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 Platforms 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 Platforms Supported: Windows, iOS, Mac, Android, Linux
- 7-Day Money-Back Guarantee
PIA offers customer support one way. You can click on its “contact us” button at the top of the page which will forward you to a form where you enter your information and question. I tried this late on a weekend evening and I received a response in less than 10 minutes. I was able to use that email to 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, using the contact us forms still drove a very timely and quick response. However, what I would have liked to see is a live chat option so I could interact with customer service immediately.
Another thing that’s a real positive for PIA is its large database of questions and answers that I could go digging through as well to get answers to my questions. I have no complaints with PIA’s customer service.
PIA is priced to encourage users to buy the 1-year package because it is discounted so much from the monthly or six-month subscription. PIA has three pricing tiers. Its 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 come 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 its users to purchase the VPN service but offers a seven-day trial period during which 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 its VPN service. These mainstream payment options include PayPal, Visa and Mastercard. iTunes, Google Play and Amazon payment services can also be used to pay for access to PIA VPN services. Bitcoin can also be used to pay for a subscription. PIA offers a really cool option to help protect the privacy of its clients: you can pay for your subscription with major brand gift cards like Starbucks and Costco. The only caveat with the gift cards is that you cannot use them for recurring payments. You would have to manually go back in and reenter the 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 country with the most servers is the USA. PIA uses the following three encryption protocols to protect its clients’ data: OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec.
I conducted speed tests of 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 speed tests between the three sites. I did two speed tests 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 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: overdelivering on a 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 featuring 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 too 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 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 is not consistent with the location of the chosen server.
PIA is supported across all of the major operating systems. They are supported by Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. It has apps available in the Apple and Android stores. Windows can be set up without too much trouble as well.
DNS Leak Test
I tested the chosen server in the US Midwest to see if they were showing 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 its 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