AirVPN vs. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Comparison & Test Results 2018

AirVPN

Vs.

PIA logo

AirVPN bills itself as a VPN run by and for privacy advocates, and it lives up to its billing, providing excellent encryption and top-notch privacy protections.

AirVPN

The provider also offers above-average domestic connection speeds, as well as good customer support.


Private Internet Access (PIA) is an attractive option for budget-minded VPN shoppers. Despite a bargain-basement price, the provider offers excellent connection speeds, great privacy protections and support for P2P/BitTorrenting activity.

PIA logo

The provider also offers a decent number of simultaneous connections and supports all of the major desktop and mobile device platforms.


How to Choose a VPN

Welcome to another round of one-on-one VPN competitions. In this matchup, we’ll see AirVPN going up against Private Internet Access.

I’ll be taking a look at the 10 most important categories to research when you’re deciding on a VPN provider. I’ll share why each category is critical, reveal how well each provider performed in the category and then declare a victor for the category.

After I’ve presented all 10 categories, I’ll tally the scores and name an overall head-to-head champion.

By the end of this article, you’ll have enough information at your fingertips to make an informed decision as to which of the two providers is a better fit for your needs.

Connection Speed

These days, it seems every electronic device connects to the internet. Your smartphone, your tablet, that Smart TV in the front room - they’re all connected. That makes a fast internet connection important for your user experience.

I use Speedtest.net to test the connection speeds.

1

Local Connection Speeds (U.S.)

My local connection speed test is intended to give users an idea of what kind of performance they can expect from a provider when they’re using a VPN server based in their own country. (I connect to a U.S. server for the test.)

Connection Speed Winner (U.S.): Private Internet Access


Provider

VPN DL Speed

Link

1

PIA logo

 125 Mbps

2

AirVPN

31.5 Mbps

2

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

My international connection speed testing is designed to provide a good indication of what kind of performance a user might experience when connected to a VPN server located in another country. (I use a U.K.-based server for testing.)

Connection Speed Winner (U.S. to U.K.): AirVPN (By a Hair)


Provider

VPN DL Speed

Link

1

AirVPN

22.8 Mbps

2

PIA logo

22.2 Mbps

Privacy

If you’re connected to the internet, someone is attempting to track your activities.

It could be your ISP looking to record your travels to sell that information to advertisers, or even the government looking over your virtual shoulder to see what you’re up to.

When investigating how well a VPN provider protects your privacy, take a look at the following:

  • Is the provider’s base of operations located in a privacy-friendly country?
  • Does the provider retain logs related to their customers’ online activities?
  • Does the provider offer privacy-enhancing payment options, like Bitcoin?

AirVPN’s base of operations is in Italy, and the VPN provider follows the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). That means that AirVPN keeps no logs related to their customers’ online travels while connected to the service. The provider also accepts Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency for their services.

Despite the fact that Private Internet Access is located in the less-than-privacy-friendly United States, it still keeps no records of their users’ online antics. PIA accepts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment for subscriptions.

Privacy Winner: It’s a Tie!


Provider

Privacy Ranking

Link

1

AirVPN

2

PIA logo

Pricing

Both of our competitors offer reasonable subscription pricing, but only Private Internet Access could be considered a “bargain-basement” provider.

Private Internet Access charges a mere $3.33 per month (payable at $39.95 per year) to users who opt for an annual plan. Users who need to do the month-to-month gig can expect to pay $6.95 per month. If you’re willing to commit for 2 years, you’ll pay just $2.91 per month via a lump sum payment of $69.95.

AirVPN will set your billfold back to the tune of $8.21 per month if you opt for a month-to-month subscription plan. If you’re willing to make a more long-term commitment, the price drops to $5.28 per month (payable as $63.34 annually). 3-day, 3-month and 6-month options are also available.

Pricing Winner: Private Internet Access

Provider

Monthly Price

(Annual Subscription)

Month-to-Month Price

Money-Back Guarantee Period

Link

PIA logo

$3.33

$6.95

7 Days

AirVPN

$5.28

$8.21

3 Days

Global Server Coverage

A VPN provider’s global server coverage allows you to access blocked content from around the globe. The wider the global server coverage, the better the chance of unblocking your favorite foreign content.

Private Internet Access has 3,467 servers located in 30 countries around the globe.

I was able to find global server coverage information on the AirVPN website, which totals up to just 223 servers located in 20 countries. The number of available servers can vary, so check their website if you want the latest numbers.

Global Server Coverage Winner: Private Internet Access


Provider

Server Count

Countries

Link

1

PIA logo

3,467+

30

2

AirVPN

223

20

 Multi-Platform Support

I’m willing to bet that most of my readers own and use more than one internet-connected device. That’s why a VPN provider’s multi-platform support is so important.

Private Internet Access provides native app support for the the iOS, Windows, Linux, Android and macOS device platforms. The service also offers router support. Browser extensions are available for the Opera, Firefox and Chrome platforms.

AirVPN offers apps for the Linux, iOS, Android, macOS and Windows device platforms. They also provide setup instructions to use their service with Chromebook laptops, pfSense firewalls, and DD-WRT, Tomato and AsusWRT routers. 

Multi-Platform Support Winner: Private Internet Access


Provider

# Platforms Supported

Browser Extensions?

Link

1

PIA logo

8

check-circle-o

2

AirVPN

8

times-circle-o

Netflix Access

If you’re a Netflix subscriber who wants reliable access to your American Netflix favorites when you’re traveling internationally, or if you want to open up access to Netflix content in other countries, neither of these VPN providers are worthy of your consideration.

AirVPN doesn’t promote access to Netflix. I tested random AirVPN servers and only a Canadian server was able to get past Netflix’s barriers, but it wasn’t a sure bet, as I was unable to repeat my success later.

Private Internet Access also doesn’t claim to offer reliable Netflix access, and random testing with multiple servers proved to be a futile effort.

Netflix Access Winner​: No Winner Here, Folks!


Provider

Netflix Access?

Link

1

AirVPN
times-circle-o

2

PIA logo
times-circle-o

Customer Support

Customer support is like that extra $20 bill you have tucked away in your billfold. You hope you never have a reason to use it, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.

Private Internet Access offers an extensive knowledge base, which just recently underwent extensive remodeling, adding more comprehensive search functionality and a new “Guides” section to walk you through installing and modifying your PIA VPN setup.

The company also provides a trouble ticket tracking system. No live chat support, though.

AirVPN offers a contact form, an FAQ section and a user forum, where AirVPN personnel and customers can discuss issues.

Customer Support Winner: Private Internet Access


Provider

Customer Support Star Rating

Link

1

PIA logo

2

AirVPN

Encryption

Your VPN’s encryption is the hard-candy “magic” shell the provider lays on your connection, which prevents outsiders from monitoring your internet activities.

Private Internet Access provides AES-256 encryption for their customers’ connections via the OpenVPN, L2TP+PSK and PPTP protocols.

AirVPN offers AES-256 encryption as protection for their customers’ connections. They use only OpenVPN with TCP/UDP - no other protocols are available. 

Encryption Winner: Private Internet Access


Provider

Encryption Methods

Link

1

PIA logo

AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN, L2TP+PSK and PPTP

2

AirVPN

AES-256 encryption, using OpenVPN with TCP/UDP

 Simultaneous Connections

Your VPN’s encryption is the hard-candy “magic” shell the provider lays on your connection, which prevents outsiders from monitoring your internet activities.

Private Internet Access provides AES-256 encryption for their customers’ connections via the OpenVPN, L2TP+PSK and PPTP protocols.

AirVPN offers AES-256 encryption as protection for their customers’ connections. They use only OpenVPN with TCP/UDP - no other protocols are available. 

Simultaneous Connections Winner: It’s a Tie!


Provider

# of Simultaneous Connections Allowed

Link

1

PIA logo

5

2

AirVPN

5

BitTorrent Support

P2P/BitTorrent is arguably the most popular method of sharing files on the internet today.

However, since some P2P users share copyrighted materials, many ISPs block file sharing activity on their connections. Also, depending on where you live, you could pay financial or criminal penalties for sharing copyrighted materials.

Private Internet Access allows BitTorrent traffic on all of their servers. (30 countries.)

AirVPN also permits P2P activity on all of their servers. (20 countries.)

BitTorrenting Winner: Private Internet Access


Provider

# of Countries Where VPN Allows BitTorrent Access

Link

1

PIA logo

30

2

AirVPN

20

Final Score


Provider

# of Categories Won

Ties

Link

1

PIA logo

6.5

3

2

AirVPN

0.5

3

Winner: Private Internet Access

At first, it looked like it might be a close competition between AirVPN and Private Internet Access (PIA), but the battle quickly turned into a rout, with PIA racking up a lead that AirVPN could never overcome.

PIA logo

Private Internet Access took the top spot in the local connection speed, pricing, global server coverage, multi-platform support, encryption and BitTorrent competitions.

AirVPN took honors in the international connection speed category only.

The competitors offer equally excellent privacy protections, and both allow an equal number of simultaneous connections. Neither provider offers access to Netflix content in other countries.

Private Internet Access offers fast speeds, excellent privacy protection and BitTorrent activity on all of its servers. Their pricing is tough to beat, especially with the better-than-average service the provider delivers.