|Back to Review|| |
Private Internet Access
|Price starts from||$3.49||$3.33|
|Devices per license||6||5|
|Privacy and security features||OpenVPN, 256-bit AES encryption||AES 256-bit, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN.|
|Torrenting, Netflix, HBO|
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days||7 days|
|Setup time||4 minutes||-|
|Number of servers||5,700||3059|
|Payment Methods||PayPal, Visa/Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card, Bitcoin, Webmoney, Alipay||Paypal, Visa/Mastercard, American Express, Bitcoin, AmazonPay, WebMoney, YandexMoney, Zcash|
|Usability and Support||24/7 Live Chat, Email, Knowledge base, Video Tutorials||Forum, Email, Knowledge base, Video Tutorials|
|Best For||Privacy, Travel, Streaming, Sports||-|
|Platforms||Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, IOS||Windows, Mac, Android, IOS|
|Pros for compare page||
3000+ servers to choose from
|Cons for compare page||
No free trial
|Visit Site||Visit Site|
NordVPN vs Private Internet Access: Detailed Comparison
With an array of VPN providers to choose from, finding the one that covers all your needs perfectly is a challenge. Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access are dominant names in the global market of VPN services. Both of them offer a decent level of privacy protection by providing secure VPN channels for a safe Internet connection. But which one is the best? Keep on reading to know the results of our comprehensive and unbiased testing of the two giants.
What makes a good VPN? It goes without saying that an excellent VPN service must be reliable, secure, and speedy. Besides, it should provide enough flexibility by offering extra features, allow hassle-free torrenting and content streaming. Finally, it shouldn’t be overpriced. That is why we used multiple criteria to estimate the two products. In particular, we checked the following parameters:
- speed – peak and average speed, its consistency, different servers;
- features – basic feature sets, unique solutions, useful extras;
- reliability & security – leak protection, split tunneling, etc.;
- streaming capabilities – Netflix, Kodi, Firestick, availability of content;
- logging policy – jurisdiction, recorded cases of log collecting;
- torrenting – P2P servers, speed, security, confidentiality;
- compatibility & number of devices – OS supported, the number of connections;
- pricing plans – basic plans, special offers, discounts;
- free versions – availability of free version, a trial period;
- payment methods – the number of payment methods supported, money-back policy.
We did our best to make the comparison as unbiased as possible. The review is based on bare facts and contains minimum emotions and personal impressions. We believe in figures rather than words.
Speed Tests: What is Better: Nord VPN or PIA?
Speed is a crucial characteristic of a virtual private network, which is why we began with speed tests. While both providers perform pretty well, the performance varies greatly depending on the server proximity. By the way, currently, Nord VPN offers 5815 servers in 60 countries. As for PIA, it has 3341 servers in 32 countries, which is almost half as many as Nord VPN has.
The goal of the speed test was to measure speed loss when connecting remote servers in various regions. We are physically located in the US, so speed drop was almost unnoticeable when we tried to connect with the United States servers (New York). However, routing the traffic through the UK servers reduces the connection speed significantly.
We launched the Nord VPN client and selected a server located in the US. As you see, the speed drop is minimal:
Connecting with the UK server caused a significant reduction of speed up to 56.35, though it is still quite acceptable.
Now, let’s switch to Private Internet Access. The first location is the United States:
And finally, the United Kingdom:
As we see, both performed quite well, and even when traffic is routed through remote servers located in the US, speed doesn’t drop severely. Nord VPN outperformed PIA with an impressive average speed. That said, PIA demonstrated a higher consistency, while the performance of NordVPN varies too much from one server to another.
Features: Nord VPN vs PIA
A feature set is another essential criterion that lets you understand whether the VPN product covers your needs. Both Nord VPN and Private Internet Access have a lot to be loved for. They support various security protocols and offer some extra features to enhance privacy protection. With that being said, Nord VPN has some unique solutions, which really make it stand out.
Here are the main features of the PIA VPN:
- supports OpenVPN, IPSec/L2TP, PPTP protocols, and Socks5 proxy;
- an ad- and malware blocker;
- a kill switch feature;
- 10 simultaneous connections.
NordVPN, in turn, offers an expanded feature set with some unique solutions:
- supports OpenVPN, PTPP, L2TP, IPSec, and IKEv2 protocols;
- CyberSec – an ad- and malware blocker;
- a customizable kill switch feature (apps & traffic);
- 6 simultaneous connections;
- “special” servers for stronger privacy protection (Double VPN, TOR-over-VPN, anti-DDoS, P2P);
- obfuscated (hidden) servers that mask VPN traffic, making it look like HTTPS encryption.
While PIA VPN offers solid basic protection, it lacks some advanced tools provided by Nord VPN. The latter, thanks to an array of its special servers, provides better flexibility and stronger security. Connecting via the hidden servers, one can use it even in the countries where VPN is forbidden; for example, China.
Thus, the winner here is NordVPN.
Security and Reliability
We have already pointed out that both VPNs support several security protocols, including OpenVPN, which is considered the gold standard in the industry. When it comes to encryption, both Nord VPN and Private Internet Access use an AES-256 cipher and RSA-4096 control channel. In simple terms, they comply with the highest encryption standards, which means your private data is reliably protected.
Both PIA and NordVPN boast built-in DNS- and IP-leak protection features. During tests, we didn’t record any leaks.
Another important security feature is Kill Switch. Thanks to it, Internet connection breaks immediately every time when the provider fails to establish a VPN connection. It adds an extra layer of security by preventing data leaks.
Both providers have a kill switch feature, but Nord VPN allows its customizing. For example, you can use it for particular apps only or VPN traffic as a whole. It is convenient for those using torrents – as soon as VPN connection fails, the app is automatically and immediately closed. As for Private Internet Access, it offers only two positions for kill switch – “on” and “off.”
While both NordVPN and PIA are reliable and provide a due level of security, Nord VPN provides some more flexibility. Also, its proprietary specialized servers add an additional security layer, which makes it one of the most reliable options around.
Netflix and Other Streaming Services
People use VPNs for various reasons. A possibility of free content streaming is one of them. The world’s largest repository of first-class content for streaming is Netflix in the US. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to unlock, as its own security service regularly detects and blocks IPs belonging to VPN services.
Nord VPN is one of the few services that cope with this task. The company regularly invests in new “pure” IP-addresses, which open access to Netflix, effectively bypassing geographic restrictions. Apart from the US, it unlocks Netflix in Canada, France, Japan, Germany, Finland, and Australia. More than that, it works with other “stubborn” services, such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.
NordVPN is a top choice for Kodi users. The main aches and pains for everyone using Kodi are the availability of geo-blocked content and vulnerability to hacker attacks. Nord VPN is among the few VPN providers that resolve both problems perfectly. It gives access to all Kodi add-ons, effectively bypassing regional restrictions, and creates a powerful shield for botnet attacks prevention.
Compatibility with various devices is another strong feature of NordVPN. It is a popular solution for Amazon’s Fire Stick. Firestick users choose it for ease of installation and powerful content unlocking possibilities.
As for Private Internet Access, its content streaming capabilities are lower. On the plus side, it can be installed on Firestick and provide secure access to some geographically restricted streaming services. Also, PIA is successfully utilized by some Kodi users. Its built-in ad- and malware blocker protects from most cyber threats.
When it comes to unlocking different content libraries, PIA can’t boast overwhelming results. The only major streaming platform that works with PIA is Hulu. Unfortunately, it fails to open Netflix, Amazon, and BBC iPlayer. Thus, NordVPN edge pasts PIA this time.
A possibility of downloading content via Torrents is one more reason why people use VPNs. Both NordVPN and PIA have dedicated P2P servers, which allow using torrents via BitTorrent and Utorrent apps. That said, the number of server locations available is different. While Nord VPN has P2P servers in 45 countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and almost all European countries, PIA offer P2P in 10 locations – Canada, Israel, and some European states.
The benefit of Private Internet Access, in turn, is the feature of port forwarding. It is an exclusive feature developed by the provider. According to PIA’s claims, it helps to improve the download speed. The feature is easily activated in the Settings menu. Keep in mind, however, that only some servers support port forwarding.
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction
A person using a VPN doesn’t want to be tracked by anyone, including his/her Internet services provider, the government, intelligent services, and the VPN provider itself. If a VPN service collects user logs, there is a risk of data leakage. You never know for sure whether these logs are sold (provided to the governmental bodies) or not. That is why those striving for the utmost protection always opt for the VPNs, which keep no logs at all.
Both Private Internet Access and NordVPN adhere to a strict zero-logging approach. As far as logs are not collected, they can’t be sold or stolen, which automatically increases the level of credibility of the providers.
NordVPN is a company headquartered in Panama – the country known for its loyal legislation and respect to privacy protection rights. What is important is that it is out of reach of the “Five Eyes Alliance” and the CIA. The situation with PIA is different. Its headquarters are in America, which means under the jurisdiction of the USA. It could be real trouble if the provider collected logs. But its claims about a zero-logging policy sound reassuring. As of now, there haven’t been any recorded cases of data leakage.
A personal computer isn’t the only type of device used to access the Internet securely. The share of mobile Internet users has been growing consistently over the last few years. Many people stream content right on their SmartTV devices or use flash drives, such as Amazon’s Fire Stick. That is why compatibility of a VPN with various platforms and the number of simultaneous connections allowed are essential characteristics.
Both PIA VPN and NordVPN are compatible with a wide array of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android (+Android TV for NordVPN), iOS, and Linux. More than that, they can be manually installed on specific models of Wi-Fi routers.
If for some reason you don’t want to install a VPN client for a whole system, you can use a “light” version in the form of a browser extension. NordVPN offers extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox. Private Internet Access extensions are available for Chrome, Firefox, and the Opera browser.
Until recently, Nord VPN used to be a leader in terms of the number of simultaneous connections – 6. Private Internet Access offered as many as 5 connections. However, in the framework of the latest upgrade, PIA increased the number of simultaneously allowed devices to 10, which is really impressive.
Pricing Plans: Nord VPN vs PIA VPN
When it comes to buying a subscription, price is an important criterion to consider. Both NordVPN and PIA VPN fall into the category of mid-priced VPN providers. As usual, the final price per month depends on the plan.
Currently, NordVPN offers four pricing plans:
The cost for its basic monthly plan is $11.95, which seems a sort of overpriced. A 12-month plan is available at the price of $6.99 per month, and a 2-year plan – at $2.99 per month. The hottest offer is a 3-year plan, which can be purchased for just $107.55. The monthly fee, in this case, is just $2.99.
Private Internet Access, in its turn, offers three pricing plans:
As we see, PIA is more affordable than Nord VPN if you pay monthly. The yearly plan is available at the price of $5.99 per month, and the cheapest 2-year plan costs just $3.49 monthly.
Free Versions and Trial Periods
While a 2- or 3-year plan can be attractive in terms of its price, few users will readily buy it without testing the product. It is quite understandable: before spending money on software, you want to make sure this software covers your needs and works appropriately. That is why many VPN providers offer a free trial period, which is usually 3-7 days.
Unfortunately, neither NordVPN nor PIA have a trial period. In other words, you can download the app itself, but you can’t use it without a subscription. That being said, there’s no reason to be upset, as both products have a money-back guarantee. Thus, NordVPN offers a refunding period of 30 days, and PIA VPN – 7 days. It means you can pay for the maximum plan (annual or bi-annual), utilize the app for 30 (or 7) days, and then get your money back if you are not satisfied with the result.
Both providers support an array of payment methods. You can use a regular credit or debit MasterCard and Visa cards, multiple e-wallets, and even popular cryptocurrencies to pay for a license. The list of the payment methods accepted is continually expanding. As of now, Nord VPN doesn’t support PayPal, while PIA lacks the support of some cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin and Litecoin.
We’ve reviewed two great VPN services, which have a lot to be loved for. Both of them comply with the highest security standards; moreover, they are reliable, flexible, and easy to use. However, they do not come equal. Each product has its strong and weak points.
Private Internet Access is a bit more affordable if you pay monthly or yearly. That said, Nord VPN offers a unique 3-year plan, which comes at a price of just $107.55 or $2.99 per month.
PIA VPN boasts a more consistent connection speed if compared to Nord VPN. Also, it has a unique feature of port forwarding, which allows boosting the speed during downloading content from torrents. Finally, PIA supports PayPal as a payment method, while Nord VPN lacks this possibility.
Nord VPN, in turn, is one of the best VPN services in the world for torrenting and streaming. It has over 5000 servers in 60 locations, including high-speed P2P servers and other types of dedicated servers. It is among few VPNs that can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other major streaming platforms.
Besides, Nord VPN offers a handful of top-notch security features, which makes it a preferable choice for those living in China and other regions with severe governmental censorship. Finally, it is headquartered in Panama that is known for its liberal legislation.
To sum it up, while both VPNs are worthy of consideration, Nord VPN has outscored PIA VPN. It is an award-winning product – secure, effective, and reliable.
- Over 5,700 servers around the world
- Highest encryption standard
- No logging policy
- All servers are dedicated
- Specialized servers
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Built-in adblock
- Protects from web threats
- Wide amount of features
- Expensive monthly plan
- Not quite informative Support team answers in live chat
- Not the most transparent business
- Questionable pricing packages
3000+ servers to choose from
Many international companies trust this service with their security and privacy
The affordable price-tags are the biggest selling point of this VPN
You can use Bitcoins to pay for the service
Torrenting is available
Performance is more than satisfying
No free trial
No chat feature
Takes a few hours to get an answer from Customer Support
7 days to get your money back if you dislike the service
The HQ is located in the States (could be a huge minus for many potential subscribers
Last Customer Reviews: NordVPN vs Private Internet Access