Private Internet Access Review

Private Internet Access Review

Our Verdict

Overall Rating: 9.3/10


Ranked #3 out of 65 VPNs

Discover the epitome of online security with Private Internet Access (PIA), a VPN that stands out with an impressive 9.3/10 rating on our stringent testing scale. PIA boasts robust security features, unparalleled torrenting capabilities, and a legally validated no-logs policy. This VPN excels across the board, particularly in safeguarding your privacy, delivering local speeds that surpass expectations, all while providing unbeatable value for your money. While its user interface might not be as polished as some of its counterparts, and the Smart DNS feature might leave you wanting, the overall consensus is clear—PIA is an outstanding VPN, and its budget-friendly price makes it a smart choice for savvy internet users.

Private Internet Access Review Category Ratings

Streaming 9.1/10
Privacy & Logging 9.7/10
Server Locations 9.9/10
Security & Features 9.3/10
Customer Support 9.2/10
Torrenting 9.7/10
Speed 9.7/10
Bypassing Censorship 9.0/10
Ease of Use 8.1/10
Price & Value 9.5/10
Private Internet Access Pros & Cons

Embark on a comprehensive seven-year journey of scrutiny and evaluation with our PIA VPN review, where we’ve relentlessly tested and appraised its performance. Throughout the dynamic landscape of ownership changes, PIA has consistently emerged as one of the fastest, safest, and most reliable VPNs in the industry.

Under the umbrella of Kape Technologies, the same powerhouse behind renowned VPNs like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, PIA boasts a legacy of security and innovation. Our experts meticulously examined PIA’s logging policy, delved into its legal history, measured its global speeds, and conducted thorough tests for torrenting and streaming. The result? A VPN that not only stands the test of time but also competes head-to-head with the industry giants.

Navigate your decision-making journey by exploring the detailed comparison in the table at the bottom of this page or continue scrolling for an in-depth look at PIA’s pivotal specifications. Uncover the unparalleled reliability and versatility that PIA brings to the realm of virtual private networks.

Who Should Get Private Internet Access?

Choose Private Internet Access if:

  • Private Internet Access (PIA) is tailor-made for those who prioritize privacy, speed, and budget-friendly options. Choose PIA if you crave the utmost privacy; it’s a court-proven, no-logs VPN, ensuring your personal data stays just that—personal.
  • Experience a seamless and rapid online journey with PIA’s ‘set and forget’ approach. You’ll hardly notice any speed loss, providing a smooth browsing experience comparable to your regular download speeds.
  • For avid torrenters, PIA stands out as the go-to choice. With impressive speed, top-notch security, and features like port forwarding and SOCKS5, it optimizes your P2P traffic while keeping your wallet happy—it’s the best affordable VPN for torrenting.

Avoid Private Internet Access if:

consider alternatives if you require high speeds from distant locations. While PIA excels in many areas, connecting to extremely remote VPN servers may result in slower speeds compared to some competitors.

  • If streaming on non-VPN devices is a crucial aspect of your online experience, PIA’s Smart DNS may not be the ideal solution. Despite its other merits, it might not consistently unblock streaming services on devices like Apple TV or gaming consoles.
  • Lastly, if you’re new to the VPN scene, while PIA offers simplicity, its array of options might overwhelm a beginner. If the fear of making a misstep is a concern, exploring less intricate VPN options could be a prudent choice. Choose PIA for a tailored, secure, and cost-effective VPN experience that aligns with your specific needs.

Private Internet Access Key Data

Data Cap
Download Speed
Logging Policy
No Identifying Data
Data Leaks
US (Five Eyes Member)
IP Addresses
Countries with Servers
US Netflix
Simultaneous Connections
Works In China
24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price
$2.03/mo over 28 months
Free Trial
7 Days (Payment Info Required)
Money-Back Guarantee
30-day Money-Back Guarantee


Exceptional for Streaming Netflix & Other US Services

Rating 9.1/10

Craving global Netflix content? Stream on with Private Internet Access (PIA)! Our latest tests unveil PIA’s expanded reach, granting access to 10 top Netflix libraries, including the US and UK. Now you can binge watch international blockbusters and discover hidden gems, all from the comfort of your couch.

Ranked #11 out of 65 VPNs for Streaming

Here’s a list of streaming services that PIA currently unblocks:

Streaming platforms
Works with PIA VPN
Amazon Prime Video
BBC iPlayer
Channel 4
Hotstar India
Netflix US

While many VPNs falter at Netflix’s geo-fences, Private Internet Access (PIA) grants you streaming superpowers. Access every show, movie, and documentary across the globe, from Down Under to Scandinavia. Stream in stunning HD, buffer-free, thanks to PIA’s optimized servers. Effortless setup, ironclad security – your gateway to Netflix freedom awaits.

Private Internet Access consistently works with US Netflix

Here are the 10 Netflix regions that PIA was able to unblock in our latest round of testing:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • India
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • UK
  • US

Having said that, our ExpressVPN review and NordVPN review detail how both VPNs are more effective at bypassing Netflix geo-blocks around the world.

PIA Streams UK Video Content

We also tested the “UK London-Streaming” server, and Private Internet Access unblocked BBC iPlayer every time.

In our tests, PIA worked with BBC iPlayer on its London streaming server.

For the time being, we can safely say that PIA now consistently works with all UK streaming services, including ITVX and Channel 4.

Unblock Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video with PIA.

PIA VPN emerged as one of the top-performing VPNs for Hotstar in our evaluations. Additionally, it seamlessly supports various other content platforms such as Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video.

Private Internet Access works well with Hulu

Experience seamless streaming in HD or 4K with PIA VPN’s rapid speeds, ensuring a lag-free entertainment journey.

While PIA hasn’t traditionally held the spotlight as a premier VPN for streaming, recent test results showcase its outstanding performance. We are delighted to observe that it can now compete with some of the industry’s leading contenders in effectively unblocking international services and content libraries.

PIA's Streaming Performance Against Other Best VPNs

The following table provides a comparative analysis of Private Internet Access in relation to other top-rated streaming VPNs. The assessment is based on its accessibility to Netflix and BBC iPlayer, as well as the availability of streaming with Smart DNS:

VPN Service Streaming Rating No. of Netflix Libraries US Netflix BBC iPlayer Smart DNS




PIA Is an Excellent VPN for Torrenting

Rating 9.7/10

Private Internet Access stands out as the premier VPN for torrenting, offering a combination of features that make it a top choice for enthusiasts. With a stringent no-logs policy, unlimited bandwidth, and swift download speeds, PIA ensures a secure and seamless torrenting experience. What sets it apart from many other VPNs is the inclusion of port-forwarding, a feature that enhances communication with torrenting peers. If you are an avid torrent user, PIA is a swift and secure option that comes highly recommended.

Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Torrenting

Among the 65 VPN services subjected to our testing, Private Internet Access (PIA) stands out as the premier choice for torrenting. Notably, PIA distinguishes itself by permitting P2P and file-sharing activities across all of its servers—a feature we find commendable, especially in contrast to competitors that arbitrarily restrict server access.

PIA boasts compatibility with popular torrent clients such as Deluge, uTorrent, and Transmission, with our tests conducted using qBittorrent. Additionally, the built-in ad blocker, MACE, enhances the overall experience by effectively blocking trackers and malware encountered during the torrenting process.

In our P2P tests, PIA demonstrated exceptional performance, allowing seamless torrenting on all of its servers. Users can enjoy torrenting from any server location without worrying about bandwidth limitations or other constraints. Simply connect to the nearest VPN server, and you can initiate your downloads without any hassle.

We were able to download a torrent file very quickly using PIA VPN.

Utilizing Private Internet Access (PIA), we achieved an impressive torrent download speed of 9.6 MiB/s, marking one of the swiftest results in our measurements. Notably, this speed surpasses that of other leading VPNs, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

It’s worth highlighting that PIA provides an exceptional experience with no throttling and no bandwidth restrictions. Torrents downloaded at a pace nearly as fast as they would without a VPN connection, showcasing PIA’s efficiency in maintaining high-speed performance for users.

PIA Has an Impressive Port Forwarding Tool

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a port forwarding feature designed to reroute incoming connections, effectively bypassing any NAT firewall in place.

By enabling Port Forwarding, users can expand the pool of torrenting peers they can communicate with, leading to a significant enhancement in P2P upload speeds. PIA’s settings allow for forwarding to specific ports, including 443, 80, 110, 53, 8080, and 9201, providing users with flexibility and control over their network configuration.

PIA’s VPN Kill Switch Is Reliable & Effective

Every application provided by Private Internet Access (PIA) includes a VPN kill switch, a crucial feature that safeguards your traffic in the event of an abrupt internet connection drop.

This becomes particularly critical during torrenting activities. In the absence of a functional kill switch, the risk exists that your actual IP address could become visible to everyone in the event of a VPN connection failure. In our testing, PIA’s kill switch consistently proved effective, ensuring that your online activities remain protected even in the face of unexpected connection interruptions.


One of the Fastest VPNs on the Market

Rating 9.7/10

Private Internet Access (PIA) stands out as one of the fastest VPNs in our testing, particularly when connecting to servers in close proximity. While it may not quite reach the speeds of competitors like Hotspot Shield or ExpressVPN for long-distance connections, the utilization of the WireGuard protocol positions PIA as faster than the majority of VPNs we assess. As of December 2023, PIA ranks as the 10th-fastest VPN available.

Ranked #5 out of 65 VPNs for Speed

During our testing based in New York, US, we established connections to Private Internet Access (PIA) servers spanning six different continents. Our testing setup utilized a 100Mbps internet connection, mirroring a baseline speed comparable to what you might encounter in a typical home environment.

Here are PIA’s full speed test results:

No VPN (New York) US (New York) Canada (Toronto) US (Los Angeles) UK (London) Germany (Berlin) Brazil (São Paulo) Japan (Tokyo) South Africa (Johannesburg) Australia (Sydney)
Server Location
Download Speed
Upload Speed

In our speed tests of Private Internet Access (PIA), we observed an impressive speed loss of only 95Mbps on short-distance connections. This signifies an exceptionally fast performance by PIA in maintaining robust speeds during these close-proximity connections.

We consistently conduct all speed tests using our proprietary, purpose-built tool to ensure uniformity and reliability in our assessments.

While Private Internet Access (PIA) exhibited less impressive long-distance connection speeds, they remained sufficiently fast for activities such as streaming, torrenting, and web browsing.

As anticipated, servers situated farthest from our testing base in the US experienced the most significant speed losses. Nevertheless, even over extensive distances, PIA demonstrated commendable speed, making it a reliable choice for connecting to the other side of the world. We consistently achieved speeds of 82Mbps when connected to a server in Australia.

One notable aspect in our speed testing with PIA is its lack of consistency compared to some of its fastest competitors. There can be noticeable fluctuations from week to week, albeit only to a slight extent, which slightly hinders its overall performance.

While there are VPN services that offer faster speeds than PIA, particularly over long distances, it’s worth noting that PIA holds its own and even outperforms many prominent VPN providers, as illustrated in the comparisons above. In our Hotspot Shield review, we emphasize the exceptional global speeds of that VPN service. However, Private Internet Access (PIA) stands as a competitive choice, matching or surpassing numerous well-known VPNs in terms of performance.

PIA Has Ping Times Low Enough for Smooth Gaming

In addition to assessing download speeds, we meticulously measure ping times during VPN speed testing, and Private Internet Access (PIA) left a positive impression. Whether connected to a nearby server or one in a different country, PIA’s performance is noteworthy. Gamers can confidently leave PIA connected without experiencing any noticeable difference in gameplay, attesting to its ability to maintain low latency and contribute to a seamless gaming experience.

We could play on a shared Minecraft server with PIA running and it didn’t affect our gameplay at all.

When connected to a server in the same city, Private Internet Access (PIA) registered a ping of 6ms, which is virtually imperceptible compared to the 4ms ping without a VPN. For gamers engaging in titles like World of Warcraft or League of Legends on servers located in different regions, PIA remains an excellent choice. Even when connected to a server in the UK, situated 3,500 miles away, PIA only slightly elevated our ping to 6ms, showcasing its capability to maintain low-latency connections for an optimal gaming experience.

Price & Value

Affordable and High-Value VPN with a 30-Day Refund Policy

Rating 9.5/10

Private Internet Access (PIA) isn’t just a top-tier VPN overall; it also stands out as the ultimate budget-friendly VPN, offering exceptional value for money. Optimal savings are achieved with the two-year plan, which includes an additional +4 free months, costing only $2.03 per month. This represents an impressive 83% discount compared to the one-month plan.

Ranked #3 out of 65 VPNs for Price & Value

Private Internet Access offers three billing options, allowing you to subscribe for one month, six months, or two years.


Billed $11.99 each month

6 Months
Save 37%
Billed $45.00 every 6 months
Save 37%
28 Months
Save 83%
Billed $56.94 the first 28 months and yearly thereafter
Save 83%

The most favorable monthly prices are allocated to the longer-term plans, offering excellent value. It’s important to note that the entire amount must be paid upfront for these plans.

Ranked as the #3 VPN on our entire website, Private Internet Access (PIA) not only excels in performance but also stands out as one of the most budget-friendly options available. Its unparalleled value for money becomes apparent when considering the comprehensive suite of utilities and outstanding performance it provides. Furthermore, with the recent decision to allow an unlimited number of devices per account, PIA continues to enhance its offerings.

How does the cost of Private Internet Access compare to other VPNs?

Certainly! However, I’m unable to create an actual table in this format. Instead, I can provide you with a comparison in a textual format. Please provide the specific VPNs you’d like to compare, and I’ll present the details accordingly.

VPN Service
Price & Value
Cheapest Monthly
Free Trial
7 Days (Mobile Only)
30 Days
7 Days (Mobile Only)
30 Days
7 Days (Mobile Only)
30 Days
No Free Trail
30 Days
7 Days (Mobile Only)
30 Days
No Free Trail
30 Day

Payment & Refund Options

Here’s the payment methods that PIA accepts:

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a diverse range of payment methods, allowing users to make purchases even with a degree of anonymity. Notably, you can utilize gift cards, which can be acquired anonymously with cash. This array of payment options, especially the inclusion of cryptocurrency and gift card payments, enhances privacy and is somewhat less common among VPN providers, making PIA stand out in catering to users who prioritize utmost privacy.

30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Private Internet Access (PIA) does not offer a free version, but users can avail a seven-day free trial by creating their account through the App Store or Google Play.

If the account is created via the website, PIA provides a more extended 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee. To cancel your subscription within the initial 30 days, you can initiate the process by opening a ticket with the PIA support team and requesting a full refund.

Privacy & Logging Policy

Verified as a No-Logs VPN Service

Rating 9.7/10

Private Internet Access is among the select few VPN services verified as having a strict no-logs policy. It retains no session, connection, or server data, limiting tracking to only basic account information. This ensures that when using the service, you can have complete confidence that your IP address and online activities are not being monitored, stored, or associated with your identity.

Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Privacy & Logging Policy

Here’s a table summarizing the information that PIA logs:

Data Type
Logged PIA VPN
Account Information
Browsing Activity
Date of Last Connection
Device Information
DNS Queries
Individual Bandwidth Usage
Individual Connection Timestamps
Number of Simultaneous Connections
Originating IP Address
VPN Server IP
VPN Server Location

PIA VPN’s privacy policy explicitly declares that user activity is “NOT recorded, logged, or stored at all.” The only information collected during sign-up is your email address and payment details, which aligns with standard practice. This ensures a transparent and privacy-focused approach, emphasizing that no user activity is retained by Private Internet Access.

PIA’s Privacy Policy confirms it doesn’t collect your browsing history, IP address, or connection timestamps.

The absence of user activity logging alone positions PIA as one of the premier VPNs for privacy. However, what truly enhances its trustworthiness is the additional measures it takes beyond its logging policy. Here’s an overview:

Regular Transparency Reports

PIA also releases regular transparency reports that detail the number of requests for data it has received from government agencies, along with how many it has complied with (as of December 2023: zero).

Server Seizures

PIA’s commitment to a no-logs policy is not just a statement but has undergone external verification on multiple occasions. In a notable 2016 court case where the FBI issued a subpoena to PIA, the VPN service had no information to hand over, reaffirming its no-logs stance.

In the same year, the Russian government seized PIA servers, finding no retained connection or activity data. In response, PIA took a bold stand by removing all its Russian VPN servers in protest—a move advocating for user privacy.

Furthermore, PIA’s no-logs policy claims were audited as recently as August 2022 by Deloitte. The audit confirmed that no details that could identify PIA users are stored on the VPN’s servers.

These real-world tests through court cases and external audits serve as tangible proof supporting PIA’s no-logs claims, solidifying its position as the top no-logs VPN on the market.

Based in Privacy-Unfriendly US

PIA is headquartered in the United States, a location often deemed unfavorable for VPN companies due to its membership in the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance. The Five Eyes alliance, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, has mechanisms in place for automatic surveillance data collection and sharing.

Compounding the concern, the Patriot Act grants US authorities extensive powers to gather and retain data, particularly through National Security Letters.

While it is typically advised to avoid VPNs based in Five Eyes countries, PIA’s verified no-logs policy mitigates many of the concerns associated with its jurisdiction. Following multiple real-world verifications, we are confident that PIA’s privacy policy and logging practices can withstand the challenges posed by its privacy-unfriendly jurisdiction. Users can trust this VPN with their data, given its robust commitment to user privacy.

Who Owns Private Internet Access?

In November 2019, Kape Technologies acquired Private Internet Access from London Trust Media Inc. (LTMI), a company with a history of creating privacy tools, including PIA VPN in 2010. The acquisition generated some controversy, mainly due to Kape’s past activities in the advertising space when it operated under the name Crossrider. More details about this can be found in our CyberGhost VPN review.

Despite the initial concerns, Private Internet Access (PIA) has consistently demonstrated a commitment to championing digital privacy. Over the years, PIA VPN has gone above and beyond to establish itself as a trustworthy VPN service.

It’s worth noting that Kape Technologies is actively working to distance itself from its Crossrider days and has intensified its commitment to privacy and internet security. Presently, Kape operates several reputable VPN services, including ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. The ongoing dedication of both PIA and Kape to privacy underscores their efforts to provide users with reliable and secure VPN services.

How does the level of privacy offered by PIA compare to other VPNs?

Certainly, I’d be happy to assist with that. However, as a text-based AI, I’m unable to create an actual table. Instead, I can provide you with a textual comparison. Please specify the five other VPNs you’d like to include in the comparison, and I’ll present the details accordingly.

VPN Service Privacy Rating Logging Policy Jurisdiction Independently


No Logs
United States
Connection Logs
No Logs
No Logs
Connection Logs

Server Locations

PIA boasts an extensive network of VPN servers.

Rating 9.9/10

Private Internet Access (PIA) possesses the most extensive server network among VPN providers. With a total of 18,651 servers distributed across 153 locations spanning 91 countries, including all 50 US states, PIA ensures that user traffic is efficiently distributed across numerous servers. This expansive network reduces congestion and enhances overall performance for PIA’s users.

Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Server Locations






IP Addresses

The significant advantage of Private Internet Access’s extensive server network is its ability to minimize server load, increasing the likelihood of connecting to a reliable and nearby server. Here’s the distribution of its server locations around the world:

Number of Countries
South America
North America

The majority of Private Internet Access’s servers are situated in Europe and North America, with extensive coverage in the United States. This wide coverage makes PIA an ideal VPN for streaming blackout NHL games. However, its server spread is impressive globally, ensuring that users can connect to nearby servers regardless of their location.

PIA stands out as an excellent VPN for connecting to specific countries, offering the largest number of IP addresses for the United States. It also boasts the most77 servers in Argentina and Canada, making it the go-to VPN for obtaining an Argentina IP address and accessing Canadian websites.

Dedicated IP Addresses

Private Internet Access (PIA) provides the option for dedicated IP addresses. This unique IP address remains constant each time you connect and is available in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the US. There is an additional cost of $5.00 per month for this feature.

However, it’s important to note that the dedicated IP feature does not support streaming on any platforms. This is contrary to the typical benefit associated with static IP addresses, which is reliable streaming performance.

Instead, PIA’s dedicated IP feature is designed for accessing websites that require a whitelisted IP address, such as online banking. Given its limited use case, it is recommended to avoid this feature unless you have a specific need for it.

Virtual Server Locations

Private Internet Access (PIA) exclusively utilizes bare-metal (physical) servers, but it’s noteworthy that 41% of its server locations are virtually located. PIA transparently marks these virtual server locations with a globe icon. Users have the option to disable these virtual servers by toggling off ‘Include Geo-Located Regions’ in the apps’ settings.

In a virtual server location, you are assigned an IP address in your chosen location, even if the physical server is situated elsewhere. This allows VPN providers to offer IP addresses in countries where operating a physical server is challenging. Virtual server locations can potentially enhance speeds if the physical server is closer to your real location than the assigned IP address. However, if the physical server is farther away than advertised, performance may decline significantly.

PIA’s approach to virtual server locations involves clear labeling and the ability for users to disable them, providing a commendable level of transparency. When handled correctly, the use of virtual server locations is not problematic, and PIA’s measures enhance user awareness and control over their VPN connections.

Rented but Secure VPN Servers

Upon contacting a Private Internet Access (PIA) representative, it was confirmed that PIA rents almost all of its VPN servers. The representative stated”

“The majority of our servers, if not all of them, are rented from third parties.”

 PIA asserts that it employs a “stringent vetting process” when selecting these third-party providers.

It’s common for VPN companies to rent servers from data centers globally to establish a widespread network. However, this practice requires users to trust an additional party with their data. While rented servers are generally acceptable if the VPN provider conducts thorough audits of the hardware and network environment, we sought further details from PIA regarding its vetting process and ensuring compliance from third parties. Unfortunately, PIA chose not to respond to this inquiry.

While it is not uncommon for VPN services to rent hardware, considering PIA’s security-focused reputation, there was an expectation of greater transparency about server ownership and the vetting process. There is room for improvement in this aspect for PIA, and hopefully, future communications can provide more clarity on these matters.

Security & Technical Features

Robust Security, Open Source Apps, and a Comprehensive Range of Features

Rating 9.3/10

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a secure and highly reliable VPN offering extensive customization options and additional features. It adopts top-tier connection protocols and encryption ciphers, including WireGuard and AES-256, ensuring the highest level of security. To enhance transparency, PIA has open-sourced its applications, allowing users to scrutinize the code for maximum assurance.

Ranked #9 out of 65 VPNs for Security & Technical Features

In the table below, you can see which encryption ciphers, connection protocols, and additional security features Private Internet Access uses:

Available in Private Internet Access
Available in Private Internet Access
Available in Private Internet Access
DNS Leak Blocking
First-party DNS
IPv6 Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
Advanced Features
Available in Private Internet Access
Ad Blocker
Dedicated IP
Double VPN
Smart DNS
Split Tunneling
Static IP
Tor over VPN Server
Tracker Blocker

Private Internet Access (PIA) supports a variety of protocols including OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec, with the flexibility to choose between UDP and TCP connections.

By default, PIA safeguards connections with AES 128-bit encryption, but it is recommended to opt for the AES-256 cipher in the settings interface or switch to the WireGuard protocol for enhanced security.

PIA includes built-in protection against IPv4 and IPv6 leaks, DNS leak protection, and features a VPN kill switch on all platforms, providing an additional layer of security.

In our tests, no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks were detected in any application, affirming the effectiveness of PIA’s security measures in preserving user privacy.

PIA provides private DNS servers.

Private Internet Access (PIA) not only owns but also operates its own private DNS servers. This arrangement ensures that your DNS requests are resolved by Private Internet Access rather than your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Consequently, third parties are prevented from accessing information about the websites you visit, as the entire process is managed by PIA from start to finish.

Furthermore, the PIA apps offer flexibility, allowing users to set the Windows client to use any custom DNS of their choice, enhancing control and customization options for users.

For extra security, PIA controls its own network of DNS servers.

PIA offers highly customizable encryption options.

In contrast to many VPN services, Private Internet Access (PIA) provides users with detailed control over the algorithms and protocols used for encrypting their data.

While adjusting encryption settings allows for performance optimization and customization according to individual security preferences, it may seem overwhelming for beginners. By default, PIA secures connections with OpenVPN and AES 128-bit encryption. Users have the option to enhance the encryption to AES-256 (CBC or GCM) in the settings menu.

Moreover, users can choose the encryption level for data authentication and the VPN handshake processes, which verify the authenticity of the connection and transmitted data between the device and the server. Default settings are RSA-2048 and SHA-256, but users have the flexibility to increase these levels to RSA-4096 and SHA-384, offering a wide range of encryption customization for advanced users.

The PIA app allows you to fine-tune your encryption and security settings.

The most secure settings are not selected by default, so we recommend changing them to the following configuration:

  • VPN Protocol — WireGuard
  • Local Port — Auto
  • Connection Timeout — 1 minute
  • MTU — Auto

Unique Advanced Security Features

Private Internet Access (PIA) includes a set of advanced security features developed exclusively by the VPN, distinguishing them from offerings by other VPN providers, although some similarities may exist.

PIA’s advanced features encompass an ad-blocker known as PIA MACE, a private browser named InBrowser, and a SOCKS5 encrypted proxy. Here’s an overview of what each of these features entails:

PIA offers a custom ad and tracker blocker known as PIA

PIA MACE is a DNS-based malware and ad blocker located in the ‘Privacy’ section of the app’s settings. This feature functions by blocking access to domains that are widely recognized for hosting ads, trackers, and malware.

It’s important to note that PIA MACE, while effective, has limitations as an ad blocker. Users do not have the option to whitelist specific domains or adjust filter settings; the feature operates in a binary mode, allowing users to toggle it on or off without granular customization.

The Private Internet Access app includes an ad blocker.

The lack of an option to whitelist specific URLs means users are compelled to keep the PIA MACE feature enabled, potentially causing compatibility issues with certain websites.

In our testing, we observed that while MACE is not flawless, it remains one of the top-performing VPN ad blockers. Despite reported issues by some PIA users, its effectiveness stands out in comparison to other VPN ad blockers we have tested.

Private mobile browser called InBrowser.

InBrowser is a private browser designed for both iOS and Android platforms. It delivers a persistent private browsing experience by automatically deleting your history, cookies, and session data every time you exit the app.

Obfuscation: Shadowsocks Protocol

Shadowsocks, also referred to as SOCKS5, is an open-source encrypted proxy that users can directly select from the app’s interface.

Recognized for its high speeds, Shadowsocks is particularly favored by torrent users and individuals seeking to circumvent internet censorship.

To utilize the SOCKS5 proxy, users need a distinct username and password, both of which can be generated from the Client Control Panel.

Open-sourced Apps

Every desktop application, mobile client, and browser extension offered by Private Internet Access (PIA) is open-source. This implies that anyone can access and examine the source code, scrutinize how the apps are constructed, and contribute to the development process by fixing errors and enhancing the code. The open-source nature of PIA’s apps serves as conclusive evidence that the apps operate transparently without any concealed or malicious code.

While some VPN services, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, have also chosen to open-source their apps, it remains a relatively rare practice among VPN providers. Encouraging more VPN services to adopt open-source principles fosters transparency and trust within the VPN industry.

Leak Test Results - PIA Safeguards Your Data

Private Internet Access (PIA) includes built-in protection against IPv4, IPv6, and DNS leaks. While DNS leak protection is activated by default on the macOS app, users need to manually enable it on the Windows app.


PIA’s VPN apps concealed our true IP address.

After thorough testing for IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, we can confirm that both the desktop and mobile apps do not exhibit any leaks. Our real IP address in London remained consistently protected throughout the testing process.

The combination of these features establishes PIA as one of the safest and most advanced VPNs we’ve evaluated. It consistently upholds its reputation for security and anonymity, maintaining a high standard in our testing over the years.

Additional Security Features We’d Like to See

  • IPv6 support.  effectively concealing your existing IPv6 address. However, it’s noteworthy that PIA doesn’t substitute it with a spoofed address, a practice consistent with its handling of IPv4. To fortify security and diminish the potential for IPv6 leaks, an enhancement we eagerly anticipate is the incorporation of spoofed IPv6 addresses, aligning with PIA’s established IPv4 strategy.
  • Venturing into uncharted territory, GPS spoofing is a feature few VPNs embrace. PIA has the opportunity to distinguish itself further by introducing GPS spoofing, particularly on mobile platforms. This innovative addition would significantly elevate PIA’s capability to obscure your genuine location, offering enhanced privacy for users on the move.
  • A potential leap in network ownership strategy is another consideration. While PIA currently rents numerous servers, a transition to wholly-owned servers throughout its network could instill greater confidence in security. This shift would underscore PIA’s commitment to providing a robust and secure infrastructure for its users.

In contemplating these potential advancements, PIA VPN aims to continually evolve its features, ensuring a cutting-edge and secure VPN experience for its user base.

Bypassing Web Censorship

PIA Works in China - but Not Always

Rating 9.0/10

PIA excels as a top-tier VPN for overcoming censorship, but perfection eludes it. While its historical reliability in China was noteworthy, recent testing has uncovered some challenges. Despite these recent struggles, PIA remains a solid VPN option for users in China, providing robust functionality even though a guaranteed 100% success rate is not assured. Notably, it extends its effectiveness to other heavily restricted regions, including Russia, Turkey, and the UAE.

Ranked #6 out of 65 VPNs for Bypassing Web Censorship

Our regular assessment of Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN’s performance in China involves weekly tests, employing our dedicated server located in Shanghai. Conducted remotely from our test office, these evaluations aim to determine PIA’s efficacy in unblocking websites within China.

Over the past three months, PIA has exhibited an uptime of 57% in China. While this falls slightly short of positioning it among the top VPNs for China, it holds a respectable standing just outside the top five.

For users seeking to navigate the Great Firewall using PIA, employing the OpenVPN protocol and activating the Shadowsocks proxy within the app’s settings proves to be an effective strategy. These insights offer valuable guidance for users looking to maximize PIA’s performance in circumventing online restrictions in China.

PIA unblocks websites in China.
PIA unblocks websites in China.

PIA’s Shadowsocks Beats Censorship

Private Internet Access (PIA) incorporates Shadowsocks, a third-party proxy explicitly designed for use in China. While acknowledging that Shadowsocks may not match the safety and efficacy levels of proprietary VPN obfuscation tools, it serves as a valuable means to access widely-used applications and websites. Notably, Shadowsocks proves adept at reaching platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, and WhatsApp, enhancing the overall accessibility and usability of PIA in restrictive online environments.

Device & OS Compatibility

PIA Has Apps for All Popular Devices

Private Internet Access caters to major platforms, providing custom applications for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Fire TV. Although it offers Smart DNS for IP-spoofing on various platforms, streaming site unblocking is not guaranteed. While technically installable on select router models, PIA lacks a dedicated router app and comes with drawbacks. Notably, PIA recently expanded its connection limit, allowing simultaneous installation and use on multiple devices.

Supported on:

Private Internet Access can be used on the following platforms:

PIA’s complete suite of apps aligns seamlessly with expectations for a leading VPN. The significant advantage of using PIA lies in its ability to cover all these platforms simultaneously with just one account.

PIA extends compatibility to DD-WRT, Merlin, Pfsense, and OpenWRT/LEDE routers. However, it lacks a dedicated router app akin to ExpressVPN, and the performance in this configuration is limited. The setup process is sluggish, and the user interface isn’t very intuitive. As a result, utilizing PIA at the router level is not recommended, a sentiment shared by PIA itself.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

If you do choose to install PIA on your router, you can use it with the following devices:

PIA’s Smart DNS feature will also work to change your IP address on these devices, but it won’t encrypt any of the traffic traveling to or from them.

Browser Extensions

Private Internet Access offers browser extensions available on the Chrome and Firefox web stores. Additionally, it is compatible with Edge and Opera browsers, accessible by visiting the Chrome Web Store. Our independent testing confirms its functionality on both Edge and Opera platforms. This versatility ensures users can enjoy PIA’s benefits seamlessly across various popular browsers.

PIA’s browser extensions facilitate direct connection to a VPN server from your browser interface, ensuring the concealment of your IP address and securing your traffic through Squid HTTPS.

It’s crucial to note that VPN browser extensions exclusively encrypt browser traffic, leaving the rest of your computer’s activity unsecured. For comprehensive encryption and protection of all web traffic, deploying full VPN software is recommended.

One notable advantage is that PIA’s extensions are compatible with almost every browser, with Safari being the only notable exception. This broad compatibility is a commendable feature, as many VPNs either neglect this aspect or offer extensions that fail to function. PIA stands out as an excellent choice for those who prefer browser VPNs over using the full application.

Ease of Use

User-Friendly Interface, but Can Feel Overwhelming

Rating 8.1/10

Private Internet Access (PIA) packs a privacy punch across platforms, with user-friendly basics and a treasure trove of advanced features for tech titans. While beginners might find the options overwhelming, PIA empowers veterans with granular control. Unleash your inner tinkerer and tailor your VPN experience to perfection. Newbies seeking simplicity might prefer other options, but for tech-savvy users, PIA’s your champion.

Ranked #25 out of 65 VPNs for Ease of Use

In the section below we take a closer look at each PIA VPN client so you know what to expect from the VPN service.

There are a few notable differences between each Private Internet Access app that we’ll explain in detail in the following section.

Here’s a more detailed overview of our experience using PIA VPN on different devices and operating systems:

Desktop & Laptop (Windows & Mac)

PIA’s Windows app packs a punch! Easy setup sets the stage for a clean interface where connecting, tweaking, and admiring your new virtual identity (IP address, that is) are just clicks away. Performance and features reign supreme, making it the Windows champion.

Veteran VPN warriors, rejoice! Unleash PIA’s advanced settings with a single click. Monitor data usage, activate snooze mode for strategic breaks, and measure performance like a pro. Double down on privacy with Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxies, routing your connection through an extra layer of protection. Choose your location and conquer the digital frontier!

PIA’s Windows app allows you to route your traffic through one additional location.
While both apps boast feature-rich arsenals, their tray tactics diverge. Windows keeps it classic, nestled in the system tray for easy access. macOS, on the other hand, opts for a menu bar debut, sacrificing dock convenience and Spotlight speed. And while Windows sprints to action, macOS takes a more leisurely pace, loading a few seconds slower. For those craving keyboard shortcuts and lightning-fast reflexes, Windows might be the better bet. But for menu bar aficionados willing to savor the moment, macOS might still hit the spot.

Mobile (Android & iOS)

PIA’s mobile apps deliver power without complexity, but their reign diverges. Android boasts desktop-rivaling settings, like TCP/UDP choices, port forwarding, custom DNS, and encryption tweaks. It wins the customization crown, even offering auto-protection on unknown Wi-Fi and vibration alerts!

PIA’s mobile apps look almost identical to their desktop counterparts, which is rare.

Android’s MACE ad blocker requires a sideload, though, while iOS takes the protocol prize with OpenVPN, WireGuard, IPsec, and IKEv2 options. Surprisingly, iOS even outshines Android in customization, featuring custom ports, DNS changes, encryption adjustments, and a kill switch. Both platforms share InBrowser, the private browsing savior, and let you whitelist trusted networks, This exceptional functionality makes PIA one of the best VPNs for iOS devices.

Android dominates for hardcore power users, while iOS champions protocol choice and surprising depth. It’s a win-win for mobile warriors, proving PIA adapts to conquer any platform.

PIA’s Windows app allows you to route your traffic through one additional location.

Fire TV & Android TV

PIA’s TV app? Easy-to-use eye candy for your Fire TV or Chromecast. Streaming bliss awaits, but hold on, Netflix fans! Only 25% of PIA’s US servers let you unlock that US library.

PIA Fire TV & Android TV

It’s a reliable champ on desktop and mobile, but TV struggles with Netflix consistency. So, for ultimate Netflix freedom, explore further. But if couch convenience and general streaming joy are your jam, PIA’s TV app hits the spot.

PIA’s Broken Smart DNS Tool

Private Internet Access’s shiny new Smart DNS promised location-hopping freedom for devices locked out of the VPN party. Alas, our Apple TV test drive revealed a sad truth: streaming apps remained stubbornly geo-fenced. Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu – all stayed firmly behind their regional walls. Even HBO Max threw shade, displaying a cheeky “proxy detected” message.

PIA’s Smart DNS tool doesn’t work with streaming apps.

This is a major blow, considering Smart DNS was one of the few PIA lifelines for consoles and smart TVs. The convenience factor can’t mask the disappointment of streaming silence. While PIA deserves kudos for innovation, the current Smart DNS performance leaves us longing for smoother sailing on the streaming seas.

Browser Extensions

PIA’s browser extensions pack a privacy punch, offering a buffet of customization options to satisfy even the most discerning security connoisseurs. Dive into a world of fine-tuned control, where you can:

  • Command Your Camera and Mic: Decide which websites get a glimpse into your world and which ones stay in the dark.
  • Shut Down Flash: Banish those pesky Flash intrusions for a smoother, safer browsing experience.
  • Create Website Whitelists: Craft exclusive VIP lists for websites that get to bypass the VPN, ensuring seamless access when needed.
  • Block Cookies and Trackers: Put a stop to those pesky third-party cookies and trackers that lurk in the shadows, collecting your data.

For those seeking simplicity, a quick location choice and a click of the “Connect” button are all it takes to activate protection.

Firefox Users, Heed the Call: A crucial note for Firefox fans – don’t forget to enable “Block WebRTC IP Detection” within the extension. This shields your IP address from potential leaks due to a known privacy vulnerability in Firefox. Stay vigilant, and your browsing adventures will remain shrouded in anonymity.

PIA’s browser extensions offer a comprehensive suite of privacy-enhancing tools, empowering you to tailor your online experience and safeguard your digital footprint. Embrace the power of customization and browse with confidence!

PIA’s browser extensions allow you to stream US Netflix with ease.

Customer Support

PIA's Support Squad: Always on Guard, Day or Night

Rating 9.2/10

VPN woes got you grounded? PIA’s crack support team takes flight 24/7! Live chat, helpful guides, and email lifelines await. We found their agents expert, friendly, and fast – your privacy journey’s in good hands.

Ranked #6 out of 65 VPNs for Customer Support

You can get support from PIA in the following ways:

Customer Support
Available in Private Internet Access
24/7 Email Support
24/7 Live Chat Support
Email Support via Online Form
Online Resources
Tutorial Videos

No matter your platform, Private Internet Access (PIA) keeps things simple. But if a question arises, fear not! Their robust support options have you covered:

Live Chat: Need instant solutions? Click the handy icon on PIA’s website and connect with a knowledgeable agent in real-time. Just have your email and ID ready.

Knowledge Base: Dive into PIA’s online encyclopedia. This searchable treasure trove boasts troubleshooting guides, account FAQs, and technical deep dives – your answer is likely just a click away.

Platform Guides: Feeling lost? Check out PIA’s comprehensive library of platform-specific setup guides and tutorials. From Windows wizards to Android adventurers, you’ll find your digital compass here.

Ticket System: Want a personal touch? Submit a ticket and connect with the support team. While responses may not be lightning-fast, users generally have positive experiences. Note: current operating hours are 11am-7pm EST weekdays.

PIA’s verification check allows you to save time and swiftly resolve your query.

It’s great to be able to get help so quickly and with so little information required.

PIA’s knowledgable customer support team was able to answer all of our questions.

Remember, PIA champions your privacy journey. With accessible live chat, a knowledge bank at your fingertips, and helpful guides, navigating the VPN world is a breeze. And for those deeper dives, the ticket system awaits, hopefully soon boasting 24/7 availability for even smoother sailing!

The Bottom Line

Is Private Internet Access Worth It?

Private Internet Access (PIA) punches above its weight in the VPN world, but is it the perfect fit for you? Let’s delve into its strengths and weaknesses:


  • Top-Tier Privacy & Security: PIA boasts a verified no-logs policy, VPN kill switch, and P2P-optimized servers, making it a haven for privacy-conscious users and torrenters alike.
  • Streaming Prowess: Unblock Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more with ease. PIA consistently ranks among the best streaming VPNs.
  • Value for Money: Affordable pricing puts powerful privacy at your fingertips, making it a budget-friendly choice for security-minded users.
  • Performance Punch: Enjoy fast connection speeds without compromising on encryption. PIA delivers on both performance and protection.


  • Steep Learning Curve: For newbies, PIA’s feature-rich app can feel overwhelming. Consider simpler options if it’s your first VPN rodeo.
  • Smart DNS Fizzle: Don’t rely on PIA’s Smart DNS for streaming. It currently fails to unblock any major platforms, limiting its usefulness on certain devices.
  • Router Rumble: PIA recommends against setting it up on your router, leaving potential security gaps. Other VPNs offer smoother router integration.


For advanced users seeking a well-rounded, affordable VPN with stellar privacy, performance, and streaming capabilities, PIA shines. But if you’re a VPN newbie or prioritize router setup and Smart DNS functionality, explore other options first. Weigh your needs against PIA’s strengths and weaknesses to find the perfect privacy partner.

This revision condenses the information while maintaining key points, emphasizes both strengths and weaknesses for balanced decision-making, and uses strong keywords and a clear call to action to optimize for search engines.

Alternatives to Private Internet Access

ExpressVPN outperforms PIA in various essential aspects. In contrast to PIA, ExpressVPN operates in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, unlocks an even broader range of Netflix libraries, and provides a Smart DNS tool tailored for streaming devices.

On the other hand, NordVPN shares numerous commendable features with Private Internet Access. It stands out as a remarkably fast and secure VPN with fully open-sourced applications.

Comparison of the Best VPNs

The table below compares PIA to other top VPN services.

ExpressVPN Review
NordVPN Review
PIA VPN Review
Surfshark Review
PrivateVPN Review
IPVanish Review
CyberGhost Review
atlasVPN Review
VyperVPN Review
PureVPN Review
Overall Rating
Download Speed
No. Netflix Regions
Not work
Not work
Logging Policy
No Identifying Data
No Identifying Data
No Logs
No Identifying Data
No Logs
No Logs
No Identifying Data
Some User Logs
Countries with
Cheapest Price
$6.67/mo over 15 months
$3.29/mo over 2 years
$2.03/mo over 26 months
$2.21/mo over 2 years
$2.00/mo over 3 years
$2.49/mo over 2 years
$2.03/mo over 2 years
$1.99/mo over 3 years
$5.00/mo over 12 months
$1.99/mo over 27 months
Free Trial
7 Days (Mobile Only)
7 Days (Android Only)
7 Days (Mobile Only)
7 Days (Mobile Only)
7 Days (Mobile Only)
1, 3 & 7 Days


3 Days (Mobile Only)

 7 days

Browser Extensions
Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Chrome, Firefox
Chrome, Edge, Firefox
Who's It Best for?
Worldwide streamers
Security-focused users
Bargain hunters
Android users looking
to spoof GPS data
Beginners on a budget
Fire TV & Kodi streamers
Users who need the same
anonymous IP address
perfect for beginners
fast and secure VPN that
covers the basics well
good for casual users looking
for a cheap service
Private Internet Access Coupons

Overall Rating: