Private Interent Access, or better known as PIA, is a popular VPN provider which boasts superior speeds with server locations in several countries and easy to use functionality when compared to competitors.
Users can have up to 10 connections simultaneously, and PIA is compatible with devices that use all major platforms. So whether you use Windows Mac, iOS, Android, or Linux, you will be able to function with PIA.
Performance is kept high while privacy is kept locked down with PIA’s firm no-log policy. Secure browser extensions are also offered by PIA for Chrome Firefox, and Opera but these add-ons, while easier to use, limit security to browser traffic only. PIA is definitely a top runner in VPN providers, particularly when it comes to privacy.
PIA, now owner by Kape Technologies, was a subsidiary of London Trust Media, one of the very first security and privacy-focused accelerators.
Flexing it’s credentials, the service makes use of an intermediary server to encrypt and route the user’s internet traffic, ensuring security, privacy, and anonymity. It also enables users to bypass geo-restrictions.
Now you have an idea of who and what PIA is, let’s dive into the full review.
With over 3,000 servers in almost 30 countries, speed and performance with PIA are kept up due to less crowding on the network.
Verified performance tests have shown acceptable download speeds when using closer servers. Speeds significantly lowered when farther servers across the world were used, which is a reasonable occurrence due to the distance.
However, even the lower speeds achieved are proficient for most general internet use. All in all, PIA’s speed and performance capabilities are acceptable in the world of VPN providers.
We performed 3 different tests across 3 different locations globally. Ping, upload and download speed tests give a good idea of how performance will look for you as a PIA VPN user:
- US – New York
- Ping: 42ms
- Download: 34.11 Mbps
- Upload: 9.12 Mbps
- EU – London
- Ping: 106ms
- Download: 58.50 Mbps
- Upload: 8.54 Mbps
- Asia – Hong Kong
- Ping: 248
- Download: 8.55 Mbps
- Upload: 7.39 Mbps
Many VPN providers say they don’t keep logs of their users’ activity, but this claim is difficult to test or confirm. With PIA, however, users can trust this claim a bit more.
On two separate occasions, one in 2015 and one in 2017, the US government required that PIA turn over their log data to help in a federal investigation. In both instances, even though a subpoena was issued, PIA simply did not have anything to offer due to its no-log policy.
PIA publishes a Transparency Report that users can access, which details all official subpoenas issued to the provider and the resulting information given by PIA.
The information provided in all 2020 instances so far have contained only the server IP locations or user email address and no user data at all.
The above instances, however, are still just PIA declaring that they do not log user data. This is why PIA has announced that they will be working on a “verifiably secure infrastructure” with the use of open-sourcing and external auditors to ensure users’ trust in PIA’s guaranteed privacy.
In addition, PIA offers its users a blocking tool called MACE. This tool blocks advertisements on web pages as well as their internet usage trackers.
This feature is yet another layer of user privacy that brings PIA to the next level when it comes to VPN providers.
When streaming, you often run into blocks on certain international content due to licensing restrictions on the streaming service. Several tests have shown that unblocking these sites with PIA VPN is successful with Netflix and many other services.
However, there is never any guarantee that you will be able to access certain geo-blocked content since streaming services re-block VPNs periodically.
PIA offers full Peer to Peer (P2P) support. Torrents can be used on all servers and from anywhere with no limitations to bandwidth.
When testing, we experienced nothing that would concern us, in fact it’s consistent and strong connection was a major positive.
Since PIA has a strict no-log policy, your torrenting will remain anonymous.
Much like it’s torrenting capabilites, PIA does a great job of keeping latency low and connections strong.
Our testing (done on both local and foreign based servers) allowed us to game uninterrupted for 4 hours straight. And we’re sure that we could have gone on much longer than that too. That’s pretty impressive.
Using a VPN like PIA often allows you to bypass throttling since it encrypts/masks your activity. This is certainly something we feel we were able to take advantage while gaming with PIA connected.
Private Internet Access was founded in 2009 and released in August of 2010. It was founded by Andrew Lee, the official House of Yi successor, after having dropped out of college to pursue his online business, which would later become Private Internet Access.
PIA is a subsidiary of London Trust Media, one of the first security and privacy accelerators and the owner of the Freenode IRC network.
In 2019, Private Internet Access merged with Kape Technologies, which already runs ZenMate and CyberGhost, two competing VPN providers.
The merging of the two companies was met by many objections from PIA users because Kape Technologies was responsible for developing toolbar bundles that included unwanted software. This was back when Kape Technologies was known as Crossrider.
Nevertheless, the merging remained intact, and Private Internet Access remains one of the most popular VPN services today.
Private Internet Access is currently based in the United States, with its headquarters being in Denver, Colorado.
Since the US doesn’t have an obligatory data retention policy, Private Internet Access is able to maintain a strict no-logs policy, which isn’t the case for a lot of VPN services based in European countries.
Customer support is one of the areas where Private Internet Access outshines the competition. The service offers 24/7 live chat support, which is common among top-tier VPN services.
What sets Private Internet Access apart, though, is its resource-rich website. You can find everything from step-by-step installation and troubleshooting guides to an extensive FAQs section on PIA’s website.
Further, PIA’s website implements a searchable knowledge base for the visitor’s convenience. So, you don’t have to worry about wasting hours of your time trying to find certain resources.
PIA’s knowledge base is so thorough that you probably won’t need to contact the support team, assuming you’re willing to spend a few minutes searching for the resources you seek.
DNS Leak Results
Private Internet Access is designed with a huge emphasis on security and privacy. It’s equipped with advanced functionalities such as IPv6 leak protection, data encryption, firewall, IP masking, and steadfast DNS leak protection.
According to the vast majority of customer reviews, Private Internet Access is able to protect networking with no IP or DNS leaks whatsoever.
Private Internet Access doesn’t fly warrant canaries because, as they claim, privacy is at the forefront of their operation.
Instead of sending warrant canaries to warn users of certain damage that has been done, Private Internet Access eliminates the possibility of the damage occurring in the first place.
Simply put, the company doesn’t fly warrant canaries so that no collectible information is left behind. After all, the service has a very strict no-logs policy, so no matter the amount of force being applied, there’s no identifying information that any party can collect.
Pros and Cons
Can I Be Tracked If I Use PIA VPN?
Private Internet Access encrypts your data and obscures your IP address by routing it through an intermediary server, so you don’t have to worry about being tracked while using PIA.
Is PIA VPN Secure?
Standard security features with PIA protect you with AES 128-bit data encryption, IPv6 and DNS leak protection, firewall, and IP masking.
Many have performed a leak test with PIA’s default settings, which has revealed ample security and no IP or DNS leaks. If you are looking for even more in the realm of advanced security features, additional functions can be enabled in the settings of your app.
Advanced features include protection from tracking and malware as well as port forwarding. An automatic kill switch also keeps you secure even if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly.
Is Private Internet Access Legit?
Private Internet Access excels when it comes to security and privacy. It’s also suitable for household use since it allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. However, we wouldn’t recommend it for streaming purposes.
Is PIA VPN Worth the Money?
PIA did recently up the monthly price of their VPN service from $6.95 to $9.95, which is still lower than many other VPN providers, and even lower monthly prices are available with PIA if you commit to one or two years of service.
They accept several payment methods, including credit card, Paypal, Bitcoin, and even select gift cards from retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Starbucks.
While the price jump is disappointing, PIA’s new interface means that their technical abilities have been given a boost while their functionality remains user friendly, which makes the increased price tag worth it.
Who owns PIA VPN?
Kape Technologies purchased PIA in 2019 from London Trust Media for $95.5 million. They have purchased two other VPN providers in the past, CyberGhost, and ZenMate, and they have a high focus on digital cyber protection. PIA is in very capable hands when it comes to user security.
PIA VPN is a player at the top table in the VPN industry. While it falls a little short of the very best, you can be sure that PIA will give you a secure, reliable and fast browsing/torrenting/gaming experience. A thumbs up from us.