Private Internet Access (PIA) Review 2018: A Fast And Cheap VPN Service You Can Buy

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Private Internet Access
But that's an unsafe assumption, and it's especially dubious when you connect to the web from the coffee shop, the airport, or even at work. Login or create an account to post a review. No activity logs, only payment and email information. I bought and have been using a 2 year PIA plan based on the reviews here and other websites. If you'd rather not look at it too much and I wouldn't blame you , you can select a server from the menu bar.

Full Specifications

Private Internet Access VPN

Laptops and desktop computers are probably the primary devices used by VPN subscribers. All the tasks related to using the service are performed via the icon present in the notification area.

When you visit Settings, you can toggle basic options, such as, whether to start PIA at login, auto-connect at launch and show desktop notifications. The Advanced Settings toggle hides another set of options that might be useful to many users. The app can also reduce the size of data packets to improve compatibility with a wide range of routers, possibly older ones. You can choose between multiple options for data encryption, authentication, and handshake schemes to get the encryption to your liking.

The main screen, with its default white theme, looks simple and neat. There is a dark theme mode which you can enable in the Settings.

All it shows is Connect slider, your IP address and an option to change your location. Some VPN services seem to put different features for apps on different platforms. There, you can pull the plug on all apps or allows the desired ones. There is no search option present to narrow down your choice to individual cities in the countries. But it seems to cut down on the number of settings and features. The Settings button, present on the top-left corner, only allows you to turn on a few toggle buttons including the dark theme, auto re-connect, and PIA MACE, etc.

However, there is no regret regarding performance. You can choose your desired region by tapping the arrow button on the bottom right corner of the screen. When you subscribe to a low-cost VPN service, what you initially expect is it would unlock the internet for you over average speeds.

That way, none of your information is accidentally transmitted in the clear. VPN technology comes in a handful of flavors, with a few different protocols used to create the encrypted tunnel.

My preferred one is OpenVPN, which is open-source and therefore examined by volunteers for potential vulnerabilities. It also has a strong reputation for speed and reliability. I don't recommend using these other two, but it's good to have options. With a subscription to Private Internet Access, you get access to the company's 3, servers spread out over 44 locations in 28 countries.

While VPN services will spin servers up and down to meet demand, a large number of servers is a sign of the service's robustness. It also means you're less likely to have to share data with a lot of other users accessing the same VPN server.

For many years, Private Internet Access had the most servers of any service I had tested. NordVPN now takes that honor with 3, servers. The number of server locations is also important. Numerous server locations also mean you have more choices to spoof your location. Although it's a good mix, it could use improvement. It also has only two options in all of Central and South America. Note that while Private Internet Access used to support servers in Russia, it no longer does.

This change was in response to new VPN laws in Russia that Private Internet Access felt would have prevented it from adequately protecting user privacy. Other VPN services have weighed in on the issue, but Private Internet Access is among the very few to cease Russian operations entirely.

Some VPN services make use of virtual servers, which mimic a server in a given country but may actually be located somewhere else. While the practical upshot is the same—your traffic appears to be coming from the country you select—consumers may have legal concerns about where their data is actually going.

Not every country has agreeable data and privacy protection laws, after all. That's not an issue with Private Internet Access. A company representative told me that while it does use virtual servers in its overall operations, it does not use virtual servers for forwarding user traffic.

Each location you select is exactly where it says it is. VPN companies advertise their privacy and security bona fides , but they also come with risks. When you route your traffic through a VPN, the company could have enormous insight into what you do online—the kind of insight your ISP has and that you're probably using a VPN to prevent.

A company representative explained that Private Internet Access does not insert advertising into your web traffic and does not profit from user data.

While the technology that a VPN company offers is important, its physical location and the legal jurisdiction the company operates under also makes a difference. Given the checkered past of the US Intelligence apparatus, that might seem like a hard sell. It's important to note, however, that the US does not have any legal requirements for mandatory data gathering and retention. I am neither a network engineer with access to each and every one of the company's servers, nor am I legal expert.

I have, however, asked the company direct questions and been satisfied by the answers I received. Still, I encourage everyone to read a VPN company's privacy policy for themselves. If you feel uncomfortable, look elsewhere. Trust, after all, is paramount when it comes to security companies. I received new login credentials in the purchase confirmation email, a practice that gives you extra anonymity but may be confusing for novices. It's minimal to the point of being nearly nonexistent.

There is a login window, which also acts as a settings page for things such as the encryption type, the servers to connect to, and proxy information. Everything else is buried in the system tray icon's right-click menu.

When you're connected to a Private Internet Access server, the icon glows green. If you're disconnected, it's red. If the software is in the process of trying to establish a connection, the icon is gray. The service plays well with Windows 10 notifications, which makes it easier to tell what's happening with your connection. Because the interface is so minimal, it's impossible to find information like the load any given server is experiencing.

NordVPN does a great job of conveying critical information like this. Not having an app to poke around with might throw off some new users. I know I was confused the first time I used the service. Experienced security wonks, however, may appreciate having a VPN that stays out of the way and doesn't waste resources on fancy graphics.

This is probably Private Internet Access' most divisive aspect. Thankfully, Private Internet Access also offers hour live chat support in case you're confused. I always try to watch Netflix with a VPN as part of my testing. Many streaming services—be they music or movies—block VPNs, because they have geographically limited licenses for streaming content.

The show Star Trek: I test with Netflix because of its enormous popularity and because it is particularly aggressive at blocking VPN users. Unfortunately, I received an error warning from Netflix saying I would have to shut down my proxy before I could continue. All of these services did work with Netflix as of writing. Keep in mind, however, that using a VPN to circumvent a service's restrictions may violate terms of service you've agreed to.

Many VPN companies include additional privacy and security features in order to entice consumers. When engaged, this tool specifically blocks pesky advertisements plastered across web pages and trackers that allow companies to track your movements across the Internet.

Of course, some might balk at the idea of blocking ads, since doing so makes it harder for those in the media, from solo webcomic artists to decades-old technology review websites, to earn a living.

It's worth noting that few of the VPNs I have reviewed offer ad blocking: It's important to remember that blocking ads isn't just about saving yourself from annoyance or the ever-encroaching presence of late-stage capitalism.

Admittedly, I only used it for around a week or two, as I realised that I hardly ever torrent content anymore. It worked well enough — no speed issues, cross-platform compatibility, and had a ton of server locations to choose from, several even in remote areas. I found the price to be the most affordable among many others — with a wide range of payment methods, even gift cards.

I requested a cancel and refund after a week as allowed on their website and they got back to me within less than a day. The process was straightforward and not once did I feel as if I was being pressured to continue with the service, which is what companies usually do — I was accommodated well to my needs. I have a lot of respect for PIA after this and so this review is quite biased, but they seem like a genuine company that cares for its users, something that I value highly given the precarious nature of public VPNs.

I need to be sure my privacy is protected no matter which way the political wind blows. I love using PIA. I also love the fact that I can add multiple devices. That was a must with me since I use a cellphone, a laptop, and a desktop. I love how easy it is to use on my macbook especially since it runs nicely in the background.

This has a really easy to use interface that makes it perfect for me. It has no gimmicks involved and is just a clean cut VPN provider that delivers. I have used this server for years from the UK. I have only had to contact their support dept once in many years and they were extremely knowledgeable. Recently I noticed a big slow down on bandwidth while connected to this VPN, and did some investigating.

Also my ip was on full display for all to see. I immediately change vpn providers! Was with PIA for many years, but no more! Reported this to PayPal and many other entities. PIA needs to fold up and disappear! In I had PIA for a year and it was pretty good. They used to have chat support that was helpful. They no longer have chat support or even a customer service phone number. I signed up after not having a VPN for a year and cancelled for a refund a few hours after ordering.

PIA no longer met my needs. Their customer support article reads that you can cancel within the first 7 days and a refund will take days. It has now been 10 days and no refund or response other than generic auto response emails that state they are too busy to process my request and will get to it when they can. I would have recommended them in , but definitely not in Have used PIA for three years, along with others, which never measured up.

PIA has consistent connections I have been dropped twice, and use VPN whenever connected , and a real kill connection that works. The fast speeds have kept me as a long-time user.

No logs refers to the initial connection IP record. PIA stays minimized on your taskbar and you can just right click and connect to a server from there. Based on my knowledge, nothing can beat PIA. I especially like that you can keep it minimzed on your taskbar and quickly change server locations. Ranked 9th out of 74 VPNs Speed test: Yes 1 server worked Torrenting: The location I used to track the speed was in the middle of Europe: PIA has a no logging policy that will not track or monitor traffic logs, or communication logs.

However, it does track some information, such as: Your email address Payment data Clients who opt to use the optional control panel will receive a temporary cookie 3. Not ideal right off the bat. Anonymous IP Ability to torrent Kill-Switch but people have complained about it 5 simultaneous connection Total servers: Was it sponsored or not? How have they fared?

We tested four of their servers and saw the same dreaded black screen: Those four losers included: PIA Cons — 1. Furthermore, they have a FAQ page which might help some of you: Even better way to mask behind your identity? No activity logs, only payment and email information. Ease of the VPN software: Simple and smooth, installation file was over 60mb though. In fact, their privacy policy is remarkably straightforward.

29 user reviews for Private Internet Access