Private Internet Access Review

UPDATED Apr. 2020
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Private Internet Access (PIA) is a renowned VPN service launched in 2010 by London Trust Media, Inc. that also holds brands like BlockExplorer, Freenode, and NW.js. The company is incorporated in Denver, which is not an ideal location for a VPN, but the transparency report on the official PIA website with zero court orders, subpoenas, and warrants guarantees optimal user privacy.

PIA is one of the most transparent VPN services out there, with its parent company investing heavily in revolutionary startups related to cybersecurity, so if you want to learn more about its features and see the results of our exhaustive performance testing, keep reading this unbiased Private Internet Access review.

private-internet-access-homepage

Speed & Performance

Our testing team located in Belgrade, Serbia (Europe) monitored 20 PIA VPN servers over a period of one week to gauge its overall performance and stability levels. We also used this opportunity to test the software against different regional versions of Netflix and check how it handles torrenting.

Private Internet Access speed test without vpn servers

When it comes to sheer speeds, our top performers were the servers in Sidney, Toronto, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Bucharest, and surprisingly New Delhi and Hong Kong. Due to our location, we usually get subpar performances on servers in India and China, which makes PIA all the more impressive.

Private Internet Access speed test with vpn servers paris

Private Internet Access speed test with vpn servers new york

Apart from locations that retained between 80% and 90% of our original speed, the servers in Miami (65.45%), Vancouver (79.66%), and Auckland (77.02%) also performed quite admirably. When it comes to subpar performance, we can only mention Singapore and Perth that managed to retain only 13.31% and 17.05% of our benchmark speed, respectively.

Connecting to any specific server did take some time (between 20 and 50 seconds), but once the connection was established, everything ran pretty smoothly and without any interruptions or disconnects.

LocationPing (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Americas
New York, US11743.612.08
Los Angeles, US18229.117.3
Miami, US15332.021.55
Denver, US1597.781.82
Vancouver, CA18038.977.37
Toronto, CA12646.047.31
Mexico21041.641.7
Europe
London, UK5111.721.98
Amsterdam, NL5146.887.37
Frankfurt, DE3846.97.31
Bucharest5247.037.38
Paris, FR4547.127.38
Stockholm, SE5546.917.31
Oceania
Perth, AU3238.341.94
Sydney, AU35146.944.48
Auckland, NZ30637.683.03
Asia
Tokyo, JP27322.421.67
Hong Kong25844.847.31
Singapore2856.512.11
India19746.475.82

Supported Platforms

Private Internet Access supports Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 (both 32 and 64-bit), macOS 10.12+ (64-bit only), Linux Ubuntu 16.04+, Mint 18+, Debian, and Arch (64-bit and desktop only), Android 4.1+, and iOS 9+. Apart from its software for various operating systems, PIA features browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Lastly, you can also use it on flashed DD-WRT and Tomato routers.

Even though you might get the software to work on depreciated operating systems, note that PIA does not provide any technical support for them due to potential security issues that are no longer addresses by their manufacturers.

Servers

PIA currently features 3,300+ servers located in 30 countries around the world. The company is extremely vigilant when it comes to its server network, which resulted in the removal of its gateways in Brazil and South Africa. At some point, the gateway in Germany was also removed due to some unsafe practices allowed by PIA’s datacenter partner. This location, however, has been re-launched.

Private Internet Access Client Main Screen

If you do not require the extra security provided by VPN servers, you have SOCKS5 proxy at your disposal as well. This will allow you to access geo-restricted platforms, use BitTorrent-based apps, and hide your real IP address without encryption slowing down your connection.

PIA guarantees unlimited bandwidth and server switching and offers up to 10 simultaneous connections. However, the company does not provide its services in Iran, Cuba, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea.

Safety & Security

Private Internet Access supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP connection protocols. We recommend opting for OpenVPN since it provides the optimal balance between speed and security for average VPN users. Both TCP and UDP connectivity is available, so you may switch to UDP to get a bit more speed at the cost of reliability.

Private Internet Access Privacy Settings

When it comes to encryption, PIA utilizes AES-128/256 GCM and CBC. The official website does mention Blowfish CBC, but we did not see this option in the client. If you are suffering slow connection speeds, you can opt for AES-128 without any worries for your privacy and security since this cipher is more than enough to protect you from malicious online entities, no matter what security sites may claim. Furthermore, the handshake options are more than impressive, incorporating RSA-2048/3072/4096 and ECC-256k1/256r1/521.

PIA also comes with optional split tunneling, which allows you to exclude certain applications from VPN protection. If you opt to use this functionality, the software will install a split tunnel filter on your device. There is also the option of using port forwarding, but not all locations support this feature.

The so-called “PIA Mace” feature enables you to block certain domains used for malware, trackers, and ads. Finally, there is a reliable killswitch implemented to block your Internet connection in case your VPN gets compromised.

During our tests for this Private Internet Access review, we did not experience any IP or DNS leaks, which means our true location and IP address were perfectly concealed at all times.

Private Internet Access Ipleak.net-Test

Logging & Privacy

Private Internet Access collects the following personal information:

  • Email address – Used to confirm payments, send subscription information, correspond with clients, and send promotional offers.
  • Payment data – Used to manage signups, payments, and cancelations.
  • Temporary affiliate cookie – Used to improve service delivery and monitor control panel logins.

PIA also uses Google Analytics to monitor the usage of its official website and stores the time and date of your registration. The company does not collect any traffic logs or IPs that could be used to identify its clients as individuals. In other words, even if the US government serves PIA with a warrant and a gag order, there is nothing dangerous to be handed over. Furthermore, even if the request passes PIA’s legal team, the company allows its users to file a complaint and object to any requested disclosures.

PIA will retain your information indefinitely unless you request data deletion. From the moment of your request, it can take up to 30 days for your data to be purged from the system.

Apart from the right to request data erasure, you can access your data at any given moment, object to data processing, withdraw consent, restrict processing, rectify your data, and receive it in a commonly-used format (the so-called right to portability).

Streaming

Our testing team in Belgrade, Serbia managed to access and stream Netflix US and UK without any problems. However, other relevant versions of the platform like Netflix Japan, Germany, and France served us with the infamous proxy error. Private Internet Access was able to restore its access to Netflix US and UK recently and we hope it manages to keep this functionality for as long as possible. We also successfully unblocked Crunchyroll, which is great news for all anime lovers out there.

Torrenting

PIA does allow torrenting on its servers and provides users with SOCKS5 proxy as well. Turning on the killswitch, however, is definitely a good idea if you are experiencing connection stability issues on a regular basis.

Having said that, the company does NOT allow any illegal downloads or sharing of copyrighted content. However, we did not see any mechanisms that would allow it to identify P2P filesharing or differentiate it from any other form of traffic.

As we already mentioned in this Private Internet Access review, the speeds are pretty impressive, which makes it an excellent choice for torrenting, no matter which BitTorrent client you are currently using.

Plans & Pricing

1 Month
3 Months
6 Months
1 Year
2 Years

1 Month
$6.95
3 Months
/
6 Months
$5.99
1 Year
$3.33
2 Years
$2.91

Private Internet Access features 3 different subscription plans, including a 1-month deal for $6.95 per month, a 6-month plan for $5.99 per month ($35.95 per 6 months), and a full 1-year package for $3.33 per month ($39.95 per 1 year).

The accepted payment methods include credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB), PayPal, Amazon Pay, BEAM, and cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Zcash, Ethereum, and Litecoin). Every purchase comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee, even if you opt for payment in crypto.

Private Internet Access Price

Support

PIA does not have a live chat feature on the official website, but its knowledgebase, FAQ sections, installation guides, and forums are perfectly capable of answering any questions you might have at any given point. According to the company, you can receive customer support 24/7, which is a bit overblown since you will have to wait after submitting a support ticket.

Bottom line, the company’s customer support is beyond impressive, but we would still like to see PIA implementing a live chat and being truly available 24/7. Note that the company has a 60-day ticket retention policy, so you will not be able to use historical tickets to prove your point or describe previous problems.

Private Internet Access Pros & Cons

As we wrap up this PIA review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.

Pros
  • Excellent speeds & connection stability
  • Support for all major platforms and browsers
  • 3,300+ servers in 30 countries
  • SOCKS5 proxy
  • Solid security package
  • Automatic killswitch
  • Ad-block and tracking/malware protection
  • No DNS leaks
  • Works With Netflix US/UK
  • Torrenting is allowed
  • Budget-friendly prices
  • 7-day money-back guarantee
  • Cryptocurrencies are accepted
Cons
  • No live chat
  • Located in the US

User Reviews (6)

Private Internet Access customer rating based on 6 user reviews.

The Private Internet Access reviews listed below reflect the opinions and experiences of real users and are in no way influenced by the dating site reviewed here. Before publishing each review, our team checks whether it was submitted by an actual user in an effort to prevent false or spammy reviews.

  1. JJ Sanders | November 15, 2019

    Private Internet Access does NOT protect your identity – it leaks your IP address. I really like the ease of use and the interface, but now have received several Copyright Infringement letters from my ISP while using PIA, even after their customer service suggested several fixes and adjustments. At first it was leaking my Ipv6 data, and we fixed that. I found that even though their suggested test site said it was OK, other sites shows the data was still leaking. Even after stopping that – PIA continues to leak my IP address causing me more problems. I used a simple Anonymizer previously for years with no problems. DON’T USE PIA IF YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOUR ISP ADDRESS.

  2. Anonymous of course | October 19, 2018

    I love this VPN. I highly doubt I’ll use any other VPN ever. The only thing I dislike about this provider is that Amazon streaming and Netflix streaming are blocked but that’s fine. I use other streaming services. I cancelled my Netflix subscription and I’d cancel my prime membership to Amazon too if not for the free 2 day shipping. I’ll sign up again when they let me be anonymous on the internet like everyone should be. Anyways this VPN has never had downtime for me and the Killswitch means I can p2p with no worries. Torrent freak has 2 articles about PIA being taken to court and PIA informing they have a no log policy and being unable to help with any logs. I’ll trust these guys with my privacy for sure.

    Conclusion: if you can survive without streaming Netflix this VPN provides the best privacy and security and has had it’s no log policy tested. 5 stars without a doubt.

  3. Jose Cuervo | October 2, 2018

    I have been using PIA for several years now and am satisfied with the service. I originally used Viscosity as my client but the one from PIA has improved enough to make it the best option. Though I have not yet tried the Linux client, the ones on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android work well. Since I stared using PIA, they have added a bunch more servers and the performance has never been an issue for me. The combination of features, compatability and server locations represents the best value for me….YMMV. PIA was my third and so far best VPN experience.

  4. Maria Martonioni | June 22, 2017

    I liked this service for a while but I feel that lately they have started to slack a bit, especially when it comes to connection reliability. No matter what kind of server I connect to (I usually connect to US and UK ones, sometimes some European ones) the connection keeps dropping and I keep losing my protected connection which is definitely not cool.

  5. Lyndon Hart | November 19, 2016

    Horrible service with awful customer support. They never ever helped me at all. One time I’m pretty certain a support tech called me a moron but in a polite way. I mean ok I understand I can be annoying but they are there for me, aren’t they?

  6. HughLeeUK | November 11, 2016

    Private Internet Access is a decent, solid and overall enjoyable vpn service. Sure, they could be faster but I mean it’s vpn so what can you expect. My connections are solid most of the time and I also appreciate their tutorials, which are very helpful and written in a way that everyone can understand.

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