Private Internet Access VPN Review

by Tracy Knauer •

Private Internet Access VPN is one of the most popular privacy-focused VPN services. Priced as low as $3.33/month, it’s also one of the most affordable VPNs.

Private Internet Access VPN in a Nutshell

Private Internet Access VPN service is a great option if you want a low-priced, reliable VPN. PIA makes it very easy to pay anonymously. This company lacks the advanced features of some of its competitors, and VPN connection apps are not as feature-rich as some of those available elsewhere.

PIA Feature Breakdown

Here’s an overview of Private Internet Access VPN services and features:

  • Support for all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS.
  • More than 3,000 servers based in 24 countries. (It’s unclear what the company counts as an individual “server”; presumably its more than 3,000 servers are not all bare-metal servers, but instead virtual ones.)
  • Up to 5 devices can connect at one time.
  • No bandwidth limits.
  • Supports PPTP, OpenVPN and IPSEC/L2TP VPN protocols. (SOCKS5 proxy support is also available.)
  • Advertised speeds of up to one gigabit.

Privacy

The Private Internet Access VPN promises a no-logs policy. However, it doesn’t elaborate on this policy, so — as with most VPN providers — you have to take the company’s word for it that it definitely keeps no logs.

More notably, Private Internet Access (PIA) lets you sign up in ways that protect your privacy. You can pay with a standard credit card if desired. But you can also use a more anonymous payment method, such as Bitcoin and PayPal.

The service can be purchased using retail gift cards. You can take a gift card for a place like Starbucks and redeem it at PIA for a certain period of VPN service. The length of time you get varies by gift card type and amount.

Most of the payment methods require only an email address. If you don’t want to give away your real identity you can use a fake or temporary email account to sign up.

Apps

On Windows, PIA comes with a relatively good app for connecting. It’s not the best we’ve seen, but it has an easy-to-use interface and a settings tool that lets you configure certain parameters about the connection.

Windows power users may wish they had more configuration options at their disposal. For most people, though, the Windows app will work fine.

Private Internet Access VPN app for Windows.

Private Internet Access VPN app for Windows.

PIA also offers a custom Android app. Like the Windows one, it’s relatively basic, but it provides easy access to all of the essentials.

Both the Windows and Android apps provide a “kill switch” feature for automatically disconnecting from websites if your VPN connection stops. The purpose is to prevent private information from leaking to these sites via a non-protected connection.

On other operating systems, including Linux, OS X and iOS, you can connect to PIA using any generic VPN app that supports the OpenVPN protocol.

Performance

PIA performed well overall for us. The connection was steady. Bandwidth speeds were about 15 percent lower than those available to us when not logged into the VPN — about average for a VPN.

Speeds were about the same everywhere, which is good. As expected, performance was a little worse when connecting to servers far away from our location.

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