Private Internet Access Review

Private Internet Access (PIA) does what is says on the tin – it allows you to browse the web privately, with ad trackers blocked, and no logs are ever stored by the company. But are its prices and quality of service as commendable as its no-logging policy? Spoiler: yes.

Verdict

PIA remains one of our favourite VPN providers, thanks mainly to its no-logging policy being tested in courts, its generous prices, high speeds, support for a wide range of operating systems, and multitude of features that are easy to set up and use.

Pros

  • Wide range of privacy and security features
  • Clear no-logging policy, demonstrated in court
  • Provides international access to Netflix US

Cons

  • Detected by BBC iPlayer

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £54.21
  • £7.53 per month
  • Connect up to five devices
  • £54.21 per year
  • Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
  • £63.25 per two years
  • Clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
  • 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 provider with a strong track record on privacy and security. It supports a wide range of devices and operating systems, and a good range of international endpoints.

Related: Best VPN

Private Internet Access – features and usability

PIA has a clear and explicit no-logging policy, and the USA 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. As you’d expect, the client can be configured to connect automatically when your GUI starts up.

Although its client is clear and easy to use, you’ll only really need to interact with it if you want to change any of VPN’s settings, as a complete of endpoint countries is available a right-click menu, making PIA one of the most convenient services around if you need to regularly switch from one endpoint location to another.

PIA comes equipped with a range of security features including a VPN kill switch that disables your connection to the internet if your VPN is disconnected, IPv6 leak protection that temporarily disables IPv6 to prevent unwanted identifying data from being accidentally transmitted and DNS leak protection that directs all DNS requests through a non-logging DNS service.

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

Private Internet Access – Performance

PIA has has a good range of 33 endpoint countries and over 3000 servers. Its performance in our FTP speed tests was generally above average.

This time around, we got HTTP speeds of 8.81MB/sec (70.48Mbps) and FTP transfer at 9.84MB/sec (78.72Mbps) from UK endpoints, and just under 10MB/sec (80Mbps) using both protocols on Dutch endpoints. As you’d expect, speeds to the US were a little slower, but we got a very decent 6.92MB/sec (55.36Mbps) over HTTP and a shockingly fast 10.17MB/sec (81.36Mbps) via FTP – both of which exceeded our non-VPN’d reference speeds.

Streaming performance is great for Netflix US, but we weren’t able to get iPlayer to stream consistently from UK endpoints. In addition, All 4’s stringent checks detected us every time. Shudder and Crunchyroll’s US services worked perfectly.

Related: What is a VPN?

Why buy Private Internet Access?

PIA’s proven track record on privacy is perhaps the most compelling reason to use the service, but it’s by no means the only one. PIA is quick and remains among the less costly of major VPN services at £7.53 per month, £54.21 per year or £63.25 for two years, which works out at £2.64 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 such as Linux, and guidance on using the service with your router and other network appliances.

Get Private Internet Access here.

Verdict

PIA remains one of our favourite VPN providers, and alongside ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy it’s one of the few services whose no-logging policy has been scrutinised as a result of legal action. Of the three, Private Internet Access provides the best combination of high speeds and low subscription prices.

Score


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