August 25, 2018

PIA Review: Is It a Good VPN?

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Private Internet Access VPN is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market. They've got good features and security, but lack live chat support. Are they worth subscribing to? Here's our review.

PIA

Overall Score

3.8

Price

5.0

Speed

3.0

Number of Servers

4.0

Countries Served

3.0

Devices per license

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Allow anonymous subscription
  • High server count
  • Cheap subscription
  • No live chat support
  • No free trial

Bottom Line

Quality VPN service for an affordable price

HOW DOES PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS WORK?

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the cheaper VPN service providers. They offer a monthly, yearly, and two-year subscription on their site. You'll get the most savings with their two-year plan, but prices are cheaper across all packages compared to other providers.

To sign up, just visit their site, pick a plan, and choose from their (many) payment options. Once you've signed up, simply login with your account and connect to their servers.

WHY WE LIKE PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS

  • You want a cheaper VPN service
    Private Internet Access is one of the cheaper VPN services out there. Their prices are lower compared with providers like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Even if you choose to subscribe month-to-month, Private Internet Access beats out the competition.

    If cost is your biggest concern, Private Internet Access VPN is one of the cheaper providers.

  • You want to be able to keep your identity secret
    Private Internet Access accepts payment from Bitcoin, Ripple, CashU, and PayGarden-supported gift cards. If you want to keep your identity private, you can use these payment methods to remain anonymous.

  • You want a VPN with many servers
    Private Internet Access VPN's network is robust. They have more than 3,000 servers across 28 countries. More servers means less traffic congestion.

    They don't have any servers in Russia and African countries, but that seems to be the norm for many VPN providers.

  • You want to be able to use P2P file sharing
    Private Internet Access allows P2P file sharing. You'll have unlimited bandwidth to download as many files as you want.

    On their messaging boards, they're helpful with questions regarding torrents and P2P file sharing. This shows that they're a P2P-friendly company.

    File-sharing is perfectly legal as long as you're not sharing copy-written material. Most creative content is copy-written (meaning it really belongs to someone else.) Examples of copy-written material are: Movies, music, photos that you didn't take, games, etc.

  • You want a company with a "no-logging" policy
    Private Internet Access claims that it keeps no logs whatsoever. This is necessary, since they're operating out of the US, a Five Eyes country.

    You always want to hear "no-logs" when it comes to VPNs. The US has no data retention laws. This allows Private Internet Access to have a zero-logs policy.

    Without logs, your information is secure. There's nothing to show, even if Private Internet Access was forced to share information.

  • You'd like to try it out before subscribing
    Private Internet Access has a seven-day period for users to request a refund. During this time, you can request a refund if you're not happy with their service.

    They don't provide refunds after the seven-day period. It's best to be careful and always request a refund before the seven days are up.

  • You want to bypass the great firewall of China
    Private Internet Access does work from inside China, but you'll have to connect manually. They do provide a guide on how to do it on their site.

    The process is a bit more tedious. However, it's standard for many VPN providers when it comes to operating out of China. The good news is, you'll still be able to use Private Internet Access from inside the country.

  • You want a fast VPN service
    In terms of speed, Private Internet Access is one of the faster connections out there. Various speed tests show fast speeds even over long distances. You can expect good performance, even when connecting to servers in Europe or Asia.

  • You want a VPN service you can install on your router
    You can install Private Internet Access VPN directly on your router. Their website has a how-to install guide for many routers, including Merlin, LEDE, AsusWRT and many others.

    You can also buy a preconfigured PIA router from FlashRouters, eliminating the install process.

REASONS TO CHOOSE ANOTHER VPN PROVIDER

  • No live chat support
    One of Private Internet Access' biggest downsides is the lack of live chat support. They claim to have a helpdesk which is available 24/7, but it's only through email.

    Email isn't instant, so you'll have to wait for a reply if you need support. This is a definite downside, especially since many other VPNs have a live chat service.

  • No access to Netflix or BBC iPlayer
    Private Internet Access doesn't connect to Netflix or BBC iPlayer. If you're looking to access these services, it's better to use NordVPN or ExpressVPN instead.

  • Located in the US
    The US is part of the Five Eyes network. Leaked documents have shown that other member countries have spied on US citizens, so security is a concern.

    Still, given Private Internet Access' zero-logs policy, this shouldn't be an issue. The US has no data retention laws, so they're not required to keep logs on users.

Alternatives to PIA

NordVPN
PIA is based in the US and is one of the cheapest VPN services around. On the other hand, NordVPN has live chat support and over 4000 servers in 60 countries.

Here's a comparison table of PIA and NordVPN so you have a better idea of what each provider offers.

ExpressVPN
In terms of server count, PIA has more servers than ExpressVPN, although ExpressVPN is available in many more countries. ExpressVPN also has the longer money-back guarantee.

We'll compare PIA and ExpressVPN below.

AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield
AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield has a free VPN service for phones and tablets. However, this service comes with ads. Also, those using the free service only have access to the US servers and a 500MB data limit per day. Some content and services are also blocked.

The paid version, Elite VPN, allows you to connect to servers in 24 locations. You'll get unlimited data and can link up to five devices to one account. If you'd like to try it, they offer a 7-day trial period.

ZenMate VPN
On their website, ZenMate states that their mission is to simplify the world of online security and privacy. They avoid using technical jargon, and explain everything in clear and simple terms.

Their designs are simple too. ZenMate's Windows client is easy to use, and is great for beginners. You can easily install it and set it up.

However, with simplicity comes limitations. Advanced users will be frustrated by the lack of controls. Also, ZenMate's security protocol options are limited. Serious users may be turned off by it.

What we like about ZenMate VPN is that they offer multilingual options. That's uncommon among VPN providers. If English is not your first language, ZenMate may be a good choice.

ZenMate has a free version of their service. If you want to try their paid version, you can do so for 14 days. That's how long their money-back guarantee is.

Ivacy VPN
Another cheap VPN service is Ivacy VPN. It has a user-friendly interface with simple options.

What's unique about them is that they offer purpose-based server recommendations. What this means is that they recommend a server for your specific purpose - whether for streaming or downloading. That's a unique feature, setting them apart.

The downside is, it's quite basic. They have no advanced features to tweak. This will be great for new users, but less so for advanced users.

Still, for its price, Ivacy VPN is another service with great value for money.

Bottom Line

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Want to stay anonymous online? Private Internet Access VPN lets you do that. Private Internet Access has many servers around the world, ensuring fast, reliable connections. You get to enjoy a strong VPN service for about half the price of a premium one.

We also like that it supports P2P file sharing and has decent speeds. With unlimited data, it would be great for those who want to torrent.

However, since it's located in the US, security is an issue. Still, it states that it has no logs and collects no information, so your information is safe.

We don't like that it has no live chat support. Email takes too long, and if there's a problem, you'll have to wait to hear from them. Still, for its pricing, we expect a few cut corners here and there.

Also, since it's blocked on Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, it's not a good choice for those who enjoy streaming content.

Nevertheless, PIA is one of the better VPN services out there, offering great service for a smaller price. It's great for casual users on a budget.

Write to Khairie A at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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