Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN review 2020 - Pros, Cons, and Features

Private Internet Access VPN Review: Pros, Cons, and Features.

Private Internet Access is one of the most popular VPN providers today, also known as PIA for short. As its name implies, PIA strictly enforces a no-log policy and protects your privacy from leaking.

PIA is affordable and very easy to use with good performance. It also has some other shortcomings that need improvement. In this Private Internet Access Review, we tested PIA ourselves and covered its features, pros and cons, customer support, performance, and more.

Let’s jump in!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links that I receive a small commission for at no cost to you. You can read my full affiliate disclaimer in the footer.

Private Internet Access VPN Reviews Overview

PIA-official-website-Private Internet Access VPN Review
Visit PIA Website

Private Internet Access Key Summary

Logging PolicyNo Logs Policy
IP, DNS or WebRTC LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (5-eye Member)
Servers23,000+
IP AddressesUndisclosed
Countries84
Simultaneous device10
Unblock US NetflixYes
Dedicated IPYes(Paid)
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaNo
Support24/7 Live Chat/Ticket/Email
Free TrialNo
The Cheapest Price$2.19/mo over 36 months
Refund Policy30 days money-back guarantee
Official Websiteprivateinternetaccess.com
Coupons&DealsGet 82% off

Private Internet Access VPN Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good speed with 23178+ Servers in 84 Countries
  • Supports WireGuard®, PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec
  • Proven no-log policy
  • Connects up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • User-friendly applications
  • Works with Netflix and allows torrenting traffic
  • Blocks ads, trackers, and malware
  • 24/7 live chat service, extensive Help Center
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Based in the US
  • Can’t work in China

What is Private Internet Access VPN?

Private Internet Access was first released by London Trust Media, INC. in August 2010, based in Denver, Colorado. And it was acquired by Kape Technologies on November 18, 2019, which also owns Cyberghost and Zenmate.

Private Internet Access (PIA) has grown to be one of the world’s popular VPN providers today. It now has a robust global network of 23,178+ servers in 129+ locations across 84+ countries.

Logging Policy

Private Internet Access Headquartered in the U. S, which is very unfriendly for user privacy. Because the U. S is a part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances, and it operates under the U. S local law. It means that Private Internet Access may be legally forced to share information.

However, Private Internet Access has a strict no-logging policy that has been verified twice in court. While governments force PIA to disclose user data, nothing can be tracked from PIA applications or servers that can identify users.

PIA-Court-Record
PIA-Court-Record

Furthermore, Private Internet Access regularly updates the transparency report to keep it public with users. You can get what governmental data requests and how PIA handles these types of data requests.

PIA-transparency-report
PIA-transparency-report

In the latest transparency report, I found no Logs produced for governmental data requests. Private Internet Access puts your security and privacy first.

Private Internet Access VPN Speed Test

A VPN usually slows down your network connection, and the download speed is one of the most important factors when you choose a VPN.

In this review, I picked both short and long-distance servers from our physical testing lab in Seattle, US. And we used the OpenVPN protocol with 256-bit AES encryption on Windows.

  • Local Servers: US, CA
  • Long-distance Servers: UK, JP, HK, AU, SG, CN
PIA-baseline-USA-Seattle
PIA-Baseline-US
PIA-UK-London
PIA-UK
PIA-AU-Perth
PIA-AU
PIA-HongKong
PIA-HK
PIA-CN-Shenzhen
PIA-CN
PIA-USA-Seattle
PIA-US
PIA-CA-Toronto
PIA-CA
PIA-JP-Tokyo
PIA-JP
PIA-Singapore
PIA-SG
PIA-speed-test-comparison
PIA-speed-test-comparison

For local connections, Private Internet Access is second only to the fastest VPN Hotspot Shield.

First, I tested the U. S and Canadian servers. Our baseline connection speed was 272.8 Mbps, and the download speed was reduced to 107.32 Mbps while connecting to the U. S server. And it dropped to 72.05 Mbps when I switched to the Canada server. Even better, the network latency increased by just two seconds for a local connection.

When it comes to long-distance servers, Private Internet Access performs lower than local servers. The download speed dropped from 272.8 Mbps to 47.26 Mbps when connecting to the UK server. It is not as fast as you might expect, but it’s enough for streaming and torrenting.

Also, you can get access to Chinese dramas with a China IP address. The download speed was even better than Canadian servers, though the network latency was the longest in the test.

Overall, Private Internet Access is super fast for a local connection. While the long-distance servers are not as good as local servers, it’s reliable and consistent.

Private Internet Access VPN Server Locations

Private Internet Access will continuously update and upgrade the server network as users grow. Today Private Internet Access has expanded to 22,754 VPN and Proxy servers in 99 locations across 77 countries. And all servers support WireGuard® protocol.

Private Internet Access recently launched the NextGen VPN network of servers, which moved from using 1G network cards to 10G network cards.

PIA-servers
PIA-servers

And Private Internet Access offers geo-located regions to re-enter regions like Russia and Brazil. Geo-located areas are the same as virtual servers. When you connect to a geo-located server, you will be connecting to a VPN server hosted in other regions. You can easily find the following geo-located servers with a mark in the desktop clients and mobile applications:

  • Algiers, Algeria (Amsterdam)
  • Andorra (Amsterdam)
  • Yerevan, Armenia (Amsterdam)
  • Nassau, Bahamas (Hong Kong)
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh (Hong Kong)
  • Minsk, Belarus (Vilnius)
  • São Paulo, Brazil (Miami)
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Singapore)
  • Shenzhen, China (Hong Kong)
  • Nicosia, Cyprus (Amsterdam)
  • Cairo, Egypt (Bucharest)
  • Tbilisi, Georgia (Amsterdam)
  • Nuuk, Greenland (Amsterdam)
  • Tehran, Iran (Amsterdam)
  • Douglas, Isle of Man (Amsterdam)
  • Astana, Kazakhstan (Amsterdam)
  • Vaduz, Liechtenstein (Amsterdam)
  • Macau (Hong Kong)
  • Valletta, Malta (Amsterdam)
  • Mexico City, Mexico (Miami)
  • Monaco (Amsterdam)
  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Hong Kong)
  • Podgorica, Montenegro (Amsterdam)
  • Rabat, Morocco (Amsterdam)
  • Lagos, Nigeria (Amsterdam)
  • Panama City, Panama (Amsterdam)
  • Manila, Philippines (Singapore)
  • Doha, Qatar (Amsterdam)
  • Saint Petersburg, Russia (Tallinn)
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Amsterdam)
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka (Amsterdam)
  • Taipei, Taiwan (Singapore)
  • Dubai, UAE (Amsterdam)
  • Caracas, Venezuela (Amsterdam)
  • Hanoi, Vietnam (Singapore)

I also found Private Internet Access takes full account of network congestion. It offers more servers and city-level servers in the following popular countries:

  • United States (14 locations, 11,261 servers)
  • Canada (4 locations, 2,859 servers)
  • United Kingdom (4 locations, 1,650 servers)
  • Australia (3 locations, 791 servers)
  • Germany (2 locations, 793 servers)

Private Internet Access is compatible with my devices?

Apps

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Private Internet Access provides dedicated apps for the most popular platforms and devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It allows you to protect up to ten devices simultaneously with only one account, and you can share it with your families or friends.

PIA-devices
PIA-devices

PIA’s application is friendly to use. It offers a smooth experience between different platforms and devices.

Game Consoles & Streaming Devices

Private Internet Access does not offer dedicated apps for game consoles and streaming devices except for Amazon Firestick and Android TV. Private Internet Access is a good choice for gaming, and even there are no native apps for PS4, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch. But you can enjoy PIA on your game consoles via a router. PIA can be used in the following routers:

  • DD-WRT
  • LEDE
  • ASUSWRT (AND MERLIN)
  • TOMATO
  • PFSENSE

Manual installation is not as easy as native apps. However, PIA provides very detailed tutorials to help you get started quickly.

Browser Extensions

Private Internet Access also offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. But it’s only for users who have purchased its premium services.

PIA’s browser extensions could help you keep private with WebRTC blocking, IP Cloaking, and data encryption features. It does hide your real IP address to stop data trackers, snoopers, and hackers from tracking your online activity.

Keep in mind that PIA’s browser plugins only work for your browser. If you want to protect privacy when you use the browser, apps, or anything else, you should use PIA’s full application.

On the other hand, a browser extension is far better than a VPN application regarding privacy and security.

Private Internet Access unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer & torrenting?

Private Internet Access does not advertise the unblocking Netflix feature as its selling point to the public, because Netflix announced that it would crack down on VPN use back in 2016.

I also found many reviewers complained about this with PIA. However, we tested PIA and found it could unblock Netflix content in the U. S, UK, and Japan. But it can’t allow you to access other Netflix libraries such as Canada, Australia, and Germany.

However, Private Internet Access may not the right choice if you would rather unblock more Netflix libraries. If you are looking for a VPN for accessing Netflix content, please have a look at NordVPN.

We also can unblock BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. Plus, we have no issue when watching streaming videos in HD with PIA’s fast speeds.

Is Private Internet Access Good for Torrenting?

Private Internet Access doesn’t offer dedicated servers for P2P and torrenting, but it allows P2P traffic on all servers. It provides many torrenting features such as a no-logs policy, kill switch, unlimited bandwidth, port-forwarding, and SOCKS5 proxy.

PIA also supports popular torrent clients such as uTorrent, BitTorrent, and Deluge. A Kill Switch feature could prevent your privacy from leaking when your internet connection suddenly drops. You can set your port forward to ports 443, 80, 110, 53, 8080, and 9201, or you can directly use SOCKS5 proxy for a faster torrenting speed.

Private Internet Access VPN Works in China, UAE & more?

The reason Private Internet Access launched geo-located servers is to re-enter Russia and Brazil markets. PIA works well in Russia, Turkey, and the UAE, but it can’t continuously work in China.

I found PIA added Shadowsocks Proxy for users in China. Shadowsocks is still an effective way to bypass the GFW, but it’s not very secure. I tested it via Shadowsocks. To my disappointment, PIA can’t work at all.

If you are looking for a VPN for bypassing censorship, I highly recommend ExpressVPN that works reliably in China and other heavily-censored regions.

Private Internet Access Encryption & Security

Protocols

  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
  • WireGuard®
  • IPSEC/L2TP
  • IKEv2

Encryption

  • AES-128
  • AES-256

Security

  • DNS Leak Blocking
  • First-party DNS
  • IPV6 Leak Blocking
  • Supports Port Forwarding
  • VPN Kill Switch
  • WebRTC Leak Blocking

Advanced features

  • Ad Blocker
  • SOCKS5
  • Split Tunneling
  • PIA MACE

According to our test, private Internet Access is safe to use, and we find no DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaking. It’s advantageous to hide your real IP to prevent data from leaking.

Private Internet Access supports OpenVPN, WireGuard®, IPSEC/L2TP, and IKEv2 protocol. It also supports ShadowSocks and SOCKS5 proxy, although they are not popular network protocols.

PIA-protocol
PIA-protocol

PIA protects your online traffic with AES 128-bit encryption by default, which is the fastest encryption mode. It also allows you to choose what level of encryption you want on your VPN sessions. You can enable AES-256 advanced encryption to get maximum protection.

Private Internet Access is one of the products offering the most security features. You can easily find and activate them via its application, such as DNS Leak Blocking, IPV6 Leak Blocking, Port Forwarding, PIA MAce, and VPN Kill Switch.

Private Internet Access Supports Ad Blocker?

Private Internet Access developed an ad-blocking system called PIA MACE. It not only blocks ads but also blocks trackers and malware.

Although PIA MACE supports smartphones, computers, and browser extensions, it is not a good adblocker. You can turn it on or off, but you can’t white list certain domains. I also found that many users complain that it does not work that well. In contrast, I highly recommend using uBlock Origin or ADGuard.

Private Internet Access Offers Dedicated IP Addresses?

PIA does offer a dedicated IP address service, but it is an extra premium feature. If you want to stay protected with the strongest encryption, you need to pay $5 per month to get a dedicated IP.

You can select the location of your dedicated IP in the following locations:

  • Canada (Toronto, Vancouver)
  • Germany (Berlin)
  • United Kingdom (London)
  • United States (Atlanta, California, Chicago, New York, Texas, Washington DC)

It is important to note that it’s a one-time payment when purchasing a dedicated IP. You need to renew it after your time-period expires manually. And you can’t switch to other locations once you choose unless you wait until the next payment cycle.

Private Internet Access Customer Support

Private Internet Access currently offers a 7/24 live chat, email support, and a very informative online help center.

PIA-support
PIA-support

You can find the live chat entry on the bottom-right corner of the PIA official website. Before you start a chat with a live agent, PIA will first ask your account ID, connection method, network type, and issue details. It’s very beneficial to solve your problem as quickly as possible with this info.

The help center is handy if you need assistance while using PIA. It covers the latest news, how-to guides, and a detailed knowledge base.

I also found PIA has a community that is a platform for communication with users. You can share your suggestions on your experience or request a new server. It’s excellent to collect real users’ opinions and comments to improve PIA itself.

Private Internet Access VPN is easy to use?

How to Install & Set Up Private Internet Access

PIA’s application started to become easy to use and customize after a significant update. You can connect to servers by region or network latency.

Also, you can click the ‘expand’ button on the bottom to find more options, including quick connect, real-time performance statistics, quick settings, and VPN snooze.

The brand-new PIA also allows you to change language, switch light or dark mode, and set tray icon style.

Browser Extensions

PIA provides powerful browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. You can get it via the browser web store and keep it protected with WebRTC blocking, IP Cloaking, and more.

Private Internet Access VPN Pricing Plans & Refund Options

Private Internet Access Coupon Code

Private Internet Access is affordable, and it currently offers 82% off with a three-year plan. Here is the latest Private Internet Access coupon code below:

Private Internet Access VPN Coupon Special offer

30-day money-back guarantee
Save 82%
Coupon applied automatically

Private Internet Access Pricing Plan

Private Internet Access has been one of the highest cost-effective VPNs on the market. It offers three pricing plans, $11.95 monthly, $39.95 annually equals $3.33 per month, and $79 over three years, which costs $2.19 per month.

Like other VPN providers, you can save more money if you subscribe for a more extended time. If you subscribe to a three-year plan, you can get a bonus with Boxcryptor, which is Cloud Security License.

1 Month12 Months36 Months
Price$ 11.95/mo$ 3.33/mo$ 2.19/mo
Simultaneous device101010
24/7 live chatYesYesYes
Billed $11.95
every month
Billed $39.95
every year
Billed $79.00
every three years
Get it NowGet it NowSave 82% Now
31-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

PIA-payment
PIA-Payment

Private Internet Access accepts a wide of payment options such as Visa, credit card, PayPal, and even Amazon Pay. You can also purchase PIA anonymously with cryptocurrency payment. PIA currently supports the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitpay
  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • ZCash
  • Beam

Private Internet Access does not offer a free trial. Instead, it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee. And you don’t have a good experience with PIA, and you can request a full refund via support ticket.

How to Download Private Internet Access?

Before you start to use PIA, you first need to subscribe to it. You can Click Here to Get 82% Off with the latest coupon code.

After purchasing, you can go to the PIA client area, log in to your account, click the ‘Downloads’ menu on the left sidebar, and get PIA’s applications on your platforms or devices.

PIA-download
PIA-download

Private Internet Access VPN FAQs

Is private Internet access safe?

PIA implements a strict no-logging policy, and it has been proven twice in court. PIA protects your online traffic with AES-128 encryption by default, and you can choose AES-256 on your needs. You can also set the data authentication and handshake methods to RSA-2048 or RSA-4096 in the settings by yourself.

Is private Internet access free?

PIA is a premium VPN service. While it does not offer a free trial, it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can enjoy all the premium features and services before you cancel your subscription within the first 30 days.

Does private Internet access work with Netflix?

PIA could unblock Netflix content in the U. S, UK, and Japan, but it can’t free all Netflix libraries. Also, you can watch streaming videos smoothly with PIA’s fast speed.

Does private Internet access work in China?

While PIA launched geo-located servers for high-level censorship countries, it still can’t work in China. I found it provides ShadowSocks proxy for China, but it couldn’t work well all the time.

Private Internet Access VPN VPN Alternatives

Private Internet Access VS NordVPN

PIA does unblock US Netflix libraries, but it only supports a minimal number of Netflix libraries while comparing to top-tier VPNs. NordVPN is the right choice for watching streaming services with its SmartPlay feature. It’s super-fast, and there are no issues while streaming.

Click here to Visit NordVPN or Read NordVPN Review.

Private Internet Access VS ExpressVPN

PIA may work well in strict-censorship countries such as Russia and Turkey. It can’t bypass the GFW in China, and even it offers ShadowSocks proxy. When it comes to the Best VPN in China, ExpressVPN is still our #1. It works reliably in China even though many VPN providers are blocked in China.

Click here to Visit ExpressVPN or Read ExpressVPN Review.

The Bottom Line

Private Internet Access VPN Review Summary

Kris Wu

Speed
Security
Price
Easy of use
Service

Summary

Private Internet Access is an affordable VPN with many competing features, including a proven zero-log policy, fast local speeds, many advanced security functions, unblocking US Netflix.

PIA’s no-log policy has been proven twice in court, and even it’s located in the U.S, an unfriendly place for privacy. Overall, PIA is still an inexpensive choice for streaming, torrenting, and keeping protected online.

However, PIA may not work well in China. You can still find some alternative VPNs such as ExpressVPN or Hotspot Shield.

4.5

If you have used Private Internet Access VPN, please share your honest review (good or bad).

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