PureVPN Vs. Private Internet Access (PIA): In-Depth Comparison (2020)

Last updated: July 20, 2020
Muhammad Hamza Shahid

Muhammad Hamza Shahid

PureVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are both famous providers in the marketplace of VPNs. Is either a good choice though? Find out more in this PureVPN vs. PIA comparison!

PIA, out of the US, and Hong Kong-based PureVPN are two remarkable choices with their own positives and negatives. PureVPN gains an edge due to its speed, but it’s server locations, while sufficient, fall short of PIA’s abundance of servers.

Security-wise, they both support military-grade AES-256 encryption, automatic kill switches, and DNS/IP/WebRTC leak protection. PIA does not come equipped with dedicated IPs. Yet, they are still a good match each other, as both have a verified no logs policy.

Netflix unblocking is a piece of cake for PureVPN. In fact, it is the only provider in the industry that guarantees access to US Netflix. directly via the browser extension. For the most part, it is an equal fight, and both are popular names in the industry.

Many users face immense confusion when trying to select a suitable VPN out of the two. If you are contemplating the same PureVPN and PIA, then you are at the right place. Take a look at this detailed comparison analysis to determine the better choice.

Which VPN is the Better Choice?

PureVPN is the Winner

PureVPN wins this head-to-head fight against PIA. It has its headquarters in a safe jurisdiction (Hong Kong), offers incentives to Chinese residents/expats via obfuscated servers, and has static IPs in 7+ countries for maximum security. Affordable option priced at: $2.91/mo for 2-Years (73% OFF).

PureVPN vs. PIA: Overview

PureVPNPIA
  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: PureVPN vs. PIA

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 offer73% Off on a 2-Year Plan67% 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 Guarantee31-Days7-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 vs PIA

PureVPNPIA
Simultaneous Connections510
Operating System AppsWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and Fire TVWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Manual Install DevicesLinux, Routers, Set Top BoxesSome Routers
Split TunnelingYes (All Apps)No
Free ExtrasOfficial Kodi addon, ad-blocker, malware-scanner, browser extensions for Chrome and FirefoxSOCKS5 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

PureVPNPIA
NetflixYesNo
HuluYesYes
Sky GoYesNo
Amazon PrimeYesNo
BBC iPlayerYesNo
ABSYesNo
CBSYesYes
NBCYesYes
ITVYesYes
Channel 4YesYes

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

PureVPNPIA
Automatic Setup WizardWindows, Mac, Android, iOSWindows, Mac, Android, iOS
Main Location SelectionList-basedList-based
Extra Settings PagesYesYes
Mobile FriendlyYesYes

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 vs. PIA

PureVPNPIA
Server Countries140+30
Total Number of Servers2,0003,300

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

PureVPNPIA
Speed Loss9%25%

PureVPN and PIA are two primed services when it comes to support streaming activities on site like Netflix, so both of them are definitely offering optimal speeds. On top of that, you can also unblock BBC iPlayer shows with PureVPN.

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 vs. PIA

PureVPNPIA
VPN ProtocolsPPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPNPPTP, L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPN
OpenVPN Data EncryptionAES-256-CBCAES-128, AES-256
OpenVPN Control Channel EncryptionRSA-4096RSA-4096
Cloaking TechnologyNoneNone
App SecurityKill Switch and DNS Leak ProtectionKill Switch
DNS StatusPrivate DNSPrivate 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

PureVPNPIA
HeadquartersHong KongUnited States
Connection LogsNoneNone
Activity LogsNoneNone
Sign Up InformationEmail AddressEmail Address
Anonymous Payment MethodsMonero, Dash, Gridcoin, Rpple, ZCaas, Ehterum, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and moreMint, 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.

Configurations

PureVPNPIA
Address AllocationShared/StaticShared
Static IPs7+ CountriesNo
DDoS ProtectionYesNo
NAT FirewallYesYes

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 vs. PIA

PureVPNPIA
Video GuidesYesYes
Searchable Knowledge Base YesYes
Phone SupportNoNo
Email SupportYesYes
Average Email Response Time39 Minutes45 Minutes
Ticket SupportYesYes
Live Chat SupportYesYes

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

QuestionInitial Response TimeNumber of EmailsQuestion Answered
Is PureVPN good for Torrenting?25 Minutes1Yes
Does PureVPN work with Netflix?39 Minutes1Yes
Can I Install PureVPN on LibreELEC50 Minutes1Yes
How to setup PureVPN on Firestick?44 Minutes1Yes

Private Internet Access (PIA)

QuestionInitial Response TimeNumber of EmailsQuestion Answered
Why is PIA located in a Five Eyes Country?1 Hour1Yes
Does Private Internet Access keep logs?45 Minutes1Yes
Does private Internet access work with Netflix?50 Minutes1Yes
How do I get a refund from private Internet access?44 Minutes1Yes

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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