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NordVPN vs. Private Internet Access: Comparison

nordvpn vs piaWe know how hard it is to decide which VPN to use, especially if you are down to two options. Today, we decided to put NordVPN and PIA to the test and compare the outcomes. Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access are established VPN providers with a vast network strategically placed all over the globe. 

But, enough of the chitchat. Let’s get down to business and see the outcome of the NordVPN vs. PIA match, shall we?

Read the full review of NordVPN here and of PIA here.

Overview

NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN service provider with a longstanding reputation of a fast and secure connection. It continues to improve its services by adding new features and expanding its network. Being one of the first VPNs on the market enabled it to set standards for others to follow. The NordVPN network consists of more than 5,500 servers located in over 60 countries.

Private Internet Access, or simply PIA, is a USA-based company. They are just a couple of years older than NordVPN. It means that, unlike NordVPN, which falls under the jurisdiction of Panama, PIA is under the USA’s jurisdiction. The company started as a pioneer promoter of online privacy and anonymity for millions of internet users around the globe. So far, the company has managed to grow a network of more than 3,200 servers located in 32 countries.

Features

NordVPN and PIA are both remarkable in the “feature” category. They offer a great deal of many features to clients. We want to point out the beneficial features both VPNs have – Malware Blocker and Ad Tracker clients can be used to improve security online even more. 

Features unique to PIA include SOCKS5 and 10 simultaneous connections. Thanks to SOCKS5, PIA users can enjoy faster and more reliable connections and use it in combination with encryption protocols to enhance their security and ensure anonymity.

On the other hand, NordVPN has some unique features, including DoubleVPN and Onion, over VPN, both increasing user security. 

Killswitch and browser extensions are present in both providers. 

Pricing and Plans

payment methods

NordVPN offers 4 subscription plans. The company has made its 3-year plan an exclusive deal, which comes with:

  • 3 months free and €114.33 billed every 3 years
  • 2-years plan is accessible for €108.98 charged every 2 years
  • 1-year plan goes for €76.33 billed every year
  • 1-month subscription will cost you €10.87 every month. 

NordVPN makes the payment process very convenient by supporting plenty of payment methods, cryptocurrencies included. 

PIA offers 3 subscription plans:

  • Yearly plan offers the best value, and it costs $39.95 per year,
  • 6-Month plan is $35.95
  • Monthly plan will cost you $6.95 every month. 

PIA is also competitive in terms of the number of available payment methods. While NordVPN offers more plans than PIA and provides incredible value with its 3-Year subscription plan, PIA plans are considerably affordable. 

NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, while PIA has a 7-day one. Neither of the two companies offers a free trial to test the VPN services. 

Speed Test and Performance

We tested both the NordVPN and the PIA connection for speed and performance. The results place both providers above 90% of all VPN services available on the market. While the winner of the “speed test and performance” round in the Private Internet Access vs. NordVPN match is NordVPN, PIA was very close.

We tested both services on a 30 Mbps connection.

The NordVPN speed test results averaged at 27.91 Mbps, while the PIA speed test results averaged at 21.39 Mbps. We found that the most significant difference in speed was when we tested a connection with Germany and Australia.

With Germany, NordVPN delivered 28.73 Mbps while PIA delivered 22.2 Mbps. When connected via servers in Australia, NordVPN delivered 28.41 Mbps, while PIA delivered 18.4 Mbps.

In the performance category, both VPNs are out there at the very top. NordVPN apps are stylized and work somewhat faster. PIA apps do look like they were designed for Windows XP, but they still get the job done. 

We find authentication with servers quite fast with both NordVPN and PIA clients.

Security: Encryption & Protocols

In terms of security, NordVPN and PIA are the same. They both feature state of the art AES-256 encryption, which is virtually impossible to crack. The OpenVPN tunneling protocol is there to ensure a safe connection, and IP/DNS leak protection is there to keep you anonymous even while torrenting. 

Privacy 

Both VPNs advertise as no-logging policy VPN providers. We have to point out that NordVPN is a bit clearer in its logging policy, whereas PIA’s remains somewhat unclear in regards to which user data gets tracked and recorded. 

NordVPN doesn’t keep logs of its user’s time stamps, traffic, and IP addresses, meaning that even if someone brute-forced the company to go public, they would have nothing to go public with. 

On the other hand, PIA has been on the market for 10 years now, and the company was never involved in any data leak scandal nor revealed user information. PIA remains one of the most trusted VPN service providers in the market.

Compatible devices

NordVPN and PIA are known for their compatibility. Both VPN service providers offer a dedicated app for every popular device and platform, including Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome and Firefox, and Android TV.

Those of you interested in securing your home network with a VPN will be happy to find out that you can set up both of these VPNs on a router. 

Unblocking capabilities

Netflix streaming

norvpn netflix streaming

From what we have seen, both NordVPN and PIA can unblock Netflix. We encountered some minor problems with PIA in terms of consistency, as we were not always able to unblock Netflix. But, a quick change of server resolved this issue. 

Torrenting

Many users conder using a VPN for torrenting purposes. We are happy to inform you that both PIA and NordVPN can unblock torrenting sites and provide consistent torrent downloading speeds. With P2P-enabled servers on both sides, clients are going to be able to download torrents. 

PIA has even gone one step further to assure clients that they are in for fast torrenting speeds. We have the port-forwarding feature to thank for this. 

Customer support service

NordVPN and PIA have excellent self-service help centers. Clients have access to extensive tutorials and FAQs. When it comes to contacting customer support directly, NordVPN is better because it offers more channels of communication. They have email support, while only NordVPN offers Live Chat. 

Which is better for Australia?

We find both VPN service providers pretty much equal in this category. The number of servers in Australia is approximately the same. NordVPN has 186, whereas PIA has 195 servers. You won’t make a mistake choosing either of these VPNs. 

NordVPN vs. PIA: The final verdict

After hours of testing, we have to conclude that this NordVPN vs. PIA match has to end with a tie.

NordVPN Pros

  • True online privacy thanks to being a Panama-based company 
  • Support for 6 simultaneous connections
  • Completely bypasses Netflix geo-block
  • Variety of subscription pricing packages
  • No logs policy

NordVPN Cons

  • Can’t pay with PayPal
  • No free trial

PIA Pros

  • Affordable pricing packages
  • Standalone apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows
  • SOCKS5 proxy support
  • Convenient ad-blocker feature
  • Support for 5 simultaneous connections

PIA Cons

  • No free trial
  • The only way to contact customer support is via a form and email

Both VPNs are significant in terms of speed, reliability, performance, features, torrenting, and unblocking Netflix. We did mention some differences sometimes in favor of NordVPN, other times in support of PIA, but they are very subtle. Hence, it’s pretty much your choice which VPN to use.

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