What is a VPN for, you might ask? Basically, it hides your data that travels between your device and a server located on the other side of the world, making your activity invisible to any 3rd parties. Without a doubt, it`s is one of the best options on the market right now. It’s pretty cheap, versatile, user-friendly, and comes with an impressive set of features.
Since its foundation in 2011, Private Internet Access has been one of the leaders on the market. It proved to be incredibly secure and private. Performance has been always impressive, not to mention the diversity of the server locations which is truly amazing.
In our Private Internet Access review, you’ll learn that it’s equally great at dodging the curious government agencies and hackers, and protecting your data when you’re connecting to the Internet using a café Wi-Fi. It is a great thing for streaming and gaming as well. Plus, it looks cool.
What do you get with Private Internet Access?
- 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
- No logging
- Performance is more than satisfying
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 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
PIA is one of the oldest VPNs on the market. And definitely, one of the favorite ones. While working on our review, we realized that its customization options are very impressive and easy to access. Plus, it is incredibly fast, flexible, versatile, and cheap – perfect both for the beginners and the fans of Internet privacy.
With the software, streaming in HD is not a problem as the super-fast network will make sure your connection is nice and smooth. However, you might not be able to outmaneuver some of the geo-restricted content with any of the available servers.
We made a short list of advantages and also of a few minor downsides for you to consider when making a decision on whether to stick to PIA. Keep on reading.
Privacy and Security
You’ll be happy to learn that PIA’s encryption protocols are top-notch; the Zero-Logs policy means you won’t have to worry about the company watching your activity on the Internet. However, since PIA is headquartered in the US, it must follow some of the severest, most privacy-intrusive oversight laws. The government is known to pressure VPNs to provide date concerning their subscribers. This may be an issue for many individuals.
When signing up, the system will generate a username for you, and there’s no way to change it. Some folks might think that this is unnecessary, but for anonymity, this is actually pretty smart.
Recently, the company claimed that all of its products are about to become open-sourced, meaning every single expert in the world will get access to the codes (that will help kill all the bugs much faster).
Encryption and Protocols
By default, PIA is set to 128-bit AES encryption instead of 256-bit, but it won’t take you more than a minute to switch between the two. SHA-256 will protect your data during authentication.
PIA uses OpenVPN protocol by default but you can always choose a different one. They support L2TP+PSK, PPTP, and SOCKS5 on all the gateways. But if you are not willing to go deep in the details, leave it as it is. OpenVPN may be not as fast as other protocols but you will hardly notice that. Plus, it’s taken as normal internet traffic and is thus very tough to block.
Top VPN Services can boast some extra features for even better security, and PIA is not an exception. It has a Kill Switch which stops all applications connected to the Internet if the VPN is disconnected all of a sudden. Thus, you can be sure any piece of your data will not become clear accidentally.
Few more special features include:
- Port Forwarding
- IPv6 leak prevention
- DNS leak prevention
The provider doesn’t offer Split Tunneling. However, it provides detailed guidelines on how to split tunnel on Windows.
More than just a VPN
Private Internet Access has a so-called MACE tool. It is aimed at blocking domains connected with adverts, trackers, and malicious programs. The team updates the list of unwanted domains all the time and thus, guarantees a high level of protection. Plus, when used on mobile devices, MACE can reduce battery drain.
However, we would recommend using special anti-virus and ad-blocking tools to be safer and have everything under control. Besides, a good antivirus helps to keep your system clean. It protects your work files located on a remote computer or server from being infected.
Private Internet Access Logging Policy
Despite being under a tough jurisdiction the provider does protect their subscribers’ privacy. PIA does not keep their logs of any kind. However, they do track some data, and this is:
- Email address
- Payment information
Also, those subscribers who choose to utilize the optional control panel will obtain a temporal cookie “to improve delivery of services”.
The idea behind TOR is to provide anonymous browsing on the Internet. You may be willing to unite both TOR and VPN if there are no contradictions between the tools. This is a great way to get extra security and decrease certain minuses of using each of them separately.
Private Internet Access can be used with TOR. Just make sure you’ve got your TOR browser on once you have started utilizing the VPN. Also note, when used together, the two technologies will make your device work slower.
In general, the performance of PIA depends on a server. Some provide better downloading speed while you may undergo slow speed with others. Plus, connectivity issues may arise if you utilize the VPN service during peak hours. Buffering issues take place from time to time when users watch media content.
Private Internet Access Speed
The speed which goes with a VPN is a big thing. No one wants to have a slow connection which makes it impossible to browse the Internet comfortably or view the beloved movies without stress.
You don’t have to worry about speed with Private Internet Access. To say that, we have conducted several tests with US, EU, and Asia servers. The outcomes are as follows:
- In general, PIA reduced download speeds by only 6.1 percent internally and 62.2 percent internationally.
- Upload tests showed that PIA brings speeds down by 5.9 percent.
Also, during our latency tests, we discovered that PIA increased latency by 108.2 percent internally and by 280.3 percent internationally.
So, the results are pretty normal if compared to other VPNs.
No Leaks Detected/Leaks Detected
When working on the PIA Review, we have conducted several tests ‘hoping’ to discover DNS leaks. And we failed to detect any. PIA would not allow leaks which makes it impossible to spy on subscribers browsing activity.
Torrenting and Streaming
Another advantage of this particular provider is the possibility to use streaming services wherever you are. With Private Internet Access, your whole streaming experience will be a pleasure. This is a very fast network which allows viewing plenty of geo-restricted content utilizing the great chain of servers around the globe.
Is torrenting allowed?
PIA permits using P2P file-sharing and torrenting on its servers. There are no restrictions at all. Neither they monitor such activities. With your torrenting client, you may download anything you want and be sure that your account won’t suffer. Moreover, many people subscribe to this VPN service because of its friendly attitude towards torrenting.
What about Netflix?
Sadly, Netflix is no longer available through Private Internet Access. It took the company a while to understand that it lost the battle to the streaming giant. Just accept it or search for another VPN if your life means nothing without Netflix.
Other streaming options
There are plenty of other streaming channels which can make you happy, though. Some of them are not allowed in certain countries. But VPNs offer servers that allow users to “travel” to a different location without leaving a cozy chair. Private Internet Access is one of those.
PIA allows utilizing Firestick, Kodi, Hulu, Popcorn Time and few more channels easily. And they seem to like PIA!
Thus, on its website, Firestick says: “PIA outranks all the other popular VPNs by providing great streaming speed at a lower cost”. Popcorn Time also recommends the VPN service as a cost-effective solution, especially if you buy an annual plan instead of a monthly one. Great recommendations, aren’t they?
But still be aware that if you are engaged in VPN content unblocking, you do so entirely at your own risk.
How much is Private Internet Access?
We have mentioned already that PIA is among the most affordable VPNs right now. Let’s have a look at their packages. All in all, they are all quite cheap, and you’ll get access to every single one of the Private Internet Access servers regardless of the plan you choose.
- To get protection for one full month, you’ll have to pay $9.95.
- The yearly plan drops the price significantly – down to $5.99 (that’s 40 dollars in total).
- If you are ready to commit for two years, you’ll be able to save a lot of money. For $3.49 per month ($83.87 once you hit “subscribe”), you’ll get protection for 24 months.
The provider offers various payment methods for your convenience. PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, AmazonPay, WebMoney, and Bitcoins are among the available payment methods. We chose to pay with our MasterCard for the sake of this review and got our subscription within seconds. That’s not always the case even with the industry-leading VPNs.
What is even more interesting is that they accept US gift cards from 90 different retailers, including Starbucks, Walmart, Best Buy. You can buy one of these cards with a single purpose – to pay for PIA services. Your payment becomes anonymous.
They don’t offer a free trial. But if in the first 7 days after you purchase the package you realize you don’t want to utilize the service anymore, feel free to claim your money back.
Should you ever be tired of PIA, simply hit the Cancel button on your account page to set yourself free of the provider (no refund, of course).
Customer Support is solid. You can use the “Contact Us” pop-up menu to tell the team about your problem and wait for an email with a solution. However, this can be slow and frustrating at times since they promise to send a response within 6 hours. 24/7 online chat would definitely be welcomed by the users, but it’s not available at this moment. Their team seems to understand the problem and have already promised to launch the Live Chat (at the moment of writing this function was not available).
But they have a separate Twitter account devoted to customer support. And they manage to provide thorough answers there despite Twitter’s limitations on the size of posts.
If you can’t download Private Internet Access, pay for a plan, or customize it to your liking, go to the FAQ section. Chances are, you’ll find an answer there faster than if you wait for the Support to hit you back. There’s a lot of useful information in that section, and it’s written in plain and simple English.
Do we recommend Private Internet Access?
Our Private Internet Access VPN review showed that it is one of the strongest VPNs on the market. It offers amazing performance, privacy, steady speeds, and great pricing policy. The company implements some of the best encryption protocols and follows the zero-logs policy, even though they are headquartered in the US.
The amount of servers in North America and Europe is also impressive. The coverage is not that tight in other corners of the world but still, there are several gateways around the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and in Brazil.
Despite the fact that Netflix is no longer available with PIA, it still offers great streaming options and people that are fond of torrenting should definitely give PIA a try.
The Private Internet Access download process is very fast and hassle-free. It will take a user 3 to 5 minutes to download, install and launch this VPN.
So, our advice to you is to stick with this VPN, as it offers the best balance between affordability, security, and versatility. May you still have any doubts, take some time to read expert reviews. Compare it to other products and, finally, give yourself a chance to experience the best service possible!