Private Internet Access Review: Quick Expert Summary
Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the fastest and most user-friendly VPNs on the market, and it also comes with some of the strongest security and privacy features out there, including a no-logs policy, which has been independently audited and also proven true in court documents, and fully open-source apps.
In addition, PIA also offers more extra features than most other VPNs, including:
- Split-tunneling — Allows you to choose which apps use the VPN and which apps and IP addresses bypass it.
- PIA MACE — A really good ad blocker that gets rid of ads and protects you from malicious sites.
- Obfuscation — Makes VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic, allowing people in restrictive countries to circumvent restrictions.
- RAM-only servers — Only saves data to the RAM, which provides better security since all data is wiped after every server reboot.
- Dedicated IP addresses — Allows you to get an IP address that only you can use.
- Full leak protection — The VPN apps provide protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
- P2P support — PIA allows torrenting across all of its servers.
- And more…
PIA is a good VPN for streaming and gaming, and it’s also one of my top choices for torrenting — it works with all top P2P apps, allows port forwarding, and even has a SOCKS5 server. Plus, PIA works in countries that restrict access to the internet, like China.
However, there are a few issues that prevent PIA from being the very best VPN in 2022 — it doesn’t publish its total number of servers (I don’t like the lack of transparency), and its live chat isn’t very helpful.
But, overall, PIA is one of the top VPNs out there. It’s secure, it’s easy to use across all apps and platforms, and it also allows for 10 simultaneous connections on one account (unlike most VPNs that only allow for 5-7 simultaneous connections).
Private Internet Access has 1-month, 1-year, and 3-year payment plans (the 3-year plan often comes with additional months for free). All plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
|🏅 Overall Rank||#2 out of 78 VPNs|
|🌍 Number of Servers||Unknown|
|📱 Number of Devices||10|
|💸 Starting Price||$2.03 per month|
|🎁 Free Plan||❌|
|💰 Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
Private Internet Access Full Review
I spent a couple of weeks testing and researching Private Internet Access (PIA) to see whether or not it’s actually one of the top VPNs out there.
PIA has excellent security features, is very intuitive and user-friendly, and it maintains fast speeds across all servers.
PIA had excellent speeds in my speed tests, which allowed me to stream content in HD without any buffering (even while connected to distant servers), download torrent files quickly, and browse the web without interruptions.
Private Internet Access Features
PIA comes with all of the standard security features, like:
- Multiple encryption options. PIA offers 256-bit AES encryption and 128-bit AES encryption. 256-bit AES is more secure, but 128-bit AES has slightly faster speeds (it was 4-5% faster in my tests).
- No-logs policy. PIA doesn’t track, store, or log any browsing data, and this has been repeatedly proven to be true in court (unlike most other VPNs that have not been legally tested).
- Kill switch. This feature protects you from possible data leaks by shutting down your internet access if your VPN connection drops.
PIA has a built-in kill switch on its iOS app (many VPNs don’t have a kill switch on iOS), and there’s an Advanced Kill Switch option on Windows and Mac, which disables internet access if you’re not connected to a VPN server — I tested this by trying to access the internet without being connected to PIA’s servers, and it successfully prevented me from doing that. I like this flexibility, as it prevents you from accidentally accessing the web without securing your connection with the VPN first. Top competitors like ExpressVPN don’t provide such flexibility via their kill switches — and ProtonVPN has something similar, but only on Windows.
I also think it’s great that PIA’s servers run on RAM memory. This means PIA doesn’t store any data on a hard drive, and all of the data on the server is erased when the server is rebooted. What’s more, the provider uses perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption key for each VPN connection so that hackers can’t endanger user data by compromising past or future encryption keys.
Plus, I like how you get complete protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks — some top VPNs like VyprVPN and PrivateVPN only protect you against certain types of leaks. I ran leak tests while connected to servers in 15+ countries, and the VPN never leaked my data. I also like how PIA provides convenience by allowing you to perform IPv6 and DNS leak tests on its site — the tests are accurate, but the results are less detailed than what you get with third-party leak test tools.
PIA offers 3 protocols: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), WireGuard, and IKEv2/IPSec (only available on the iOS app). I’m really happy PIA includes WireGuard because it’s very secure, and in my tests WireGuard provided faster speeds than OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec (competitors like PrivateVPN don’t support WireGuard).
PIA’s split-tunneling feature is better than most other VPNs’ split-tunneling functions, as it lets you choose which apps use or don’t use the VPN, and which IP addresses bypass the VPN. Split-tunneling is available on Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s not available on iOS, but most VPNs don’t have split-tunneling on that platform — TunnelBear is one of the only ones that do. But I think it’s really great that you get this feature on macOS, as only very few VPNs (like ExpressVPN) have split-tunneling for Macs.
The desktop apps let you select which apps use or don’t use the VPN connection, and which website IP addresses bypass the VPN tunnel, while the Android app only lets you split-tunnel apps. That’s still better than top competitors like ExpressVPN, which only let you split-tunnel app traffic across all platforms.
During my tests, PIA’s split-tunneling worked perfectly. I tested split-tunneling while I downloaded files — I routed all of my P2P activity through the VPN and excluded my bank’s IP address (most banks don’t allow VPN traffic). This allowed me to have faster download speeds, and I could still access my bank account.
Overall, PIA’s split-tunneling function works great, it lets you redirect both apps and website IP addresses, and I really like that it’s also available on macOS.
PIA MACE (Ad Blocker)
PIA MACE is an ad blocker that’s really good at blocking ads, ad trackers, and malicious websites. It’s also the best VPN ad blocker in 2022.
The ad blocker is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and you can also get it on Android if you install the .apk version of the Android app (you won’t get PIA MACE if you download the app from the Google Play Store). The feature doesn’t work on iOS, but I like how the provider’s iOS app conveniently redirects you from the settings tab to your iOS Safari settings to enable Safari’s ad blocker.
I tested PIA MACE by visiting ad-heavy media outlets and social media pages, and PIA MACE prevented all ads from loading on the sites. And because there were no more ads on these sites, web pages loaded much faster than usual. I also tested the feature’s malware detection — I tried to visit known suspicious HTTP websites and the tool blocked all of them.
PIA MACE is very similar to ProtonVPN’s NetShield tool, but it’s slightly better because, unlike NetShield, it doesn’t check trackers against a list before stopping them — so it blocks ads a little faster, which provides better web page load times. Also, PIA MACE is better than CyberGhost VPN’s ad blocker, which doesn’t block all ads on a web page, and ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager, which only blocks malicious sites and trackers but doesn’t get rid of ads.
Overall, I think PIA MACE is an excellent VPN ad blocker, as it gets rid of annoying ads and protects you from shady websites.
PIA offers obfuscation through the Shadowsocks protocol (an open-source encrypted proxy), which hides your VPN traffic from third parties. When you use this feature, your traffic first goes through the Shadowsocks server, which obfuscates it, before reaching the VPN server. This masks your VPN connection and makes it appear like you’re using the internet without a VPN, which is what allows you to overcome geo-blocks and VPN blocks. The obfuscation feature is available on Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.
This tool is great for bypassing online firewalls in countries that place heavy censorship on the internet. It’s also good for hiding your VPN connection from your ISP in case you want more privacy. Plus, the feature works really well — PIA is actually #2 on our list of the best VPNs for bypassing censorship in 2022.
Using PIA’s obfuscation tool is pretty simple — you only need to access the Multi-Hop tab, enable it, and pick the Shadowsocks server you want to use. It won’t take you more than 10 seconds to turn it on.
However, using obfuscation will slow down your VPN speeds a bit because an extra layer of encryption is added to the connection. While using obfuscation, my speeds were 10–13% slower on average than without this feature enabled. This isn’t too bad, but it could cause some minor lag or buffering. On the plus side, PIA lets you pick from Shadowsocks servers in 5+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia (you might find a nearby server to minimize the slowdown), and also has a quick-connect setting that picks the fastest Shadowsocks server for your location.
While I really like PIA’s obfuscation feature, I think ExpressVPN does it better — its proprietary Lightway protocol (which is very secure and fast) automatically provides obfuscation on all of its 3,000+ servers that are located in 90+ countries, which is much more convenient and user-friendly because you don’t need to enable any settings. Plus, you can get obfuscation on local and nearby servers, which significantly minimizes the speed loss. And obfuscation is also available on iOS.
Overall, PIA’s obfuscation feature is good for bypassing internet firewalls and masking your VPN connection from your ISP.
PIA provides access to a smart DNS tool, which is included with every subscription. This is a streaming feature that allows you to access streaming platforms on devices that don’t natively support VPN apps, such as some smart TVs, Roku devices, gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, and more. Please remember that the smart DNS won’t change your IP address and encrypt your traffic — so it can’t provide privacy or prevent bandwidth throttling, but it will be much faster than a VPN.
You need to perform a manual setup to use the smart DNS feature, but I like how the provider has easy-to-follow tutorials that show you what you need to do. I used the PlayStation 4 tutorial and was able to configure the smart DNS tool on my gaming console in just 5–7 minutes.
PIA doesn’t mention which sites the smart DNS can access, and the support reps weren’t able to provide me with that information either. But my colleagues in the US and UK tested the smart DNS on their devices, and they told me it can access top sites like Netflix US and UK, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Hulu, and Amazon Prime US.
Overall, PIA’s smart DNS feature is easy to set up and good for accessing popular streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPNs. While it doesn’t provide privacy, it’s significantly faster than a VPN.
Dedicated IP Addresses
PIA provides access to dedicated IP addresses (which are only assigned to you) for a small additional cost. There are dedicated IP addresses for 5 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany.
Dedicated IP addresses are useful for avoiding reCAPTCHAs, which are quick tests you need to perform to access certain sites to prove you are human, and not a bot (sites often flag shared VPN IPs as suspicious because tons of people are using one IP at the same time). When using PIA’s shared IP addresses, I encountered reCAPTCHAs 20–30% of the time on Google — but I never saw any when I used a dedicated IP address.
Also, with a dedicated IP address, bank sites are less likely to block your VPN connection (they usually automatically block shared VPN IP addresses). PIA doesn’t have dedicated Romanian IPs, so I couldn’t test this, but my colleague in the US said he had no problem accessing his local bank using a dedicated US IP address.
And I also really like how PIA designed its dedicated IPs to provide better privacy — it uses a token-based system to authenticate ownership of a dedicated IP address, so it never knows which user account the dedicated IP is associated with.
Top competitors like ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN don’t provide access to dedicated IP addresses. CyberGhost VPN also has dedicated IPs in similar locations, for a similar price, and using the same token-based system, while PrivateVPN provides free access to dedicated IPs on certain servers (but they’re dynamic, so you get a different dedicated IP every time you connect to a server).
Overall, PIA’s dedicated IP addresses work really well, provide very good privacy (PIA doesn’t know which dedicated IP you’re assigned), and are also affordable.
Identity Guard is a good data breach monitoring tool that’s easy to use that works really well. This feature lets you check if your email (or any other personal information) has been compromised in a data breach, and it will send you an alert if anything gets leaked in a new breach.
I tested Identity Guard with an old email and found that my account had been breached in 9 different data breaches. The results included the company that suffered the breach, a brief summary of the breach, and my personal information that was exposed (email address, passwords, names, date of birth, etc.).
Identity Guard is similar to CyberGhost VPN’s My ID Guard feature, though I think My ID Guard is slightly better because it also lets you check if your password has been compromised, and it provides access to a password generator if you need to change your credentials as well.
There’s also an email leak test on PIA’s website, which tells you if your email provider leaks your IP address to your email recipients — you just need to email an address PIA provides you with, and the leak test tool will display the results. The tool works well (though it takes a few minutes to display the results), but I honestly think it’s not as good as the Identity Guard feature.
Overall, Identity Guard is a good way to check if your email has been involved in a data breach, and you can set up alerts to receive an email notification if your email is ever leaked.
PIA supports Tor (The Onion Router) over VPN on all of its servers, allowing you to browse .onion sites with an extra layer of security. Although the Tor network is already very secure, using Tor over VPN prevents other Tor users from finding out your real IP address (if your IP address gets leaked, other Tor users will see the VPN’s IP address, and not your actual one).
Using PIA’s Tor over VPN feature is very simple — just connect to any PIA server and then begin using the Tor browser (it’s free to download).
But keep in mind that Tor over VPN connections are very slow (in general) — because the Tor network encrypts your traffic multiple times and adding a VPN connection makes it even slower. In my tests, websites took up to 20 seconds to load and my connection speeds were reduced by 75% when compared to my internet speed without a VPN.
PIA has good Tor support, but I slightly prefer ProtonVPN’s Tor over VPN feature and AstrillVPN’s Onion over VPN feature — both of these VPNs allow you to browse the Tor network with Opera, Chrome, and Firefox rather than the Tor browser.
But overall, PIA’s Tor support is very easy to use, it works on any server, and it provides an extra layer of protection for users who visit .onion sites on a regular basis.
Private Internet Access Privacy & Security
PIA’s no-logs policy has been independently audited and proven true, just like other top VPNs, such as ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, and CyberGhost VPN. The no-logs policy underwent an independent audit in 2022 by a very large cybersecurity firm. The audit’s results confirmed that the provider’s no-logs claims are true.
What’s more, its no-logs policy has been proven in court (multiple times). For example, PIA couldn’t comply with a subpoena in a 2015 case about a cyber attack on a media house and in a 2016 case about a bomb threat, as it didn’t have any user data it could share with the authorities.
In addition, PIA publishes regular transparency reports (like ProtonVPN and CyberGhost VPN) that detail exactly what requests it’s received and how many times it’s complied with an authority’s request for user data.
This is one of the only VPNs out there that has open-source apps, meaning anyone can inspect the code for security vulnerabilities. That said, very few people have the technical expertise to actually study the code, so I’d really like to see PIA’s apps undergo independent security audits to prove they are safe to use — ProtonVPN also has open-source apps, but they have all passed independent audits.
PIA is headquartered in the US, which is part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data). But since PIA doesn’t keep any logs, it wouldn’t have any user information to hand over if the US government requested it.
Overall, PIA is one of the most transparent VPNs out there — it has a strong no-logs policy, which has been independently audited and tested in court on multiple occasions, it publishes regular transparency reports, and all of its software is fully open-source.
Private Internet Access Speed & Performance
I ran speed tests by connecting to a server in all 80+ countries where PIA has a server, and on average, I experienced a 67% speed decrease. But I’m from Romania, which has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world, so this speed loss was not as harsh as it looks — I was still able to stream content, download files, and browse the internet at very fast speeds. I asked my colleague in the US to also run speed tests and he reported that his speed loss was an average of 25%, which is better than most other VPNs.
PIA’s very fast speeds don’t come as a surprise, considering that this VPN is ranked #2 on our list of the fastest VPNs in 2022.
I first ran a speed test without being connected to a PIA server to get a baseline for my speeds:
Next, I used PIA’s auto-connect option to connect to the fastest server (and I was instantly connected to a server in Romania). My download speed decreased by 53%, which is a significant drop, but I was able to browse the internet and watch content in HD on Netflix with virtually no delay.
Then, I tested a VPN server in the US. The download speed was 75% slower than my speed without a VPN, and it took 2–3 seconds for Netflix TV shows and movies to load. However, once the shows began, they streamed uninterrupted. And the torrent speeds were significantly better than the streaming speeds — I downloaded a 20 GB torrent in 24 minutes, which is really fast.
When I tested a server in New Zealand (one of the most distant servers from my location), I was surprised that my download speed was similar to the US server. Websites took 1–2 seconds to load, and streaming content on Netflix took up to 3 seconds to load (which was about the same as on US servers) and I didn’t experience any buffering. I was even able to play online games with no lag.
Since Romania has very fast internet speeds, it’s not fair to compare my results with what people from other countries see. So I asked my colleague in the US to run some speed tests, too.
My colleague in the US first ran a speed test without being connected to a PIA server.
Then, he connected to a PIA server using the auto-connect feature. Although he’s located in the New York region, he was automatically connected to the best server (San Diego) — on the other side of the country. His speed loss was only 6%, and he reported no difference in his online activities.
Next, he connected to a server in Spain. While his download speed was reduced by 33%, he said websites took less than 2 seconds to load, streaming content started almost instantly, and files downloaded without any noticeable slowdown. Also, he was able to play online video games without any lag.
Finally, my colleague connected to a server in Australia, which is one of the furthest locations from his location. While his ping was really high, his download speed was actually better than the connection in Spain (a decrease of just 15%, which is pretty remarkable) — websites only took a couple of seconds to load, and TV shows and videos began almost immediately.
Overall, PIA maintains blazing-fast speeds on local servers and has very good speeds on distant servers. During our tests, both me and my colleague were able to watch Netflix and other streaming services content in HD without experiencing buffering, download files with really fast speeds, and play online games with no lag.
Private Internet Access Servers & IP Addresses
PIA has servers in 80+ countries. While other VPNs have servers in more countries (both CyberGhost VPN and ExpressVPN have servers in 90+ countries), PIA still has a server located in nearly every region of the world, allowing you to connect to a close server no matter where you’re located.
In addition, this is also one of the only VPNs on the market that has a server in every US state — this helps you access your bank account, circumvent sports blackouts, and watch local news from your home state when you travel in the US. Plus, I also like how, for some countries, there are servers in individual cities — this is helpful if you need an IP address from a specific city or if you want to connect to a server that’s closer to you to get faster speeds (for example, if you’re in Europe, you can use a US server on the East Coast, which is faster than a server on the West Coast).
But it’s a shame that PIA doesn’t publish how many servers it has worldwide. I asked the support reps about this, and they told me the provider keeps adding and retiring IP addresses, which makes it difficult to provide an accurate number. But this reason isn’t good enough for me — most top VPNs (like ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, and CyberGhost VPN) make their total server count public, so I’d really like to see PIA do this in the near future as well.
On the plus side, I really like that you can see the server ping (how long it takes for your device to communicate with the VPN server), as this metric helps you find and connect to the fastest servers. It’s also great that PIA color-codes the server ping (green = good ping, while orange = bad ping), so that you instantly know which server to connect to. In my tests, I always had faster speeds when using the servers with the lowest (green) ping.
Geo-located servers are also available in 40+ countries — these are servers that provide you with an IP address from the location you connect to, but are located in a different country. PIA provides access to geo-located servers, so that users can get IP addresses from countries where hosting physical VPN servers is not doable due to restrictive governments or poor internet infrastructure. I really like that the provider is transparent about the use of geo-located servers, as they are visibly marked inside the VPN app.
PIA supports streaming on dedicated servers in 5+ countries — the US, the UK, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. These servers refresh their IP addresses more often, so it’s more difficult for streaming sites to block them. My colleague in the US tested the US streaming servers and told me he was able to access popular platforms like Netflix US and Hulu with them, but he also said he wasn’t able to access the same sites using regular US servers. I honestly like ExpressVPN more, as it allows streaming across all 3,000+ of its servers.
Torrenting is allowed across all servers, which makes it easy to use a nearby server for fast downloads — I’m really happy about this because some competitors (like ProtonVPN and CactusVPN) only allow P2P traffic on certain servers.
PIA also offers dedicated IP addresses for a small additional cost. Dedicated IPs are useful because they reduce the risk of being blacklisted by banks and streaming sites. PIA has dedicated IPs for 5 locations, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.
Overall, PIA has a really good server network — it has servers all over the world (including a server in every US state), it displays the server ping, all of its servers are P2P-friendly, and it even offers dedicated IP addresses.
Private Internet Access Streaming Support
PIA is one of the best VPNs for streaming out there, as it consistently works with 30+ streaming services (including both well-known and smaller platforms). Streaming is supported on dedicated servers in 5+ countries, including the US, the UK, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. I like the variety, but I think ExpressVPN has much better streaming support, as it supports streaming on all of its servers (which are located in 90+ countries) and works with 65+ steaming apps.
The provider has great Netflix support, as it works with 5+ Netflix libraries, including Netflix US, Netflix UK, and Netflix Japan. My colleagues in the US and the UK tested PIA with Netflix while traveling abroad, and they had no problem accessing their home libraries. That said, I like ExpressVPN more, as it’s the best Netflix VPN on the market since it can access 10+ Netflix libraries.
In addition to Netflix, PIA also works with other popular streaming platforms, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. It can also access smaller streaming services, like Ruutu, YLE, FranceTV, and tv4play. I’m happy that the provider lists all the streaming platforms it works with in a support article because it provides you with a fast way to find out if the VPN can access a particular site.
I also like how there’s a smart DNS, so that you can access streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like gaming consoles or some smart TVs — some top competitors, like ProtonVPN, don’t come with a smart DNS.
Overall, PIA provides a very good streaming experience — it consistently works with Netflix and can access 5+ Netflix libraries, it’s compatible with 30+ streaming platforms (including popular sites like Disney+ and BBC iPlayer), and it even has a smart DNS.
Private Internet Access Torrenting Support
PIA has really good torrenting support, and is actually one of the best P2P VPNs in 2022. It allows P2P traffic on all of its servers, which are located in 80+ countries. This is really convenient, as some top VPNs only support P2P downloads on dedicated servers — for example, ProtonVPN only allows torrenting on servers in 16+ countries, and CactusVPN only has P2P servers in 5+ countries.
I tested PIA’s support by downloading multiple torrents using the most popular P2P clients, such as qBittorrent, BitTorrent, and Vuze — it worked with all torrent apps without any issues.
Port forwarding is also available, which is great because it allows you to connect to more peers to get faster speeds — my downloads were usually 10–15% faster when I enabled port forwarding. And I like how easy it is to use this feature, as you only need to enable a setting within the VPN app. PIA supports port forwarding across most of its servers, but it’s not available on US servers. I asked the support reps why, and they told me it’s due to legal reasons
In addition, a SOCKS5 proxy server is available, which changes your IP address just like a VPN, but doesn’t provide encryption. That way, you get much faster download speeds — for example, it took me just 14–15 minutes to download a 20 GB file on a US server (the same file took 24 minutes to download when I used the VPN connection).
I also like how PIA provides really great security to protect you while torrenting — it comes with a kill switch, a no-logs policy that has been independently audited, and full leak protection (to make sure your data can’t be exposed when you download torrents). I ran leak tests while torrenting on servers in 8+ countries, and I never experienced any leaks. Also, I ran torrent IP leak tests using 3 P2P clients to make sure torrent apps can’t leak my real IP address, and the results always displayed PIA’s IP addresses.
Plus, I’m really happy with PIA MACE — in my tests, it always got rid of annoying pop-up ads on P2P sites (which made them load faster), and it prevented me from accessing shady torrenting sites.
Overall, PIA is a really good VPN for torrenting — it allows P2P traffic on all of its servers, has port forwarding and a SOCKS5 proxy server, and provides high-end security via full leak protection and an ad blocker.
Private Internet Access Gaming Support
PIA provides really good gaming support. When I played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on a local server, I had really good ping (18 ms) and fast connections. When I switched to a distant server in the US, my ping increased by a lot (226 ms) — even so, it didn’t affect my gaming sessions, as I didn’t experience any lag and my connections to the gaming server didn’t drop. Plus, it took me about 3 minutes to download a 1 GB update, which is really fast.
I also like that, by changing your IP address, the VPN can protect you from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which can leave you without internet access. Even better, all the provider’s servers come with anti-DDoS protection — so even if someone tries to DDoS you while you’re connected to PIA, they wouldn’t be able to do it.
You can also set up PIA on your router, so that you can use it to game on devices that don’t natively support VPN apps, such as Xbox or PlayStation consoles. Helpful step-by-step tutorials are available, which make the whole setup process pretty straightforward — for example, it only took me about 10–11 minutes to set up PIA on my router to use it to play Elden Ring on my PlayStation 4.
Overall, I think PIA is a good pick if you’re only interested in basic gaming since it provides fast gaming on both local and distant servers (despite the high ping), it has anti-DDoS protection, and it works on routers. But if you’re a hardcore gamer, I’d go with ExpressVPN instead because it maintains lower ping on distant servers, provides support for cloud gaming platforms, and even has a router app (and also lets you buy a Wi-Fi router that comes with the app pre-installed on it) — plus, it’s also the best VPN for gaming on the market.
Private Internet Access Bypassing Censorship
PIA provides obfuscation via Shadowsocks (and open-source encrypted proxy), which hides your VPN traffic to allow you to circumvent restrictions in countries that censor the internet, such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. The provider claims it works in all of those restrictive countries, and any other country that censors the internet.
It’s also great that PIA has servers in most parts of the world — that allows users in restrictive countries to use nearby servers to get fast speeds. For example, a user in Indonesia could use servers in Singapore, Australia, or Taiwan.
Private Internet Access Plans & Pricing
PIA offers really affordable payment plans. It has a 1-month, 1-year, and 3-year plan (the 3-year plan offers the best savings and often comes with free additional months). With plans that start at $2.03 / month, PIA is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
But even though it’s cheaper than ExpressVPN, which is the #1 VPN on the market, you need to commit to a 3-year subscription to get the best deal — while ExpressVPN only requires a 1-year commitment to get the best value, which might be more convenient for some people.
You get up to 10 simultaneous connections with 1 subscription, which is above the industry average of 5–7 connections. If that’s not enough for you, I recommend checking out IPVanish, which allows unlimited connections.
PIA accepts credit/debit cards, PayPal, and cryptocurrencies. All plans come with the same features, and they’re all backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps
PIA has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android TV, and Fire TV. I easily installed the Android and iOS apps in 1 minute, and it took about 2 minutes to install the Windows and macOS apps.
How to Install Private Internet Access (Just 3 Easy Steps):
- Step 1: Sign up for PIA. Pick the plan that fits your budget.
- Step 2: Download and install the VPN app. Just follow the on-screen instructions.
- Step 3: Run the VPN app. Then, connect to a server with 1 click and start surfing the web securely.
I really like PIA’s Android app — it works just as promised, it’s feature-rich, and it’s easy to navigate. I especially like how you can connect to a server with one tap of the large power button on the main window. If you want to manually connect to a server, all you have to do is tap on Current Region to find the full list of server locations (you can also filter servers by favorites, latency, and name to help save you some time).
One of my favorite things about PIA’s Android app is how flexible and customizable its settings are. You can easily change protocols (OpenVPN or WireGuard), encryption levels, proxy settings, and connection options (like whether to connect to trusted or untrusted Wi-Fi networks). You can also enable/disable port forwarding, change the look and layout of the app, and do a lot more.
While all of the options may seem overwhelming to a new user, I like how PIA automatically sets all of the features to a recommended default setting — so you don’t have to worry about changing them. Also, I love how there is a brief description for most of the settings. My only complaint is that all of the functions are listed under one long tab (I like how ExpressVPN organizes its settings features into different categories to provide a cleaner design).
PIA has its own private/incognito web browser for Android and iOS devices called InBrowser (you have to install it through the Google Play Store) — it wipes all sessions, cookies, and browser history whenever you close the app.
The only minor downside of PIA’s Android app is that it’s missing obfuscation, so I hope PIA adds this feature to the Android app soon. Also, keep in mind that you need to install the .apk version of the PIA Android app to be able to use PIA MACE (if you download the Android app from Google Play Store, you won’t be able to use PIA’s ad blocker).
Overall, PIA has a very good Android app — it’s simple to use, fast, and offers a lot of customization options for advanced users.
PIA’s iOS app has a similar design to the Android app, so it’s really easy to switch between these apps. But unlike the Android app, the iOS app has 3 protocols instead of 2 — IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard. However, the iOS app is missing PIA MACE, split-tunneling, and obfuscation.
Overall, PIA’s iOS app is secure and user-friendly, and it has many of the same features as the Android app (with some minor differences).
I really like PIA’s desktop apps — they have intuitive interfaces and are similar to the iOS and Android apps.
You connect to a server by pressing one big on/off button. By pressing a slider, you can also access quick connect options and connection details like data usage, VPN protocol, encryption, etc.
I also like how there are quick settings that allow you to easily enable/disable features like PIA MACE and port forwarding. And I’m a big fan of PIA because it’s one of the few VPNs (alongside ExpressVPN) that include the split-tunneling feature on macOS.
I like that PIA’s desktop apps have automation settings that tell the VPN what to do when you use a secure/unsecured WiFi or wired connection (connect or disconnect). This is convenient because you can configure PIA to automatically connect to a server when you access unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Overall, PIA has great desktop apps. They’re both feature-rich and very easy to use.
You can manually configure PIA on your router, but only if it’s compatible with the provider’s VPN service. The good news is that PIA works with several top router firmware, such as AsusWRT and DD-WRT — some top competitors, like TunnelBear, don’t support router setups at all.
It’s usually difficult and time-consuming to manually set up a VPN on a router — the good news is that step-by-step tutorials are available (that even include screenshots), which make the setup process pretty straightforward. By following such a tutorial, I was able to configure PIA on my router in just 13–15 minutes.
That said, I think ExpressVPN is a better option if you’re interested in using a VPN on your router — it’s one of the only VPNs on the market that has a dedicated router app, which is very easy to install and use. Plus, the router app uses the provider’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which provides the fastest VPN speeds on the market.
Overall, PIA supports setups on popular router firmwares, and it also provides access to helpful configuration guides.
Private Internet Access’s Apps: Is Private Internet Access Easy to Use?
PIA has user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. They all have a similar design and are easy to navigate, and all of PIA’s apps are fully open-source. The desktop and Android apps are the most feature-rich, as the iOS app is missing obfuscation and PIA MACE — that said, the iOS app still provides a lot of customization, convenient features, and advanced tools.
|Graphical User Interface (GUI)||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
(only in the .apk app)
Private Internet Access Customer Support
PIA has great troubleshooting guides, a detailed FAQ section, 24/7 live chat, and email support. Unfortunately, PIA doesn’t have phone support.
PIA has extensive step-by-step guides that show you how to install and uninstall the PIA app and troubleshoot issues. I like that the guides have a reader-friendly layout (with well-edited screenshots), and the FAQ section has over 100 questions! I found the guides and FAQs answered most of my questions.
But I wasn’t impressed with the provider’s live chat support — it sometimes took up to 30–40 seconds to be connected to a live chat rep, and many of the reps were not very knowledgeable. I’d only recommend using live chat if you need the reps to answer very basic questions, such as the number of countries where PIA has servers or anything related to the pricing.
Top competitors like ExpressVPN have much better live chat, as you’re usually connected to a rep in seconds and they’re always able to provide helpful, detailed answers to all questions.
On the plus side, the email support was pretty good — I sent multiple emails over the course of a week, and I usually heard back in less than 24 hours. Also, the answers were generally helpful.
Overall, PIA has really good support. There are useful setup and troubleshooting guides along with in-depth FAQs, and the email support is pretty helpful — but I’d really like to see PIA improve its live chat support in the near future.
Is Private Internet Access One of the Best VPNs Out There?
PIA provides some of the fastest connections on the market, is extremely user-friendly, and also has high-end security and privacy features, including an independently audited no-logs policy (that’s also been proven true in court) and open-source apps.
And in addition to military-grade encryption and a kill switch (that’s even available on iOS), the provider also comes with extras that other VPNs don’t have, including split-tunneling, one of the best VPN ad blockers on the market, traffic obfuscation, and more. Plus, it has advanced features like full leak protection and RAM-only servers.
On top of that, PIA provides a really good streaming and gaming experience, and it’s one of the best torrenting VPNs on the market, as it allows P2P traffic on all servers, works with top P2P apps, and has support for port forwarding and SOCKS5 connections.
But there are some issues I need to mention — PIA doesn’t publish its total number of servers, and it doesn’t provide very helpful live chat support.
But, overall, PIA is still one of the best VPNs out there. It also allows 10 simultaneous connections, it’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, and all of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access — Frequently Asked Questions
- Can Private Internet Access be trusted?
- Will Private Internet Access work in China?
- Does Private Internet Access work with Netflix?
- Is Private Internet Access good for torrenting?
- Is Private Internet Access free?
- Does Private Internet Access have fast speeds?
- Does Private Internet Access have a kill switch?
- Can I install Private Internet Access on my router?
Can Private Internet Access be trusted?
Yes, Private Internet Access is really trustworthy. While it’s based in the US, which is a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data), it’s easy to trust this VPN because its no-logs policy has been independently audited and also proven true in court on many occasions, it release regular transparency reports, and all of its apps are open-source, so anyone can inspect the code for security issues.
In addition, PIA also comes with industry-standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch, and it also has advanced security features, such as full leak protection, RAM-only servers (meaning all data is wiped each time the server is rebooted), and perfect forward secrecy, which regularly changes encryption keys so that hackers can’t compromise them.
Will Private Internet Access work in China?
Yes, Private Internet Access works in China. PIA offers obfuscation through Shadowsocks to help bypass government firewalls. And PIA is able to consistently overcome online censorship in China and other restrictive countries.
Does Private Internet Access work with Netflix?
Yes, Private Internet Access is able to access Netflix. By using dedicated streaming servers, you can access up to 5+ Netflix libraries, including Netflix US, UK, and Japan. In addition, PIA can access 30+ other streaming services, including top platforms like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.
But if you’re only interested in streaming Netflix, ExpressVPN might be a better choice — it’s the best Netflix VPN on the market, as it consistently works with 10+ Netflix libraries.
Is Private Internet Access good for torrenting?
Yes, in fact Private Internet Access is one of the best VPNs for torrenting in 2022 — it supports torrenting on servers in 80+ countries, works with top P2P clients like uTorrent and qBittorrent, and has support for port forwarding and SOCKS5, which are P2P-related features that increase your download speeds.
In addition, it provides excellent security while torrenting — it has industry-standard security features, including a kill switch on all platforms and a no-logs policy that has been audited and proven true in court. Also, full leak protection is available, and there’s even an ad blocker that protects you from malicious ads on P2P sites and shady torrent trackers.
Is Private Internet Access free?
No, Private Internet Access doesn’t come with a free plan, but its plans are very affordable and the provider backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the VPN risk-free.
While there are free VPNs out there, I don’t really recommend using one. Most free VPNs lack essential security features, don’t work with streaming sites, have very slow speeds, limit how much data you can use, and have buggy apps. But a premium VPN like PIA provides excellent security, very fast speeds, great streaming support, very beginner-friendly apps, and much more.
Does Private Internet Access have fast speeds?
Yes, Private Internet Access provides some of the fastest speeds on the market — in my tests, HD videos loaded very fast on both local and distant servers, and I never experienced any buffering. Plus, I was able to download large files really fast and game with no lag. PIA achieves these speeds because it has servers in most parts of the world (so it’s easy to use a nearby server for fast speeds) and because it uses fast VPN protocols like WireGuard.
But even so, PIA still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, which is the fastest VPN in 2022 thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which provides lightning-fast speeds (and is also extremely secure and open-source).
Does Private Internet Access have a kill switch?
PIA doesn’t have a kill switch feature for Android, but this is because the Android operating system has a much better feature — the ability to block an internet connection without a VPN. This provides system-level protection, and PIA has chosen to not even give you the option to connect on the app level.
Can I Install Private Internet Access on my router?
You can set up Private Internet Access on your router, but you’ll need to perform a manual setup. Fortunately, the provider has very helpful tutorials (that even include screenshots), which make the manual setup pretty straightforward — on average, it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to do it.
But if you’re mainly interested in using a VPN on your router, I recommend trying ExpressVPN instead because it’s one of the only VPNs on the market that has a dedicated router app, which you can quickly install on compatible routers — plus, the router app is very easy to use, as the design is similar to ExpressVPN’s other apps.