In this day and age, the internet brings as many benefits as you could possibly imagine. Anything is possible, from streaming your favorite shows, movies, and music, to online learning and shopping. You can even develop an entire online business.
However, with all these positives, there are several disadvantages as well. And while the online world holds tremendous potential, it also holds many dangers. You might think that you’re safe from viruses and scams, but did you know that these are the least of your worries?
Hackings, ransomware, spyware, and other forms of malware are almost a daily occurrence in the vast internet world. Not to mention government censorship and surveillance.
Furthermore, geo-restrictions prevent users from accessing foreign content such as news, streaming services, and even social networks. The free internet that was once a revolutionary idea still exists, but only in concept. However, there is a solution, and that is to subscribe to a VPN service.
VPNs can bypass all forms of restrictions and censorship and grant you full online security, privacy, and anonymity. But with great demand came an increase in providers, and picking the right one is often quite a difficult task. As a result, we are reviewing as many brands as possible, in an attempt to see which ones are worth using, and which ones are not. Today, we will be reviewing a very famous VPN service known as Private Internet Access, or PIA.
- Security protocols: PIA protects your online traffic by using several security protocols, including PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and the best one out there — OpenVPN
- Encryption: It also employs the strongest encryption to ensure that no one can read your data or spy on your online activities.
- Server Network: The company has a massive network of 3307 servers in 32 different countries. While its reach is not the greatest one out there, it is still extremely rich and diverse.
- P2P support: The service allows P2P file sharing, meaning that you can use it for safe torrenting at any time.
- 10 simultaneous connections: You can protect up to 10 different devices at once using a single license.
- Unlimited bandwidth: PIA puts no caps on bandwidth, meaning that you can download and upload as much data as you want.
- Keeps no logs: It keeps zero logs of your online activities so no one will ever know what you do online.
- Kill Switch: Private Internet Access also offers a kill switch, as an extra security measure. So in case your VPN malfunctions, it will immediately cut your internet connection.
- Money-back guarantee: While the company does not offer a free trial, you can still benefit from a seven-day refund policy from the moment you purchase any of its plans.
- DNS Leak Protection: This feature ensures that none of your traffic will leak and go to your internet provider’s servers.
- Ad block feature: PIA blocks ads, malware, and all other online threats and inconveniences. This allows you to have a free, uninterrupted experience.
Apps & Interface
The company offers a major selection of dedicated apps. With it, you can protect all your favorite devices and systems. This includes Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Moreover, you can manually configure it to cover additional devices as well. And with 10 simultaneous connections available, you can protect your entire family.
The apps themselves are very user-friendly and easy to use. The design is simple with a black and green interface, and there’s a big Connect button. Below it, you will see the list of servers, as well as a small world map with the location of the server.
Also, further down, you’ll find information about your actual and new IP addresses. Furthermore, there’s a quick connect feature, information about data usage, type of subscription, and some quick settings.
As for the PC version, the interface is quite similar, with the settings on the left side of the app.
Privacy & Security
PIA uses some of the strongest security protocols out there, including PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and OpenVPN. It also has two different encryption levels: 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryptions. Additionally, you get an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and SOCKS5 Proxy.
The only downside about the company is that it is based in the US, meaning that it falls under the ‘5 Eyes’ jurisdiction. However, to put users at ease, PIA keeps no logs of your activities, traffic, or requests. Therefore, it cannot provide anything to government agencies in case they ask for your data.
When it comes to servers, the provider does not have the largest network in terms of locations. However, it does have over 3307 servers in 32 countries, with a promise of further expansion. As for the existing countries that the service is covering, they are as follows:
- Americas: Canada, the US, Mexico, and Brazil.
- Europe: The UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary, and Poland.
- Asia and the Pacific: Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Israel, and India.
- Africa: South Africa.
Installation & Setup
Installing PIA is a very quick and fully-automated process for all of its dedicated apps. If you wish to download the app on your mobile, you can do so from the app store, or from the company’s website. The download, installation, and setup will proceed automatically, and the very next step after hitting ‘Download’ will be logging in.
As for computer apps, the process is just as simple, except that you have to start the installation manually. But the process isn’t difficult, and all you have to do is click a few extra buttons.
Prices & Payment Options
The service offers affordable and cost-effective packages considering the features it provides. There are three different payment plans, and they are as follows:
- Monthly plan for $9.95.
- Yearly plan for $71.88 (or $5.99 per month. Save 40%)
- Two-year plan for $83.87 (or $3.49 per month. Save 65%).
But keep in mind that you have to cough up the entire sum in one payment for the annual and two-year plans. However, you won’t have to worry about protecting your family online for the entire duration.
You can buy any package using PayPal, credit cards, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash. Zcash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitpay, or AmazonPay. Furthermore, all plans come with a 7-day money back guarantee.
Help & Support
And last but not least, we’ll review the company’s customer support service, which is one of the most important aspects of any VPN. PIA has great scores in this area as well, as the customer service responds very quickly and efficiently. Also, you can contact customer support employees via live chat, which is great if you want fast solutions.
Alternatively, you can find answers to your problems on the website, which features a massive knowledge base. There are general articles regarding the service, VPNs, and more, as well as a thorough FAQ section. Moreover, you can benefit from specific articles about payments, best security practices, and various technical issues.
- Excellent security features.
- Large server network.
- Friendly and helpful customer service.
- The app is easy to install and use.
- P2P support.
- Affordable prices.
- Blocks ads.
- Keeps no logs.
- Protects you on public Wi-Fi.
- 10 simultaneous connections.
- Excellent speeds.
- Available on numerous platforms.
- App panel locked to the lower right corner of the screen.
- Lack of some advanced options.
- Some servers are reportedly unavailable at times.
Other VPN Brands
If you’re still not too sure about Private Internet Access VPN, the list below features some of the highest-ranked brands in the industry:
All in all, we believe that PIA is a solid pick if you’re looking for a VPN. In fact, this is one of the oldest, best-known, and well-respected services for a reason. PIA has been around for a long time, and there is a noticeable effort to improve and make the service even better as the years go by.
You can protect your entire family with top security features, and provide them with a decent-sized server network. Also, it allows you to access any website you want and to bypass all online restrictions. That is why it is one of the best services around, and you should definitely consider it.
PIA has been one of the most popular VPN services for years now, but is it really as good as everyone believes it to be? That is the question we asked in this review, and in order to find out the answer, check out our assessment and you be the judge.