Private Internet Access Review (PIA) is perhaps the most popular VPN on the market today.
London Trust Media, INC. He started it in August 2010.
Despite being one of the most profitable VPNs and having thousands of users, is it okay for serious use?
In this review, we tested the network performance of the PIA server, the usability of its VPN application, and the technology behind its VPN service (OpenVPN + 128-bit encryption).
In general, this is how he did it.
Private Internet Access VPN Overview
|OVERALL RANK:||#10 out of 78 VPNs|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||33 countries, 3335 servers|
|SUPPORT:||Limited “Live Chat”|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||128-bit AES (default), OpenVPN and more|
|COST:||$3.49/mo and up|
PIA Pros +
Fast Download Speed (81 Mbps out of 100)
One of the most important factors in a VPN is its download speed. If you sign up with a slow VPN (read: bad VPN), you will run into ridiculously slow speed.
We’ve faced that a number of times, especially once I tested the speed on StrongVPN and Mullvad (both were below 20 Mbps out of 100).
However, things with private internet access look pretty good actually. As always, for our PIA review to be accurate, I visited speedtest.net and tested the following locations: US, EU, Asia, and therefore the UK.
PS The situation where I usually track speed was in the center of Europe: Estonia.
US Server (New York)
- Ping: 118ms
- Download: 77.56 Mbps
- Upload: 36.75 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
- Ping: 41ms
- Download: 81.46 Mbps
- Upload: 40.30 Mbps
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
- Ping: 283ms
- Download: 69.98 Mbps
- Upload: 13.04 Mbps
UK Server (London)
- Ping: 48ms
- Download: 75.67 Mbps
- Upload: 23.00 Mbps
Keep in mind that speed is a crucial factor and is closely related to the VPN software you are using. Of course, there are a few ways to speed up a VPN connection, but the greatest strength comes from the particular VPN servers.
PIA Claims No Logging
The “log” can be a common practice to monitor and record data points of your VPN activity.
For example, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will record the websites you access along with your personal information that you don’t typically connect to (such as email or ISP). and that they can actually sell that data.
Some VPN providers will record certain details, such as once you log in or log out, to see your usage and improve the service.
PIA presents a no-log policy that will not track or monitor traffic logs or communication logs.
However, it does track certain information, such as:
- your e-mail
- Payment details
- Customers who prefer to use the optional dashboard will receive a short-lived cookie.
No Leaks Detected
Private internet access is located in the USA, Founding Member of Five Eyes Surveillance Alliance.
It is not ideal from the beginning.
If you urged your dirty hands on your data, it could be found in government databases around the world.
Fortunately, however, this is often a leak-free system, which greatly hampers the government’s ability to spy on your browsing activity.
As you’ll see from the results below, PIA passed all of our tests, both for leaks and to make sure its installation software was 100% clean.
Solid Encryption & Great Features
In addition to great features, such as:
- Anonymous IP
- Torrent ability
- Kill-Switch (but people have complained)
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Total Servers: 3300+
- Total countries: 32 (last verification on May 28, 2019)
There are many levels of encryption in PIA:
The default setting uses 128-bit encryption on your data, which is sweet, but not the simplest. However, it will step up your encryption to 256-bit, which is the industry standard, and can give you a really secure connection (although it will slow everything down a bit).
You can also choose the scope of encryption in both data authentication and handshake. They both help your computer and therefore the server verifies the authenticity of the connection and the data that is transmitted. SHA1 and RSA-2048, a 2048-bit encryption key, are the default configurations. Interrupting that is extremely complicated.
However, you can go all the way to RSA-4096 and double the information authentication key dimensions with SHA256.
Again, I like to recommend using the maximum settings so that you get the simplest security possible. But if you really need extra speed, you will consider using the default recommendation. And while the Risky Business setting may seem like a good idea if you want extra speed for torrenting or streaming, we really recommend that you don’t.
No one is probably trying to break your VPN’s encryption … but why risk it?
Specialized in Torrenting
If you’re trying to find a VPN that doesn’t restrict your torrents, PIA can be a solid option. They do not restrict or monitor any connections, including peer-to-peer file sharing.
You can use any torrent client you want to download whatever you want, safe in the knowledge that your account will not be blocked and your connection will not be limited.
While the Private Internet Access website doesn’t specifically say that the company supports torrenting, it does say that P2P is supported. So that’s something. But the VPN has earned a reputation for being torrent-friendly, which is why people recognize it as a solid option for file sharing.
One of The Oldest and Well-Known VPN Providers
In the world of VPNs, having a reputation means a lot. and personal Internet access has one of the simplest reputations in the industry. They have been around since 2010 and have provided reliable service ever since. At the end of 2017, they won the award for many stable VPNs, which suggests tons.
Was it sponsored or not? Hard to say …
They also received the editor’s multiple-choice award, but we will never know if they were compensated by PIA or not.
The VPN appears on many “best of” lists, and there have been no serious doubts about their commitment to privacy (although they are based in the US, which can be problematic – read on and we’ll discuss that momentarily).
Being in business for almost 20 years is undoubtedly a symbol of prestige within the world of VPNs. PIA’s reputation and longevity make it a truly safe option.
The company also supports many organizations that are making the web a much better place, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, Blender, Inkscape, Gnome, and therefore the Software Freedom Conservancy.
Decent Device Compatibility
PIA is compatible with the most popular platforms.
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and Firefox are also included. They even have Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser extensions.
They are also compatible with routers, technically speaking. But that will require a manual configuration via OpenVPN.
I’m not a huge fan of additional work. However, it does mean that they are compatible with DD-WRT, Lede, Merlin, PFSense, Tomato, and ASUSWRT routers.
Plus, you’ll be connecting smart TVs and game consoles to those routers. So there is your light at the top of the tunnel.
One Out of Five Servers Worked for Netflix
The PIA support forums confirm that they have been working diligently for years to find ways to avoid Netflix detection.
How have you been?
We tested four of their servers and saw an equivalent dreaded black screen:
Those four losers included:
- United States: NY
In Sunny California, however, we did have a profitable one.
Believe it or not, one in 4 is pretty good lately. Especially when most VPNs don’t even try to work with streaming services anymore.
But if you want a more consistent Netflix interpreter, take a look at this comparison.
PIA Cons –
Limited Live Chat Support
Although PIA does offer “24/7 North America” support.
They only offer a live chat option for paying customers, which is a bit of a bad thing if you want to inquire about their services.
I think that means your support staff is located in North America. See why the whole “24/7” thing means they should always be available (no matter where you are).
However, once I contacted them in the middle of the night, I received a reply the next morning. Not 24/7 anymore, huh?
On the plus side, they also provide a separate Twitter account dedicated to customer service. I took a look at that network to determine how they interact with customers. The good news is that they will still try to provide long, detailed answers (Twitter’s condensed medium notwithstanding).
Also, they need an FAQ page that might help some of you:
Located in The US
Private Internet access is based in the United States and that is problematic for many people. The US has stricter and privacy-invasive surveillance laws within the developed world, which apply to VPN providers. The government has been known to pressure VPNs to provide user data with secret orders, which concerns privacy advocates.
Of course, the mere fact that the PIA does not keep records means that they need little or nothing to share with authorities if they are available to call. But the very fact is that they will have no other choice; if they need any information about you in the slightest (such as if you are a customer or how long you have been), they will be forced to hand it over.
Should that concern you? Maybe, and maybe not. There are rumors that the NSA has been ready to break the encryption of some VPNs, suggesting that the government could be snooping on your connection. If you use the best security recommendations, that is less likely.
Due to the combination of surveillance laws and intelligence-sharing agreements within the US, I tend to avoid VPNs located there. But that does not mean that it is completely necessary for everyone.
PIA Pricing, Plans & Facts
PIA features a unique plan with tiered pricing that supports the duration you want to commit to and pay upfront. That keeps things nice and simple. And you will also get a great deal if you can distribute a year earlier.
They offer a 7-day money-back guarantee. So you’ll give the service a spin over the course of a couple of days. If you are not satisfied in the least during those seven days, you will simply receive a refund.
Interestingly, PIA accepts all kinds of payment methods, from credit cards to PayPal, and they will also accept Bitcoin (which could also help you add another layer of privacy to the transaction).
But, and I’m not making it up, they also accept gift cards for popular retailers like Starbucks, Costco, Best Buy, Target, and more. So do you recognize those random gifts your parents bought you over the holidays? Now he only found one use for it.
Even better thanks to the mask behind your identity?
- No log – no activity logs, just email, and payment information.
- Ease of VPN software: However, the installation file is simple and fluent, over 60MB.
- Upsells: no upsells.
- Instant access after payment: Yes.
- DNS leaks – the protection is done (although you should always test it yourself).
- Jurisdiction: us
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IPSec / L2TP, PPTP, Socks5 proxy.
- Death switch: mixed reviews. Users can enable or disable it, and some have found that it doesn’t work as regularly as they would like (I recommend trying it out for yourself).
Do I Recommend Private Internet Access?
Yes and no.
PIA offers excellent coverage in North America and Europe, with a large number of centrally located servers. However, that coverage is not as good in other parts of the planet, with only a couple of servers spread across the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and only one in Brazil for users in South America.
All of the main protocols, as well as state-of-the-art cryptographic methods, are available in PIA. It has one of the lowest annual prices in the sector. If you want to give them a shot, they offer a seven-day money-back guarantee.
There is no general live chat support and a company located within the US has tons less privacy during a Five Eyes country.
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