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Evaluation of private Internet access
Private Internet Access has been around for years and is the most recognized brand in the VPN business. So it’s no surprise that my experience with the service was flawless.
In the world of VPNs, Private Internet Access is one of the biggest names in the game. With Black Friday approaching, it’s the perfect time to get a subscription to services like this.
This year, Private Internet Access is offering 82% off the regular price as a special offer for Black Friday.
I’ve been checking out the service for the past few weeks to see how good it is and if I think the deal is worth it.
Black Friday Deals – 82% off £43.94 / £1.69/month for 2 years + 4 months
The special Black Friday deal is $2.03 per month for the 2-year plan with 4 months free (82% off).
The sign up page shows the price for a total of 28 months as £1.69/month or £43.94.
You can subscribe to Private Internet Access here
Features for private Internet access
- Servers in 84 countries, including 50 servers in 50 US states
- 10 Gbps network
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Multi-Hop Capabilities
- Strict no-logs policy
- Multiple connection options:
- Windows/Mac/Linux/Chromebook apps
- Browser extensions including Chrome, Firefox and Opera
- TVs – FireTV, Apple TV, Roku and more
- Consoles – Smart DNS options
- Open Source Software
- 24/7 live support
- Advanced split tunneling
- Set up custom rules for individual apps or websites to use or bypass the VPN tunnel automatically.
- ad blocker
- PIA’s “MACE” is a DNS-based ad blocker that protects you online from ads, trackers and malware.
- Emergency switch
- If your VPN connection drops unexpectedly, our firewall-based kill switch feature ensures your data isn’t leaked.
- Ad and malware blocking
- WireGuard protocol
- Dedicated IP
- Advanced encryption settings
- Anonymous Payments
Why use a VPN and my intended purposes
This review opportunity came at a good time for me. I was supposed to fly to the US for a couple of press trips for two weeks.
With a VPN I was able to:
- Improve security when using hotel wifi networks as all my data is encrypted.
- Access UK servers which allow me to bypass various regional restrictions including streaming content and other UK specific services.
- I have a UK IP to avoid being regionalized by websites and search engines whilst continuing to work abroad.
One of the interesting features of PIA is that they have dedicated servers dedicated to streaming. Many of the general servers are compatible with Netflix, but you can choose these optimized servers for the best overall experience.
Get the Black Friday Home Internet Deal
user data logging
A VPN is supposed to be private, as the name suggests, but there are always concerns about how private your VPN might be.
Some people suggest that you should only use a VPN based in a country outside of the 5 eyes/14 eyes agreement. Personally, I think you must be doing something pretty nefarious to be concerned about this.
Regardless, Private Internet Access states that this is not a problem for them. You say:
At PIA, we have designed our processes in such a way that this is prevented from the outset. There are no logs. There is no identifying information that can be collected, regardless of the level of force used. There are several companies that claim they don’t keep logs, but at the end of the day they do anyway. In contrast, we have public court records to prove we don’t log anything, available for everyone to read (pages 11-12).
They continue to emphasize
The question remains what to do if PIA is coerced into something – or rather, if authorities are trying to coerce PIA into something, as was the case with Yahoo recently when the NSA forced it to deprive its own users to spy on
There is precedent for that, and this is it Lavabite chose to go out of business rather than sell its users (specifically selling Edward Snowden). This is exactly what Private Internet Access did once before, when Russia demanded that we start logging our users’ identities after we seized PIA servers.
Our answer was immediate shutdown operations in Russia
PIA also had an independent Deloitte audit performed to verify the no-logs policy.
I can’t imagine the government will be that interested in anything I do online, but I am confident that PIA will not disclose any of my information.
Windows (or macOS) will be the best way for most people to use the VPN on a computer.
This gives you the most control over how the VPN works. The number of settings is extensive.
Wireguard vs OpenVPN
Wireguard is a new protocol that is significantly more efficient than the more common OpenVPN. Using this protocol is intended to help improve and reduce speeds
Split tunneling and automation
This is a handy feature if you want to be selective about what connects to the VPN. An obvious choice would be any clients you use to download content. You can set up the VPN so that only your torrent client goes through the VPN while all your internet activity stays normal.
Traditionally, with a VPN, I just install the Windows app and leave it at that. With competing services, I sometimes find that logging in and out of the Windows app can break my network connection.
Recently I’ve found that I want to be more selective about what I want to use the VPN for. So there is no need to switch my entire connection to the VPN and use a browser extension instead.
I had previously used Opera’s built-in VPN for this, but most of the time it’s painfully slow.
The browser extensions for private internet access are excellent. You can choose between Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
Once installed, all you have to do is log in and select the options you want.
You have two security options, 7 privacy options and 6 tracking options.
I often use a VPN to temporarily get rid of tracking while testing how websites work or search results. So all tracking options are perfect for me.
Signing in through Chrome appears to be instantaneous and performance is excellent. With the automatic UK server, I achieved a throughput of 551/35Mbps for download and upload. This matches the speed my Virgin Media connection can offer.
When switching to a US server, I still got great speeds at 511/36Mbps and the ping went up to 91ms
As you would expect, PIA has an Android and an iOS app. I find these to be useful if you also want to block and track ads plaguing websites on mobile.
I’ve also used the Android app with Android TV on the Nvidia Shield, which allows me to bypass regional restrictions and also access streaming apps that aren’t available in the UK.
Throughput / Speeds / Streaming
A good VPN needs fast servers. I have a 500Mbps Virgin connection at home and will not use VPN if I see a big drop in speed. Speeds obviously vary by country, and the farther the server is from your location, the poorer the performance.
However, the performance of the private Internet access was excellent. I live in the north of the UK and the speeds I’ve gotten with the Windows app are:
- Manchester Server: 519 / 35 Mbit/s & 23 ms ping
- Amsterdam Server: 445 / 35 Mbps & 26 ms ping
- Liechtenstein: 523 / 35 Mbps & 36ms ping
- USA Washington: 482 / 34 Mbps & 94 ms ping
- Optimized US East Coast streaming: 472 / 34 Mbit/s & 118 ping
- Hong Kong: 307 / 16 Mbps & 302 ping
- Australia Sydney: 213 / 12 Mbps & 352 ping
I tested several of the streaming-optimized options and everything worked perfectly. For streaming I mainly want US servers as there are only US streaming services that I use occasionally such as B. HBO Max. Then, when I was in the US, I used the UK servers to access the BBC.
Private Internet Access has been around for years and is the most recognized brand in the VPN business.
So it’s no surprise that my experience with the service was flawless.
While I don’t use a VPN often, they can be incredibly useful, and I think £44 for 28 months is a bargain
You can subscribe to Private Internet Access here.