Private Internet Access, known as “PIA” for short, is one of the world’s best-known VPN providers. PIA is owned and operated by London Trust Media, and provides VPN access to users in more than 33 countries. There are literally tens of thousands of reviews for PIA on Google Play, so this is a popular and highlyrated VPN to use on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.
Quick Facts About PIA:
- 3,311+ servers in 33 countries
- P2P support
- Connect up to 10 devices through the same account
- Block malware and ads
- PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Strict no-log policy
Private Internet Access Pricing Structure
There are three tiers of pricing available for PIA. The features are the same at each level; the only difference between the tiers is how many months of service you are paying for at a time.
- Monthly: $9.99/month
- Yearly: $5.99/month (Save 40%)
- Two years: $3.49/month (Save 65%)
As you can see, you get 65% off of the monthly rate if you opt to buy the 2-Year package, which is by far the best value. You can check out using credit or debit card, PayPal, Amazon, Bitcoin, CashU, OKPay, or Mint. You also have the option to pay anonymously using a major brand gift card from Best Buy, Starbucks, Costco, or any of several hundred other vendors.
Core Features of PIA
Now let’s find out more about PIA’s features in-depth!
Security and Privacy
PIA actually offers a number of preset encryption settings depending on what you need. These include:
- Default Recommended Protection
- All Speed No Safety
- Maximum Protection
- Risky Business
The default mode features AES-128 data encryption with SHA1 data authentication along with a RSA-2048 handshake.
It is great that these four default modes are available, since you can select a security setting which fits your needs with a single click. More information on all of these settings is available on PIA’s website.
PIA has a strict no-logs policy. Judging from recent news headlines, they are quite serious about it. In March 2016, an FBI case resulted in a subpoena being sent to PIA. The subpoena resulted in very little information, only that the IP address cluster the user in question was assigned during PIA sessions was from the east coast of the USA. The company informed the agent conducting investigations of their no-log policy, and the agent affirmed that he understood and respected that policy.
It is not often that we get this kind of real-world feedback on the policies of a VPN company, so it is fantastic to see that when put to the test, PIA delivers on its promise of privacy.
PIA Servers and Locations
In total, PIA provides more than 3,311 servers in 33 different countries. While many of the servers are located in countries throughout Europe, there are also servers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, India, Israel, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA.
All the IP addresses PIA offers are shared. So unfortunately if you are looking for a dedicated IP address, you are out of luck. As the company points out, however, a shared IP address is a far more secure option if you are in search of true anonymity. No data is available on the number of IP addresses in the shared pool.
Supported Operating Systems and Devices
You can use PIA on any of the following operating systems:
- Windows 7, 8 and 10
- Mac OS 10.8+
- iOS 4+
- Android 2.3+
- Tomato 1.28+
- PfSense 2.0+
Because all of these operating systems are supported, you can use PIA to surf the web anonymously on your home PC or Mac or on your mobile device.
PIA Speed, Stability, and Bandwidth
If you search user forums and third party reviews, you will notice that there have been problems with disconnects and crashes in the past with Private Internet Access. As most of these complaints are a couple of years old now, it would appear that these performance issues are no longer a problem.
As to speed, reviewers indicate that download speeds range between 5-15 Mbps. At the upper end, this should be great for just about anything, but at the lower end, it may be a problem for P2P sharing. Keep in mind that you will get the best results if you choose a server which is located nearby. Your choice of protocols can also impact your download and upload speeds.
Bandwidth for PIA is unlimited for all accounts, and there appear to be no data caps for PIA as well. So you can use PIA as much as you want, which is excellent for uploading and downloading, gaming, streaming, and other bandwidth-intensive operations.
If you are unsatisfied with PIA, you can request a full refund within 7 days of your purchase date. PIA does offer a free 30-day trial right now, but in the past, that offer was not available. So if there is no free trial offered when you go to test out PIA, the 7-day refund period gives you a chance to try with no risk.
PIA Customer Service
Previously, PIA offered customer service via live chat 24/7. This customer service line was well-staffed and very convenient, and you could generally get an answer to a question within minutes of opening the chat box.
Unfortunately, the live chat feature was recently removed from Private Internet Access. The support team states that the reason for this is that they are able to “provide more comprehensive, higher quality and better support through ticketing versus live chat.”
Indeed, ticketing is all that is left. This service is also available 24/7/365. If the quality of the ticketing system matches that of the chat, it is probably excellent. That said, it is still quite inconvenient that at this time there is no way to access a live customer support representative. There is no phone number to call PIA, so you are stuck waiting for someone to follow up on your ticket messages to resolve your issues.
Note that PIA does also maintain a support library which you can browse for solutions. There are also video guides which teach you how to install the service on a variety of operating systems, how to reset your password, how to set up the service on specific types of routers, and more.
- Bandwidth on Private Internet Access is unlimited.
- 3,311+ servers in 33 countries provide you with ample diversity.
- PIA offers a number of security presets, making it easy to select encryption settings which fit your needs. The company takes its no-log policy seriously, as demonstrated by recent news events.
- While speeds vary from one server to the next, they range from adequate to fantastic, perfect for sharing files, gaming, and more.
- While PIA had some stability issues in the past, they appear to have been fixed.
- PIA is extremely cost-effective. You are not going to find a lot of other VPN services this cheap.
- PIA has been operating for years, and has established a strong reputation in the VPN industry. The company has garnered great reviews from PCMag, DigitalTrends, Wired, Forbes, and other trusted sites including VPNtrends.
- Video tutorials are very helpful with new customer onboarding. Even if you know very little about VPNs, you should feel comfortable getting started with PIA.
- There is no option to purchase a dedicated IP address.
- The live chat line is gone and there is no telephone number, leaving only the ticketing system to communicate with the help desk.
Conclusion: PIA Offers Excellent Security, Bandwidth, and Speed for a Decent Price
While Private Internet Access is not a perfect VPN, it is one which delivers far more than you would expect for the very low price of $3.49 per month. At that low annual cost, you get access to the full suite of features including unlimited bandwidth, support for up to 10 devices, and access to more than 3,311 servers around the globe.
PIA may experience occasional disconnects, and you may sometimes have to hunt for a server which offers you the speed you need for P2P applications. But PIA does provide support for P2P (not every VPN does), and offers you the high speed and bandwidth needed for file transfers, gaming, and streaming. At the same time, you get the security you need to conduct your business privately.
Strong encryption keeps your data safe from hackers, and the company stands behind its no-log policy if Big Brother does come snooping. All in all, PIA is an outstanding value and one of the best budget VPN providers out there.