PIA, as its recognized by its customers, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020. We have examined the service a number of occasions through the years and it’s got higher and higher.
In only a yr, PIA has added just a few hundred servers to the 3000+ it already had and now covers 48 nations up from 32 in 2019. Its community can compete with among the largest VPN gamers. It provides apps for Home windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fireplace TV, Linux and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
In contrast to some VPN companies, it doesn’t have speciality servers for streaming, P2P or different duties: you may connect with any of them and do no matter it is advisable do. It unblocks Netflix, for instance, irrespective of which of the US servers you select. It may well additionally unblock different Netflix areas and different streaming companies together with Hulu and Disney+.
Sadly, it nonetheless doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer.
Options & apps
Beginning with the Home windows app, which is straightforward to put in from PIA’s web site, the principle panel is straightforward to make use of. There’s a big join button which robotically connects you to the very best server. Initially, it appears just like the panel is completely hooked up to the taskbar, which is annoying, however dig into the (many) settings and there is an choice to have it as a floating window as an alternative.
It is good that it reveals your present IP handle and, when linked to a server, your digital IP handle. Not many individuals will want this info, but it surely’s a pleasant visible reminder that you just’re protected anyway.
The panel is expandable, which is sensible for geeks, because it shows present add and obtain speeds, plus the quantity of information despatched and obtained. There are shortcut icons to allow and disable superior options (extra on these shortly) and a helpful ‘VPN snooze’ timer which helps you to set a brief interval when the VPN can be disabled, then robotically reconnected.
Settings are cut up into a number of sections, and embrace choices to launch PIA on startup, join on launch and, beneath ‘Privacy’, the kill change settings.
It’s nice to see the kill change is enabled by default, so all site visitors can be blocked if the VPN connection drops.
There’s additionally MACE which is an advert and tracker blocker.
Underneath ‘Network’ you’ll discover the choice to make use of PIA’s DNS servers (the default) however you can even use your ISPs (not advisable) and even your individual customized server settings. PIA provides leak safety for each IPv4 and IPv6, and there is now the choice to make use of WireGuard as an alternative of OpenVPN. Sadly, we could not take a look at any velocity distinction – or not in a significant approach – as we examined out PIA in the course of the coronavirus lockdown after we could not entry our workplace’s 100Mbps up+down leased line.
There actually are options galore within the Home windows app, together with the power to ahead ports, which could velocity up P2P downloads, and a brand new Proxy part the place you may configure additional safety. You’ll must know what you’re doing, so these are for energy customers.
Much more uncommon is the power to pick the kind of encryption, handshake and connection sort used: by default PIA makes use of AES-128, however most VPNs use AES-256 which is safer. Nevertheless, it does imply you get a typically quicker connection and there’s assistance on PIA’s web site with examples of the way you may change these settings relying on whether or not safety or efficiency is your precedence.
A function which was lacking final time we checked out PIA is cut up tunnelling. You’d use this to run particular apps by way of the VPN quite than all web site visitors. Luckily that is now included and is – like the opposite settings – very configurable.
The checklist of servers is present in the principle interface and is sorted by latency. You’ll be able to search and add servers as favourites for faster connections.
In the event you solely need your net looking to be secured by the VPN you may set up the Chrome, Firefox or Opera extensions. These look very similar to the principle Home windows app and work in the identical approach so are straightforward to make use of.
You will discover nearly the identical interface and set of options on macOS too.
Android and iOS apps typically lack a kill change, however with PIA, you get a kill change on each platforms which is nice to see. That is the Android app:
PIA is headquartered within the US, which is a pink flag to anybody who is aware of in regards to the 5-eyes (and 14-eyes) group of nations. Nevertheless, whereas PIA may be requested handy over information by authorities, its no-logs coverage means there’s no information handy over.
It has demonstrated that is a number of courtroom instances the place it has not supplied any information which may determine particular person customers. Nevertheless we’d like PIA to make its logging coverage much more distinguished on its web site. In the event you learn the privateness coverage you’ll discover solely a terse reference to it, however no precise particulars.
You must search the assist part to seek out these, however the excellent news is that no logs of any sort are stored so PIA doesn’t know if you use its service, how lengthy for or what you do when you use it.
Add to this the truth that you may pay anonymously through present playing cards or Bitcoin and no-one ought to write off PIA as an choice just because it is primarily based within the US.
PIA fared properly in our preliminary exams, with no DNS or IP leaks. This implies our actual location was at all times hid.
Testing the velocity of a VPN is a difficult enterprise as speeds differ on a regular basis and are affected by many elements. Nevertheless, all of the exams we ran (bar a single anomaly with a US server) confirmed that PIA has quick servers all all over the world.
Connection occasions are quick and we solely had one event the place a connection was dropped, at which level the kill change kicked in because it ought to should stop all web exercise.
Testing (which we carried out earlier than the coronavirus outbreak) of the three UK servers noticed efficiency that was just about the identical as our leased line, with a extremely spectacular 93Mb/s add velocity to the London server, the closest to us.
Obtain speeds weren’t the quickest we’ve seen, however all have been greater than satisfactory for streaming HD video.
Talking of streaming, Netflix labored first time, each time, so PIA is a superb alternative if you wish to watch US reveals from the UK or one other nation.
It wasn’t all plain crusing: as we present in 2017, 2018 and 2019, PIA nonetheless doesn’t unblock BBC iPlayer in 2020, so it’s one to clean off your shortlist if you wish to make amends for EastEnders when you’re overseas.
The corporate has lately arrange 24/7 stay chat, addressing the principle criticism that we had beforehand about its assist. Not do you must fill out a contact type with particulars of your downside and look ahead to a response.
Plans & costs
PIA doesn’t supply any free trial, and its money-back assure supply should be used inside seven days of beginning your subscription, which is a a lot shorter interval than the same old 30 days most VPN companies supply.
Nevertheless, costs are aggressive, with a month’s subscription costing £2.37 / $2.91 should you go for the 2 yr choice. Like different cheeky VPN companies, PIA was – on the time of assessment – displaying ‘+ 2 months free’ and factoring them into the month-to-month value to make it look decrease. So, you both depend it as £2.19 / $2.69 for 26 months, or £2.37 / $2.91 for 24 months.
Both approach, PIA is not absolutely the most cost-effective, but it surely’s nonetheless very inexpensive. Notice that it now lets you may have 10 gadgets linked to the service without delay, not 5 as earlier than.
As talked about, PIA provides just a few methods to pay anonymously with numerous crypto currencies and even present playing cards. Within the US that features Starbucks, Walmart and Greatest Purchase. UK residents pays with Topshop, Wallis, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Gant and Dorothy Perkins playing cards.
If PIA does not go well with, you then’ll discover our different suggestions in our roundup of the very best VPN companies.
Non-public Web Entry is a superb VPN service total. It retains no logs in any way and permits you to pay anonymously. Costs are cheap and there are some superior choices you received’t discover in different VPN apps.
The service has been up to date and improved with extra servers, stay 24/7 chat, cut up tunnelling and WireGuard.
So long as you needn’t unblock iPlayer, PIA is a superb VPN service for each geeks and people in search of stable privateness. There’s definitely quite a bit to love right here.