Private Internet Access, also known as PIA, is a VPN service provider that is owned and operated by London Trust Media, Inc.
- No free trial
- Bare bones client software
- Not user friendly
- Cannot select your own server
- Servers in only 29 countries
- Some users report connectivity issues
- Slow email support response times
While it has some flaws in terms of usability, Private Internet Access is a fairly priced VPN service that goes the extra mile in order to protect their users’ online identities.
Private Internet Access offers downloadable client software for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. They also offer a Chrome extension.
The client software for Windows was easy to download and set up. Once installed, the interface itself is very minimalistic and could use some more engineering design-wise. Considering PIA claims it’s the ‘best VPN service’, I would expect a bit more from the app but it met my basic needs.
The login window acts as a settings page that allows the user to choose server location and preferred private VPN protocol. After these settings have been chosen, however, there is not much to interact with. In fact, the only way that the user is notified that he or she is connected to the Internet using PIA is through a small icon in the system tray in the bottom right corner of the screen. This lack of a well-functioning interface leaves lots of room for error if a user forgets that he or she is connected to the Internet using a VPN service.
Another thing that the PIA client lacks is the ability to view and select the specific server and IP address that is being utilized. As something that is available in almost any other VPN client on the market, it is conspicuously missing from this VPN client. Although the settings are easy to configure, there is something to be said for freedom of choice.
My Private Internet Access review found it to be fairly priced at $6.95 per month or $39.95 per year, which comes out to about $3.33 per month. In addition to standard payment methods, BitCoin and gift cards for major retailers are both accepted payment options, ensuring that a user can sign up for the service without compromising his or her anonymity in the process.
Disappointingly, PIA does not offer a truly free trial period. There is a 7 day risk-free period that allows you to test the virtual private network and receive a full refund if unsatisfied. Users gain access to servers in over 20 different countries and can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously. I was a bit disappointed in the limited region options, as many other VPN services offer double the amount of connection countries.
Some users have reported that Private Internet Access’s email support response times leave much to be desired. For any issue, the user is instructed to contact a dedicated support email address. Response times can be as long as one day, which means that even simple questions and requests have the potential to take a quite a bit of time to be addressed. I did not personally have any issues, but the reviews were definitely mixed here.
Speed and Security:
Private Internet Access makes a good first impression in terms of speed and security. With support available for PPTP, OpenVPN with UDP or TCP connection options, L2TP/IPSec, and SOCKS5 Proxy, users will have no problem with customizing their PIA VPN experience to suit their needs. Depending on server location and protocol choice, users can expect download speeds to perform at around 35 Mb/s, which is a respectable speed for VPN traffic.
P2P and VoIP traffic are both welcomed with the use of Private Internet Access. Since the company has a very strict zero log policy, users can rest assured that their online endeavors will be kept secure and private. An Internet kill switch is also offered. This feature is highly important to protecting one’s online anonymity in the case of a connection failure.
Although no problems were experienced during the time of this review, some users have reported some troubling connectivity issues, saying that the service sometimes fails to connect, randomly disconnects during use, and does not reconnect itself upon rebooting.
Although the downloadable PIA client leaves much to be desired, the service itself is ultimately a worthwhile contender in the VPN service arena if users are willing to sacrifice a bit of usability and prompt customer support for security features and a charitable attitude. From their affordable price to their involvement in projects that help further the digital rights cause, Private Internet Access does well in providing its users with a product they can trust with their online safety.