Private Internet Access Review
Private Internet Access or (PIA) is one of the most reputable providers in the VPN industry. Known for their emphasis on user privacy, and data security.
You probably won’t find a more functionality rich VPN in the same price range as PIA. They offer features like kill switch, DNS leak test, AES-256 bit encryption, SOCKS5 compatibility, and P2P support for torrenting.
In addition to the security and privacy features of PIA, it can also unblock geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix US, Netflix Japan, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and many more.
Furthermore PIA can be used for an advantage in online gaming. High speed servers optimized for gaming offer a stable connection that can lower your ping and minimize the effect of lag.
PIA claims to be the most trustworthy VPN when it comes to matters of user security and privacy as well as value for your money. In this review I will discuss in detail every aspect of the Private Internet Access VPN service so you can answer the question: Is PIA the right VPN for me?
Streaming services are constantly and aggressively blocking VPN companies. Consequently, it is extremely hard to find a VPN solution that works for all streaming services consistently.
I was able to access a number of Netflix regions like Netflix US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Similarly BBC iPlayer and ITV worked flawlessly on all UK servers.
If you’re intention is streaming geo-blocked content, PIA is a great choice. Although I did not face any issues in my testing, Keep in mind that blocks will inevitably occur. However, PIA has been known to respond quickly and adequately.
Enjoy unrestricted access to our anonymous VPN network. Unlock any geographic restrictions and protocol filters. Whether you’re browsing or streaming, Private Internet Access will deliver.Private Internet Access
With over 20000+ servers spread across 73 countries, you can basically unblock any streaming service, website, or app out there. For streamers, speed is one of the most important factors and is certainly a deal breaker. No one wants to watch a movie at 480p quality and PIA knows that which is why they optimize their servers for Ultra HD streaming.
PIA spreads it’s user base across 20222 servers. Therefore, limiting the crowding effect. That’s great in theory, but in application things can vary based on distance from the VPN server and server optimization.
I tested the speed through PIA’s servers and the results were encouraging. Below is an example speed test from a US server in Miami. The test shows a download speed of 62.54Mb/s and a 4.08Mb/s for upload. On the other hand without connecting to a PIA server, the speed was 66.30Mb/s for downloads and 4.36Mb/s for upload. As you can see that’s not much of a drawback, the slight speed drop is insignificant.
Any VPN providing download speeds in the 40Mbits/s and above is great. With that speed you can certainly watch 4K videos, play multiplayer games, download torrents, and browse the web without any noticeable drop in performance.
Does Private Internet Access Support P2P?
PIA is an excellent solution for torrenting. Mainly because it has full support for P2P applications. But also for the proven no-logs policy. It is then possible to download torrents anonymously. PIA does not store any user related online activity data. Moreover, the kill switch feature will protect any P2P activity if the VPN goes down.
I have tested multiple torrent clients like uTorrent, and Bittorrent with Private Internet Access P2P servers. I was able to download torrent files anonymously and at high speeds. PIA can help as well if you live in a country where torrent websites are completely blocked.
Private Internet Access Security
PIA’s focus on privacy and security is certainly reflected in their features. Additional security and other useful tools is what separates PIA from the pack. That and the fact that they offer all this at a relatively low price considering the price of similar competitors.
Private Internet Access offers the following unique security features on top of their VPN product:
- Multiple VPN Gateways
- Encrypted WiFi
- WireGuard VPN protocol
- Ads, trackers, and malware Blocker
- SOCKS5 Proxy
- No traffic logs
Encryption is the key element to any successful VPN. Indeed, PIA is one of the few VPNs offering customizable encryption settings. Choose between AES 128-bit encryption and AES 256-bit encryption as you see fit. However, it is recommended to go for the 256-bit encryption for added security.
The purpose of a VPN tunnel is to encrypt the data passing through so that no third party can ever manipulate it or steal it. In order to accomplish that task VPNs use security protocols that have been universally set as standards for encryption and secure networking.
Private Internet Access offers the following VPN security protocols:
- OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)
- SOCKS5 Proxy
Authentication mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the intended receiver of the message and gets it and no one else. The method is based mainly on encryption and decryption keys. The keys are unique to the sender and receiver which allows the mechanism to detect any unwanted intruders in the middle.
Private Internet Access utilizes the SHA-256 hashing algorithm to create a digital signature for the sender and receiver for authenticating them as valid users while rooting out all other intruders and snoopers.
Does Private Internet Access block ads, trackers, and malware?
PIA offers an adblocker feature, which you can easily turn in your application settings. However, keep in mind you must be connected to the VPN for the adblocker to work. While testing it on ad heavy websites I did not get any ads.
The same applies for trackers and malware. While connected to a PIA server you’ll be protected from these malicious software packages as you browse the web.
Unfortunately, PIA is not fully functional in China. With one of the hardest firewalls to crack, China is a challenge to all VPN companies. While some users have reported success using PIA in China. It is for the most part, unreliable.
If you are looking for a VPN solution that works flawlessly in China, NordVPN is one of our top recommended VPNs and is currently working in China.
Does Private Internet Access Provide Leak Testing Tools?
In deed they do, you can test for DNS, IP, Email, and WebRTC leaks. It’s recommended to perform these tests regularly to ensure that you’re IP and personal information are still protected. Leaks can occur via your Email client, DNS requests, or just surfing the web.
Some websites automatically collect your IP info and along with it your geo-location data. PIA protects you from these leaks and provides an excellent tool for you to regularly check if you’re protected or not.
Does Private Internet Access offer Split Tunneling?
Yes, you can use PIA’s split tunneling feature to separate apps that you want to connect to through the VPN and those that you want to remain on your regular unprotected connection.
This feature provides a lot of flexibility for users to choose how to allocate the VPN connection according to specific needs. For example you might opt to use your normal connection for system updates and routine downloads while you enjoy streaming geo-blocked content via your VPN.
You can activate split tunneling by clicking on the Network tab, then click on App Exclusions, and finally add the apps you wish to exclude from the VPN. This feature is currently available for desktop apps only (PC, Mac, Linux).
Does Private Internet Access Have a No-logs Policy?
Private Internet Access has a strict no-logs policy as they repeatedly advertise their product with slogans like “protecting user privacy is our priority“. I wasn’t able to find any reports of data or privacy breaches among PIA users or the company itself.
The company has a clean track record when it comes to transparency with users and staying true to their no-logs commitment.
PIA offers a very user friendly app available on the following devices:
- Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser extensions.
You can have 10 simultaneous connections per account. However, there is an option to manually install the VPN on a DDWRT router. In such a case the 10 devices rule would not be in effect. Furthermore you have an additional option to install PIA as a browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox.
PIA has one of the best support teams in the VPN industry. Offering 24/7 live chat support. PIA customer service responds quickly and efficiently.
PIA does have an extensive knowledge base on their website. Guides, tutorials, and FAQs are all available. If you would rather not go through the documentation, the support team will help right away.
Pricing & Payment Methods
PIA offer 3 subscription packages:
- Monthly at $11.95 per month.
- Yearly at $3.33 per month.
- 3 years + 3 months at $2.03 per month.
Accepted payment methods:
- Credit Card
- All major gift cards
Private Internet Access Review -Bottom Line
In conclusion, Private Internet Access is user-friendly VPN service that emphasizes security and privacy. The no-logs policy insures that PIA users are kept hidden and safe from any prying eyes. A multitude of security features and functionalities like the kill switch, ad blocker, split tunneling, and P2P service. They don’t restrict users with bandwidth quotas. Furthermore, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee included with all subscription plans just in case you change your mind.