Private Internet Access or PIA is one of the known VPN services on the interweb. The advanced security features and inexpensive pricing plans of this VPN have made it a popular choice in the industry. I have talked about all the perks of this VPN service in my separate Private Internet Access review.
Although it is difficult to challenge PIA’s credential as a top VPN provider, its efficiency in China is a different question altogether. I’m not going beat around the bush here, PIA VPN doesn’t work reliably in China. You can try a couple of hacks, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll make PIA VPN work 100% in China.
Keeping this in mind, in this article, I will discuss exactly why PIA can’t offer proper coverage in China and also share with you a couple of hacks that might make Private Internet Access work for you. But before we go ahead, I think you should have an idea of which VPNs work in China as per our recent testing.
The Great Firewall of China: A Nightmare for VPNs
The Great Firewall of China is the combination of tools applied by the Chinese government to enforce widespread censorship. In addition to being a powerful system of mass surveillance and censorship, the Great Firewall (GFW) is a mysterious entity. In that, it is extremely hard to determine where its strengths actually lie.
Hence, it is difficult for VPN providers to devise techniques that can help in bypassing Chinese censorship. Only the best VPN for China are able to circumvent the Great Firewall. This is exactly why PIA VPN doesn’t reliably work in China. Even if you talk to their chat support, they’ll tell you to resort to manual configurations, however, without guaranteeing that any of it will work.
Private Internet Access China: Does it Work?
In short, PIA works in China but with some limitations. For instance, the VPN works in some parts of China, however, in other places, it becomes completely inoperable due to the infamous Great Firewall. In addition, you may find the service working on some ISPs while on others, it may be completely blocked.
In my experience, you will find better luck using the VPN on a 4G network rather than on Wi-Fi. Private Internet Access will recommend you to try the Wireguard protocol. One thing I really like about PIA VPN is that they’ll actually offer you a free trial if you ask them so you can go ahead and test it out for your self.
- L2TP for evading the GFW
- Works on 4G
- Wireguard protocol works (Recommended)
- L2TP needs to be manually configured
- Does not work on Wi-Fi
- Unstable and Inconsistent service
Private Internet Access Not Working In China: Is there a Solution?
As of now, connecting to a VPN in China through the conventional method is virtually useless. PIA itself accepts that their service might not work in China due to blockades enforced by the GFW. The recent updates in the GFW have made many VPNs obsolete. PIA is one of the services that have felt the brunt of the recent VPN ban in China.
Regardless, few tricks might help you access Private Internet Access China services. Just keep in mind that even these techniques do not guarantee success. Sometimes the service won’t work in spite of your efforts.
Make Your Own Configuration Files
You can make your own configuration files that connect via IP address instead of the hostname in conjunction with the use of port TCP 443 via OpenVPN. Here’s how you can generate your own configuration files for any region by logging into your Client Control panel located on the “My Account” page.
1. Once on the My Account page, scroll down to “OpenVPN Configuration Generator” and select “Go to”
2. You will now be able to configure your own configuration file for any platform, any region, and port with the option to connect via an IP address instead of the server name.
Note that the configuration uses a specific username and password that is different from the login credentials of your PIA account.
Private Internet Access OpenVPN Connection
In order to set up OpenVPN, you can use the free OpenVPN application developed by the OpenVPN project. For instructions on how to configure OpenVPN on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android follow the guides below:
Private Internet Access L2TP Connection
With regard to its efficiency, privacy advocates consider L2TP connections as dated and inefficient. These connections are quite often slower and less proficient than the widely used OpenVPN connections. In fact, OpenVPN’s popularity is the reason why the Chinese government has gone after this protocol, ignoring L2TP in the process. As a result, Private Internet Access China service sometimes works through the L2TP connections.
Use WireGuard Protocol
If OpenVPN and L2TP didn’t work for you, then you can always try PIA VPNs new Wiregaurd feature. This is also the most recommended solution as per PIA VPN live chat support team. Do keep in mind that you’ll need to update to the latest version to be able to use this feature. Just in case this method doesn’t work either, you can check out our PIA VPN not working guide for quick troubleshooting steps.
Head over to Application Settings then Connection and then select WireGuard.
For the iOS applications, head over to Application Settings > Select Protocols > Select WireGaurd. If you’re on Android, head over to Application Settings and then tap on Connection
Use an IP instead of the Hostname
Most VPN providers recommend that you use IP instead of the hostname while connecting in China. As it happens, the GFW has the ability to detect hostnames. The reason is explained below.
You can contact the PIA’s support for IP addresses that work best in China.
Pro Tip: Contact PIA through live chat, Twitter, or Reddit if you need quick answers to your queries. The email support system of the VPN is rather slow.
What features do you get with PIA VPN?
Even though PIA VPN might not work reliably in China, it is still among the top tier VPNs in the industry. It offers powerful 256-bit encryption and 3263+ servers in 48 countries. These servers are capable of easily unblocking major streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and more. Speaking of Netflix, here’s how you can easily watch Netflix with PIA VPN.
In addition, PIA VPN is awsome at offering P2P support. In fact, PIA VPN fully supports torrenting on plenty of servers all over the world. And the best part is, Private Internet Access supports a wide range of devices and operating systems. Not only can you use it on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, but you can also set up PIA VPN on routers, FireStick devices, and even on Kodi if you’re into that kind of stuff.
PIA VPN can be used on 10 devices simultaneously. With just a single subscription plan, you can protect multiple devices at once. Speaking of the subscription plan, you can always cancel your PIA VPN subscription if you end up not being satisfied with the service.
Private Internet Access China Reddit
With GFW being as unpredictable as it is, one is never sure if a VPN is actually working in China. The best thing we can do is see what users have to say on forums like Reddit.
A user from Beijing confirms that PIA works within the city.
In some instances, the VPN does not work even on the L2TP connection.
As I have mentioned before, using IP as an alternative of hostname sometimes does the trick.
And there you have it, the VPN works with the IP provided by the PIA. Aside from PIA VPN, if you’re interested in what Reddit users think about other VPNs, you can check out our carefully created VPN reviews as per Reddit users.
After reading this Private Internet Access China review, you may have realized that this VPN service works inconsistently in the country. The service may help you unblock sites in some locations, but at times, it will fail behind miserably. I have mentioned a couple of hacks that you can try but there’s no telling if any of it will work for sure.
That’s why I do not recommend buying PIA just for the sake of using it in China. You can go for the free trial if you still wish to test it out yourself. But if you ask me, there are other VPNs out there that are more reliable and have better equipment to deal with the Great Firewall than PIA VPN.