It might not be the most catchy name for a VPN but Private Internet Access (PIA) was rated one of our best VPNs for Mac on the market. In this Private Internet Access For Mac review we take a closer look at what it can do.
PIA is one of the the oldest VPNs on the market with over 10 years experience in the VPN world and around 15 million customers across the globe.
PIA supports all the latest versions of macOS although there is still no native client for M1 chip Macs.
One of the unique features of PIA for Mac is that it’s completely open source.
The source code of PIA is completely free to inspect by anyone that knows what they’re looking for in terms of security holes or anything that could compromise your anonymity when using it.
In fact, PIA users are even able to contribute their own code and modify the app to make it secure against new threats or security issues that affect other VPNs.
|Unblocks Netflix etc||✔️|
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Private Internet Access Pricing
Private Internet Access has 3 pricing plans.
A one year subscription costs $39.95 up front or you can pay $9.95 for a monthly subscription.
The best deal is on a 3 year subscription which offers 78% off costing $79 which works out at just $2.19 per month.
You can pay for PIA with most methods of payment including credit card, Bitcoin, PayPal and even selected gift cards.
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Private Internet Access For Mac Review
Private Internet Access is very easy to use although on Mac everything is controlled by the icon that appears in the macOS Menu Bar.
The way PIA is laid out isn’t as intuitive as some VPNs but it’s still very easy to use. Simply select the country you want to connect to and hit the power-on button.
In the General Settings you can choose whether to launch PIA on startup, the styling of the interface and whether you want PIA to immediately connect to a server when you start it.
In the Privacy settings you can select whether to activate the Kill Switch which will trigger if it detects your VPN connection is compromised.
The Kill Switch can also be customized which can be used to block all traffic outside of the VPN and prevent any data leaks if your connection gets interrupted for any reason.
Other things you can configure are which apps you want to use for split tunneling, the connection protocol you want to use which includes the ultra fast WireGuard.
PIA is a very safe VPN with a strict set of both ethical and technological measures in place.
PIA has a strict no logs policy which means that it keeps no record of your online activities. Although it’s based in the USA and therefore subject to the Fourteen Eyes agreement, it does not keep any traffic or request logs.
PIA is DD-WRT VPN compatible, allows unmetered VPN transfers and includes a SOCKS5 proxy for extra speed and security.
PIA also uses it’s own DNS to prevent DNS leaks via third parties.
PIA uses the highly secure SHA-4096 protocol for authentication handshakes and includes an Identity Guard which will alert you if your email address is compromised.
PIA also uses something called MACE to stop ads tracking you and can also block intrusive ads from appearing when you’re surfing the net.
On the iOS app, PIA uses IPsec for transparency and security.
PIA uses fast servers that perform quickly although there are some variations of speed depending on where you are and which country you’re connecting to.
PIA uses what it calls “NextGen” servers with 10Gbps network cards and runs everything through your Mac’s RAM. This delivers extremely high speeds and also means very little data touches your Mac hard drive.
PIA for Mac also offers multi-gigabit connections for extremely fast connections. This includes Tunnels for OpenVPN, PPTP and IPSEC/L2TP VPN.
PIA also uses WireGuard and OpenVPN which most VPNs use nowadays to accelerate upload and download speeds. PIA also supports a SOCKS5 proxy which also boosts speeds slightly.
Speeds vary from around 60Mbps on the fastest connections to as slow as around 8Mbps on the slowest ones.
PIA also supports 10 devices on one subscription which is generous compared to most VPNs which usually offer around half this although it can’t compare with SurfShark’s unlimited connection deal.
Private Internet Access for Mac supports split tunneling on Mac which means you can select which apps or software use the VPN and which don’t.
This isn’t always available in Mac versions of VPNs as we found with ExpressVPN which doesn’t support split tunneling on macOS.
PIA for Mac has more than 30,000 servers in 70 countries which is considerably higher than most VPNs although can’t quite match ExpressVPNs impressive 94 countries.
However, many of these servers are virtual servers which means that they are not physically located in the countries they serve but still work as if they are located there.
For those that know what they’re doing, Private Internet Access also supports port forwarding which can be useful for those that use VPNs for gaming on a Mac.
There are browser extensions for PIA too which allow you to connect to PIA directly from Chrome, Firefox and Opera without the need to connect the actual client itself.
You can also get dedicated IP addresses with PIA although this costs an extra $5 per month. Most VPNs charge around this for a dedicated IP and the advantage of having one is that it’s uniquely yours and therefore clean and less likely to get blocked by streaming services and other sites.
Private Internet Access also has mobile apps for most platforms including Android and iOS.
Like most VPNs, Private Internet Access can usually unblock sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime although performance can sometimes be unstable depending on the server you choose and your own location.
PIA sometimes returns Netflix proxy errors on some servers although this seems to depend on which Netflix country you’re trying to access.
PIA works fine for servers in the USA but if you’re trying to access Netflix in Mexico for example or some European countries, it sometimes does not work.
There are also issues unblocking BBC iPlayer using a UK server which sometimes works but sometimes doesn’t for some reason.
This may be because these streaming services are aware of the exit nodes used by PIA and have blocked them so be aware of this if Netflix streaming is your main reason for getting a VPN.
PIA offers 24/7 live chat support so you don’t have to file email tickets as you do with many VPNs.
PIA support is knowledgable, quick and efficient and should be able to solve most problems within minutes. Depending on demand, you may have to wait a while to connect to an agent.
Private Internet Access For Mac Downsides
PIA does not support multi-hop connections or access to the Tor network.
Multi-hop is supported by VPNs such as Surfshark and means that your entry country VPN is different from your exit country VPN when you close the connection for greater levels of privacy.
We also think the general interface of PIA for Mac could be better organized and we’d prefer a standalone app on the desktop rather than a Menu Bar icon.
Although PIA for Mac works on M1 Macs via Rosetta, there is also no native M1 Mac version available yet for Apple Silicon M1 chip Macs.