Consumer VPN market overview The consumer VPN market is a challenging one, with many players vying to be the top of the lucrative data privacy and security pyramid. According to a recent report by Global Market Insights, the VPN market is set to ...
What others say about Private Internet Access:
“ Private Internet Access (PIA) is probably the most popular VPN on the market today. “
“ Private Internet Access makes it easy to take advantage of VPN technology to surf online privately and securely, and it also has advanced features that competitors don't offer. “
“ While PIA is certainly not the worst choice, it also doesn’t stand out in any meaningful way. “
“ Private Internet Access caught our eye with its low monthly prices, which can be half that of the competition. “
What is Private Internet Access VPN
Based in the US, Private Internet Access (or PIA) is a budget VPN service that might just do the trick if your expectations aren’t high. One of the first VPNs launched back in 2010, PIA is a stable, no leaks service with solid encryption.
With more than 3,500 servers in over 50 locations and 30 countries, PIA is still very much concentrated in Europe and North America. This means that users from other locations, such as Asia or South America, might experience speed and connectivity issues.
Talking about privacy and anonymity, PIA practices what it preaches. Their will to defend their users’ right to remain anonymous has already been witnessed in court twice. Still, one cannot change the fact that PIA is located in the US, which is a Founding member of the Fives Eyes Alliance and one of the world’s surveillance-heavy states.
Private Internet Access VPN has apps for the four main platforms and also Linux. Users can run PIA through browser extensions as well (Chrome, Firefox, and Opera). Unfortunately, PIA still lacks a router app – running PIA on routers is something to be configured manually. And should you encounter a problem while doing that, you will surely miss the 24/7 live chat that most competitors have.
PIA’s slogan is “Always use protection”. But should one use PIA for protection?
With a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2012 when they got their PC Mag badges and a mascot that resembles South Park’s take on the Android logo, Private Internet Access is clearly not in anyone’s “Best of” compilation. Still, it’s good enough to at least have a look at, especially if you’re looking for the cheapest possible deal.
Private Internet Access Facts
Where PIA VPN is based and why it's important
PIA VPN is based in the US, which is one of the Five Eyes countries and one of the worst when it comes to government/commercial surveillance. The US government has lots of powers when it comes to getting the information they need from private companies, and due to the intelligence agreement, it may end up in the hands of other states. On the other hand, you shouldn’t worry about this unless you’re a spy or a terrorist.
Yes, the 5-9-14 eyes intelligence-sharing agreements create the possibility that your personal data will be transferred outside the US, but one should be more concerned about the NSA and government institutions.
What does a Private Internet Access location say?
Founding member of the Five Eyes international surveillance alliance
Tough anti-piracy laws (DMCA)
Reports of intelligence agencies monitoring ISPs
Labeled an “Internet Enemy” by Reporters without Borders in 2014
Compare PIA to other VPN providers
While there’s been only a few comparisons of Private Internet Access and other VPN providers so far, it has managed to win two out of three. It’s still yet to bee seen how PIA holds up agains the top competition.
Private Internet Access comparisons written on VPNPro
Available plans and pricing
Private Internet Access offers three plans, spanning from one month to two years, which is quite uncommon nowadays when most VPN providers are ditching the multi-year deals and offering six to twelve months in exchange.
PIA has always been known for its low prices, and it intends to keep them. What is more, it offers a plethora of payment options, starting from credit cards and ending with the anonymous BitCoin or any major brand gift card. Having the above-mentioned factors in mind, their short 7-day money-back guarantee doesn’t seem like an issue, because a couple of days should be enough to see if you want to use this VPN for at least another month.
At under $7, the standard one month plan of Private Internet Access is one of the cheapest in the industry – most VPNs of a similar caliber will start from double digits. So while technically there are no savings with this plan, in reality, you will be paying a price that others offer only when paying six months in advance.
The annual deal is also nice, allowing to save more than 50%, and paying only $3.33 per month, which is two times less than ExpressVPN or NordVPN. The total sum you would need to pay upfront is $39.95 instead of the regular $83.40.
The best deal is for the longest period, of course. Agreeing to spend two years behind the broad shoulders of PIA means spending only $2.91/month, saving you a generous 58%. That translates into $69.95 instead of regular $166.80.
Want More Insights About the Product?Read our PIA VPN review
Platforms PIA VPN supports
PIA VPN offers apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. There are no apps for router or TV/gaming devices at the moment. We doubt we’ll be seeing any soon, even though there are probably lots of home users who would benefit from a router app instead of having to configure it manually. In any case, configuring the router once means you will be able to connect other devices, such as smart TVs or gaming consoles. Just have in mind that PIA allows up to 5 simultaneous connections.
Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers are also there. It’s a good time to remind everyone that extensions do not protect your email traffic, even if you open your mailbox using your browser. The same goes for messaging, streaming, and gaming.
Using PIA VPN for streaming, torrenting, and China
PIA VPN for streaming
While the overall streaming speeds are good, Private Internet Access VPN lacks the unblocking power. You will probably be able to watch US Netflix (we were able to, although PIA themselves are vague about this), but connecting to other libraries may be very hit and miss.
PIA might not be a bad choice for Kodi, you just might want to configure Amazon Fire TV or Android TV first, because there are no apps for these devices. Betting on BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video would be risky.
PIA VPN for Torrents
European and North American users should be happy about the ability to torrent using PIA. Others will probably suffer too much of a speed drop. As PIA’s no-logs policy has been proven in court twice, the only safety issues are those you can create yourself by allowing port forwarding or turning off DNS and IPv6 leak protection.
PIA VPN for China
No is the short answer. Why? Because PIA VPN has only a fraction of their server total in Asia, meaning they get overcrowded easily. The only way of bypassing the Great Firewall that Private Internet Access has offered thus far is changing the protocol to IPSec/L2TP, which is less secure and has to be set up manually.
PIA VPN history
The key moments in PIA’s history happened during a latter couple of years. In 2016 they were subpoenaed by the FBI for the activity logs of a criminal suspect. PIA answered that it doesn’t store any logs. The best what PIA could do was to determine that the suspect was from the East Coast.
Then, in 2018, PIA was tested for the second time and passed successfully. This time John A. Arsenault, general counsel for London Trust Media, the owner of Private Internet Access testified, stating that the company has no records on a suspect and that they only have emails (which only confirms registration).
Sadly, one stain can have a huge impact on a company’s reputation. Recently, a person named Mark Karpeles joined London Trust Media as CTO. Karpeles is the former CEO of the hacked bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, and has spent almost one year in prison in Japan, facing criminal charges of embezzlement, data manipulation, and breach of trust. The UK based Mt. Gox is linked to the theft of 650.000 bitcoins. Mark is responsible for the cryptocurrency business of London Trust Media, which has been diversifying its portfolio since the company was founded in 2009.
London Trust Media is founded
London Trust Media, the company behind PIA, is founded, with its Headquarters in Denver, Colorado.
Private Internet Access released
Initial release that made PIA of the first VPNs.
US court approves PIA's no-logs policy
US court approves PIA’s statement that they don’t have any information about a suspect who has been using its service.
PIA buys Cypherpunk VPN
The Cypherpunk team joins the Private Internet Access team.
Winning the Most Stable VPN award
Private Internet Access wins the Most Stable VPN award from VPNMentor.com’s annual Best VPN Awards.
Mark Kapeles joins as CTO
Mark Kapeles joins as CTO while still being held by authorities in Japan.
PIA’s no-logs policy is again proved in US court
PIA’s no-logs policy is again proved in US court, after the testimony of general counsel John Arsenault.
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