NordVPN vs PIA [Test Results 2020]

NordVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA) are both top-ranking providers in the VPN industry.

NordVPN is a go-for VPN for users seeking all-time secure connections. For a reason, the service hides your internet activities from prying eyes (ISPs, advertisers, and governments) and hackers using mind-boggling encryptions.  

Fast speeds, reliable customer support, and outstanding global server coverage are among the things to admire about this VPN. As such, it’s an ideal option for users searching for a P2P-file sharing VPN, with supreme unblocking abilities.

PIA is an excellent choice for users looking for a tried and tested no-logs VPN. Its encryption and privacy protection services are also reliable.

Moreover, PIA is an inexpensive VPN that’s easy-to-use. And above, it lets you tinker the configurations, making it an ideal option for both beginners and advanced users.

How to Choose a VPN

With the increasing number of VPN providers, finding a reliable VPN can be a challenging task. Therefore, to make the right VPN choice, you need to consider several factors and features.

Today, we’ll be clashing NordVPN against PIA in a one-on-one comparison and furnish you with the test results.

The comparison will analyze the various aspects a VPN user needs to consider when making a buying decision. We’ll assess the performance of each provider in particular categories and declare the “winner.”

Then, we will sum up the ranks and scores under each category to determine the “overall winner.”  By this time, you will have sufficient information to help you make the right decision picking the provider that best fits your online privacy and protection needs.

Connection Speed

Nowadays, the internet is considered a basic human need. Consequently, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, you want to remain connected.

How fast it lets you connect to the internet is one of the vital factors to consider in a VPN. Besides, whether you’re chatting with a friend or streaming a movie, fast connections come in handy.

With the desire for reliable connectivity, a high-speed VPN provider is not optional.  To assess the speed of the two VPN providers, we performed speed tests for 3 days, 3 times per day, and with 5 hours gap between the sessions.

We connected these VPNs on three different server locations – the US, the UK, and Japan – using the Windows app and connecting using OpenVPN protocol over UDP.    

Local Connection Speeds (U.S.)

Private Internet Access performed exceptionally well locally, averaging 78.9 Mbps. NordVPN provided 27.58 Mbps.

These speeds mean that users can stream HD videos, share P2P files,  play online games seamlessly, and download content without a fuss.

Local Connection Speeds Winner: Private Internet Access

International Connection Speeds (U.S. to the U.K.)

Both VPNs posted reliable speeds when connected to the UK servers. In comparison, NordVPN performed slower than PIA, averaging 35.6 Mbps against PIA’s 78.8 Mbps.

International Connection Speeds Winner: Private Internet Access

Pricing

Both NordVPN and PIA are inexpensive VPN services allowing users to access a full package of features in all their plans.

Considering the month-to-month subscription, Private Internet Access is cheaper than NordVPN. Nevertheless, you get a better deal by opting for a long-term commitment. NordVPN’s monthly plan goes for $11.95, while Private Internet Access 1-month plan costs $6.95 per month.

Note that VPN service prices usually fluctuate with special offers and new terms. As we write, PIA offers one of the cheapest annual plans around, setting you back $2.66/month.

NordVPN tariffs the annual plan $6.99/month. NordVPN draws near to PIA’s annual pricing with its $3.49 per month 3-year plan. But again, PIA beats NordVPN with its $2.33/month 2-year plan.

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee while PIA provides 7 days only. As such, NordVPN allows you to test their services for a more extended period than PIA.

Pricing Winner: Private Internet Access

Privacy

No doubt, online privacy is one of the crucial aspects to consider before choosing a VPN service. Besides, you want to keep your login details, browsing history, and any other personal data under lock and key.

With the increasing number of prying eyes, it’s advisable to consider a VPN provider from a privacy-friendly country. Also, pay attention to a VPN’s logging policies as well as whether they allow anonymous payment, for example, using Bitcoin.

NordVPN is located in Panama, a country that doesn’t require VPN providers to retain user data. Moreover, the company adheres to an audited no-logs policy and lets you pay anonymously using Bitcoin.

Although PIA is based in the US (a privacy-unfriendly country), they’ve had their zero-logs policy tested in court twice. In both cases, the VPN provider was unable to provide any details of specific users’ connection logs.

It also accepts merchant cards and Bitcoin. Hence, users who pay using these methods can be confident that their online antics can’t be traced back to them.

Privacy Winner: NordVPN

Features

What good is a VPN if it doesn’t offer a convenient set of tools to secure your connections? Before paying for a VPN service, ensure it’s best suited for performance.

Both NordVPN and PIA provides apps for numerous OSes and extensions for major web browsers. Above all, if your top priority is secure and private browsing, you certainly can’t go wrong with either service.

NordVPN stands out for its privacy innovations, and unique security features, like CyberSec. Other privacy and security features include Tor-over-VPN, Double-VPN, a kill switch, and obfuscated servers to hide your traffic.

This feature-rich VPN also packs thousands of servers in many countries, offering superb performance. The provider doesn’t keep any logs and has no bandwidth limits. Plus, a single NordVPN account lets you secure multiple devices simultaneously.

Despite being an inexpensive service, PIA offers about the same technologies provided by NordVPN. The service offers a respectable lineup of features, including several encryption settings, basic leak protection, and ad-blocking abilities.

This VPN also features a tested no-logs policy. What’s more, one subscription plan allows you to connect additional devices simultaneously.

Features Winner: NordVPN

Encryptions

NordVPN and Private Internet Access take security seriously; that’s why you’ll find an umpteen of encryption features with a lot of depth to them.

The two VPNs use secure encryptions to keep you safe. For instance, both VPNs work with OpenVPN protocol to secure your Mac, Android, and Windows devices. And either can be configured manually with OpenVPN on iOS. But which one is a better encryption provider?

NordVPN secures connections with the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption. This is government-grade encryption and is currently considered unhackable.

The provider supports OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols, which are best known to offer a balance between security and performance. Also, the VPN uses Perfect Forward Secrecy, thanks to the 2048-bit DH keys.

Similarly, Private Internet Access offers both AES 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit DH keys, with OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec protocols. PIA also allows you to switch speeds using the less secure AES-128.

Encryptions Winner: Tie

Simultaneous Connections

How many devices does a single VPN account let you protect? No doubt, you don’t want a VPN whose one subscription plan secures one device at a time.

Ideally, a single account should allow you to secure multiple devices simultaneously. And that’s what the 2 VPNs do. Besides, more concurrent connections on a one login account mean low VPN costs.

One NordVPN account allows you to secure up to 6 devices simultaneously, making it a worthy consideration for average-sized families. 

Private Internet Access offers 10 concurrent connections per account, which is above the industry standard of 5. For this reason, it’s a worthy consideration for small businesses with several employees or a large family.

Keep in mind that you can install either one of these VPNs on your router and automatically secure all devices in your household. Into the bargain, a router only counts as one connection.

Simultaneous Connections Winner: Private Internet Access

Torrent Support

While both VPNs allow P2P file sharing and torrenting, NordVPN offers a few unique features missing in PIA. For instance, NordVPN features a separate P2P tab that lets you choose from over 4,000 servers.

PIA allows torrenting on all its servers. Plus, it comes with a port forwarding feature, which may help torrentors to optimize their speeds. The service offers this feature on Windows, Mac, and Android.

The good thing, both VPN providers support SOCKS5 proxy. This proxy relies on additional authentication and not encryption, and thus, often provides faster speeds.

By looking at the above features alone, this battle could easily be considered a tie. But wait.

PIA being a US-based provider, adheres to a strict Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA), making it less ideal for torrenting buffs.

The Panama-based NordVPN isn’t restricted by any DMCAs. As such, it’s a better option for users concerned about copyright trolls.

Torrent Support Winner: NordVPN

Global Server Coverage

In most cases, the ideal VPN provider packs loads of servers spread out across lots of countries. An extensive server network offers better chances of avoiding congested servers.

The more servers often mean you’ll easily unblock more restricted websites, movies, and online games. It also leads to achieving seamless loading speeds, considering you can connect to a server near your location.

NordVPN tops as the provider with a broad server coverage. It has over 5200 servers spread across over 60 countries, including Egypt, Argentina, and South Korea, locations where PIA is missing in action.

Apart from the standard servers, the provider allows users to access specialty servers. Plus, there’s an optional dedicated IP, which helps you unlock more servers.

Private Internet Access, on the other hand, has over 3335 servers in 30 countries. Despite this coverage and a lack of specialized servers, PIA does a decent job of enlisting server clusters in the most in-demand places.

Global Server Coverage Winner: NordVPN

Multi-Platform Support

In this era of the Internet of Things (IoT), users have multiple devices connected to the internet. Most likely, you own a smartphone and a PC. This alone makes multi-platform support an important feature to consider before hitting that “buy” button.

PIA and NordVPN work efficiently on various platforms. They also come with dedicated apps for all major operating systems, and support for numerous devices.

The NordVPN app works on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Firefox, and Chrome. It can as well work with a ton of routers.

The service works on these other platforms: Kodi, Blackberry, media and gaming consoles, and Internet Explorer.

PIA app works with macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. Also, it works on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. Furthermore, the VPN can be configured in well-suited routers for wider coverage.

Multi-Platform Support Winner: NordVPN

Customer Support

Both VPNs keep things simple. They are equipped with one-click protection features and easy to access configuration files. Despite this, you might need a little help-troubleshooting the VPN-in the future.

NordVPN offers incredibly fast 24/7 live chat support.  Moreover, there’s email support and ticketing. On the contrary, PIA doesn’t provide live chat support. The service only offers email support and ticket.

Both VPNs have searchable knowledge bases, allowing users to find answers to simple problems. Even so, NordVPN performs better by providing walkthrough videos for particular snags, such as troubleshooting connections. PIA, on the other hand, uses screenshots in most of its tutorials.

We put the two VPNs to test by asking a question that required a detailed answer. While both customer reps comprehensively answered the question, PIA took considerably longer to reply. For this reason, PIA loses in this category considering users expect instant responses to queries.

Customer Support Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN Wins!

NordVPN and PIA are outstanding VPN providers to be used on all major platforms. Moreover, they both are easy to use, adhere to a valid no-logs policy, and pack a horde of premium protection features.

So, whichever you resolve to use, be sure your personal data, and system security are under lock and key. But since it was a combat war…well, PIA came out top in connection speeds, pricing, simultaneous connections. The two tied in encryptions.

NordVPN won in privacy, torrent support, global server coverage, multi-platform support, and customer support, making it the clear winner in this battle.

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