PrivateInternetAccess VPN Review
Private Internet Access(PIA) is a super quick zero-logs VPN that packs in loads of advanced privacy features. Both upload and download speeds in most popular locations are fantastic, and low latency makes it a great choice for gamers. Access to major streaming services is simple enough but is often a case of trial-and-error. Custom apps are available for a range of devices, and while these are functional they’re not very user-friendly.
Private Internet Access offers three VPN Tunnel service packages. The monthly option is $6.95 per month, the semi-annual option is $35.95 for six months, and the annual option is $39.95. All packages include the full assortment of available features including unlimited bandwidth, secure VPN access, encrypted Wi-Fi connections, P2P sharing, and VoIP support.
Privacy and Security
Private Internet Access makes no traffic or request logs of your internet access. This helps assure your identity protection, because no logs mean that no users can be matched to internet activity through the Private Internet Access system.
Anonymous browsing using Private Internet AccessFrom the moment you connect, browsing history and personal data is anonymous. This means that you can access websites that are blocked in your region, or even visit websites which you’ve been banned from. You can also safely and securely access public Wi-Fi networks without concern for prying eyes and common public network privacy exploits.
Number of servers
PIA has 3402 VPN and Proxy servers in 53 locations across 33 countries, allows for P2P and torrenting. PIA only uses bare-metal servers for our VPN network for enhanced security and performance.
Number of simultaneous connections
5 devices can be connected simultaneously.
Supported operating systems include Windows NT, 2k, XP, Vista, and 7. Mac OSX 10.4 through 10.8 and Ubuntu Linux are also supported. The setup process for each operating system is meticulously documented on the Private Internet Access website and is simple enough for anyone to do on their own. Supported devices include iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android tablets and phones.
In terms of encryption, PIA is highly secure. It gives users a choice of options including Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP/IPSec), or OpenVPN. Here at BestVPN.com, we recommend against using PPTP, because it is outdated and insecure. With that in mind – users only really get two secure options.
We recommend OpenVPN because it is by far the most secure (open source) encryption protocol. If you do get a PIA subscription, we strongly encourage you to connect using OpenVPN.
OpenVPN encryption is implemented excellently, which is one of the best things about PIA’s service:
Data channel: AES-256 cipher, with strong SHA256 for authorization and a handshake of RSA 4096. The Control channel is protected with AES-256 cipher with SHA384 authentication. Perfect Forward Secrecy is delivered with a DHE+RSA exchange for RSA handshakes, or ECDHE+ECDSA for ECC handshakes.
Encryption set to those levels is extremely strong. In fact, you could argue that the handshake could be made a bit weaker and your data would still be secure. For this reason, you can make use of PIA’s advanced settings to set it manually to RSA 2048. If you intend to do a lot of streaming with your VPN this will make it perform at optimum levels. PIA gives users a lot of customizable options where encryption is concerned.
Although having so many options can be a bit confusing for VPN beginners, those options are a positive part of PIA’s service. More options allow the people who need the strongest encryption to get it. Those who don’t really need it can lower it manually. Please head over to the VPN encryption page (you can find a link to it in the menu at the bottom of any page) to understand the large list of encryption options that PIA gives you. This guide is comprehensive and it will stop you from accidentally making your encryption levels too weak.
Supporting kill switch
Private Internet Access offers a neat feature of internet kill switch. This is an essential feature for all privacy concerned users. What it does is that it automatically shuts down your internet connection if you disconnect from the VPN.
Private Internet Access Kill Switch prevents your IP address from leaking and exposing your identity. Your internet connection resumes once your VPN connection is back up and running or if you deactivate this feature. Internet Kill Switch is baked into all the software and apps offered by PIA.
In addition, this feature comes with all its pricing plans, which means you don’t have pay anything extra to utilize the VPN Kill Switch.
ü It is beneficial if you use a VPN for torrenting. PIA Kill Switch will stop your internet from working if your VPN connection drops. This way copyright holder cannot identify your location as your IP address never leaks.
ü Stop streaming services from blacklisting your IP address. Internet kill switch will prevent streaming services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer from identifying that you use a VPN to access their service and block your IP.
7-day money back guarantee.
Browser extension supported
PIA also offers a proxy browser extension for Chrome. Unlike the desktop app, it doesn’t encrypt your browser traffic, however it does protect you against WebRTC leaks, which is an incredibly valuable feature to have as it prevents your true IP address from being exposed.
PIA suggests the extension can be used instead of the desktop app for a more lightweight browsing experience, however we wouldn’t recommend this as it is lacking in some of the more advanced privacy features such as the VPN kill switch. However, if you simply want to hide your IP address, it’s a great bonus feature.
Ease of Use
PIA’s desktop app is incredibly unpolished and in dire need of a makeover to bring it up to modern standards, however it does function very well indeed. It’s a system tray icon which helpfully lights up in green to let you know you’re connected. A right-click brings up a long list of servers to choose from, and that’s pretty much it aside from a separate settings window.
In order to access the settings menu, you have to be disconnected from the VPN, which isn’t unusual but is a little annoying. There is an on/off toggle to access more advanced options that are otherwise hidden in a sub-menu, such as your connection type, local port and level of encryption. This is great for more experienced users but the layout really is flawed and could be off-putting for those who’ve never used a VPN before.
Ironically the mobile apps are incredibly modern and streamlined, with just as much configurability as the desktop app as well as some extra connection details. We’d love to see some improvement on the desktop client to bring it up to speed with mobile, as right now it simply isn’t worthy of the level of tech PIA are offering.
PIA accepts a broad range of payment methods including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin. Users in certain countries may also have access to additional international payment options such as mint, ecoPayz and Neosurf, however these methods cannot be used to set up a recurring subscription.
PIA offers an extensive range of resources on their website covering everything from setup and installation to troubleshooting various issues. These are incredibly well-organised and come with a search function to look up keywords. We love the animated set-up videos but it would be better if these were rolled out more widely across the site as some of the resources could seem quite complex to more inexperienced users.
Our main issue with PIA’s customer support was the lack of live chat feature, which meant that we had to fill in an online form whenever we had an issue or even just a question. Usually responses were fairly snappy but on a handful of occasions we were waiting several hours for a reply, which isn’t much good when you have a query that could easily be solved by an online agent in a matter of minutes.
Doesn’t unblock US Netflix
Doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer
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