ExpressVPN vs PIA (Private Internet Access)

by opijayasinghe


Choosing the correct VPN isn’t always easy. This article aims to compare two of the most popular VPN services available so you can make an informed decision that will be beneficial for your situation. Below is my honest comparison – ExpressVPN vs PIA.


What is a VPN

Virtual Private Network, which is more popular with its acronym VPN refers to a network technology, which helps in creating a secured network connection on any public network like the Internet. Though this technology offers a wide range of advantages to the users, it used to be used largely by the educational institutions, large corporations and government agencies for making a secured connection. However, it’s becoming more and more popular in the consumer or retail market as data privacy and anonymity becomes a prevalent issue. With this technology, even remote users of an organization can work in a private network. Depending on your choice, you can either go for the free ones or the paid ones. In this article, we’ll dive deeper as to why you should never use a free or a public VPN.

ExpressVPN vs PIA (Private Internet Access)

This comparison straight forward and easy to understand, the below chart can be used as a quick aid.

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Should I just get a Free VPN?

Simple asnwer is, NO! Anyone, who is new to VPN services can be tempted to start by taking the free VPN options available in the market. The only advantage in doing this is that you’ll become familiar with what a VPN actually does but other than that, it’s not worth the risk.

  1. Free VPN equal malware– malware is software which is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain authorized access to a computer system and it can come into your network via a Free VPN.
  2. Free VPN tracking – unsolicited tracking of everything you do on the internet. A CSIRO study concluded that 75% of all free VPNs has tracking enabled. This basically does the complete opposite to what you were trying to achieve.
  3. Third party access to your data means collecting your data which is used and sold by many third party companies which will profile you and in term target you for consumer offers.
  4. Stolen bandwidth means slower speeds for you. This can also be very profitable for free VPN companies to do which is to sell your bandwidth to third party companies. There have been instances where they use your
  5. Browser takeover or hijacking as the name suggests is taking control over some aspects of your browser functionality such as redirecting you to partnering third-party websites. Don’t even think about doing Internet Banking of payment related activities when you’re on a free VPN.
  6. Free VPNs leak your IP and other details, unlike the paid services. The key mandate of providing anonymity is clearly not upheld with a Free VPN.

With all the points mentioned above, the risk of Fraud and identity theft also increases. Therefore, please do yourself a favour and pay a small fee which is the cost of your anonymity and in turn retain your sanity knowing that no one is looking over your shoulder.

Did someone say Netflix? Yeah Baby!

With an ExpressVPN service, you will also be able to access American Netflix from any place in the world. This is one of the key bonuses which comes with ExpressVPN. If you already live in the US, you might be thinking that this doesn’t add any value to you. However, you wouldn’t believe the number of people who desperately wanted to watch their favourite show while they’re travelling aboard, only to find out they are restricted to the Netflix version of the local country. With ExpressVPN installed on your laptop or phone, you’re never restricted no matter where you are… (yes, that sentence does sound like a cheesy commercial – I apologize).

US Netflix with ExpressVPN

Source – 

Use the Trial Period to your advantage

Remember, some VPN companies will give you a risk-free trial period. I recommend you literally try before you buy. Sign up, install it and test and speeds and functionality. If you’re not happy with the speeds and you like the company, contact their support and attempt to troubleshoot the issue. However, if the problem persists please request a refund and try a different VPN company.

This must be done within the first 30 days, but I recommend doing the testing within the first week.

  1. Goto Google and search for “speedcheck” and obtain a baseline of your current internet speed.Write down both the download and upload speed. You may need to do this over several days and different time duringthe day. Generally speaking, during the evening most people in your street and neighbourhood are online, browsing, downloading and streaming. This may impact your speeds as well so it’s important to test your speeds say at 8am and 8pm.
  2. Sign up for a company which you’ve determined to be best fit for you.
  3. Connect to the nearest server and check the speeds. Again, write down the speeds over several days both evening and at night.
  4. You should notice a slight drop in speeds when you’re connected via VPN. I personally wouldn’t tolerate a speed drop of more than 20%.

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Conclusion and my recommendation

ExpressVPN vs PIA – both have its Pros and Cons.

Pro for PIA is its pricing. Super cheap pricing, especially if you go for the 2-year plan. If you’re on a budget and you see the importance of getting a VPN, there’s no question – PIA is the winner.

Con for PIA is that every mother and their dog uses this and it’s basically the no-frills version of VPNs.

Pros for ExpressVPN are its slick application, high speeds and a solid reputation. As I mentioned earlier, there is the added bonus of accessing Netflix from outside the US if you need it.

Con for ExpressVPN would be its pricing. Plain and simple.

Knowing what I know now and having used both services, I would (and still do) use ExpressVPN over PIA. I’d rather pay a bit more for the reliability and robust desktop and mobile application. If you’re strapped for cash, then going with PIA is the best option. It’s certainly far better than nothing at all or god forbid – free VPN! Don’t do it (say it like Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Remember that this is an ExpressVPN vs PIA comparison. There are might be other VPN provides which may meet your requirements altogether. The key take away from this article should be to test a company and all it’s functionality during the trial period.

Stay Safe Online. All the best.

– Opi

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