Is Private Internet Access a Good VPN?
If you torrent and enjoy having the freedom to configure all of your VPN settings, Private Internet Access may be a good choice. Private Internet Access offers comprehensive mobile and desktop clients that are packed with advanced features. However, Private Internet Access is not the best VPN for accessing geo-restricted streaming content on sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. It also lacks the high server speeds that are offered by some of its competitors.
PIA VPN will securely encrypt and route your data traffic through a server to ensure your internet activity is private and anonymous. Private Internet Access has recently expanded its server network; previously, it offered 3300 servers across 73 countries. It now provides access to an eye-watering number of over 20,000 servers in 73 countries, making it one of the largest server networks on the market. Its servers are now faster and more secure too.
There is support for up to 10 simultaneous connections too, which is more than enough for the typical user, and the product is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.
Although PIA’s monthly plan at $11.95 cannot be considered affordable, sign up for its 3-year plan, and you will have access to the VPN for just $2.19 a month. This low monthly price makes Private Internet Access one of the cheapest premium VPNs on the market in 2023.
The provider also offers excellent security and privacy features. There is access to secure OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, a choice of encryption levels, data authentication, and handshake methods. All of its apps are also open-source, meaning that their security credentials have been heavily scrutinized by developers. Its apps feature an integrated, reliable kill-switch to ensure that no encrypted data or your IP address is exposed even if your server connection fails.
Private Internet Access provides a seemingly strict no-logging policy. However, we would like to see this verified with an independent audit. Many premium providers such as NordVPN complete annual independent audits of their VPN products. However, Private Internet Access has yet to follow suit.
The provider’s desktop client is practical, well-designed, yet simple to use. Private Internet Access offers an extensive range of advanced features, including a “piactl” command-line tool that enables you to compose scripts for the application to follow. Its mobile applications are powerful and offer the same configurable experience as the desktop version.
The VPN is a great choice for torrenting as P2P sharing is supported on all of its servers, and its port forwarding function is specially designed for torrenting and P2P sharing.
Does Private Internet Access VPN Keep Logs?
Even though Private Internet Access does not appear to misuse user data or store private information, the company does collect a limited amount of data, including usernames, IP addresses, and data usage. However, this information is deleted when you disconnect from the VPN service.
Private Internet Access is based in the United States and operates under US regulations. Although the country does not have mandatory data retention laws, VPN companies are obligated to present data if required. This is not the case for companies such as ExpressVPN, located in the British Virgin Island, a country free of any data retention regulations. However, PIA’s annual transparency report reassures users that Private Internet Access has never provided data in response to US court orders or warrants.
How Much Does Private Internet Access Cost?
Private Internet Access provides three different plans: a monthly, yearly, and three-year plan.
- Its monthly plan is cost-effective when compared to other VPN services, at $9.95, but is more money than the long-term plans.
- Sign up for the annual plan, and the price does drop to $3.33 per month.
- However, the most affordable plan is the three-year option which comes in at just $2.19. This is the best value and makes Private Internet Access one of the cheapest VPN products on the market in 2023, as long as you are happy to commit to a longer-term plan.
PIA’s three-year plan matches the cost of Surfshark’s cheapest 2-year plan, although you will have to commit to an additional year. However, this may be worth it if you want to take advantage of PIA’s vast number of servers.
Despite the significant discounts that come with signing up for a long-term subscription plan, we recommend starting with a free trial or at least the monthly plan and then upgrade to a long-term plan if you are still satisfied with the product.
Private Internet Access does not come with a free trial, but a risk-free refund policy enables you to test the product and request a full refund if you are not completely happy with the service. There is a range of convenient payment methods too. Users can pay with credit cards, a PIA VPN gift card, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies, via bank transfers, or even with a Private Internet Access coupon. So, if you are looking for a VPN that comes with secure, anonymous payment options, Private Internet Access is a great option.
Private Internet Access Sale
There are frequent Private Internet Access sales, offering internet users the chance to get a PIA VPN subscription for a great price. As mentioned above, during November, there are Private Internet Access Black Friday sale and Cyber Monday deals.
As well as the above, Private Internet Access has deals during Cybersecurity Awareness month, with up to 78% off on the 3-year plan and free antivirus. This is an outstanding deal, especially since you get VPN software and antivirus protection for one price.
There are also sales around the festive season, the New Year, and at Easter time. If you want to save some money on your VPN purchase, then make sure to check out the Private Internet Access website regularly. You can also find Private Internet Access coupon options online, and PrivacySharks often offers a Private Internet Access coupon, so check back here regularly.
How Secure is Private Internet Access?
Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN when it comes to user security and privacy. Its apps offer secure OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. OpenVPN uses AES-128 encryption as standard, but this can be increased to AES-256 in the settings. There is also the option to activate data authentication and handshake methods, including RSA-2048 and RSA-4096. The VPN service utilizes its own DNS server for DNS leak protection, but there is also the option to change this to your own.
If a server connection drops for any reason, your online privacy may be compromised to anyone that has access to your internet network. For this reason, Private Internet Access offers a reliable integrated kill-switch that serves to cut your internet connection and transfer any unencrypted data if your VPN fails. This means that no private data or your actual IP address will become exposed. Mobile VPN apps rarely feature a kill switch. However, this is not the case for this VPN service. All of the provider’s desktop and mobile apps offer this feature.
Moreover, all the Private Internet Access apps are open-source, which means that developers can heavily scrutinize them for leaks or vulnerabilities. This gives you additional peace of mind in the VPN’s security software.
If you download the Chrome VPN extension, you will receive access to additional security features such as an ad, tracker, and cookie blocker. The extension can also connect your browser client to the VPN. However, this will only serve to protect your browser traffic. The Chrome extension also features a bypass list that lets you choose the websites that bypass the VPN server connection and those that run through it. The extension offers a range of configurable features, making Private Internet Access an excellent choice for advanced users.
Is Private Internet Access Good for Streaming?
Many internet users choose to install a VPN to access the geo-restricted content on a range of streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, and more. Therefore, we believed it was necessary to test the provider’s streaming abilities for this Private Internet Access VPN review.
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel of VPN servers and masks your actual IP address, making it appear as if your web traffic is originating in an alternate location. This means that you can use a VPN to access overseas content that would not typically be available in your region. However, some VPNs work better than others at overcoming geo-restrictions.
Private Internet Access can unblock some geo-restricted content. However, it likely does not provide access to enough streaming sites to satiate an avid streaming fan. The VPN service can successfully access United States Netflix, but it does struggle with libraries in Japan and Canada. Private Internet Access has no issue unblocking YouTube, and Disney+ and Amazon Prime were available on particular servers. However, it did fail to access the more troublesome BBC iPlayer.
Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?
While it may not be the best streaming VPN, Private Internet Access is an excellent option for torrenters. There is unlimited data and all servers support P2P sharing. Browsing speed test results revealed fast torrenting speeds, even when connecting to long-distance servers.
The VPN even offers port forwarding, which is specially designed to support torrenting and can be helpful to increase download speeds if you access the internet from behind a NAT firewall. There is also a SOCKS5 proxy included.
Private Internet Access does not provide a comprehensive guide for setting up the port forwarding feature, so it will be necessary to do some research. However, it is an excellent advanced feature that is rarely seen in other VPNs.
Is Private Internet Access Good for Gaming?
A Virtual Private Network is a simple way to ensure your internet connection is safe. However, even premium VPNs can cause connection issues and lag, making games challenging to play. Some gaming platforms may even block the use of VPNs altogether. However, we recommend using one for gaming if possible.
Private Internet Access can be installed on your router to ensure all of your devices, including your gaming consoles, are protected on the internet. This can prevent online gaming threats such as DDoS attacks from occurring.
Also, if you have noticed slow connection speeds, you may be a target of ISP bandwidth throttling. Often, if an ISP cannot meet the demands of streamers and gamers, they are forced to restrict internet connection speeds. ISPs often direct throttling toward users based on the amount of data they consume. So, if you game a lot, you are a likely target for speed throttling. However, by utilizing Private Internet Access, your ISP will be unable to view your online activity and will therefore be less likely to reduce your internet connection speeds.
Is Private Internet Access Compatible with Desktop?
Private Internet Access provides an excellent desktop app that is easy to install on multiple devices and allows instant setup. The VPN client download page offers a changelog that reveals the updates that have been completed on the app over time. If you would prefer to utilize your own app, there are OpenVPN configuration files available too.
Once you have downloaded and installed the desktop client, log in with the username and password you used when signing up for the service. The client will open to reveal a large Connect button which will automatically connect you to the best available server in terms of speed and proximity. There is also the option to select a specific server from the list of cities and countries. The list also shows ping times and latency to help you choose the best server for you.
PIA’s Settings page offers access to an extensive range of configurable features. You can opt for OpenVPN instead of WireGuard, or select UDP over TCP. There is also the option to set up a custom port, select an encryption level (AES-128 or AES-256), choose an authentication method (SHA1 or SHA256), as well as handshaking (RSA 2048 or RSA 4096). For poor internet connections, users can improve reliability with the Use Small Packets feature.
Private Internet Access’ desktop client features an integrated kill switch that cuts the Wi-Fi connection if your VPN fails for any reason. This ensures that no unencrypted data or your actual IP address becomes exposed. The feature also notifies you of internet connection issues and reconnects without revealing your real IP.
There is also a command-line client named “piactl.” This feature enables you to configure the open-source software by creating a script for it to follow. This means that you could set up the VPN connection to activate and deactivate at specific periods throughout the day.
Is Private Internet Access Compatible with Mobile?
Private Internet Access offers apps for Android and iOS. Users have access to 10 simultaneous connections, which is more than the average VPN provider offers. The Android client is simple but clean and well-designed. It features a large Connect button, your IP address, and your chosen Virtual Private Network server on the main interface. Tapping on your region offers a list of additional server locations with indications of latency to help you choose the best one.
The Private Internet Access app for iPhone is similar to the Android version. It features an additional Network Management option which enables you to choose specific networks as automatically trusted. For example, you could use this option to disable the connection when you are at home. There is also support for Siri voice commands, which may be helpful for some users.
Both mobile apps offer an extensive range of configurable settings. You can choose between OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2 protocols, as well as four different OpenVPN encryption options, two authentication processes, and six handshaking methods. Users can also create a custom port, activate a DNS server, and select UDP or TCP connections. Private Internet Access offers one of the most configurable mobile clients of any VPN provider.
The mobile clients even feature a kill switch that operates in the same way as the desktop version. If the VPN connection drops for any reason, this feature will block your Wi-Fi connection and cease the transfer of data until the VPN connection is reactivated. This is a notable feature as many premium VPNs do not offer a kill switch on their mobile applications.
Does Private Internet Access Offer Browser Extensions?
The Private Internet Access apps are simple to use, but it can be annoying to have to switch between different applications and the Private Internet Access client. Similar to ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access now provides extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. This means that you can connect the Virtual Private Network straight from your standard browser interface. It is necessary to note that the browser extension will only protect your browser traffic; however, if this does not matter to you, this option does make Private Internet Access even simpler to use.
The Private Internet Access browser extension reflects the design of the other clients, ensuring it is simple to use. The clean interface includes a large Connect button enabling you to connect to the closest available server easily. There is a complete list of server locations, which also displays server latency to help you make the right choice. The extension also offers a Favorites system which will save your most-used servers. Connecting to a server through the browser extension is simple and will take just a few clicks.
The client also offers a split-tunneling style Bypass List, enabling you to choose specific websites that bypass the server connection. Suppose a website doesn’t operate as expected when Private Internet Access is activated. In that case, you can add it to the Bypass List (or split tunneling), and its traffic will run through your usual internet connection.
Additional privacy tools include a feature to block websites from accessing your precise location, microphone, or camera. The browser extension also offers WebRTC leak protection, as well as a third-party cookie blocker.
Does Private Internet Access Offer Good Customer Service?
Private Internet Access offers a customer support page with a range of troubleshooting and setup guides. However, these articles are not as detailed or comprehensive as those provided by some of the provider’s competitors. If you require additional assistance, there is a live chat customer support option too.
How Does Private Internet Access VPN Work?
Private Internet Access VPN creates a secure encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet to protect your private activity from online spies, censorship, and malicious actors.
Installing and using a VPN such as Private Internet Access is one of the simplest ways to secure your internet activity and keep your identity safe online. When you connect to a secure Private Internet Access server, your data traffic is rerouted through an encrypted tunnel. No one, including your Internet Service Provider, cybercriminals, or governments, can view your online activity.
Using a Virtual Private Network such as Private Internet Access enables you to alter the location of your IP. Your IP address is the unique number that identifies you and your precise geographical location. By replacing your actual IP with that of a Virtual Private Network server, you can access the internet as if you were in an entirely different country, as long as the internet access VPN provider has servers located there.
VPNs also help to protect your privacy and anonymity on the internet. By masking your actual IP location and address, VPNs hide your identity from websites, apps, and advertisers that may be trying to monitor or steal your information.
Private Internet Access will offer an additional layer of privacy and security for your online activities. It will protect you from security breaches, including unsecured Wi-Fi networks and packet sniffing. Activating a Virtual Private Network is especially important when connected to unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, hotels, and airports. They are common breeding grounds for hackers and cybercriminals due to their low levels of encryption.
Many users are choosing to install VPNs to access geo-restricted websites and streaming sites. In some countries, websites such as Google and YouTube may be blocked or restricted. Utilizing Private Internet Access will allow you to maintain your freedom on the internet by providing access to geo-blocked sites. You can use it to overcome firewalls on university, school, or office networks. A Virtual Private Network such as Private Internet Access will also offer access to a host of streaming content that would typically be unavailable in your region. By altering your IP location, you can stream overseas Netflix television shows and movies.
If you are concerned about your internet privacy and security, we recommend activating Private Internet Access every time you use the internet. The app will run in the background of your phone or laptop, so it will not affect how you use the internet, and your usual apps will continue to operate as normal. Stream content, and browse the internet with the peace of mind that your activity is entirely private and anonymous.
However, using a Virtual Private Network is even more critical if you travel for business or leisure. Private Internet Access will allow you to continue to use the internet as if you were at home, and it will protect you when you connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, public transport, and airports. Using a Virtual Private Network connection will keep your device safe thanks to strong encryption and secure VPN protocols.
Also, if you enjoy torrenting and P2P sharing, Private Internet Access will ensure user privacy so that no one can connect your online activities to your actual IP location and address. This means that you can torrent anonymously.
Hi, I'm Cliff. I'm based in Cleveland, Ohio, with my wife and two kids.
I have a keen interest in cybersecurity and have been writing about it for around a decade now. Due to my background in computer science, I am familiar ...
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