Disclosure: Top10VPN.com is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy a VPN through links on our site.

Private Internet Access Review

By Simon Migliano | Updated October 21, 2019

This score is calculated using our 10-step testing process.

Find out how we test VPN services

Ranked #6 out of 74 VPNs

Private Internet Access screenshot

Read User Reviews

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a US-based personal Virtual Private Network first released in August 2010.

Since its launch it has become one of the major VPN services which, according to their website, is “powered by a state of the art, tier-1 multi-gigabit private network.”

Fancy words for sure, but does it really live up to expectations? Can you trust PIA VPN to give you the speeds and security you need?

We spent weeks testing Private Internet Access to write the most comprehensive unbiased review. We had to get to the bottom of crucial questions like:

  • How does it work and what does it do exactly?
  • Is it trustworthy?
  • How private is it? Does it keep logs?
  • Does it work with Netflix and Hulu?

But before we dive deeper into this Private Internet Access review, let’s look at PIA VPN’s pros and cons, followed by its key features.

Overview

Private Internet Access Pros & Cons

  1. Excellent speeds: 87Mbps global average
  2. Easy, high-speed access to Netflix
  3. Unlimited P2P & torrenting traffic
  4. Keeps no usage logs & no IP or DNS leaks
  5. 3,300+ servers across 32 countries
  6. Custom apps for PC, Mac, iOS, & Android
  1. Small server network versus top-tier providers
  2. Email support can be slow, limited live chat
  3. Patchy access in China
  4. Based in the privacy-unfriendly US

Private Internet Access Key Summary

Top Download Speed89Mbps
Logging PolicyNo Logs
IP, DNS or WebRTC LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
Servers3,300+
IP Addresses3,300+
Countries32
US NetflixYes
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaNo
SupportLive Chat
Cheapest Price$3.33/mo over 12 Months
Official WebsitePiaVPN.com

Private Internet Access is an incredibly fast VPN, with some excellent features that make it ideal for privacy advocates. It’s not perfect, though – read on to find out more.

About & Logging Policy

Who is Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access was owned by US-based London Trust Media Holdings, a company founded by entrepreneur Andrew Lee and run by its CEO Ted Kim.

Curiously, Andrew Lee claims to be related to the last emperor of Korea’s Joseon dynasty. Make of that what you will.

London Trust Media launched PIA VPN in 2010 as part of its suite of brands focused on privacy and tech.

In November 2019, London Trust Media was bought by Kape Technologies, for $128 million. Kape own other VPNs, including CyberGhost and ZenMate.

Kape has a checkered history as a company, known previously as Crossrider. Crossrider infected devices with malware and adware and its majority shareholder, Teddy Sagi, was convicted of fraud and bribery in 1996. Its founder and CEO, Koby Menachemi, was also a member of the Israeli Intelligence Corps Unit 8200.

Kape are based in Romania, part of the EU which has aggressive data retention laws.

It’s not yet clear how this acquisition will effect PIA’s logging policy and overall validity as a VPN. As long as it maintains its no logs policy, we’re happy.

Logging Policy

Private Internet Access keeps absolutely no VPN logs whatsoever – you can use the service with total peace of mind that your data and traffic is not being monitored, nor can it be traced back to you.

PIA have had its no-logs claims verified multiple times: in 2016 its servers in Russia were seized (no user data was found) and in a 2018 US court case proved once more that it doesn’t retain any user activity logs.

PIA also release transparency reports, which you can read here.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access Privacy Policy

Private Internet Access Privacy Policy

If you still have doubts, rest assured that Private Internet Access protects your privacy.

Speed & Reliability

Very fast and impressive speeds

One thing’s for sure: Private Internet Access is very fast.

Most PIA servers registered impressive speeds: if you live near London, New York or Toronto and want to connect locally you won’t find a faster provider at the moment.

Take a look at some of the outstanding speed results we saw in our most recent tests:

Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.

Before using Private Internet Access:

  1. DownloadMbps

    92.31

  2. UploadMbps

    92.04

  3. Pingms

    2

When connected to Private Internet Access:

  1. DownloadMbps

    89.38

  2. UploadMbps

    86.53

  3. Pingms

    13

Download speed without Private Internet Acess: 92Mbps

Download speed with Private Internet Access: 89Mbps

Our download speed loss when Private Internet Access is running: 3%

PIA experienced barely any speed loss on local connections and it also has exceptional upload speeds – it’s currently the fastest VPN for a reason.

Testing PIA to a number of key locations around the world produced the following speed results:

  • USA: 31Mbps (download) & 38Mbps (upload)
  • Germany: 85Mbps (download) & 72Mbps (upload)
  • Singapore: 26Mbps (download) & 9Mbps (upload)
  • Australia: 35Mbps (download) & 10Mbps (upload)

Great speeds across the board as you can see, but if you’re planning on using a VPN to connect long-distance then ExpressVPN is definitely worth a look.

Server Locations

Small server list, but important locations covered

Globe with a blue flag32Countries
Image of a city landscape52Cities
Image of a pink marker3,300+IP Addresses

PIA servers are spread over 32 countries – a smaller number than other major VPNs, but at least every location has a real physical server.

While 3,300-plus VPN servers is a very good count, it’s likely that there’s only one IP address for each. We asked PIA for confirmation however they’re unwilling to disclose the actual number of IP addresses. It’s a very good number nonetheless, but VPN services like IPVanish (40,000) and VyprVPN (200,000) have far more.

The most popular locations are included in its server network. The United States alone benefits from 1,500 servers across 14 separate cities. There’s also specific city-level selection in the UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

Private Internet Access Server Network Graphic

Streaming & Torrenting

Good for Netflix, great for torrenting

The huge array of US servers means that unblocking Netflix is never more than one or two clicks away.

The following PIA VPN servers worked for unlocking Netflix:

  • Washington DC
  • Atlanta
  • Houston

However did find streaming Netflix through its US East, New York City, Florida and California servers less reliable – these VPN providers proved more reliable in our most recent tests.

Access to BBC iPlayer had recently stopped working for us, and Private Internet Access did tell us that rectifying this was not a priority for them. In our most recent tests PIA did work with BBC iPlayer.

Private Internet Access also works with a whole range of streaming services – here’s a short list:

  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO
  • Sling TV
  • PlayStation Vue

Torrenting

Downloading files with Private Internet Access is a breeze thanks to its sheer speed and great privacy features.

Torrenting and P2P traffic is allowed on all servers so you can enjoy fast file transfers and buffer-free Kodi streaming across the PIA server network.

It also has a VPN kill switch to keep your identity safe while you download or seed, it’s totally protected from IP and DNS leaks, and its logging policy ensures your traffic is kept private and anonymous.

Bypassing Censorship

No good in China but works well in other countries

Illustration Depicting a VPN Circumventing the Great Firewall of ChinaPrivate Internet Access is unfortunately unusable in large parts of China as the Chinese government has successfully managed to block it via the Great Firewall. Reports and anecdotes from users suggest that it may still work in Beijing, but access will be patchy at best.

Unless you want to spend a lot of time tampering with long-winded manual configurations, you’re better off finding another VPN service, though – our roundup of the best (still working) VPNs for China should help.

On the bright side, PIA will still work to unlock the internet in slightly less restrictive nations such as Turkey, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Platforms & Devices

Works across all platforms, and router too

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

There are custom apps to get Private Internet Access running on all the popular operating systems, both desktop and mobile:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Apple MacOS
  • Android
  • iPhone 

You can use PIA VPN on a number of devices, up to ten in total, which is a huge allowance (the average is typically five). Manual setup guides are also available on their official website to help walk you through more obscure platforms or older OS versions.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

A custom app is available for Amazon’s Fire TV Stick but setting up the VPN app requires a little bit of technical knowhow. Once installed you’ll be able to easily stream your favorite video content but there are better VPN apps for Firestick out there.

It’s also possible to use PIA’s software with other streaming devices and games consoles, like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Google Chromecast. To do so, you’ll have to install the VPN at router-level so that any device connected to your home router is protected.

Diagram explaining how a VPN router works.

A VPN router encrypts the traffic of every device on your WiFi network.

Browser Extensions

Chrome LogoChrome
Firefox LogoFirefox

PIA has VPN browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. They’re just proxies, so they’ll hide your IP address and prevent WebRTC leaks when surfing the web, but they won’t encrypt your connections.

Read our dedicate guide to learn the differences between VPNs and proxies.

Encryption & Security

One of the most secure VPNs

Protocol

L2TP/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

PPTP

Encryption

AES-128

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

First-party DNS

IPV6 Leak Blocking

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

WebRTC Leak Blocking

Advanced features

Ad Blocker

SOCKS

Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.

After all this, you’re still probably wondering one question: is PIA VPN trustworthy?

We can safely say that the answer is YES. Private Internet Access is one of the most advanced VPNs on the market, sure to satisfy even the most demanding of users.

Private Internet Access Settings Screenshot

Private Internet Access settings

You get a broad choice of security protocols (including our favorite, OpenVPN), encryption (including AES-256), an ad and malware blocker (PIA MACE), and a kill switch.

It also features IPV6 leak protection, although it’s unlikely you’ll need that right now – still, it’s good future-proofing for when IPV6 penetration increases (you can learn more about IPV6 here).

On top of all that, we also found it didn’t leak our IP or DNS, which means we were protected at all times.

An added bonus: Private Internet Access operates its own DNS servers, meaning it doesn’t use third-party (rented) servers.

One small thing we’d change is that PIA also offers PPTP as a protocol, but not IKEv2. We prefer OpenVPN to IKEv2 as it’s more secure, but some users like that IKEv2 often gives faster speeds. On the other hand, PPTP is old and insecure and shouldn’t be used by anyone.

Ease of Use

Updated app does wonders for usability

How to Install & Set Up Private Internet Access

In the past, PIA’s one glaring failure was its clunky, unintuitive and grossly outdated desktop app. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

PIA recently released a far more modern app much easier to navigate and straight-up better looking, clearly taking note from its competitors.

There are plenty of customization options for desktop notifications, launch on start-up, and a kill switch with an ‘always on’ option.

PIA has come a long way, but it’s not perfect: the advanced settings still open in a new tab and the tray app remains open on top, blocking the view. Annoyingly, you have to close the whole tray app manually in order to see it.

The PIA mobile app is terrific – with just as much configurability as the desktop app, plus some extra connection details.

Customer Support

No 24/7 support but good online resources

Live chat SupportYes
EmailYes
Online ResourcesYes

It’s a real shame that 24/7 live chat is absent. It’s something almost all major VPN providers have and a feature we’d love to see soon.

With PIA VPN you can only live chat with support between 4pm-1am UTC. You must also be logged in to the member area to do so, meaning it’s also only available to paying customers.

That’s not very helpful to potential subscribers that have questions.

At least PIA has one of the best online knowledge bases out there. It’s well organized and should answer almost any query or issue you have.

Screenshot of Private Internet Access Support

Pricing & Deals

Very cheap yearly plan

Private Internet Access Coupon

Private Internet Access Pricing Plan

A month-long subscription with Private Internet Access usually costs $9.95, which is around the industry standard, but it’s currently discounted to $6.95 per month.

The monthly price does come down the longer you subscribe for and their 12-month plan costs $3.33 per month, which is very competitive and almost the cheapest plan among top VPNs.

PIA doesn’t have a free trial and the money-back guarantee is only seven days long (they should really make it 30 days…). At least cancelling within these seven-days is 100% no-questions-asked, and you’ll get your money back within seven working days.

PIA accepts a broad range of payment methods including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal and a few cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Zcash.

Users in certain countries may also have access to additional international payment options like Mint, ecoPayz, and Neosurf, although they can’t be used to set up a rolling subscription.

The Bottom Line

Do We Recommend Private Internet Access?

The speed results speak for themselves: Private Internet Access is one of the fastest VPN services available in 2019, and is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for raw speed above all else.

It’s not the best for streaming Netflix, or if you’re a Fire Stick TV user – other VPN providers are better placed to meet those needs, like the suggested alternatives below.

Alternatives to Private Internet Access

CyberGhost Logo

CyberGhost

Private Internet Access may be faster, but it's not as reliable for streaming as CyberGhost is. If you're a film and TV fanatic then CyberGhost is one of your best options - and it's affordable, too. Read CyberGhost review

PrivateVPN Logo

PrivateVPN

Another extremely affordable VPN, PrivateVPN is an excellent choice for beating censorship, be it in China, UAE, Iran, or anywhere else - something that PIA lacks. Read PrivateVPN review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio

Top10VPN

You’ve read our expert review - read on for reviews from real users.

User Reviews for Private Internet Access

1 reviews

We value your opinion, whether it’s positive or negative. Please leave a helpful and informative review, and don't disclose personal information or use abusive language. All user reviews are moderated to ensure they meet our posting guidelines.

Already use Private Internet Access? Tell us what you think.

When a review is marked "Verified Customer" it means we've verified that the reviewer has had a genuine experience with the company.

Showing 1 out of 1 reviews
  1.  60% 

    Slow and no Killswitch if torrent is running without VPN.

    The price is good, the speed is slow, and no kill switch if you start uTorrent or other software and customer service is ok.

    Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
    Simon | Top10VPN Expert

    Hello Fredhachee,

    Thank you for your review!

    During our speed tests we found Private Internet Access to be one of the fastest VPNs currently available. It's worth getting in touch with customer support who can troubleshoot your speed issues, as the software may not be set up in a way that optimizes speeds.

    With regards to the kill switch, PIA told us that "all versions of PIA come with the Killswitch options except the router set up" but "if your system has more than one network adapter installed (i.e. both Ethernet and Wi-Fi), then you would disable the unused adapter so the killswitch does not "kill" the incorrect connection."

    We hope that helps!