PureVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) have few things in common besides their unique features. Talking security, PureVPN features AES-256-CBC encryption running with an RSA-2048 handshake in addition to an SHA-1 hash authenticator. It has Ozone-enabled servers to offer you additional protection from malware, and IPS or IDS. The supported tunneling protocols are Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol (L2TP), OpenVPN, Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2), and Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol (SSTP). Just to mention, by default, PureVPN uses the PPTP protocol. This VPN also has Split Tunnelling, allowing users to decide which apps should stay outside the VPN tunnel. This helps users save bandwidth. PureVPN has a kill switch, but it is reportedly faulty. In the past, it also had problems with DNS, IPv6, and IPv4 leaks, and some of their servers are virtual, which is a concern when seeking complete privacy and anonymity.
In 2017, there was an FBI case involving PureVPN, which shed some light into how VPNs could be cheating on their “no logs” or “zero logs” policies. The FBI liaised with PureVPN to locate a cyber-stalker in the US who used the VPN service. On the positive front, PureVPN offers multiple-logins by allowing up to 5 devices to be connected at once. It also has crazy connectivity speeds to help stream content online and download your favorite videos and movies. Entertainment notwithstanding, if you are wondering which is the best when comparing PureVPN vs Private Internet Access, then the security and performance features should give you a clear line between them.
Virtual Private Networks are sometimes different from what we see on the surface – they go overboard with their promises or they can’t resist situations that are beyond their control. Governments and intelligence agencies may compel VPNs to act against the wishes of their subscribers. Having said that, now let’s switch to PIA, which stands for Private Internet Access. The VPN has both AES-256 and AES-128 encryptions. This is a great thing for PIA because users can switch between the two encryption types depending on their needs.
Speed & Performance
If you want speed, AES-128 can work well because we know that the more encryption a VPN has, the slower the speed. Private Internet Access gives its users a strong tunneling protocol, which is OpenVPN, but it doesn’t provide IKEv2 which is better on mobile versions. In terms of security, PIA doesn’t stop there, it also goes an extra mile to provide a network kill switch, a very important feature if you are to remain anonymous when online. Remember that a slight glitch in VPN connectivity can, in a blink of an eye, expose you. The kill switch takes care of that by immediately bringing to a halt your connection whenever your connection drops. Unlike PureVPN’s kill switch, however, this one functions as intended.
While reports indicate that there aren’t DNS leaks with PIA, there have been cases of WebRTC leaks, a problem seen with many VPNs. A user’s real IP could easily leak via the browser’s WebRTC functionality. In essence, we can say that, by and large, PIA is average in terms of speed and performance, while being quite strong in the areas of privacy and security.
Installation & Download
Downloading and installing PIA isn’t difficult. When you go to their website, you will see the “Get Started Now” button. You will need to create an account, make a payment, and download the app for your platform. Installation is run from the browser or the Downloads directory on your device.
Downloading and installing PureVPN isn’t hard either, you simply choose the pricing plan and make your payment. You then download PureVPN for your platform.
Ease of Use
PureVPN’s user interface may not look professional, but its interactivity with users is straightforward. When you launch the client, you will log into your account. When logged in, you see different modes of use – for example, Dedicated IP, File-sharing or P2P, Security and Privacy, Stream, or Internet Freedom.
PIA’s client is pretty good looking. In the Settings menu, there are options for desktop notifications, connection by country or region, and auto-connect on launch. You can also choose the connection type, like UDP/TCP. The PIA MACE features an anti-tracker, ad-blocker, and anti-malware feature – these tools add an extra protection layer. In the Advanced settings users can enable and disable the kill switch and the DNS/IPv6 leak protection.
Apps & Extensions
The PIA client supports different platforms, like Android, Linux, MacOS, Windows, and iOS. The VPN supports browser extensions like Firefox and Chrome, which act as PIA’s proxy services. When you use these add-ons, the traffic from the browsers gets channeled through an HTTPS proxy.
PureVPN works with platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Android TV, routers, Amazon Firestick TV, and Android TV. It also supports Kodi add-on, Firefox and Chrome extensions.
Netflix and other entertainment platforms
PureVPN gives users access to Netflix and unblocks geo-blocked content. You can also use PureVPN with BBC iPlayer and others, like Kodi. Using Kodi allows you to stream media content from TV channels like iTV, BBC, HBO, Fox, and ESPN.
PIA, on the other hand, is not compatible with these streaming services and doesn’t appear to work with either Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
Torrents & P2P file-sharing
Accessing P2P websites to share files is another impressive aspect with PureVPN. One setback with PureVPN when it comes to torrenting and P2P file-sharing is that users are not permitted to use servers in main locations like Canada, the UK, and the US.
PIA isn’t bad at torrenting, at least it has some decent speeds for users in America and Europe. More importantly, it doesn’t share PureVPN’s security issues, which is very important to consider when torrenting.
PureVPN vs Private Internet Access: geo-coverage and use in China
PIA has a massive number of servers, totaling over 3,533 scattered throughout 30 countries. It has servers in Beijing and Shanghai but since China blocks OpenVPN tunnel, subscribers may be forced to use alternative protocols like L2TP/IPSec. PureVPN has over 2000 servers all distributed in 140 plus countries and would be good for users in China if it weren’t for the terrible security situation.
Pricing & Money-back guarantee
Private Internet Access (PIA)
- 1 month – $6.95
- 1 year – $39.95 ($3.33/month)
- 2 years – $69.95 ($2.91/month)
- 7-day money-back guarantee
- 1 month – $10.95
- 1 year – $64.95 ($5.41/month)
- 2 years – $84.95 ($3.54/month)
- 31-day money-back guarantee
PureVPN vs PIA: The pros and cons
As with any VPN there is the good and the bad.
- *Very cheap
- Decent security credentials
- Allows torrents
- Not ideal for Netflix
- Problems for users in China, especially when using OpenVPN
- Has fewer servers outside US and Europe
- Wide geographical coverage of over 140 countries
- Quite low prices
- Many platforms
- Split tunnelling
- Concerns over IPv4 and IPv6 leaks
- Virtual server locations
- Faulty kill switch
- History of cooperation with law enforcement
Private Internet Access vs PureVPN: Wrap Up
Despite PureVPN having strong encryption and good speeds, it fails in the security department. As for Private Internet Access, it’s pretty cheap, and provides a solid service that should suit most users. Private Internet Access wins this one!