Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the highest rated VPN services on the market. It is based in US, it allows you to sign up and to pay anonymously and it has around 3,200 servers in more than 30 countries worldwide.
It is affordable, fast and reliable and it is compatible with all operating systems: it works on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux devices.
PIA doesn’t include a free trial and it only offers a 7 day money back guarantee.
All three plans from PIA include the same features. The difference lies only in the duration and billing.
PIA accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Cashu, Amazon, Google Wallet and others. If you like to remain anonymous, you can also pay with various gift cards; they accept gift cards from approximately 90 retailers (Starbuck and Bloomingdales are just a few examples).
PIA allows to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously, which is the average number.
In terms of available protocols, this VPN service supports PPTP, OpenVPN over TCP and UDP and L2TP.
When it comes to PIA’s interface, we thought it is very minimalist, almost non-existent. You can’t choose a username, the service will assign one to you randomly. Once you log in, that’s pretty much it. In the same login window you also have the settings: the type of encryption, servers you want, etc. Another thing you should know is that you can’t choose a specific server, you can only select them based on location (or country).
That’s pretty much all that’s going on. There are also some indicators that show you if you are connected. If you are connected, the taskbar icon is green, if you are not connected, it turns red and if you are in the process of connecting, it is gray.
A good thing about this service is that it doesn’t keep any logs, although that's common with all major providers.
Some of the features worth mentioning are:
- VPN kill switch
- The MACE tool; it basically blocks ad, malware and trackers, so that companies can’t track your online activity
- DNS (domain name system) leak protection
- Included SOCKS5 Proxy
- IPv6 leak protection
- Allows P2P sharing
- Unlimited bandwidth
One of PIA’s biggest strengths though remains its concern for security. This is one of the safest VPN service out there.
In addition to the fact that you can connect with just a valid e-mail and you can pay anonymously via gift cards or Bitcoin, you should also be pleased to know that by default, PIA uses OpenVPN encryption with AES-128 encryption for protecting data transmissions, SHA1 for authorization and RSA-2048 for setting up server connection. However, you can change protocols or combine them. There are also some pre-settings you can choose: “All Speed No Safety”, “Risky Business” and “Maximum Protection”. Either way, security is not going to be an issue with this VPN provider.
One drawback regarding geo-blocked websites would be the fact that while it manages to unblock BBC iPlayer, PIA can’t unblock Netflix US.
The three options from PIA are:
A monthly plan, which is $6.95/month
A 6 months plan: $5.99/month
A yearly plan: $3.33/month
When it comes to performance, PIA obtained some of the best download and upload speeds and best latency results. We didn’t encounter any drops while testing the VPN for 12 hours continuously and we’ve managed to establish a connection in 6 seconds (on average).
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit
Private Internet Access doesn’t have the strongest customer support on the market. It does offer 24/7 support but it is only via e-mail. There are no phone support or live chat available.
You can however find them on social media or try to get answers by using their PIA forum or knowledge base on their website: FAQ section, video guides and other easy setup guides for alternate configurations, which are more advanced.
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