In our increasingly digital world, more and more people are becoming conscious about their online privacy. Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are built to get around the many restrictions that Internet service providers place on users. They can be used to give you a truly open Internet experience while keeping your activity safe, secure, and private. Today, the VPN market is quite vast. With all of the VPN service providers at your disposal, it can be difficult to choose one that meets your privacy needs.
NordVPN and Private Internet Access are both big names in the VPN industry and considered some of the best VPN service providers around. They’re full-service providers that can benefit any Internet user. We’ll be going over the various features of both of these providers to see how they stack up. By comparing how each provider performs and learning more about each company’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to choose the option that serves you best.
Despite its massive success and large network, NordVPN is a relatively new company. It was established back in 2012 as a response to Internet censorship and government surveillance programs that were making headlines in many countries around the world. The company is pretty transparent about their policies and dedication to privacy. Their manifesto states that their goal is to make the Internet as open to users as possible. They’re headquartered in Panama but have servers located all over the globe.
About Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access, commonly referred to as PIA, is based out of Denver, Colorado. Like NordVPN, PIA is focused on increasing your privacy while also keeping your data connection secure. Throughout the years, the company has adopted many forms of technology to keep users protected regardless of how they choose to connect. The provider was established in 2010 and is owned by the parent company London Trust Media.
NordVPN vs. PIA
There are a lot of different aspects to consider when you’re looking for a high-quality VPN. To accurately compare the merits of NordVPN and PIA VPN, we’re going to delve a bit deeper into certain features and services.
Subscription Costs and Payment
Cost is a big factor to consider when you’re choosing a VPN service. While you certainly can’t put a price on privacy, using a VPN requires you to incur an additional ongoing cost on top of the normal bills from your ISP. Your monthly costs to use the Internet can add up quickly. Both NordVPN and Private Access Internet operate under a paid subscription model.
NordVPN offers four different subscription options. You can choose to pay for the service on a monthly basis for a price of $11.95 per month. However, you can take advantage of significant savings if you choose to commit to a longer service plan. These plans require you to pay for more up front, though they have the added benefit of not having to remember to make recurring payments each month. The most cost-effective option from NordVPN is the 3-year plan. It cost $107.55 every 3 years, which amounts to $2.99 per month.
1 month plan: $11.95 per month
Year plan: $83.88 per year, $6.99 per month
2-year plan: $95.75 every 2 years, $3.99 per month
3-year plan: $107.55 every 3 years, $2.99 per month
With PIA VPN, the monthly subscription fee is a bit cheaper at only $9.95 per month. The PIA offers multi-year plans as well. However, their longest subscription plan is 2 years rather than 3. With the 2-year plan, you will pay $83.87 every 2 years. This equates to $3.49 per year, which is 65 percent savings over the monthly plan.
1 month plan: $9.95 per month
Year plan: $71.88 per year, $5.99 per month
2-year plan: $83.87 every 2 years, $3.49 per month
Money-back guarantees are a great safety net that’s offered by most providers. If you don’t like the service for whatever reason, you can request a refund. This lets you give the VPN a try without any real risks. NordVPN offers a standard 30-day money-back guarantee. PIA’s guarantee only lasts for 7 days.
Accepted Payment Methods
VPN providers operate in many countries around the world. As a result, they typically offer a wide range of payment options. Both providers accept major credit cards. NordVPN also accepts Amazon Pay, Alipay, Union Pay, cryptocurrencies like BitCoin, and more. PIA accepts BitCoin, PayGarden, Target gift cards, and merchant gift cards.
Both providers give you the opportunity to stay anonymous as you pay. You can use cryptocurrencies so that you don’t need to have your bank or merchant account connected to the company in any way. PIA’s acceptance of merchant gift cards makes it a bit easier for those who don’t use cryptocurrency.
Which Provider Wins? NordVPN
When it comes to affordability, NordVPN comes out on top. Their saving grace is the 3-year subscription plan. In the past, the VPN provider only offered plans as long as 2 years. In any other case, PIA would be the cheapest option. However, the introduction of that 3-year plan lowered the monthly costs significantly. Plus, NordVPN gives you a lot more time to see if the service is a good fit than PIA.
Connection speeds all come down to how the VPN servers are optimized for traffic. Connecting to a VPN will decrease your normal browsing speeds. This happens because your data has to travel through the VPN tunnel before it reaches the website or platform you’re trying to access. This extra hoop causes a small dip in speeds. However, a well-optimized server can get you pretty close to the speeds that you would get from your ISP.
Speed tests show that Private Internet Access is slightly faster than NordVPN when connecting to a local server that’s close to your geographic location. It’s not a huge difference, but it may be noticeable if you’re downloading large files or streaming high-definition video. The difference in speed between the two services becomes a lot more noticeable when you connect to foreign servers outside of your country. PIA VPN is able to maintain the connection speed, keeping it pretty close to what you’d get if you were connecting to local servers. However, NordVPN’s drop is quite significant. When it comes to speed, PIA is the clear front-runner.
Which Provider Wins? PIA
Logging Policies and Privacy
The biggest reason that most people choose to use a VPN is to keep their online activity away from prying eyes. There are a lot of things that could affect your overall privacy when you’re connected to a VPN server. The biggest is the company’s logging policies.
You’ll be happy to know that both NordVPN and PIA have a strict no-logs policy. This means that they do not keep information about your connection times or what you choose to do online. They don’t even keep data about how much bandwidth you use.
Another thing to consider is the legal jurisdiction where the company is located. NordVPN is based in Panama, which is known to have very good privacy laws. There are no mandatory data retention laws in the country.. PIA, on the other hand, is based in the United States. If the U.S. government were to request information about a user, the company would have no choice but to hand it over. Not only that, but the United States is a part of the Five Eyes. Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Luckily, PIA doesn’t keep any logs. So, if they did receive a subpoena for data, they would have nothing to give.
Which Provider Wins? NordVPN
NordVPN is the clear winner when it comes to privacy. Both providers deserve praise for their no-log policies. However, the fact that NordVPN is based in Panama makes it a better choice for those who prioritize anonymity over anything else.
VPNs can use a number of different security protocols and methods to keep your connection safe from hackers and would-be thieves. These techniques are used whenever you’re connected at home or using public wi-fi. NordVPN and PIA offer the same security protocols. Both have OpenVPN, which is the most versatile and effective protocol. They also use PPTP and L2TP/IPsec.
While they both offer the same security protocols, NordVPN takes things a step further by offering double VPN servers. You can choose to connect to these unique servers directly on the clients to get an added layer of protection. With a double VPN server, your connection is encrypted twice. It’s sent through two different VPN tunnels, making sure that your browsing session is as private as possible.
Data encryption is crucial for any browsing session that involves sending or receiving private information. It’s what keeps your passwords, account information, and banking data safe from thieves. Both NordVPN and PIA VPN use aes 256-bit encryption. It’s the same military-grade encryption method that’s used by large banking institutions and government agencies.
When you’re connected to a VPN, there are still ways that your true IP address can be revealed. To prevent this from happening, VPN services often include leak protection features. NordVPN and PIA have a couple of different features. To stop DNS leaks, both providers have their own private DNS servers. This ensures that DNS requests are made through the VPN tunnel rather than on your ISP connection. Kill switches are also included. They will terminate your connection to a website if the VPN crashes, making sure that your IP address isn’t suddenly exposed and recorded by your ISP.
Protection from Common Internet Threats
There are many threats on the Internet that could put your data at risk. These include phishing attacks, malware, and DDoS attacks. It’s good to have extra features that are designed to prevent these issues from compromising your safety online. NordVPN has a unique feature that does just that.
Called CyberSec, it’s capable of improving the entire browsing experience. It can effectively block ads and malware. Each time you visit a website, it’s scanned against a list of blacklisted sites that are known to harbor cyber threats. If it detects an issue, the VPN will prevent you from establishing a connection altogether. It’s also an anti-DDoS solution that can prevent serious performance issues that come from these attacks.
PIA has a very similar system. It’s called PIA Mace. It can be turned on before you establish a connection to the VPN. Once initiated, it will block unwanted ads, prevent malware from affecting your computer, and stop hidden trackers from watching your every move online. Like CyberSec, IP Mace can make a huge difference in how you browse the web.
Which VPN is Better for Security? NordVPN by a whisker
Both NordVPN and PIA do an excellent job of keeping you safe online. They have many of the same features going for them. However, NordVPN wins by a hair. This is because of the unique double VPN servers. The extra encryption can offer peace of mind while browsing. Unfortunately, PIA doesn’t have any comparable servers or features that offer the same level of protection.
The number of servers a provider has and where they are located can ultimately affect the way you browse. Having more servers is always recommended. Not only does a large network give you more opportunities to find a fast and reliable server to connect to, but it allows you to experience more location-based services that you wouldn’t normally be able to access. When you connect to a VPN server in a different country than yours, you’re assigned a new IP address that makes the website you’re visiting think that you’re located in that particular country.
NordVPN has a much larger network than Private Internet Access. As a result, it’s a better choice for users who want more browsing flexibility. NordVPN currently has over 5,000 servers. They can be found in more than 59 countries. PIA’s network is not bad either. They have over 3,300 servers, which is much more than smaller providers. Unfortunately, the PIA network only spans 32 countries. Some of the more popular server locations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have large server farms. This cuts down PIA’s reach quite a bit.
Which Provider Wins? NordVPN
Performance and Real-World Applications
Let’s go over how these VPNs perform in certain real-world applications. Many people have specific uses in mind when they’re considering a VPN. These private networks are excellent for file sharing and accessing region-locked streaming services.
Digital content streaming has revolutionized the way people enjoy music, movies, and television shows. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer have eliminated the need for having a basic cable subscription. Unfortunately, content licensing laws have complicated the streaming process. You may not be able to view certain pieces of content because of region locking. VPNs can help get around blocks by making it look like you’re connecting from a different country. With that being said, not every VPN is capable of doing the job efficiently. Check out our best vpn for Netflix to see who is good at unblocking streaming services.
When it comes to accessing streaming sites, NordVPN does a much better job. This is because they have obfuscation technology. You see, streaming companies like Netflix will automatically block IP addresses that are coming from VPN servers. They do this regularly to stay on top of new VPNs and IP addresses. Obfuscation hides the fact that you’re using a VPN by making the connection look like standard HTTP encryption. Your data is scrambled even more to add another layer of anonymity. Unfortunately, Private Access Internet does not offer this feature. If you try to visit a streaming service that’s blocked in your area, you’ll probably be met with the dreaded error screen.
Torrenting is strictly frowned-upon by Internet Service Providers. Many will send out warnings or stop service altogether if they catch you doing it. If a copyright holder sees you downloading one of their files, they could use your IP address to get your information and serve you with a lawsuit. Because VPNs mask your true IP address, they’re a great tool for torrenting. Though, not all service providers make it easy.
Luckily, both NordVPN and PIA allow you to torrent. Both providers also have a no-logs policy, so you don’t have to worry about answering to copyright holders. With that being said, there are some restrictions. Both VPNs only allow you to torrent on specific p2p servers. NordVPN has dedicated file-sharing servers in 37 countries. PIA’s are in only 8 countries. So, if you plan to download files through a p2p client, NordVPN is the provider for you.
Which Provider Wins? NordVPN
Software and Supported Platforms
You probably have many different devices that are capable of connecting to the web. While you may think that you only need to protect your computer, it’s a good idea to use the VPN on all of your Internet-capable devices. Fortunately, most VPN providers offer downloadable clients for a range of platforms.
Both NordVPN and PIA support Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The dedicated applications are sleek and very user-friendly. You can establish a connection to a VPN server with just a couple of clicks. There are also apps for Android and iOS mobile devices as well as dedicated browser extensions for FireFox and Chrome.
Beyond the basics, NordVPN supports a wide variety of devices. There are detailed connection guides for Wi-Fi routers, lesser-known devices, gaming consoles, smart televisions, streaming boxes, and so much more. When compared to PIA, NordVPN supports a lot more platforms.
While NordVPN may excel when it comes to what devices you can connect to the private network, PIA lets you have more simultaneous connections at one time. Private Internet Access lets you connect up to 10 devices to the VPN at once with a single account. NordVPN only allows for 6 VPN connections.
Which Provider Wins? PIA
Customer support is something that many people fail to consider when they’re choosing a VPN. A bad support system can lead to a lot of headaches. You’re paying for your service, so you should be able to get assistance whenever things go awry. Both service providers have a pretty detailed support section on their website. They include troubleshooting guides, instructions on how to connect certain devices, and frequently asked questions. These three methods are great for getting some quick answers. When it comes to personalized help, NordVPN and PIA differ a bit in their methods.
NordVPN offers a couple of different ways to connect to a support specialist. There’s a ticket submission system that’s pretty detailed. It asks a few simple questions to determine where your ticket should be sent. Of course, there’s also room to write a message as well. In addition to the ticket system, NordVPN has a live chat button. Initiating a chat will allow you to speak to a member of the support team in real time.
PIA also has a support ticket system. Unfortunately, they don’t currently have a live chat function. If you need immediate assistance, you’re going to have to wait until someone responds to your ticket. Thankfully, the support staff is pretty responsive and will reply to your questions within a day in most cases.
NordVPN vs. PIA: Which is Better? – NordVPN
NordVPN and Private Internet Access may look like they offer the same level of service at first glance, but a detailed comparison shows that the former has a bit more to offer. While PIA VPN does have faster speeds, NordVPN does a better job at helping you stay safe and private. The addition of double VPN servers adds a secondary layer of protection that PIA simply can’t provide. Not only that, but the obfuscation technology makes it easier to access geo-restricted websites without any issues. To top thing off, NordVPN’s new 3-year subscription plan cuts back the cost of service quite a bit. It’s the clear winner of the two and is the best option for most Internet users.