Which one is better, NordVPN or Private Internet Access? Both tools are extremely popular, have lots of security features, and glowing reviews. Regarding quality, though, NordVPN vs Private Internet Access has one clear winner. Read my PIA and NordVPN comparison to find out which one it is and why!
I will evaluate security, privacy, speed, price, and other key criteria to determine which service is worth your money. Don’t have time to read the whole comparison? No problem, check out this side-by-side overview of NordVPN and Private Internet Access to see in which areas one has the edge over another.
NordVPN vs PIA comparison highlights
|Our rating||9.6 ⭐||8.1 ⭐|
|Current offer||Get NordVPN 57% OFF!||Get PIA 83% OFF!|
|Price starts from||$3.49/month||$2.03/month|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|Servers||5400+ servers in 60+ countries||Servers in 84+ countries|
|VPN protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|Streaming||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more||Netflix, Hulu|
As you can see, the only section where PIA wins over NordVPN is price, although that’s not surprising considering the difference in overall quality. NordVPN sits at the top in every essential category, though Private Internet Access is no slouch either. If you want the short answer, NordVPN is the more comprehensive VPN service.
NordVPN vs PIA speed and performance
Connection speeds are arguably the most critical aspect of a VPN service. After all, it affects all other use-cases while the virtual private network is enabled. That’s why we must cover this topic before anything else.
NordVPN vs Private Internet Access: 14-Day Speed Average
|NordVPN||Private Internet Access|
|Download Speed||1,036 Mbps||74 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||905 Mbps||81 Mbps|
|Download Speed||1,521 Mbps||68 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||1,255 Mbps||93 Mbps|
|Download Speed||1,366 Mbps||82 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||1,258 Mbps||162 Mbps|
Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access are among the fastest VPN services, thanks to the utilization of WireGuard. However, it’s crucial to note that NordVPN uses a proprietary and improved version of the protocol named NordLynx. This is the edge the Panama-based provider uses to consistently take the #1 spot on our VPN speed test and in other third-party comparisons.
|All physical servers||Yes||No|
|Owns all servers||No||No|
Besides tunneling protocols, connection points also play a role in determining upload and download speed. More country variety allows picking an optimal location, while more servers can support a more significant number of simultaneous user connections without risk of overcrowding.
NordVPN operates a fleet of 5400+ servers across 60+ countries. The numbers are impressive, but the underlying technology is even more outstanding. For example, all hardware is physically located in its respective countries. Furthermore, the whole server fleet uses RAM-only modules to prevent data storage on hard drives.
While PIA has greater region diversity (84+ country options), the server number is unclear. We reached out to customer support, and they told us this information is currently unavailable. Their excuse is that new servers are constantly added while old ones are removed. Additionally, they don’t own all hardware and rely on virtual servers to provide otherwise-unavailable country locations.
|Free trial||7-day trial on the Google Play Store||N/A|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|Payment options||Credit card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, ACH Transfer, cryptocurrencies, UnionPay, cash||Credit card, PayPal, cryptocurrencies|
So far, the NordVPN vs Private Internet Access match has been going in favor of NordVPN. But the tides are about to turn because PIA is more affordable. But there are a few other differences that make this a tough comparison.
Firstly, Private Internet Access has lower monthly costs when signing up for the lengthiest three-year plan. Meanwhile, the most extensive NordVPN option is only for two years with higher monthly pricing. However, we can’t overlook that NordVPN provides a 7-day free trial and greater payment option variety.
A common thing between these two providers is the 30-day money-back guarantee. The two services also have some bonus features which cost extra, allowing users to get more than just VPN benefits. We’ll cover these in greater detail separately.
If you just need VPN benefits, the Standard NordVPN plan comes in three pricing forms:
But that would mean missing out on other cybersecurity tools that Nord Security developed. Thankfully, you can purchase them in various bundles with the VPN.
For example, the Plus plan adds the NordPass password manager and data breach scanner while increasing the price to $4.49/month. Meanwhile, NordLocker finishes the Complete package and boosts the price to $5.99/month. NordVPN offers a dedicated IP option for $70/year if you need even more benefits. Country options are the USA, UK, Netherlands, France, and Germany.
Potential customers can forgo default subscription prices using NordVPN coupon codes. They can yield discounts up to 57%. And if all of this seems like a lot to take in, consider using the 7-day NordVPN trial to get hands-on experience with the provider before committing.
Private Internet Access offers three subscription options:
The lengthiest deal provides three bonus months of subscription time and an 83% discount. You could try looking for alternative bargains using a PIA coupon code.
Just like NordVPN, Private Internet Access can be packaged with extra tools for digital security. For example, the PIA Antivirus adds $1.49/month to your total subscription price. And if you need a dedicated IP in Australia, Canada, Germany, UK, Singapore, or USA, PIA can fulfill that need for an extra $5.00/month.
|Protocols||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|Security features||Double VPN, Threat Protection, Onion over VPN, SOCKS5 proxy, obfuscated servers, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, split tunneling, kill switch, Meshnet, invisibility on LAN||Kill switch, advanced split tunneling, PIA MACE, Shadowsocks, SOCKS5 proxy, HNS|
Both NordVPN and PIA are well-known for their abundance of security features. As mentioned before, the two utilize the latest tunneling protocols, which are fast and more secure than older alternatives.
Let’s have a look at some common features of the two before diving into the unique features of each.
- AES-256 encryption. This is the encryption gold standard in the VPN industry. It’s virtually uncrackable by modern computers and provides the best balance in terms of security and performance. Ironically, the default PIA setting with the OpenVPN protocol is only 128-bit encryption, a weaker version.
- VPN kill switch. Both providers grant the essential feature for preventing IP leakage during unexpected VPN connection loss.
- Split tunneling. Users can customize which apps should go through the VPN tunnel or vice versa. Available on a limited number of platforms.
- Ad-blocking. NordVPN provides this benefit via Threat Protection, while PIA uses MACE.
- Double VPN. Some situations require greater encryption than usual. Thankfully, both services have the option to reroute your connection through multiple servers.
These features alone cover a lot of ground in terms of digital protection. But as you’ll notice further, NordVPN provides much more security bang for your buck than PIA.
NordVPN security features
Here’s a glance at some of the extra features the Standard NordVPN plan brings to the table.
- Threat protection. Previously, CyberSec took care of ads. But this improved feature does much more and also blocks trackers, malicious files, and malware.
- Meshnet. This new feature grants a convenient way of connecting to remote devices to work on collaborative projects, access remote files, or host a LAN party.
- Obfuscated servers. Getting around online censorship requires masking VPN traffic and making it look like typical HTTPS traffic. Obfuscated do just that and are perfect for surveillance-heavy countries like China.
- Onion over VPN. Don’t want to delve into the dark web without bonus protection? Using Onion over VPN servers combines the benefits of a VPN with the Tor Network for unparalleled security.
- Dark Web Monitor. Information leaks are more common than you think. But it’s impossible to check every possible data dump for your credentials manually. Luckily, NordVPN can automate that process and notify you when something ends up exposed online.
That’s a truly impressive arsenal. But would you be surprised to hear that this isn’t even the entire loadout? Check out our complete NordVPN review to see what else is under the hood.
PIA security features
Despite the low price, Private Internet Access is a great secure VPN contender. Here are some extras that deserve further elaboration.
- Connection Automation. While not exactly a security benefit, it allows customers to set networks that need an automatic VPN connection. This prevents the chance of forgetting to turn on the virtual private network.
- PIA MACE. This feature blocks unwanted content, such as ads, trackers, and malware, from undesirable web domains.
- Multi-Hop and Obfuscation. PIA combines Double VPN and Stealth VPN into one feature for dealing with online censorship, surveillance, and VPN blocking.
Get the full scoop about this provider by reading our complete Private Internet Access review.
|Logging||Independently-audited no-logs policy||Court-proven no-logs policy|
|Anonymous payment||Cryptocurrencies, cash||Cryptocurrencies, gift cards|
VPNs by their nature have the potential to collect huge troves of data about you. That’s why picking a provider with solid privacy practices is vital. And while there’s a degree of trust involved, some things indicate whether a service is trustworthy. Essential criteria include country of origin, third-party audits, and anonymous payment options.
Let’s begin with NordVPN. The provider is based in Panama, a privacy-friendly region with zero data retention laws. Furthermore, the provider’s no-logs policy was audited multiple times by PwC. Even better, customers can purchase the VPN anonymously using numerous cryptocurrencies or with cash at retail stores.
On the other hand, PIA hails from America, a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance. While concerning, the service proved it doesn’t store logs because it couldn’t give the authorities user data when it was needed for an investigation. This has happened two times already and proves that Private Internet Access is a confidential provider despite its jurisdiction in the US. And the cherry on top is that you can sign up anonymously via cryptocurrencies or gift cards.
The differences between NordVPN and PIA in terms of privacy seem significant at first, especially regarding jurisdiction. But both have anonymous payment methods and proven zero-logs policies, which makes them equal in this category.
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Amazon Fire TV, Android TV||N/A|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Edge, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox, Opera|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS||Routers|
TexBoth providers have Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android apps. However, NordVPN can be downloaded for Android TV and Amazon Fire devices. In the meantime, Private Internet Access has only an unofficial manual setup guide for Amazon Fire Stick.
Speaking of configuring your VPN manually, NordVPN provides instructions for firewalls, NAS, and routers, while PIA covers only the latter. One the other hand, Private Internet Access has a browser extension for Opera and supports more simultaneous connections.
Turning to the ease of use, none of the two can be blamed for being clunky or confusing. That being said, I still liked the NordVPN apps better because they give both the map and the server list. Moreover, NordVPN did a fine job trimming down the settings without sacrificing security or privacy.
In the meantime, PIA apps have plenty of opportunities for tinkering, and some users will definitely like that. However, picking between two encryption types isn’t ideal for new customers since they might be unfamiliar with the differences. On the other hand, the extensive customization options are a welcome sight for power users.
Moving on to the number of simultaneous devices per account, we see PIA emerge as a winner with 10 against NordVPN’s 6. Both numbers should be more than enough for an average user unless you plan to share your account with family or friends. Either way, configuring a router with a VPN grants practically unlimited connections in one household.
In conclusion, while NordVPN supports fewer simultaneous connections, its greater device compatibility and abundance of apps make it a better overall choice.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
Which is better for streaming – NordVPN or PIA? Not much to talk about here – NordVPN is the best VPN for Netflix. It unblocks multiple foreign libraries, including those in the US, Canada, and the UK. What’s more, NordVPN is excellent for other streaming platforms, such as HBO, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, to name but a few.
NordVPN also has apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, which will prove beneficial when you turn from your laptop to the big screen. And if you have a different device, Smart DNS is available for content unblocking as an alternative to a dedicated app.
PIA is also great for Netflix. This VPN unblocks the US library and also that of the Netherlands. Both contain enough movies and TV shows to keep you entertained for the upcoming future. Sadly, PIA won’t give you BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or any other content platform.
The US-based service also lacks the dedicated Android TV and FireTV apps that NordVPN has, making it less convenient on those devices. However, it fills that gap with Smart DNS.
Top-notch connection quality and lag-free streaming is a guarantee with both VPNs, thanks to the inclusion of WireGuard. But overall, NordVPN is the superior option of the two.
Torrenting with NordVPN and PIA
|Allowed on||All servers||All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||Yes|
|Split tunneling||Yes (Windows, Android, Android TV)||Yes (Windows, macOS)|
Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing enthusiasts frequently have to use torrenting VPNs because the technology is usually restricted in some ways. For example, a few countries have outlawed torrenting outright. Therefore, some VPN providers limit P2P traffic on specific servers.
Luckily, neither NordVPN nor PIA restrict torrenting on their servers in any capacity. In fact, NordVPN even has specialized P2P servers for improved download and upload speeds. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access users can enable port forwarding to maximize performance.
The two providers also have some non-essential but good-to-have features for torrenting. Specifically, these are split tunneling and SOCKS5 proxies. The first allows users to limit VPN traffic to the torrent client and use the web as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, the proxy can be an alternative to a VPN connection or a bonus fail-safe.
China and other restricted countries
|Works in China||Yes||Yes|
|Stealth VPN||Obfuscated servers||Shadowsocks|
|Tor over VPN||Onion over VPN||No|
This round of PIA vs NordVPN battle is easily won by the latter, which is the best VPN for China. In contrast, Private Internet Access is not even mentioned among the top services that bypass the Great Firewall, though you may still be able to use it. However, if you want a reliable service that works constantly, NordVPN for China would be a good pick.
As always, the devil is in the details. In short, censorship-heavy countries use DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) technology to detect and limit virtual private networks. To combat this, you need exceptional features for bypassing VPN blocks, commonly referred to as Stealth VPN. NordVPN has two such features – obfuscated and Onion over VPN servers.
On the other hand, Private Internet Access grants a Shadowsocks proxy, which is adequate but not as reliable as what NordVPN brings to the table. Therefore, we recommend NordVPN as the go-to service for dealing with censorship and surveillance.
|24/7 live chat||Yes||Yes|
With so many VPN use cases available, users are bound to run into issues they can’t resolve themselves. That’s why a good provider should offer multiple assistance options to fit customers’ needs.
Thankfully, both Private Internet Access and NordVPN have plenty of customer support options available. You can pick from 24/7 live chat, email communication, or browsing through written self-help guides.
Best VPN by category
|Speed and servers||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||5 out of 9||1 out of 9|
NordVPN vs PIA – which is better?
Our NordVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison has concluded with NordVPN emerging victorious. Although pricier, the service goes above and beyond in terms of digital security, content unblocking, and surveillance avoidance.
PIA is on-par with NordVPN in certain categories but couldn’t surpass it anywhere else except affordability. But overall, the two services are the cream of the VPN industry crop and definitely worth trying out.
You may also like to read:
NordVPN vs Mullvad
NordVPN vs Windscribe
NordVPN vs OpenVPN
PIA vs CyberGhost
PIA vs ExpressVPN
NordVPN vs Kaspersky VPN
Is NordVPN safe in 2023?
Yes, NordVPN is perfectly safe in 2023. Its no-logs policy has been audited multiple times to ensure that unnecessary user data isn’t stored or shared with anyone. Additionally, the VPN has plenty of security features against ads, viruses, and online surveillance.
Does NordVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, NordVPN is the best VPN for Netflix and can unblock numerous foreign libraries, including US, UK, CA, JP, and more. Plus, the wide variety of apps and fast connection speeds make your viewing experience convenient and lag-free.
Is PIA the best VPN?
No, we do not consider Private Internet Access the best VPN service. Instead, the #1 option is NordVPN. It’s wicked-fast, packed with security features, and compatible with a wide variety of devices. Best of all, it’s quite affordable and even has a 7-day free trial.
Is Private Internet Access fast?
Yes, Private Internet Access is fast. It has the WireGuard tunneling protocol and a huge number of servers globally to ensure optimal connections. Many other lightning-fast VPN providers have these attributes, which contribute to reliable connection quality worldwide.
Who owns Private Internet Access?
Kape Technologies, formerly Crossrider, owns Private Internet Access. The same company also owns CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, and Zenmate. Many users don’t trust this conglomerate for such monopolistic ownership of so many VPN services. Plus, Crossrider is notorious for distributing adware in the past.
Pricing info used has been wrong for 30 days. PIA does not even offer the 6 month subscription anymore.
Unless you consider the $2.19/mo for 3 years — which is much too long a commitment.
Why buy PIA for 3 years when for the same price you can limit your commitment to 2 years of NordVPN ?
Answer: Pure Speed and a bit more reliability.
Truthfully the key thing which won every category – including price – in the author’s eyes is that PIA is much slower and its occasionally a bit clumsy. And he is right if you game over VPN or have a very active torrent/dark web site.
But maybe PIA is acceptable if you only need one video stream and let torrent run over night. And maybe you should consider splitting out legitimate web traffic to Netflix and other paid services on a separate VLAN/subnet that does not enter your VPN — since otherwise it carries user info that identifies who is currently using that VPN endpoint IP.
Price wise, NordVPN will win right now because of their 3 year plan. Either way, NordVPN is one of the best in the world while PIA, well, they aren’t so good. Used them in the past and it wasn’t anything to write home about.
In my eyes, PIA shouldn’t even be placed on the same level with Nord. I mean, the differences are huge and if you get the 3 year Nordvpn deal you’ll cut down the cost considerably so price is not an issue either.
How would the speed of Nord VPN compare to a free VPN like windscribe? Glad this article went over the Nord VPN’s torrenting capabilities. wasn’t aware that the US is one of the worst locations for a VPN! I stream Kodi regularly on my laptop, but the free options don’t cover enough data. Nord VPN sounds like the ideal VPN to move forward with. Thank!
Windscribe has a limited free version as well as a paid version – so it’s not exactly a free VPN. Windscribe speeds are generally similar to NordVPN speeds, but the same can’t be said for most other free versions or free VPNs.
The principal reason for a VPN is to bypass geographical restrictions, overcoming locks enforced upon select websites, accessing different Netflix libraries, bypassing blocked YouTube videos etc. All this is what Nord VPN gives you effortlessly. The part I love most is the smooth browsing and streaming on my Xbox One and the huge discount you get when you subscribe for a greater number of years.
Nord is just fantastic! Just WOW and cannot be compared to Private Internet Access in whatever form. Its large set of extra features, like double VPN, P2P-dedicated servers, a DNS leak resolver, and a dedicated single IP address are not supported by PIA to some extent. I have been using it for over a year now and see no reason to cancel my subscription or request for a refund. Yes, they won this comparison/debate
When you compare VPN like Nord and Private Internet Access, be sure that Nord will win in all aspect but as a user, it’s not usually the same. I decided to try PIA for some time after reading some great reddit reviews. I have been using it for four months now. Speed is very good on my home Wi-Fi. I tried connecting to some public Wi-Fi networks and some speeds were better than others although still very great. I see no extra battery usage while the app runs in the background. PIA customer support is always helpful, polite and will try to fix your issue for as long as it takes. Most of all, they have patience. Great app, great service
NordVPN vs PIA is a very interesting topic like most comparisons are because you tend to learn a lot of new things you haven’t even thought about previously. What I don’t like about Nord is that you need to get a 3 year service to real pay less. Otherwise you won’t get much of a benefit when it comes to money. Their service is top notch, that’s for sure, but sometimes you don’t want to get tied up on a 3-year plan, do you? I mean, I did a speed test and you can see they have great speeds no matter where you’re using it from, but it’s a 3-year plan nonetheless. Both are easy to install and easy to use and the Linux app for PIA is a great touch – it’s likely that many of their users are using Linux. Nord looks like the better VPN out there with a huge number of servers, better security, bigger speeds, etc.
Hi Jolly Joker,
It’s a fair point – Private Internet Access does have a lower price in the short term. With that said, test after test has shown the superiority of NordVPN in many areas. Yet it’s not even that – it’s about the business trajectory. Based on data, I’d be inclined to believe that Private Internet Access will be worse off than NordVPN, which in turn translates to the speed, server list, and other things.
In the end, neither is a bad shout.
A 3-year plan is a bummer but then again you save so much money in the process. And Nord is definitely worth the 3-year commitment because they are among the best if not the best. I’ve tested them for 2 months – even if you have to pay more, it’s always a good idea to test a VPN for a few months and see how they go – and saw how good they are and knowing this the decision to go for a longer period was easy. Their server numbers are great, never experienced slow internet speeds, sites that used to block me (because of my country) now work fine, etc. It’s all worth every penny to stay private and not worry about who knows what companies knowing your every move online.
I heard that port forwarding is no longer available with NordVPN. Is this true? The test carried out by numerous parties revealed that the port forwarding from Nord is one of the most reliable ones. The reviews too say the same but I am unsure if it is still available.
Yes, it’s true – NordVPN doesn’t offer port forwarding. Still, the speeds, server variety (including torrenting optimized servers), and security features make NordVPN the better offer for P2P. With that said, if you are using closed torrenting trackers where maintaining a download/upload ratio is a must, PIA may fit you better.
NordVPN is the best, not just for its price point but also how widespread the server is, and it had been proven to work well for Netflix based on the test conducted by many other VPN enthusiasts.
I think there is no basis to compare these two VPN providers because clearly, these two have their own competitive advantages. NordVPN is better for anyone who has the budget and looking for long-term usage.
When it comes to VPN, there’s NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and everyone else. As far as I’m concerned, you have several alternatives, but most don’t even come close. There are a few that are comparable in certain situations (for example one might do Netflix well but not work in China). For me, I’ll always take NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Though winner by a very thin margin, NordVPN will win this battle.
Both VPNs are very similar, but it’s NordVPN’s world class 24/7 live support and additional cybersecurity features that makes it the clear winner. It also offers far more server locations and allows users connect up to 6 simultaneous connections per subscription. Furthermore, NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee which is far more than what PIA offers.
I totally agree with Eldon! NordVPN is clearly better. It’s totally worth the cost. I wouldn’t recommend PIA at all if you care about online security. But that’s just my opinion.
While we would also agree that NordVPN is better, PIA is not bad in terms of security either. Depends on the level you require, of course.
Everyone has their own opinion about VPN services. From my point of view, the best VPN provider is NordVPN, because they are based in Panama and have no logs policy. It is significant if you care about online privacy. That’s why I decided to use NordVPN. 🙂
NordVPN is certainly one of the best providers, but I personally use ExpressVPN since I live in Belarus and that VPN works much better here. The government keeps a very close eye on online activity.