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NORDVPN VS PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS (PIA)
NORDVPN VS PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS
WHICH ONE WILL WIN THE FIGHT?
In the Virtual Private Networks or VPN market, NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are two of the biggest names. The two have some differences and these comparisons can help you identify which VPN provider is better suited for your needs on online privacy and internet security. Hence, NordVPN vs PIA will be thoroughly reviewed in this post.
Even though NordVPN is based in Central America (Panama), it has over 5,167 servers located in more than 61 countries all over the world. This VPN was founded in 2012 and has since been growing in the market. PIA, on the other hand, is based in the United States and it is also a strong all-around VPN option with 3,335 servers in more than 33 countries in the world. It has been around since 2010. Don’t let the number of servers distract you yet, because both NordVPN and PIA got equally promising reviews from Best VPN Canada. And we will investigate this further by evaluating them both based on 10 categories and determine the big winner in the end.
For the NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) comparison, we will carefully review and analyze these 10 categories:
- Software Interface
- Features and Unblocking Capabilities
- Encryption & Security
- Logs & Privacy
- Customer Service & Support
- Refunds Policy
It is fairly easy to install NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA). Both have Automatic Setup Wizards available on Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
1. Visit the website and choose a plan that suits your needs and budget.
2. Create an account and complete payment method.
3. Find different platforms and devices on the website and download.
4. Install and log in.
Private Internet Access (PIA) Installation:
1. Visit the website and choose a premium plan to sign up.
2. Complete check out process.
3. Download PIA for different platforms and devices from the website.
4. Install and login to unlock all the features.
In Linux platforms, NordVPN can be easily installed with its simple command-line installer, unlike PIA which needs to be manually installed. The mobile version of PIA can be downloaded from the website and Google Play Store. However, the version that can be installed from the Play Store does not include the ad-blocker and malware-scanner.
The ease of completing the installation is almost a tie for this one, however, while Linux is not a major operating system for desktops, there are still millions of people who use this operating system. Therefore, making it an important factor in choosing this category’s winner.
A good software interface design allows users to navigate through the system with ease. A simpler and more effective interface can help the users learn how to use the application better with less training.
The desktop application for Private Internet Access (PIA) stays on the taskbar. When minimized, it automatically disappears as well. This feature is a minor inconvenience when following a configuration guide. The features can be accessed by right-clicking on the icon on the taskbar.
The desktop app for PIA also has an option for choosing a server at a specific location by going to the settings menu and selecting “Connect by Region”. This feature is not available on the mobile app, but it has a very simple and clean home screen. The quick menu can be found on the home screen and the rest of the features can be found in the settings menu.
On desktops, NordVPN has a much more user-friendly interface than PIA. The settings have a long list of menu options in connecting to VPN. The home page is still map-based, and a long list of control can be found in the setting menu with easy to toggle buttons for control selection.
The mobile app for NordVPN is also clean and user-friendly. It has the same feature as the “Connect by Region” of PIA. This way, a user can easily connect to nearby servers and prevents irregularity on the connection. The map-based main page on the mobile app shows a contextual menu that shows relevant options. This can be found at the bottom of the page. Important menu like P2P connection and double VPN servers can easily be toggled on the home screen.
NordVPN provides a more user-friendly interface compared to PIA.
Speed is very important for VPNs; a slow VPN speed can hinder and slow down the performance of the tools and the browser. Upon reviewing the two VPN providers, NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are generally both reliable. Although it is obvious that the further the server is, the more latency can be observed.
NordVPN provides a consistently fast and reliable speed in establishing connections. One feature of this VPN is that it will automatically connect you to another server in the country of your choice that has less crowd since least congested servers will give you a better experience in browsing. It has more than 5167 physical servers in 61 countries around the world, which covers a large geographic area. Aside from that, it allows P2P sharing with no limits on server switching, bandwidth, and speed.
Establishing connections with Private Internet Access (PIA) is also quite competitive, just like NordVPN, there is no limit on the bandwidth. It has more than 3335 physical servers in 33 different countries in the world. Just like NordVPN. PIA also uses physical servers; however, it covers a relatively smaller geographical area than NordVPN.
Once again, NordVPN wins this category.
Aside from the functions and other uses of the NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA), we will also review the performance based on specific functions and determine how well one can carry out its tasks.
While torrenting is not something that any of these VPN publicly market because of certain government restrictions, both VPNs support torrenting and allows access to many blocked torrenting websites. Aside from the access, it also allows the user to safely download torrents. NordVPN has servers dedicated only for this feature in around 37 countries. While PIA only has servers for file sharing in 8 countries.
NordVPN has a substantial number of P2P-enabled servers which allow access and safe downloads. It also helps that NordVPN has a great kill-switch feature that can ensure safety in any case that the VPN drops and authorities are watching out for people who are doing illegal downloads.
PIA also has a P2P network that supports torrenting. It also has a port-forwarding component that helps improve the speed of torrenting. However, since PIA is in the US, it will have to follow DMCA notices and may have to answer the authorities if they demand the information of those who torrent.
Features and Unblocking Capabilities
Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) offers support on different platforms. However, there are differences in the features that they each offer.
Private Internet Access (PIA) has a malware blocking system called MACE. It is an effective blocker for all domains that are linked to trackers, ads, and malware. An updated list of possible threats helps block your browser from downloading tracking scripts.
PIA also includes browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. These browser extensions redirect the traffic to a proxy server. The feature can be easily activated by clicking on a “Connect” button on the browser. PIA also guarantees that the extensions only work on the browsers and does not affect other applications.
If PIA has MACE, NordVPN has Cybersec. This feature automatically blocks malicious websites and other threats that can violate your privacy and security. Aside from this, it also blocks unwanted advertisements. Cybersec also detects unusual connections between your device and compromised devices, which can prevent or remove your device from getting involved in a DDoS.
NordVPN also includes four specialty servers aside from the regular VPN server that it offers. The four specialty servers are:
- Dedicated IP servers
- P2P servers
- Onion over VPN
- Double VPN
Aside from these specialty servers discussed in NordVPN review, NordVPN also has an Obfuscated server that can sidestep strict censorship which is usually state-sponsored. This can be a useful VPN in China or any other countries where VPNs are commonly blocked.
Online Streaming Service
Private Internet Access (PIA)
ABC Online (Hulu)
Amazon Prime Video
Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US
NordVPN has great capacity in unblocking many of the most known online streaming services. It can bypass restrictions based on the geographical location of the user. While Private Internet Access (PIA) has some unblocking capabilities, it is no doubt that NordVPN excels in this.
On the comparison of the features and unblocking capabilities, NordVPN is a great choice.
Encryption & Security
Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) provide strong security. Even some of the applications used by NordVPN and PIA to secure your data are the same. They both use OpenVPN tunneling protocol, which is all-around effective security. Both NordVPN and PIA also support P2P, AES-256 encryption, and a kill-switch feature.
The AES-256 encryption that both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) have is considered by many as almost impossible to crack. It is the most secure encryption method used by VPNs.
A kill-switch feature is considered as the last line of defense online. It secured your private information from accidentally being released if the VPN connection unexpectedly fail. Although both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) have it, NordVPN’s kill-switch feature is better than PIA’s. NordVPN has two types of kill-switch features:
- Application-level Kill Switch – allows the user to choose which device apps or web apps will be prevented from accessing the internet if the VPN connection drops.
- Internet Kill Switch – prevents everything from accessing the internet if the VPN connection fails.
The kill-switch feature of Private Internet Access (PIA) is available on the mobile app, however, it cannot be changed based on the user’s preference.
NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are both excellent in securing your information online, while both share many similar features, NordVPN still wins this category because of its special VPN servers that add more wall of security.
Logs & Privacy
Privacy is the first reason why people use VPN. VPN logging is when a VPN collects records or information from a user like the IP address, timestamps, etc. Fortunately, both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) strictly adhere to a no-logging policy. Both of the VPNs do not keep any of the user’s information, not even the amount of bandwidth that you use.
The only thing that is important to know when reviewing NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) is that NordVPN is based in Panama while PIA is based in the US. Security agencies cannot request and demand user data and information from NordVPN because it is not subject to data retention laws. In general, PIA’s policy is vague when it comes to logging but it is still one of the most trusted VPN.
This category goes to NordVPN with a more solid no-logging policy.
Customer Service & Support
Customer service and support is an essential part of any business in any industry. Fortunately, both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) have pretty good customer service.
NordVPN offers customer assistance with the live chat feature on the website. Aside from this, there is also a detailed ticket system and email support with an average response time of 4 hours and 15 minutes, troubleshooting guides uploaded in videos, FAQs, and easy to understand instructions that can be found on the website.
Private Internet Access (PIA) on the other hand does not have a live chat function, but they also have a ticket and email support with an average response time of 8 hours and 45 minutes, video guides, FAQs, and easy to understand instructions on the website.
Based on the comparison between the customer service assistance offers of the two, NordVPN wins this category.
This is another factor to consider when choosing a VPN. Both have relatively cheap based on the features that it has. Recently, PIA increased in prices with the increase of the simultaneous connections it can handle in one subscription. The simultaneous connection it offers changed from 5 to 10.
Private Internet Access (PIA) offers three different subscriptions. After the increase of PIA’s price, it is now at $9.95 per month, a yearly subscription where you can save up to 40%, which is for $5.99 per month, and two-year subscription is $3.49 per month where you can save up to 65%.
NordVPN, on the other hand, offers more options in the subscription plans. It has a 1-month, 1-year, 2-year, and a 3-year plan. It is at $11.95 for the 1-month plan, a 1-year plan is $6.99 per month, a 2-year plan is $4.99 per month, and a 3-year plan which is only for $3.49 per month.
On both VPN, you can get more savings with a longer service plan. PIA has a cheaper plan if compared to the 1-month to 2-year plan. And even though the 3-year plan is the lowest cost for a VPN where you can save up to 75%, 3-years is a long-time commitment.
Winner: Private Internet Access
Refunds or money-back guarantees lets users try NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) without actual risks. In any case that a user decides that the VPN service is not for them, they can easily request a refund. However, there is a different on the refund window that is offered by the two.
NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee and it applies to all the subscription plans offered. Even the 1-month plan. Instructions on how to process a refund can be found on the website. However, it will also take 30 days for the refund to be processed.
Private Internet Access (PIA), unlike NordVPN, has a shorter refund window of only 7 days. For some though, 7 days may be a good enough to test this VPN. PIA also has a faster refund processing compared to the 30 days processing of NordVPN, as it will only take 7 business day.
A while NordVPN offers a longer refund window, the processing time takes much longer. A faster processing time wins in this. More details about this category’s winner can be found in this Private Internet Access review.
Winner: Private Internet Access
The Big Winner
Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) were included in the best VPN services in the world. There is no doubt that the two are competitive and excellent VPN providers. In some categories, they are even almost at par; however, NordVPN wins in 8 out of 10 categories. While PIA wins the price and refund, NordVPN offers better security, protection, and other features. NordVPN wins in this NordVPN vs PIA comparison.