> >

NordVPN Vs. Private Internet Access: How Are They Different?

Marc DahanNordVPN Vs. Private Internet Access: How Are They Different?

Are you looking to subscribe to a VPN service

It’s an important step towards enhancing your online privacy and security. But which VPN provider should you go with? 

With all the features on offer these days, it can be hard to see how one VPN provider compares to another.

In this post, we look at NordVPN vs. Private Internet Access, to see which provider comes out on top.

NordVPN vs Private Internet Access - Side By Side

[vpn vpn_1="NordVPN" vpn_2="PIA"]

Can't choose between NordVPN or Private Internet Access?

Both NordVPN and PIA are successful players in the VPN space. So they both provide all the staple features we expect from a VPN provider today. 

That is: committing to a robust no-logging policy, support strong, industry-standard encryption, and providing native client apps for all major operating systems. They also both provide an ad & tracker blocker with their service. 

This will probably be a close one, as the real differences may be subtle. And in the end, it may just come down to which provider is better suited to your online activities. 

Let’s start.

1. Speed

Providing fast encrypted connections is going to a top priority for any VPN provider. Privacy does not need to come at the price of a slow Internet connection. 

Let’s see how NordVPN and PIA fare on speed


Tested on a 60Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 65.77Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 22.89Mbps

NordVPN NY SpeedTests

Private Internet Access

Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 94.35Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 25.05Mbps

PIA Speed Tests

Private Internet Access vs. NordVPN - Speed

The most important metric, in my opinion, is how the VPN connection speed compares to the ISP speed, regardless of what that speed is. And they both do well on that front. 

NordVPN’s download speed even goes above my ISP speed. But this is very likely due to network volatility. Inversely, PIA does better on upload.

Winner: Tie

I deem this one too close to call. Both NordVPN and PIA perform extremely well on speed. 

At these speeds, the VPN overhead for both these connections would pretty much be unnoticeable.

2. User-Friendliness

VPNs have gone mainstream in recent years. And so user-friendliness has become important to VPN providers and VPN users alike.

NordVPN and Private Internet Access provide client applications to their users.

NordVPN App
NordVPN's native macOS app.
Private Internet Access' native macOS app.

NordVPN vs. Private Internet Access - User-Friendliness

They both provide, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions – with PIA also providing an Opera browser extension. 

NordVPN allows up to 6 simultaneous connections, while PIA allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. 

And they both, of course, provide unlimited bandwidth

I didn’t need to contact customer support for either provider – everything went smoothly. But as far as customer support goes, both providers provide e-mail support and live chat.

This will be a tough one…

Winner: Private Internet Access

Even though I have a preference for NordVPN’s application (which is easier to understand and to navigate than PIA’s, in my opinion), I’m giving the point to Private Internet Access because they offer more on all other fronts.

3. Streaming

Streaming over a VPN can allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and avoid ISP throttling issues. So it’s quickly becoming a staple feature in the VPN space. 

And with certain streaming services, like Netflix, blocking VPN access to their service, bypassing the Netflix VPN ban is also becoming important. 

But not all VPN providers are able to do this.

Now, both NordVPN and PIA are streaming-friendly and can enable you to bypass geo-restrictions enforced by streaming services. However, only NordVPN is able to bypass the Netflix VPN ban. PIA cannot.

Netflix US
Streaming Netflix over NordVPN's netwrok.

NordVPN provides clear instructions on how to bypass the VPN ban and even provide backup instructions if the first method fails. Good stuff.

For more information on streaming support from these two providers, check out our Does NordVPN Work With Netflix? and Does Private Internet Access Work With Netflix? articles.

Winner: NordVPN

This was an obvious one. NordVPN gets the point for streaming.

4. Security and Encryption

Both providers support AES-256, which is the industry standard. AES-256 is considered to be a robust cipher with no known vulnerabilities.

As far as VPN protocols go, NordVPN supports IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard (called NordLynx). 

Private Internet Access supports IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP.

The first three protocols are very secure. The last two (L2TP/IPSec and PPTP) are not.

We prefer it when a VPN provider only supports strong and secure protocols. This prevents new users from shooting themselves in the foot with bad security.

To PIA’s credit, however, you need to manually configure L2TP/IPSec or PPTP on a supported device in order to use these protocols, so the risk is minimal. 

PIA also supports selecting your encryption level, which is nice to have for more advanced users.

Winner: NordVPN

We’re giving this one to NordVPN. Weak and obsolete protocols should be phased out and users should be encouraged to only use robust, secure protocols. 

We prefer NordVPN’s approach to encryption and protocol, even if PIA provides more flexibility.

5. Logs and Privacy

Both providers commit to a strong no-logging policy. Let’s how this is communicated in their privacy policies?

Here’s an excerpt of NordVPN’s privacy policy:

“NordVPN guarantees a strict no-logs policy for NordVPN services, meaning that your activities using NordVPN Services are provided by automated technical process, are not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or passed to any third party. We do not store connection time stamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or other data. From the moment a NordVPN.com user turns on the NordVPN.com software, their Internet data becomes encrypted. Any online traffic coming from user’s device is no longer visible to ISP, third-party snoopers or cyber criminals. Further, NordVPN have a strict no logs policy when it comes to seeing user activity online: NordVPN is based in Panama, which does not require data storage.” 

And here’s an excerpt from Private Internet Access’ privacy policy:

"USES OF PERSONAL INFORMATION COLLECTED BY US E-mail address is used to send subscription information, payment confirmations, customer correspondence, and Private Internet Access promotional offers only, Payment data is used to manage client signups, payments, and cancellations, Google analytics data is used to improve our website and delivery of our content, Compliance with valid legal process, Contact submissions and e-mails will be used for correspondence, and Temporary cookies are used to handle control panel logins. The data controller does not collect or log any traffic or use of its Virtual Private Network ("VPN") or Proxy.” 

Winner: NordVPN

So with NordVPN’s policy, right off the bat, we’re given details on their no-logging policy and can quickly understand what they mean by no-logging. No confusion here. 

With PIA’s policy, without the last sentence, it would just look like a boilerplate privacy policy for a random website. The “data controller” is PIA, by the way… 

While PIA has a proven no-logging track record, they could do a better job at communicating this, in my opinion.

6. Pricing

Let’s focus our attention on pricing now. 

I’ve listed the different packages, prices and accepted payment methods for NordVPN and Private Internet Access:


Get NordVPN for 70% off
NordVPN Prices
NordVPN's subscription plans.


  • 11.95 USD for one month of service
  • 83.88 USD for one year of service (works out to 6.99 USD per month)
  • 119.76 USD for two years of service (works out to 4.99 USD per month)
  • 125.64 USD for three years of service (works out to 3.49 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit Card
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Amazon Pay
  • Union Pay
  • Cryptocurrencies

Private Internet Access

Get Private Internet Access (save 73%)
PIA Plans
Private Internet Access' subscription plans.


  • 9.95 USD for one month of service
  • 35.95 USD for six months of service (works out to 5.99 USD per month)
  • 39.95 USD for one year of service (works out to 2.85 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit Card
  • PayPal
  • Amazon Pay
  • CryptoCurrencies
  • Zcash
  • BEAM
  • bitpay
  • mint
  • Interac

And both providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Winner: Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is less expensive than NordVPN, regardless of which subscription plan you choose. They also support more payment methods than NordVPN. PIA takes this one.

7. Torrenting

NordVPN supports torrenting by providing a large number of dedicated P2P servers. You can find them on the Servers page of their website, and under the P2P header, in their apps.

Private Internet Access on the other hand hardly even mention torrenting on their website. But they are torrent-friendly. Just connect to the PIA network and launch your torrent client. That’s all there is to it.

I tested both networks for torrenting and they both work just fine.

Torrenting over PIA
Torrenting over Private Internet Access' network.

Winner: Private Internet Access

The simplicity of simply connecting and torrenting give PIA the edge on torrenting. We like PIA’s connect & forget approach.

8. Other Features

Let’s look at other aspects that differentiate these two providers.

  • NordVPN provides Tor over VPN servers
  • NordVPN was hacked in 2018
  • PIA supports different ciphers/encryption levels
  • PIA has proven their commitment to their no-logging policy

NordVPN vs. Private Internet Access - Other Features

Normally, I like to list two standout features below. 

However, in this case, both providers offer many of the same features under different names. So there will only be one standout feature here, by necessity. 

I could have made a point out of NordVPN’s warrant canary vs PIA’s transparency report. But I feel this pretty much becomes minutiae at this stage. 

These are two solid VPN providers. And the results will attest to that: this will be another close one.

Standout Features


  • Onion Over VPN: Routing your traffic over a VPN and Tor is a boon for security and privacy online. NordVPN’s support for Onion Over VPN can be particularly beneficial to dissidents and journalists. Onion over VPN servers automatically routes all of your device’s traffic over the Tor network, after the VPN. This gives you a robust 2nd layer of protection to your connection. Remember, however, that Tor will most likely dramatically reduce your connection speed.

Private Internet Access

  • Proven Privacy Record: In 2016, the FBI handed PIA a subpoena requesting them to identify one of their users, who was a suspect in a case the FBI was investigating. PIA responded to the subpoena by stating that they had nothing to share because of the fact that they do not log any customer data. And so, despite being a U.S.-based VPN provider, PIA shared nothing with the FBI. You can find more information about this case here.

Winner: Private Internet Access

So this one is a bit strange. Tor Over VPN is not really a make or break feature. And a failed FBI subpoena is not really a feature. But these two elements were the most distinguishing aspects between the two services, after our rundown. 

Still, if forced to choose, I'll go with the proven no-logging policy in the face of the FBI, over Tor over VPN. PIA takes it but doesn't interpret the result as being bad for NordVPN. Both of these providers are very good.

Conclusion: NordVPN vs Private Internet Access

OK, so who wins? 

We had eight categories:

We award one point to the winner in each category. And both providers get a point in the event of a tie.

So the breakdown looks like this:

  • Speed – (Tie)
  • User-friendliness – (PIA)
  • Streaming – (NordVPN)
  • Security & Encryption – (NordVPN)
  • Logs and Privacy –  (NordVPN)
  • Pricing – (PIA)
  • Torrenting – (PIA)
  • Features – (PIA)

So that’s 4 points for NordVPN and 5 points for Private Internet Access. 

Yep, it’s close. And it makes sense that it’s so close. 

Also, bear in mind that on another day, NordVPN could well have won

I feel it’s essentially the “Torrenting” category that put PIA on top, simply because of their connect and forget approach

But this is no reason to NOT recommend NordVPN. They’re a very good VPN provider, as our review will attest to.


Go With NordVPN if:

  • You want a VPN provider located outside of the 14 Eyes
  • You want to use Tor with your VPN
  • You want to use a VPN with Netflix
Visit NordVPN (save 70%)

Private Internet Access

Go With Private Internet Access if:

  • You want to save a few bucks while still getting a high-quality VPN service
  • You want an easy way to block ads & trackers
  • You don’t need to use a VPN with Netflix
Visit Private Internet Access (save 73%)

For more information on NordVPN and Private Internet Access, check out our NordVPN review and our Private Internet Access review.

Further Reading

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram