pia review thumbnail

PIA VPN Review 2020: 5 Surprising Pros That Stand Out

Are you thinking of buying a PIA vpn plan?

Have you looked online but can’t find the best PIA vpn review that is updated with the lastest PIA vpn features in 2020?

PIA vpn, also known as Private Internet Access, is one of the most popular names in the vpn industry.

PIA review home

While others swear by it as a very fast vpn service, others are really upset by their poor customer support.

But is it really a vpn that you should even consider buying in 2020?

Well, in this PIA review we are going to look at the PIA vpn pros and cons that you should look out for before committing yourself to a long term plan.

After taking a one month plan of this service, I put it to test to find out what speeds, geoblocking capabilities and security features it has to offer.

Before we get into the details of this PIA review, here is a quick summary of what I found out.

PIA review feature list

Private Internet Access is a premium vpn service provider based in the US, founded in the year 2010.

It offers safety and anonymity online by implementing a no logs policy with some of the best data encryption algorithms and vpn connection protocols.

In terms of streaming, I was able to unblock Netflix as well as torrent flawlessly.

Websiteprivateinternetaccess.com
Servers3,340
JurisdictionUnited States
StreamingNetflix
Speed4.7/5
TorrentingAll servers
PrivacyZero logs
Devices10
Pricing$ 3.33/month
Free trialNone

Here is a more detailed review of Private Internet Access vpn.

How many servers does PIA have?

While writing this Private Internet Access review in 2020, PIA has a collection of 3,340 vpn servers based in 32 different countries.

PIA review servers

I think that’s a great collection of servers to ensure that there is less congestion on each server.

The less load there is on a server, the faster your connection speeds should be.

PIA review facts and figures

Even though the total vpn server count is great, I am quite disappointed that they are not properly distributed across different geographical regions.

Most of their servers are based around North American and Europe.

Does PIA unblock Netflix?

Can you use PIA vpn with Netflix?

This is a very important question to answer before you commit yourself to any vpn service provider because most vpns can’t unblock Netflix.

So don’t assume that it will, especially if your main use for a vpn will be streaming.

PIA review server list

What was my experience using PIA to access geo blocked content on the most popular online video streaming platforms?

First, I was able to unblock and watch Netflix in the US without any proxy errors… most of the servers that I used worked fine.

Apart from the US, I was also able to unblock Netflix in the UK and Canada. 

When I came to Japan, I was caught with the proxy servers errors, so I couldn’t watch content destined for these regions.

There are also other streaming platforms that you might also be interested in like Hulu, HBO GO, ABC etc.

PIA review connect

I could not unblock Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer in any country.

So, while PIA worked well in unblocking Netflix in the US, UK and Canada… that’s it. You won’t have access to other streaming platforms.

If you just want a vpn to stream Netflix in the US, PIA is great.

However, if you also want to have options with Hulu, iPlayer etc, don’t buy PIA because their vpn IPs are blocked on those platforms.

Is PIA vpn fast enough?

What about the connection speeds?

Did I need to go make some coffee while my YouTube videos buffer before I come back to watch them?

PIA review login

Let’s find out…

To test PIA vpn connections speeds, I used speedtest.net and connected to three of their servers based in the USA, UK and Hong Kong… and I was surprised by what I found out.

Here are the results…

Before connecting to PIA vpn, my download speed was 25.71Mbps while my upload speed stood at 6.21Mbps.

PIA review speed tests initial

On connecting to a PIA server based in USA, my download speeds dropped to 23.86Mbps while my upload speed dropped to 6.09Mbps.

PIA review speed tests US

Did the UK based server do any better?

Well, on the UK server my download dropped to 23.50Mbps while my uploads dropped further to 4.57Mbps.

PIA review speed tests UK

Lastly, the Hong Kong based server performed really great.

While my download speeds only dropped to 24.83Mbps, my upload speed actually increased to 6.41Mbps.

PIA review speed tests HK

PIA vpn performed extremely well during this speed tests.

On all the servers I connected, PIA maintained over 90% of my original connection speeds… 97% for the Hong Kong based server.

Of all the vpns I have tested, PIA vpn has proved the fastest vpn in 2020.

It did even better than ExpressVPN.

Does PIA allow torrenting?

Will you be able to download torrent files using your favorite torrenting clients in PIA?

This is where PIA amazed me…

While it doesn’t have dedicated torrenting servers, PIA supports torrenting activities in all its servers as of the time of writing this PIA review.

PIA review connect stats

I didn’t need to change the servers when torrenting… I could just start torrenting using the same connection I was using to browse.

That sounds great but is it really safe to torrent on PIA servers? 

PIA review features

Are you anonymous?

Absolutely.

Private Internet Access does not log any bandwidth usage or IP address that can be linked back to you for copyright infringement.

We’ll find more about their privacy policy below.

PIA review information collected

So if you are torrenting with PIA servers, you should not be worried of the government coming after you someday with a lawsuit.

Torrenting on PIA servers is both fast and completely anonymous.

How good could this get?

Does PIA vpn keep user logs?

Now to the question most privacy freaks are so keen on…

Does Private Internet Access log user data?

The answer is NO.

According to their privacy policy, PIA does not log your IP address, connection stamps or bandwidth usage.

PIA review no logs statement

This means that there is no usage data on the PIA servers that can be used to identify who you are.

It was even proven in 2015 and 2017 when the US government ordered PIA to provide internet usage logs for certain individuals who are suspects in a court case.

You know what PIA handed over? Nothing.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that PIA vpn headquarters is based in the US… a country that forms part of the 5/9/14 eyes countries.

Any country that is part of this collabo usually spy and serveille their citizens and then share their sensitive data.

PIA review main features

While writing this PIA review, the US does not have a law that obligates vpn providers to keep logs but they do have a law that oblige you to comply in case they ask for logs.

The US is very far from the countries you’d consider to be privacy friendly.

However, PIA vpn is still able to navigate these murky waters and deliver true privacy and no user logs.

If you are looking for the best vpn for privacy, I definitely recommend PIA.

What encryption algorithm does PIA use?

Is your data secure with PIA?

Security of a vpn service boils down to the data encryption algorithm and vpn connection protocols.

PIA vpn uses a very strong 128-bit encryption algorithm that is tamper proof and has never been hacked before.

PIA review quick features

While this is not to the standard of 256-bit encryption that most vpns use in 2020, it’s still considered very secure for transmitting sensitive user information over the internet.

Together with 128-bit encryption you also get some of the best vpn connection protocols for additional security.

PIA apps let you connect via OpenVPN (UDP & TCP), PPTP, L2TP and IPSec protocols.

All the apps have OpenVPN as their default connection protocol except iOS which uses IPsec as its protocol.

PIA review connection preferences

Even though you have the option of selecting a different connection protocol in the apps, protocols like PPTP and L2TP are quite dated and should not be used in 2020.

Overall, Private Internet Access vpn offers you very secure encryption algorithms that will ensure your data is protected.

What are PIA’s security features?

What other security features does Private Internet Access have that ensure a better internet usage experience?

There are a lot of additional security features that PIA has been able to add in the recent few years that I’ll outline in this Private Internet Access review.

PIA MACE

When I write any vpn review in 2020, I am always keen to check out their ability to block adware and malware from running on my devices.

So I wanted to take a few minutes to analyze the ad and malware blockers in this PIA vpn review in 2020.

PIA supports ad and malware blocking using a feature called PIA MACE.

Sometimes you visit a site and then some videos start playing, either in the bottom right or bottom left corners of the screen… often with no audio.

These can sometimes be very annoying and embarrassing, especially when the ad suddenly turns on the audio without your permission.

PIA review MACE

While these sites need these ads to run in order to make money from their traffic, you might want to turn them off sometimes as they are quite intrusive for the most part.

I turned on PIA MACE and I was able to browse these websites without the ads.

Even though I also expected YouTube videos to also be able to play without ads, that was not the case… as the YouTube ads kept showing.

PIA MACE also offers you protection against malware infected websites that will trick you with phishing scams and steal sensitive personal information.

It has a list of these known malware infected sites in a database, so each time it detects you are accessing one of them… it will block these websites before they can harm your device.

Since a premium vpn like ExpressVPN lacks an adware or malware block, I consider this a major PIA pro.

So if you are looking for a vpn service that will provide a great browsing experience by blocking ads and malware, PIA will do the job.

Dedicated IPs

Does PIA vpn have a dedicated IP address?

Vpn dedicated IPs enable you to always connect to the internet using the same IP address.

This is particularly important when you want to access your banking services online, because they’ll often ask for additional verification every time to try to access your account from a new IP address.

It is a security feature that protects your account from hackers.

While NordVPN gives you dedicated IP addresses for such purposes, unfortunately PIA does not support dedicated IP addresses.

PIA review feature list

And this testifies to what they particularly want to be great at… what they want to be known for.

PIA is more focused on guaranteeing your complete privacy and anonymity online.

According to the information on their website, they don’t offer dedicated IPs because the concept of using the same IP address beats the entire purpose of hiding who you are online.

According to PIA, as long as you are connected to a shared IP address, it’ll remain impossible to trace who you really are and what you do online.

Something that’s very easy once a particular IP address can be tied to you.

PIA is really upfront about privacy and anonymity online.

In fact, from this alone, I strongly recommend PIA vpn as one of the best vpns for privacy and anonymous internet access.

Obfuscated Servers

Server obfuscation is the ability of a vpn server to bypass vpn blocks and access censored content in internet restricted countries without being detected.

Particular countries of interest are UAE, Iran and China.

Will PIA vpn especially enable you to bypass the great firewall of China?

NO.

While writing this PIA vpn review, I scoured through forums to find out anyone who has ever had success bypassing China’s firewall with PIA but there was none.

PIA review double vpn

Note also that PIA does not claim to be able to bypass China’s firewall on their website.

If you are looking for vpns with better obfuscation technology that can bypass the Chinese firewall, check out ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Kill Switch

Does PIA vpn support a kill switch?

A kill switch will ensure that you only access the internet when the vpn app is connected to the vpn server.

PIA review kill switch

Or better put, it ensures you only access the internet when it is safe to do so.

Usually, your internet is only encrypted and secure when you are accessing the internet through a vpn server.

But when your wifi connection drops and your vpn app disconnects from the server, your IP address is exposed and your ISP can actually see and log what you are doing.

PIA review split tunneling

Fortunately, all the PIA apps come with an inbuilt automatic kill switch that will block your internet access anytime the connection drops.

It therefore guarantees your anonymity online.

IPv6 leaks, DNS leaks and WebRTC leaks tests

IPv6 is a new way of representing IP addresses but most ISPs still use IPv4.

A good vpn should be able to seal your IPv6 address from being seen in case your ISP uses IPv6… just like a vpn would conceal your IPv4 address.

I used ipleak.net to test if PIA is also able to hide my IPv6 address from being exposed while browsing.

PIA review IPv6 leak tests, DNS leak tests & WebRTC leak tests

As you can see from the screenshot above, there were no leaks at all on my IPv6 address, DNS or WebRTC.

PIA safely protects both your IPv4 and IPv6 from being revealed online.

How much does PIA vpn cost?

PIA vpn is a very budget friendly vpn.

Their monthly plans as well as yearly plans are pretty much affordable and you get great discounts when you commit to a longer plan.

PIA review pricing

1-month plan costs $9.95/month

6-month plan costs $5.99/month, billed as $35.95

12-month plan costs $3.33/month, billed as $39.95

With each of these plans, you get access to the full feature set of PIA vpn together with a 30 day money back guarantee.

It’s a risk free way to try Private Internet Access vpn for yourself.

What payment options do you have?

How do you pay for your PIA vpn subscription?

PIA supports all the major credit cards and payment platforms, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoing, Etherium etc.

PIA review anonymous payment

If you want complete anonymity, you can sign up with a disposable email address and pay with some bitcoins.

Remember if you pay with the standard payment methods, PIA will store your payment info just in case you need to process a refund.

PIA review payment methods

It should not worry you, though, as PIA does not log any identifying information about your internet usage.

Does PIA offer a refund?

I can confirm in this PIA review in 2020 that every plan you purchase on PIA vpn comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

This means you have 30 days to evaluate this vpn service from the time you buy and decide if you want to keep it.

PIA review refund policy

If within 30 days of using this vpn you decide you don’t want it, just email customer support for a refund.

PIA review money back guarantee

So if you are looking for a vpn that allows at least 30 days refund then you should check out PIA.

Do you get to try PIA for free?

Does Private Internet Access vpn provide a free trial?

NO.

PIA review servers

It doesn’t allow you to try their services for free, but the 30 day money back guarantee can serve as a 30 day trial… you get to try it for 30 days then commit to a plan or ask for your money back.

How many devices does PIA support?

PIA vpn has dedicated apps for most of the popular platforms and operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.

There are also guides for configuring your vpn with your router.

PIA review supported devices

Apart from the routers, you’ll also get browser extensions for Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera for bumping security in the browser.

It is important to note that these browser extensions only secure your internet access through the browser… all other apps must be secured through the vpn  apps you installed.

I also find it amazing that PIA vpn supports upto 10 devices connected at the same time.

PIA review devices

Most vpns limit this number to around 6 connections, so this is a great feature for you especially if you have a lot of devices to connect or want to share your connection with family.

If you are looking for a vpn that allows more connected devices out of the limiting 3-6 devices most vpns talk about, then I strongly recommend PIA vpn.

Does PIA offer any customer support?

How do you get help when you are stuck, for example, installing PIA in your home routers?

To begin with, PIA has a lot of great articles that will guide you through installation and troubleshooting of their vpn apps.

PIA review help

In fact, from my experience, these are the most detailed vpn installation guides and will most often solve your problem without needing to talk to a human being.

The FAQ section on the website itself offers great vpn usage tips.

What if you are still stuck and need to talk to someone?

It is very disappointing that PIA does not offer live chat support on their website.

Heck, live chat support is becoming a requirement these days, even for small online stores… as long as you sell anything online, you need to prove live support.

Unfortunately, the team over at PIA don’t think so.

While they have no live chat support, you can reach their customer support by submitting a ticket on their contact us page.

PIA review live chat does not work

Even though they say there is live chat on their website, I clicked on the launch button for the chat but as you can see in the screenshot… nothing happened.

Just a blank new window is opened and nothing happens in it for hours.

Lack of live chat support is a major PIA vpn con.

If you are particularly keen on a vpn with great customer support, especially if you are not tech savvy, then PIA will disappoint you.

In Conclusion

Before I set down to actually test out this vpn service provider, I must say I had very high expectations.

  • 3,340 servers
  • Netfilx
  • Fast speeds
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Zero logs
  • Kill Switch
  • Accepts Bitcoins
  • Ad blocker
  • 10 devices
  • No dedicated IPs
  • Blocked in China
  • No Hulu, Amazon

Partly because of other PIA reviews I had read on forums and other blogs.

I was particularly very impressed by the very fast connections speeds I got while connected to PIA. In fact PIA is the fasted vpn I have tested for far.

Clearly, unlike other vpns like ExpressVPN, that are trying to be everything for everyone… PIA vpn does not dance to that tune.

PIA review features

PIA vpn focuses more on guaranteeing your privacy and security online.

I think this is their main strength… though that’s something I could also say is a wait and see kind of because it’s a vpn company based in the US.

In the year 2015 and later in 2017, when the US government ordered user logs for certain individuals… PIA responded with no logs, as they didn’t have any.

This is quite reassuring though.

So would I recommend PIA vpn in 2020?

Absolutely.

PIA review desktop home

If you are looking for a vpn that sticks to their word about no logs, then Private Internet Access is the best vpn for you.

Click here to choose a PIA vpn plan today.

StreamingTorrentingDevicesPrice
NordVPNNetflix, Hulu, iPlayer P2P servers6$ 3.49/m
SurfsharkNetflix, Hulu, iPlayer P2P serversUnlimited$ 1.99/m
ExpressVPNNetflix, Hulu, iPlayerAll servers5$ 8.32/m

Have you used Private Internet Access vpn before?

Please share your experience in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *