Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN Review (Great VPN Option)


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Private Internet Access is a long standing Premium VPN service that has been around for over a decade, but how does their service stack up, and is it worth it compared to other Premium VPN providers?

We’ll go into much more detail about PIA in this post, but here is a quick bottom line answer on whether it’s a recommended VPN:

Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN service that offers you everything most users could possibly expect for online security and privacy, including very strong encryption, security safeguards, fast speeds, no logs and good customer support. It is also priced very favorably compared to other VPNs and has a 30 day money back guarantee.

In other words, it delivers what it says on the tin and gives you what any VPN should – a secure, encrypted connection that shields your online activity and personal data from prying eyes. And it does so at a much better price that some other VPNs.

The only possibly downsides is that PIA doesn’t have servers in quite as many countries as some other top-end Premium VPN services, so if you live in a country that isn’t covered on their server list, it may be a less favorable option and you might want something else like NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Also it isn’t 100% reliable for accessing streaming services in some countries, but this is a very common problem with VPN services.

In reality though, this is nitpicking and the only real negative we could find on the service. Everything else is positive and it’s an excellent option if you’re not too picky about server choice and just want a solid, no nonsense, good value VPN to make your online activity private.

Let’s look in much more detail on the Private Internet Access VPN service to see why it’s such a good option for the price.

How Much Does Private Internet Access Cost?

I thought I’d just get this question out the way straight away, as most readers just want the bottom line on what PIA costs.

The answer is not very much compared to some other Premium VPNs. Private Internet Access is very competitively priced for 1 year plans, and even better priced (pro-rata) for 3 year plans. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 1 Month Plan (month to month) – $9.95/month
  • 1 Year Plan – $3.33/month ($39.95/year)
  • 3 Year Plan – $2.03/month ($79 for 3 years – our readers 4 months added for free)
  • 10 devices allowed
  • 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t like the product
  • All major debit and credit cards accepted
  • Anonymous payments methods also accepted – Third party giftcards (eg. Starbucks, Walmart etc)
  • Crypto also accepted for payment – Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitpay.

Click here to check current pricing for Private Internet Access – our link gives you 4 extra free months for a 36 month plan

This pricing is very competitive for the Premium VPN market. The 1 year deal is on the lower side for sure (some VPN’s charge $5-7/month for 12 month plans), and it’s superb value for the 3 year deal, one of the lowest on the market in terms of per-month cost for 36 months. Readers using our links also get another 4 months free on top of the 36 months, so it’s even better value.

A Summary Of The Features of Private Internet Access

I’ll start with just a long list of all the major features offering with the Private Internet access service (I’ll go into more details about the key features most users will want to know about in the next section).

Here’s the main things you get with PIA:

Zero Logs Policy – PIA have a very strict logs – no user data is collected or stored when using their service – no IP address, no browsing history, nothing. So Private Internet Access means just that – your browsing is totally private and they don’t store any data on you. Their no logs policy has also been tested in court – from time to time, they’ve been asked to provide information on users, and haven’t been able to because they don’t store anything. So their no logs policy appears very watertight and secure.

Fast servers – PIA pride themselves on providing fast, reliable servers across the world (around 10,000 servers in 84 countries covered). Their speeds are impressive and plenty enough for streaming on YouTube and other platforms. See our section below where we test out PIA for speed. Also no bandwidth restrictions or throttling.

Kill Switch – Most VPN’s have this now – it’s a feature which kills your VPN connection and stops all data transfer in case your connection drops for whatever reason (ie. your Wi-Fi drops or the VPN server fails temporarily). Prevents data leakage and preserves privacy in the case of service interruptions.

Multiple protocols/speeds – PIA offers you multiple different VPN connection protocols – WireGuard and OpenVPN, plus IPsec on iOS – plus a choice of 128 or 256 bit encryption, so you can trade off security for speed as required, and also try out different protocols if one doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Extensive Customer Support – Detailed and multiple options for support, including setup and troubleshooting guides and tutorial, help community, plus a 24/7 live chat and email help (they respond quickly). So if you run into any difficulties, help is never far away.

Open Source software – PIA have a completely transparent policy and let their software be totally open source (publicly available and open to scrutiny), so anyone can see it.

Antivirus – PIA also bundle in an up-to-date antivirus service to scan your PC for threats, plus real time protection. An excellent bonus option not included with other Premium VPN options. They also have a Privacy Guard feature, that checks for any privacy and personal data breaches for any email accounts you have.

Split Tunneling – A more advanced feature that allows you to split your browsing traffic, allowing some traffic to use the PIA servers and other traffic to use your original, unmasked IP address. Useful if you don’t want or need to conceal some browsing, or just want the faster speeds that come from sticking to a normal connection without using a VPN.

VPN Router Options – More advanced option that allows you to install the PIA service on a compatible router, so that all devices on your home network that connect to the router are automatically protected by the PIA servers. See here. Your router needs to be a compatible model listed on their site though.

Dedicated IP – A more specialized feature that can be useful if you just want one constant, fixed IP address to use if you are sick of getting login verification alerts for your email, banking etc. There’s an extra cost to this over and above the subscription, but can be useful if you want to lock your IP in place when using PIA, so you can log into accounts without being asked to do constant verification checks because your IP address keeps changing.

Wide availability – Available on all major browsers, devices and operating systems. Also up to 10 simultaneous devices/connections allowed per account – great value for money! Many other Premium VPN’s only allow 5 devices.

PIA is available on all major devices and operating systems

Click here to check current pricing for Private Internet Access

Where PIA Has (And Does Not Have) Servers

Here’s a complete list of all countries where Private Internet Access does have servers, broken down into regions:

  • USA – Most servers are here because it’s a USA based company – servers in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Texas, Denver, California, Seattle, Las Vegas, plus Baltimore*, Wilmington*, Salt Lake City* and Honolulu*
  • UK – London, Southampton and Manchester (plus Isle of Man*)
  • Canada – Ontario, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver
  • Australia – Perth, Melbourne and Sydney
  • New Zealand
  • All major European countries (east and west) – Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal*, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus*, Andorra*, Malta*, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Lichtenstein*, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Monaco*, Montenegro*, Serbia, Croatia*, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Greece, Macedonia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Bosnia, Moldova
  • Scandinavia – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Greenland*
  • Africa – Nigeria*, Morocco*, Egypt*, Algeria*
  • South Africa
  • India
  • China
  • Middle East/Asia – UAE, Saudi Arabia*, Qatar*, Turkey*, Kazakhstan*, Mongolia*, Armenia*, Georgia*, Israel, Bangladesh*, Sri Lanka*
  • Far East – Malaysia*, Singapore, Philippines*, Hong Kong*, Macao*, Vietnam*, Cambodia*, Japan, Indonesia*, Taiwan*
  • Central/South America/Caribbean – Argentina*, Brazil*, Bahamas*, Chile*, Mexico*, Colombia*, Costa Rica*, Panama*, Venezuala*

* Indicates that the server/location is geo-located – more on this below. All non starred locations mean it’s a normal VPN server, where both the server and exit node are physically located in the country.

Important note – If you plan to use the PIA service primarily for streaming, but your intended target country is one with a geo-located server, then please read this article very carefully, where we go over the difference in reliability between normal and geo-located VPN servers for accessing streaming services. PIA might not be the best option for you in this case.

PIA has servers in most major regions and countries of the world

Here’s some notable countries where PIA does NOT currently have servers:

  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Most African countries (only servers in Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt)
  • South America – Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Peru
  • Middle East – Jordan, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Oman
  • Far East – Thailand, Brunei

(I’ll try to keep this list updated and take countries off as and when servers are added)

If you live in one of these countries and want to use servers based there, then you might need to look for a more specialized Premium VPN option that has more country and server options.

Almost all users are going to be covered just fine though by PIA’s excellent choice of servers on all continents.

Testing Server Speeds With Private Internet Access

Let’s have a quick look at how the speed of Private Internet Access servers holds up when we test different locations around the world. For reader’s information, I’m based in the UK.

No VPN – Here’s the speed I got without using PIA at all (just an unmasked, normal connection):

UK Server – Lose a bit of download speed using PIA on the nearest UK server, but still very good speeds:

USA East – Still surprisingly good speeds when testing the USA New York server from the UK:

USA West – Losing a bit more speed download speed when trying the California server, but still perfectly usable, and YouTube videos still played fine when using this server from the UK:

Europe – Tried a server in the Czech Republic – still very good speeds from the UK:

Middle East – Tried the United Arab Emirates server (Dubai) – speeds dropped quite a bit because of distance but YouTube videos still played fine:

Bottom Line – PIA seems to deliver good (or at least usable) speeds even when using servers in different countries quite a way away. As long as the Wi-Fi/ethernet connection on your end is solid, then your connection using PIA servers should be fine for streaming and videos, despite any loss in download speeds because of distance to the server you’re using.

The servers are also reliable from what I’ve seen so far using the service – the servers connect quickly and I’ve not seen any drop outs in the connection so far.

PIA also has streaming optimized servers in: USA East, USA West, UK (London), Italy, Sweden (Stockholm), Finland, Denmark, Japan.

Advantages of Private Internet Access

Here’s some real positive benefits you can get from using PIA, especially in comparison to other VPN services:

Very competitive pricing – With PIA, you get everything 99%+ of users could possibly need from a VPN, at a much better price than some other providers. Their pricing is right towards the lower end of the range in the market, but you don’t lose any features. It’s still a comprehensive VPN service that’s got everything you need for online privacy. Their 30 day money back guarantee is also a good insurance in case you don’t like the product, and again not all VPN’s offer this.

10 Devices/Connections – More than many VPN providers, who only allow 3-5 simultaneous connections with their service. 10 devices is very generous and will often allow you to install the VPN on a compatible router to cover all devices in a small to medium size household.

Simple, Compact Interface – PIA is really easy to install and use, and the menu/interface is perfect for non technical users who just want to mask their IP but aren’t too bothered about advanced stuff. You can pin it to your desktop and taskbar, and it opens in a nice small non-intrusive interface. Picking a server is quick and easy – just click on the Power symbol to connect to the nearest one, and the interface also closes after a while so it’s not in the way, but still remains running. Just click on the icon again to reopen.

Bypass Government Restrictions – PIA works in all countries, including those “tricky” ones where the internet is highly regulated and authorities attempt to block VPN usage. PIA uses a special “Shadowsocks” protocol to help with these tricky cases, and has been reported to work in countries like China, Bahrain, Iran and Russia, where you might have trouble getting other VPN’s to work reliably.

USA Focused – If you’re based in the USA, then PIA is an especially good option. It’s a USA based company and has lots of servers in across all of America – multiple servers in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Texas, Denver, California, Seattle, Las Vegas (streaming optimized servers on the East and West coasts). So American users will definitely be well covered using PIA.

Good advanced options – They’ve definitely got basic users covered who just want an easy-to-use VPN service, but they’ve also got more advanced stuff for users that wants this – like Split Tunneling, Anti-Virus, multiple protocols and speeds, Tor support and dedicated IP. So all users are covered, regardless of technical knowledge and needs.

Long standing – PIA have been in business since 2010, so they have a solid track record of being a reliable VPN provider, plus the no logs policy has never been broken once in that time. So they’re a reliable provider who you know what you’re getting with – they’re not a flash in the pan. There’s loads of VPN providers now, but some have not been around very long and don’t have much reputation, so this is something that makes PIA stand out.

Click here to check current pricing for Private Internet Access

Disadvantages of Private Internet Access

1. Servers – One major (possible) disadvantage of Private Internet Access that I could find is that it doesn’t quite offer the same selection of servers and countries as some real top-end Premium VPN services. For absolute maximum choice of locations, then ExpressVPN might be a better option, but you’ll also pay a lot more for these services to get these more specialized locations.

Again, if you live in one of these countries:

  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Most African countries (only servers in Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt)
  • South America – Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Peru, Guatemala
  • Middle East – Jordan, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Oman
  • Far East – South Korea, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Nepal.

then you might need to try a different VPN that has servers in these countries. Also note though that with countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria, it’s very hard to find ANY VPN that has servers here (note that PIA does still work in all of these countries to date; it just doesn’t specifically have servers there, so you can use it but will have to use servers from a different country).

2. Streaming Services – Most VPN’s have this feature, and at first I thought PIA was fine in this regard, but I’ve unfortunately had to change my opinion on this, as I’ve seen serious limitations with PIA servers for accessing streaming services when I tested them. For a start, BBC iPlayer is blocked when trying a UK server – they must be able to tell it’s a VPN server. Similarly, using geo-located servers (the ones with the globe next to them) in countries like Portugal and Cyprus was also especially problematic, with streaming services like HBO, Netflix and Disney Plus in the selected country not accessible. The list of IP addresses PIA are using here must be well known to the streaming services and are therefore blocked, so they need to improve in this regard from what I’ve seen. This needs to go down as a negative for now, but I’m open to any reports of streaming services working fine using PIA servers.

NB – PIA did seem great at unlocking different types of websites though, like gambling/betting and sports. It seems to be the higher end streaming services that use more advanced IP/location detection methods, that are able to tell it’s a VPN being used and block access. See towards the bottom of this post where I tested this extensively.

How Does PIA Compare To Other Premium VPNs?

Here’s a comparison table that puts Private Internet Access against some other Premium VPN’s on the markets, so you can compare features and pricing at a glance:

ProviderPrice (12 months paid in advance)Number of servers/countriesNumber of Devices AllowedMain Benefits
Private Internet Access$3.33/month10,000/8410Review here
VyprVPN$5/month700+/70+5Review here
ExpressVPN$8.32/month1700+/945Country/location choice
PrivadoVPN$2.50/month61/475Great value plans & free version
NordVPN$5/month5300+/616Choice of Servers & Double Encryption
AtlasVPN$3.29/month750/34UnlimitedCheap no nonsense option

Bottom line – PIA compares less favorably to some other Premium VPN’s for country/server choice, but more favorably in terms of price and advanced features like split-tunneling, dedicated IP, encryption settings, as well as open source transparency.

Concluding Thoughts on PIA (Is It Worth It?)

PIA is a good VPN service overall, but the one major weakness I’ve found is it’s servers do not always seem to be reliable for accessing geo-restricted streaming services. Sometimes it might work, but other times it won’t, so it’s just something to bear in mind and test on a case by case basis. Be sure to test different servers/locations in a country if possible and re-start the connection a few times to see if a new IP is issued that does work.

However, it is true that all VPN services are struggling to allow consistent access to streaming services, and the two are engaged in a constant cat-and-mouse battle, with the streaming platforms blocking IP addresses, and the VPN companies issuing new ones, and so on.

Moreover, it’s also important to remember that PIA have a 30 day money back guarantee to counterbalance this, so if for whatever reason it doesn’t work for whatever streaming service you want to access, you can always get a refund.

Another rare case I could think of when PIA might NOT be a good option is if you live in a country where it doesn’t have servers, but you’d rather have a VPN that does have servers there for convenience purposes (banking, streaming etc).

If you live in one of those countries listed above, you might want to take a look at some other VPN service like ExpressVPN, which are known for having a higher country and server choice, covering almost every country in the world. PIA is more selective, having servers in 84 countries, but this is going to be fine for almost all users.

Other than this, there’s no reason not to go for Private Internet Access if you want to try a Premium VPN service. It’s excellent value for money, offers plenty of fast servers, is fully committed to no-log privacy, and offers all the other fancy features that advanced users might need.

Click here to check current pricing for Private Internet Access – this link will give you 4 extra months free for 36 month plans

Oliver

Online gamer and general home networking enthusiast. I like to create articles to help people solve common home networking problems.

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