Private Internet Access review

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services, with over 1 million paying customers. It’s a high-end service that effortlessly delivers most of the features that (most) people want from a VPN.

It also has a perfect record on its “no logs” claims and is one of the best VPNs in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. Providing reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. 

Another feature that needs to be highlighted is its generous 10 simultaneous devices limit – meaning this VPN will protect all of your in-use devices, or it can be shared with your close friends. Privacy, as its name suggests, is where this VPN really excels though. Its record on its “no logs” claim is flawless (more on this below.

If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-days money-back guarantee.

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speeds: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 48 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

Pricing: $2.85/month for 1-year; $5.99/month for 6-months; $9.95/month for 1-month

Pros

  • Fast and reliable servers
  • Thousands of IP addresses
  • Strict No Logs Policy
  • 10-simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 Live Chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Sometimes runs slow
  • Occasionally blocked by streaming sites

Private Internet Access review (2020)

Private Internet Access scores well in speed tests. But there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I conducted several tests on several of PIA’s servers (from Auckland, New Zealand) and was impressed with most of the speeds returned. 

However, as you can see from the table below, there’s clearly work to be done on the download speeds of the UK servers. Anyone who’s looking for a VPN for BBC iPlayer should look elsewhere.


Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
No VPN (Auckland)4317.12202.67
USA (California)159176.03133.17
UK (Manchester)32519.5095.65
Australia (Sydney)45156.3259.14

Servers (and locations)

Private Internet Access review2

PIA has servers in 48 different countries. Is this impressive? I’m not sure. ExpressVPN boasts servers in 94 different countries. This, I’d argue, is probably too much. The average user only needs VPN servers in a handful of important locations – normally the US, UK, Canada and other major Western countries – and PIA has this. 

In fact, it has over 3,000 servers in these important regions. Which is key for keeping its servers running well as streaming sites – Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, etc. – have started blacklisting servers and IP addresses that support too many simultaneous account logins.

App Design and UI

There’s not a lot to like or dislike about the Private Internet Access app. Mainly because there’s not a lot to it. The homepage is dominated by a big on/off switch, supplemented by a server button and information about your native and VPN IP addresses.

The See More button reveals Quick Connect, Usage and Timer option, and that is the only Basic Settings on offer. 

Like all good VPNs, Private Internet Access lets you tinker with your Advanced Setting too. Here you can choose your VPN protocol – either OpenVPN (L2TP/IPSec) or Wireguard (beta) – and set Split Tunnelling preferences.

Privacy

Private Internet Access has an excellent record on its No Logs claim. Reports suggest PIA was subpoenaed by the FBI in 2016 to hand over its logs, forcing the company to appear in court and explain that it keeps no logs. A similar thing happened in 2018 when PIA returned to court to (again) explain its policy on not logging its customers’ activities.

A history of good behaviour is, ultimately, what you’re looking for in a VPN from a privacy point of view. The whole industry, after all, is built on a relationship of trust – there have been countless cases of VPN who claim to not be keeping logs, only to produce them when the authorities demand them.

That said, there is still room for Private Internet Access to improve on its privacy attributes. From the infrastructure side of things, switching to a server network that ran in RAM-disk mode would be a good way of proving to users that no logs were ever stored.

Opening up to trusted third-party auditors such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cure53 (like some of its rivals have done) would be another measure I’d like to see Private Internet Access take.

Private Internet Access review1

Kape Technologies (…PIA’s new owners)

Private Internet Access is now owned by Kape Technologies. Kape Technologies also owns two other VPNs, CyberGhost and ZenMate. This shouldn’t worry you, though, as they’re different products aimed at different markets (read price points) are based in different locations.

What should, and does, concern some people is the behaviour of the parent company itself, Kape Technologies. Before undergoing a rebrand in 2018, the company was called Crossrider. And a quick Google search reveals that this company has a bit of a reputation in the malware and adware world. 

Whether this matters to you will largely depend on what you’re using your VPN for. If, like me, you split your time between two countries and you only use a VPN to spoof your location (in order to stream content from another region) then I wouldn’t give it a second thought. 

However, if you’re hoping to use Private Internet Access to add a layer of digital privacy, then the reputation of your VPN’s parent company really does matter.

…as my old headmaster used to tell me at school. It takes years to build a reputation and seconds to ruin it. Kape Technologies (formerly Crossrider) have a way to go before they regain that trust.

If that sounds like you, I’d suggest paying a few extra dollars and investing in ExpressVPN instead.

Private Internet Access review: Verdict

There’s a lot to like about PIA. It hits a sweet spot, sitting neatly in the middle of what most users lock for with regards to price, privacy and streaming ability. The $2.85/month for 1-year offer is hard to ignore.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here