AirVPN and Private Internet Access 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 as we find out 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 tell you which one is the better choice depending on your needs.
Let’s jump right in.
Security and privacy
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 AES-256 encryption.
When it comes to tunneling protocols, both employ OpenVPN. However, PIA also supports IKEv2 and L2TP. 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 of the Tor network.
In the area of privacy, PIA does give some cause for concern as it’s run by London Trust Media, a US-based company. The US is a member of the 5 Eyes country group and companies in the US could be subject to government surveillance. On the plus side, PIA does have a strict no-logging policy.
AirVPN, on the other hand, is located in Italy. Italy is part of the “14 Eyes alliance” which may also give some privacy-conscious users pause. It also has a no-logging policy.
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.
Speed and performance
While AirVPN may be slightly better for security and privacy, it certainly falls short in the area of speed and performance as it delivers below average speeds. AirVPN operates a relatively small fleet of servers numbering over 240 compared to the over 3300 servers run by PIA in 30 countries. Thus, PIA does offer faster speeds and more reliable performance in many locations.
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.
Ease of use and compatibility
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.
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
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.
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.
Netflix and China
When it comes to accessing Netflix, AirVPN does a really good job at unblocking Netflix in many geographical locations. AirVPN’s ‘double hop’ DNS routing setup allows it to work around its small selection of servers which is really smart. However, users may experience mixed performance with Netflix servers in some areas.
PIA, however, does struggle with unblocking Netflix in a number of regions including Canada, Germany, the UK, and Japan. It 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 with both Netflix and China.
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 no winner either in this regard. Their customer support options are rather limited and the internet is full of complaints from PIA customers about unresponsive support and unhelpful answers. Both services offer no live chat option.
PIA’s prices are some of the more affordable ones. A 1-month plan for up to 5 devices costs $9.95/month which drops to $5.99/month for six months and $3.33/month if you go for the 1-year plan. They offer a 7-day money-back guarantee but no free trial.
AirVPN is the less expensive option of the two with plans starting at $2.2/month for three days and $7.72/month per month. The 1-year plan costs $4.5/month and the cheapest option is a 3-year plan for $3.03/month.
Both services are very reasonably priced for the features they offer but PIA’s higher prices make AirVPN a better deal.
AirVPN vs Private Internet Access – which is better?
Having compared these two VPN solutions in a number of areas, it’s evident that both are decent options for the casual user. So 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, and performance.
PIA, on the other hand, isn’t the best option for privacy, Netflix, and China. But it does offer decent security credentials, more servers, and an app for iOS. Though not by much, PIA comes out ahead of AirVPN and will be the better choice for most people, even if it’s pricier.
If you enjoyed this AirVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison, be sure to check out our reviews of both products linked below.