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Private Internet Access Review 2022 — Good, but is it Safe?

Author Image Katie Kasunic
Katie Kasunic | Technology Researcher
Updated on 18th January 2022

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most popular VPNs on the market. True to its name, this provider is best known for its strict no-logs policy and commitment to user privacy.

Is PIA truly as trustworthy as it claims when it comes to protecting user privacy and anonymity?

I tested PIA to find out, and the results are in. Some of the highlights of PIA’s VPN service include its user-friendly interface, robust security, and support for 10 simultaneous devices.

Downsides include variable speeds and inconsistent ability to access popular sites.

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Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Private Internet Access Features — Updated in January 2022

9.7
💸 Price 2.08USD/month
📆 Money Back Guarantee 30
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
🖥 Number of servers 29710
💻 Number of devices per license 10
🛡 Kill switch Yes
🗺 Based in country United States
🛠 Support 24/7 Live Chat Support

Server Network and Speeds — Decent Performance

PIA has a large network of 29,650+ servers in 70 countries. Larger server networks are generally good news for a VPN’s speed because more servers mean less crowding.

To understand the results of VPN speed tests, it’s important to know what your starting connection speed is before connecting to a VPN server.

The starting speed can then be compared to the speeds you get while connected to the VPN’s servers.

In this case, I started out with a base connection speed of 70 Mbps.

I used PIA’s automatic connection feature, which directed me to a nearby server in the US. My average speed was 34 Mbps. However, when I ran the speed test again just a few minutes later on the same server, my speed was less than 15 Mbps.

The rest of my speed tests showed similar inconsistencies. I got my highest speed — 58 Mbps — through one of the UK servers. On its Canadian server, I had about 51 Mbps, while the German location gave me 16 Mbps.

Across the world from my physical location, the servers in Hong Kong and Australia gave me extremely slow speeds of less than 10 Mbps.

Inconsistent speeds can be frustrating for any online activity — you may not be able to enjoy your favorite movies and shows in HD if the connection fluctuates like this.

Although PIA was able to give me excellent speeds in some locations, the speeds weren’t very stable, and many locations significantly slowed me down.

PIA’s performance may vary depending on where you are physically located and which server locations you plan on regularly using.

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Security — Strong Encryption

PIA is a great VPN for security and anonymity. The security features offered by PIA reflect the VPN’s focus on safety.

If you aren’t interested in exploring PIA’s advanced features, the VPN will still keep your connection safe with IP masking, data encryption, IPv6 leak protection, DNS leak protection, and a firewall.

When I tried connecting to PIA before touching any of the settings, the VPN was able to successfully protect me against DNS or IP leaks.

I tested this on several websites, and PIA always kept my IP address and DNS requests hidden. This means that the apps and websites I was using couldn’t identify me or the location I’m in.

Experienced users will appreciate PIA’s advanced security features, which are easily enabled in the app’s settings. These features include an automatic kill switch, malware and tracking protection, and port forwarding.

Encryption and Protocols

PIA offers a high level of security, and allows you to customize the encryption and protocol. When you first open the app, it defaults to AES-128 encryption — not the highest, but still impossible to break through.

You can manually select your encryption algorithm and handshake encryption in the settings interface. PIA has detailed explanations on its website of each encryption type and how to decide which is best for you.

Its dedicated apps default to the OpenVPN protocol, with the option to choose between UDP and TCP connections. The exception is the iOS app, which uses IPsec. The VPN also offers the option to switch to the latest security protocol, WireGuard, on its mobile and desktop apps.

Manual configuration is also supported with OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SOCKS5 Proxy.

For added transparency, PIA has open-sourced all of its desktop and mobile apps. This allows anyone to review the source code of these apps to ensure PIA is delivering what it promises.

Split Tunneling

PIA offers even more freedom over your online activity by offering split tunneling on its desktop apps. This convenient feature allows you to decide which apps will access the internet directly and which will pass through the VPN first.

With split tunneling, you can use PIA to protect your banking data, all while browsing outside the encrypted VPN tunnel on the same device.

To activate split tunneling, just click the Network tab, click App Exclusions, and add the programs you want to avoid the VPN.

Privacy — Strong No-Logs Policy

There is one thing that categorically impressed me: PIA really keeps to its no-log policy.

PIA is based in the US and therefore is required to comply with US laws and demands. This means that if the government requests information from PIA, then PIA is required by law to hand over any relevant data that they have collected.

Because of its US headquarters, PIA also falls under the jurisdiction of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance, which should make privacy lovers nervous.

Unlike many VPN providers, PIA’s privacy policy is extremely clear. It explicitly states that it “does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) or Proxy.”

PIA has also had several opportunities to prove that they stick to this policy. Both in 2015 and in 2017, the government demanded log data from PIA regarding an ongoing investigation. On both occasions, PIA did not have anything to hand over.

While it’s hard to test whether a VPN retains data logs of its users or not, these events are a great sign that PIA truly does not keep any logs.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Up To 10

One big advantage to PIA’s service is that you can connect up to 10 simultaneous devices with a single account. This is more than most of PIA’s competitors. I tested it with 7 different devices, and my connection never dropped on any of them.

Device Compatibility — Great Variety

PIA offers dedicated apps for all major platforms, including:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Linux

Features are similar across apps. The exception is the iOS app, which lacks the MACE features and uses the IPsec protocol rather than OpenVPN.

It also offers secure browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. If you prefer manual installation, PIA offers in-depth installation guides on its website. It can also be installed on compatible routers, including DD-WRT, Tomato, and pfSense.

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Ease of Use

9.6

Set-Up & Installation — Quick Installation

The user-friendly interface of PIA’s dedicated apps is one of the highlights of the service.

When you open the PIA app for the first time, getting started is as simple as entering the login credentials that were emailed to you when you bought your subscription. You can connect to your most recent server location with a single click by pressing the big power button in the center of the screen.

The first time you connect, the app will be set to automatically connect you to the fastest server in your area. To manually select your server location, click on your current location. A list of all available server locations will pop up. Just select the one you want, then click the power button.

The server selection interface is pretty user-friendly. It lists the current ping times for each server location in ms, with shorter ping times being better. The fastest servers have their ping times displayed in green, while slower servers are displayed in yellow. This makes it easy to choose the best server.

You also have the option to save servers to a list of your favorites.

Back on the app’s main page, the settings can be accessed by clicking the three dots in the upper right corner and selecting Settings.

The settings interface is well-organized and gives you a lot of freedom to customize your features without any hassle.

Overall, PIA is one of the most user-friendly and intuitive apps that I’ve reviewed. Although it has plenty to offer experienced users, VPN beginners should have no problem using the VPN.

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Pricing

8.0
3 Years + 2 Months FREE
$2.08 /month
1-Year Plan
$3.33 /month
1-Month Plan
$11.95 /month

One of the reasons that PIA is such a popular VPN service is because of its reasonable prices. Many premium VPNs with comparable features charge more for their service.

There are many different payment options, including major credit cards and popular online payment platforms. PIA also accepts several forms of anonymous payment, including gift cards, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.

If you are mainly interested in a VPN for security and anonymity while browsing, PIA offers good value for the price. When you consider the big discounts offered on longer subscription plans, the value is even better.

However, there are other VPNs in the same price range that have strengths that PIA lacks, such as more reliable speeds. It all comes down to what you are looking for.

Unfortunately, PIA does not offer a free tier or a free trial, so the best way to try out the service is to purchase an affordable monthly subscription.

If you decide PIA isn’t for you, you can take advantage of PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Reliability & Support

9.8

One area where PIA is catching up with some of its top competitors is in customer service. It offers the 24/7 live chat support that I have come to expect from top VPNs on the market.

PIA’s biggest positive feature when it comes to support is its website. The support section of the site has some great resources, including easy-to-follow installation guides, troubleshooting walkthroughs, FAQs, and a searchable knowledge base.

If you’re willing to spend the time searching these resources, you can probably find the solution to most problems without needing to contact the support team in person.

Browse Safely With PIA Today!

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict

PIA is a user-friendly VPN with robust security features that are easy to configure to meet your preferences.

The VPN performs well when it comes to security and anonymity, but its speeds are inconsistent at times.

I also wasn’t very impressed with PIA’s customer support. However, It still has a lot to offer at an affordable price.

  • No-logging policy
  • Unlimited bandwidth and usage
  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Numerous features, including kill switch, IPv6 leak protection, ad blocker
  • Over 29,650+ servers in 70 countries worldwide
  • User-friendly interface
  • Get started with Private Internet Access now

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 30
Number of devices per license : 10

Compare Private Internet Access With The Top Alternative VPNs

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