Private Internet Access (PIA) is a genuinely reliable VPN provider, with speeds ranging from blistering to fast enough and a reputation for security that was only boosted when its no-logging policy was put to the test as a result of legal action. It’s remarkably inexpensive and its only real flaw is its limited streaming support.
- Fast transfer speeds
- Wide range of privacy and security features
- Clear no-logging policy, demonstrated in court
- Frequently detected by most streaming services
- Review Price: £32.55
- Connect up to 10 devices
- Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
- UK pricing: £8.10 per month, £29.25 per 6 months, £32.55 per year
- US pricing: $9.95 per month, $35.95 per six months, $39.95 per year
- Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
PIA is also competing heavily on price at the moment, which makes it one of the cheapest 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 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 all the advanced configuration options you’re likely to need, but is simple enough to get a handle on easily, even for novices. 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 separate 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.
Although it’s not focused on having endpoints in as many countries as possible, Private Internet Access covers the essentials, with a decent range of 37 endpoint countries and over 3000 servers.
Private Internet Access – Performance
|Private Internet Access HTTP||69.68Mbps||76.80Mbps||62.40Mbps|
|Private Internet Access FTP||80.07Mbps||83.84Mbps||57.88Mbps|
Average HTTP download speeds for the April 2020 VPN group test, measured from a test system in London selected for stability in the light of increased load on the UK’s internet infrastructure, were 65.63Mbps from UK endpoints, 71.37Mbps for the Netherlands and 51.15Mbps from the US.
Private Internet Access produced one of the strongest overall set of speed test results in this group, notably improving on its US throughput.
Streaming has never been PIA’s strong suit, and you can’t always rely on it to provide access to seriously geo-locked services.
Related: What is a VPN?
Should you 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 £8.10 per month – up slightly due to fluctuating exchange rates, £29.25 every six months, or £32.55 per year, which works out at £2.71 a month. There’s currently an offer on for your first year’s subscription that gives two extra months free. If you don’t want your name associated with your subscription, you can pay using bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash and some gift cards.
PIA has 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.
Private Internet Access is among our favourite VPN providers. Although it’s not brilliant for video streaming, it’s generally fast, cheap and secure. Alongside ExpressVPN, it’s also one of the few services whose no-logging policy has been scrutinised as a result of legal action. If you’re seriously into streaming, though, Windscribe costs around the same but is much more reliable at giving you access to overseas media.