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Private Internet Access

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11 User Reviews

9.7

Overall Score

LAST UPDATED: September 24th, 2021

Private Internet Access, also called PIA, is a U.S.-based VPN service provider that employs high-level encryption to preserve the privacy and anonymity of internet users across the world. As the winner of PCMag’s 2019 Readers' Choice survey for VPN providers, PIA sports a user-friendly app for Windows, MacOS, and Linux users, as well as an iOS app and Android app for mobile users. With a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, users can try PIA for themselves risk-free.

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The Good

  • Robust Feature Set
  • Price and Payment Options
  • Excellent User Interface/Experience
  • Data Use Transparency

Robust Feature Set

Private Internet Access offers a number of competitive features all catered to secure, private internet use. In addition to DNS leak protection and security protocols that block ads, malware, and tracking software from following users from site to site, PIA provides tools that aid in seamless browsing and streaming:

  • VPN protocols — PIA supports leading VPN protocols like OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec and is one of the few VPNs to offer WireGuard® as a way to build encrypted tunnels between the VPN user and server.
  • No-logging functionality — The VPN company does not keep logs of user activity on its servers and deletes collected information like username, IP address, and data usage immediately after the user logs off. 
  • Unlimited bandwidth — Like most VPN providers, PIA gives users access to unrestricted bandwidth that would otherwise be capped by internet service providers.
  • Wi-Fi encryption — Public Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to data theft, but PIA VPN users can rest assured that data like usernames and passwords, credit card and bank account information, and other private data is secure regardless of the type of Wi-Fi network.
  • SOCKS5 Proxy — SOCKS5 is an app-specific internet protocol that connects the VPN client to a firewall-protected server via a transmission control protocol (TCP). 
  • P2P Support — Private Internet Access facilitates and supports peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, which allows multiple users to connect and share content without relying on a central download source (also known as torrenting).

PIA users can maintain a simultaneous connection for up to 10 devices on the same account. With browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, customers can access safe, monitor-free browsing almost anywhere. And with customer support features like an online knowledge base and 24/7 live chat, help is never far away.

Price and Payment Options

Private Internet Access offers new customers a limited-time promotion of $2.69 per month for its two-year subscription plan. While many leading VPN companies offer comparable promotions, PIA’s stands out in terms of length; other leading VPNs extend their offer through only 18 month. PIA’s month-to-month ($9.95 per month) and annual ($3.33 per month) packages are likewise competitively priced, and all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee regardless of plan length (other companies feature more restrictive refund windows on shorter plans).

PIA makes pay for its services incredibly easy. In addition to accepting most major credit cards, the company also accepts contactless payment options like PayPal and Amazon Pay. Although these payment options all feature bank-level security encryption, customers who are doubly concerned with keeping their payments anonymous can purchase PIA’s services through Bitpay, Beam, Mint, or through PIA’s z-address.

Excellent User Interface/Experience

User experience is an important quality of any VPN service, and PIA delivers. The app is easy to set up across any device or browser. The login process is secure and straightforward, and users can easily connect to the best available server for their needs. Users can also customize the location of their desired server and bookmark their favorite settings for future use.

PIA’s snooze feature acts as a VPN kill switch, automatically disconnecting the user from the server and reconnecting after a preset amount of time. This can be a useful feature when users get blocked by a website and also prevents unprotected browsing.

Data Use Transparency

While all top VPN service providers, PIA included, regularly publish a transparency report — a document that alerts users when the company has responded to data requests in response to warrants, court orders, and subpoenas — not all companies treat transparency the same way. Thankfully, PIA’s privacy policy provides clear information on what user data is collected and why:

  • Personal data — client email addresses, payment data, cookie identifiers, zip code and state or territory of origin, information submitted to the “Contact Us” page, email addresses from any received emails
  • Non-personal data — anonymized data from Google Analytics, internationalisation, system information

Per the company’s Privacy Policy, PIA does not share, sell, rent, or trade personal data with third parties. The only exception to this rule is when PIA shares user data with a third party as part of an effort to either improve the app, help customers resolve issues, or improve the customer experience.

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The Bad

  • Smaller Global Footprint
  • Unreliable Netflix Connectivity
  • No Free Version

Smaller Global Footprint

While Private Internet Access has taken great strides toward a usable, accessible VPN app, it does come with some limitations. For example, PIA’s VPN server network spans only 49 countries with servers barely eclipsing the 3,000 range. Other leading VPNs have nearly double the servers and a much larger global footprint. While the average user won’t necessarily experience limitations in their privacy or freedom, the lack of representation leaves large service gaps in PIA’s network. 

Unreliable Netflix Connectivity

One of the most popular uses, and consequently one of the most pressing challenges, for VPNs is circumventing the geo-restrictions that most streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more have put in place. While PIA’s servers are able to unblock certain Netflix catalogues (e.g. U.S., Canada, UK, and Netherlands), the vast majority of Netflix libraries remain inaccessible to PIA servers. On the off-chance PIA users can unblock Netflix, they are not guaranteed reliable upload or download speeds. 

No Free Version

Private Internet Access does not provide a free version of its services, though the company goes to great lengths to explain the disadvantages inherent in a cost-free VPN, that include unstable connections and slower speeds, data trading, and lack of customer support. Other leading VPNs will offer a free version of their services to journalists or NGO members as a way to promote the rights of digital citizens everywhere, but Private Internet Access does not appear to have any such offering.

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The Bottom Line

Private Internet Access has developed a full-featured, reliable app that protects the privacy of its users at nearly every touchpoint from purchase to customer support. The company’s focus on user experience and transparency mark it as a user-first VPN provider designed to address the needs of VPN novices and experts alike.

However, the company’s global reach is lacking, and consequently, users may not have as free access to streaming services like Netflix as they would with other leading VPNs. If this is important to you, you may have more success with another VPN; otherwise, Private Internet Access is a solid choice.

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Shean Montreal, QC

PIA has been around since before anyone knew what ExpressVPN or NordVPN are. They really care for their users, and I know they work well and are not here for the quick buck, but to protect my privacy. I use their Android app mostly, with no issues.

1 year ago

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Oren ,

The VPN has always connected quickly with fast speeds and support was there for me for the one time I had an issue and quickly helped me resolve the matter! I highly recommend this for people looking for an affordable, reliable vpn!

1 year ago

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ohad ,

User-friendly, affordable, and privacy-friendly! The VPN has always connected quickly with fast speeds and support was there for me for the one time I had an issue and quickly helped me resolve the matter! I highly recommend this for people looking for an affordable, reliable vpn!

1 year ago

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Shay ,

I've been using PIA on Windows, Android and Mac stuff with basically no problems for 3+ years. Very reasonable cost and just plain works It's cheap, it works, super fast connection. The UI is super nice and quickץ

1 year ago

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Mohit Kumar ,

Im a user of Private Internet Access for the last 3 months and i have only goodfeedback to say about it! excellent product !

1 year ago

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John M Secaucus, NJ

Private Internet Access using the Wire Guard technology , which makes it very very fast! im using it also to watch few tv shows i like on BBC iplayer

1 year ago

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Florent Masuz Las Vegas, NV

i like the best is the great price , and i also got 2 months for free which made the deal to this excellent service one of the best

1 year ago

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Sourjit Kalp ,

great speed with a great support that works 24 hours 7 days a week! Private internet access is very good. thanks!

1 year ago

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Grace Will Denver, CO

As using many vpn providers , i can totally say Private INternet Access is one of the fastest !

1 year ago

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david smt North Brunswick, NJ

very good and safe, that's the main thing i was after

1 year ago

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Chad Matawan, NJ

Very good, fast and cheap VPN. Two thumbs up!

4 years ago

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