Private Internet Access. The Name of this Very Popular VPN Says It All
Review by Summer Hirst
Private Internet Access: Introduction
Private Internet Access (or PIA as it is sometimes called) is one of the most prominent VPN choices in the market. And despite the fact that they offer high-grade encryption and fast speeds, they have very affordable plans.
PIA gives you the option to select AES 128-bit or AES 256-bit encryption, depending on your needs. They also allow P2P, so you can torrent files without any problems. They have been in the market since 2010 and are among the established VPN providers. While they have been around for eight years, they are still not the most popular and there are reasons behind that.
- Apps for all major platforms
- OpenVPN support
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Over 3,000 servers in 84 countries
- Bitcoin accepted
- P2P supported
- Fast speeds
- Can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously
They are based in the U.S., which is a member of the so-called Five Eyes spying alliance. That’s a red flag right there. Many people don’t want to use VPNs that are based in either the Five Eyes or the Fourteen Eyes. The good news is that since PIA doesn’t collect any data, it doesn’t have anything to share with the government.
PIA has several other drawbacks as well. For starters, they don’t have live chat support and they haven’t provided an email address either for taking questions. If you’re okay with poor customer support, PIA can be a good choice for you.
Also, while they do offer a kill switch, it doesn’t work the way it should. Ideally, a kill switch should disconnect you from the internet if the VPN connection drops. But there have been complaints that it doesn’t stop your internet traffic in that event.
Basically, while PIA offers high-grade encryption and decent speeds, they do have several pain-in-the-neck points that might make you want to consider another provider.
As mentioned before, PIA doesn’t have a live chat option. With several other VPN providers offering live chat, the lack of it can be a big drawback. And since they don’t have live chat, you might want to send them an email. That’s another problem right there — they don’t provide their email either.
The only option is to contact them through their online form. They typically take a couple of days to reply. So if your VPN isn’t working, waiting for 2-3 days for a reply isn’t what you’d want.
If you need a quick reply, you can try contacting them on Twitter. Their handle is @piacsm and they generally reply within 8-10 hours. This isn’t fast, but considering no other modes of communication, they are more responsive on social media.
It’s safe to say that PIA doesn’t offer the best customer service. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to get a reply. If your VPN isn’t working or there are some other issues and you need to connect urgently, you’ll be out of luck.
Private Internet Access offers three subscription plans — month-to-month, 12-month and a two-year plan. Their plans are very affordable and come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
And since they let you connect up to 5 devices simultaneously on a single subscription, you can secure all your devices by paying for just one plan.
They have special business offerings as well. If you have a business team, you can contact PIA and they will create a business package especially for you.
They accept a number of payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and gift cards. If you want to stay anonymous, you can pay via Bitcoin or using Visa gift cards you can buy from any retail store.
You won’t be disappointed with PIA’s pricing. The rates are pretty low and the security is good. A 2-year plan will cost you around $2.69/month.
Installation and Use
PIA offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. They also have extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. While extensions make browsing very easy, keep in mind that a browser extension will secure only the activity you do in the browser. It will not secure your torrents or other applications running outside the browser.
The desktop software for PIA can be downloaded from their website and the mobile apps are available in the app stores. There are several settings in the app, such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and IPv6 leak protection to help prevent your actual IP address from leaking out while you’re using a VPN.
You can select options such as auto-connect on startup to make sure that your PIA VPN is always protected whenever you switch it on.
PIA is based in the U.S. and that’s not a good thing for those with real privacy concerns. While they promise that they don’t keep any logs, and therefore wouldn’t have any information to share with the government, experts recommend avoiding U.S.-based VPN companies because their promises cannot be trusted completely.
In a nutshell
Private Internet Access is among the more established VPN providers in the market. They support the OpenVPN protocol, as well as AES 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest. They offer subscription plans at low prices, plus they allow 10 devices on a license, so you can secure all your devices with one plan.
They have P2P support, which makes them a good VPN for torrents. They come with an ad blocker and malware blocker as well. With a network of servers in over 77 countries, PIA provides numerous and flexible IP address choices.
There are several good things about this VPN. And then there are some bad things.
For example, they are based in the U.S., and any VPN providers based in the U.S. are not generally trusted by privacy experts.
Apart from this, they don’t have active customer support. They don’t have a live chat or email. You can only contact them through their online form, and you need to wait for a few days before you’ll get a reply.
Still, the security level of PIA is excellent and there are no IP or DNS leaks. The connections are pretty fast and are good enough for streaming. However, keep in mind that PIA cannot unblock Netflix.
They have apps for all major platforms which means you can secure your desktop as well as mobile devices.
All in all, Private Internet Access is a decent VPN with good value for your dollar. They have the best encryption standards, but the only problem is that if there is an issue with your services, you’ll be on your own for days.
If you can live with that, PIA can be a good option for you.