NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA) Comparison

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Today more people resort to VPN services to keep their privacy on the network and remain under protection against cyber-attacks. In addition to keeping their personal information secret from both government and hackers, VPN users can access content available only for certain regions.

All this exhaustively explains why VPN services are so popular all over the world.

However, there are hundreds of VPN providers that all have individual features. It can take years and tons of money until you find a service that will be perfectly suitable for your needs. To relieve you of daunting searches, I compared two giants of the VPN world – NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA). So, let the faceoff begin. 

Criteria for NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA) Comparison

For a start, I would like to say a couple of words about the features a good VPN provider must have. These are:

  • A large number of servers;
  • Access to local servers in a country you reside;
  • A variety of options regarding connection and configuration for all operating systems;
  • Reliability of work;
  • No logs policy
  • Decent connection speed
  • Good customer service

Local servers are needed so that Google services don’t start speaking some Chinese. In addition, if you live, let’s say, in Australia, a lot of local content on YouTube won’t be available outside your country.

A perfect VPN provider probably doesn’t exist. You will always have to sacrifice some functions in favor of others. For example, great security features cause lower connection speed. So the choice of the best VPN is largely a matter of personal preferences and needs. So, today we compare two popular options – a powerful NordVPN vs PIA known for its budget-friendly solutions.

Private Internet Access vs NordVPN Overview

It is no doubt that both VPN services are fantastic in its own way but there can be only one ultimate winner. So, with keeping the mentioned above criteria in mind, let’s take a closer look at our contestants.

Features

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the most private VPN services with a large number of specialized servers. For example, NordVPN can offer special dedicated servers (Ultra-fast TV), which successfully bypass regional restrictions. Also, NordVPN users have access to additional server settings (Double VPN, Tor-over-VPN, Obfuscation). Also, you will be pleased to find built-in masking modules suitable for working from China.

CyberSec, a new feature of NordVPN, is an ad blocker with a malicious search function. It is a very useful thing when working on the net.

NordVPN takes pride in its double VPN connection (it means that your data will be encrypted twice). This is how it works: if one of the NordVPN servers is under attack, a double VPN connection will be an additional mean of protection. It’s like a safe inside the other safe

Thanks to the Tor over VPN (also known as Onion over VPN) function you can use Tor network combined with VPN. Unfortunately, this option significantly slows down the connection speed.

The last but not least, NordVPN features all the basic leak protection functions including protection against IP addresses and DNS leaks.

  • 3655 servers in more than 60 countries 
  • 2048-bit SSL encryption;
  • No logs policy;
  • Unlimited network bandwidth;
  • Simultaneous connection of up to six devices;
  • A great variety of features (including Kill switch, CyberSec ad blocker, and many others);
  • Multiple server types available (Double VPN connection, Tor over VPN, etc.)
  • VPN gateways for streaming media content

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the world’s leading of VPN providers. Affordable prices, round the clock support, a huge knowledge base, unlimited traffic and more than 3000 servers in 28 countries – this is what makes this service so popular.

As for functionality, Private Internet Access is a budget-friendly VPN solution, that’s why it lacks many functions you can find among premium VPN provides. 

One of the main features of Private Internet Access is a PIA MACE option, which blocks online ads, “bugs”, and malware. According to the developers, it requires less RAM than conventional ad blockers, because the function does not match each link with the list of rules. However, the company updates the database of advertising sources once a month while the specialized software does it more often.

The service also provides basic protection against leaks which includes Kill Switch and IPv6 leak protection.

  • More than 3000 servers in 28 countries;
  • 2048-bit SSL encryption;
  • Doesn’t store logs;
  • Unlimited network bandwidth;
  • Simultaneous connection of up to five devices;
  • Provides such features as emergency disconnection, protection against leaks via Ipv6, ad blocker, P2P connection;
  • Simple and intuitive interface

Features Winner: NordVPN

Payment and Prices

NordVPN

For payment, NordVPN accepts Bitcoins, credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Chinese payment systems. After the payment is done, you have 30 days for refunds, which is probably the best return policy in the entire VPN industry. The service offers excellent discount prices for longer-duration subscription plans:

  • One month – $11.95 per month;
  • 1 Year – $5.75 per month ($69 per year).
  • 2 years – $3.29 per month ($79 per year).
  • 3 Years – $2.75 per month ($99 per year).

After choosing any suitable plan and registering an account, you can simultaneously connect up to six devices.

Private Internet Access

The service provides a variety of payment options: PayPal, debit cards, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, WebMoney, Yandex.Money, Qiwi wallet, Mint payment system, as well as Best Buy, Starbucks, and Walmart gift cards.

If for any reason you are not satisfied with PIA service, you have a 7-day refund window.

Private Internet Access is one of the most budget-friendly services within the VPN industry. The price starts at $ 6.95 per month with a month-to-month subscription and drops to $2.91 per month if you opt for a two-year plan.

  • One month – $6.95 per month;
  • 1 Year – $3.33 per month ($39.95 per year);
  • 3 Years – $2.91 per month ($69.95 per year).

Regardless of a selected plan, you can simultaneously connect up to five devices.

Payment and Prices Winner: Private Internet Access

Connection Speed

NordVPN

When working with NordVPN, some speed fluctuations are possible. The application automatically connects to the least loaded server in the selected country. Such a technology ensures good speed. Several speed tests showed that when connected via VPN, the data transfer speed averages 90-95% of the regular Internet provider speed.

Private Internet Access

The speed indicators may vary slightly depending on which server you are connecting to. Private Internet Access is a very affordable provider, so it would be too optimistic to expect superb speeds. However, the service pleasantly surprised me. The speed fluctuated within 89-93% of the normal Internet connection speed. The buffering time may slightly increase only in regions with fewer servers, such as Hong Kong and Australia.

Connection Speed Winner: NordVPN

Security

NordVPN

NordVPN is one of a few worldwide VPNs registered in a country that is not a member of any alliances. Panama (this is where NordVPN is registered) does not belong to the 14 Eyes. This means that the company can’t be forced to turn in user logs to the government. This is why the service does not store user data, connection session information, IP addresses, etc. If you need maximum security and data privacy, then NordVPN is your best choice.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is registered in the United States, which is one of the parties in the UKUSA agreement establishing cooperation in signals intelligence between USA and United Kingdom. A few other countries also joined this agreement. Therefore, in theory, PIA will have to provide data on users at the request of the government. In practice, however, the service claims that it does not store any logs history or personal information about their users. 

Security Winner: NordVPN

Software, Ease of Use

NordVPN

nordvpn windows software

As I have already mentioned, NordVPN offers access to dedicated IP servers, servers for preventing DDoS attacks, TOR, and P2P-servers. Alas, the mobile app interface does not allow determining the closest server. For example, in the US alone, the service has dozens of servers that visually do not differ from each other. It makes it virtually impossible to choose the best server (unless you manually connect to several servers and compare their performance).

Generally, I would say that mobile app has an outdated appearance for my taste. It can drop connection until the secure connection is restored and then automatically reconnect to VPN servers. Frequently used servers are highlighted in a separate list. You can add them to the selected servers list or to the widget. The latter is a great benefit for iOS since it simplifies the launch of the VPN session. You don’t have to open the software manually.

Private Internet Access

private internet access windows software

Its mobile application is very simple due to the lack of functions comparing to premium VPN services. What you can basically do is to choose a country, theme (light / dark), and enable or disable VPN connection. In case of disconnection, there is a built-in an option that that cuts off Internet access until the safe connection is restored.

The app does not allow users to select a particular server. This is done in order to better control traffic of each individual server and thus ensure a reliable speed.

Reliability

NordVPN

NordVPN doesn’t demonstrate a top-notch reliability, however, it is not bad altogether. The main issues I spotted concerned speed fluctuations when connecting to certain servers, interrupted connections, and problems with the kill switch. I would like to talk about the latter in more detail. A kill switch ought to freeze your traffic when VPN connection is lost. This feature of NordVPN simply shuts down your applications which mean that some portion of the regular traffic can still get through. It may result in exposing your real IP address when you switch servers.

Private Internet Access

The performance of Private Internet Access was plausible but there is always room for improvement. Sometimes I experienced noticeable speed variations and connection issues, but these shortcomings were not systemic in nature. All in all, in terms of reliability, both services are approximately equal.

Reliability Winner: Tied

Number of Servers and Locations

NordVPN

nordvpn servers

NordVPN has a network of 3655 servers located in 61 countries. Although the provider does not hold the industry’s leading position on this indicator, the server coverage is decent. This ensures users to gain access to geo-blocked content from almost anywhere in the world.

On top of that, NordVPN offers a great selection of various server types. Thus, servers with DDoS protection, dedicated IP-addresses servers, Double VPN, Obfuscation, Onion Over VPN, and P2P-servers at your disposal. 

Private Internet Access

pia servers

The second contestant, Private Internet Access, has a slightly more modest server network – 3012. However, they are scattered in only 28 countries, which is twice less of the NordVPN server count. While in the most popular countries server coverage is good enough, users do not have an abundance of choice for accessing servers in smaller countries. In addition, the provider does not offer any variety regarding servers, which means that you will always be connected to servers of the same type.

Servers Winner: NordVPN

Customer Support

NordVPN

NordVPN takes special pride in their customer support.  In case of any support-related questions you can turn to the knowledge library or submit a trouble ticket via email but the most prompt option is their live support chat. The chat is available around the clock, therefore you can get answers to your questions in the shortest possible time. You can go to the NordVPN site and inquire about VPN even if you are not their client.

Private Internet Access

The Private Internet Access possibilities are more modest. They offer a very informative and easy to use do-it-yourself support library and a trouble ticket submission. This means that currently, live chat is unavailable. At the same time, the support service replied to my query quickly enough and their response was very useful.

Customer Support Winner: NordVPN

And the Winner is: NordVPN

So, it’s time to sum up the results of our Private Internet Access vs NordVPN head-to-head.

When it comes to the combination of security features, reliability of work, and powerful tech support NordVPN is second to none. Despite a noticeable bias towards security, the service makes sure connection speed remains very high. Thanks to the extensive server network in more than 60 countries, you are able circumvent geo-blocking and enjoy restricted content wherever you are. So, putting all these facts together you’ll get an unconditional winner – NordVPN. 

Our runner-up, Private Internet Access, is good in its own way. It offers a minimal set of functions for a very affordable price. So if you don’t like messing with excessive security configurations and wherein enjoy streaming content at high speeds, PIA might be just what you need. Remember, the choice is always up to you based on your requirements and preferences.

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