Private Internet Access is one of the most popular VPN services available. It will help you mask your IP address, encrypt all of your traffic and will unblock websites in your region. How exactly does it work? How much does it cost and just how good is it? Find out in our review below.
What Is VPN and Why You Need It
Your Mac or iPhone has a unique IP address. This is something that can be used to figure out your location via your ISP’s data center. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) essentially masks this location and gives your computer a new IP address. This can be in a data center in your own country or in a different one. This way you can unblock content that’s not available in your country.
Unblocking websites is just one of the things VPN does. VPNs also encrypt the traffic so no one can snoop around when you’re using an open network at a cafe. The combination of encryption and a different IP address means total privacy when it comes to browsing. And if you’re using a VPN server in your own country, you’ll hardly notice any drop in internet speeds.
Most good VPNs ask for a $9.99/month fee at the door. With PIA, you can get in the door for $6.95. And if you pay for the entire year, you can get it for just $3.33/year. That’s great value.
You can pay for PIA in multiple ways. Other than a credit card and PayPal, you can use Amazon or other gift card balances to pay. You can even use Bitcoin.
Private Internet Access comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a power user oriented VPN service.
Encryption: PIA offers pro level encryption options. From the app, you can enable AES-256, RSA 4096 and SHA1 encryption.
Leak Protection: PIA promises DNS and IPv6 leak protection. This makes sure that a leak doesn’t result in logging of any kind.
Shared IP System: PIA mixes one client’s traffic with others. This is done anonymously and it results into scrambling of the data so it’s more difficult to trace the source.
Kill Switch: This feature automatically disables internet access for apps and websites when the VPN is disconnected. This is a great feature because it makes sure that VPN outages won’t lead to exposing your private data and location.
Unlimited Bandwidth: No matter how much you use it, PIA won’t throttle your speeds.
Private Internet Access has apps for Windows PC, Linux, Mac, iOS and Android devices. Plus, if you have a Wi-Fi router running DD-WRT or Tomato firmware, you can directly load up the VPN to the router and protect all your devices at once.
You don’t need to pay for VPN on a per-device basis. You can run 5 devices on a single PIA account. If you’re using going to use PIA on your iPhone, MacBook and your desktop, you’re now only paying about a dollar per device per month. That’s a great price for the peace of mind.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Private Internet Access is all in on BitTorrent. It will work across all servers and without any issues. But if you’re looking for something to unblock Netflix US for, you, PIA isn’t the VPN for you.
Private Internet Access has over 3,000 servers in 37 locations in 25 countries. This means all the usual suspects like US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and more are covered.
When we used the Auto mode, we hardly noticed any drop in internet speed (it was less than 10%). But when we switched to a US server, the speed dropped to 25%. But this turned out to be an isolated issue. When we tested switched to a US server from Singapore, the drop wasn’t as severe.
Most of the time, you’re going to be using VPN as a privacy tool and not as an . When you’re using it in Auto mode and it picks a server in your own country, the performance is admirable.
Private Internet Access app on the Mac works as a menu bar utility. From the drop down you can quickly connect and disconnect the VPN. You’ll also find a myriad of server locations to choose from in the same drop down. You can directly connect to a chosen server or just select Connect Auto to let PIA figure it out for you.
When it comes to preferences, you can make have PIA launch and auto connect at login. From the advanced section, you can change the connection type, define the ports and enable the VPN Kill Switch feature. From the Encryption button, you can switch from the default AES-128 bit encryption to something stronger.
Private Internet Access app on iOS uses a VPN profile to give you a blanket protection no matter which app or service you’re using. You can enable/disable it from the toggle in the app. Tap on the county section to switch between a different server. You’ll also see the current speed in the app’s home screen.
Unless you have a very specific need (like unblocking Netflix US), Private Internet Access is a great VPN service for almost anyone. It’s very easy to use (the Auto mode does all the heavy lifting) and at just $3.33/month, it’s among the cheapest VPNs that doesn’t skimp on features or privacy.
If you live in one of the 25 counties that PIA has a server in, you won’t even notice a substantial drop in download/upload speeds.
What do you use your VPN service for? What do you think of PIA? Would you switch to it? Share with us in the comments below.
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