NordVPN vs Private Internet Access

NordVPN and Private Internet Access are some of the biggest names in the VPN industry. Which one should you pick out of the two? 

This guide will show all the advantages and disadvantages of the top-rated NordVPN as well as the top value Private Internet Access. It will also touch upon different segments of VPNs in order to determine which one comes out on top.

Speed & Consistency

Connection quality is one of the most important things when choosing a VPN. Everyone wants a high-speed VPN to counteract the slowdown caused by encryption. However, people also want consistency in addition to speed.

Both NordVPN and PIA are extremely fast in Europe. On top of that, they are doing quite fine overseas as well. The only exception would be PIA’s Australia server, where the testing shows somewhere around a 90% decrease in both download and upload.

NordVPN is, based on the recorded tests, much faster on US servers as well. This might be great for people looking to watch US Netflix or any American TV.

When talking about consistency, there were no issues with either of the VPN service providers, so this should not be a concern when trying to choose a VPN out of these two.

NordVPN seems to be the faster service overall, with PIA falling just slightly behind. NordVPN is also a clear winner if you want to pick an Australian, US, or UK servers.

Cost

NordVPN, as well as PIA, offer their full list of servers no matter what plan you take. The only difference is the discount, which increases based on how long you subscribe to the service. PIA is 20% cheaper than NordVPN when it comes to monthly payments, while one and two-year packages differ very slightly in the cost, though still in favor of PIA.

However, NordVPN offers a three-year package, which saves 70% of the subscription if you use one of the promo codes, which makes it cheaper than PIA in the long run. 

There is no clear winner here, as PIA is cheaper in every plan except for the longest one. If you only intend to use a VPN for a short amount of time, PIA might be the one for you. If you, however, want a VPN for a longer amount of time, NordVPN is cheaper. 

Ease of Use

NordVPN has a pretty simple interface with a sharp design, as well as the one-click protection. The full server list is present on the main menu for easier access.

PIA looks more compact as it has a mobile-like design even when used on a desktop. While you can’t move the application around, you can customize the interface by adding recent servers, quick settings, and info on data usage as well as performance.

PIA seems like a winner when it comes to user interface ease of use, as it is considered one of the more user-friendly VPN services on the market.

Compatibility

It is quite important for VPNs to support an array of operating systems in order to accommodate each and every user. Both NordVPN and PIA work smoothly on many platforms. They offer dedicated apps for every single major operating system. On top of that, they offer support for many other devices.

Both VPNs are impressive when it comes to Windows support, but NordVPN has an advantage when it comes to manual support setups for Windows XP and Vista. 

Mac support is also top-notch, and there is nothing more to say about it.

Both VPNs work well with a variety of Android versions. You can choose between downloading the app via the Google Play Store or getting its APK directly from their respective websites.

Both NordVPN and PIA have their native apps for your iPhone or iPad. Both of them require at least iOS 9 for them to work.

When it comes to Linux support, NordVPN does not perform the best, unlike PIA. While they both work on Debian distros, PIA also works with Ubuntu (16.04+), Mint (18+), and Arch.

Besides the major platforms, NordVPN works on some additional platforms, namely:

PIA, on the other hand, supports only browser extensions (namely Chrome, Firefox, and Opera).

While PIA has the edge when running on Linux, NordVPN takes the win here as it is compatible with more devices and platforms.

Streaming and Torrenting

Many people opt for VPN’s because they want to stream or torrent. NordVPN tested better for Netflix usage as any version of Netflix worked on it. However, PIA struggled with some regional Netflix versions. PIA also couldn’t do much good with Hulu, BBC iPlayer, as well as with Amazon Prime Video. NordVPN had no trouble with this content.

If you want to pick a VPN just for streaming, NordVPN is clearly the winner here. 

If you are thinking about using a VPN in order to use the BitTorrent protocol, you will be surprised to hear that both VPNs allow P2P connections on their servers and work well with it. 

However, there are some differences. While NordVPN has a separate P2P tab, where users can choose between 4,400+ suitable servers, while PIA lets you connect to any server for secure torrenting, but this VPN silently reroutes you to one of the P2P servers if P2P traffic is detected.

Both of the VPN’s support SOCKS5 proxies. These proxies offer extra authentication instead of using encryption, which usually provides better speeds. However, PIA has one big downside for torrenting, which is that it is a US-based service, so it falls under the DMCA policy. NordVPN is registered in Panama, so it isn’t as vulnerable to DMCA notices. This is only important if you are worried about copyright notices.

If you’d like to use a VPN for torrenting, NordVPN might be a better option. There aren’t many issues with using PIA either, but Nord seems slightly better based on what they are offering.

Privacy and Security

As the last part of the equation, we need to take into consideration the privacy and security features of both of these VPN service providers. Both of the VPNs have great security and privacy features, but let’s go through them anyway.

NordVPN is based in Panama -* a country that isn’t burdened with data retention laws or any form of surveillance. On the other hand, PIA is a US-based VPN provider, which makes it easier to reach this provider with government surveillance. However, PIA also has a clean record when it comes to privacy. In fact, it has already proven that it doesn’t keep any sensitive user data in 2016 and in 2018. 

When it comes to encryption and protocols, NordVPN uses the industry-standard AES-256 encryption. This encryption is a military-grade encryption and is (at the moment) considered uncrackable. NordVPN’s supported protocols are OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, which are two of the best protocols in terms of performance and security.

NordVPN guarantees Perfect Forward Secrecy by using the dynamic 2048-bit DH keys.

PIA offers the same AES-256 encryption alongside the 2048-bit DH keys but also lets you switch to AES-128 if you want. This option reduces security while it boosts speed.

When it comes to security features, both NordVPN and PIA take the matter very seriously. They mostly offer the same features, with NordVPN shining when it comes to obfuscated servers (which are, as an example, used to bypass the China’s Firewall). On the other hand, PIA also has a degree of obfuscation, but it doesn’t get through the Chinese Firewall.

While both VPN’s are safe and secure, NordVPN takes the win in this category for a couple of reasons. First, it is based in Panama, which offers a set of benefits that PIA does not have, and second, NordVPN is the one that can get through the China Firewall, while PIA cannot.

Conclusion

While both of these VPNs are great, NordVPN comes out ahead in many categories, making it slightly superior. However, both come with some downsides.

NordVPN suffers from inconsistent speeds on some servers and has a less user-friendly interface. On top of that, it is more expensive on any other payment plan but the 3-year plan. 

On the other hand, PIA falls short by just a little in almost every category regarding performance. 

Depending on what you will use the VPN for, and how long you will use it for, you should be able to make an educated decision after reading this article.