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PureVPN vs PIA (2021): Which VPN Should You Get?

PureVPN and PIA are two of the most popular VPN providers today. Both boast military-grade encryption, robust privacy features, and multi-platform compatibility. PureVPN, which has its corporate home in Hong Kong, leverages on its unique location in Asia. PIA, which stands for Private Internet Access, takes pride in its extensive network of servers and blistering fast download speeds. But toe-to-toe on key categories, which VPN turns out to be more reliable?

PureVPN vs PIA Comparison Chart

NamePureVPNPrivate Internet Access
 
PriceCheck Price at PureVPN.comCheck Price at PrivateInternetAccess.com
HeadquartersHong KongUnited States
No. of Servers2,000+2,700+
No. of Countries140+ countries47 countries
P2P ServersYesYes
Simultaneous Connections510
Internet Kill SwitchYesYes
No. of US Stream Service Unblocks10n/a
No. of International Streaming Service Unblocks56n/a
Split Tunneling YesYes
Money-Back Guarantee31 days30 days

Security and Privacy

Although both providers offer standard security features, PIA has not contended with issues on no-log policies like PureVPN.

Here’s a look at some of the features offered by the two VPN providers.

PureVPN and PIA put a premium on security and privacy, with both platforms employing military-grade encryption. PureVPN, for instance, utilizes AES-256 data encryption using OpenVPN with L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2, and PPTP protocols. You also get an IPV6 leak protection and Internet kill switch. For watertight security, the company also offers the port forwarding,  DDoS protection, and Dedicated IP add-ons. 

On the other hand, PIA’s security system allows you to choose your preferred level of encryption. While the default setting is the recommended AES-128 bit, users can manually change it to AES-256. You also have the option to switch from the default OpenVPN protocol to TCP or UDP connections. Overall, both providers are serviceable VPNs.

In terms of privacy, PIA has a slight advantage. Despite being located in the United States, the company strictly adheres to its no-logs policy on all its servers. For subscribers who want to keep their payments secure, PIA accepts bitcoin and merchant gift card balances as payment, too. While PureVPN claims a similar no-log policy, the company has been scrutinized for providing user logs in a cyberstalking investigation back in 2016.

On the flip side, PureVPN does own all of its VPN server farmers, so you’re reassured third-party operators are nowhere near your information. In contrast, PIA does not own its server infrastructure, although the company is further hardening its servers to address concerns over potential third-party access. 

Servers and Speed

PureVPN is slower albeit more consistent while PIA offers blistering speeds highly dependent on user hardware and location.

Here’s a log at some of the regions available in PureVPN (left) and PIA (right). 

While it only has locations in 47 countries, PIA does boast of 2,700+ servers. And with this larger network, you do get blistering download speeds of up to 80+ mbps.  That’s plenty of bandwidth for a range of activities. In fact, PIA’s internal testing has delivered up to 400 mbps on a AES-128 connection. Getting close to similar results, however, will depend on user hardware. And although you can get some impressive speeds in some locations with PIA, they are not as consistent or stable as other VPN providers. Performance will definitely vary, so users should keep in mind their location and what server they’ll be using regularly.

On the other hand, PureVPN has about 2,000+ servers, but they’re spread across 140+ countries. This network includes dedicated P2P and torrenting servers. You only half the download speed as PIA, at around 35-36 mbps average. Although it’s serviceable, with speed loss not as erratic when compared to the performance from Private Internet Access, it can be frustrating for browsing or streaming.

Features

PureVPN has robust unblocking capabilities while PIA leverages on its intuitive interface across multiple platforms.

Here’s a look at the mobile application interface of PureVPN (two on the left) and PIA (two on the right).

Both PureVPN and PIA have desktop and mobile applications. You also get browser extensions from these tools, with PIA surprisingly including support for the Opera browser. Moreover, PIA does get better ratings for both its iOS and Android apps, thanks largely to its intuitive interface that allows convenient access to a selection of servers, as well as quick enabling of security features like automatic kill switch and malware tracking.

Nonetheless, the Hong Kong-based VPN provider does offer a more robust unblocking capability. The strong encryption on PureVPN’s servers allow users to bypass geo-restrictions and access services like Netflix, Hulu, SkyGo, Amazon Prime, as well as some major US broadcast networks. Plus, you can unblock video-on-demand services through its Chrome and Firefox extensions.

When it comes to streaming, PIA doesn’t fare as well as PureVPN. Some locations are unable to access major streaming sites like Netflix. And if they do, the inconsistent speeds can make streaming a bit frustrating. To make it up, torrenting is allowed across all its servers. However, PureVPN does have the upper-hand on this area again, especially since it offers dedicated servers for P2P sharing. 

If you want security for a larger group of people, you will have better luck with PIA. The provider allows simultaneous connections for up to 10 devices. With PureVPN, you can only connect up to 5 devices. 

Pricing and Support

PureVPN comes with better 24/7 customer support while PIA has the advantage when it comes to their knowledge base.

Here’s a look at some of the online resources offered by Private Internet Access.

Between the two providers, Private Internet Access has a lower pricing structure. Its monthly fee is just under $10 compared to PureVPN’s $10.95/mo. Moreover, you get huge discounts on longer subscriptions, including a 73% off if you purchase a two-year plan. With that deal, fees come out to just $2.69/mo. 

With PureVPN, you can get 24% off if you select their 6-month plan, which rounds up to a little over $8/mo. And, unlike PIA, you can opt for a trial subscription. Keep in mind, however, that a 7-day trial will cost you $0.99. But if you do continue to a regular subscription, you enjoy a 40% discount to their 1-year plan, which amounts to a monthly fee of just $6.49.

Both the PureVPN and PIA websites come with a knowledge base, giving users access to frequently asked questions about their respective services. In addition, these providers offer 24/7 support, including live chat assistance and ticketing systems. PIA’s round-the-clock service is relatively new, so PureVPN has an advantage in this regard. However, PIA’s online resources are more comprehensive, with easy-to-follow guides and troubleshooting information. 

Verdict

PureVPN is better for those who value streaming support although it lags behind the speed and security offered by PIA.

PureVPN and PIA are both capable VPN providers with years of experience behind them. Choosing between the two will largely depend on your needs, and what compromises you’re willing to make. 

With its robust streaming features, PureVPN is easy to recommend to users who need access to VODs. Performance and speed, however, isn’t top-notch although the connections are serviceable. You do get great 24/7 customer support, but lingering issues over its strict adherence to no-logs policy can be a deterrent. 

PIA, on the other hand, boasts impressive speeds to match its watertight encryption and privacy features. It also has the more intuitive mobile application. So it’s definitely the provider you’d recommend to those who prize speed, security, and ease-of-use. Nonetheless, performance can be spotty, and the locations of its servers are limited to fewer countries. As such, users will need to go through some trial-and-error to find the most consistent performance from a server vis-à-vis their location.

FAQs

📌 Does PIA offer a free trial?

No, PIA does not offer a free trial. In fact, it doesn’t offer a trial at all. If you want to test the VPN, you will need to subscribe to one of their plans.

📌 Is PureVPN free?

To access PureVPN, you will need to pay for a subscription. However, the company does offer a free but rather basic version for Windows with limited functionality.

📌 Where is PIA based?

Private Internet Access is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

📌 What are some of the add-ons offered by PureVPN?

PureVPN currently offers three add-ons for users who want added security. These are Port Forwarding, Dedicated IP, and Dedicated IP with DDoS Protection.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.