Private Internet Access Review

Equipped with VPN tunneling – the encapsulation of data packets from one protocol into another- and a state of the art security, Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN ensures absolute privacy protection.

PIA VPN is at the forefront of the vast ecosystem of VPNs with the ensemble of;

  • Quality features
  • Affordable price
  • Advanced security and excellent speeds

PIA is visibly different from other VPN providers regarding the look of its desktop interface.

PIA VPN allows the BitTorrent download and P2P file sharing without limitations; only few VPN providers allow this.

This is what makes it unique, a feature highly appreciated by ‘geeks’. For that reasons, Private Internet Access can be considered one of the best VPN services.

In this Private Internet Access Review, you will realize that with these combination of features, PIA VPN is unrivaled by other competitors; maybe a few.

PIA VPN IS ONE OF THE BEST VPN PROVIDERS WITH STRONG SECURITY FEATURES

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Pricing And Plans

Private Internet Access has three plans;

  • Monthly ($6.95)
  • Yearly ($35.95)
  • 6-month plan ($39.95)

The only difference between the yearly and the 6-month plans is if you bill monthly. The yearly will go for $3.33 per month while the 6-months plan will go $5.99 per month.

It is not difficult to see how the yearly plan is the most economical. It is in fact the most popular plan – why should you pay more money to get just 6 months subscription?

All plans offer the same value except for a different price.

Payment Options

PIA VPN has put in place various payment options for their subscriptions.

Payments can be done through either of the following;

  • PayPal
  • Visa
  • Credit Cards
  • Amazon
  • CashU
  • Google Wallet.

For anonymity, the company accepts Bitcoins and also all major gift cards. This way, you don’t have to worry about anyone tracking you, even the government.

PIA VPN Bitcoin
PIA VPN accepts Bitcoins

You could also use a disposable email for the payment process. After you buy the VPN and the subscription is completed, the email account will be disposed of leaving no trace about you signing up with PIA. This is an extra step to further protect your privacy.

Private Internet Access Payment Methods
PIA VPN accepts several payment methods including Bitcoin

You get a 7-day money back guarantee. This is a great way to try the service risk-free and understand if it suits your needs. If it doesn’t, you just cancel your plan and you will get your money back.

You will also have an option to cancel your subscription, which will exempt you from their auto renewal system after your subscription expires.

PIA VPN pricing
The three plans available to subscribe Private Internet Access

A 7-DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE TO TRY PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS VPN RISK-FREE

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PIA Main Features

Servers

PIA VPN servers
Private Internet Access has a good network of servers all around the globe

PIA has 3251 plus Servers in 37 locations across 25 Countries.

These are mostly located in the U.S and Europe. Other areas are also well represented among the 25 countries.

What’s more, you get to test the servers in the specified location from their server page.

Server Speed Test

The procedure is very simple:

  1. Navigate to their Website
  2. Click on the menu button
  3. Select networks
  4. A page with the VPN networks will load
  5. Scroll down a little bit and you will a section of countries and the number of servers they host.
  6. Click on the expand button and it will show as the picture below.

    Private Internet access VPN server speed test
    Tool to test the speed of the servers
  7. Click on run test button and an interface of speedtest.net mini will show up.
  8. Click begin test and determine which servers offer the best speed.

    Server Speed test PIA VPN
    Click to run the speed test

All servers and packages support up to five simultaneous connections. That makes this VPN perfect if you have several devices in your family. Each family member can use his own device and be protected simultaneously.

5 SIMULTANEOUS CONNECTIONS TO PROTECT ALL YOUR FAMILY DEVICES

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Protocols and Encryption

Through the internet and tools available, hijacking, eavesdropping, and stealing of data and information has become a simple task.

This is possible via insecure connections such as public Wi-Fi and even your ISPs, as they can track your activities.

Supported VPN Protocols

These vulnerabilities put your data at risk but Private Internet Access overcomes them by using multiple protocols; PPTP, L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN.

The VPN protocols are one of the core feature of your VPN connection. They are responsible for the encryption of your data and make sure that your privacy is totally protected. That’s how important they are.

PIA support several VPN protocols which makes your VPN connection very flexible for any kind of usage. However, keep in mind that not all VPN protocols guarantee the same level of security and protection.

Of all the protocols, OpenVPN is the most secure and is recommended to be in use all the time you’re doing a data transmission. It’s backed by a high-grade encryption which utilizes the cryptographic secure Blowfish CBC algorithm.

Blowfish algorithm encryption is effective in software such as their desktop client, no one has ever hacked into it since its invention.

Additionally, the transmission is encrypted with AES-256 and authenticated with SHA256.

You can use the less secure PPTP but after following instructions from PIA website. Using PPTP, your connection speed is faster but the level of security is significantly lower.

You may use PPTP for streaming contents or P2P file sharing but only if law infringement is not involved. Otherwise, never use PPTP for these tasks.

Private DNS Server

DNS spoofing or poisoning of the DNS cache, is another common trick that hackers use to gain access to your data.

DNS spoofing is when an hacker uses a corrupted DNS to intercept your traffic and send it to a fake website he created. The fake website is an exact copy the original one. As you navigate through the pages of the fake website, the hacker enter your computer and steal your private data.

To avoid DNS spoofing/poisoning of the DNS cache,  PIA VPN users also have access to a private DNS server.

With this feature, attackers can’t get DNS requests from web traffic. And hence your IP address is not redirected to them. As a result, you are sure that the websites you visit are legit.

SOCKS5 Proxy

PIA also includes a SOCKS5 proxy. With this, only authenticated users can get access to the server via the SOCK protocol.

When tunneling (hiding your data from prying eyes as if you were inside a tunnel), Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used to encrypt the channels used by PIA VPN when establishing the links between the browser and the server.

RSA 4096 Handshake

RSA 4096 handshake is also used. This means that if the information is somehow changed, the user (program) will know that it has been altered.

By means of RSA Handshake the system always make sure you are really connecting to a safe Private Internet Access Server and are not redirected to an attacker’s server.

No one has ever managed to hack it.

WITH PIA VPN YOU WILL EXPERIENCE TOTAL PROTECTION FROM CYBER CRIME

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PIA Kill Switch

Like other few VPNs, PIA also has this feature.

A kill switch blocks all the outgoing/incoming traffic when the VPN connection drops and the VPN is trying to connect again.

This is very critical because if a slight packet of data is transmitted within that moment, your information will not be secure and you will be tracked by interested parties.

This feature is very handy, for instance, if you leave your computer unattended for hours as you download BitTorrent. If during this time the connection drops, you are exposed and may find yourself in trouble.

Ad Blocker And Firewall

Private Internet Access has added a new tool known as MACE.

This tool is responsible for blocking ads, trackers and has the capability of filtering out malware.

This saves you from the annoying unwanted ads, and also you are safe from ‘malvertising’; legit advertisements that are capable of executing malware attacks.

MACE is automatic by default, and you don’t have to worry about ads with PIA. MACE achieves this capability by running the adverts DNS requests against its database of blacklisted DNS.

PIA VPN is also coupled with a server grade firewall; this firewall employs the filtering and firewall capabilities of the Netfilter project. With this firewall, you can rest assured all unwanted connections will be blocked.

It has an optimal performance which doesn’t affect the speed at which PIA VPN operates. With this firewall, you are impenetrable by attackers and other eavesdroppers.

IP Cloaking

PIA VPN masks your real IP address with one of their anonymous IPs.

PIA uses a shared IP system. For instance an individuals’ traffic is mixed with traffic from many other people.

This ensures that unwanted data leaks and exposures are blocked or made hard to trace. Interested parties will have a hard time to monitor your internet activities, and your exact geographical location will also be hard to find.

PIA VPN HAS SOME OF THE STRONGEST TOOLS ON THE VPN MARKET TO PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL IDENTITY

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IPv6 And DNS Leak Protection

PIA VPN also protects its users from vulnerabilities such as websites that have IPv6 embeds; this embeds are enablers that may leak clients’ IPv6 information.

Likewise, DNS leaks are prevented from occurring. A DNS leak occurs when a packet of data is somehow sent to the ISP directly instead of following the stipulated secure path implemented by the VPN.

This stray data packet may open a window for your ISP to monitor your activity or for even other interested parties that you were cloaked from.

Using a no log private DNS daemon, PIA ensures DNS requests are made safely for your total protection.

Private Internet Access Features
The list of features that Private Internet Access can offer you

Auto-connect

It’s a good practice to always set PIA VPN to auto-connect on launch.

This means that VPN tunneling will automatically activate when you log onto your device and protect you from prying eyes.

This is helpful in case you have programs that also launch the moment you start your machine. If inadvertently you forget to activate the VPN, you will be totally exposed as you turn on your computer.

Such programs include P2p and also torrent clients. These apps can make your ISP to limit your traffic or even block you. Even worse, you may find yourself involved in legal actions from copyrighting surveillance agencies.

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Compatibility

PIA VPN is multi and cross platform. It is compatible with;

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Mac OS
  • iOS
  • Android.

Others platforms such as DD-WRT routers are also supported. This is a feature that you will surely appreciate.

PIA VPN Compatibility
Private Internet Access is compatible with iOS and Android

Installing the VPN on your router means that all devices who connect to it are also protected. That includes gaming consoles and smart devices. Protecting the router it means that you can protect as many devices as you like instead of the maximum 5 allowed.

 

Does PIA VPN Unlock The US Netflix Library?

The fight between Netflix and the VPN providers keeps unfolding week after week.

Recently, Netflix has been able to block several VPN providers that now cannot unlock the US library anymore.

PIA VPN was one of the victims of this war. At the moment Private Internet Access doesn’t unlock the US Netflix library. As an alternative you can use PIA VPN to watch movies on Popcorn Time in total safety.

Here you can find a list of the VPN that still working with Netflix USA.

However, PIA VPN is still one of the best VPN service to unlock geo-restricted websites and download BitTorrent.

PIA VPN HAS SOME OF THE STRONGEST TOOLS ON THE VPN MARKET TO PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL IDENTITY

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PIA Customer Support

There are various ways of getting help except they don’t have a live chat. Mostly, they use a ticket system for providing support.
Unfortunately, they at times have a higher volume of requests and therefore may take longer to reply to your request.

At the time of this PIA VPN Review, their support page indicated, “Currently we are experiencing higher than average Helpdesk tickets due to recent US legislation changes that let your internet service provider spy on you. Your ticket will be dealt with however you may face a slightly longer than normal response time”.

This is, however, quite understandable. The breaking news that from now on US ISPs providers can collect your private information and sell it  has pushed many people to take good care of their privacy buying one of the best VPN.

On the bright side, they have a vast knowledge base of FAQs and pages that offer extra supported.

For ease of finding a solution, they have been subdivided into categories.

PIA VPN website also has a message-like help platform. This platform takes in keyword on what help you might need and then displays top suggestion results that contain the keyword.

This makes it easy to find the solution you are looking for with getting in line for customer support.

The website also has a link to the VPN blog. This blog is updated weekly and offers latest information that concerns VPN and its operations regarding security and privacy.

PIA VPN Customer Support
Private Internet Access Customer Support Page

Private Internet Access Free Trial

Unlike other VPN providers, there’s no direct free trial.

You only get to test the PIA VPN after you have subscribed to one of its plans. This subscription comes with a 7-day money back guarantee.

It’s during this period that you should test the VPN and decide whether to continue using it or mark it as not right for you.

Even though testing the service before buying makes more sense, PIA is very reliable when it comes about refunding. We are talking about one of the best VPN service after all.

From our experience we can confidently say that trying Private Internet Access for free is without risks.

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PIA Speed Test Review

Due to the encryption and rerouting of traffic that occurs in VPNs, the internet speed is bound to be affected and drop by a certain percentage.

PIA VPN is not an exception.

The company mission is however to provide a high-speed VPN network. They have an unmetered bandwidth powered by its vast network of gigabit gateways.

To curb a poor speed performance, PIA VPN employs the option of using small packets. This option is helpful and can improve stability and speeds.

To test the speeds, speedtest.net was used as it allows the server to be selected/changed according to preference.

Here are the results of the speed tests performed during the preparation of this Private Internet Access review;

The speeds before connecting to PIA VPN

PIA VPN Speed Test

Speeds after connecting to PIA VPN using a France server

Private Internet Access Speed Test

You can notice that just like all other VPN providers, there’s a drop of speed due to the encryption involved. PIA VPN however manages to uphold high speeds with just a slight drop.

Overall, speed is quite good and using the server speed test we mentioned above you always have a chance to choose the best performing server at the moment.

Getting Started

Private Internet Access Signing Up & Login

To enjoy the services of PIA VPN, you need to register. Registration entails a few simple steps:

  1. Choose your preferred subscription plan
  2. Pay for it using your preferred payment method
  3. You are sent your login credentials via the email you used for the subscription.
  4. Download Private Internet Access client for your device
  5. Follow the installation guides for your platform.

Running The Client (Windows Client)

After installing the desktop client, you will be required to login using the credentials you were provided via the email you used to make your subscription.

Private Internet Access Login

You might need to perform some simple settings at the login interface such as;

  • auto-connect
  • start app at login
  • show desktop notifications

These settings are anyway extremely easy and intuitive. We believe even inexperienced users can go through them comfortably.

PIA VPN FEATURE A USER-FRIENDLY CLIENT FOR EASY ACCESS

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The Interface

PIA VPN has a minimalistic decluttered simple interface.

It’s stripped to the point that it only has black and white colors with a hint of green symbolizing its logo.

This may not be pretty and styled if you like graphics, but the ultimate requirement has been met and it helps conserve your computer resources (Processor & RAM).

It also has a colorful yet minimal system tray icon.

The tray icon is useful as it indicates various states of PIA VPN. It’s red when the VPN is disconnected, gray when establishing a connection and green when it’s connected to the VPN servers.

The minimal interface necessitates that you have to rely on the system tray icon for communication purposes.

Unlike other VPN providers, there’s no logging information that outlines what’s happening.
Just look at the colors and decode the messages, as simple as that.

PIA VPN Connection Status connected
When the VPN is active the color is green

As said earlier, settings can be done from the login interface.

They are two types of settings;

  • Simple
  • Advanced

Both settings are straight forward but the advanced settings have some little complexities for a novice user. The settings can be changed from simple to advanced with the click of a button.

Advanced settings feature connections and encryption settings. Connections settings entail setting the features of PIA VPN such as;

  • MACE
  • DNS
  • IPv6 leak protection
  • Kill Switch
  • and more

Private Internet Access The Client

The minimalistic interface is an eye for performance. Also, it’s easy to operate it that way.

Drop down menus are also available to facilitate various operations and also keep the interface minimal.

Encryption Settings

Encryption setting involves how encryption will take place. PIA VPN recommends using the default settings due to speed and performance factors, but there are still other parameters that can be used.

PIA VPN Connection settings

As we mentioned before, you have to determine the level of security you need. For instance, if for a certain task your priority is a fast connection and security is not pivotal, you may use PPTP VPN protocol. Otherwise, OpenVPN is the most recommended protocol and if at all possible should be always set.

Server Selection

Server selections are also easy. PIA VPN offers them via their system tray icon.

Right clicking it provides a list of the servers along with their locations. Like most VPNs, server switching on the go is not allowed. You need to change the connection manually if you want to connect to it.

PIA VPN Server Switch
You can switch the server but manually

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Mobile platform

Smartphones have grown more common over the years and so are the security concerns facing users.

PIA VPN takes care of the vulnerabilities facing smartphone users by availing Android and iOS clients.

PIA VPN Mobile App

The Private Internet Access App for both Android and iOS can be said to be a replica of the Windows client. It however organizes its features in a different way and features better graphics.

PIA VPN Mobile Client
The more appealing look of the mobile application

It offers nearly same features such as a Kill Switch and advanced encryption options to choose from.

Connection settings are also similar. These are;

  • TCP/UDP
  • Use of the secure socket layer
  • Auto connect

PIA VPN Mobile settings

The Auto Connect feature can be set by using the checkboxes provided alongside. It’s specially built to protect the users from the vulnerability of using unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots.

IP Cloaking is also available, and this ensures your online activities on your mobile device will not be tracked, spoofed or even hacked.

With data encryption, your information will be hidden from prying eyes. This is already done for you by the application.

You also get a work around censorship blockades. Using PIA VPN for your device offers the ability to access blocked apps and also connect to censored websites.

The prices are also the same since the plans don’t change even for the mobile platform.

You only need one subscription since you can use up to 5 devices simultaneously.

PIA VPN Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable yearly plan
  • Ad blocking
  • Supports P2P file sharing and Torrents.
  • Multi-platform support.
  • Advanced security features; 256-Bit Encryption and 4096-Bit Encryption Keys
  • No Logs
  • Kill-Switch
  • DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection

Cons

  • Netflix is blocked
  • Unappealing interface

Conclusion

Private Internet Access is an ideal VPN beast.

If you are planning to buy a VPN, PIA offers value over price. Not many VPN providers in the market with similar features have done that.

Although its interface is decluttered to the core, it offers a pretty amazing performance. It has a top-notch security encryption and an added ad blocking feature to ensure a smooth surfing experience.

Based on our experience with it, we found this to be one of the best VPN service that you surely ought to try.

Feel free to subscribe to one of their plans, as you can always trigger the guaranteed money back policy within the specified time!

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Speed
Functionality
Compatibility
Servers
Support
Price
Claudio R.
Claudio is the founder of Anonymster. He is a senior copywriter focused on online security and digital freedom.

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