Which VPN (Virtual Private Network) service is better, NordVPN or Private Internet Access? Both providers are top-rated, have many security features, and grant excellent connectivity. Regarding overall quality, though, NordVPN vs Private Internet Access has one clear winner. Read my PIA and NordVPN comparison to learn which one and why!
I will evaluate security, privacy, speed, price, and other critical 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 68% OFF!||Get PIA 83% OFF!|
|💰Price starts from||$3.49/month||$2.03/month|
|💳Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days|
|🌐Servers||5800+ 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|
|🖥️Platforms||All major OS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Kodi, routers, firewall, NAS, Roku||All major OS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, routers, Smart TV, browsers|
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.
Why choose NordVPN?
NordVPN has some exceptional features that make it a worthwhile investment.
- Industry-leading performance. The service’s connection speeds are unbeatable, thanks to the proprietary NordLynx protocol. Go with NordVPN if unwavering download and upload speeds under all circumstances are a priority.
- Reliable security and privacy features. NordVPN grants 360-degree digital protection via an audited zero-logs policy, malicious software blocking, and security-focused servers like Double VPN and Onion over VPN.
- Excellent streaming capabilities. This provider goes the extra mile to ensure effortless access to geo-restricted content on popular streaming services like Netflix. You can expect stellar results on every compatible device.
Why choose Private Internet Access?
Consider PIA if these are the VPN boons you’re seeking.
- Budget-friendly. Private Internet Access is an affordable VPN provider that appeals to frugal digital security enthusiasts.
- Unlimited devices. One PIA account supports unlimited device connections, which is infinitely more than the 6 you get with NordVPN.
- US-centered servers. The service operates from the US, and its server fleet reflects that. You’ll find connection options in all 50 American states.
NordVPN vs PIA – pricing
|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|
Many people consider price as the most important factor when choosing products. Comparing NordVPN vs Private Internet Access in this regard is straightforward because the latter is unequivocally more affordable. However, it’s not so clear cut when we dive deeper into the details.
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 providers is the 30-day money-back guarantee. The services also have some optional features which cost extra, allowing users to get more than just VPN benefits. We’ll cover these in greater detail separately.
NordVPN offers various subscription options to best fit customer needs. The Standard plan grants the essentials and comes in three pricing forms:
But that would mean missing out on other cybersecurity tools that Nord Security developed. Thankfully, you can acquire them by opting for any of the alternative subscriptions. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the prices and general benefits.
|Benefits||Plus perks + 1 TB cloud storage, file encryption service||Standard perks + password manager, data breach scanner||VPN service, malware protection, tracker and ad blocker|
To be precise, the Plus plan includes the NordPass password manager and all of its features, such as Data Breach Scanner. Meanwhile, the Complete package is topped off with NordLocker, an encrypted cloud storage and file encryption tool. You can also purchase these products separately, but these bundles are much more cost-effective.
Other optional inclusions in your shopping cart include a dedicated IP address that starts at $3.89/month. Country options are the USA, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Sweden, and Australia.
Potential customers can forgo default subscription prices using NordVPN coupon codes. They can yield discounts up to 68%. 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.
Once you’ve decided, viable payment methods include Credit and debit cards, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, ACH Transfer, cryptocurrencies, UnionPay, and even cash at certain retail stores.
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.
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.
We developed an in-house tool for tracking the speeds of the most well-known VPN services. It allows us to see the latest performance information in various countries over the past weeks and compare that data. Let’s have a look at NordVPN vs PIA in the last 14 days.
NordVPN vs Private Internet Access: 14-Day Speed Average
|NordVPN||Private Internet Access|
|Download Speed||254 Mbps||131 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||236 Mbps||195 Mbps|
|Download Speed||563 Mbps||127 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||474 Mbps||271 Mbps|
|Download Speed||702 Mbps||262 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||653 Mbps||483 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 other comparisons.
NordVPN vs PIA: which is more secure?
|Hash||SHA-512||SHA1 and SHA2|
|Logging||Independently-audited no-logs policy||Court-proven and independently-audited|
|Kill switch||2 kill switches||Yes|
|Leak protection||DNS, IPv6, WebRTC||DNS, IPv6, WebRTC|
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.
- 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 and Private Internet Access guarantee privacy on a fundamental level, thanks to the complete utilization of RAM-only servers. In short, this hardware is incapable of storing any information long-term because it forgoes hard drives in favor of RAM modules, which are wiped clean once rebooted or unplugged.
Another worthwhile consideration when picking VPN services is their jurisdiction, i.e. country of origin. This aspect influences what laws the provider must adhere to. For example, NordVPN picked Panama as its legal home base because the region doesn’t have any data retention laws.
On the flip side, PIA hails from America, a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance. This is far from ideal because the country is known for its government collaborating with corporations to collect data about citizens. However, there’s no need to sound the alarm while there’s no substantial evidence of any wrongdoing. Plus, PIA boasts open-source software, meaning anyone can check under the hood for suspicious practices.
Finally, both VPNs support cryptocurrency payments for enhanced privacy. But keep in mind that this option usually doesn’t support refunds.
“Logging” refers to a VPNs supposed practice of collecting customer activity logs. As you can imagine, many claim to not store anything, but that’s just lip service without third-party verification.
For starters, NordVPN conducted multiple (three at the time of writing) independent audits of its zero-logs policy, the latest being in 2023 by Deloitte. Meanwhile, the previous two were conducted by PwC.
Conversely, PIA’s no-logs claims were tested via conventional audits and real life. Firstly, the independent audit was done by Deloitte in 2022. But before that, the provider was tapped by authorities on two occasions to hand over data about suspects in criminal investigations. Thankfully, PIA had no relevant information to provide, thus proving it doesn’t store activity logs.
|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 5800+ 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 entire network uses RAM-only mode to prevent excess data storage on hard drives.
While PIA has greater region diversity (84+ country options), the server number is unclear. We contacted 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.
|Smart DNS||✅SmartPlay||✅Smart DNS|
|Ad & malware blocker||✅Threat Protection||✅PIA MACE|
|Split tunneling||✅Yes||✅Bypass VPN|
At first glance, NordVPN and Private Internet Access are on equal ground. Both offer the essentials for convenient video streaming, secure online browsing, and bypassing online censorship. However, the two include loads of other goodies that can swing the pendulum in either direction. Naturally, we’ll only overview the features that come packaged with the basic VPN subscription plan and none of the bonus perks.
Unfortunately, some devices that would greatly benefit from VPN software don’t support it. Examples include smart TVs and gaming consoles. Luckily, there’s a workaround in the form of Smart DNS. It allows you to bypass geographical restrictions by changing your DNS settings. However, the downside is that you miss out on encryption and IP masking.
Both VPN services grant this feature to please the immense number of content enthusiasts. Furthermore, NordVPN implemented smart DNS capabilities into its applications using SmartPlay. That means the apps alter your IP and DNS addresses in the background to change your Netflix region easily.
Ad & malware blocker
The web is filled with various frustrations like annoying ads, nosy trackers, and debilitating malware. Luckily, a secure VPN with the right tools can block these nuisances and keep your online escapades safe.
NordVPN grants customers the well-equipped Threat Protection tool. It stands out from the competition because it will scan your downloaded files for malware while blocking ads and trackers in real time. Another excellent security perk is the Dark Web Monitor, which scours the net for leaks with your data.
Private Internet Access doesn’t offer such comprehensive protection (unless you purchase the PIA Antivirus add-on). Luckily, you gain the PIA MACE tool, which blocks malicious domains and ads without the need for browser extensions.
As the name suggests, split tunneling allows you to segment your VPN connection on a per-app or per-website basis. Implementation varies greatly between providers. For example, NordVPN grants this ability to Windows, Android, and Android TV devices. You pick whether you’d like the VPN to be enabled or disabled for your specified apps.
On the flip side, PIA supports split tunneling on desktop and Android devices. It has marginally better customization options and permits adding IP addresses into the mix. Plus, Linux users can enjoy a more advanced version that can include or exclude docker and VM packets from the VPN tunnel.
The inclusion of specialized servers makes it easier for users to achieve certain goals, such as bypass censorship or unlock foreign content. Here’s a rundown of the options NordVPN customers can pick from.
- Double VPN. You can get comfy in multiple VPN layers to gain twice the encryption with different exit and entry locations. But be aware that performance may take a severe hit.
- Obfuscated servers. These servers are optimized specifically for circumventing online censorship in restrictive networks.
- Onion over VPN. Use these if you want to reap the benefits of a VPN connection and the multiple layers of security of the Tor Network.
- P2P. Enable these for peak performance while downloading peer-to-peer files.
- Dedicated IP. This option is available if you purchased the dedicated IP option. It connects to your exclusive IP address in your selected region.
Meanwhile, PIA doesn’t split its server network into specialized categories. Instead, you must enable MultiHop, obfuscation, or other perks in the settings menu. However, a handful of countries include servers specifically for streaming. Furthermore, there’s a distinction between virtual and physical servers.
Finally, each provider includes a few bonus features that deserve an honorary mention. For example, NordVPN has Meshnet, a SOCKS5 proxy, invisibility on LAN. Private Internet Access also adds a SOCKS5 proxy, plus Shadowsocks and port forwarding.
Netflix and other streaming platforms
|Other Netflix libraries||✅Yes||❌No|
|Amazon Prime Video||✅Yes||❌No|
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 Video, 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 dedicated apps.
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. The service also performed well on our tests with Hulu and YouTube TV. Unfortunately, other streaming services like BBC iPlayer weren’t so favorable.
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.
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Kodi add-on||N/A|
|Browser extensions||Chrome (and other Chromium-based browsers), Firefox||Chrome (and other Chromium-based browsers), Firefox|
|Manual setup||Routers, firewalls, NAS, Roku, Chromebook, gaming consoles||Routers, consoles, smart TVs|
Customers of either VPN service will have no trouble setting up their preferred device with the power of a virtual private network. Both providers have impressive selections of apps, browser extensions, and manual configuration options.
The key difference is that one NordVPN account permits 6 simultaneous connections, while Private Internet Access doesn’t impose such limitations and gains a slight edge. However, the scale is brought back to equilibrium because PIA lacks apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
The NordVPN desktop app was updated multiple times over the years, yet the underlying idea remains the same. To be precise, the main focus is the world map in the center, which you can use to pick your desired connection spot. Alternatively, you can use the search bar on the left to search for specific regions. You’ll also need to interact with it to pick specialty servers.
On the far left of the app you’ll find tabs for customizing all other options. For example, there are separate tabs for Threat Protection, Meshnet, Dark Web Monitor, general settings, and more. Ultimately, the software is easy to use for newcomers and provides solid customization options for power users.
The PIA desktop app takes a mildly different approach and prioritizes minimalism. You start with a small window with a bare-bones UI where the ON button takes up most of the space. It’s expandable if you want to see more server options and information about the connection. Finally, the settings menu is opened in a separate window for further customization. It includes different tabs for controlling various details, such as protocols, split tunneling, privacy, etc.
NordVPN continues its map-loving trend on mobile devices and allows it to take up the majority of the screen. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can expand a conventional menu with all countries listed in alphabetical order. The same menu is needed for accessing specialty servers and searching for servers via text. Meanwhile, other features like Meshnet, split tunneling, and Threat Protection Lite, are tucked away in their own tabs below.
PIA also tries to imitate its desktop look on mobile with adequate results. The ON button occupies half of the main screen, while connection information and a handful of quick options are below it. Meanwhile, various settings are hidden behind the hamburger menu in the top left corner.
|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) enthusiasts frequently have to use torrenting VPNs because the file-sharing 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.
Ultimately, NordVPN and Private Internet Access have some mild differences but are on par regarding torrenting.
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 many customer support options. You can pick from 24/7 live chat, email communication, or browsing through written self-help guides.
NordVPN vs PIA: video review
Video content is more up your alley? Then visit our YouTube channel and watch the NordVPN vs Private Internet Access comparison there!
NordVPN vs PIA: Reddit users’ opinion
Reddit is a great place to get the latest scoop about VPNs directly from customers. As such, it’s frequently visited by potential customers to get some unbiased feedback before purchase. And so we paid Reddit a visit to see what they would pick between NordVPN vs PIA.
Unsurprisingly, you’re bound to find fans of either service on the website. However, it seems most users don’t compare NordVPN vs Private Internet Access and consider them to be in relatively different categories. Plus, PIA doesn’t seem as popular as other VPNs recommended by Reddit.
Best VPN by category
|Total wins||5 out of 10||1 out of 10|
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 regarding digital security, content unblocking, and connection performance.
PIA is on-par with NordVPN in certain categories but couldn’t surpass it anywhere else except in affordability. But overall, the two services are the cream of the VPN industry crop and definitely worth trying out.
Is NordVPN better than Private Internet Access?
Yes, NordVPN is ultimately better than PIA. The two providers are on-par in many regards like security and torrenting, but NordVPN comes out on top in terms of connection speeds, feature abundance, and streaming performance. However, PIA might win you over if you prioritize affordability.
Which is faster: NordVPN or PIA?
NordVPN is faster than PIA, thanks to its proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol. But Private Internet Access is not far behind because it’s equipped with WireGuard. Naturally, mileage may vary based on numerous factors, such as location, network load, and more. You can find up-to-date performance information on our VPN speed test.
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.