Private Internet Access (PIA) is a great VPN option if you want access to an extensive number of server locations and a range of configurable features. It has excellent, comprehensive clients for mobile and desktop. However, PIA may not be the best choice for access geo-restricted streaming content and its server speeds do tend to let it down.
Private Internet Access is also known as PIA. It is a great VPN service that will encrypt your private internet data and reroute it through a secure server to ensure your internet connection is completely private and anonymous. Sign up for PIA's three-year plan and you will be able to access the VPN for an impressive monthly price of just $2.19, making it one of the most affordable options on the market, as long as you are ready to commit to a longer-term plan. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee for additional peace of mind too.
Unlimited BandwidthKill SwitchSplit TunnelingZero Data LoggingFree Version / TrialMobile AppBrowser ExtentionNetflix ApprovedFirestick Compatible
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Private Internet Access VPN Security
Most users choose to install a VPN app for security and privacy reasons. A VPN or Virtual Private Network creates a secure encrypted VPN tunnel to reroute your internet traffic data securely to a VPN server. This effectively masks your real IP address and location, allowing you to browse the internet anonymously.
A VPN is a great addition for users concerned about their online security. Nowadays, our internet activities may be monitored by ISPs (Internet Service Providers), governments, third parties, and malicious advertisers, so it is more important than ever to secure your internet access.
Private Internet Access boasts excellent security and privacy features to ensure you are protected online. PIA operates on secure OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, and a range of data encryption levels including AES-128 as standard as well as AES-256 which is available to activate in the settings.
There are data authentication and handshake methods including RSA-2048 and RSA-4096 too. To prevent data leaks, the provider utilizes its own DNS server, although you can also change this to your own. All of PIA's apps are open-source, which means that they have been scrutinized and their security features thoroughly tested by researchers and developers. This offers additional peace of mind and reassures users that the software is extremely secure.
The app also features a reliable kill-switch to ensure your data remains protected, even if your VPN connection fails. A kill-switch cuts the transfer of any unencrypted data in the event that the VPN server connection is lost. This means that your IP address or private data does not become exposed. This feature is also available on the mobile app which is unusual but beneficial.
PIA's Chrome extension offers additional security features including the blocking of trackers, advertisements, and third-party cookies, as well as a bypass list, which allows you to select which apps bypass the PIA VPN connection and which run through it. The extension can be operated from within your browser, however, it will only protect your browser traffic.
PIA offers a no-logging policy, this means that the provider does not store data traffic logs. It appears that the only information that is stored by PIA is usernames, data usage, and IP addresses and that this information is deleted when you disconnect the VPN.
PIA is also based in the US and operates under US laws. This means that the company is required to present data upon orders from the US government. This is not the case for companies like ExpressVPN, which is based in the British Virgin Islands. However, PIA's transparency report does state that the company has not provided information in response to court orders or warrants.
Private Internet Access is a great VPN that comes laden with impressive, configurable features. If you want to torrent safely, be able to access an extensive range of VPN server locations, and enjoy configuring the settings of your VPN, PIA is a great choice. PIA also offers an extensive network of over 20,000 servers across 73 countries, making it one of the largest on the market. Its servers are fast, secure, and reliable.
It comes with a range of apps and clients compatible with most devices and operating systems. PIA offers protection for 10 simultaneous devices, which is more than average. Despite that this is more than enough for a typical user, if you require protection on an additional number of devices you can choose to purchase a router with pre-installed PIA software, or you can install the VPN on your router manually. Doing so will ensure all of the devices that are connected to your network are protected for no extra cost.
The PIA VPN can unblock United States Netflix, however, it failed to unblock other libraries including Japan and Canada. PIA did unblock Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, however, it also struggled to access BBC iPlayer. So, if you are a fan of streaming, we would be inclined to recommend a different VPN provider. However, PIA is a good option for torrenting as P2P sharing is supported across all of its servers and its port forwarding features are specially designed for P2P sharers.
Its desktop apps are well designed and easy to use and feature a range of configurable options. Mobile applications are impressive too and offer a variety of powerful features that are rarely seen in mobile versions.
When it comes to customer service, PIA's user-support guides that are available on its website are somewhat limited. However, the provider has recently introduced a live-chat option in case you require assistance while using the VPN service.
In terms of pricing, if you sign up for a month you will pay $11.95. Signing up for a 1-year plan will cut the price to $3.33, however, the most cost-effective option is its 3-year plan which comes in at an impressive price of just $2.19 per month. This makes PIA one of the cheapest options on the market, as long as you are happy to commit to a long-term plan. Users can choose to pay with a credit card, Amazon pay, Bitcoin, PayPal, and more.
There is no free-trial period, but PIA does offer an industry-standard 30-day money-back-guarantee, allowing you to test the product and request a full refund if you are not satisfied with the service. While we would not recommend the VPN if you are a streaming-fan, PIA is a secure, reliable VPN service that comes at an extremely affordable price if you sign up for three years.
If you are a torrenter and enjoy having the freedom to configure all of your VPN settings, Private Internet Access may be a good choice. PIA offers comprehensive mobile and desktop clients that are packed with advanced features. However, PIA is not the best VPN when it comes to 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 will securely encrypt your data traffic route it through a VPN server to ensure your internet activity is private and anonymous. PIA 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 VPN 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.
Despite that 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 PIA one of the most affordable premium VPNs on the market in 2021.
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 no encrypted data or your IP address becomes exposed even if your VPN 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, PIA has yet to follow suit.
The provider’s desktop client is effective and well-designed, yet simple to use. PIA offers a large 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 too and offer the same configurable experience as the desktop version.
PIA may not be the best option if you want to access geo-restricted streaming content. The provider was successful at unblocking US Netflix, however, it was unable to access other Netflix libraries including Japan and Canada. PIA also struggled to overcome geo-blocks on BBC iPlayer. So if you are a fan of streaming, we would be inclined to point you in the direction of other VPNs such as ExpressVPN or SurfShark.
The VPN is, however, a great choice for torrenters, 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?
By downloading a VPN, you are putting your trust in the VPN company to protect your data. When you reroute your internet traffic through a VPN server, the VPN provider could gain access to your online activity. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a trustworthy provider that offers a transparent no-logging policy to ensure your privacy and anonymity is protected.
Even though PIA 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.
PIA is based in the United States and thus operates under US regulations. Although the country does not have mandatory data retention laws, VPN companies are obligated to present data if required by the US court of law. This is not the case for companies such as ExpressVPN which is located in the British Virgin Island, a country that is free of any data retention regulations. However, PIA’s annual transparency report reassures users that PIA 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 subscription levels: a monthly, yearly, and three-year plan. Its monthly plan is not hugely cost-effective at $11.95. Sign up for the yearly 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 makes PIA one of the most affordable VPN products on the market in 2021, 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 extensive number of servers.
Despite the significant discounts that come with signing up for a long-term subscription plan, we would recommend starting off with a free PIA trial or at least a shorter monthly plan and then upgrading to a longer plan if you are still satisfied with the product.
PIA does not come with a free trial but there is a risk-free money-back guarantee, enabling 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, gift cards, cryptocurrencies, and bank transfers. So, if you are looking for a VPN that comes with secure, anonymous payment options, PIA is a great option.
How Secure is Private Internet Access?
Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN when it comes to user security and privacy. Its apps utilize 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. For DNS leak protection, PIA utilizes its own DNS server, but there is also the option to change this to your own.
If a VPN server connection drops for any reason, your data may become exposed to anyone that has access to your internet network. For this reason, PIA offers a reliable integrated kill-switch that serves to cut your internet connection and transfer any unencrypted data in the event that 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 PIA. All of the provider’s desktop and mobile apps offer this feature.
Moreover, all of 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 be used to 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 PIA a great choice for advanced users.
Is Private Internet Access Good for Streaming?
Many internet users choose to install a VPN in order 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.
PIA is able to unblock some geo-restricted content, however, it likely does not provide access to enough streaming sites to satiate an avid streaming fan. PIA can successfully access United States Netflix, but it does struggle with libraries in Japan and Canada. PIA 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.
Therefore, we would not recommend Private Internet Access if your main reason for installing a VPN is to access geo-restricted streaming content due to its unreliability. VPNs such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark are much more reliable and successful at unblocking every streaming service without any issues.
Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?
While it may not be the best streaming VPN, Private Internet Access is a great option for torrenters. There are no limitations or restrictions on torrenting traffic and in fact, all of its servers support P2P sharing. 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.
PIA 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 difficult to play. Some gaming platforms may even block the use of VPNs altogether. However, we would 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. 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 select 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 killswitch 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 exposing your actual IP.
There is also a command-line client named “piactl.” This feature enables you to configure the PIA by creating a script for it to follow. This means that you could set up the VPN server connection to activate and deactivate at certain 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.
PIA’s iPhone app 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 VPN 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 4 different OpenVPN encryption options, 2 authentication processes, and 6 handshaking methods. Users can also choose to 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 killswitch 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 as well as the PIA 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 normal 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 easily connect to the closest available server. There is a complete list of server locations too, 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. If a website doesn’t operate as normal when Private Internet Access is activated, 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 Have a Good Server Network?
A good choice of servers means that you will have a better chance of finding a server in close proximity to your actual geographical location to ensure fast speeds. Private Internet Access offers an excellent array of over 20,000 server locations, with servers across over 76 countries.
Does Private Internet Access Offer Good Customer Service?
Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a customer support page with a range of troubleshooting and setup guides. However, these articles are not as detailed or comprehensive as those offered 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 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 VPN server, your data traffic is rerouted through an encrypted tunnel that no one, including your Internet Service Provider (ISP), cybercriminals, or governments, has access to.
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 real IP location and address, VPNs hides your identity from websites, apps, and advertisers that may be trying to monitor or steal your information. A good quality VPN such as Private Internet Access (PIA) prevents your ISP from viewing your activity, thanks to a strong layer of encryption.
Private Internet Access will offer an additional layer of privacy and security for your online activities and 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, as 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 would 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 the way that 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 completely private and anonymous.
However, if you travel, for business or leisure, using a Virtual Private Network is even more important. 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 protocols.
Also, if you enjoy torrenting and P2P sharing, Private Internet Access will ensure user privacy so that no one could 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 ... Read more about the author