good
Besides its huge server network and its audit-proofed 'no logs policy', Private Internet Access sets itself apart from the competition with its module-based app that can be adjusted to each users' habits.
Try Private Internet Access now *
Bedienung & Features
10 / 10
Server Network
9.4 / 10
Support
8.0 / 10
Performance
7.4 / 10
Security & Privacy
6.0 / 10
VPN Provider

Private Internet Access Review: Recommended VPN?

Ad disclaimer: For links on this page, EXPERTE.com may earn a commission from the provider. This supports our work and has no influence on our editorial rating.

VPNs are no longer just for techies since they also provide anyone with the means to protect their personal data online whether using public WiFi, downloading P2P, or looking to anonymize their surfing behavior. As a result, the number of providers has grown considerably, with newcomers joining the market every year.

Private Internet Access (PIA) can look back on more than a decade in the hotly-contested VPN market, making its entrance in 2010. In this review, we'll let you know whether PIA has kept up with the times or if it has gone MIA.

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What Is Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access* is a US-based VPN provider that since 2019 has belonged to Kape Technologies PLC (earlier, Crossrider), the parent company of two other VPN services from our sample, ZenMate, and CyberGhost. Applications for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS are offered as are browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. We evaluated the service on Windows and Android.

Private Internet Access Review

Review
8.2
good
Visit Website*
Bedienung & Features
10 / 10
Server Network
9.4 / 10
Support
8.0 / 10
Performance
7.4 / 10
Security & Privacy
6.0 / 10
  • Module-based, customizable apps

  • Nicely combines user-friendliness and functionality

  • Massive network of more than 34,000 servers

  • Disappointing performance during speed testing

  • Questionable parent company

  • No external security audits

1.

Installation and Features

All available PIA clients, as well as configuration files for setting up VPN tunnels on routers, can be downloaded from the provider's website. Smart TVs and other devices are also supported.

Start by selecting the appropriate client for your device.

PIA's user interface is similar to that of most VPNs: A large On/Off button which you click on to establish a VPN connection dominates the client. Below this, you'll see a small world map, which you can click on to open a list of server locations. By default, the desktop client is pinned to the taskbar and can't be dragged and dropped, however, this can be changed in Settings.

PIA's desktop client is streamlined and elegant.

The client automatically selects the best server for a connection, however, it's possible to manually choose a server by clicking on the world map. These can be sorted alphabetically, by latency, or browsed using the integrated search function. Favorites can be marked by clicking on the heart symbol to the right of a server.

Latency is displayed (in ms) next to each server in the list.

Customizable User Interface

Clicking on the arrow symbol at the bottom of the desktop client opens "Detailed Display", an area where PIA surpasses most of its competitors: PIA's user interface is composed of modules that can be moved around at will, or added to the "Standard Display".

These include "Quick Connect", where you'll be shown your favorites and most recently used connections. When using a VPN tunnel, you'll also be able to see information about its performance and your IP address.

The module-based user interface can be fully customized.

Further information about your current VPN connection, such as its protocol and encryption, is shown in the "Connection" module. "VPN Snooze" turns off your VPN for a specific period of time.

Some of the client's many options can be found in the "Quick Settings" module. These include the ability to activate port forwarding, which routes your data traffic to a specific port. "MACE" offers an integrated ad and tracker blocker.

It's possible to modify some settings directly in the client's main interface.

An Abundance of Features and Settings

More settings are waiting in the menu: In the network area, you can configure DNS settings or designate a user-defined DNS server. Split tunneling is offered, making it possible to add apps and IP addresses to a list based on which they will or will not use your VPN connection.

In the connection settings, you can set your VPN protocol and adjust some details, which we'll discuss in greater detail below in the "Security" section of this review.

Split tunneling is practical, making it possible to select which apps use your VPN connection, and which don't.

You can further customize your VPN connection by adjusting the automation preferences. Depending on the type of network you're connected to, it's possible to specify whether a VPN tunnel should be automatically created or closed. This comes in handy, for example, when using public WiFi, where a VPN tunnel is more important than on your home network.

It's also possible to book a dedicated IP from a country of your choice via a redeemable token.

To some extent, you'll be able to automate your VPN connection.

Customizable Smartphone Apps

PIA's smartphone apps are similar to its desktop clients, offering the same modules like "Quick Settings", "VPN Snooze", and "Quick Connect" as well as features like split tunneling. As in the desktop version, you can freely arrange modules and select which should be displayed.

The mobile app includes the same modules as the desktop client.

In our opinion, PIA's unique approach to its desktop client and mobile app is innovative and well-executed. We found the module-based user interface to be very practical and took advantage of it to customize our user experience.

Importantly, the settings and options offered aren't superficial, allowing anyone to see how their VPN connection is performing, and if necessary, to customize it further. All the same, the number of features isn't overwhelming, which is good for less-savvy users since it makes connecting to a VPN hassle-free.

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Bedienung & Features
10 / 10
2.

Server Network

When it comes to the number of servers in PIA's network, you aren't seeing things and we didn't add a zero: PIA's network consists of 34,000 servers spread across 98 locations in 75 countries. Numerically speaking, PIA offers the largest network from our sample, by far.

PIA's pure server power is impressive.

Geographic coverage is also good, with areas outside of Europe and North America given a decent amount of attention. Some providers, like HideMyAss or PureVPN have servers in more countries, but PIA's network isn't anything to turn your nose up at.

Visit Website*
Server Network
9.4 / 10
3.

Performance

We measure the speed of all VPNs from our sample using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. To effectively do this, we connect to random PIA servers in the US and Germany at different times of the day. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.

The table below shows the average results over the last 12 months, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending):

1.
NordVPN
195.6 Mbit/s
Download
42.9 Mbit/s
Upload
2.
Surfshark
191.7 Mbit/s
Download
42.8 Mbit/s
Upload
3.
Mullvad
200.8 Mbit/s
Download
18.1 Mbit/s
Upload
4.
ExpressVPN
175.0 Mbit/s
Download
42.0 Mbit/s
Upload
5.
HideMyAss!
167.7 Mbit/s
Download
16.1 Mbit/s
Upload
6.
TorGuard
166.5 Mbit/s
Download
16.3 Mbit/s
Upload
7.
hide.me
153.9 Mbit/s
Download
27.0 Mbit/s
Upload
8.
PrivateVPN
155.1 Mbit/s
Download
21.2 Mbit/s
Upload
9.
Proton VPN
154.8 Mbit/s
Download
18.8 Mbit/s
Upload
10.
IPVanish
156.4 Mbit/s
Download
15.0 Mbit/s
Upload
11.
PureVPN
113.1 Mbit/s
Download
41.4 Mbit/s
Upload
12.
TunnelBear
129.4 Mbit/s
Download
18.4 Mbit/s
Upload
13.
VPN Unlimited
109.6 Mbit/s
Download
37.6 Mbit/s
Upload
14.
ZenMate
126.3 Mbit/s
Download
18.8 Mbit/s
Upload
15.
CyberGhost
118.6 Mbit/s
Download
18.4 Mbit/s
Upload
16.
Private Internet Access
109.7 Mbit/s
Download
17.0 Mbit/s
Upload
17.
Windscribe
82.2 Mbit/s
Download
43.3 Mbit/s
Upload
18.
Hotspot Shield
79.9 Mbit/s
Download
38.8 Mbit/s
Upload
19.
VyprVPN
106.0 Mbit/s
Download
12.2 Mbit/s
Upload
20.
Perfect Privacy
99.3 Mbit/s
Download
12.7 Mbit/s
Upload

With such a huge server network, we had high expectations for PIA. Unfortunately, with an average download speed of 109.7 MB/s and an upload speed of 17 MB/s, it was only good enough for 17th place.

The chart below shows PIA's average speeds over the past months:

MonatDownloadUpload
5/23May 2023
Download: 138.7 Mbit/s
  138.7
Mbit/s
May 2023
Upload: 19.1 Mbit/s
 
6/23June 2023
Download: 142.2 Mbit/s
  142.2
Mbit/s
June 2023
Upload: 17.9 Mbit/s
 
7/23July 2023
Download: 143.2 Mbit/s
  143.2
Mbit/s
July 2023
Upload: 18.8 Mbit/s
 
8/23August 2023
Download: 150.2 Mbit/s
  150.2
Mbit/s
August 2023
Upload: 19.5 Mbit/s
 
9/23September 2023
Download: 151.2 Mbit/s
  151.2
Mbit/s
September 2023
Upload: 18.9 Mbit/s
 
10/23October 2023
Download: 146.1 Mbit/s
  146.1
Mbit/s
October 2023
Upload: 17.6 Mbit/s
 
11/23November 2023
Download: 154.6 Mbit/s
  154.6
Mbit/s
November 2023
Upload: 17.6 Mbit/s
 
12/23December 2023
Download: 146.5 Mbit/s
  146.5
Mbit/s
December 2023
Upload: 17.9 Mbit/s
 
1/24January 2024
Download: 138.4 Mbit/s
  138.4
Mbit/s
January 2024
Upload: 16.8 Mbit/s
 
2/24February 2024
Download: 147.0 Mbit/s
  147.0
Mbit/s
February 2024
Upload: 17.6 Mbit/s
 
3/24March 2024
Download: 152.5 Mbit/s
  152.5
Mbit/s
March 2024
Upload: 17.5 Mbit/s
 
4/24April 2024
Download: 147.2 Mbit/s
  147.2
Mbit/s
April 2024
Upload: 20.0 Mbit/s
 
5/24May 2024
Download: 145.7 Mbit/s
  145.7
Mbit/s
May 2024
Upload: 23.7 Mbit/s
 

Solid for everyday usage and in China

Even though PIA's speeds were only satisfactory, we also score performance on the basis of how a VPN handles surfing, streaming, and, in some cases, circumventing Internet restrictions in places like China.

For everyday usage, PIA made up some lost ground, offering stable connections with solid speeds. Importantly, using the service's VPN tunnels didn't trigger any annoying captchas when performing Google searches.

In terms of video streaming, Micky Mouse was the only bouncer who didn't let us view foreign content. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer all gave us access to catalogs from abroad, whereas Disney+ sniffed out our tunnel.

If heading to China, PIA is more than suitable for breaking through the "Great Firewall": During our evaluation, we were able to create a connection from China, viewing content that would otherwise be restricted in the authoritarian country. The only note to this was that we needed to use the WireGuard protocol.

Thanks to its solid performance apart from the disappointing speed test, PIA still managed a good score.

Visit Website*
Performance
7.4 / 10
4.

Security and Privacy

PIA promises not to collect any data that might provide insight into your Internet activities. This "No-Logs" guarantee was put to the test in 2018 when PIA was unable to produce any information despite a subpoena. Since then, however, PIA has changed owners.

Questionable parent company: no audits

Kape Technologies PLC, which owns PIA, has something of a questionable past. Under its former name (Crossrider), the company was caught spreading malware and adware. Those who use VPNs certainly don't expect their personal data to be monetized. Even though the incident occurred in the past and doesn't automatically implicate PIA, it does raise some skepticism.

Much could be done to quiet these concerns with an external, independent audit, like those that some of PIA's competitors regularly undergo. PIA hasn't submitted to one of these yet. Its support staffers assured us that steps were being taken to do so in the near future, but that a partner needed to be selected.

High security, no leaks

Things are a bit more clear-cut in terms of security: Thanks to its integration of OpenVPN and WireGuard, PIA supports the most important VPN protocols. WireGuard, in particular, is widely considered to offer cutting-edge performance and security. By default, PIA encrypts all connections with OpenVPN and AES 128, however, it is possible to switch to AES 256, either with the CBC or GCM block cipher modes.

PIA passed all of our VPN leak tests (IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC) without issue.

We were unable to identify any leaks during testing.

PIA hardly puts a foot wrong, on paper. With that said, its parent company's past mistakes require more than just a name change to gain our trust. The VPN should offer more transparency and move forward with its plans to submit to an external security audit in light of its owner's corporate history.

Visit Website*
Security & Privacy
6.0 / 10
5.

Customer Support

PIA's help center offers guides, a knowledge base, a forum, and an announcements board. All guides are sorted by operating system and provide informative content. The knowledge base includes FAQs, best practices (for security matters), and a wealth of other useful information. Overall, we can't make too many complaints about PIA's static support.

You can easily find the answer to your query using the support center's search function.

Live support is offered only through a contact form. We waited around five hours for an answer, which was comprehensive and answered our query satisfactorily.

PIA could offer a few more live support options (a chat or hotline would be nice), however, the response time and quality of the answers we received were very good.

Visit Website*
Support
8.0 / 10
6.

Pricing

A PIA monthly subscription is fairly pricy, however, if willing to commit for a year or two, you can save quite a bit. Regardless of the plan you select, 10 connections can be established simultaneously.

Below, you can find an overview of current prices:

3 Years1 Year1 month
Monthly Price $2.19 $3.33 $11.95
Contract Period (Months) 36 12 1
Limits
Data Volume unlimited unlimited unlimited
Number of Devices 10 10 10
Features
Number of Servers 34,500 34,500 34,500
Number of Countries 84 84 84
No Server Logs
P2P Allowed
Tor Access
Kill Switch
Protocols
OpenVPN
WireGuard
OpenVPN
WireGuard
OpenVPN
WireGuard

Smartphone users can try out PIA's app for 7 days. All subscriptions include a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Conclusion

Review
8.2
good
Visit Website*
Bedienung & Features
10 / 10
Server Network
9.4 / 10
Support
8.0 / 10
Performance
7.4 / 10
Security & Privacy
6.0 / 10

Private Internet Access offers an excellent VPN app, a nice variety of features and settings, and a high degree of user-friendliness, thanks to its customizable modules. In terms of numbers, its server network is impressive, offering some of the best geographic coverage from the services in our sample.

Unfortunately, the provider's performance didn't match our expectations. Compared to the number of servers on offer, speeds were underwhelming. We also have some serious concerns about PIA's parent company, Kape Technologies PLC, which, in the past, profited off its users' data with malware and adware.

Until PIA submits to an external audit, we'll remain a bit wary of the provider, despite its desktop client winning our hearts.

Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access
(99,300 )
Besides its huge server network and its audit-proofed 'no logs policy', Private Internet Access sets itself apart from the competition with its module-based app that can be adjusted to each users' habits.
34,000+ servers in 84 countries
customizable VPN client
wide range of features
independent audit 2022
performance could be better
8.2
good
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
10
Protocols
2
Contract Period
1 - 36 months
Private Internet Access 3 Years
 $2.19
monthly price
Visit Website*

Customer Reviews

But what do PIA's users have to say about the service? To find out, we recommend taking a look at the reviews from verified aggregators that we've collated below.

Customer Ratings
4.4 / 5
99,300 Bewertungen
Visit Website*
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 99,300 ratings with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 .

Alternatives

Should you not be satisfied with the 17th fastest (or 3rd slowest) VPN from our sample, you might want to check out our speed demons, NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN. As an added bonus, all three have been independently audited, with NordVPN and ExpressVPN doing so on a regular basis.

Or maybe you're looking for a free VPN? In that case, ProtonVPN and Windscribe, the standout free services from our sample, might tickle your fancy.

The best alternatives to PIA can be found here:

Best Overall 2024
NordVPN
NordVPN
(877,857 )
NordVPN is our number one VPN because it combines speed, ease-of-use, and functionality in a slick package that's also pretty affordable.
5,500+ servers, 60 countries
excellent performance
no logs
6 devices simultaneously
affordable 2-year package
9.4
excellent
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
6
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
NordVPN 2-year plan
 $3.79
monthly price
Visit Website*
30 days money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
(736,465 )
ExpressVPN can impress with a strong performance, a huge server network, and excellently designed applications, but this quality also comes at a higher price.
3,000+ servers
160 cities in 94 countries
reliable performance
good for streaming
secure browser extensions
9.4
excellent
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
5
Protocols
7
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
ExpressVPN 12 Months
 $6.67
monthly price
Visit Website*
30 days money-back guarantee
Proton VPN
Proton VPN
(144,686 )
With its open source philosophy and extra security features, Proton VPN targets security-conscious VPN users. But thanks to its user-friendly interface and suitability for streaming, it's worth a look for a wide audience.
open source & external audits
2,900+ servers in 67 countries
great performance
free plan without data limit
not suitable for China
9.1
excellent
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
1 - 10
Protocols
3
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
Proton VPN Free
 $0.00
monthly price
Visit Website*
Free forever
Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN
(207,223 )
Surfshark is one of the cheapest providers on the market, but it's a lot more than a great budget option: the relatively new VPN boasts strong protection, many features, and a great support with 24/7 live chat.
3,200+ servers in 100 countries
unlimited number of devices
many apps (Linux, FireTV, ...)
cheap 24-month plan
expensive monthly plan
8.8
good
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
Surfshark 24 months
 $1.99
monthly price
Visit Website*
Get 83% Discount
HideMyAss! VPN
HideMyAss! VPN
(86,656 )
HideMyAss' main claim to fame is its impressive server infrastructure, but the VPN also delivers solid speeds and handy features like its IP Randomizer. When it comes to streaming, however, it's not always the most reliable choice.
290 locations in 210 countries
IP Randomizer
strong performance
support with live chat
unreliable for streaming
8.6
good
Data Volume
unlimited
Devices
5
Protocols
1
Contract Period
12 - 36 months
HideMyAss! 36 months
 $2.99
monthly price
Visit Website*
30 days money-back guarantee
Top VPN Provider 2024
Sponsored
from $3.79
per month
NordVPN
from $6.67
per month
ExpressVPN
from $0.00
per month
Proton VPN
from $1.99
per month
Surfshark
show all
Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
Translation: D Bare
* Ad disclaimer: For links marked with an asterisk, EXPERTE.com may earn a commission from the provider. The commission has no influence on our editorial rating.
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