Private Internet Access (PIA)
- 1 Private Internet Access (PIA)
- 1.1 Summary
- 1.2 Features:
- 1.3 Customer Service
- 1.4 Pricing
- 1.5 Payment
- 1.6 Privacy
- 1.7 Speed
- 1.8 IP Location
- 1.9 Platform’s Supported
- 1.10 DNS Leak Test
- Secure VPN Account
- Encrypted WiFi
- P2P Support
- PPTP, Open VPN and L2TP/IPSec
- Five Devices Simultaneously
- Block ads, trackers and malware
- Multiple VPN Gateways
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- SOCKS5 Proxy Included
- No Traffic Logs
- Instant Set-Up
- Easy to Use
- 3284+ Servers in 24 Countries and growing
- Devices and Platform’s Supported: Windows, iOS, Mac, Andriod, Linux
- 7 Day Money Back Guarantee
PIA has one way to get customer support. You can click on their contact us button at the top of the page and it will forward you to a form where you enter your information and question. I tried this late on weekend evening. And I received a response in less than 10 minutes. I was able to use that email and go back and forth a few more times to get my follow up questions answered. While it was not as quick as a chat option it was still a very timely and quick response using the contact us forms. So, they did provide a timely response. What I would have liked to see is a live chat option so, I could interact with the customer service immediately.
Another thing that was a real positive for PIA was that they have a large data base of questions and answers that I could going digging through as well to get answers to my questions. I have no complaints with there customer service.
PIA is priced to encourage users to buy the 1 year package price because it is discounted so much from the monthly or 6 month subscription. They have three pricing tiers. Their monthly price is $6.95/month, the six month subscription comes to $5.99/month which is a 14% savings off of the monthly rate, but the really significant savings comes when you purchase the yearly subscription with pricing at $3.33/month. It is a 52% savings from the recurring monthly rate. You have to pay for the six month subscription and annual subscription all at one time in order to get the better pricing. PIA is definitely encouraging its users to purchase the yearly subscription with a price reduction of over 50% from the regular monthly rate.
PIA requires it users to purchase the VPN service, but offers a 7 seven day trial period where you can receive a full refund of your money. In order to request a refund you have to submit it in writing within the first seven days of your purchase. You can request a refund by either filling out a form available on the website or emailing customer service directly.
PIA offers 13 different ways to pay for their VPN service. These mainstream payment options include: Paypal, Visa and Mastercard. Itunes, Google Play and Amazon payment services can be used to pay for access to PIA VPN services. For individuals, who are looking to maintain their anonymity bitcoin can be used to pay for a subscription. PIA offers a really cool option to help protect the privacy of their clients. You can pay for your subscription by major brand gift cards like Starbucks and Costco. The only caveat with the gift cards is that you can not use them for recurring payments. You would have to manually go back in and reenter gift card’s information either monthly, semi-annually or annually.
PIA offers servers based in 24 countries and 5 continents around the world. Although the majority of them are located in Europe. The countries with the most servers is the USA. PIA uses the following three encryption protocols to protect their clients data: OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec.
I conducted speed tests using PIA’s service using the following three websites: speedtest.net, speedtest.org and speakeasy.net/speedtest. I have linked below to a video showing the speedtests between the three sights. I did two speedtests per site. They were completed once before PIA’s VPN service was launched and after it was launched. This was done to show how much PIA’s VPN caused the download and upload speeds to slow down.
PIA Speed Test Video
Below I have included the screen shots from each of the three websites. The images display the results for the speed tests before PIA’s VPN was turned on and after it was turned on.
Speedtest.org – Before Launch
Speedtest.org – After Launch
Speedtest.net – Before Launch
Speedtest.net – After Launch
Speakeasy.net/speedtest.net – Before Launch
Speakeasy.net/speedtest – After Launch
I have summarized the results for the three websites in the chart below.
In summary here we see a slight difference between the download speed before and after PIA VPN was launched. The download speeds were slowed down on average 0.59Mb/s. The upload speed difference was negligible at 0.07Mb/s. My internet provider has a download speed of 6.0Mb/s. So on both accounts, before and after the launch, the download speeds from my internet provider are better than what I am paying for. That is what I like to see over delivering on their service. You will never see me complain about getting better service than what I am paying for.
For this test I used the website iplocation.net (an aggregate site showing five websites) to test how well the VPN server was hiding my location. It worked in every case but one. The location that I had selected showed that is where we were surfing from. The one time it didn’t work completely was when I picked California as my server location. It showed on iplocation.net’s website that one of the five websites was actually coming from Florida instead of from California. The IP location was still hidden, so I am not to concerned about this. It just wasn’t showing consistency with this one server. The other three server locations were showing consistency between the five websites found on iplocation.net.
PIA IP Location Video
For this test I started off using Montreal, Canada as my first server location. After that I moved it over to Turkey, then New Zealand and finally California. Below, you will find screen shots showing three of the five websites showing the ip locations of the servers that were chosen for the test.
I highlighted the one instance of the server not broadcasting from the correct location above in yellow and you can see it is indeed showing Sarasota, Florida. But as discussed above I am not worried about this because it is still hiding my location, but it is not consistent with where the chosen server is located.
PIA is supported across all of the major operating systems. They are supported by MacOSX, Windows and Linux. They have apps available in the Apple store and Android stores. Windows can be set up with out too much trouble as well.
DNS Leak Test
I tested the chosen server this time in the US Midwest to see if they were showing that we were broadcasting from multiple servers or just one server. This is done to protect our true location. If we are showing more than one server in this test our location is not truly hidden. It could cause services like Netflix to detect that we are not where we say we are and thereby impinging upon there terms of service. This test is done by using the Domain Naming Service (DNS) to see where we are broadcasting from. Below I have included screen shots from each of the websites that I was using to validate the DNS test as well as a summation chart of the results for easier review.
PIA DNS Leak Test Video
DNS Leak Test Summation Chart
DNS Leak Test Before Private Internet Access was launched
DNS Leak Test After Private Internet Access was launched