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Surfshark vs Private Internet Access 2023

Table of Contents

    Which VPN is better?

    Author Image Kristina Perunicic
    Kristina Perunicic

    Managing Editor

    Surfshark may not be as popular as Private Internet Access (PIA) yet, but their similarities in features and pricing make this a very close competition. Does a new British Virgin Islands-based VPN have the power to beat an established provider? Looking at the numbers, PIA seems to be the favorite. With 3,800+ servers and more available protocols (including L2TP/IPSec), it’s the VPN with better variety. Then again, Surfshark has its advantages, too. For example, its smaller network of just over 500 servers spans 50 countries, compared to PIA’s 33 countries. Being a new service, Surfshark hasn’t gotten a lot of notice yet – either from VPN users or from anti-VPN websites and governments. That low profile works wonders for unblocking geo-restricted streams like US Netflix or bypassing the Great Firewall of China. PIA has long-running issues here. As one of the most popular VPN providers around, it is an easy target for both government and streaming service VPN blocks. As for privacy, both VPNs come with strict zero-logging policies and great security features to prevent data leaks and malware. It’s important to know that PIA is registered in the US, which is not ideal if you want a VPN that operates far away from data retention laws or gag orders. The great news is that when US authorities have demanded user information from PIA, the provider calmly answered, “Nothing to see here,” proving that the zero-logs pledge is kept in full. There’s only one way to find the better VPN in this tight competition. Scroll down to see how Surfshark and PIA performed in our detailed tests.


    Features 9.3/10
    Pricing 9.4/10
    Ease of Use 10.0/10
    Reliability & Support 9.6/10
    Features 9.5/10
    Pricing 8.0/10
    Ease of Use 9.6/10
    Reliability & Support 9.8/10


    Review by our expert
    Author Image Kate Richards
    Kate Richards

    Managing Editor


    With VPNs, you tend to get what you pay for. So when I saw Surfshark’s super low prices (you can get it for just $2.30/month), I was a bit skeptical about its rave reviews. To find out if it actually lives up to these claims, I tested every single aspect of Surfshark, including speeds, security features, unblocking abilities, network reliability, and device compatibility. I also took a closer...

    Read all
    Latest positive user review
    Five star vpn

    Best I've ever used. All good, no complaints at all. I had a couple of questions when I first started ... using it, reached out to customer service. They were quick to respond, friendly, and helpful. I'm looking forward to them making the Surfshark Search feature a separate app.More

    Latest negative user review
    Doesn't work for BBC

    The only reason I bought it. Constant error msgs from iPlayer, individual channels like 4 and 5 were a... ccessible--until the latest update. Now nothing works. Spend more money on something that's more reliable.More

    Review by our expert
    Author Image Matthew Amos
    Matthew Amos

    Senior Editor


    Private Internet Access has one of the cheapest VPN subscriptions available — you can sign up for as little as $2.19/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 lo...

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    Latest positive user review
    Best VPN I have used

    I have been using PIA for three years and I have been very pleased. My internet connection is 270MB up...  and 270MB down. I get on average 250MB up and 250MB down. I have found that turning on the wire guard speeds up my internet speed by 50mb.More

    Latest negative user review
    PIA is a perfect backdoor to your computer

    Briefly said, all my accounts were compromised few days after PIA installation only on Chrome, includi... ng services that I have never used like Facebook Ads (corrupted from far far away in Kazakstan). Yesterday, someone changed my PIA email for a one-shot usage email and stole around 100 euros on my VISA for payment to PIA - Private Internet Access. There is no doubt that PIA is a perfect and complete security hole direct to your computer and personal stuff.More


    Starting price $2.3/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 30 Days
    Number of devices per license Unlimited devices
    Starting price $2.19/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 30 Days
    Number of devices per license 10 devices

    Best VPN by category

    With a great all-around package for security, privacy, and streaming, Surfshark manages to compete with the top names in the VPN industry in spite of being a new service. PIA, however, is a reliable budget VPN with some great features for the price. Unfortunately, it’s dragged down a little by geoblock bypassing problems and inconsistent speeds on some servers.

    PIA is one of the world’s favorite VPNs for P2P file sharers, thanks to great extras like port forwarding and free SOCKS5 proxies. Surfshark isn’t on the same level yet when it comes to torrenting features. While the service allows P2P traffic, you’ll be rerouted to Netherlands servers. This limitation could result in an overloaded server and slower speeds.

    Both VPNs chose a minimalist approach for their Windows clients, focusing on a user-friendly experience and essential features like quick connect and anti-leak settings. If you need a solid VPN for streaming, Surfshark is probably your better choice. PIA excels at basic privacy protection, however, thanks to 256-bit encryption and native OpenVPN support.

    If you like having a kill switch in your Android VPN app, make note that only PIA offers one, along with a huge server network and one-tap protection. Surfshark for Android has its own appeal, with split tunneling and zero-knowledge DNS settings. But unlike PIA, it doesn’t come with built-in OpenVPN support.

    You won’t find many differences between the Surfshark clients for Mac and Windows, apart from the use of the IKEv2 protocol instead of OpenVPN in the Mac app. You still get blazing speeds and lots of unblocking power, which is great news. Just like Surfshark, PIA is a great pick for securing your data and staying hidden online, but some geoblocks remain a difficult challenge for this VPN.

    With a stable and easy-to-use client for iOS, Surfshark is exceptional in this category. What’s more, you can connect as many devices as you want with a single plan, which is perfect if you want VPN protection for the whole household. PIA brings a lot of value to the table, however, with a dependable iOS app and up to five connections at the same time.

    At 1,400+ servers in the USA, PIA has a very strong presence in its home country. Unfortunately, most of those servers are blacklisted by the biggest American streaming services. Surfshark is modest but capable, with servers in nine US locations that give you reliable access to Netflix USA, Hulu, and many other US-only streams.

    The Bottom Line

    Surfshark and PIA have a lot in common, including strong security, spotless privacy policies, and attention to the customer’s needs. Each category has a winner, but the margins were small so the selection of a winner doesn’t tell the whole story. As our tests showed, each of these providers has its own mission. For Surfshark, it’s all about proving that a new service has what it takes to be the next premium VPN. So far, it’s on the right track, with excellent performance and some neat features you won’t find in most VPNs. For PIA, the main goal is to provide a dependable service that will keep you safe online. Other aspects, like streaming, don’t seem to be as important to this VPN. Both services offer amazing value for your money, but which one should you choose? Summing up: If you need a flexible VPN for streaming with new, impressive servers and fast speeds, then go for Surfshark. However, torrenting fans and Android users who value a feature-packed app will find what they need in PIA.

    Time to decide which one is best for you


    Is Surfshark better than Private Internet Access?

    Yes, Surfshark is better overall than Private Internet Access. It has 3200 servers in 100 countries, fast speeds, and impressive security features.

    Best of all, you can take advantage of its latest discount and get it for only $2.3 a month.

    What should I keep in mind when choosing between Surfshark and Private Internet Access?

    When choosing a VPN, you want to pay close attention to its number of servers, overall speed score, pricing, and the number of simultaneous device connections it offers. While some VPNs provide a flawless online experience, others will really slow you down.

    If you’re ready to commit, then Surfshark may be perfect for you due to its performance during the tests .

    Is Surfshark faster than Private Internet Access?

    Yes, Surfshark is faster than Private Internet Access. Since your VPN is your computer’s main connection to the internet, you need to use a service that won’t slow you down by more than 20%.

    If speeds are important to you, then I recommend you take a look at ExpressVPN. It’s the fastest service out there, provides unlimited bandwidth, and you won’t experience any slowdowns even when you connect to the other side of the planet. You can try it out risk-free. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund if you don’t like it.

    Do Surfshark or Private Internet Access offer any deals?

    Both Surfshark and Private Internet Access offer deals on occasion. You can check out the current coupons and discounts here. However, ExpressVPN has the best deals. Right now, you can get a 49% discount and up to 3 months for free with a new subscription.