PureVPN vs PIA (Private Internet Access) Comparison 2020

Last updated: April 16, 2020
Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Read this comprehensive VPN comparison of PureVPN Vs PIA (Private Internet Access) to find out which service is better at catering to user needs in 2020!

Many users face immense confusion when trying to select a suitable VPN. This confusion mostly stems from the fact that users often look at VPN services from an untrained eye.

If you face the same confusion regarding two top services i.e. PureVPN and PIA, you are at the right place. Take a look at this detailed comparison analysis to determine the better choice.

Highlights

PureVPN PIA
  1. 2000+ servers in 140 countries
  2. Dedicated IPs available
  3. 5 Simultaneous Connections
  4. Apps for All Platforms/Devices
  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

As far as pricing is concerned, there is a very close competition between these two VPNs. And even more surprisingly, Private Internet Access is cheaper than PureVPN if you take a look at both of their pricing plans overall.

Special offer 73% Off on a 2-Year Plan 67% Off on a 1-Year Plan
Highest price per month $10.95 $6.95
Lowest price per month $2.91 $3.33
One-Year Price $49.95 $34.95
Money-Back Guarantee 31-Days 7-Days

Most people do not think of PIA as a cheap VPN service, but this misconception needs to be dealt away with because if a Top VPN is cheaper than PureVPN than it certainly is the most affordable best VPN out there.

Features

PureVPN PIA
Simultaneous Connections 5 10
Operating System Apps Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Fire TV Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Manual Install Devices Linux, Routers, Set Top Boxes Some Routers
Split Tunneling Yes (All Apps) No
Free Extras Official Kodi addon, ad-blocker, malware-scanner, browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox SOCKS5 Proxy and ad/tracker blocker

Selecting a VPN means more than just looking at the costs. You need to be sure you have access to features of a premium service. Luckily, PureVPN manages to do quite well in this regard.

In comparison to PIA, the Hong Kong-based provider goes the extra mile in offering users a huge list of advanced features. You get more accessibility through native applications for all platforms/devices.

For security and torrenting, users have available the “Split Tunneling” feature, which is missing with PIA’s applications. As an addition, you have a malware scanner, ad-blocker, and even an official Kodi Add-on.

PureVPN also offers a unique set of tools, which I will be discussing below for your convenience below. All these features position the VPN higher than PIA and others in the marketplace.

Unblocking Capabilities

PureVPN 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

If we talk about “unblocking”, there is no better option than PureVPN. All of its servers utilize strong encryption and security technologies that allow for instant bypassing of geo-restrictions.

This enables users to unblock all versions of Netflix, along with other hit platforms like Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and now even Disney+, whereas PIA fails at offering the same accessibility.

Not to mention, PureVPN is the only provider in the marketplace that allows for the unblocking of all popular VoDs directly through its browser extensions on Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

You have a “popular websites” option available that lists all famous sites you may want to access. Upon choosing the one you want to unblock, PureVPN instantly redirects you to the local version, minus the hassle.

China

Since PureVPN has its headquarters in Hong Kong, it works better for both: Chinese expats and those residing in the country. In fact, it also offers 12 Chinese servers.

This is something that not even the best providers in the marketplace manage to offer. A lot of VPNs claim to work in China, and while they do, they forget to cater to the “expats” market.

For instance, PIA does not offer any Chinese servers and neither does it have a dedicated Chinese page for users to download their apps. As a result, PureVPN definitely seems like the better option.

Setup and Interface

PureVPN 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

PureVPN sets itself apart from other providers in the marketplace by offering incredibly user-friendly and easy-to-use apps across multiple platforms/devices, including Android/Apple TVs and Firestick.

The Windows/Mac version boasts a neat and clean outlook with plenty of configurable options available for the tech-minded individuals. At the same time, you have “direct” options available for rookies.

Meanwhile, the mobile apps utilize a “darker” appearance, but one that is equally impressive. You have specialty server listings for all your VPN related needs, along with access to Dedicated IPs as well.

PureVPN Mac App

PIA’s apps still need work and improvement in the overall UI. Their desktop versions sit in the task-bar with most features accessible directly by right-clicking the icon. This is nice, but also poses some hassle.

Since the app hides itself the second you minimize, it becomes a major annoyance for those trying to follow a setup or configuration guide, as you constantly need to click on the icon to open the app again.

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

PureVPN PIA
Server Countries 140+ 30
Total Number of Servers 2,000 3,300

When it comes down to comparing VPN providers on their server infrastructure, we need to take into account a lot of different aspects like total server counts, number of locations worldwide, dedicated torrenting servers among others.

So this made it tricky to analyze both of these services on this account because the numbers from each VPN stacked up like this:

PureVPN currently offers around 2000+ servers worldwide, including dedicated Torrenting and P2P servers, but the factor where it beats all other VPNs is the number of countries supported, which exceeds the 140 count.

PIA, on the other hands offers many more servers than PureVPN i.e. 3300 total servers, but the locations it offers are too limited to give any sort of a clear lead over PureVPN.

It only has servers in 33 countries, which is not even 1/4th of the locations that PureVPN offers. Verdict: They are both neck to neck when it comes to their server infrastructure, so its tough to determine a winner.

Speed

PureVPN PIA
Speed Loss 9% 25%

PureVPN and PIA are two primed services when it comes to support streaming activities on sites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, so both of them are definitely offering optimal speeds.

However, when we ran speed tests on both these services, we found that PureVPN topped out on 4 randomly selected servers in our analysis as compared to PIA.

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

Speed Verdict: PureVPN is the victor here and we would recommend users that they go for it if speed is one of their primary concerns when subscribing to a VPN service.

Security

PureVPN PIA
VPN Protocols PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, 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 None None
App Security Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection Kill Switch
DNS Status Private DNS Private DNS

PureVPN adds PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), SSTP and IKEv2, to the list of supported protocols. SSTP is mostly used on Windows devices and IKEv2 is a useful addition for mobile devices.

It utilizes AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication for the data channel and AES-256-CBC cipher with  HMAC SHA384 hash authentication and RSA-4096 handshake encryption for the control channel.

If we talk about security overall though, PureVPN definitely tends to be stronger. It offers enhanced security options like Double VPN and Split Tunneling, NAT Firewall, and DDoS Protection.

On the other hand, PIA only offers support on L2TP/IPSec and OpenVPN Protocols. For the data channel, PIA usesAES-256-bit ciphers with SHA256 for data authentication and RSA-4096 for handshake.

PFE is available via DHE+RSA exchange. 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.

In short, you receive great privacy with both providers. PureVPN, however, goes the extra mile by offering additional features for providing better security to users around the world.

Privacy

PureVPN PIA
Headquarters Hong Kong United States
Connection Logs None None
Activity Logs None None
Sign Up Information Email Address Email Address
Anonymous Payment Methods Monero, Dash, Gridcoin, Rpple, ZCaas, Ehterum, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and more Mint, BitPay, 32 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

PureVPN gains an edge over PIA, thanks to its strategic Hong Kong location, which is away from the prying eyes of the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances (indulging in data retention and mass surveillance)

PIA has its headquarters in the US, which is literally the epitome of all invasive activities both: online and offline. As such, if we talk about “trust factor”, PureVPN definitely seems to be a more private option, considering they are a no logs service too. .

With regards to payment methods, where PIA supports Mint, BitPay, 32 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, PureVPN adds more to the list by including PaymentWall inc into their sign up.

Configuration

PureVPN PIA
Address Allocation Shared/Static Shared
Static IPs 7+ Countries No
DDoS Protection Yes No
NAT Firewall Yes Yes

In terms of configuration, PureVPN once again gains an upperhand over PIA. This is because the US-based provider only supports a shared infrastructure with dynamic IPs available.

PureVPN, on the other hand, offers more incentive to its users, supporting both; a shared and static infrastructure. They have dedicated IPs available in more than 7+ countries worldwide.

It is important to mention though that dedicated IPs are available as an add-on with separate pricing. If you opt for DDoS protection, you may even have to pay higher for the dedicated IP.

Customer Support

PureVPN PIA
Video Guides Yes Yes
Searchable Knowledge Base  Yes Yes
Phone Support No No
Email Support Yes Yes
Average Email Response Time 39 Minutes 45 Minutes
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Live Chat Support Yes Yes

The best kind of customer support is through the live chat support option because its much more personal, easy to use and techy than email support which is cumbersome.

And if this is the metric for adjudging best customer support, then PureVPN is providing excellent customer hands down as compared to PIA. It offers an incredibly proactive live chat system.

On the other hand, PIA is still stuck in the mid 2010s with its email based support. PIA’s customer support method is not relevant in today’s world, so we will recommend it to upgrade itself.

However, since email support is still an option for both providers, I decided to put them to the test. Below are details regarding the response times from each provider on email support.

PureVPN

Question Initial Response Time Number of Emails Question Answered
Is PureVPN good for Torrenting? 25 Minutes 1 Yes
Does PureVPN work with Netflix? 39 Minutes 1 Yes
Can I Install PureVPN on LibreELEC 50 Minutes 1 Yes
How to setup PureVPN on Firestick? 44 Minutes 1 Yes

Private Internet Access (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

Other Comparisons to Check Out

    1. ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish
    2. ExpressVPN vs. PureVPN
    3. PureVPN vs. IPVanish
    4. NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN

The Winner: PureVPN

PureVPN is the Winner

Undoubtedly, PureVPN is a much larger service as compared to PIA and most users will believe that its unfair that we are comparing the two un-equal services on the same metrics.

However, since they are among the top names, a unbiased comparison is needed. And despite the difference in servers, some things can’t be ignored like the lack of live chat and Kill Switch.

PIA is a great VPN service, but we have to declare PureVPN as the winner here because it has emerged as the more “Adept” VPN service according to modern day user requirements than the former.

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