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Best Alternatives to Private Internet Access (PIA) in 2021

We love Private Internet Access, but there are several alternative VPNs which offer some distinct advantages over this popular provider. Today, we look at the best of these VPNs, and review each of them them according to their privacy provisions, performance, and price. PIA users looking to upgrade: read on!

Try these outstanding PIA alternative VPNs:

  1. NordVPNBest Overall VPN – NordVPN sets the standard for all VPNs in terms of encryption, server size, and speed. PIA simply falls short compared to its superior alternative.
  2. Surfshark – Cheaper than Private Internet Access, but far outclasses it technically.
  3. ExpressVPN – One of the privacy industry’s favorite providers, offers premium performance and privacy.
  4. CyberGhost – A great all-rounder for people who aren’t super tech-savvy.
  5. PrivateVPN – Powerful privacy provisions in a lightweight app.

Private Internet Access (also known simply as “PIA”) is an extremely popular VPN around the world, and for good reason – it’s cheap. With prices starting at just $2.91 per month, the shelf appeal makes perfect sense. But, as with everything – you get what you pay for. And although Private Internet Access is a decent provider, there are better ones for comparable prices. So if you want better global server coverage, faster internet, and greater security away from prying eyes, keep reading.

What makes a good VPN?

Researching and choosing a VPN can feel complicated and overwhelming. There are a lot of things to look for – things like encryption strength, server distribution, logging policies, and the country-of-origin of the provider. All these things can affect speed and security in both direct and indirect ways – so you need to make your choice carefully.

We didn’t choose those examples by random, either — Private Internet Access has had issues with each of them. With that in mind, we used the following things as benchmarks to give you a list of the best alternatives to PIA:

  • Location – To be on our list, each of the VPNs had to be based out of a country not under the jurisdiction of governmental agencies or snooping laws.
  • Fast speeds – VPNs slow your internet down. But these VPNs minimize lag, so you can still download and stream quickly.
  • Privacy + Security – Having strong encryption and privacy policies, plus features like DNS leak checks are must-haves in a VPN.
  • Network size + distribution – Number of servers and a widespread distribution assures that you can get the best connection and get around geo-blocks. Bigger is better.
  • Zero-logging policy – Going hand-in-hand with privacy, your VPN needs to have a zero-logging policy. Your information will only be safe if your VPN doesn’t keep logs.

The best alternatives to Private Internet Access

Here’s our list of the best alternative VPNs to PIA, each rated for its superior encryption, server network size, performance, and overall ability to keep your identity hidden online:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN - Editors choice

NordVPN has a massive network – over 5,500 servers in 59 countries massive – that makes this provider the biggest in the industry. And, although located in Panama, they’re spread across 62 countries and growing. Since they’re based in a country with a neutral government, they’re virtually immune to takedown requests, so you don’t have to worry about them reporting on you. And while we’re on the topic, they have a great zero-logging policy – not a single log kept on your traffic, IP address, timestamps, bandwidth, or browsing history. It’s one of the most complete out there.

If you like to use Onion network, game, torrent, or just want an extra layer of security, NordVPN has specialty servers for these use-cases and more. Their nearly unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption wraps your data in security and more advanced features let you customize even further – for strength, speed, or device accessibility. This makes them one of the most reliable VPN providers for bypassing annoying VPN blocks.

While NordVPN isn’t the fastest on the market, they’re very close – and excellent for accessing your favorite video streaming services. An attractive, intuitive user interface makes use simple, with a graphical map showing you where their servers are located – worldwide.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros
  • SPECIAL OFFER: 2-yr plan (68% off - link below)
  • Most VPN servers with different IP addresses
  • No IP/DNS leaks found
  • “Double” data protection
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons
  • Some servers can be slow and unreliable
  • Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
BEST PIA ALTERNATIVE:  NordVPN easily trumps Private Internet Access as the superior alternative, with its blazing-fast worldwide network. Get a huge 70% discount on the 3-year plan ($3.49/mo), backed by a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark VPN

People love PIA primarily because it’s cheap, but Surfshark manages to undercut their main feature while adding plenty of value of its own. Don’t be mistaken: this “budget” pick stands tall amongst all the big boys of the VPN market, and you’re about to see why.

First off, Surfshark only uses the most modern encryption cipher (256-AES-GCM) and tunneling protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, WireGuard, Shadowsocks). This suite of features alone is enough to blast through the toughest censorship–even China’s Great Firewall. Combine this with a kill switch, protection against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, plus obfuscation on every server, and you’ve got a winner.

But there’s more! Every one of Surfshark’s 800+ servers (strewn across 50 countries) is 100% diskless. This means they couldn’t store your usage data even if they wanted to–making their “strictly never” no-logging policy really stand up to scrutiny.

Pros
  • Bypass government censorship with NoBorders mode
  • All 800+ servers are P2P-friendly, with private DNS and obfuscation
  • Clean, dead-simple app interface makes constant security a no-brainer
  • Logging policy independently audited and verified
  • Responsive customer support available 24/7.
Cons
  • Speeds occasionally suffer a noticeable drop
  • Relatively young VPN still has to prove itself trustworthy over the long haul.

Read our full Surfshark review.

BEST BUDGET OPTION: Surfshark costs less than PIA but offers far greater privacy. Get 83% off a two-year plan + 3 months FREE for just $2.21 per month.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers across 94 countries – this kind of broad network is the type you need to find the best server for your use-case. And since they’re based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN falls outside of U.K. jurisdiction and is exempt from the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements between major world governments. So you can rest assured that your data and traffic isn’t being logged and can’t be pulled.

ExpressVPN is also one of the fastest VPNs in the world. Zero speed caps, no throttling, and no restriction on P2P networks or torrents means you can stream buffer-free, download fast, and browse seamlessly. It’s a great provider for gaining access to Netflix and Hulu, too – and if you have problems, their customer service is excellent.

They also offer 256-bit encryption–basically unbreakable–with 5 security protocols that can tackle the toughest blocks and slowest networks with ease. And with a lightweight interface that doesn’t overtake your screen, a single click brings you online.

Finally, ExpressVPN is available across a wide spectrum of devices, so you can rest easy knowing that chances are, it’ll be available to you.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros
  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off - link below)
  • Super fast, reliable connection
  • Secure encryption & VPN protocols
  • No logs for personal data
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons
  • Expensive month-to-month plan.
GREAT ALL-ROUNDER: Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

4. CyberGhost

cyberghost

CyberGhost gives you privacy and security made easy. They’re incredibly beginner-friendly, keeping things simple and easy to install. Then, once you have the VPN up, they give you 6 simple configuration profiles. With these profiles, you get the option to have the best settings applied automatically for your use-case. So for things like surfing anonymously, unblocking streaming, and choosing your VPN server, as well as others, you don’t need to spend a lot of time getting your settings figured out. And, each of those profiles can be customized with simple toggles – so you can add ad blockers, online tracking blockers, and extra speed simply by turning on a toggle.

CyberGhost also utilizes a default encryption protocol that blends speed and security – but if you want one over the other for any reason, you can select one of their other 4 protocols and get connected. With a large network of over 5,900 servers in 90 countries, unlimited bandwidth, no throttling, and high connection speeds, you can rest assured you’ll find the best and fastest server for you.

Notably for privacy nuts, CyberGhost also logs nearly nothing – just anonymous log-in events once per day to accrue monthly login-statistics among unique users. That might sound fishy, but it’s not – there’s no way for this to be traced back to an individual. Get CyberGhost for your Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android and connect up to 5 devices at a time.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Pros
  • Works with Netflix
  • Fast, constant speeds
  • 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication
  • Private: Strong no logs policy
  • Money-back guarantee.
Cons
  • Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.

5. PrivateVPN

privatevpn

PrivateVPN is based out of Sweden – another privacy-friendly home base. There, PrivateVPN is safe from other major powers’ regulations and requests for your data. And even if they did get a court order, there would be nothing to share – PrivateVPN doesn’t keep any details about you that could allow a third party to match an IP address to you. That’s great news – you don’t have to worry about them selling your info to advertising companies on the side.

PrivateVPN gives you 256-bit AES encryption, alongside DNS leak test capability, and automatic kill switch protection. So you can test your connections to make sure your identity isn’t leaking out, and if your connection drops, you’ll still be safe. The kill switch will automatically shut down your internet, preventing any of your data from being vulnerable.

High speed connections and great customer support are right on point with PrivateVPN. And, due to a unique feature, where the best VPNs for getting around VPN blockers are labeled, PrivateVPN is one of the best providers if you want worldwide access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and all your other favorites.

Why look for alternatives to Private Internet Access?

PIA is popular largely due to its affordability – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shortcomings that have left customers unhappy with their service. Many of PIA’s customers have had problems in the areas we’re about to discuss, so let’s dive into why you should pick an alternative VPN.

Slow speeds

To start, PIA doesn’t offer a server status page with real-time updates about your server’s bandwidth. This means that you have no ability to see the real-time speed of your bandwidth, or troubleshoot poor speed or connection problems. Alongside this, although Private Internet Access has a great number of servers, their speed isn’t great. Using PIA can slow down your internet significantly, so streaming and downloading can be frustrating ordeals.

Weak global network

Although Private Internet Access has a network size of over 3,400 servers, they’re overall coverage – how widespread they are – is poor, primarily limited to the western world. The closer you are to your nearest server, the faster your internet will be, so this isn’t good – especially for gamers, as many of the largest online gaming markets are located in the Middle East, Russian and Asia. These are all poorly covered areas.

No live chat support

Sometimes things go wrong with your VPN. It happens – that’s just a fact. But when they do, you want and need timely customer support. Private Internet Access only takes support tickets through email. There’s no “live chat” option, so it can take a while and keep of off the web.

Based in the U.S.

Private Internet Access is owned by London Trust Media, Inc., a United States-based company. Because it’s located in the U.S., that means it falls under United States jurisdiction – and the American government likes to know everything about everyone. So, with PIA located there, they could easily be ordered at any time to start keeping logs of your data and traffic – and you might never even know the difference.

Why is a U.S.-based VPN such a bad thing?

Most of the major governments and countries of modern times have domestic intelligence agencies. In the U.S., you have the NSA and the FBI. These two agencies have been found in recent years to be collecting data on just about everyone – citizens, visitors to the U.S., and diplomats included. And those efforts include spying on what you do online.

What the FBI and NSA do

The FBI was founded in 1908 to “protect the rights and liberties” of United States citizens while fighting criminals throughout the country. Originally, this was proposed so that there would be an organization that had access to government intelligence and resourced and could cross state lines – the entire U.S. is their jurisdiction.

The NSA was founded in 1952 to globally monitor, collect information, and protect the United States’ communication networks. They can – and do – do this by any means, including through physical “bugging” of electronic systems, wiretapping phone calls, and watching internet activity.

READ ALSO: Phone apps track your every move, here’s what to do about it

The leaks

Former NSA and CIA contractor Edward Snowden shook the world when he leaked documents in 2013. These documents revealed massive, extensive, extremely invasive measures taken by the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens, travelers, and diplomats. It also showed that the NSA and FBI were increasing their surveillance, without warrants or oversight.  While the United States was perhaps the most publicized country involved, others were revealed to be implicated, showing inter-country networks of spying.

You can learn more about this in our comprehensive guide.

Conclusion

Although Private Internet Access can be a solid VPN provider based off its extremely affordable rates, it falls short in many important areas. With a solid list of alternatives with better features, performance, and comparable prices, why stick with PIA? There’s a lot that goes into researching the best alternatives, and here we’ve done a lot of the work for you. Use this guide to finish your search, make your choice, and get online, safe and private.

Have you used Private Internet Access? What was your experience with it? Did it parallel the issues we laid out here? Tell us your story below in the comments.
Private Internet Access (also known simply as “PIA”) is an extremely popular VPN around the world, and for good reason – it’s cheap. With prices starting at just $2.91 per month, the shelf appeal makes perfect sense. But, as with everything – you get what you pay for. And although Private Internet Access is a decent provider, there are better ones for comparable prices. So if you want better global server coverage, faster internet, and greater security away from prying eyes, keep reading.

What makes a good VPN?

Researching and choosing a VPN can feel complicated and overwhelming. There are a lot of things to look for – things like encryption strength, server distribution, logging policies, and the country-of-origin of the provider. All these things can affect speed and security in both direct and indirect ways – so you need to make your choice carefully.

We didn’t choose those examples by random, either — Private Internet Access has had issues with each of them. With that in mind, we used the following things as benchmarks to give you a list of the best alternatives to PIA:

  • Location – To be on our list, each of the VPNs had to be based out of a country not under the jurisdiction of governmental agencies or snooping laws.
  • Fast speeds – VPNs slow your internet down. But these VPNs minimize lag, so you can still download and stream quickly.
  • Privacy + Security – Having strong encryption and privacy policies, plus features like DNS leak checks are must-haves in a VPN.
  • Network size + distribution – Number of servers and a widespread distribution assures that you can get the best connection and get around geo-blocks. Bigger is better.
  • Zero-logging policy – Going hand-in-hand with privacy, your VPN needs to have a zero-logging policy. Your information will only be safe if your VPN doesn’t keep logs.

The best alternatives to Private Internet Access

Here’s our list of the best alternative VPNs to PIA, each rated for its superior encryption, server network size, performance, and overall ability to keep your identity hidden online:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers across 94 countries – this kind of broad network is the type you need to find the best server for your use-case. And since they’re based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN falls outside of U.K. jurisdiction and is exempt from the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements between major world governments. So you can rest assured that your data and traffic isn’t being logged and can’t be pulled.

ExpressVPN is also one of the fastest VPNs in the world. Zero speed caps, no throttling, and no restriction on P2P networks or torrents means you can stream buffer-free, download fast, and browse seamlessly. It’s a great provider for gaining access to Netflix and Hulu, too – and if you have problems, their customer service is excellent.

They also offer 256-bit encryption, which is the best encryption money can buy, with 5 security protocols that can tackle the toughest blocks and slowest networks with ease. And with a lightweight interface that doesn’t overtake your screen, a single click brings you online.

Finally, ExpressVPN is available across a wide spectrum of devices, so you can rest easy knowing that chances are, it’ll be available to you.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros
  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off - link below)
  • Super fast, reliable connection
  • Secure encryption & VPN protocols
  • No logs for personal data
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons
  • Expensive month-to-month plan.
BEST PIA ALTERNATIVE: ExpressVPN easily trumps Private Internet Access as the superior alternative, with its blazing-fast worldwide network. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN - Editors choice

NordVPN has a massive network – over 5,500 servers in 59 countries massive – that makes this provider the biggest in the industry. And, although located in Panama, they’re spread across 62 countries and growing. Since they’re based in a country with a neutral government, they’re virtually immune to takedown requests, so you don’t have to worry about them reporting on you. And while we’re on the topic, they have a great zero-logging policy – not a single log kept on your traffic, IP address, timestamps, bandwidth, or browsing history. It’s one of the most complete out there.

If you like to use Onion network, game, torrent, or just want an extra layer of security, NordVPN has specialty servers for these use-cases and more. Their nearly unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption wraps your data in security and more advanced features let you customize even further – for strength, speed, or device accessibility. This makes them one of the most reliable VPN providers for bypassing annoying VPN blocks.

While NordVPN isn’t the fastest on the market, they’re very close – and excellent for accessing your favorite video streaming services. An attractive, intuitive user interface makes use simple, with a graphical map showing you where their servers are located – worldwide.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros
  • SPECIAL OFFER: 2-yr plan (68% off - link below)
  • Most VPN servers with different IP addresses
  • No IP/DNS leaks found
  • “Double” data protection
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons
  • Some servers can be slow and unreliable
  • Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. CyberGhost

cyberghost

CyberGhost gives you privacy and security made easy. They’re incredibly beginner-friendly, keeping things simple and easy to install. Then, once you have the VPN up, they give you 6 simple configuration profiles. With these profiles, you get the option to have the best settings applied automatically for your use-case. So for things like surfing anonymously, unblocking streaming, and choosing your VPN server, as well as others, you don’t need to spend a lot of time getting your settings figured out. And, each of those profiles can be customized with simple toggles – so you can add ad blockers, online tracking blockers, and extra speed simply by turning on a toggle.

CyberGhost also utilizes a default encryption protocol that blends speed and security – but if you want one over the other for any reason, you can select one of their other 4 protocols and get connected. With a large network of over 5,900 servers in 90 countries, unlimited bandwidth, no throttling, and high connection speeds, you can rest assured you’ll find the best and fastest server for you.

Notably for privacy nuts, CyberGhost also logs nearly nothing – just anonymous log-in events once per day to accrue monthly login-statistics among unique users. That might sound fishy, but it’s not – there’s no way for this to be traced back to an individual. Get CyberGhost for your Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android and connect up to 5 devices at a time.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

Pros
  • Works with Netflix
  • Fast, constant speeds
  • 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication
  • Private: Strong no logs policy
  • Money-back guarantee.
Cons
  • Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.

4. PrivateVPN

privatevpn

PrivateVPN is based out of Sweden – another privacy-friendly home base. There, PrivateVPN is safe from other major powers’ regulations and requests for your data. And even if they did get a court order, there would be nothing to share – PrivateVPN doesn’t keep any details about you that could allow a third party to match an IP address to you. That’s great news – you don’t have to worry about them selling your info to advertising companies on the side.

PrivateVPN gives you 256-bit AES encryption, alongside DNS leak test capability, and automatic kill switch protection. So you can test your connections to make sure your identity isn’t leaking out, and if your connection drops, you’ll still be safe. The kill switch will automatically shut down your internet, preventing any of your data from being vulnerable.

High speed connections and great customer support are right on point with PrivateVPN. And, due to a unique feature, where the best VPNs for getting around VPN blockers are labeled, PrivateVPN is one of the best providers if you want worldwide access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and all your other favorites.

Why look for alternatives to Private Internet Access?

PIA is popular largely due to its affordability – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shortcomings that have left customers unhappy with their service. Many of PIA’s customers have had problems in the areas we’re about to discuss, so let’s dive into why you should pick an alternative VPN.

Slow speeds

To start, PIA doesn’t offer a server status page with real-time updates about your server’s bandwidth. This means that you have no ability to see the real-time speed of your bandwidth, or troubleshoot poor speed or connection problems. Alongside this, although Private Internet Access has a great number of servers, their speed isn’t great. Using PIA can slow down your internet significantly, so streaming and downloading can be frustrating ordeals.

Weak global network

Although Private Internet Access has a network size of over 3,400 servers, they’re overall coverage – how widespread they are – is poor, primarily limited to the western world. The closer you are to your nearest server, the faster your internet will be, so this isn’t good – especially for gamers, as many of the largest online gaming markets are located in the Middle East, Russian and Asia. These are all poorly covered areas.

No live chat support

Sometimes things go wrong with your VPN. It happens – that’s just a fact. But when they do, you want and need timely customer support. Private Internet Access only takes support tickets through email. There’s no “live chat” option, so it can take a while and keep of off the web.

Based in the U.S.

Private Internet Access is owned by London Trust Media, Inc., a United States-based company. Because it’s located in the U.S., that means it falls under United States jurisdiction – and the American government likes to know everything about everyone. So, with PIA located there, they could easily be ordered at any time to start keeping logs of your data and traffic – and you might never even know the difference.

Why is a U.S.-based VPN such a bad thing?

Most of the major governments and countries of modern times have domestic intelligence agencies. In the U.S., you have the NSA and the FBI. These two agencies have been found in recent years to be collecting data on just about everyone – citizens, visitors to the U.S., and diplomats included. And those efforts include spying on what you do online.

What the FBI and NSA do

The FBI was founded in 1908 to “protect the rights and liberties” of United States citizens while fighting criminals throughout the country. Originally, this was proposed so that there would be an organization that had access to government intelligence and resourced and could cross state lines – the entire U.S. is their jurisdiction.

The NSA was founded in 1952 to globally monitor, collect information, and protect the United States’ communication networks. They can – and do – do this by any means, including through physical “bugging” of electronic systems, wiretapping phone calls, and watching internet activity.

READ ALSO: Phone apps track your every move, here’s what to do about it

The leaks

Former NSA and CIA contractor Edward Snowden shook the world when he leaked documents in 2013. These documents revealed massive, extensive, extremely invasive measures taken by the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens, travelers, and diplomats. It also showed that the NSA and FBI were increasing their surveillance, without warrants or oversight.  While the United States was perhaps the most publicized country involved, others were revealed to be implicated, showing inter-country networks of spying.

You can learn more about this in our comprehensive guide.

Conclusion

Although Private Internet Access can be a solid VPN provider based off its extremely affordable rates, it falls short in many important areas. With a solid list of alternatives with better features, performance, and comparable prices, why stick with PIA? There’s a lot that goes into researching the best alternatives, and here we’ve done a lot of the work for you. Use this guide to finish your search, make your choice, and get online, safe and private.

Have you used Private Internet Access? What was your experience with it? Did it parallel the issues we laid out here? Tell us your story below in the comments.

How to get a FREE VPN for 30 days

If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. NordVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.

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