Private Internet Access vs Pure VPN

Private Internet Access (also called “PIA”) and PureVPN are both big names in the world of cybersecurity. They promise users total privacy, fast connection speeds, and strong data security. There’s a huge variation in quality between VPN providers, but at the very top of the market — where both these brands sit — the differences become technical and complicated.

Struggling to pick a VPN provider? Read our side-by-side comparison of Private Internet Access and PureVPN to help you choose. 

Pricing


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

1-month plan

$9.95 per month

$10.95 per month

6-month plan

$35.95 (equivalent to $5.99 per month)

N/A

1-year plan

$39.95 (equivalent to $3.33 per month)

$69.95 (equivalent to $5.83 per month)

2-year plan

N/A

$79.95 (equivalent to $3.33 per month)

Refund period

7 days

31 days

VPN providers typically offer some impressive discounts to users who are willing to sign up to a long-term subscription. They ask potential customers for a little extra commitment in exchange for a lower price.

First off, it’s clear that Private Internet Access is cheaper than PureVPN. The difference is particularly stark when we look in detail at each provider’s plans. There’s a difference in the types of plans that these two brands offer. Private Internet Access has a six-month plan, whereas PureVPN doesn’t. PureVPN has a two-year plan whereas Private Internet Access doesn’t.

However, PureVPN’s two-year plan works out at the the same price per month as Private Internet Access’s one-year plan. So the benefit of making this longer-term commitment is lost when comparing the two brands.

It’s worth noting that the “commitment” involved in signing up to these longer-term plans only applies after the money-back guarantee period. This period is 31 days in the case of PureVPN but only 7 days in the case of Private Internet Access. 

Private Internet Access


Private Internet Access is cheaper than PureVPN across all plans. Even though PureVPN offers a big discount on its two-year plan, it simply can’t beat Private Internet Access on price.

Features


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

Connections

5

5

VPN apps — operating systems

Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire

Browser extensions

Chrome, Firefox, Opera

Chrome, Firefox

Split tunneling

No

Yes

Bonuses

Free anti-malware and ad blocking software.

Free anti-malware and ad blocking software.

Private Internet Access lets users add up to 10 simultaneous connections on one account — twice as many at PureVPN.

Both VPN providers provide apps for PC, Mac, and mobile. PureVPN offers apps for Linux and Amazon Fire, while Private Internet Access users will have to install the app manually if they want to use it on these platforms (don’t worry — it’s not too complicated).

Both of these brands provide browser extensions/add-ons for convenient access when browsing the internet. Both providers offer Chrome and Firefox extensions, and Private Internet Access offers an Opera extension, too.

“Split tunneling” is possible on PureVPN, but not on Private Internet Access. This feature lets you use your VPN for certain activities and your regular internet connection for others. Both Private Internet Access and PureVPN also provide bonus anti-malware and ad-blocker software.

PureVPN


PureVPN wins this round, due to its wider range of easy-to-use desktop and mobile apps and its split tunneling feature. However, if you have more than five devices on which you want to use your VPN, consider Private Internet Access instead.​​​​

Security


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

Protocols

OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, L2TP/IPSec, PTPP.

OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP

Data/control-channel encryption

AES-256-CBC, RSA-4096

AES-256-CBC, RSA-2048 

Killswitch

Yes

Yes

VPN providers allow users to connect to a variety of protocols. The most common (and most secure) is OpenVPN,  but others can offer advantages in terms of speed and compatibility.

In terms of which protocols are available, Private Internet Access is actually quite limited. Its desktop apps only allow easy access to the OpenVPN protocol. It’s possible to connect via L2TP or PPTP, but only manually. Both brands use powerful 256-bit encryption.

On the OpenVPN protocol, Private Internet Access offers a higher grade of “control channel” encryption than PureVPN. However, this is very unlikely to be an issue for PureVPN users, as the RSA-2048 algorithm is still highly secure.

Both Private Internet Access and PureVPN feature a “killswitch.” This cuts off your connection automatically if your VPN drops out — preventing you from accidentally revealing your IP address or online activity.

Private Internet Access did suffer a security incident in 2015. Certain users’ IP addresses were vulnerable if they used port forwarding. The issue was quickly resolved. Similarly, in March 2018 a hacker infiltrated PureVPN’s server and found they could view customers’ IP addresses. Again, PureVPN responded quickly to this incident.

Private Internet Access


Like many VPN providers, both Private Internet Access and PureVPN have had minor security incidents in the past. However, Private Internet Access’s leak occurred a long time ago, and it also offers a higher grade of control channel encryption, so it wins this round.

Speed & servers


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

Number of servers

Over 3200

Over 2100

Countries

29

140+

First, it’s important to note that both of these VPN providers are fast. There’s not much point saying which is “fastest,” because there are too many variables — these are two of the best VPNs around, and most people will achieve good upload and download speeds with either of them.

However, there is an important difference between the two providers. Private Internet Access has servers in relatively few countries, but it has a lot of servers. With PureVPN, the reverse is true.

Why does this matter? Well, if you live in the US, the EU, or any region with plenty of Private Internet Access servers, you’re likely to get a better service from Private Internet Access. If you live in a southern-hemisphere country which has PureVPN has servers present or nearby, you might be better off with PureVPN.

Tie


There’s no way to make an overall judgment about which VPN is better in this category — both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on where you live. You should be able to use either provider for high-bandwidth activities like streaming and torrenting.

Privacy


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

Logs policy

None

None

User info required

Email address

Email address

Anonymous payment methods

Cryptocurrencies, gift cards

Cryptocurrencies, gift cards

Home jurisdiction

United States

Hong Kong

VPN users need to be able to trust their VPN provider. In theory, a malicious VPN provider could have access to a lot of private data about who you are and what you do online. That’s why we expect a VPN provider to take steps to ensure total privacy.

Private Internet Access and PureVPN both claim not to keep records of their users’ browsing history or connection activity. This means any data about what you’re doing, and where you’re doing it, is not available to them or anyone else.

Interestingly, both companies have been tested on this. The FBI has requested information about their users’ online activity in relation to separate court cases. The responses revealed a lot about these VPN providers’ logging policies.

The FBI requested user data from Private Internet Access on two occasions. The company simply did not have any data to submit to the FBI — which proves that Private Internet Access’s “no logs” policy is genuine.

The FBI requested user data from PureVPN in 2017. PureVPN did provide logs of the user’s IP address and connection activity. This data was used as evidence in a “cyberstalking” case. PureVPN has since amended its Privacy Policy.

Private Internet Access


Private Internet Access has passed the ultimate privacy test twice now, and so it has proved itself to be a more private VPN service than PureVPN.

Content unblocking


 

Private Internet Access

PureVPN

Netflix

Yes

Yes

BBC

No

No

Amazon Prime Video

No

Yes

Hulu

Yes

Yes

Good content-unblocking capabilities are important if you want to use your VPN to access geo-restricted online content.

By connecting to a VPN server in another country, you can, theory, access any of the content available to people who live there. This means, for example, UK VPN users can access US Netflix.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple — Netflix and other streaming services tend to block IP addresses associated with VPN providers. Some VPN services are better at getting around this than others.

PureVPN is the superior VPN provider for accessing streaming services. Although it struggles with BBC iPlayer, it easily unblocks Netflix content across several regions. In this area, Private Internet Access is not as good as PureVPN --  or several of its other competitors, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

PureVPN


PureVPN wins this round — it’s simply better at unblocking geo-restricted content than Private Internet Access.

Our pick

Private Internet Access


Private Internet Access beats PureVPN in our head-to-head in almost every category. However, it was a close contest in certain areas, and some people may be better off with PureVPN.


For example, Private Internet Access is one of the most private VPNs available. But if you’re primarily interested in streaming geo-restricted content, PureVPN is a better choice.


Remember — both VPN providers offer a risk-free money-back guarantee if you want to try them before committing.

Alex Grant
 

Leave a Reply