This week I reviewed Private Internet Access VPN to see what kind of features their service had to offer.
- great customer support
- low monthly rates
- one week money back guarantee
- easy to use
- small server network
- connection could be faster
- no referral program
Overall Score: 76/100
While on the whole, Private Internet Access VPN had a lot to offer, their score still couldn’t come close to touching Express VPN’s nearly perfect review score of 97/100.
To get Private Internet Access VPN, sign up here: Private Internet Access VPN
With internet users the world over clamoring for more connectivity, the security risks with open public Wi-Fi networks have continued to increase.
As users continue to utilize digital conveniences to streamline their lives, major gaps continue to open between awareness and personal information security.
With apps that run in the background and share numerous personal details, it’s not worth the risk of having your identity stolen to use a public Wi-Fi network unprotected anymore.
With a VPN, you get a secure, encrypted tunnel in the internet that keeps prying eyes out of your connection, in addition to opening up your access with IP address blocking software.
There are a lot of options out there, and to someone just learning about this technology, the idea of choosing just one can be a little overwhelming.
I’ll break the individual selling points down for you, feature by feature, as we review Private Internet Access VPN.
By the end of this review, you’ll know how to shop smart, and we’ll have an idea where these guys stand. Let’s jump right in.
Will Private Internet Access VPN Work on My Operating System?
Okay, time to begin the process of elimination. The first thing you want to look at when you begin searching for a VPN is their software’s operating system compatibility.
Whichever VPN you choose, you need to start by making sure that their software is going to work with all of your devices, without having to manually configure connections.
Private Internet Access VPN is compatible with all major operating systems, so you can use it on everything from your iPhone to your desktop computer.
Their software will work on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even Linux systems.
Rating: 5/5 – Universal compatibility
What Kind of Features Does Private Internet Access VPN Have?
The features of a VPN are the finer selling points, and they can vary a lot between providers.
I’ll go through each one here and explain what they mean, why they matter, and where Private Internet Access VPN sits with it.
Think about which ones are the most important to you, and use that to help narrow down your list a bit more.
Feature #1: Multiple Connections
This feature refers to the number of devices you can connect to the VPN under one account, without paying additional service fees.
If you have more than one person in the household that will be using the VPN, take that into consideration when selecting a company for the job.
At the very least, you should get one that has at minimum two simultaneous connections.
With Private Internet Access VPN, you get a whopping five connections included with your service plan.
Typically I don’t see more than two or three included without additional fees, so this is pretty great, particularly if you have a few people you’d like to keep protected.
Rating: 5/5 – Five connections included
Feature #2: Money Back Guarantee
This one should go without saying, but I really would like to stress how much a great refund policy can matter if things go south, especially if you sign up for more than one month of service.
A money back guarantee holds the VPN provider accountable to the most important person – the customer – and ensures that they have a reason to keep you happy.
At the very least, I wouldn’t settle for less than a two week money back guarantee.
Private Internet Access VPN’s refund policy gives you one week to get your money back if for any reason you’re not completely satisfied with their service.
While it’s not the longest money back guarantee I’ve ever seen, it’s definitely enough time to get acquainted with their service and decide if it’s right for you.
Rating: 4/5 – 7 day money back guarantee
Feature #3: Number of Servers
The number of servers a VPN provider has can have a huge impact on the speed and reliability of your connection, so this one’s important.
Look for a VPN with a minimum of 50 server locations, and always check to make sure they have some located in your area.
The more they have, the wider distribution their customer base will have, and the faster your connection is likely to be.
Private Internet Access VPN doesn’t have a huge network of servers, with only 29 to choose from worldwide.
Though you can log on anywhere from Canada to Singapore, the network just isn’t as expansive as I’d like.
Rating: 3/5 – Not a huge network
Feature #4: Referral Program
This feature isn’t a terribly common one, but it’s a nice perk that helps to keep a little more of your hard earned money in your pocket.
A referral program lets customers cash in on free or discounted service when they refer new business to the provider. It may not be a must, but it definitely helps to sweeten the deal.
Unfortunately, Private Internet Access VPN doesn’t have any kind of referral program for their services at this time.
Rating: 0/5 – No referral program
Feature #5: Data Logging
Okay, so let’s get this one straight: data logging is not a perk. This is the unpleasant practice of storing internet activity linked to IP addresses.
While it’s common with government organizations and even some ISPs, it’s something a VPN provider has absolutely no business doing.
Private Internet Access VPN is very adamant about absolutely never keeping logs of their customers’ internet activity, so your connection truly is private and anonymous.
Rating: 5/5 – No data logging
Feature #6: Bandwidth
Bandwidth refers to the data limitations put in place by the VPN on the server.
If you do a lot of downloading or streaming, make sure that the VPN you choose offers nothing less than unlimited bandwidth.
With Private Internet Access VPN, you get completely unlimited bandwidth with all of their service plans, regardless of duration. Pick a Pandora station, and never worry about hitting a cap again.
Rating: 5/5 – No bandwidth caps
How Secure Is It?
Even if you’re just using a VPN to watch Netflix overseas, the security aspect of it is still hugely important.
In an age where everything from our personal records to our shopping is done online, there’s a lot at stake here.
Don’t take the risk of having your connection compromised – make sure the VPNn you choose is completely bulletproof.
There are two basic levels of encryption, 128 and 256 bit. The latter of the two if the strongest available, and is more than enough to keep hackers out of your business.
In addition, try to find a VPN that has some basic setting you can adjust to customize your security levels.
Since heavy encryption can sometimes slow down your connection a bit, it’s nice to be able to adjust your security levels to speed things up a bit.
While their software isn’t terribly flashy, it does offer some basic settings that can be adjusted, like a kill switch that shuts down your internet connection if the VPN fails.
Private Internet Access VPN’s encryption is as strong as it gets though, with 256 bit OpenVPN encryption for the highest level of security.
I think it’s worth noting that in an effort to encourage their customers’ anonymity, Private Internet Access VPN actually accepts over 100 different brands of gift cards as payment.
Although this does not directly affect your security – how cool is that?
Rating: 5/5 – Secure and simple
What’s the Set-Up Process Like?
Here’s the thing, not everyone has even heard of a VPN, so it’s important that whichever one you go with is easy to set up.
Most VPNs have software that does all of the work for you, with a simple download and install process.
If you have to manually configure connections and get into your connection settings, you’re working too hard.
Set up with Private Internet Access VPN is extremely easy.
Just download the software package from their website, and begin the installation process. There is no important of files or connections – everything is automatic.
Rating: 5/5 – Straightforward set up
Is it Easy to Use?
Once you get the VPN set up, using it should be as easy and selecting a server and clicking connect.
If the software makes you adjust settings, or you have to get into your control panel to connect, you’ve got yourself a VPN that’s just not worth the trouble.
I really liked Private Internet Access VPN’s software.
Not only was it very straightforward and easy to use, but it even had a feature you could choose to select that would run the program automatically on startup.
Rating: 5/5 – Simple and effective
So there are some things I loved about the login process with Private Internet Access VPN, and some that I definitely didn’t.
I wasn’t crazy about the automated username and password they send you when you set up an account – I would much prefer to have set my own that wasn’t a random string of letters and numbers.
While you can change your password after your initial login on their website, your username appears to be pretty set in stone.
However, what’s great about Private Internet Access VPN is that you just login once, upon the initial set up of the software, and the program keeps your credentials.
Even if you completely reboot your system, you won’t have to log back into Private Internet Access VPN.
Changing servers with Private Internet Access VPN was a breeze.
If you’re dealing with a bit of a sluggish connection and want to try a different server, just disconnect from your current one, and select a new one from their extensive list. Yea, it really is that simple.
What If I Need Help?
The only thing that’s more important than the quality of your connection is the quality of the VPN’s customer support.
There’s no manager for you to take your grievances to, there’s no complaint box, no brick and mortar building with an address and a tangible product.
A large degree of the accountability to their customers gets lost with so many VPNs.
Don’t let them kick back and take your money every month – make sure their customer support is there when you need them, and provides you with nothing less than excellent service every time.
One of the most important parts of great customer service is definitely speed. If you’re in a hurry and can’t connect, support that takes a few days to get back to you isn’t going to do you any good.
In theory, 24/7 support should have a response for you within moments for live chat, and within hours at the most for e-mail tickets.
With Private Internet Access VPN, you get round the clock support with both of their channels.
What I found really cool about their customer service was that on the support page of their website, they actually have an estimated response time for both live chat and e-mail ticket inquiries.
This is something I’ve not seen with any other VPN provider.
Rating: 5/5 – 24/7 support that goes above and beyond
The more ways you can get in touch with a VPN provider, the better, no doubt about it.
Live chat usually means immediate results, and e-mails let you check back in with providers for the less important questions.
Private Internet Access VPN has both e-mail and live chat support, so you can get in touch with them right away, or through the good old fashioned inbox – whichever suits you.
Rating: 4/5 – Live chat and e-mail support
Customer Support Test
Customer support is too important to just take it on good faith that they’re going to follow through.
I put Private Internet Access VPN’s team to the test, contacting them through both of their support channels, during peak and off business hours.
I wanted to see how their response times varied, and how helpful their support was.
E-mail Support Test #1 – Friday/11:38 p.m.
I sent my first e-mail inquiry in to Private Internet Access VPN around midnight in my time zone.
I was really happy to see I had a response in just over four hours – in my experience it can take at least 12.
Their service representative was helpful and concise, and it was clear it was a real person, and not just a copy and paste from their FAQs section.
Result: 4 hours 7 minutes
Rating: 5/5 – Prompt and helpful
E-mail Support Test #2 – Friday/6:35 p.m.
My second e-mail inquiry took a bit longer to get a response, but once again, service was courteous and helpful.
Result: 6 hours 3 minutes
Rating: 4/5 – E-mail support could be faster
Live Chat Support Test #1 – Wednesday/12:23 a.m.
My first encounter with Private Internet Access’s live chat support was in the wee hours of the morning, and I was curious to see just how live this support feature really was.
I had a little bit of a wait, just shy of two minutes for help. However, I got a real representative, which doesn’t always happen, and great service that was concise and answered my question.
Result: 1 minute 56 seconds
Rating: 5/5 – Fast and helpful support
Live Chat Support Test #2 – Friday/6:28 p.m.
I had much the same results the next time around with Private Internet Access VPN’s live chat support.
They took a little longer to get to me this time, but in around five minutes I had an agent online, and an answer to my question.
Result: 5 minutes 13 seconds
Rating: 4/5 – Longer wait during peak hours
Overall I was really happy with Private Internet Access VPN’s customer service.
I loved that I could see a real time estimate for my wait time, and that it was actually pretty accurate of how quickly I received service.
Every interaction I had with their customer support team was positive, and all of the staff was extremely helpful.
While it’s clear that peak business hours can affect your wait time, the difference was not substantial enough to be a real inconvenience.
Overall Support Rating: 18/20 – Fast, helpful, real people
How Fast is Private Internet Access VPN?
It seems like every VPN out there claims to be the fastest, and honestly, there’s really no way to tell who’s telling the truth until you just jump in and try one.
I ran two speed tests, one on my standard home internet connection, and one with Private Internet Access VPN.
Without Private Internet Access VPN
With Private Internet Access VPN
While encryption can slow down a connection a bit, typically you don’t want to see a download speed decrease by any more than 2 Mbps.
In this case, it was a bit more than that. While the connection wasn’t overly slow, it’s definitely not as fast as many other VPNs I have used.
Rating: 3/5 – Not the fastest connection
How Much Does Private Internet Access VPN Cost?
Since there are so many VPNs out there to choose from, the pricing is pretty competitive.
These services are seriously cheap, and you should never have to pay more than $15 per month for any one of them, regardless of how flashy they are.
As you can see, Private Internet Access VPN is super affordable. Their monthly rates start at just $7, and the price only goes down from there as you purchase six months or a year a time.
Rating: 5/5 – Super low prices
The X Factor
The X factor is more a feeling you get from a company than anything else.
Can you trust them with your payment information? Does their website convey a sense of legitimacy and professionalism? Are they fluent English speakers?
While this category has little in the way of specifics, it can really make or break your impression of a company.
With Private Internet Access VPN, they didn’t have the flashiest website, but they were extremely open and up front about their products.
There was plenty of information on their website, and I was particularly impressed with their support wait time feature.
This is also a US based company, so their English was excellent and easy to understand.
Rating: 8/10 – What they lack in flash, they make up for in quality
How Does Private Internet Access compare to the competition?
|Ease of Use||5/5||5/5||5/5||5/5||5/5|
|Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Website||View Website||View Website||View Website||View Website||View Website|
Now that you know what to expect when shopping around for a VPN, let’s do a quick recap and see how Private Internet Access VPN did.
- compatible with all operating systems
- 5 simultaneous connections
- no data logging
- unlimited bandwidth
- strong encryption
- anonymous payment methods
- 24/7 support
- live chat and e-mail support
- easy to set up
- basic software that’s easy to use
- low monthly rates
- transparent about products
- US based company
- no referral program
- limited server selection
- slow-ish connection
Overall Score: 76/100
I was seriously impressed by Private Internet Access VPN. On the whole, they don’t come across as anything particularly outstanding until you really start using their service.
Once you see how awesome their customer support is though, and how many features you get with that low monthly rate, you’ll be just as sold as I was.
However, there were some hard hitting drawbacks, namely with their server selection, which based on the speed tests, did seem to impact the quality of the connection.
While these guys were certainly up there in features and affordability, their score still couldn’t top ExpressVPN’s.
To get Private Internet Access VPN, sign up here: Private Internet Access VPN
To see the highest rated VPN that scored a 97/100, click here: Express VPN.