Private Internet Access Vpn Review

Private Internet Access Vpn Review

Private Internet Admission — or “PIA,” for brusk — is known for two things: Protecting users’ privacy online and being open up-source. As an open-source program, Individual Cyberspace Access is transparent virtually how it works. That eases at to the lowest degree some concerns most logging and reporting, simply information technology doesn’t make it the way of Private Net Access’ principal task of encrypting and anonymizing its users’ internet traffic. In this Private Internet Access Review, I’ll put PIA’s reputation to the examination.

Private Internet Access Pros and Cons

  • Open source
  • Upward to x simultaneous connections
  • Easy-to-employ app balances simplicity with advanced options
  • Works well with streaming services
  • Inconsistent speeds
  • Has not submitted to a third-party audit

What You Tin Do With Private Internet Access

At their nearly basic, all VPNs practise the same matter: They encrypt your online communications and tunnel them to a different server, effectively anonymizing your browsing by making it seem like your internet traffic is coming from somewhere else. Not fifty-fifty your own ISP will know it was you. Private Net Admission, as y’all might imagine, can do all of this — but it can also practice more than.

Private Cyberspace Access Features

Like most things, VPNs only work when they’re turned on. This tin can be a problem if your VPN service is disrupted in the middle of a browsing session. Private Internet Admission has a “kill switch” characteristic that covers this possibility: If your Individual Internet Access VPN goes out, then it will cut your connexion to the internet, too, rather than leaving you out on the spider web with an exposed connexion. This feature is pretty typical among VPNs, just it’s a welcome one notwithstanding.

Individual Internet Access VPN – Mac Settings

Though it’due south a very straightforward service, Private Internet Access’ app offers plenty of features and customization options for those who seek them out. About importantly, the app let me alter between dissimilar VPN protocols (the service supports the OpenVPN and Wireguard VPN protocols, which I’ll talk more than almost in our section on security). Further settings permit me manage my data encryption and fine-tune other details.

Private Internet Access VPN - Detailed Mac Settings
Individual Internet Access’ settings allow for a lot of control. Screenshot from MacOS.

I liked that Private Cyberspace Admission included a basic IP blocked for sites known to be associated with advertizement. Though it’s a fairly bare-bones class of advertizement-blocking, it works well and is easy to manage.

Some of Private Internet Access’ most appealing features are the things that information technology doesn’t have — like bandwidth or data limitations, or any kind of rules governing peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services like BitTorrent. Doing a lot of file-sharing tin can be rough on your bandwidth, so some VPN services block P2P services or restrict such services (or users in general) tin apply. Not Individual Cyberspace Access, though, which is peachy news for P2P fans.

How Information technology Felt to Apply Individual Internet Access

Many VPN services take the aforementioned approach to user design: They focus on simplicity on the surface (commonly in the form of a big ol’ button that turns the VPN on and off) and add some features in out-of-the-way places. That’s a smart fashion to come up at the problem, only services don’t always pull it off well. Some, similar, can feel pretty blank-bones. Others tin can feel a bit also circuitous. Happily, Individual Net Access nails the balancing act: Information technology surfaces very simple functionality but tucks plenty of features in well-organized menus that are easy for the more intense VPN users amidst us to access.

Individual Cyberspace Admission goes with the tried-and-truthful “big ol’ push button” approach for turning the VPN on and off, and information technology offers quick options for automatically finding the fastest server. But it’southward easy to surf to different locations, and PIA organizes its server list with location-shifters in mind. A lot of this will feel familiar — the national flags all over the menus are a staple of VPN user experience design — merely it’due south all executed very effectively. Private Internet Access feels smashing to use and looks prissy on the screen. I’d even argue that the little lock-shaped human who serves every bit PIA’due south mascot is, in his ain way, just as beautiful as the Tunnelbear bear or the HMA donkey, though I know some of my fellow writers have strong feelings for those cartoon animals. (They are rather beautiful, I’ll grant you.)

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Private Internet Access VPN - Mac Quick Connect Feature
Quickly connecting to PIA’south fastest server on MacOS

When I didn’t feel like information technology, I could skip the Private Internet Access interface entirely. By right-clicking on the plan’s little toolbar icon, I could connect to the fastest server via a drop-down carte option — no big button required.

Private Internet Access VPN Quick Connect Server List
Choosing a server from the menu without opening the PIA interface. Screenshot from Windows

Within that same little drib-downwardly carte, I could fifty-fifty navigate to specific location-shifting options effectually the world. This worked exactly the same mode on both PC and Mac, and I plant myself using these trivial menus more than often than I used the app’due south ain interface. Anytime there’s a way to have fewer windows open, I’ll have information technology!

This little icon would only be effectually if Private Internet Access was running in the background, but I used a simple choice in the settings to accept PIA automatically launch whenever I booted up my reckoner. Private Internet Access also gave me the selection of connecting to a VPN server on launch (rather than but starting up the app without actually opening a VPN connectedness).

In practise, I establish myself using Private Internet Access every bit a “set information technology and forget it” VPN. When I did need to brand a quick location modify or tweak a setting, though, I found PIA to be a pleasure to apply.

Streaming With the Private Internet Access VPN

Using a VPN is smart security, but your privacy isn’t the only reason to consider on. VPNs similar Private Cyberspace Admission can help you unlock Netflix and other streaming services, assuasive you to stream titles from the service’s libraries in other countries (which are different from the library of movies and Television shows that we get here in the Usa).

The trick here, though, is that services like Netflix aren’t necessarily neat on this arrangement. Netflix and other streaming services that have different international libraries tend to try to keep VPN users out. This ordinarily involves identifying VPN servers and blocking them, though it can also involve more than sophisticated techniques. Though Netflix and the residue of the gang aren’t all that effective at keeping out every VPN, they practise sometimes manage to block sure servers — or unabridged VPN services. That’s why I tested Private Internet Access with the 3 streaming services that tend to do the best chore of locking downwardly their content: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. Though there are no guarantees, you can generally presume that VPNs that work with these services will besides work with others.

First, I tried a server here in the Usa. I’m already in the U.S., but trying this server would tell me if the services knew I was running a VPN. The verdict: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ all worked like a amuse.

Ane server doesn’t tell us a whole lot, though, so I kept on testing with servers in French republic, the United Kingdom, and a few other spots where Netflix and its peers have an international presence. Though I had mixed results on some servers, I was usually able to admission Netflix’s foreign catalogs. Amazon Prime number Video consistently worked and, like Netflix, believed the shifted location was real. Merely Disney+ gave me real issues, merely its foreign catalogs aren’t of much interest to U.S. consumers, anyhow — and it worked on the U.S. VPN servers, which should please users outside of the land.

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Private Internet Admission Security and Privacy

Location-shifting is a lot of fun, merely serious VPN users tend to value privacy and security in a higher place all. Fortunately, Private Internet Access has a great reputation on this front.

First, let’s talk security. Private Internet Access supports OpenVPN and Wireguard, two VPN protocols that are both considered very secure. Individual Net Access also offers DNS protection, which is an important thing to accept given the known vulnerabilities of DNS infrastructure. All of this is more than enough to keep your browsing secure, and if yous ever lose your protection due to a VPN outcome, Private Internet Access’ “impale switch” characteristic will kick in to protect yous.

Private Internet Access’ “kill switch”
Toggling Private Internet Access’ “kill switch” feature on MacOS

Running a VPN like Private Net Access volition protect you from prying eyes, including those of your own internet service provider. Just all of the security and encryption in the world won’t affair if your VPN service itself is tracking y’all. Fortunately, Private Net Access makes a pledge that should be familiar to any VPN users: PIA has a “no logging” policy, similar merely most every other VPN service.

The bad news is that, similar nearly VPN services, Individual Internet Access hasn’t yet submitted to a third-party inspect. Though it refers to its privacy policies every bit “verified,” PIA hasn’t actually proven that it keeps no logs — though its representatives take stood business firm under legal pressure, testifying nether oath to their no-logs policy. While I’d prefer to see a third-party audit, I’k impressed by Private Net Access’southward legal track record and don’t accept any concerns most its privacy policies across my usual paranoia.

Individual Cyberspace Admission Speed

Individual Internet Admission promised not to hold me back. This service has absolutely no limits: No bandwidth restrictions, no information restrictions, and no rules confronting P2P file sharing or any other bandwidth-hogging activities.

That’due south not bad news — or, at least, information technology’due south great news if you’re the ane who is planning to sus scrofa bandwidth. The downside to this policy is that in that location are some large-time bandwidth users out there on Private Internet Access’ servers, which could slow yous down a bit if y’all discover yourself sharing a server with the power-users. I was a chip concerned that PIA’s servers could be a piddling slow.

Happily, I was way off: I institute Private Internet Access to be lightning fast. In my tests, I got well-nigh identical speeds with and without the VPN running.

Private Internet Access VPN Speed Test - Not Connected
My speed test when not connected to Private Internet Access

The differences between my two speeds could reach a handful of Mbps at times, but there were too moments where the speeds were virtually identical.

Private Internet Access VPN Speed Test - Fastest Server
My speed exam when continued to Private Internet Access’ fastest server option

When I went looking for slower servers, I could certainly observe them — and there were a few locations where none of the bachelor servers were specially speedy. Naturally, servers that were further away tended to crusade more slowdowns and lag. Private Cyberspace Access seemed a niggling inconsistent down in the center of its server listing, which wasn’t platonic just also isn’t a huge problem. Fifty-fifty the slower servers were generally fast enough to manage video streaming. For more bandwidth-heavy activities similar P2P file sharing, I wouldn’t exist inclined to pick whatever of the more than remote server options anyway — I’d just get with the fastest one, which always performed well in my tests.

One likely reason that PIA is and so fast is that its server count is huge. PIA has more than than 35,000 servers, which is an incredible figure — for reference, in our review of Ivacy, we were disappointed to find fewer than 1,000 servers, and the same matter happened in our VyprVPN review — to say nothing of the VPN service, which only has about 100. Fifty-fifty elite competitors trail PIA in this department: a Cyberghost subscription will get y’all “only” vii,000 servers or so, while a NordVPN subscription will net y’all a scrap over 5,000.

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Private Cyberspace Admission Platform Support

Platform back up isn’t exactly a weak point for Private Net Access, considering the service has apps for the most vital platforms: Computers are covered with apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and mobile users can make use of the iOS and Android apps. There are browser extensions to choose from, too.

Connected to Private Internet Access VPN
Using Private Internet Access on iOS

Simply platform back up is one area where Private Cyberspace Access is non exceptional. There are no apps for streaming devices like the Fire Television receiver. There aren’t dedicated apps for Wi-Fi routers, either, though PIA is known to work with some open-source solutions, similar AdvancedTomato.

In that location are many other VPN services that have like gaps in their platform support, so this shouldn’t be surprising — but it surprised me all the same, because I’d gotten used to the idea of Private Internet Access exceeding my expectations.

Individual Internet Access Value

The Private Internet Access pricing scheme is designed to encourage customers to sign up for long-term deals, which are paid for upward-front but automatically renew. That’due south near as unsurprising as a VPN pricing structure tin can get — about all of them do the same affair.

What I like nigh Individual Cyberspace Access, though, is that it seems to take resisted the urge to jack upwards the monthly cost too much. It’s one thing when services offering stunning discounts on one-, two-, or iii-twelvemonth plans (I like that), and quite another when they get-go charging 15 or 20 bucks a month for a short-term programme (I do non similar that). Private Internet Admission has very competitive one- and two-twelvemonth prices, merely information technology keeps its monthly price at $ix.95 per month — still about three times the equivalent of a month on the $39.95-a-year annual program, but non as insultingly loftier as some competitors become.

Sure, there’s no complimentary plan like the one we raved about in our TunnelBear review. There’south besides no lifetime programme of the sort that then impressed us in our VPN Unlimited review. Only PIA’due south prices are still very proficient, and — like its aristocracy VPN peer ExpressVPN — this is a service that is worth paying for.

Private Internet Admission Review: Our Verdict

VPN services tin split up themselves from the pack in a few key ways: Their user blueprint, their security bona fides, and their pricing schemes. Private Internet Admission knocks information technology out of the park in every category.

Private Internet Access is a very good VPN service and we call up information technology’south an excellent value. With Private Net Access, you’re paying prices that are on the low cease of average for a VPN that is among the elite. PIA is well-designed and easy to use, works with Netflix, and supports secure protocols, all while leaving your bandwidth and data entirely uncapped. While I would accept liked to have seen a tertiary-party audit and some defended apps for Wi-Fi routers, those complaints aren’t enough to keep Private Internet Admission out of the upper echelon of VPN services. This is a VPN service that I’m very happy to recommend.

Private Internet Access Vpn Review