The Private Internet Access VPN is owned by Kape Technologies. Kape Technologies was previously known as Crossrider – a company that had a history of producing adware that bundled malware.
There is more to worry about. This VPN provider is located in the United States of America, which is a member of 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances. Despite the company’s strict no-logs policy, the jurisdiction where it is located is enough to repel me.
If you are looking for a trustworthy, privacy-focused, and fast VPN, I will suggest you drop the idea of Private Internet Access VPN. You will be better off with other options like NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
My Ratings for Private Internet Access VPN | Overall Rating: 7.25
As usual, I broke down my review of Private Internet Access VPN into eight broad segments, assigning individual ratings to each segment. The table below gives an overview of the ratings:
|Parameter of Rating||My Rating|
|UI and User Experience||10|
The Pros and Cons of Private Internet Access VPN
Private Internet Access VPN has several advantages and disadvantages. While its advantages may look great, the cons offset whatever greatness the VPN has. Here is a quick list of its pros and cons.
- It has a large server pool.
- The apps appear to be very secure, and none of them showed any leaks during tests.
- It offers an ad blocker feature that is integrated within the client interface.
- It has a strict no-logs policy.
- It offers WireGuard protocol, which is rare to find. You can find WireGuard in Mozilla VPN.
- It offers 10 simultaneous connections against a single license, which is double the industry standard.
- It includes the SOCKS5 Proxy.
- It offers a Kill Switch.
- It comes with a port forwarding feature.
- It allows anonymous payment options.
- It offers a choice between different encryption levels.
- It offers split tunneling.
- It supports torrenting.
- It is located in the United States of America.
- It has a very inconsistent speed.
- Their refund policy often involves unethical practices.
- Mark Karpeles is the CTO of Private Internet Access VPN. He is a convicted criminal involved in the infamous Bitcoin Heist and Mt. Gox Collapse.
- Split tunneling is not available for mobile apps.
- It is not good for gaming.
- It doesn’t use RAM storage.
Private Internet Access VPN At a Glance
Here is a quick table that lays down some vital information about the company:
|Location of NordVPN||United States of America|
|Year of Foundation||2010|
|Storage Type||Hard drive|
|Logging Policy||Strictly no logging|
|5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, 14 Eyes Alliance||The USA is a member of all three|
|Number of Simultaneous Connections||Ten connections against one license|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Refund Policy||30-day money-back guarantee|
Now that you are aware of the basics of Private Internet Access VPN, it is time to move forward with the in-depth review. I will be honest with you guys. I won’t try to tell the goodies only. So, do expect some scathing remarks in various segments.
Private Internet Access VPN Security | Overall Score: 9
When it comes to security features, the Private Internet Access VPN has some unique features. For instance, it offers a choice between encryption formats and handshake formats, a choice between VPN protocols, etc.
128-bit AES Encryption
The default encryption used by Private Internet Access VPN is the 128-bit AES encryption. This is not the industry norm of 256-bit AES encryption.
Don’t be disappointed. The 256-bit AES encryption is also available. You can manually select it.
Either way, the encryption that PIA uses is very secure. Of course, the 128-bit format isn’t as secure as the 256-bit format, but even with half the length of the encryption key, a supercomputer will take millions of years to break the encryption.
Use 256-bit encryption that a supercomputer will be looking at a time frame of billions of years to break the encryption.
Having said that, you need to understand the AES encryption has one vulnerability. It is symmetric cryptography, which means that it uses the same key to decrypt the data that it uses for encrypting the data.
Anyone who gets access to the key can quickly decrypt all your data.
To avoid this from happening, VPN providers, in general, use two more things – SHA authentication and RSA handshake encryption.
What are these?
Data Authentication and Handshake Encryption
There is something called a Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) that helps in authenticating the encrypted data. This authentication algorithm converts the encrypted data into a garbled string of characters that look nothing like the original data.
Once the data is converted using the hash function, there is no way it can be transformed back into the original data.
So, how does it work?
That’s quite technical. I will put it in simple words. The VPN client on your device and the VPN server communicate and agree upon using the same hash function, and then they create a shared secret key.
Whoever sends the data (the client or the server) combines the data with the secret key and creates a hash. The same key and the first hash that is created are again hashed together, giving the second hash. The second hash, and the key are then hashed again to create the third one, and so on. Finally, the sender sends over the data and the final hash to the recipient.
The recipient runs the same combination using its shared secret key and the data. Only if the hashes match, the data is authenticated. If somehow the data was altered somewhere in between, the hashes will not match, and the authentication will fail.
Private Internet Access VPN gives you the choice of either using SHA-1 (SHA160) or SHA256 for data authentication. Don’t think that SHA256 is the best. There are better options.
However, irrespective of which SHA format you are using, data authentication happens. You may even decide not to use data authentication at all. Not using authentication will make your data vulnerable to an active hacker, but keeps it safe from passive hackers.
What is handshake encryption?
This is the encryption used for making a secure connection between the VPN client and the VPN server. This encryption prevents the Man in the Middle attack, where an attacker may trick you into thinking that you are talking to the VPN server.
The handshake encryption is asymmetric cryptography, where a pair of keys are generated that are different from each other. One key is called the Public Key, and the other is called the Private Key.
The Private Key stays with the server. The Client uses the Public Key encrypts a random string of bytes (known as the premaster secret) and sends it to the server. The only way to decrypt the premaster secret is to use the Private Key.
There is much more that happens, but covering all that here is not possible. The bottom line is that the PIA client and the PIA servers ensure that they are talking to each other (exchanging data with each other) and not with someone in the middle using the handshake encryption.
The encryption used here is called RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman). The strength of the encryption depends on the length of each key in the key pair. Usually, the RSA-2048 is used in which the key length is 2048 bits. However, there are other options like RSA-3072 and RSA-4096, and PIA offers you a choice between all three.
Remember, RSA encryption is slow. This is the reason why no one uses it for encrypting data that passes over the internet. It is only used for authenticating the client and the server.
SOCKS5 Proxy Tunnel
This is an interesting addition by Private Internet Access VPN. It makes room for good speed, especially during streaming. However, that comes at the cost of reduced security. I will recommend that you don’t use this feature even from streaming. Use the OpenVPN protocol. Though it is slightly slower, it is the safest option for now.
Using SOCKS5 will ensure that your IP address remains masked, but your connection will not be very secure because it will not encrypt your data.
So technically, you can also use this feature even for torrenting.
In case you do not want to use something that offers you the speed of IKEv2/IPSec protocol and the security of OpenVPN protocol, you can go ahead and use the WireGuard protocol, which is a fairly new VPN protocol.
It is very secure and fast. You won’t find this protocol with every VPN provider. Private Internet Access is one of the very few VPNs that offer this option.
No IP/DNS Leak
It is not unusual for your computer to revert back to default DNS despite the fact that you are using a VPN service. This, if it happens, can be disastrous. Once it happens, all your internet activities will become visible to everyone.
The government will easily put you under mass surveillance. Your ISP can quickly see what you are doing. Any hacker out there can snoop around and steal your data.
These are big risks! So, you need a VPN that will prevent leaking your IP address or DNS.
One of the easiest ways to test whether your VPN provider is leaking your IP address or DNS is to use the website ipleak.net.
I went ahead and tested 25 different servers in 5 different locations. Here is a snapshot of one such test:
I also went ahead and ran the test using browserleaks.com. Even that failed to tell my real location.
That’s a great relief!
Private Internet Access takes pride in its no-logs policy. Yes, this VPN service uses it as a marketing tool.
While every known VPN provider uses this as a marketing tool, not everyone stands up to the promise. This is what makes choosing VPNs a troubling task.
However, Private Internet Access does stand up to its promises. There were two separate instances in which the court summoned PIA and asked for data logs.
The first instance happened in 2016 when the FBI asked for data logs after one of the users of the VPN service was allegedly making bombing threats. The court records stated that the only thing that Private Internet Access VPN was able to give was a cluster of IP addresses.
The second time it happened was in 2018 when the court again summoned the company and asked for logs related to a criminal investigation. Allegedly, one of its users used the service and hacked Embarcadero Media. This time, too, PIA had no data to provide.
Unfortunately, Private Internet Access has not invited any independent security audit firm to conduct a thorough test to validate its claim of no-logs policy. Though the two court cases are good enough to validate the claim of PIA, an independent audit is always a welcome feature.
Jurisdiction of Private Internet Access
This is where things get troublesome. Private Internet Access is a business registered in the United States of America.
America is one of the founding members of the intelligence-gathering international alliance known as the 5 Eyes. Later, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes came into existence. The USA is a member of all three alliances.
Here are a few reasons why you should be worried:
- The US government can force (legally) all businesses to log customer data secretly and share the same with the government authorities. Not just that! That government can even issue gag orders, that will prevent the companies from telling their customers that they are involved in gathering their data under threat from the government.
- There are several tech companies that were forced to shut down their businesses because they refused to cooperate with the government. One such company is Lavabit.
- There are branches or departments in the US government that carry out mass surveillance on every single internet communication.
Aren’t these reasons enough to shoo you away from VPN companies that are registered in the United States of America? For me, these are good enough reasons!
I will strictly suggest that you look for a VPN provider who is not in a jurisdiction that is a member of the 5, 9, or 14 Eyes alliance.
Note that despite its strict no-logs policy, the Private Internet Access VPN is obligated to comply with all the rules and regulations and laws of the nation where it is registered. I will never trust PIA! Whether you want to trust or not is totally up to you.
Speed of Private Internet Access VPN | Overall Score: 7
Private Internet Access VPN has a huge network of 9,867 VPN and proxy servers spread across 76 countries in over 97 locations.
That kind of big network is good news when it comes to speed because the total load on each server will be less.
But does that really work for PIA? No, it doesn’t!
The servers have shown consistent speeds! That wasn’t expected! I tested 10 servers each in 7 different locations (that I usually do), and the results were pretty horrifying!
I used the standard OpenVPN protocol to see how the VPN stacks up against biggies like NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Unfortunately, Private Internet Access gave me less than satisfactory results.
For my tests, I always use this setup:
- A fiber broadband connection with a base speed of 85 Mbps.
- A 64-bit Windows 10 PC with Core i5 processor clocked at 3.00 GHz.
- I always ensure that I do not use a router in between. I hook up the internet cable directly to the computer’s RJ45 port.
- I always run the tests between 11 AM and 12 noon.
Speed Test Results
Here is the table that shows my data:
|Server Location||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Percentage Drop in Download Speed|
|Speed without VPN||84.0 Mbps||82.8 Mbps||0% (baseline figure)|
|Recommended Server in the US (automatic connection)||34.2 Mbps||33.1 Mbps||~59.3%|
|Manually Selected Server in San Francisco||42.8 Mbps||39.2 Mbps||~49%|
|Manually Selected Server in New York||31.6 Mbps||35.9 Mbps||~62.4%|
|Server in the UK||58.5 Mbps||48.7 Mbps||~30.4%|
|Sever in Germany||33.6 Mbps||42.7 Mbps||~60%|
|Server in Japan||22.2 Mbps||21.8 Mbps||~74%|
|Server in India||13.8 Mbps||13.0 Mbps||~84%|
That’s some disturbing data. The worst part is that there was too much inconsistency within the US.
Moving on to Europe, different countries showed dramatic differences. In Asia, things were really awful. That’s something I didn’t expect.
Compare this to SurfShark VPN! Though SurfShark isn’t one of the fastest VPNs, it is definitely one of the very few VPNs that provides consistent speeds.
Well, VPN speeds do drop when you try to connect to a server far from your location. So, getting slow speeds is Asia is not so disturbing. The US results were too surprising.
How Does Private Internet Access Stack Up Against NordVPN and ExpressVPN?
Whether I look at the download speed or the upload speed, PIA’s performance against NordVPN and ExpressVPN was abysmal!
The tables below will give you the entire picture.
Download Speed Comparison:
|Server Location||Download Speed with NordVPN||Download Speed with ExpressVPN||Download Speed with PIA|
|No VPN (84 Mbps Baseline download speed)||0||0||0|
|Recommended Server in the USA (Automatic Connection)||72.4 Mbps||70.2 Mbps||34.2 Mbps|
|Server in New York||79.0 Mbps||76.8 Mbps||42.8 Mbps|
|Server in San Francisco||76.7 Mbps||79.2 Mbps||31.6 Mbps|
|Server in the UK (London)||66.8 Mbps||62.4 Mbps||58.5 Mbps|
|Server in Germany (Frankfurt)||69.0 Mbps||62.8 Mbps||33.6 Mbps|
|Server in Japan||54.1 Mbps||50.3 Mbps||22.2 Mbps|
|Server in India||36.7 Mbps||32.2 Mbps||13.8 Mbps|
Upload Speed Comparison:
|Server Location||Upload Speed with NordVPN||Upload Speed with ExpressVPN||Upload Speed with SurfShark|
|No VPN (76.8 Mbps Baseline upload speed)||0||0||0|
|Recommended Server in the USA||66.6 Mbps||58.4 Mbps||33.1 Mbps|
|Server in New York||65.4 Mbps||59.1 Mbps||39.2 Mbps|
|Server in San Francisco||68.2 Mbps||60.1 Mbps||35.9 Mbps|
|Server in the UK||52.3 Mbps||44.7 Mbps||48.7 Mbps|
|Server in Germany||59.6 Mbps||48.3 Mbps||42.7 Mbps|
|Server in Japan||24.8 Mbps||19.8 Mbps||21.8 Mbps|
|Server in India||21.0 Mbps||17.6 Mbps||13.0 Mbps|
I found similar results with the WireGuard protocol. Of course, the speed increased by 3-4 Mbps; the difference wasn’t so major. Also, the inconsistencies remained.
What to Do If You Encounter Slow Speed?
There is nothing much that you can do. You can still try out a few things:
- Change the VPN protocol (preferably WireGuard).
- Try to connect to a different server.
- Try to connect at a different time of the day.
- Try to change the handshake encryption to RSA-2048 (the lowest option available).
- Try to change the authentication algorithm to SHA-1
- Try to change the encryption algorithm to 128-bit (do not use 256-bit).
Remember, the stronger the encryption type, the slower the speed. You may see a slight jump in the speed. If none of them work, try to increase the base speed of your internet connection (if feasible).
Streaming with Private Internet Access VPN | Overall Score: 7
One of the main reasons why people go for VPNs is their capability to bypass the geo-restrictions that several online streaming services put in place. The most desired of all is the Netflix US library.
So, it is very logical for me to go ahead and test the unblocking abilities of Private Internet Access VPN.
It all started well until I decided to test Netflix. To my horror, Netflix managed to understand that I was using some kind of proxy. This happened with several servers in the US.
Here is what I saw:
However, there were instances of success with a few other servers in the US. So, I have to say that the PIA’s ability to bypass geo-restrictions is somewhat limited.
These multiple failures with Netflix made me stop the tests with several other services because I would never go for a VPN that keeps failing intermittently in this segment. I will suggest you do the same.
The table below will tell you the story more clearly:
|DZAN||Failed to Unblock|
|Netflix||Failed to Unblock 7 out of 10 times|
|HBO Go||I did not test it|
|ESPN Live||I did not test it|
|HotStar (India)||I didn’t bother to try|
|Disney+||I didn’t care about testing because I don’t watch it anyway.|
|SBS Australia (Local channel of Australia)||Didn’t give it a try|
PIA vs. the Great Firewall of China
It will keep it short! It won’t work! Don’t try it. Some Chinese folks said that they had success with PIA in breaking through the Chinese Firewall, but they had to go for L2TP protocol.
Yes, the L2TP protocol is harder to detect, but it is not very secure.
Also, the current status of China is something that should bother you a lot! If you are in China, you better don’t try.
Private Internet Access VPN Features | Overall Score: 9
The Private Internet Access VPN has some nifty features. Some of them are great. Some are good. Let me walk you through the features one by one.
You must have heard of the Tor browser or the Tor network. It also goes by the name Onion Router. Once you start using the Tor browser, your connection jumps through several servers to eventually reach the destination.
This makes it difficult for people to find out the true location of the end-user. Unfortunately, it only makes things difficult. It never makes it impossible to find the true user.
The reason is simple when you start the Tor browser, the entry node always remains visible to your ISP. This means that your ISP will know what you are trying to do. Moreover, the Onion Router is a volunteer-run. This makes it very vulnerable to attacks.
You can ensure absolute safety while using Tor if you go ahead and use it with a VPN. Not every VPN will support this.
PIA supports! So, if you want to use the Tor network, I will suggest that you connect to the VPN first and then connect to the Tor network.
Beware! Doing so will slow down your speed significantly. However, your security increases!
There is a tradeoff.
The Kill Switch
Private Internet Access VPN comes with a Kill Switch. It is an interesting and very desired feature. It allows the VPN client to drop all incoming and outgoing connections in the event that the connection to the VPN server fails.
The Kill Switch protects your privacy in situations like that. The connection to the VPN server can drop because of many reasons. It is not an uncommon thing. So, I will suggest that you turn off the Kill Switch.
Unlike other VPN providers who allow you to either turn off the Kill Switch or turn in on, Private Internet Access offers an intermediate option.
There are three options available – Off, Always, Auto.
The Off and Always options are self-explanatory. The Off option will not activate the Kill Switch. So, if your connection drops, your traffic will be exposed.
The Always option will end all traffic (incoming or outgoing), the moment the connection to the VPN server drops.
The Auto option will block all traffic that is outside the VPN. This means that if you are using the VPN for specific applications only, it will encrypt the traffic from those applications, and never allow other applications to connect.
That’s a weird feature. Why?
PIA allows split tunneling for both its desktop clients. This is an interesting feature that allows you to selectively protect traffic from a few apps while leaving the traffic from other apps unprotected.
This is particularly helpful when you engage in online banking. Your bank will not really take it lightly when you connect from different locations across the world. You should connect to your bank from your country.
If you keep connecting to your bank from different locations across the world, the bank will flag your activity, and in the worst-case scenario, block your account unless you explain to them that you were the one behind all these.
So, it is better that you do not use VPN in situations like this.
Now, going back to the Auto mode of the Kill Switch, if you use it, it will not allow traffic from any other application.
This means that if you are leaving the traffic from one browser outside the VPN protection and turn on the Auto option in the Kill Switch, it will immediately block all traffic from any app outside the VPN provided the connection to the VPN server drops. That’s contradictory!
Activating split tunneling is easy. You will find the settings under the Network tab where you will see the option of App Exclusions. Just add all the apps that you don’t want to be protected by PIA.
Torrenting with PIA
All servers of PIA offer full torrenting support. That’s great. What’s not great is the speed! I tried downloading several files (I won’t tell you what files), but the speed was not acceptable to me.
The maximum average speed I registered was 600 kbps! Worst part? I had well over 100 connected peers and an awfully a smaller number of leeches. Only one download, when connected to the UK server, gave me upward of 2 Mbps download speed, but that too when I restricted the upload speed to a meager 10kbps.
Torrenting with PIA is not at all fun! I will prefer ExpressVPN or NordVPN anytime over Private Internet Access.
Though PIA says that it never throttles bandwidth when it comes to torrenting, the slow speeds were disappointing, even if their claim was true.
Private Internet Access offers called PIA Mace. It is meant for blocking ads, malware, and trackers. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of the most effective ones that I have come across.
PIA was able to block only 37% of the malware domains and 28% of the advertising domains. That was disappointing.
Still, something is better than nothing! If you want to use the PIA VPN, I will suggest that you keep the settings on. You can find it under the Privacy tab right under the Kill Switch option. Check out the image for Kill Switch above.
Mobile Applications of Private Internet Access
The VPN service offers mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices. They both follow a very consistent design. Even in terms of functionality, they are consistent. This is something you won’t find so easily.
You get the options of Kill Switch, split tunneling, Adblocker, etc. in both the apps. The only difference that you will see is that in the case of the Android app, you will see the default VPN protocol to be OpenVPN.
In the case of the iOS app, you will get the IKEv2 as the default VPN protocol. That’s normal for all VPN providers.
The VPN provider also gives browser extensions. The extension is available for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera.
I was actually surprised to see that they have an extension for Opera as well. There are two reasons that surprised me. First, they are the only VPN I found to do that. Second, Opera has its own VPN integrated into its browser. I don’t know how many people will use PIA’s extension for Opera. However, it is there. You can use it if you want.
Using these browser extensions don’t make any sense to me because once you use the browser extension, it will only protect the traffic from that browser. No other traffic will be protected.
Using the desktop or mobile app will protect all traffic or the traffic you want to protect. So, I don’t really understand the need to have browser extensions in the first place.
Also, the extensions do give access to all the servers, but they lack all other functions. If I were to use the VPN service, the browser extension would be strictly off-limits.
Though Private Internet Access never mentions it publicly on their website, they do have a router app that you can install on routers that support VPN. Routers like pfSense, Tomato, DD-WRT, etc. will support the app.
However, installation is not that simple. You have to go through the detailed documentation that you can find on their website.
Once you install the app on a supported router, you can all devices that are connected to the router.
If you don’t want to do the configuration by yourself, you can always buy pre-configured routers from Sploitworks, FlashRouters, and Anonabox.
Honestly, I did not care about trying PIA on Linux. However, if you are interested, you can always install it. If you do need help with installation, you can find the details here.
Okay, maybe they are not giving unlimited connections against a single license, but I have to say that 10 connections against a single license are way above the industry standard of 5 simultaneous connections allowed.
You can, however, increase the number of simultaneous connections to as many devices as you want my simply installing the app on a compatible router. Any device connected to such a router will get protection.
There is something interesting that PIA offers. It allows you to switch between dark more and light mode. I prefer dark mode more than the light mode because it looks nice, and it is gentle on my eyes.
UI and User Experience | Overall Score: 10
I need to give it to Private Internet Access that they did a great job with all their application interfaces – be it on desktop or on mobile.
They have managed to maintain the consistency that you will love. Once you sign up, download, and install the client, the only thing you need to do is to start the VPN client, enter your login credentials.
The whole system will be up and running in less than 180 seconds. Once you log in, you will find the auto-connect option with a recommended server. All you have to do is to click (tap) on the big power button right at the center.
If you want to select the server manually, all you have to do is to click on the current location, and a whole list of servers will show up. What’s interesting is that next to each server, you can see the ping time.
This is what it looks like:
Keep a note of the ping times you see in the image above. I will talk about that shortly.
Anyway, once you select a server, all you need to do is to click on the server of your choice, and the client will connect you to the server.
Accessing the setting is also very easy. All you have to do is to click on the three vertical dots that you see on the top righthand corner. A menu will pop up. Click on the Settings option, and the setting window will open up.
If you want to select the connection type, you can do so from the Connection tab from the menu in the settings panel. This is what it looks like:
Overall, the user interface is straightforward and looks very professional.
Gaming Experience with Private Internet Access | Overall Score: 0
Do you remember, I asked you to keep a note of the ping times? It was necessary for the gaming segment.
When you are trying to play any online game, it is necessary that you have a very low ping (less than 55ms). This is an important requirement.
Ping time tells you how quickly the server responds. If the ping time is high, there will be lag. In high-octane games like Valorant, you have to make a split-second decision. If there is a high ping (ping time more than 55ms), you will experience lags.
In the case of Private Internet Access, the ping times for almost every server is above a hundred. This is high ping!
So, trying to play games when connected to PIA VPN will be stupidity. I still want to be stupid and connected to the Valorant server, only to be automatically disconnected every now and then.
That was awful! I will ask you never to use PIA for playing games. There is no point thinking that if you increase your base internet package to greater speeds, it will still not be effective because the VPN servers load slow.
Customer Support | Overall Score: 10
Honestly, I didn’t have to connect to their customer support in the first place. Everything from installation to connecting to a VPN server was smooth.
If you run into some trouble, you can always get in touch with their 24/7 chat support. Alternately, I did find out that connecting with them on Twitter is yet another effective way of getting support.
You can also create a ticket through their support portal.
If none of these satisfy you, you can always go ahead and look into their knowledge-base. It is quite thorough, and it answers almost all the queries that you will usually have.
They also have a separate guide section on their website, which gives detailed guides of various things like installation on Linux.
I have to agree that their guides are so detailed that in all likelihood, you will do almost everything without anyone’s aid. All you need to do is to check the detailed step-by-step guides.
Interestingly, they also have a community where you can request features. However, it is pretty useless. You can see any data there!
Pricing Structure | Overall Score: 9
When it comes to pricing, it boils down to the same old story as you get with any other VPN in this world. You get their services for an unbelievably low price only if you go for a long-term plan.
There are three pricing tiers to select from They are:
- Monthly pricing: You have to pay $11.95 per month.
- Yearly pricing: You have to pay at the rate of $3.33 per month for a full year. So, you end up paying $39.95 each year.
- Bi-yearly pricing: If you select this plan, you will get the lowest price. You need to pay at the rate of $2.69 per month for two years. So, you end up paying $69.95 every two years.
If you go for the two-year plan, PIA is definitely one of the cheapest options in this world. However, I will suggest that if you want to try out the VPN, you should go for the monthly plan.
Test it out, and if you are not happy with their offerings, you can claim a refund within 30 days from the date of purchase.
Things I Didn’t Like About Private Internet Access VPN
There are several things wrong with Private Internet Access VPN. Here is a quick list:
No RAM Storage
All their servers use legacy storage (SSD or HDD). This means that they have to manually delete all logs. The problem is that if a hacker gets into their servers before they delete the data manually, your data will be at Risk.
With legacy storage, even if they reboot their servers, the data still remains in the storage. In the case of RAM storage, a quick reboot will automatically delete all data, because RAM storage is temporary storage that remains as long as the server keeps running.
I am a big advocate of RAM storage, and this is the reason why I prefer ExpressVPN over any other VPN. However, NordVPN is catching up as they are switching to RAM-only storage.
No Independent Security Audit
Ever since its inception, the VPN provider has never allowed any independent security audit to find flaws in its system. This is not acceptable. Independent security audits are necessary to gain customer trust.
No Free Trial
It is now an established fact that a free trial always increases the conversion rate. I don’t understand why most of the VPNs do not allow free trial. Private Internet Access VPN also never allows free trial.
You have to buy it to get a feel for its overall strengths and weaknesses. I don’t like that! Anyway, if you are going to buy it, I will suggest that you buy a single-month subscription and test it out. If you don’t like it, you can go for a refund.
Unethical Business Practices
Some users have reported that they forgot to cancel the subscription. That’s an accident which can happen. However, instead of notifying the users about an upcoming renewal, Private Internet Access will trigger an auto-renewal after the first month (that is after the 30-day refund period is over.)
Once they charge the renewal price, they refuse to refund the money. Here is a quick example of what a user faced:
No Split Tunneling for Mobile Apps
The absence of split tunneling for the mobile apps did not go down well with me. I explained earlier that split tunneling is a necessary feature as it helps with online banking activities.
It also helps when you want to stream local content simultaneously with foreign content. There are many more scenarios like that where split tunneling becomes necessary.
The CTO Is a Convicted Criminal
This is not at all comforting. The CTO of the company is a convicted criminal who was engaged in one of the biggest Bitcoin heists in history. This alone is good enough for me to get rid of the VPN.
This raises questions about their ethics!
Cannot Bypass GFC
The strength of a VPN is often determined by its ability to bypass the Great Firewall of China! China is known for its heavy internet restrictions. China is not alone. There are more countries like that.
It is, therefore, necessary for people like human rights activists to have a VPN that can bypass such censorship. Private Internet Access VPN fails miserably in this segment!
I will say that the inconsistent speed of PIA is not at all acceptable. I don’t know about you, but speed issues can definitely hamper your overall experience.
I talked about this earlier, but I will still repeat it. Any VPN provider that has its headquarters in any member state of the 5, 9 and 14 eyes Alliance cannot be trusted completely even if they have a strict no-logs policy.
Do I recommend Private Internet Access VPN? If you are very concerned about your privacy, I don’t. If you are least concerned about privacy and worried more about hackers stealing your data, you can use this VPN. Use it at your own risk!