Private Internet Access (PIA) is an award-winning VPN service that has plenty of recognition in both the US and across the world.
And while it's popular and well-loved, I wanted to do some testing of my own.
In my Private Internet Access review, I'll take an in-depth at this popular VPN service. Is it a winner? Or a subpar service salvaged by good reputation and marketing? Let's have a look.
How Safe is Private Internet Access?
One of the primary concerns most VPN users have is safety. With increasing pressure on Internet service providers to reveal information to governments, it's essential to work with a VPN service that can secure your information.
That is if you want to keep your online web traffic private, of course.
One of the major downsides of Private Internet Access' safety is its location. Company headquarters is in the United States, which means it's subject to US transparency laws.
The United States is also part of the Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction, which means they share information with other major Western nations.
I typically don't recommend US-based VPN companies if anonymity is a priority.
Of course, PIA is doing its absolute best to assure you that it doesn't log or share anything. For example, it has a no-log policy, which ensures that your data isn't stored or tracked by the company.
What About the PIA Encryption?
In terms of encrypting your data, PIA is actually one of the few VPN providers that allow you to customize your encryption settings. It provides suggestions on the fastest encryption standards - but it still allows you to make a choice. But PIA is absolutely certain that its AES-128 encryption is the best in terms of performance.
But it also offers AES 256-bit encryption - an encryption standard previously employed by the US Military. While this will mean slower performance, you can rest assured this encryption standard keeps your data secure while on public WiFi hotspots or other unsecured platforms.
All throughout PIA's existence, there have been no major reported cases of this VPN giving away information to the authorities.
That being said, it seems to be in constant legal battles with the FBI. And while the company is holding its own now, there's no telling what will happen in the future.
PIA's location within the US jurisdiction really leaves them in a sticky situation. And perhaps, if you're looking for ultimate security, it's best to use a different provider. Just in case they actually break.
PIA Speed Test
If you're looking for a fast VPN, don't take a VPN provider's word for truth (I am yet to discover a VPN provider which admits to being slow).
And to help you skip testing its speed for yourself, I paid for PIA and tested the speed of its servers. Here's what I found:
Private Internet Access is actually quite disappointing VPN performer in terms of speed.
Without a VPN turned on, my connection speeds were around 70Mbps download and around 60 Mbps upload. With PIA, they went down only by around 50%. I accessed a download speed of 37Mbps and upload of 35Mbps on one of its best servers.
As a result, you won't have plenty of speed to download media, stream content, and surf the web.
If you're looking for a fast VPN, PIA is a pretty good option. There are some faster ones, but it's keeping up.
PIA Netflix Capabilities
PIA is not a good option for Netflix. While Private Internet lacks performance, it also won't allow you to unlock overseas content.
I tested various PIA servers to see if I could break through Netflix's geo-locking technology. Unfortunately, I was unable to find consistent access to Netflix from any of its servers.
This is a huge letdown if you're someone who prefers to use media providers in different jurisdictions.
Long story short: if the overseas content is a concern to you, PIA Netflix isn't the right choice.
Does Private Internet Access Support Torrenting?
Private Internet Access allows you to do torrenting - if your internet service providers blocks P2Ps, this VPN is a good pick.
Not all VPN providers support P2P sharing - so it is good to see PIA help the users who are in trouble.
I tested PIA's servers with uTorrent to see if the VPN provider lived up to its promises. Fortunately, I was able to access uTorrent using PIA.
It's a great partner to have if you plan on using P2P platforms.
While torrent support is a great feature, you should also consider the number of server locations a VPN provides.
Private Internet Access Server Locations
Private Internet Access is pretty good when it comes to locations. It currently offers servers in 33 different countries.
Private Internet Access also has over 3,100 servers throughout its regions. As a result, if one server is slow or not accessing blocked content, you can try another location within the same country. (Still no luck with Netflix though!)
If server location numbers and depth are a priority for you, I recommend using Private Internet Access.
Private Internet Access Customer Support
Personally, I like to work with VPN providers that have multiple customer service options. It's like having a super geeky friend who can't ignore you. And if support is also 24/7, it's even better – that's the best way to ensure you can get help whenever you need it.
Unfortunately, Private Internet Access customer support is lacking. There is no live chat portal or phone number available for immediate support. If you want to support via its website, you need to fill out a contact form for an email response.
While this is effective, it can't help you if you need to contact someone quickly.
The one useful feature included in Private Internet Access' customer support is its online resources. It provides great guides and advice on its VPN service and the installation problems.
You can fix a lot of common problems by accessing its online support page.
Private Internet Access Pricing
Private Internet Access has one of the best pricing schemes in the business.
There are three different subscription lengths: monthly, annual, and bi-annual. The longer you subscribe, the cheaper the monthly price. They range from $2.91 to $6.95.
|Two Years||$2.91/mo. (69.95/two years)|
If you don't want to sign up for a multi-year subscription without trying PIA's service first, is there at least a free option available?
Private Internet Access doesn't offer a free plan. But if those low prices still don't have you interested, maybe you'll enjoy its 7-day money back guarantee.
PIA: Is Private Internet Access Good?
There are some of the positive features included in my Private Internet Access review, but there are also some serious drawbacks.
Private Internet Access can't offer fast connection speed though price is quite affordable. It also supports torrenting - but a clunky user interface and no international Netflix is a problem.
If your main goal is to download P2P content at fast speeds, PIA is not the best option, but you can give it a try. For supreme security, Netflix, and everything else, there are plenty of other VPN providers which a better for that.
But what do you think? Have you used Private Internet Access in the past? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.