Private Internet Access is one of the oldest VPNs out there, which tells a lot right off the bat. The VPN industry is a rapidly evolving field, and we can see new technologies being released every single year. So, staying on top of all those developments must mean that Private Internet Access is a trustworthy VPN, right? Well, let’s check this VPN out and answer that question.
Upon taking a quick look at Private Internet Access (PIA), we can see that this VPN is offering plenty of high-end features at a very affordable price. However, to truly get to know what this VPN is capable of doing, you must take a more in-depth look.
The best way to do this is by reading a hands-on review, just like this one. With that said, we wish you a warm welcome to our Private Internet Access VPN review!
Let’s start with the basics. The following table will show you some quick information about PIA, which might come in handy if you’re comparing this VPN to some other solution.
|Jurisdiction||The United States (5-Eyes Alliance).|
|Logs||No connection logs; No activity logs.|
|Number of Servers||17,400+ servers in 75+ countries.|
|Encryption Standards||AES-256; OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPsec.|
|Speed Reduction||72.1% on average.|
|Live Chat Support||YES|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Web browsers, routers.|
|Price||Starting at $2.19/month.|
We also test each VPN’s media streaming capabilities. So, if you’d like to know if PIA can unblock the most popular media streaming websites, take a quick look below.
Media Streaming Support
|Amazon Prime Video||NO|
And for those who are in a rush, we’ve prepared a set of our conclusions (after having reviewed PIA). So, here are the biggest pros and cons of this VPN service.
The Bottom Line
|Pros||Easy installation; No data logging; Polished UI; Huge server network; Unblocks Netflix; No past data leaks; Supports P2P.|
|Cons||Based in the USA; Not the fastest performance; Not the best option for media streaming; Fine-tuning is required.|
|The Final Verdict||Unless you need a VPN highly optimized for media streaming, PIA will meet your needs. It comes with some downsides – but this is a highly capable and trustworthy VPN overall.|
With the most important highlights behind us, we’re now ready to present our full hands-on review of Private Internet Access. We’ll be going deep into investigating this VPN, so keep on reading, as plenty of useful information is on your way.
What’s New in Private Internet Access? – Recent Updates!
Having a powerful and comprehensive set of features is crucial for any VPN. However, it’s also true that VPNs have to evolve their services continuously, staying on top of the latest digital threats. With that said, here’s what’s new in Private Internet Access.
1. Updated Web Browser Extensions
During the last couple of months, PIA has been doing a lot of work on switching to a ‘next generation’ network. This new kind of infrastructure promises even better security for your data, along with fast Web speeds, and plenty more.
This infrastructure is already accessible from PIA’s desktop and mobile apps. And just recently, the same happened with PIA’s Web browser extensions. You now get a fresh new look, an interactive setup, and plenty of customizable (and highly helpful) features.
2. WireGuard Comes to Private Internet Access
PIA is one of the latest VPNs to have decided to implement the WireGuard protocol. This is a brand new VPN protocol that promises to overcome many of the limitations of other protocols, including OpenVPN. It’s lightweight, fast, and incredibly secure.
Initially, PIA launched beta support for WireGuard back in March 2020. However, it didn’t take long for this protocol to find its way to all of PIA’s software creations. We’ve spent plenty of time testing this protocol, so make sure to read our impressions later on in this article.
3. PIA Switches to a ‘Next Generation’ Network
One of the latest major additions to this VPN is its ‘Next Generation Network’ of VPN servers. Also known as ‘Gen4,’ this brand-new infrastructure brings plenty of improvements. It mainly enhances the speeds and reliability of PIA’s servers while offering enhanced security.
The rollout of PIA’s Gen4 network took some time – but it’s now available across its software, including desktop and mobile applications, OpenVPN configurations, and plenty more.
4. PIA Open-Sources Its Android VPN App
In February 2020, PIA decided to open-source its Android app, becoming one of the rare VPNs to open-source all of its clients. This process started back in 2018, so it took around two years for PIA to completely open its code to third-party inspection.
This was a highly important move, especially in the context of proving PIA’s commitment to privacy and transparency. Of course, we never had any reason not to trust PIA, as this VPN proved many times over that it cares about its subscribers.
Private Internet Access Review (2020) – All You Must Know Before You Subscribe!
TechNadu’s VPN reviews start by providing you important background information, followed by the results of our hands-on testing. The same applies to PIA as well. However, if you’d like to learn more about how we review VPNs, click on the provided link.
Table of Contents
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
PIA comes from the USA, which certainly isn’t ideal. However, this VPN has proven before that it doesn’t collect data, and therefore can’t share it with third-parties. Our Score: 8.5/10.
Want to know where this VPN comes from and how that affects its subscribers? We’ve done in-depth research, and here are our findings.
Where Does PIA Come From? Is It Part of the 14-Eyes Alliance?
‘London Trust Media’ is the original owner (and creator) of this VPN. This company used to own a large selection of privacy-related brands covering different types of software, online publications, and more.
Some of the most prominent brands owned by London Trust Media are Linux Journal (which is no longer available), BlockExplorer, FreeNode, Kore Asian Media, and a new cryptography-based search engine called Private.SH. And the most important piece of information – this company’s corporate offices are located in Denver, Colorado.
Then, a company called ‘Kape Technologies’ acquired Private Internet Access not too long ago. This happened after Kape Technologies acquired CyberGhost VPN and ZenMate VPN, both of which are high-rated VPN services. However, Private Internet Access is now run by a subsidiary named ‘Private Internet Access, Inc.’ – still located in Colorado (the USA).
Even though PIA isn’t proudly showcasing its true location on the home page, it’s not hiding it either. We can understand that since the USA is perhaps one of the least desirable countries in the world for VPN businesses. After all, there’s the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, and there was plenty of talk about Edward Snowden’s revelations.
It’s safe to say that the USA is capable of collecting even the most personal data of its citizens, which makes us question whether we should trust PIA in the first place. However, we do believe that this VPN has proven many times before that it truly cares about its customers, as you’re about to find out.
Did PIA Leak Private Data in the Past?
It’s true that this VPN is located in the USA. However, that doesn’t mean that PIA is actively sharing your personal data with third-parties. In fact, there are no records of PIA providing access to third-parties or leaking any personal information whatsoever.
In 2018, this VPN was forced by the FBI to hand over personal files of an individual using PIA. However, this company proved its ‘zero logs’ promises by not providing a single file (even when pressured by the FBI). That was a big win for PIA and their ‘no-logging’ policy.
Is ‘Private Internet Access’ Legal & Safe to Use?
There’s nothing illegal about Private Internet Access. Furthermore, this VPN is perfectly safe to use, as there are no reports that could have tied it to questionable practices.
As you probably know, VPNs are legal across the world – except in a few countries. Therefore, keep in mind your country’s laws regarding the use of VPN services. In addition to that, know that using a VPN isn’t an excuse to go against your country’s laws.
Supported Platforms & Devices
PIA has done a wonderful job of supporting all popular (and less popular) platforms, including desktop and mobile platforms – and routers as well. Our Score: 10/10.
Check out the following information to learn more about the currently offered applications and software by Private Internet Access.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS.|
|Web Browsers||Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera.|
|Routers||DD-WRT, Tomato, and other compatible routers.|
Private Internet Access supports a wide range of platforms and devices, including all of the currently popular ones. When it comes to desktop systems, you can use it natively on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Also, even quite old machines should run PIA with no issues whatsoever.
To protect your Web browsing on-the-go, you can rely on native apps for iOS and Android. Lastly, you can use this VPN on a wide range of compatible routers, and you can find some nicely explained installation guides for each supported model.
Let’s also not forget to mention that you can install PIA on an unlimited number of devices, but you can use it on up to 10 devices at the same time, which seems generous enough.
Installation & Initial Configuration
You can download, install, and begin using PIA in less than one minute. The installation process is very simple and doesn’t come with any complications. Our Score: 10/10.
Getting started with PIA is incredibly easy. The first step is to sign up for a new account, where you’ll need to pick a subscription plan along the way. Once you receive your credentials, proceed to download the official app from PIA’s website.
PIA has done a wonderful job of eliminating any installation steps – at least on Windows and macOS. You download its application, open the installation file, and PIA will be ready to use within a few seconds. You’ll see a log-in screen where you need to input your credentials, and it’s all smooth sailing from there.
When it comes to other platforms, the procedure is very simple as well. In case you get stuck along the way, you can always return to PIA’s website and read installation guides. All in all, this is a very easy and straightforward process.
Even though PIA comes with a strong and very interesting feature set, it does things a bit differently. Still, it is a very capable and reliable VPN solution. Our Score: 9/10.
PIA has been on the market for a long time now, which means that they’ve had their shot at creating a compelling feature set. Now, let’s see how well PIA meets our criteria.
VPN Features Checklist
|DNS Leak Protection||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||YES|
|Kill-Switch||YES (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS).|
|Split Tunneling||YES (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android).|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES|
As you can see from the table above, PIA covers the basic features quite well. It protects you against DNS and IP leaks that could jeopardize your personal data. Then, it comes with a built-in kill-switch that keeps you protected if your VPN connection becomes unstable. And also, you can use it with no limitations in terms of data, server switches, and bandwidth.
When it comes to IPv6 leak protection, you should know that PIA actually disables IPv6 traffic while you’re using the VPN. Therefore, it doesn’t offer proactive protection but instead disables this feature altogether.
And when it comes to its ad-blocking features, this one also works in an enhanced way. Instead of actively blocking ads on websites, it uses a list of fraudulent URLs and stops you from accessing those.
How Many Simultaneous Connections Do You Get with PIA?
A single subscription to PIA gives you 10 simultaneous connections. You can install this VPN on any number of devices – but keep in mind that up to 10 simultaneous connections can be active at any given moment.
If you have a household with plenty of devices, our recommendation is to install PIA on a router. This setup will take only a single slot of your subscription, no matter how many devices you connect to that router. This means that you’ll have nine more available slots, which is more than enough to protect yourself on pretty much all your digital devices.
Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Have a Kill Switch?
Yes, PIA comes with a kill switch. This feature is present across all of PIA’s apps, which means that you can use it on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and more.
PIA’s kill switch works as you’d expect. Once you enable this feature, your device’s connectivity to the Web will be stopped in case your VPN drops for whatever reason. So, in case something unexpected happens, you can be sure that your personal data won’t leak on the Web.
How to Enable PIA’s Kill Switch on iOS u0026amp; Android
PIA’s mobile apps are close to identical in their appearance. So, no matter if you use Android or iOS, here are the steps to enable PIA’s kill switch.
- Launch the PIA VPN app on your smartphone.
- Tap on the ‘hamburger‘ button in the top left corner.
- Then, make sure to tap on ‘Settings.’
- Finally, find ‘VPN Kill Switch‘ and toggle its switch to ON.
How to Enable PIA’s Kill Switch on Windows, macOS u0026amp; Linux
By default, PIA’s kill switch comes enabled on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Therefore, there’s nothing you need to do to enable this option. However, if you’d like to fine-tune it, here’s where you’ll find PIA’s kill switch.
- Launch PIA on your computer, and then visit its settings.
- Make sure to select the ‘Privacy‘ tab.
- This is where you’ll see PIA’s kill switch. You can set it to ‘OFF‘ to disable it. Set it to ‘AUTO‘ to block outside traffic when the VPN is on. Or you can set it to ‘ALWAYS‘ to block all traffic when the VPN is off.
Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Offer Split Tunneling?
Yes, PIA offers split tunneling – on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. That means that split tunneling isn’t available on PIA’s iOS app.
As mentioned throughout this article, PIA is a dream-come-true for more advanced users. You get plenty of fine-tuning, and this is visible when setting up split tunneling as well. More precisely, you’ll get to set up the following types of split tunneling.
- ‘Regular’ Split Tunneling: PIA allows you to pick a group of applications that will bypass your VPN connection by default. This means that they’ll be outside of your VPN tunnel (instead, they’ll use your ‘regular’ Web connection and won’t be protected).
- Inverse Split Tunneling: When selecting the apps you’d like to add to PIA’s split tunneling list, you can fine-tune your options. This is how you can select which apps will operate only when your VPN tunnel is active. In other words, they will never use your ‘regular’ VPN connection.
- IP Split Tunneling: PIA allows you to add specific IP addresses and subnets to be excluded from the VPN. Keep in mind that both IPv4 and IPv6 are supported by PIA.
- DNS Split Tunneling: On Windows and Linux, PIA allows you to split DNS traffic. This means that apps that bypass the VPN will use your existing DNS, while any other VPN will rely on the VPN DNS configured in the PIA app.
If you’ve upgraded to macOS Big Sur – know that PIA’s split tunneling doesn’t work at the moment. The latest version of macOS brings certain changes to ‘Network Kernel’ extensions, which has forced PIA to postpone the implementation of this feature. Earlier versions of macOS still get to use split tunneling without any issues.
How to Enable PIA’s Split Tunneling on Windows, macOS, and Linux
Enabling PIA’s split tunneling on desktop operating systems is quite easy. Here are the required steps:
- Launch PIA on your computer. Then, visit the application’s settings.
- Make sure to select the ‘Network‘ tab.
- Then, enable split tunneling from this window. This is done by checking the box next to ‘Split Tunnel‘ or ‘App Exclusions.’
- You can now add any application by clicking on ‘Add Application.’
- Lastly, don’t forget to fine-tune PIA’s split tunneling for each app individually by using the right-placed dropdown menu (this is where you can set up inverse split tunneling).
How to Enable PIA’s Split Tunneling on Android
PIA has made it very easy to set-up split tunneling on Android. You need to go through the following steps:
- Launch the PIA VPN app on your Android device.
- Then, click on the ‘hamburger‘ button in the top-left corner.
- Tap on ‘Per App Settings.’
- This is where you can select the apps that will use your regular VPN connection. You can see the status of each app by taking a look at its green/red icon on the right.
Does PIA Offer Static/Dedicated IP Addresses?
No, PIA doesn’t offer dedicated IPs.
As the team behind PIA explains, their system isn’t designed for static IP addresses. If they were to support this option, PIA would have to require static IP routing tables. In turn, that would require the VPN to retain MAC addresses, local IP information, and similar data.
However, if you’re really keen on using a dedicated IP, know that PIA offers this functionality by utilizing a third-party OpenVPN client. Of course, it would be your responsibility to implement such a system, and therefore it’s not within the average home users’ reach.
Does PIA Have an Ad-Blocker?
Private Internet Access comes with a feature called ‘MACE.’ It’s designed to block ads, digital trackers, and malware. And also, it’s available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.
This feature works by routing your traffic, which is resolved by a special DNS process employed by PIA. In simple terms, PIA offers a blacklist of known advertising and malware domains, preventing them from being resolved.
Keep in mind that PIA’s MACE comes disabled by default. Therefore, don’t forget to visit the application’s settings (Settings > Privacy) and enable it from there.
By default, PIA’s MACE isn’t found in the VPN’s Android app – the one you download from Google’s Play Store (due to certain restrictions imposed by Google). Instead, you’ll need to download PIA’s Android app from its website (an APK file) and install the app manually.
What Features Are Missing on Android & iOS (Compared to Desktop Apps)?
We have to say that PIA’s apps are among the most powerful VPN apps available on today’s market. However, just like it usually happens with VPNs, there are certain discrepancies regarding what’s available on specific platforms.
If we compare PIA’s Android and iOS apps, we’ll easily see that the Android app comes out on top. That’s because this app comes with PIA’s MACE and split tunneling, among other features. You won’t find those tools on PIA’s iOS app, unfortunately.
Still, it’s worth noting that PIA’s iOS app isn’t barebones. On the contrary, it’s packed with pretty much any VPN-related feature needed to protect yourself online. You get the VPN’s next-gen servers, a kill switch, and more.
Server Count & Infrastructure
With over 17,000+ servers to choose from, Private Internet Access offers a lot. Its servers are placed in strategic locations, and you can even connect to specific cities. Our Score: 10/10.
VPNs that offer a large number of servers can more easily accommodate numerous users at once. So, here’s how Private Internet Access ranks in that aspect.
Server Count Info
|Number of Servers||17,400+|
|Number of Locations||95+|
|Number of Countries||75+|
|Specific Cities Selection||YES (for some countries)|
It’s evident that PIA offers a huge number of servers. In fact, you can find this VPN on our list of VPNs with the highest server count. We’re talking about more than 17,400 servers here, so there’s plenty to choose from. However, it’s also important how many countries are covered by PIA’s servers – and this is where this VPN doesn’t disappoint either.
In addition, PIA’s servers are strategically placed in 76 countries across the world. You are free to browse the list of available countries and servers at any moment, and you can see helpful real-time stats before connecting.
Let’s also not forget to mention that you can connect to specific cities within certain countries, such as the USA, Canada, Germany, the UK, and Australia.
Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Use Virtual Server Locations?
Yes, PIA uses a number of virtual servers. These are so-called ‘geo-located servers,’ available in countries where using a VPN can be restricted.
In other words, those servers aren’t physically available in their ‘end’ countries. However, once you connect to one of those, you get an IP address associated with the chosen country. All of your virtual information will correspond to the chosen country, just like when connected to a physical server.
PIA doesn’t hide the fact that it’s using a number of virtual locations, and those are clearly labeled in PIA’s apps and its website.
PIA’s Virtual Server Locations (Geo-Located Servers) – Full List (2020)
PIA’s servers in the following countries and territories are geo-located servers:
- Hong Kong
- Isle of Man
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
UI/UX Design & Ease of Use
PIA comes with a brand-new UI design that looks great on both small and large screens. We really like the dark-light theme option. Our Score: 10/10.
In this segment of our Private Internet Access review, we will take a close look at PIA’s desktop and mobile applications. And since this VPN offers Web browser extensions, we won’t forget to cover those as well.
How Well Does PIA Work on Desktop Platforms?
First of all, you should know that once you install this VPN, PIA becomes part of your taskbar (or your menu bar, on macOS). It means that it’s not a free-floating window, which might be annoying to some.
When you activate PIA’s window, you’ll see its ‘short’ version. It allows you to quickly select a server and connect, and it provides some basic information like your real IP and your VPN (virtual) IP address.
To expand this information, you can click on the arrow found at the bottom. This lets you connect to specific locations quickly, check the real-time performance and data usage, and there’s a quick settings panel, among other helpful features.
At any moment, you can ‘bookmark’ any of these segments if you want them to become part of the ‘main’ UI. It means that PIA brings a nice level of customization, and you don’t have to use its default UI. And let’s not forget that you can choose from two themes (dark and light), both of which look amazing.
When choosing a server, you’ll be presented with a sizeable list of countries. You can mark any of those as your favorite, so you can easily connect to it in the future. PIA also provides an option to connect you to the best available server, which depends on your physical location.
Lastly, don’t forget to take a peek behind the ‘three dots’ icon, found in the top-right corner. This is where you can check additional options and settings. So, here’s what to expect here:
- General: This is where you can set Private Internet Access to launch on system startup and automatically connect to a specific server. Then, you can choose from more than a dozen different languages and switch between different themes.
- Account: If you’d like to see when your subscription is due to expire, this is where you can check that information. You’ll also find links that let you manage your account and log out.
- Privacy: Two options are present here. You can enable the VPN’s kill switch or turn on PIA’s MACE, which is the VPN’s feature that blocks malicious domains with aggressive ads, trackers, and malware.
- Network: In case you’d like to use a different DNS and port forwarding, you can find those options there. Also, you can easily enable/disable LAN traffic. And in case you’d like to set-up split tunneling, this is where that can be done.
- Connection: This tab lets you fine-tune different VPN protocols and encryption levels. There’s plenty of fine-tuning available, and you can choose between performance and security.
- Proxy: PIA also provides you a series of proxies, allowing you to adjust your VPN tunnel. At the moment, you can choose between Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 proxies.
- Help: Lastly, this is where you can do maintenance tasks that can resolve certain problems, such as reinstalling the network driver, submit debug logs, and more.
All in all, Private Internet Access comes with a nicely designed UI that looks great on small and large screens. We wished to see it as a free-floating window, though. Other than that, we have no further remarks.
How Well Does PIA Work on Mobile Platforms?
PIA has done a magnificent job of creating a series of uniform apps for all of its supported platforms. This also applies to PIA’s mobile apps, which come highly polished.
On Android, you will see a customizable home page. Without going deeper into the app, you’ll get to connect to servers, check your ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ IP, toggle certain settings, snooze the VPN, and more. Of course, all of those segments can be enabled or disabled, which is done by clicking on the ‘Home Screen Edit’ button (found in the top-right corner).
Checking what other stuff PIA’s Android app offers is done by tapping on the ‘hamburger’ button in the top-left corner. This is where you can review the list of available servers (‘Region Selection’), review your account information (‘Account’), fine-tune split tunneling (‘Per App Settings’), and play with PIA’s settings.
Speaking of the settings panel (‘Hamburger’ Button > Settings) of PIA’s Android app, there’s plenty of customization. This is where you can enable the kill switch, block IPv6 traffic, block local network, set up the VPN’s encryption level, and more. You can even set up PIA to auto-launch on system start, keeping you protected at all times.
And then, we also have PIA’s iOS app. For the most part, this one looks close to identical to the Android app. This means that you get a customizable home screen that can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
Once again, diving deeper is done by tapping on the ‘hamburger’ button. This is where you’ll find a list of PIA’s servers, information related to your account, and the app’s settings (which are more limited than what you’ll find on Android).
When it comes to fine-tuning on iOS, you can pick a different protocol, set up a custom DNS, set up PIA’s level of encryption, force the app to use small packets, and enable/disable the kill switch. All in all, even advanced users should be happy with this app.
How Well Do PIA’s Web Browser Extensions Work?
Private Internet Access comes with extensions compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You install them like you would install any extension. However, keep in mind that you’ll need a PIA account to use them (therefore, they don’t come free of charge).
We have to say that PIA’s Web browser extensions are probably the best VPN extensions we’ve tried so far. They’re packed with highly useful features that make a big difference in the way you interact with the Web.
As PIA features a uniform design across all of its software creations, this also applies to its Web browser extensions. The home screen lets you connect to servers, toggle quick settings ON or OFF, and more. However, the real power of these extensions is found behind an icon in the top-right corner, where you’ll find ‘Extra Features.’
PIA’s Web browser extensions allow you to block WebRTC leaks, force your browser to use HTTPS, as well as block access to your camera, microphone, location, data autofill, and plenty more. And in terms of tracking, you can disable cookies, block ads, and more.
It’s also worth noting that split tunneling is available via PIA’s Web browser extensions. This feature is found by going to Extension Settings > Bypass List. You’re free to add any URL here, which will force PIA to route you to those domains outside of its secure tunnel.
All in all, PIA’s extensions for Web browsers are hugely capable. Unlike what other VPNs offer, these extensions aren’t an afterthought. Instead, they bring genuinely helpful features designed to protect your digital privacy.
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
PIA unblocks some streaming platforms such as Netflix and Disney Plus. However, this really isn’t a VPN made for media streaming. Our Score: 5/10.
Are you planning to use this VPN to unblock media streaming websites? If that’s so, make sure to read this segment of our PIA review carefully. We’ve tested PIA with five of the biggest OTT platforms, and here are the results.
Media Streaming u0026amp; Torrenting Support
|Amazon Prime Video||NO|
As you can see, Private Internet Access can help you unblock Netflix outside the US. However, we’ve seen reports in the past about Netflix not being supported by this VPN, which means your mileage might vary. At the moment of writing this article, we have managed to unblock Netflix and play its content with no issues whatsoever.
We have to mention that PIA has never been known as the best VPN for streaming. It’s focused on digital privacy primarily. Therefore, anything ‘more’ that you receive can be considered ‘extra.’ Since PIA makes no promises, its streaming-related capabilities can very.
Lastly, Private Internet Access fully supports P2P traffic (torrenting), as explained below.
Does PIA Work with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video & Disney+?
Based on our hands-on tests, PIA works with Netflix and Disney Plus. This means that platforms such as Prime Video and Hulu are out of this VPN’s reach.
Overall, we were happy with the performance PIA gave us. Even though some throttling was present, we still managed to stream Netflix in 4K. The same applies to Disney Plus.
Which PIA Server Works Best for Netflix?
If you want to unblock the US version of Netflix, we recommend using PIA’s ‘Washington DC’ server. That one never disappointed us and managed to get us a pleasurable experience every single time we used it.
Other servers located in the USA might work with Netflix, and you’re free to try them out. Even though some of those managed to unblock Netflix in our case, they never seemed as reliable as the ‘Washington DC’ server. On top of that, this server will also let you stream Disney+ as well.
Can You Use ‘Private Internet Access’ with Kodi?
Yes, you can use Private Internet Access with Kodi. However, this really depends on your goal of using a VPN when streaming via Kodi in the first place.
We all know that Kodi can be a bit problematic, as certain ISPs throttle Kodi-related traffic due to piracy-related problems. In that sense, PIA will help you protect your Web traffic, hiding your use of Kodi.
However, if you want to use a VPN to unblock Kodi addons and stream their (video) content, you’ll find plenty of better-working alternatives.
PIA will help you unblock certain addons, but you’ll find yourself often trying different servers and changing different settings to make everything work smoothly.
Security & Privacy
PIA has proven that it doesn’t collect user data and that it also utilizes powerful VPN protocols. While it is based in the US, their no-log claims are legit and backed by legal documents. Our Score: 9/10.
You must be wondering how effective PIA is when it comes to protecting your private data online? To answer this question, we’ll be taking a look at three aspects of this VPN service, so let’s jump right in.
‘Private Internet Access’ VPN Protocols – Listed & Explained!
PIA comes with a comprehensive set of VPN protocols, such as OpenVPN, WireGuard, as well as IKEv2/IPSec. The following table will show you a list of PIA’s applications, along with the VPN protocols supported by each of those apps.
Available VPN Protocols
As you can see above, PIA brings OpenVPN and WireGuard across all of its apps. And then, there’s IKEv2 (IPSec) available on iOS as well. All of those are incredibly secure protocols, giving you some room to choose between security and performance.
In the past, PIA used to support PPTP and L2TP as well. Even though you can still find guides on how to set-up those protocols manually, keep in mind that PIA is moving away from those two protocols. This goes hand-in-hand with the VPN’s ‘Next-Gen’ infrastructure, with legacy servers being left behind.
OpenVPN is known as the most secure and stable VPN protocol, being used across numerous VPN services. Even though this protocol will slow you down a bit, it brings an unparalleled level of security to your private data. That’s why OpenVPN is used by default across PIA’s applications.
WireGuard is a brand-new VPN protocol that comes with plenty of promises. Most importantly, it’s incredibly lightweight. That means that connecting and disconnecting from servers is done instantly. You can also expect incredibly fast Web speeds.
PIA uses IKEv2/IPsec protocol on iOS, which is known for its stability and security. However, it’s primarily designed for mobile devices. That’s how you can easily switch from a 4G/5G network to a Wi-Fi connection without losing connectivity.
Does PIA Log Private Data?
This VPN service proudly states that it does not collect any logs of any kind. Instead, all your data simply flows through this VPN’s infrastructure, which means that it’s not saved at any point. And most importantly, PIA has already proven that they don’t collect data.
We do have to highlight once again that PIA comes from the United States. Even though there are no problematic events from the past, keep in mind that they’re still based in a country where the NSA wiretapped many web connections.
We fully trust PIA because their no-log claims are backed by legal documents, but we still needed to mention this if it might be a deal-breaker for some of you.
Does PIA Leak Your Private Data?
We’ve done a round of data leak tests, while connected to different PIA servers. With that said, we’re happy to report that PIA seems to be incredibly secure, with no leaks detected.
More precisely, we’ve checked for IP, DNS, WebRTC, and geo-location leaks. PIA’s VPN tunnel seems to be incredibly strong, not allowing anyone to get to our private information. Instead, our ‘virtual’ information is what’s visible, without any surprises.
It’s also worth mentioning that PIA provides plenty of fine-tuning. It doesn’t actually come with the highest possible level of security by default. However, even this VPN’s default values should be more than what you’ll ever need. And if you’re really concerned about your privacy, you can change your data encryption to AES-256, leaving no trace behind.
Speed & Performance
PIA isn’t the fastest VPN anymore, but it still manages to outperform a number of VPN services. Remote connections won’t always be speedy, though. Our Score: 7/10.
In this segment of our PIA VPN review, we will report on the VPN’s performance. As you’re about to see, we’ve tested plenty of VPN connections, so here’s everything you need to know.
‘Private Internet Access’ VPN Speed Test
As VPNs route your Web traffic through their servers, this means that your Web traffic will need to travel more. In other words, VPNs will slow down the speed of your Web connection. We’re here to discover how noticeable that slowdown is in terms of PIA.
Before testing any of PIA’s servers, we’ve first tested the speed of our ‘naked’ Web connection. As you can see above, we got 435.63 Mbps for downloads and 47.41 Mbps for uploads. We’ll use those numbers as our baseline data further on.
Local Speed Tests
Keep in mind that our team is located in Europe. Therefore, we typically connect to VPN servers found in Italy and the UK to test ‘local’ servers. That was also the case with PIA, so here are the results.
A server in Italy managed to give us 349.58 Mbps for downloads and 37.76 Mbps for uploads. Those are impressive numbers, we have to admit.
Then, we also tested a server in the United Kingdom. During this round of testing, we managed to get 97.64 Mbps for downloads and 34.81 Mbps for uploads.
Long-Distance Speed Tests
When it comes to long-distance servers, we test those located in the United States, Canada, India, and Australia. So, here’s what you can expect from PIA.
As expected, a server in the United States made our Web connection slower in comparison to the previous round of tests. We ended up with 74.55 Mbps for downloads and 30.77 Mbps for uploads.
Then, a server in Canada managed to get us 103.93 Mbps for downloads and 25.68 Mbps for uploads. Somewhat better than expected, especially when compared to other VPNs.
When it comes to PIA’s servers in India, we have to admit that we were quite disappointed. Even after doing several rounds of speed tests, we never managed to go over 3.56 Mbps for downloads and 1.43 Mbps for uploads.
And lastly, a server located in Australia worked remarkably well, giving us 97.27 Mbps for downloads and 10.80 Mbps for uploads.
How Well Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Perform?
We’re sure that you’d like to draw certain conclusions out of all those numbers above. To help you with that, we’ve placed them into the following table, so take a look.
|Download Speed||Upload Speed||Speed Reduction|
|Baseline (Europe)||435.63 Mbps||47.71 Mbps||0%|
|Italy||349.58 Mbps||37.76 Mbps||19.7%|
|United Kingdom||97.64 Mbps||34.81 Mbps||77.5%|
|United States||74.55 Mbps||30.77 Mbps||82.8%|
|Canada||103.93 Mbps||25.68 Mbps||76.1%|
|India||3.56 Mbps||1.43 Mbps||99.1%|
|Australia||97.27 Mbps||10.80 Mbps||77.6%|
We conclude that PIA made our Web connection slower by 72.1% on average. However, that number would have been much “better” if it weren’t for slow-performing servers in India.
Overall, we have to note that PIA isn’t the fastest VPN out there. And when compared to top-rated VPNs such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost – PIA doesn’t really bring the same level of performance. Still, that doesn’t mean that we don’t recommend this VPN.
In our case, the speed of our Web connection went down to around 80Mbps, on average (we started out with a 435Mbps Web connection). Therefore, 80Mbps still allows us to stream media in 4K (on multiple screens), for example. It all depends on how fast your Web connection is.
What Kind of Performance Can You Expect? – In all honesty, it’s impossible to predict what kind of performance you can expect. This depends on your physical location, the VPN protocol you use, and the proximity to the nearest server.
Considering that Private Internet Access isn’t the fastest VPN around, we recommend it to those who have fast Web connections. For example, a Web connection above 100Mbps should still let you stream in 4K when connected to a nearby server or in HD when connected to a remote server.
Lastly, keep in mind that you can do plenty to speed up your VPN application. The provided link will take you to our selection of helpful tips and tricks, so make sure to give it a read.
Is PIA Good Enough for Torrenting?
Yes, we believe that PIA could be a good VPN for torrenting. Even though it’s not the fastest, it comes with a huge army of servers and allows you to optimize your VPN connection.
When downloading torrents, you should primarily care about the security of your personal data. This is where PIA doesn’t disappoint, as it has the means to create an incredibly strong and safe VPN tunnel. With that said, your P2P-related activities will be anonymous.
When it comes to speed and performance, there’s plenty you can do to improve what PIA offers. For example, using a nearby server powered by the WireGuard protocol should allow you to download torrents as fast as possible.
Is PIA Good Enough for Gaming?
Yes, PIA can be used for online gaming. However, this VPN comes with certain caveats that you should keep in mind.
Based on our hands-on experience, PIA works great – as long as you’re not connected to an overly remote server. Even using a lightweight protocol such as WireGuard won’t help with your ping values, which can negatively affect your gaming experience.
Therefore, we recommend PIA – but only if you don’t plan on connecting to a server on the other side of the world. If you can connect to relatively nearby servers, you’ll benefit from an added level of security, making your gameplay even better.
PIA comes with several customer support channels available, including live chat. We’re happy to report they offer 24/7 support and that their live chat reps are very responsive and helpful. Our Score: 10/10.
It’s crucial for VPN services to offer reliable customer support channels. These are technical solutions, and something can easily go wrong – which is why you need to know if help is on the way. Here are all the ways that PIA helps its customers.
- Live Chat: We are happy to see PIA reintroduce live chat via its official website. This option was abandoned a few years back, but now you can once again talk to this VPN’s customer support agents in real-time and resolve your issue in a quick manner.
- Knowledgebase: PIA has prepared around 200 articles on solving different technical problems. They also have a pretty neat search function that retrieves results from different categories (news, files, tickets, guides, etc.).
- Setup Guides: No matter your platform of choice, you’ll find a nice range of setup guides. These come with clearly explained steps accompanied by screenshots, making it easy to install Private Internet Access on any of its supported platforms.
- Email Support: In case you can’t find a solution to your problem in some other way, you can contact the company via email. Actually, you can contact them via a contact form, but you’ll receive a response via email.
Private Internet Access VPN is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market (in the long term). Overall, its price seems fair enough. Our Score: 8.5/10.
Now, it’s time to check the price of Private Internet Access. Make sure to read this segment carefully, as we’ll unveil a number of interesting tidbits.
How Much Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Cost?
Private Internet Access offers several subscription plans, which you can easily review by taking a look at the following table. Let’s see how much you need to pay for this VPN, and more importantly, how to save some money.
When it comes to the monthly plan, we can’t say that PIA is the most affordable option out there. However, we strongly recommend subscribing to this VPN by getting one of the long-term plans, as this gives you a chance to save quite a lot of money.
For example, you get to use this VPN for up to one year for $39.95. Or you can also get PIA’s 3-year plan and save 82%, which comes down to only $2.19 per month,
All in all, it’s clear that you’ll get plenty of value for the price when it comes to PIA. We wished to see some aspects of this VPN being improved, but we can hardly say that it’s overpriced.
PIA’s Free Trial – Here’s What You Need to Know!
PIA offers a free trial, but only on Android and iOS devices. However, as you’ll soon see, this might not be a viable option for many individuals.
Before accessing PIA’s trial on Android or iOS, you’ll need to agree on a subscription plan. This means that once your trial expires, you’ll be automatically charged. And if you get charged, you can’t use PIA’s ‘standard’ methods of asking for a refund. Instead, you’ll need to ask Google or Apple for a refund since you’ve used their app stores in the first place.
If you’re willing to try PIA, we recommend purchasing a subscription via its website. That’s because you can count on the VPN’s money-back guarantee, as explained below.
PIA’s 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee – Will You Get Your Money Back?
Until recently, PIA used to offer a 7-day money-back guarantee. However, you now have 30 days to try this VPN and then have your money returned if you change your mind.
It’s also worth mentioning that PIA is offering a “hassle-free” money-back guarantee. This means that you don’t have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for a refund. Instead, just keep in mind to ask for your money back within the first 30 days of your subscription.
Also, PIA can issue a refund once within three months. Differently said, you can’t keep subscribing to a monthly subscription, asking for your money to be returned each month.
Can You Use ‘Private Internet Access’ for Free?
No, there’s no way to use Private Internet Access for free. This is a premium-priced VPN that has never offered a free tier. So, it’s safe to say that such an option won’t be available in the future either.
‘Private Internet Access’ VPN Comparisons & Additional Research Findings
In this segment, we’ll present additional tidbits, helping you make up your mind whether PIA is the right VPN for you. Here’s how PIA compares to other VPNs, whether it works in China, and more.
How PIA Compares to Top-Rated VPNs (PIA vs. ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN)?
VPNs such as Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN are among the most popular and the most reputable VPNs right now. So, let’s see how those three VPNs compare.
PIA VPN Comparisons
|Number of Servers||17,300+||3,000+||5,400+|
|Number of Countries||76||94||59|
|Number of Connections||10||5||7|
|Prime Video Support||NO||YES||YES|
When compared to ExpressVPN, PIA gives you more servers and more connections. In addition, it provides you with the same level of security and privacy. However, PIA falls short when it comes to its jurisdiction, performance, and media streaming capabilities.
And when compared to NordVPN, the situation is practically the same as described above. You get high-end protection for your data – but you don’t get the ability to stream media from just about any media streaming platform.
You can already see the pattern here. Private Internet Access is great if you want to secure your data, and especially if you want complete control over your VPN connection. As a bonus, it unblocks Netflix and Disney+ (but that’s pretty much it).
Considering its low price, we conclude that PIA brings plenty of value – especially if you adjust your expectations. However, if you need the fastest possible speed, and if you need media streaming, know that both ExpressVPN and NordVPN will meet your needs.
Does ‘Private Internet Access’ Work in China?
In general, PIA doesn’t work in China. In some instances, you might be able to use this VPN via manual configuration. Even then, PIA’s performance can be unstable and inconsistent.
Interestingly enough, PIA used to work in China in the past. However, this country has been doing plenty in the last year to block VPN services, with great success. That’s the reason why only a handful of VPNs are still functional in China, with ExpressVPN leading the pack.
What’s PIA Missing?
Private Internet Access is a capable VPN with a highly useful set of features. With that said, it’s not missing much. However, there are a couple of things that would have made PIA’s offer much more enticing.
When it comes to PIA’s feature, you won’t really miss anything. You get a kill switch, split tunneling, ad-blocking, and a series of VPN protocols. These are available across PIA’s apps. However, PIA’s iOS app is still behind in terms of its functionality.
Also, one of the prominent issues with PIA is its performance. The VPN has been gradually switching to its ‘Next Generation’ network, which comes with many promises. However, to truly get the best possible performance, be prepared to dive deep into PIA’s apps.
This means spending some time learning new terminology, as well as trying out different combinations of protocols, encryption levels, and servers.
‘Private Internet Access’ Pros & Cons – The Bottom Line!
Finally, we’d like to list the most prominent pros and cons of using Private Internet Access. Here’s what we think after having tested PIA extensively.
Private Internet Access – PROS
- Doesn’t log your private data.
- Incredibly polished applications, made for desktop and mobile devices.
- A huge army of servers – spread across the entire world.
- You get 10 simultaneous connections.
- Plenty of fine-tuning available; Great for more advanced users.
- A whole slate of ultra-powerful and secure VPN protocols.
- Works with Netflix and Disney+.
- Supports P2P traffic via all of its servers.
- A number of anonymous payment methods available.
Private Internet Access – CONS
- Based in the United States (5-Eyes Alliance).
- Not the best option for media streaming.
- Not the fastest VPN out there.
- Somewhat unpredictable performance.
- Some fine-tuning is required to achieve better performance.
So, Do We Recommend PIA?
There’s plenty to like when it comes to PIA, especially after reviewing its latest version (with a greatly improved UI).
It comes with plenty of servers, protects your privacy online, and it unblocks Netflix (and Disney Plus) as well. With all of this said, yes – we strongly recommend using PIA to keep your private data safe on the Web.
We believe that many of you will be perfectly happy with PIA. Therefore, you won’t make a mistake if you go ahead and subscribe to Private Internet Access.