ExpressVPN Vs PIA (Private Internet Access) Comparison 2020

Last Updated: April 21, 2020
Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Read this comprehensive VPN comparison of ExpressVPN Vs PIA to find out which service is better at catering to user needs in 2020!

Since a lot of prospects look at VPN services from an untrained eye, subscribing to one that suits their needs and requirements tends to be a difficult task.

If you are facing the same confusion with PIA Vs ExpressVPN, you are in the right place. Check out this detailed comparison analysis to determine the better choice.

Highlights
ExpressVPN PIA
  1. 3,000+ Servers in 94 Countries
  2. AES-256-CBC and AES-256-GCM
  3. 3 Simultaneous Connections
  4. Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS & Android
  5. Verified No Logs Policy (Audited)
  1. 3300+ servers in 30 countries
  2. AES-256 bit Encryption
  3. 10 Simultaneous Connections
  4. Apps for All Platforms/Devices
  5. Verified No Logs Policy (Audited)

Pricing and Discounts

Special offer 35% Off on a 1-Year Plan 67% Off on a 1-Year Plan
Highest price per month $12.95 $10.95
Lowest price per month $8.32 $3.33
One-Year Price $99.5 $39.95
Money-Back Guarantee 30-Days 7-Days

As far as money backs are concerned, ExpressVPN offers a 30-days refund guarantee, whereas PIA only provides a 7-day refund. However, it is justified, considering their low pricing.

Features

ExpressVPN PIA
Simultaneous Connections 3 10
Operating System Apps Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV/Firestick, some routers Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Manual Install Devices Some Routers, Set-Top Boxes Some Routers
Split Tunneling Yes (Desktop Apps Only) No
Free Extras Media Streamer Smart DNS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari SOCKS5 Proxy and ad/tracker blocker

Both ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) offer great apps compatibility. You have native clients for Windows, MaciOSAndroid, Linux, and even Fire TVs.

You even have browser extensions available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. ExpressVPN gains an upperhand over PIA though, due to their router support for Apple TVs.

The BVI-based provider is the only one in the marketplace that offers a native app for DD-WRT and Tomato routers, along with pre-configured routers at reasonable prices.

Split Tunneling is available with the desktop apps for ExpressVPN, but none of PIA’s apps. This is quite alarming, considering the feature is crucial for torrenters and streamers.

However, PIA makes up for this by offering more in the way of simultaneous connections. Where you have only 3 simultaneous connections with ExpressVPN, PIA offers 10 multi-logins.

Unblocking Capabilities

ExpressVPN PIA
Netflix Yes No
Hulu Yes Yes
Sky Go Yes No
Amazon Prime Yes No
BBC iPlayer Yes No
ABS Yes No
CBS Yes Yes
NBC Yes Yes
ITV Yes Yes
Channel 4 Yes Yes

In terms of unblocking, ExpressVPN managed to deliver quite an amazing performance. PIA, on the other hand, failed miserably at bypassing geo-restrictions and VPN bans.

I was able to access Netflix and other VoDs, but the performance was quite “inconsistent”. Getting these streaming platforms to work required shifting to many different VPN servers.

Conversely, ExpressVPN gave no such issues, delivering an unhindered unblocking experience across NetflixBBC iPlayerHulu, Amazon Prime, VootHotstar, and even on Disney Plus.

China

Chinese residents and expats are always in search for “working” VPN services that can bypass the many technologies employed by the “Great Firewall” in China.

Luckily for ExpressVPN users, the provider does offer a dedicated Chinese page. This allows residents in the country to download their apps and subscribe to a suitable plan.

PIA, on the other hand, offers no such incentives to Chinese users. They do not have a Chinese mirror website, making it impossible for people to use their service.

Setup and Interface

ExpressVPN PIA
Automatic Setup Wizard Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Main Location Selection List-based List-based
Extra Settings Pages Yes Yes
Mobile Friendly Yes Yes

ExpressVPN has recently undergone a complete overhaul of its app design and appearance. From the previous “larger” and cluttered styling, they have opted for something minimalistic.

The desktop app is quite compact with a locations menu and connect button available upon launching the application on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

For altering configurations, there is a hamburger button on the top left corner of the page. Clicking it will give you access to all vital settings and features.

As far as mobile apps are concerned, ExpressVPN maintains the same design and consistency in overall UI, which does not get disturbed even when using on a larger screen.

ExpressVPN Interface

On the other hand, PIA’s applications still require some work in the overall UI and appearance. Their desktop versions sit in the task-bar, which is accessible by right-clicking the icon.

While this is a nice design, it also brings about with it some hassle. The app basically hides itself the second you hit the minimize button. As such, you constantly have to reopen the app.

This can be quite tiring and frustrating, especially if you are trying to follow a setup or configuration guide, since following a huge list of steps can be a difficult task.

It’s mobile apps are nicely designed though and tend to be clutter-free. All options are listed neatly and connecting takes barely a few seconds, which is quite remarkable.

PIA Windows app

Servers and Performance

ExpressVPN PIA
Server Countries 94 30
Total Number of Servers 3,000 3,300

Both ExpressVPN and PIA use an assortment of physical and virtual locations for their network infrastructure, as to meet the demands of users in different countries.

There is not much difference in the server count. Where ExpressVPN offers 3,000+ servers, PIA adds 300 more to the list, giving it an edge over the BVI-based provider.

However, what ExpressVPN lacks in numbers, it makes up for it by covering more countries. Meanwhile, PIA only offers servers in 30 countries, which is quite less.

Speed

ExpressVPN PIA
Speed Loss 9% 25%

ExpressVPN and PIA are both famed for being incredibly reliable services. However, do they offer good enough performance for you to enjoy all internet-related activities?

To find out, I conducted an in-depth speed analysis on both providers. This process invovled testing 5 servers from varied locations of ExpressVPN and PIA.

These servers were based in USA, UK, France, Australia and Canada. In bare speed tests, PIA clocked in with a speed loss of around 25% while ExpressVPN was slightly better at 9% on average.

Security

ExpressVPN PIA
VPN Protocols PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPN
OpenVPN Data Encryption AES-256-CBC AES-128, AES-256
OpenVPN Control Channel Encryption RSA-4096  RSA-4096
Cloaking Technology Cipher Block Chaining None
App Security Kill Switch Kill Switch
DNS Status Private DNS Private DNS

ExpressVPN offers support for three protocols: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. Meanwhile, PIA adds more the list by supporting IKEv2 and IPSec protocols too.

The BVI-based provider uses the OpenVPN as the default protocol across all devices. It uses AES-256-CBC ciphers with HMAC SHA-256 data authentication on the data channel.

For the control channel, it uses AES-256-GCM ciphers with RSA-384 handshake and HMAC SHA-256 data authentication.

On the other hand, PIA uses the AES-256-bit ciphers with SHA256 for data authentication and RSA-4096 for handshake on the data channel.

For the control channel, PIA uses the same ciphers and hash authentication, with the inclusion of SHA384 for authentication. Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFE) is available via ECDHE+ECDSA.

However, ExpressVPN is the more secure option, as they utilize cipher block chaining and their TrustedServer Infrastructure shifts all its hard drives onto a RAM model, deleting all logs instantaneously.

Privacy

ExpressVPN PIA
Headquarters British Virgin Islands United States
Connection Logs None None
Activity Logs None None
Sign Up Information Email Address Email Address
Anonymous Payment Methods Bitcoin and Mint 32 Cryptocurrencies

One look at the table above and it becomes clear which provider is more secure. ExpressVPN has its headquarters in British Virgin Islands, while PIA is located in United States.

Since the BVI is an autonomous nation with its own set of laws, it is free from the invasive tactics adopted by the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances, like mass surveillance and data retention.

The same cannot be said about United States, which is a founding member of the Five Eyes. As such, even if a provider boasts a no logs policy, trusting them is a difficult task.

As far as anonymous payment methods are concerned, ExpressVPN only supports Bitcoin and Mint. PIA, on the other hand, offers the ability to sign up via 32 cryptocurrencies.

Configuration

ExpressVPN PIA
Address Allocation Shared Shared
Static IPs None None
DDoS Protection No No
NAT Firewall Yes Yes

For configurations, both ExpressVPN and PIA utilize a shared network infrastructure. As a result, they can be considered equal in this aspect.

The lack of dedicated IPs is still quite alarming, considering that many VPN-users do have needs that require them to access local networks, while outside their home.

Customer Service

ExpressVPN PIA
Video Guides Yes Yes
Searchable Knowledge Base  Yes Yes
Phone Support No No
Email Support Yes Yes
Average Email Response Time 33 Minutes 45 Minutes
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Live Chat Support Yes (Outsourced) Yes (Outsourced)

Both (ExpressVPN Vs PIA) offer support via live chat, email, and a ticket system. Testing the live chat services revealed that responses were quite fast.

Email/ticket support did take some time with PIA (averaging at 45 minutes per reply), whereas ExpressVPN cut it shorter (averaging at 33 minutes).

We conducted these tests by sending each VPN three questions via email. Among them, two were general queries and two were a little more technical. See the statistics below:

ExpressVPN

Question Initial Response Time Number of Emails Question Answered
Can ExpressVPN be traced? 15 Minutes 1 Yes
Does ExpressVPN store Logs? 18 Minutes 1 Yes
How to Watch Netflix with ExpressVPN? 55 Minutes 1 Yes
What features does ExpressVPN offer for torrenting? 47 Minutes 1 Yes

PIA

Question Initial Response Time Number of Emails Question Answered
Why is PIA located in a Five Eyes Country? 1 Hour 1 Yes
Does Private Internet Access keep logs? 45 Minutes 1 Yes
Does private Internet access work with Netflix? 50 Minutes 1 Yes
How do I get a refund from private Internet access? 44 Minutes 1 Yes

The Winner: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Wins

While both of the VPNs reviewed deliver amazing performance, security, privacy, and features, ExpressVPN definitely tends to be the better option.

It offers a larger network of servers, successfully unblocks Netflix, works in China, and even offers a router app that works on DD-WRT and Tomato routers.

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