Private Internet Access (PIA) is a popular and affordable VPN service for both individuals and small business owners. In this Private Internet Access review, I'll take a closer look at its features, speed, pros & cons, and pricing, to help you decide if this is a VPN you should sign up with.
Private Internet Access VPN (also known as PIA) was founded in 2009, and they’ve built a reputation as a reliable, secure VPN provider. They boast over 15 million satisfied customers worldwide, and it’s easy to understand why.
There’s a lot to love about PIA, from its incredibly cheap prices to its impressive number of servers and user-friendly apps.
PIA comes with several unique features that set it apart from the competition, but there are a few areas where it falls short, too. In this Private Internet Access review for 2022 I explore PIA VPN in-depth, so you can decide if it’s the right VPN for you.
Visit Private Internet Access VPN’s website to find out more and subscribe with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access Pros and Cons
PIA VPN Pros
- One of the cheapest VPNs with prices starting at $2.19 per month
- Great apps for iOS and Android devices
- Can support up to 10 connections simultaneously
- Decent performance in speed tests
- Lots of server locations (30k+ VPN servers to choose from)
- Intuitive, user-friendly app design
- WireGuard & OpenVPN protocols, AES-128 (GCM) & AES-256 (GCM) encryption. Shadowsocks & SOCKS5 proxy servers
- Comes with a dependable kill switch for all clients
- 24/7 customer support and unlimited simultaneous connections too. It doesn't get much better than that!
- Good at unblocking streaming sites. I was able to access Netflix (including the US), Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
PIA VPN Cons
- Based in the US (i.e. member of 5-eyes country) so there are concerns about privacy
- No third-party independent security audit has been conducted
- No free plan
- I wasn't able to unblock BBC iPlayer
PIA is a good and cheap VPN provider, but it could do with some improvements. On the plus side, it's a VPN that comes with a huge VPN server network, good speeds for streaming and torrenting, and a strong emphasis on security and privacy. However, its failure to unblock some streaming services and slow speeds on long-distance server locations are major letdowns.
Pricing & Plans
PIA offers three different payment options, all of which are decently priced. Users can opt to pay monthly ($11.99/month), pay 6-months ($7.50/month, charged as a one-time cost of $45), or pay for a 2-year + 2-month plan ($2.19/month, charged as a one-time cost of $57).
|Monthly||$11.99/month||Comes with unlimited torrenting, dedicated IP, 24/7 customer support, advanced split tunneling, and ad and malware blocking.|
|6 Months||$7.50/month ($45 total)||Comes with unlimited torrenting, dedicated IP, 24/7 customer support, advanced split tunneling, and ad and malware blocking.|
|2 years + 2 months||$2.19/month ($56.94 total)||Comes with unlimited torrenting, dedicated IP, 24/7 customer support, advanced split tunneling, and ad and malware blocking.|
The 2-year + 2-month plan is definitely the best value for your money. If signing up for a 2-year commitment makes you nervous, you’re in luck: all of PIA’s payment plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
In other words, you can try it out and see if it’s the right fit for you with no risk of losing money if you change your mind. If you encounter any problems with your VPN or account, you can contact PIA’s 24/7 customer support.
Speed & Performance
PIA gets mixed reviews when it comes to speed. Despite having an impressive number of servers across 84 countries, Private Internet Access isn’t the fastest VPN on the market. With that said, it’s far from the slowest.
Private Internet Access VPN comes with 10 GBPS (or 10 billion bits per second) connections and unlimited bandwidth.
Download and upload speeds are pretty decent on servers close to where you are physically located, but unfortunately my tests revealed that speeds drop significanlty at long distances. The OpenVPN UDP protocol is also significantly faster than TCP, and faster than WireGuard.
|OpenVPN TCP||14.65 Mbps|
|OpenVPN UDP||27.17 Mbps|
A general rule of thumb with Private Internet Access VPN is that you’ll get faster connection speeds if you connect to a server closer to your physical location.
This isn’t a problem for many people, but it could be a dealbreaker for anyone looking to use a VPN to connect from a specific (far away) country.
It’s also worth noting that Private Internet Access VPN has performed better in speed tests on Windows than on Mac, meaning if you’re looking for a VPN for your Mac computer, it may be better to look elsewhere.
Security & Privacy
Private Internet Access VPN scores well overall on security and privacy, but there are some concerns, particularly regarding privacy.
PIA uses two highly secure protocols, OpenVPN and WireGuard, to encrypt all internet traffic. With OpenVPN, you can choose the encryption protocol you want to use.
If you don’t choose, the default protocol is AES-128 (CBS). Although you have several choices, arguably the best and most secure is AES-256.
PIA also uses its own DNS server for an added layer of protection against data leaks, but you can change this to your own DNS if you want.
In addition to the app-based features, you can access more security features if you install PIA’s Chrome extension, including the ability to block ads, third-party cookies, and third-party tracking.
Private Internet Access also owns all of its servers, which means you’ll never have to worry about a contracted third party having access to your data.
Although most of this sounds awesome, there are a few potential privacy downsides. PIA is based in the U.S, which is a cooperating member of international surveillance alliances.
What this means is that companies headquartered in the U.S could theoretically be legally required to turn over the information and personal data of their clients. This is naturally a cause for concern for many users.
The main goal of any VPN service is to protect your privacy and keep your online identity hidden – but if you have a DNS leak, your personal data could easily be exposed.
The good news is that in my tests (see below, I'm connected to the US Las Vegas server), PIA doesn't reveal my real IP address while connected to its VPN service.
The DNS location shown is the same as the one in the VPN app. Since my real ISP’s DNS address and location aren’t shown, that means there are no DNS leaks.
However, PIA claims to be a no-log provider, meaning that they don’t keep any records of their users’ data. In a transparency report on their website, PIA reports that they have denied court orders, subpoenas, and warrants requesting logs.
Overall, it’s safe to say that PIA maintains a high standard of transparency and privacy that should satisfy all but the most paranoid of VPN users.
Streaming & Torrenting
Private Internet Access is a decent VPN for streaming content from the U.S libraries of popular streaming services.
Although it fails to unlock certain streaming platforms (such as BBC iPlayer – which I wasn't able to unblock), PIA successfully unlocks many of the major streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Youtube.
|Amazon Prime Video||Antena 3||Apple tv+|
|HBO (Max, Now & Go)||Hotstar|
|Kodi||Locast||Netflix (US, UK)|
|Now TV||ORF TV||Peacock|
|Rakuten Viki||Showtime||Sky Go|
For these U.S-based streaming platforms, loading times are reasonably fast, and streaming is generally smooth and uninterrupted. However, if you’re trying to access streaming libraries from countries other than the U.S, you might be better off with NordVPN.
For torrenting, PIA VPN is consistently reliable and surprisingly fast. It has unlimited bandwidth and supports P2P as well as torrenting.
PIA uses WireGuard, an open-source VPN protocol that runs on a mere 4,000 lines of code (as opposed to the average of 100,000 for most protocols), which means you get better speed, stronger connection stability, and a more reliable connection overall.
PIA also offers an optional added layer of protection called Shadowsocks (an open-source encryption protocol popular in China) that reroutes your internet traffic. Best of all, all of PIA’s servers support torrenting, so you don’t need to worry about connecting to the right server.
Private Internet Access Key Features
Private Internet Access is an overall solid VPN with a number of great features. It has a seriously impressive 30,000 servers distributed across 84 countries, making it one of the most server-rich VPN providers on the market.
A small number of these servers are virtual (usually because of legal restrictions on VPN servers in certain countries), but most are physical.
PIA comes with apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux, as well as most mobile devices, smart TVs, and even gaming consoles. Their apps are clear and intuitive enough for beginners to use with ease.
In addition to the apps, PIA also has extensions for popular web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. The extensions are easy to install and manage, and users can choose their location and turn the VPN on and off the same way they can with the apps.
Let’s take a look at some of the other key features that PIA VPN has to offer.
Dedicated IP Address (Paid Add-on)
One of Private Internet Access VPN’s great bonus features is that users have the option to sign up for a Dedicated IP address. This is a paid add-on that costs $5 more a month, but it may well be worth the price
A dedicated IP address helps you avoid getting flagged on safe sites. It also makes it less likely that you’ll encounter those annoying CAPTCHA checks.
A dedicated IP is yours and yours alone and protects your data transfers with an even higher level of encryption. At the moment, PIA only offers IP addresses in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Singapore, and the UK. They may expand their location options in the future, but at the moment, the list is pretty limited.
You can order a dedicated IP address from the PIA app (which starts from $5.25/mo).
Antivirus (Paid Add-on)
Another paid add-on that’s worth investing in is Private Internet Access’s antivirus protection. It comes with an impressive slew of features to keep your internet connection as secure as possible.
The antivirus protection uses a continually updated, cloud-based database of known viruses to identify threats as they emerge. You can control what data is sent into the cloud, so your privacy is always in your hands. You can also set virus scams to be conducted at a specific time, or run a quick scan anytime.
Web Shield, PIA’s DNS-based ad blocker, is another great feature that comes with the Antivirus system.
It also comes with a unique “prevention engine” feature that searches for and patches up any holes in your computer’s existing antivirus software.
When malicious files are detected, they are immediately isolated and held in “quarantine”, where they can’t do any damage. You can then choose whether to delete them permanently or keep them in quarantine.
PIA’s antivirus system will also provide regular, detailed security reports, so you can keep track of what’s going on.
Built-in Ad Blocking
If you don’t want to shell out the extra cash for the full antivirus program, PIA still has you covered: all of their plans come with a built-in ad blocker, called MACE.
MACE blocks ads as well as malicious websites quickly and efficiently and prevents your IP address from being captured by IP trackers.
In addition to protecting your data and private information, this feature has a few unexpected benefits. Your device’s battery life will last longer without ads and trackers draining your system’s resources, and you’ll also save mobile data and get faster results from browsers without ad loading slowing you down.
Private Internet Access VPN is a strict no-logs provider. What this means is that they don’t track their customers’ internet activity or keep records of any data or private information.
However, they do collect their customers’ usernames, IP addresses, and data usage, although this information is automatically deleted as soon as you log out of the app.
PIA also logs your email address, territory of origin, zip code, and some (but not all) of your credit card information, but all of this is pretty standard for the VPN industry.
Because PIA is headquartered in the United States, there are some reasonable concerns about surveillance. The U.S is a member of an international surveillance agreement known as the Five Eyes Alliance, which also includes the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
In essence, these five countries agree to collect massive amounts of surveillance data and share them with each other, and any communications or internet business operating within these countries could also be subject to this agreement.
Being a strict no-logs provider is a smart way for PIA to circumvent any government demands for users’ data, and potential customers can rest assured that PIA (at least according to their own website) takes their commitment to privacy seriously.
Split tunneling is a unique VPN feature in which you can select specific apps to have their internet traffic run through the VPN while leaving other apps open.
In other words, with a split tunneling feature, you can have internet traffic from Chrome directed through your VPN’s encrypted tunnels, while simultaneously having traffic from Firefox unprotected by your VPN.
Under the Network tab in the PIA application, you can find multiple settings for split tunneling. You can set custom rules for both apps and websites, which means you can choose to include or exclude browsers, apps, games, and basically any internet-enabled app.
This is a much more convenient option than having to turn your VPN on and off in order to use certain apps or perform certain activities (such as online banking) on the web.
Private Internet Access VPN comes with a kill switch feature that automatically cuts your internet connection off if your VPN crashes. This protects your real IP address and data from being exposed while you’re browsing and keeps it secure until the VPN is back up and running again.
The kill switch feature has become pretty standard across most VPN providers, but PIA takes it further and includes a kill switch in its mobile device application. This is an unusual feature, but one that is a huge benefit for anyone who regularly streams content or accesses sensitive information from their mobile device.
Access on up to 10 Devices
With PIA, users can connect up to 10 separate devices with a single subscription and run Private Internet Access VPN on all of them simultaneously, something that makes it a great VPN for families or homes with a large number of devices.
These devices can be a mix of computers, mobile devices, and routers – or any other internet-enabled devices that you want to protect with a VPN.
If you want to connect more than 10 devices, PIA’s help desk recommends looking into a router configuration for your home. This way, all the devices behind the router will be counted as one device, rather than multiple.
Free Boxcryptor License
Another great offer that comes for free with a PIA VPN account is a free Boxcryptor license for one year. Boxcryptor is a top-notch cloud encryption tool that’s compatible with most of the major cloud storage providers, including Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. It’s user-friendly enough for the less tech-savvy, while still maintaining high standards of security.
You can access your one-year free Boxcryptor account after you sign on for a PIA VPN subscription. Simply be on the lookout for an email from PIA titled “Claim Your FREE 1-Year Boxcryptor Subscription.” This email may look a bit like spam, but it actually contains a button that you need to click on to claim your key and access your Boxcryptor account.
Private Internet Access offers 24/7 customer support via live chat or ticket. Their customer service agents are polite and helpful, and their website also offers a knowledge base and community forum to help users troubleshoot problems before reaching out for professional help.
What is Private Internet Access (PIA)?
Private Internet Access is a VPN provider founded in 2009 and headquartered in the U.S. A VPN is a cybersecurity tool that allows users to disguise their computer’s real IP address and location. They also reroute your computer’s internet traffic through an encrypted “tunnel”, keeping it safe from prying eyes.
In addition to the basics, PIA also offers advanced security features such as ad-blocking and malware detection.
Is Private Internet Access (PIA) legit and safe?
Private Internet Access is a legitimate and safe VPN provider. They have a good reputation in the industry for providing secure, high-quality cybersecurity products.
Some users are concerned that PIA was acquired in 2019 by Kape Technologies, a company that was previously connected to malware distribution. However, there’s no reason as of yet to believe that their security or quality of service has been negatively affected.
Can I use Private Internet Access for Netflix?
With any VPN service, it’s always difficult to know for sure if you’re going to be able to unlock streaming platforms. Most streaming platforms spend time and money trying to detect and block VPNs, and in return, the VPN companies try to build smarter technology to get around the streaming platforms’ defenses. In other words, it’s a bit of an unpredictable arms race.
With that said, Private Internet Access VPN is generally very successful at accessing Netflix’s U.S library smoothly and easily, with little to no noticeable slowdown or buffering.
However, users have run into problems accessing the Netflix libraries of other countries, particularly if they are trying to connect through a server that’s geographically far from their actual location.
So, if you live in the U.S and want a VPN that can unlock Japanese Netflix, you might be better off with a different provider, like ExpressVPN.
Does Private Internet Access support torrenting?
Yes, Private Internet Access supports torrenting. It has unlimited bandwidth and supports P2P, and you won’t have to worry about speed or reliability.
Does Private Internet Access keep logs?
Private Internet Access VPN is a strict no-logs provider, meaning they won’t keep any records of your private information, internet traffic, or any other data. For more on their privacy and transparency policy, check out their website here.
Is Private Internet Access fast?
The important thing to remember is that all VPNs will slow your internet down a bit. This can’t be avoided, but some VPNs perform better than others when it comes to speed.
Private Internet Access isn’t the fastest VPN on the market, but it’s still a decently fast service that will support streaming, torrenting, and most other internet activity.
Summary – Private Internet Access Review 2022
Overall, Private Internet Access is a solid VPN provider with a trustworthy reputation in the field and a lot of great features.
It’s particularly great for torrenting and use for general security and privacy protection, and can also be used for streaming content from most platforms/locations.
PIA is a good and cheap VPN provider, but it could do with some improvements. On the plus side, it's a VPN that comes with a huge VPN server network, good speeds for streaming and torrenting, and a strong emphasis on security and privacy. However, its failure to unblock some streaming services and slow speeds on long-distance server location are major letdowns.
If you’re ready to try PIA VPN out for yourself, you can check out their website here and sign up with no risk for 30 days.
Bunch of thieves
They're a bunch of crooks. I tried their VPN, didn't like their options, paid in Bitcoin (that was a mistake). Requested a refund, asked me to confirm a bunch of information for 3 days straight, now they're ignoring me… I am NOT impressed. Very unethical company. Will probably never get my refund.
PIA stole 7 months of subscription from me
I had a yearly subscription and by mistake they sent me an offer to reactivate that subscription which wasn't expired. I clicked and paid into the offer, which was for a 2 year subscription, but it created a new subscription instead of extending the existing one. I ended up with 2 subscriptions. I was expecting the subscriptions to be merged. When I received an email saying that my subscription was expiring it took me by surprise. When I contacted customer service they said I should have merged the subscriptions within 30 days of receiving the second subscription. They basically stole 7 months of subscription from me. Customer service is horrible and you can't access a history of financial dealings in your account. Please keep your emails as it is the only proof you have of any charges made by this company. Very dodgy. Please avoid.
Okay I guess
I have been with PIA for 3 years and it has always worked really great. Fast speeds and cheap prices. The only negative is that some streaming services don't work.