Choosing the right VPN to use for your home or business is a pretty big decision. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become one of the most important tools for internet security and freedom of access today. Being able to choose the right vendor will mean peace of mind and security for you.
This NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (PIA) review will cover everything you need to know about the two platforms to make an informed choice. We will go through a comparison of their security features, allowed simultaneous connections, IP address masking, download speed, compatibility with streaming services, customer support, and many more.
NordVPN vs PIA – Quick Overview
These VPNS are two of the biggest VPN providers available for users today. NordVPN is a giant with over 12 million users globally, while PIA currently serves about 100,000 users.
To give a little important background information, NordVPN is owned by Tefincom & Co., S.A.. The company resides in Panama, which is known for its liberal corporate and data privacy laws. To date, it has over 5,200 servers all over the world dedicated to making secure internet connection easy and fast.
Andrew Lee founded PIA in 2009. Its parent company is London Trust Media, Inc, and both were recently bought by Kape Technologies (2019). Kape is also based in London and owns two other VPN services known as Cyberghost and Zenmate.
It’s important that you know Kape Technologies was previously Crossrider, which has a history of creating malware and unwanted software.
Anyway, both VPN services are pretty robust and offer amazing features for the everyday user. They offer different features and services, which is why the following feature-by-feature comparison will help you make a solid comparison process.
Is NordVPN Better than PIA? NordVPN Advantages
Right off the bat, NordVPN seems to be the clear winner of this challenge. It offers consistently better speeds, has more features, is more secure, and is easier to use. The NordVPN desktop client is also very intuitive, but that’s not the main reason why I think NordVPN is a winner.
NordVPN easily beats Private Internet Access because of its extra security features. Just taking a walk through Reddit’s community of NordVPN users will give you a sense of the positive experiences there. There quite a few negatives as well, mostly from fussy users, but here is what I could glean from the community of over 15,000 members:
- NordVPN allows you to bypass geographical constraints, which is especially important for users in highly restrictive jurisdictions such as China and North Korea
- It has a dedicated streaming service with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime
- For people who are traveling, NordVPN offers a stable connection service
- NordVPN is the first company to introduce superfast 10Gbps servers
- It is one of the most secure VPNs with a no-logs policy. NordVPN keeps no user activity records because it uses RAM-disk mode, which means all data is lost when servers are switched off
- The kill switch button on the Nord client is very effective at killing connections in case servers fail, thus preventing the leakage of personal data or IP addresses
- Split tunneling is available on NordVPN for faster download speeds, e.g when downloading large files and torrents
- Nord’s client is available for download on most devices including PCs and mobile devices. That covers Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, Chromebooks, and all standard web browsers. You can also install it on your router
- The service has been running a 68% discount on the 3-year subscription for some time now. It’s hard to argue with a price of less than $3 per month
Is PIA Better than NordVPN? PIA Advantages
Despite NordVPN’s clear win, PIA beats out NordVPN in a few key areas.
To begin with, Private Internet Security uses the same high-end encryption protocols that Private VPN uses. The defaults are AES-128 and OpenVPN over UDP, which is used for fast connections such as video playback.
The defaults are AES-128 and OpenVPN over UDP, which is used for fast connections such as video playback. However, you can also opt for AWS-128 AES-256 if you want higher security over CBC or GCM connections, which are used for credit card payments and secure messaging.
Another of PIA’s strong features is its usage logs policy. The company writes all data to the /null directory – this essentially means that it discards it at runtime.
As far as user login data is concerned, PIA is on record saying that it doesn’t divulge any information to security agencies. Normally, this would mean nothing given that the company falls under a Seven Eyes Alliance jurisdiction. However, it has already been tested by getting subpoenaed twice in criminal investigations and all it provided were IP addresses with no customer data. Well done, PIA!
Private Internet Access also has a few other advantages:
- Unlike NordVPN, it allows a maximum of 10 connections per account, albeit at a slightly higher price
- Its user interface is super-friendly. It even tells you what the ping times for each server are so that you can choose the fastest ones
- Just like NordVPN, PIA is available on a full range of devices including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and Chromebooks.
- You can configure PIA directly on your router
- Private Internet Access also features a powerful kill switch to prevent IP leaks
NordVPN vs PIA – Speed
Probably one of your most important concerns about NordVPN and Private Internet Access is download speed. NordVPN has one of the fastest VPN connections in the world, especially since it started using RAM-disk mode in its VPN servers.
In one third-party test, Sven Taylor of RestorePrivacy.com tested both platforms with a connection of a baseline speed of 500Mbps. NordVPN’s nearest server gave a marvelous 445.57 Mbps download speed against PIA’s 41.21.
The next nearest city, Los Angeles, showed a download speed of 304.65Mbps for NordVPN and 85.12Mbps for PIA.
Security.Org also conducted a different security test from a baseline speed of 54.86Mpbs. In this case, NordVPN gained an impressive 41.37Mpbs while PIA managed 12.93Mbps. The results are pretty similar in almost all other tests, and we can conclude that NordVPN is king when it comes to connection speeds.
NordVPN vs PIA – Pricing
Some time back, both NordVPN and Private Internet Access had very similar pricing. Today, that has since changed and PIA is a little more expensive.
Nord’s pricing plan is available on either 2-year plans which works out at $3.71 a month, a 1-year plan which amounts to $4.92 a month, or a monthly plan billed at $11.95. The two-year plan gives you a staggering 68% discount, which is why many people prefer it.
For its part, Private Internet Access has a three-year plan, an annual plan, and a monthly option. The three work out to $2.19, $3.33, and $11.95 per month, respectively. Both NordVPN and PIA have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is easy to invoke by talking to customer support.
NordVPN vs PIA – Safety
NordVPN takes a step ahead with its array of extra security features. For one, It offers Double-VPN servers, which means it encrypts your traffic twice over two different locations to completely mask your IP address. It also offers leak protection settings and the kill switch feature we already mentioned.
When you need to circumvent geographical restrictions (such as China), NordVPN offers obfuscation servers to hide VPN traffic as regular HTTPS encryption. HTTPS commonly gets used everywhere on the Internet as an extra security layer.
Finally, NordVPN also has an advanced ad and malware blocker called CyberSec, which works by blocking traffic from any known suspicious domains.
For its part, Private Internet Access offers three main safety features. The first is advanced leak protection settings such as the automatic kill switch.
Secondly, it offers two choices of highly secure encryption protocols including AES-128 for normal browsing (default) and AES-256 for ultra-secure surfing.
Third, PIA has its own ad and malware blocker called PIA Mace. It also works by blocking unsafe domains, but it is pretty basic. Some fishy ads and popups still manage to make it through.
Who is PIA Best For?
All things considered, the US-based Private Internet Security remains a pretty decent VPN provider. It is perfect for anyone looking for highly secure internet encryption and IP masking but doesn’t need any extra features.
For basic web browsing, some social media, and secure search, PIA will be more than enough. Its 99 servers reside mostly in the US (over 11,000) and Europe (almost 10,000), with the rest scattered over various other continents. That means speeds in these countries can be impressive.
If you are in China, North Korea, or other geo-restricted zones, bad luck for you. Because these countries banned PIA, it unfortunately will not work there. It also won’t work for you if you want to access streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Who is NordVPN Best For?
NordVPN is perfect for the average user who is looking for ultra-secure, full-featured VPN services. It’s encryption and IP masking protocols are industry-leading, which means that it is also ideal for power users who want a little extra security.
Thanks to its super-fast download speeds and active streaming capabilities, NordVPN is the ideal home VPN that you can configure even on your home router to mask traffic from your smart home devices.
Nord even has special corporate packages for small and large businesses alike. Plus, it’s one of the best VPN providers for China and other heavily restricted zones because it enables tunneling via obfuscated servers.
The only problem that NordVPN seems to be notorious for is unreliable port forwarding. Some of the latest releases have this feature removed for security purposes, and most people no longer use it anyway.
What I’m trying to say in so many words is this: NordVPN is best for everybody, no matter where you live or what level of protection you want. It’s fast, it’s secure, reliable, and it’s affordable, which is everything you want in a commercial VPN service.
My own experience when testing both NordVPN vs PIA has been very good, so I was a bit lost when I came across thousands of rants on Reddit and other platforms aimed at both of these services.
Then I decided to dig deeper and do some extra research. From what I found and my own personal experience, all I can say is that you need to stick to NordVPN.
Despite a few rumors out there about the company’s real ownership and a server breach in January 2018 (unfortunate, but it was fixed), I believe NordVPN to be vastly superior to PIA and most of the other VPN providers available today.