Private Internet Access is a VPN service based in the US. USA Available at a price of $ 2.85 / month. It has more than 3,320 servers in more than 30 countries worldwide suitable for torrents. PIA has received a 3.6 star rating overall.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a US based VPN provider. USA Who offers its services through More than 3,320 servers in More than 30 countries. PIA VPN offers dedicated applications for Windows, Mac, iOSand Android as much as browser extensions.
In terms of features, PIA is equipped with Kill switch, Ad Blocker, Port forwarding functionalityand SOCKS5 proxy, which are valuable tools to increase online privacy.
It is a moderately affordable VPN that offers 10 simultaneous connections and 7-day money back guarantee for $ 2.85 / month.
Based on the attributes outlined above, I recommend PIA VPN as it offers a massive server network like PureVPN and ExpressVPN, but it has a few flaws that make it a cut below the VPN brands mentioned above.
I have tested Private Internet Access using my nine (9) step grading criteria. These steps are:
- Jurisdiction – Where is PIA VPN based?
- Security – Is private Internet access secure?
- Leaks – Does PIA VPN lose IP, DNS and WebRTC?
- Servers – Does private Internet access work in China?
- Speed – How fast is PIA VPN?
- Transmission – Does private internet access work with Netflix?
- Compatibility – How many devices does PIA VPN support?
- Prices – How much does private Internet access cost?
- Integrity – Trustpilot ratings, feedback and Reddit support
Jurisdiction – Where is PIA VPN based?
Unfortunately, PIA VPN comes from the US USA This is a bad thing because the country has participated in some of the most surveillance programs that invade privacy in the world.
In spite of USA USA You don't have a law that requires VPNs to keep activity logs Of its users, the laws have never prevented agencies like the NSA from casually violating the privacy of American citizens. Additionally, the United States is a key member of the intelligence gathering group known as Five Eyes.
Therefore, a US based VPN. USA you will always have a hard time convincing your users of guaranteed privacy.
Security: is private Internet access secure?
Private Internet access is a very secure VPN service and it includes multiple tunneling protocols and strong encryption standards.
I studied the security features of this VPN and discovered that the provider offers three VPN tunnel protocols, including a proxy protocol:
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunnel Protocol)
- L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol)
- SOCKS5 Proxy Tunnel
SOCKS5 proxy It is an interesting addition. This protocol can be used for streaming purposes as it provides good speed but reduced security compared to OpenVPN.
Along with these protocols, PIA offers 256-bit military grade encryption. This level of encryption is extremely strong and rules out the possibility of brute force attacks.
In addition, it is equipped with SHA-1 or SHA-256 encryption. For handshakes and authentication, use RSA-2048 public key encryption, which is also quite strong.
Taking into account the encryption standards and VPN protocols used, PIA is quite safe to use And you can trust it to keep you safe from hackers and cybercriminals on the web.
Does private Internet access keep records?
PIA VPN follows a no registration policy in true letter and spirit.
Each VPN promises not to store any logs. However, not everyone keeps that promise. In fact, by contrast, many VPNs have released customer data to third parties.
PIA expressly mentions that they do not keep records of user activities performed while using their VPN service. PIA only collects the following user related records:
This is the minimum information that any provider must collect to provide its service to users. Therefore, even though PIA is based in the USA. It is still capable of offering a good level of privacy to users, as it does not retain any personally identifiable information from users.
PIA VPN advanced security features
In addition to the central encryption and tunneling protocols, PIA also offers some additional features for users. They need to further increase their safety from accidental failures.
These are some of the key additional features of PIA:
PIA VPN Kill Switch
The PIA VPN Kill Switch disconnects your internet if you lose your VPN connection for one reason or another. This prevents your real IP address from being exposed to your local ISP or the site you are visiting.
I recommend that users keep Kill Switch enabled at all times, especially if you are performing delicate tasks like downloading torrents in a country with strict laws against online piracy.
The Kill Switch will ensure that your real identity remains hidden even in the event of sudden connection interruptions.
What makes PIA a standout VPN service from its competitors is its encrypted Wi-Fi function. When you use private Internet access on your Wi-Fi, you first protect the device using the WPA protocol. Therefore, you must provide an authentication key before using the VPN on Wi-Fi devices, which makes your connection sessions more secure.
PIA SOCKS5 Proxy
The PIA SOCKS5 proxy offers a additional layer of authentication since it only allows authorized users when accessing the servers. In addition, it provides an appreciable connection speed compared to other protocols.
This makes SOCKS5 good for purposes like downloading and streaming. The popular use of the protocol involves torrent downloading because it generally results in faster speeds.
However, it should be remembered that if you are in a country with strict torrent laws, the most sensible decision would be to stick to safer protocols like OpenVPN, even if it results in slightly slower speeds. This is because SOCKS5 has weaker security compared to other VPN protocols.
Private Internet access Block ads and malware
Private Internet Access has an advertising and malware blocking technology called MALLET. The service blocks annoying ad trackers that track you online, compromising your privacy. This is an excellent additional feature to have along with the basic VPN protection features.
PIA VPN port forwarding
PIA VPN also offers port forwarding capacity at no additional cost Port forwarding basically allows specific applications on your device / computer to communicate through dedicated ports. This essentially limits the access of certain parts of a network to a certain application, such as games.
Many game servers can only be accessed through certain ports. So if you are a gamer who needs port forwarding functionality in a VPN, PIA is a very good option.
Handshake Name System (HNS)
The US-based VPN service has added another pen on its limit by adding “Handshake Name System” technology in your armory. Therefore, you can change the selected Name Server from the PIA DNS (Domain Name System) servers to any Handshake Name System (HNS) servers if you are using Mac, Linux or Windows devices.
Once you've changed your settings, you can surf the web safely and anonymously from anywhere. This is how you can do to enable HNS in your PIA settings:
- From the Private Internet Access settings window, you need to right click on the PIA system tray icon
- You must left click on the settings, the settings window will appear on the screen
- Go to the Network tab, change PIA “DNS” to “Handshake“From the drop-down menu
- Connect to the PIA server to apply the name server change effectively
Leaks: Does PIA VPN lose IP, DNS and WebRTC?
PIA VPN does not filter your IP, DNS and WebRTC information. To test for leaks, I used ipleak.net and I found the VPN totally leak free.
Servers: does private Internet access work in China?
The PIA VPN network consists of More than 3,320 servers in More than 30 countries. All servers are physical, ensuring good stability and preventing server overcrowding.
There are few providers with a network as large as PIA's, and that's one of the USPs of this VPN. VPN servers along with the geographic location of your presence allow users to access a wide range of geo-restricted content.
Currently, the VPN has its servers located in more than 30 countries that include but are not limited to: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong and others.
However, since most servers are located in locations where online censorship and regulation are not major problems, users are unlikely to feel the need to access a larger group of locations on the network than PIA.
If you're having trouble with PIA, you can find some helpful tips in the PIA connection guide.
Does PIA work in China?
Unfortunately, PIA VPN does not work in China. The Great Firewall of China uses extremely strong filtering technologies that block VPN traffic.
As such, most VPN services today cannot function properly in China, and PIA is no different. Here is the working list of China VPNs.
Is PIA VPN good for torrents?
Yes, PIA is a good VPN for torrents. All PIA servers support torrent and p2p activities. However, the provider actually redirects its data packets to those servers where torrenting can be done safely, such as Switzerland and Holland.
Therefore, you will get better performance by connecting directly to these servers instead of jumping through multiple locations to return to Switzerland or the Netherlands.
To read more about this in detail, check out our Private Internet Access Torrenting Blog.
Speed: how fast is PIA VPN?
PIA VPN offers average connection speeds.
To measure how well PIA works, I ran speed tests on 5 different servers. This is how the results of my PIA VPN speed test were:
Before connecting to the VPN, this was the speed I was getting on my Windows PC:
After this, I examined the speed of private Internet access Server of the United Kingdom. The snapshot below shows the results of the UK PIA speed test:
Ping has increased from 4 4 to 122 ms – which is cause for concern. However, the download speed was affected by falling from 22.60 Mbps to 18.46 Mbps. The good news is that the loading speed did not deteriorate much (30.34 Mbps – before connecting a VPN, 25.91 Mbps – After connecting a VPN).
Overall, in my test, this turned out to be the fastest PIA server.
After testing the PIA VPN UK servers, I tested the speed on a Swiss server. The snapshot below reveals the speed test results after connecting to the Swiss server:
Ping improved a bit more and the download speed was also affected. However, the loading speed improved compared to the results extracted while connected to a UK server.
I tried the VPNs France server also with the following results:
The ping rose to 311 ms here. Download speed after connecting a VPN was 11.62 Mbps and the loading speed was 5.64 Mbps.
I finally tried the Server of the Netherlands and this gave the worst results so far:
The ping was 144 ms, the download speed was 6.26 Mbps and the loading speed was 24.80 Mbps.
The results derived specifically for this PIA VPN review show that tThe performance of this VPN is quite normal.
It should be remembered that VPN speeds are highly subjective and depend on a myriad of factors including your base Internet speed, ISP, proximity to your chosen server, overall load on a server, and more. Therefore, these speed tests do not represent PIA performance for each use case.
If you are looking for a VPN that is specifically known for its high speed, check out this list of fastest VPN services.
Streaming: does private internet access work with Netflix?
PIA VPN does not unlock the US Netflix media library. USA In fact, none of the servers we tested were able to work with Netflix using PIA. Although PIA was one of the VPNs that used to work quite well for people who needed to access Netflix content from the USA. USA From abroad, the increasing effectiveness of Netflix's VPN detection technology made PIA powerless.
So if you try to access Netflix with PIA running in the background, expect to see an error message like this:
Other transmission services
PIA VPN works with some VPN streaming services like Hulu, Sky Go and CBS. Geo-restriction firewalls on these websites are weaker compared to those used by Netflix and BBC iPlayer. That's why PIA has a good success rate when it comes to unlocking Hulu, CBS, etc., but not in the case of US Netflix and others.
Compatibility: How many devices does PIA VPN support?
PIA VPN supports all common operating systems and devices. You get dedicated apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
PIA VPN for Windows
PIA VPN has a very simple application for Windows whose natural habitat is on the taskbar. The app has an attractive visual design and it also comes in light and dark versions, which is quite good.
You can choose your preferred server location to connect to from the home screen. In fact, you can connect and disconnect by right-clicking on the PIA icon in the taskbar without opening the full interface of the application. I think it is quite convenient.
You can configure some settings like VPN protocols, encryption levels, ad blocker and Kill Switch from the settings tab. Connecting to a server takes a few seconds and the process is generally stable, with almost no connection interruptions.
In general, the Windows PIA application is quite usable.
PIA VPN for MacOS
The PIA VPN app for MacOS is practically the exact replica of the Windows app. All the features you get in the Windows version are also available in the Mac app. Connectivity and performance are impressive too, just like Windows.
PIA VPN for Linux
PIA is one of the few providers that actually offers a complete GUI-based application for Linux systems, which is very similar to the other desktop applications for Windows and MacOS.
This is extremely laudable and PIA deserves 10/10 for its clean, streamlined, and highly configurable VPN apps for desktops and smartphones alike.
PIA VPN for Android
The Android application features an extremely simple and highly intuitive design. The home screen is primarily made up of blanks with a large on-off button that you can toggle with a tap. The currently selected server location and IP address are mentioned at the bottom.
To change the server region, simply touch the region shown at the bottom of the screen, which will open the full list of available server locations.
The application provides a large number of configurable configurations including UDP and TCP connections, port forwarding, encryption standards, automatic protection in case of connecting to unknown Wi-Fi access points, and even a By application configuration that essentially offers split tunnel functionality.
Suffice it to say that the provider certainly invested a lot of time and energy in developing the Android app, which offers a wealth of options, while still being very easy to use.
PIA VPN for iOS
The iOS app looks and behaves the same way as the Android version of PIA. However, it is not as configurable due to the fact that iOS does not allow low level adjustments in any application.
However, it still offers an impressive range of configurations that can be changed, such as VPN protocols, Kill Switch, Adblocker (MACE) and more.
Overall, it is a highly optimized and usable application.
Prices: how much does private internet access cost?
PIA VPN has three (3) affordable pricing plans by your existing and new users. This is what the current price looks like:
All PIA VPN packages offer a 7-day money back guarantee and 10 simultaneous connections. Thus, you can connect up to 10 different devices in a single private Internet access account. I also like the fact that their refund policy also works as a free trial.
Payment methods: Bitcoin and much more
The VPN currently accepts payments through credit cards, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, PayPal, Amazon, Ripple, Amazon Pay, and Mint. While most VPN providers take the lead in accepting cryptocurrencies, this VPN is all-inclusive.
Also, you can use the PIA gift card option for anonymous payments. This shows that providers take their commitment to user privacy seriously.
Reliability: background, Trustpilot ratings, feedback and Reddit support
PIA was previously owned by London Trust Media but now it has been acquired by Kape Technologies, a company that is also behind VPNs recognized as CyberGhost and Zenmate.
The company has a bad reputation for engaging in questionable practices in the past (such as hiding malware in its advertising tools).
Therefore, the jurisdiction and the history of the company are factors that do not favor PIA.
Trustpilot rating for private internet access
PIA has a good reputation on Trustpilot. The provider has a rating of 4.0 / 5.0 with 5,400 user reviews. 63% of users rated the service as excellent.
PIA VPN Reddit Comments
PIA is good? Well, considering Trustpilot's ratings and my personal opinion, the VPN is without a doubt one of the best on the market. Still, it's worth looking at what other Reddit users have to say about the service.
Most Reddit comments speak highly of PIA VPN, which is a good sign:
Naturally, there are also some negative comments about the service.
And then there are some comments that are critical of some aspects of the VPN:
Private Internet access is included in the list of GDPR compliant VPNs. PIA users may require the provider to provide information on how their data is being used by the service, in accordance with GDPR requirements.
After complying with all GDPR guidelines in the right way, PIA has enhanced its reputation in the minds of its existing and potential users to a new aircraft.
To learn about other VPNs that follow the GDPR, read this detailed guide.
Customer service: no live chat, only tickets
VPN PIA does not offer live chat supportWhich is extremely disappointing. Instead, you have opted for the more classic email ticketing system.
Providers respond to email inquiries within 10-12 hours. The answers are complete, clear and useful.
The good news is that providers still offer a knowledge base, Guides, and a Blog. With the help of these services, you can configure this VPN on any of your preferred devices. However, there is no live chat when you need quick fixes.
PureVPN vs private Internet access
If you want to compare between PureVPN and private internet access, you can explore the table mentioned below:
|Price||$ 2.91 / month||$ 2.85 / month|
|Servers||2,000+ in 140 countries||3,320+ in more than 30 countries|
|Compatibility||All devices||All devices|
|Jurisdiction||Hong Kong||United States|
|Registration policy||Zero record||Does not keep records|
|Customer Support||Live and email support and contact us||Knowledge base and inputs|
|Trustpilot score||4.8||4.2 4.2|
Alternatives to PIA VPN
If you're not satisfied with the features that PIA offers, then you have a ton of the best VPNs to choose from:
Do I recommend private Internet access?
Considering the fact that it is quite affordable, has a large server network, a good registration policy, and extremely smooth VPN applications, PIA is certainly a worthwhile VPN.
However, the provider has some flaws that I found in this review of Private Internet Access. For example, its network is restricted to more than 30 countries, which is smaller than some of its rivals. Also, the provider doesn't support services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and it doesn't work in China either.
Overall, it is a good VPN if privacy is your main concern. But if you need powerful VPN servers that can unblock geo-restricted streaming websites, there are better options available.
Therefore I give 3.6 / 5.0 to PIA in my review.
Looking for alternatives? Please see the VPN reviews 2020 page for a detailed evaluation of more than 150 providers.
Also, if you're looking for more premium VPNs at lower prices, check out our amazing VPN deals for 2020.