One of the more popular options on the VPN site is Private Internet Access. It made a name for itself by being notoriously cheap at around $ 40 a year, despite the fact that the desktop interface was a bit awful at that time. These days, you won't find PIA as cheap as that, but the desktop app is much nicer. In addition, you get plenty of land options, good speeds, and for power users the ability to fine-tune connection security.
Note: This review is part of our update. Go there for details on competing products and how we tested them.
Private Internet Access: Security, Software, Servers, and Speed
Unlike many other desktop apps, PIA allows users to adjust some of their encryption options beyond just the protocol. By default, PIA uses OpenVPN over UDP, AES-128 data encryption, GCM for data authentication and RSA-2048 for handshake.
If you want to change any of that, you can switch UDP to TCP and data encryption can be changed to AES-256 (CBC or GCM), as well as AES – 128 (CBC). If you select one of the CBC options, you will also be able to customize data authentication and handshakes. However, GCM only allows you to adjust handshakes.
Most users should just leave this section as it is, but PIA has a helpful guide on its website to explain the pros and cons of various settings tweaks.
The macOS app for PIA is very similar to the Windows version. There is a long single column available at the top right of the screen in macOS. There is a large power button to turn the VPN connection on and off, and below is the current country connection.
Expand the window and you will see a section of customizable quick connect options (for up to five different countries), the current performance of your connection, the total bandwidth used, and some icons to quickly access parts of PIA settings .
Overall, it is a great and simple app that offers enough information for power users, but organized in such a way that beginners can ignore it completely to avoid confusion.
As you dive into the various land links, you can see the ping times from each country to your location. We love this feature as it lets you choose the fastest connection possible. For some countries, there is only one option, while others such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States have multiple alternatives with ping times for each.
PIA does not offer much in the way of extra services. The only thing other than the different connections is PIA Mace, an ad, tracker and malware blocker. This feature is off by default, but you can turn it on at Settings> Privacy . There is also a VPN killer switch that turns off your internet connection if you lose contact with VPN. That way, your online activity will not be revealed outside of your secure connection. It's a great feature, but keep in mind that these features aren't 100 percent effective at hiding your true third-party location.
PIA offers more than 3000 servers in 32 countries. It supports up to 10 simultaneous connections simultaneously, which is fantastic. Most services offer a maximum of five or six. Ten is more than enough to cover most devices at home.
PIA is owned by London Trust Media, based in Denver, CO. Chairman is Andrew Lee and CEO is Ted Kim. PIA does not keep logs and writes all user data to
/ null a non-existent directory – which means the data is discarded. This pledge has been tested in court twice, and both times the PIA failed to provide any significant user logs. The latest case was in 2018, as reported by TorrentFreak.
PIA supports apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
During speed tests, we saw some pretty good results. They did not always release their jaw, but they were general. The speeds were particularly good in the US, UK and Germany.
PIA has three price levels. A one-year subscription will set you back $ 72 a year, which is a bit on the upside, but it lets you connect up to 10 devices at a time, making the higher price more palatable. If you want to make a two-year commitment, it will cost $ 84 (about $ 42 per year), and a month-to-month commitment is $ 10 per month. The month-to-month option is usually high among VPNs to encourage users to choose a one- or two-year commitment. If you really intend to use a month-to-month optio, I recommend looking at Mullvad, which is from $ 6 per month as of this writing.
PIA is a great service, with a more generous concurrent allocation of devices than most services. It also has a good number of country options, a very large number of servers and a tested reputation to protect users' privacy. If you need a simple, no-nonsense VPN option, PIA is a good choice for both beginners and power users.
Editor's Note: Because online services are often iterative, you get new features and performance improvements over time, this review may change to reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to the text or the final assessment of the judgment will be noted at the top of this article.