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Private Internet Access Review: Still Good in 2022? | vpnMentor

Author Image Matthew Amos
Matthew Amos | Updated on 30th November 2022 Editor

Private Internet Access has one of the cheapest VPN subscriptions available — you can sign up for as little as $2.03/month. With such a low price, I wondered whether PIA could really stand out against its higher-priced competitors. It’s been around for 10+ years, so it could be one of the best-value VPNs out there.

I decided to find out just how good it is by looking into the company’s logging policy, security features, and testing out its speeds. In addition, I performed in-depth tests on its ability to unblock streaming platforms, its torrenting performance, and every other aspect of the VPN to see where it ranks among other top VPNs.

Overall, Private Internet Access is a secure choice and great value for the money. With its streaming abilities, strong torrenting performance, and customizable security options, it’s impressive that you can get a subscription for so little.

The fact that it comes with a trustworthy 30-day money-back guarantee shows that PIA really stands behind its product. With that said, even though it’s one of the cheapest, I wouldn’t call it the best. There are still a couple of VPNs out there that it falls short of in certain areas.

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December 2022 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 83% off!

Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings

Pros

Cons

See PIA’s Best VPN Deals >>

Private Internet Access Features — Updated in December 2022

9.7
💸 Price 2.03 USD/month
📆 Money Back Guarantee 30 Days
📝 Does VPN keep logs? No
🖥 Number of servers 29650+
💻 Number of devices per license 10
🛡 Kill switch Yes
🗺 Based in country United States
🛠 Support 24/7 Live Chat Support
📥 Supports torrenting Yes

Streaming — Unblocks 25+ Top Streaming Platforms Including US Netflix and Disney+

9.6

Private Internet Access is good at unblocking streaming platforms. I was able to unblock US Netflix and libraries from 16 other countries. HBO Max and ESPN+ were a bit tougher, but I managed to access them with some simple troubleshooting. The only platforms I tested that didn’t work were Sky Go and DAZN. Plus, its fast speeds let me stream in 4K.

I tested 25+ servers and accessed the following platforms:

Netflix Disney+ HBO Max Hulu Amazon Prime Video
BBC iPlayer Paramount+ Peacock Crunchyroll YouTube
CBC Eurosport FranceTV Canal+ ZDF
ARD Hotstar India RaiPlay All 4 ITV
ESPN/ESPN+ Spotify SlingTV Comedy Central CBS
Ruutu YLE Kodi C More C More SE
MTV Finland HBO Nordics hbonordic SE DRTV tv4play

Unblocked: Netflix (US, UK, Japan, and 14 Other Libraries)

It was easy to access US Netflix using PIA’s US East Streaming Optimized server. It only took 3 seconds to load before In The Dark played back.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking US Netflix

There were significantly longer load times and lag when I used long-distance servers

In addition to the US library, I was able to unblock Netflix regions in the following countries:

Netherlands United Kingdom Japan Canada
Germany France Australia Brazil
Italy Denmark Sweden Israel
Finland Spain Mexico India

I didn’t need to use the streaming-optimized servers to unblock Netflix libraries. There are special Netflix servers in the US, Japan, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Italy. They’re supposed to work better for streaming, but I didn’t notice any difference.

Many times, normal servers outperformed them. For example, the Tokyo Streaming Optimized server didn’t work to unblock Netflix, but the regular Tokyo server unblocked it on the first try.

Stream in HD with PIA >>

Unblocked: Disney+

It couldn’t have been easier to stream Disney+ with PIA. The platform loaded up right away, and I was able to start watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law instantly.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking Disey+ on US server

I only had to wait around 3 seconds for each episode to load

The picture quality was great, and I didn’t experience lag or buffering with the US East Streaming Optimized server.

Unblocked: Hulu

I was only able to access Hulu with the streaming servers. I tried using the Seattle, New York, and Montana locations, but I was blocked each time. I tried it on Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox, but none of these worked.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking Hulu

I watched Difficult People without any interruptions once I accessed it

Once I switched to a streaming server, the video played back great with zero interruptions or choppiness.

Stream Buffer-Free with PIA >>

Unblocked: Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video US worked, but only with PIA’s dedicated streaming server. I also tried the normal Seattle, New York, and Denver servers, but they were all blocked.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking US Amazon Prime Video

I watched 2 episodes of Crash Course without any load times

The only other Amazon Prime library I could access was the UK region. Unfortunately, I couldn’t unblock other large libraries (like Prime Video Japan). When I tried both its streaming-optimized server and its regular Tokyo server, the VPN was detected.

Unblocked: HBO Max

HBO Max took a bit of work, but I was able to unblock it. Normal servers were blocked, and the US East Streaming Optimized server didn’t work either.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking HBO Max

I had the most seamless streams using the OpenVPN protocol

However, I got it to work with the US West Streaming Optimized server. I could watch 3 episodes of Euphoria and only had to wait around 5 seconds between episodes for loading.

Stream with PIA >>

Unblocked: BBC iPlayer

The London Streaming Server easily unblocked BBC iPlayer, despite the fact that my first test with the non-optimized server in London was blocked.

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer streaming Bad Education while connected to PIA

I didn’t experience any lag, even while I was casting from my phone

Once I had access, the videos played back well, and I only had to wait around 6 seconds for each episode to load.

Unblocked: ITV

ITV needed the London Streaming Optimized server to work too.

Screenshot of PIA unblocking Love Island USA on streaming-optimized server

I didn’t experience any loading times with ITV

I also tried to access it on the London and Manchester servers, but these didn’t work.

Unblocked: ESPN+

ESPN+ was a little tougher to unblock. It only worked on the US West Streaming Optimized server, and I had to disconnect and reconnect a couple of times to get it to work.

Screenshot if PIA unblocking ESPN+

I had quite a bit more lagging when watching ESPN+

Also Unblocks: Kodi, Crunchyroll, Peacock and more

Private Internet Access also works with Kodi and Popcorn Time. Kodi is a free app that makes it easier to stream media on all your devices. However, it can also be used to access platforms that have illegal content. My team and I don’t condone any illegal activity, so I recommend you only watch copyright-free content on these channels.

Popcorn Time is a popular Kodi add-on that offers P2P streaming. I used it to watch the public domain movie Night of the Living Dead. It took a few minutes to load since there weren’t many seeders, but it played back perfectly once it was loaded.

I also unblocked Peacock, Paramount+, Crunchyroll, and several other platforms. It even works well with Twitch. After I hopped on the Vegas server, I was able to jump into a livestream of the music producer Decap without any loading times.

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Blocked by: Sky Go and DAZN

I made several attempts, but I just couldn’t unblock Sky Go or DAZN. I tried to reconnect to different servers, but this didn’t work. Then, I reached out to Private Internet Access’ live chat for some help with this problem.

Screenshot of PIA's customer support agent answering a question about streaming

The representative didn’t give me any troubleshooting tips for streaming either

The support agent didn’t provide me with any extra information or tips. Whenever I asked about streaming, the agents sent me to a page that lists the platforms it unblocks. However, this list is incomplete because I was able to access many more sites. Eventually, I just had to test servers and platforms on my own.

While I was impressed with how many platforms PIA could access, other VPNs are more reliable for unblocking streaming platforms. For instance, I didn’t have to hunt as hard for servers with ExpressVPN. Plus, it never caused my streams to lag, even on faraway servers.

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Speeds — Great on Nearby Servers, but Speeds Drop at Long Distances

9.0

Private Internet Access is really fast on local servers, but long-distance servers can slow your speeds more. I performed all of my tests on a Windows laptop. The app was set to the OpenVPN UDP protocol with 128-bit encryption because it gave me the best speeds compared to other protocols (while still keeping my connection safe).

Protocol Average Speeds
OpenVPN UDP 31.85 Mbps
OpenVPN TCP 19.43 Mbps
WireGuard 29.76 Mbps

PIA’s Auto-connect feature selects the fastest server available for you. I was impressed with how well this worked. When I tried it the first time, I was connected to the Southampton, UK server. This surprised me because there are other server locations closer to me (Manchester and London). However, when I tested out the closer servers, Southampton was definitely the fastest.

Overall, I was really impressed with PIA’s speeds. On local servers, I had an average drop of 10%. It’s normal for a VPN to drop your speeds by around 10–20%, so this was a great result.

On long-distance locations, I had a 49% decrease from my normal connection speeds. I still had average download speeds of 37.22 Mbps, so I didn’t notice a big difference while streaming or browsing. However, if you have a slower base internet speed (say 25 Mbps), a 49% drop would be more noticeable.

Chart showing PIA's speed results

The speeds dropped more on long-distance servers, but it was always still fast enough for HD streaming

I could connect to local and long-distance servers quickly. The average time it took to connect to a local server was 3 seconds, and the distant servers were just a little bit slower at around 5 seconds.

I also tested video conferencing with Private Internet Access, and it worked well. The video and sound on Zoom only had a slight delay, which is about the same as my normal experience.

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Local Test Results

In my first test, Auto-connect set me up on the Southampton, UK server, which only dropped my download speed by 6%.

Screenshot of PIA's speeds on close servers

I could consistently stream in UltraHD on local servers with PIA

Below are my speed stats with no VPN.

No VPN connection (Glasgow, UK):

Ping (ms) 23
Download (Mbps) 72.97
Upload (Mbps) 18.45

With the VPN connected, my ping rate only increased by 4 ms, which is great. My download speed only decreased by 6%, so I couldn’t feel any difference when streaming or browsing.

Southampton, UK:

Ping (ms) 27 (17% increase)
Download (Mbps) 68.72 (5% decrease)
Upload (Mbps) 17.01 (8% decrease)

On my next test, I tried the France server, which is around 1,000 km from me. My ping rate was still quite low, and the upload speed barely changed, but my download speed decreased by almost 20%

Paris, France:

Ping (ms) 33 (43% increase)
Download (Mbps) 59.53 (18% decrease)
Upload (Mbps) 17.60 (5% decrease)

The next local server I tested was in Stockholm, 2,663 km away. The download speed was even higher than with the Paris server, which is over 1,500 km closer to me. There was only a 7% drop from my original speed. The ping rate was quite a bit higher at 52 ms, but this is still low enough for lag-free gaming.

Stockholm, Sweden:

Ping (ms) 52 (126% increase)
Download (Mbps) 67.78 (7% decrease)
Upload (Mbps) 27.67 (50% decrease)

Overall, my local tests show that Private Internet Access can achieve really good speeds with servers close to you. I recommend using the Auto-connect feature to ensure you get the best speeds every time.

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Long-Distance Results

PIA’s speeds didn’t drop significantly until the server was over 6,000 km away, but speeds were a little more inconsistent on the long-distance servers. The Seattle server, which is 7,157 km from me, only dropped by 9%. The ping rate was much higher, though, so it’s not suitable for gaming.

Seattle, US:

Ping (ms) 183 (695% increase)
Download (Mbps) 66.12 (9% decrease)
Upload (Mbps) 17.50 (5% decrease)

The next server I tested was in Atlanta, 6,396 km away. This is where my speed took a bit of a dip. My download rate was 33% slower than my test without a VPN. For comparison, my speeds only dropped by 5% using ExpressVPN’s Atlanta server. So, this was a little disappointing.

Atlanta, US:

Ping (ms) 114 (395% increase)
Download (Mbps) 48.90 (33% decrease)
Upload (Mbps) 17.32 (6% decrease)

The Tokyo server is 9,244 km from me, but my speeds were much slower. This was the first server where I noticed a big difference. There was an 85% drop, and I experienced quite a bit of lag, as well as longer loading times when streaming.

Tokyo, Japan

Ping (ms) 283 (1,130% increase)
Download (Mbps) 11.00 (85% drop)
Upload (Mbps) 16.63 (10% decrease)

Despite being 16,932 km away from me, the Melbourne server gave me slightly better speeds than the Tokyo one. It still wasn’t fast enough for Ultra HD streaming, but I could stream on Netflix without too many interruptions.

Melbourne, Australia

Ping (ms) 263 (1,043% increase)
Download (Mbps) 14.91 (80% drop)
Upload (Mbps) 16.20 (12% decrease)

On long-distance servers, Private Internet Access loses a lot of speed and shows quite a few inconsistencies. Because of that, there are other VPNs I recommend to get fast speeds even when servers are far away.

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Are PIA’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes, but Not on Long-Distance Servers

9.0

Nearby servers let you play online games with ease, but long-distance locations make gaming impossible. I played Rise of Empires: Ice and Fire on the France server, where the ping was only 33 ms.

Without the VPN, I only waited around 10 seconds for the game to load, whereas with a VPN, it took about one minute to connect. Still, I was able to play without any issues once the game loaded.

Screenshot of gaming with PIA's France server

The OpenVPN protocol gave me the best speeds for uninterrupted gaming

I then tried using servers in Atlanta and Seattle. I waited 5 minutes for the game to load, but it wouldn't even start up. So, gaming is only possible on local servers with PIA.

Play More Games with PIA >>

Server Network — One of the Largest Server Lists of Any VPN

9.8

PIA has a huge server list with great global coverage, so you’ll be able to access content from around the world.

But although PIA offers an impressive 29,650 servers, it’s important to note that it only has servers in 84 countries. There are VPNs out there with fewer servers, but a lot more server locations. For example, CyberGhost has 9,260 servers in 91 countries, while ExpressVPN offers 3,000 servers in 94 countries.

Like both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, though, its network runs on RAM-only servers, which is great for added privacy. Rather than use hard drives, which store information and need to be manually wiped, RAM servers automatically clear all data whenever they're rebooted (essentially with the flick of a switch).

With 53 servers in North America, PIA is one of the best VPNs to access US content. However, there’s still strong worldwide coverage. PIA’s server coverage is:

Continent Number of server locations
Asia 23
Africa 5
Europe 46
North America 58
South America 6
Oceania 4

Having so many servers improves speeds because it prevents overcrowding, which can slow you down. It also makes it harder for streaming services to flag IPs they notice being used by multiple people. Plus, it makes it easier to find a server close to you, which will give you the best speeds.

PIA also has an option to sign up for a Dedicated IP. This will give you an IP address that only you can use. It helps prevent constant CAPTCHA checks and getting flagged on safe sites. It costs $5 extra per month, and PIA only offers IPs in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany. It’s not a bad price (CyberGhost offers it for the same), but it’s too bad it’s not available in more locations.

See All PIA Server Locations >>

Does PIA Use Virtual Locations? Yes

Private Internet Access has virtual servers in 80 locations. There are 145 locations total, so virtual locations make up over 50% of its server network. That’s not a problem for me since I don’t mind using these servers. However, there are VPNs that don’t use any if this concerns you.

You can also disable virtual servers in the app settings. All you have to do is go to “Show Geo-located Regions” in the app settings and toggle it off.

One negative of having virtual locations is that it might lower your speeds. Since the server is actually in another country, it might be farther away from you than it appears, which means your data will have to travel farther.

On the positive side, having virtual locations allows PIA to offer locations in countries where it can be unsafe to have physical servers. It used to have physical servers in Brazil and Russia but removed them over privacy concerns. You can still use locations in these countries, but it’s now done through virtual servers.

Screenshots of PIA's website and app showing its virtual server locations

The other icons next to the servers are latency and favorites

Private Internet Access also owns all of its servers, so you don’t have to worry about a third party handling your data. PIA’s customer support confirmed this. Most VPNs use outside companies to handle at least a few of their servers, and some VPNs only use rented servers. It also gives you the option to use DNS servers owned by the company. All the work put into these servers is impressive and shows that Private Internet Access is dedicated to protecting your data.

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Security — Good, With Several Customization Options

9.6

Private Internet Access has some strong, adjustable security options. It offers multiple encryption levels and protocols that can be mixed and matched. PIA also has split tunneling and a kill switch. The packet size can also be adjusted between large and small, but I usually set it to auto. This only matters when you have unreliable connections, and I never had any connection issues with PIA's servers.

On top of that, I consider Private Internet Access safe since all of its apps are open-source. This means that third parties can access, test, and update it regularly to ensure it’s as secure as possible. I also like its Whitehat Security Alert program. This is a bug bounty system, which means it pays people who can find bugs in Private Internet Access. This can be submitted by anyone through its Vulnerability Disclosure forms. So even more people are helping to keep the apps working smoothly. Lastly, PIA passed all of my leak tests

Solid Encryption

Private Internet Access offers military-grade 256-bit encryption, which makes it impossible for anyone to spy on your data. With the OpenVPN protocol, the default setting is 128-bit encryption, but I recommend moving it up to 256-bit. I didn’t find any difference in speeds during my tests, so there’s no reason not to use the highest level of encryption for the highest level of protection. If you’re using WireGuard, the encryption level is always 256-bit.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access Protocols menu where you can change encryption levels

I recommend using 256-bit encryption since it didn't affect my speeds

In addition, you can no longer change the handshake settings or choose between a few data authentication options. Private Internet Access removed this customization option to fix compatibility issues and make the VPN more stable. While these were nice options for advanced users, I don’t see it as a problem. Now, the VPN defaults to the most secure settings (GCM ciphers and the RSA-4096 certificate), so you’ll still get top-notch security. The same level is used for both protocols. It also offers 4 remote ports for both TCP (8443, 853, 443, 80) and UDP (8080, 853, 123, 53) or you can enter a local port in the PIA client.

Stay Safe with PIA >>

Leak Test Results — Passed

I didn’t find any DNS, WebRTC or IP leaks. After performing tests with 4 virtual locations and 6 bare-metal servers, PIA never leaked any of my vital information. The tests I conducted show you which IP addresses are visible to the websites you visit (which can be easily accessed by people who want to steal your data).

Screenshot of leak tests done on IPleak.net while connected to Private Internet Access

No one was able to see my real IP while I was connected to PIA

The only IPs that showed up were the ones I was connected to on the VPN.

Open Source Apps

All of PIA’s apps are open source, which makes them safer because anyone can check them for security vulnerabilities. Making these applications open source shows that Private Internet Access is transparent with its customers and anyone concerned with internet security.

Reliable Kill Switch

The kill switch blocks your internet traffic if the VPN gets disconnected. This is an essential feature because it ensures there’s never a chance for hackers to steal your data because your real IP can’t be accidentally leaked. For my tests, I kept a browser open while I switched servers and the page wouldn’t load if the VPN was still connecting. That’s how I knew it was working. You have the option to turn it off, but I recommend always keeping it set to on. You can also use the "Advanced Kill Switch," which blocks all traffic until the VPN is connected.

Screenshot of the kill switch options in the Private Internet Access Windows app

The Advanced Kill Switch blocks all traffic until the VPN is connected

This feature is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.

Secure Your Connection with PIA >>

Split Tunneling to Reroute Traffic

This feature lets you route some traffic through the VPN tunnel and the rest through your regular connection. I like to keep my banking app outside of the VPN, so my account isn’t blocked, for example.

Screenshot of the kill switch options in the Private Internet Access Windows app

You can keep access to your local news while you watch a Netflix library from another country

It’s available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and you can exempt apps (not websites) on Android devices. In the Android app, you can find the split tunneling feature under “Per App Settings.” It’s not currently available for iOS devices.

Protocols — 3 Good Options

You can use OpenVPN and WireGuard on every app; these are strong protocols, but other VPNs offer more. Protocols are a set of rules your VPN follows that tell it how to encrypt your traffic. OpenVPN is the safest because it’s open source, so it’s constantly checked for vulnerabilities.

WireGuard can sometimes be faster, but OpenVPN beat it in my speed tests. In addition to WireGuard and OpenVPN, the iOS app has access to IPsec (IKEv2). This is an older protocol that can be faster, but I don’t recommend it because it’s less secure.

MACE Ad Blocker — Only Blocks Some Ads

The ad blocker won’t remove all ads. In the app, PIA claims MACE blocks trackers, malware, and ads. However, while it worked to block ads on several sites I tested when I put it through an advanced test, many ads still got through.

Screenshot of Can You Block It? site accessed while connected to Private Internet Access with MACE ad-blocker activated

It also can't block YouTube ads

It also doesn't give you the ability to whitelist (exempt sites or apps). Plus, I was disappointed that it can’t block ads on YouTube videos, so I’d recommend using a separate ad blocker.

InBrowser — Fast Incognito Browsing for Mobile Devices

Private Internet Access also offers its own incognito browser called InBrowser. It’s only available for Android and iOS. It can work in conjunction with the TOR network, and it deletes your history, cookies, and session data every time you log off.

Screenshot of InBrowser and Private Internet Access' Chrome browser extension

iOS users can't access extensions or InBrowser, but they have an ad-blocker for Safari

It doubled the speeds on my phone (from 22.81 Mbps with Chrome to 46.49 Mbps with InBrowser). I was surprised with how fast it was. Incognito browsers are usually a little faster because they don’t run as many extensions. However, the incognito browser on Chrome is only 17 percent faster on average for me (while InBrowser was 102 percent faster). InBrowser is a nice addition, but you should use it with the VPN. It will only protect your browser and not fully encrypt the device like the VPN will.

Identity Guard

PIA also has a feature that shows you if your email address has been exposed in a data breach. You can access this through the Client Support Panel, under the tab “Identity Guard.” It will regularly search for your email address, and you can set up email alerts to notify you if it’s ever compromised.

Private DNS Servers

Private Internet Access also runs its own private DNS servers. This means that it can handle your DNS requests instead of your ISP, which is more secure. ISPs do store and could share your DNS queries, and since they can tie them back to your IP address, this gives them a way to track you. You can also set the Windows client to use any custom DNS you want, but I recommend using PIA’s.

Secure Your Device With PIA >>

Privacy — A Proven No-Logs Policy, but It’s Located in the US

9.2

Does Private Internet Access Keep Logs? No

Private Internet Access doesn’t store any information that can be used to identify you. It only retains your email address, payment details, state and zip code (for tax purposes), and anonymized data used to improve the service. For maximum security, you can even create a new email address and pay with cryptocurrency. On top of that, it states that it will never rent or sell any customer's information.

Its privacy policy has been verified in court. In 2016, the FBI requested information about a user, and Private Internet Access couldn’t provide any data on their activities because none were stored. The Russian government also seized PIA servers in 2016, but they did not find any identifiable data. After this, PIA took down all of its Russian VPN servers. In 2018, its policy was proven once again when the US government asked PIA to hand over identifiable information about a user, and it had nothing to share.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access' Privacy Policy

It only collects enough data to maintain accounts and comply with tax regulations

Independently Audited

In June 2022, PIA's no-logs policy was independently audited by Big Four auditing firm Deloitte. It found that PIA's server configurations are in line with its internal privacy policies, don't store logs, and cannot identify users or track their activities. This means there is no record of your online activity on PIA's servers.

Plus, its network architecture is designed to prevent data retention. PIA’s service runs on RAM-only servers. These servers use RAM modules rather than traditional hard disks and restart themselves regularly. All user data is lost when the servers are rebooted, so you can be confident that your data can't be shared since it's never stored.

Ownership and Company History

Kape Technologies owns Private Internet Access. Kape used to be called Crossrider and worked in mobile ads and browser extension development. In 2018, it received backlash when its software was used by hackers to bundle adware into some of its downloads.

However, since the name change, the company no longer works in advertising and now focuses on VPNs. Kape also owns CyberGhost and ExpressVPN, 2 other trustworthy VPNs. Plus, I ran tests on the app, and it was completely free of malware.

Regardless of its ownership, Private Internet Access has been a trusted VPN for over 10 years. It supports non-profit organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons, which are dedicated to internet freedom. Most importantly, Private Internet Access’ privacy policy has been proven in court, so I trust it to be responsible with my data.

Based in the US

Private Internet Access operates out of the United States, which isn’t the most privacy-friendly country. The US was one of the founding members of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. This is a pact between governments where they promise to share information on people they’re suspicious of.

However, Private Internet Access has a strong no-logs policy that has been audited and proven many times. It has operated for over a decade without ever storing or sharing any identifiable information on its users, so I trust them with my data.

Try Private Internet Access Now

Torrenting — Download on Any Server with Fast Speeds

9.6

I could download files on P2P networks super fast while connected to Private Internet Access. In my test, I found a torrent of Night of the Living Dead. It’s a 700MB file, and it took less than 10 minutes to complete.

Screenshot of uTorrent downloading Night of the Living Dead while connected to Private Internet Access

I downloaded a 700 Mb file in less than 10 minutes

It also lets you use port forwarding, which can really improve your speeds. This lets you access more seeders. After I turned it on, I was downloading twice as fast. However, my upload speeds never changed, staying under 3 kB/s. This is normal for me, so the VPN didn’t affect it. Port forwarding can also bypass NAT firewalls, which could help you access blocked websites.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access with port forwarding on while downloading Night of the Living Dead with Utorrent

You can find it under the Network section of the settings

There is also the option to use a SOCKS5 proxy, but I don’t recommend it. The way proxies work with PIA is as a double-hop, meaning it sends your connection to the proxy before moving it through the VPN tunnel. This slows down your speeds by quite a bit (91 percent for me). Even if you could connect directly to the proxy, it’s not a good idea because it wouldn’t encrypt your traffic.

You can torrent on any server with unlimited bandwidth. This is nice because many VPNs only let you torrent on a select few locations. I was able to download with BitTorrent, Deluge, uTorrent, and Transmission and the MACE ad blocker worked well to block ads on these programs, too. Overall, it’s a solid option I’d recommend if you plan to torrent often.

My team and I do not condone any illegal activities. Most countries let you share copyright-free files with P2P services, but I recommend reading your country's laws before you torrent.

Torrent Safely With PIA

Does Private Internet Access Work in China? Yes

You can use Private Internet Access in China. You couldn’t in the past, but a customer support agent confirmed it now works in the country. It was briefly blocked in Hong Kong in 2019, but I was impressed that PIA made sure to get it working there again.

PIA's customer support agent confirmed that it will work in China

The customer support agent said it will work in China, but an alternate setup may be required

PIA’s knowledge base recommends changing the protocol to WireGuard to get it to work in China. If this doesn’t work, you can try setting up a connection through the OpenVPN application. It also recommends generating manual configuration files as a last resort.

Installation & Apps

9.6

Ease of Use

Every app is super easy to use. After you access the server list by clicking the map, you can “favorite” servers for quick access. You can sort the servers alphabetically, by latency, or based on your favorites.

You can access more advanced settings in the app by clicking on the downward arrow at the bottom. This lets you measure your VPN’s performance, see the amount of data you’ve transmitted in the current session, and lots more.

On a desktop, you can rearrange the categories by dragging the three green lines in the corner. These categories include encryption settings, your subscription plan, and data usage, along with quick settings that vary depending on the device. This is a nice touch that is pretty rare among VPNs. It lets you keep the data most important to you available without having to expand the app. There is also a command line tool for all desktop apps called "piactl." This lets you control the app through text, but it doesn't add any new features, so I find it much easier to control it with its graphical interface.

There’s also a snooze button on each app, which lets you turn off the VPN for a set amount of time. You can set it up if you need to access your bank without a VPN and have it automatically reconnect in a few minutes.

You can choose between 19 languages, including English, Japanese, French, and Spanish. It also comes with light and dark modes. The Android and iOS apps will automatically choose a mode based on your phone’s settings.

The Windows app also has a “Proxy” tab, where you can choose the Shadowsocks proxy settings. This is also called the SOCKS5 proxy.

To use it, you need a separate username and password, which can be set up in the Client Control Panel. This protocol is great for torrenting since it can improve upload and download speeds on P2P networks. It can also help you use a VPN in China or other highly censored regions.

Best of all, it has a full GUI for Linux, so you use the app the same way you would on a Mac or Windows app.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access app's GUI on Linux

You can use the app the same way you would with any other version

Because of this, I recommend Private Internet Access if you run Linux and are looking for a simple-to-use VPN.

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Device Compatibility — Good Apps for Every Major OS

Native apps are available for every major operating system, and they’re all full-featured.

Windows: This app has all of the features Private Internet Access offers. It can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 or 10 in 32 or 64-bit versions.

Android: Android users won't get the MACE ad blocker if they buy it through the Play Store (due to Google's rules on apps interfering with other apps). However, downloading an APK file of the app from Private Internet Access directly gives you a version with MACE. The Android app can also access InBrowser. In addition, it lets you auto-connect with your chosen apps. The Android app is available for version 5.1+.

Screenshot of the Private Internet Access app with the snooze feature moved to different positions

This lets you see the parameters you care about without having to expand the app

Mac: It is nearly identical to the Windows app, except split tunneling takes a few more steps. The Mac app requires 64-bits and is available for High Sierra 10.13+.

iOS: There is no MACE, but the iOS app has InBrowser and Safari Content Blocker. This is an ad blocker which can block some ads, but not everything. You can also connect to the IPsec (IKEv2) protocol. Plus, Siri can be programmed to connect and disconnect. Lastly, Network Management Tools let you auto-connect on specific Wi-Fi or mobile networks.

Linux: This is one of the only VPNs to feature a full GUI for Linux. It works just like the Windows version and comes with all the same features. The only thing it’s missing is the built-in resolver for DNS. It’s compatible with Ubuntu 18.04+ (LTS), Mint, Debian, Fedora, and Arch.

Browser Extensions: Windows and Mac users can download browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Each extension has identical features. The server list is limited, but they offer several unique security options that aren’t available in the VPN app. You can block WebRTC IP detection and disable access to your microphone, camera, or location. These are a nice addition, but they won’t offer full encryption, so I recommend using them along with the VPN.

Routers: It can be downloaded on TP-Link, DD-WRT, Tomato, Pfsense, LEDE, OpenWRT, Merlin, AsusWRT, and OpenVPN-compatible routers to connect any device on your network. Preinstalled routers can also be purchased from the website. With the VPN on your router, you can easily connect devices without native apps like Roku or Apple TV.

Other devices: SmartDNS is the easiest way to change locations on any WiFi-enabled device. This feature lets you choose from 5 locations to access geo-blocked content on a PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV, or your smartTV. However, keep in mind this doesn’t encrypt your connection, so it’s not as safe as using the VPN. There’s also a native app for Fire TV Stick, which can unblock several streaming platforms including Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

Simultaneous Device Connections — Connect up to 10 Devices

You can use Private Internet Access on up to 10 devices at the same time. To test it out, I connected my Fire TV, 2 laptops, my phone, and a friend’s. I started streaming shows on each one, and I never noticed any difference in the playback quality. It’s a standout feature since many VPNs only let you use 5 devices.

Setup & Installation — Straightforward and Fast

Installing the app on mobile or desktop devices was always quick and easy. You can sign up in 5 minutes, and it never took me longer than 10 seconds to complete the installation.

SmartDNS was just as simple to set up. On the website, you choose a device and a location, and you’ll be given a DNS address that can change your location. All you have to do is enter the DNS number you’re given into the settings on your smart TV, streaming device, or gaming console.

You’ll need to flash the firmware on your router to install the VPN on it, which can be a little risky. I was able to add it on my TP-Link, but it can void your warranty or cause technical issues if something goes wrong. I’d recommend using SmartDNS first because of the risks.

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Pricing

8.0
2 Years + 4 Months FREE
$ 2.03 / month per month
6 Months Plan
$ 7.5 / month per month
1-Month Plan
$ 11.99 / month per month

Private Internet Access has 3 plans: 1 month, 6-month, and 2-year. The 2-year plan is $2.03/month and comes with PIA’s Anti-Virus and Boxcryptor. Boxcryptor gives you the ability to encrypt your cloud data on services like Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox.

You can often get a couple of extra months for free with the 2-year plan. The 1-month plan is more than 3 times the cost of the 2-year plan, and it doesn’t come with Boxcryptor or the Anti-Virus software. So, it’s really not a great value, especially if you’re interested in a long-term subscription.

Overall, I recommend the 2-year plan. It’s one of the cheaper subscriptions you can get for that length of time. Private Internet Access accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, Union Pay, Amazon Pay, and several other payment methods. This includes BitPay which lets you purchase with tons of different cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Dogecoin. It even lets you pay with 3rd-party gift cards for more anonymity. You can also subscribe through Google Pay or iTunes if you buy it through an app store.

PIA also offers a 7-day free trial of its iOS and Android apps. However, I found that the desktop app lets you get the most out of PIA. For this reason, I recommend using its money-back guarantee to test the VPN.

Each subscription plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, too. However, keep in mind that PIA can’t refund certain payments directly. For example, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back if you purchase through an app store or with a gift card.

Screenshot of a refund issued by Private Internet Access

If you're not satisfied, you can ask for a refund in the live chat

I tested out its refund policy to make sure it’s trustworthy and to see if it would be any hassle. I contacted support over its 24/7 live chat and asked for my money back after using the monthly plan for 3 weeks. The live support agent asked one troubleshooting question before processing my refund. I was impressed that all the money was back in my PayPal account in 1 day. The guarantee is legit, so you can rely on PIA to get your money back if you’re not satisfied. However, be aware that if you use Apple Pay, your refund will have to be processed by Apple.

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Reliability & Support

9.8

The live chat support is good when it works, but around 30% of the time, no one answered my requests. If no one answers, then the window closes and you’re encouraged to send an email through the ticketing system. However, when I could reach the chat, the staff was informative and answered quickly. For example, I was able to process my refund in less than 5 minutes.

Screenshot of a live chat with Private Internet Access support where I cancelled my account

The support staff in the chat are friendly and helpful

When I used the ticketing system, it usually took a couple of hours to receive a response. I found that this method was the most reliable for getting in touch with support.

PIA also has a Twitter account dedicated to customer support. I sent them a message with a streaming query. However, it took over 3 days to get a response. On the plus side, there is a huge knowledge base with over 100 FAQs on the website and a blog that's updated frequently (several times a week).

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict: Great Price for Customizable Security on Any Device

Private Internet Access provides strong security with several customization options. Plus, its large server network is great for torrenting since every location allows P2P downloads. I was even able to download twice as fast with its port forwarding option. On top of that, it has full-featured versions for every major OS, including one of the best Linux apps around.

It’s a great value for the price, especially with its yearly subscription. In addition, its privacy policy has been proven in 2 different court cases. Regular transparency reports are further proof it’s a company you can trust to handle your data.

There are a few flaws. The customer support is hit-or-miss. On top of that, it has inconsistent speeds on local servers, and it’s really slow on long-distance ones.

Overall, I recommend Private Internet Access if you want to torrent on a wide variety of devices safely, and at a great price.

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  • Great apps for every major OS
  • Fast P2P downloads on any server
  • Servers that unblock Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more
  • Vast server network with 29,650 servers in 84 locations
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Proven no-logs policy
  • Automatic kill switch
  • Highly customizable security features
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

FAQs on Private Internet Access

Does Private Internet Access work with Netflix?

Yes, I unblocked US Netflix and libraries in 16 other countries. I was able to load up Ultra HD videos and play them back buffer-free, too. It was also able to unblock Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Is Private Internet Access safe?

Yes, its military-grade encryption and proven no-logs policy make it a very safe VPN. It lets you use a 128-bit or a 256-bit encryption key — a code the world’s top supercomputers would take hundreds of years to crack. Plus, it’s responsible with your data; the company was asked in court to give up data on one of its customers, and it had nothing to share because it operates under a strict no-logs policy.

Where is Private Internet Access based?

It’s based in the United States. This isn’t the most privacy-friendly country since it was a founding member of the 14 Eyes Alliance. However, the VPN has a strict no-logs policy. Its transparency reports show that every time it's been ordered to hand over data to the government, it simply can’t because it has nothing to share.

Does Private Internet Access work for torrenting?

Yes, Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN for torrenting. You can access P2P downloads on any of its servers, and it always gave me great speeds. However, my team and I don’t condone any illegal downloads. I recommend you always torrent responsibly because downloading copyrighted materials is against the law and can get you into serious trouble.

Is Private Internet Access any good?

Yes, Private Internet Access is a great VPN if you’re looking to stream and torrent on a wide variety of devices. You’ll get a full-featured app on every major OS, including a version for Linux with a full GUI. It has an extensive server network that can unblock US Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and more. Plus, it offers military-grade encryption that will keep your data safe and has a proven no-logs policy.

Can I get PIA for free?

PIA doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can get a 7-day free trial for its iOS and Android apps. However, this doesn’t give you access to all the features PIA offers. For example, you can’t use the MACE ad-blocking feature on either mobile app.

Instead, I recommend using the money-back guarantee that comes with desktop apps. This lets you test it out for 30 days and decide whether it’s for you. Plus, getting a full refund was easy. All I had to do was contact its 24/7 support and answer a couple of troubleshooting questions, and the money was back in my PayPal account in 1 day.

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Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Number of devices per license: 10
Private Internet Access User Reviews (User reviews are not verified)
6.8
Based on 211 reviews in 29 languages
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