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Private Internet Access review

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Private Internet Access
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Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Lots of endpoint servers and countries
  • More privacy features than most VPNs
  • Works well for Netflix
  • Incoming port forwarding

Cons

  • Can be expensive if you don't get a special offer

Key Features

  • $6.95 per month (£4.83)
  • $83.40 per year (£57.90), on offer at $39.95 (£27.74)
  • Connect up to five devices
  • Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
  • OS support: Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS
  • Manufacturer: Private Internet Access
  • Review Price: free/subscription

What is Private Internet Access?

Based in the USA, Private Internet Access (PIA) is a VPN package that places particular emphasis on privacy and security features, even by the standards of the VPN industry. The USA has no data retention laws currently in place and PIA has a clear and explicit no-logging policy. If you don't want your name associated with your subscription, you can pay using bitcoin or a gift card, but only from major US retailers.

Related: Best VPN 2016

Private Internet Access – Features

PIA provides a number of advanced features over its rivals, with a specific eye to ensuring user privacy. These include a "VPN kill switch" that disables your connection to the internet if your VPN is disconnected. It also has IPv6 leak protection that temporarily disables IPv6 to prevent unwanted identifying data from being accidentally transmitted, plus DNS leak protection that directs all DNS requests through a non-logging DNS service.

Unusually, PIA also provides a port-forwarding service, which gives you a randomly allocated incoming port on one of a handful of PIA servers that support the feature. You can then configure any local application that needs to be able to accept incoming connections to use.

At the time of review, PIA had more than 3,000 active servers in 25 countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, India, Australia, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong and much of Europe. It's one of the few VPN service providers that enabled us to consistently connect to Netflix in the USA and, as with most of its rivals, we had no trouble with region-locked YouTube and BBC iPlayer video feeds, either.

Like other services that provide effective connections to US video-streaming sites, FTP download speeds from PIA's US servers were a little disappointing, but we were pleased by relatively quick European connections, with a London server providing speeds of more than 40Mbits/sec.

Related: CyberGhost review

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access' desktop application is rather understated. Apart from a few configuration settings, you'll primarily interact with a notification area icon that lets you quickly connect to a server from PIA's pool in the country and city of your choice. Applications are available for Windows, MacOS X, Android and iOS, and PIA provides detailed instructions for setting up connections on other operating systems and devices.

PIA frequently runs discounted special-offer pricing for its subscriptions. For example, although the full price for subscription is $6.95 (£4.83) per month, $41.70 (£28.95) for six months and $83.40 (£57.90) for a year, at the time of review, an annual subscription was on sale for at $39.95 (£27.74).

Although Private Internet Access doesn't have as wide a range of VPN endpoints as Hide My Ass, its country list is substantial and a huge number of individual servers make up its pool. It's one of the few services that Netflix doesn't immediately spot and provides far stronger privacy-orientated features than your average VPN. Performance, although rather slow on popular US servers, was consistent and the privacy-conscious will also welcome PIA's explicit no-logging policy.

Verdict

Baseline prices make Privacy Internet Access one of the more expensive VPN services around. But regular special offers, along with a fantastic number of endpoints and a broad range of privacy features mean that it's easily one of the best. If you need incoming port forwarding, it's one of the few VPN providers that offers the feature on any of its servers.

Overall Score

10

ElectricSheep

May 10, 2016, 11:50 am

I've been this VPN service for a couple of years, it's proven to be very solid and reliable. However, I disagree with you with regards to Netflix anfd BBC iPlayer - Both do NOT work with PIA enabled in the UK, even if the VPN IP address is in your home country. I've asked NetFlix about this.

frankbilson

May 10, 2016, 12:16 pm

Yes I have also used PIA but when it comes to accessing live streaming it fails to deliver the fast speed but I have recently subscribed a Ivacy which is working more effectively it is also good for online security.

devperson

May 10, 2016, 8:00 pm

Agreed, this article is completely inaccurate and misleading in that regard. Netflix does NOT work with PIA in any capacity as they don't cycle their IP addresses which have presumably all been flagged by the streaming services as belonging to VPN servers.

Stu

May 10, 2016, 8:03 pm

Signed up for PIA today but testing it at home it won't connect using Sky Broadband... Sky even appears to block their website!

Stu

May 10, 2016, 8:20 pm

Working now - Not sure I did

Stu

May 11, 2016, 7:14 am

Turns out is was Sky Shield - Needs to be disabled for PIA VPN to work

David Mallinder

May 14, 2016, 5:56 pm

Trust me it doesn't work with iPlayer in the US either. I switched from PIA to NordVPN and while I can sometimes get BBC stuff (and sometimes not) I can only access Netflix on a narrow range of very overloaded very slow servers, and they will not work with concurrent torrent apps. I have been searching for a reliable location switching VPN that can handle both iPlayer and Netflix but haven't found any that works worth a crap.

steven

December 13, 2016, 10:45 am

I am gutted,it seems there is no VPN which is worth the money or hassle .

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