Private Internet Access Review
Private Internet Access or PIA on the short is one of the top players in the VPN industry. They come forward with great features, good prices, and a powerful network which attracts more and more users every day.
But why do you need a service like Private Internet Access anyways? It’s not like you are visiting illegal sites or downloading copyrighted materials. Well, did you ever stop to think about how the Internet actually works? First of all, the Internet is a public network and, when in a network, your computer shares information with other computers in order to communicate. Among the information it shares are your IP address which leads to your physical location, the type of information you access, the time spent on a site, and more.
Everything we mentioned above is absolutely normal and logical, but if you think that other people will mind their business and leave you alone, you are mistaken. There are companies specially designed for collecting data from unsuspecting internet users. They then sell these data to big internet companies like Google or Facebook which will use them for ads, creating personalized online services, and others. However, these are the less harmful players. The problem appears when hackers and governmental agencies enter the game. Countries like the USA and the UK are already under heavy surveillance and mass personal data collection even though this is breaking people’s right to privacy.
Without a good VPN solution like PIA, your life is completely on display. You are easy to follow and track down and your financial and personal information are at risk. PIA is one of the VPN providers out there who actually focuses on privacy. They deliver advanced encryption to make sure your data are safe and their no logs policy is 100% respected.
However, since you can’t trust just their word, we decided to do a testing of all their services and allegations. So, if you want to know more about Private Internet Access, continue reading our review.
Pricing plans & Packages
The trend today is to offer three types of packages differentiated on the length of subscription. Thus, with Private Internet Access, you get three packages, all with the same features and complete access to the network. The three packages are as follows:
- Monthly (payment is done each month) – $6.95
- 6 months (payment every 6 months) – $35.95 which means $5.99 per month
- 12 months (annual payment) – $39.95 which means $3.33 per month
If you buy the longer period subscription, your impact on monthly payment decreases thus giving you the best benefit month wise. It is recommended to purchase yearly plan. Don’t worry you’ll have a free month trial, you can always get a refund without questions asked.
As we mentioned before, PIA is focused on keeping your online activities private and you can’t do this without a payment method that can’t be traced back to you. Of course, there are the regular payment methods like credit card and PayPal, but there are also Bitcoins, gift cards, and cash payments.
PIA offers a wide range of payment methods and this is a great feature for any VPN service that respects its users.
Money Back Guarantee
Another feature that differentiates great VPN services from mediocre ones is the money back guarantee policy. Private Internet Access offers a 7 days money back guarantee period. This means that you will have full access to all the features and you can test everything you need. At the end of these first 7 days, if you don’t like the results of your testing or you feel that PIA doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can ask for your money back. That’s it! No extra questions involved.
PIA VPN (Speed Test)
Before we get into more details, you should know that every VPN service will slow down your Internet speed. This happens due to the extra layer of encryption and there is no way around it (for now at least). If you don’t want to slow down your speed, but you need to hide your IP address, you can use a Proxy server – however, these won’t protect your data from eavesdroppers.
Now let’s return to PIA – the solution offers some of the fastest VPN servers in the industry. Of course, the speed will be decided by your geo-proximity to the server, but you should always have enough to do some casual browsing or some high-definition streaming. For instance, PIA servers support about 6 Mbps on average which is quite impressive.
We liked the speeds we managed to achieve with various servers in various corners of the world and we didn’t have any problems accessing online services. The only thing that may suffer from this is the P2P speed.
When it comes to device compatibility, Private Internet Access is somewhere on the medium. There are solutions which support more devices, but PIA offers support for the most used ones, like:
- Windows (Versions from NT to Windows 10)
- Mac (Versions from OS X 10.4 to OS X 10.11)
The fact that they offer clients for routers is great as it gives you the possibility to protect the entire home with one account (PIA allows for up to 5 devices to use the same account at the same time).
The list of features that promote PIA on the list of top VPN services is as follows:
- Secure VPN Account – the level of encryption is decided by the security protocol you choose to use. However, in each case, your data will be protected.
- Encrypted WiFi – for the situations when you choose to use a public WiFi hotspot like the one in your favorite coffee shop. Such hotspots are crawling with snoopers looking for a weakness in your device to steal your data so, a solution like Private Internet Access will cover this issue.
- P2P Support – not all VPN services offer P2P support and almost no US-based service dares to be so open about file sharing. However PIA is a declared supporter of torrenting and file sharing networks and they even have dedicated servers for this.
- Multiple security protocols (PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec) – great for adjusting your speed when you don’t need powerful encryption.
- 5 devices simultaneously – We all have one or two smartphones, one tablet, a gaming console, a Smart TV and other devices that require internet connection lying around. So it would be quite costly to have to purchase o VPN account for each device. With PIA, you have the possibility to connect 5 devices with the same account simultaneously so the entire family will be protected.
- Block ads, trackers, and malware – the internet is filled with malicious software designed to either annoy you with ads or track your every move and send it forward to a storage center. Besides the invasions of privacy, these pieces of software are very damaging for your computer/device and speed of work. PIA gets rid of all this and keeps your devices clean and healthy.
Server spread and VPN location
While the network spread is not as impressive as other solutions on the market, Private Internet Access covers the key points of the world. Thus, the 3280+ servers are spread in countries like:
PIA Client Software & Apps
The PIA client is user-friendly and has basically the same features on both desktop and mobile devices. If you are not a tech-savvy user, you don’t have to worry about setting things up as the client is pre-set with the necessary data. All you have to do is select the region you want to connect with. Here there is a bit of a downside as you are not allowed to select a specific server, just the region. The client will decide which is the best server to use in the region you selected.
For tech-savvy users, there is a special section in the client’s interface where you can select the security protocol, type of connection and encryption, and many other settings that will customize the experience.
The process is fairly simple as all you have to do is download the client for your operating system and install it. Usually, this takes maximum 5 minutes. Once the installation is completed, you will be asked to use your login data to get access to the interface.
The website is modern and well-structured using a refreshing team that offers complete transparency. The information is easy to find and you will have access to their extensive knowledge database even without being a user.
We loved the way the information is presented. By being straight forward with their site, they manage to earn viewers’ trust, inviting them to join their service.
We’ve already mentioned that PIA is one of the best VPN services in terms of security and privacy but let’s see these features in a bit more detail.
First, the security is quite impressive and PIA may actually be the solution to offer the widest range of choices on the market. First of all, there are multiple security protocols to choose from (PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, or OpenVPN). However, it only makes sense to choose OpenVPN as your default security protocol since the other two are not as safe. Still, if you don’t care about safety but more about speed, the first two are great.
With PIA, you can use 256-bit AES encryption rate, SHA256 for authentication and RSA 4096 for handshake. This combination is the safest PIA can offer, but it is also the slowest. Thus it is recommended to use only in case of extremely important connections where you need to make sure the data exchanged will remain confidential.
In terms of privacy, they are true to their no logs policy but they will have to enforce any subpoenas they receive for users’ data. Still, since they don’t store anything of importance, there is nothing to hand over. Users all over the world are very happy with the level of privacy they manage to offer so you can definitely put your trust in the PIA team.
PIA has a strong support team with communication and technical professionals. However, the only way to get in touch is via a submission form which may seem a bit long and boring. Still, they allow you to give good details on your problem which is nice.
They also offer an extensive knowledge database with tutorials, FAQ, articles, and videos which may offer a comprehensive reply to your inquiry.
In the end, we like PIA for their great services and features. They offer high levels of security on high-speed servers and, even though housed in the US, they support P2P connections. PIA is a trustworthy VPN service and we can recommend it to anyone looking for some privacy and security in the online space.