Private Internet Access Review

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Private Internet Access Review

UPDATED: November 1, 2016

Overall Score:

Price

4
out of 5

Features

4
out of 5

Speed

4
out of 5

Customer Service

5
out of 5

This is the most comprehensive Private Internet Access review out there. Here you will find everything you need to know about Private Internet Access from pricing plans and speed/encryption performance to customer support and compatibility. Detailed setup guide is included to help you setup Private Internet Access ASAP.

Company Summary

Private Internet Access offer a very sophisticated and detailed VPN service that pays a lot of attention on both security and giving the user control.

Overall, this US-based VPN provider delivers a service that delivers the most important functions a VPN should, for a very affordable price.

Homepage Snapshot

private internet access review

Operating System Compatibility

Pricing Summary

1 month plan for $6.95 USD

6 months plan for $35.95 USD​

12 month plan for $39.95 USD​

VPN Protocols Offered

L2TP

PPTP

OPEN VPN

SOCKS5 (proxy)

Pros

  • User can choose from big bank of encryptions
  • Major protocols used
  • Supported on all devices and OSs
  • Good speeds
  • Zero-logging
  • Affordable price plans

Cons

  • Users complain of connection dropouts and speed fluctuates
  • US-based
  • Slow support response time

The Verdict

One of the best VPN services providers on the market right now. PIA offer a service that is of the highest quality out there for a price point that is very affordable. 

Pricing, Plans & Payment Options

PRICING

Private Internet Access offers pricing ranges that are highly affordable, especially when compared against the main competing VPN providers that they are in the same marketplace as. Customers are offered to subscribe for the service from as little as $3.33/month, with this price rising only a few dollars for plans that require less commitment duration from the user. 

PLANS

Very standard plans are offered with this VPN. Customers are given the option of three plans to subscribe to. This is a popular plan structure for VPN service providers, as it caters to every type of customer from the non-committed, right up to those who subscribe for the long haul:

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PAYMENT OPTIONS

Customers are given a fantastic choice of options to make payment through. Of course the normal payment options are covered (PayPal and credit card), but importantly there is also the option to pay via BitCoin. This is a popular choice among customers who really care about maintaining anonymity, since paying via BitCoin leaves no paper trail and requires zero personal information being given/stored. 

Some other interesting methods of payment are also offered to users:

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It is worth mentioning that Private Internet Access also utilise the "gift card" payment option, which allows customers to use gift cards with major outlets to pay for their subscription. This is a recent payment method that also provides a higher level of anonymity for users throughout the payment transaction process.


Money back Guarantee 

Private Internet Access offer all new customers a 7 day money back guarantee. Such guarantees are almost expected nowadays, with many VPN providers going as far as offering users up to 30 days. 

Such guarantees speak volumes about how confident the VPN service provider is in their quality of service, so it is a little disappointing to see only a 7 day guarantee in place with Private Internet Access. However, any money back guarantee is of course 100% better than none at all:

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Feautures

International server locations
- 20 countries hosting 2900+ servers are available to PIA users

Protocols
- L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and OpenVPN supported

Multiple connections
- Users can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously with their PIA account

Unlimited bandwidth
- No caps put on the amount of data users can transmit

Zero-logging
- No usage nor connection logs are kept

The Software

The software itself is very easy to setup on your device. From payment to downloading to installing and finally connecting -- it took me only a few minutes on my Macbook to complete. 

I went through this process and will now take you through the steps to demonstrate how it flows: 

PAYMENT 

I chose the month subscription and opted to pay via PayPal for efficiency. This process took all of 30 seconds since PIA's PayPal integration for payment is clearly top notch. 

DOWNLOAD

The moment I had processed payment, I was redirected to a page that very clearly displayed the next step -- to download the appropriate software for my device and operating system. I obviously went ahead and clicked the Mac OS X download option:

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As I hoped, upon clicking the download link, I was then redirected to a page that laid out helpful instructions for the download process, while the download itself began automatically:

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As you can see, very clear instructions given for both downloading and installing the software. Seeing these simple three steps made me very at ease, as they suggested that a very simple and quick setup was ahead of me.

INSTALLATION

With the software downloaded to my Macbook, I began the install and was presented with a even simpler instructions than the ones just screenshot above, to help me even more with this super simple process:

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Installation took just seconds, with the software automatically launching afterward. This is where I was prompted with a login window to access the VPN software. Said login username and password was emailed to me the moment my payment was confirmed:

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CONNECTING

Connecting to your preferred Private Internet Access server location is incredibly simple. Once you are logged in, you just click the symbol in your toolbar as instructed, which brings a dropdown menu of all available servers:

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You will then be connected within seconds to your VPN. 

All in all this was a super easy and quick setup from start to finish. Not one step in this process can I say I was disappointed or hoped for more. Definitely a lot of consideration put into the user experience by Private Internet Access for this, and it shows. 

MOBILE SOFTWARE

I went ahead and setup a Private Internet Access VPN connection on my Android device to see how PIA accounted for the large amount of users that would predominantly use the VPN on such devices. Here's an overview of this setup process:

DOWNLOAD

Thankfully, PIA have also developed their own Android app, which makes setting up and connecting to the VPN on your Android device so much simpler than having to source configuration files and connect via a general VPN client app. 

To get the PIA Android app, I just went to Google Play on my device and searched for it. It popped right up, and downloaded + installed in seconds:

private internet access review 10


CONNECTING

Once installed, I launched the app immediately and was presented with the main interface screen. Here I was prompted to enter my username and password, after which entering I was able to connect to the VPN immediately:

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Choosing a specific server is simply a case of tapping the "Automatic server selection" text, which opens a list of all available servers that you just click to connect to:

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You also have some great options in the settings section of the app, including an "internet kill switch", which allows you to disallow unencrypted internet traffic once connected:

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Compatibility

Private Internet Access is compatible with all major operating systems including Windows, OS X, Android, iOS and Linux. Device-wise, users can setup a PIA VPN connection on their desktop, laptop, smartphone, smartTV, games consoles, eReaders, routers and many more. 

You essentially have more than enough options to have the PIA VPN setup and connected on all the devices you would wish to have an unblocked and privacy-protected internet connection on. 

Speed & Performance

A quick speed test was conducted to see the difference in data transmission speeds when connected to the VPN and disconnected. 

I have to say that the results were some of the best and most impressive I have encountered of the many VPN services I've reviewed to date. As you can see, my standard connection was very fast anyway, so even a slightly big dip in speed would still have resulted in good overall speeds -- but when connected to the Private Internet Access VPN server, the speeds barely dipped at all:

Without VPN: 

private internet access review 16


With VPN:

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I also tested the VPN on servers located in the US, and speeds maintained an impressive level. This was a surprise since I had read multiple cases online of users having issues with PIA's speed. I can only vouch for my own experience, which was positive. Note also that no connection drop offs were experienced in the 2 hours I kept the connection active.

Support

Private Internet Access customers receive support via live chat on the website or via their built-in support area that uses a ticketing sustem. Live chat support workers are very experienced and clearly have great knowledge on all things VPN. However, I was a little disappointed at having to wait over fifteen minutes before getting to talk to such a support staff member:

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To their credit though, PIA do offer a very comprehensive database of setup guides, tutorials, and answers to frequently asked questions and issues raised, and the support area appears to function very efficiently with the ticketing system that's used therein. 

The Website

The Private Internet Access website contains every important piece of information a visitor would want to find, with most of this vital info being presented to visitors right on the home page:

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So content-wise, the site is top notch. Functionality and layout-wise (i.e. user experience optimisation), the site also delivers, with a great and intuitive navigational feel. Not once while interacting with the site did I feel lost or that I was unable to easily find a section or portion of the site easily. 

Where it lacks slightly is in the actual design. The site has clearly been designed with functionality and structure first; with aesthetic design taking less priority. As a result, the site has a somewhat corporate and bland feel to it, especially when compared to some of Private Internet Access' main competitor service websites, which look very modern and are incredibly pleasing on the eye. 

Security & Privacy

The VPN connections that Private Internet Access offer are given on the main protocols one expects from a VPN provider nowadays (OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP.) This is great, particularly since their OpenVPN is offered on the 256 AES bit level of encryption. Users can freely select whichever protocol connection they wish to make on every server the choose to connect to. 

Although the company is US-based, Private Internet Access counter the stringent jurisdictions and laws they are under by keeping zero usage or connection logs of any user. This, I believe, really makes up for their US-based location. They even openly state that P2P file sharing and torrenting is allowed on their VPN service.

Conclusion 

My overall evaluation of Private Internet Access and the VPN service they provide is positive. They give the user a lot of control with the connections they offer and also offer one of the most affordable price plans I have encountered for the level of privacy, encryption and (what was my experience, anyway) speed of service. 

I highly recommend giving them a try. Setting up is easy, and with the money back guarantee, you really have nothing to lose. 

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Private Internet Access VPN
Author Rating
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