Private Internet Access, or PIA for short, wants to make it easy to stream and download your favorite content, wherever you are. Forget geo-restricted content. PIA has you covered across the world and with many of the most popular players. Of course, privacy (hence the “private” in the name) is top priority, but how well does this VPN live up to its claims?
This is a sponsored article and made possible by Private Internet Access. Actual content and opinions are the sole views of the author, who maintains editorial independence even if the post is sponsored.
Overview of the functions
Private Internet Access began offering its feature-rich VPN in 2009 and has grown into a highly trusted and recognized name in the industry. With thousands of servers in 84 countries, there aren’t many areas that go uncovered. This extensive network is just the beginning of what makes PIA a popular choice.
The 50 servers representing the 50 states of the United States have been added. This domestic focus makes it ideal for US users who want to watch local-locked sporting events or watch East Coast content live, rather than having to avoid spoilers if they live on the West Coast. Users can also access sites like banking or local news that may be blocked outside state lines.
The VPN offers a variety of settings to best meet your needs. You can choose between using WireGuard and OpenVPN, set encryption settings (up to AES-256), set a kill switch, get a dedicated IP, create automation rules, use split tunneling, and set up multi-hop through a proxy with Shadowsocks or SOCKS5 proxy.
Privacy is paramount. 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 easy. Private Internet Access does not keep logs and provides a semi-annual transparency report to back this up.
To further protect your data, PIA is set to immediately terminate your connection if the VPN does not reveal your actual location. This includes both the desktop and mobile versions. The VPN also uses its own DNS server to reduce the chances of your location being leaked. However, this is customizable.
You can use it on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, game consoles, routers and even smart TVs.
There is 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, similar to the desktop split tunneling feature, is the ability to choose which sites pass through the VPN and which do not.
While you have unlimited bandwidth and devices, you’re limited to 10 devices at a time — which shouldn’t be a problem for most users.
Exploring private internet access
The web-based dashboard for managing your account, as well as 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 just want to get started quickly, it’s as simple as launching the VPN, selecting your desired location, and turning on the VPN.
You’ll see a full list of available servers along with their current latency. They are nicely organized by country.
Favor any server for faster access in the future. Once you’ve selected the source you want to connect from, just click the big power button and you’re done.
You can stick with the default settings, but some websites and streaming platforms may require you to customize your settings. Sometimes, for example, you get better speeds with OpenVPN than with 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 is laid out in a convenient dashboard. Some settings have links that give you more details, but you can also check out the various 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 prevent my location from being leaked?
Since PIA recently added the 50 servers in the United States, I wanted to watch YouTube TV to access local channels anywhere. By default, YouTube TV limits you to the local channels in the area you’re streaming from. Traveling from one coast to the other I still couldn’t watch my local stations.
All I had to do was select the US West Streaming Optimized server to start streaming local West Coast stations from the East Coast. Of course, you can choose any status you want, but speeds are a bit faster with the streaming-optimized servers. During my testing, speeds ranged from 160 Mbps to just over 300 Mbps for both domestic and international servers.
For YouTube TV, I had to let the service find 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 that the VPN will help you access content from certain countries on the services mentioned below.
During my testing, I had no issues accessing Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max content. I don’t use Netflix, so I can’t say if Netflix works well. However, if it works as smoothly as the other services I’ve tried, you shouldn’t have any problems.
I enjoy streaming a lot of CBC content that is limited to Canada only. So that was my next big test. Instead of waiting months for a show to air in the US, I was able to stream Sky Med direct to CBC.
Finally, the actual test for each VPN: Can PIA work with BBC’s iPlayer? I had read some reviews of this VPN in the past and saw that it had trouble getting past iPlayer’s VPN detections. At first I didn’t think Private Internet Access would work, although the service claims it would. I’ve tried all the UK servers and both VPN options, which are easy to switch to in the settings.
I would add that some servers stream faster on OpenVPN over WireGuard, but for UK streaming I found WireGuard to be slightly faster.
For some reason I couldn’t get iPlayer to work in Brave browser with PIA. When I switched to Chrome I had no problems as long as I was using the UK London streaming server. No other UK servers would work.
Except for all other features, such as kill switch and split tunneling, everything worked perfectly. Feel free to use the VPN without worrying about site leaks and only use it for the websites you want.
There is no free trial, which would be nice. However, you can try it for a month for $11.99. While the monthly cost is quite high, there is also a 6-month plan for $7.50/month. But the best deal is the 2-year plan at $2.19/month that gives you two months free. This 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, PIA is hard to beat. The service is easy to use and offers advanced features for just $2.19/month. It’s also compatible with most platforms, so you can keep your data encrypted and stream your favorite content even if it’s not available in your region.
If you’re ready for a VPN you can rely on, give Private Internet Access a try.
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