Private Internet Access or PIA is an American based VPN service that promises a lot in terms of compatibility and customer support service. As you read along this Private Internet Access review, you will learn some of its other attributes as well.
As an adherent advocate of digital privacy, I take special interest in VPN that market privacy as their main offering. Hence, I took the liberty of testing out this VPN myself before writing about its strengths and drawbacks.
My goal is to find the best VPN to keep government agencies, hackers and scammers away from the Netizens. Is this VPN good enough for this? You will have to read on to find out.
- High emphasis on privacy & security
- Offers anonymous payment options
- Expansive server spread in major countries
- Does not keep any logs
- Offers easy to use apps & software
- Provides leading protocols and military grade encryption
- 24/7 customer support
- 7 days money back guarantee
- 3145+ servers in 33 countries
- Compatible with all leading platforms and devices
- No free trial to test the service
- Variable speed performance on some servers
- Does not support US Netflix streaming
- Does not have live chat feature
- Based in the US
What is PIA VPN?
Private Internet Access is one of the leading VPN providers in the industry. As the name suggest, this VPN emphasizes on digital privacy of its users.
With top of the line features, military grade encryption, secure tunneling, no logging policy, and a global server spread, the VPN provides online anonymity and protection against most dangerous cyber threats. You can even subscribe to the VPN service through anonymous payment methods like Bitcoin.
Despite all this, I remain skeptical. My skepticism stems from some my other experiences related to VPNs. I have been duped by VPNs that love to market their advanced security features but fail to deliver.
To make sure that something similar does not happen to you. I tested out this service myself to tell what I Like and Dislike about this service.
Jurisdiction: The United States
On one hand, the USA has no law that requires VPNs to maintain activity log of the user. On the other hand, it is quite possibly the worst place for VPN to based in.
Ever since the revelation of Edward Snowden, everyone and their uncle know that American agencies spy on their citizens.
Moreover, the American government has some of the most advancement software to spy on its citizens. Therefore, a US based VPN will always have a hard time convincing its users of guaranteed privacy.
Hence, I encourage you all to do your research. Read the privacy of this VPN before opting for it.
Features Overview: The VPN in a Nutshell
The provider offers different some handy features to the user. But the fact that this VPN is located in the US is troubling. Unlike PureVPN that runs from Hong Kong, this VPN’s jurisdiction is a matter of concern.
Subscribers of this VPN may use the service on five different devices simultaneously. In addition, the users can avail marvelous customer support that provides swift resolution to your queries.
That is all good but my interest remains in the privacy aspect of this service. In particular, I am interested in the protocol and encryption option it provides.
Fortunately, this VPN has me satisfied with its PPTP, L2TP, SOCKS5 and OpenVPN options. I like my VPNs with OpenVPN as they provide good encryption.
Numerous other aspect of this VPN interests me a great deal. This Private Internet Access Review will explore all these factors in detail.
Plans and Pricing: Affordable Service
There are three basic package plans offered by this VPN service: monthly package plan, 6 month package plan and yearly package plan.
All these provide the al the benefits that this VPN offers. This means you will get the same servers, protocol options and security features on all of these packages.
The VPN offers 12 months package plan for just $3.33/month. This is a ridiculously low price when you compare it with the cost of some other VPNs.
In addition, if you commit for a longer period, you get even more discount. There is no Private Internet Access Lifetime package that may extend to five years. Instead, the VPN offers a 2-year package.
The two years package requires you to pay $2.91 per month. All this puts this VPN straight in the cheap VPN territory.
Is Private Internet Access Safe?
The short answer is; Yes. This VPN has tool to shield you from the malicious intent of hackers and scammers.
As mentioned in the review, the VPN has OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocol option. With this, the 256-bit encryption level it provides is used by banks to safeguard sensitive information.
Protocols and Encryption: Capable Tools for Digital Security
Don’t get it wrong. I value all the added features and benefits a VPN provides. But encryption is an ingredient that satisfies two of my most important needs – privacy and security.
A VPN ensures your confidentiality through its diverse tunneling protocols. Furthermore, through its encryption protocols, a VPN encrypts your data. This minimizes the possibility of unauthorized access and data abuse.
I studied the security features of this VPN and learned that the provider offers three tunneling protocols:
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)
- L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol)
- SOCKS5 Proxy Tunnel
PPTP is an obsolete protocol that has proven vulnerable. In spite of this, some Netizens use it for surpassing geo-limitations.
In addition, it satisfies the needs associated with anonymity as your real IP is masked the moment you connect a VPN. PPTP has minimal affect on your Internet speed; but, it in return offers shallow security.
Those who are concerned about their security prefer L2TP instead. L2TP is a sophisticated protocol that offers absolute anonymity and competent security.
OpenVPN is a popular protocol option that supports military grade encryption. It is widely used due to its ability of balancing speed with security.
A newer and unusual option is SOCKS5 proxy. This option is mostly used for streaming purpose as it provides good speed. PIA proxy settings provide minimalistic security but unblocks geo-locked content.
All three different protocols liberalize users’ freedom of choice along with diversity.
Aside from protocol, encryption is also an important tool to safeguard your privacy on the web. This VPN service offers 128-bit AES encryption by default.
However, you will not anticipate much of a hassle in improving your encryption level to 256-bit military grade encryption.
Furthermore, you can use its customized SHA-1 or SHA-256 encryption to enhance your anonymity to new heights. Likewise, the VPN uses RSA-2048 public key encryption to setup handshakes between clients and servers.
Compatibility: Multiple Platforms Supported
Device compatibility is another key aspect of a VPN service I explore in my VPN reviews. Imagine a VPN service with feature-rich package plans, cheap price and 2000+ servers in 50 regions.
Also, imagine that you can connect this VPN on your PC only. All the features and tempting offers would simply lose their appeal.
We live a busy lifestyle in a technologically advanced era. Life today is literally on the go. Device compatibility therefore, is one of the most essential constituents you may consider before purchasing a VPN.
PIA VPN in this regard serves as a good alternative that you can consider. You can download Private Internet Access clients for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. The Private Internet Access Ubuntu service is available via manual configuration.
Although I only use Android and Windows devices, I am happy this VPN has everyone covered.
After all, digital privacy is the right of every user despite their chosen device.
Payment Methods: Bitcoin and Much More
Diversity of payment methods is another key enforcer of my VPN purchase decision. I believe that a VPN should provide multiple anonymous and non-anonymous payment methods for customer’s convenience.
Saying that, I am glad that this VPN doesn’t let me down in this regard.
The VPN currently accepts payments via Credit Cards, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, PayPal, Amazon, Ripple, Amazon Pay and Mint. It also provides variety of cryptocurrencies.
While most VPN providers take the high road when it comes to accepting cryptocurrencies, this VPN goes all in.
Moreover, you can use PIA gift card option for anonymous payment.
This shows that providers are serious about their commitment to the privacy of the users.
Every VPN promises to store no logs at all. Yet, not all deliver on that promise. In fact, on the contrary, many VPNs have handed over customer data to third parties.
In my opinion, VPN providers should be crystal clear about what user they keep or not. If they record customer data for any purpose at all, they should come clean.
In addition to this, the VPN makes it clear that keeps no logs customer activity.
Unique Selling Proposition: Kill Switch, DNS Leak & IPv6 Protection
Several factors of this VPN makes its service stand out. Be it the cheap prices, protocol or payment methods, all of them help this service’s case as a top VPN provider.
But features such Kill Switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection truly establish this VPN’s credentials as capable online privacy tool.
The kill switch disconnects your internet if you lose your VPN connection for one reason or the other.
This stops your actual IP address from getting exposed to your local ISP or the site you are visiting.
Meanwhile, DNS leak protection routes through the dedicated Private Internet Access DNS servers. This puts an extra layer of security on your connection.
Lastly, IPv6 leak protection feature disables the IPv6 traffic whilst the VPN is connected. This makes sure no IPv6 leak over to your internet connection.
All these security feature turned out to be extremely efficient in my tests. I experience no leaks while using this service.
Decent Server Coverage
There are many reasons that justify the need of a VPN. Number of servers offered by a VPN service provider serves as the key enforcer while making a purchase decision.
The VPN servers along with the geographic location of their presence allow users to access broad range of geo-restricted content. The VPN gives you access to more than 3145+ servers geographically scattered in different regions.
Currently the VPN has its servers located in more than 33 countries: U.S, Canada, U.K, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Isreal, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong and others.
Keep in mind that many of these servers are in fact, PIA proxy servers.
When you connect to a particular server, you will be assigned an IP of that respective region. Hence, you can access any geo-restricted content produced for the native eyes only.
Average Speed: Not Up to the Standard
No matter how much I research about this VPN, I can only hypothesize about its performance.
In order to add valid rationale justifying the VPN’s performance, I conducted some speed tests to check reliability of the service in this review.
Find here the latest VPN speed tests results for various VPN services including PIA.
For this, I first tested my connection speed and then connected my device to different servers of this VPN to compare the results.
I connected using a 30 Mbps connection and the results revealed by speed test are portrayed by the snapshot given below.
After this, I examined the speed of Private Internet Access UK server. The snapshot given below portrays the PIA speed test results for the UK.
Ping has increased from 4 to 122 ms – which is a cause of concern. Download speed however was affected as it dropped from 22.60 Mbps to 18.46 Mbps. The good news is that upload speed wasn’t deteriorated much (30.34 Mbps – before connecting a VPN, 25.91 Mbps – after connecting a VPN).
Overall, in my test, this proved to be the fastest PIA server.
After testing the PIA VPN UK servers, I tested Switzerland in order to authenticate the results at much greater extent. The snapshot given below reveals the results of speed test after connecting to the Switzerland server. Ping enhanced a little bit more and the download speed was affected as well. However, upload speed improved as compared to the results extracted while being connected to a UK server.
The process does not end here. I tested the VPN’s France server as well. The ping rose from 0 ms to 311 ms here. Download speed after connecting a VPN was 11.62 Mbps and upload speed was 5.64 Mbps.
Wait! There’s more. I tested the Netherlands server also and the results were a little bit different than the previous ones. Ping was 144 ms, download speed was 6.26 Mbps and upload speed was 24.80 Mbps.
After testing different servers, it can be deduced that download speed was significantly affected every time I connected a VPN. However, this is a widely accepted fact that a VPN affects your actual Internet speed. So, an approximate drop of Internet speed by 40-45% should really be a concern here – I guess.
The results derived for PIA VPN review show that the performance of this VPN is less than impressive.
The saving grace is that the VPN’s servers is that they do not affect the upload speed much. This is the good news for all those who love to share. Furthermore, the ping is affected as well, which is a bad news for all gamers seeking a VPN.
No Free Trial of Private Internet Access
I know most of you would have tried to find this section the moment you accessed this article. However, I don’t have good news; because, Private Internet Access free trial does not exist.
I know most of you would not be happy after reading this bit in my Private Internet Access review. In fact, some of you might decide to turn down this VPN for this reason.
A free trial is often offered to people so that they can try the services and purchase them if they’re satisfied. This is because, some VPN service providers show something and sell another.
The VPN service providers that do not offer a free trial often present a money back guarantee with their service. PIA refund policy states that you can get your money back within 7 days of the payment.
Still, a free trial is an enforcer like no other. Hence, this is one of the aspects of the VPN, I did not like.
Customer Service: No Live Chat Feature
After sales service is one of the key enforcers to retain your clients; especially when you operate in a service industry. But when it comes to a VPN, customer service becomes something more than just necessary.
Customer service representative is often a lifesaver when you are in middle of a hassle. All these services add value to the service purchased and probably augment retention.
Unfortunately, I learned while writing the PIA VPN review 2018, the service has done away with its Live Chat feature. Instead, it has opted the more classical email ticketing system.
The providers answers Email queries within 10 to 12 hours. The replies are comprehensive, clear and helpful.
The good news is that the providers still offer a knowledgebase, Guides and a Blog. With the help of these services, you can set up this VPN on any of your preferred devices.
For instance, a detailed a Private Internet Access Firestick guide on the website. It helps you configure the VPN on the streaming service. It also maintains an impress Private Internet Access DD WRT guide. You will also find some PIA Ubuntu guides on this page.
Nevertheless, there is no such as Live Chat when you need quick solutions.
Private Internet Access Netflix Review: No Access
Netflix is a great source of entertainment. It provides access to quality movies, shows, documentaries and other similar content.
Yet, this streaming service has its limitation. It blocks certain content in some countries due to copyright issues.
Thankfully, VPNs can unlock restricted content on Netflix. With a capable VPN, you can enjoy Netflix with no limitations.
Bad news is that this VPN that is particularly good in unlocking content on Netflix. In my test, the streaming site detected the VPN with no real difficulty.
Hopefully the PIA Netflix service will improve in the near future. I look forward to a Private Internet Access update that makes it efficient on Netflix.
Until then, we can only dream of watching Netflix with Private Internet Access.
Other Things You Should Know
PIA VPN Performance Review: How Efficient is This VPN?
The performance of the service varies from server to server. My Private Internet Access VPN review discloses that you may find better downloading speeds on different servers. Conversely, you may experience slow downloading speeds on servers.
Furthermore, if you use the service during peak hours then you may face the connectivity issues. The users may anticipate buffering issues while watching their favorite media content on their devices.
PIA VPN Different Devices
As I have previously stated in my Private Internet Access VPN review, the provider is compatible with multiple devices. Here is the list of operating systems and devices on which this VPN works:
PIA on Windows
My PIA VPN review discloses that the service has a dedicated client for Windows. You can download PIA VPN on Windows devices to protect your online identity from online hackers and from other malicious threats.
I have used the Private Internet Access Windows 10 client myself and I found it to be a user-friendly software.
PIA on MacOS
The same goes for MacOS because the service is compatible and provides amazing installation guides for MacOS. Thus, you need to install the software for your MacOS. By doing so, you are able to surf the web anonymously with your Private Internet Access Mac client.
Mac OS software of this VPN has an eye-catching interface and the same tools as the PIA Windows 10 client.
PIA on Linux
The VPN provides user- friendly tutorials for Linux based operating system. The subscribers just have to download and follow the simple installation procedure to enjoy next level anonymity.
Although there is no dedicated PIA Linux client, you set it up on the device following few simple steps. You can use.
PIA on iOS
Likewise, the users may opt the service to attain online privacy and freedom on their iOS devices. To achieve this purpose, you can download and install the relevant app on your iOS devices straightaway.
The Private Internet Access iPhone app is available to download from iTunes.
PIA on Android
Our PIA VPN review suggests that the service is highly compatible with the Android platform. Through the official website, you can download and install the Android app on your Android devices instantly.
You can also download the Private Internet Access APK app from Google Play.
PIA Chrome Extension
PIA Chrome extension comes with WebRTC blocking and Website URL whitelist. Adding it to the browser is a matter of few seconds.
This add-on can switched on and off with utmost ease. Overall, the Private Internet Access Chrome Extension is user-friendly and convenient tool for anyone seeking online privacy.
PIA Firefox Extension
Unfortunately, there is no Private Internet Access Firefox extension. In its place, the providers offer Foxy Proxy.
The Foxy Proxy allows you to use the SOCK5 proxy server on your Firefox. It provides access to blocked content but offers little online privacy.
PIA on Router
By setting up a Private Internet Access router, you can protect multiple devices from external threats.
To do that, you have to manually set up the VPN on your router. The PIA router guides on the provider’s website help you avail this feature.
Software and Tutorials Provided
You get a FREE software for Windows and MacOS with this VPN. The software facilitates you to connect to any desired server of the VPN.
The software is easy to use and configure. You can connect to any server of your choice by simply entering Username and Password. You will then be connected with default settings to the server of your choice.
However, you can configure the settings easily by just clicking ‘Advanced‘ option. After clicking the prescribed option, you will be able to access the settings panel of the software allowing you to change Connection Type and configure Remote port. Furthermore, you can enable or disable Port Forwarding, VPN Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection and IPv6 Leak Protection.
The VPN not only provides Free Software for Windows and MacOS but also offers Free OpenVPN Application for Android 4.0 or above.
In order to configure PPTP or L2TP protocols on you device, you need to access detailed tutorials available on the official website. Furthermore, you can access tutorials for manual configuration of VPN (PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN) on any device you prefer.
PIA VPN Installation Process
My PIA VPN review affirms that the process of installing the service on different devices is straightforward. Here is how you can do to achieve your objective.
- Subscribe to the service through the official website
- After subscribing to the service download the app on your device
- Once you have installed the app, just login by entering your PIA login credentials
- Select the VPN server of your choice from the list
- Enjoy the benefit of complete online freedom from anywhere
Private Internet Access Torrenting: Not Recommended
At the start of the review, I mentioned that the VPN is based in the United States. Therefore, the users should not opt the US servers for streaming servers.
However, you can select the service for the torrenting needs. Users need to select servers other than US to secure their torrent downloading activities.
Furthermore, the service follows the notion of DMCA policy in true letter and spirit. Therefore, just to stay safe, I do not recommend you to use this VPN for torrenting. By doing so, you will might find yourself in hot waters.
Still, you should not lose all your hopes. If you use torrents for watching video content, you have an alternative. You have the best VPN for streaming at your disposal. As a result, you can watch your desired media content from anywhere anonymously.
How to Use PIA VPN with uTorrent?
If you wish to use PIA for torrenting despite the copyright issues, you can follow procedure mentioned below:
Torrenting and P2P file sharing are the most popular and economical method to get popular movies, songs, documentaries, videos, games and softwares for free. However, with a crackdown against torrent giants like torrentz and piratebay, law enforcement agencies are lurking to catch and penalize torrenters.
However, fortunately, PIA VPN with an excellent set of strong tunneling protocols offers top-notch torrenting protection to users. Once configured on users’ system, PIA VPN encrypts the entire torrent traffic of users and makes them anonymous to DMCA, ISP monitoring and copyright owners.
For users ease, we’ve created an easy step by step configuration guide below; that will help you to use PIA VPN with uTorrent.
Here’s how to use PIA VPN with uTorrent client:
- Make an account on PIA VPN site
- Choose a VPN package plan of your choice and make payment
- Now, setup uTorrent client on your system
- Launch uTorrent client, click on Menu>Options>Preferences
- From Preferences, select Connection
- Now make configuration as mentioned below:
Proxy server type: Socks5
Connection port: 1080
- Next, enter the username and password as provided by provider and proceed.
Once the setup is finished, restart uTorrent client and start downloading endless torrents safely and anonymously from any corner of the world.
Moreover, if you face any issues with the VPN setup on uTorrent then feel free to drop a query in the comment box at the end of this VPN review.
Does Private Internet Access Work in China?
China with its Great Firewall is undoubtedly the worst place for Internet Freedom. It a place some of the most popular websites are blocked.
The only way to circumvent the cyber restrictions in China is by using a capable VPN service.
Private Internet Access in China only works through its L2TP connections.
Private Internet Access Hulu: Does it unblock the Streaming Site?
Hulu is another popular streaming site that brings us entertaining shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale.
Unfortunately, this service is only available to American users. Hence, one needs VPN to access it in other countries.
The VPN I am reviewing does not offer any Netflix accessibility.
Private Internet Access vs. NordVPN
My private internet access review would not be complete without comparing it against a top VPN service. Here is the snapshot of comparison table that helps you to know about the hidden attributes of both the services.
|Features||Private Internet Access||NordVPN|
|Money Back Guarantee||7 Days||30 Days|
Private Internet Access vs. TunnelBear
TunnelBear, a VPN service in Canada is another impressive privacy provider that even offers free services. Below, a TunnelBear vs PIA review comparison tells you a VPN service in Canada.
|Features||Private Internet Access||TunnelBear|
|Money Back Guarantee||7 Days||No|
Private Internet Download and Login Process
Fortunately, the task of logging in through the VPN is straightforward and does not need any rocket science. According to this Private Internet Access VPN review, the users can download and install the preferred app on their devices.
My review unveils that the downloading this VPN is straightforward. You do not need to be a tech geek to download Private Internet Access on your device.
Once you have completed the download and have paid for the service, you can start using the service instantly. After entering your Private Internet Access Login credentials, you can connect to any server from the list and attain online anonymity.
London Trust Media Review
My review reveals that the service is a brainchild of London Trust Media. Interestingly, you can find different unbiased reviews about London Trust Media owned Private Internet Access VPN on ResellerRatings. Thus, you are able to discover the pros and cons of the service in a realistic manner.
PIA Review on Reddit
Reddit is one of the most sought interactive platforms that allow you to get the solution of your queries instantly. Moreover, you are able to attain the unbiased or neutral reviews about different VPN services in a timely manner. Hence, you can make right decisions about your online privacy.
The PIA VPN reddit consists of satisfied customers along with a fair share of critics.
Here is the response of one Reddit user suggesting you can opt for this VPN to protect your online activities.
Interestingly, the service has started accepting online payments through BTC and BCH.
A Private Internet Access Australia review warns against FVEY exits.
Moreover, a Private Internet Access review from Canada complaints about receiving a copyright claim.
A redditors argue that PIA Canada service is still impressive.
While this VPN is still effective, it cannot be categorized as a best Canada VPN.
The rise of technology has made our security vulnerable. We currently are experiencing different threats directed to our privacy. It is almost impossible to acknowledge Internet liberty now; because, someone, somewhere is always monitoring our online activities. No matter who is behind the privacy threats we encounter – either it is the NSA vigilantes or the cyber-goons, absolute anonymity has become a myth.
A VPN in this regard serves as a great remedy. A VPN is an ultimate solution to all the concerns we encounter with respect to Internet security and online privacy. However, there are many VPN service providers trading in the market. Most of them have resembling package plans and often confuse new users with their tempting offers and promotions. I am here to help you in this regard.
After thorough analysis and testing of package plans and features representing Private Internet Access VPN, I can conclude that PIA offers feature-rich package plans at affordable price. Not only this, PIA has wide range of servers allowing you to break through divergent geo-restrictions. DNS Leak Protection in addition is a feature that adjoins more value to the package plans.
PIA VPN does not depict much effect on either Internet speed or ping; hence, it can be considered as a viable alternative. Nonetheless, PIA does not offer a FREE trial which will probably be a loophole hindering purchase decision of many. I therefore give 3/5 to the service in my analysis of Private Internet Access review.