Looking for a VPN that really packs in value? Private Internet Access is one of the cheaper ones on the market, at around half the price of some others in its field. It can seem a little drab, but if you're after function over form (which I'm sure many VPN users are), it might be the choice for you. Read on now for our full Private Internet Access review.
With about 3000 servers offered across 24 countries, including Europe and the US, Private Internet Access don't do things in half measures. One refreshing feature that they provide is being able to simultaneously connect up to five devices through the VPN.
Based in the US as a subsidiary of London Trust Media Inc. they take pride in providing online security and anonymity to their users.
Their website is relatively straight forward and functional, with important information easy to find. It features an interesting blog with relevant posts on security and privacy issues. The site also has a forum with many useful comments that can help with any questions or problems that you may have.
Plans and Pricing
For the features that it delivers on, Private Internet Access has one of the best value plans out there. For a yearlong subscription, it works out to $39.95, or about $3.33 per month. If you only want to commit to six months, it'll be $35.95, while paying month to month will cost you $6.95.
They also have a 7 day money-back guarantee, so you can give it a trial without having anything to lose. They have a range of payment options, including credit cards, Amazon, Paypal, Google Wallet and Bitcoin.
Private Internet Access have great set-up guides that are easy to find. There are useful articles on a range of subjects that can help users with any potential problems or concerns that they may have. They offer a live chat option that has an estimation of how long the response will take, while their customer service representatives are extraordinarily helpful.
The live chats may be problematic for some users with privacy concerns as they require a name and email address. There is also a ticket support system where users can upload files related to their questions. Overall, the support services are of a high quality, though perhaps not as fast and with more privacy concerns than some of their competitors.
Privacy and Security
OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP can all be used with Private Internet Access. Their OpenVPN uses AES-256 for encryption, RSA-4096 for handshaking and SHA256 for data authentication. Users are able to choose their encryption levels and client options and there is even a guide to help people find which set-up is right for their situation.
Private Internet Access allow torrenting and filesharing. Although it is a concern that they are based in the US, their no user log policy provides some reassurance for those worried about privacy or security breaches.
You can sign up with complete anonymity if you use Bitcoin or gift cards, because Private Internet Access only require an email address for registry. Credit card and Paypal payment don't have this level of anonymity. Once you complete payment, you will be sent an email with your username and initial password. It will also include some instructions on installing the client and other useful information.
Private Internet Access stands out for its ease of use and the functionality of its client. It is simple to adjust the settings such as encryption, DNS leak protection and handshaking. Another great feature is the kill switch which can disconnect the internet if the VPN stops functioning.
Users can connect through TCP or UDP depending on their needs. The option to launch your VPN upon start-up is available on the login screen and the total interface is simple to use.
We tested out the speeds and here's what we got:
|No VPN||UK Test-UK Server||US Test-US Server|
|Download Speed (Mb/s)||29.7||26.3||19.2|
|Upload Speed (Mb/s)||2.7||2.4||2.2|
We were generally satisfied with the results. The speeds were good and the connection times were reasonable. The IP checks and DNS tests held tight and avoided leaking our details out.
Private Internet Access offer a range of clients for different devices and setups. This includes Windows, Android, Mac OSX and IOS (although this uses L2TP).
The Private Internet Access Android app is one of the most secure VPN apps available. OpenVPN-capable and with OpenSSL, it features the same kill switch as on Windows. Being able to use TCP instead of UDP makes it great for public Wi-Fi access and you can launch the client on start-up.
It is one of the faster Android apps that we have tested and the only downside in its practicality is that it's not the most visually appealing app.
Private Internet Access is kind of like the dollar menu. . . if the dollar menu didn't suck. Okay then, PIA is a lot better than my McDonald's analogies. The essential point is that its great value. They don't take any logs, have a wide range of protocols, offer good speeds and have a great range of security options.
The Android app is one of the best available, there is high-strength encryption and handshaking. The only real letdowns were that support could take longer than some of their competitors and sometimes the connection times could be longer than ideal. Oh, and it's not the most visually appealing option out there, but if you're like me and a fiend for value, that shouldn't be a huge concern.
Are you a Private Internet Access user? Leave a review below with your thoughts on the service, and help others out when making their decision.