IPVanish vs PIA

PIA and IPVanish are affordable, offer fast speeds, and provide secure VPN service. But what are the differences between them? And which one is better?

To help answer this question, let’s use the following guide to drill down on PIA and IPVanish and determine which one comes out on top.

IPVanish vs PIA comparison

ipvanishprivateinternetaccess
JurisdictionUSAUSA
3rd party auditNoNo
RAM-only serversNoNo
Native appsWindows
Mac
Android
iOS
Linux
Firestick
Routers
Windows
MacOS
Android
iOS
Linux
ConnectionsUnlimited10
Browser extensionsChromeChrome
Firefox
Opera
Advanced featuresKill Switch
250GB of secure
cloud storage
Kill Switch
Ad Blocker
Servers network1500 servers in 
75 countries
Over 12000 servers in
75 countries
Streaming and P2PYesYes
Free trialNoNo
Price$34.99 first year
$143.88 /year after
$3.33 /mo 1-year plan
$39.95 billed
30 day money-back
guarantee
invpn.com rating3.9 / 5.04.0 / 5.0
Full reviewIPVanish ReviewPIA Review
Get IPVanishGet PIA

On November 18, 2019, Private Internet Access (PIA) was acquired by Kape Technologies, the parent company of ZenMate and CyberGhost. The new ownership made changes and expanded PIA’s network from about 3300 servers in 30 countries to the current number in its NextGen VPN Network, a whopping 12,782 servers located in 75 countries. Despite this network expansion, PIA remains one of the lower-cost VPN providers.

IPVanish is located in the US state of California and is well-known for owning most of its POPs. That means it has almost full control of its rack and stack, or datacenter and hardware. Some users prefer IPVanish because they manage and own their servers, which might give them a leg up on PIA as far as security. In 2019, IPVanish was one of many VPN services acquired by J2 Global with the NetProtect business.

It might be of interest to note that neither company is without controversy. In 2016, IPVanish first became embroiled in a logging scandal. IPVanish executives are quick to point out that they have since come under new management, however, through the J2 acquisition.

Jurisdiction and Transparency

Because both of these VPN providers operate in countries with data retention laws, neither can 100% guarantee online privacy for every user. Even so, they’re both more than enough for the average user. Both IPVanish and PIA have proven no-log policies.

VPN services often ask for personal information from subscribers, but how they store and use it is important.

Personal Information Collected by PIA

  • Email address for managing your account
  • Payment data for processing payments through their third party processors. Their website states that they do not save the details of credit card transactions
  • Cookies that identify a location, such as ZIP code or state and territory information that is requested on the customer service Contact Us page
  • Email address if you contact them by email

Personal Information Collected by IPVanish

  • Email address for billing purposes
  • Method of payment
  • Name, address, and billing ZIP code if paying by credit card. Their website states that they only use this information to process payment, and users can modify personal details at any time through the Account Control Panel
  • Cookies to collect general information about usage on the site for analytics, plus cookies to help with users’ basic functions like saving account details on a browser. The website states that these cookies are not connected to their services and cannot be traced to any individual’s service activity

Transparency

PIA and IPVanish do not employ third-party auditors, so there are no online reports available. Despite the lack of third-party checks, both companies say they do regular internal audits, although the results are not public.

PIA: Privacy Practices

PIA’s privacy policy is transparent and published on their site. Personal data associated with any activity by the user inside the VPN will not be logged or stored. This lack of information has occasionally created difficulties when users are trying to contact customer service, but the policy in place provides additional privacy protection.

PIA collects non-personal data, but it’s not linked to users’ stored details. Anonymized data for Google Analytics, information on the system being used, and geo-tracking or internationalization are used to adapt the software to various languages.

The PIA site states that they comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires them to publish a particular language that educates users about their privacy policy. It is easy to understand. We liked the fact that users can make inquiries about the use of their personal data. We were also happy with being provided with a contact person and even a physical mailing address for that purpose.

IPVanish: Privacy Practices

IPVanish also states on its privacy page that CalOPPPA protects users. And while IPVanish does not collect usage data, it does require users to create an account and register. We couldn’t find information about how long the company retains the data, though, so whether or not they keep your account information and for how long remains a mystery.

Like PIA, IPVanish uses Google Analytics and cookies but says the focus of the data collection effort is solely for fraud prevention and improving the site performance. You can browse the site without giving them any of your personal data. You can opt-out of cookies, but some of the site features do rely on cookies to function correctly.

IPVanish is very transparent about the third-party providers they use for fraud detection, payment processing, and information about app crashes. The companies are clearly listed on the Privacy Policy page of their website. 

IPVanish has agreements that they are not allowed to disclose or use your information for marketing purposes. For questions about your privacy protection or anything else, IPVanish provides an email address for communication.

Native Apps

Private Internet Access offers native apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. Router support is provided as well, and browser extensions for the Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera platforms are available.

IPVanish native apps include Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and router support. Amazon fans like that IPVanish works with Amazon Fire TV Fire Stick. Technically, IPVanish does not have any browser extensions except on Chrome, where users can configure certificate management settings to connect to OpenVPN.

Simultaneous Connections

If you are a business owner, have a large family that is always online, or if you have multiple devices and users that need to be protected by a VPN, you might prefer IPVanish because they offer unlimited simultaneous connections. Vanish allows as many connections from any number of devices that you need per account as long as the VPN is available in that area.

PIA is no slouch in this department either and offers ten connections from a single subscription. PIA allows users to install the VPN service on as many devices as needed but at any given time, 10 is the maximum number that can be simultaneously connected. For heavy users that need more than ten simultaneous connections, PIA suggests using a router. The router is counted as one connection, but multiple devices can be run through it, increasing the number of actual devices that can be connected to Private Internet Access at the same time.

Advanced VPN Features

For some users, the availability of advanced features makes all the difference when selecting a VPN provider.

Kill Switch

As a rule, most VPN users are first and foremost concerned about privacy. That is what makes the kill switch so important. A VPN kill switch is a special feature that automatically disconnects your device if the internet connection goes down. The quick disconnection ensures that your IP address or other secure information does not get accidentally exposed if your online connection is compromised.

Private Internet Access is among a handful of VPN providers that offer a system-level kill switch. The heightened security a system-level kill switch provides is one of the reasons for PIA’s popularity. When enabled, a system-level kill switch blocks the online connection, not only to specific applications, but also to the entire device. It will not turn back on until the connection to the VPN is restored or there is a network adapter reset. 

Enabling the feature on PIA is simple and requires checking a box. System-level kill switches are incredibly effective in preventing IP leaks.

In contrast, IPVanish has an application-level kill switch. In this case, the VPN allows the user to choose the applications that should be shut down when the kill switch is activated. You can select any program to be shut down in the event of an internet failure, including browsers, email applications, bit torrents, Vuze, Utorrent, and applications like Skype. 

Enabling the application-level kill switch is easy and requires the user to check off boxes to select the desired applications.

256-Bit AES Encryption

In addition to the kill switch, PIA and IPVanish both have military-grade AES-256 encryption. IPVanish encryption is through OpenVPN, while PIA allows users to do their own configuration and choose the desired encryption level, which is a highly sought-after feature for some. 

PIA can be run through OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2 protocols. PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS5 is for systems incompatible with OpenVPN and is used for masking the IP address and geo-tracking.

IPv6 and DNS leak blocking are features of both IPVanish and Private Internet Access. However, PIA gets bonus points for its MACE ad blocker and malware blockers.

Check the bonus box for IPVanish for offering 250 GB of secure cloud storage and NAT firewall with each subscription, which adds storage capacity and an extra layer of security.

Streaming

Most households subscribe to multiple streaming services, arguably more than they need. But being unable to stream can be frustrating, so it’s worth a look to see how PIA and IPVanish compare.

Streaming content varies depending on what country you are in. Geo-blocking blocks certain content in defined areas.

Neither PIA nor IPVanish claims to offer continued access consistently over time to any of the streaming services. Even so, depending on the country and which VPN you are using, you can stream some content successfully.

PIA allows torrenting and streaming across all of its servers, and it is pretty much treated the same way all other traffic is. PIA has a secondary server that routes torrent traffic. PIA will, in most cases, successfully unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer, as examples.

In comparison, IPVanish has servers in the United States, so it is usually unable to unblock international streaming services, such as BBC, because of geo-blocking. Netflix can be tricky because its catalog of shows and movies are available to you depending on where you live, and some of its content is not available to certain countries at all.

Interestingly, in the not-so-recent past, IPVanish has not been able to bypass the Netflix blocks. But savvy users have discovered that if you’re connected to IPVanish via servers in Las Vegas, Chicago, or Dallas, Netflix USA streams successfully most of the time. 

Subscribers will want to contact customer service and verify that the servers in these specific cities are still operational before signing up for IPVanish. Still, there is now, thankfully, a work-around to watch Netflix on IPVanish.

P2P File Sharing

P2P is a controversial and yet very popular activity.

In fact, P2P has become so popular that internet service providers into blocking peer-to-peer sharing on their networks. The only way to get through the ISP block is through a VPN. PIA and IPVanish both support P2P sharing.

Free Trial and Pricing

Occasionally you might find a special deal, but neither PIA nor IPVanish offer a free trial per se.

Pricing is reasonable for both services, however. On the pricing front, PIA wins hands down if you are paying yearly. The lump-sum payment for an entire year is $39.99, which is only slightly more than their 6-month subscription price of $35.

IPVanish is slightly cheaper for a 6-month subscription at $26, but if you are signing up for the whole year and pay all at once, IPVanish will cost you a good bit more at $77.99 a year.

If you are going to pay monthly, both IPVanish and PIA charge about $10 per month; PIA coming in at $9.95/month and IPVanish coming in at $10/month. Both companies offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Who is the Winner on Reddit

Reddit is a no-holds-barred online forum, so we decided to go there for a truly unbiased review of PIA vs IPVanish VPN. We found the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One PIA reviewer is a fan of playing video games and attributed his high rating to superior speeds. He was skeptical at first but said he did not experience connection problems or any glitches whatsoever.

Reddit reviews of IPVanish were mixed. Another user said speeds were not impressive and claimed he had a problem with dropouts that apparently occurred every couple of days.

When we dug deeper, we found the thread for Reddit Favorites that ranks all VPNs, which means we can make a direct comparison between our experience with others.

PIA is a star and is in the top 3 VPNs based on almost 10,000 comments. IPVanish fared well too and came in at number 17 based on a little over 1,800 comments.

PIA vs. IPVanish: Summary

Both VPNs are giving the larger providers serious competition, but the consensus gives PIA a higher score. Some Redditors have a problem with PIA CTO Mark Karpeles and his scandal in Japan. Despite this, users seem to be undeterred by the controversy. 

Major complaints about IPVanish include streaming problems and repeated complaints about speed. Despite some negative comments, both VPNs are beloved for their affordability and performance when compared to more expensive providers.

Tim Robinson

Tim Robinson

I research, write, and publish about VPN and other privacy tools.

My first VPN setup was over ten years ago, and since then, it is an essential part of my internet experience. I surf the internet, stream, and work with a VPN.