NordVPN vs Private Internet Access (In-Depth Comparison)

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Better Overall
4.8 / 5
  • Privacy-friendly
  • An excellent choice for streaming
  • 5,000+ server in 59 countries
  • Works in China
Budget Option
Private Internet Acess logo
4.6 / 5
  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections
  • Affordable price plans
  • 3270+ Servers in 29 Countries
  • Great Multi-platform compatibility

NordVPN and PIA are two of the most popular VPNs today.

They offer thousands of servers, robust encryption, and both maintain a strict privacy policy.

However, despite both VPNs being excellent, there can only be one winner.

I conducted several tests, and I’ve outlined the results in this NordVPN vs. PIA comparison post.

While NordVPN does come out on top, each provider has its strengths and weaknesses.

Quick Overview

Speed Test

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access have decent connection speeds.

Speed is critical when choosing a VPN. Your VPN may be secure, but if it’s slow, it can prove frustrating to use.

Luckily, neither NordVPN nor PIA is slow. After putting the two VPN services under multiple speed tests, I can say I was impressed by what I saw.

NordVPN averaged 82 Mbps in nearby servers (Europe).

When connected to US servers, the average speed dropped to 73 Mbps, a reduction of 27% on my baseline speed. The service also performed well in the Asia Pacific, most notably in Australia, where connections averaged a decent 58 Mbps.

As I’ve already mentioned, PIA was no slouch, either.

The service averaged 77 Mbps in Europe, 69 Mbps in the US, and 48 Mbps in Australia.

Here is a snapshot of the results.

Note: When conducting the tests, my benchmark speeds (standard internet connection) were 98.27 Mbps download and 52.04 Mbps upload.

PIA Speed Results

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NordVPN Speed Results

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Winner for Speed: NordVPN

While both services performed well in this category, NordVPN was undoubtedly faster. That said, you can’t go wrong with PIA either, especially if you are looking to connect to European or North American servers. The US and UK servers were particularly impressive and handled UHD video streaming seamlessly. However, when it came to Australian servers, the difference between the two VPNs was more pronounced. While NordVPN’s speeds were acceptable, PIA’s download speeds hovered above the red line (-50%), and their upload speeds were even slower.

Cost & Payment Methods

PIA is more affordable than NordVPN.

If you are hard-pressed for money, then it’s an easy choice between PIA and NordVPN. But then again, the cheapest option may not always be the most valuable.

Let’s start with Private Internet Access.

PIA Pricing Plans

Even with their recent price hike, PIA remains one of the most affordable top-tier VPNs in the market. The provider offers three pricing plans, all having the same features but different billing cycles.

pia plans

NordVPN Pricing Plans

NordVPN, on the other hand, offers four pricing plans, ranging from a month-to-month subscription to a three-year plan.

nordvpn plans

Payment Methods

Both NordVPN and PIA support numerous payment options.

However, I have to give this one to PIA as they offer PayPal and a wider range of credit cards.

How You Can Pay for PIA?

Private Internet Access accepts:

Accepted payments PIA

How You Can Pay for NordVPN?

NordVPN main payment options are:

Quite notably, NordVPN does not accept payments via PayPal.

Free Trials & Money-Back Policy

NordVPN and PIA do not offer a completely free trial, but both provide money-back guarantees allowing you to test their services free of charge.

If you are not happy with either service, you can easily request and get a full refund.

This is where the similarities end.

PIA’s money-back policy is very limited.

The provider has a short 7-day refund window, which pales in comparison to the 30-day money-back guarantee offered by NordVPN.

Do They Offer Discounts Often?

Both NordVPN and PIA offer promotional pricing and discounts regularly with the best deals being available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

While most of the deals can only be applied on new accounts, if you’re in luck, you can also get discounted renewal costs. Worth to mention that nor PIA, nor NordVPN don’t offer a lifetime deal.

Price Winner: TIE

When it comes to affordability, PIA is unrivaled. The VPN is competitively priced, with its monthly plan being one of the most popular. However, the provider also happens to have a very short money-back window, which is a significant drawback. Although NordVPN prices are higher for similar plans, with their three-year plan, you can lower the cost to about the same as PIA’s.

Privacy & Jurisdiction

NordVPN is much safer due to their jurisdiction.

NordVPN is based in Panama, a country that lies well outside the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes spheres of influence. The provider has no legal obligation to collect personal data, and they maintain a very strict privacy policy.

The company keeps neither activity nor connection logs.

However, they do collect some basic information for operational purposes.

The data collected is limited to:

nordvpn log policy

Similarly, Private Internet Access does not record your VPN activities. But like NordVPN and virtually every other VPN, they do store the following:

pia colllect info

Although their zero activity logging policy is a step in the right direction, the company has its headquarters in the US. A member of the 5 Eyes, the US has some of the most invasive data laws.

Privacy Winner: NordVPN

If you want to keep your internet activities away from your ISP and the authorities, then NordVPN is a great option. On top of being a logs-free service, the VPN is located in one of the most privacy-friendly countries in the world.

Popularity (Google Trends)

While popularity doesn’t reflect quality, it can be a good indicator of a VPN’s brand image and reputation.

To get an idea about the popularity of NordVPN and PIA, I compared their number of online searches using Google Trends.

As you can see in the screenshot below, NordVPN is significantly more popular than Private Internet Access.

which is more popular pia nordvpn
Popularity Winner: NordVPN

Besides Google trends, I scoured the web for user reviews and feedback. Again, NordVPN appeared to garner the most support from online communities.

Security – Protocols & Encryption​

Security is one of the most important considerations you should make when choosing a VPN. After all, if a VPN can’t protect your data, why get it in the first place?

Both PIA and NordVPN are secure and can keep you safe when online.

But to what degree?

VPN Protocols

Private Internet Access offers a wide range of VPN protocols including:

NordVPN, on the other hand, offers only two protocols to choose from:

For its browser extensions, NordVPN uses TLS v1.2 protocol which strikes an excellent balance between security and speed.

As you can see, both VPNs support OpenVPN in their Windows and mobile apps. Basically, this is all what most users care about today.

OpenVPN is not only secure but also highly configurable.

It allows you to secure data on both the control channel and data channel, ensuring full confidentiality and integrity.

Why is that important?

Well, while the data channel secures your traffic, the control channel encryption secures the connection between your device and your VPN provider’s servers.

This eliminates vulnerabilities and guards against man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

Encryption Standards

In regards to data encryption, both NordVPN and PIA use AES-256-CBC, which is the gold standard in the VPN industry. But NordVPN does not stop there.

The provider also offers Double VPN, a security solution that encrypts your data not once, but twice.

Beyond the VPN protocols and encryption, NordVPN offers some pretty exciting security features, including Onion over VPN, an internet kill switch, and CyberSec, an ad and malware blocking tool.

NordVPN Lynx

If you’re a Linux user, then you should definitely checkout NordLynx.

It is a new privacy solution designed around the ultra-fast WireGuard protocol.

However, while fast, WireGuard is not good for privacy.

It lacks dynamic IPs and requires active logging of your connection timestamps.

That’s where NordLynx comes in.

This exciting NordVPN tool combines WireGuard with a dynamic NAT (Network Address Translation) system allowing you to enjoy the protocol’s speed benefits without compromising your online anonymity.

Security Winner: NordVPN

When it comes to security, NordVPN leaves no stone unturned. They offer best-in-class encryption and premium security features such as CyberSec and NordLynx.

Simultaneous Connections

When you go online, you could either be using your phone, tablet, computer, or even your smart TV. If you are not protecting every device, then you could still be susceptible to the same risks that made you get a VPN.

Luckily, most providers allow you to connect several devices simultaneously.

With a single subscription, you can cover all your devices as well as protect the devices of friends and family.

However, VPNs do not support the same number of simultaneous connections.

NordVPN allows you to connect up to 6 simultaneous connections with every subscription. As impressive that number is, it’s PIA that takes the win in this category. Private Internet Access supports an incredible 10 simultaneous connections, which is double the industry standard.

Simultaneous Connections Winner: PIA

With 10 simultaneous connections per subscription, PIA is the ultimate family VPN. The VPN allows you to protect all your devices and still be left with enough space to share.

Streaming – Netflix, iPlayer, & Amazon Prime

Streaming can break or make a VPN. Yes, security and speed are all important, but if you are interested in unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, and like, this should be the first category you look at.

So, is PIA the better option for streaming? Or does NordVPN take the honors?

When it comes to streaming services, Netflix is the toughest cookie to crack.

The popular service is notorious for actively blocking VPN IPs.

As such, only a few VPNs can access the service.

I tested PIA numerous times using different US servers, and every single time I got the following error message:

The VPN also failed to unblock BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

If you want to access US Netflix from outside the country, NordVPN is a great choice. The VPN works well with Netflix, and I was able to connect and stream US exclusive movies without any issues.

NordVPN also works with all the other major streaming services, including Hulu, iPlayer, and Amazon Prime.

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Streaming Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN comfortably edges out PIA thanks to its ability to unblock US Netflix and other regional Netflix versions. The VPN is also faster and thanks to their SmartDNS feature, you can enjoy faster connections for an even better streaming experience.


Both NordVPN and PIA are good options for torrenting.

They offer fast connections and do not restrict any traffic, and that includes P2P file sharing.

NordVPN offers better security and comes with P2P specialized servers.

PIA features port-forwarding, which is a decent answer to NordVPN’s specialty servers. Port forwarding is a handy feature that moves traffic more efficiently and quickly, enabling you to optimize your torrenting speeds.

Best for Torrenting: TIE

Both providers support and while NordVPN is faster, PIA’s port forwarding feature allows you to enjoy faster torrenting as well.

Countries & Servers

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access have decent connection speeds.
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Whether you are looking to optimize your speeds, access local servers, or unblock geo-blocked content, it helps to have a wider network of servers to choose from.

Both the number of servers and server locations are important.

A high number of servers give better odds of finding fast, less crowded servers.

A vast selection of server locations, on the other hand, allows you to access IPs and content in as many countries.

NordVPN provides access to 5500 plus servers in 59 countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and the Asia Pacific.

The service offers both Smart DNS servers and dedicated IPs, which makes it great for streaming.

Private Internet Access has a much smaller server network compared to NordVPN. They offer 3270 servers in 29 countries and support neither Smart DNS nor Dedicated IPs.

Which Provider Is Better for Australia?

Compared to PIA, NordVPN has a slightly higher number of servers and server locations in Australia. The provider offers 200+ servers and 5 locations, while PIA has 142 servers in 3 locations.

If you want to change your IP to Australia, either presents a good option.

However, if you live in Australia, NordVPN is slightly better, thanks to its wider server distribution.

The provider has servers in:

Which Provider Is Better for China?

China is one of the most censored countries in the world.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Wikipedia are all blocked.

The government also blocks almost all VPNs allowing only a few pre-approved providers.

PIA is one of the VPNs that are blocked in China. If you reside in or are travelling to the country, I would recommend getting NordVPN.

The provider’s Obfuscated Servers disguise your VPN traffic allowing you to bypass China’s Great Firewall.

Servers & Network Winner: NordVPN

If you want wider server coverage, then NordVPN is a great option. The VPN provides access to thousands of servers spread across the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and the Asia Pacific.

Multi-Platform Compatibility & Support

Both NordVPN and PIA can be installed in a wide range of platforms.

Private Internet Access offers apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Additionally, the VPN is compatible with routers.

pia supported platforms

Likewise, NordVPN has native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

But unlike PIA, they also provide apps for Android TV and Amazon Firestick.

nordvpn devices
Compatibility Winner: TIE

NordVPN offers better compatibility and is the clear winner. Of course, that’s unless Opera is your browser of choice, in which case I would recommend PIA.

Reliability & Customer Support

Both offer a wide range of support options, including live chat support.

However, while NordVPN’s live chat support is available to everyone, PIA restricts theirs to account holders.

Other than that, everything else is pretty much similar.

You can contact support via email, and both providers have a searchable Knowledge Base (Help Center) where you can find setup tutorials, FAQs, and other useful information.

Apart from the above support options, Private Internet Access also has a very active community forum, which I found to be quite helpful.

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Customer Support Winner: TIE

NordVPN and PIA have excellent customer support. Both offer searchable knowledge base sections and while NordVPN has a more accessible live chat, PIA’s email response time is faster.


Is NordVPN Better Than PIA?

NordVPN and PIA are two of the most popular choices on the market. However, between the two, NordVPN shows better results in most criteria, including speed, security, and privacy.

Is PIA a Good VPN?

PIA is a good VPN, but it’s no match to NordVPN. Still, one thing that it’s great about it is that it’s compatible with many devices, and offers up to 10 simultaneous connections. With this, PIA can be an excellent family VPN.

Can PIA Be Trusted?

PIA is US-based which can be a red flag for privacy-conscious users since the US is part of the Five Eyes alliance. However, PIA does not appear to store anything more than email addresses and payment data. In other words, it can be trusted.

Is NordVPN Safe?

NordVPN is one of the safest options on the VPN market. It offers top-notch security, and it respects the privacy of its users. NordVPN is leak-free, and it will keep your online identity private as long as you are connected to one of its servers.

Compare To Other Providers

Private Internet Access

And the Overall Winner Is...


While PIA has significantly upped its game, it doesn’t quite match its competitor.

NordVPN performs better in all the core categories, including speed, security, global server coverage, and streaming.

However, that doesn’t mean PIA is a terrible VPN.

I found their speeds to be decent, and connections were leak-free.

The VPN is also competitively priced and a good option if you are looking for a short term subscription.

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