INTERESTED in purchasing a new VPN subscription but not sure where to start?
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a more-than-valid option at a bargain price.
- Private Internet Access VPN, from £1.69 per month – buy here
There are several reasons to use PIA, but if we had to pick one, it would be the customisation options related to network settings.
That being said, you’ll be able to use Private Internet Access even if you’re not a technical user.
In fact, PIA is one of the few VPN services offering clients for less-used operating systems (OS), including Linux – all of them are very straightforward and intuitive to use.
We tested Private Internet Access on Windows 11, but the VPN service is available on most mobile and desktop OS, including Android, macOS, and iOS.
Before we delve into PIA’s features and pricing details, here’s an evergreen article covering the basics of what VPNs are.
We have also written a guide to help you find out if you do need a VPN or not, and one listing the best VPNs for Netflix.
And if you’re already caught up with all that and you’re currently comparing options, be sure to read our Surfshark review, NordVPN review and CyberGhost VPN review.
Private Internet Access VPN review: at a glance
Private Internet Access offers a solid VPN service with an intuitive interface that is the same across different platforms.
It also comes with several advanced network settings, as well as features that are not normally offered by VPN providers (more on this later).
PIA’s NextGen VPN Network’ has locations in 84 countries across the world – which is a number slightly above average – and connections are consistently fast across the board.
In terms of privacy, Private Internet Access has a publicly available no-logs policy.
The company has not, however, undergone a third-party audit yet, unlike NordVPN for instance.
Finally, the PIA VPN is officially the cheapest one we have tested.
Tested: February 2022, Windows 11
- Minimalistic app
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Extensive server network
- Advanced security settings
- No-logs policy
- Customer support could be better
- No third-party security audit
- Owned by a conglomerate
What is Private Internet Access VPN?
Private Internet Access was founded in 2010 by Korean-American entrepreneur Andrew Lee, who reportedly wanted to anonymise the IP addresses of users on IRC (Internet Relay Chat.)
The company grew steadily in the following years, and in 2019 was acquired by technology giant Kape Technologies, who also owns CyberGhost VPN and ExpressVPN.
For context, it’s important to mention here that before rebranding as Kape, the company operated under the name of Crossrider and was accused of adware tactics.
At the time of writing, however, Private Internet Access VPN’s infrastructure remains reportedly separated from Kape’s.
When compared with other VPN services, PIA has servers in more countries than Surfshark, but less than ExpressVPN.
It is still cheaper than most of its competitors, however, while still offering a very competitive series of features, particularly in the area of network security.
Private Internet Access is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chromebook computers, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices, and a number of routers.
How much does Private Internet Access VPN cost?
- Private Internet Access VPN, £8.99 per month – buy here
- Private Internet Access VPN, £32.34 for six months (save £21.06) – buy here
- Private Internet Access VPN, £43.94 for two years + two months (save £189.8) – buy here
The Private Internet Access VPN is one of the cheapest we have tested.
Of course, as with most VPN services, the longer the subscription, the cheaper the overall price.
PIA’s ‘2 years + 2 month’ plan will cost you £1.69 per month, which you’ll have to pay as a one-off fee of £43.94.
The deal is proportionally similar to Cyberghost’s plan, which costs £68.25 for three years and three months.
But while Cyberghost offers seven simultaneous connections, Private Internet Access allows for ten, making it the best option in terms of sheer value.
Surfshark needs a particular mention in this section. While the VPN is a little bit more expensive than PIA (around £1.84 for the one-year plan), it offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, making it a valid competitor.
Private Internet Access VPN: server and server locations
PIA’s NextGen VPN Network’ has server locations in 84 countries across the world.
This is a solid number, which allows Private Internet Access customers to utilize VPN connections from more countries than NordVPN or Surfshark, for instance.
On the other hand, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN currently count servers in more countries than PIA, respectively 88 and 94.
A quick note here: the company does not publicly disclose the exact number of servers. And while server concentration is not necessarily a sign of faster connection speeds, it can potentially be a factor in how well a VPN performs.
All PIA servers come with unlimited bandwidth, which is a nice touch, particular when downloading vast quantities of data.
Private Internet Access VPN: security and privacy
When it comes to security, the Private Internet Access VPN is a solid option, with many customisable settings.
These include variable encryption levels, multi-hop and split tunnelling features, and an effective kill switch.
A PIA subscription also gives you access to different data authentication and handshake methods, and to both OpenVPN and WireGuard technologies for faster downloads.
Additionally, the software includes several network-specific security features, such as allowing you to set specific rules for individual networks.
Privacy is solid too, with a clear no-logs policy, and dedicated features like a built-in resolver designed to get users’ DNS requests get mixed with other PIA users for maximum anonymity.
At the time of writing, there have been no reported leaks of PIA users’ personal data.
Private Internet Access VPN: speed and performance
Using PIA, you can download torrents from any server (as opposed to many VPN providers who offer specialized servers for torrenting), and watch Netflix from different locations with no lagging whatsoever.
But how is the app from a user interface perspective? The PIA client is very intuitive and consistent design-wise across devices.
However, it’s not exactly light as a feather, taking up almost 200MB of RAM power. It’s still a negligible amount, considering the average computing power of today’s PCs, but it is heavier than ExpressVPN, for instance, which only takes up 75MB of RAM.
Before we delve into PIA’s speeds, it is important to mention here the company’s customer support, and how it’s still hit and miss.
We’ve tried contacting them a few times, and chat response times were just not as fast as most VPN providers. In fact, once, we waited for over twenty minutes before getting a response.
That being said, when it comes to speeds, PIA is fairly fast, though we had mixed results.
Down below is a breakdown of speeds using different server options.
All servers in PIA have a latency indicator, which is expressed in ms. The servers we have tested had an increasingly higher latency, which impacted not only download and upload speeds, but also ping.
That being said, utilising PIA’s Smart Location servers, results were almost entirely consistent, with network speeds and ping being affected only minimally.
That changed substantially when we tried to connect to servers with higher latency, but even with our connection speeds halved, we were still able to watch Netflix Japan, for instance, with no issues.
Just make sure that your internet connection has a minimum of 10MB in download speeds if you plan on using PIA’s higher-latency servers for streaming, as less than 5MB may potentially result in some lag.
How many devices can be supported on Private Internet Access VPN?
A subscription to PIA VPN gives you access to ten simultaneous connections.
These include desktop and mobile devices, as well as supported browsers and game consoles.
With the exception of Surfshark, which offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, PIA is the VPN provider giving access to the highest number of simultaneously connected devices.
The only one getting close is CyberGhost VPN, which offers seven.
Private Internet Access VPN: is it any good?
Private Internet Access is a valid VPN service with plenty of security features and a clear no-logs policy (though it would be nice to see a third-party security audit in the future.)
It also works nicely with torrents and streaming sites, and its apps are minimalistic and easy to use.
Support response times are the only real weak spot of this excellent VPN, which also offers ten simultaneous connections at a very affordable price (if you select the longer-term plans).
All in all, we believe Private Internet Access is an all-round VPN service with some interesting extras and is, therefore, a valid option to consider.
- Private Internet Access VPN, from £1.69 per month – buy here
How to use Private Internet Access VPN
The PIA client is very intuitive and easy to use. After installing it and logging in, you’ll be able to automatically connect to the fastest server by clicking/tapping on the big, circular, green button.
You can also scroll down to manually connect to different servers, and click on the three-dot menu on the top-right cornet to access additional settings.
PIA VPN FAQs
Have more question about PIA VPN? We try to answer them in this section.
How to install PIA VPN on Fire TV Stick
PIA does not provide an official app for the Fire TV Stick, so you can’t just look it up on the app store.
However, you can still download PIA’s app by enabling the installation of “Apps from Unknown Sources” from your Fire TV Stick’s settings.
After doing that, go to the store and install the Downloader app, launch it and look up the PIA app.
You’ll then be able to install it and log in like you normally would any other apps.
Disclaimer: enabling the installation of “Apps from Unknown Sources” is typically not advised from a security standpoint, and you do so at your own risk.
Is Private Internet Access safe?
Yes, PIA is a fairly safe VPN service.
The company has a clear no-logs policy and at the time of writing there were no reported leaks of PIA users’ personal data.
However, PIA has not yet undergone a third-party security audit, and was acquired by technology giant Kape Technologies in 2019. You can read more about it in the overview section of this review.
Is Private Internet Access VPN free?
Private Internet Access VPN is not free, but it is one of the cheapest we have tested.
PIA’s cheapest ‘2 years + 2 month’ plan will cost you £1.69 per month, which you’ll have to pay as a one-off fee of £43.94.
How to cancel PIA VPN
Cancelling a PIA VPN subscription is an easy and straightforward process.
Follow this link and log in to the Client Control Panel (CCP) using your PIA credentials.
In the CCP, under the “Subscription Overview”, you’ll see a “Turn off auto-renewal” option. Just click there to prevent future payment and cancel your PIA VPN subscription.
How we test VPN services
Our experts at The Sun use Ookla to test the speed of the VPN services we review. We are based in London, and currently testing speeds via Wi-Fi. All tests are conducted using the same machine and at the same distance from the router.
We test and review each VPN using the same processes and judge them by the same criteria each time.
These criteria are price, server quality and location, security and privacy, speed and performance, and number/type of supported devices.
All of our reviews are editorially independent and free from bias.
Make sure you know your country’s laws and regulations if you’re unsure about how you’re using a VPN service.
Enjoyed our PIA review? Then why not have a look at our roundup of the best VPNs for Netflix in 2022.
We have also selected the best broadband deals you can get right now.
For additional tech recommendations, head over to our dedicated Sun Selects Tech page.
*If you click on a link in this piece, we may earn affiliate revenue.