Private Internet Access Review

It’s impossible to overlook Private Internet Access (https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/) when it comes choosing a secure VPN service provider. Most mainstream VPN service providers offer quite comparable VPN services, and there is not much to choose from in terms of pricing and performance differentiation.

On the other hand, Private Internet Access claims to offer the most comprehensive and extensive set of VPN features, without paying a premium. Simply put, Private Internet Access offers the cheapest VPN service by far, and at $3.33 per month for the annual subscription package, it is now up to us to determine whether the VPN services rendered is at par with the competition.

Private Internet Access is know for a high level of online privacy and anonymity for the user. Their policies ensures 100% online anonymity, which is one of the most important considerations for a safe and secure VPN subscription. Private Internet Access is really popular in online communities like Reddit, and it owes to the fact that PIA concentrates on simplifying VPN for both the beginner and the expert.

Offering servers in up to 10 different countries, Private Internet Access offers a few critical features such as ‘VPN Kill Switch’ and ‘DNS Leak Protection’ which are essential in cutting off internet connection in the event of the VPN platform malfunctioning. Due to the availability of smart devices in the market, and owing to the fact that most VPN users connect to the internet through different devices, PIA has allowed VPN pairing for up to 5 different devices. This allows users to install and use VPN on 5 different devices simultaneously. Let us dive a bit deeply into the company through this comprehensive Private Internet Access Review.

Installation & Configuration

Private Internet Access is available for most operating systems and is compatible with most routers and devices. Off the shelf, PIA terminals are available for Windows as well as Mac OSX, but Linux users are left out. For mobile devices, PIA VPN app is available for android, while iOS app is still under development.

Both desktop applications are easy to install and use. In fact, Private Internet Access has the most advanced VPN application of all competitors. However, the application in itself is quite simple and intuitive. All you have to do is download the installation file and install it on your computer. Upon installation, you will see a settings window that requires you to enter the user login information sent to you at the time of subscription. In the advanced version, you get options such as the ‘VPN Kill Switch’, ‘DNS Leak Protection’, ‘Port Forwarding’, choosing the connection type and of course, selecting the region. You can choose auto if you are only looking for an encrypted connection and not really particular about the location. Once you save your settings, the application will run in the background, and all you will see is a small icon in the system tray.

The auto settings will provide you with the fastest server available to you with respect to your current location. On the other hand, you can choose other server locations according to your needs from the ‘Region’ menu. For Linux users, once again, the manual configuration mode is the way to go. That means you will have to refer to their online ‘How To’ guide for installing Private Internet Access on Linux. If you are a heavy user, and if you like more technical freedom, you can choose manual option for Windows and Mac as well. There are detailed tutorials and self-explanatory guides to help you through the manual VPN configuration process.

On the mobile front, you can download the VPN app from the Google Play store. It works pretty seamlessly and is quite similar to the desktop application. However, iOS users will have to wait for a bit to enjoy a dedicated VPN app. In the meanwhile, you can adopt the manual configuration mode, for which, you can refer to their detailed iOS VPN Installation guide.

In terms of VPN protocols, Private Internet Access offers PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec across the various operating systems and mobile devices. Therefore, PIA does cater to every user with differing requirements. You can even use your VPN subscription on 5 different devices simultaneously, which allows you to install and use VPN on your computer, smartphone, tablet or even on your router.

Private Internet Access Platform

Subscription Cost

The most enticing aspect of Private Internet Access is the cost factor. Most mainstream VPN service providers are known to offer various VPN services for an average cost of $6-$10 per month. Private Internet Access, on the other hand, offers a VPN subscription for as low as $3.33 per month. This is the price incurred per month when you choose the annual subscription. You can also choose the half yearly package for $5.99 per month, while the single month package costs just $6.95 per month. Therefore, if you are looking for the most economical VPN service provider that offers some of the best VPN services, PIA is most certainly the foremost choice.

Unfortunately, you can only enjoy a week’s worth of free trial and there is absolutely no money-back guarantee. PIA offers a lot of great features, and maybe, they are quietly confident about their services. Whatever their reason or justification, we would like PIA to consider offering extended free trial for serious customers to get a basic idea and feel about the services over a longer duration, or at least offer a money-back period after the initial subscription.

Payment options are also a strong suite for Private Internet Access. You do get the option of paying through PayPal, Credit Cards, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, BitCoin, Liberty Reserve, OKPay and CashU. Therefore, you can choose between several anonymous payment methods. This ensures complete online anonymity, which is something that various users look for in a VPN service. You can even sign up using proxy addresses without revealing your true identity.

Private Internet Access Subscription Cost

Speed, Reliability & Bandwidth

When we heard about the popularity of Private Internet Access, we were sure that this was some hype created by a company that wanted to rope in the maximum number of sales. Hence, we didn’t pay much heed to all the evidences that pointed to a fast VPN connection. Instead, we took it upon ourselves to check the speed of the VPN connection through various servers on offer.

To our ultimate surprise, PIA performed exceptionally well. In fact, we didn’t face any drop in speed south of 90% of the available ISP speed throughout our testing phase. We consistently achieved 90-95% efficiency from various VPN servers offered by Private Internet Access. We will be honest here; PIA is certainly living up to the hype, and it is now time for us to reshuffle the order in our VPN speed test rankings.

Reliability is at par with the competition, and we endured a similar experience to most other VPN services. At times, we did face connection drops, but thankfully, the VPN Kill Switch and the DNS Leak Protection proved to be more than handy in disconnecting the entire internet connection to avoid accidental revelation of the original user IP address or other identifying information.

We also enjoyed the unlimited bandwidth option, which is great for heavy internet users who download, upload and stream files over the internet. Due to the no-log policy, and the availability of servers in different parts of the world, P2P users can also enjoy complete anonymity. However, we were a bit apprehensive about signing up for Private Internet Access VPN subscription along with other P2P users. Currently, we did not face any speed or bandwidth issues, and we hope this trend continues for the foreseeable future. Private Internet Access also makes sense for those who use VPN services for unblocking geo-targeted websites such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and other similar online entertainment media channels.

Server Locations

Private Internet Access is basically concentrated in the US, which is signified by the strong presence of servers and server networks in different parts of the United States. Globally, PIA has server networks and VPN gateways in 10 different countries. These include US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Romania, with an estimated number of 1569 servers. While this is enough from PIA’s perspective, we are worried about the extent of P2P subscription, and are a bit worried about what a large number of heavy users will do to the existing VPN browsing speed and bandwidth. For such a low cost, PIA makes a good choice of VPN, but we could certainly advise further server network expansion.

Data Logging Policies & Online Anonymity

Private Internet Access maintains a strict ‘no-log’ policy for all of its users. However, users have to use servers outside of the US for P2P / torrent downloads, and if there are any cases of copyright infringement or threats to national security while using US servers, the Government, relevant courts or other regulatory agencies may request PIA to investigate the matter. Under such circumstances, PIA will first investigate the matter themselves, and if they don’t find any discrepancies, they will not reveal any user information to the authorities concerned.

The recent PRISM controversy surrounded by NSA’s plans had many users worried about the reliability and anonymity offered by US based VPN service providers. The basic premise for user oriented data collection by NSA or other investigative agencies is by being able to collect data that is being stored by a VPN service provider. PIA is a VPN company that doesn’t store user browsing data. Hence, worries related to data revelation or anonymity is unfounded. Private Internet Access has gone on record and responded to the PRISM controversy.

PIA also supports multiple online payment options, and allows you to sign up using proxy identifying information and addresses to hide true identity. Private Internet Access supports 100% online anonymity, which is why PIA has become popular among the online crowd. PIA is also becoming increasingly popular in the P2P sector.

Customer Support

PIA does offer standardized customer support, and they do offer great help to their users. But we clearly missed a 24X7 live chat function. If you have to contact customer support, you will either have to submit a ticket or send them an email, or contact the live support when it becomes available. We couldn’t find a direct contact number either. This is a serious drawback, and immaterial of the efficiency of the customer support channel, we sincerely wish PIA could address this issue.

PIA does offer great resources and tutorials for their users, and all the resources are pretty detailed and self-explanatory. All the tutorials are designed with the beginner in mind. Therefore, as a PIA VPN user, you can address most of the issues by referring to the advanced tutorials on their websites. In case you can’t find an answer, you can always submit a ticket or send them an email. You should receive fast and timely responses.

Issues & Problems

While there aren’t any serious issues or drawbacks at PIA, we felt that the software could have been more detailed and better designed. Sure, a minimalistic design is good as far as system resources are concerned, but a more advanced interface should have been offered as an option. This will help those users who like more control over their VPN platform.

One serious drawback that we came across is the customer support channel. We would like a 24X7 live chat feature, or at least a phone number to contact customer support for addressing pressing issues at the earliest.

PIA could also do well by increasing the number of servers and the number of countries. This will only help them accommodate the increased number of heavy internet users such as P2P traffic and online streaming, without much effect on the overall speed, reliability or bandwidth.

Review Conclusion

There are lots of mainstream VPN service providers that charge a premium for the VPN services rendered, but Private Internet Access is one of the few that values its users. For $3.33 a month, PIA offers the most comprehensive set of VPN services that clearly offsets most of the other competitors in the industry. True, there are a few minor issues with PIA, but in the bigger picture, Private Internet Access clearly outweighs almost all the other ‘big name’ VPN service providers in the industry. Maybe an extended free trial and a few more customer support options would be handy, but these are minor hassles when we consider the package and its overall value for money proposition.

Discount & Coupon Codes

Currently, there are no particular discounts or coupons on offer at PIA. We will update this space as soon as any promotional discounts become available for subscribers.

23 thoughts on “Private Internet Access Review

  1. Terrible customer support. I am having MAJOR issues with uTorrent and Windows 10.
    I’ve sent numerous emails and have not heard back from anyone. I’m thinking about cancelling but looking at the reviews it looks like it’s going to be a challenge. Regardless, I will never let them keep my money if I do cancel. It’s a shame because I was going to use my DD-WRT router to establish a permanent tunnel with split gateways for Netflix but my Win10 experiences don’t make we want to try. It’s a shame because speeds are far better than NordVPN whose customer support is a complete joke, which is why I switched.

  2. Read the reviews Paid up paid me money etc
    Site said will send you an email in a few mins if not do…..
    So I did…….
    Nuffin!!
    Support Center goes round in circles
    Something about “Tickets” 4 to 6 hours wait etc
    Cant as yet even find a way to email them saying forget it give me my money back
    What a wind up Corporate..

  3. WARNING–RE: TRIAL PERIOD REFUND
    Do NOT expect to receive a refund if you cancel during the trial period (which I did because Netflix blocks PIA). One week after cancellation, and still no refund posted to Paypal. Three emails later, I’m still being asked to jump through hoops to get a refund. PIA’s marketing tactic is obviously hoping you’ll just forget about the $38.

  4. not renewing pia due to poor customer service (1. can’t access lan computers while pia vpn client is enabled. pia claimed to release an update “in a few days” to fix this, it’s been 2 months and haven’t received any update. 2. netflix inaction, enough said)

    torguard or purevpn seem to work. will try their free trials and report back

    1. Not sure what PIA could do short of playing wackamole with IP addresses like some of the smaller guys are doing but they are too large for that.

      But the blame here is clearly NetFlix. Thus I canceled them added Amazon Prime and kept PIA.

      One work around I do wish PIA would adopt that some VPNs offer is the option to purchase a static unique IP. That would work for me.

  5. Very fast connections. Seems to be infiltrated with spam bots, since spam levels from this service provider goes up when using the service.

    Coverage is also limited, but cant be beaten for the prices.

    Comes with all the tweaks and whistles of the best VPNs and has an internet kill switch. Along with zero logging, this service is up there at the top for privacy.

  6. No records
    shared ip
    vpn kill sw.
    choice of strong encryption.
    fast servers.
    unlimited bw.
    user’s choice of country or auto choice based on fastest server.
    very attractive cost.
    fast, concerned and competent customers support.

    after almost three years of trouble free usage, to date i know nothing that simply approach PIA.
    to date.

  7. I do like PIA’s VPN features, fast speeds, and price – but I do find myself having to manually reconnect often when my connection fails to reconnect on it’s own after long periods of time. At first I thought it was just because of my Server 2003 machine, but it happens on my Windows 7 machine at times as well. Over-all I’m still very happy with my service, despite the small issue.

  8. I am considering purchasing PIA for my work computer. Does Craigslist block PIA. I need to be sure Craigslist will not be blocked. Thank you!

    1. Hi Pete – I believe PIA works with Craigslist. If not, PIA has a money-back guarantee. If you decide to try it out, please let us know your findings. Thanks and good luck.

  9. PIA is one of the best VPN providers out there. I only have 2 qualms (One of which you mention). Firstly, they are limited in their coverage. 10 countries, for a VPN is not really sufficient.

    2nd, and perhaps more importantly, the way the software is created, they can be a real pain for any decent firewall. They move files, with the same name, into different directories at each launch, meaning you have to allow either the folder or the file each time. This, in turn creates a security risk to the system. The latter also results in failed connections, again meaning you have to disable firewalls during the login process. That said, there is nothing better than PIA. Simple, easy to use, strong security and enough options for most people.

  10. Based on other reviews, I don’t get how they could ‘investigate’ anything if asked, because they use shared IP addresses. If this is true, it is literally physically impossible to link any traffic to any user, so I can’t see what there would be to investigate.

    1. @Kurtosis Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve updated the review. We are working on a more thorough review of this VPN provider. Didn’t realize how popular it is among our readers!

      1. There is a 24/7 livechat option on Private internet access, and it has been 24/7 for a long time.

        https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/

        At the bottom right there is a green box that says ‘Click here to chat with us’ and it is at the bottom right no matter where you go on the website.

        Also, there is a number to call that probably came in your confirmation e-mail when you signed up, it is only a voicemail, but a customer service representative will call you back if you leave a message.

  11. I used Privateinternetaccess for about two months. I was considering purchasing a year subscription when one day they charged my account and then later that day discontinued my account for non payment. I contacted them and they stated that they would give me a month of service to make up for what I had already paid for. I advised them that I wanted to purchase a year subscription and was told that there was “no way they could apply that amount to a years subscription”. I replied that if they could not accommodate such a simple request that I would prefer a refund instead. I was then advised that they would need the exact time of the transaction, account number, and personal contact info. I supplied this information within two weeks and was told that I was no longer eligible for a refund. My bank has become involved and the issue is pending. It’s only $6, but that’s not the point.

    The best thing about this experience is I am now using BolehVPN and it is much faster. Thank you PIA for having POS customer service. If not for that, I may have been stuck with you for a year.

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