Without a doubt, the greatest selling point for Private Internet Access is its grossly cheap pricing. From the perspective of premium VPN services, however, Private Internet Access is a bit underwhelming. Aside from a very limited support channel, PIA is also relatively slow.
Most assuredly, VyprVPN also has its flaws, which will be highlighted in this review, but the level of security they offer, as well as the location of their developers, scored some extra points with us. Let’s find out how the two match up against one another.
Which is safer?
PIA’s security credentials are quite good. You can select your preferred encryption settings, from AES-128 to AES-256, and even Blowfish, as well as the handshake and the authentication standard used by the software. Their primary protocol is OpenVPN, but you can also use IKEv2 and L2TP for mobile devices. In addition, Private Internet Access has a network kill switch, a proxy service you can employ by means of Firefox and Chrome extensions, and a separate SOCKS5 proxy. We couldn’t spot any DNS or WebRTC/IPv6 leaks of any kind when using PIA, nor are there any reports of such breaches from their customers.
Similarly to Private Internet Access, VyprVPN offers encryption in the form of an AES-256 cipher with an RSA-2048 handshake. In terms of tunneling protocols, their software also makes use of OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and the not-so-secure PPTP. Aside from these, they have developed a proprietary protocol by the name of Chameleon as a response to governmental attempts to intercept and block VPN traffic by means of deep packet inspection (DPI). Chameleon is quite adept at scrambling your metadata, so we were sold on it.
From the perspective of their location, we tend to trust VyprVPN more than we do Private Internet Access. Albeit PIA’s clear no-logging policy was put to the test several times and came out unscathed, they are still based in the U.S., which brings to mind the DMC, government as well as corporate surveillance, and the notorious Five Eyes Alliance.
Alternatively, VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, which has no data-retention laws and does not participate in any of the Eyes or in related intelligence-sharing groups. Nonetheless, a “minor drawback” to Vypr’s VPN is that they have a zero-tolerance policy towards claims of infringement, which has led to suspended accounts in the past. That said, their new no-logging policy should assuage those fearful of setting up a BitTorrent client.
Who would win in a race?
If you’re wondering who would win in a VyprVPN vs Private Internet Access drag race, you’re in luck. We put them both to the test and the results were revealing. Because the initial connection speeds were different in each case, we’ll also include a percentage for each measurement. For a U.K. server, VyprVPN got us 26 Mbps download with 21 Mbps upload (approximately 53% and 50% of the non-VPN connection), while Private Internet Access came up with 110 Mbps dl with 231 Mbps up (39% and 82%).
For New York servers, VyprVPN performed reasonably, with 27 Mbps download and just shy of 3 Mbps upload (57% and 8%), while Private Internet Access managed 77 Mbps download with 57 Mbps upload (28% and 20% slower). On average, both of these VPN services will provide you with similar connection speeds in the U.K. and the U.S., as well as in more remote servers such as Tokyo or Sydney. This may initially strike you as surprising since PIA employs over four times the number of servers that VyprVPN does.
However, it all makes sense when you think of the fact that VyprVPN has the advantage of owning each and every node in their VPN network. This means that they can directly optimize the hardware architecture of each location to yield better speeds.
Do they unblock geo-restricted media like Netflix?
With both VPNs, we’ve managed to unblock the US Netflix library from Europe at decent speeds. However, the two services seem to struggle with blacklisting attempts from the largest media and entertainment company. While Private Internet Access got us into Dutch Netflix, VyprVPN couldn’t. The latter also slithered past German frontiers, but our speed was too low to be able to stream anything. A better connection might have gotten through.
On our attempts, Private Internet Access could not unblock British, Canadian, Japanese, or German Netflix, so their architecture is heavily targeted by the American organization. Although VyprVPN is, as of yet, unwilling to tackle the copyright dilemma, their policy might change in the meantime, as has already happened with many other services. The good news is that PIA developers are committed to constantly renew their network of servers so that their users can unblock Netflix and other related geo-restricted content.
How do they fare on customer service?
One of the biggest downsides to PIA’s offer is their customer support, or rather the lack thereof. While Private Internet Access does have a knowledge database where you can find news and guides, as well as a forum where you can ask questions, there’s no live chat option. Their ticketing system is too slow, so much so that another user on the forum will definitely answer faster than the company will. You needn’t trust us on this since Reddit and the web are filled with complaints about this VPN’s customer service.
VyprVPN tells a different story. The instructions, FAQs, and troubleshooting guides on their website are quite comprehensive and easy to browse. If there’s something you can’t handle alone, their 24/7 live chat can help you get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately for their image, 24/7 doesn’t literally mean at any time. When we got in touch, we had to wait some time for an answer, so 24/7 most likely means “during business hours” for them. Nonetheless, we were eventually able to reach a representative and our issue was handled in a professional and timely manner.
Are they safe for restricted jurisdictions like China, North Korea, or Vietnam?
The good news is that VyperVPN is one of the best services you can use to access restricted content. Their founding philosophy, as well as the current mission, is to help facilitate freedom of speech and a digital medium where users can keep their anonymity. Be wary though, since some DNS leaks were reported by certain users, their sign-up process is not anonymous, and you can’t pay through an anonymous method, such as Bitcoin wallets.
PIA, however, does not provide enough encryption to be used behind the Great Firewall of China, for instance. They have acknowledged that their tunnelling protocols are not as effective in such conditions. Furthermore, Private Internet Access lacks a stealth process that can by-pass Deep Packet Inspection, so authorities will be able to tell you’re using a VPN, which can be an even bigger issue.
VyprVPN vs Private Internet Access: a photo finish
Although a close decision, VyprVPN takes a slight advantage in our comparison. From our point of view, the additional couple of dollars you’d save by using Private Internet Access is not worth their subpar support, widespread issues with Netflix, and lack of complex security features against online censorship.
This is not to say that VyprVPN does not have its flaws, but that we’d choose the latter over the former.