AirVPN vs Private Internet Access

Last updated: February 24, 2021
AirVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison

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AirVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are two of the top VPN service providers on the market today. What do these two VPN solutions have in common and where do they differ? More importantly, which is the better one?

The most obvious difference between these providers is their country of origin. AirVPN is located in Italy, while PIA is based in the USA. Both countries are not great for VPNs as they fall under the Fourteen Eyes jurisdiction, yet PIA has proven their no-logs claim in a court case.

Private Internet Access is also ahead of AirVPN in terms of server amount and coverage. Of course, this could be attributed to the fact that PIA is owned by Kape Technologies and has a greater budget. While AirVPN is run by a small team of privacy advocates and hacktivists.

Join me in further examining who is the winner in this AirVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison. I’ll be looking at how well these products perform across different areas including security, performance, ease of use, and pricing. At the end of this comparison, I’ll tell you which one is the better choice depending on your needs.

Highlights

AirVPNPIA
Our rating7.2⭐8.9⭐
“Best for” nomineeN/ABest overall, Best for USA, Best for Netflix
Price starts from$2.40$2.19
ReviewAirVPN reviewPIA review
WebsiteAirvpn.orgprivateinternetaccess.com

Speed and performance

Let’s start off by having a look at the most objectively measurable metric of two different VPNs – speed and performance.

At a glance, AirVPN vs PIA certainly falls short in the area of server and country coverage. It operates a relatively small fleet of 240+ servers in 20+ compared to the over 24500 servers run by PIA in 70 countries. Thus, PIA wins by having a larger infrastructure and offering more to its users.

AirVPNPIA
Servers240+24500+
Countries20+70+
Physical servers
AllNot all
Owns all servers
NoNo
RAM-only servers
NoNo
P2P serversAllAll

However, PIA’s many servers are concentrated in Europe and North America with very few located in Asia, Africa, and South America. So if you live in those regions, you may have to grapple with worse speeds and mediocre performance.

In addition, PIA has incorporated the new WireGuard tunneling protocol into their software, while AirVPN has failed to do so. This can result in significant speed boosts while using the slimmer protocol. This in conjunction with their greater amount of servers means that you’re more likely to find a good server near your location, which will result in greater connection speeds.

Ease of use and compatibility

AirVPNPIA
Major dedicated apps
Except iOSAll
Other dedicated apps
NoNo
Browser extensions
NoChrome, Firefox, Opera
Manual setup
RoutersRouters
Simultaneous devices
510

Another area where AirVPN falls short is the ease of use. It isn’t the most difficult thing to set up and use but it may be difficult for novices to get it running on their devices. However, this makes AirVPN more suitable for tinkering as the client is more customizable and they even have an API (application programming interface) for advanced users.

The AirVPN client is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and even Chrome OS. However, there is no standalone app for iOS meaning smartphone users have to manually set up OpenVPN on their devices before accessing AirVPN. There are also no browser extensions for any of the major browsers. On the plus side, there are AirVPN clients for AsusWRT, Tomato, and DD-WRT routers.

PIA, on the other hand, has simple, elegant apps that are very easy to set up and use. There are custom apps for all the major desktop and mobile platforms. You can also download extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. While there’s no router app, you can run PIA on routers by following the instructions on their website.

Torrenting and P2P

AirVPNPIA
Allowed on
All serversAll servers
Free SOCKS5 proxy
NoYes
Split tunneling
YesYes

If you’re looking for a VPN service that’s great for torrenting, both solutions will serve you just fine. AirVPN supports P2P file transfers and offers unlimited downloads on their servers. Speeds are great and everything runs seamlessly.

Both services support port-forwarding, which makes them great options for torrenting.

PIA also offers decent speeds and doesn’t limit P2P traffic on its network. It also provides a free SOCKS5 proxy which can help users potentially save some bandwidth.

Security and privacy

AirVPNPIA
EncryptionMilitary-gradeMilitary-grade
ProtocolsOpenVPNOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
Kill switch
Network LockInternet and app level kill switch
DNS and IP leaks
No leaksNo leaks
Security featuresSplit tunneling, Dynamic DNSSplit tunneling, PIA MACE, Shadowsocks, SOCKS5

If you’re looking for a good VPN service, it’s likely because you want to protect your online privacy and stay safe on the internet. So which of these two solutions is better in this regard? Well, both actually offer decent security features. Encryption-wise, AirVPN and PIA offer military-grade AES-256 encryption.

When it comes to tunneling protocols, both employ OpenVPN. However, PIA also supports IKEv2, L2TP, and WireGuard. Both services feature a network kill switch and DNS leak protection. In addition, AirVPN offers a Tor-based service for those who want the added security on the Tor network.

AirVPNPIA
JurisdictionItalyUnited States
LoggingNo-logs policyCourt-proven no-logs policy
Anonymous payment
CryptocurrenciesBitcoin, gift cards

In the area of privacy, PIA does give some cause for concern as it’s run by London Trust Media, a US-based company. It was later acquired by Kape Technologies in 2019. The US is a member of the Five Eyes Alliance and companies in the US could be subject to government surveillance. On the plus side, PIA does have a strict no-logging policy, which is backed up by their inability to provide logs during court.

AirVPN, on the other hand, is located in Italy. Italy is part of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance which may also give some privacy-conscious users pause. It also has a strict no-logging policy.

Private Internet Access also isn’t a great choice for users based in China. It has very few servers in the Far East, and it lacks a stealth protocol for bypassing China’s Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).

AirVPN, on the other hand, is good enough for use in China, as it can route web traffic via TCP port 443 and it employs SSL tunneling and encryption to evade government censorship. Although it also lacks a stealth protocol, it’s a better option for use at least in China.

Both solutions seem quite evenly matched when it comes to security and privacy. However, AirVPN is a slightly better option as it offers better all-around security and is based in a less worrying location.

Netflix and other streaming platforms

AirVPNPIA
Netflix US
NoYes
Other Netflix libraries
NoNo
Other platforms
NoYes

When it comes to accessing Netflix, AirVPN does not fare as well as it used to. A double-hop DNS would usually do the trick, but it appears that AirVPN is no longer capable of circumventing Netflix or other streaming services.

Contrarily, PIA is doing quite well against Netflix, at least at unblocking the US library. However, it does struggle with unblocking Netflix in other regions including Canada, Germany, the UK, and Japan.

Customer support

AirVPNPIA
24/7
NoYes
Live chat
NoYes
Phone line
NoNo
Email
YesYes

Since AirVPN isn’t exactly a champion when it comes to ease of use, it ought to have solid support options. While the forums on the site are excellent, containing lots of useful information novices might need, AirVPN customer support representatives do take some time to respond to queries sent through their contact form and their responses could be warmer.

PIA is once again ahead in this regard. They have the same options as AirVPN, such as a ticketing system and a forum. But most importantly – they have live chat, which is especially important when you need quick assistance in unblocking something time-sensitive, like a live stream of an event.

Pricing

PIA offers a few pricing plans for their service, which lets you connect up to 10 devices. AirVPN is a bit more expensive if you buy a longer subscription, but you have options to try out the service for a shorter amount of time. All plans allow you to connect up to 5 devices.

AirVPNPIA
Free version
NoNo
Free trial
3 daysNo
Three days$2.40N/A
One month
$8.39$9.95
Three months
$5.99/monthN/A
Six months
$5.79/monthN/A
One year
$4.89/month$3.33/month
Two years
$3.94/month$2.69/month
Three years$3.30/monthN/A
Money-back guarantee
30 days30 days

Both services give you a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can also contact the support of AirVPN to get a short free trial, while PIA does not have a free trial. Both services are very reasonably priced, but PIA offers the better deal if you’re willing to commit for a longer time.

AirVPN vs Private Internet Access: Best VPN by category

AirVPNPIA
Speed and serversLoses❌Wins✔️
PricingLoses❌Wins✔️
SecurityWins✔️Loses❌
PrivacyWins✔️Loses❌
CompatibilityLoses❌Wins✔️
StreamingLoses❌Wins✔️
TorrentingTie✔️Tie❌
Customer supportLoses❌Wins✔️
ChinaWins✔️Loses❌
Total wins4 out of 95 out of 9

AirVPN vs Private Internet Access – which is better?

Having compared these two VPN solutions in a number of areas, it’s evident that PIA is well suited for the casual user, while AirVPN is aimed more at enthusiasts who like getting into the nitty gritty. But which one is better? Well, AirVPN does provide solid security, torrenting and P2P support, and can be used in China. However, it loses points in the areas of ease of use, compatibility, speed, performance and streaming.

PIA, on the other hand, isn’t the best option for privacy or China. But it does offer decent security credentials, more servers, better speeds, support for streaming and slightly cheaper plans. Overall, PIA  has invested more into improving its service and comes out ahead of AirVPN and will be the better choice for most people.

Do you agree or disagree with such an assessment? I would love to know you think, simply leave a comment below.

Recommended reads:

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AirVPN vs NordVPN

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NordVPN
9.6 / 10
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9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
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Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

4 comments
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  1. Jamila P

    I’ll go with PIA on this one, Netflix and privacy are important to me, so I guess it would the better choice, but I also heard of other VPN like Astrill, I think I will also take a look a them to see if it’s a better one. Thanks for the comparison.


  2. Martin

    I don’t think PIA is better, at least not right now. I’ve tried them and it was nothing special. Air VPN is not much better (but it is a bit better). I wouldn’t choose any of them. There are at least 10 much better options out there.


  3. LaGrrrande

    I’ve had PIA for close to two years, and recently it has slowed down. I tried the three day trial period of AIR and was happy with it at how much faster it was in every way. Unfortunately, I’ve still got over a year left on my subscription.


  4. Alejandro

    I understand the concern regarding PIA being owned by an American based company, but I think its speed make it the clear winner. At lest for me that’s far more important.

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