Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access sit on the Mount Rushmore of the VPN industry.
PIA has established itself as a preferred choice for the budget-conscious users, whereas NordVPN has redefined online privacy with its advanced security features.
In this NordVPN vs PIA comparison, I will evaluate the capabilities of each on 14 different criteria as follows:
|Jurisdiction||Panama||United States of America|
|Logging Policy||Strict zero-logs stance||Strict zero-logs stance|
|Pricing, Payment options, and Refunds||$2.99/month, 30-day refund window, payable via Credit Cards, Cryptocurrencies, and Alipay||$3.11/month, 7-day refund window, payable via Credit Cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and more|
|Speed||28.45 Mbps (download)||21.4 Mbps (download)|
|Server Network||5216 Servers in 60 Countries||3341 Servers in 32 Countries|
|Compatibility||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox, Routers||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Opera|
|Performance and Reliability||Well-designed apps function reliably||Basic app design with decent functionality|
|Customer Support||Live Chat, Tutorials||Email/form based query submissions, Knowledgebase/Tutorials|
|Torrenting||Supported on P2P optimized servers||Supported on all PIA servers|
|Netflix Unblocking||Supports good quality streaming on US, UK, and many other servers||Works most of the time (but not always)|
|Tunneling Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2||OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SOCKS5|
|Extra Features||Obfuscated servers, DoubleVPN, CyberSec, Onion over VPN, kill switch||Kill switch, ad blocker (MACE)|
|Transparency||Warrant Canary, Independent audits, No clear information about business owners||Bi-annual transparency report, owned by London Trust Media|
|Value||Better value (view details)||Slightly lower value (view details)|
The winner for this comparison on the basis of these criteria is NordVPN
In spite of the fact that PIA is a pretty good VPN service on its own, it couldn’t meet the standards set by NordVPN in terms of speed, performance, security, privacy, Netflix unblocking and a number of other parameters as well as you’ll find in this article.
NordVPN needs no introduction to anyone who has ever looked up online privacy on Google. It is a powerful VPN service that continues to enchant the netizens with its innovative online security tools.
How good is NordVPN? It discusses the Panama-based provider in more detail.
- Privacy friendly jurisdiction
- No Logs Policy
- 6 Multiple Connections
- 24/7/365 Live Chat
- CyberSec, Multihop, DNS Leak Protection, Kill Switch
- Works with Netflix
- Good pricing packages
- No free trial
- Refund process takes time
- Does not support split-tunneling
- Does not accept PayPal
PIA VPN Overview
Private Internet Access has been around for almost 10 years now. As one of the original VPN services, PIA redefined online privacy for millions of users.
1. Jurisdiction: NordVPN vs PIA
Winner: NordVPN for its privacy friendly jurisdiction in Panama.
The jurisdiction of any VPN is one of the key considerations that determines its desirability if it’s privacy you are seeking.
NordVPN Jurisdiction – NordVPN has its headquarters in Panama, a country known for laws that are conducive to keeping your privacy intact.
The ISPs in Panama are not bound to follow any data retention laws, so none of your information will be kept stored by the company.
PIA Jurisdiction – PIA is located in the US and you probably already know why that is the worst location for a VPN to be headquartered in (if you don’t read, read our Five Eyes guide).
This is one of the few things about PIA that raises red flags about the VPN.
Therefore, NordVPN has a clear advantage over PIA in terms of jurisdiction.
Winner: NordVPN is a winner as it operates from user-friendly country.
2. Logging Policy: NordVPN vs PIA
Winner: NordVPN has a much more reassuring logging policy.
Logging policy has crucial importance for any VPN. In fact, no user wants to get his/her personal information exposed to any 3rd party. Most of the VPwN users want to subscribe a service which guarantees no storage of logs.
NordVPN – comes with a great logging policy that guarantees no storage of user data logs.
With no time stamps, IP addresses, and bandwidth logs, there is no way that any authority can compromise your privacy even if they had the means to.
Winner: NordVPN gets the better of PIA once again in this round.
3. Transparency: NordVPN vs PIA
Winner: This round is a tie.
Transparency is too often ignored by VPN providers. Let’s see if NordVPN and PIA are guilty of the same.
NordVPN Transparency – They do not publish transparency reports, but it has made some efforts recently to improve transparency.
For instance, the company was successfully audited by an undisclosed auditing firm. The provider also has a warrant canary to keep users posted about any gag orders or user data disclosure requests from authorities.
So far, the provider has not complied with any such requests which inspires user trust.
PIA Transparency – PIA is one of the few providers in the industry that publishes a transparency report bi-annually. However, the logging policy of the company is not that clear about the types of logging it is involved in so users can make a better decision and us reviewers can make better evaluations of the service.
As such, both NordVPN and PIA deserve acknowledgement for their efforts to come clear in transparency, but they both need to improve on this point.
4. Tunneling Protocols: NordVPN vs PIA
NordVPN Security – uses a strong AES-256 bit encryption and has some excellent proprietary features such as CyberSec, kill switch, and DoubleVPN.
NordVPN experiences no problems related to IP or DNS leaks and successfully passed the leak test as shown below.
You can check out our VPN leak test guide to see how effective other VPNs are in keeping you secure from leaks.
PIA Security – PIA, in keeping with industry standards, uses AES-256 encryption. The provider does not offer much extra features for boosting your security, but the bare essentials of encryption and kill switch are more than adequate to keep you secure on the web.
PIA is quite adept at protecting users from IP leaks as evidenced below.
Nonetheless, NordVPN has more features for ensuring your security, which is why it is the winner in this round.
5. Speed: NordVPN vs Private Internet Access
Winner: NordVPN is the winner owing to noticeably faster speeds.
Speed is another key performance factor to determine the better service between these two.
NordVPN Speed – Testing the service on a 30 Mbps connection, NordVPN didn’t disappoint delivering remarkably good speeds.
PIA Speed – PIA couldn’t deliver the level of speed that NordVPN so effortlessly offers, but it is still better than 90% of the VPN services out there.
However, on average, PIA has a speed of 21.4 Mbps as you can see in our page on fastest VPN services
Therefore, NordVPN once again, is the winner in this round.
6. Servers: PIA vs. NordVPN
Winner: The larger server network of NordVPN makes it the victor in this round.
NordVPN Servers – It has high number of servers as compared to PIA. To attract the clients from all over the world, providers offer as many servers as possible. This is where NordVPN outdoes PIA.
The server network of the provider includes more than 5,000 servers with presence in over 60 countries.
The remarkable thing about NordVPN’s network is that it uses physical servers entirely, with no virtual servers at all.
Check out our article on the difference between physical and virtual servers to learn the implications of server types on your privacy.
PIA Servers – hosts a pretty decent server network size consisting of 3307 VPN servers. However, it covers a smaller geographic area as the servers are present in 32 countries.
Private Internet Access also uses entirely bare-metal (physical) servers in their network which ensure high stability, reliability, and performance.
7. Performance and Reliability: PIA vs NordVPN
NordVPN Performance – The VPN apps offered by Nord are quite responsive and functional. The app makes it easy to configure settings and preferences, so you can get into it instantly.
The apps aren’t without any bugs or errors, however. But these are of the mild kinds and you normally wouldn’t encounter them anyway.
PIA VPN Performance – The PIA apps are not as well-designed as of it’s rival’s are. From a visual point of view, PIA doesn’t impress you at all. It is a simple client that lives in your taskbar.
Connecting to a server from the app can take a little longer than what you might be accustomed to if you’ve used NordVPN before, which is what makes PIA less impressive than Nord.
8. Extra Features: PIA VPN vs NordVPN
Winner: NordVPN wins because of more extra features.
NordVPN Features – The service is packaged with some nifty features to elevate your online security to an even higher level and gain access to blocked/geo-restricted websites with superior efficiency.
For instance, the provider consists of a few obfuscated servers which allow you visit websites that may be inaccessible even with a VPN.
Other than this, the Onion over VPN feature enables you to route your traffic through the Tor network in combination with a VPN server for maximum privacy of your online activities.
With features like these, NordVPN effectively differentiates itself effectively as a top-of-the-level brand in the VPN industry.
Private Internet Access Features – There isn’t much that PIA offers as extra features. It offers a basic ad, tracker, and malware blocker for keeping your security maintained on the web.
Other than that, the VPN kill switch works quite well and keeps you protected from IP or DNS leaks.
PIA doesn’t offer split-tunneling to allow users to divide their traffic from the VPN tunnel where some programs work through the VPN while others directly connect to the regular web.
Overall, NordVPN offers better extra features.
Below is a side by side comparison of both providers for added security features.
|Dedicated IPs||NordVPN||Dedicated IPs are faster and much safer as they are not shared among users.|
NordVPN sells dedicated IPs from the UK, Netherlands, Germany and the US.
PIA does not offer any such option.
|DDoS Protection||NordVPN||NordVPN has a built-in DDoS protection, taking your security to the next level. PIA is yet to offer such a tool.|
|Multi-hop||NordVPN||NordVPN allows users to connect to more than one servers at a time.|
Unfortunately, PIA does not offer this option
|Leak Protection||Tied||PIA comes with DNS leak protection and IPV6 leak protection. NordVPN offers the same. Hence, the match here is a draw.|
|Proxies||Tied||NordVPN has Web Proxy and a YouTube proxy. Meanwhile, PIA boasts a SOCK5 proxy.|
9. Torrenting: Private Internet Access vs NordVPN
Winner: NordVPN wins because of greater security for torrent downloaders
The PIA vs NordVPN comparison would be incomplete without a word on their ability to unblock torrenting sites and support for safe downloading of torrents.
NordVPN has a wide range of P2P-enabled servers that allow you to access blocked torrenting websites and securely download torrents. The system-wide kill switch available in Windows app of the VPN ensures that your IP doesn’t leak while you are torrenting, which may tip off authorities working against copyright infringement.
PIA also supports P2P networking and torrenting on its servers. In fact, it has a port-forwarding feature especially designed to optimize your torrenting speed.
However, the fact that PIA is located in the US means that the company will have to comply with any DMCA notices they receive and so might be compelled to disclose your identity if authorities come asking.
With NordVPN, this is a non-issue as Panama is not bound to comply with any such notices.
This is why NordVPN has the upper-hand over PIA in this round.
10. Netflix Unblocking: PIA VPN vs NordVPN
Winner: NordVPN is the winner due to strong ability to unblock US Netflix
Netflix streaming is one of the more common reasons that people use VPN services for. Therefore, the choice between NordVPN or PIA can shift either way if you’re primarily interested in unblocking US Netflix to access a larger library of shows.
NordVPN effortlessly unblocks Netflix to enable HD quality streaming.
On the other hand, PIA is often unable to work with Netflix. To be sure, there are times when it does unblock Netflix, but you can’t expect it to consistently do so.
Thus, NordVPN is a more reliable option if you want to stream Netflix.
For more information about the ability of different VPNs to work with Netflix, see our article on Netflix VPN.
11. NordVPN vs PIA: Pricing, Payment Methods, and Refund Policy
Winner: NordVPN wins this round because it offers larger refund window, lower pricing, and more packages.
NordVPN Pricing – The available subscriptions include a 3-year plan, 2-year plan, 1-year plan, and 1-month. The best offer out of these is the 3-year subscription which can be purchased for $2.99/month.
The payment options are wide enough to suit most users as it supports credit cards, bitcoins, Alipay, and a few other methods.
All their packages are refundable within a period of 30 days.
PIA Pricing – The subscription packages of PIA include monthly, yearly, and a two-year plan. Although these corresponding packages are cheaper. The best deal of PIA ($3.49/month) is still more expensive than the best deal of Nord.
These packages come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
PIA accepts all major modes of payment including PayPal, credit cards, and bitcoin.
Nonetheless, PIA loses out to NordVPN in this round because of shorter refund period and pricing.
12. Compatibility: NordVPN vs Private Internet Access
Winner: Both providers offer next level compatibility therefore, this round is a tie.
Compatibility plays crucial role when user is looking for any VPN service. Now, VPN providers are not just limited to operating systems. Now users can opt for services which are compatible with Routers, Smart TVs and Browser extensions etc.
Winner: This is a tie as both providers offer next level compatibility therefore, there is no definite winner.
13. Customer Support: PIA vs NordVPN
Winner: NordVPN is a clear winner as it offers great customer support to its subscribers.
Customer support bridges gaps between service provider and users. That company gets positive feedback which offers on-time, quick and friendly customer service.
In this comparison, I found that NordVPN is obviously better than PIA. The Private Internet Access is worse when it comes to providing support to the users. It doesn’t offer live chat functionality, all you can do is to generate live ticket.
Whereas, Nord VPN works well in live chat domain and anybody can ask for query at any time.
Winner: NordVPN is a clear winner as it offers great customer support to its subscribers.
14. Value for Money: PIA vs NordVPN
Winner: NordVPN wins because of better pricing and overall greater features
NordVPN has cheaper pricing and provides overall better performance, reliability, features that directly benefit users seeking privacy and security on the web with the ability to access websites.
15. NordVPN vs PIA Australia
Both NordVPN and PIA have servers in Australia and in fairly good amount. While NordVPN has 186 servers in Australia, PIA goes even farther by offering 195 servers.
Since this difference in number is trivial and both VPNs have well-functioning physical servers deployed in Australia, you can use either VPN if servers in Australia are what you are looking for.
NordVPN vs PIA VPN: Conclusion
To recap, here’s the summary of this comparison:
- Jurisdiction– NordVPN
- Logging Policy– NordVPN
- Transparency – Tie
- Security– NordVPN
- Speed– NordVPN
- Server Network– NordVPN
- Performance and Reliability– NordVPN
- Extra Features– Nord VPN
- Torrenting– NordVPN
- Netflix– NordVPN
- Pricing, Payment Methods, and Refund Policy– NordVPN
- Compatibility– Tie
- Customer Support– Nord VPN
- Value– NordVPN
- Australia– Tie
Overall Winner: NordVPN
This comparison shows that NordVPN and PIA are both are fully capable services. They can provide you everything from iron-clad protection to online anonymity.
But NordVPN manages to beat PIA in almost every respect, making it the better option if you had to choose between the two.
You can go with either of these as they are both two of the best in the market.
Extending This Comparison by Adding More Providers
The competition between NordVPN and PIA has entirely gone in the favor of NordVPN. But how do these two VPNs compare with other providers in the market?
Let’s find out below.
NordVPN vs Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN
Overall Winner: ExpressVPN
|Jurisdiction||Panama||USA||British Virgin Islands|
|Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SOCKS5||OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP|
ExpressVPN is the most popular VPN in the industry. The server size, features, speed, and overall functionality of this VPN outshine most other providers including NordVPN.
However, ExpressVPN is higher priced than other providers. Although both NordVPN and PIA are excellent providers, they just fall short of the value that ExpressVPN provides in a head-to-head comparison.
As such, ExpressVPN wins against both NordVPN and PIA.
NordVPN vs PIA vs TorGuard
Overall Winner: NordVPN
|Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SOCKS5||OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, SOCKS5|
TorGuard is a lesser known VPN than both Private Internet Access and NordVPN. The sever network of TorGuard is pretty decent with 3,000+ servers purportedly operating in over 50 countries.
Although it is a good VPN service, but its American jurisdiction and unclear logging policy means you should probably avoid it if privacy is your main concern.
For this reason, TorGuard is a less desirable VPN than both PIA and NordVPN.