ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access [Test Results 2020]
As people become increasingly aware of threats to their online security and the importance of keeping their data protected, we’re seeing higher and higher levels of VPN usage all across the world. There are plenty of VPNs to choose from, with ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access being consistently ranked among the industry leaders.
Both of these two VPN providers rank highly in terms of speeds, features, security, and general functionality, so how are you supposed to choose between them? Well, the truth is that it can be quite a challenge to opt for one or the other, as they both perform really well in a lot of tests and can boast of similar feature-sets.
However, when we look a little closer at ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, we can certainly start to see a few unique selling points for each brand and some key differences that help to set them apart from one another. This in-depth comparison will put ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access against one another in key categories, helping you discover which one is best for you.
Read on through our comparison to see how each side fares.
ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access – Full VPN comparison
Top Selling Points – Let’s get to know them
To start off our close look at ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, we’re going, to begin with a brief overview of each company, as well as looking at some of the major selling points that set them apart. Both of these brands have become big names in the VPN scene, and each of them has something special to offer.
Let’s begin with Private Internet Access. This VPN provider offers over 11,000 servers in more than 90 different locations across the globe. It’s a massive network, one of the biggest in the industry, helping to offer great speeds. It also has a lot of US servers and is based in the US too. It works across all the big platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and comes with browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.
ExpressVPN, meanwhile, is marketed as the fastest and most secure VPN in existence right now, and it does a good job of living up to those lofty titles. It has a huge server network, with thousands of servers dotted around more than 160 unique locations, and it also offers excellent security and privacy perspectives for users, being based out of the British Virgin Islands, a prime hub for online privacy.
Many people hesitate about getting a VPN, as they worry that it might affect their download or upload speeds in a negative way, slowing down their internet activities and making certain streaming platforms or services inaccessible. However, as long as you choose a quality VPN, like ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access, you won’t have to worry.
Both of these VPNs have proven to be more than capable of providing impressive speeds. In our tests, we saw no real difference to download or upload speeds when using ExpressVPN, and only the slightest decrease in upload speeds when using Private Internet Access, which had no tangible effect on browsing or streaming performance.
In terms of average speeds when connecting to various servers across each network, ExpressVPN was the clear winner. It was able to offer average speeds in excess of 100 Mbps. Private Internet Access, meanwhile, was able to provide speeds of around 50-60 Mbps on average across a range of its servers around the world. These speeds are still perfectly sufficient for all online tasks, but ExpressVPN is the clear winner.
One aspect that many people take into consideration before choosing a VPN is the price, as a lot of people have a set budget in mind when it comes to virtual private networks and doesn’t want to pay too much for this kind of service if they can get it cheaper elsewhere. So how do Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN compare in this regard? Which one is cheaper?
Well, both Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN have similar subscription options, with both of these providers offering three different possible subscription plans for users to choose between. ExpressVPN lets you choose between a monthly, six-month, or yearly plan, while Private Internet Access lets you opt for a monthly, yearly, or two-year plan.
As with most other VPN providers, both Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN offer discounts to users who sign up for the longer plans, and there are also some great deals offered throughout the year to new subscribers too. When we compare the prices, however, we can see some serious differences.
ExpressVPN’s monthly plan is almost twice as expensive as Private Internet Access’s monthly plan, and the longer plans also tend to be way cheaper per month with Private Internet Access too. So if you want to save some cash, PIA is the right choice. Both companies offer 30-day refunds too and a range of payment methods, but PIA gives you even more anonymous cryptocurrency choices.
Most VPNs do basically the same things: they hide your IP address, mask your location, encrypt your connection, and help you stay safe and secure online. However, they can differ in terms of unique features, with some providers offering way more extra features than others. How do PIA and ExpressVPN compare in this respect?
Well, we have to say that ExpressVPN is the big winner here. It comes with a huge range of features for both beginner and intermediate users too, including a kill switch to protect your data if the connection gets interrupted, split tunneling for advanced control, manual installs on a range of different devices, and wider compatibility with various platforms and devices too.
Private Internet Access isn’t able to offer such a wide range of features. It works well across several platforms, like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, and can also be manually installed on set-top boxes and routers too. It doesn’t, however, offer split tunneling, but it does come with a kill switch and some ad-blocking.
Overall, when we look at the feature lists for Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN side by side, the latter definitely has more settings, options, and advanced controls, while the former covers the basics but doesn’t offer too much else. Most users will be perfectly happy with the range of features on offer with both providers, but advanced users may prefer the enhanced functionality of ExpressVPN.
What about if you want to use your VPN to access streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ in order to watch your favorite films and shows from around the world, without any issues? Well, both Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN can help out in this regard, but one of them performs way better than the other when it comes to getting around streaming service geo-restrictions.
Our tests showed that ExpressVPN was consistently able to by-pass geo-blocks for all of the major streaming services. This includes Netflix in many different countries, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Go, and BBC iPlayer too. It’s one of the very best VPNs you can hope to use for streaming purposes.
Private Internet Access, meanwhile, had some issues in our tests getting access to many streaming services at all. It struggled to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, or BBC iPlayer, but it was able to get a consistent connection to some other services, like Hulu and HBO Go.
Overall, when it comes to streaming, it’s clear to see that Private Internet Access isn’t quite able to compete with ExpressVPN. It just can’t offer as much unrestricted access to these platforms.
Security and Encryption
Of course, one of the primary reasons why people get a VPN in the first place is because they’re worried about online security and don’t want to run the risks of putting their personal information out there for hackers to exploit. So how do ExpressVPN and PIA compare when it comes to key security features?
Well, let’s begin with Private Internet Access. It mostly uses 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest level of encryption available on commercial VPNs right now, so it will be very difficult for anyone to break into your connections or access your data on public networks. It also uses high-grade RSAs for very impressive overall security. It offers the PPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols too, as well as a kill switch and leak protection.
ExpressVPN also makes use of 256-bit data encryption in order to fully secure every single connection. It offers high-grade RSA protection too as an extra layer of security, advanced leak, and DNS protection, and several leading protocols to choose from, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. Thanks to this, ExpressVPN can firmly be classed among the safest VPNs around.
When it comes to comparing these two options, there’s not a lot to tell them apart. Both offer similar protocol options and encryption standards, and both come with kill switches and strong leak protection too. ExpressVPN, however, has a few more advanced features like split tunneling which will appeal to advanced users wanting greater control over their security.
Along with security, many users try to find a VPN that is able to provide them with unparalleled privacy protection too. Many people don’t feel safe online, worrying that their internet service providers, hackers, or government agencies could be spying on their activities. So if you want to keep your protections hidden and secret, which provider should you choose?
Well, one thing to note is where these two services are based. ExpressVPN is based out of the British Virgin Islands, which isn’t part of any surveillance networks like Five Eyes and has very free, relaxed laws when it comes to data retention, so you can rest assured that your information won’t be used against you. ExpressVPN also has a no-logs policy, so won’t store or use your details in any way.
Private Internet Access, meanwhile, is based in the USA, which is part of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance and has agreed to share surveillance data with other countries and agencies. However, Private Internet Access has a very strict, proven no logs policy, so even though it’s based in the US, you don’t need to worry about your data being collected, shared, or used in any way.
Thanks to this, Private Internet Access is able to match ExpressVPN when it comes to privacy. In fact, both of these VPNs are among the very best in the business when it comes to protecting the identity of their users, so you really can’t go wrong, no matter which one you choose.
Many people like the idea of being able to share their VPN privileges with their friends or families. It often makes sense, for example, for one person in a household to sign up for a VPN and then share the benefits with the other members of the house. This can be limited, however, by the number of simultaneous connections you’re allowed to have at any one time.
Some VPN providers can be quite generous with their simultaneous connections, while others can be less kind. When it comes to ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, there is a clear winner in this category- PIA. While ExpressVPN let you have up to five (5) devices connected to the VPN network at any one time, Private Internet Access will let you connect up to – ten (10) Devices!!
This means that mom, dad, and the kids can all be using the VPN together without any issues on both Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN.
There may come a time when you need to get in touch with the customer service department of your chosen VPN provider. Maybe you’ll have an issue while setting up your VPN on a new device, for example, or you might have a question about paying for your subscription or requesting help with an advanced feature. How do these companies cope with customer demands?
Well, ExpressVPN is one of the best brands around when it comes to customer support. You’ll find a 24/7 live chat system on the company’s site, so you can chat to friendly, professional customer care agents at any time and get answers to your questions in a matter of minutes. For less urgent demands, there’s also a ticket system, with responses usually provided within an hour. ExpressVPN also has an exhaustive Help Center and countless tutorials to guide you through its usage.
Unfortunately, Private Internet Access isn’t quite able to match ExpressVPN in this regard. It does offer a live chat system, but responses can sometimes be a little slow to arrive and it may take some time to get the help you need. What’s more, the email support system is much slower too, with average response times far longer than those of ExpressVPN. There is an FAQ and Help Center section on the site, which is useful, but not quite as detailed as ExpressVPN’s.
ExpressVPN vs Private Internet Access – Which One’s Better?
When it really comes down to it, both ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access are two of the finest VPN providers in the industry right now. They’re leading the way and setting great examples for other companies to follow, and it’s great to see how well they both perform in key areas like speed, privacy, and security.
However, when we look closer at all of the different categories listed above, it’s clear that ExpressVPN is the real winner. It more than matches PIA in fields like speed and security and vastly outperforms it when it comes to things like streaming services and customer support.
Still, PIA is a great choice and is the cheaper option too, so if you want to save money and don’t mind the fact that it won’t be as useful when it comes to streaming, it’s certainly not a bad option to choose.