- Servers in 84 countries
- 50 servers in 50 states in the US
- Open-source VPN apps
- No activity logs
- No free trial
- Speeds vary greatly, but usually work well enough for streaming
Private Internet Access, PIA for short, wants to make it easier to stream and download your favorite content wherever you might be. Forget geo-restricted content. PIA has you covered all over the world and with many of the most popular players. Of course, privacy (hence the “private” in the name) is a top priority, but how well does this VPN stack up to its claims?
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Private Internet Access. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
Overview of Features
Private Internet Access started offering its feature-rich VPN in 2009 and has become a highly trusted and recognized name in the industry. With thousands of servers across 84 countries, there aren’t many areas that are left uncovered. This extensive network is just the start of what makes PIA a popular choice.
A recent addition is the 50 servers representing the 50 states in the United States. This domestic focus makes it ideal for U.S. users wanting to check out sporting events that are blacked out locally or view east coast content live versus having to avoid spoilers when they live on the west coast. Users are also able to access sites, such as banking or local news, that might be blocked outside of the state’s borders.
The VPN offers a wide variety of settings to best meet your needs. You can choose between using WireGuard and OpenVPN, specify encryption preferences (as high as AES-256), set a kill switch, get a dedicated IP, create automation rules, use split tunneling, and set up multi-hop via a proxy using Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 Proxy.
Privacy is front and center. Thanks to open-source apps, you can rest assured that the active open source community is always looking for vulnerabilities to keep the apps as secure as possible. If you’re worried about logs, breathe easily. Private Internet Access keeps zero logs and provides a semi-annual transparency report to back it up.
To further protect your data, PIA is set to kill your connection immediately if the VPN fails to avoid leaking your real location. This includes both the desktop and mobile versions. The VPN also uses its own DNS server to reduce any chance of your location being leaked. This is customizable, though.
You can use it on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, gaming consoles, routers, and even smart TVs.
There’s also a Chrome extension to block trackers and ads while browsing. Obviously, the extension only applies the VPN to your browser’s traffic. A great feature, much like the desktop split tunneling feature, is choosing which sites route the VPN and which don’t.
While you have unlimited bandwidth and devices, you are limited to 10 devices at one time – which, for most users, shouldn’t be a problem.
Exploring Private Internet Access
The web-based dashboard for managing your account and the desktop and mobile apps are all incredibly intuitive. Despite the advanced features, everything is easy to find and understand, even for a beginner. If you want to just get started quickly, it’s as simple as starting the VPN, choosing your desired location, and turning the VPN on.
You’ll see a full list of available servers along with their current latency. They’re nicely organized by country.
Favorite any server for quicker access in the future. Once you’ve chosen the source from where you’d like to connect, just click the big power button, and you’re all set.
You can stick with the default settings, but some sites and streaming platforms may require you to adjust your settings. For instance, sometimes you’ll get better speeds with OpenVPN versus WireGuard and vice versa.
You can change your settings at any time by opening the Private Internet Access app, opening the menu, and selecting “Settings.” From there, everything’s laid out in a convenient dashboard. Some settings have links that give you more details, but you can also check out the variety of guides for more information.
Using the VPN
While everything looks great so far, the real test is whether Private Internet Access actually works when trying to access restricted content. Also, does the kill switch keep my location from being leaked?
Since PIA recently added the 50 servers in the United States, I wanted to check out YouTube TV to access local channels wherever I may be. By default, YouTube TV limits you to the local channels in the area where you’re currently streaming. If I traveled from one coast to another, I couldn’t still watch my local stations.
All I had to do was choose the US West Streaming Optimized server to start streaming west coast local stations from the east coast. Of course, you can choose any state you want, but speeds are a little faster with the streaming optimized servers. Throughout my tests, for both domestic and international servers, speeds ranged from 160 Mbps to just over 300 Mbps.
For YouTube TV, I had to let the service search for my new location. After a few seconds, I had a new west coast zip code and the local stations shown below.
Stream Almost Any Service
Officially, Private Internet Access says the VPN will help you access content from the services mentioned below from certain countries.
During my tests, I had no issues accessing Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max content. I don’t use Netflix, so I can’t speak as to whether Netflix works well. However, if it works as smoothly as the other services I tried, then you shouldn’t have any issues.
I like to stream a lot of CBC content, which is restricted to Canada only. so that was my next major test. Instead of having to wait for months for a show to air in the U.S., I was able to stream “Sky Med” directly on CBC.
Finally, the real test of any VPN: can PIA work with BBC’s iPlayer? I’d read some reviews of this VPN in the past and saw it struggled to get past iPlayer’s VPN detections. At first, I didn’t think Private Internet Access was going to work, even though the service claims it will. I tried all the U.K. servers and both VPN options, which are easy to switch to in the settings.
I’d like to add that some servers stream faster on OpenVPN over WireGuard, but for U.K. streaming, I found WireGuard to be a little faster.
For some reason, I couldn’t get iPlayer to work in the Brave browser with PIA. When I switched to Chrome, I had no issues as long as I used the U.K. London-Streaming server. No other U.K. servers would work.
As far as all the other features, such as the kill switch and split tunneling, everything worked perfectly. Feel free to use the VPN without worrying about location leaks, and only use it for the sites you want.
There isn’t a free trial available, which would be nice. However, you can test it out for a month for $11.99. While the monthly cost is kind of steep, there’s also a 6-month plan for $7.50/month. But, the best deal is the 2-year plan for $2.19/month that gives you two free months. That plan makes Private Internet Access an incredible deal. You can also purchase a dedicated IP and antivirus as add-ons.
If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable VPN that makes your privacy a priority, it’s hard to beat PIA. The service is easy to use and offers advanced features as low as $2.19/month. It’s also compatible on most platforms, so you can keep your data encrypted and stream your favorite content, even if it’s not available in your area.
If you’re ready for a VPN you can count on, try Private Internet Access.
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