Plans & Pricing
PIA offers three plans whose only difference is the subscription length. And as you would expect, the longer the plan, the more the value.
There’s a monthly plan that costs $9.95 a month. There’s also a yearly plan that costs $3.33 a month, billed $39.95 every 12 months. The VPN’s longest plan is a 2-year plan that costs $2.69 a month, billed $69.95 every 36 months. As a bonus, you get a Boxcryptor personal plan license if you go for the 3-year plan.
All PIA subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a US-based VPN service that has been around since 2009. The VPN is owned by Kape Technologies (formerly Crossrider), a company that was known for aggressive advertising but has since turned its focus to privacy and security.
Despite its location and the owner’s murky past, PIA is a VPN that provides superb privacy and security. The VPN has also recently unveiled its ‘NextGen VPN Network,’ which now gives it a network of 34535+ Servers in 77 Countries.
In this PIA review, we’ll look at the VPN in more detail to assess its overall performance and help you determine if it’s the best VPN for you.
Features & Functionality
Private Internet Access offers several features and functionalities that make it a standout VPN.
Ad, tracking, malware blocker
The VPN has an ad, tracker, and malware blocker known as MACE. The feature enhances a user’s browsing experience by redirecting ad and tracking requests to their device. It also increases security by blacklisting malware-hosting domains.
PIA has a kill switch that prevents exposure by discontinuing all internet connections whenever the VPN connection drops.
The VPN has a split tunneling feature that allows users to determine the traffic that flows through or outside the VPN. You can select apps that bypass the VPN and apps that can only connect when the VPN is active.
PIA has proxy capabilities that allow you to send your VPN traffic through an extra location. This is a nice addition as it helps increase privacy, and it’s available for Windows and macOS apps.
One of PIA’s best functionalities is it comfortably bypasses Netflix VPN blocks. The VPN supports Netflix US, UK, Canada, and Japan.
PIA also lets users access other streaming services such as Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more.
Privacy and Security
Private Internet Access is based in the US, a region considered to be the worst jurisdiction for a VPN. This is because the country is part of the 5/9/14 eye surveillance multilateral. Further, the law allows state agencies to coerce businesses into submitting (or even logging) user data.
However, PIA counters the country’s strict policies by not having any collectible information in the first place. The VPN states that “PIA absolutely does not keep any logs, of any kind, period.”
The VPN enforces this no-log policy by ensuring that logs are “specifically written to the null device, which simply acts if the data never existed.” PIA also runs a transparency page that gives regular reports on all subpoenas received. In 2016, the FBI ordered the VPN to submit data twice, but the court documents stated that the VPN couldn’t provide any personal information. This verified PIA’s no logging claims.
In terms of security, Private Internet Access also takes things seriously and offers the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption. This is coupled with HMAC SHA 2 for authentication and RSA 4096-bit for handshake.
However, the thing about PIA is that it lets you choose your security standards. You can choose between AES 128 or AES 256, and these are available in both GCM and CBC versions. You can also decide to use the new and increasingly popular WireGuard. The protocol is highly regarded as its simpler and faster than OpenVPN.
Overall, PIA offers superb privacy and security.
PIA has improved its customer support, and the VPN now provides 24/7 live chat support. This means that you can easily get in touch with the support team for assistance. In our case, the system connected us to an agent within just 10 seconds. You can also reach out to them via email or a ticketing system in the support section.
However, you don’t have to rely on agent support as there’s a comprehensive help center on their website. It consists of a knowledge base, guides, community forum, news, files, and tickets.
Private Internet Access boasts 34535+ servers spread across 100+ locations in 77 Countries. Out of the 100+ locations, 35 are geo-located to provide access to tricky regions such as China and Russia. These servers are indicated with a globe next to them.
Server switches are unlimited, and all PIA servers offer unlimited bandwidth. To test the speeds, we conducted several tests using both nearby and distant servers. Our base connection was 50 Mbps.
When connected using the ‘fastest server’ suggested by the VPN, we got about 47 Mbps. This was quite impressive as the drop was only about 6%. However, we noticed that the VPN’s speeds fluctuate from region to region. Most distant servers recorded about 43 Mbps, but a few others went as low as 25 Mbps.
Overall, the VPN’s speeds were impressive. You can stream, torrent, download, and browse without an issue.
Ease of Use
Private Internet Access provides native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. There are also browser extensions for Chrome/ Edge, Firefox, and Opera.
We installed the VPN on Windows, Android, and iOS while doing the tests for this PIA VPN review.
The Windows app has a modern and stylish interface that is also easy to use.
It allows customization by opening a separate window for settings.
The app provides lots of features and details, but you shouldn’t have trouble using it.
The mobile apps are also quite commendable as they offer several advanced functionalities. The iOS app in particular offers protocol, encryption, and handshake selection. You can also activate the kill switch, add a Siri command, activate Safari content blocker, and customize how the app behaves. This is quite commendable as most VPNs don’t offer advanced features for iOS.
The Android app goes further to offer port forwarding, DNS selection, proxy connection, and aggressive IPv6 blocking.
Overall, PIA provides full-featured apps that are well-designed and easy to use. However, the many configuration options can be overwhelming for novice users.
Private Internet Access comes out as a reliable VPN service. It is quite fast, and you can use it for streaming and torrenting. It also offers several features such as a kill switch, split tunneling, and an adblocker, among others.
The only major concern is PIA’s jurisdiction, but the VPN does well to provide a proven zero-logs service. It is therefore a trustworthy VPN that offers pretty much an all-round service. If you go for the annual or 2-year plan, you’ll surely get value for your money.