It’s on a chilly Saturday morning, and you are relaxing on the bench at the park. You realize there is Wi-Fi, and you decide to complete some pending assignments on your laptop. You get the public Wi-Fi password, login, and start working. Do you think you are safe from hackers and other online threats? Are you surfing the internet anonymously?
VPNs come in handy to protect your identity and help you browse the internet anonymously. However, with some VPNs, your private browsing is not truly private. In that case, you may opt for both antivirus and VPN in one software.
Is that the case with Private Internet Access? Is PIA trustworthy when it comes to private browsing and anonymity?
Also, if you are not a Windows fan, check out VPNs for Mac users, or if you are, look into this Firefox VPN at no cost. In addition, if your only concern is entertainment, read more about top VPN for gamers.
Let’s find out in this unbiased PIA VPN review.
PIA VPN Review: AHigh-Value VPN With a Pile of Interesting Features
What makes Private Internet Access VPN stand out from the rest of the VPNs in the market?
With so many VPN options available, it might be challenging to pick the right one for you. But why should you leave all the rest and settle for PIA?
First, PIA is famous for its no-log policy and a strict commitment to customers’ privacy. What does a no-logs policy stand for?
As you surf the internet, you leave traces of your online activities on the servers you use. Any third party, such as advertisers, hackers, or the government, can trace back the logs to you. Thus, your location and IP address are not private.
If you use a VPN with a strict no-logs policy, no logs of your online activities are left on their servers. Thus, nobody can trace back your online activities to you.
Apart from the robust no-logs policy, PIA also stands out from the rest due to its user-friendly interface. You won’t have a hard time using the VPN, whether you are a novice in online matters or not. The intuitive interface takes you on a step-by-step process to set up and start using the VPN.
Plus, unlike other VPNs, PIA allows you to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.
Are you worried that with the many advanced features, PIA might be unaffordable for you?
Our PIA review proves that you shouldn’t worry any more. The VPN offers you various subscription plans letting you choose one that fits your budget and needs. The VPN allows you to do more for less.
For instance, you can enjoy the monthly plan that costs $10.10, which is less than what other competitors charge. Additionally, the annual fee is also significantly less than the $70.06 average. The company accepts a wide range of payment options, which include PayPal, Amazon Payment, Etherium, Bitcoin, etc.
If you wish to make your payment more anonymous, you can decide to pay using gift cards. PIA accepts gift cards from various retailers. You only need to buy the gift card in cash and then use it to pay for your subscription, which is an anonymous payment option.
If the ten devices covered by PIA are not enough for you, you can purchase a router with PIA pre-installed, or you can also install it. The router helps you protect all the devices under the router at the cost of one router license.
What are private internet VPN protocols?
If you want to have an easy time understanding internet protocols, think of them as different routes that you use to get to a destination. The internet protocols relate to how data is transmitted across a network.
Some protocols will be safer than others, while others will be faster.
PIA uses a combination of VPN protocols to achieve security and speed. These include:
L2TP, also known as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, is responsible for generating the tunnel. On the other hand, IPSec, otherwise known as IP Security, encrypts the data and ensures the tunnel is secure. It can encrypt the data packet message or the complete data packet.
PPTP, also known as Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, is not super secure on its own. It creates the tunnel and then works with a secondary protocol to do the encryption.
OpenVPN is the most commonly used VPN protocol as it is the most secure. The VPN software is excellent in bypassing firewalls, which is a vital quality of any VPN.
The best thing is that it does all this without slowing the internet speed. What’s more? We love that the VPN software is crowdsourced, and the VPN community ensures that surveillance agencies don’t tamper with it.
PIA supports IPSec/ L2TP and OpenVPN protocols.
Servers and Server Locations
Why does it matter understanding the server and server locations for your VPN of choice?
If you are not using a VPN while surfing the internet, you use your IP address to make requests to various websites. As such, your IP address is exposed to advertisers who use it to send you pop-up ads. It can also be stolen by hackers and used for other crimes online.
However, when you have a VPN, you use the VPN IP address to surf the internet rather than your IP address.
The number of servers and the server locations you use in your VPN of choice matters a lot. It would be frustrating to have a VPN that protects your identity but significantly slows down your internet speed such that you are browsing at a crawling speed.
Additionally, the server location matters in understanding the company’s no-logs policy.
For instance, suppose your VPN company has its servers in Australia, one of the infamous Five Eyes. It means the company can be forced by the authorities to provide your data, and the authorities can trace back your online activities to you. That beats the logic of why you are looking for a VPN in the first place.
If a VPN has numerous server locations, it means you have more options to choose from, and the more the chances of finding a server near you, irrespective of your location.
PIA has servers in over 74 countries. Though this is acceptable, it is a little on the downside compared to other VPNs. It also has a server in Africa and two in Central and Southern America, which are left out by other VPN providers.
The VPN also boasts of over 13,640 servers.
Some VPN providers also use virtual servers that mimic a server in a particular country but can be located anywhere. The virtual servers come in handy, especially in locations where some websites or data may be restricted. With the virtual server, you go round the restrictions to unblock the content.
Your Privacy with Private Internet Access
Is your privacy truly private when you use a VPN?
When you log in the internet through a VPN, the company may have insights into your online activities. That beats the logic of using a VPN, as the main reason for using one is to prevent any party from tracking your internet activities.
What information does the company take when you log in to the internet? How does it deal with it when you leave the service?
The answer to such questions determines if your logs will be safe or not.
Worse, some companies benefit by selling your data to third parties such as advertisers.
So, does PIA guarantee your privacy as you surf the internet?
First, the private internet company’s representative says that the company doesn’t profit from the user data. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your data being sold to advertisers or any other party. It only generates its income from user subscriptions.
Note, the VPN gathers some information when you log in to the internet. Such information includes IP addresses, usernames, and data usage. However, it doesn’t retain the information for long. If you disconnect from the internet, the company deletes the information from the service.
PIA VPN is based in the United States, and therefore, it operates under the US legal jurisdiction. US is one of the Five Eyes Surveillance Alliance, which also consists of Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada. The alliance means a country can collect data about a citizen and share it with the authorities.
The United States doesn’t have a strict data retention law. However, if the authorities come with a court order, PIA should respond.
A company representative told us that PIA VPN doesn’t own all its server infrastructure. Should that raise issues about third parties accessing your data? Not really. Most VPN companies don’t own all their server infrastructures in different locations.
Speed and Performance
Having the best security and privacy while browsing the internet is vital.
However, it would be frustrating having the best security, but you have the slowest internet speed. Can you imagine your VPN affecting your internet speed so much that you have to wait for minutes for a video to download?
Regardless of your choice of VPN, it will affect your internet speed. However, it should affect it to the extent it becomes impossible to operate.
Using PIA will decrease your upload and download speed.
During our test on the VPN’s effect on downloading speed, we found out that it affects Mac’s download speed. It slowed it down by 65%. The Windows download speed was also affected by 15%, which is not too much.
Windows had a 5% decrease in terms of the uploading speed compared to 30% for mac. Fore more details, check out these VPN for Windows 10 we reviewed.
In terms of performance, the VPN is famous for offering multi-layered security and advanced privacy protection. The state-of-the-art services are designed from the bottom up to ensure that it operates with pre-existing technologies on your computer or smartphone. In most instances it it similar to probably most renown internet safety software, Norton, we reviewed in this post.
Security- Is PIA Safe?
Yes, it is. The VPN doesn’t disappoint in offering advanced features to help you browse anonymously and privately. The best thing is that you don’t have to explore all the advanced features to enjoy the protection. Even if you are a novice and don’t know how to explore the features, launching the VPN is enough to offer you optimal protection.
How does it ensure optimal security and privacy?
The VPN uses its anonymous IP addresses to mask your IP address, which prevents any data leaks and blocks unwanted exposure. Therefore, you enjoy your online activities without anyone noticing your IP address or location.
Additionally, there is an emerging trend of software used by criminals and spammers to intercept your data. If you use a shared router or public Wi-Fi to access the internet, your data is more at risk of being stolen.
The VPN employs the services of high-grade encryption based on the Blowfish CBC algorithm. The algorithm and the OpenVPN protocol secure your data transmissions so that nobody is eavesdropping or monitoring your activities.
With the advanced Firewall and filtering capabilities, it ensures that you’ll never get any unwanted connection on your phone or computer.
It also ensures that you browse the internet anonymously. You can post content anonymously in forums where you don’t want your identity to be known.
The PIA Private Internet Access also comes with a kill switch, which comes in handy if there is a connection drop. If an internet connection drops, the kill switch locks your traffic not to leak your IP address and location.
Does the VPN offer split tunneling?
If you choose PIA as your VPN of choice, you enjoy more freedom on your online activities through split tunneling on the desktop apps. With split tunneling, you can choose which apps should pass through the VPN and which ones can access the internet directly.
Split tunneling allows you to protect your banking data and be safe while torrenting or browsing outside the encrypted VPN tunnel on your device.
If you wish to activate split tunneling, click the Network Tab, then App Exclusions. After that, add the apps that you want to bypass the PIA VPN.
Streaming – Does PIA Work with Netflix?
Have you ever been to a location where geo-restrictions stopped you from enjoying your favorite series or movie?
You are not alone. It is not unusual for governments or authorities to put restrictions on certain content or platforms such as YouTube in their jurisdiction.
Some governments will even block some social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. What do you do if the social media platforms are instrumental in your work? Does it mean you’ll never work when you are in those areas? What about connecting with your friends and family?
Not to worry. If you are using a reliable VPN, it should help you go round the restrictions and unblock the geo-restricted content. The VPN enables you to choose a virtual location outside the country, and it will appear like you are accessing the platforms from another country.
When it comes to Netflix, you cannot guarantee that Private Internet Access (PIA) will help you access the geo-blocked content. Netflix is in a constant war with VPNs, and it tries to stop the use of VPNs.We succeeded in some locations during our test on how PIA performs with Netflix, but other areas were challenging.
For instance, we successfully connected Netflix UK, Canada, and Australia using the servers we tested. Additionally, the US servers were able to access Netflix US without being blocked. PIA can also help you unblock Netflix Denmark and Netflix Japan.
However, it may not be successful in accessing Netflix in some locations such as Mexico and Germany.
If you are looking for a VPN that will help you access geo-restricted content worldwide, PIA may not be the best choice for you.
Is PIA Good for Torrenting?
But is PIA VPN good for torrenting?
With its impressive security and privacy features, PIA is a good VPN for torrenting.
On their website, they state that they offer full PIA P2P support. They allow torrenting on all servers on the network.
First, the company has a strict no-logs policy, which makes it ideal for anonymous torrenting. The policy ensures that no logs of your online activities are left on their servers and can be used in tracing you.
Additionally, the VPN offers a kill switch, also known as “Disconnect Protection” and “Network lock feature.” If there is an internet connection drop, the kill switch automatically shuts down any website or software. Therefore, you are protected even when you use public Wi-Fi.
How do you perform torrenting with PIA VPN?
The easiest way for torrenting using PIA VPN is by connecting to a VPN server and then torrenting through a BitTorrent client.
Alternatively, you can set up a PIA VPN client for torrenting by first subscribing to the VPN and then downloading it on your device. Next, turn on the VPN and click on the settings, the vertical dots on the top.
A new window will open, and you should click on “Connection” on the new window. Ensure you select UDP and AES-128 in the respective windows.
Next, on the left-hand menu, click on privacy and then toggle the kill switch to Always. Finally, connect your VPN to a server. Once the connection is complete, start downloading your torrents through uTorrent.
With PIA VPN, you enjoy one of the best torrenting speeds. This is made possible by the impressive PIA network infrastructure that keeps expanding with new server locations. The impressive torrenting rate is satisfactory as P2P file sharing can be a nuisance if the internet speed is not stable.
Does PIA keep logs?
Isn’t privacy and anonymity the main reasons you choose to use a VPN? How would you feel if, after using a VPN, somebody still traces your online activities back to you?
So, is Private Internet Access safe?
- Your email address which is useful in account management and protecting you from abuse
- Payment data which helps process payment. Note, the company doesn’t save your full credit card details.
- For affiliates that use the control panel, you will get a temporary cookie, which is vital in improving service delivery.
None of the above is sensitive information relating to your identity or activity, such as online logs and IP addresses. The best thing is that once you disconnect from a service, the VPN deletes all the information it’s collected, including email addresses.
Therefore, as long as you use the VPN to download your torrents, nobody will know what you are doing on the web. It is practically impossible for anyone to trace back any activities to you.
Note, since PIA is based in the United States, it is under the US legal jurisdiction. Although the country doesn’t have a strict data retention law, sometimes the authorities may use a court order and expect the company to respond.
Additionally, the company is in the Five Eyes Alliance jurisdiction, which allows surveillance on its citizens and sharing it. Should you be worried about your privacy?
No, you shouldn’t. The company no-logs policy clearly states that it does not collect or log any traffic.
Probably you are wondering, has this been tested and proven?
In 2015 and 2017, the government was demanding logs data for users regarding an on-going investigation. In both instances, the company had nothing to hand over to the authorities. Although it is a challenge testing whether or not a company retains data logs on their servers, the two events are an indication that they don’t.
Does PIA Have an Adblocker?
Are you tired of the annoying pop up ads that always disrupt your concentration while online?
The pop-up ads can be a real pain, and it would be best if you found a way to stop them.
But how do they even get to you?
The online world is full of different users, some with good intentions while others have ill intentions. Among the many users of the internet include hackers and advertisers. If you login to the internet without a VPN, your log activities can be seen by other users.
Therefore, the hackers or advertisers track you through your activities and get your IP address. The hackers can steal your identity and use it for committing cyber crimes. For advertisers, they use your details to start sending you ads hoping that you will click on them and perhaps make a purchase.
The pop-up ads can be annoying and disruptive, and it would help if your VPN of choice comes with an adblocker.
The VPN Private Internet Access comes with an ad blocker as part of its MACE feature. Using the ad blocker is a seamless process. Go to the settings, then to the privacy, and then to the PIA MACE. Finally, turn on the setting that blocks domains used for trackers, ads, and malware.
The MACE feature is available for a variety of operating systems including Windows. Android, Mac, and Linux.
During our testing, we used the adblocker feature on websites that have many advertisements. The adblocker blocked all the ads to our satisfaction.
Is the VPN Private Internet Access Android app vital for your phone?
It is an open secret that Android phones are widespread globally, and they are an excellent choice for anybody looking for reliable smartphones. With an Android phone, you can carry out all your online business, including bank transfers, ordering your products overseas, etc.
However, hackers and spammers have realized the increased use of Android phones and tablets and made it a prime target. As such, there is a need to protect your data and passwords from being stolen by hackers.
The best thing is that you don’t have to search for long for the best VPN to use. PIA VPN for Android apps promises to secure your identity and data, whether using a shared router, public Wi-Fi, etc.
Plus, you don’t need to have any technical knowledge to download and install the app on your phone. The installation process is an effortless process that involves a few steps.
First, go to Google Store and search for the PIA Android app. Then, select install on the application page. For the installation process to continue, you need to allow access to some standard services on the phone. The standard services include camera, Wi-Fi information, etc.
Once the installation process is complete, you need to open the application to continue. You can open the app by selecting “Open” on the Play Store or you can click on the app icon added on your device.
After the app is open, you should input your login credentials that you should have received when you sign up via email. The credentials should be in the ‘p1234567’ format and should include a password. The app will then request for permission to access the VPN configurations. Press “Ok” to proceed.
The Android operating system will then request you to confirm that you want to allow the PIA VPN to access your configurations. If you want to continue, press “accept.” The app will then display its main interface. If you’re going to initiate the VPN connection, tap the “Connect” button at the center of the interface.
When the connect button turns green, you are now connected and your data and password are safe from hackers.
The app is risk-free and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Price and Value for Money
If you wish to buy a subscription to PIA, you have various options to choose from. If you opt for the one-month subscription, it will cost you $11.95. The one-year subscription plan will cost you $3.33 per month, and the two years subscription plan plus two months free goes for $3.69 per month.
If you were wondering why PIA stands out from the rest, there you have it. The VPN offers advanced features compared to other VPN providers and does so at a reduced price.
Better yet, PIA VPN offers you significant discounts when you choose extensive subscription plans.
If you are looking for the best value at a reduced price, PIA is for you. Unfortunately, there is no free Private Internet Access trial. As such, there is no way to try if the VPN fits your needs and offers you the services you desire.
If you want to find out how it works, the only option is to go for an affordable short-term plan. If you are happy with what you get, you can then purchase a more extended subscription.
If you decide that PIA is not for you, then you can take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee.
Is PIA Compatible With my Device
PIA VPN is compatible with many devices, whether it is a PC, smartphone, or tablet. It is also compatible with various operating systems, including Linux, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Android.
Irrespective of the operating system you are using, the VPN offers you an easy installation process and ease of use. With its intuitive user interface, you will have a seamless process to set up and start securing your IP address and data while online.
The VPN features are similar across all the operating systems except for the iOS that lacks the MACE ad blocking feature. Also, other platforms use the OpenVPN internet protocol while the iOS operating system uses the IPsec protocol.
You can also install the VPN as an extension on secure browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. You can also install the VPN on compatible routers, including Tomato, pfSense, and DD-WRT. If you opt for manual installation, you don’t have to fret. The VPN website contains in-depth installation guides to help you in the seamless installation.
Another feature that stands out for the PIA VPN is connecting up to 10 devices simultaneously. Thus, it is a perfect choice for a household or office setup. If you need to connect more than 10 devices, you can opt for a router which is still cost-effective as you’ll only pay for a single license.
Can you install PIA on Firestick?
Yes, you can. The best thing is that it only takes you a few minutes to complete the installation. First, go to your device and allow installation of apps from unknown sources. After that, install the Downloader app that will help you search and download the app. Finally, enter the PIA VPN URL and then press the Go button. After the download and installation process, log in using your PIA username and password.
PIA Customer Service
When writing this Private Internet Access review, one thing that really stands out is the excellent resources on the VPN’s website. If you go to the support section, you’ll come across impressive resources to help you in using the VPN.
The resources include an easy to follow installation guide that makes the installation effortless. You also find detailed guidance on troubleshooting, and you can get all your answers in the FAQ section.
There are many other searchable knowledge bases that make using the VPN easy.
If you take time reading the resources, you will find the answer to most of the questions that you may have.
However, there is one downside which the company needs to work on. Unlike other top VPN providers, PIA doesn’t offer a 24/7 live chat. Other top VPNs use the live chat with company representatives to deal with any challenge that you might have.
One of the highlights of the PIA VPN is the user-friendly interface.
First, downloading and installing the VPN on your device is a seamless process. Once you are through with the installation, launching the app is an effortless process that involves entering the login credentials. The credentials are sent to your email when you pay for your subscription.
Plus, once you get started, it is easy to connect to the nearest server location. The VPN has a big power button at the center of the interface which you click to connect to the most recent server.
When you connect, the app automatically connects to the fastest PIA servers in your location. If you wish to select another server location, click on the current location. You’ll get a list of server locations and you can choose your preference and then click the power button.
Additionally, you can click on the three dots on the upper-right corner to select the settings. The settings are easy to understand and use, and they help you customize the features to your preference.
The bottom line is, PIA VPN makes it effortless for a novice to use the VPN but it also has a lot to offer for the experienced user.
If you were looking for an honest Private Internet Access VPN review, your search would end once you read this. The VPN stands out for its user-friendliness and offering advanced features at an affordable price. According to this PIA VPN review, the VPN is reliable for ensuring privacy and anonymous browsing. Its strict no-logs policy guarantees that no third party can trace your online activities back to you.