Private Internet Access Review

Verdict

Private Internet Access is among our favourite VPN providers. Although it’s not one for video streaming, it’s fast, cheap and secure. Alongside ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy, it’s also one of the few services whose no-logging policy has been scrutinised as a result of legal action. Privacy-audited NordVPN, this month’s winner, is also a worthy alternative, particularly if you stream a lot of video.

Pros

  • Extremely fast transfer speeds
  • Wide range of privacy and security features
  • Clear no-logging policy, demonstrated in court
  • Very cheap

Cons

  • Detected by most streaming services

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £32.37
  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
  • Clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • UK pricing: £5.63 per month, £29.13 per six months, £32.37 per year
  • US pricing: $6.95 per month, $35.95 per 6 months, $39.95 per year
  • Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients

What is Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a US-based virtual private network (VPN) provider with a particularly strong track record on privacy and security. It supports up to 10 simultaneous connections from a wide variety of devices and operating systems, and a good range of international endpoints.

PIA is also competing heavily on price at the moment, which makes it one of the most competitive VPN providers around.

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Private Internet Access – Features and usability

PIA has a clear and explicit no-logging policy, and the US doesn’t currently have any mandatory data retention laws in place. When served with an FBI warrant to hand over VPN logs, PIA really didn’t have anything to give investigators, making it one of the few VPN providers whose no-logging claim is known to have been tested.

There are graphical clients for Windows, Linux and macOS, and detailed instructions are provided for setting up connections on other operating systems and devices.

PIA’s Windows desktop app has received a bit of polish lately. Its black-and-green status display pops up from its notification area shortcut and automatically minimises itself if you interact with another window.

A single button allows you to connect to the last VPN server you used, displayed below, with an arrow that takes you to a full, searchable list of endpoint locations. This displays their current latency and allows you to add favourites.

A settings window lets you configure the client’s behaviour, allowing actions such as launching on system start-up and connecting automatically. You can even switch between the client’s default dark theme and a lighter colour palette.

There’s a VPN kill switch that can be set to automatically cut off all internet traffic if the VPN is disconnected, the PIA MACE tool that blocks ad trackers, custom DNS, port forwarding on endpoints that support it, an option to block LAN traffic and an extremely flexible range of customisable settings for your VPN connection, including your preferred encryption settings.

A screenshot of the Private Internet Access client running on Windows 10.

Private Internet Access – Performance

Endpoints/VPN UK Netherlands United States
Private Internet Access HTTP 154.96Mbps 130.64Mbps 99.2Mbps
Private Internet Access FTP 143.15Mbps 136.24Mbps 102.15Mbps

PIA has a good range of 33 endpoint countries and over 3000 servers, and its performance in our HTTP and FTP speed tests has historically been well above average. This trend broadly continued in our latest test over a high-speed connection.

We got extremely fast HTTP transfer speeds of 154.96Mbps (19.37MB/s) and FTP downloads at 17.9MB/s from UK endpoints. Connections via PIA’s Netherlands endpoint were also well above average at around 130.64Mbps for HTTP and 17.03MB/s (136.24Mbps) via FTP. US speeds were also well above average at 99.2Mbps for HTTP and 102.15Mbps (12.7MB/s) for FTP.

Streaming has never been PIA’s strong suit, and this month’s performance tests were a washout. Only Shudder and YouTube allowed us to watch geo-shifted content. Netflix US, All 4 and iPlayer consistently detected that we were using a VPN.

Related: What is a VPN?

 

Should I buy Private Internet Access?

PIA’s proven track record on privacy is perhaps the most compelling reason to use the service. While it’s not alone in having had its no-logging policy tested as a result of legal action, PIA is currently perhaps the cheapest privacy-focused consumer VPN provider, thanks to an ongoing price cut.

Currently, subscriptions will cost you a conspicuously cheap £5.63 per month, £29.13 per six months, and £32.37 per year, which works out at £2.70 a month. If you don’t want your name associated with your subscription, you can pay using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and some gift cards.

It provides plenty of security and advanced settings, support for less common operating systems like Linux, and guidance on using the service with your router and other network appliances.

Get Private Internet Access here

Verdict

Private Internet Access is among our favourite VPN providers. Although it’s not one for video streaming, it’s fast, cheap and secure. Alongside ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy, it’s also one of the few services whose no-logging policy has been scrutinised as a result of legal action. Privacy-audited NordVPN, this month’s winner, is also a worthy alternative, particularly if you stream a lot of video.

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NordVPN

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Private Internet Access

Equipped with a VPN kill switch and IPv6 leak protection are two of many reasons PIA is rated as our top VPN for security. Get yourself a year subscription and save 67%.

Trusted Score


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