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Private Internet Access VPN Review

Private Internet Access
Price: $ 3.33 a month

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Airtight privacy
  • Multi-platform support
  • Ad-blocking
  • P2P file sharing

Cons

  • No free version
  • No specialized servers
Best VPN for
Compatibility
Technical Features
Max. devices supported: 10 Number of IP addresses:
Number of servers: 3394 Number of server locations: 52

Do you have private internet access? Do you understand why you need it?

When Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked classified information regarding the widespread public surveillance practices of the federal government, the data sent shockwaves across the globe. Since then, issues of cybersecurity have become a hot topic of debate in the technology world.

It’s unnerving to know that a third party could be monitoring all your online activities. The internet is riddled with scammers looking to defraud unsuspecting users. The best thing you can do about it is to protect yourself. The only way to do it is by using a VPN by Private Internet Access. 

It’s rated among the most trusted and reliable VPN on the market today. This review delves into what makes it so great.

What is PIA VPN?

PIA dataVirtual Private Network or VPN for short is a server controlled encrypted channel through which you can route all your internet traffic. That way if you’re connected on a public Wi-Fi you don’t have to worry about someone snooping on your web activities and potentially stealing your information. 

It’s also a great way to keep your Internet Service Provider from tracking your online activities. After all, who wants a stranger continually looking over their shoulder when they go online?  

Your data is kept safe from prying eyes since it emanates from the Private Internet Access server as opposed to your home router. That way, your IP address, and geographic location both stay hidden.

Subscription packages

What is Private Internet Access’ VPN price-point like? PIA offers users three billing tiers:

  • Monthly plans starting at $ 6.95/mo.
  • 6-month plans starting at $35.95 ($5.99/mo.)
  • Yearly plans starting at $39.95 ($3.33/mo.)

The best part is all customers have access to the same range of features regardless of the tiers they decide to go with. It is a far cry from other VPN providers in the market who offer excellent tools for their premium-paying customers only. 

What’s more, we found that PIA pricing plans are well below the entry price-point for most VPN service providers. Talk about getting great value for your money! Here’s what all three tiers offer:

  • Instant setup
  • Encrypted Wi-Fi
  • Simultaneously secure up to 10 devices
  • Secure VPN Account
  • Blocks ads, malware, and trackers
  • SOCKS5 Proxy included in the package
  • OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec
  • No traffic logs
  • P2P support
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Multiple VPN gateways

The company accepts numerous payment options, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Amazon, and gift cards from a selection of retailers like Bloomingdales and Starbucks.

Is PIA a good VPN?

PIA servers in the worldAccording to industry experts, PIA VPN is the most stable VPN in the market if the numerous awards they’ve won over the years are anything to go by. Additionally, they lead the pack in the number of physical servers they operate, boasting thousands of them in 42 different locations spanning across 27 countries globally. Their most recent additions to the family include spanking new servers in Austria, Atlanta (US), Belgium, Manchester (UK) and Vancouver (CA). 

Unlike other industry players who use virtualized server locations, Private Internet Access uses actual bare metal servers, which are physically located in the countries listed on their official website. That’s something we liked. It’s no wonder that the company enjoys the substantial, loyal customer base it has. 

Speed and performance: how does it compare to other VPNs?

Let’s get one thing out of the way. Regardless of which VPN you decide to use, all of them negatively impact your internet browsing speeds. The defining factor all boils down to the extent to which they do this. To measure this, we used three indicators to separate the wheat from the chaff, that is the:

  • Download speeds
  • Upload speeds
  • Latency (Time it takes to return a ping)

Three top-rated VPN speed test apps were used to test four of their servers. Here’s the average of the results we found on all three apps.

1. New York Server (US)

  • Download speed: 34.49 Mbps
  • Upload speed: 9.69 Mbps
  • Latency: 41ms

2. London Server (UK)

  • Download speed: 58.48 Mbps
  • Upload speed: 8.17 Mbps
  • Latency: 105 ms

3. Montreal Server (Canada)

  • Download speed: 50.74 Mbps
  • Upload speed: 6.98 Mbps
  • Latency: 51ms

4. Hong Kong Server (Asia)

  • Download speed: 8.39 Mbps
  • Upload speed: 7.02 Mbps
  • Latency: 247ms

Our thoughts: Private Internet Access speed and latency levels performed above the median average compared to a number of its industry counterparts. Some server locations like Asia displayed speeds that were less than 10Mbps – which is quite slow. But, the others had moderately-fast speeds depending on the time of day. It’s certainly not the fastest VPN out there, but it’s alright given its price.

That being said, speed shouldn’t be your sole motivation for choosing a VPN. The real value you get lies in its ability to keep you safe and protected by shielding your data from third parties. PIA effortlessly delivers this.

Data encryption

pia's security and encryption

At the risk of stating the visible, encryption is the heart of internet security. If you’re still trying to figure out, “Is Private Internet Access safe?” Well, they’ve certainly gone to great lengths to make sure it is. 

The company uses OpenVPN, which is the industry standard to ensure you’re getting a secure VPN tunnel. The standard gives users full control over the level of encryption they want depending on their browsing habits. They offer a myriad of encryption levels to choose from. These include:

  • Default Recommended Protection
  • All Speed No Safety
  • Maximum Protection
  • Risky Business

The default settings use 128-bit encryption, which offers the most basic level of security for your data. We recommended using 256-bit, which also happens to be the industry standard. You have the option to choose the encryption level on your data validation and handshake. 

These two features work hand in hand to verify the site connection and the kind of data that’s being transmitted. The default is an RSA-2048-bit encryption key which is already quite hard to decipher. But you can certainly take it a notch higher and use the RSA-4096-bit key which is as good as it gets.

We recommend using the Maximum settings since it gives you the best possible security you can get, and who wouldn’t want that? But, if speed matters a great deal to you, and you’re wondering how to use Private Internet Access encryption features without impacting performance, then the default settings are a great alternative too.

Privacy concerns: can PIA steal your information?

Here’s the thing. The whole point of getting a VPN is to route your internet traffic through a secure channel. That way, ill-intentioned third parties have no access to your IP information and any other sensitive personal data. 

But, if you think about it, the VPN service provider whose server you’re using to channel your information has a considerable amount of insight into your online activity. We spoke to a representative of PIA and were happy to learn that the company doesn’t store any information or logs of customer user-activity. They only use subscriptions to generate revenue. That’s a definite plus for us.

Devices supported

osx_bet private internet accessDevice compatibility is a huge game-changer when it comes to rating VPNs. PIA supports multiple platforms, including:

  • iOS
  • macOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Firefox, Chrome and Opera browser extensions

The software also supports routers, but that might require a bit of technical expertise to install. However, if you’re a techie who knows how to set up Private Internet Access through OpenVPN, it’s compatible with Tomato, PFSense, Merlin, Lede, DD-WRT, and ASUSWRT routers.

Data logging

The term “logging” refers to the practice of monitoring and recording data from your VPN activities. Usually, your ISP keeps comprehensive log entries of all your browsing activities. Scary, right? And who knows what they do with that information. Some companies sell the data. 

PIA has a strict no-logging policy that guarantees no information about the sites you visit or information you input will be monitored or recorded. However, we do know that they save some information like your email address, payment information, and issue a temporary cookie for those who use the site’s control panel.

Can you Torrent using PIA VPN?

If you’re an avid Torrenter, then you know most VPNs put a cap on it. It can be quite frustrating if a lot of your online activity revolves around Torrents and P2P file sharing. 

PIA doesn’t have any restrictions on Torrents making it compatible with most Torrent sites and at decent speeds. It makes it a solid choice for most users who don’t want to worry about their connection getting blocked.

Private Internet Access: Netflix connectivity

netflix connectivity with piaA VPN can open up the international Netflix catalog that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. However, most of the time, you’ll inevitably be met with the cringe-worthy black screen with the “proxy-error” message effectively terminating your streaming glory. 

The reason for this is based on how VPNs work to mask your real IP. But, your right information sometimes leaks and Netflix automatically detects the mismatch. So, they block you from using their service. 

They also go a step further to block all the IP addresses associated with known VPN servers. So you need a reliable service that ensures your real IP never leaks.

That being said, we tested whether Netflix works with the PIA VPN. We had mixed results.

  • For US-based servers, it worked with the one in California but failed in New York.
  • It worked with both servers in the UK.
  • The Canadian server was a go too.
  • We couldn’t connect to the Australian, German, or Netherlands servers.

In our opinion, the fact that we managed to connect to some of them is a definite plus. Most VPN providers nowadays don’t even bother trying to make their services work with Netflix.

Customer support

Unfortunately, PIA doesn’t have the 24/7 Live Chat feature that most VPN service providers have. Instead, they use a ticket-request system, which isn’t the fastest way to get your issue resolved. However, the support section of its website is full of helpful resources that most users will find quite useful.

Multiple device connectivity

For Private Internet Access, the number of devices supported simultaneously equals 10. The best part is this number isn’t dependent on your subscription plan. If for some reason you need to protect more than 10 devices, you could always purchase a router with PIA VPN pre-installed or install it yourself.

The verdict

If you want a VPN that offers a multitude of excellent features without all the bells and whistles that make most VPNs challenging to configure, we recommend using PIA software. We like the fact that they have a stable global network of servers that guarantee excellent performance, robust security, and privacy all at a reasonable price. It’s a definite keeper in our books.

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