Pricing & Plans
Plans come with discounts proportionate to the length of time that you subscribe for, starting at $6.95 per month. If you’re satisfied with the service, or trust your research and would like to take immediate advantage of some savings, you may opt for the $5.99 per month 6-month plan, or the $39.95 1-year plan (which averages out to a paltry $3.33 per month!). We know it’s not an insignificant sum, but in the context of the features discussed below and in comparison to the wider VPN market, it might well be considered a great deal.
There’s a 7-day money-back guarantee in place for those wishing to try out the service risk-free, which enhances the already appealing pricing model that Private Internet Access has in place.
You may pay with any major credit card, Paypal, cash money, or even Bitcoin – allowing for a near perfect degree of anonymity – in addition to the other options shown in the image above.
- Slightly above-average price
- Topnotch encryption
- Varied protocol options
- Highs speeds
- Small wait For support responses
We’ve put together a video review of Private Internet Access(PIA)’s service below for your viewing pleasure.
Despite being a subsidiary of London Trust Media Inc. (which might lead you to assume UK connections), Private Internet Access is based in Michigan in the US. There isn’t any glaring attempt to hide this – slightly disconcerting from a ‘Five Eyes‘ surveillance standpoint – company tie in any way, unlike some providers that hide or make it extremely difficult to find their registration and headquarters locations.
There are servers in place in 25 countries and counting, with North America and Europe well-covered. Additionally, Asia and the Middle East are represented, and the servers in Australia and New Zealand are definitely a welcome touch. What’s more, you’re allowed up to 5 simultaneous device connections, so all your devices can be covered.
A handy server page on the main website shows clients and prospective buyers alike server counts, locations, and bandwidth stats, as another example of the design team’s client-facing attitude. Click the jump below to try out PIA, or head below for some points on security.
Security & Privacy
Private Internet Access has some of the best security measures and quite possibly the widest range of choices on the market. You may choose from PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, or OpenVPN. That said, the latter is undeniably best option available, so it wouldn’t make much sense to make any other choice (accounting for times when security is of little to no importance where speed and unblocking concerns trump all else).
What’s more, you may encrypt your data with up to AES-256, authenticate it with SHA256, and handshake with RSA 4096 (though you will take a speed hit on account of this last one). The wide variety might sound overwhelming to a novice, but Private Internet Access’ design team have done a great job of leaving tips and mapping out the different potential results of choosing one security blend over another. More on how this was accomplished can be found on both the PIA website, as well as in the sections below.
Private Internet Access’ legal terms clearly state that the service is entirely logless. However, if a reasonable government or court-ordered request came for user data, the folks in charge may be compelled to comply. Thing is, they don’t collect anything in the first place and have never been forced to do so, as evidenced by the recent FBI subeonas to which PIA simply said some variation of: “We can’t hand over what was never stored.”
As with any other service, there is an element of good faith in the providing entity to keep from abusing any power it may have over you, for any form of gain. That said, we have every reason to hold Private Internet Access in high esteem. Numerous reviews on this site and elsewhere share this sentiment.
Meanwhile, the bottom portion of the page shows more in-depth links, as well as legal information which should be part of your essential reading if it isn’t already.
There’s also a link to the weekly updated (or more) PIA VPN blog, written by the founder of both Private Internet Access and the Swedish Pirate Party, Rick Falkvinge. The blog comes as a strongly recommended read from us here at BestVPN, whether you ever sign up for PIA or not.
Unfortunately, live chat support has been done away with since our last review, so you’ll have to settle for ticket-based support. On the flip-side, the step by step video guides found in the Knowledgbase are quite comprehensive and range from simple setup to DD-WRT or Tomato routers.
There are also just over 300 articles on anything and everything relating to VPNs in general, as well as specific discussion on PIA’s service. Support was helpful if not particularly fast at times.
Setting up is a matter of registration and payment, with the degree of anonymity entirely depending on which aforementioned payment method you choose. Afterwards, you head to the download area and follow the setup instructions for your platform. Now let’s discuss the client.
The PIA Windows VPN client
The Private Internet Acess client for Windows is one of the best in terms of performance and baked-in options, if not the most eye-popping in terms of style. Everything you’d need is within a half-wrist flick, and you can either expand or compress the settings in the right half portion of the client using Simple/Advanced button in the bottom left corner. Keeping it simple shows the right-hand portion of the total client with login boxes and a drop-down menu for server selection as seen above.
Save your settings, then navigate to the system tray (on your taskbar, by the time) and right click on the Private Internet Access icon. Click connect to engage with a server. The last one you chose will be at the top with the balance of server choices just below.
While the client isn’t anything remarkable to look at, it works smoothly at all times, and has such a wealth of built-in options that it’s worth a special commendation for being, frankly, excellent.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)
Speeds were nothing to sneeze at averaging a shade under 10 Mbps downstream on UK servers, with a bump up to 12Mbps when using Dutch servers. Most impressively, US speeds showed almost no drop-off from testing with or without a VPN, and averaged in the 6 Mbps range, which is more than adequate for any browsing any high-def streaming needs, but may be a bit tougher on the P2P front. Then again, geo-proximity contributed to the slower speeds for US servers in my testing.
|Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.|
DNS leakage was – like our last review – non-existent. There were no DNS or WebRTC leaks found using ipleak.net, nor IPv6 leaks from test-ipv6.com. Additionally, nothing came back from doileak.com, sort of a mix of the other two tests. While nothing was amiss during testing, it’s always good practice to test your connection periodically and make sure everything is in working order.
Private Internet is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, in addition to the Windows client, DD-WRT, and Tomato.
The crucial point is that the same level of attention, setup information, FAQ support, and functionality is available across every platform, as you’d rightfully hope for and expect.
The dedicated Private Internet Access Android App is a close to perfect replica of its Windows brother, with a killswitch and the same spiffy encryption options from which to choose. The same goes for auto-connect and SSL. This is where the ability to choose TCP rather than UDP comes into play, as you’ll more than likely be connecting to Wi-Fi at some point in your daily life or travels. As with the Windows client, there’s the built-in internet killswitch and options to specify type and level of encryption and the same choice to auto-connect when you power on your smartphone.
Private Internet Access Review Conclusion
- Encryption strength & overarching variety
- Same client across platforms
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Competitive pricing
- Money-back guarantee
I wasn’t so sure about
- Rare performance fluctuations
- Support responses can be slow
In a crowded VPN marketplace with marketing tricks and design-over-security-shrouds galore, Private Internet Access stands out for its simplicity and focus on fulfilling its simple adherence to user privacy. It does this through logless policies, rigorous encryption, and anonymous payment options, to say nothing about the abundance of choice overall. No live chat might be a source of frustration for some, but PIA’s low price, 7-day risk-free trial, and security alone might make it worth your while.