Great Option for the Price




  • 1 – does not work
  • 2 – Less functional
  • 3 – Serious deficiency in most areas
  • 4 – Functions but has numerous problems
  • 5 – Good, but leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Excellent and worth buying
  • 8 – Fantastic, close to best in class
  • 9 – Best in class
  • 10 – Border perfection

Beginning $2.03/mo


Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most respected VPN services out there. Founded in 2010, it’s practically a dinosaur compared to other services. As it is better known, I took the PIA for a spin to see if it still had what it needed.

In short, it does. I’ve tested Private Internet Access many times over the years, and it’s consistently managed to stay decent. Its main strength is price – PIA is the cheapest premium VPN out there – but it does well in all other respects as well. You won’t get the performance that most of the other top VPN services offer, but at these prices, you probably won’t mind.

That’s what we like

  • Cheap
  • Quick
  • You can access Netflix

And what we do

  • The program is a bit annoying
  • Streaming servers can be slow
  • Torrents may be the problem

How-To Geek’s expert reviewers have experience with every product we review. We put every piece of equipment through hours of real-world testing and testing in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product, and we never aggregate other people’s reviews. More >>

How much is Private Internet Access?

Let’s start by looking at Private Internet Access’s biggest asset, how much it costs, or rather how little it costs. The cheapest of all the top-tier VPNs, it offers plans as low as $2 per month, though you have to sign up for three years to get that deal.

PIA prices

Still, $80 for three years of use is a steal, especially for a VPN as good as PIA. It gets even better when you consider that you renew your subscription for this price. There’s no celebration where you pay too low a price to begin with, only to be bitten when it’s time to renew. Surfshark and NordVPN are the examples I like to use the most, although there are plenty of other VPNs that do.

That said, there are VPNs that are cheaper than PIA, at least initially. One example is FastVPN, which isn’t very good, but it’s $1 a month when you first sign up. A dollar a month is a really good deal, even if the VPN in question leaves a lot to be desired.

RELATED: FastVPN Review: What’s in a Name?

A note on PIA and Debit Cards

As much as I like PIA’s pricing, there’s one thing to watch out for when paying for the service: it doesn’t accept debit cards, at least not until you contact support and whitelist your email address. While I understand it’s better to use a credit card when paying online, it’s still a little weird that you can’t use a debit card, but there you go.

What Personal Internet Access can do

At $80 for three years, Personal Internet Access is a good buy, but let’s see what that money gets you. As I mentioned in the introduction, PIA doesn’t perform as well as my other favorites, but that doesn’t make it a bad VPN by any means. Sure, anything PIA can do, another service can do better, but PIA is pretty good at everything. For $2 a month, “pretty good”, well, pretty good.

Using PIA

Let’s start with the interface as to how you use PIA. The app works the same across platforms and is a small, mobile-friendly app. Many competitors follow the same route, such as Mozilla VPN. What sets PIA apart, however, is what I mean when I say “small”: the program is simply small. It practically drowns on a large desktop screen.

PIA program

The application is more or less the same on all operating systems. I tested PIA on Linux, but downloads are available for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone/iPad, consoles, smart TVs, and VPN routers. There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.

I like the simplicity of the program. It’s actually just two buttons, one selects the server and the other starts the VPN. Easy as pie. For those interested, you can choose to use light or dark mode, which I wish the designers of PIA would explain to the people who make Proton VPN.

RELATED: Proton VPN Review: Secure as a Swiss Bank

What I like less about PIA’s implementation is how it handles more advanced features. To do anything other than the basics, you need to access one of three additional screens. The first is the connectivity options and a few extras. To access these, you click the down arrow at the bottom of the app and it expands.

Expanded view of the PIA application

As you can see, the app stretches to about three times its size, and I hope that doesn’t break the screenshot. How to Geek layout. I find it hard to describe how much I dislike this approach. While I like summarizing usage information and connection features, this folding system doesn’t really work because I have to move the app to see it all. Also, the home button disappears, which is annoying.

Servers and Networking

If you want to choose a different server, the program also functions as an extension, not to the same extent. I like how the menu looks and how colorful it is with the country flags and all, but I still question the app designer’s decisions.

PIA server selection

The application shows the servers and their locations in a very unique way, with increasing latency, more commonly known as ping. Not gonna lie, it took me a second to figure out why Montenegro was above Malta. There is no other way to filter servers, it’s either ping or using the search function. The search function is really good, thankfully, but I wish there were other ways to filter the lists.

However, there are plenty of servers to choose from around the world, although Europe and North America are best represented. There are also specialized streaming servers that are a major draw for PIA.

Private Internet Access and Netflix

These streaming servers are dedicated VPN servers that PIA has optimized for streaming. It doesn’t offer these for every location, but the most important ones are represented, such as the United Kingdom, Japan, and a few in the United States, among others.

Overview of PIA's streaming servers

In general, these do a pretty good job of unblocking Netflix, although they’re not perfect either. First, not all of them will work, at least two of them kicked me out to a generic Netflix page that only shows so-called Netflix Originals. Plus, many of these were also very slow, I suspect because they were experiencing a pretty heavy load, something I talk more about in the speed section.

Overall, if streaming were my priority, PIA wouldn’t be my first choice – that honor goes to ExpressVPN. However, this is where the price difference comes into play: ExpressVPN is $100 per year, so it’s about four times more expensive than Private Internet Access. If you’re looking for a reliable streaming option that costs less, check out my Mysterium VPN review.


Finally, let’s take a look at some Private Internet Access settings. These are accessed via the three dots at the top of the app. These are thankfully presented on a normal-sized screen and offer plenty of options that you can mix and match to your heart’s content. If that’s how you want to fix your VPN, PIA is a very good choice.

PIA's kill switch settings

That said, defaults are fine too. There’s no real reason to access these settings if you don’t want to. For example, PIA has a kill switch by design, one of the few VPNs to do this – read my Surfshark review for an example where this important feature is turned off by default.

The settings menu is also where you get an overview of all the extra features PIA offers, including useful things like split tunneling, multi-hop, or even dedicated IPs, which cost an extra $5 a month.

Outside of the flexible app, I really like how PIA handles it, and I like how many of its features can be turned on and off in the app, so I wish more VPNs included it.

RELATED: What is a VPN Kill Switch and Do You Need One?

How Fast Is Private Internet Access?

Aside from price, another thing that has set Private Internet Access apart over the years is its speeds: they’re usually pretty good. This time when I tested using, I wasn’t disappointed, although the streaming servers seemed to have some server load issues. First, let’s look at the readings I tested from Cyprus early this morning.

Location Ping (ms) Download (mbps) Download (Mbps)
Cyprus (undefended) 6 98 41
Israel 95 82 39
United Kingdom 65 92 39
New York City 144 78 37
Japan 283 87 33

My primary connection of just under 100Mbps was barely hit at that time of day. Israel underperforms a bit, although it’s pretty close, but that seems normal compared to all the other reviews. Most surprising was Japan, which despite being on the other side of the world, was still really, really fast. Only Mullvad and IVPN test better than PIA, and not even that much.

However, there is one caveat: streaming servers are very slow. In the evening, when people watched Netflix with a VPN, speeds on the streaming servers could be 50%, sometimes even more. If you’re on a fast base connection like I am, this won’t be too bad, but those with slower connections may want to be aware of this issue.

Security and Privacy

Let’s take a look at Private Internet Access’s security and privacy policies in this review. In terms of security, I like that the service focuses on two of the best VPN protocols, OpenVPN and WireGuard. These are solid options that are safe but still fast. You can’t go wrong with either, I like OpenVPN though as it’s a tried and true choice.

Protocols available in PIA

When it comes to privacy, reading the privacy policy, PIA seems solid. It doesn’t seem to store much data, although it would be better if it allowed you to sign up anonymously and let you save nothing. As with all VPNs, you’re taking PIA at their word that they’ll keep your data safe, and with their long history, there’s no reason not to trust them.

However, there’s a problem for torrenters: Since PIA is based in the US, there’s a chance it could become the target of torrent-related lawsuits or warrants. If you like sailing on the high seas, you may want to avoid VPNs based in the US in general and definitely Do not use servers located in the US

Do you need to Register for Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access is a solid VPN. It’s certainly not superior in any area, but at $79 for three years, it’s a good choice. Still, it’s a few things short of being a truly great VPN, like the mediocre performance of its streaming servers. Add in these torrenting issues and PIA basically becomes a VPN for people who want to browse anonymously and don’t want to break the bank doing so.


Beginning $2.03/mo

That’s what we like

  • Cheap
  • Quick
  • You can access Netflix

And what we do

  • The program is a bit annoying
  • Streaming servers can be slow
  • Torrents may be the problem

Source link