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PIA VPN review

We present to you our Private Internet Access (PIA) review. As it turned out it’s hard to find better solution for VPN on the market. Superb level of encryption, great variety of features with flexible settings that give PIA users full control over the service. And what’s most important, low price point compared to most […]

PIAVPN-for-mac

We present to you our Private Internet Access (PIA) review. As it turned out it’s hard to find better solution for VPN on the market. Superb level of encryption, great variety of features with flexible settings that give PIA users full control over the service. And what’s most important, low price point compared to most of the competitors. All this combined gives us service that is no doubt lives up to its name.

 

Subscription Plans and Prices

Amount of discount is adequately proportionate to your subscription period length.
Starting with $6.95 monthly. In case you want to purchase a bigger period at once you get a discount. For example, 6-month plan will cost you $5.99 monthly. If you want to pay for PIA annually, monthly payment shrinks down to only $3.33 per month. Considering it’s not a huge sum of money and comparing pricing with average on the market, and the amount of features you get for it, we get a good bang for the buck we spend on it.

If you’re not satisfied with the service and want a refund you got 7-day money-back guarantee for all subscription plans. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you We don’t know what will!

PIA-Pricing
You can use a variety of payment methods: PayPal, cash and credit card and many more. But if you want to be anonymous for 100% you can use Bitcoin as your payment method of choice.

PIA-Payment-Methods

 

Features

London Trust Media Inc. is the owner of the  Private Internet Access company. One might think that PIA is located in the UK but it is in fact resides in Michigan state, USA. In our time of Snowden, “Five Eyes” and WikiLeakes this could be considered somewhat of a brave honesty. When other VPN providers try to distance themselves from location in western countries, PIA transparency is an important condition to build a trustworthy relationships with its customers.

Service is covering more than 25 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Middle East including regions of New Zealand and Australia. Most people nowadays use more than one device to connect the Web. But your devices can be easily vulnerable while online because of hackers and viruses stealing personal and financial information. Private Internet Access let’s you install its software on up to 5 devices. That is a well thought decision of an experienced company.

PIA-Features

On a server page you got pretty much all the information you need to choose server that suits you: bandwidth statistics, locations, number of servers and speed test. It’s well designed and works like a charm! Click here to try it for yourself.

 

PIA-Servers

 

Privacy and Anonymity

With Private Internet Access you get a full spectrum of security measures to protect your data. You can choose what is right for you form these protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec. Choice is always good but by all means, OpenVPN wins pretty much in every way possible if you compare it with other options, except situations when privacy is your main concern, and you don’t really care about speed.

And if that was not enough more encryption protocols are available. SHA-256 and AES-256 sandwich with layer of RSA 4096 on top will make it ultimate privacy delicacy! However with RSA 4096 you will sacrifice your speed. The diversity and number of combinations may confuse some of you newcomers out there, but PIA made it simpler to understand by adding visual hints and clues that show pros and cons of one privacy mix over another. Visit Private Internet access website to learn more about how they and Windows VPN client did it.

PIA-Legal-1
If you read PIA’s legal terms it says that company does not store any user logs. But we all know that if  court of law or government demands user information companies are obliged to give it away. In PIA’s case however, no data is stored so nothing to give away. There is no documented cases of authorities forcing company to give out documents, except FBI subpoenas. The answer was short: “There is simply nothing to give away.” That was the end of the story.

In relationships with provider of any kind of service, there is always hope for the best. That we will get what we payed for, that all the promises are true and provider will not abuse our trust and his indirect influence over us to gain any unlawful profit. In case of Private Internet Access though, we have strong evidence of their decency and quality of the product in form of many reviews and articles about the servicуe.

PIA-Logs

 

Website

Private Internet Access is a good example of ‘less is more’ kind of design. Nothing flashy, just the necessary features. The head of the website got everything you need to know about subscription plans, general info and contacts.
PIA-Homepage-829

If you scroll down to the bottom you will find detailed information sorted by categories: Why, Navigation, About and legal. We recommend you to pay more attention to that last section, your privacy and safety may depend on it.

PIA-Website-Bottom
Another thing you should take a closer look at is Private Internet Access VPN blog. Author of this blog, Swedish Pirate Party and PIA founder Rick Falkvinge is a big expert in this area, as you can imagine. Every week or so new materials are published. We can’t recommend it enough, regardless if you’re a VPN user or not.

PIA-Blogs

 

Customer Support

If any problems occur you can to contact PIA customer support via ticket system. It’s a shame but no real time support is available. However instructional videos in the Knowledge Base are more than helpful in a wide range of scenarios, from basic “How to’s” to complicated Tomato router and DD-WRT set ups.
PIA-Support

Even more information you will find in form of text. More than 300 articles contain pretty much all you need and don’t need to know about VPN and PIA. Customer support assisted us in all the cases we needed help. Could be faster though.

 

Getting Started

Sign Up

First you need to register and get a subscription, obviously. Depending on your platform and protocol options which we mentioned earlier, you will get an email with setup instructions and links to download version of software that is right specifically for you. Speaking of software, let’s check it out, shall we!
PIA-Windows-Client

Just like the website, Private Internet Access client for Windows is modest in design but very rich in features. And what’s most important it’s quite simple to use each and every one of them. You can choose between two sets of settings: Simple for beginners and Advanced for experienced users. No matter what option you want to tune up all checkboxes and menus are close and right in front of you. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, as they say, and PIA’s login menu is an excellent example of that. Well, at least in a Simple settings configuration. What’s with Advanced mode?

pia_client

In advanced settings you can choose Encryption type. Pressing Connection button gives us even more options like port forwarding that is less safe but good for p2p connection. If for some reason you will disconnect from the VPN server there is a killswitch to cut off any data transfer. IPv6 and DNS protection also available but more on that in the Testing Section.

PIA-Windows-Clent-Connection-Settings-1
To finish the setup you need to press Save. The PIA icon will appear in system tray taskbar. Right click on the icon then click connect to connect VPN server. You will find the most recent server on top of the list and server other countries below.

Client may look like nothing special but it delivers the only thing that matters to a user: it works really well. There is no animations but instead we have speed. The client is great, to say the least.

Productivity ( WebRTC, DNS, Speed test, IPv6)

UK servers downstream of 10 MBps is not too shabby at all, but switching to Dutch server location  improved it to even faster 12Mbps. US servers gave us a half of that, around 6MBps which is relatively slower but more than enough for browsing or streaming HD videos but not enough for P2P users. Surprisingly no speed drops were detected while testing the US connection and VPN.

No DNS leaks were detected. Same goes for WebRTC or DNS when we checked connection with ipeak.net. No IPv6 leaks were found using test-ipv6.com as well. Finally, we tested PIA on doileak.com but the out come was still the same: nothing. Although service proved itself in our tests we still insist you do the same with your connection. It works well in our case but you never know.

Devices and Platforms

Windows is not the only platform compatible with the Private Internet Access. Pretty much all major platforms are in buisness: Android, Linux, iOS and Mac.

 

PIA-Platforms

Gladly there is no lack of detailed information regarding setup and use of PIA on any ща those platforms. At first we took this attention to all of the platforms for granted, but it’s really great if you think about it.

PIA on Android

Android VPN client looks almost identical to its Windows predecessor with little to no difference in features and connection types including killswitch, all of the encryption methods, autoconnection when turning your device on and SSL implementation. Last one is important for android mobile devices because when connecting to public (usually unsecured) WiFi you put your personal data at risk. If you choose TCP protocol instead of UPD. This method will increase your privacy and secure your data in public networks.

pia-android
On Android we tested speeds on such streaming services as YouTube and Soundcloud. Video and audio playback was solid and seamless even with a firm level of encryption, not to mention smooth internet browsing. Follow to the finale part of this article where we come to a conclusion.

 

Summing It Up

What was great?

  • 7 Day Money-Back Period
  • Great Client Identical On All platforms
  • No Logs
  • You Can Pay with Bitcoin
  • Affordable Prices
  • Heavy Encryption and Overall Diversity

Any doubts?

  • Support Response Could Be Faster
  • Occasional Speed Drops

What Really Sucked?

Can’t think of anything.
 

VPN market is a crowded place, where companies fight for consumers with modern design, extra features not always in favor of connection quality or user anonymity. In the end of the day Private Internet Access is standing strong with simplicity at its core and main focus on reliability. No-logs policy, Bitcoin payment method, ruthless encryption. Is it perfect? No. Live chat support would be really nice. On the other hand, you have 7-day money-back period. It’s more than enough to make your decision and fix any problems. From where we’re standing, it’s worth every penny you pay for this service.

 


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overall rating
4.15


price
features
support
speed
customer service

Features list

Windows
OS X
Linux
Android
iOS
Windows Mobile
Visa/Mastercard
Bank Transfer
Google Checkout
Bitcoin
Paypal
Dedicated IP
Shared IP (Dynamic)
Shared IP (Static)
Total IPs
IPSec
L2TP/IPSec
OpenVPN
PPTP
SmartDNS
SSL
SSTP

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Comments

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