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ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access (2021) | MK’s Guide

ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access
ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access

I did a poll on my YouTube channel asking if they use VPN. 66% of voters voted yes. VPN indeed has many everyday usages, but it is challenging to choose between the two. Here is the article comparing the two popular services, ProtonVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA). How do both compare in 2021? The article covers ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access.

Table Of Contents

Short comparison

FeatureProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
Servers145735900+
Countries5577
ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2OpenVPN, WireGuard
Streaming servicesOver 20Unknown
IP Address test
Wifi speed testD: 30.3 Mbps
U: 17.0 Mbps
D: 33.1 Mbps
U: 34.2 Mbps
Mobile data speed testD: 44.8 Mbps
U: 15.8 Mbps
D: 6.53 Mbps
U: 19.1 Mbps
DNS leak test
Wifi torrenting test
Mobile data torrenting test
EncryptionAES 256-bitAES (128-256/GCM-CBC)
Simultaneous connections5 (on plus)10
Price rating4/52.5/5
PurchaseProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access | Short comparison

Platforms

Both offer apps for common platforms. Private Internet Access does not offer an app for Chromebook, but it comes with browser extensions. Here is the table covering all the supported platforms.

ProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Android TV
Chromebook
Router
Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Chrome
Firefox
Opera
Router
Android TV
Platform comparison

Servers

Total servers, their configuration, and protocols play an important role. ProtonVPN comes with 1457 servers in 55 countries. The number is minimal compared to the 35900 servers that Private Internet Access claims to offer. If we consider all the VPNs, this would be the highest number of servers a VPN offers.

Protocols

ProtonVPN comes with OpenVPN protocol, but you also get IKEv2 on mobile devices. OpenVPN is the industry standard, while IKEv2 is considered to be the second popular protocol.

Related: ProtonVPN vs. ExpressVPN | Final Battle with Proofs

Private Internet Access, on the other hand, comes with OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. WireGuard is still new and has a lot to learn, but usages have proved that it runs faster than OpenVPN.

Streaming support

ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access
ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access – Streaming

This is the tricky part because the Private Internet Access website does not mention any streaming services that the service supports, but in a company document, they have mentioned that the tool can unblock services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and many others.

ProtonVPN, on the contrary, supports quite many streaming services in multiple regions. They also have a dedicated section of tutorials to learn to unblock the supported streaming services.

Tests

IP Address test

IP Address Test

The first test of ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access is the IP Address test. The test combines the IP Address and location tests. After connecting to the VPN, we check our IP Address and location. If the IP and the location match with the app’s displayed IP and location, the VPN passes the test.

In this case, both did a good job of hiding the original IP and displaying the VPN server IP.

Winner: Tie

Wifi speed test

Wifi speed test video

The wifi speed test goes to Private Internet Access. To perform this test, I connected both to a server in Sydney. ProtonVPN was almost as fast as Private Internet Access, but it could not cross the app. Private Internet Access was better in the upload test as well.

ProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
Download: 30.3 Mbps
Upload: 17.0 Mbps
Download: 33.1 Mbps
Upload: 34.2 Mbps
Wifi speed test comparison

Winner: Private Internet Access

Related: CyberGhost vs. ProtonVPN | A Battle of 10 Important Features

Mobile data speed test

Mobile data speed test

For the mobile data speed test, we do the same as wifi. As the automatic connection of ProtonVPN would have connected to my own city, it would not have been a fair test. So, I connected both to a server in Sydney.

Private Internet Access did not show the full potential in the download speed. It started good, but it couldn’t get higher than 10 Mbps in the second half of the test. ProtonVPN performed as expected.

Take a look at the results table. The test also covers the speed test without VPN, but that’s just for the reference.

ModeDownload speedUpload speed
Private Internet Access6.53 Mbps19.1 Mbps
ProtonVPN44.8 Mbps15.8 Mbps
No VPN77.2 Mbps33.5 Mbps
Speed test comparison

Winner: ProtonVPN

DNS leak test

DNS leak test of ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access

Domain Name System leak, also called DNS leak, happens if there is a leak in the VPN connection. We do a DNS leak test using the DNSLeakTest tool.

The test does a few checks and returns with all the IP(s) and the location(s) of the connection. If the IP and location are different from our VPN, there is a DNS leak.

Related: NordVPN vs. CyberGhost (2021) | Ultimate Battle of 6 Tests

After doing the test (above video), both showed only one server and IP, which is great, but the returned IP of Private Internet Access was slightly different than the displayed in the tool, but I don’t think it should be an issue.

Winner: Tie

Wifi torrent test

Wifi torrent test

Both support torrenting, and you get plenty of P2P optimised servers. I connected both to a server in Hong Kong and downloaded a file for 60 seconds.

I must say that Private Internet Access did a much better job than protonVPN. It took ProtonVPN some time to pick up, and still, it could not get to where I wanted it to see, but Private Internet Access started and stayed strong in the whole test.

ProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
Max speed: 397 KbpsMax speed: 3.1 Mbps
Wifi torrent test

Winner: Private Internet Access

Mobile data torrent test

The last test in ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access is the torrent test on mobile data. Like the wifi test, Private Internet Acess performed better than ProtonVPN. So, if you want a VPN for torrenting, Private Internet Access is the tool to choose.

Related: VyprVPN vs. ProtonVPN | Taking 6 Tests | MK’s Guide

Private Internet Access contrarily started slow, but it picked up quickly. The table below covers the results from the video.

ProtonVPNPrivate Internet Access
Max speed: 407 Kbps
Average speed:
200 Kbps
Max speed: 843 Kbps
Average speed:
400 Kbps
Mobile data torrenting speed comparison

Winner: Private Internet Access

Other tools

Common

  • Open Source: Both are open source.
  • No Logs: Both come with a no-log policy.
  • Ad-blocker: Both services come with an ad-blocker.
  • Kill switch : VPN blocks the internet when the connection drops.
  • Split tunneling : You get the support for split tunnelling.
  • Reports: The tool offers transparency reports.

ProtonVPN

  • Audited: The tool is independently audited.
    Full Disk Encryption: All servers are secured by full disk encryption.
  • Tor over VPN: You get Tor support built-in.
  • Server load: You get to see the server load on each server.
  • Secure Core : Allows connecting to multiple servers for entended protection.

Private Internet Access

  • Server speed: See the speed of each server.
  • SOCKS5 Proxy: The tool comes with SOCKS5 Proxy built-in.

Pricing

ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access – Pricing

Undoubtedly ProtonVPN is expensive, but it comes in three different plans. The basic plan is alright, but you don’t get the plus servers. The plus plan is what I would go with. Private Internet Access is cost-effective when you go with the yearly or the two-year plan.

Which one should you choose?

Other than a few sign-in issues, I’m satisfied with Private Internet Access. It was fast enough to compete with ProtonVPN. Security vice, both are well managed. You get good encryption with good speed.

The cost, in the end, changes many things. If you need a VPN for a month, ProtonVPN is for you, while Private Internet Access is for long term VPN users.

Purchase

Wrap up

Using a VPN is one of the easiest options to encrypt your data and change your location. All it takes is to enable the VPN.

The article ProtonVPN vs. Private Internet Access covered all the topics and tests to decide. I hope the information was helpful. Please share your opinion about both in the comments so we can discuss more.

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VPN protocols are the way the VPN tool (your device) is connected to the VPN server. Some protocols offer fast speed, but they don't focus on security. Some offer slow internet speed, but they focus on security. OpenVPN is the most popular because it offers a balanced combination. IKEv2 is also popular because of its features. Watch this quick video to learn more about Protocols.

Kill switch is a feature that disconnects the internet if, for any reason, the VPN connection drops.

You have control over which apps should connect on the VPN server and which don't. Read more about split tunneling on the NordVPN website.

According to the ProtonVPN website, Secure Core allows the company to protect against many threats by passing the data through multiple servers. This means that the connection first travels to a server located somewhere and then to the selected server. The Secure Core servers are fully owned by ProtonVPN so that the user can browse fearlessly. The Secure Core servers connect to either Switzerland, Iceland, or Sweden and then to the desired servers; the feature is available in 23 countries as of the 8th of March 2021.