IPVanish vs PIA (Private Internet Access): Which is Better?

The VPN industry has many competing brands. Among the most coveted of them is Private Internet Access (also known as PIA) and IPVanish. Both are based in the United States and therefore fall under Five Eyes jurisdiction. For that reason, they must follow restrictive laws concerning copyright and privacy.

In this guide, we’ll determine which service is better. Everything they offer in regards to features will be compared. To make things easier, I’ll divide things into categories and assign a winner for each round. So without further ado, let the IPVanish vs PIA battle begin!

Overall Winner: Private Internet Access

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Comparison

We’re going to start things off by getting an overview of all that each VPN has to offer. Below is a table that compares the two:

  logo ipvanish
IPVanish
logo pia vpn
Private Internet Access
Logging Policy No Logging No Logging
Jurisdiction United States (Five-Eyes Member) United States (Five-Eyes Member
Encryption AES-256 AES-256
AES-128
SHA-256 Hash Authentication
4096-bit RSA Key Exchange
Protocols OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/IKEv2
IPSec/L2TP
SSTP
PPTP
OpenVPN UDP
OpenVPN TCP
IPSec/L2TP
WireGuard
Ad and Malware Blockers Yes Yes
Kill Switch Yes Yes
Leak Tests No Leaks Found No Leaks Found
Speed Tests Slow Fast
Torrenting & P2P Yes (On all servers) Yes (On All Servers)
Streaming Netflix
Hulu
Firestick
Roku (Via Router)
Kodi
Apple TV (Via Router)
Android TV
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Hulu
Firestick
Kodi
Gaming Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via Router)
PS4 (Via Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via Router)
Windows
Android
iOS
Xbox One (Via Router)
PS4 (Via Router)
Nintendo Switch (Via Router)
Compatibility Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Linux
Chromebook
Tor
Selected Routers
Windows
macOS
Linux
Android
iOS
Chrome
Firefox
Opera
Selected Routers
Simultaneous Connections Unlimited 10
Servers 1400+ 3300+
China No Sometimes (1 Out of 3 Servers Worked)
Split Tunneling Yes (On Android Only) Yes
Additional Features Scramble Feature PIA MACE
Prices $9.99/Month ($3.49 for the 1st Month)
$31.49 (for the 1st Year then $89.99/Year)
$9.95/Month
$3.33/Month (1-Year)
$2.69/Month (2-Years)

Special Offer: 73% off and 2 months free for a 2-year subscription

Our Rating 4.0 4.3
Website www.ipvanish.com www.privateinternetaccess.com

As you can see, the services are very different. While they have similarities, many things set them apart. Hence, it’s essential to go into detail to see what’s the best VPN for you.

Overall Winner: Private Internet Access

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Privacy & Security

PIA and IPVanish are known for keeping their users safe. However, their being based in the US has been put under scrutiny. After all, the country is arguably the worst place to base a VPN operation.

In 2016, a data logs scandal forever tarnished IPVanish’s reputation. It gave up user information to the Department of Homeland Security to aid with a then-ongoing criminal investigation.

The same level of controversy has not affected PIA. Its record remains clean despite it being asked to give up information on several occasions.

Let’s now talk about the specific security measures of each service:

Encryption Comparison

Both VPNs utilize AES 256-bit military-grade encryption. PIA has an SHA-256 hash authentication and an RSA-4096 handshake. IPVanish hasn’t disclosed what authentication and handshake it uses. In that sense, its competitor is a step ahead of it.

VPN Protocols

PIA supports WireGuard and every other major protocol on all its servers. Sadly, the VPN does not support IKEv2 on its apps except for iOS.

Meanwhile, IPVanish has got support for mainstream protocols like OpenVPN (UCP/TCP), IPSec (IKEv2/L2TP), SSTP, and PPTP. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support WireGuard, which leaves it shorthanded.

Leak Protection

PIA and IPVanish claim to prevent leaks on all their servers. To see if they’re capable of providing complete protection, I decided to test them out. My program of choice was IPLeak.net.

Underneath is a screenshot of a test without any VPN in use:

ip leak test no vpn
IP Leak Test – No VPN

Now check out the results after I connected to IPVanish’s server in Los Angeles:

ip leak test ipvanish us
IP Leak Test – IPVanish US

As its name implies, the service really does make my IP address vanish. The VPN is one that you may depend on to remain anonymous.

Following my test with IPVanish, the next thing I did was see if PIA could compare. I connected to its New York server and ran the test again. Here’s the outcome:

ip leak test pia us
IP Leak Test – PIA US

Just as I expected, my results with PIA were also good. The service hides my IP address with no difficulty. Because of that, I’m now confident with using it to keep me safe online.

The two VPNs were both successful at their jobs. My IP address got masked and, therefore, my identity and location undisclosed. In this aspect, they’re equally good as each other.

Server Security

If anything, it’s safe to say that server security isn’t a forte of IPVanish and PIA. Neither of the two VPNs has any special measures when it comes to server security. They don’t run their servers in RAM-disk mode. As a result, they can keep your logs without you knowing about it.

In Conclusion

My winner for this category of our PIA vs IPVanish battle is PIA. I picked the service because it’s never given up information to the authorities. All that is despite it being under US and Five Eyes jurisdiction.

The same couldn’t be said for IPVanish, which has been the subject of much controversy. It chose to disclose information and, consequently, forsake its credibility.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Speed Test

User reports claim that both VPNs have unremarkable speed capabilities. I ran some tests to see for myself if that’s true. The first service I tried out was IPVanish. Before looking at the results, check out my base connection:

speed test no vpn
Speed Test – No VPN

Here’s how IPVanish’s server in Los Angeles affected my connection:

speed test ipvanish us
Speed Test – IPVanish US

I wasn’t that pleased with the outcome of my tests. While downloading wasn’t that affected, my ping and upload speed were brought down.

Following the disappointment of my initial test, I decided to see how PIA’s New York server would perform:

speed test pia us
Speed Test – PIA US

My results were better this time around. Although the ping took a hit, my upload and download speeds were hardly changed.

In this round of Private Internet Access vs IPvanish battle, my winner is PIA. The VPN is the faster one between the two. It didn’t render my internet unusable and can meet my needs as a user.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Torrenting & P2P

I’m a person that never has an empty torrent client. Due to that, I must have a VPN that keeps me safe whenever I download.

With both services claiming to be highly optimized for torrenting, I wanted to see how they would fare. Thus, I gave them a test to see if they’d keep me protected.

My first course of action was to run a test without being connected to any service:

torrenting no vpn
Torrenting Leak Test – No VPN

The next thing I did was connect to IPVanish’s LA server:

torrenting ipvanish us
Torrenting Leak Test – IPVanish US

After that, I linked up to the New York server of PIA:

torrenting pia us
Torrenting Leak Test – PIA US

Both of my tests yielded excellent results. IPVanish and PIA were able to hide my location as I was downloading.

Needless to say, there can only be one winner for this category. The victorious contender here is once again PIA. I chose it as it’s the faster VPN between the two, which means that I’ll finish torrenting faster using it.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Streaming

As a movie buff, I need a VPN that can bypass the geoblocks of many streaming services. It’s said that PIA and IPVanish are capable of doing so. However, the two have aren’t the best VPNs to have if you’re looking to stream lots of content.

They fail to consistently access titles on all major streaming platforms. Additionally, both affect internet speed so much that watching in full resolution will be next to impossible.

Netflix

Netflix is the world’s most popular streaming platform. Because of that, I wanted to see if the VPNs could bypass its geoblocks. The first service that I tested was PIA.

I connected to its server in New York and watched Spotlight:

netflix us pia
Netflix US – PIA

My next move was to see what IPVanish and its Los Angeles server could do:

netflix us ipvanish
Netflix US – IPVanish

Both services worked surprisingly well. I didn’t experience buffering and was able to watch at a decent resolution.

Although the two VPNs were able to access the content that I wanted to watch, my winner for this category is PIA once again. I picked it because it’s quicker and can access more content according to user reports.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Gaming

A lot of people use VPNs for gaming purposes. It’s a must for them to link to foreign servers or play anonymously. For these reasons, I tested to see whether PIA and IPVanish could support my Call of Duty Mobile needs.

My first game started with me connected to IPVanish’s server in Taipei. I was able to invite my Taiwanese friends over for a match, and we won. Unfortunately, our victory was not because of my skills. I dragged my team down; I wasn’t able to play properly due to lagging.

After an initial frustrating experience, I moved over to PIA’s Singapore server and played a random match. While there were still some issues with lagging, the game was playable. We were able to win, and I was satisfied.

I’d have to say that IPVanish isn’t suitable for gaming while PIA can be. The former gave me a bad experience while the latter let me play a somewhat decent game. With that said, I wouldn’t recommend either to gamers.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Compatibility

A significant factor in deciding what VPN to get is compatibility. In this category, both VPNs do a decent job. To get a better understanding of what each service works on, refer to the table under:

  IPVanish Private Internet Access
Windows Yes Yes
macOS Yes Yes
Linux Yes Yes
Chromebook No No
Android Yes Yes
iOS Yes Yes
Chrome No Yes
Firefox No Yes
Tor Yes Yes
Opera No Yes
Selected Routers Yes Yes

Between the two, it’s clear that PIA has the advantage. IPVanish doesn’t have any browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. On top of that, it lacks a Chromebook OS application. Hence, the winner in this round is obvious – PIA.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Simultaneous Connections

IPVanish lets users have an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. The service stands out in the industry because of this.

In comparison, PIA allows up to 10 simultaneous device connections, which by no means is unimpressive. Still, the winner of this round is IPVanish.

Winner: IPVanish

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Servers

PIA has a network of more than 3000 servers across the globe. It’s got the advantage versus its competitor that’s got a little over 1400. Because of that, my winner for this IPVanish vs Private Internet Access round is PIA.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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China

A requirement by most enthusiasts is for a service to be able to bypass the Great Firewall of China. That task isn’t easy since the Chinese government has done everything they can to prevent VPNs from working in the country.

Sadly, neither IPVanish nor PIA can bypass the great firewall. Although IPVanish has a “scramble” feature, reports have unanimously stated that it can’t get around the Chinese systems in place.

Winner: Tie

Interface & Usability

The apps of PIA and IPVanish are both user-friendly. However, my preference lies with PIA due to its simplicity. All that’s displayed is an inviting connect button with a drop-down list of servers underneath.

interface pia
PIA Interface

In comparison, IPVanish’s app takes on a maximalist approach. Upon opening, you’re instantly shown an array of unnecessary data, and the option to connect lies on the top right.

To select a server, you have to open the server tab on the sidebar. You’ve got the option to choose a server using a list or a world map.

interface ipvanish
IPVanish Interface

Every person has their own preferences, and mine lies with PIA. The sheer simplicity of its apps compared to that of IPVanish makes me want to use it more. As such, the winner of this category is PIA once more.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Additional Features

PIA has its own ad blocker called PIA MACE that comes free with every subscription. It gives the service an edge for those who access different websites and download all kinds of content. The feature adds another degree of protection on top of what the VPN already provides.

Meanwhile, IPVanish has got something called Scramble, which is its version of VPN obfuscation. The feature comes in handy if you’re in a place you don’t want the authorities to track that you’re using a VPN.

It’s safe to say that both services have got some handy unique features. That said, my winner in this round of Private Internet Access vs IPVanish is PIA yet again. I chose it because PIA MACE is something that someone would use daily as opposed to IPVanish’s Scramble.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Customer Support

PIA and IPVanish’s customer support networks are both decent. I’ve chatted with a few representatives from both VPNs, and my questions were quickly answered concisely and cordially. To help you see what each service offers in customer support, I’ve decided to make a simple table:

  IPVanish Private Internet Access
Live Chat Yes Yes
Email Support Yes Yes
Phone Support Yes No
Ticket Support Yes Yes
Video Tutorials No No
Online Knowledge Base Yes Yes
Average Response Time 20 minutes 39 Minutes

As you can see, IPVanish has got the lead in customer service because it has phone support, which most VPNs don’t have. Furthermore, its average response time is also faster than that of its competitor.

Winner: IPVanish

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Prices

Reports claim that PIA is one of the most affordable VPNs in today’s market. To see if IPVanish can compete, look at the table below:

  IPVanish Private Internet Access
Subscription Lengths 1 Month ($3.49 for the 1st Month then $9.99/Month) 1 Month ($9.95/Month)
  1 Year ($31.49 for the 1st Year then $89.99/Year) 1 Year ($3.33/Month)
    2 Years ($2.69/Month)
Highest Price Per Month $9.99 $9.95
Lowest Price Per Month $2.62 $2.69
One Year Price $31.49 and $89.99 $39.95
Money-Back Guarantee 7 Days 30 Days
Special Offer $3.49 for the 1st Month of a monthly subscription;
$31.49 for the 1st Year of an annual subscription
73% discount for a 2-year plan + 2 months free

The cheaper one between the two is PIA at just $9.95 a month. However, it wouldn’t be right not to mention that IPVAnish offers more flexibility. With that being said, my winner for this category is still PIA because it offers a bargain that’s just too good.

Winner: Private Internet Access

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Verdict

Is Private Internet Access Better Than IPVanish?

Yes. Private Internet Access is better than IPVanish. I say so because it’s got a clean record when it comes to security. In addition to that, the service is also faster and has more streaming capabilities. Hence, it’s much better for accessing media. Lastly, the VPN boasts better compatibility and is cheaper.

Overall Winner: Private Internet Access

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About the author 

Kris Soliongco

Kris has two passions in life: writing and tech. He’s been building computers since he was eight years old and is very knowledgeable about online security. The first time he was exposed to VPNs was in 2016. Since then, he’s used a plethora of services and has gained much experience.