- Our Rating Criteria – PIA Review
- Jurisdiction – Where is PIA VPN Based?
- Security – Is Private Internet Access Secure?
- Leaks – Does PIA VPN Leak IP, DNS, and WebRTC?
- Servers – How Many Servers Does PIA Offer?
- Speed – How Fast is PIA VPN?
- Streaming – Does Private Internet Access Work with Netflix?
- Compatibility – How Many Devices Does PIA VPN Support?
- Pricing – How Much is Private Internet Access?
- Trustworthiness – Is Private Internet Access Trustworthy?
- ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access
- Alternatives to PIA VPN
- FAQs – PIA Review
- Final Verdict
Private Internet Access VPN Review 2022
With an abundance of VPNs in the industry, you may come across providers that aren’t truly private even while they claim to be. But, in our PIA review, we found that Private Internet Access is truly an exception. The VPN offers a stringent no-logging policy and a bucketful of other features, including a Kill Switch, Ad-blocker, split tunneling, and DNS leak protection.
Apart from that, it offers 35000+ servers in 80 countries, using which you can unblock your favorite geo-blocked games, streaming platforms, and torrent clients. Cool, right?
But, despite all these features, we couldn’t label the VPN as great without testing it on strict criteria we previously used to test premium providers like ExpressVPN and Surfshark. So, without any delays, let’s start testing for our Private Internet Access review 2022.
- Allows unrestricted P2P activities
- Efficient kill switch
- MACE (ad-blocking) feature
- Configurable apps
- Unblocks geo-restricted streaming services
- Above-average server network
- Speeds are pretty average
- No security audit has been conducted
- FireStick app can be improved
Jurisdiction – Where is PIA VPN Based?
PIA is headquartered in Denver, United States. This is a bad thing because the country has engaged in some of the most privacy-invasive surveillance programs in the world.
Even though the USA has no law requiring VPNs to maintain their users’ activity logs, laws have never stopped agencies like the NSA from casually violating the privacy of American citizens. Moreover, the USA is a key member of the intelligence-gathering group known as the Five Eyes Alliance.
Therefore, a US-based VPN will always have difficulty convincing its users of guaranteed privacy.
Security – Is Private Internet Access Secure?
PIA is an absolutely safe VPN service. All its apps use encryption protocols like WireGuard and OpenVPN, which are known to be the most secure options. You can use the most secure AES-256 cipher with OpenVPN or the default AES-128.
We studied the security features of this VPN and learned that the provider offers two VPN tunneling protocols and two proxy protocols:
Along with these protocols, PIA offers military-grade 256-bit encryption. This encryption level is extremely strong and prevents the possibility of brute-force-type attacks. Furthermore, it is equipped with SHA-1 or SHA-256 encryption. For handshakes and authentication, it uses RSA-2048 public-key encryption, which itself is also quite strong.
Considering the encryption standards and VPN protocols used, PIA is quite safe to use and can be trusted to keep you secure from hackers and cybercriminals on the web.
Does Private Internet Access keep logs?
No, not really. PIA claims to offer a strict no-logging policy which means that it doesn’t collect or store any information about the VPN usage of its users. Moreover, it does not log any details regarding your connection, browsing activity, bandwidth usage, or anything else like that.
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.
PIA mentions that they keep no logs of user activities performed while using their VPN service. Here is a screenshot that confirms this:
This confirms that even though PIA is based in the US, it can still offer a good level of privacy to users since it doesn’t retain any personally identifiable information of users.
PIA VPN Advanced Security Features
Apart from the core encryption and tunneling protocols, PIA also offers some additional features for users that need to turn their security even tighter from accidental lapses.
Here are some of PIA’s key additional features:
- Robust Kill Switch
- Advanced Split Tunneling
- Default Ad-blocker
- Top-notch Protocols
- Decent Automation Settings
- Highly Customizable Settings
PIA VPN Kill Switch
A VPN kill switch is a feature that’s offered by most reliable VPNs like Private Internet Access. This feature disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection drops to make sure that your actual IP address hasn’t leaked online.
For this PIA review, we fired up our browser to test this feature and tried loading a page while switching servers. The good thing was that the page didn’t load until we were successfully connected to the VPN server. That’s how we learned that the kill switch was working.
PIA allows you to set the kill switch to ‘Auto’ or ‘Always’ on. Still, we recommend you keep it to Always, especially if you’re performing sensitive tasks like downloading torrents in a country with strict laws against online piracy. The Kill Switch will ensure that your real identity remains hidden even in case of sudden connection interruptions.
PIA encrypts all internet traffic and communication from your device, making your data absolutely unreadable by ISPs, government authorities, network administrators, and other third parties.
Its encrypted Wi-Fi feature makes PIA a standout VPN service from its competitors. When you use Private Internet Access on your Wi-Fi, it protects the device through WPA protocol first. Therefore, you must provide an authentication key before using the VPN on Wi-Fi devices, making your connection sessions more secure.
PIA SOCKS5 Proxy
PIA SOCKS5 proxy offers an additional layer of authentication as it only allows authorized users when it comes to accessing the servers. In addition, it provides an appreciable connection speed as compared to other protocols.
This makes SOCKS5 good for purposes such as downloading and streaming. The popular usage of the protocol involves downloading torrents because it usually results in faster speeds.
In short, if you desire to boost your security and privacy, PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy is the right option for you. But on its own, a VPN is ten times better than a SOCKS5 proxy. However, if you combine the two, you’ll get increased security and speed. That’s why we recommend you use PIA VPN with SOCKS5 proxy instead of the proxy alone.
So, we recommend using Private Internet Access with uTorrent and other clients directly instead of its SOCKS5 proxy.
PIA has implemented the latest WireGuard protocol in most operating systems, devices, and extensions to improve user security. With added protection, this tunneling protocol on PIA’s servers ensures its customers’ privacy and anonymity.
On the WireGuard connections, the VPN has implemented a daemon that occasionally wipes and deletes all connection data when keepalives aren’t transmitted for 3 minutes.
Private Internet Access Block Ads & Malware
Private Internet Access has a propriety ad and malware-blocking technology called MACE. The service blocks pesky ad trackers that trace you online, compromising your privacy. This is an excellent additional feature to have alongside the core VPN protection functionalities.
We tested this feature by visiting a popular news website in the United States. You can see in the image below that PIA successfully blocked the ad appearing at the top of the news site:
But please note that the feature won’t remove every ad on all sites. While testing, it didn’t block any advertisements on YouTube. We hope this answers your ‘Is Private Internet Access safe?’ query.
PIA VPN Port Forwarding
PIA VPN also offers port forwarding capability for no additional costs. Port forwarding basically allows specific applications on your device/computer to communicate over dedicated ports. This essentially limits access to certain network parts of a given application, such as gaming.
Many gaming servers can only be accessed through specific ports. Therefore, if you’re a gamer that needs port forwarding functionality on a VPN, PIA is a very good choice.
Here’s a quick guide to setting up port forwarding with PIA: Subscribe to PIA and install its VPN client. Open the PIA app on your device. Then, visit Settings > Network. Enable “Request Port Forwarding.” From the server menu, choose a server location that supports port forwarding and click connect.
Handshake Naming System (HNS)
The US-based VPN service has added another feather to its cap by adding the “Handshake Naming System” technology to its armory. Hence, you can change the selected Name Server from PIA DNS (Domain Name System) server to any Handshake Name System (HNS) server if you use Mac, Linux, or Windows devices.
Once you have changed the settings, you can surf the web securely and anonymously from anywhere. Here is what you can do to enable HNS in your PIA settings:
- From your Private Internet Access settings window, you should right-click the PIA system tray icon
- You must left-click on settings, the settings window will pop up on the screen
- Go to the Network tab, change PIA DNS to “Handshake” from the drop-down menu
- Connect to the PIA server to enforce the name server change effectively
Leaks – Does PIA VPN Leak IP, DNS, and WebRTC?
PIA VPN doesn’t leak your IP, DNS, and WebRTC information. To test PIA for leaks on our Windows device, we used ipleak.net and found the VPN totally free of any leaks.
We further tested PIA for IP/DNS leaks on macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, and the VPN did not leak our actual IP address on any device.
However, we did notice some WebRTC leaks while using PIA’s browser extensions. Because of its robust DNS protection protocols and private DNS servers, all DNS requests are processed by Private Internet Access rather than ISPs. In short, there’s a very minimal risk of data leaks when utilizing PIA.
Servers – How Many Servers Does PIA Offer?
Along with no data limitations, PIA offers 35000 servers in 80 countries with a split tunneling feature, using which you can stream and browse as much content as you like with fast speeds.
This extensive server network is available across four regions:
|Regions||Number of Countries|
|Middle East, Africa, & Central Asia||12 countries|
|Asia Pacific||17 countries|
All the servers are physical, ensuring stability and preventing server overcrowding. And like ExpressVPN, it runs only RAM-only servers for additional privacy.
The best thing about an extensive server network is that it becomes difficult for streaming services to block IP addresses. Moreover, it provides you with multiple server options to connect to within a country, so you get the one with the fastest speeds.
Nonetheless, since most of the servers are in locations where online censorship and regulation aren’t big problems, it’s unlikely users will feel the need to have access to a larger pool of locations in PIA’s network. If you’re having trouble with PIA, you can find some helpful tips in PIA not connecting guides.
Is PIA VPN good for torrenting?
Yes, PIA is a good VPN for torrenting, as it easily passed all our P2P performance and security tests. It offers AES 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. It’s also one of the very few VPNs that offer port forwarding, which can significantly enhance your torrenting speeds.
All PIA servers support torrenting and P2P activities. However, the provider actually reroutes your data packets to those servers where torrenting can be safely done, such as Switzerland and Netherlands.
Therefore, you’ll perform better if you directly connect to these servers rather than hopping through multiple locations to circle back to Switzerland or Netherlands. We tested Private Internet Access with uTorrent and could download a 1.2 GB file within 5 minutes. To learn more about it, check out our article on using Private Internet Access for torrenting.
Speed – How Fast is PIA VPN?
Private Internet Access offers a worldwide network of next-generation servers that has been optimized for 10 Gbps connection speeds and uses the world’s speediest protocols. This means there won’t be any stuttering, buffering, freezing, or lagging during your online activities.
PIA offers fast service on local servers, but its faraway servers can slow down your speeds. To conduct PIA speed tests on our Windows device, we set the app to 256-bit encryption with the OpenVPN UDP protocol, and it provided us with the best speeds as compared to other VPN protocols.
Once set, we ran speed tests on nine different servers. This is how the speed test results went in our PIA review:
|Server Location||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Pings|
|Australia||75.52 Mbps||64.09 Mbps||310 ms|
|Canada||53.17 Mbps||51.92 Mbps||288 ms|
|Hong Kong||55.59 Mbps||54.09 Mbps||470 ms|
|Israel||71.84 Mbps||65.09 Mbps||210 ms|
|Singapore||74.67 Mbps||43.5 Mbps||121 ms|
|South Africa||59.5 Mbps||55.84 Mbps||303 ms|
|United Arab Emirates||78.42 Mbps||63.17 Mbps||242 ms|
|United Kingdom||66.09 Mbps||60 Mbps||150 ms|
|United States||81.09 Mbps||62 Mbps||279 ms|
Overall, PIA’s speeds were pretty impressive. On its local US server, you can see that our speed dropped by only 19%, whereas the minimum speed drop on our long-distance servers was 26%. Moreover, if you want guaranteed fast speeds, then you can use PIA’s Auto-connect feature.
Streaming – Does Private Internet Access Work with Netflix?
Yes, PIA works with Netflix. However, it unblocks only 7 Netflix libraries, including the UK, US, Japan, Denmark, and France. If you want to access more Netflix content, you should try another VPN like ExpressVPN instead.
We tested PIA using its US server first. We connected to its US – Washington DC server and unblocked American Netflix easily. After that, it took about a minute to load the complete library and access multiple titles without any issues.
Let us tell you that PIA also offers streaming-optimized servers to unblock different Netflix libraries. These specialized servers are present in Japan, the US, Denmark, the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, and more. However, when tested, its DE streaming-optimized server could not unblock German Netflix for us.
Other Streaming Services
PIA works with popular streaming services other than Netflix as well, such as Hulu, Disney+, and CBS. The geo-restriction firewalls on these websites are weaker than those employed by Netflix and BBC iPlayer. When we tested PIA with Hulu, it unblocked the streaming platform for us within a minute.
This is why PIA has a success rate when it comes to unblocking Hulu, CBS, etc. but not in the case of US Netflix and others.
Compatibility – How Many Devices Does PIA VPN Support?
With one PIA subscription, you can connect as many devices as you like, up to 10 devices simultaneously. Private Internet Access VPN also works with all popular streaming services, so you get unrestricted access to all your favorite content.
PIA supports all common operating systems and devices, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
That’s not all. PIA VPN is officially available on the Amazon App Store, you can easily set up PIA VPN on FireStick. The Private Internet Access app for FireStick is pretty user-friendly and doesn’t require manual configuration.
In addition, users can manually set up PIA on Roku and Kodi by using a pre-VPN-configured router. But the dedicated apps of PIA for desktops and mobile phones offer the best functionality and user experience.
PIA VPN for Windows
PIA VPN has a very simple app for Windows, whose natural habitat is in the taskbar. The app has an appealing visual design and also comes in both Light and Dark versions, which is pretty cool.
You can choose your preferred server location to connect to from the home screen. In fact, you can do the connecting and disconnecting by right-clicking the PIA VPN icon on the taskbar without even needing to open the full interface of the app. We think that’s pretty convenient.
You can configure some settings such as VPN protocols, encryption levels, ad-blocker, and Kill Switch from the settings tab. Connecting to a server takes a few seconds, and the process is generally stable, with almost no connection drops.
Overall, the PIA Windows app is quite usable.
PIA VPN for macOS
The PIA app for macOS is almost a replica of the Windows app. All the features that you get in the Windows version are also available in the Mac app. The connectivity and performance are also impressive, just like in the case of Windows.
PIA VPN for Linux
PIA is one of the few providers that offers a complete GUI-based app for Linux systems, which looks and performs very much like the other desktop apps for Windows and macOS.
This is extremely commendable, and PIA deserves 10/10 for its clean, stripped-down, yet highly configurable VPN apps for desktops and smartphones alike.
PIA VPN for Android
The Android app extremely features a simple and highly intuitive design. The home screen consists mostly of white space with a large on and off button that you can toggle with a tap. At the bottom is mentioned your currently selected server location and IP address.
To change the server region, you can simply tap on the region displayed at the bottom of the screen, which will open the full list of available server locations.
The app provides a lot of configurable settings, including UDP and TCP connections, port forwarding, encryption standards, automatic protection in case of connecting to unknown Wi-Fi hotspots, and even Per-App Settings, which essentially offers split-tunneling functionality.
Suffice it to say; the provider certainly invested a lot of time and energy into developing the Android app, which offers a crazy amount of options while remaining super easy to use.
PIA VPN for iOS
The iOS app looks and behaves the same way as PIA’s Android version. However, it is not as configurable because iOS doesn’t permit low-level tweaking in any app. Nonetheless, it still provides an impressive range of settings that can be changed, such as VPN protocols, Kill Switch, Adblocker (MACE), and more.
Overall, it is a very streamlined and usable app.
Pricing – How Much is Private Internet Access?
Private Internet Access offers users three (3) affordable pricing plans: 2-year, 6-month, and 1-month. The 2-year plan costs only $2.03/mo and offers 4 months of service FREE. The 1-month plan is three times costlier than its 2-year plan, so it’s actually not worth opting for.
This is what the current pricing looks like:
Thinking: Is Private Internet Access free by any chance? Well, all PIA VPN packages offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so users can cancel PIA and request a refund within 30 days of purchase if they’re unsatisfied with the service.
If you want to stay secure without spending a lot of money on a VPN, you should check out the best PIA VPN deals. Also, you can check out the Black Friday VPN deals to get a massive discount on your PIA subscription.
Payment Methods: Bitcoin and Much More
PIA accepts all major credit cards, Union Pay, PayPal, and multiple other payment methods. These methods include BitPay, which allows you to subscribe to the VPN with many different cryptocurrencies, like Ethereum, Dogecoin, Bitcoin, and Litecoin.
It further lets you pay through third-party gift cards for further anonymity. You can also subscribe to it using iTunes and Google Pay through an in-app purchase.
Trustworthiness – Is Private Internet Access Trustworthy?
PIA is an absolutely trustworthy VPN service, offering great security and a proven no-logging policy. It offers an efficient ad-blocker, the largest server network available, and allows anonymous torrenting. In short, one won’t be able to find such a reliable VPN at a super-affordable price.
Before we recommend this VPN in our PIA review, we checked what consumers actually have to say about the VPN. So, we reviewed its Trustpilot rating to see how efficient PIA’s customer support is in case users need help.
Private Internet Access Trustpilot Rating
PIA has a good reputation on Trustpilot. The provider has a rating of 4.6/5.0 with over 8,700 user reviews. 68% of the users rated the service excellent.
This means that it’s a top choice for all VPN users worldwide. Moreover, we also checked Private Internet Access reviews on Reddit, and most users had pleasant experiences with it. To check out these reviews, go through our PIA Reddit guide.
PIA’s live chat support is pretty decent. It’s quite efficient and informative when responding, and our queries were answered 80% of the time. However, if you don’t get an answer, you’re encouraged to email the provider through its ticketing system.
For our PIA review, we tested PIA’s 24/7 live chat support and were responded to by a chatbot. We clicked the Transfer to Agent prompt, after which we were connected to a human representative in about 4-5 minutes. Then, we asked a question about their supported Netflix libraries and got an informative answer within seconds.
As for the ticketing system, we received an answer in about 8 hours from their customer support representatives. There’s also a knowledgebase section on their website with 100+ FAQs that’s updated now and then to solve your issues.
Along with all that, PIA also offers a Twitter account dedicated to solving user queries. We DMed them with a query about a technical app issue and got a response after two days. However, while speaking of quick solutions, if you ever encounter any connectivity issues, check out our Private Internet Access not working guide.
ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access
If you want to compare ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, you can explore the below-mentioned table:
|Price||$6.67/mo (Get 49% Off + 3 Months FREE this Black Friday/Cyber Monday)||$2.03/mo|
|Servers||3000+ servers in 94 countries||35000+ servers in 80 countries|
|Compatibility||All Devices||All Devices|
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands||United States|
|Logging Policy||Zero Logs||Does not keep logs|
|Customer Support||Live chat & email support||Live chat & email support|
FAQs – PIA Review
Do we recommend Private Internet Access?
Yes, we highly recommend Private Internet Access. PIA is a reliable VPN with a proven no-logging policy and great security. It allows you to torrent anonymously, offers an ad-blocker, and the biggest server network worldwide. One should be happy to find a trustworthy VPN for a very reasonable cost.
After thoroughly testing the VPN for our PIA VPN review, we can say this without hesitation.
Does PIA work in China?
Private Internet Access doesn’t work properly in China. There have been multiple reports of users who could connect, but the methods to do so required third-party scripts and manual configuration to circumvent the DNS poisoning of the country.
We confirmed this after conducting our PIA VPN review.
Can PIA VPN be tracked?
There’s no way to get tracked while using PIA since its software doesn’t store or record users’ personal data. PIA doesn’t store or log any VPN usage information that may trace back to you. In fact, it claims to hold no records of its users’ browsing activity or bandwidth usage or anything of such sort. This means your digital footprints are completely hidden with PIA.
Does PIA VPN sell your data?
Now that we’ve reached the end of our Private Internet Access VPN review, we’d like to mention that PIA is one of the best VPN providers available in the industry. It offers robust security, reliable speeds, and super-customizable app options. Apart from that, you also get great unblocking capabilities and a GUI-based Linux app.
In short, it’s the best you can get at such a price. But if you’re searching for fool-proof security, blazing-fast speeds, and above-par customer support, then we recommend you get ExpressVPN. It’s that one VPN you can never go wrong with.
That’s all for our PIA review. Until next time!