NordVPN vs PIA: Deciding Which is a Better Purchase

It is difficult to choose a VPN provider today because of the many providers that offer their suite of features that appear to be attractive. NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are two of the most popular VPN providers that have received accolades from their users. It is only by comparing the features and performance of the two providers can users arrive at the decision of which to choose. An honest review of NordVPN vs PIA is necessary to accurately weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each one, which will serve as our guide in making the selection.

NordVPN

NordVPN is a Panama-registered VPN service provider with more than 12 million customers across the globe. It offers a wide range of products that are needed by users who want to keep their privacy on the internet.

NordVPN maintains more than 5,600 servers in 6o countries. The service can be used in macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, as well as Android TV.  NordVPN is capable of being manually set up for NAS devices, wireless routers, and other platforms.

NordVPN is a powerful VPN service that attracts users with its innovative security tools. Check out the full NordVPN review.

NordVPN Software

Private Internet Access

Personal Internet Access is a personal VPN service provider that supports multiple VPN technologies such as OpenVPN, SOCKS5, and L2TP/IPsec. PIA is a VPN provider based in the U.S. It has dedicated apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. Check out the full Private Internet Access review.
Private Internet Access for Mac

NordVPN vs Private Internet Access - The Ultimate Comparison

Speed Test

VPN service users are mainly concerned with the speed of their internet connection being slowed down when they use the VPN. In general, internet speed is only slightly affected by using a VPN. Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access are among the fastest VPN providers out there.

The VPN speed is mainly impacted by the number of servers a provider has as well as the number of countries where those VPN servers are located. NordVPN has more than 6,000 servers located in more than 60 countries while Private Internet Access has about 3,300 servers located in 32 countries.

NordVPN performs very well because of its nearby servers in the US and Europe. NordVPN showed excellent performance in its local connections, coming in at an average of 27.58 Mbps download speed. For international connection, NordVPN measured in at 25.6 Mbps download speed.

PIA did not deliver the same level of speed as that of NordVPN. Again, using a 50 Mbps connection in Los Angeles, California, PIA has an average download speed of 19.5 Mbps and 9.85 Mbps upload speed.

NordVPN is the winner in this round.

NordVPN

Features

Both NordVPN and PIA offer various features that put them on top of the VPN providers ranking.

NordVPN offers various security and privacy features for different types of users, as follows:

  • Double-VPN servers which encrypt your traffic two times over two VPN servers.
  • Tor-over-VPN servers encrypt your traffic via the VPN, then encrypt it over the Tor network.
  • Leak protection settings and a skill switch for traffic and applications via the firewall.
  • CyberSec feature to block domains for ads, malware, and tracing.
  • Obfuscated servers to hide VPN traffic as regular HTTPS encryption, which is useful when you need a VPN for China or any other country that block VPNs.
  • Full access to Netflix and other streaming services.

PIA offers a good lineup of features that include:

  • Basic leak protection settings
  • Different encryption settings
  • PIA MACE, an ad blocker

PIA is a good minimal VPN but it does not do anything spectacular in the features category. PIA, though, is reliable and consistent.

Bear in mind that there is no ideal solution that meets all the requirements of individual needs or business types that come in various sizes from different industries. One VPN provider may excel in a small set of applications or may be created for a specific industry, but nothing applies to everyone or everything in the level of excellence.

The clear winner in this category is NordVPN.

NordVPN

Reliability

NordVPN has some variability in its server network speeds. Some connections showed speed and stability, but some of the servers, particularly those in the US, showed variable speeds. In short, the speeds are not very reliable.

The VPN apps from NordVPN are responsive and functional, making it easy to configure settings and preferences. However, the apps are not without any errors or bugs. But these are the mild kinds that you will not encounter most of the time.

Private Internet Access, on the other hand, showed very good reliability. It had been easy to establish a connection and the speeds were pretty consistent. It should be noted though that PIA’s speed is not the best among the various VPN providers that have been tested.

The PIA apps appeared to be not as well-designed as those of NordVPN. Even from the visual point of view, PIA is not that impressive. It is only a simple client that resides in your taskbar. Connecting to a server from the PIA app can take a little longer than what you could do with NordVPN apps.

Private Internet Access came on top of NordVPN in the reliability category, making it the clear-cut winner.

Private Internet Access

Security

NordVPN has invested in security by using industry-standard encryption algorithms that allows safe browsing for their users.

As already mentioned, NordVPN has great security features such as the Tor-over-VPN servers and double-VPN servers, which provide a high level of security as your data are double-encrypted. Also, NordVPN offers two types of kill switches:

  • Internet kill switch that blocks all internet traffic when the VPN connection drops.
  • App-level kill switch that closes any app when the VPN connection drops.

Private Internet Access also has a good kill switch and leak protection features. However, it does not offer any double-encryption options offered by NordVPN. PIA does not offer many extra features. It only offers a basic ad, malware, and tracker blocker to keep your security while you are online.

Both NordVPN and PIA offers the following security features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • OpenVPN tunneling protocols
  • IP/DNS leak protection
  • Browser extension
  • P2P support
  • Kill switch

In the security category, NordVPN is the winner.

NordVPN

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Logging Policies

The logging policies of both NordVPN and Private Internet Access have been verified with real-world tests and both are good options in terms of logging policies.

NordVPN has its privacy policy tested and verified through a formal third-party audit. The audit showed that the verification of NordVPN’s no logs claims to be true and accurate.  NordVPN’s app also has strong leak protection settings and advanced privacy features, which include double-hop VPN servers, Tor-over-VPN servers, and obfuscated servers. NordVPN has no timestamps, IP addresses, and bandwidth logs, preventing any authority from compromising user’s privacy.

Private Internet Access was proven to be a no logs VPN provider on the following occasions:

  • PIA was subpoenaed in 2016 to provide data logs for a criminal case. Their records showed that there are no data logs and they could only provide the IP addresses of their servers, with no customer data.
  • In June 2018, PIA’s logs were again tested and verified with a criminal case in court.

PIA does not reveal the kind of information that it keeps in its privacy policy page. However, it was never involved in scandals that revealed user information, making it one of the providers that users can trust.

Both NordVPN and PIA are winners in this category.

NordVPN
Private Internet Access

Jurisdiction

NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, where laws allow users to keep their privacy intact. NordVPN has a no-logs policy that seems to do well with customer privacy as it offers a variety of great features.

NordVPN’s service is a better choice because the ISPs in Panama are not bound by any data retention laws, which means that none of your information will be stored by the company.

PIA has its headquarters in the US, the worst possible location for a VPN service to be because of the Five Eyes guide. If you are a user who is very much concerned about the security of your online activities, the location of PIA is a red flag that should warn you to shy away from this provider.

NordVPN is the clear winner in this category.

NordVPN

Streaming Capabilities (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)

One of the most common reasons why people use VPN is because of Netflix streaming. The choice between NordVPN and Private Internet Access will likely be decided if you will be able to unblock US Netflix to access a larger library of its shows.

Connecting to a VPN to stream Netflix is always a hit-or-miss affair, there some VPN services that can work with Netflix consistently. The reason is that some VPNs allocated resources to acquire and maintain IP addresses that work well with Netflix.

NordVPN works well for various Netflix regions around the globe, as well as with other streaming services. NordVPN effortlessly unblocks Netflix to allow you to receive HD quality streaming.

Accessing Netflix through Private Internet Access servers will constantly give you its infamous proxy error message “Whoops, something went wrong…Proxy detected”. The reason is that PIA was getting blocked by Netflix.  PIA is almost always unable to work with Netflix. There might be a few times when PIA is able to unblock Netflix but don’t expect to do it consistently.

NordVPN is the more reliable option to stream Netflix, making it the clear winner.

NordVPN

Torrenting & File Sharing

NordVPN and Private Internet Access both offer good torrenting options. One factor that makes a big difference is port forwarding offered by PIA, which is not offered by NordVPN.

NordVPN offers a wide range of servers that are P2P enabled, which allow users to access torrenting websites that have been blocked, allowing them to securely download torrents. NordVPN has a system-wide kill switch, which is available in the Windows app of NordVPN to ensure that your IP will not leak during your torrenting. This avoids tipping off authorities that work against copyright infringement.

NordVPN allows P2P activity, which is restricted to select servers. The good news is that NordVPN’s P2P server count is now 4,700 servers in 46 countries around the world.

Private Internet Access has port forwarding that helps users optimize their torrenting speeds. The port forwarding may be activated from the settings, which will then connect to a server that supports it. However, not all of the PIA servers offer this feature.

Private Internet Access allows torrenting on all of its servers.

For bit Torrenting support, NordVPN is the winner.

NordVPN

Pricing & Plans

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access offer VPN services at low prices.

NordVPN pricing:

  • Monthly plan – $11.95 per month
  • 1-Year plan – $6.99 per month
  • 2-Year plan – $4.99 per month
  • 3-Year plan – $3.49 per month

The issue with NordVPN’s pricing is that you have to commit to a three-year subscription plan to avail of the cheap rate of $3.49 per month.

Private Internet Access recently increased prices. The company justified such an increase by its offer of 10 connections per subscription and improved VPN apps. The following are the current prices of PIA:

  • Monthly plan – $9.95 per month
  • Two-year plan – $3.49 per month
  • Yearly plan – $5.99 per month

PIA has the same drawback as NordVPN. You have to commit to a three-year subscription to avail of the cheap rate of $3.49 per month.

Both NordVPN and PIA are winners. It is a tie.

NordVPN
Private Internet Access

Refunds Policy

Users always consider a company’s refund policy before signing up for a service. NordVPN offers the best refund window between the two providers.

NordVPN supports many payment options, including Visa, MasterCard, Alipay, Discover, cryptocurrencies, and other modes of payments but not PayPal, which the company has recently stopped supporting. The PayPal option was stopped by NordVPN starting in January 2019. Many VPN users consider this to be a big drawback as many of them favor paying with PayPal.

Private Internet Access accepts all major modes of payment including credit cards, PayPal, and bitcoin.

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access offer a money-back guarantee period. NordVPN offers 30 days while Private Internet Access offers only 7 days. NordVPN will try first to resolve any issue before it agrees to refund your payment. Private Internet Access, on the other hand, will refund your payment within 7 days if you are not 100% satisfied with its service.

There is no clear winner here as there is a tie.

NordVPN
Private Internet Access

Value for Money

Before signing up for a VPN service, users give importance to the value of their money. But while the price is an important consideration, other factors need to weigh in also. A VPN provider could offer cheap service, but it will still be frustrating if the service does not work as expected.

NordVPN is the better value because overall it is cheaper than PIA and it also offers more features. NordVPN offers advanced privacy and security features, a much larger server network than Private Internet Access, has two types of kill switches, and it offers 24/7 live chat support, while PIA only offers ticket support.

NordVPN is noteworthy in the area of customer support with its 24/7 live chat. PIA has no live chat support and their email support is pretty slow. It is an advantage that a VPN provider offers 24/7 live chat support through its website.

A major drawback for Private Internet Access, which greatly diminishes its value, is jurisdiction, being based in the US where Five Eyes has jurisdiction.

NordVPN is the winner in this category.

NordVPN

Conclusion (Overall Winner)

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access offer excellent ways to protect your internet connection and the users’ personal information from prying eyes of outsiders, there is only one VPN provider that may be considered the best in the NordVPN vs. Private Internet Access competition. Both VPN providers performed well in the security area. Private Internet Access lacks wider global server coverage and has no live chat customer support. NordVPN is the better choice between the two VPN providers. NordVPN is the clear winner here because it supplies excellent privacy protections, wide-ranging streaming support, great multi-platform support, top-notch customer support, excellent BitTorrent support, and comprehensive global server coverage.

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