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Private Internet Access Review, Updated in 2022

Private Internet Access is a great option for those who want to protect their personal data while browsing, it has a great capacity to operate in any web site, at the same time it has extensions for the main internet browsers. You can download and try all the features of this great service by accessing the following link.

Overall Score:
8.7

Number of servers:

12400

Av. download speed:

86 Mbit/s

Support:

Live chat

Starting price:

$2.35/mo
Visit Private Internet Access

30 day money-back guarantee

Disclosure: To maintain VPN Garden, we earn a commission when you make a purchase through referral links in this review.

Private Internet Access has been providing services since 2009 and currently has a network of over 12400 servers. Their cheapest plan starts at $2.35/mo. Based on longterm testing, our rating for Private Internet Access is 8.7.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Up to 10 same time connections
  • Great security
  • Good for torrenting

Cons

  • It does not work well in China

Our Review

Private Internet Access may be the most well-known VPN due to its vocal position in the battle for the net, the campaign ultimately failed to maintain net neutrality in the United States. You might think this means that your commitment to privacy and security is equal to that of one of our top VPN providers, and you’d be right: if these are priorities for you, Private Internet Access is a great choice.

The downsides of Private Internet Access are that there’s not much of an interface, as everything is handled through pop-ups in the taskbar, it’s not that great for streaming, and its network of servers outside the United States is insufficient compared to other services like ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review to see what we think a network should look like).

If, on the other hand, the combination of high speed, complete privacy and sounds at a low price is right up your alley, we advise you to go ahead and try the seven-day Private Internet Access trial. Otherwise, we have plenty of VPN reviews you can take a look at.

Features

While not as feature-rich as, say, NordVPN, Private Internet Access has a few extras that should keep your interest. First of all, the server switching times are very fast: connecting to one server takes little time, but Private Internet Access also allows you to connect directly to another without disconnecting first, a handy but oddly unique feature among VPNs.

In addition, Private Internet Access is also as fast as oiled lightning, as you can read in the “speed” section below. This is partly due to the fact that it relies on 128-bit encryption using the OpenVPN protocol. The disadvantage of this protocol is that it is easily configurable: to set the encryption to the more secure 256 AES just click a single button. This, however, will slow you down a bit. You can download and test all the features of this great service by accessing the following link.

Private Internet Access also comes with MACE, its built-in malware and blocker. We took a quick look, and a charm it worked, blocking the crap that fills your screen on YouTube and torrent sites. It also has a foolproof killwitch installed, so torrenters don’t have to worry about getting caught with their digital pants down.

However, there is no tunnel splitting, a handy feature ExpressVPN and StrongVPN (StrongVPN review). It lets you configure which programs use VPN and which don’t, speeding up your wireless printer connection, for example, and keeping torrenting secure.

Streaming with Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access will get you to Netflix United States and a handful of other countries (lots of tie luck, it seems), but that’s about it. During our iPlayer test it blocked us, as did Hulu. Amazon Prime Video worked, but as the only server we could find that was really slow, it may not even have.

If finding the best VPN for streaming is your priority, we recommend you miss Private Internet Access and check out our articles on the best VPN for Netflix and the best VPN for BBC iPlayer.

Ease of Use

Mobile Private Internet AccessSubscribing to Private Internet Access is as easy as clicking on the desired plan on the Private Internet Access website. A screen of payment options will appear; click on the one you want and you will be transported there to do business.

In our case, we chose PayPal and Private Internet Access automatically used that email to create an account. We are not completely thrilled about this, because we normally use a different address for this purpose. We can only assume that using a different payment method would work, well, differently.

In about a minute you will receive three emails from Private Internet Access: a receipt, an email with links to the installer, and one with your login details. These are randomly generated for added security; they can be changed if you want an even stronger password. Log in to the site and you will be greeted by a control panel.

Here you will find options to change your password, update your subscription, change your email address, participate in beta programs and even send feedback to the Private Internet Access team. The control panel is intuitive, so it should provide some difficulty. There is also a chat button at the bottom right (for more information on Private Internet Access support see “Customer Service” below).

The next step, of course, is to install the Private Internet Access client. Since your reviewer is a Linux user and Private Internet Access is the best VPN for Linux, we chose the client that will target that operating system; installation is not as easy as with Windows, but the installation instructions were clear (and copy and paste is as always your friend). Private Internet Access claims that both clients behave exactly the same, and that our secondary test on a Windows VM hole it out.

Once installed, you’ll be prompted to log in. We like that there are several important options right out of the box. They are all enabled by default and we recommend you keep them that way – there is nothing wrong with enabling VPN at the same time you boot your computer or have notifications pop up.

When you click “Save”, the window disappears completely. Unlike most VPN providers, Private Internet Access is controlled entirely through a tray icon. The reviewer admits that it took some getting used to, but at the same time it works well: you set up your VPN and forget about it. There is also a browser extension, which works in the same way, but is a bit easier to manipulate.

However, if you feel you particularly need a user interface, we recommend you read our NordVPN review. The same minimalism prevails on the cell phone, although we liked the feel of the mobile app a bit more. It’s nice to see what happens when you connect. You can download and try out all the features of this great service by accessing the link below.

Connecting with Private Internet Access

Setting up a VPN connection with Private Internet Access is easy: just right-click on the icon in the system tray and a small menu will pop up (we’re not sure what Mac users should do, except to upgrade to better software and cheaper hardware). Select “connect car” or “connect to” and then a country or region and you’re in business.

The connection takes a few seconds, which makes Private Internet Access easily the fastest VPN in this regard (actual speed is talked about a bit later). You’ll get a small pop-up notification that you’re logged in and that’s it. This speed carries over to automatic server switching (a feature we’d like for other VPNs as well), which takes about three seconds on average.

Options

The minimalist feel extends to all the options. The right-click menu, in addition to letting you connect to servers and access the full options menu, allows you to send only a slow connection report and report blocked sites; there’s also a shortcut to the support section of the website (for more information, see the “customer service” section below).

The actual options screen is a bit more crowded, but not much. The same screen first greets you at startup, but when you click “advanced” another screen pops up and gives you a single menu to play with. While it seems limited, it actually offers a wide range of different options, even if it’s not VyprVPN (read our VyprVPN review to see what we mean by this).

The first four of the right options shouldn’t break down unless you know what you’re doing; the next two are disabled by default, but more malware blocking is never lacking and a killwitch is very important for those living in censored countries or on Internet torrents. It is advisable to leave the next three as they are.

The bottom menu is “encryption”, which we don’t normally recommend, except that AES-128 is not a good idea if you’re trying to tunnel under the Great Firewall, so switch to 256-bit encryption if so (and increase your handshake to RSA-4096 while you’re at it). While Private Internet Access is not one of the best VPNs for China, this should help you quite well.

Overall, using Private Internet Access is different from any other top provider, which is a mixed blessing. While the minimalist interface may result in agreement with some, we think an actual client would make the options a bit easier to manage.

We also lament the fact that we were given very little opportunity to muddle through the advanced settings; more importantly, though, there’s a lot going on under the hood. Another service, ExpressVPN, does the same thing, but still leaves you plenty of room to play with; Private Internet Access gives you none.

Supported Devices

Private Internet Access works well with all desktop operating systems and is compatible with all versions of Windows, Mac and Linux (Ubuntu and Mint in particular, although it should be able to run on other distributions as well). As we said before, it is the only VPN that has a truly full-featured client running on Linux, so Team Penguin is well served here.

On mobile, it looks great app for Android and iPhone and also works easily with most routers, so protecting the entire network shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However, it may not be necessary, as Private Internet Access supports five simultaneous connections without a limit on the total number of devices that can be connected, earning second place in our article on the best VPN for multiple devices.

Server Locations

Private Internet Access has 3,081 servers in 44 locations in 28 countries; the network is the strongest in the U.S. (by far, very few other VPNs have a comparable deployment in the U.S.) and Canada. Europe is not as strong and, as usual for VPNs, Africa is poorly represented and Asia and Latin America are slightly behind in the middle.

The bottom line is that if you live in North America or need regular access to it, Private Internet Access is a solid option, if you need European access it’s a bit of a crapshoot if we’re being honest: the countries that are covered are well covered, but the network is fragmented. If you need regular access to different Asian countries, you will definitely need to find another provider.

Speed

Private Internet Access is one of the fastest VPNs, as evidenced by our speed tests, which we conducted by connecting to different servers from a workspace in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then measuring our speed with speedtest.net. The results are presented in the table below.

As you can see above, Private Internet Access remains fast even over long distances (which reading in Japan is mostly another matter), a feat matched only by ExpressVPN – although we will note that ExpressVPN is faster over short distances.

Ping is also quite low across the board, making Private Internet Access our second-favorite choice among the best VPNs for gaming. Not much more to say here, except that PPrivate Internet AccessA is very, very fast and the test went even faster than usual thanks to the fast server switching. We’d also like to know what was in that L.A. reading.

Security and privacy

Thanks to its strong stance in favor of net neutrality and against government surveillance, Private Internet Access has become synonymous with privacy; this is well deserved as the service does not keep any records, not even temporary ones. To open an account you don’t need any information (even if you don’t use PayPal or a credit card if this is a priority for you) and therefore it is one of the best VPNs for torrenting (if you are more into other types of entertainment, Private Internet Access is good for that too).

Security is also good: under normal circumstances, Private Internet Access uses OpenVPN, which makes the service easily configurable for when you need it. As explained in the “ease of use” section, you can configure the level of encryption as well as the handshake protocol, allowing you to switch between speed and security on the fly. Of course, you could reset everything to zero, but that defeats the point a bit.

You can switch to a different protocol: L2TP, PPTP and SOCKS are available (which is a proxy, we know), but only by requesting separate access. You will be given a separate username and can switch to another account. However, if all of the above is Greek to you, just follow OpenVPN.

During the speed tests mentioned above, we also performed DNS, webRTC and similar leak checks and found no problems; you can use Private Internet Access without worrying if it’s the company or anyone else spying on your traffic.

Customer Service

Private Internet Access has a good knowledge base: although it is less extensive than that found with other VPNs, the quality of the answers is better, especially for Linux users. The solutions to the most common problems are structured step-by-step and you can navigate through them very easily.

If you need help, you can use the Private Internet Access e-mail support system. There is a chat button at the bottom right of the site, but it only sends an email, there is no live chat. The company claims this is so we can guarantee the quality of their responses, and we’re inclined to agree.

We solved a problem and sent an email, it took a few hours to respond (a bit slower than other services), but the message we received was polite and thorough, a winning combination. In the end, we “solved” our problem, and we give Private Internet Access high marks here. You can download and try all the features of this great service by accessing the following link.

Conclusion

Overall, Private Internet Access is a robust service that loses some of its splendor due to the lack of a user interface and a network of small servers. If doing without a proper interface is not a bargain for you and you just want a fast and cheap provider that guarantees your privacy and security, Private Internet Access is the way to go.

It may not have all the bells and whistles that other services have, but if you don’t need them, why bother? What do you think of Private Internet Access, and do you prefer it to other services? Please let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

What stats we measured with Private Internet Access and why?

Choosing a VPN is never easy, especially when you are a beginner who is about to purchase their very first plan. There are so many providers to choose from!

Based on longterm testing, average download speed when using Private Internet Access is 86 Mbit/s. Currently, the size of their network is around 12400 servers.

The size of the server network is an important factor as it determines a global availability of the VPN. The bigger the network is, the more reliable the service can be.

The download speed is very important too, especially in today's fast-paced world. If your VPN speed is too slow, many websites or streaming services may not work or the experience will definitely be less comfortable.

Overall Score:
8.7

Number of servers:

12400

Av. download speed:

86 Mbit/s

Support:

Live chat

Starting price:

$2.35/mo
Visit Private Internet Access

30 day money-back guarantee

Disclosure: To maintain VPN Garden, we earn a commission when you make a purchase through referral links in this review.