PIA is one of the most popular VPNs out there, but it’s not because of advertising. Released in 2010, PIA has grown users through word of mouth and recommendations. And, while they are based in the USA (which we’re usually wary of), they have proven twice that they do not maintain user logs. Although you’re not going to get too many extra features, and PIA isn’t the best when it comes to streaming, you definitely get a trustworthy and honest service.
So, what makes PIA so popular?
In essence, PIA is an incredibly secure VPN, and it was designed with the intention to protect its users.
With PIA, you get your basic features: encrypted WiFi, unlimited bandwidth, your choice of AES-128 or AES-256 encryption, up to 5 devices on one license, and ad-blocking. But you also get some really great extra features, too. This includes multiple VPN gateways, SOCKS5 Proxy, and port forwarding.
For the average user, you won’t need to use the extra features, but for those who like to delve into security, this VPN has everything you need.
In addition, PIA has over 3,300 servers in 30 countries, allows for P2P and torrenting, and is available on your main devices (Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, plus online browsers). They also have an easy interface that’s simple to install.
It seems like a great VPN, so where does it fall short?
Well, for starters, speed isn’t incredible. This is probably due to its fantastic encryption. However, it is consistent, and as long as you stay clear of the Hong Kong and Australia servers, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Another feature we’re not thrilled with is that fact that you can’t choose your own server. PIA does this because they want to control traffic and provide better speeds for everyone.
The intention behind the reason is good, but we’d still like to have the option to choose which server we connect to.
PIA also doesn’t match some of our other top VPNs when it comes to customer support. There is no live-chat on the website, rather an email ticketing system. While this system does work, and you typically get a reply within a day, it’s not the instant satisfaction we’re used to.
That being said, PIA does have some great guides and forums that you can search to find the answer on your own. It takes more time and effort to navigate and find the solution you’re looking for (who wants to do that nowadays?) but they have almost every answer on their website.
The last thing we don’t love is the fact that PIA cannot access Netflix or other streaming websites. When we contacted PIA about it, they stated that the issue of geo-locked content is not within the scope of their support system. The company clearly sees the Netflix proxy error as a battle and has decided to focus its resources elsewhere.
But there’s one thing that really impressed us with PIA, and that’s its no-log policy.
PIA is based in the US. Companies based in the US fall under the US jurisdiction and are required to comply with government laws. This means that if the government requires PIA to hand over information, then PIA is required by law to do so.
Not only that, but the USA is one of the five-eyes countries, which means that the USA shares information and works with the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (You can read more about it here.)
But with PIA, we’re not so worried.
Both in 2015 and in 2017, the government demanded log data from PIA regarding an ongoing investigation. On both separate 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, it’s clear from both of these instances that PIA does not keep any logs.
This is something we truly value, and it makes sense that our users value it, too.