If you’re a long-time VPN user, you’re probably familiar with PureVPN and PIA – Two of the biggest brands in the industry. These providers have existed in the industry for a long time and have a huge base of loyal customers, but which one is the better choice?
The purpose of this detailed PureVPN vs PIA comparison is to find the answer to this question, namely the winner between these two VPNs.
PureVPN vs PIA VPN: Head to Head Comparison
We have compared both PureVPN and Private Internet Access on a few performance criteria. Here is a brief overview of different factors, on which these VPNs had to fight on:
A Quick Comparison of PureVPN and PIA
To test the depth of both VPNs we examined various features of PureVPN and PIA. So, if you’re in a hurry and want to know a summary of the comparison, you can take a look at the comparison table below:
|Logging Policy||No activity or user-related logs||No activity logs|
|Speed||51.67 Mbps||91.09 Mbps|
|Server Network||6,500+ servers|
|Customer Support||Live chat|
|Netflix Unblocking||Supported||Not supported|
Moreover, you can see our VPN comparison chart in which we have compared more than 60 providers.
Overview of PureVPN and PIA
PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based VPN service that is known for the geographical diversity of its servers, having a presence in over 140 countries, and innovative features like split-tunneling. The provider also has a good logging policy with a loyal fan base across the world.
PIA is a USA-based VPN service. It offers a range of basic features, but it covers these basics very well. The US jurisdiction is not considered a positive thing for any VPN service, so that is one of the major downsides to PIA.
Further details for both VPNs will be uncovered in the following detailed comparison.
1. Pricing Plans: PIA vs PureVPN
Result: PIA VPN is less expensive than PureVPN if you want to subscribe to the 2-year plan.
PureVPN – It offers multiple plans. The 1-month plan is costly as it $10.95/month. The 1-year plan is also on the expensive side costing $5.82/month. However, PureVPN offers better value for the longer-term plans, especially the 2-year subscription that is priced at $3.33/mo
PIA – It also offers 3 plans: 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year plans. The 2-year plan, costing $2.69/month, is more affordable than PureVPN’s subscription for the same period. Therefore, PIA is automatically the better choice for long-term subscriptions.
Payment Methods and Refund Policy
Both PIA and PureVPN offer a good refund policy and accept multiple payment methods.
|Payment method & Refund||PureVPN||PIA|
|Money-back guarantee||31 days||30 day|
PureVPN – You can purchase PureVPN through different payment methods including credit cards, PayPal, and cryptocurrency. Users that want to remain anonymous can easily choose PayPal or cryptocurrency to purchase their desired PureVPN subscription. In addition, PureVPN offers a 31-day money-back guarantee.
PIA – It also facilitates users by accepting payments through cryptocurrency, credit cards, and PayPal. The company used to have a 7-day refund policy, but it has extended this to 30-day now, making it just as good as PureVPN (with just a day short).
2. Logging Policy: PureVPN vs Private Internet Access
Result: PureVPN has a more transparent logging policy as compared to PIA
Does PureVPN keep logs? – It has a more transparent and reassuring logging policy as well as the advantage of being located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction of Hong Kong. The provider keeps no logs of personally identifiable information such as user activity, IP address, DNS requests, etc. which leaves no chance of any third-parties gaining access to your private files and information.
Does PIA keep logs? – It has a rather vague logging policy. Although they maintain that they keep no traffic logs, it is unclear if they do store logs of other user-related information such as IP addresses. As such, there is nothing conclusive about PIA’s treatment of user metadata.
Furthermore, PIA is based in the USA, which is one of the worst countries for privacy, due to mass surveillance programs in the country as you can also see in Private Internet Access and TunnelBear comparison.
Jurisdiction is a very crucial aspect when selecting a VPN provider. If the jurisdiction is located in a country such as the US, where any law enforcement authority can ask for user logs and data then it completely defeats the VPN purpose. Therefore, trusting IPVanish with your personal data wouldn’t be a smart decision. So using a provider like PureVPN, which supports user and privacy-friendly jurisdiction is the best decision. Also, we recently pitted PureVPN against a top-tier VPN provider and you can learn more about their brawl in PureVPN and ExpressVPN comparison.
3. Speed Results: PureVPN or Private Internet Access
Result: PureVPN is slightly faster than PIA. Both VPNs deliver excellent speeds in general.
Although both providers are quite fast, PureVPN managed to outperform PIA by a small but notable margin. To measure the speeds of both VPNs, Ookla’s online SpeedTest tool was used using a base internet connection of 30 Mbps.
|US: 91 Mbps||US: 51.67 Mbps|
|UK: 86.09 Mbps||UK: 74.59 Mbps|
|France: 90.84 Mbps||France: 91.84 Mbps|
|Australia: 76.75 Mbps||Australia: 85.5 Mbps|
|Avg. Download: 88.63 Mbps||Avg. Download: 73.46 Mbps|
PureVPN – It has reached as high as 91 Mbps on the US server and maintained an impressive average of 88.63 Mbps across all the four servers tested i.e US, UK, Australia, and Germany.
PIA – Its highest speed was recorded when connected to one of its US servers, where it reached 51.67 Mbps. Therefore, Private Internet Access’s fastest server was France during our testing. The average speed of PIA after testing it on all four different servers is 73.46 Mbps.
Speed Test #1 US Server
PureVPN managed to offer a download speed of 91 Mbps on its US server with high pings coming in at about 131 ms.
Private Internet Access delivered a download speed of 51.67 Mbps on its US server which was very slow as compared to PureVPN. Pings were also very high at 299 ms.
Speed Test #2 Australia Server
On the Australian server, PureVPN gave a download speed of 76.75 Mbps and a high upload speed of 86.84 Mbps.
PIA was faster on the Australia server as compared to PureVPN. It managed a download speed of 85.5 Mbps with very high pings at 310 ms.
4. Servers in Countries
Result: There is no clear winner here. PureVPN covers more countries through virtual servers, but PIA offers more servers in total with bare-metal servers only.
PureVPN – It has 6,500+ servers spread in 140+ countries. The extensive geographical coverage of the server network is one of the USPs of PureVPN, as most other providers in the VPN industry have their networks confined to a smaller footprint. However, it must be pointed out that many of PureVPN’s servers are virtual.
PIA – It has a larger total server count of 35,912+ in 77 countries. Although the number of servers is pretty impressive, PIA is only spread around 77 countries. The good thing is that PIA is entirely composed of physical servers only, which is one of the factors behind their smaller geographical coverage.
5. Device Compatibility: Private Internet Access and PureVPN
Result: Both PureVPN and PIA offer excellent compatibility for devices and platforms. However, PureVPN offers apps for more devices.
PureVPN – It is compatible with the commonly used platform and devices out there. This includes Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire TV, Kodi, and more. The mobile apps are neatly designed and work with optimal responsiveness. In addition, PureVPN offers extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. With one PureVPN subscription, you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.
PIA – It offers dedicated apps for most common devices including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. For browsers, it offers extensions that support Opera, Firefox, and Opera. With PIA, you can connect up to 10 devices at the same time.
6. App Usability and User Interface
Result: Both PIA and PureVPN offer well-designed apps for desktops and smartphones. This round is a tie.
PureVPN and PIA have easy-to-use apps for a variety of devices and platforms. However, PureVPN has a much more appealing app design as compared to PIA, which has a very basic app design.
|One-click installation setup||Android, iOS, Windows, macOS||Android, iOS, Windows, macOS|
In terms of performance, both apps work quite smoothly. However, PIA usually takes a longer time to connect to a server. The desktop app of PureVPN starts with the Streaming Mode selected by default.
It takes a little getting used to as there are multiple sub-menus full of different settings, so the app can certainly be made more user-friendly. However, the smartphone app of PureVPN boasts an awesome design and superior usability.
PIA offers a much simpler app that simply resides on the taskbar in your desktops. You can switch servers, connect, or disconnect the VPN from the taskbar.
The smartphone apps of PIA also feature excellent usability. You can connect to a server directly from its home screen menu.
7. Customer Support: Private Internet Access vs PureVPN
Result: PureVPN offers 24/7 live chat support. PIA does not offer live chat support.
Customer support is something that can either make or break a VPN service. Every product has flaws and you can’t expect to satisfy all customers. But if the customer support team is kind, respectful, and empathetic to their customers, it can convert even displeased customers into people that can spread positive word of mouth about a brand.
PureVPN – It is evident that the provider takes customer support quite seriously. 24/7 live chat support is incredibly useful for instantly getting answers to your questions, as well as for raising complaints if you are experiencing troubles with the VPN. PureVPN’s website also consists of a lot of helpful articles and detailed guides that explain the setup process and other important details to facilitate the user.
As a test, we asked customer support about servers to watch Netflix US through their live chat feature, and they replied instantly.
PIA – It also offers support to customers through the email ticketing system. Unfortunately, it does not offer a live chat feature which is a bummer. Like PureVPN, PIA’s official website is full of guides and instructions for installing its VPN apps, configuring different settings, and getting the best out of the service.
8. Torrenting: PIA VPN vs PureVPN
Result: PureVPN is a safer choice for torrenting as compared to PIA
A large number of online users use VPN for peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing via BitTorrent. This method is a perfectly legal way to share files. However, sharing copyrighted material such as music, movies, and games is illegal in most countries.
Even if you are not using this technology for downloading copyrighted materials, your ISP might throttle your bandwidth. Therefore, the best way to prevent this is to use a VPN for torrenting.
PureVPN – It unblocks torrent websites and allows safe downloading of torrents. The fact that PureVPN has a no-logging policy and is based in Hong Kong is another favorable advantage when it comes to downloading torrents safely.
PIA – It supports torrent though it should be remembered that the provider is based in the US. The strictest anti-piracy laws are in the US. This fact combined with the surveillance capabilities of US agencies and the vague logging policy of PIA makes it a less than ideal choice for downloading torrents. Though as far as performance is concerned, PIA is very efficient for unblocking and download torrents.
However, a strict zero-log policy, port forwarding add-on, and SOCKS5 proxy support helps build up this provider image as one of the best VPNs for torrenting.
Disclaimer: We do not encourage nor condone the use of VPNs to engage in illegal activities including copyright infringement.
9. Netflix & Unblocking Strength
Result: PureVPN is much more reliable for unblocking popular streaming services as compared to PIA
VPNs are having a hard time unblocking streaming services these days. With geo-restriction and anti-VPN technologies improving, it’s not as easy for VPNs today to find access to popular streaming services.
|Netflix||US (Inconsistent)||US, Germany|
|Hulu||US, Japan||US, Japan|
|Amazon Prime Video||No||Yes|
PureVPN – The good news is that PureVPN is still one of the few VPNs that are effective for unblocking VoD services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. The fact that PureVPN offers speeds than PIA also gives it a definite edge over PIA because seamless streaming requires fast internet connections.
PIA – It has the ability to unblock some streaming services, however, not all. If you want to watch US Netflix through one of its servers, PureVPN might be a better choice. During our testing, we did manage to get Netflix US after extensive testing because most servers were not working with Netflix and we constantly got the Netflix proxy error.
Chinese Restrictions: PIA vs PureVPN
China has imposed strict internet restrictions and censorship in the country. Most premium VPNs cannot bypass the Great Firewall of China. Let’s see if PIA and PureVPN are a good option for Chinese users to circumvent censorship and restrictions.
PIA used to work in China, but it doesn’t work anymore. When you try to use it in China, it tells users to switch protocols from OpenVPN to L2TP/IPSec which is not a secure option at all. Similarly, as discussed above, PIA cannot unblock geo-restricted sites, so you will now be able to access Google, Netflix, Skype, and more in China.
Yes, PureVPN does work in China as it is headquartered in Hong Kong. It is also great for Chinese ex-pats living abroad because it offers 12 obfuscated servers in China – Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. However, you might need to manually configure PureVPN on your devices to make it work in China.
10. Security Features: PIA vs PureVPN
Result: Both PureVPN and PIA are quite evenly matched in terms of security. You get valuable features from each provider that can boost your online privacy and security.
PureVPN – It uses AES-256 encryption. The VPN protocols offered by PureVPN include OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, IKEv2. PureVPN allows easy switching between different protocols directly through its apps. For authentication, PureVPN uses RSA-2048. In addition, advanced features such as kill switch and IP/DNS leak protection are also offered by PureVPN.
PureVPN offers strong security and privacy features including Split Tunneling, Double VPN, NAT Firewall, and DDoS protection. It also uses two different kinds of authentication:
- For data channel: AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication.
- For control channel: AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA384 hash authentication and RSA-4096 handshake encryption.
PIA – It implements AES-256 encryption but you can only use the OpenVPN configuration, which is unchangeable. PIA offers a kill switch as well as an ad and malware blocking capability using its proprietary MACE technology.
PIA uses AES-256-bit ciphers, RSA-4096 for the handshake, and SHA256 for data authentication for its data channel. For its control channel, PIA uses simple hash authentication and the same ciphers as the data channel.