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As someone who runs a pretty significant network of region-specific websites for clients across the world one of the things, I can never have enough of is VPN servers. I’ve used probably over a dozen services in the past two years but none offer over 3000 servers operating in 28 countries. When it comes to the sheer number of servers, Private Internet Access (PIA) is unbeaten in this respect.
While having a large number of servers is one aspect of PIA that I highly appreciate, the second perhaps equally as important is the fact that each subscription supports five protocols. OpenVPN, PPTP, SOCKS5 proxy, P22 support, and L2TP/IPSec protocols are supported. In addition, users get ad blocking capabilities, tracker elimination so that websites can’t track your activity and protection from a known list of malicious websites.
Private Internet Access Pricing
6.95$ (total costs)
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39.95$ (total costs)
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89.95$ (total costs)
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- Over 3000 VPN servers in more than 28 countries around the world mean you’ll never run out of options.
- Excellent network performance across all international servers.
- The desktop version of their client has an array of customization options which is perfect for the home office user like me.
- Most of all its affordable starting at just around $2.50 for a 3-year subscription.
- PIA can be used to secure your WiFi network so that everyone who is connected is secure with their IP masked behind a firewall.
- An excellent adblocking software means that I never saw any ads during the testing of their client on my desktop, MacBook and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
- The ad-blocking feature only works in chrome
- You need to use a randomly assigned username which can be hard to remember.
- No live chat option on the official website.
Rock bottom prices for a premium product
Competitive pricing is one of PIA’s strong suit with the base product costing $6.95 a month with the yearly plan slashing it down to $3.33 a month. You can also opt for the 3-year plan which costs just $2.50 a month which is as much as I pay for coffee every day.
The other interesting aspect is the abundance of unconventional payment options. PIA subscriptions can be purchased via Bitcoin, gift cards, PayPal and credit cards.
PIA does not log, collect, or sell your private information
Canadian and American patrons of the service will be glad to learn that Private Internet Access, unlike other services, does not maintain data logs. So, the company has no idea how long a subscriber was online, what their original IP address was, their access device, where they were accessing the system from and what websites were visited. Plus, using an encryption algorithm means that even company employees with malicious intent cannot steal private information something which has been problematic with other services in the past.
Sign up and Setup Process
We have come to expect that premium services like Private Internet Access will treat us to blazing fast performance and we’ve not been disappointed. The signup process is quick and straightforward. Plus, the client software can be downloaded and installed on Android, iOS, Mac and Windows PC.
I personally use it on my Mac and PC. On both operating systems the client downloaded and installed within a few minutes. Once the installation is complete, you’re greeted with a clean, and basic interface. You select a server by clicking on the icon in the system tray, choose a location, and the software chooses the fastest one available. A quick and easy selection process saves users from having to go through a long list of servers in each country, figure out their ping time and checking out their ratings. However, if you want more control then head on over to the ‘settings’ menu.
The ‘settings’ menu is from where you can choose TCP or Open VPN protocols. You can select remote and open ports, as well as setup port forwarding. IT gurus are more than welcome to setup custom encryption, handshake and authentication options. Encryption algorithms range from ECC-521 to RSA-4096. The service protects you from DNS and IPv6 leaks. There is also a bonus MACE feature which will prevent you from opening malicious websites, block ads, and cover your tracks. Windows users have what is called a ‘kill switch’ which will turn off your internet if the software gets disconnected. This is a handy feature since it prevents data leaks owing to intermittent internet service.
Blazing fast performance from a premium service
I put PIA through a battery of performance tests for this review. But also because performance matters a great deal to me, obviously because time is money and nobody wants a VPN that wastes time because it’s slow.
The results were excellent across the board. I tried connections within the Toronto area, then VPN connections from Toronto to London, Japan, Sweden, France, etc. I then ran speed tests and noted down their latency and overall speed. The speed, on the whole, was terrific. Though my connection to the Toronto server was the fastest with me only seeing a 5% decrease in speed. VPN connections across the border saw a drop of between 10%-12% in speed.
In Asia, the servers in Singapore were the fastest, followed by Japan, and South Korea. When compared to top brass competitors in this industry, I’d say these are the best results so far.
PIA’s Killer Features – Why I chose to use PIA?
Obviously one of the killer features for me is the over 3000 servers dotted across the world. However, there are others that I particularly like and most people reading this review will also find interesting:
- Protect your entire home network: PIA has a detailed guide on how you can use the service to protect your entire home directly via the Wi-Fi router running pfSense, DD-WRT, and Tomato OS. Using this option obviously means that anyone and everyone connected to your Wi-Fi router is protected regardless of if they are connected via a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer.
- Easy to use apps for iOS and Android devices: PIA’s apps for smartphones are a smaller more compact version of the Desktop client. Both the iOS and Android version look the same with the three-lined icon menu. Setting up port forwarding and the kill switch feature is super simple in my experience. The same goes for choosing a country with the latency of each server listed. Obviously, you want to select one with the lowest latency.
- A perfect VPN client for streaming: I love streaming, and so do my kids. Unlike other similar services, you can use Hulu, YouTube, Netflix from any country with a click of a button. Plus, since it does not slow down my internet significantly, I can stream in Ultra HD without waiting around for the video to load. So, its recommended to streamers like myself.
- Subscribe via Bitcoin: Now this may not be a feature of the software itself, but I like this one because its possible to subscribe anonymously. Using Bitcoin there is no way the company knows who you are and where you’re located. That is apparently a significant step for privacy that I personally never overlook seeing as it may that my credit card information has been stolen in the past. I also know of no other VPN service accepting Bitcoin.
- Low Price and Great Value: Private Internet Access VPN offers the best value for money. The value is offered in the way of an excellent set of features, at a competitive price point. Though I strongly suggest that you get the 3-year subscription to save the most money.
Customer service and support
Private Internet Access offers tech support and customer service via resources on their official website. However, before you contact support, we strongly advise that you go through the FAQs lists and has a detailed description of all potential issues and how to fix them. Though if you do contact customer support, they promise to respond within 6 hours of your query.
To test how good customer support was, I sent an email to the support staff asking a general question and received a response within a few hours. Though I personally miss the one-on-one live chat option provided by many other services in this industry. That said you rarely if ever need to contact support unless you have a significant tech issue.
Private Internet Access is one of the best VPN services I’ve used and trust me I’ve used dozens! It is easily a no-brainer for anyone who wants to use an all-encompassing service, that’s easy on the eyes, and light on the pocket. The vast number of servers and their exceptionally low latency means that your internet speed will not take a noticeable hit. Whether you are a Netflix streamer or just want to make sure that Uncle Sam isn’t spying on you, PIA is your best bet.