NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA)
- 1 NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA)
- 1.1 Summary Video
- 1.2 Summary Chart
- 1.3 Customer Service
- 1.4 Pricing
- 1.5 Payment
- 1.6 Privacy
- 1.7 Speed Tests
- 1.8 IP Locations
- 1.9 Platforms Supported
- 1.10 DNS Leak Test
- 1.11 Conclusion
- 1.12 Recommendation
|NordVPN||Private Internet Access (PIA)|
|Customer Service||Live Chat, Email,Q and A Forums Facebook, Twitter||Limited Chat Support
Large DIY library for support
|Pricing||Monthly – $11.95
Six Months – $7.00 Monthly Rate Billed $42.00 every six months
Annual – $5.75 Monthly Rate
Billed Annually – $69.00
Bi-Annually – $4.00 Monthly Rate
Billed Bi-Annually – $96.00
30 Day Money-back Guarantee
3 Day Free Trial
|Monthly – $6.95
Six Months – $5.99 Monthly Rate Billed $35.95 every six months
Annual – $3.33 Monthly Rate
Billed annually – $39.95/year.
7 Day Money Back Guarantee
And 8 others
In-store Gift Cards
And 6 Others
|Privacy||Server Locations – 951
Countries – 57
Protocols – PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec and IKEv2/IPsec
Encryption – 256 bit AES
Server Types – Double VPN, Onion Over VPN, Ultra Fast TV, Anti-DDOS, Dedicated IP Servers, Standard Servers, P2P
|Servers – 3252
Countries – 25
Protocols – PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec
Encryption – HMAC using Secure Hash Algorithm (256-bit).
|Speed||Average Download Speed – 7.73Mb/sec
Average Upload Speed – 1.20Mb/sec
|Average Download Speed – 6.31Mb/sec
Average Upload Speed – 1.08Mb/sec
|IP Locations||Hid Original IP, But one server showed multiple locations||Hid original IP, but some servers showed multiple locations|
|DNS Leak Test||3 different websites tested no leaks found.||3 different websites tested no leaks|
NordVPN and PIA offer two different levels of customer service. NordVPN offers a real-time chat option that can be accessed anytime day or night, an email ticket service, a forum area where questions are asked and answered and social media options for customer support. Customers can submit requests for help or questions through the Facebook page (here) or its Twitter page (here). PIA access offers an email forum where questions can be asked. It also offers a compendium of Q and A forums where a subscriber can sift through and look for answers to their questions.
Because NordVPN offers more options to contact its customer service teams and has a more timely response with its real-time chat options, it outperforms PIA.
PIA offers a significant savings when compared with NordVPN. Both of them offer monthly, semi-annual and annual contract plans. NordVPN offers a bi-annual plan that isn’t offered by PIA. PIA’s month-to-month price is 42% cheaper than the same option offered by NordVPN. NordVPN closes the gap significantly when we compare the two VPN services’ semi-annual payment plans but is still 6% more expensive than PIA. The prices again diverge to a 42% difference when comparing the annual plans, with NordVPN being that much more expensive than PIA. Since PIA doesn’t offer a bi-annual payment option, I took its annual rate and compared it against NordVPN’s bi-annual rate. PIA still comes out as the cheaper option at 17% cheaper than NordVPN.
In addition to this, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee whereas PIA offers a 7-day money-back guarantee. NordVPN also offers a 3-day free trial with no strings attached. You have to set up an account but you do not have to give any payment information for the free trial.
NordVPN has a better money-back trial period than PIA, but this pales in comparison to the significant saving that PIA offers in comparison to NordVPN. PIA beats out NordVPN in the price comparison.
NordVPN and PIA both accept all major credit cards (MasterCard, VISA and American Express) as well as PayPal and Bitcoin. In addition to this, the two VPNs offer a few different alternative payment options. Both offer the ability to purchase gift cards from retail outlets to pay for their services. This gives the added benefit of anonymity because gift cards cannot be tracked. It is one more layer of privacy that can be used. One of the disadvantages of using gift cards to pay is that you don’t have an automatic recurring bill payment so you would have to go in and add the payments with every renewal. Both PIA and NordVPN offer similar amounts of alternative payment options. NordVPN offers a referral-based program that differentiates itself from PIA. So if you can get your friends or family and they use your referral code, you can earn credit towards your next billing cycle, making it possible to reduce your renewal cost to zero.
In light of this referral program plus the fact that both VPNs offer similar payment options in similar numbers, NordVPN ranks slightly better than PIA.
NordVPN and PIA offer many countries and server locations to choose from. NordVPN has 951 server locations in 57 countries versus PIA’s 3,252 server locations in 25 countries. The real difference lies between the number of server locations and the number of countries each VPN is present in. PIA has multiple times more server locations but is only in about 44% of the countries that NordVPN is in.
Both services offer 256-bit encryption. NordVPN uses AES whereas PIA uses HMAC using Secure Hash Algorithm. Both PIA and NordVPN use the following protocols: PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec. NordVPN also uses the additional protocol IKEv2/IPsec.
Where the real distinction lies between the two services is with NordVPN’s multiple different server types. It has the following different server types: Double VPN, Onion over VPN, Ultra Fast TV, Anti-DDOS, Dedicated IP Servers, Standard Servers and P2P. This gives the consumer a whole host of different options when it comes to how they want to protect their privacy or what they want to use the VPN service for. With all of this available, this gives NordVPN the upper hand when it comes to a privacy comparison.
Below we have a side-by-side comparison of NordVPN and PIA’s speed tests.
Between NordVPN and PIA there is a large difference in the actual download speeds. I am not certain why that is. But since this is something that I cannot control I will not be looking at this. I am going to be looking at the differences between download and upload speeds before and after the two VPN services were launched.
Before VPN Activation
NordVPN and PIA were both compared using the following three websites: www.speedtest.org, www.speedtest.net and www.speakeasy.net/speedtest. NordVPN had an average download speed of 7.73Mb/s and an average upload speed of 1.20Mb/s whereas PIA had an average download speed of 6.90Mb/s and an average upload speed of 1.15Mb/s.
After VPN Activation
NordVPN’s average download speed decreased to 7.51Mb/s and average upload speed decreased to 1.19Mb/s. NordVPN had a download speed difference of 0.22Mb/s and an upload speed difference of 0.01Mb/s. PIA’s average download speed was reduced to 6.31Mb/s and its upload speed was reduced to 1.08Mb/s. PIA had a download speed differential of 0.59Mb/s and an upload speed difference of 0.07Mb/s
NordVPN comes out with an advantage over PIA. The reduction in download speeds was less for NordVPN versus PIA and the upload speed difference was small but favored NordVPN. This gives NordVPN the advantage here.
NordVPN and PIA performed similarly well when we compared the IP Location testing. Both services hid my original location but had a small issue when it came to consistently broadcasting the same servers. With NordVPN, when I selected an Australian server it came back with one of the sites saying that we were broadcasting from the United Kingdom. With PIA, when we selected a server in California it showed we had one website broadcasting from Florida. When doing the initial test on this from both VPNs we checked and tested multiple server locations around the globe. I tried to hit one in the western hemisphere, eastern hemisphere, northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere. So, in light of these issues, neither NordVPN or PIA has an advantage over the other. They both performed similarly.
PIA and NordVPN support the main platforms. They both support Windows, iOS, Linux, Android and MacOS. Where they differ is NordVPN offers additional support to Blackberry users, so there is a slight difference here with NordVPN offering an additional platform support to Blackberry users. As a result, NordVPN has a slight edge over PIA when it comes to platforms supported.
DNS Leak Test
Below we have a side-by-side comparison of NordVPN and PIA’s speed DNS Leak Tests. I used three different websites to see how much of a leak occurred before the VPNs were turned on and after they were turned on. I used the following three sites: www.dnsleaktest.com, www.dnsleak.com and www.dns-leak.com.
Before VPN Activation
Before either PIA or NordVPN was launched they both showed a DNS leak occurring, as would be expected. www.dnsleak.com showed five servers showing for NordVPN and only three showing for PIA, so a difference was noted here but both still showed DNS leaks. The other two sites showed the same number of servers being displayed.
After VPN Activation
PIA and NordVPN both showed no leaks and only one server being detected. Both of the VPNs did exactly what they claim to do: they are hiding your true location with no DNS leaks being broadcast.
There was no difference here. Both PIA and NordVPN showed only one server being broadcast. So this one here is a tie — neither one performed better than the other.
NordVPN outperformed PIA in terms of its superior customer service, payment options, privacy setting and standards and in the speed tests and for platforms supported. PIA was considerably better than NordVPN in terms of pricing. As for the DNS Leak Tests and IP Locations Tests, both VPNs fared similarly. While NordVPN outperformed PIA in most categories I should note that it was only slightly better than PIA in the following categories: payment options, speed tests and platforms supported. So, while it looks like NordVPN handily outperformed PIA, the three aforementioned categories were only slightly in favor of NordVPN.