Private Internet Access (commonly known as PIA) is a powerful VPN provider currently owned by Private Internet (formerly KAPE), which also includes CyberGhost and ZenMate.
The company recently launched its “NextGen VPN Network,” which now includes more than 17,300 servers in 76 countries (up from 3,300 servers in 30 countries a few months ago).
PIA explains that it’s not just about the numbers. The new servers “use better hardware components,” “10 Gbps NICs instead of 1 Gbps NICs,” use RAM disks to ensure that “all sensitive information is not lost once the server is shut down,” and now support WireGuard and OpenVPN.
You can access the network via Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux apps, Chrome, Firefox and Opera browser extensions, and find detailed setup instructions for the router and many other device types.
PIA supports up to 10 simultaneously connected devices. This is double the limit of most VPNs, although Windscribe, Surfshark and a few others have no limit at all
There are also some surprising app-related additions. Command line apps for Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems, for example, let you automate VPN operations via scripts. In the simplest case, you can use them to create a shortcut, automatically connect to the VPN, and then launch an app.
1 Minute Overview
Private Internet Access isn’t cheap at $11.95 if you sign up for just one month, though even that is cheaper than most competitors. If you sign up for a year, the price drops to $3.33 per month, but the star of the show is the three-year package for just $2.19 per month, and that’s really competitive.
PIA also has good privacy and security credentials. You have access to OpenVPN and WireGuard, and you can choose the level of encryption and the data authentication and handshake methods. The applications are open source, the kill switch was fully functional in our tests, and the no-logging policy appears to be sound — though an independent audit would make this more concrete.
Finally, let’s talk about PIA’s weakest point – support. Unfortunately, written articles are somewhat scarce, but on the bright side, although we haven’t been able to test it yet, they have recently introduced a live chat feature that significantly reduces query times.
All in all, Private Internet Access is a very worthwhile option if you’re looking for a secure, stable VPN and aren’t too keen on streaming. It’s also very affordable if you commit to three years.
Over All Rank
Video Streaming Support
4K, HD Video Conferencing
Money Back Guarantee
The first thing to know about PIA is the company’s staggering number of servers, over 3,000 and growing. This is a testament to how popular the service is and how reliably you can expect to connect to local servers with minimal issues. The downside is that they only have servers in 24 countries – so make sure to check if they have a server near you, or you will probably be very disappointed.
PIA has almost all the popular VPN features, including 3 different VPN tunneling protocols (PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec), multiple VPN gateways, 5 simultaneous connections, and an ad and malware blocker. While you may not use all of these features, PIA’s low price means you won’t feel like you’re paying too much for options you’ll never use. And in case you enjoy playing around with VPN configurations (a hobby I never thought I’d take up), at least those options are there.
PIA also includes a SOCK5 proxy option. While not technically a VPN (it’s a bit complicated), it’s a faster connection that still provides some level of anonymity, but without data encryption, your activities can easily be tracked. Not many VPN providers offer users this option, so this is definitely a feature that makes PIA stand out from the crowd.
One of the biggest drawbacks we found in this PIA review was performance. This is somewhat surprising, however, as most WireGuard-enabled VPNs deliver excellent performance. I ran several speed tests with PIA on a 500 Mbps (base speed) Internet connection at a test lab in the US.
To test PIA’s best performance, I chose the WireGuard VPN protocol and ran speed tests with the latest version of the PIA Windows client. Now let’s take a look at the results.
This is one of PIA’s servers in Seattle with a speed of 41 Mbps(On average)
That’s pretty bad. Getting only 41 Mbps on a 500 Mbps connection is definitely slower than the average speed. So let’s take a look at some other websites.
Here’s a PIA server in Los Angeles, California at 85 Mbps(On average).
This is better than the previous test, but still pretty slow. We should be able to get speeds over 200 Mbps, especially using the WireGuard protocol.
I then tested a PIA server in New York with speeds of about 23Mbps(On average).
The PIA server is located in the US, so this is obviously a slow VPN.
For my final speed test, I decided to try a site on the other side of the pond in the UK. Here is a PIA server in London, UK that gave me a speed of 10Mbps(On average).
With such slow speeds, PIA is definitely not the best VPN for the UK when it comes to performance.
In previous PIA tests, the speeds were better. Private Internet access speeds seem to be getting worse, even after the addition of WireGuard.
Pricing Plans and Payment Methods
|Time Period||1 Month||1 Year||2 Years|
$69.95 for 2 Years
The pricing plan for Private Internet Access VPN is very simple. You get the same features in each package, with 10 simultaneous connections. The only difference is the subscription period, which affects the price quite a bit.
If you opt for the two-year package, you’ll pay the least, just $2.69 per month, or $69.95 for a full subscription period. You also get two additional months of free service and the Boxcryptor encryption tool.
Buying an annual subscription will cost you $3.33 per month, which equates to $39.95 per year. You can pay up to one month for the plan, which costs $9.95.
However, there are no free plans or even trials for Private Internet Access VPNs. However, if you find that PIA is not a good fit for you, you can take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee.
It’s also not limited to a one-time refund (like many other VPN services). If you buy a new package 3 months after your last refund, you can cancel the package again and get your money back in full.
As for Payment options, Private Internet Access VPN offers several different credit cards, PayPal, and many cryptocurrency options like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin.
Customers and Applications
Like most other VPNs, PIA supports the most popular operating systems and devices. PIA offers apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android users. The full list of devices/operating systems supported by PIA can be found below.
|Desktops||Mobile Devices||Routers||Browser Extension|
Window 7, 8, 9, 10
Chrome Extension(V48 Onwards)
Protocols determine how data is transmitted over the network. Think of them as the different routes you take to get to your destination. Some routes are faster than others, and some are more secure than others. Therefore, Private Internet Access uses a combination of protocols to achieve speed and security.
PPTP: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP, has been widely used since the 1990s. PPTP does not perform the encryption itself, but creates the tunnel that encapsulates the packets. It works in conjunction with a secondary protocol that does the actual encryption.
IPSec/L2TP: Think of IPSec and L2TP as Batman and Robin. L2TP, also known as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, creates the tunnel and IPSec takes care of the encryption, securing the tunnel and checking that the data arrives intact. IPSec, which stands for IP Security, can encrypt either just the information in the packet or the entire packet. Together they form a highly secure VPN client.
SOCKS5 (Proxy): SOCKS5 is a proxy that assigns a new IP address before reaching the destination. SOCKS requires the least bandwidth compared to a typical VPN, but the data is not encrypted and therefore less secure. For this reason, Private Internet Access uses SOCKS in combination with the encryption methods mentioned above.
OpenVPN: OpenVPN is a very commonly used VPN software because it is the most secure. It does a good job of bypassing firewalls, which is an important feature of a VPN, but it doesn’t slow down the network too much. The reason I like OpenVPN so much is that it is crowdsourced and not made by a company. The VPN community is constantly tinkering with OpenVPN so regulators can’t mess with it. In my opinion, that’s ideal.
Installation and Use
PIA offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. They also have extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
While extensions make browsing very easy, keep in mind that browser extensions only provide the functionality you need to do what you want to do in your browser. It does not offer torrents or other applications that run outside of the browser.
PIA’s desktop software can be downloaded from their website, while the mobile app is available in the app store. The app has a number of settings like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and IPv6 leak protection to prevent your actual IP address from being compromised when using the VPN.
You can choose settings like automatic connection at startup to ensure that your PIA VPN is always protected.
You have a lot of flexibility with PIA when it comes to customizing your encryption method and protocols. The default option encrypts your connection using AES 128-bit.
This method is very safe, but not as secure as the now-standard AES 256-bit encryption.
If you wish, you may easily alter this option. In the settings interface, you may manually pick your encryption method and handshake encryption.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand what any of this means. On their website, PIA provides extensive descriptions of each encryption option and how to choose which is best for you.
PIA’s specialized applications use the OpenVPN protocol by default, with the ability to choose between UDP and TCP connections. The iOS app, on the other hand, use IPsec. On its mobile and desktop clients, the VPN also provides the option to switch to the most recent security protocol, WireGuard.
OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SOCKS5 Proxy all enable manual setup.
PIA has open-sourced all of its desktop and mobile apps to increase transparency. This enables anybody to examine the source code of these apps to confirm that PIA delivers on its claims.
VPN Protocol WireGuard
WireGuard is an open source VPN protocol (a set of instructions that connects your device to a VPN server) that provides effective privacy and security features. To put it simply, the program is meant to automatically replace protocol problems in order to avoid any assaults on your device. WireGuard has been modified by the firm such that there are no logging privacy safeguards. This implies that after a user logs out of Private Internet Access’ VPN servers, no records of their internet activity are kept.
Dedicated Internet Protocol Address
Users can acquire a dedicated IP address from PIA for an extra monthly cost. It’s a standard feature of business-tier VPN subscriptions. However, some personal VPN companies, including Private Internet Access, offer this service a la carte.
Typical VPNs need users to exchange IP addresses with other VPN users, which are referred to as shared IP addresses. Similarly, each time a person logs in, their IP address changes. This is enough for the majority of personal applications. However, it might be troublesome in sensitive circumstances such as working from home, internet banking, or running a business.
For example, if you share an IP address, another VPN user may behave unlawfully or violate the terms of service of a website. The website may blacklist the IP address, preventing everyone from accessing the site, including you. That’s not good. Furthermore, some websites include security measures that may lock your account or initiate a verification procedure if it does not identify your location (or IP address) when you log in.
A dedicated IP address solves both of these problems.
However, because your IP address will not change—and because you will be the only one using it—websites will learn about your web usage patterns when you use a dedicated IP address. PIA is aware of this possible disadvantage, which is why it allows you to move between shared and dedicated IPs at your leisure.
Even when the VPN is active, users can route part of their internet traffic through the VPN or straight to the internet. This feature, known as split tunneling, allows you to have the privacy you desire over the VPN while still being able to utilize local network devices.
On a private network, port forwarding allows external devices to connect to your device. This is helpful for gaming, peer-to-peer file sharing, remote desktop applications, and gaining access to camera video.
Many VPNs do not enable port forwarding due to the hazards associated with opening ports for external access. All non-US servers are supported by PIA.
Geo Blocking and Bypass Censorship
Most VPN providers offer special services that bypass geo-blocking. But private Internet access is not one of them.
Of course, it is possible to access streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer through a PIA VPN connection in the US. But the blocking efforts of these streaming giants have clearly taken their toll. PIA users often have to switch servers in order to land on servers that are not hindered by geoblocking efforts.
The basis on which Private Internet Access operates may have something to do with it. PIA is based in the U.S., where new laws make it illegal to circumvent geoblocking. Good news for streaming services. But PIA subscribers, especially non-US subscribers, might want to consider other providers if they want to continue watching TV shows on Netflix in the US.
The Great Firewall of China is the name of the combination of tools used by the Chinese government to enforce massive censorship. This firewall and others like it are so powerful that only the best VPN services can bypass them.
PIA uses Shadowsocks, a third-party proxy designed specifically for China. While Shadowsocks isn’t as secure or effective as proprietary VPN obfuscation tools, it does allow access to popular apps and websites like Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, and WhatsApp.
Security and Encryption
Private Internet Access has taken some very strong measures to protect its customers online. The default setting provides 128-bit data encryption, which seems less desirable when AES 256-bit encryption services are also available.
For users who value speed over privacy, 128-bit encryption may be preferred, but Private Internet Access also offers good speeds with higher levels of encryption. So why take the risk? If you decide to use Private Internet Access, change your settings to AES 256-bit encryption, which is the default setting for most of the best VPNs.
Users can choose between the current recommended VPN protocols and many of the old favorites with less stringent security settings. OpenVPN is the most recommended, but Private Internet Access also offers SOCKS5 proxy, IPSec/L2TP and PPTP. Combined with AES 256-bit encryption, you can be sure that your network traffic will remain secure as long as you are connected to Private Internet Access.
PIA can unblock Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video, but it doesn’t work with Hulu or BBC iPlayer
I was able to unlock Netflix with all the servers I use in the US. While watching some of my favorite shows, I was pleased that PIA provided fast enough speeds for 4K or Ultra HD viewing without buffering or lag.
I tested several different servers around the world to see if I could access a particular Netflix library for each location. I managed to unlock it in Germany, Canada, the UK, Spain, and Poland. However, when I tried to use the Japanese server to watch exclusive content, I got the dreaded Netflix proxy error.
I found it difficult to unlock Disney+ with many VPNs, as the media giant uses some of the strongest geoblocks to protect its intellectual property. I was very surprised at how easily PIA unlocked Disney+. It survived the difficult geo-blocks and I was able to watch popular shows like Mandalay Star for a short time.
HBO Max (Unblocked)
PIA is one of the few streaming services that reliably unlocks HBO Max, giving you access to its entire library of movies and exclusive TV shows. Thanks to fast connection speeds, I was able to watch popular series like Ballers and Justified Jewels in HD.
Amazon Prime Video (Unblocked)
Since Amazon is one of the biggest names in internet service providers, it’s no surprise that it has one of the strongest geoblocks. While there aren’t many VPNs that can bypass Amazon Prime Video’s geoblocks, PIA didn’t have any buffering issues while we watched The Expanse.
I thought PIA could unblock all the popular streaming services, but Private Internet Access didn’t work for Hulu. After trying several different servers in the US, I just couldn’t get around Hulu’s geoblocking. Even after using a private browser window and clearing my cache, I was still blocked.
BBC iPlayer (Blocked)
Private Internet access also failed to unblock BBC iPlayer, even when I connected to a server in the UK. I’ve found BBC iPlayer to be one of the most difficult streaming services for VPNs to block, and I’m not too surprised that it was difficult for PIA to get around the strict geoblocking.
PIA on Fire Sticks, Routers and Other Devices
PIA has a fairly standard set of supported platforms, with native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. However, you can install PIA on almost any platform, not only because it offers an OpenVPN profile, but also because you can download the Android APK.
Virtual private networks are an easy way to secure your Internet connection. However, even advanced VPNs can cause connection problems and delays that make gaming difficult. Some gaming platforms even block the use of VPNs altogether. However, we recommend using one for gaming if possible.
Private Internet Access can be installed on your router to ensure that all devices, including your gaming console, are protected on the Internet. This protects against online gaming threats like DDoS attacks.
If you’re struggling with slow connections, your ISP can also be a target for bandwidth throttling. Often ISPs are forced to limit the speed of internet connections if they can’t keep up with the demands of streamers and gamers. ISPs often target users based on the amount of data they consume. So if you’re an intense gamer, you’ll likely be the target of a speed limit.
DNS Leakage Test
PIA has been leak tested using our industry standard VPN leak test tool. Our tests show that PIA is a reliable VPN that is not affected by IPv4, IPv6, WebRTC or DNS leaks. These are all perfect results.
When testing an IPv6 connection, we didn’t see any leaks on either Mac or Windows, and IPv6 is automatically disabled by the VPN software, so you don’t have to worry about leaks.
It’s also nice to see that PIA VPN has a kill switch on all platforms – for those looking for torrents, this VPN is reliable enough.
PIA VPN offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers. Its browser extensions are super fast. You can select different server locations and connect instantly. While VPN browser extensions are generally secure, you should keep in mind that only browser activity is encrypted, but everything else is not.
Private Internet Access for Android
From choosing between the two main protocols to customizing proxy settings and using port forwarding, there is no shortage of options when compared to desktop clients. In addition, there is a built-in kill switch for optimum security if any Wi-Fi connection fails.
The PIA Android app, which is available for download straight from their website or the Google Play Store, comes with a slew of features that are all neatly packaged in a seamless and unobtrusive mobile application. The one feature we didn’t find in the Android app was split tunneling, which is offered in PIA’s PC apps.
Private Internet Access for iOS
This VPN software, like other VPN apps for iOS, does not let the amount of capabilities influence the performance and user experience that iOS devices can give. There aren’t many noticeable changes between the Android and iOS applications because they both feature and lack the same options. The latter contains, most notably, the absence of the MACE ad-blocking functionality.
Private Internet Access for Linux
PIA looks after its Linux users. Users of the Debian, Fedora, Slackware, and Arch distributions can install OpenVPN via the terminal. The option to install the Windows UI for Linux, on the other hand, is far superior. This may be quite useful, especially for novice Linux users. PIA is one of the few VPN companies that has attempted to make life simpler for Linux customers by providing such a UI.
Regrettably, the program is only accessible for Linux editions that also have the systems software package. Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, and Arch are among them.
PIA’s server network isn’t the largest, and it doesn’t have the fastest servers – that title belongs to ExpressVPN. However, there are plenty many servers for the overwhelming majority of users, and the vast majority of servers exhibit a noteworthy level of dependability and consistency.
We did not discover any security problems when testing PIA. To top it all off, PIA includes a slew of handy extras. The first is PIA’s own software, “Mace.” This application provides extra protection against advertisements, trackers, and viruses.
You may also adjust the level of encryption or switch to custom DNS servers in the app. There is, of course, a kill switch, and you may also opt to route your traffic through a SOCKS5 proxy for further SSH tunneling.
Although PIA does not have the fastest servers, it is competitive and consistent in all categories. Whether it’s speed, security, or usability, PIA provides a high-quality solution that’s a good fit for most Linux users.
Premium VPN services have responsive and knowledgeable customer support. Users and potential customers may have issues with the connection or have problems that need to be fixed immediately. If you look at consumer review sites like Trustpilot, many people rate VPN customer service.
You can also contact PIA via email, ticket, and more recently 24/7 live chat support. We waited about 15 minutes for customer service representative Evan to answer our first question. But from then on, he quickly responded and helped us with all our questions.
How to Cancel Private Internet Access
Follow the steps below to cancel your private Internet access subscription. If you cancel within 30 days, you will get your money back.
- Log in to your Private Internet Access account.
- Click the “Cancel Subscription” button. This will stop the automatic renewal of your subscription. The account will remain active until the subscription ends.
- Complete the survey. Select “Cancel Completely” at the end of the survey.
- Private Internet Access accepts refund requests via direct email or through the support ticket console.
There are some exceptions to requesting a waiver and refund. If you paid for your subscription through Apple iTunes, you must contact Apple for a refund. Users who paid with gift cards or cryptocurrency do not need to cancel their subscriptions as the accounts do not automatically renew. If you paid with a gift card, you will not receive a refund.
Pros and Cons
- Well-designed app
- Can connect to ten companies at the same time
- Above average number of available servers
- Advanced network settings
- Few additional privacy tools
- No free version
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Private Internet Access a good VPN?
Yes, Private Internet Access is one of the best VPNs on the market. It offers great features and ease of use, and is cheaper than most other VPN options. However, it is a bit inconsistent in terms of speed and has issues accessing streaming platforms.
Does Private Internet Access keep logs?
No, Private Internet Access does not keep any logs. Although PIA is based in the US, PIA has proven time and again that it does not log user data. To prove this, PIA maintains a transparency report showing the number of subpoenas received and the number of responses without logging.
What is Private Internet Access used for?
Private Internet Access is a VPN service that encrypts your Internet traffic and spoofs your IP address. It can be used for a variety of purposes, although VPNs are most commonly used for torrenting and accessing streaming platforms around the world.
Private Internet Access is a great entry-level VPN with easy-to-use features that keeps your data safe across multiple devices and gives you peace of mind about everything the Internet has to offer. There’s nothing special about this VPN, but that doesn’t detract from its quality and simplicity. It comes with free email intrusion monitoring, WireGuard, and OpenVPN. You also get 24/7 customer support assistance. We love that Private Network, with over 29,000 servers, offers comprehensive protection for your mobile devices and desktops through mobile apps and browser extensions. If you’re not sure about this VPN or want to compare other options.