Private Internet Access

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 20, 2023
Private Internet Access
Overall Rating:
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Private Internet Access (PIA) sets the standard for a reliable and trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, empowering users with a comprehensive suite of robust privacy and security features. With a vast network of servers spread across multiple countries, PIA offers a wide range of options for fast, secure and anonymous internet connections. Its robust encryption protocols and strict no-log policy safeguard users’ data from potential threats while protecting their online activities. 

PIA offers advanced features like ad and malware blocking, kill switches and DNS leak protections and allows for simultaneous connections on multiple devices, making it a versatile choice for individuals and businesses seeking enhanced online security and unrestricted internet access. Its user-friendly interface and intuitive setup process make it easy for beginners and experienced users to get started quickly.

PIA also supports various platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, gaming consoles and smart TVs, making it accessible to a broad user base. However, some users may experience occasional fluctuations in connection speeds depending on their location and chosen server. Benzinga spotlights PIA, exploring the pros and cons and how its core features work together to provide solid online user privacy protection.

Best For
  • Individuals concerned about their online privacy and security.
  • Streamers who want to bypass geographic restrictions and access content from different regions.
  • Remote workers or frequent travelers who need to connect to public Wi-Fi networks securely.
  • Torrent users who want to maintain anonymity while downloading or sharing files.
  • Anyone seeking to prevent their internet service provider (ISP) from tracking or monitoring their online activities.
  • Journalists, activists or individuals in countries with restricted internet access who require a secure and private connection.
  • Unrestricted torrenting
  • Multiple device support
  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Dependable kill-switch
  • Court-verified no-log policy
  • Wide range of server locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Robust and customizable encryption protocol
  • Fast and reliable connection speeds on nearby servers
  • Excellent unblocking capabilities — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer
  • Headquartered in the U.S. — Five Eyes (FVEY) Alliance jurisdiction
  • Low and underwhelming speed from a long-distant server location
  • Possibly too complex and intimidating for new users

Private Internet Access Ratings at a Glance

Product Offering
Customer Service
Minimum Investment and Pricing
User Experience
Overall Rating

Private Internet Access Product Offering

A VPN encrypts your internet connection and routes it through a server operated by the VPN provider, ensuring privacy, security and anonymity while you browse the internet. By creating a private network that encrypts your data and IP address, a VPN ensures that no one, not even your ISP or the government, can see your online activities or track you across the web. Different VPN providers take distinct approaches to leveraging available technological features to deliver enhanced privacy protection. Here are the core features that make PIA a top choice for most users. 

Audited and Court-Proven No-Log Policy 

PIA maintains a strict no-log policy reviewed by four big independent auditing firms and proven twice in court. This policy is significant because unlike most of its peers that are based in privacy-friendly countries, PIA is headquartered in Denver, Colorado — a founding member of the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance. FVEY is an international surveillance alliance that made a pact mandating companies within their jurisdictions to provide customer data when legally required by courts for matters related to national concerns or significant criminal investigations. The law extends to PIA. However, the strict "no-log" clause in PIA's privacy policy means the company does not store user information such as IP address, browsing history, DNS queries or bandwidth consumption. As a result, if legally compelled to provide this data, the company would have no information to offer.

100% Open-Source Software 

PIA is one of the few top VPN providers that use open-source software. Open-source VPNs offer enhanced security from increased code transparency (the source code is publicly available). Independent cybersecurity experts can easily access and audit the code for vulnerabilities or backdoors, ensuring higher security. The open nature of the code also allows for community-driven improvements and rapid bug fixes. Overall, open-source VPNs can offer increased trust and assurance in terms of security, as they are subject to peer review and scrutiny by the wider community.

World-Class Encryption Protocols

PIA utilizes two renowned open-source VPN protocols, WireGuard® and OpenVPN, which reinforce customers' confidence in the reliability and integrity of their VPN connection. The OpenVPN protocol is excellent at protecting firewalls without slowing down the internet. It is also highly customizable; users can choose either AES-128 or the more current AES-256 for data encryption and SHA-1 or the more robust SHA-256 for data authentication. Users have the flexibility to select their preferred handshake method. 

WireGuard protocol uses ChaCha20 for data encryption and Poly1305 Hashing function for authentication. ChaCha20 is currently the most robust encryption level, while the Poly1305 Hashing function is universally the most secure authentication. Besides its excellent security, the WireGuard protocol is renowned for its speed. However, unlike OpenVPN, it is not customizable and is used by PIA in its base form. In addition to these encryption methods, PIA uses SOCKS5 proxy for extra speed. SOCKS5 doesn't encrypt data but assigns you a new IP address before it takes you to your location.

Kill Switch

Private Internet Access provides a firewall-based kill-switch function. A kill switch is a network lock feature that automatically terminates any software or website you are accessing in case of a lost or unexpected drop in your VPN connection. By preventing your internet access from switching to public networks, a kill switch feature ensures that your data, including browsing history, remains private and secure, preventing your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from accessing or monitoring your online activities.

Advanced Split-Tunneling

PIA provides advanced split tunneling functionality, allowing users to create personalized rules for specific apps or websites to use or bypass the VPN automatically. With a split tunneling feature, you can create two separate tunnels for your online traffic: a secure VPN tunnel and a public, unencrypted network. That way, you can selectively route specific apps or websites through the secure tunnel while keeping others on the regular, unencrypted internet, giving you greater control and flexibility over your VPN usage. 

Split tunneling enhances accessibility by bypassing VPN restrictions imposed by certain apps, online banking websites and streaming services that block or restrict VPN usage. It can help you make exceptions for specific IP addresses, apps, DNS requests and more. Private Internet Access stands out with its highly customizable split tunneling feature, offering standard and inverse options for selecting which apps and sites use the public or VPN tunnel.

Torrenting and Streaming 

Torrenting is a popular file-sharing method that enables simultaneous sharing among multiple users or direct person-to-person (P2P) transfers. Regardless of the recipient of your data, PIA's robust encryption protocol prevents its interception and protects the data from getting traced back to your device. PIA offers unlimited server options for torrenting, allowing users to choose any location without restrictions. Its port forwarding functionality enables incoming connections to bypass the NAT firewall, resulting in faster download speeds. Besides torrenting, PIA is one of the best streaming VPNs capable of unblocking geo-restricted content from major platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and BBC iPlayer. So regardless of your location, you can watch Netflix libraries in the U.S., U.K., Canada, etc.

Other Features

On subscribing, you can access additional free features such as an email breach scanner, browser extension and ad blocker. PIA leverages a DNS-based ad blocker, MACE, that effectively safeguards users against incessant online ads, trackers and websites with potential malware. The ad block is also part of PIA's Antivirus add-on feature. Another essential add-on feature is the static or dedicated IP. It offers users exclusive IP ownership that they can use every time for a more consistent browsing experience. 

PIA has numerous high-speed (10 Gbps) servers spread across 84 countries, including Qatar, UAE and Bangladesh, and covering all 50 U.S. states. It provides extensive support across various platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. Additionally, it provides detailed setup tutorials for routers and other platforms and smart DNS functionality to unblock sites on devices that cannot run VPN apps, such as gaming consoles. It allows unlimited device connection, meaning you can connect all your devices, including smartphones, PCs and desktops. Benzinga rates Private Internet Access 5/5 based on the depth of its product offering.

Private Internet Access Customer Service

Private Internet Access provides 24/7 customer support via live chat. The response time is between 3 to 5 minutes. However, you can also access help by filling out the online contact form. What Benzinga really finds impressive is the highly insightful reservoir of educational and research resources available at the Help Center. It is grouped into Community, Knowledgebase, Guides and News. 

You'll find answers to almost any questions in either of the first three sections, especially the Knowledgebase, which is like the FAQ. The News is where you can get the latest updates, and the Guide offers installation guidance. PIA boasts impressive reviews across independent platforms like Trustpilot (4.5/5). Still, there were a few negative comments, mainly regarding customer support efficiency and refunds. Benzinga rates the company 4.5 on customer service.

Private Internet Access Minimum Investment and Pricing

At $11.95 per month, PIA's monthly subscription is slightly lower than most VPN plans. However, it is certainly not the best deal. The 1-year and 3-year plans offer you a better deal. The 1-year plan costs $39.96 for the full subscription period, which equals $3.33 per month. PIA's 3-year plan is a steal at $73.08 for the full subscription or $2.03 per month.

Additionally, you get three extra months for free, making it effectively a 39-month subscription. PIA's dedicated IP is considered part of its privacy and security features and costs $5 per month, $51 per year and $90 for three years. Although a bit pricey, it is still lower than its peers, like NordVPN. Private Internet Access doesn't provide a free trial but offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It supports multiple payment options, including PayPal, credit or debit cards, gift cards, bank transfers and cryptocurrencies. For extra privacy, paying with cryptocurrency is ideal. Benzinga rates PIA 4.5/5 on pricing.

Private Internet Access User Experience

Private Internet Access offers a user-friendly and intuitive experience, making it easy for users to navigate and access its features. The platform provides a clean, straightforward interface, ensuring a seamless user experience. Setting up the VPN is hassle-free, with apps available for various devices and detailed setup tutorials for routers and other platforms. 

PIA's extensive compatibility extends to popular operating systems such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. The service also offers smart DNS to unblock sites on devices that cannot run VPN apps, expanding its accessibility. With unlimited VPN connections, users can protect their entire network, ensuring privacy and security across multiple devices. Although a few new users might find the features intimidating, Benzinga considers PIA highly recommendable.

Private Internet Access vs. Competitors

Private Internet Access has competitors like Surfshark and NordVPN, considered the best VPN. While they all take a similar approach to user privacy protection, they have distinct features. PIA and Surfshark allow unlimited device connection, while NordVPN allows only six. NordVPN and  PIA offer an independent-audited no-log policy, unlike Surfshark. PIA's strict no-log policy is also court-proven. NordVPN's server network covers only 60 countries, compared to 84 for PIA and 100 for Surfshark. 

Surfshark and PIA use the WireGuard protocol combined with others like OpenVPN; NordVPN uses its proprietary NordLynx protocol. Compared to Surfshark and NordVPN, PIA's advanced split tunneling is highly customizable. PIA offers the most competitive pricing compared to both. Surfshark's best pricing is its 24-month (plus two free months), which costs $64.40 for a full subscription or $ 2.30 per month, while NordVPN's 2-year plan ranges between $83.76 to $131.76. PIA's 3-year (plus three free months) plan costs $73.08.

Overall Rating

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a reliable VPN service that offers strong privacy and security features, including a strict no-log policy and advanced encryption protocols. The flexible split tunneling feature and kill switch provide additional customization and protection. Its MACE ad blocker adds an extra layer of protection against ads, trackers and malware. PIA is also one of the best VPNs for torrenting and streaming because of its robust encryption and impressive unblocking capabilities.

It allows unlimited diverse connections and is highly affordable compared to its competitors. However, users may experience slower speeds, especially when connecting to distant servers. PIA's interface and setup process may be overwhelming for newcomers. Still, PIA is a solid choice for those seeking robust privacy and security.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Private Internet Access legit?


Yes, Private Internet Access is a legitimate and reputable VPN service provider.


How private is Private Internet Access?


Private Internet Access prioritizes user privacy through its strict no-log policy and advanced security features, making it a highly private VPN option.


Is Private Internet Access still trustworthy?


Yes, Private Internet Access remains a trusted VPN provider known for its commitment to user privacy and security.

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