Private Internet Access Review (PIA)
Private Internet Access is a popular VPN solution that offers users the possibility to customize their preferences according to their level of knowledge.
The solution is provided by the London Media Trust company with headquarter in Los Angeles and branches all over the world. Their main goal is to free the internet from governmental control and censorship and offer the end user unlimited access to online resources through a secure VPN channel. According to their statement, privacy and freedom to a safe online browsing are the main concerns for the Private Internet Access team.
Private Internet Access is among some of the leading VPN service providers in the world and they are capable to provide safety and privacy by creating encrypted VPN tunnels covered by multiple layers of security. This makes these channels virtually impenetrable for governmental data snoopers and hackers trying to get usersâ personal information. The security layers Private Internet Access includes in the offer are:
- IP Cloaking
- Identity Protection
- Uncensored Access
Currently, they cover over 34 regions, with servers located in over 23 countries.
Private Internet Access Free Trial
Because they say free things are not the best ones in life, and they know what a free VPN means (less security, bandwidth limitation and exposure to hackersâ access), the Private Internet Access solution doesnât offer a free trial period.
Users who are interested and want to test the solution have the possibility to subscribe for one month and ask for a refund in 7 days from the date of registration. These 7 days are actually the trial period where a new user has access to all the features and options offered by the VPN solution. If the tests donât go as planned and the user is not happy, it can submit a Refund request within the agreed period. If the request is submitted after this period expires, Private Internet Access wonât refund the money.
Interface & setup
The site interface is welcoming and the main menu is quite rich in information, offering various tips about clients and customization possibilities.
The software clients are not that visually appealing like with other VPN solutions, but they are powerful and they can be easily configured by users, allowing for a fantastic safe experience.
The setup process only takes about 1 minute after downloading the client for your OS from the Client Support section. Once the installation is completed, the client will ask for your credentials (username and password established during registration).
After introducing the required data and hitting the save button, the user must look for the red icon in the system tray area, right click on it and select connect in order to be protected.
There is also an option for technically advanced users who want to tweak their settings. The Advanced button available on login, in the bottom side of the window, offers access to settings like type of connection, handshaking, encryption, DNS leak protection and kill switch that disables the Internet connection on the current unit as soon as the VPN is disconnected.
The client interface also offer the possibility to change the connection to TCP instead of using UPD which is a fantastic option for when the user is in a public location and wants to connect to an open WiFi hotspot. The entire client interface is designed to be easy and options that are usually hidden in the settings menu, away from users are now right under your nose.
The mobile software client promotes the same simplicity in selecting the type and level of encryption as the kill switch is already built-in, there are options that allow the client to start on boot and connect automatically when there are networks available.
This freedom in configuration makes the Private Internet Access VPN solution one of the best to use when you often connect to public WiFi hotspots.
The Private Internet Access VPN solution uses OpenVPN with L2TP/IPSec and PPTP connections. To offer each user the type of encryption he/she desires, the solution offers a wide range of encryptions and protocols, but the OpenVPN supports 3 types that activate according to the type of content:
- AES-256 encryption for streaming data
- SHA256 encryption for data authentication
- RSHA-4096 for handhsaking
Users are free to choose the type and level and encryption they desire and if they are completely inexperienced, the default settings are also very good at protecting onesâ personal information. You can read all about different types of encryption and how they protect you online, on the Client Support page.
Given the fact that Private Internet Access VPN solution was created to offer the internet back to users, privacy is one of the elements that must be consolidated through their activity. Still the mother company, London Trust Media Inc., is situated in Los Angeles, USA.
They also specify that, under subpoena, they are obliged to offer the requested information to governmental agencies. Still, if the logs arenât available, they wonât be able to submit them.
The Private Internet Access VPN solution offers Gigabit VPN port speeds, which allows for a quite good general speed. Also, the connection time is good, but it has moments when it takes up to 1 minute to connect with a server.
Even more, users have access to the Network sectionÂ Â (https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/network/) where they can check all the available servers and their speed. There is also the option to run a Speed Test of your own to make sure the data presented are real.
The network is in continuous expansion, as Private Internet Access VPN team is always on the look for Datacenter partners committed to respecting their usersâ privacy, with a minimum of Tier 3 facilities and Tier 1 bandwidth features.
The standard VPN client (not for use with the most secure OpenVPN protocol) is very clean and simple, it is one of the easiest to use VPNâs when used like this but the protocols supported on their own platform are not the most secure.
For maximum security and anonymity you should be using the OpenVPN. PIA do not have their own OpenVPN client (software) so you have to download and install the open source version of OpenVPN. It can be very tedious when trying to configure the OpenVPN client, so juts be warned.
The features that made the Private Internet Access VPN such a popular and powerful solution are:
- The solution provides the best multi-layered security access to the online world.
- Advanced privacy protection due to the well-designed VPN tunneling services.
- IP cloaking by hiding a userâs real IP address under an anonymous one. This protects the user against data trackers and snoopers that try to learn their online habits.
- The level of encryption is close to the highest level given the fact that the VPN uses the Blowfish CBC algorithm to cryptographically secure all your data. This algorithm is used in conjunction with the OpenVPN protocol to make sure all your data are secure.
- Theyâre offer also includes IPSec/L2TP, SOCKS5 and PPTP technologies.
- A powerful firewall is integrated with all the software clients so your device is protected from any unauthorized access.
- The solution can be used to access the deep web areas as it will maintain usersâ privacy.
- Unrestricted and uncensored access to any area of the world.
- Access to torrent downloading and file sharing is allowed on all servers.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Instant setup
- Multiple VPN gateways
The Private Internet Access solution has software clients for the most popular operating systems of the moment. Thus, the solution provides software clients for the following devices:
- Microsoft Windows (Windows XP and up)
- Apple Mac OS X (OS X 10.7 and up)
- iOS (iOS 7.0 and superior)
- Android (Android 2.2 and superior)
- Routers for an enhanced protection of the entire network
The solution offers 5 simultaneous connections, so a small family can protect all the devices in the house with only one subscription.
Pricing and Checkout
The solution offers 3 main packages, all supporting the same features but being differenced by the period of subscription. Thus, users who only want to test the product have access to the one month subscription that costs $6.95, and the convinced users have access to one subscription of 6 months ($35.95) and one subscription for 12 months ($39.95). The solution is unusually cheap for the features, security and level of privacy it offers. It actually costs $3.33 per month for the 12 months subscription!
The checkout process is pretty straightforward as once youâve selected the type of subscription you want, the possibilities of payment are displayed. The payment possibilities are pretty varied as they accept credit card, PayPal, Amazon, ripple, cashU, and OKpay. There is also the possibility to remain completely anonymous using Bitcoin and gift cards received from major brands (this option was just recently introduced).
The Private Internet Access VPN solution is well backed up by a dynamic and professional team of technicians and operators prepared to answer all your questions 24/7. On the contact page you find both the information to make a call and a series of FAQ for more popular inquiries.
The team also offers live support through their mini-chat window that pops up from time to time on the bottom right corner of your screen. Another modality to find out more about this solution is to read the articles posted on their blog and follow the forum section where both technical and financial issues are discussed. Also, the Client Support area is filled with video tutorials that are created to help the user with installation and choosing a customized connection.
The Private Internet Access VPN solution is among the best solutions for privacy and online security on the market right now. They do offer real privacy by not keeping any incriminating logs and all their VPN channels use multiple layers of security to keep data snoopers away. They also have a wide network (over 3066 servers) spread worldwide and support pretty decent connectivity speeds. The only points that let them down are the lack of features and not having their own VPN client which makes for a very long and tedious set up process which for the non tech savvy would just be a pain in the ass.