In the world of VPNs, Private Internet Access is one of the biggest names in the game. With Black Friday upon us, it is the perfect time to get a subscription for services like this.
This year, Private Internet Access has a deal for 82% off the normal price as a special deal for Black Friday.
I have been checking out the service the past couple of 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/mo for 2 years + 4 months
The special Black Friday deal will be $2.03 per month for the 2-year plan with 4 months free (82% off).
The sign-up page shows the price as £1.69/mo or £43.94 for 28 months in total.
Private Internet Access Features
- Servers in 84 countries, including 50 servers spread across 50 US states
- 10 Gbps Network
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Multi-Hop Capabilities
- Strict No Logs Policy
- Multiple ways to connect:
- 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 automatically use or bypass the VPN tunnel.
- Ad Blocking
- PIA’s “MACE” is a DNS-based ad blocker that helps protect you from ads, trackers, and malware online.
- Kill Switch
- If your VPN connection unexpectedly drops, our firewall-based kill switch function ensures your data will not be leaked.
- Ad & malware blocking
- WireGuard protocol
- Dedicated IP
- Advanced encryption settings
- Anonymous Payments
Why Use a VPN & my intended purposes
This review opportunity came at a good time for me. I was due to fly out to the US for two weeks for a couple of press trips.
Using a VPN, I was able to:
- Improve security when using hotel WiFi networks, as all my data is encrypted.
- Access UK servers allowing my to bypass various regional restrictions, including streaming content and other UK specific services.
- Have a UK IP to avoid regionalisation from websites and search engines while I continue to work abroad.
One of the interesting features of PIA is that they have special servers that are dedicated to streaming. Many of the general servers are compatible with the likes of Netflix, but you can select these optimised servers for the best overall experience.
User Data Logging
A VPN is supposed to be private, it says it in the name, but there is always some concern about how private your VPN may be.
Some people suggest that you should only use a VPN that’s based in a country outside of the 5 eyes/14 eyes agreement. Personally, I think you have to be getting up to something quite nefarious to be concerned by this.
Regardless, Private Internet Access states that this is not an issue for them. They say:
At PIA, we have designed our operations to prevent this from happening in the first place. There are no logs. There is no identifying information that can be collected, regardless of the amount of force applied. There are several companies who claim they don’t log, but do anyway at the end of the day. In contrast, we have public court records to prove we don’t log anything, available for anyone to read (pages 11-12).
They go on to highlight
The question remains what to do if PIA is coerced into something – or rather, if authorities try to coerce PIA into something, such as was the case with Yahoo recently, when the NSA had forced it into spying on its own users.
There is a precedent for this, and it is Lavabit choosing to shut down operations instead of selling out its users (specifically, selling out Edward Snowden). That’s also exactly what Private Internet Access has already done once, when Russia demanded that we start logging our users’ identities, after seizing PIA servers.
Our response was to immediately shut down operations in Russia
PIA have also had a independent Deloitte audit verifying the No Logs Policy.
I don’t imagine the Government will be that interested in anything I do online, but I am confident that PIA would not disclose any of my information.
The Windows (or MacOS) is going to be the best way to use the VPN for most people on a computer.
With this, you have 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 should help improve speeds and reduce
Split Tunnelling and Automation
This is a a handy feature if you want to be selective with 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 remains normal.
Traditionally with a VPN, I just install the Windows app and leave it at that. With competing services, I sometimes find that logging on and off the Windows app can break my network connection.
Recently, I have found that I want to be more selective with what I want to use the VPN for. So there is no need to mess around with switching my entire connection over to the VPN and instead use a browser extension.
I had previously used the built-in Opera VPN for this, but more often than not, it is painfully slow.
The Private Internet Access browser extensions are excellent. You have a choice of Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Once you install it, you just need to 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 get rid of tracking temporarily while I test the way websites work or search results. Therefore all the tracking options are perfect for me.
Logging on via Chrome appears to be instant, and the performance is excellent. With the automatic UK server, I achieved a throughput of 551/35Mbps for download and upload. That matches the speed my Virgin Media connection can provide.
Switching to a US server, I still achieved high speeds with 511/36Mbps, and the ping increased to 91ms
As you’d expect, PIA has an Android and iOS app. I find that these tend to be useful when you also want to block adverts and tracking that plague websites on mobile.
I have also used the Android app with Android TV on the Nvidia Shield, and this allows me to bypass regional restrictions and also access streaming apps that are not available in the UK.
Throughput / Speeds / Streaming
A good VPN needs fast servers. I have a 500Mbps Virgin connection at home, and I not going to use VPN if I see a big drop in speeds. Speeds obviously vary with countries, and the further the server is from your location, the worse the performance.
However, the Private Internet Access performance has been excellent. I am based up north in the UK, and the speeds I achieved with the Windows app are:
- Manchester Server: 519 / 35 Mbps & 23ms ping
- Amsterdam Server: 445 / 35 Mbps & 26ms ping
- Liechtenstein: 523 / 35 Mbps & 36ms ping
- US Washington: 482 / 34 Mbps & 94ms ping
- US East Coast Streaming Optimised: 472 / 34 Mbps & 118 ping
- Hong Kong: 307 / 16 Mbps & 302 ping
- Australia Sydney: 213 / 12 Mbps & 352 ping
I tested several of the streaming optimised options, and everything worked perfectly. For streaming, I mainly want US servers as there US only streaming services that I occasionally use, such as 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 best-known brand in the VPN business.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise that my experience with the service has been flawless.
Even though I don’t use a VPN a lot, they can be incredibly useful, and I think £44 for 28 months is a bargain
Private Internet Access Review Rating
Private Internet Access has been around for years and is the best-known brand in the VPN business. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that my experience with the service has been flawless.
Overall - 90%
I am a UK tech blogger and have been in the industry for over ten years now, running Mighty Gadget and its sister sites and contributing to other sites around the web. I am passionate about all tech, including computers/networking, mobile, wearables, and smart homes. I am also a fitness fanatic, being both a keen runner and cyclist, so I cover as much fitness tech as possible.