Private Internet Access is loaded with features and also is a popular VPN provider. With its affordable pricing structure, it is certainly an attractive option in the marketplace.
However, Private Internet Access is headquartered in the US. This country is a notoriously poor choice as the home base for a VPN company. Not only does the US have many laws requiring ISPs and VPNs to track and maintain data records, but also it is a part of the Five Eyes network.
Organizations like the Five Eyes, the Nine Eyes and the 14 Eyes are cooperative efforts among member nations to share sensitive data. Some of the data is collected through espionage-style activities that would be illegal for governments to conduct on their home soil without proper due process. However, if the information is collected by another nation, then it can be shared with ease and while skirting the law.
It’s for reasons such as these that the US is not the best place to base a VPN service. It is far better to use a VPN provider that is housed outside of the 14 Eyes network. Providers such ExpressVPN, which is in Panama, and NordVPN at British Virgin Islands offer secure, reliable and affordable VPN connections. If you are really sensitive about privacy and spying, then it is recommended that you seek one of these companies instead.
Nonetheless, Private Internet Access does have some great features. You can connect as many as five devices at once, torrents are allowed and the service does have a kill switch. Their network boasts more than 3,000 servers, which ranks it among the best VPNs for this metric. However, those servers only extend over 28 countries, which is not as impressive as the networks of other companies that easily stretch to 100 or more countries.
Security and Encryption
Private Internet Access has taken some pretty solid steps toward protecting its customers online. Default settings provide 128-bit data encryption, which seems less than desirable when AES 256-bit encryption also is available with the service. It is possible that users who place a premium on speed over privacy may prefer the 128-bit data encryption, but Private Internet Access offers good speeds with the higher level of encryption too. Why take chances? If you decide to go with Private Internet Access, switch the settings to AES 256-bit encryption, which is the default for the majority of the top VPNs.
Users may choose from among the most recommended VPN protocol of the day and several old favorites that feature less stringent security settings. The most recommended is OpenVPN, but Private Internet Access also makes the SOCKS5 proxy, IPSec/L2TP and PPTP available. When combined with the AES 256-bit encryption, it is safe to say that your web traffic will remain secure while you are connected to Private Internet Access.
Like many other VPN providers, Private Internet Access features a kill switch that automatically ends a browsing session when the VPN service suddenly and unexpectedly becomes unavailable. This is a wonderful fail safe, but it bears mentioning that many customers have complained about the kill switch not working as advertised.
This is a concern because it could leave you exposed should Private Internet Access’ service get interrupted. All of the most highly rated VPN providers also have kill switch features in their service, and these seem to work consistently. If one of your primary concerns is being unexpectedly exposed when you are online, then it may be wise to go with a different VPN company with a more reliable kill switch.
Private Internet Access’ Server Locations
Currently, Private Internet Access lists 3,125 servers on its network. That is a number that rivals the server count of some of the best VPNs in the business. However, they are located in only 33 countries. That is not particularly impressive when compared to rivals that have servers located in more than 100 countries. This is why Private Internet Access may have more appeal in certain regions but only limited appeal in others.
One of the regions in which Private Internet Access is likely to be more popular is North America. In the US, the company has 1,441 servers in just 15 locations. An additional 236 servers are located in three locations in Canada. Mexico has 33 servers housed at a single location.
Brazil is the only location represented in South America with 20 servers. Africa similarly is under-represented. Private Internet Access only has a presence in South Africa with 10 servers.
UK and European subscribers will probably find that Private Internet Access has adequate servers to satisfy them. The UK has nearly 200 servers while the Netherlands has 548. Other European server locations include Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and others.
Coverage is not as good in the Middle East where servers are only located in Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Asian servers include locations in Singapore, Japan and India, which is not particularly robust coverage for that part of the world. Australia and New Zealand are home to approximately 200 servers.
Admittedly, that is a lot of servers. The fact that Private Internet Access has in excess of 3,000 servers means that it ranks up there with many of the big players. However, they do not really have the location diversity that’s required to be a top rated VPN.
Private Internet Access does point out on their website that they use only bare-metal servers, which guarantees better performance. Additionally, some locations have squid proxy servers, which may help to speed up data transfer rates.
Using BitTorrent or P2P with Private Internet Access
With its speed and permissive viewpoint on torrenting, Private Internet Access can be an excellent choice. Choose your favorite torrenting client. Chances are good that it is compatible with Private Internet Access. You won’t find anything that specifically addresses torrenting on their website. However, P2P file sharing activity is fully supported. It’s a convenient aspect of Private Internet Access’ service that torrenting activities are not restricted to certain servers. You can simply log on to the server of your choice.
Private Internet Access does seem to have trouble with streaming Netflix. This immensely popular streaming company has spent the last few years working hard to prevent people from accessing their service while using a VPN. Mainly, they are doing this because the VPN may allow the viewer to access content that is region restricted by various contracts.
While some VPN providers still seem to be able to get around Netflix’s restrictions, Private Internet Access does not appear to be one of these. Overall, just one server in California was able to connect to Netflix. If your main purpose in going online is to view streaming services, then this is not the VPN for you.
Private Internet Access’ Speed Test Results
This is the metric where many lesser VPN providers stumble. Most people realize that using any VPN is going to slow down their data transfer rate. However, a really good, high-quality VPN slows down data far less than one that doesn’t possess the same level of quality.
Private Internet Access may not be the fastest VPN out there, but it still performs well. Connecting to a server in New York gave speed test results of 77.56 Mbps for downloads and 36.75 Mbps for uploads.
Performance only improved when connected to a European server in Amsterdam. For this test, downloads clocked in at 81.46 Mbps and uploads were 40.30 Mbps. That’s not too far off of the speed test results that were acquired when not using any VPN.
Things weren’t quite as blazing fast with the server in Hong Kong. However, the numbers certainly were more impressive than those elicited using inferior VPN providers. Downloads measured 69.98 Mbps with uploads coming in at 13.04 Mbps.
The performance on a server in London was fairly impressive too. Downloads of 75.67 Mbps and uploads of 23.00 Mbps are respectable, even if they are not as blazing fast as the speed test results that were achieved with Express VPN. If cost is a primary concern for you, then perhaps Private Internet Access is the right choice.
These positive test results are largely due to the number and quality of servers in Private Internet Access’ network.
Private Internet Access’ Logging Policy
Your Internet Service Provider, which may be referred to as your ISP, keeps comprehensive logs concerning which websites you visit, how long you stay and what you do while you’re there. They have access to the apps that you use, and they may store incredible amounts of data about your online activities. When you think about it, it’s a disconcerting practice.
One of the primary goals of using a VPN is to avoid having anyone collecting all of that data about you and your activities. When you use a VPN, your ISP cannot keep records of the websites you visit or the apps that you use. Ideally, your VPN provider refrains from collecting that kind of information too.
Such a policy against logging is critical for numerous reasons. It prevents the VPN provider from selling or giving away your data to third parties and affiliated companies. Additionally, it means that if your VPN company gets hacked, then they won’t have much information for the hackers to steal. Moreover, a no logging policy means that a VPN service cannot be compelled to share information with law enforcement agencies because there is nothing to disclose.
Many VPN providers talk a good game when it comes to having zero logs. Private Internet Access follows this principle fairly well. They state that they do not keep track of your web traffic or have any communication logs. However, they do store essential data like customer email addresses and payment methods.
Pricing Options for Private Internet Access
This company’s pricing may be seriously attractive to many prospective customers. It is among the more affordable options out there, and since it offers some pretty good features and performance, many people would consider it a good deal.
The by-the-month price is just $6.95 per month. For that price, you get a variety of VPN protocols, unlimited data, P2P support and everything else that Private Internet Access offers.
If you’re looking for a deal, then you might go with the one-year subscription, which offers savings of approximately 52 percent. That’s works out to just $3.33 per month. Even larger savings are available when you purchase the two-year plan. Priced at just $2.91 per month, this is a bargain that could be attractive to many people.
Private Internet Access offers a seven-day, money-back guarantee. That is not a particularly long window, but if you use the Internet often, you should be able to decide within a week whether or not this service is working for you.
Is Private Internet Access Recommended?
Private Internet Access offers some great, truly desirable features and affordable pricing. Add to that the fact that their servers are pretty fast, and this isn’t a bad VPN. However, this does not mean that there aren’t drawbacks to using this service.
Don’t forget that Private Internet Access is headquartered in the US. If one government agency gets its hands on your personal data from your VPN’s servers, that data will soon be housed in the databases of numerous other government agencies. Moreover, while Private Internet Access had respectable speed test results, they certainly were not the best. The diversity of their server locations also is lacking.
All that being said, Private Internet Access is an okay VPN service. If you’re getting close to the end of your list before you make a decision, allow us to recommend 2 more that will be well-worth your time checking out. See our ExpressVPN and NordVPN review if it isn’t already on your list. We give those 2 VPN services a two thumbs up.