want the VPN to bypass.

Does PIA Keep Logs?

Having a VPN with its headquarters in the US can give privacy enthusiasts quite a feat. To put such minds at ease, PIA has followed through their strict no-logs policy. With government regulatory framework that requires compliance with the US laws and demands. In the US, if the government demands information from a provider, then the law requires that the provider should hand over any relevant data that they have collected.

Since PIA falls under the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance jurisdiction, which regulates VPN providers, PIA’s privacy policy is quite explicit. It clearly states that PIA “does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) or Proxy.”

And to follow through with their no-logs policy, in 2015 and 2017, following the government request for log data from PIA to aid in an ongoing investigation, PIA had nothing to hand over on both occasions. It’s hard to tell whether a VPN retains its users’ data logs or not, but such an event is perhaps one of the indicators that PIA indeed does not keep any data logs.

Does PIA Have an Adblocker?

There is a feature that includes adblocking as part of their MACE. But to use this feature, you must first activate it in the settings.

When the VPN is enabled, the MACE feature blocks adware, tracking, and malware. The feature is currently available on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux, but not yet for iOS.

Can PIA unblock the great China wall?

The Great China firewall is entirely impregnable that many VPNs find it challenging to bypass. Unfortunately, PIA is one of the VPNs that does not go around this wall. Simultaneously, some users in China have success with PIA using the less secure but more challenging to detect L2TP protocol. However, even this is not guaranteed. This VPN is, therefore, not recommended for China.

PIA Customer Service

Private Internet Access offers a 24/7 live chat customer support service. PIA has some of the best customer service resources on its website. Some of the resources are easy to follow installation guides, troubleshooting walkthroughs, FAQ, and a user-friendly knowledge base. If you can spare time looking for these resources, you are likely to find solutions to most problems without the need to contact the support team in person.

Getting Started

Once you’ve entered your credentials is easy. You can log onto your most recent server location with a single click by pressing the power button at the center of the screen.

When you connect the first time, the app will be set to connect you to the fastest server in your area automatically.

When you want to locate your server manually, click on your current location. A pop up with a list of all available server locations will show on your screen. Select your preference, then click the power button to activate.

The server selection interface is pretty much easy to use. It lists the current ping times for server location in ms, with shorter ping times being the best.

Conclusion

Private Internet Access offers reliable VPN services at an affordable price, albeit not having the best speeds and customer support. But it nearly demolishes its competitors when it comes to the trustworthy provider that knows the value of user privacy. It also has robust security features for adblocking and anonymous torrenting. The above qualities come with a good customer, and an extremely user-friendly package as the icing sugar which makes PIA the VPN of choice.

However, unreliable speeds and inconsistent geo-spoofing means that PIA is not the best choice for HD streaming or high-bandwidth gaming.

Despite the ability to unblock Netflix US and UK, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, it can’t unlock Netflix other countries. But if you want reliable, fast access to hundreds of international streaming services, we recommend NordVPN instead.

 

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