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Private Internet Access (PIA) Review 2023: Is It a Good VPN?

Updated on: September 29, 2023
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Published on: September 29, 2023

Private Internet Access Review: Quick Expert Summary

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the fastest and most user-friendly VPNs on the market. It comes with unlimited connections, fully open-source apps, and some of the strongest security and privacy features out there, including a no-logs policy, which has been independently audited and also proven true in court documents.

In addition, PIA also offers more extra features than most other VPNs, including:

  • Split-tunneling — Allows you to choose which apps use the VPN and which apps and IP addresses bypass it.
  • PIA MACE — A really good ad blocker that gets rid of ads and protects you from malicious sites.
  • Obfuscation — Makes VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic, allowing people in restrictive countries to circumvent restrictions.
  • RAM-only servers — Only saves data to the RAM, which provides better security since all data is wiped after every server reboot.
  • Dedicated IP addresses — Allows you to get an IP address that only you can use.
  • Full leak protection — The VPN apps provide protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks.
  • And more…

PIA is a good VPN for streaming and gaming. It works with 30+ streaming platforms, including 7+ Netflix libraries as well as other popular apps like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. And it provides stable ping and protection against DDoS attacks for safe online gaming.

It’s also one of my top choices for torrenting — it allows torrenting across all of its servers, works with all top P2P apps, allows port forwarding, and even has SOCKS5 proxy support.

But there’s one issue that stops PIA from being the best VPN out there — its live chat isn’t very responsive and helpful, and it can even be pretty frustrating to use at times.

But, overall, PIA is one of the top VPNs out there. It’s secure, it’s easy to use across all apps and platforms, and it also allows for unlimited simultaneous connections on one account (unlike most VPNs that only allow for 5–10 simultaneous connections).

Private Internet Access has 1-month, 6-month, and 2-year payment plans (the 2-year plan often comes with additional months for free). All plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

🏅 Overall Rank #2 out of 99 VPNs
🌍 Number of Servers Unknown
📱 Number of Devices Unlimited
💸 Starting Price $2.11 per month
🎁 Free Plan
💰 Money-Back Guarantee 30 days

30 Days Risk-Free — Get Private Internet Access Now

Private Internet Access Full Review

Private Internet Access Full Review

I spent a couple of weeks testing and researching Private Internet Access (PIA) to see whether or not it’s actually one of the top VPNs out there.

PIA provides great value because it has excellent security features, is very intuitive and user-friendly, and maintains fast speeds across all servers.

PIA had excellent speeds in my speed tests, which allowed me to stream content in HD without any buffering (even while connected to distant servers), download torrent files quickly, and browse the web without interruptions.

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Private Internet Access Features

PIA comes with all of the standard security features, like:

  • Multiple encryption options. PIA offers 256-bit AES encryption and 128-bit AES encryption. 256-bit AES is more secure, but 128-bit AES has slightly faster speeds (it was 4-5% faster in my tests).
  • No-logs policy. PIA doesn’t track, store, or log any browsing data, and this has been repeatedly proven to be true in court (unlike most other VPNs that have not been legally tested).
  • Kill switch. This feature protects you from possible data leaks by shutting down your internet access if your VPN connection drops.

PIA has a built-in kill switch on its iOS app (many VPNs don’t have a kill switch on iOS), and there’s an Advanced Kill Switch option on Windows and Mac, which disables internet access if you’re not connected to a VPN server — I tested this by trying to access the internet without being connected to PIA’s servers, and it successfully prevented me from doing that. I like this flexibility, as it prevents you from accidentally accessing the web without securing your connection with the VPN first. Top competitors like ExpressVPN don’t provide such flexibility via their kill switches — and Surfshark has something similar, but only on Windows.

I also think it’s great that PIA’s servers run on RAM memory. This means PIA doesn’t store any data on a hard drive, and all of the data on the server is erased when the server is rebooted. What’s more, the provider uses perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption key for each VPN connection so that hackers can’t endanger user data by compromising past or future encryption keys.

Plus, I like how you get complete protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks — some top VPNs like VyprVPN and PrivateVPN only protect you against certain types of leaks. I ran leak tests while connected to servers in 15+ countries, and the VPN never leaked my data. I also like how PIA provides convenience by allowing you to perform IPv6 and DNS leak tests on its site — the tests are accurate, but the results are less detailed than what you get with third-party leak test tools.

Private Internet Access Features

PIA offers 3 very secure and fast VPN protocols:

  • WireGuard. WireGuard is one of the fastest and most secure protocols on the market, and it’s available on all PIA apps. What I like the most about it is that if you move between networks (like between cellular and Wi-Fi), the VPN doesn’t need to re-establish the connection to the VPN tunnel. In my tests, WireGuard provided faster speeds than OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec.
  • OpenVPN. OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that has undergone a lot of testing, so it ensures secure connections. While it delivers pretty fast speeds, in my tests, it was slower than WireGuard by about 30%. All PIA apps support OpenVPN.
  • IKEv2/IPSec. This protocol offers solid security and good speeds, and it’s pretty adaptable to network changes. That said, it’s slower than WireGuard and OpenVPN and only available on the iOS app.
Android iOS Windows macOS Linux

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Private Internet Access Features

PIA’s split-tunneling feature is better than most other VPNs’ split-tunneling functions, as it lets you choose which apps use or don’t use the VPN, and which IP addresses bypass the VPN. Split-tunneling is available on Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s not available on iOS, but most VPNs don’t have split-tunneling on that platform — TunnelBear is one of the only ones that do. But I think it’s really great that you get this feature on macOS, as only very few VPNs (like ExpressVPN) have split-tunneling for Macs.

The desktop apps let you split-tunnel both apps and websites, while the Android app only lets you split-tunnel apps. That’s still better than top competitors like ExpressVPN, which only let you split-tunnel app traffic across all platforms.

During my tests, PIA’s split-tunneling worked perfectly. I tested split-tunneling while I downloaded files — I routed all of my P2P activity through the VPN and excluded my bank’s IP address (most banks don’t allow VPN traffic). This allowed me to have faster download speeds, and I could still access my bank account.

Overall, PIA’s split-tunneling function works great. It lets you redirect both apps and website IP addresses, and I really like that it’s also available on macOS.

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PIA MACE (Ad Blocker)

Private Internet Access FeaturesPIA MACE blocks ads, ad trackers, and malicious websites. It’s also the best VPN ad blocker in 2023.

The ad blocker is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux, and you can also get it on Android if you install the .apk version of the Android app (you won’t get PIA MACE if you download the app from the Google Play Store). The feature doesn’t work on iOS, but I like how the provider’s iOS app conveniently redirects you from the settings tab to your iOS Safari settings to enable Safari’s ad blocker.

I tested PIA MACE, and it worked very well. I visited ad-heavy media outlets and social media pages, and PIA MACE prevented all ads from loading on the sites. And because there were no more ads on these sites, web pages loaded much faster than usual. I also tested the feature’s malware detection — I tried to visit known suspicious HTTP websites and the tool blocked all of them.

PIA MACE is very similar to ProtonVPN’s NetShield tool, but it’s slightly better because, unlike NetShield, it doesn’t check trackers against a list before stopping them — so it blocks ads a little faster, which provides better web page load times. Also, PIA MACE is better than CyberGhost VPN’s ad blocker, which doesn’t block all ads on a web page, and ExpressVPN’s Threat Manager, which only blocks malicious sites and trackers but doesn’t get rid of ads.

Overall, I think PIA MACE is an excellent VPN ad blocker, as it gets rid of annoying ads and protects you from shady websites.

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Traffic Obfuscation

Private Internet Access FeaturesPIA’s obfuscation hides your VPN traffic from third parties. The VPN provides obfuscation via Shadowsocks, an encrypted open-source proxy. When you use this feature, your traffic first goes through the Shadowsocks server, which obfuscates it, before reaching the VPN server. This masks your VPN connection and makes it appear like you’re using the internet without a VPN, which is what allows you to overcome geo-blocks and VPN blocks. The obfuscation feature is available on Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

This tool is great for bypassing online firewalls in countries that place heavy censorship on the internet. It’s also good for hiding your VPN connection from your ISP in case you want more privacy. Plus, the feature works really well — PIA is actually #2 on our list of the best VPNs for bypassing censorship in 2023.

Using PIA’s obfuscation tool is pretty simple — you only need to access the Multi-Hop tab, enable it, and pick the Shadowsocks server you want to use. It won’t take you more than 10 seconds to turn it on.

However, using obfuscation will slow down your VPN speeds a bit because an extra layer of encryption is added to the connection. While using obfuscation, my speeds were 10–13% slower on average than without this feature enabled. This isn’t too bad, but it could cause some minor lag or buffering. On the plus side, PIA lets you pick from Shadowsocks servers in 5+ countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia (you might find a nearby server to minimize the slowdown), and also has a quick-connect setting that picks the fastest Shadowsocks server for your location.

While I really like PIA’s obfuscation feature, I think ExpressVPN does it better — its proprietary Lightway protocol (which is very secure and fast) automatically provides obfuscation on all of its 3,000+ servers that are located in 90+ countries, which is much more convenient and user-friendly because you don’t need to enable any settings. Plus, you can get obfuscation on local and nearby servers, which significantly minimizes the speed loss. And obfuscation is also available on iOS.

Overall, PIA’s obfuscation feature is good for bypassing internet firewalls and masking your VPN connection from your ISP.

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Smart DNS

PIA provides access to a smart DNS tool, which is included with every subscription. This is a streaming feature that allows you to access streaming platforms on devices that don’t natively support VPN apps, such as some smart TVs, Roku devices, gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, and more. Please remember that the smart DNS won’t change your IP address and encrypt your traffic — so it can’t provide privacy or prevent bandwidth throttling, but it will be much faster than a VPN.

You need to perform a manual setup to use the smart DNS feature, but I like how the provider has easy-to-follow tutorials that show you what you need to do (just like ExpressVPN does). I used the PlayStation 4 tutorial and was able to configure the smart DNS tool on my gaming console in just 5–7 minutes.

PIA doesn’t mention which sites the smart DNS can access, and the support reps weren’t able to provide me with that information either. But my colleagues in the US and UK tested the smart DNS on their devices, and they told me it can access top sites like Netflix US and UK, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Hulu, and Amazon Prime US.

Overall, PIA’s smart DNS is easy to set up and good for accessing streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPNs. While it doesn’t provide privacy, it’s significantly faster than a VPN.

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Dedicated IP Addresses

Private Internet Access Features

PIA provides dedicated IP addresses that are only assigned to you for a small extra cost. There are dedicated IP addresses for 5+ countries, including Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Japan, Singapore, and the US. If you want a dedicated IP address in the US, you can choose between the East and the West, as well as 9 states, such as Washington DC, New York, and Atlanta.

Dedicated IP addresses are useful for avoiding reCAPTCHAs, which are quick tests you need to perform to access certain sites to prove you are human, and not a bot (sites often flag shared VPN IPs as suspicious because tons of people are using one IP at the same time). When using PIA’s shared IP addresses, I encountered reCAPTCHAs 20–30% of the time on Google — but I never saw any when I used a dedicated IP address.

And with a dedicated IP, bank sites are less likely to block your VPN connection (they usually automatically block shared VPN IP addresses). PIA doesn’t have dedicated Romanian IPs, so I couldn’t test this, but my colleague in the US said he had no problem accessing his local bank using a dedicated US IP address.

And I also really like how PIA designed its dedicated IPs to provide better privacy — it uses a token-based system to authenticate ownership of a dedicated IP address, so it never knows which user account the dedicated IP is associated with.

Top competitors like CyberGhost VPN and NordVPN also offer dedicated IPs, but PIA is better. CyberGhost VPN has dedicated IPs in similar locations and for a similar price, but it has fewer US locations. And NordVPN also has dedicated IP addresses in more countries, but it can only give you a dedicated US IP address in 4 locations.

Overall, PIA’s dedicated IP addresses work really well, provide very good privacy (PIA doesn’t know which dedicated IP you’re assigned), and are also affordable.

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Identity Guard

Private Internet Access FeaturesIdentity Guard is a good data breach monitoring tool that’s easy to use and works really well. This feature lets you check if your email (or any other personal information) has been compromised in a data breach, and it will send you an alert if anything gets leaked in a new breach.

I tested Identity Guard, and it worked very well. I tried it with an old email and found that my account had been breached in 9 different data breaches. The results included the company that suffered the breach, a brief summary of the breach, and my personal information that was exposed (email address, passwords, names, date of birth, etc.). Honestly, I was quite impressed with this — I found the information provided was much more specific than Atlas VPN’s data breach monitor.

There’s also an email leak test on PIA’s website, which tells you if your email provider leaks your IP address to your email recipients — you just need to email an address PIA provides you with, and the leak test tool will display the results. The tool works well (though it takes a few minutes to display the results), but I don’t think it’s as good as the Identity Guard feature.

Overall, Identity Guard is great for keeping an eye on your email address, and you can set up alerts to receive an email notification if your email is ever leaked.

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Tor Support

Private Internet Access FeaturesPIA supports Tor (The Onion Router) over VPN on all of its servers, allowing you to browse .onion sites with an extra layer of security. Although the Tor network is already very secure, using Tor over VPN prevents other Tor users from finding out your real IP address (if your IP address gets leaked, other Tor users will see the VPN’s IP address, and not your actual one).

Using PIA’s Tor over VPN feature is very simple — just connect to any PIA server and then begin using the Tor browser (it’s free to download).

But keep in mind that Tor over VPN connections are very slow (in general) — because the Tor network encrypts your traffic multiple times and adding a VPN connection makes it even slower. In my tests, websites took up to 20 seconds to load and my connection speeds were reduced by 75% when compared to my internet speed without a VPN.

PIA has good Tor support, but I prefer NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN servers — they allow you to browse the Tor network inside regular browsers like Opera, Chrome, and Firefox rather than the Tor browser.

But overall, PIA’s Tor support is great since it’s very easy to use, it works on any server, and it provides an extra layer of protection for users who visit .onion sites on a regular basis.

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Private Internet Access Privacy & Security

PIA has a strict no-logs policy — it doesn’t track your IP addresses or your online activity (files you download or websites you visit). Its Privacy Policy states that PIA only stores the data that all VPN services store, including your email address (to communicate with you), payment data (to process refunds), and state and ZIP code data (for fraud detection, payment processes, and to ensure compliance with statutory tax obligations).

PIA’s no-logs policy has been independently audited and proven true, just like other top VPNs, such as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and NordVPN. The no-logs policy and PIA’s infrastructure underwent an independent audit in 2022 by a very large cybersecurity firm. The audit’s results confirmed that the provider’s no-logs claims are true.

What’s more, its no-logs policy has been proven in court (multiple times). For example, PIA couldn’t comply with a subpoena in a 2015 case about a cyber attack on a media house and in a 2016 case about a bomb threat, as it didn’t have any user data it could share with the authorities.

In addition, PIA publishes regular transparency reports (like CyberGhost VPN) that detail exactly what requests it’s received and how many times it’s complied with an authority’s request for user data. This makes it very easy to trust the VPN.
Private Internet Access Privacy & Security

This is one of the only VPNs out there that has open-source apps, meaning anyone can inspect the code for security vulnerabilities. That said, very few people have the technical expertise to actually study the code, so I’d really like to see PIA’s apps undergo independent security audits to prove they are safe to use — ProtonVPN also has open-source apps, but they have all passed independent audits.

PIA is headquartered in the US, which is part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data). But since PIA doesn’t keep any logs, it wouldn’t have any user information to hand over if the US government requested it.

Overall, PIA is one of the most transparent VPNs out there — it has a strong no-logs policy, which has been independently audited and tested in court on multiple occasions, it publishes regular transparency reports, and all of its software is fully open-source.

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Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

I ran speed tests by connecting to a server in all 80+ countries where PIA has a server, and on average, I experienced a 67% speed decrease. But I’m from Romania, which has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world, so this speed loss was not as harsh as it looks — I was still able to stream content, download files, and browse the internet at very fast speeds. I asked my colleague in the US to also run speed tests and he reported that his speed loss was an average of 25%, which is better than most other VPNs.

PIA’s very fast speeds don’t come as a surprise, considering that this VPN is ranked #2 on our list of the fastest VPNs in 2023.

I first ran a speed test without being connected to a PIA server to get a baseline for my speeds:

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Next, I used PIA’s auto-connect option to connect to the fastest server (and I was instantly connected to a server in Romania). My download speed decreased by 53%, which is a significant drop, but I was able to browse the internet and watch content in HD on Netflix with virtually no delay.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Then, I tested a VPN server in the US. The download speed was 75% slower than my speed without a VPN, and it took 2–3 seconds for Netflix TV shows and movies to load. However, once the shows began, they streamed uninterrupted. And the torrent speeds were significantly better than the streaming speeds — I downloaded a 20 GB torrent in 24 minutes, which is really fast.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

When I tested a server in New Zealand, my speeds were similar to the US server. Websites took 1–2 seconds to load, and streaming content on Netflix took up to 3 seconds to load (which was about the same as on US servers) and I didn’t experience any buffering. I was even able to play online games with no lag.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

But Romania has very fast internet speeds, so it’s not fair to compare my results with what people from other countries see. So I asked my colleague in the US to run some speed tests, too.

My colleague in the US first ran a speed test without the VPN. These are his results:

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Then, he connected to a PIA server using the auto-connect feature. Although he’s located in the New York region, he was automatically connected to the best server (San Diego) — on the other side of the country. His speed loss was only 6%, and he reported no difference in his online activities.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Next, he connected to a server in Spain. While his download speed was reduced by 33%, he said websites took less than 2 seconds to load, streaming content started almost instantly, and files downloaded without any noticeable slowdown. Also, he was able to play online video games without any lag.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Finally, my colleague connected to a server in Australia, which is one of the furthest locations from his location. While his ping was really high, his download speed was actually better than the connection in Spain (a decrease of just 15%, which is pretty remarkable) — websites only took a couple of seconds to load, and TV shows and videos began almost immediately.

Private Internet Access Speed & Performance

Overall, PIA maintains blazing-fast speeds on local servers and has very good speeds on distant servers. During our tests, both me and my colleague were able to watch Netflix and other streaming services in HD without experiencing buffering, download files with really fast speeds, and play online games with no lag.

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Private Internet Access Servers & IP Addresses

Private Internet Access Servers & IP Addresses

PIA has servers in 80+ countries. While other VPNs have servers in more countries (both CyberGhost VPN and ExpressVPN have servers in 90+ countries, and Surfshark has servers in 100+ countries), PIA still has a server located in nearly every region of the world, allowing you to connect to a close server no matter where you’re located.

This is also one of the few VPNs that has a server in every US state — this helps you access your bank account, circumvent sports blackouts, and watch local news from your home state when you travel in the US. Plus, I also like how, for some countries, there are servers in individual cities — this is helpful if you need an IP address from a specific city or if you want to connect to a server that’s closer to you to get faster speeds (for example, if you’re in Europe, you can use a US server on the East Coast, which is faster than a server on the West Coast).

Also, I really like that you can see the server ping (how long it takes for your device to communicate with the VPN server), as this metric helps you find and connect to the fastest servers. It’s also great that PIA color-codes the server ping (green = good ping, while orange = bad ping), so that you instantly know which server to connect to. In my tests, I always had faster speeds when using the servers with the lowest (green) ping.

Geo-located servers are also available in 40+ countries — these are servers that provide you with an IP address from the location you connect to, but are located in a different country. PIA provides access to geo-located servers, so that users can get IP addresses from countries where hosting physical VPN servers is not doable due to restrictive governments or poor internet infrastructure. I really like that the provider is transparent about the use of geo-located servers, as they are visibly marked inside the VPN app.

PIA supports streaming on dedicated servers in 5+ countries — the US, the UK, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. These servers refresh their IP addresses more often, so it’s more difficult for streaming sites to block them. My colleague in the US tested the US streaming servers and told me he was able to access popular platforms like Netflix US and Hulu with them, but he also said he wasn’t able to access the same sites using regular US servers. I honestly like ExpressVPN more, as it allows streaming on all of its servers in 90+ countries.

Torrenting is allowed across all servers, which makes it easy to use a nearby server for fast downloads — I’m really happy about this because some competitors (like NordVPN and Proton VPN) only allow P2P traffic on certain servers.

PIA also offers dedicated IP addresses for a small additional cost. Dedicated IPs are useful because they reduce the risk of being blacklisted by banks and streaming sites. PIA has dedicated IPs for 5+ locations, including the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany.

Overall, PIA has a really good server network — it has servers all over the world (including a server in every US state), it displays the server ping, all of its servers are P2P-friendly, and it even offers dedicated IP addresses.

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Private Internet Access Streaming Support

Private Internet Access Streaming Support

PIA is one of the best VPNs for streaming out there, as it consistently works with 30+ streaming services (including both well-known and smaller platforms). Streaming is supported on dedicated servers in 5+ countries, including the US, the UK, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. I like the variety, but I think ExpressVPN has much better streaming support, as it supports streaming on all of its servers (which are located in 90+ countries) and works with 100+ streaming apps.

The provider has great Netflix support, as it works with 5+ Netflix libraries, including Netflix US, Netflix UK, and Netflix Japan. My colleagues in the US and the UK tested PIA with Netflix while traveling abroad, and they had no problem accessing their home libraries. That said, I like ExpressVPN more, as it’s the best Netflix VPN on the market since it can access 10+ Netflix libraries.

In addition to Netflix, PIA also works with other popular streaming platforms, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. It can also access smaller streaming services, like Ruutu, YLE, FranceTV, and tv4play. I’m happy that the provider lists all the streaming platforms it works with in a support article because it provides you with a fast way to find out if the VPN can access a particular site.

Private Internet Access Streaming Support

I also like how there’s a smart DNS, so that you can access streaming sites on devices that don’t support VPN apps, like gaming consoles or some smart TVs — some top competitors, like ProtonVPN, don’t come with a smart DNS.

Overall, PIA provides a very good streaming experience — it consistently works with Netflix and can access 5+ Netflix libraries, it’s compatible with 30+ streaming platforms (including popular sites like Disney+ and BBC iPlayer), and it even has a smart DNS.

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Private Internet Access Torrenting Support

Private Internet Access Torrenting Support

PIA has really good torrenting support and is actually one of the best P2P VPNs in 2023. It allows P2P traffic on all of its servers, which are located in 80+ countries. This is really convenient, as some top VPNs only support P2P downloads on dedicated servers — for example, NordVPN only allows torrenting in 45+ countries, and ProtonVPN has torrenting servers in only 15+ countries.

I tested PIA’s support by downloading multiple torrents using the most popular P2P clients, such as qBittorrent, BitTorrent, and Vuze — it worked with all torrent apps without any issues.


Port forwarding is also available, which is great because it allows you to connect to more peers to get faster speeds — my downloads were usually 10–15% faster when I enabled port forwarding. And I like how easy it is to use this feature, as you only need to enable a setting within the VPN app. PIA supports port forwarding across most of its servers, but it’s not available on US servers. I asked the support reps why, and they told me it’s due to legal reasons.

In addition, SOCKS5 proxy support is available, which changes your IP address just like a VPN but doesn’t provide encryption. That way, you get much faster download speeds — for example, it took me just 14–15 minutes to download a 20 GB file on a US server (the same file took 24 minutes to download when I used the VPN connection).

I also like how PIA provides really great security to protect you while torrenting — it comes with a kill switch, a no-logs policy that has been independently audited, and full leak protection (to make sure your data can’t be exposed when you download torrents). I ran leak tests while torrenting on servers in 8+ countries, and I never experienced any leaks. Also, I ran torrent IP leak tests using 3 P2P clients to make sure torrent apps can’t leak my real IP address, and the results always displayed PIA’s IP addresses.

Plus, I’m really happy with PIA MACE — in my tests, it always got rid of annoying pop-up ads on P2P sites (which made them load faster), and it prevented me from accessing shady torrenting sites.

One concern for torrenting with PIA is that it’s based in the US, which has an aggressive stance on copyright infringements because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a US law designed to protect the rights of copyright holders. This essentially means that if you accidentally torrent a copyrighted movie, you can face legal consequences under the DMCA. That said, PIA has a strict no-logs policy, which means it won’t be able to share any data even if US authorities requested it.

Overall, PIA is a really good VPN for torrenting — it allows P2P traffic on all of its servers, has port forwarding and a SOCKS5 proxy server, and provides high-end security via full leak protection and an ad blocker.

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Private Internet Access Gaming Support

Private Internet Access Gaming Support

PIA provides really good gaming support. When I played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on a local server, I had really good ping (18 ms) and fast connections. When I switched to a distant server in the US, my ping increased by a lot (226 ms) — even so, it didn’t affect my gaming sessions, as I didn’t experience any lag and my connections to the gaming server didn’t drop. Plus, it took me about 3 minutes to download a 1 GB update, which is really fast.

And by changing your IP, the VPN prevents DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which can leave you without internet access. Even better, all the provider’s servers come with anti-DDoS protection — so even if someone tries to DDoS you while you’re connected to PIA, they wouldn’t be able to do it.

You can also set up PIA on your router, so that you can use it to game on devices that don’t natively support VPN apps, such as Xbox or PlayStation consoles. Helpful step-by-step tutorials are available, which make the whole setup process pretty straightforward — for example, it only took me about 10–11 minutes to set up PIA on my router to use it to play Elden Ring on my PlayStation 4.

Overall, I think PIA is a good pick if you’re only interested in basic gaming since it provides fast gaming on both local and distant servers (despite the high ping), it has anti-DDoS protection, and it works on routers. But if you’re a hardcore gamer, I’d go with ExpressVPN instead because it maintains lower ping on distant servers, provides support for cloud gaming platforms, and even has a router app (and also lets you buy a Wi-Fi router that comes with the app pre-installed on it) — plus, it’s also the best VPN for gaming on the market.

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Private Internet Access Bypassing Censorship

PIA allows you to circumvent restrictions in countries that censor the internet, such as China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia because it uses obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic. The provider claims it works in all of those restrictive countries, and any other country that censors the internet.

It’s also great that PIA has servers in most parts of the world — that allows users in restrictive countries to use nearby servers to get fast speeds. For example, a user in Indonesia could use servers in Singapore, Australia, or Taiwan.

Private Internet Access Bypassing Censorship

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Private Internet Access Plans & Pricing

Private Internet Access Plans & Pricing

PIA offers really affordable payment plans. It has a 1-month, 6-month, and 2-year plan (the 2-year plan offers the best savings and often comes with free additional months). With plans that start at $2.11 / month, PIA is one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.

PIA is cheaper than ExpressVPN, which is the #1 VPN on the market, but you need to commit to a 2-year subscription to get the best deal — while ExpressVPN only requires a 1-year commitment to get the best value, which might be more convenient for some people.

You get unlimited simultaneous connections with 1 subscription, which is above the industry average of 5–10 connections. This makes this provider an excellent choice for large families or people who want to secure tons of devices.

You can also add PIA’s antivirus to your plan, which protects you from malware attacks. It does this by patching vulnerabilities in your computer’s defenses and isolating any threats on your system — giving you the ability to choose whether you want to keep them in quarantine or delete them. It also protects you from potentially dangerous ads, trackers, and websites. I really like how you can perform quick or full scans of your entire computer, schedule scans, and even see a history of previous scans (which includes the scan results).

PIA accepts credit/debit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and cryptocurrencies. You can purchase a subscription with Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover, and pay with Litecoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Wrapped Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu Coin, Apecoin, Euro Coin, Polygon, Ethereum, and USD-pegged stablecoins via BitPay.

PIA also backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is really great.

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Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

PIA has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android TV. I easily installed the Android and iOS apps in 1 minute, and it took about 2 minutes to install the Windows and macOS apps.

How to Install Private Internet Access (Just 3 Easy Steps):

  • Step 1: Sign up for PIA. Pick the plan that fits your budget.
  • Step 2: Download and install the VPN app. Just follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Step 3: Run the VPN app. Then, connect to a server with 1 click and start surfing the web securely.


Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

I really like PIA’s Android app — it works just as promised, it’s feature-rich, and it’s easy to navigate. I especially like how you can connect to a server with one tap of the large power button on the main window. If you want to manually connect to a server, all you have to do is tap on Current Region to find the full list of server locations (you can also filter servers by favorites, latency, and name to help save you some time).

PIA’s Android app is very flexible and customizable. You can easily change protocols (OpenVPN or WireGuard), encryption levels, proxy settings, and connection options (like whether to connect to trusted or untrusted Wi-Fi networks). You can also enable/disable port forwarding, change the look and layout of the app, and do a lot more.

I like how all features are set to a recommended default setting, so that beginners don’t feel overwhelmed — so you don’t have to worry about changing them. Also, I love how there is a brief description for most of the settings.

PIA has its own private/incognito web browser for Android and iOS devices called InBrowser (you have to install it through the Google Play Store) — it wipes all sessions, cookies, and browser history whenever you close the app.

The only minor downside is that you need the .apk version to use MACE (if you download the Android app from Google Play Store, you won’t be able to use PIA’s ad blocker).

Overall, PIA has a very good Android app — it’s simple to use, fast, and offers a lot of customization options for advanced users.

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Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

PIA’s iOS app has a similar design to the Android app, so it’s really easy to switch between these apps. But unlike the Android app, the iOS app has 3 protocols instead of 2 — IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard. However, the iOS app is missing PIA MACE, split-tunneling, and obfuscation.

I really like that PIA’s iOS app has a built-in kill switch, as many of the top VPNs (like PrivateVPN and VyprVPN) don’t offer a kill switch with their iOS apps.

One of my favorite features in the iOS app is the Siri shortcut. You can link your PIA app on iOS to Siri and connect and disconnect from the VPN with pre-recorded phrases, which is really convenient.

Overall, PIA’s iOS app is secure and user-friendly, and it has many of the same features as the Android app (with some minor differences).

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Windows/Mac (Desktop)

I really like PIA’s desktop apps — they have intuitive interfaces and are similar to the iOS and Android apps. I also like that PIA is one of the few VPNs (alongside ExpressVPN) that include split-tunneling on macOS.

You connect to a server by pressing one big on/off button. If you don’t choose a server, this button will connect you to the fastest server, which is usually the nearest server. Accessing the full list of servers from here is really easy — all you have to do is click on the VPN server section.

Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

By pressing a slider, you can access extra options. I find the quick-connect section really handy — it lists the last 6 servers you connected to so you can easily reconnect to the same location with just one click. There’s also a separate section for the Snooze feature, which lets you pause the VPN connection for a predetermined amount of time (1–30 minutes) before it reconnects you to the server again.

Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

My favorite is the quick-setting section where you can enable/disable features (green = enabled; gray = disabled) like MACE, port forwarding, LAN connections, desktop notifications, and choose between light and dark mode with a click.

And I think it’s great that PIA displays a lot of connection details on the main window. You can check your download and upload usage, your VPN IP address, the VPN protocol, and the encryption level, as well as your connection’s performance.

Plus, all widgets in PIA’s expanded display are movable, so you can put the widgets you frequently use at the top.

I like that PIA’s desktop apps have automation settings that tell the VPN what to do when you use a secure/unsecured WiFi or wired connection (connect or disconnect). This is convenient because you can configure PIA to automatically connect to a server when you access unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Overall, PIA has great desktop apps. They’re both feature-rich and very easy to use.

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Browser Extensions (Chrome/Opera/Firefox)

Private Internet Access Ease of Use: Mobile & Desktop Apps

PIA’s browser extensions are feature-rich and user-friendly. The design is the same for all browsers — you get a main display and an expanded display (similar to the desktop apps) for quick access to the full server list and settings.

The extensions come with some really good extra security features. I’m really happy to see that PIA can automatically convert HTTP connections (which are unencrypted) into safer HTTPS connections whenever possible. And I really like that it has WebRTC leak protection, which prevents your IP address from leaking — I ran 10+ leak tests and PIA never revealed my IP address.

I was impressed with the extra privacy features that come with PIA’s extensions. You can set up the VPN to automatically block sites from accessing your camera, location, and microphone, and stop your browser from auto-filling credit card and address information to prevent sharing any personal data via hidden fields.

On top of that, the extensions have features that prevent tracking. You can disable third-party cookies that track your activities, website referring (won’t send the address of the web page you’re currently on when following a link), and hyperlink auditing so trackers won’t know that you clicked on a certain link. There are also options to remove UTM parameters that are used to track information about the sites you visit and FBCLID parameters, which are used to track information about the sites you visit after clicking on an outgoing link on Facebook.

The extensions also offer additional features like Bypass List, which lets you exclude websites from the PIA extension connection and Smart Location, which enables you to connect to a specific server based on the URL you visit, making it easy to use the extension in different locations.

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You can manually configure PIA on your router, but only if it’s compatible with the provider’s VPN service. The good news is that PIA works with several top router firmware, such as AsusWRT and DD-WRT — some top competitors, like TunnelBear, don’t support router setups at all.

Step-by-step tutorials are available (that even include screenshots), which make the setup process pretty straightforward. By following such a tutorial, I was able to configure PIA on my router in just 13–15 minutes.

That said, I think ExpressVPN is a better option if you’re interested in using a VPN on your router — it’s one of the only VPNs on the market that has a dedicated router app, which is very easy to install and use. Plus, the router app uses the provider’s proprietary Lightway protocol, which provides the fastest VPN speeds on the market.

Overall, PIA supports setups on popular router firmwares, and it also provides access to helpful configuration guides.

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Private Internet Access’s Apps: Is Private Internet Access Easy to Use?

PIA has user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux. They all have a similar design and are easy to navigate, and all of PIA’s apps are fully open-source. The desktop and Android apps are the most feature-rich, as the iOS app is missing obfuscation and PIA MACE — that said, the iOS app still provides a lot of customization, convenient features, and advanced tools.

Android iOS Windows macOS Linux
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Kill Switch
(only in the .apk app)
Traffic Obfuscation

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Private Internet Access Customer Support

PIA offers excellent customer support through various channels, including comprehensive troubleshooting guides, a detailed FAQ section, 24/7 live chat, and email support. However, it’s worth noting that PIA does not provide phone support, which may be a drawback for those who prefer direct telephone assistance.

Private Internet Access Customer Support

The provider offers comprehensive setup guides explaining how to install all of PIA’s apps and tackle potential problems. The layout is intuitive and enhanced with clear screenshots, and I think it’s really great that there are 100+ FAQs available, which will answer most of your questions.

But I wasn’t impressed with the provider’s live chat support — it sometimes took up to 30–40 seconds to be connected to a live chat rep, and many of the reps were not very knowledgeable. I’d only recommend using live chat if you need the reps to answer very basic questions, such as the number of countries where PIA has servers or anything related to the pricing.

Top competitors like ExpressVPN have much better live chat, as you’re usually connected to a rep in seconds and they’re always able to provide helpful, detailed answers to all questions.

The email support was a plus point — I sent several emails throughout a week, and support agents usually got back in less than 24 hours with helpful responses.

Overall, PIA has really good support. There are useful setup and troubleshooting guides along with in-depth FAQs, and the email support is pretty helpful — but I’d really like to see PIA improve its live chat support in the near future.

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Is Private Internet Access One of the Best VPNs Out There?

PIA is really fast, very user-friendly, and also has high-end security features, including an independently audited no-logs policy (that’s also been proven true in court) and open-source apps.

The VPN has essential security features and extras that other VPNs lack, including split-tunneling, one of the best VPN ad blockers on the market, traffic obfuscation, and more. Plus, it has advanced features like full leak protection and RAM-only servers.

And PIA provides a really good streaming and gaming experience, and it’s one of the best torrenting VPNs on the market, as it allows P2P traffic on all servers, works with top P2P apps, and has support for port forwarding and SOCKS5 connections.

But there is one issue I need to mention — PIA doesn’t provide very helpful live chat support, which is inconvenient.

But, overall, PIA is still one of the best VPNs out there. It also allows unlimited simultaneous connections, it’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, and all of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Private Internet Access be trusted?

Yes, Private Internet Access is really trustworthy. While it’s based in the US, which is a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (a group of countries that share intelligence data), it’s easy to trust this VPN because its no-logs policy has been independently audited and also proven true in court on many occasions, it releases regular transparency reports, and all of its apps are open-source, so anyone can inspect the code for security issues.

In addition, PIA also comes with industry-standard security features like 256-bit AES encryption and a kill switch, and it also has advanced security features, such as full leak protection, RAM-only servers (meaning all data is wiped each time the server is rebooted), and perfect forward secrecy, which regularly changes encryption keys so that hackers can’t compromise them.

Will Private Internet Access work in China?

Yes, Private Internet Access works in China. PIA offers obfuscation through Shadowsocks to help bypass government firewalls. And PIA is able to consistently overcome online censorship in China and other restrictive countries.

Does Private Internet Access work with Netflix?

Yes, Private Internet Access is able to access Netflix. By using dedicated streaming servers, you can access up to 5+ Netflix libraries, including Netflix US, UK, and Japan. In addition, PIA can access 30+ other streaming services, including top platforms like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.
But if you’re only interested in streaming Netflix, ExpressVPN might be a better choice — it’s the best Netflix VPN on the market, as it consistently works with 10+ Netflix libraries.

Is Private Internet Access good for torrenting?

Yes, in fact, Private Internet Access is one of the best VPNs for torrenting in 2023 — it supports torrenting on servers in 80+ countries, works with top P2P clients like uTorrent and qBittorrent, and has support for port forwarding and SOCKS5, which are P2P-related features that increase your download speeds.

In addition, it provides excellent security while torrenting — it has industry-standard security features, including a kill switch on all platforms and a no-logs policy that has been audited and proven true in court. Also, full leak protection is available, and there’s even an ad blocker that protects you from malicious ads on P2P sites and shady torrent trackers.

Is Private Internet Access free?

No, Private Internet Access doesn’t come with a free plan, but its plans are very affordable and the provider backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the VPN risk-free.

While there are free VPNs out there, I don’t really recommend using one. Most free VPNs lack essential security features, don’t work with streaming sites, have very slow speeds, limit how much data you can use, and have buggy apps. But a premium VPN like PIA provides excellent security, very fast speeds, great streaming support, very beginner-friendly apps, and much more.

Does Private Internet Access have fast speeds?

Yes, Private Internet Access provides some of the fastest speeds on the market — in my tests, HD videos loaded very fast on both local and distant servers, and I never experienced any buffering. Plus, I was able to download large files really fast and game with no lag. PIA achieves these speeds because it has servers in most parts of the world (so it’s easy to use a nearby server for fast speeds) and because it uses fast VPN protocols like WireGuard.

But even so, PIA still isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, which is the fastest VPN in 2023 thanks to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which provides lightning-fast speeds (and is also extremely secure and open-source).

Does Private Internet Access have a kill switch?

Yes, Private Internet Access offers a kill switch for its iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux apps. PIA doesn’t have a kill switch feature for Android, but this is because the Android operating system has a much better feature — the ability to block an internet connection without a VPN. This provides system-level protection, and PIA has chosen to not even give you the option to connect on the app level.

Can I install Private Internet Access on my router?

You can set up Private Internet Access on your router, but you’ll need to perform a manual setup. Fortunately, the provider has very helpful tutorials (that even include screenshots), which make the manual setup pretty straightforward — on average, it shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes to do it.

But if you mostly want to use a VPN on your router, I recommend ExpressVPN instead because it’s one of the only VPNs on the market that has a dedicated router app, which you can quickly install on compatible routers — plus, the router app is very easy to use, as the design is similar to ExpressVPN’s other apps.

What devices are compatible with PIA?

PIA has dedicated apps for a wide range of devices, including:

  • Android smartphones and tablets running 5.1 (Lollipop) and higher.
  • iPhones, iPads, and iPods running iOS 12.1 and newer.
  • PCs (personal computers) running Windows 8.1 or higher.
  • PCs running macOS 10.13 and higher.
  • PCs running Linux distros, including Ubuntu 18.04+ (LTS), Mint, Debian, Fedora, and Arch.
  • Android TV devices running 5.1 (Lollipop) and higher.
  • Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.

PIA also works with routers and Amazon Fire Stick devices (2nd Gen and higher), but it doesn’t have dedicated apps for them. If you want to get PIA on your router, you’ll have to perform a manual setup. To use PIA on your Amazon Fire Stick device, you can sideload its Android app.

For devices that don’t support VPNs, you can use PIA’s smart DNS tool. These include:

  • Gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox S, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and Amazon Luna.
  • Smart TVs like Apple TV, LG Smart TV, Samsung TV, and Nvidia Shield TV.
  • Chromecast.
  • Roku.

How much does PIA VPN cost?

Private Internet Access’s plans start as low as $2.11 / month, which is very affordable for a top VPN. Its 2-year subscription plan, its longest-term plan, offers the best value and comes with 2 extra months for free. It also has a 1-month plan that costs $11.99 / month and a 6 month plan that costs $7.50 / month. All of its plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Does PIA have an ad blocker?

Yes, PIA includes an ad blocker called MACE, which is one of the best VPN ad blockers on the market. PIA’s MACE blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites, and in my tests, it did everything it’s supposed to — it blocked all ads on every site I visited, including ad-heavy sites like HuffPost, and it always flagged shady sites.

PIA’s MACE is available on all supported platforms, including the browser extensions, and it only takes 1 click to enable it in any of PIA’s apps.

Private Internet Access Products & Pricing

2 Years
$2.11 / month
30 Days Money Back
6 Months
$7.50 / month
30 Days Money Back
$11.99 / month
30 Days Money Back
Bottom Line

Private Internet Access is one of the best VPNs out there — it has blazing-fast speeds, very intuitive apps, and high-end security and privacy features, including open-source apps and an audited no-logs policy that’s also been proven true in court. It also comes with extras like split-tunneling and an excellent ad blocker, and advanced features like RAM-only servers and full leak protection. It’s good for streaming and gaming, and it has excellent P2P support. But its live chat support isn’t very good. PIA has very affordable prices and backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
QA Editor

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a QA Editor at SafetyDetectives. He has 5+ years of experience researching and writing about cybersecurity topics, and he specializes in VPNs. Prior to joining SafetyDetectives, he worked as a contributor for other VPN review websites and as a content writer for several VPN providers. Throughout his freelance writing career, he has also covered other niches, including SEO, digital marketing, customer loyalty, home improvement, and health and rehab. Outside of work, Tim loves to spend his time traveling, playing video games, binging anime, and using VPNs (yes, really!).

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