Private Internet Access – PIA VPN Review 2020

by Julie Splinters - -

private internet access review - mainpia review

Private Internet Access or PIA VPN has been one of the most notable privacy providers on the market. It is not only affordable with the best rates imaginable but also laced with superb features. These features ensure your privacy and security like none other.

If you want to know the ins and outs of PIA VPN, then read our thorough review of the product. It will also help you decide whether PIA VPN was the one thing you were looking for to maintain the privacy of your online endeavors.

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Summary and Facts:

Do you want to know key facts and features of PIA VPN quickly, then this the contents of the table below. In this table, you will all the crucial attributes of a high-class VPN, which has helped us in reviewing PIA VPN:

Background and Base of Operation USA PIA VPN operates from the USA, which is a member of the five eyes alliance.
However, it still maintains its no-log policy and has not shared any information with the US government in the past two years since it merged with Kape Tech.
Server Coverage 29 Countries(8/10) PIA VPN has over 3292 servers covering more than 29 countries across 50+ locations.
Internet Connection Speed(8/10) Private Internet Access VPN managed to offer stable internet speed across all the major regions.
Privacy Features(10/10) From a kill switch to DNS leak protection, PIA had all the necessary utilities to preserve user privacy on the internet.
Platform Compatibility(9/10) The VPN had app support for most significant platforms, browsers, and an extensive gallery of routers.
Privacy and Security protocols(10/10) PIA VPN has a stronghold in terms of providing security to its users with 256-bit encryption.
App intuitiveness(10/10) PIA VPN’s app interface is stylish and equally simple to use for customers of all backgrounds
Bandwidth limit and media support(9/10) With PIA VPN’s unlimited bandwidth, and the ability to bypass ISP throttling & geo-blocking, the user can download anything from any torrent site in the world. PIA VPN also enables direct access content viewing on Netflix US.
The Customer Support Service(9/10) PIA VPN had all the tools to offer the best customer support to their customers other than the live chat facility.
Pricing(10/10) All the pricing plans were extraordinarily affordable and came with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Overall Rating 9.2/10

PIA VPN – A Complete Review based on Essential Aspects of a Quality VPN

Browsing through the internet could get complicated. You could never expect what is on the other side of the website/URL you access. Many interested entities could use it to learn your private information, what you browse, or simply perform complete surveillance on you.

private internet access review - overviewpia overview

Despite the freedom of accessibility that it offers, the decision-makers of the internet do not consider everyone equal. Such is the reason things like geo-blocking, ISP throttling, and other such laws are implemented.

Due to such alarming facts, the need to carry VPN software on the preferred device of the user is more important than ever before. Technology like VPN permits the user to access anything in the world they want with foolproof privacy. In this review of the PIA VPN, we will look into different must-haves of the product and see how well PIA performed.

The Background of PIA VPN, the Base of Operation and Logging Policy

Currently hailing from the city of Denver, Colorado, in the United States of America, PIA VPN got released for usage initially in 2010. Its sole parent company was London Trust Media. It was until 2019 that London Trust Media merged with Kape Technologies, and PIA VPN became a part of it as well.

The average user on the internet has never been more concerned about their online privacy than before. It is mainly due to the widespread speculation that several first world countries have formed a data-sharing alliance known as the Five-Eyes. There have also been verified reports that the US has been at the forefront of such a coalition.

As mentioned earlies, PIA VPN operates within the jurisdiction of America. It also has to comply with all the rules and regulations applied by the country. With that in mind, despite the claims of several VPN services on maintaining the integrity of their users’ privacy, these companies can have full access to the logs of their users. The courts and other such entities could subpoena such records.

However, VPNs, including PIA, establish their whole business model based on taking consumer privacy seriously. It is why PIA VPN refrains from keeping any log of their user’s activity and does not share with anyone either.

Our sources and we confirmed the fact mentioned above. Regardless of the USA’s history in meddling with the affairs of privacy of its citizens, the country does not have any binding data retention laws. Companies have no obligation to share any information with their government. Moreover, the PIA VPN has also not shared user information even though it had received more than 20 subpoenas, court orders, and other warrants.

The Server Coverage of PIA VPN to Bypass Geo-Blocking

The extensiveness of the servers of a VPN service provider determines the product’s ability to unlock restricted content for the user in specific parts of the world. A VPN should be able to offer at least some server coverage across every significant region in the world.

private internet access review - server coveragepia server coverage

PIA VPN has over 3200 servers that cover all the major countries whose content is restricted in some regions of the world. All the 3000+ servers are spread out across 52 locations in roughly 29 countries, which are as follows:

North America

The United States of America, Canada, Mexico;

Europe The United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, Romania, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Spain, Austria, Poland;
The Middle East The United Arab Emirates; Israel;
Asia Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong;
Oceana/Australia Australia, New Zealand

Even though the servers are vast and more than capable of unlocking geo-restrictions, the lack of server coverage across populous regions like South America, Africa, and South Asia is a big negative on PIA VPN’s side. Recently, several servers of PIA VPN from Brazil and South Africa were removed without an explanation.

PIA VPN managed to score a rating of 8 out of 10 in terms of server coverage. Here is some laid out intimate detail of PIA VPN server reach:

Server coverage Values
Number of Servers 3292+
Number of Countries 29
Number of Locations 52
Specific Cities Selection and Switching Yes
Overall Rating 8/10

The Internet Connection Speed and Performance of PIA VPN

Every VPN service provider and even the user of the service understand the fact that VPN tends to lessen the average speed of the internet. Despite the fact that reality is far different, these VPNs still claim to offer a high-speed connection and stability. However, there are still some services that do not have a huge impact on the speed of the internet. Private Internet Access VPN is among those VPNs.

private internet access review - speedprivate internet access review - speed

Our team performed geolocation tests to analyze the stability of upload and download speed of the internet with the PIA VPN. We used the following server locations and the services of speedtest.net to collect the internet speed of the regions:

  • North America(USA),
  • European Union,
  • Asia,
  • United Kingdom.

The results we found were terrific as PIA showed excellent signs of internet stability and fewer latency issues against an internet connection speed of 100Mbps. The results of the speed test are as follows:

Region Download / Upload
North America 79 Mbps / 36 Mbps
Asia 70 Mbps / 13 Mbps
European Union 81 Mbps / 40 Mbps
The United Kingdom 75 Mbps / 23 Mbps
Overall Rating
8/10

Most VPNs offer the best possible service across their US servers. The problem arises with the Asian servers as the upload speed tends to decrease while causing latency issues. With PIA VPN, there was a noticeable dip in the upload speed as compared to more prominent EU servers. However, the download speed with PIA VPN across the Asian servers remained stable and at par with the other regions.

With such connection stability with PIA VPN, the user will have the full liberty to stream content in the best image possible. Our team gave PIA VPN a score of 8 out of 10 with respect to bearing a good internet connection.

The Features of PIA VPN to Enhance the Browsing Experience

The features of the VPN are its selling points, the more, the merrier. Each of the advanced features of other than keeping the user anonymous should be focused on protecting the integrity of the internet connection. It is important because when the internet of the user is vulnerable, then it opens all sorts of doors for online predators to creep into the network and steal valuable information of the user.

private internet access review - featurespia features

PIA VPN has a gallery full of amazing features that ensure that the user remains anonymous and protected while browsing at all times.

Kill-Switch When this feature is enabled, the VPN will make sure that the user is protected, and it will cut the supply of the internet to the device if the VPN ever disconnects from the server.
DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection PIA VPN will automatically disable IPv6 traffic when the user is connected to the VPN. It will also notify you of any DNS leaks.
No logs

PIA VPN maintains a firm policy on keeping no records of its customer’s activity online.
Split Tunnel Filter The Split Tunnel filter gives the user the means to protect the traffic on their preferred application or browser, without losing access to the local network device.
Block ads, Trackers, and Malware Constant ads and the malware that comes with them could ruin your browsing experience. PIA VPN blocks all such things from your path while browsing.
SOCKS5 Proxy for Extra Speed With this feature, PIA VPN will route the traffic of your internet through a proxy server while enhancing the speed of the connection and offer port forwarding support.
Unlimited Bandwidth You will get the full freedom to access anything on the internet with PIA VPN’s limitless bandwidth.
Overall Rating 10 /10

The PIA VPN was capable of offering pretty much all the best utilities that one could have hoped to imagine with a quality VPN service. Unlike several other VPN services, PIA VPN allows all of the features to be used across all platforms, and it doesn’t matter if they are smartphones, tablets, or computer devices.

Much more than that, the user could use their account on a maximum of 10 devices at once. This facility enables them to share their account amongst family and friends to keep them safe on the internet.Based on all the reasons mentioned above, our cybersecurity team gave the features of the PIA VPN a full 10/10.

The Cross-Platform Compatibility of PIA VPN and the Means to Configure the Software on a Device

We are living in a golden age of technology. It is not a surprise that the majority of the population all around the world use numerous devices of different platforms. They use such tools to maneuver around their personal and professional lives. The VPN service needs to cater to all the needs of their potential customers. It is why the VPN should offer app support of every significant platform available.

private internet access review - operating systemspia operating system support

Fortunately for the users looking for a new VPN to enhance their privacy on the internet, PIA VPN adheres to the requirements of the user. It has native apps across every possible platform there is to offer. Furthermore, it provides extensions for all the top browsers on the market. Here are the platforms that PIA VPN supports:

Operating Systems Windows PC(32/64 bit), macOS(64 bit), Linux(64 bit)
Smartphones and Tabs Android, iOS
Browser Extensions Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera
Routers Netgear, DD-WRT, Linksys, Tomato, AsusWRT-Merlin, pfSense, LEDE
Overall Rating 9/10

All of the apps, as mentioned above, for their respective platforms, are available from the ‘Download’ page of the official website of Private Internet Access VPN. However, smartphone apps of PIA VPN can also be downloaded from the App Store of the respective platform. Furthermore, PIA VPN is compatible with several routers and allows the user to configure them with ease.

Though the lack of direct coverage for devices like gaming consoles and smart TVs was surprising, and we hope that PIA VPN will be able to offer support for them soon.

The Intuitiveness of Installation

The Windows app of the PIA VPN is roughly 23.3MB in size and takes a few seconds to download on the PC. It takes the same amount of time to install on the device. Once you install it, the user will be led to the interface of the app. The interface will offer a choice to the user to enter their login credentials or get a quick tour of the entire app.

PIA VPN had an incredible level of platform coverage. The app for Windows that we used was quick and easy to spot and install on to the computer. It was due to such factors that our team decided to give PIA VPN a score of 9 out of 10 for in correspondence to providing apps for platforms.

Encryption and Security Protocols of PIA VPN

No matter how convenient the internet is for us, our data will always remain unsafe until we arrange for the appropriate measures. Luckily, VPNs permit robust encryption protocols for their customers to keep their data safe and away from criminals. Such a level of encryption is often impossible to decrypt, rendering it improbable for anyone to hack intelligence underneath the security blanket of a VPN.

private internet access review - featurespia features

PIA VPN has more than one level of encryption, and they are as follows:

Default Recommendation Protection
  • Data Encryption: AES-128 
  • Data Authentication Bit SHA1
  • Handshake RSA-2048
Maximum Protection
  • Data Encryption: AES-256
  • Data Authentication: Bit SHA256 RSA-4096
  • Handshake:RSA-4096
Risky Business
  • Data Encryption: AES-128 
  • Data Authentication: Bit None
  • Handshake: ECC-256k1
Maximum Speed
  • Data Encryption: None 
  • Data Authentication: None 
  • Handshake: RSA-2048
Overall Rating 10/10

According to the table, once you start using PIA VPN, you will have default encryption protection of 128-bit. Such a level of data encryption is mediocre and not up to the industry standard of 256-bit encryption. It is why we advise the users to change the settings to ‘Maximum Protection,’ so that no hacker would be able to penetrate the security shield of PIA’s customer.

The data authentication and the handshake protocol enables the servers to check the legitimacy of the internet connection. Moreover, they also check the validity of data that is being transmitted on the computer with the RSA-4096 public-key cryptosystem. It is nearly impossible to pass through by even the strongest of entities with all the resources.

PIA VPN also provides the following encryption features further to enhance the efficiency and security of the internet connection:

  • OpenVPN: It is the highest protocol that creates secure point-to-point links in bridged configurations with 256-bit encryption. It also authenticates data with digital certificates. Furthermore, It offers fast connection speeds with PIA VPN, even on the ones with high latency problems;
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol/PPTP: If the user’s device does not possess the ability to support OpenVPN, then this protocol is for them. This protocol of PIA VPN offers 128-bit encryption, which is fast, & easy-to-use;
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol/L2TP: It is more suited to NAT-supported devices to check the integrity of the data.
    Though the last encryption level mentioned in the table ‘All Speed No Safety’ is sufficient when you wish to download your favorite content online. It is also trendy among avid online gamers who want to maintain the stability of their upload speed and internet ping.

Despite the facilities, the last encryption option could be too tempting for the average user. Nevertheless, It is highly advised to turn on ‘Maximum Protection’ to ensure full safety while browsing through the internet. Such diversity of encryption protocols like none others prompted our team to give PIA VPN a perfect 10.

User interface

The app interface of any VPN should be stylish yet easy to use for even the most average user with no technical background. Not only should the VPN app be able to allow the user to switch on protection at free will, but the user should be able to enable other prominent features like the kill switch or the DNS leak protection with just a single click.

private internet access review - interfacepia user interface

PIA VPN’s interface gives out a stylish look of an intuitive smartphone application even on a Windows PC. Upon installing the service on the computer, the user will get the choice to either instantly log into the account or take a quick tour of every feature of the application. The quick tour guide allows the user to select the theme of the interface out of ‘Dark Theme’ and ‘Light Theme.’

After choosing the background look, the user will be able to select the server of their choice. There is a separate panel for them to connect to the best servers quickly or to choose their preferred server from a tab available at the top of the interface.

At the bottom of the interface is the ‘Performance’ section, where the user will continually learn about the stability of their internet connection under the influence of PIA VPN. The performance tab will also show the upload/download speed, along with the time elapsed.

The setting tab of PIA VPN’s interface consists of the following options:

General This section allows the user to manage the Language of the app along with the option to launch the VPN on startup and connect the server on the app launch.
Account This section will carry every necessary account information of the user
Privacy With this settings section, the user will be able to enable essential features like the ‘Killswitch’ and the ‘PIA MACE – Malware Blocker.’
Network Through this settings option, the user can enable the split tunnel filter and select their preferred DNS.
Connection We mentioned the four different encryption protocols of PIA VPN in the previous section. The Connection settings option will allow the user to select the Connection type(UDP/TCP), type of encryption(128/256), configuration method(DHCP/Static), and the Handshake Encryption(RSA-2048/4096).
Proxy This settings option allows the user to select, enable, and configure their proxy preferences, including Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 proxy.
Help With this option, the user could easily update the app to the latest version, along with directly uninstalling the VPN or reinstalling the Network Adapter and Split Tunnel Filter
Overall Rating 10/10

PIA VPN’s application for Windows had all the tools to be intuitive and equally elegant. Our team was able to activate the VPN server with just one attempt. We were also easily able to locate and enable the most useful features of the PIA VPN through the settings menu. That was all the reason enough to give it a perfect rating of 10.

The Media and Torrenting Support Ability of PIA VPN

Content viewing is not universal. Not everyone has access to view their favorite content, specifically in some regions of the world. Such a level of restriction or geo-blocking is unfair, but that is how businesses operate around the globe. Things get literally harder when the average consumer is unable to take hold of their beloved tv show, movie, or any such thing, mainly due to monetary reasons.

A VPN service is an answer to bypass such geo-blocking and content restrictions. It not only offers the user to access content through their preferred streaming service but also gets to remain anonymous throughout the adventure.

PIA VPN is a unique privacy enabling service provider that can help the user through such an ordeal. With PIA VPN’s P2P support feature, the user has full authority and safety to access torrent sites and download anything from the internet for free.

Usually, when the user tries to access a torrent site, then the ISP can immediately detect the activity and can throttle the internet. PIA VPN will not let that happen as it will bypass any attempts of ISP throttling and maintain the internet connection speed for the user to stream and download content at ease.

Moreover, PIA VPN has the capability to unblock the path toward Netflix US for the user. Netflix US is the most extensive library of entertainment content in the world. But it is only accessible for people living in the US. With PIA VPN, the user can select any US-based server from the app and open Netflix US from any part of the world. Not only that, with PIA’s unlimited bandwidth and excellent connection speed, the user can easily view videos on Netflix in 4K resolution.

However, several users and our team were unable to access services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video with PIA VPN. We could only hope that this would improve in the future once these services launch worldwide, as Netflix did in 2016.

The Customer Support Service of PIA VPN

Typically services like VPNs and others thrive on ensuring the quality of their product. They also guarantee that nothing would ever go wrong with it. Then again, accidents come with no timeline and can happen at any time. VPN services like PIA VPN offer a customer support section to serve such a purpose and to help the customer in need of assistance.

private internet access review - customer supportpia customer help support

The customer care section of PIA VPN is accessible through the official website of the VPN under the ‘Support’ tab. From there, the user will able to access the following facilities to enable the help they need to solve their issue with the VPN service:

Knowledgebase

From all the relevant FAQs to topic-centric articles written by the support agents of PIA VPN to help the user, the knowledgebase section has it all. The articles are based on the following topics for the convenience of the customer:

  • Account: To learn everything related to the user account from how to change the username/password to the method to reactivate canceled service;
  • Billing: To understand all the valuable information related to managing the payment to utilize PIA VPN;
  • Technical: The user will understand the means to enhance their VPN experience, such as improving the speed of a router-based VPN.
Guides This section the necessary information to maneuver the Windows app of the PIA VPN. It includes how to install and uninstall the app. Likewise, this section also shows the user to enable different encryption protocols on the Windows PC, such as installing OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP. Furthermore, this part of the customer support program contains the guide to check the speed of the VPN and change ports & DNS servers of the app;
News From learning the info on the latest app update to finding out the latest news in the world of technology, this section of customer support has it all;
Contact us This section offers the user to enable the ticket support if they ever need an account or technical support from the experts. By putting in the necessary information such as the name of the device, app, and other such things, the user will receive the required assistance from PIA VPN’s support staff in no time;

All of the facilities, as mentioned earlier that come within the support section of PIA VPN, are more than enough for the user to learn the ins and outs of their VPN service. Though, we couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if

PIA VPN also offered the live chat facility to their customer. Such utility would enable them to fix the problem quickly rather than having to wait for a response to the ticket they had initiated.

However, PIA VPN still managed to get a rating of 9 out of 10 from our team due to the excellent guides and FAQ section of the customer care section. You can learn more about the support section with the table stated below:

FAQs Yes
How-to Guides and Articles Yes
Email Ticket Support Yes
News and Updates Section Yes
Live Chat Facility No
Overall Rating 9/10

The Pricing Plan of PIA VPN is extremely Affordable for the Average Consumer

Everything comes down to the user’s ability to afford or purchase a product like a VPN. Such a level of commitment could get expensive and lengthy if the right decision isn’t made at the very beginning. Luckily many VPN services enable the user to share their account with family and friends to cut the load of the monthly fee. More than that, these VPN services also offer the user a cut-off period to use the service and get their money back if they do not like the features of the product.

private internet access review - pricing plansprivate internet access review - pricing plans

The most affordable plan of PIA VPN is available for a small cost of $3.33 per month with a full 30-day money-back guarantee. As mentioned in the earlier segment of the review, the user has the total freedom to access their PIA VPN account as much as 10 different cross-platform devices simultaneously.

Furthermore, PIA VPN permits the potential customer to pay for the service through multiple numbers of ways. These methods also include paying via bitcoin or other crypto coins to maintain the privacy of their payment information.

private internet access review - payment methodspayment methods

Our team felt that PIA VPN’s pricing plans were more than suitable and cheaper for the average consumer. The facility to pay with various types of cryptocurrencies prompted the team to give out a perfect rating of 10 to pricing plans of PIA VPN. You can see the complete details of the top three packages of PIA VPN in the table mentioned below:

Packages Prices
Monthly Package $11.95/month
6-Months Package $5.99/month
Yearly Package $3.33/month
Overall Rating 9/10

30-day money-back guarantee, Supported Devices per Account 10 devices, Payment Options Credit Card, PayPal, Cryptocurrency.

PIA VPN is among the Top VPN on the Market – Final Review

PIA VPN is among the oldest privacy enabling service in the world. It started back when the internet and its significant platforms such as Youtube and Twitter hadn’t even begun to peak.

Despite its shortcoming in not offering live chat and the inability to unblock services like Disney+ and other, PIA VPN impressed our team a lot. Based on all the necessary attributes of a top-notch VPN, PIA VPN got an excellent score of 9.2 out of 10.

It is also the reason why we recommend that you give the service a shot to make yourself completely anonymous on the internet. It is not only cost-effective, but the security/privacy enhancing utilities of the service makes it among the best services!

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Private internet access – fast and secure VPN service that can unblock blocked content instantly. Protect yourself with military-grade data encryption for the affordable price

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30-days money-back guarantee

About the author
Julie Splinters
Julie Splinters - VPN service analyst

Julie Splinters is a VPN service analyst at Reviewedbypro.com, who specializes in VPN services and anti-spyware applications. Her major of English Philology and her passion for IT helped her choose the path of an IT writer.

Contact Julie Splinters
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