Private Internet Access is a complete Virtual Private Network service that emphasizes on security and freedom of choice for its users. They also have an Android app for their VPN service that shields users from threats while they are connected to public WiFi networks, and a very sensible price point to boot.
Pricing and plans
This VPN service has three pricing plans that have differing monthly costs and total subscription period. A one month subscription costs $6.95, which is quite reasonable when compared with the costs of other VPN services these days. Going for a one year subscription, on the other hand, makes the monthly cost less than half at $3.33 (once you do the math). This is a rather impressive showing as VPNs go.
It is clear that Private Internet Access want to instill confidence in their customers because they provide a seven day money back guarantee on their plans. You can pay through PayPal, Amazon and Google Wallet, as well as a number of credit cards. We were quite pleased with the additional option to pay via Bitcoin.
Features and performance
Private Internet Access (PIA) are situated on US soil, and are a subsidiary of London Trust Media Inc., and they don’t attempt to conceal this whatsoever. Their servers are present in 29 locations spanning 18 countries that include the US, Europe, and, to the delight of us Aussies, Australia! The total number of servers PIA has are an astounding 30,000! You can make five connections at the same time to the VPN from multiple devices and platforms.
Their Windows client was quite intuitive and refreshing, and we found performance to match this: Connecting to the closest server in Australia, we were able to get an average speed of 25Mbps, which was roughly 85% of our maximum bandwidth. Connecting to a more distant server in the US, there was only a minor drop in our speed.
We also ran IP and DNS checks on the client, and Private Internet Access passed in both with flying colors. PIA uses their own DNS servers and have integrated DNS leak protection, which fully prevented our Windows system from making unshielded requests to our Internet Service Provider.
Security and privacy
PIA gives its subscribers access to their VPN service through PPTP, L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN. The users can also choose freely from among a range of protocols and encryption strengths, with OpenVPN being the primary protocol and featuring AES-256 datastream encryption, SHA256 data authentication encryption and RSA-4096 for handshaking.
Much of the initial misgivings we had about the company being located in the US were mitigated by their policy of not maintaining any logs. They also explicitly allowed their users to utilize torrents and file sharing.
Support is available in the form of live chat, support tickets and setup guides for a wide range of VPN configurations. Our overall experience with PIA’s support was both accessible and helpful, albeit not as swift and open as some of the competition.
Pros and Cons
Here’s what we liked about Private Internet Access’s VPN service
- Strong encryption protocols.
- Cross platform compatibility.
- Diverse security options built into clients.
- Solid speeds.
- No data logging.
- Fair pricing and a money back guarantee.
- Accept Bitcoin.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
- Some variation in speed / connection times.
- Support was a bit sluggish compared to other providers.
Even though Private Internet Access’s VPN clients and website aren’t as visually engaging as those of some of their competitors, the functionality is powerful and accessible. The user configuration options are meaningful and open, which is something we don’t often see in VPN clients. Combine this with their low subscription costs and a money back guarantee, and you have a VPN service that has our mark of approval.