Private Internet Access, a leading U.S.-based company, stands out in the VPN industry by providing users with instant activation of its top-notch Virtual Private Network services.
With lightning-fast Gigabit speeds for uploads and downloads, along with the remarkable capability to establish 10 concurrent connections to servers worldwide, Private Internet Access proves its excellence.
In this review, I delve into the reasons why this service is widely regarded as one of the finest VPN options available in 2023.
However, it’s important to note that while Private Internet Access dominates the market, it may not be the preferred choice for those primarily seeking Netflix-oriented entertainment.
Table of Contents
Overview of Private Internet Access Review
|OVERALL RANK:||#10 out of 78 VPNs|
|LOG FILES:||No Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||32 countries, 3341 servers|
|SUPPORT:||Limited “Live Chat”|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||128-bit AES (default), OpenVPN|
Private Internet Access Pros
1. Strong Customer Support That’s Immediate
PIA impresses right from the start with its robust customer support resource page. The Knowledge Base section is packed with informative articles, troubleshooting FAQs, and helpful how-to guides, offering a comprehensive range of industry support.
While free users and potential customers can freely access these valuable resources, only paying subscribers enjoy the privilege of Live Chat support from dedicated agents.
However, during my testing, I found that the Live Chat feature only functioned in Incognito Mode for non-subscribers, and even then, I experienced difficulties connecting with an agent after waiting for five minutes. Instead, I was prompted to submit a ticket.
PIA has room for improvement in this aspect by expanding their live chat support to include prospective clients, aligning with the common practice seen in major eCommerce platforms. The accessibility of support for free VPN users remains a question worth addressing.
2. Speed Remains Strong Behind VPN (Especially in the US)
A crucial aspect of a reliable VPN service is the speed it offers for uploading and downloading data. In this regard, PIA shines brightly, demonstrating impressive performance in multiple speed tests.
To establish a baseline, I first conducted a speed test using my ISP without the VPN. The results were as follows: . For upload speeds, a benchmark of 10 Mbps or higher is considered excellent, while a download speed of 100 Mbps is widely recognized as a fast Internet connection.
PIA’s performance in subsequent speed tests showcased solid numbers, solidifying its reputation as a provider that delivers exceptional speed for both uploads and downloads.
- Speed Test: 194.53 down / 11.94 up
I then tested in the following jurisdictions:
- U.S. Southeast – Atlanta, GA – 124.87 down/ 9.26 up
- U.S. East – New York, NY – 119.04 down / 9.24 up
- U.S. South – Dallas, TX – 108.09 down / 9.24 up
- Canada – Toronto, Canada – 88.8 down / 9.27 up
- UK Southampton – London, UK – 75.3 down / 9.23 up
- Japan – Tsukuba, Japan – 59.55 down / 9.23 up
Upon analyzing the data, it becomes apparent that the highest speeds were observed within the United States, highlighting its robust infrastructure. The upload speeds exhibited remarkable consistency across different regions, demonstrating the reliable performance of the network.
However, when it comes to download speeds, variations were observed, particularly in areas outside of North America. Notably, download speeds experienced a significant drop in Japan, indicating potential limitations in that specific region. It’s important to consider these factors when evaluating the overall speed performance of PIA across different geographical locations.
3. User-friendly: Intuitive Interface for Effortless Navigation
The app’s interface is incredibly user-friendly, making it a breeze to download, effortlessly follow the instructions on each screen during the setup process, and navigate with ease.
With the convenience of a single click, executing the downloaded file initiates the seamless installation of the VPN.
Get up and running in no time! As soon as you’ve installed the software, the login screen will automatically appear, ready for you to dive right in. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can take a swift tour of the app before embarking on your journey of usage. The choice is yours!
Upon successful login, behold the app, emerging as a sleek, compact window, adorned with immaculate simplicity. You’ll be greeted with straightforward instructions, guiding you effortlessly towards activating the VPN and choosing your preferred server.
Unleash the power of choice by simply clicking the right arrow nestled beside the current server. Behold a beautifully organized list of available servers, elegantly displayed before your eyes. To assist you in making the perfect selection, each server is accompanied by its corresponding latency, conveniently showcased to the right, ensuring a seamless browsing experience.
Prepare to be amazed! A simple click on the bottom arrow unveils the complete expanse of the app’s interface, revealing a treasure trove of features to explore. From the convenience of Quick Connect by country to the insightful Performance graph and detailed usage information, every aspect is at your fingertips.
Delve further into the realm of possibilities with Quick Settings, allowing you to effortlessly enable Mace and Port Forwarding. Stay in the know with your current subscription details, ensuring you never miss a beat. And for those moments when you need a temporary respite, the VPN Snooze feature awaits, granting you ultimate control over your online experience.
Introducing the ingenious Snooze feature, your ultimate ally in temporary disconnection. Activate Snooze, and watch as the VPN gracefully disconnects, only to seamlessly reconnect once the timer elapses, following a specific duration of your choosing.
This invaluable tool comes to the rescue when you find yourself briefly parting ways with your device, ensuring a smooth transition during those moments of absence. Convenience and peace of mind bundled into a single, time-saving solution.
Unexpectedly, I encountered a surprising hiccup when attempting to access the Settings. Clicking on it led to a momentary freeze, necessitating me to exit the app altogether.
However, to my pleasant surprise, upon reopening the app, I was promptly notified that my VPN connection had been dutifully preserved, ensuring uninterrupted privacy and security.
It’s reassuring to know that even in the face of such minor setbacks, the app remains steadfast in safeguarding your online journey.
Success! On this occasion, my click on Settings was met with triumph, effortlessly opening a new window adorned with an abundance of options, awaiting exploration.
Behold a cornucopia of choices at your disposal, empowering you to customize your app experience according to your preferences and needs. Prepare to be captivated as you delve into the realm of endless possibilities, all conveniently accessible within this expansive window.
Settings – General
Empowering users with the ability to shape their app experience, a plethora of customization options await your creative touch. From making fundamental changes to the theme, style, and appearance, to tailoring the language and fine-tuning notifications, the app grants you full control over every facet of your interaction. .
What’s more, you have the power to command the app to seamlessly launch and connect upon system startup, ensuring a hassle-free initiation to your secure browsing experience. Prepare to revel in a personalized oasis where every detail reflects your unique taste and preferences.
Settings – Account
Welcome to the window of account enlightenment, where a treasure trove of essential details awaits your eager gaze. Feast your eyes upon crucial information, including your esteemed username and comprehensive subscription details.
But that’s not all—this window of opportunity also bestows upon you the power to take charge of your account, enabling seamless management, effortless account switching, and the freedom to gracefully log out whenever the need arises. Embrace the autonomy to shape your account experience, ensuring a tailored journey that aligns perfectly with your desires.
Settings – Privacy
Behold the dwelling place of the mighty Kill Switch button, residing within this very interface. With a single click, this formidable tool stands ready to safeguard your online privacy and security, ensuring that no sensitive data slips through the cracks. But that’s not all. Prepare to be amazed by the extraordinary Mace feature, an unparalleled shield that fends off intrusive ads, trackers, and malware by effectively blocking their domains. Say farewell to unwanted disturbances and potential threats as you revel in a pristine online environment, free from the clutches of malicious elements.
Settings – Network
Embark on a journey of unparalleled control and configuration as you navigate through the expansive landscape of this screen. Witness the power at your fingertips as you effortlessly configure DNS settings, request port forwarding, and grant permission for seamless LAN traffic.
But that’s not all! Prepare to be enthralled by the enticing allure of the beta feature called “App Exclusions.” This innovative gem offers you the freedom to whitelist select apps, bypassing the VPN and forging a direct connection to the vast realm of the Internet. Embrace the power to curate your online experience with precision, ensuring optimal performance and flexibility for the apps that matter most to you.
Settings – Connection
PIA, the epitome of excellence, harnesses the power of OpenVPN—an industry standard revered for its open-source brilliance. Within this technological marvel lie a multitude of options, each meticulously designed to craft a secure VPN tunnel tailored to your precise needs.
PIA takes it a step further, graciously offering a range of configurations on their site, thoughtfully aligned with the purpose of your online activities. Whether you seek the perfect balance of Default protection, the fortified fortresses of Maximum protection, or the lightning-fast speeds of All Speed No Safety, PIA has you covered, empowering you to conquer the digital realm with confidence and peace of mind.
This screen allows you to configure both your Connection Type and Data Encryption settings.
Settings – Proxy
This encompasses the utilization of Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 Proxy, which are renowned for their association with TOR and torrenting purposes.
Settings – Help
Here, you’ll find the Support Portal link along with several essential maintenance features, including network adapter reinstallation, split tunnel filter management, and VPN uninstallation.
4. Lots of Servers Available in Many Countries Across the World
Since February 2023, PIA has established an impressive network with more than 3,300 proxy and VPN servers spanning across 50+ locations worldwide. Their continual ambition is to expand these figures, ensuring a constantly improving connection for their users.
Thanks to this extensive infrastructure, PIA offers dependable global coverage to over 30 countries. Although they encountered a setback in December 2019 when their India server provider was lost, PIA has actively been seeking a suitable partner to reinstate their network in India.
5. No Logging Policy Ensures Heightened Security Level
A VPN’s logging policy outlines the specific activities that the application will monitor. A well-crafted policy focuses on tracking only essential actions necessary for detecting potential fraud, inappropriate use, and similar concerns, while respecting user privacy by refraining from logging comprehensive online activities.
PIA has recently addressed this user query and included it in their frequently asked questions (FAQs) section:
Furthermore, they emphasize that although abstaining from tracking activities might present challenges in resolving real-time issues, prioritizing user privacy forms the fundamental basis of their service provision.
By choosing PIA, you can rest assured that you have the freedom to utilize the network according to your needs, without the apprehension of being tracked or monitored.
6. Allows for up to 10 simultaneous connections.
An advantageous aspect of PIA is the capability to sustain up to 10 simultaneous connections with a single subscription. These connections can be utilized across various devices such as routers, smartphones, laptops, and more.
This feature proves particularly convenient for families seeking shared data protection across multiple devices.
7. The Kill Switch Works Well
Occasionally, internet connections may experience timeouts, exposing your IP address to potential tracking activities. To address this concern, PIA’s application enables users to establish a fail-safe mechanism, safeguarding their online privacy and anonymity.
To assess this feature, I conducted a test by configuring the kill switch to the “Always” setting.
When I disabled the VPN connection, the kill switch was activated, instantly disconnecting my internet connection. Additionally, switching between servers temporarily interrupted my connection as well.
The kill switch feature, conveniently located and user-friendly, instills a sense of confidence by ensuring automatic protection for your connection. You can rely on this feature to keep your connection secure without any hassle or concerns.
8. Leak Tests Are All Solid With…No Leaks
PIA employs software that effectively safeguards your IPSec (IP security) and maintains the privacy of all online activities by preventing DNS servers from transmitting any unencrypted queries or requests beyond the secure VPN.
To validate its efficacy, I conducted five leak tests and one virus check, with each test demonstrating no signs of leaks or viruses.
IPLeak.net Test – No Leak
Perfect-Privacy.com DNS Leak Test – No Leak
BrowserLeaks WebRTC Leak Test – No Leak
VirusTotal.com Report: No viruses found.
9. TOR network and P2P/torrenting are available, but initial setup assistance is not provided.
PIA allows users to securely access the TOR network, although the application prioritizes privacy over speed when utilizing both services simultaneously.
Although direct assistance for unsupported third-party software and devices cannot be provided by their support team, I came across a helpful article outlining how to access and utilize the TOR network with PIA’s VPN. It is crucial to remember to launch the PIA VPN prior to running the TOR browser for optimal functionality.
In contrast to other VPNs, PIA does not offer or supply any user guides or documentation specifically pertaining to torrenting. This information was verified by their support team during a live chat conversation.
When utilizing the desktop application with the default settings enabled, torrenting and P2P activities function smoothly and can be configured to work with various torrenting clients, including the utilization of their SOCKS5 Proxy. However, it is important to note that there is currently a lack of transparency regarding these configurations and settings.
Private Internet Access Cons
1. Netflix Is a Total Lost Cause
In general, it seems that Netflix is not compatible with PIA. Among the nine servers I tested, none of them were able to successfully access Netflix. According to PIA’s website, they are unable to provide Netflix access to their users due to geo-restrictions imposed on specific creative and entertainment content. There is currently no information available regarding any future plans by the company to unblock Netflix content.
It is worth noting that even accessing the Netflix site for streaming testing purposes is restricted on certain servers when using this VPN.
- US East – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- US New York City – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- US Atlanta – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- US Texas – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- US Silicon Valley – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- CA Toronto – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
- UK Southampton – No: Secure Connection Failed/Site Can’t Be Reached
Finally, I was able to access the Netflix site using an EU server. Unfortunately, I could not stream content.
- DE Frankfurt – No: Proxy detected
- Hong Kong – No: Proxy detected
2. Based in the USA, PIA is not troubled by its jurisdiction.
Being headquartered in Denver, Colorado, United States, works in favor of PIA as a VPN provider since the U.S. lacks mandatory data retention policies, unlike the European Union.
However, it’s important to note that the U.S. is a 14-Eyes country, part of the original 5 Eyes countries, which legally allows certain data and intelligence sharing with other countries but restricts the tracking, collection, and sharing of data concerning its own citizens. This aspect raises concerns about potentially compromising the anonymity of Private Internet Access VPN users, as their online activities and information could be susceptible to tracking by countries beyond their own jurisdiction.
In the words of Jay Baer, “Even though that’s the case, PIA is confident in assuring its users that they have no worries about the implications. They strongly emphasize their strict policy of not retaining any logs or identifiable information that could be collected from their users. To back up their claim, they even provide court case documentation as solid evidence, demonstrating how their operations effectively block 14-Eyes countries from accessing PIA users’ data.
3. Only OpenVPN Protocol Is Supported
In my investigation of the protocols employed by the desktop application I’m utilizing on Windows 10, I reached out to the customer support for clarification. It was confirmed that the desktop application exclusively utilizes the OpenVPN protocol, while other complete VPN protocols are not currently supported by the desktop application.
Pricing and Payment Methods
Private Internet Access offers various payment options to accommodate user preferences, including PayPal, Bitcoin, Pay Garden, Amazon Payments, and all major credit cards. They also accept major brand gift cards for anonymous payments, along with their own PIA gift card.
With their competitive pricing, you can enjoy their services at an incredibly low rate of just $3.33 USD per month when you opt for an annual subscription, which adds up to a mere $39.95 per year (originally valued at $119.40 before the discount). If you prefer a more flexible arrangement, you can also choose their month-to-month plan, priced reasonably at just $9.95 per month.
For first-time buyers, PIA provides a risk-free experience with a 7-day money-back guarantee policy. In the event of dissatisfaction with the service, users can request a refund by submitting a support ticket. It’s important to note that PIA only offers refunds within the first 7 days from the last payment made, as outlined in their Terms of Service. For complete details, please refer to their Terms of Service.
Private Internet Access provides users with an excellent tool for enhancing online privacy, all at an attractive price point. Key selling features include the ability to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously to the VPN, a stringent no-logging policy to safeguard online privacy, a user-friendly interface with seamless usability, impressive upload and download speeds, a reliable kill switch, and an extensive network of servers spanning over 30 countries.
The compatibility with TOR networks adds to the overall appeal of the service.
While PIA claims to offer 24/7/365 customer support, it’s worth noting that the live chat feature may require further improvements to ensure seamless access to the desired support. Currently, non-users do not have access to live customer support.
Two notable drawbacks are the lack of connectivity with Netflix, which may frustrate users relying solely on Netflix for entertainment, and concerns arising from the company’s U.S.-based location in relation to the 14-Eyes countries, potentially impacting the level of user information privacy.
For those in search of a reliable VPN service, PIA proves to be an excellent application that delivers high speed and robust privacy features, all at an exceptional price point.
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