Private Internet Access Review: A Fast and Inexpensive VPN Service with Good Malware Blocking Ability
The need for VPN (virtual private network) services is increasing by the day and now. When we talk about VPN, choosing the best of the lot can be a tad difficult no doubt, but once you have zeroed on Private Internet Access, it’s known to offer great value. The US based virtual private network provider excels in resolving security and privacy issues. A number of devices are supported by it and this is something you will know once you have started using it. However, there’s more to it than just compatibility. Here’s an in-depth review of PIA.
- Very fast when seen in speed tests
- Easy and fast server switching
- Known as a good malware blocker
- Inexpensive as compared to most other VPN providers
- Server network is mediocre
- No live chat support offered
From supporting a series of VPN technologies like OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SOCS5 to rendering high-end security via internet kill switch, DNS leak protection, IPv6 protection and such, the provider does it all. And in case you thought that’s about it, I would love to tell you that PIA also owns Freenode and Snoonet IRC networks.
Last year, despite the widespread popularity that PIA enjoyed among loyalists, in some regards it didn’t adhere to the benchmark as most other market competitors did. The speeds were pretty good, though a tad slower and even customer care required slight improvement. The company fixed all these issues and this year, the PIA in its new avatar is actually living up to its expected standards.
Does VPN keep logs?
Compatible with TOR
Does it work in China?
Average Speed Tests
Windows, Android, MAC, iOS, Linux- all
Easy to use
Good knowledgebase, offers help via emails and phone numbers, but no chat facility
$6.95/month (1 month license)
$3.33/month (1 year license)
$2.91/month (2 years license)
As mentioned earlier, PIA is located in the USA. With data centers in close to 37 locations in 25 nations, you can certainly figure out it’s impressive number! As far as I can recollect, last time the count was at about 3253 and the number is rising almost every day. If the speed tests are checked, these many servers actually point out to the fact that the servers help this VPN service provider deliver outstanding performance.
In a way, the number of nations might make you feel a tad skeptical, but reality said, PIA is present in all the prime locations that users across the world need. Hence, a smaller number is a determiner of better performance.
Does VPN keep logs?
No! Private Internet Access stands for a stringent no-logging policy and has proven time and again that no online activity gets linked to the identity of the user. It was tested in public and the provider’s claims of not keeping any log of the users’ activities when connected to the Internet have stood true.
As one of the most reliable VPN providers, PIA ensures total online privacy, better than most of its competitors. This is primarily because the company believes that whatever content is being generated shouldn’t be accessible to everyone over World Wide Web.
Does PIA hide IP address?
Yes it does! Think of basic concerns like internet privacy, safety and security and you will know how mandatory it is to hide the IP address. Besides, there are plenty of activities that you wish to do, some of which are musts for work too, owing to which you need to discreetly browse the web. Thanks to PIA that sees to ‘high-powered IP cloaking’ that guards all your software applications. This IP cloaking function is actually meant to give a stop to all those tracking devices, by hiding the IP address.
Does PIA offer kill switch?
Yes! Basically, this new feature with advanced components has become the norm among most VPNs, and PIA is no exception here. The VPN kill switch or Internet kill switch checks that the IP address is never left uncovered even when the network connection of the server is not shown.
Among the best of VPNs having stellar kill switch technology, PIA was one of the firsts to possess this and have now updated to a far better level.
So you have a single subscription and do not know what to do now with PIA? The company understands how connectivity matters at large these days and hence made the provision of allowing 5 simultaneous connections to the services offered here. I can vouch for the fact you mix up any type of device, including computers, mobiles or routers and still use it effectively.
PIA has been a good choice for providing great client software for a number of devices supported by Windows (Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10), Mac (OS X 10.8 or 10.10 and newer) and also Linux and related ones (Mint, Arch, Debian, Ubuntu- 12.04 onwards; all of which are officially supported). Even iPhones, iPads (iOS 8.0 or newer) and the Android phones and tablets (Android 4.0.4 or newer) are also supported by PIA.
Chrome (from v48), Opera and Firefox web browser extensions alongside few routers like DD-WRT(2011 Big/Mega Builds on), PFSense (2.0 onwards) and Tomato ( 1.28 onwards) are supported using PIA too. But that doesn’t fairly guarantee security of streaming to clients, IM apps, online games, internet traffic of clients and more. Also, PIA is not a suitable one when it comes to giving technical support to Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Mac OS 10.4 via 10.7.
Is PIA compatible with TOR?
Yes! After you have connected to PIA service, ensure you run the TOR browser. But you may not get TOR via PIA if it is an open configuration file, so pay special attention to that. If that’s not the case, then the extra dose of security is guaranteed for the ISP will not know you are using TOR and better still, the access to TOR hidden services (like .onion websites) are perfectly shielded. The working principle is quite simple- the moment you route your traffic through PIA, you go absolutely invisible, so even if someone compromises on TOR’s end, a false IP is sent via PIA!
Can you do Torrenting with PIA?
Of course you can! It’s quite fast and hassle-free, only if you know how to sign up, make the payment, download it and your connection will be established in no time. There are three ways how you use PIA for Torrents- first, using it in the simple and usual manner (sign up for an account, log in to the VPN, connect to the server, activate kill switch and then connect to the torrent client), second, by using the unlimited SOCKS5 proxy services that the provider offers with every subscription and third, using the proxy and VPN together, that ensures traffic between all the devices to the destination is encrypted doubly.
Can you access Netflix using PIA?
Ok, this can be somewhat of a bad news to many. Unfortunately as it may sound, among the many VPN providers that stands incompatible with Netflix after the latter blocked their IP addresses, PIA was one of them. In few countries previously, PIA stood a reliable bet to access Netflix but that’s not anymore.
Till a certain point, PIA worked with Netflix, as most said when streaming the US content by connecting to few native servers. But that’s history! No matter how good PIA has been in dispensing services and allowing P2P sharing, but Netflix is not supported. Time to accept the reality!
Does it work in China?
Frankly speaking, connecting to any VPN in China is a huge headache, thanks to the updating carried out by the Great Firewall of China that blocks any such VPN connection if discovered. However, the good news is that few L2TP connections are not blocked, so this setup can be easily connected within China. If you wish to set up such a connection, check for the link in the PIA site.
If you wish to know how this is actually accomplished, the configuration makes use of a well generated PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS5 username and password, which is nowhere close to your account login for PIA. Remember to use the IP address and not the hostname for server setting, which can be found from the PIA network site. Go for it now!
Average Speed Tests
There’s no doubt that PIA is one of the best VPN service providers in the industry. Security and privacy aside, excellent speed is another major hallmark of this wonderful VPN and that too at feasible rates. One thing that you must remember as a user is that streaming via different websites need less bandwidth than you would expect. Typical HD streaming needs somewhere around 5 Mbps and SD streaming needs even less than half, or around 1.5 Mbps.
I tested the connected speed and then even connected the service to varied servers of PIA for obtaining the results. With 100 Mbps connection, the result showed download speed of 74.33 Mbps while upload speed was recorded at 4.49 Mbps. The results displayed a marked difference when it came to the UK server. The dip was quite noticeable, after download speed deteriorated to 49.48 Mbps and upload was 4.46 Mbps on connecting to the VPN. Slight variations were pretty obvious at other locations too.
The process of installation is simple for PIA. Check to see the device and operating system you use and then install the VPN. However, the basic steps are quite straightforward, as follows:
- Subscribe to the service via the official website
- Download the app on your preferred device
- Moments after installation, login with your credentials
Choose the VPN server that you like from the list attached at the site.
Ease of Use
Easy and hassle-free, signing up for PIA is followed by clicking on the plan that you wish to have for the website. With wide-ranging payment options, find the one that suits you best and get going.
Followed by that, you will find three emails from PIA- receipt, links to the installer and your login details. You can use them and also change for a stronger password. Almost all the vital options are preset from the beginning and that is where PIA scores above most other counterparts.
You might wonder how PIA is functioning top notch for someone while it’s the not the same in your case or vice versa. The performance actually keeps varying across servers. So the download speed might be great on few servers, while reverse holds true for the others.
Now peak hours can give you a tough time, especially with connectivity issues. So buffering is commonplace while browsing through any media content on your device.
Let’s be real. There’s no way a service can be in the hearts and systems of clients if not followed by a great after sales service. To augment the sales and add value to the service provided by PIA, the customer care and tech support of the VPN has been made beyond ordinary! As per the claims of the company, the tech-support is available for 365 days, on a 24/7 basis.
The site is replete with knowledge base comprising helpful articles, guides and news and updates about PIA. You can also provide essential feedback in the form of opinions and suggestions to improve the overall working of the provider, which the company readily accepts too. To get in touch with them, the numbers and mail IDs, addresses have been provided. As per the latest reviews, there is (no more) sadly no live chat benefit that the customer care desk extends to clients.
To have a fair idea of how the search interest for ‘Private Internet Access’, I used a popular tool which I am sure digital marketers are heavily exposed to. PIA’s popularity soared toward the end of 2016, but the recent search interest has been on a sharp decline. It might be the case that some other VPN service providers within the same price bucket has started offering a wider range of features. In any case, no live support is a big downside and that’s where this VPN service still lags behind many of its competitors. That might be one of the many reasons behind its declining popularity.
Can you hide social media activity using PIA?
This must be bothering you and it’s understandable why. Web anonymity is a foremost concern these days and PIA checks to see that social media activity is also kept under guard. Thanks to high grade encryption technologies, the VPN at PIA secures the connection so well that almost all online activities including social media traces are not found. There are no logs kept and the server grade firewalls and IP cloaking offers extra protection that’s much needed.
1 Month$6.95 /month
- Billed $6.95 every month
- 7-days money-back guarantee
2 Years$2.91 /month
- Save 58%
- Billed $69.95 every 2 years
- 7-days money-back guarantee
1 Year$3.33 /month
- Save 52%
- Billed $39.95 every 12 months
- 7-days money-back guarantee
Much like the speed aspect, PIA’s pricing is perhaps one of the best among all the top VPN service providers. The pricing schemes are varied, all of which come with a seven day money-back guarantee.
For a monthly plan, you need to shell out $6.95 per month, while the one-year plan requires users to shell out $3.33 per month and for the 2-year plan, you need to pay $2.91 per month (billed at the beginning). All the plans come with 7-day moneyback guarantee. Besides these, the company announces special sales, offers and discounts on the pricing plans and products of PIA at different times all through the year.
You can make your payment via different ways like credit cards, PayPal and even exotic techniques like Bitcoin! And in all these cases, your identity is never disclosed.
Should you buy it?
Buying PIA is basically a win-win situation. In terms of encryption, it’s highly secure as it gives a plethora of options like Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP/IPSec), Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and more. Besides, the look of the VPN site is simple and easy to navigate too. Contrary to most other VPNs, you will not face any difficulty when locating important details about the service since nothing is hidden. This kind of transparency in navigation that PIA provides is simply unmatched to many other such providers. Most importantly, the competitive pricing plans of PIA make for another valid reason to opt for it. There are plenty to choose from and each one is intended to save your hard earned money.
- Good price for all subscription plans
- Malware detection and blocking
- A huge number of servers almost in 30 countries
- No Netflix support
- No live chat support