Brad Smith

This is a Private Internet Access review by Brad. He is an avid VPN user who constantly reviews new VPN providers and lists them on TheBestVPN.com.

Updated: October 4, 2017

Private Internet Access, or PIA for short, is brought to you by the London Trust Media, Inc. group.

Their inspiration from PIA stems from their early days as a marketing, media, and web development firm. If anyone knows all about the complete lack of privacy for people today, it’s digital advertising people.

In this review, we’ll first take a look at PIA’s server locations and its availability on different apps and devices. We’ll then dive into their available protocols and encryption methods, before detailing their plans and pricing.

Here’s the quick details:

PROTOCOLS: OpenVPN, IPSEC/L2TP, PPTP, SOCKS5
ENCRYPTION: AES 128 & 256-bit
LOG FILES: No Logging
LOCATIONS: 25+ countries, 3200+ servers
SUPPORT: US Live Chat (24/7)
EASE OF USE: Very Simple
COST: $3.33/mo
PLATFORMS: Win, Mac, Android, iOS
RECOMMENDED? YES
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.PrivateInternetAccess.com

What Does Private Internet Access Offer?

Private Internet Access Features

PIA’s network is a relatively small, but dense, network.

Technically, they only reach 24 countries, which isn’t the biggest we’ve seen (ExpressVPN reaches almost three times that at 87 countries for example).

But PIA has over 3,269 servers in those 24 countries. So as long as they’re in the area you’re interested in, there should be no shortage of available options.

In fact, Private Internet Access has more servers than any other VPN provider we’ve tested so far (!).

Private Internet Access Locations

Their primary gateways are clustered within North America and Europe. South America only has a single location currently in Brazil. The Middle East can claim Israel, Turkey, and India. A few dot Asia in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.  And Oceania has a handful in Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand.

PIA VPN Gateways Across The World

PIA is also available extensively across most major apps and operating systems. That even includes a few older versions of the Mac OS and Windows. (You’ll might notice that they also will have multiple protocols listed for some devices, which we’ll dive into shortly in the next section.)

Here’s a complete breakdown:

  • macOS 10.12
  • Mac OS X 10.11
  • Mac OS X 10.10
  • Mac OS X 10.9
  • Mac OS X 10.8
  • Mac OS X 10.7
  • Mac OS X 10.6
  • Mac OS X 10.5
  • Mac OS X 10.4
  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP/2k3
  • Windows NT/2k
  • UNIX/Linux
  • iPad PPTP
  • iPad IPSEC/L2TP
  • iPhone/iTouch PPTP
  • iPhone/iTouch IPSEC/L2TP
  • Android PPTP (2.3.4)
  • Android IPSEC/L2TP
  • Android OpenVPN (root)
  • DD-WRT PPTP
  • DD-WRT OpenVPN
  • Tomato OpenVPN
  • PfSense OpenVPN

PIA allows you to connect up to 5 simultaneous devices at any given time across these apps and operating systems. There are no bandwidth restrictions or throttling to worry about.

And they offer a 7-day money back guarantee. So you can give the service a spin over the course of a few days. If you’re unhappy at all during those seven days, you can simply get your money back.

Interestingly, PIA accepts all kinds of different methods of payment. For starters, they’ll accept Bitcoin (which could also help you add another layer of privacy to the transaction).

But – and I’m not making this up – they also accept gift cards for popular retailers like Starbucks, Costco, Best Buy, Target, and more. So you know those random gifts your parents just bought you during the holidays? Now you just found a use for it.

Even better way to mask behind you identity?

Alright enough small talk. Time to get into the technical stuff, so you know how PIA can keep your data secure and anonymous.  

 

Private Internet Access Pros


Here’s a list of 5 pros we found after researching and using their VPN client

 

1. Private Internet Access is fast (84 Mbps out of 100)

One of the most important factors of a VPN is their download speed. If you’re signing up with a slow (read: bad VPN), you’ll end up with ridiculously slow speed.

We’ve faced that several times, especially when we tested StrongVPN and Mullvad (both were below 20 Mbps out of 100).

However, things with Private Internet Access look quite good actually. As always, to make our review accurate, we went to speedtest.net and put the following locations to the test: US, EU, Asia and UK.

Private Internet Access speed test

P.S. The location we used to track the speed was in the middle of Europe: Estonia.

US Server (New York)
  • Ping: 118ms
  • Download: 77.56 Mbps
  • Upload: 36.75 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
  • Ping: 41ms
  • Download: 84.46 Mbps
  • Upload: 40.30 Mbps

Asia Server (Hong Kong)

  • Ping: 283ms
  • Download: 69.98 Mbps
  • Upload: 13.04 Mbps
UK Server (London)
  • Ping: 48ms
  • Download: 75.67 Mbps
  • Upload: 23.00 Mbps

In conclusion, for only $3.33/mo – they don’t throttle you speed much. In fact, they’re on the same line with ExpressVPN and SaferVPN (which cost more).

Keep in mind, speed is important factor and is vastly connected with the VPN software you’re using. Of course, there are some ways to speed up a VPN connection, but the main strength comes from the actual VPN servers.

Is PIA fast? Yes, it ranks in our TOP 5.

 

2. PIA is cheap (just $3.33/mo)

PIA has a single plan with tiered pricing based on the length you’d like to commit and prepay.

That keeps things nice and simple. And you can also get a great deal if you’re ready to shell out a single year in advance.

Private Internet Access pricing and plans

Plan One:

  • Monthly
  • $6.95/month

Plan Two:

  • Yearly
  • $3.33/mo ($39.95 per year)

Plan Three:

  • 6 months
  • $5.99/mo ($39.95 per 6 months)

They also throw in a 7 day money back guarantee which was stated earlier. Overall, this makes Private Internet Access as one of the cheapest VPN options on the market today.

Only few are cheaper – ZoogVPN and VPN Unlimited. However, they’re not performing that well in terms of speed and usability.

 

3. PIA Available Protocols (OpenVPN, IPSEC/L2TP, PPTP, and SOCKS5)

You’d think a hotel network is safe

Who could blame you?

Turns out,

Not only are there security vulnerabilities to watch out for, but Wi-Fi networks at hotels and airports commonly use some kind of proxy that requires detailed personal information before you gain access to the internet.

You quickly enter in all the required info so you can get online ASAP, check the Terms and Conditions box (without ever, seriously, contemplating reading it), and hit GO.

The problem, is now you’ve just handed over rights to not only your personal data, but also visibility into your actions while on their network. So each and every website you visit, including your bank and other less savory ones, are now recorded forever by Marriott, Hyatt, or wherever else you’re laying your head at night.

Public networks are also goldmines for hackers, giving them access to tons of people over the span of hours or days.

Look:

Anyone that knows how to Google can pull up Ethereal and Wireshark to find out how to start snooping on your activity. (So that snotty-nosed tween with greasy hair in the corner of your coffee shop may not be just messing around with Pokemon Go, after all.)

Fortunately, PIA relies on the OpenVPN protocol to combat and circumvent these common issues.

It’s based on the same rock-solid technology as SSL certificates, which are used by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and all of the other biggest websites in the world, to keep a connection between you and their servers privateaway from prying eyes.

PIA also offers other protocols, including IPSEC/L2TP, PPTP, and SOCKS5 (Proxy) for older devices or special circumstances. PIA’s SOCKS5 proxy connection, for instance, is similar (but different) to a standard VPN connection.

They offer some of the same browser-protecting services so that you can hide your identity to download stuff from BitTorrent for example. But they’re not completely secure connections from hackers, and they might still pass some of your personal data, like your IP address, along to the destination website.

In summary:

Stick with OpenVPN the majority of the time and rest assured that your connection will be safe and sound. Otherwise, if you already know what you’re getting into, feel free to dabble with other protocols.

 

4. Multiple Encryption Options

Some VPN Providers will just provide you with one primary encryption method (usually the strongest available to make sure nothing goes awry).

However, PIA offers a few different methods on their OpenVPN tunnels depending on what criteria you’re concerned.

(If you’re unsure or don’t care, don’t worry. PIA will recommend and default one to use.)

The first option is an AES encryption that’s either 128 or 256 bit. This should typically be your go-to option because it’s used by government agencies around the world and recommended by top security professionals.

The number part (‘128’ vs ‘256’) refers to the encryption combination strength. If you’re primarily concerned with security for example, stick with the 256-bit connection which is virtually impossible for hackers to ‘brute-force attack’.

But that extra strength comes at a cost. Namely: speed. So if you’re already on a secure network and are OK giving up a few security points, you’d probably be fine on the lower 128 connection that will maximize your speed.

Got it? Good.

Here’s where things get nerdy.

Beyond those primary data encryption methods, there’s also data authentication and a ‘handshake’ setting as well.

A successful encryption creates a secure tunnel between you and a server. Data authentication is an extra message algorithm that’s used to thwart and block attackers that are trying to insert or ‘inject’ themselves between you and the VPN. With this turned on (by default), you should be safe and secure. (However, if you turn it off to speed up your connection, you might be at risk.)

The handshake encryption is the ‘secret key’ used to verify or authenticate your device, and that you’re really transferring data to a VPN server (and not some malicious intermediary). Then there’s also ephemeral keys, which are used temporarily for authentication and then erased completely so that they can’t be used by others even if access is compromised.

TL;DR?

If you’re not sure what to select or are just looking for default security, stick with the strongest (256-bit) encryption and keep data authentication on with SHA1 (strong) or SHA256 (strongest) and your handshake key at RSA-2048 (strong) or RSA-4096 (strongest).

If you’re trying to maximize speed, and are relatively confident of the private network you’re currently on, you can get away with downgrading (or disabling) your encryption and switching your data authentication off.

Either way, you won’t have to worry too much. Because PIA will show you warnings if any of these data encryption or authentication features are turned off (or if you’re using potentially unsecure keys).

 

5. PIA Claims No Logging (Fully Anonymous)

‘Logging’ is a practice used to monitor and record datapoints from your VPN activity.

For example, your internet service provider (ISP) will log which websites you access along with your personal information used to connect (like email or ISP). And they can actually sell that data.

Some VPN providers will log certain details, like when you login or sign off, in order to monitor their usage to improve service.

PIA has a no logging policy that will not track or monitor traffic logs, or communication logs.

 

6. Good Usability (Installer file is 60mb, though)

When you go to their homepage – www.PrivateInternetAccess.com and sign up, you should see this welcome screen.

Private Internet Access Subscription Screen

This is your Dashboard where you can change your subscription, change your email or password, and download the client.

From here, click on Downloads & Support in order to download the client for your device.

Private Internet Access Customer Support

Don’t worry about signing in again on the left-hand side where it says Client Sign-In.

Instead, you want to download the client on the right-hand side under Download Private Internet Access. Click on the system that matches the current one you’re using.

Downloading Private Internet Access

The client will automatically start downloading once you click on the correct system. Go through the standard program installation process.

After you have installed the client, you will have to log in to your account.

Private Internet Access Login Screen

There is no PIA window that will come up after logging in. Instead, you can access your new client in the bottom right-hand corner if you have a Windows system, or in the upper right-hand corner for Mac systems.

Private Internet Access Locations Taskbar

Clicking on the PIA icon will allow you to change locations. They will automatically choose one for you by default, or you can manually select a specific one.

Private Internet Access Locations on APP

Just click on the PIA icon and you can choose from their list of servers and it will connect automatically.

Overall, their VPN clients works well. Their installer file was the biggest we’ve yet to seen – 60MB! If you have a decent Internet connection, you should be able to download within minute or two, though.

 

Private Internet Access Cons


I found 2 cons when using this VPN. The first one isn’t really important, but I thought I’d mention it nevertheless.

 

1. No Live Chat for Private Internet Access Users

Although PIA offers “24/7 North American” support.

They don’t actually have a live chat option.

I think that means their support personnel is located within North America. Seeing as the whole “24/7” thing means they should always be available (no matter where you’re located).

However, when I contacted them through a middle of the night, I got a response at next morning. Not so 24/7 anymore, huh?

On a positive side, they also provide a separate Twitter account dedicated for customer service. We took a look at that network to see how they interact with customers. The good news is that they will still try to provide long, detailed answers (despite Twitter’s condensed medium).

For example, here’s a couple exchanges:

PIA VPN Twitter Feedback 1

 

PIA VPN Twitter Feedback 2

 

 

 

2. Not Working with Netflix

Unlike some other VPNs, PIA doesn’t work with Netflix.

Some people have claimed access to Netflix, but sadly, I didn’t. I tried 10+ servers and they all returned a similar error on Netflix:

netflix fail

 

Do we recommend Private Internet Access VPN?

Yes, we do.

  • What’s good about Private Internet Access? Affordable, fast, easy to use, strong encryption, 3000+ servers.
  • What’s bad about Private Internet Access? No live chat, not working with Netflix.

PIA offers excellent coverage in North America and Europe, with tons of servers centrally located. That coverage isn’t as great in other parts of the world however, with only a few servers spread around the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and a single, lonely one in Brazil for South American users.

PIA has all major protocols available, along with state-of-the-art encryption methods. Their annual pricing is among the lowest in the industry. And they’ve got a seven-day money back guarantee if you’d like to try them out.

If you don’t want to go with Private Internet Access VPN, you can also find more VPN Reviews here.

Try Private Internet Access Now

P.S. Have you used Private Internet Access VPN? If so, please consider leaving a review below 🙂

13 user reviews for PrivateInternetAccess

Dejan Radjonic

7/10 October 19, 2017

Great functionality, lacks better design overall

PIA is probably one of the best paid VPNs you can find on market compared price to performance. From functionality stand of view, it’s fantastic, it does what it say, and everything is kept private (or at least they say so). Only bad thing i can find in functionality is inability to choose specific location in countries. Example, they say they have 15 servers in Germany, but i only have option to connect to Germany, i don’t know if it’s going to be Frankfurt, Berlin or some other city, which can be bad for people who want to switch ip’s in same country, you can possible know other then google your location, which is not convenient.

Other bad thing i really can’t pass by, is their application design, it’s simple that’s true, but it’s like some 13 year old kid designed it, like i understand you want simplicity, but this design is just garbage. Even though some people don’t care about design, since VPN is great, i still think you should be at least solid in this field, since it’s your representation on how you see your VPN, which matters if you want to attract new customers.

And now to the last part, it’s price, with that year subscription being only $3.33, i think for that price, it actually might be best option in that price range, i am yet to encounter a better vpn for that price, regardless of drawbacks such as design. It just does what is suppose to do, i’ve never encountered any bugs or problems, so very big plus from that side.

Overall my rating is 8/10, it can be better on quality side, but for the price it’s a really solid deal for its functionality.

Richard

10/10 October 19, 2017

PIA

I have used this server for years from the UK. They have fantastically fast servers which goes well with my ISP Virgin 220 Mbps down / 12 Mbps up. I have only had to contact their support dept once in many years and they were extremely knowledgeable.

They keep NO LOGS whatsoever, and there are many anonymous ways to pay if you want e.g.. Starbucks voucher.

Highly recommend this provider.

Sacharias

7/10 October 18, 2017

Private Internet Access - a worthy competitor

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most affordable VPN’s on the market. PIA has over 3000 servers in 18 countries. PIA offers a secure connection with different encryption levels like AES 256. It also has different protocols like PPTP, l2TP and OpenFPN, so there are several options to keep your data safe from hackers.

The company isn’t transparent, they don’t disclose the server positions nor do they disclose how many IP’s they have, this could be a reason to be concerned. If a location has a small amount of IP’s it could hinder the performance.

PIA is also more complicated to install compared to most other VPN’s.

Paul Mabbot

9/10 October 16, 2017

Does what it's supposed to and does it well

I got Private Internet Access to get around stupid sports streaming blackout rules. I want to play to legally stream high quality sports games, and the provider still wants you watching it on TV. This way I can get around it. Highly functional, easy to change “locations”. Relatively user friendly as well, even my not so tech savy fiancee knows how to turn it on at least before using stuff like Popcorn Time.

Chris Black

9/10 October 15, 2017

PIA and my experience

I’m using PIA (Private Internet Access) and my honest review of it would be 9/10.

Interface – Really straightforward and easy to enable/disable, change specific locations
Proxy – Works really well when trying to access location specific websites, have really only been blocked once or twice.
Speed – Fantastic, always really well paced
Price – Really fair, it works out to be 5 dollars a month CAD, American its like 3.50 a month can’t ask for a better deal.

Mike

1/10 October 15, 2017

Doesn't work anymore

Recently i noticed a big slow down on bandwidth while connected to this vpn, and did some investigating. What I discovered was PIA was connecting me to an Arizona server, while it said it was connected to the Toronto server in Canada. Also my ip was on full display for all to see. I created a ticket and it’s been more than a week and ZERO support! I immediately change vpn providers! Was with PIA for many years, but no more! PIA just doesn’t work as a VPN anymore, so I’ll avoid it like the plague. ZERO CUSTOMER SERVICE!!
Reported this to paypal and many other entities! PIA needs to fold up and disappear! You won’t ever get another penny of my money for your garbage service!

Jim

4/10 October 2, 2017

PIA has no customer service

In 2015 I had PIA for a year and it was pretty good. They use to have chat support that was helpful. They no longer have chat support or even a customer service phone number. I signed up after not having a VPN for a year and cancelled for a refund a few hours after ordering. PIA no longer met my needs. Their customer support article reads that you can cancel within the first 7 days and a refund will take 3-7 days. It has now been 10 days and no refund or response other than generic auto response emails that state they are too busy to process my request and will get to it when they can. I would have recommended them in 2015, but definitely not in 2017. A complete lack of customer support gets two thumbs down! Phone support would definitely help.

Pasca

9/10 August 3, 2017

Long-time User

Have used PIA for three years, along with others, which never measured up. PIA has consistent connections (I have been dropped twice, and use VPN whenever connected), and a real kill connection that works. The fast speeds have kept me as a long-time user. Don’t be lulled by the “no logs” hype. No logs refers to the initial connection IP record. All servers keep logs (IMO).

Kavin Sharma

9.5/10 June 14, 2017

The Best VPN service you can buy $3.33/month

So guys I am linux user and I am using Private Internet Access VPN for the last 3 months and this the best VPN I found, because there is no Bandwidth loss. It also assures the guarantee of full privacy with additional feature like Multiple VPN Gateways, Ads Blocking (so I’m enjoying ad free content). They also have a very easy to use GUI, which helps me to connect to VPN in one click.

For the last 3 months I have not experienced any delays or downtimes while being connected to the VPN service – I mainly connect to United States. They also allow having 5 devices connected simultaneously, which helps me access blocked sites with Linux, Windows 10 and my Android Phone. I have used other VPN providers, but this one is the best.

Nguyen Hoai Duc

6/10 June 12, 2017

Do we really need a VPN?

I’m using Private Internet Access VPN (PIA), fast service with hundreds of servers all over the world. Since I have used PIA, all of my Google search results didn’t connect to me anymore. That’s mean I didn’t see much advertisement, but if you really concern about your privacy, PIA is a very good choice for you. One thing I  don’t really like is the GUI of PIA is not so nice, it’s quite boring, not as nice as Nord VPN.

Nat.

10/10 June 3, 2017

PIA is good

Hands down PIA is one of the best VPNs I have used so far. Here’s my full review of PIA:

PROS:
1) Cheap (less than $4/mo)
2) Stays minimized (very user-friendly)
3) Connects quickly to different servers
4) Download speed stays roughly the same (maybe 20% slower)
5) A LOT of servers to choose from

CONS:
1) No live chat option (thought I haven’t needed it so far).

Overall, would recommend it.

Paul

10/10 May 21, 2017

PIA is the fastest VPN that I've used.

I’ve been using PIA for a month now. Before that, I’ve tried a big variety of services (including free ones)

None of them have such an easy UI as PIA. PIA stays minimized on your taskbar and you can just right click and connect to a server from there.

They have tons of servers, which are really quick, and if I say really, I mean a lot.

+1 from here ?

Danny

8/10 March 16, 2017

PIA is by far the best

Based on my knowledge, nothing can beat PIA. It’s easy and simple to use, connects within seconds and is very reliable tool.

I especially like that you can keep it minimzed on your taskbar and quickly change server locations.

Furthermore, PIA connect to a server pretty much instantly while many other VPN providers can take 5-10 seconds.

PIA is a great tool – no doubts about that.