Private Internet Access VPN is a service provided by London Trust Media Inc., a Michigan based company whose claimed vision is to offer their clients protection from internet spying. The VPN by Private Internet Access has affordable annual plans whose popularity is rapidly rising. The service caters to a wide range of needs and uses a bunch of clustered servers to maintain peak connection speeds at various points. Still, their global coverage doesn’t appear as extensive as other similar packages.
Initially, the service looks threadbare, running out of the system tray after the initial setup. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of features, despite the lack of a flashy user interface. Another key feature is its user-friendliness, which allows quick setup by the novice. The service is also quite powerful; advanced users will delight from a wide array of settings to tweak.
Unlike other providers who disingenuously fail to properly disclose their headquarters’ locations and registration, Private Internet Access VPN openly discloses this information. Servers are located in 25 countries spread over almost all continents. On the company’s site, there’s a server page that displays server counts, bandwidth stats and locations.
Users are allowed to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously to the service on one account. This gives PIA a huge edge because one could split the bill with colleagues. The number of server switches along with usage and bandwidth are all unlimited. There are also apps for various platforms for both PCs and mobile devices.
IPV6 leak protection and DNS can be activated on the settings menu. The former switches IPV6 traffic to IPV4 while on the VPN whenever possible. The latter ensures that all DNS requests are routed via the company’s private servers having passed through the VPN. Both options help enhance privacy but could cause connectivity problems in certain environments. There’s also a VPN kill switch, which halts unencrypted traffic should the user’s connection to the server drop. This wards off snooping when the VPN reconnects while the user is still unaware.
Setup and Interface
As mentioned, setting up the service is quite easy. One only needs to activate their account after signing up. The single-click installer is only 25MB large and doesn’t need any configuration by the user. The setup will be up and running within a minute or so. A minimalist interface is provided solely for tweaking settings.
The system tray icon indicates green when connected, red for off and grey when reconnecting. The server list along with the settings menu and option to complain about low speeds are provided on the context menu. Though the minimalist design makes PIA quite non-intrusive, it doesn’t indicate whether the current server is down or struggling with high traffic. On the settings menu, there’s a space to enter one’s username and password, decide when the app runs, choose connection and encryption protocols as well as enabling/disabling various features.
The mobile app is similar to its desktop counterpart. It’s still loaded with all the options and features. That said, it isn’t resource-intensive, meaning that its battery usage hardly ever registers. One can enable one-click to connect, which switches VPN on as soon as the app is activated.
Private Internet Access VPN has a track record of not collecting any data or maintaining any logs, only giving up client info under a valid court order. They pride in offering a top-notch security and anonymity service. Additionally, they advise users to explore the highest forms of anonymity and only use anonymous emails and cryptocurrency for transactions. One could either use Bitcoin or merchant gift cards to remain anonymous even when paying.
The OpenVPN feature provided offers maximum security. One can also opt between fast connections with minimal security or vice-versa, thanks to the high customization level. Aspects like data authentication, encryption type, and handshake encryption protocols can all be tweaked.
Stability and Speed
Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to tweak the various clients to one’s needs quickly and effectively. This makes the VPN Private Internet Access services hard to beat. Pretty much any Private Internet Access VPN review claims that one could expect consistently high speeds and performance, other factors held constant.
The company is always exploring expansion by adding new data centers. Scores of servers are also being added each year. Though they’ve yet to expand into certain countries, it’s certain that those speed shortages will be practically inexistent with the service.
Customer service can be accessed via chat on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week. The response time is quite impressive, which is good news for users who may have difficulty connecting or getting additional queries answered. However, the device setup isn’t fully supported by chat. But an exhaustive list containing all vital setup guides for pretty much any device, including mobile phones. Plenty of clear illustrations are also provided so that users are able to connect on most platforms. A streamlined client control panel that’s user-friendly and easy to understand is also offered.
In spite of the meek appearance, Private Internet Access stands out among the various VPN providers due to its affordability, rich security features, and helpful customer support. Though performance bottlenecks could sometimes present hiccups, a quick server switch will handle the situation most of the time. And although more server locations would be welcome, the ability to connect 5 devices simultaneously is a huge perk typically reserved for more expensive plans. The fact that one could pay using gift cards or Bitcoin also makes the service highly anonymous.