Private Internet Access Review | Is it Trustworthy? (Oct. 2020)

Last updated: October 8, 2020

PIA VPN review summary: PIA VPN is one of the cheapest VPN services around, offering WireGuard-backed security and 100% activity log-free operations. All of its servers are P2P supported. You can watch Netflix USA, Netflix Japan, and Netflix Germany. It also works with BBC iPlayer. Unfortunately, you might not get the best streaming speeds though, as PIA VPN tends to slow down your internet connection by up to 45%. It’s available on almost all major devices and platforms and lets you connect up 10 devices simultaneously. You can get PIA VPN for $2.69/mo on a 2-year plan, a good option if you’re looking for a VPN on a budget.
 

Most people tend to shy away from PIA VPN because of its country origin (i.e. the United States) and rightly so, being a part of 5 eyes country, US authorities have the power to compel PIA into sharing users’ data.

But does that makes Private Internet Access VPN unsafe to use? Not quite! PIA VPN has a zero-log policy which means the company does not store any kind of logs. So, even if it is been compelled to share data, it wouldn’t have anything to share. That’s really impressive.

We have tested PIA VPN on all fronts whether it be speed, price, Netflix, encryption, IP/DNS leaks, and so much more that we’ll be covering in this Private Internet Access review.


Where is PIA VPN Based?

Private Internet Access is based in Denver, Colorado in the United States. This is certainly not an ideal location for a VPN company because the US falls under 5 eyes country.

It means, US authorities have the power to compel companies to share users’ data and intelligence to other countries that fall under 5 eyes.

Also, the United States has data retention laws that allow them the power to retain users’ data under national security protection. But does that make PIA VPN completely unsafe? Not quite. Look at this section to know why.


How Many Servers Does PIA VPN Have?

PIA VPN has a total of 1,519+ servers and has a presence in 46 countries. For each server, you can manually select the encryption level and protocol. If you want fast speed, you can decrease the intensity of encryption to 128-bit.

It has shut down its Hong Kong servers due to the new National Security Laws being implemented in the country that will jeopardize the online protection of the people connected to Hong Kong servers.

PIA VPN also supports P2P torrenting. In fact, all of its servers are P2P supported so there’s no need to find a particular server to download torrents.


Is Private Internet Access Safe to Use?

Yes, Private Internet Access VPN is completely safe to use because of the strong and powerful encryption it uses. PIA VPN uses a default AES-128 encryption but for maximum protection, it uses AES-256-bit encryption which is the strongest.

This is the symmetric cipher algorithm that helps you keep all your data encrypted. It also uses the two most important VPN protocols i.e. OpenVPN and WireGuard. 

OpenVPN gives you the best online protection but at a slower speed. However, the new WireGuard protocol offered by PIA VPN offers fast speed with strong security.


Does PIA VPN Hide IP Address?

Yes! PIA VPN completely hides your IP address and prevents from any DNS leaks. Its installation file didn’t have any viruses or malware as well.

Have a look at the screenshot of the IP, DNS, and Virus Test.

IP Leak Test

I connected to the Australian server and tested for any IP leak using this website. I dod not find any IP leaks.

private-internet-access-ip-leak-test

DNS Test

It could not indicate a leak DNS request, so it is safe to connect with Private Internet Access.

private-internet-access-dns-leak-test

Virus Test

Virus Total scanned the Windows installation file of PIA VPN but it was clean from any viruses or malware.

pia-vpn-virus-test


Is PIA a Zero Log VPN?

Private Internet Access is truly a no-log VPN because it does not store your activity logs nor does it store connection logs. The data collected by PIA VPN is in compliance with the GDPR and the country it is headquartered in.

As discussed above, despite the fact that PIA is located in an unsafe jurisdiction, it does not have anything to give to the authorities even if they are compelled to do so.

Information collected by PIA VPN:

Private Internet Access collects some of the personal information that is necessary to create an account. These include:

  • Email address
  • Payment details
  • Cookies
  • Country region and zip code
  • System information

The payment is processed by third-party payment processors of PIA VPN. The company itself does not save your credit card details.

The reason why they collect country region or zip code is to ensure compliance with statuary tax obligations and fraud detections.


Does PIA VPN work with Netflix?

Private Internet Access does work with Netflix even though the internet speed was too slow. It could only unblock 3 Netflix libraries i.e. US, Japan, and Germany.

After so many attempts and connecting through many different servers, I was able to unblock Netflix with PIA VPN. I connected through the New York server that got me access. I was able to stream ‘The Legend of Korra’:

pia-vpn-netflix-us-server

PIA Netflix was also able to access BBC iPlayer, but I wasn’t able to access Hulu or HBO. Here is the screenshot of me watching ‘Tagged’ on BBC iPlayer:

bbc-iplayer-with-pia-vpn


How Many Devices Does PIA VPN Support?

PIA VPN supports all the major devices and platforms. These include Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Fire TV Stick.

It also supports browser extensions like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. It also supports VPN-enabled routers as well so you can connect to that as well.

PIA VPN Windows App

Private Internet Access Windows app is quite smooth to operate but it frequently disappears from your screen whenever you attend to something else on your computer.

You will find the VPN server list at the front of the app where you can choose country servers. The desktop app expands further gives you the option to Quick Connect.

pia-vpn-windows-app

It also shows you the VPN IP address, download speed, upload speed, and your real IP address.

PIA VPN Android App

The android app is quite simple to use than the Windows app. You will find a big power button that will help you connect to a fast server near your country.

At the front, you can also find options like Kill Switch, Private Browser, and the VPN snooze option.

pia-vpn-android-app


How Do I Download Private Internet Access VPN?

Step 1: Subscribe with Private Internet Access VPN

Step 2: Download and Install the PIA VPN app on your device

step-2-how-to-download-pia-vpn

Step 3: Open the app and enter login details

step-3-how-to-download-pia-vpn

Step 4: Connect to any server (e.g. US server)

step-4-how-to-download-pia-vpn.jpg

Step 5: Once connected, start streaming!


Is PIA VPN Slow?

Private Internet Access is quite slow when it comes to streaming any content. I witnessed it when I was streaming Netflix with this VPN.

However, I tested PIA VPN speed using 3 different servers i.e. US, Brazil, and France. My original speed without connecting to a VPN was recorded 20 Mbps.

US Server (New York)

This server speed was fast. My internet speed was decreased by 45%.

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
US Server Ping124 (ms)
US Server Upload2.16 (Mbps)
US Server Download11.01 (Mbps)
Speed Decreased by45%

Brazil Server (Rio De Janerio)

This server speed was above average. My internet speed was decreased by 42%.

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
US Server Ping140 (ms)
US Server Upload2.42 (Mbps)
US Server Download11.65 (Mbps)
Speed Decreased by42%

France Server (Paris)

This server speed was good but not fast. My internet speed was decreased by 48%.

Speed Test TypeSpeed Test Results
US Server Ping156 (ms)
US Server Upload2.88 (Mbps)
US Server Download10.39 (Mbps)
Speed Decreased by48%

How Much Does PIA VPN Cost?

Private Internet Access has a very reasonable pricing plan. It may not have a free plan or a free trial, but it does offer 73% discount on its 2-year plan.

Have a look at PIA VPN prices:

pia-vpn-pricing

If you look at its pricing, you will find that even its 1-year plan is cheaper than most VPNs. On each of these plans, you get a risk-free 30-days money-back guarantee.

You can choose from many payment options, these include Credit Card (VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover), PayPal, Amazon Pay, Bitpay, and mint. 

pia-vpn-payment


Is PIA VPN Customer Support Responsive?

PIA VPN is quite responsive now as it has currently launched 24/7 live chat support. You can access live support at any time of the day or week. Just click on the green ‘Chat Now’ button at the bottom-right corner.

Other modes of customer support are as follows:

  • Ticketing System
  • Knowledgebase
  • VPN Setups/Tutorials
  • Community

The live chat support is only limited to a handful of countries. If you don’t see live chat support, you can create a ticket, and PIA VPN representatives will resolve in a few hours.


Do I Recommend PIA VPN?

Yes, I would really recommend using Private Internet Access VPN.

Although the country of origin for PIA is a concern for a lot of users. But the fact that it does not collect any valuable user information, you’re safe to use PIA VPN.

The price is reasonable and it does unblock US Netflix along with 2 other Netflix library i.e. Japan and Germany.

It has recently launched a 24-7 customer support which is a relief for many users who were having problems contacting their support team.

It has a good number of servers but the speed is a bit of an issue. If you’re not willing to compromise on the speed, here’s a look at the best VPN Australia for your preference.

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