PIA is a VPN with a solid reputation. It is considered to be an extremely reliable provider. Want to know why?
Read this honest Private Internet Access VPN review then.
You will obviously love it if you want to learn:
- Does the VPN deserve such a favourable repute?
- Is it really one of the top VPNs that worth paying for?
- Is it good for torrenting?
- Is PIA a reliable service to hide your IP?
- What are the main pros and cons of the service?
- How safe and fast is PIA?
Ready? Let’s dive right in then!
Use the navigation below to go to the point of interest:
- Unique Benefits and Features
- Pros and Cons of PIA VPN
- Benefits and Features Tests
- Speed and security Tests
- Frequently Asked Questions
- User Reviews about PIA VPN
|PIA VPN pros||PIA VPN cons|
|⊕ Decent Speeds||⊗ US-based VPN|
|⊕ Supports P2P||⊗ No live chat|
|⊕ Affordable price||⊗ Not enough servers in Asia and South America|
|⊕ No-logging policy|
|⊕ Works with streaming services|
|⊕ Strong encryption|
Recommended: PIA is a perfect choice for those who need a torrent-friendly VPN. It offers robust encryption and a no-logging policy. It is undoubtedly one of the fastest VPNs on the market. It was really convenient to use PIA application on my Android and Windows. The VPN dealt with its primary aim: it hid my IP and encrypted data. It let me to avoid geo-blocking and unblocked streaming services.
However, If US jurisdiction bothers you and you want to subscribe to more reliable service I recommend you the following alternatives:
Actually, it was gripping for me to discover Private Internet Access. Why?
The truth is the provider is one of the oldest VPNs. It is on the business since 2010. It means it is almost 20 years on the market!
The service has a good reputation on the Internet. It repeatedly received positive reviews. On December 2017, it even won the award for being the most stable VPN.
However, I tried to abstract this information in order to write an objective rating. First, I’ve found all the PIA benefits and features. Here are they:
- P2P Support;
- 10 devices simultaneously;
- Blocks ads, trackers and malware;
- Bare-metal servers;
- Easy to use;
- No traffic logs;
- Instant Setup;
- Quality and reliability;
- Unbeatable price;
- Professional support staff;
- US-based corporation.
Now it is high time to cover them in detail to see if the provider is really trustworthy and reliable. Let’s continue.
Pros and Cons of PIA
While choosing the best VPN provider, it is immensely important to learn not only its advantages but disadvantages as well. I’ve examined PIA features carefully and divided them into two sections: pros and cons. Here is what I found out:
What have I found?
To make the long story short, the VPN stores the following logs:
- E-mail address;
- Payment data;
- Those customers who use the control panel will receive a temporary cookie.
So, PIA VPN is quite reliable in terms of privacy. It will neither trace your traffic nor communication logs.
What does it all mean?
Using a VPN that does not save connection and usage logs is vital. A no-logs policy, in fact, is an essential characteristic for a trustworthy VPN.
Logging is a practice with the help of which a VPN can monitor your activity on the Internet. Despite your IP address is hidden from prying eyes on the Internet, a VPN that you use can see it. That’s why it is crucial to use a trustworthy service.
+ Secure Encryption
Quality and reliability are other characteristics that are mentioned on the official website of the provider. However, what does it mean to be a reliable VPN service? As for me, it implies the following features: no-logging policy, decent customer support, robust protocols and encryption.
PIA offers several levels of encryption. After the successful downloading of PIA software on my desktop, I noticed that the default encryption is 128-bit. Undoubtedly, this type of encryption is good but not enough.
To secure your connection, it’s better to set up your data encryption to 256-bit. However, bear in mind that it will slow down your connection a little bit.
You can also choose the level of encryption on handshake. This encryption is used to verify that you are not being tricked into connecting to an attacker’s server. To establish this connection, PIA uses TLS v1.2. The default settings there is 204-bit encryption that is highly robust.
The service also uses the message authentication algorithm which is used to authenticate your data. This function is useful for those internet users who take care of active attackers. The fastest authentication mode is SHA1. However, you can also choose SHA256.
To my mind it is nice that PIA has different encryption methods, you may use any according to your needs.
+ Unbeatable price
We all like saving, right? However, as we speak about VPN providers, security should prevail over the price. Not all individual users understand this. They take for granted that any VPN will protect personal data on the Internet. Unfortunately, it’s far from being the truth.
Free and cheap VPN services especially raise some questions in terms of security and reliability. If you need a VPN just for several days, I offer you to use a free trial of a paid service rather than risk connecting to a free VPN server.
As for PIA VPN, it offers its customers only one tariff. The price differs according to the period of time you are going to prepay:
- Monthly: $9.99/mo.;
- Yearly: $5.99/mo.;
- Two Years: $3.49/mo.
As you can see, Private Internet Access yearly subscription is really affordable. If compare Private Internet Access vs NordVPN ($5 per month if subscribing for Two Year account), PIA’s price is really wallet-friendly. Moreover, if you subscribe for the Two-Year Plan, you will be able to save $83.87.
The provider offers a 7-day money-back guarantee for those who are not satisfied with the service. I asked PIA customer support in order to know how much time does it take to get money back in case of refund. The answer was: “The normal return of funds is advised at 5-10 business days.”
Money refund is important for new customers, as sometimes it is difficult to know for sure will the service match expectations or not. However, I think that one week is not enough to see how VPN works and notice all possible disadvantages.
PIA accepts different kinds of payment methods: PayPal, credit cards, Amazon payments, Bitcoin and others. Many major brand gift cards are also available.
+ 10 devices simultaneously
I was glad to know that PIA offers 10 connections simultaneously. Just imagine how many devices you can protect only with one account. Of course, there are even more generous VPNs that offer an unlimited number of multi-logins. However, I think 10 connections are quite enough.
This feature allows to set up a VPN on your different devices. In fact, PIA has wide device compatibility. PIA runs on such popular platforms as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux and Android.
Besides, it works well on Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. You may also set up the VPN on your wireless router. However, it requires OpenVPN manual setup. The PIA is compatible with Tomato, DD-WRT, Merlin, Lede, PFSense, ASUSWRT.
What’s great about this function is the possibility to connect your smart TVs or game consoles to those routers.
+ P2P Support
Have you ever used online torrent trackers? I think almost all of my reader answered – “Yes!” It is not a surprise; torrenting is extremely convenient when downloading big files from the Net.
Though, today not all VPN services support torrent downloading. Some of them even penalize customers and ban torrenting, thus limiting their internet freedom.
A torrent fan has to choose a VPN that supports P2P connection and has a no-logging policy. PIA is unfoundedly a provider of this kind. It will never restrict your downloading. The provider will hide your IP, encrypt your data without keeping any logs. Private Internet Access is a good choice for uTorrent or other clients.
+ Instant setup
Private Internet Access boasts about instant setup. In fact, it is true. I will confirm that in the section “Benefits and features tests”.
In general, I didn’t face any problems while setting up the software on my Windows and Android. The process is intuitive, what I needed is just to follow all the required steps. However, that was an automatic setup.
If you need the provider for your router, you have to set it up manually. It will take some time. PIA guides will help you to do this without any problems.
+ Easy to use
When I launched the application on my Windows, it offers me the recommended server. It was convenient to start. I needed only to tap the button to connect to the Private Internet Access server.
The interesting feature that I have noticed is that the app neither added an icon to my system tray, nor to the desktop. I found it on my Start Menu. I clicked to it and voila, the app ran.
In fact, the app is convenient to use. There is a big button that you have to click in order to connect to a PIA server.
To connect to a PIA server, you need to right-click the «VPN server» scroll down the list of locations and select the needed server.
In the settings of the software you may select language, theme (dark/light); set up account information, privacy preferences, and connection type.
I can’t say that the app is unusual or super-attractive. However, it is convenient and has a user-friendly interface. It won’t take too much time for you to set up the software with your preferences.
+ Blocks ads, trackers and malware
PIA VPN offers its customers MACE system. It was specially designed to protect customers’ privacy and security. In simple words, MACE is a DNS-based web filtering system. Its aim is to block domains that are associated with trackers, malware, and ads.
Here are the main benefits of PIA MACE:
- If you use MACE on your mobile device, it will reduce your battery drain depending on your type of usage.
- In order to ensure you’re always protected, PIA will update your list of malicious domains regularly.
- It does not require to install extensions or configure a browser on a desktop or mobile app.
- MACE runs fast as your browser does not compare each URL against potentially thousands of rules.
– Customer Support
Of course, I have no doubts about the professionality of the PIA team. After all, the provider has a good reputation, it is almost 20 years on the market. The only reason I put this feature in this section is the absence of live chat.
Anyway, live chat is the most convenient way to communicate with a support team, especially if you need to solve the problem here and now. So, to get help, I had to submit a request on the official website of the provider.
First, I got an email with the confirmation that my ticket has been received. As soon as two hours and forty-five minutes have passed, I got the email with answers to my questions.
On the support tab, you may also find knowledgebase, and guides that can help you to solve your issue.
To conclude Private Internet Access customer service is not bad. However, it would be better to communicate with the team via live chat and not to wait several hours.
– PIA servers
Private Internet Access boasts about having only bare-metal servers in order to enhance performance and security. Today the provider owns 3307 VPN and Proxy servers in 52 locations across 32 countries.
The amount of servers matters a lot.
First, it influences your Internet connection speeds. If you want to surf the Internet with decent speed, you should connect to a server that is located not far from your home country. Bear that in mind while opting for a VPN. The closer the server is, the faster is your connection.
Secondly, if a service has a wide server park. It may help a user to avoid servers’ overload. The truth is today a lot of internet users surf the Internet with their VPN on. However, if a server network of this VPN is not broad enough, it may lead to servers’ overload. Meanwhile, if a VPN provides a huge amount of servers, it allows distributing users equitably.
Thirdly, for unblocking streaming services like Netflix or Spotify, one will need a server that is located in America. In fact, almost all VPNs offer servers in such popular locations as the USA, the UK, Australia, Germany, etc. However, not all of them own less popular locations in Asia, the Middle East or South America.
The same is for PIA. Undoubtedly, its server network is wide but it doesn’t have enough servers in less popular countries. As for me, it is a huge disadvantage of the provider.
– US-based corporation
Private Internet Access is a US-based corporation. The provider emphasizes that this is one of the main reasons why prefer their service to others. However, I would argue with this statement.
In fact, the USA has one of the strictest surveillance laws. The US government pressures VPNs to give up users’ private information. Moreover, the country is on the list of 14 Eyes.
14 Eyes Countries is an international surveillance alliance that works to collect and share users’ information. There are also 9 Eyes and 5 Eyes agreements. As it is noted on Wikipedia, the history of 5 Eyes partnership goes back to WWII and closely related to UKUSA agreement.
The fact is today internet users who take their privacy on the Net seriously, try to opt for a VPN that is based in a good privacy jurisdiction. This cross out such countries as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
As for Private Internet Access, it’s impossible to know for sure will the provider disclose users’ data in case of necessity or not. Of course, PIA has a no-logging policy, it means they have very little to share. However, US jurisdiction of the provider can scary a lot of users away.
Benefits and Features Tests
In this section, I’m going to cover the installation process of Private Internet Access VPN for Android and Windows 7. The installation for Windows 10 is the same.
Ready? Let’s start then!
Step-by-step installation of PIA software on Windows desktop
Those who are going to download PIA VPN for PC automatically will hardly face any problems. Actually, the process is dead easy and I didn’t face any problems while setting up the software.
First, go on the official website of the provider. Find the tab “Download” and select a platform. I downloaded the software on Windows.
As soon as you tap the button with your version of the platform, the installation will start. Follow all the steps and choose a folder you want to install the software. After the installation, you should log in.
For this, you have to fill in your credentials once again.
As I have already noticed before, the app offered me the automatic server. However, you may choose any from the server list. For example, I connected to the server in Sweden.
Step-by-step installation of PIA software on Android
As PIA offers 10 simultaneous connections at once, I decided to take this opportunity and download the Android software as well. It was even easier.
Go to Google Play, find Private Internet Access app, and tap download. First, the VPN will offer you to read about its advantages. You may either skip this information or read it by clicking “Next”.
Now you have to sign in to your account. The same situation as for PC, just enter your credentials.
Choose a server and click it. I chose the Swedish server again.
PIA with streaming services
Today a lot of individuals use VPNs in order to get past geo-blocking. As you might have already known, popular streaming services are not always available from this or that country. In fact, this is one of the reasons why VPNs are so popular these days.
Want to know how useful is PIA in bypassing geo-restrictions? Let’s continue.
First, I connected to the service in New York City to see if the provider is good for unblocking Netflix. Actually, this service is quite smart. It sometimes detects a VPN and does not allow a user to connect.
That’s why I was happy to learn that PIA has passed this test and unblocked Netflix successfully. Have a look:
The same is for Spotify:
PIA for torrenting
Private Internet Access is known on the Internet as a torrent-friendly VPN provider. I didn’t think I would face some difficulties with unblocking torrent trackers and…
I was right.
The only thing left to do is to check PIA speeds. If there are decent, the service is undoubtedly a perfect choice for filesharing.
Let’s find it out.
Speed and Security Tests
I checked PIA twice. First, I connected to the server in Europe, the next time – in the USA. However, before watching speed test results, have a look at what speeds I had without the VPN:
Speeds with the server in Europe located about 1800km from my home country:
Awesome! 1800km is a decent distance, however, the test showed a great result. OK, what is for the American server? Let’s have a look:
Super! The results prove that PIA is a good VPN for torrenting and streaming services. 22.29Mbps download speed will allow you to watch high-quality movies.
OK, I will reveal a secret. Security tests on for PIA VPN on Windows PC and Android were also successful. There were no IP or DNS leaks. Just have a look at the screenshots below:
Before installing PIA VPN application, you need to download PIA APK on your PC. Then you should transfer it to Firestick through USB. You will also need such applications as ES File Manager and Mouse Toggle for Fire TV. The first application you may find in the Amazon store, the second – on Google Play store or iOS App Store.
There are two ways to uninstall PIA form your device: manually or by using the built-in uninstaller. The second method is easier and more reliable. Find “Uninstall Private Internet Access” in the setting of the application. Click “Yes” and PIA will uninstall itself.
However, I do not recommend this method in case you want to reinstall the application afterwards. In such a case, it is better to uninstall Private Internet Access manually.
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