Private Internet Access

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9.3
Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access Review

Private Internet Access (PIA) is arguably the most popular VPN service out there today. Founded by London Trust Media in 2010, the VPN service is affordable and has thousands of users in its network.

But is it good enough?Does Private Internet Access live up to its claim as “the world’s most trusted VPN”? Does it guarantee “peace of mind” as claimed on its website?p

In this VPN review, we tested Private Internet Access for days in order to answer the above questions, and even more. Some common user questions we addressed include:

  • Does Private Internet Access store user logs?
  • Is Private Internet Access safe and secure?
  • Is Private Internet Access compatible with Netflix?
  • Does Private Internet Access work in high censorship countries?

Before we provide answers to these questions, let us consider some Private Internet Access pros and cons:

Pros
  • Great VPN speeds
  • Does not store user logs and no IP/DNS leaks
  • User-friendly apps for major platforms
  • Unlimited P2P activity and torrenting
  • 3,300+ servers across 32 countries
  • Seamless access to Netflix
Cons
  • Small server network compared to some of the best VPN services
  • Slow responses from email support, limited live chat feature
  • Based in privacy-unfriendly US
  • Intermittent access in China
  • Great VPN speeds
  • Does not store user logs and no IP/DNS leaks
  • User-friendly apps for major platforms
  • Unlimited P2P activity and torrenting
  • 3,300+ servers across 32 countries
  • Seamless access to Netflix
  • Small server network compared to some of the best VPN services
  • Slow responses from email support, limited live chat feature
  • Based in privacy-unfriendly US
  • Intermittent access in China

Work With

NetNetflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Now TV, HBO, Sling TV, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

Best Price

£2.19/month - 2 yrs plan

Speed and Reliability Test

Very Fast VPN Speeds

PIA has very fast and impressive speeds, and is among the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested. In fact, there is no faster VPN provider for internet users living near London, New York or Toronto. PIA’s global performance was impressive, with fast average download speeds, which makes it an ideal choice for torrenters and P2P users.

Our speed test results from our physical London location using a London test server.

Before connecting to Private Internet Access:

Download Mbps
92
Upload Mbps
99

When connected to Private Internet Access:

Download Mbps
47
Upload Mbps
74

Our speed test results from our physical London location using a London test server.

Before connecting to Private Internet Access:

  • 92Mbps (download)
  • 99Mbps (upload)

When connected to Private Internet Access:

  • 47Mbps (download)
  • 74Mbps (upload)
We observed a 3% connection drop when connected to Private Internet Access. This means the speed loss on local connections is very minimal.

According to our tests from our location in the UK, here are the average speeds you can expect when in these locations:

DOWNLOAD AVERAGE UPLOAD AVERAGE
US 31 Mbps 38 Mbps
Australia 35 Mbps 10 Mbps
Germany 85 Mbps 72 Mbps
Singapore 26 Mbps 72 Mbps

According to our tests from our location in the UK, here are the average speeds you can expect when in these locations:

  • US: 31Mbps (download) & 38Mbps (upload)
  • Australia: 35Mbps (download) & 10Mbps (upload)
  • Germany: 85Mbps (download) & 72Mbps (upload)
  • Singapore: 26Mbps (download) & 72Mbps (upload)

Small Server Network

3,300 Servers Covering Important Locations

img
32
Countries
52
Cities
3,000+
IP Addresses

Private Internet Access’ server network covers 33 countries, which is a lot less than most of its competitors, though PIA uses real physical servers.

With 3,300 VPN servers in its network, PIA has an average of one IP address per server, which is a good number. However, top tier VPN services like IPVanish and VyprVPN have a lot more, with 40,000 and 200,000 IP addresses in their server network.

PIA has a decent global coverage, while its 14 city-level choices and 1,500 servers in the US is impressive. The VPN service also has city-level choices in the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.

Bypassing Censorship

Not Reliable in China but Good Choice in other Countries

Since the Chinese government’s online censorship via the Great Firewall and its crackdown on VPN services, Private Internet access has been unreliable in most parts of the country. User reports suggest that the VPN service still works in Beijing.

To avoid spending loads of time trying out manual configurations, it would make sense to find another VPN service if you are traveling to China.Keep in mind, though, that PIA still works well in high censorship countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Encryption and Security: One of the Most Secure VPN Services

  •  Encryption: AES-128; AES-256
  •  Protocol: OpenVPN (TCP/UDP); L2TP/IPsec; PPTP
  •  Security: VPN kill switch; DNS leak blocking; Supports TCP Port 443; WebRTC leak blocking; First-party DNS; IPV6 leak blocking
  •  Advanced features: SOCKS; Ad Blocker

With the advanced features above, we can safely say Private Internet Access is a secure and trustworthy VPN provider. The only minor issue we’d like to see an improvement is the addition of IKEv2 protocol in place of PPTP, as PPTP is an old and insecure protocol that shouldn’t be an option today. This is not much of a problem since OpenVPN, our favorite VPN protocol, which offers balance between speed and functionality, is available.

What’s more, we also found that there were no IP or DNS leaks during our tests, and Private Internet Access operates its own DNS servers.

Streaming and Torrenting

Unblocks Netflix, Great Choice for Torrenting

Private Internet Access has a huge range of US servers, which means that it can easily unblock Netflix. We were able to access Netflix through PIA’s Houston, Chicago, and Washington DC servers. Though access via PIA’s California, Florida, US East, and New York City servers is less reliable.

We weren’t able to find as much success with accessing BBC iPlayer, and Private Internet Access says that unblocking this streaming service is not a priority for them. But Private Internet Access is a popular choice for other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Sky, and HBO.

  •  Torrenting

Private Internet Access is a great choice for torrenting. The VPN service allows P2P traffic on all of its services, and its industry-leading speeds ensure buffer-free Kodi and quick file transfers. There is also a VPN kill switch to protect your connection in the event of a drop, as well as a logging policy that keeps you anonymous at all times.

Logging Policy

Strict Privacy and Logging Policy

Private Internet Access is a true zero-logs VPN service. You can rest assured no one is monitoring your data and traffic as you surf the internet via PIA, and your online activity can never be linked back to you.

In fact, independent court cases have verified PIA’s zero-logs claims, and found it to be true.

  •  Jurisdiction

Private Internet Access is owned by London Trust Media – a US-based tech and privacy company. While we’d normally criticize VPN providers that choose US as its base, we would make an exception with Private Internet Access.

Since PIA stores absolutely no user logs, authorities would find nothing even if their actions are backed by court rulings.

Ease of Use

App is Modern and Easy to Use

In the past, navigating PIA’s apps was a big deal – it was outdated, clunky, and a tad unresponsive. Thanks to its updates, PIA’s apps are now a lot more modern, making it visually appealing and much easier to handle, clearly towing the path of its rivals.

The app now has loads of customization options for desktop notifications, a VPN kill switch, and launch on start-up.

PIA has invested so much effort into making the app look this great, but it is still not perfect. The app tray blocks user view as it remains open at the top. You’d have to manually close the whole tray app to view it.

Devices and Operating Systems

Compatible with All Platforms and Router

Private Internet Access offers native apps for all major operating systems, both on mobile and desktop. This includes iPhone, Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and Android. You can also use PIA on up to ten devices at the same time.

PIA has manual setup guides on its website – designed to walk you through how you can seamlessly use older OS versions.

App

Windows

Mac

iOS

Linux

Android

Router

Streaming Devices and Game Consoles

AppleTV

Amazon Fire TV

Chromecast

PlayStation

Nintendo

Xbox

Private Internet Access has a custom app for Amazon Fire TV and Stick. Though you’d need a bit of technical knowledge to install the app, you would be able to select servers all around the globe once installed.

By connecting to your configured router, you can also use PIA’s software with other game consoles and streaming devices, such as Google Chromecast, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Customer Support

Good Online Resource but No 24/7 Support

24/7 support is one feature that makes some of the best VPN services on the market today, but it is conspicuously absent from Private Internet Access. It is a feature we’d like to see as soon as possible, as the live chat support is currently available between 4pm-1am UTC. Another little downside is that the live chat feature is only available to subscribers, so you must be logged in to gain access.

On the positive, though, Private Internet Access has one of the best online resources in the VPN industry. It is a well-organized platform and should provide answers to just about any query you have.

Pricing

Plans and Payment Methods

PIA’s standard monthly subscription costs £9.99/month, which is just about the industry average. But as is the case with most VPN services out there, the costs go down with longer subscription plans. In fact, the two-year plan is only a third of the standard monthly plan, £2.19/month - 2 yrs plan

There is no free trial feature on offer from Private Internet Access and they only offer a seven-day money-back guarantee. However, this refund policy is 100% no questions asked, and your refund request will be processed within seven working days.

Private Internet Access accepts a wide range of payment solutions, including PayPal, most major credit and debit cards,and a few cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Zcash, and Ethereum. Private Internet Access users in certain countries may also be able to make payments though options like Neosurf, ecoPayz, and Mint, though these payment methods cannot be used for rolling subscriptions.