Private Internet Access VPN Review 2021 – A Privacy-Friendly VPN With a Few Drawbacks!

Private Internet Access (PIA) 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 privacy-protecting features being released quite often. So, staying on top of all those developments must mean that PIA 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 offers 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 should come in handy if you’re comparing this VPN to some other solution.

Quick Facts

Jurisdiction The USA (5-Eyes Alliance).
Logs No connection logs; No activity logs.
Number of Servers Thousands, presumably (exact info not provided).
Parallel Connections 10.
Encryption Standards AES-256; OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPsec.
Speed Reduction 61.0% on average.
P2P Support YES
Live Chat Support YES
Supported Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Web browsers, routers.
Price Starting at $2.08/month.

Private Internet Access

Pay $2.03/month for PIA’s 3-year plan + get 3 Months Free ($79 in total). 30-day money-back guarantees available!

$
$11.95
2.03
/mo
Save 83%

If you’d like to know if Private Internet Access can unblock the most popular media streaming websites, take a quick look below.

Media Streaming Support

American Netflix YES
Hulu NO
Disney+ YES
BBC iPlayer NO
Amazon Prime Video NO
Kodi YES

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's not the fastest VPN out there, but it's a highly capable and trustworthy one.
Our Score 8.6/10

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.

Note

We've been following PIA's development for a long time now. With that said, if you wish to know what's new in Private Internet Access, make sure to use the provided link. You'll be taken to our overview of the VPN's latest features, news, and developments.

Private Internet Access Review (2021) – All You Must Know Before You Subscribe!

TechNadu's VPN reviews start by providing you with important background info, 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.

Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation

Map of the United States of America

PIA comes from the USA, which certainly isn’t ideal. On top of that, it's owned by Kape, a company that owns a number of VPNs. However, it's also true that PIA had proven in the past that no data logging is involved, which is what matters the most. Our Score: 8/10

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' was the original owner (and creator) of this VPN service. That company used to own a 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 were Linux Journal (which is no longer available), BlockExplorer, FreeNode, Kore Asian Media, and a crypto-based search engine called Private.SH. And the most important piece of information – this company’s corporate offices were located in Denver, Colorado.

Then, a company called 'Kape Technologies' acquired Private Internet Access not too long ago. That happened after Kape Technologies acquired CyberGhost VPN and ZenMate VPN, both of which are still highly popular VPN services. However, Private Internet Access is now run by a subsidiary named 'Private Internet Access, Inc.' - still located in Denver, Colorado.

Just recently, Kape Technologies also acquired ExpressVPN for $936 million, becoming perhaps the most dominant VPN company today. In our article explaining which VPNs are owned by Kape, you can learn more about this company's turbulent history. However, the bottom line is that we have no reason to distrust Kape Technologies, as all of its VPNs have remained dedicated to their no-logs policies while also expanding their set of features in the meantime.

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 the 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.

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

Private Internet Access List of Supported Devices and Simultaneous Connections

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 table to learn more about the currently offered applications and software by Private Internet Access.

Platform Compatibility

Desktop Platforms Windows, macOS, Linux.
Mobile Platforms Android, iOS.
Web Browsers Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera.
Routers DD-WRT, Tomato, and other compatible routers.
Other Devices Android TV, Fire TV.

Private Internet Access supports a wide range of platforms and devices. 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. Aside from that, 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. And lastly, PIA is now also available on media streaming devices powered by Android TV and Fire OS.

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

Supported Devices by PIA as per the VPN's Website

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, 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.

Updating PIA from Within the VPN App

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.

Prominent Features

PIA Website Showing the VPN's Benefits

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).
Dedicated/Static IPs NO
Ad-Blocker, Anti-Malware YES
Unlimited Server Switches YES
Unlimited Bandwidth YES
Unlimited Data YES

As you can see from the table above, PIA covers the basics 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. You can learn more about that later on in this Private Internet Access review.

How Many Simultaneous Connections Do You Get with PIA?

Information Regarding Simultanous Connections of Private Internet Access

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. That will take only a single slot of your subscription, no matter how many devices you connect to your router. This means that you'll have nine more available slots, which is more than enough to protect yourself across pretty much all your digital devices.

Does 'Private Internet Access' Have a Kill Switch?

Two Types of Kill Switches in Private Internet Access on macOS

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 and Android

  • 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.'
  • Navigate to 'Privacy Features.'
  • Finally, find 'VPN Kill Switch' and toggle its switch to ON.

How to Enable PIA's Kill Switch on Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Launch PIA on your computer, and then visit its settings.
  • Make sure to select the 'Privacy' tab.
  • Click on the checkbox next to 'VPN Kill Switch' to enable this feature.
  • Use PIA's 'Advanced Kill Switch' to completely block your traffic when not using the VPN.

Does 'Private Internet Access' Offer Split Tunneling?

Setting Up Split Tunneling in Private Internet Access

Yes, PIA offers split tunneling - on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. That means that split tunneling isn't available in PIA's iOS app only.

We have to note that PIA used to bring an overly complex set of split tunneling options. That changed recently, which is when the VPN overhauled its apps' visual design. Now, split tunneling is quite easy to set up, even if you have never used this feature before.

How to Enable PIA's Split Tunneling on Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Launch PIA on your computer. Then, visit the application's settings.
  • Make sure to select the 'Split Tunnel' tab.
  • Enable split tunneling by ticking the checkbox next to 'Split Tunnel.'
  • To add an applicaton to PIA's split tunneling rules, select 'Add Application.'
  • If you'd like to do the same with an IP, pick 'Add IP Address.'
  • Upon adding new entires, pick 'Use VPN' or 'Bypass VPN' on the right.

How to Enable PIA's Split Tunneling on Android

  • Launch the PIA VPN app.
  • 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?

YES, PIA offers static/dedicated IP addresses, which come priced extra.

It's worth mentioning that PIA uses a token-based system designed to preserve your privacy. You'll be in charge of activating your (random) token, which means that PIA's team won't know the IP address associated with your account. On top of that, you'll also get to use PIA's shared servers, so you can easily switch between those two systems.

Lastly, know that dedicated IPs are priced extra. If you decide to get one, you'll need to pay $5.00 per month on top of your VPN subscription. And also, you'll get to pick an IP address from the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, or the UK.

Does PIA Have an Ad-Blocker?

Enabling PIA's MACE

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.

Tip

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

PIA's Marketing Message About Its Server Network

Private Internet Access VPN has one of the largest server networks out there (many of those are virtual servers), with units spread across more than 75 countries. Our Score: 9/10

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 Thousands (presumably).
Number of Locations 95+
Number of Countries 75+
Specific Cities Selection YES (for some countries)
Unlimited Switching YES

In the past, Private Internet Access used to have a dedicated page on its website, providing the exact number (and locations) of servers it had in its network. Throughout 2020 and 2021, that number ranged from 17,500+ to 30,000+, as the VPN switched to its "next-gen" network.

To help you make sense of those numbers, we'll say that other top-rated VPNs have 3,000 to 6,000 server units in their networks. With that said, we're not exactly sure how PIA used to count the number of servers it had in its network. When asked about using virtual servers, for example, PIA told us that only a limited number of virtual servers exist in its network.

In any case, it's obvious that PIA offers a massive number of servers. Still, what's even more important is that PIA's network spans over 75+ countries.

And lastly, 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?

Private Internet Access Virtual Private Location

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, PIA's geo-located servers aren't physically available in their 'end' countries. Still, once you connect to one, 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.

Tip

If you don't wish to use PIA's geo-located servers, you can hide those from the VPN's UI. Click on the three-dots icon in the top-right corner (in PIA's desktop apps) and pick 'Settings.' Then, select 'General' and disable the 'Show Geo-Located Regions' feature.

PIA's Virtual Server Locations (Geo-Located Servers) - Full List
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Greenland
  • Hong Kong
  • Isle of Man
  • Kazakhstan
  • Lichtenstein
  • Macao
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

UI/UX Design & Ease of Use

Private Internet Access Compact Home Screen

PIA now has a brand-new UI design that looks great on both small and large screens. It can be a bit confusing at first (especially if you never used a VPN before), but it's highly usable and customizable. Our Score: 9/10

In this segment of our Private Internet Access review, we will take a close look at PIA's desktop and mobile software. And since this VPN offers Web browser extensions, we won't forget to check those as well.

How Well Does PIA Work on Desktop Platforms?

When you launch PIA for the first time, you’ll see its 'compact' version, whose interface allows you to quickly select a server and connect. It provides some basic information as well, like your real IP and your VPN (virtual) IP address.

Explanation of the Home Screen of Private Internet Access

To expand that information, click on the arrow icon found at the bottom of PIA's 'compact' UI. That action will expand PIA's options, allowing you to connect to specific locations quickly, check the real-time performance and data usage, and there’s a quick settings panel and more.

Customizing PIA's Home Screen Design

At any moment, you can 'bookmark' any of those segments if you want them to become part of the 'compact' UI. That means that PIA brings a high level of customization. Let's not forget to mention 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 them 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'll find 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 connect to a specific server automatically. Then, you can choose from more than a dozen different languages, switch between different themes, and more.
  • Protocols: As the name of this tab implies, this is where you can change PIA's protocol. Unlike other VPN services, this one lets you dive deep into customizing your connection. When it comes to OpenVPN (for example), you can pick the type of data transport, encryption, remote and local ports.
Switching VPN Protocol in Private Internet Access
  • Network: In case you’d like to use a different (custom) DNS and port forwarding, you can find those options there. Also, you can easily enable/disable LAN traffic between you local devices.
  • Privacy: Three options are present here. You can enable the VPN’s kill switch or turn on PIA's MACE, which blocks malicious domains with aggressive ads, trackers, and malware. Just recently, PIA's started offering an 'Advanced Kill Switch' as well, blocking any traffic from going outside the VPN, even when the VPN is disabled.
  • Dedicated IP: As mentioned above, Private Internet Access now offers dedicated IPs, priced extra. If you decide to get one, you'll need to use the 'Dedicated IP' tab to activate your token, which is generated using your 'My Account' page on PIA's website (recently redesigned).
Activating Dedicated IP in Private Internet Access
  • Automation: Using this tab, you can instruct PIA to connect or disconnect from its servers once your computer joins a specific Wi-Fi network. That's how, for example, you can instruct PIA to protect you using a public Wi-Fi network, and then turn off once you enter your home.
  • Split Tunnel: A recent update to PIA's apps gave split tunneling its own section. That should make it easier to set up various split tunneling options, by adding applications or IP addressess and then letting PIA know whether to route its traffic through its servers.
  • Multi-Hop: This tab allows you to add an extra later of protection by including an additional proxy to your Web traffic's flow. There are two types of proxies available in this scenario: Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxy. PIA allows you to pick a country, which will be the location of the additional server that will route your Web data. The purpose of using this type of obfuscation is to hide that you're using a VPN app.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Disabling Logging in PIA's VPN App

As you can see above, PIA offers a huge number of customizations. With that said, it's oriented towards those who wish to control their VPN connection in-depth. Inexperienced users will find their way through PIA as well, even though some other VPNs might offer a more suitable environment for that early stage of entering the world of VPNs.

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).

Private Internet Access UI on iOS

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.

Enabling Split Tunneling via Private Internet Access on Android
Here's how to enable PIA's split tunneling on Android.

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 using the 'hamburger' button. That's 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).

Private Internet Access UI 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.

Home Screen of Private Internet Access Extension for Chrome

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.'

Extra Features of Private Internet Access Chrome Extension

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.

Private Internet Access Extension Settings

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 useful features designed to protect your digital privacy.

Media Streaming & Torrenting Support

Private Internet Access Unblocks Netflix US

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 and Torrenting Support

Netflix US YES
Hulu NO
Disney+ YES
BBC iPlayer NO
Amazon Prime Video NO
Torrenting (P2P) YES

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 that your mileage might vary. At the moment of writing this review, 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 vary.

Does PIA Work with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video & Disney+?

Using Private Internet Access to Watch Netflix

Based on our hands-on tests, PIA works with Netflix and Disney Plus. This means that platforms such as Amazon 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' or 'US East Streaming Optimized' servers. Those servers never disappointed us and managed to get us a pleasurable experience every single time we used them.

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 servers found above.

Can You Use 'Private Internet Access' with Kodi?

Using Kodi Alongside PIA VPN

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 Internet providers are known to 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 add-ons and stream their (video) content, you'll find plenty of better-working alternatives.

PIA will help you unblock certain add-ons, but you'll find yourself often trying different servers and changing different settings to make everything work smoothly.

Security & Privacy

PIA Privacy Policy Found on Its Website

Private Internet Access has a reputation for protecting its users, even once police organizations such as the FBI come knocking at their doors. So, even though it's based in the US, which isn't ideal, there are a lot of reasons to trust this VPN. Our Score: 9/10

You must be wondering how effective PIA is when it comes to protecting your private data? To answer that 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

Windows macOS Linux Android iOS
OpenVPN YES YES YES YES YES
WireGuard YES YES YES YES YES
IKEv2/IPSec NO NO NO NO YES

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

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.

WireGuard

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.

IKEv2/IPsec

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?

Clip from PIA's Privacy Policy

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 in PIA's past, keep in mind that this VPN is still based in the US, where the NSA wiretapped many web connections.

We fully trust PIA because their no-log claims are backed by legal documents. In other words, there are no reports, rumors, or any indications that PIA might treat our personal data in any other way than described in its legal documents.

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.

Testing PIA for VPN Leaks

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

Netflix Interface on MacOS Monterey

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, that 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.

Our Baseline Performance Before Testing PIA
Our baseline speed - before testing 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 488.57 Mbps for downloads and 48.63 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 when reviewing VPNs. That was also the case with PIA, so here are the results.

PIA's Server Performance in Italy
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in Italy.

A server in Italy managed to give us 456.08 Mbps for downloads and 45.85 Mbps for uploads. Those are impressive numbers, we have to admit. Therefore, if you plan to use nearby servers only, you can count on fast speeds and fluid performance.

PIA's Server Performance in the UK
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in the UK.

Then, we also tested a server in the United Kingdom. During this round of testing, we managed to get 243.67 Mbps for downloads and 46.52 Mbps for uploads. We expected somewhat higher numbers, but overall, it looks like PIA is reliable when it comes to local servers.

Long-Distance Speed Tests

When it comes to long-distance servers, we tested those located in the United States, Canada, India, and Australia. So, here's what you can expect from PIA.

PIA's Server Performance in the USA
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in the USA.

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 180.27 Mbps for downloads and 36.69 Mbps for uploads.

PIA's Server Performance in Canada
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in Canada.

Then, a server in Canada managed to get us 169.79 Mbps for downloads and 39.23 Mbps for uploads. Somewhat better than expected, especially when compared to other VPNs.

PIA's Server Performance in India
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in India.

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 17.12 Mbps for downloads and 5.98 Mbps for uploads.

PIA's Server Performance in Australia
Speed test results of PIA's VPN server found in Australia.

And lastly, a server located in Australia worked well (for a VPN server that's on the opposite side of the planet, in relation to our physical location), giving us 74.69 Mbps for downloads and 18.34 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) 488.57 Mbps 48.63 Mbps 0%
Italy 456.08 Mbps 45.85 Mbps 6.6%
United Kingdom 243.67 Mbps 46.52 Mbps 50.1%
United States 180.27 Mbps 36.69 Mbps 63.1%
Canada 169.79 Mbps 39.23 Mbps 65.2%
India 17.12 Mbps 5.98 Mbps 96.4%
Australia 74.69 Mbps 18.34 Mbps 84.7%

We conclude that PIA made our Web connection slower by 61.0% 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.

Aside from PIA's India-based servers, this VPN managed to provide us with fast speeds and reliable performance. For example, even when using a server in Australia (which is a highly remote server, based on our location), we still got 74 Mbps for downloads, enough to stream 4K movies on several devices simultaneously.

What Kind of Performance Can You Expect? - In all honesty, it's impossible to predict what kind of performance you can expect. That 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?

Torrenting via PIA VPN

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?

Online Gaming via PIA

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.

Customer Support

Customer Support Resources Found on PIA's Website

PIA comes with many customer support channels available, including live chat. We’re happy to report that 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. That's because they are highly complex 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.

Pricing

PIA Subscription Cost as of October 2021

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: 9/10

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 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.

  Total Price Per Month Savings
1 Month $11.95 $11.95 0%
1 Year $39.95 $3.33 72%
3 Years $79.00 $2.08 83%

When it comes to the regular (monthly) plan, we can’t say that PIA is the most affordable option out there. That's why we strongly recommend subscribing to this VPN by getting one of the long-term plans, as those give 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, which comes down to $3.33 per month. Or you can get PIA’s 3-year plan and save 83%, which comes down to only $2.08 per month.

We also recommend checking if any promo offers are available, as PIA is known for offering a selection of deals. For example, it offered its antivirus with the 3-year plan, which is a feature that typically comes priced extra.

Lastly, we need to mention that Private Internet Access supports a range of payment options. As you can imagine, you can use your credit card, PayPal, or Amazon Pay account. However, you can also pay using various crypto-currencies, which is something to consider if you're eager to remain anonymous.

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!

Information Regarding Private Internet Access Free Trial

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 the trial on Android or iOS, you'll need to pick a subscription plan. That means that once your trial ends, 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?

Private Internet Access Moneyback Guarantees

PIA used to offer a 7-day money-back guarantee in the past. 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. That means that you don't have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for a refund. Instead, just ask for your money back within the first 30 days of your subscription.

Also, PIA can issue a refund once every 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 about 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

PIA ExpressVPN NordVPN
Jurisdiction QUESTIONABLE SAFE SAFE
Data Logging NO NO NO
Encryption AES-256 AES-256 AES-256
Number of Servers N/A 3,000+ 5,000+
Number of Countries 75+ 94 60
Number of Connections 10 5 7
Speed/Performance MEDIUM ULTRA FAST FAST
Kill Switch YES YES YES
Split Tunneling YES YES YES
Netflix Support YES YES YES
Hulu Support NO YES YES
Prime Video Support NO YES YES
Disney+ Support YES YES YES
Live Chat YES YES YES
Free Trial YES YES YES
Price (Monthly) $11.95/month $12.95/month $11.95/month

When compared to ExpressVPN, PIA gives you more simultaneous connections. Also, it provides you with the same (very high) 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 now employs 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.

'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.
  • Highly 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 Plus.
  • 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?

PIA VPN Home Page Showcasing Supported Devices

There’s plenty to like when it comes to PIA, especially after reviewing its latest version (with a greatly improved UI). This VPN service 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 recommend using PIA to keep your private data safe on the Web.

However, keep in mind that PIA is based in the United States, and also - it's owned by a very large corporation. That might be problematic for overly cautious users, even though PIA was never caught logging any information (even after being forced by the FBI).

With that said, we believe that many of you will be perfectly happy with this VPN. Therefore, you won't make a mistake if you go ahead and subscribe to Private Internet Access.

Review Summary

Despite its (minor) drawbacks, Private Internet Access provides a lot of value for its price. And most importantly, it is capable of truly protecting your online data and keeping your data safe on the Web.

8.6
Overall Score
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
8
Supported Platforms & Devices
10
Installation & Initial Configuration
10
Prominent Features
9
Server Count & Infrastructure
9
UI/UX Design & Ease of Use
9
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
5
Security & Privacy
9
Speed & Performance
7
Customer Support
10
Pricing
9

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