Private Internet Access Review in 2020 – Our Take

Private Internet Access (PIA) Feature Image

When we looked into Private Internet Access (PIA for short), it drew questions to whether if it is a legitimate VPN service provider or not. Safe to say, after a quick digging around, it is a legitimate VPN service provider.

Private Internet Access is known for its speediness, and can give Hotspot Shield a run for their money.

Before we go any further, there are several criteria for you to look into before settling for any one VPN service provider. That includes Private Internet Access.

Company Background

Private Internet Access (PIA) Screenshot

Private Internet Access was released in August 2010 by London Trust Media by Ted Kim and Andrew Lee. In November 2019 it was merged and owned by Kape Technologies. It runs on Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Kape Technologies is the same company that operates 2 other competing VPN service providers – Cyberghost and Zenmate. Some users have objected to the acquisiting as Kape has previously developed browser toolbars bundled with potentially unwanted programs.

Criteria

Criteria we will be touching on to help you choose Private Internet Access.

Number of Servers and Server Locations

For very obvious reasons, we will talk about the number of servers and its server locations available. What is a VPN service without its servers, even if they have less than 100 servers available to choose from?

The number of servers usually reflects how popular the VPN service provider is. The server locations usually reflects how diversified and far reaching their services are.

Content Access

Not all VPNs can help you access the contents you want. Some VPN actively promote the fact that users can access Netflix when they subscribe to them and their plans. In reality they don’t have the access to Netflix (blocked most times). Users who haven’t done their research enough will walk into this “trap” before finding out.

It’s the same when some VPN servers claim they are available to use in China. Some legitimately do, while some others do not.

Connection Speediness

Some users will find the slow connection speed a hassle and will be put off when they find connecting to a VPN will decrease their speed. It is actually normal for your connection speed to decrease when you are connected to a VPN service. However, the speed reduction isn’t obvious and not quite felt overtly.

We should also mention that the further the server choice you are connected to, the slower your speed will get. Likewise, the closer the server choice is to your physical location, the faster your speed will be.

At the same time, it depends on how many users are connected to the server. The more users who are connected to the server, the slower the connection will be. Find a server that is closer to you and has lower amount of users. Your connection will be a lot faster.

Privacy and Security

Privacy and security are something users are concerned about when connected to a VPN service. More so especially when you are one who works as a journalist or reporter, and wish to access blocked contents.

You wouldn’t want to risk your identity, do you? Even if you are not working as a journalist or reporter, there are other things you wish to protect.

You may wish to keep your bank details and credit card details private and away from hackers. At the same time, you do not wish to have people hacking into your personal (and work) email addresses either.

Some people use VPN services for the sake of being able to browse blocked contents. Having said that, they do not wish for people to find out what contents they are accessing. This has a downside sometimes because sometimes users may use VPN services to access illegal contents (e.g.: child pornography and other unsavory contents).

Plans and Pricing

We have included a plans and pricing section too. Not everyone have a lot of money to spend on a VPN service so a more affordable one will have to do.

Most better VPN service providers that offer a lot of features often charges higher than average monthly subscription fees. That does not mean you will need every last one of the features offered.

Many times, an entry- to mid-range VPN service provider would have been sufficient. We can also mention how that entry- to mid-range VPN service providers don’t usually charge as much. Most times their pricings are average (US$10 +/-).

Private Internet Access (PIA) – Our Take

Private Internet Access may not be a big gun VPN service provider but it is a popular VPN among a lot of users. One of the main reasons for its popularity is because of its speediness. Although that was what users have said, we have also found contradicting opinions from other groups of users.

Number of Servers and Server Location

Private Internet Access (PIA) has over 3200 servers across 29 countries and 52 locations. Number of servers don’t always stay the same as VPN services often increase and decrease server numbers to meet demand.

As mentioned previously, a large number of servers is a sign of the service’s robustness. At the same time it also means you are less likely to have to share bandwidth with a lot of users using the same server as you are.

Private Internet Access has a really good mix of server locations across Asia, Central America, Europe, India, South and North America, and Europe. That is acceptable, if not competitive against a lot of other major VPN services.

Some users may voice concern and dissatisfaction as Private Internet Access have very limited server locations in Africa and Central and South America. Compared to ExpressVPN, its number of servers and server locations may pale in comparison so to speak.

We have found out that previously Private Internet Access used to have servers in Russian. Now it no longer has servers in Russia. That change was in response to new VPN laws in Russia, which Private Internet Access felt would have prevented it from protecting its users adequately. Most VPN service providers have weigh in on the issue but Private Internet Access is one of the few that stops Russian operations entirely.

At the same time, we also found out that Private Internet Access’s servers are all physical servers located at its legitimate physical location. Some VPN service providers have servers in virtual location, meaning they do not have a physical serve there but a virtual one instead?

Private Internet Access’s servers are all physical servers according to their representatives. At the same time, we found out that it boasts 1gigabit to 10gigabit connections for its servers.

Content Access

Are you looking for a VPN service provider that can let you access Netflix? Although Netflix is a popular streaming site, its contents are not available in every region it is available at. At the same time, not every VPN service provider can help you access Netflix.

If you are wondering if Netflix has blocked Private Internet Access, it hasn’t. You still can access Netflix with Private Internet Access and is not blocked.

Users who have tested this out can indeed affirm that. They have no problems and issues watching movies while connected to a US-based VPN server. They are also able to stream from Netflix while connected to a Canadian and UK-based server.

Unfortunately, users said they are unable to access Netflix while connected from an Australian server. Although you can’t access Netflix from an Australian server, it is still a strong showing.

Although the users said they have very little problems accessing Netflix with the help of Private Internet Access, it does not mean you will be able to. That being said, whatever may work back then at that point of time may not work now. Netflix may have blocked certain server locations by the time you are trying it out.

We should also mention that whatever contents that are available on Netflix USA may not be available outside of Netflix USA, and vice versa. That means if you want to access contents that are specific to regional Netflix, you will have to connect to a server in that region.

For example, if you want to access Netflix content that is only available in Netflix USA, you will have to connect to a US server. If you were to connect to a UK server, you will not be able to access the content that is for Netflix USA. This applies to every Netflix regional special, so to speak.

Connection Speediness

Users have claimed that Private Internet Access’s speediness is “above average”. They have claimed that they were connected to a 75mbps internet speed. When connected to a UK server, their speed has only decreased by 4% to 65-66mbps.

However, when they were connected to a US server decreased slightly less. As they were connected to a 475mbps connection while trying out a US server, their speed decreases to 314mbps. The fastest median speed was around 452mbps. That was pretty impressive as most VPNs’ average on that kind of baseline speed will only produce up to around 150-200mbps.

Some people may say that information is irrelevant if their connection baseline speed is limited to 50-100mbps. It’s still good news though. Even though you may be a user whose baseline connection speed is much slower, it suggests that Private Internet Access’s servers have more bandwidth than many other competitors.

In other words, Private Internet Access is less likely to get swamped by other users during peak times.

However, some users have reported back with less than satisfactory speeds. As a user, you should know that latency and download speed can vary widely between one VPN and the next.

One user said that after trying out Private Internet Access, the results were a little disappointing. Private Internet Access’s results, according to this user, were at the point where regular web browsing was a lot slower. That has quite an impact on torrenting and streaming.

The user mentioned how its original download speed was 59.33mbps, and his upload speed was 6.66mbps. After connected to Private Internet Access, his download speed decreased by quite a huge difference to 15.58mbps. So was his upload speed, although the speed reduction was a lot less dramatic – from 6.66mbps to 5.69mbps. Not forgetting to mention how his latency spiked from 17ms to 89ms.

Privacy and Security

Insofar in terms of security, Private Internet Access claims to not keep any logs. Any traffic logs, data transfer amounts, and session times are not recoded. That is a major win as many other VPNs do keep some kind of logs.

We also found that Private Internet Access’s VPN tunneling methods use AES-256 encryption, which is one of the best. Although they run on one of the best security encryptions, a lot of other VPNs do the same too. It’s not a selling point, but it’s worth the mention.

Some users say that you can switch things up with options such as RSA4096 or SHA1 encryption. Those are levels of flexibility you probably will never need to use.

At the same time, Private Internet Access also have some useful security add-ons that goes beyond the standard suite. That includes a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a shared IP system. Those are relevant if you are very particular with maximizing your security all around the clock.

Plans and Packaging

Private Internet Access has 3 plans for you to choose from. Surprisingly it is one of the more affordable VPNs you can actually find on the market.

  • 1 month: US$9.95 per month
  • 6 months: US$59.70 for 6 months
  • 1 year: US$119.40 per year

As mentioned previously how Private Internet Access is one of the more affordable ones, which means it is a good option for students or for those who are in a tight budget.

The average pricing per plan is a bit more than US$10 per month. Private Internet Access’s price is slightly under that average, hence making it one of the more affordable ones.

The Pros

We’d say one of the best things about Private Internet Access is the fact that it is a bit more affordable than the average VPN service provider. For that kind of price where you can access blocked contents, we can say it’s a steal and the price is a pretty good deal too.

On top of that, users have said that the interface and user experience is pretty friendly and not complicated. That means if you are not a tech wizard, then this VPN service provider will be suitable for you.

We can also say that we are quite impressed with its security and privacy policies as an entry- to mid-level range VPN service provider. All that offered at a price that only a few can compete with.

The Cons

Unfortunately no VPN service providers are perfect. Private Internet Access is no exception to that.

The downside to Private Internet Access is that its connection speed is volatile and unstable at times. If you are someone who is a heavy internet user, then Private Internet Access is not recommended. However, it is an all right VPN service provider for those who uses it for basic internet access.

At the same time, we also have to mention that its Netflix access is not that solid and strong. Sometimes you can access it, some other time you totally cannot access it at all. If you really want to access Netflix, then Private Internet Access isn’t exactly one that we will recommend.

Our Verdict

Conclusively, we can say that Private Internet Access is an all right entry-level VPN service provider. For users who only uses VPNs to surf the internet or for basic uses, then Private Internet Access falls within the realms of the basic users’ needs.

If you are more of an advanced user, then we will not recommend Private Internet Access as it does not meet the advance user’s needs. The volatile speed is proof enough that it is not able to support much advance uses.

Overall, we can say it isn’t perfect. It does score all right in most important areas. It runs on almost anything, is easy to use, and offers better than average performances for an excellent price.

Despite its shortcomings, as a VPN service provider it meets most of the basic features. For that, it is a VPN service we would definitely recommend for the regular Joe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Q: Is Private Internet Access safe?

Yes, Private Internet Access is safe. Your data and personal information is kept safe as it moves through a highly secured tunnel that is invisible to hackers. As mentioned before, Private Internet Access runs on some of the world’s best security system.

That means you don’t have to worry about hackers stealing your information for their own exploits.

Q: Does Private Internet Access work with Netflix?

You can access Netflix with Private Internet Access, but the access is unreliable. Despite its impressive network, some users said they cannot reliably connect to Netflix. Also to mention, Private Internet Access seems much more focused on providing their users with privacy and security when using the internet. Supplying users with a reliable streaming service (including that of Netflix’s) does not seem like a priority.

Q: Is Private Internet Access a good VPN?

Private Internet Access is a good VPN service, but not a top-notch VPN. With that being said, it does not mean it is not completely devoid of any good features.

We have touched previously on how its security is one of the best among its VPN peers. Although it does not measure up to leading VPN service providers, it works pretty good for an entry to mid-range VPN.

Its encryption is pretty solid and guarantees total security online. Furthermore, the company has a 0 logs policy and therefore is one of the best VPN for torrenting files.

Q: How many devices can you have on Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access permits 10 simultaneous connections to their services from a single subscription. That can be a mix of routers, computers, or mobile devices that you choose. The service can be installed on as many devices as you like. However, only 10 will be able to connect at any given time.

Having said that, that means this puts Private Internet Access as one of the most affordable VPN services you can find. No matter how little users have made Private Internet Access to be, it’s actually not a bad VPN.

Q: Does Private Internet Access work in China?

Private Internet Access does not reliably work in China. Some users said that you will have to try many servers numerous times until you find one that works. Assuming that you can get through to any of the servers.

To play safe, it is best not to choose Private Internet Access if you plan on using it in China. Try some other options first, the ones that actually (and legitimately) can work in China.

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