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?
Join us in examining who is the winner in this AirVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison. We’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, we’ll conclude which one is the better choice depending on your needs.
AirVPN vs PIA: specifications
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.
As a result, PIA is the overall winner of our AirVPN vs. PIA comparison. Are you ready to check out our sited-by-side comparison? Let’s begin!
|💸Current offer||Get PIA 83% OFF!||Get StrongVPN 66% OFF!|
|💰Price starts from||$2.03/month||$2.19/month|
|💳Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|📖No-logs policy||Independently-audited + court-proven||Not audited|
|🌐Servers||Thousands of servers in 84+ countries||200+ servers in 22+ countries|
|🔒VPN protocols||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN|
|🍿 Streaming||Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV||–|
|🖥️Platforms||All major OS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, routers, Smart TV, browsers||Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, routers|
AirVPN vs PIA: pricing
|Plans and payments||AirVPN||PIA|
|Free trial||3 days||No|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|Payment options||PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies, gift vouchers||Credit card, PayPal, cryptocurrencies|
When it comes to choosing a VPN provider, the first thing before subscribing is checking out the plans and the VPN’s affordability. Therefore, this first round goes to AirVPN’s favor. The provider comes with numerous subscription options and low pricing.
AirVPN offers a 3-day free trial, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The guarantee will help you if you want to cancel any of its various paid plans:
- $2.19 for 3 days
- $7.65 for 1 month
- $5.46/monthfor 3 months
- $5.28/month for 6 months
- $4.46/month for 1 year
- $3.59/month for 2 years
- $3.00/month for 3 years
As you can see, AirVPN has a wide variety of paid plans that you can purchase by using your credit or debit card or PayPal. Furthermore there are anonymous payment options, thanks to cryptocurrency and gift voucher support.
Private Internet Access pricing
PIA doesn’t have a free trial, but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. Also, it has affordable paid plans, so let’s have a look:
- $11.95/month for one month
- $3.33/month for a year
- $2.03/month for three years
You can also get a dedicated IP address for $5.00/month. The available location choices are the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia.
If PIA is your go-to VPN, you can make a payment with your credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. In addition, there is even a Bitcoin payment, which results in total anonymity.
If you want an uninterrupted experience, you should find a fast VPN provider with consistent speeds. In our case, you will get all of that with PIA.
Private Internet Access provides exceptional speed rates and reliable connections that work even over longer distances. This is because of its vast server network and the robust VPN protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP.
Compared to it, AirVPN is slower, and its connections may not keep up with the pressure of long distances. The main reason is that the provider has a small server range and only utilizes WireGuard and OpenVPN.
AirVPN vs PIA: which is more secure?
|Logging||No-logs policy||Independently audited + court-proven no-logs|
|Leak protection||DNS, IPv6||DNS, IPv6, WebRTC|
The next round of our PIA vs. AirVPN comparison is about security. As this is one of the main criteria you should follow, we recommend going for Private Internet Access. But before we unveil why, let’s see the necessary features both providers share:
- AES-256 encryption
- Kill switch
- IP and DNS leak protection
- No-logs policies
While both providers are based in unfavorable jurisdictions, only PIA ensures there’s no funny business behind the scenes. Its no-logs policy has been audited (and proven in court) and it employs RAM-only servers across the whole network, preventing data logging.
One big drawback for both VPNs is that they are not located in security-friendly countries. PIA operates from the USA, which is part of the 5-Eyes Alliance, while AirVPN headquarters are in Italy, part of the 14-Eyes Alliance.
In other words, people fear that the providers may monitor, collect, and share their online activities with the government. However, PIA utilizers hardware that runs solely on RAM modules – there’s no way for them to collect any data long-term.
While the native countries of the providers may not be the best, they at least offer no-logs policies. However, AirVPN doesn’t provide evidence of being audited. On the other hand, PIA has an independently-audited and also a court-proven no-logs policy.
|Owns all servers||No||No|
The greatest difference between PIA and AirVPN is their server range. Therefore, PIA is the clear winner in this round.
Private Internet Access offers thousands of servers across 84+ countries. Also, it owns all of its servers and provides only physical locations, improving the performance quality.
In comparison, AirVPN has 200+ servers in 22+ countries. And although all of them are physical, it’s not enough to beat PIA that also comes packed with RAM-only hardware. Another disadvantage is that third parties own some of its servers.
|Smart DNS||❌No||✅Smart DNS|
|Ad & malware blocker||✅DNS block list||✅PIA MACE|
|Split tunneling||✅Yes||✅Bypass VPN|
If we have a look at the additional features PIA and AirVPN offer, we’ll notice that Private Internet Access has a major advantage. The problem with AirVPN is that, technically, you can get more features for it, but that requires you to configure them yourself.
Not all devices support VPN software. That’s why you need a VPN with a Smart DNS feature as it enables users to utilize a VPN on such devices. It’s especially handy for streaming purposes. Only PIA offers such a feature.
Ad & malware blocker
Another crucial feature is the ad & malware blocker. Thanks to it, the VPN blocks all malicious ads and links and keeps you protected. Fortunately, you will get this fantastic security feature with PIA and AirVPN.
AirVPN offers a DNS block list. You can use it to block known sources of ads, spam, malware and so on.
PIA offers the MACE feature that blocks adware on the DNS level. It effectively disables adware, user trackers, and prevents you from visiting shady websites. You can use it both on PC and mobile, but be aware that you can’t customize it.
The split tunneling feature allows you to reduce the pressure on the VPN’s servers. In other words, you’ll be able to route the VPN traffic through particular apps to avoid unnecessary usage. The best part is that you will get this feature no matter which VPN you choose.
Obfuscated servers are crucial for masking VPN usage. Thanks to them, you’ll be able to bypass different network restrictions and VPN blocks. However, only PIA provides obfuscated servers for bypassing Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).
Furthermore, Private Internet Access offers specialized servers optimized for streaming. They provide the best experience whenever you’re trying to circumvent geo-blocks and stream in HD. AirVPN doesn’t maintain any specialty hardware.
PIA also offers such perks as a SOCKS5 proxy and port forwarding. Meanwhile, as we mentioned, AirVPN doesn’t come with many features out of the box. You either know how to configure them yourself or have to consult community forums for how-to guides. Not very user-friendly, to say the least.
Netflix and streaming comparison
|Other Netflix libraries||❌No||❌No|
|Amazon Prime Video||❌No||❌No|
If streaming is the main reason why you need a VPN, PIA is the better choice. Just keep in mind that it’s still not the best streaming VPN out there, being quite limited in what it is able to unblock. Private Internet Access effectively unblocks quite a few popular streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube TV.
On the contrary, AirVPN doesn’t work with streaming platforms, so it’s not the best solution for this online activity. In fact, AirVPN’s team has clearly stated in forums that they never prioritized streaming. As such, don’t expect the devs to do anything about this in the foreseeable future, either.
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Android TV, Fire OS||–|
|Browser extensions||–||Chrome (and other Chromium-based browsers), Firefox|
|Manual setup||Routers||Routers, consoles, smart TVs|
Another area where AirVPN falls short is device support and 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.
Furthermore, it doesn’t have much to offer generally app-wise. As such, PIA is the winner.
AirVPN and PIA have applications for Windows and macOS, and you’ll have wildly different experiences depending on the provider. While PIA is sleek and very easy to use, AirVPN goes for the early 00s design that is a hit or miss for many.
Private Internet Access offers secure clients that aren’t missing any features whether it’s Windows or macOS. We had no trouble navigating the apps since everything was neatly categorized.
AirVPN proved to be somewhat of a hassle as the apps are simply unappealing. It didn’t help that there’s not much you can do on them, either. In simple terms, it lacks functionality.
In terms of mobile usage, you can choose both VPNs as they work with Android and iOS. And while PIA manages to keep everything streamlined and simple, AirVPN somehow made their mobile clients worse.
With PIA, we see the same approach regarding security and features. You can switch between them seamlessly without losing out on, for example, split tunneling or PIA MACE.
AirVPN’s mobile apps look even more outdated than the desktop clients. Everything here is cluttered, and the lack of features doesn’t help matters at all.
|Allowed on||✅All servers||✅All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||❌No||✅Yes|
|Split tunneling||✅Yes||✅Yes (Windows and macOS)|
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 superb 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.
|Works in China||✅Yes||✅Yes|
|Stealth VPN||✅Yes (OpenVPN over SSL/SSH)||✅Yes (Obfuscation and Shadowsocks)|
|Tor over VPN||✅Yes||❌No|
Bypassing Chinese online restriction is pretty tough. That’s why you need a reputable VPN that is strong enough for the Great Firewall of China. Therefore, we recommend using both AirVPN and PIA.
PIA has obfuscated servers that allow it to hide your VPN usage. As a result, DPI won’t detect your VPN traffic, and you’ll easily get around the restrictions.
AirVPN has an obfuscation feature that’s strong enough for hiding your VPN usage at all times. Furthermore, it has Tor over VPN, although you’ll have to configure it manually.
|24/7 live chat||❌No||❌No|
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. However, there’s an extensive knowledgebase filled with tutorials, FAQs, and informational articles about how the VPN works.
AirVPN vs Private Internet Access – which is better?
|Total wins||1 out of 10||7 out of 10|
After many tests and a thorough review of both providers, we concluded that PIA is the overall winner of our PIA vs. AirVPN comparison. 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.
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, does offer decent security credentials, more servers, better speeds, and support for streaming. Overall, PIA has invested more into improving its service and comes out ahead of AirVPN and will be the better choice for most people.
Is AirVPN better than PIA?
No, AirVPN isn’t better than PIA. Private Internet Access has better performance overall, as it comes with more advanced features, great streaming and torrenting capabilities, and broader device support.
Which is faster – AirVPN or PIA?
PIA is faster than AirVPN. This is because PIA has thousands of servers across 84+ countries, and it also utilizes many robust VPN protocols, such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2.