Private Internet Access (PIA) Review

Our Take: The bottom line on PIA is that it’s a popular VPN for small business and residential users for good reasons. It’s easy to use, you don’t need a lot of technical experience to implement it and you can open 10 connections at a time so no one has to wait for safe internet connections. While speeds can be slow on some servers, you always have the option to switch to a different one for better results.

Private Internet Access, or PIA, is a popular VPN for individual and residential users in part because it’s known for being fairly inexpensive and strong on privacy, which is one of the main reasons people turn to VPN in the first place.

PIA was founded by Andrew Lee, who started the business that would become PIA after dropping out of college. Private Internet Access was acquired in late 2019 by Kape Technologies. This was not without some controversy, as users of PIA rely on its reputation for privacy and Kape Technologies was previously known for some potentially undesirable browser bar integrations.

However, PIA remains its own entity under the Kape umbrella. Find out if this popular VPN tool is the right option for you. The review below explores pros, cons, and top features of this solution.

Pros & Cons of Private Internet Access (PIA)

What We Like and What We Don’t
Pros Cons
  • Supports up to 10 simultaneous connections, which is a high number of devices allowed for this type of VPN product
  • Blocks a variety of ads as well as malware in addition to trackers
  • User-friendly interface that is easy to use and get started with
  • Some drawbacks with customer service, particularly when compared with some other service providers
  • Speeds may not be consistent in all locations or across all servers
  • All versions of this service are paid options and there is no free option, though you can test the service for a trial period

 

Key Features of Private Internet Access (PIA)

We looked at the four most important features of any VPN, including security and privacy, server coverage, performance, and price. Below is a breakdown of Private Internet Access’s key features.

Security and Privacy

Most people consider this PIA’s area to shine. It has a no-logs policy, which means that it doesn’t capture information about what you do when you’re online. PIA also says that no third-party companies benefit from data regarding its users, though some reviewers point out that the PIA privacy policy is not particularly detailed in this regard.

The system also offers several security layers, including:

  • IP cloaking, which masks your actual IP with an anonymous IP that’s dynamically created. That means that the IP address that shows up as you browse keeps changing so you can’t be tracked.
  • Encryption based on the Blowfish CBC algorithm that’s used alongside VPN protocols to further protect your information. Private Internet Access uses the highest available encryption, which is 256-bit AES.
  • Firewalls to block unwanted connections, limiting external network connections to only those you know about.
  • Identity protection, which lets you browse anonymously and reduces data mining about your online habits.
  • Kill switch capability, which shuts down data transmission if your network VPN protection fails for any reason. This keeps data from being transmitted accidentally.

The service provides privacy and security when using it with a variety of systems, including Windows 7, 8 and 10; iPad and iPhone systems; Android systems; and Linux or Ubuntu. You can also download secure browser extensions for several popular browsers.

Server Coverage

Server coverage is another important factor for VPN services. Many servers let the service spread out connection and bandwidth so slowdowns don’t occur in various areas and more people get online via the VPN. It’s also important to have servers in many locations and countries. That reduces the impact of geo-political and natural events, such as hurricanes, on the provision of the VPN to users across the globe.

Private Internet Access has many proxy and VPN servers across the globe. There are more than 3,300 servers in 52 locations, and those locations are spread out through 32 countries. Locations in the United States include:

  • Seattle
  • Various parts of California
  • New York City
  • Florida
  • Chicago
  • Other locations on the east and west coasts and in the Midwest

Outside of the United States, servers are located in Brazil, Canada, the UK, Norway, Italy, France, India, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Romania, Finland and several other countries. In short, PIA provides fairly robust service coverage by any measurement.

Performance

Overall, performance on PIA is good, though the speeds you experience depend on the servers you hit and whether they’re being used by a lot of other people. You may, for example, find that one server is fairly slow at a certain time while others offer fast speeds. The good news is that you can manually select a lot of options in PIA, including server location.

PIA also supports 10 simultaneous connections at one time via the VPN. This can be important for use in family homes, where several smartphones might be connected at the same time as a computer, a television streaming device and a smart speaker are. You can also customize how you use PIA with a desktop computer via split tunneling, which lets you direct certain apps to use the VPN while others don’t. For example, you could use VPN to torrent and access financial accounts to ensure privacy but allow software updates to stream outside of the VPN for faster downloads.

Price

Private Internet Access Plans & Pricing
Monthly, includes all VPN features $9.95 per month
Annual, includes all VPN features $3.33 per month, for a total of $39.95 a year billed all at once. This reflects a savings of $79.45
Two year, includes all VPN features $2.69, per month, for a total of $69.95 for two years billed all at once. This reflects a savings of $168.85

Private Internet Access Overview

Private Internet Access Overview
Free Trial 30-day money back guarantee only
Customer Support Email
Platform/Browser Compatibility Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari
Server Coverage 3,341 VPN and Proxy servers in 52 locations across 32 countries
Number of Devices 10
No-log Policy Yes
Torrenting Yes
Streaming Services Netflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, Showtime, etc.
Security Encryption 256-bit AES
Kill Switch Yes

What Customers Are Saying

“PIA works well for me; it’s user friendly…and I have the options to switch servers if another server’s busy or if there’s traffic.” says one PIA customer. The flexibility and ability to manually switch servers is a common praise in customer reviews for this service.

Another user writes, “The VPN has always connected quickly with fast speeds. I highly recommend this for people looking for an affordable, reliable VPN.”