Are you trying to protect your privacy and security while browsing the Internet? You need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). You could find it hard to choose a VPN though since there are many in the market. Here, we review Private Internet Access (PIA), a well-known American VPN.
VPNs promise privacy, security, speed, access to geo-restricted content, secure access to P2P/torrenting sites, compatibility, and ease-of-use. They claim to offer these at a low price, moreover, they promise great customer support.
We have reviewed PIA using these criteria. Read on and find out whether this VPN meets your requirements.
VPNs that promise privacy should mask your IP address, encrypt your Internet traffic, and refrain from keeping logs of your activities. PIA masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic. More importantly, PIA follows a strict “no logs” policy.
When someone visits the PIA website, the company collects anonymized Google analytics data. This is aggregate information and doesn’t pose any privacy concerns.
PIA doesn’t sell, rent, or pass on your information to any 3rd party unless explicitly required to do so by law. This VPN secures your data and processes it per the applicable laws.
The jurisdiction of PIA is the USA. This country is a part of the 5/9/14 eyes coalition of countries that conduct mass surveillance. The USA isn’t the ideal jurisdiction for a VPN. However, PIA collects no logs of its users’ online activities. Therefore, the jurisdiction doesn’t pose any privacy concerns. PIA displays on its transparency reports that it has never produced any logs since it doesn’t keep logs.
VPNs that claim to offer security should support secure VPN protocols, provide strong encryption, and offer advanced security features. PIA supports OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol. This protocol doesn’t have any known security vulnerabilities. PIA also supports L2TP/IPSec, another secure VPN protocol.
This VPN offers AES-128 encryption by default. While this is very secure, it’s not as strong as AES-256. You can easily change the encryption setting to AES-256 though in the PIA VPN app. AES-256 is military-grade encryption and your sensitive information will be secure with it.
PIA prevents all IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, therefore, it won’t leak your sensitive information. This VPN offers a “kill switch”. This feature blocks the Internet connection as soon as the VPN connection terminates unexpectedly. This prevents hackers from accessing your sensitive information even if the VPN connection drops suddenly.
PIA offers an ad blocker. Many users don’t prefer to see ads. When they use PIA and visit a website that serves ads, the ad blocker will block all ads.
VPNs that have a sufficient number of servers across all key geographies and high-quality infrastructure can offer great speed. PIA has 3,300+ servers in 68 locations across 47 countries.
This VPN displays the list of countries where it has servers in its network page. PIA covers all key geographies like North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Latin America, and Africa. The company has invested in high-quality server infrastructure and it offers very good speed.
It has relatively fewer servers in Latin America and Africa, therefore, users from these regions could experience a bit slower speed. In the overall analysis, PIA is a very good VPN if you prioritize speed.
Access to Geo-Restricted Streaming Services
Popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer impose geo-restriction due to their business reasons. Many Internet users try to bypass this geo-restriction using a VPN, however, these streaming services know that. They aggressively identify and block VPNs, therefore, many VPNs can’t unblock these streaming services.
Allowing Secure P2P/Torrenting
P2P/torrenting activities have several risks associated with them. Some countries have banned them, moreover, there could be copyright infringement issues. Hackers regularly target Internet users that access P2P/torrenting services. Many Internet users look for a VPN to avoid these risks.
VPNs that refrain from keeping logs of their users’ online activities and provide a kill switch enable secure P2P/torrenting activities. PIA allows P2P/torrenting on all of its servers. Since it follows a “no logs” policy and offers a kill switch, it’s a secure choice for P2P/torrenting. Its speed is another advantage, moreover, it doesn’t impose any bandwidth restrictions.
A useful VPN should support all key platforms. Among desktop platforms, PIA supports Windows, Mac, and Linux. It provides custom apps for all of these platforms. Note that quite a few VPNs don’t offer a custom app for Linux, however, PIA provides that.
Among mobile platforms, PIA supports Android and iOS. It offers custom apps for both. This VPN offers secure browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Some advanced users prefer to manually configure a VPN on their devices. PIA allows that too, thanks to its helpful manual configuration guides. You can configure PIA on DD-WRT, Tomato, and pfSense routers. This VPN allows 10 simultaneous connections, which is more than many other VPNs.
Ease of Use
A VPN that offers user-friendly custom apps, helpful guides and an easy-to-navigate website is very easy to use. PIA offers user-friendly custom apps for all key platforms including Linux. Many users aren’t tech-savvy, and custom apps save them the trouble of manual configuration. The PIA custom apps allow one-click connection and easy configuration of settings.
Some users are very tech-savvy, and they want to manually configure a VPN connection of their devices. PIA offers very structured and detailed guides for this. The PIA website is very easy to use.
We consider that a VPN has great customer support capabilities if it offers a 24×7 live chat support, a searchable knowledgebase, details guides, and ticket/email-based support. PIA offers 24×7 live chat support. Its customer support representatives are prompt, knowledgeable, and professional.
This VPN offers a comprehensive and searchable knowledge base on its support page. PIA provides very informative guides. It also provides ticket-based support.
PIA offers 3 pricing plans, and each of its plans includes all features. The only factor that varies is the length of subscription, and PIA provides discounts for longer subscriptions. The pricing plans are as follows:
- Monthly: You pay $9.95 per month
- 6-months: Your monthly average cost is $5.99, and the billing happens once in 6 months
- Yearly: Your monthly average cost is $3.32, and the billing happens once in a year.
The yearly plan includes steep discounts, moreover, it includes 2 months for free.
You can pay for a PIA subscription using major credit cards, well-known online payment platforms, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This VPN provides a secure payment process, and the buying process is easy.
PIA offers a free trial only for its Android and iOS apps, and you need to get it from Google Play or Apple App Store. This VPN provider offers a 30-days money-back guarantee.
The Pros and Cons of PIA
We now summarize the pros and cons of PIA. This VPN offers the following advantages:
- Strong privacy features including an effective “no logs” policy
- Robust security features including secure protocols, strong encryption, kill switch, ad blocker, etc.
- Access to Netflix
- Secure access to P2P/torrenting services
- Very good speed and a large server network
- Compatibility with all key platforms
- User-friendly custom apps for all key platforms and excellent guides for manual configuration
- Comprehensive documentation and a searchable knowledgebase
- Excellent customer support including 24×7 live chat support
- Competitive pricing plans with steep discounts for the yearly plan
- 30-days money-back guarantee
The only notable disadvantage of PIA is that it can’t unblock Hulu, a popular geo-restricted streaming service.
PIA delivers everything that it promises. This privacy-friendly and secure VPN is feature-rich, user-friendly, fast, and very reasonably priced. We find that PIA is a very good buy, moreover, its money-back guarantee makes it a risk-free buy!