Private Internet Access, a huge name in the cyber privacy industry, has established itself as one of the market giants in a very short time. It is famous chiefly because if its activities and support system for the users and their privacy rights.
Based in the United States (5 Eyes country), but has proven repeatedly to be in favor of their users regarding their active privacy and encryption on the web.
It has back the claim of having no log policy on many occasions and has proved that they never track, save or distribute users log or any other information.
So, to move the review of PIA forward, we will find out what makes it so popular and preferable among the users and what market competitive price they offer for their service.
PIA VPN Review Summary
This VPN review will cover the major aspects that PIA offers to its users in terms of their security and privacy. The analysis will conclude with the rating that will reflect the service popular among the users.
The affordability of PIA will be analyzed that why it stands among the top tier services and what their offers are that makes it stand out among its major league competitors.
In addition, in this review, we will be covering the performance and the impressive encryption features it provides along with a massive list of servers it provides access.
PIA is a low-cost VPN service that is based in the US that offers speeds, an application and ad blocker, that all in a very affordable price.
Our PIA VPN Review Score
- Features: 4.4
- Apps: 4.5
- Security: 4.6
- Speed: 4.3
- Overall: 4.5
PIA VPN Review in Points
- P2P & Torrenting Allowed
- Very affordable
- Functional desktop and mobile apps
- All the major VPN protocols
- Strong encryption
- Strict No logs policy
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Chrome, Opera and Firefox Extensions
- VPN apps for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Linux
- Based in the US (Five Eyes)
- Limited Customer Support
- All things pretty or just fine. Nothing ugly here!
If you are one of those who have heard the term Virtual Private Network (VPN) for the first time or does not know much about it, then we suggest you to read our detailed what is a VPN guide first before going further on our Private Internet Access Review.
PIA’s Logging Policy
One of the major concerns that a user has is the trust issue over the information logging and sharing. “Logging” is an activity used by any VPN service provider to monitor and record the activity of any user.
For any VPN service provider, it is important to keep the request of connection logs to little or no extent. However, VPN log is a grey area that is under constant monitoring. PIA imposes the subscription limitations for connection logs that are important to keep in mind.
As PIA based in the US, which is itself, a very dangerous jurisdiction regarding customer data sharing and surveillance. In addition, they are compelled to follow US laws and regulations that make them more open to certain issues related to data sharing.
PIA, on multiple occasions, refused to hand over the sensitive user data over to the FBI for the reason to back their claim.
“We will unambiguously state that our company has not and still doesn’t maintain information logs relating to once a subscriber accesses the VPN service, however long a subscriber’s use was, and what information processing address a subscriber originated from. Moreover, the secret writing system doesn’t permit the United States to look at and therefore log what information processing addresses a subscriber is visiting or has visited.”
The company quote clearly stated that they openly admit to never keeping any logs no matter how long their customer retains their subscription with them. This is a clear trust factor that they keep with their customers in regards to their information and activity leaks.
The issue on point is that if there is a claim to not hand over the data, then under no circumstance, will the information be handed over. PIA has passed this test twice and that too in front of the federal courts.
PIA VPN Features
Now that the infamous logging policy of PIA has been discussed, we will move to the features in our PIA VPN review.
It is not a service provider to whom you would want to go to if you are looking for various advanced features or someone stop solution for complete online security.
However, being a VPN provider, Private Internet Access is brilliantly amazing. Let’s look into the major features PIA offers.
Private Internet Access Torrenting Support
Another main function that distinguishes the best VPN from an ordinary one is the anonymity during any P2P or a torrenting session. Remaining completely private and encrypted during any torrent session is something a user needs and PIA provides absolutely this.
Being able to provide complete control during a P2P session or using any torrent client is a necessary aspect for a user. PIA having a strict policy over no logging remains the best choice for users to take in consideration and use it for their smooth torrent session.
Speed and privacy are two main aspects of any user of torrent or P2P client and PIA gives us the best speed boost and total privacy. These factors make PIA one of the best choice for the torrenting purpose.
10 Simultaneous Connections
Another major aspect that is the distinguishing point for a VPN service is the simultaneous connections it provides over multiple devices.
In this area, PIA provides 10 simultaneous connections to a user and that makes it easy to establish a small network for family or general use.
Block Ads, Trackers, and Malware with PIA MACE
Recently, PIA has introduced a new prevention protocol namely “MACE”. It is a feature that gives ultimate support for ad blocking along with preventing malware and trackers. PIA has always made the privacy and preservation solutions as their aim and as such MACE is an extension towards it.
PIA is providing its users with a service that not only gives them privacy solutions but also provides a strong ad blocking and malware avoidance system. Private Internet Access MACE is a solution that will help a user be clear of unwanted ads and provides them with potential malware threats on multiple devices like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.
MACE gives a user complete freedom in making use of the ad blocking protocols to make their online sessions as smooth and hassle-free as possible. That too with the ability to access it through a multiple of devices and browsers, making it the much-preferred VPN choice for users looking for cheap privacy solutions.
Many users have commented about MACE and all of them are in a very positive aspect. They stated that the use of MACE has enabled them to be able to stream YouTube and other streaming services without the interference of advertisements. This indicates that PIA is providing the best ad blocking through MACE to its users.
Many of you must know about proxies as an alternate to VPNs and that is actually true to a major extent. T
he only major difference is the level of security, which VPN provides due to added encryption. Proxies too provide some level of security but it does not encrypt the data.
However, to improve security SOCKS5, a popular kind of proxy, limits the users from accessing the server if they do not authenticate.
This way only the authorized users are allowed to access the server, which makes it safer than other proxy servers.
Private Internet Access is one of the handful service providers who offers SOCKS5 proxy with its subscription.
However, users have to access the proxy from proxy-nl.privateinternetaccess.com with port 1080. Also, the users would need a different username and password to use the SOCKS5 proxy which are generated from the control panel in the PIA client.
Private Internet Access offers two data encryption protocols which are AES-256 and AES-128. AES-256 is the highest data encryption protocol which is provided by most of the VPN providers claiming to provide military grade encryption which is true.
The option to reduce data encryption to AES-128 is for those users who are looking for better speed and they can afford to reduce their encryption over the internet.
Private Internet Access is also equipped with IPv6 and DNS leak protection that helps greatly in user encryption and data encryption altogether.
Private Internet Access also comes with a kill switch option that can be used if a VPN falls. This feature along with the availability over almost all the platforms including iOS and Android. Along with value-added services through Chrome extensions, PIA provides a vast library of bonus services like website referrers, location blockers and they can be setup for free.
PIA VPN Prices Review
Private Internet Access offers three relatively cheap pricing plans for their users and that comes equipped with all the necessary features reviewed below. Comparing the pricing plans with the other services indicated that PIA is indeed a cheaper privacy solution for the users looking for a quick and easy to use service.
The pricing plan of PIA is provided as the image below:
1 Month: $6.95/Month
6 Months $5.99/Month
1 Year: $3.33/Month i.e. $39.95/Year
PIA’s pricing has always provided it with an edge over its competitors;sure, it is not upto the standard of the other market giants. Still, the pricing plan is unmatched by others.
Being one of the services that are gradually climbing the ladder of top privacy services, PIA has also offered a 7-day money back guarantee that users can avail if they are not satisfied with the service or they change their mind.
PIA offers are paid through the various payment channels in use today like PayPal, credit or debit card etc.
Private Internet Access Speed Test
Speed Test result without VPN connection:
UK server Speed Test:
Speed Test France Server:
PIA VPN Protocols Review
So, now we will analyze the offered protocols in our PIA VPN review which also seems promising. PIA offers all the major VPN protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP and IPSEC/L2TP.
However, it does not offer SSTP protocol which is arguably the most secure VPN protocol.
OpenVPN is the most commonly used VPN protocol because of the speed and the level of security. PIA by default uses the OpenVPN protocol for the users, but the users still can change the protocols as per their needs and purpose of usage. In our evaluation, OpenVPN worked really well on 10 different servers we tested.
The speed and connection have been really impressive and we do recommend users to try it out.
PIA VPN Servers & Locations Review
Private Internet Access offers more than 3300+ servers in 52 locations across 32 countries which covers all the continents of the world.
More than 1500 servers are in the United States because of the fact that most of the users from around the globe wish to connect to US servers.
Unfortunately PIA does not work with US Netflix due to the overall VPN crackdown by Netflix. There are only a handful of VPN providers which works fine with US Netflix and PIA is not one of them.
The server list indicates that there is a vast majority of servers available in multiple countries that make it easier for a user to tap into certain Geo-restricted locations and to gain access to content banned in those countries. Overall, PIA provides a good number of servers and stands toe to toe with the competition in the industry.
PIA VPN for Mac
The first thing we analyzed in our PIA VPN review for mac app was to check the app on the official Mac App Store but we could not find it like many of you who tried.
The reason is that PIA only provides the VPN app for mac via their website, but their installer is really impressive as the app will be up and running in no time for any mac user.
PIA VPN for mac app is not even good in looks as it seems the odd one out in the mac OS among other apps. The reason mainly was the fact that it seems to be mostly imported from the Windows app.
But that is just the looks of it. The performance of the mac app was nice in terms of speed and connection.
Even though it might not look too pretty for the mac users, but it is just fine in functionality and options. However, it certainly is not the best app of PIA if compared with other platforms. Looks ugly does fine, up to you now if you want to give it a go.
PIA VPN for iPhone
The app of PIA VPN for iPhone and iPad users is quite decent and simple. The UI has kept to be extremely user friendly and functional.
We also believe that simple is beautiful when pulled off the right way and PIA VPN for iPhone and iPad is one of those. Users’ can easily get it from the app store and start using it in no time which is a big quality.
In terms of options, the main screen has a huge on and off button along with server selection and settings options.
So, if someone’s just looking to keep his or her internet data secure then it shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds to open the app and connect the VPN. Still, the app does have various protocols and MACE which is the adblocker.
So, the app having powers of ad blocking and VPN integrated in a user friendly way is something we admire.
So, in our Private Internet Access review we sure do say that PIA for iPhone is recommendable. It is because of its affordability, nice UI and functions, and value for users’ privacy.
PIA VPN for Windows
Like all the other platforms and because of the fact that PIA does not offer too many features, the Windows client of PIA VPN is simple is in design and operate.
The nice thing about the Windows client is that users’ can connect the VPN by simply clicking on the PIA icon in the Windows toolbar.
Also, the Windows client also have the impressive PIA Mace which helps protect users from trackers and malware along with blocking ads.
In addition, the windows app also has the VPN kill switch, port forwarding and IPv6 leaks protection which are arguably the basic VPN features for all the ace VPN providers in the industry.
The server selection is very detailed as users’ can explore and select any particular server via their mouse only.
Over all PIA VPN app for Windows is very simple in design and very user friendly for the ease of its users.
PIA VPN for Android
The Android app of PIA VPN is also available on the Google Playstore and this too is as impressive as the iOS version of the app is. But, Android app have some additional options than the iOS app.
The Android app is also equipped with Private Internet Access MACE which helps block ads and stop malware and trackers.
Additionally, the Android app of PIA also has split tunneling which gives users’ freedom to choose between apps which should use the VPN network while the other will use the local network they have connected.
Also, the app has the option of Smart Packets which reduces the size of data that the phone transfers.
So overall, the app is nice to use and the options it has are those which most of the decent providers offer, except for Mace. The performance and speed is also satisfactory for most of the average users. Being a good service provider, PIA VPN for Android is worth a try.
PIA VPN for Router
Like a few other VPN providers, PIA VPN too offer pre-configured routers via Flash routers which is a little too expensive than buying a good router and setting PIA VPN up on it. PIA VPN supports all Tomato, PFsense and DDWRT routers, however, the setup would be manual.
The manual guides and video tutorials for setting up PIA on routers is extremely useful and can make any not so tech savvy person to setup VPN on router in a short while.
The biggest benefit of setting up VPN on router is the fact that it only consumes one connection out of the five which PIA offers with every account.
Also, setting up VPN on router helps protects the home network and all the devices connected with it as well.
In our PIA VPN review we have analyzed all the important aspects of the service and we can easily say that PIA is one of best options for those who are seeking a service with good basic functionality at an affordable price.
The logging policy of PIA is commendable and their actions to back it up in the cases makes it a trustworthy provider.
However, it is also a fact that it is based in the US and that is one of the five eyes countries because of which people use VPNs.
Also, the performance and speed of the service is satisfactory considering the price as it certainly is one of the cheapest VPN services in the industry, regardless of tiers.
It definitely is worth a shot, but do not expect too many features as you can see in our Private Internet Access review.