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Private Internet Access VPN Review: An Affordable VPN Great For Work And Play

Based in Colorado, Private Internet Access (PIA) offers solid value for both small business owners and individuals. For $39.95 per year (or $9.95 per month), users get access to over 35,000 servers spread across more than 70 different locations. PIA also offers a dedicated IP address—pay an extra $60 per year or $5 per month for this add-on service. All plans include 24/7 customer support and 10 simultaneous devices.

In addition to the usual payments—credit card, Paypal, and e-wallets—PIA also accepts payment via Bitcoin and U.S. gift cards through Paygarden. The latter methods offer an additional layer of privacy, though customers won’t be able to set up recurring payments.

Aside from a user-friendly interface on their desktop and mobile apps, let’s take a closer look at some of the company’s main features.

WireGuard VPN Protocol

Created in 2016, WireGuard is an open source VPN protocol—a set of instructions between your device and VPN server—offering efficient privacy and security features. In basic terms, the software is designed to automatically replace issues with the protocol to prevent any attacks on your device. The company has customized WireGuard so that there are no logging privacy protections. This means that Private Internet Access’ VPN servers won’t keep any records of users’ internet activity once they’re logged out.

Dedicated IP Address

For an additional monthly fee, users can purchase a dedicated IP address with PIA. It’s a common feature among business-tier VPN plans. But some personal VPN providers offer this service a la carte—and Private Internet Access is one of them.

Typical VPNs force users to share IP addresses with other VPN users—these are called shared IP addresses. Likewise, each time users log on, their IP address changes. This is fine for most personal uses. But for sensitive scenarios related to working from home, online banking or running a business, it can prove problematic.

For example, if you’re sharing an IP address, another VPN user could act illegally or breach a website’s terms of service. The website might blacklist the IP address, thereby barring everyone—including you—from accessing the site. Not good. And some sites have security features that might lock your account or trigger a verification process if it doesn’t recognize your location (or IP address) when you log on.

A dedicated IP address remedies both those situations.

However, while using a dedicated IP address, websites will come to understand your web usage patterns since your IP address won’t change—and since it will be only you using it. PIA recognizes this potential drawback, which is why it lets you switch between shared and dedicated IPs as you please.

Split Tunneling

Users can route some of their internet traffic through the VPN or directly through to the internet, even with the VPN in use. Known as split tunneling, this feature allows you to still access the privacy you want through the VPN while still having the ability to use local network devices.

Sours: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/software/private-internet-access-vpn-review/

Screenshots

Description

Private Internet Access VPN

Protect your privacy with Private Internet Access®, the world's leading VPN service for iOS users on iPhone and iPad. Private Internet Access®, or PIA, enables users to encrypt their network traffic and stay protected when surfing the web. Add privacy and security to private and public networks when you browse the Internet and use Wi-Fi, whether connected to a hotspot or at home. High speeds, unlimited bandwidth, connect with 10 devices simultaneously (smartphones, tablets, computers), no traffic logs, and 24/7 professional, native English speaking customer support.

WHY USE VPN FROM PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS®?

• Low price. $3.33 per month if you purchase a 1 year subscription ($39.99/year) or $6.99 on a monthly basis.
• Reliable and trusted VPN provider since 2010 with a proven no log policy.
• Privacy is our Policy. Here at PIA, we not only provide a great VPN service at a low price, but we also support organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, FightForTheFuture, Creative Commons, Open Rights Group, Index on Censorship, freenode, Wireguard, Arch Linux, and many others.

We respect your privacy and anonymity.

BY USING VPN FROM PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS®, YOU GET:

• IP Cloaking. Your IP address will be changed to a Private Internet Access IP address to hide your identity and location. Hide your IP address to stop data trackers, snoopers, and hackers from tracking your browsing and search activity.

• Data Encryption. Encrypt your internet traffic with our VPN proxy. Our trusted online privacy service creates several security layers which keep you anonymous and prevent access to your data. It’s time to change your WiFi habits. Don’t use WiFi without our secure VPN to proxy your internet traffic!

• WiFi Security. With WPA and WPA2 now kracked, you need a VPN to protect your WiFi everywhere - not just in hotspots, coffee shops, cafes, hotels, and airports. If you use WiFi hotspots without encryption, your data can be seen, blocked, throttled, censored, or otherwise changed.

• Content Blocker. The Safari Content Blocker blocks ads, trackers, and malware while browsing with Safari.


WHAT DO OUR CUSTOMERS THINK?

“Never had a problem. Has been my go to VPN for the past 2 years. Awesome service ever since”
Major_Ursa

“Firstly, the company is second to none in terms of support, troubleshooting, and individualized assistance. Their nodes and hubs are top speed. Their client is streamlined and has a tremendous ease of use.”
JAYDLUV

“This is my go to app for VPN. Been using Windows version for years and the iPad version is great.”
Pkcarreon

“No hiccups, no crashes or anything. It just works great. Bear in mind you have to subscribe to the service for this to work. I highly recommend it.”
Scott Loflin

“Simple and solid. No issues even when traveling.”
Joe1134206

“Hard to find a nit with this app. (...) The iOS app allows a quicker toggle on/off than digging into settings, for VPN hostile iOS apps like Pandora and Netflix. I like PIA’s value for the money, and I have not had any trouble whatsoever with the iOS app. I recommend this app, and PIA, as one of your layers of online security.”
DB Associates

“I did my homework, reviewing many VPN services. PIA was among the most economical, plenty of simultaneous connections and more than enough servers and services. (...) The speed is more than I hoped for. I can stream all YouTube videos. HD quality is superb with no buffering. I am happy to have this extra security on all our devices. My wife could not tell the difference after I installed it on her PC. I think I paid $39.99/year. What a bargain!”
Helmut


GDPR compatibility

This application only sends username and encrypted passwords to our servers as part of using this app. During signups, we also collect user's email. We do not collect and/or store any other user information. https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/terms-of-service/

Version 3.12.4

Bug fixes and performance improvements.

Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5

78.9K Ratings

Excellent

Never had a problem. Has been my go to VPN for the past 2 years. Awesome service ever since 👌

Update: to all the negative reviews out there - there’s a ton of options to tweak to make the connection more stable. In fact, this is the only VPN service I know of that offers 3 different options (IPSec, IKEv2, AND OpenVPN). EXPERIMENT!! Not all Wi-Fi is the same. Try changing the connection options. IKEv2 is usually the most stable with OpenVPN coming in second. With the latter you can even change the port number. Maybe stop complaining and actually try to do some research. I’ve had this app for over 2 years and it’s never failed. And for those very strict environments there’s always the official OpenVPN app with preconfigured PIA profiles for literally any situation.
And before you ask - I was NOT paid to write this or am getting a discount. I’m just sick of reading reviews from people who seem like they’d rather complain than explore the myriad of connection options this offered by this service /rant

Connection Issues

I don’t know what you guys did on this new update, but now it’s a huge struggle to connect on iPad and iPhone. It’s try...try...try again, over and over and over hoping it will connect. Switching regions is till a 50% chance it will catch. On my Mac Pro it’s produces slow buffering video streaming even at 100mps speed, slow website loading on both Safari and Firefox and major connection issues on iPad and iPhone. Huge disappointment to a customer of 3 years. Sending “slow speed complaint” for the last 3 years weekly has not improved the service at all and is getting very annoying now. This new update put me over the edge to look for a better service. My one year is up in a month and will be looking for a better provider.

**UPDATE** Since the new Mac update recently, everything is running beautifully...connection is flawless on Mac. Connection speed is faster, disconnection speed is also faster. The new design is great and have had no problems with this new Mac update. So CHEERS to the nice job. What ever you did to the Mac update needs to be done with iPhone and iPad update. Connection problems still arise when connecting to Canada and Mexico on iPad and iPhone even after iPhone PIA update. I use them because of the lower MS numbers. Thank you for fixing the Mac issues. Here’s hoping fixes will come to iPad and iPhone issues.

I am sorry to hear about the connection issues you were experiencing! If you still require assistance with this please contact us here: [email protected] with the subject as ATTN:SMR and we'd be more than happy to assist further. -PIA CS Team

Suddenly stopped working

I have been using PIA for well over a year on both iOS and Windows and have not had any problems. Up until now I would’ve gave it 5 stars. However, all of a sudden v3.6.1 stopped working for me on my iPhone running 13.5.1. At first it wouldn’t connect, it would just spin and now will not allow me to login citing an “SSL error, secure connection to server cannot be made.” Deleting and re-downloading, switching SSID’s etc has not fixed this.

Outside of the app not working, my big issue is with the nonexistent costumer support. Initial triage of the issue from PIA was basic. I was told to escalate my ticket since all options were exhausted. So the Development crew replied hours later but showed how they clearly did not read my issue at all from the trouble ticket. If you explicitly state that you do not currently have service and are operating strictly from WiFi as well as you are not able to login, the first two “troubleshooting techniques” should not be “switch to data, or switch from openVPN to WireGuard.”

The PIA app still functions on my Windows 10 notebook, but when you pay for services, you expect it to function as stated. I will not be renewing with PIA and will move to ExpressVPN and pay the extra money unless this can actually be rectified.

We are sorry to hear of the issues you have experienced with the VPN and with customer service. If you would like to continue troubleshooting, please feel free to contact us via live chat or in the form of a new support ticket. The following link will give you the ability to create a new support ticket: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/helpdesk/new-ticket.

Subscriptions

Protect your online privacy and identity

Free Trial

The developer, Private Internet Access, Inc., indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More

Information

Seller
Private Internet Access, Inc.

Size
87.4 MB

Category
Productivity

Compatibility
iPhone
Requires iOS 12.1 or later.
iPad
Requires iPadOS 12.1 or later.
iPod touch
Requires iOS 12.1 or later.
Languages

English, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

Age Rating
17+ Unrestricted Web Access

Copyright
© 2020 Private Internet Access, Inc.

Price
Free

In-App Purchases

  1. Year of VPN Service$49.99
  2. Month of VPN Service$6.99
  3. Year of VPN Service$39.99

Supports

  • Family Sharing

    With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.

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Sours: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/vpn-by-private-internet-access/id955626407
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Private Internet Access (commonly known as PIA) is a capable VPN provider, now owned by Private Internet (formerly known as KAPE), who also owns CyberGhost and ZenMate. 

The company stands out immediately for its 'NextGen VPN Network', now a massive 35,400+ servers in 78 countries (that's double the number of servers we saw in our last review.)

This isn't just about the numbers, PIA says. The NextGen servers 'utilize better hardware components', '10Gbps network cards instead of 1Gbps', use RAM Disks to ensure 'all sensitive information is lost as soon as the server loses power', and now support both WireGuard and OpenVPN.

You're able to access that network via apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera, and there are detailed setup tutorials for routers and many other device types.

PIA supports connecting up to 10 devices simultaneously. That's twice the allowance you'll get with most VPNs, although Windscribe, Surfshark and a few others have no limit at all.

Extras range from the simple and straightforward (built-in blocking of ads, trackers and known malicious websites) to the more low-level and technical: a SOCKS5 proxy for extra speed, port forwarding support, the ability to select your preferred encryption, authentication and handshaking methods, and more.

Major additions since our last review include dedicated IPs, 24/7 live chat support, and a bonus Identity Guard system (free with all plans) which alerts you if your email address appears in a network breach.

Welcome app tweaks include encryption improvements (SHA-4096 is always used for authentication handshakes, OpenVPN CBC always uses SHA-256 for data authentication), a highly flexible Automation Rules system enables automatically connecting or disconnecting when you access certain networks, and a string of low-level fixes and enhancements (check out the PIA changelog if you'd like to know more.)

(PIA has dropped the old handshaking and authentication options as a part of the encryption changes. Losing features is always disappointing, but as they were implemented by messy custom OpenVPN patches, losing should speed up development and reduce the chance of problems. There's more on the change here.)

Transparency is important in a VPN, so we're happy to see that almost all of PIA's apps are open source. Developers can check out the source code for the Windows clients, the browser extensions, iOS and Android apps and more on GitHub.

There are surprise app-related extras, too. For example, a capable command line app for Windows, Linux and Mac enables automating VPN operations from scripts. At its simplest, you could use this to create a shortcut which automatically connected to the VPN and then launched an app, but it can do much more (we'll talk about that later.)

Private Internet Access: Plans and pricing

The Private Internet Access monthly plan is priced at an average $9.95. You'll pay something close to that with most providers - Hotspot Shield, IPVanish and Ivacy all charge around $10 for monthly billing - but a few ask more (CyberGhost, ExpressVPN and Hide.me are all priced around $13.)

The real value begins to kick in with the annual plan, priced at a very low $3.33 a month. Most top providers only get close to that with special introductory offers (Hide.me is just $3 a month for year one, but $3.75 on renewal.) 

The two-year plan is even cheaper at $2.65 a month for the first term (with two months free), $2.91 on renewal. 

The plan also throws in a free one-year license for BoxCryptor, a powerful service for encrypting cloud files from just about any provider (OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, more.) This is already available in a basic free-for-personal-use version, but what you're getting here is a license for the more capable Personal plan. This supports unlimited devices (the free version limits you to two) and cloud providers, and includes email support, and is worth $48 a year if your purchased it separately.

Even if you've not the faintest interest in BoxCryptor, the two-year plan looks like excellent value to us. It's significantly cheaper than NordVPN's two-year deal, for instance ($3.71 a month), and although you could save a little with Surfshark ($2.49 a month on its own two-year plan), that's only the introductory price - it doubles on renewal.

PIA can now provide dedicated IPs in five locations: Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and US. This gets you the same IP address every time you log on, and as no-one shares it, you're less likely to find you're blacklisted due to someone else's dodgy activities. But using the same IP also means you're more likely to be recognized by websites, so this isn't an option for everyone.

Pricing is fair at $5 a month, with no discounts for longer terms. NordVPN is a little more expensive at $5.83 on its annual plan, but CyberGhost undercuts everyone at just $2.25 a month on its three-year plan.

If you're tempted to sign up for any of these plans, a wide choice of payment methods includes support for cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, gift cards and more.

There's no free trial, but PIA does give you a 30-day money-back guarantee.

PIA's Terms and Services has another surprise (and unusually for small print, it's a good one.) Many VPNs say customers are only allowed one refund, ever. Private Internet Access says that if you purchase a new account more than three months after the last refund, you're eligible for another. That's unusually generous, but seems fair to us. If you try out a VPN and the service doesn't work for you, it shouldn't matter if you had a refund three years ago - you ought to have the same money-back rights as everybody else.

Privacy

All VPNs claim to deliver great privacy, but Private Internet Access combines an unusual mix of features which goes further than most.

PIA's apps mostly use only the latest and most secure protocols, for instance, in OpenVPN and WireGuard. 

OpenVPN protection is AES-128 by default, but in a click or two you're able to switch it to AES-256 CBC or GCM, set local or remote ports or switch to WireGuard.

Private Internet Access provides its own DNS to reduce the chance of DNS leaks. The apps are flexible, though – the Windows client can be set to use your default DNS, or any custom DNS of your choice.

There's also a kill switch to disable your internet access if the VPN drops. Unlike some of the competition, this isn't only available on the desktop – the iOS and Android clients get it, too.

Get connected with the Chrome extension and you'll find a bunch of bonus privacy features (block location access, third-party cookies, website referrers and more). You could set these up separately and for free, but the extensions make it easier and they do add worthwhile extra layers of protection.

PIA's MACE feature blocks access to domains used by ads, trackers and malware, further limiting the ways companies can follow you around the web.

As we mentioned above, and perhaps best of all, Private Internet Access has open-sourced its desktop clients, mobile apps and many other components and libraries. This allows other developers to freely examine the source code, assess its quality, report bugs, and maybe check to see whether it's doing anything which might compromise the user's privacy.

Logging

While most VPN's claim they don't log customer activities or traffic, there's rarely much to back this up. You're expected to cross your fingers and trust they're being honest.

Private Internet Access is far more confident, claiming to be 'verified' as 'the only proven no-log VPN service.'

The company seems to be referring to court cases where subpoenas have been served on PIA asking for account information, but the only data provided was the general location of the server IPs. Absolutely no user-related data was given up.

Private Internet Access also publishes a Transparency Report detailing any official requests for information, and user data handed over. The report covering the first four months of 21 records two court orders, three warrants and 12 subpoenas received, with no logs produced for any of these requests.

The Privacy Policy is normally the best place to look for more details about what a VPN is doing, but PIA's is mostly about the website, and says almost nothing about the VPN.

Eventually we found a support article, 'Do you log the traffic of your users?', which stated that Private Internet Access "absolutely does not keep any logs, of any kind, period." It explains that logs which might otherwise be maintained are redirected to the null device rather than being written to the hard drive, which means they simply disappear.

The article also includes this paragraph, which explicitly states that the firm doesn't log session data or your online activities:

"We can unequivocally state that our company has not and still does not maintain metadata logs regarding when a subscriber accesses the VPN service, how long a subscriber's use was, and what IP address a subscriber originated from. Moreover, the encryption system does not allow us to view and thus log what IP addresses a subscriber is visiting or has visited."

While this all sounds great, we're left to take most of it on trust. Even the court cases PIA say prove it's a no-log service date from 2018, so they can't tell us much about what's happening now. Top VPN names including TunnelBear, NordVPN, ExpressVPN and others have all allowed third-party audits of their systems, and it's time PIA did the same.

Performance

Every VPN promises a high-speed, ultra-reliable network, but the reality can be very different. That's why we look past the enthusiastic marketing, and put every VPN we review through our own intensive tests.

This starts by installing PIA's latest Windows 10 VPN app on systems in a UK data center and a US location, each with a 1Gbps connection. We used the app to connect to our nearest location, then measured our download performance using several speed-testing sites and services (SpeedTest's website and command line app, TestMy.net, Netflix' Fast.com and more.) We ran the tests using WireGuard and OpenVPN connections, then did it all again in an evening session.

US OpenVPN speeds were competitive at 250-270Mbps. Some providers were a little faster - ExpressVPN reached 270-280Mbps, ProtonVPN 280-290Mbps, HideMyAss! 300-330Mbps - but PIA scored well overall, outperforming most of the competition.

US WireGuard performance was hugely disappointing by comparison at just 35-40Mbps.

UK OpenVPN speeds were a close match to the US at 240-320Mbps, but UK WireGuard results lifted this just a little to 280-350Mbps.

Sours: https://www.techradar.com/reviews/private-internet-access-vpn

VPN by Private Internet Access

Get instant secure data protection and keep your identity private with PIA VPN. With PIA, get Secure Access, Internet Freedom, Secure Connection, Online Privacy and more! With our encrypted network traffic, PIA keeps your private data secure, even on public WiFi. Hide your IP address & connect anonymously to the internet for as low as $2.69/month!

🏆 Enjoy online privacy with Private Internet Access®; the world’s leading fast VPN proxy for Android.

Download the Private Internet Access® VPN app and enjoy unlimited security features:

✔ Open Source Transparency: Get maximum online privacy with VPN protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard - designed for anybody to inspect or modify for complete transparency.

✔ IP Protection: Hide your IP address and change location with Private Internet Access® VPN. Trust us to keep your online search anonymous with no logs ever.

✔ Safe Connection: Keep your personal data safe as our VPN router directs your traffic through a secure WiFi connection.

✔ Powerful Encryption Standards. Stick with our defaults, or optimize your VPN experience to your own personal needs and get instant access to the sites you want!

✔ Multi-device Support: One PIA subscription keeps up to 10 devices protected simultaneously.

✔ Split Tunneling: Choose which applications or IP addresses can bypass the secure VPN tunnel.

✔ Per-Network Settings: Automatically enable the VPN connection when rejoining to an unsecure WiFi network.

✔ Kill Switch: Unexpected VPN network connection failure? Our kill switch feature will automatically block your internet connection preventing any data leaks.

✔ Biggest Network. Extensive network servers and locations in over 77 countries and more being added daily.

✔ FREE Email Breach Monitor. Check to see if your email address has been affected by any security breaches.

🎉 Join the 15 million satisfied customers worldwide 🎉

"Private Internet Access is one of Lifehacker readers' favorite VPN service providers, making it easy to surf the web anonymously, privately and securely from anywhere." – Lifehacker

"There have been several Editors' Choice VPN services recently, as one product tops the next, but Private Internet Access out-performs and out-features the competition. With 4.5 stars, Private Internet Access sets the bar high and is truly the Editors' Choice, trumping all our previous favorites." -- PC Mag

“When shopping for a VPN service, it is recommended to find a service that keeps no logs of its customers’ traffic and prevents an anonymity-unmasking issue known as IPv6 leakage. Private Internet Access carries the highest level of security.” – Wired


Still unsure? Try PIA with a 7 Day Free Trial and 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Sign up and choose the Private Internet Access® VPN plan that’s best for you. PIA’s best and lowest value VPN plan is a two-year subscription for $69.95, which is only $2.69/month! Low cost for a high speed VPN service.

We’re always here to help! PIA provides a dedicated resource library, email support, and 24/7 live chat.

GDPR Compatibility
This application only sends usernames and encrypted passwords to our servers as part of using the app. During signups, we also collect user emails. We do not collect or store any other user information.

Sours: https://play.google.com/

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Private Internet Access - Free and Open Source Software

@pia-foss

Free and Open Source Software from Private Internet Access - Made With Love

Popular repositories

  1. desktopPublic

    Private Internet Access - Desktop VPN Client for Windows/macOS/Linux

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  3. tunnel-applePublic

    Private Internet Access - Tunnel for Apple platforms

    Swift 78 25

Repositories

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    Private Internet Access - Desktop VPN Client for Windows/macOS/Linux

    C++ 152 25 9 0 Updated

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Sours: https://github.com/pia-foss
Private Internet Access VPN Review \u0026 Tutorial

Private Internet Access Review 2021

It’s Sunday. You’re at a coffee shop, hoping to get some work done on your laptop. After finding out the Wi-Fi password, you log into the shop’s public network. Is your data still protected?

In theory, a VPN would protect your browsing data by encrypting it and sending it through servers in different locations. Today, we’re reviewing Private Internet Access (PIA), a U.S.-based VPN with a strict no-logging policy.

We’ll go over its features, subscription information, customer support systems, and app. Most importantly, we’ll be putting PIA through tests to make sure it’s up to our standards for speed and data leakage. Ready to see what PIA offers?

Features

Logs dataNo
Kill switchYes
Split tunnelingNo
NetflixYes
TorrentingYes

Editor's Rating

Video Review

More of a visual learner? Check out this video review that our Chief Editor, Gabe Turner, made about Private Internet Access.

About Private Internet Access

private-internet-access-vpn-review

The first thing you should know is that PIA’s headquarters are in Denver. Not that we don’t love Denver, but we’re a bit surprised about the company’s location. You see, the U.S. is a member of the Five Eyes alliance. This means that the U.S. government has the legal power to obtain consumer information from companies within its borders for uses such as criminal investigations.

Other member countries of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances may also request information from U.S.-based companies. That’s why we usually prefer VPN companies from non-member countries of those international alliances, such as Panama or Switzerland.

Here’s what else you should know about Private Internet Access— it has thousands of servers in 78 countries. Although PIA stopped providing the total number of servers it runs, last we checked, it had about 12,000, and that was still in mid-2020.

The amount of servers, as well as their locations, matters a ton. You want to be as close to a server as possible for a fast internet connection. If you live in the U.S., you’ll be glad to know that PIA focuses on its U.S. servers specifically, which the company optimized for faster browsing and streaming. At the same time, you want servers in many different countries to access geo-restricted content or to change your Netflix region.

Features of Private Internet Access

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and the same can be said for VPNs. Sure, all VPNs create a private network that encrypts data and IP addresses, but not all VPNs are equal. Let’s find out if Private Internet Access is up to snuff.

Will Private Internet Access Log My Data?

Private Internet Access emphasizes the fact that it does not log browsing data of any kind. That means the company will have no idea when you’re using the VPN and for how long, what your IP address is, or what sites you have been visiting.

So what does PIA log? Well, according to its privacy policy1, it logs personal information that it needs to maintain user accounts, including:

  • Email addresses
  • Payment information, but not your full credit card details
  • Cookie identifiers
  • State or territory of origin and zip codes of users

None of the personal and non-personal data that PIA collects relate to users’ IP addresses, browsing data, and web traffic. If you wish to learn more about PIA’s privacy policy, check out our Private Internet Access privacy report.

Does Private Internet Access Have A Kill Switch?

A kill switch, otherwise known as a “network lock feature” or “disconnect protection” means that any software or website will shut down automatically if you lose your connection to the VPN. Thus, it stops your internet access from switching to public networks, which would result in your internet service provider (ISP) seeing your entire browsing history.

For example, if you’re torrenting using a VPN and then your VPN suddenly disconnects mid-download, your ISP will see what you’re doing. That could get you in trouble. With a kill switch, your torrent session will stop as soon as your VPN disconnects. We’re pleased to say that Private Internet Access does provide a kill switch with its software.

What Kind of Tunneling does Private Internet Access Offer?

The Private Internet Access VPN can use split-tunneling on Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as on Android under the name Per-App Settings. Split tunneling allows us to use the VPN’s encrypted tunnel while letting some traffic go through public, unencrypted networks.
How is that useful? Well, for instance, we like to listen to top local hits while doing research. We use PIA’s encrypted tunnel on our browsers to hide our online activities, while simultaneously, we connect Spotify to the unencrypted tunnel so it can detect the top hits where we are.
Split tunneling can also be useful for:

  • Apps, such as some online games that block VPN IP addresses
  • Online banking websites that block certain IP address regions
  • Streaming services that don’t allow VPNs

Can I Use Netflix with Private Internet Access?

We like to think of VPNs and Netflix as a tug of war. Sometimes the VPN wins, sometimes Netflix wins, but each side is constantly trying to outdo the other.

Although Private Internet Access doesn’t restrict access to Netflix itself, Netflix does attempt to block VPNs whenever possible. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that PIA will work with Netflix, although it did work when we tested it. You should, however, be able to torrent files, a nice alternative to Netflix.

DISCLAIMER: Whether you’re using a VPN or not, it is illegal to download unsanctioned copyrighted materials over torrent networks.

Private Internet Access Encryption

VPN Encryption

To put it simply, encryption changes your text into inscrutable code. It’s what prevents people from accessing your data, the entire point of VPNs. Private Internet Access lets you choose your encryption methods.

Private Internet Access Suggested Encryption

Default Recommended ProtectionAll Speed No SafetyMaximum ProtectionRisky Business
Data EncryptionAES-128NoneAES-256AES-128
Data AuthenticationSHA1NoneSHA256None
HandshakeRSA-2048ECC-256k1RSA-4096RSA-2048

Now let’s talk about what each of these terms means.

Data Encryption

For the encryption itself, you’ll choose between the Advanced Encryption Standard of 128 or 256 bits. 256-bit is the current standard of the National Institute of Standards and Technology2, while 128-bit is a bit outdated. However, if you want to prioritize speed, which we don’t recommend doing often because of security risks, 128-bit still provides better protection than having no encryption at all.

Data Authentication

VPN Hashing Algorithm

Authentication means making sure that the right person is accessing the network.

SHA stands for a Secure Hash Algorithm. What’s a hash exactly? It’s basically a key that VPN servers use to encrypt and decrypt data. SHA uses algorithms that the sender, which is your computer, and the receiver, which is the VPN server, share, so both could decrypt encrypted data.

Hashes are irreversible, meaning you can’t work backward to figure out the algorithm, and each and every hash is unique. SHA-1 was the first version of the algorithm, and as the first pancake in the batch, it’s inferior to later versions. In fact, in 2016, Google found that some hashes from SHA-1 aren’t unique, a huge security issue.3

SHA-256, on the other hand, means that it has two to the two hundred and fifty sixth-power possible hashes. That’s more than a trillion and even more than a septillion.

The more possible number of hashes there are, the smaller chance the hacker has at creating the same hash. So yes, SHA-256 is going to be way more secure than SHA-1.

Handshake

RSA SecurID, named after its founders, is responsible for making sure you are who you say you are and controlling who has access to your data. RSA can use different types of multi-factor authentication, from a push notification to biometrics, to make sure the right person is accessing the software.

There is some debate about the key length among software engineers. In a nutshell, the higher the key, the better the security is. RSA-2048 has 16 percent fewer bits of security than RSA-4096, but 4096 will use more power, particularly on the central processing unit (the brain of the computer). Therefore, the higher the key, the more computing power your VPN will take up.

The question now is, is RSA-2048 still a reliable encryption method? According to latest research, the worst-case scenario is that a 20 million-qubit supercomputer could decrypt RSA-2048 in eight hours. However, the fastest supercomputers today have only around 70 qubits, such as Google’s supercomputer built around its Sycamore processor.5 A 20 million-qubit supercomputer is still a distant dream, so RSA-2048 is far from obsolete.

Aside from the RSAs, you can also choose ECC-256k1, which stands for Elliptic Curve Cryptography. In short, it’s a newer method of encrypting data that performs better than both RSA-2048 and RSA-4096. ECC also uses an asymmetric encryption algorithm and usually outperforms RSAs in terms of speed and memory. Remember, 256-bit is our industry standard for encryption, so if you’re looking for the best, ECC-256k1 is where it’s at.

Private Internet Access Protocols

Protocols determine how VPNs transmit data across networks. Think of them as different routes that you can take to get to a destination. Some routes will be faster than others and some will be safer than others, so Private Internet Access uses a combination of different protocols to achieve both speed and security.

PPTP

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP, has been in use since the 1990s. Rather than doing the encryption itself, the PPTP creates tunnels that will encapsulate the data packets. It works with a second protocol that will perform the actual encryption. On its own, PPTP is not super secure.

IPSec/L2TP

Think of IPSec and L2TP as Batman and Robin. While L2TP, otherwise known as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, generates the tunnel, IPSec handles encryption, makes sure the tunnel is secure, and checks that the data has arrived intact. IPSec, short for IP security, either encrypts only the data packet message or the entire data packet. Together, they create a VPN client that’s highly secure.

SOCKS5 (Proxy)

SOCKS5 is a proxy that will assign you a new IP address before it takes you to your location. While SOCKS requires less bandwidth than a typical VPN, it doesn’t encrypt data and is thus less secure. That’s why Private Internet Access uses SOCKS in conjunction with encryption methods, detailed above.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an extremely common VPN protocol. It’s great at bypassing firewalls, an essential quality of a VPN, but it won’t slow down your internet too much.

The reason we love OpenVPN so much is that it’s open-source, not made by a company. The VPN community is constantly tinkering with OpenVPN to make sure that surveillance agencies aren’t tampering with it. Sounds ideal to us.

Testing Private Internet Access

Now that we’ve given you a pretty detailed overview of Private Internet Access’ technical specifications, we’ll detail how we put this VPN through tests.

FYI: Our complete guide to VPNs details our VPN testing process, a good read if you’re interested in testing VPNs yourself.

Speed Test

The first thing we tested was the speed. All VPNs will slow down your internet a little, but some VPNs offer better speeds than others.

Like all the VPNs, we tested PIA from our Brooklyn office. We tested it both on our Macbook Air and Vivobook running Windows 10, which we both connected to our Optimum network. Here are the results.

Download Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN37.05 mbps
With VPN12.93 mbps
Windows
Without VPN72.48 mbps
With VPN61.67 mbps

Clearly, Private Internet Access had a much larger effect on the Mac’s download speed, slowing it down by a pretty dismal 65 percent. On Windows, however, PIA only slowed down the download speed by 15 percent. Note that there are a lot of different factors that affect download speeds and internet speeds in general, so take these test results with a grain of salt.

Upload Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN25.9 mbps
With VPN18.12 mbps
Windows
Without VPN41.37 mbps
With VPN39.13 mbps

Now let’s talk about upload speed. Again, the Windows performed better than the Mac, with only about a five percent decrease compared to the Mac’s 30 percent. Clearly, Private Internet Access is a better VPN for Windows users over Mac users— but let’s confirm that with latency.

Ping Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN14 ms
With VPN14 ms
Windows
Without VPN12 ms
With VPN16 ms

Ping, another word for latency, is measured in milliseconds, so we’re getting into extreme detail here. Amazingly, Private Internet Access did not create any latency on the Macbook Air, and it only increased latency by about a third on the Windows computer. From these tests, we can conclude that Private Internet Access is a decent VPN for Mac but great for Windows in terms of internet speeds.

DNS Leak Test

DNS Leak Test

A domain name server is basically the URL that you type in when you want to go to a website. Each domain name server, or DNS, stands for an IP address. Think of DNS as a description, like “the big yellow house on the corner,” as opposed to “123 Main Street,” which equates to the IP address.
We want to make sure that Private Internet Access isn’t leaking our DNS outside of the encrypted tunnel. Fortunately, when we tested it, we didn’t detect any leaks. So far, so good!

WebRTC Leak Test

WebRTC allows two web browsers to communicate with each other directly rather than going through a server. It creates faster speeds, particularly when you’re live streaming video, sharing files, or video chatting. However, it does require knowing each other’s private IP addresses, so it’s something to look out for, especially if you use Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Microsoft Edge.

Just like the DNS leak test, we want to make sure that PIA protects our browsing data, including our IP addresses, from WebRTC leaks. The verdict? No leaks! All in all, Private Internet Access passed our tests with flying colors, save for the Mac download speed.

Private Internet Access Subscriptions

Finally, we’re getting to what many want to hear about all along: subscriptions and pricing.

Options

Length of contract in monthsCost per monthTotal cost
1$9.95$9.95
12$3.33$39.95
36$2.19$79.00

With any of Private Internet Access subscription plans, you’ll be able to switch in between an unlimited amount of servers on an unlimited amount of devices. However, you’ll only be able to use ten devices simultaneously. As you can see, the plans range from a little more than two dollars a month to about 10 dollars a month, extremely affordable. The longer the term length, the lower your monthly cost will be.

Keep in mind that Private Internet Access does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you absolutely hate the VPN but you signed up for a two-year plan you can get out of it. This money-back guarantee is similar to the 30-day trial period that comes with every subscription from ExpressVPN, our current top pick.

BONUS TIP: If you’re still not sure if Private Internet Access is the right VPN for you, try it out with the $9.95 monthly subscription first. If things work out, a long-term subscription will save you a lot of money.

Private Internet Access Customer Support

There are few things more frustrating than having to call customer support for a technical issue. It could take all the calming yogic breaths not to have a full-on temper tantrum. So when looking at VPNs, we want to make sure the customer support is there before we download anything on our computers.

Features

You can get support from PIA through its online knowledge base, or to get in contact with someone, you can fill out a form or live chat with an agent. The live chat feature was useful, in particular.

There were wait times of a few minutes, particularly on weekdays, but that’s better than waiting for days for email support to respond. More importantly, we got accurate and clear answers to the questions we asked. Unfortunately, there’s no phone support, but we’re more than happy with the support options PIA provides.

The Private Internet Access App

private-internet-access-vpn-review

The Private Internet Access app is available on an iOS app and an Android app. The app has great ratings, a solid 4.7 rating from iPhone users and 4.4 stars from Android users. It also appears that PIA does a good job at keeping its mobile apps up-to-date. As one long-time PIA user wrote in his App Store review:

“I am impressed. Everything about the app has been improved, and it works extremely well… This app works in the background very effectively and at a low cost in terms of battery. I can now definitely recommend this service and this app as being top-notch.”

StorePrivate Internet Access app rating
Google Play4.4
The App Store4.7

Private Internet Access Vs. Windscribe

FeaturePrivate Internet AccessWindscribe
Log DataNoNo
Kill SwitchYesYes
Split TunnelingNoYes
NetflixYesYes (U.S. & U.K.)
TorrentingYesYes
IP AddressesAnonymous, DynamicAnonymous, Static, Shared

To see how PIA fares against the competition, we’re comparing Private Internet Access to Windscribe, a similar VPN. Unlike Private Internet Access, which has one of the strictest no data logging policies around, Windscribe keeps the total amount of bytes you’ve transferred in the last month, plus a timestamp of your last activity. This is a little more data to save than necessary, but fortunately, Windscribe won’t store your source IP address or any of the sites you visited.

As you can remember, the only types of personal information PIA stores are email addresses, partial payment information, cookie-identifiers which you can modify, and location information. This information is pretty standard, and in fact, Windscribe collects this as well.

In terms of features, the two VPNs are toe-to-toe. Both have split tunneling, kill switches and strong encryption standards. As far as internet speed goes, however, Private Internet Access has Windscribe beat.

You can learn more about Windscribe’s performance in our Windscribe review. Neither VPN connection had any DNS or WebRTC leaks, which is a good sign.

Due to its superior data logging policy and speed, we’d pick Private Internet Access over the Windscribe VPN service.

Recap of Private Internet Access

Overall, Private Internet Access is a really solid choice of a VPN with great security features.

I’d recommend Private Internet Access if you’d like…
  • No traffic logs: PIA is committed to its privacy policy when it comes to users’ data.
  • Speed on Windows: Private Internet Access worked really well on our Windows computers in particular.
  • Highly-rated app: Private Internet Access has great ratings both from iPhone and Android users.
However, avoid Private Internet Access if you don’t like…
  • So-so-speed on Mac: You can definitely find VPNs that work better on Macs than Private Internet Access.
  • Headquarters in U.S: Although the company won’t log your browsing data, member countries of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances could force it to hand over whatever data it has.
  • Weak customer support: With no phone or live chat feature, you could wait a while to hear back from customer support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about PIA? We’ve got all the answers you need, and then some.

  • Is Private Internet Access a good VPN?

    Private Internet Access is a good VPN with thousands of servers across almost 80 server locations. While the VPN doesn’t log web activity or IP addresses and uses AES-256 encryption, the privacy-conscious may want to steer clear of Private Internet Access because it’s a U.S.-based company, and the U.S. is a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance.

  • What type of VPN is Private Internet Access?

    Private Internet Access is a VPN for personal use. There are no business subscriptions available, only subscriptions that support 10 simultaneous connections, which family members can share.

  • How does the Private Internet Access VPN work?

    The Private Internet Access VPN works by routing a user’s internet connection through one of its servers, which encrypts web traffic and replaces the device’s IP address. That means that the user’s internet service provider will no longer be able to see what websites they visit or their public device IP addresses, meaning that the user is essentially anonymous online.

  • Does the Private Internet Access VPN keep logs?

    No, Private Internet Access does not log a user’s web activity, their device IP address, how long they used the VPN or any other usage information. Private Internet Access only keeps logs of email addresses, partial payment information, cookie-identifiers, and location information.

Sours: https://www.security.org/vpn/private-internet-access/review/

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Private Internet Access

Virtual private network service

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a personal VPN service. In 2018, former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpelès was named chief technology officer of PIA's parent company, London Trust Media.[4] In November 2019, Private Internet Access was acquired by Kape Technologies.[5]

Company[edit]

The CEO of Private Internet Access (and its parent company, London Trust Media, Inc.) is Ted Kim. The company was founded by Andrew Lee.[6][7]

On November 18, 2019, Private Internet Access announced that it would be merged into Kape Technologies, which operates three competing VPN services, Cyberghost, ExpressVPN and Zenmate.[8] Some users objected to the acquisition, as Kape (under its former name, Crossrider) previously developed browser toolbars bundled with potentially unwanted programs.[5]

History[edit]

Features[edit]

Reception[edit]

Private Internet access has received a number of positive reviews from various websites.

In a 2021 review from techradar, Private Internet Access was given a four out five star rating. Described as being “ A likeable VPN which gives you plenty for your money.”[9] According to the review, it’s most notable features include removing restrictions from streaming services such as: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney +.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Internet_Access


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