Surfshark review

Speed - 7/10
Usability - 8/10
Price - 10/10
Reliability - 8/10

Characteristics

Private Internet Access, also called PIA VPN, is a VPN service that is known for respecting the privacy of its users. They do this, among other things, by not keeping logs. In addition, they are known for the clarity of the design of the apps.

The price of this VPN service is also a big plus for this VPN service. Even though Private Internet Access is no longer our list of cheap VPNs , it is still very affordable service. The price quality ratio is perfectly fine.

We have extensively tested Private Internet Access ourselves. In this way we can judge this VPN service fairly and reliably based on our own experiences with Private Internet Access. Discover the features and plus and minus points of this VPN service in this review.

Servers

Private Internet Access is a VPN service that has been around for a long time, it was 1 of the first known VPN providers. This is also reflected in the large number of servers that Private Internet Access offers. They currently have 3341 servers in operation in 32 countries. Within these countries there are a total of 52 different locations where the VPN servers are located. This means that wherever you are there is always a PIA server nearby. In practice, this means that you can use Private Internet Access at optimum speed.

In addition, PIA has a handy overview of all servers on their website. There you can test the speed between your device and the VPN server with a click of the button. So you can easily find the fastest available VPN server. A connection with a VPN server that is as fast as possible is advantageous, then the delay caused by the connection is minimal.

Bypass geographic blockades

Because this VPN service has such a large number of servers across so many different countries, the service is particularly well suited to bypassing geographic blockades. The number of countries in which PIA has VPN servers is so extensive that you can simply see content from all of these countries that are normally geographically blocked.

In any case, there are servers in the countries where you most likely want to see content. Consider countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, the UK, Japan, Israel and Turkey. But also countries where they are not so popular to bypass geographical blockades can be found in the list of countries where servers are located. Consider Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, India and a number of countries.

This service allows you, for example, to easily view the blocked content of BBC iPlayer in the UK .

PIA servers are located in these countries

Privacy and security of Private Internet Access

As stated earlier, PIA offers a very good privacy guarantee. They have chosen to keep absolutely no logs on their servers. Where other services such as VyprVPN or Hide My Ass log exactly what you do on the internet, PIA does not. This means that if a government authority ever asks where person x has been on the net, they cannot even provide that information. It is true that the service is located in the United States, in theory this means that America may require that PIA will keep records of certain customers. There are no stories known from practice that Private Internet Access would ever have done this.

They explicitly allow you to use services and Torrents for file sharing. For Torrent clients they even have separate torrent proxy servers. These are the so-called SOCKS5 proxy servers.

Also on the technical side in terms of security, they have things well organized. By default, the network uses the OpenVPN protocol with 256-bit encryption. As a user you have the freedom to choose which protocol with which encryption you would like to use.

Kill switch

The PIA software has a kill switch option. This option ensures that your internet traffic stops completely if your VPN connection is lost. This is to prevent privacy sensitive information from being sent encrypted. For this review, we naturally tested the function extensively. The kill switch is working properly.

The kill switch function is available on the following operating systems:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Android
  • iOS

Speed ​​and stability

The speeds of Private Internet Access are very average. This is also one of the reasons that many downloaders use this VPN service. During our review we barely noticed a drop in speed on our 60 Mbit line.

Stability is also in order from Private internet Access. During our 8-hour review, the connection was not lost once. The software did connect quickly again so that we hardly noticed the drop.

Use of Private Internet Access

You don’t have to be a nerd to use the Private Internet Access VPN service. For Windows 10 and older Windows versions and the Mac (MacOS) computers, there is easy to install software. After installing, the use of the Private Internet Access software is also very easy. An app is also available for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. With the relevant app it is easy to connect in order to surf safely and anonymously .

Moreover, the service is easy for anyone to use and in a technically safe way. The service namely supports all known and secure protocols: L2TP / IPSec, OpenVPN, OpenSSL and even a number of less frequently used protocols. PPTP is also available, but we do not recommend it because of security risks. You can easily choose these protocols yourself. The standard setting is also safe enough.

There is now a VPN connection with a English server

In addition, there is the settings screen. This settings screen consists of various tabs. We have taken a screenshot of 2 different tabs in the settings menu. Namely from the general tab and from the privacy tab. You can see this below.

In these general settings you can, for example, determine whether you want the software to start automatically when you start Windows or MacOS. You can also set the software to connect immediately as soon as the Private Internet Access software is opened. These are handy options for people who always want to use the internet via a VPN connection.

Now the screenshot of the privacy settings

Privacy settings Private Internet Access

As you can see in the privacy settings you can determine whether a kill switch is used. We recommend that you always use a kill switch when using the internet via a VPN. In addition, Private Internet Access also has an ad blocker that they themselves have called MACE. This is an ad blocker that you can enable in the PIA privacy menu.

There are possibilities for people who want to set more. For example, it is possible to forward ports from some servers. You can also choose which DNS server you want to use in the network tab and determine whether devices within your local network can communicate with your computer.

In addition, there are also options for choosing how you want to encrypt your traffic and whether you want to use the TCP or UDP protocol for VPN traffic.

The MacOS VPN software looks almost the same. Everything speaks for itself and is easy to use.

Android and iOS app

The apps for Android and iOS are also easy to use. The settings for mobile devices are slightly more limited than is the case for software for computers and laptops. Below you can see some screenshots of what the PIA client looks like on an Android phone.

After starting the PIA app

You can see this when you have started the Android app. You can easily connect when you click the slider that you see in the screen. When you click on “Current region” you will see a screen with available locations. This looks like this.

The Android app if a VPN connection is active

You will also find an extensive settings menu in the Android and iOS app. Private Internet Access is one of the few VPN providers where you can set so many things on mobile devices. This will appeal to the techies among us. Below you can see a schreenshot from the settings menu. It is only a part of the settings menu, that is much longer.

Settings menu Android app PIA

In the settings of the Android and iOS app of Private Internet Access you can, among other things, set the application to start automatically when you start the phone. You can also decide that a VPN connection will be made immediately. In addition, you can easily choose between the TCP or UDP protocol. You also have the option to forward porting to your phone. And so there are even more options that you will not find at any other VPN provider.

As you can see, there is also a clear interface for mobile devices within the software of Private Internet Access. The app for iOS (iPhone and iPad) looks about the same and is easy to use. All in all, we are very pleased with the apps that Private Internet Access has developed. These are more extensive than what we are used to from other VPN providers.

Linux

Even for Ubuntu (a Linux distribution) there is an easy installation script and a graphical option to set up the connection. There are few VPN services that offer an installation script or other form of software to make it workable on Linux. We can only really appreciate and applaud the fact that this is the case with Private Internet Access.

With the Linux installation script it is therefore also possible to use the VPN connections on Raspberry Pi and other devices that run on a Linux distribution.

Unlimited number of simultaneous connections

Private Internet access also has an extension for the Chrome browser. We have extended the extension for this PIA review.

The extension of Private Internet Access has positively surprised us. After you have logged in to the extension you can set a number of useful things. This way you can of course choose which server you want to connect to. But it is also possible to block WebRTC (a protocol that can leak your real IP).

Chrome extension

As you can read above, Surfshark VPN focuses on privacy and security. Fortunately, this is also reflected in the software and the VPN protocols that are used. For example, OpenVPN is used as standard on Windows and Android and the IKEv2 protocol is used on Mac devices such as iPhones and Macbooks. Both protocols are known for their good encryption.

In addition, Surfshark itself indicates that no logs are kept of its users. This means that there is no data available about you even though they are being searched for. Another major privacy benefit is the fact that Surfshark falls under the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. This is a country where privacy is guaranteed, there are no agreements between the country and other countries to exchange information. The jurisdiction is well chosen with an eye to privacy.

In addition, it is also possible to enable the Private Internet Access adblocker service, called MACE. This is a service that blocks the ad at the domain level.

Connect automatically

The android app and the Windows and MacOS software have the ability to automatically connect to the VPN server when an internet connection is established. This is the case, for example, when you connect to a public network. You do not have to think about this with Private Internet Access.

If you use the iPhone app you will have to connect to the app manually every time you want to use the VPN service. It has to be said that a cell phone is never closed. The VPN connection remains active as long as the phone is switched on, so it is not bad that a connection is not made automatically when the phone starts up.

Use Private Internet Access with Synology NAS

Many people use their Synology NAS to download torrents. The problem with it is that many people want to keep their identity hidden because a torrent download fine is lurking.

As you can read in this review, downloading torrents is allowed via the Private Internet Access VPN connections. But it is of course also important that Private Internet Access can be made active on Synology.

After some searching we found on the PIA forum that someone has found a working solution. You can therefore connect your Synology to the internet via a VPN server from Private Internet Access and thus download it anonymously.

Router via Private Internet Access

If you want to encrypt all your internet traffic from home over a VPN connection, there is the possibility to configure some routers as a client of a VPN network. Private Internet Access has very clear descriptions on the website to allow your router to connect to the internet via a PIA server connection. Pre-configured routers are also for sale that are set up to make perfect use of the service.

As mentioned, all your internet traffic goes through the VPN connection when you set up the router as a VPN client. This has the advantage that you also connect to a Private Internet Access server with your Chromecast and Apple TV. On an Apple TV or Chromecast you do not have the ability to make a VPN connection, this must always be via a (virtual) router.

Netflix does not work with PIA

Unfortunately, Netflix does not work via the Private Internet Access servers. Netflix has recognized the servers of PIA and blocked them from their streaming service. Other VPN services are still trying to come up with solutions for this, but PIA does not seem to be doing that at the moment.

If you are looking for VPN Netflix can better example ExpressVPN or Surf Shark choose.

Private Internet Access and Kodi

PIA has not developed a special VPN add-on for Kodi. There is also no clear explanation available on the website of Private Internet Access about setting up VPN connections in the Kodi with the VPN servers of PIA. There are other VPN providers that do offer this as you can read in our article about VPNs with Kodi .

Yet there is certainly the possibility of using Private Internet Access in combination with Kodi. When you run Kodi on a system for which PIA has made software, you can simply connect to a VPN server with that software. You then use Kodi automatically over that VPN connection.

The connections are in any case fast enough to stream videos. There are also servers in sufficient countries to view the necessary geographically blocked content from other countries via Kodi.

Download torrents with PIA

PIA allows the download of torrents via the servers. The company does not keep records of exactly what you download and they will therefore not be able to pass on your details to authorities who request them. PIA is also a popular torrent VPN among torrent users for a reason .

It is true that they only allow torrents to be downloaded over a number of VPN servers. The English servers are also included in this, the downloading of torrents about the English servers is fast. We downloaded Ubuntu via Torrent over the PIA network and that went with maximum speed.

Even if, for example, you want to stream movies in Kodi, you can of course simply install Private Internet Access. When you are connected to a PIA VPN server, you watch Kodi over a VPN connection .

Price of Private Internet Access

The costs for using the PIA VPN servers are low. Certainly considering the options you get, we believe it is the package with the best price / quality ratio. You can use this service for as little as $ 3.49 per month. And then you immediately have the option to log in to 1 account with 10 devices simultaneously. Below you can see an image with the prices that we have obtained from the official site. Compared to other VPN services , Private Internet Access is very cheap. Cyberghost and Surfshark are even cheaper.

Below you can see how the different prices per Private Internet Access subscription are divided. As you can see, the cheapest plan is the two-year plan.

We also gave a 9 for the price in the points review by PIA. The price is very good if you look at what you get for it.

7 day money back guarantee

With Private Internet Access you can request a refund within 7 days of the purchase. You can see this as a kind of trial period, this way you can test the VPN service “for free”. We tested this for our review. It turned out that the PIA gave us money back without further questions and then canceled our subscription. This is a very positive experience with the customer-friendliness of the VPN service.

Conclusion after our experience with Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access or PIA VPN is a VPN service that considers privacy very important. In addition, it is good to pay and easy to use. The speeds and stability of the servers seems really fine. And downloading torrents is allowed, a good speed is of course very useful!

We can confidently recommend Private Internet Access to anyone who wants to purchase a reliable VPN service  and does not want to pay too much. We can do this because we have used the service ourselves for this review and our experiences with PIA are extremely positive.