Today we are going to be taking a look at three of the most popular VPN providers in the game right now, Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN vs NordVPN. We’re going to be diving into the features that really matter, such as the companies privacy policies, encryption standards, locations supported, jurisdiction the company operates out of, the price among several other important features. (Updated 8/15/2017)
Disclaimer: All three links listed below are affiliate links. This means we get a small percentage of revenue if you click on the link and buy the service sometime within a few days. We would like to be 100% upfront about this, and ensure you that this has not impacted the comparison in any way. Some of the VPN’s rated lower on the list actually offer better payout rates, however, we are not worried about this. We are worried about keeping users like you and I secure, not how much revenue we can rake in. We are a small independent company, owned and operated by one person, not trying to impress any special interests. I know this is a bit long, but I want to build a relationship with you, not just sell you a link or service to line our pockets. What are we if we sell you another service or make a half-assed article? Now onto the comparison.
Torrenting & P2P is allowed on all of these VPN’s listed below, some even have servers specializing in torrenting.
Detailed video we made, written content below.
1. Private Internet Access (PIA)
Placing number one on the list is Private Internet Access, which may be a shock to many who watched our comparison all the way through. Not only do they have less features than NordVPN, they don’t even have the highest level of encryption by default. However, with these falters, PIA still reigns at the top of the list for a number of reasons.
First, Private Internet Access sits at the cheapest of the VPN’s, offering a truly unbeatable experience with such a minute price tag. Not that we are implying a low-price tag means anything, it’s just not many VPN’s can truly provide the experience that Private Internet Access provides. Now it may sound like we are over-glorifying this VPN, which we may be a little bit. It’s just throughout all our years of VPN usage, Private Internet Access has always stuck out. For its reliability, stability, speed and price tag.
If you’ve never had a VPN before or are a VPN veteran, PIA is truly the experience you are looking for. The interface is so friendly I’ve actually gotten both my Mom and Grandpa to use it. Just point, click and you’re connected. VPN Enthusiast? Want to get into your settings and see or edit what’s going on? Click the advanced tab and you’ll be introduced to a whole new world of awesome privacy and security settings.
PIA is not perfect though, especially the jurisdiction the company operates out of, the United States of America, not the friendliest country to operate a VPN out of. For a few reasons, one being that the government can put a gag order on any company, forcing them to comply with authorities and presumably log their servers without disclosing this information to their customers. However, Private Internet Access has made it abundantly clear that they will take all measures to ensure customer data remains private and secure.
Privacy: No logs
Encryption: Not strongest by default, but allows you to set higher or lower level encryption (*only VPN with this feature)
Jurisdiction: United States of America
Free Proxy: One SOCKS 5
Dedicated DNS: Yes
1 month: $6.95
6 Months: $35.95
12 Months: $39.95
A possible surprise for many, but NordVPN comes in at second place on the list. Though NordVPN does have more features than PIA, again, its price tag gets in the way.
While yes, NordVPN may have more locations, additional connection features and operate our of better jurisdiction, it still doesn’t top it a number one for us. One thing that we look for in a provider is that it’s truly focused on the VPN, not a service providing a VPN with a number of other features, which is partly what NordVPN is doing.
While we personally find NordVPN an exquisite VPN service, all the additional features don’t spark practicality in our mind. While the thought of a double VPN service is cool, it’s really unnecessary and just makes the connection slow. Alongside their secure notes, Though we do find Tor over VPN a great additional feature, it doesn’t intrigue us enough to add an extra couple dollars per month to the tab.
Again, NordVPN strikes ahead of Private Internet Access on paper, but it’s just not all there for us. The client is a little more clunky, though it does have more aesthetic than PIA’s. Such as the ability to see how crowded a server is right within the client, but again these little features aren’t enough to constitute an extra few dollars. And to be honest, we kind of like PIA’s bland client. It’s not crowded with graphics, just point and click. Again personal preference, we know others who feel the exact opposite way about their clients. Here is a pic so you can compare the two for your own pleasure.
If you like all of NordVPN’s extra features, their client can be really slick. Don’t get us wrong, NordVPN has a great client and I am more than happy to use it against many other providers. But we are simply harshly judging these things in our comparison.
Privacy: No logs
Encryption: AES-256-CBC & 2048bit RSA key, SHA1, Strong encryption by default
Free Proxy: Over 3,000 HQ proxies updated
Dedicated DNS: Yes
Additional Features:* Double VPN, Tor over VPN
1 month (Updated 9/20/16): $11.95
6 Months: $42.00
12 Months: $69.00
Coming in third place would be ExpressVPN, for one simple reason, the price. ExpressVPN has a number of great features, and though they keep minor logs, this VPN could be superior, however, nothing really constitutes it’s premium $15 price tag. Though it has nearly quadruple the locations that Private Internet Access has, no features really distinguish it, justifying it’s nearly doubled price.
You might be surprised to find that we would list ExpressVPN so low, especially when they have the most secure encryption by default. But again, there are no exclusive features or additional bonuses justifying its price. I mean, it doesn’t even come with a free proxy, a maybe not-so-used, but very popular feature among the VPN community as of recent.
While we could bag on ExpressVPN’s price all article, at the end of the day it is a solid and secure VPN. Though we are not fans, that does not mean this VPN cannot compete with PIA and NordVPN. At the end of the day, ExpressVPN sits on the more premium side of VPN’s, not looking for price shoppers like myself. This VPN does contain an array of high-quality servers literally spanning the entire globe. Covering more locations than nearly any VPN on the market today, not only its two competitors.
ExpressVPN also has a fairly nice client, which doesn’t require you to login with your typical username and password. A feature we love, as ExpressVPN gives you an activation code instead of username and password. Their client is fairly sleek and bare, something we really enjoy. But again, it’s just a little clunky. Here is another photo to let you decide.
Not jam packed with graphics or effects, just white and bare. But even this doesn’t constitute its $15/mo price tag. Even their yearly “discount,” taking the price down to $10/mo, costs more per month than PIA and Nord’s bare one month service.
All that being said, ExpressVPN will still sit in third place, at the bottom of the list.
Encryption: AES-256-CBC & 4096bit RSA Key, SHA-2, Strongest encryption by default.
Juridiction: British Virgin Islands
Free Proxy: No :(
Dedicated DNS: Yes
1 month: $12.95
6 Months: $59.95
12 Months: $99.95
That’s Private Internet Access vs ExpressVPN vs NordVPN. While these three VPN’s are loaded with features,
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NordVPN double encryption maybe slow but would that throw a wrench into the #NSAs work? we already know that they can compromise VPN connections.
Hey rlocone, the NSA is only able to compromise a small portion of VPN traffic, and that is usually because it has lower-level/weak encryption. Even Edward Snowden said the NSA cannot crack high levels on encryption. To me personally, double encryption just seems, not very useful. If they somehow find a way to crack the secure encryption, they just have to crack two layers of it. And to the people it would really be necessary for, I would sure hope they are using Tor and not a VPN. Just my two cents. Any thoughts from you?
Double encryption is always a good thing. The govt does it.
Which of the above 3 is suited for me. Located in Canada. Using Apple TV 4, Netgear router R7000 and EX7000. I use Netflix and Kodi. Are there any Netflix issues? Will it affect the Kodi on my Apple TV 4?
Hey Ed, at this time VPN’s and Netflix are still in a limbo and there is really no one working solution. Some providers like blackVPN have been trying and succeeding sometimes, but just there continues to be ongoing problems. At the end of the day I would still recommend PIA, and it shouldn’t affect anything on your Apple TV. Now if you go run a VPN server in Germany it might change the Apple TV’s geolocation to German channels and whatnot, if you have them. I don’t really know how Apple TV works, might not? Other than that, you should be all set!
I have PIA, trying to use Allcast from my Note 3 phone to connect with LG smart TV. PIA prevents connection. PIA tech can’t help, any suggestions.
Hello, if one connection is on a VPN and the other is not there is going to be an issue. You’ll either need the VPN running on both your TV & phone, or you can run it on your router. If this doesn’t work, you could try contacting support. Cheers Mike!!
I used PIA for almost a year until I got a little wiser and found out with repeated tests that PIA without fail has DNS leaks. I’m never going to use it again, I should have demanded my money back. Saving a couple bucks for the illusion of privacy that is in fact compromised is foolish.
i use pia and i have a dns leak issue………..courtesy of avast software…..
did you enable the dns leak protection? i have it on and no leaks. maybe you just weren’t paying attention
Hi Brandon, great article. I am located in Canada and Iam trying to decide which VPN to use. I just download torrents off the internet from Pirate Bay and Lime torrents so privacy and speed are main concerns. Which would you recommend?
Thanks for the comparison. I’ve gone for NordVPN and they are now offering 2 years for $79
I use the next VPN, I dont realy have a problem with it, only some small irritations. It disconnect sometimes. The speed is very good. Did you test this one? Setup
Brandon, Good informative article. What do you think of VPNArea compared to PIA and the others you mentioned here?
Cool review. How about an update? I am using NordVPN so far, and I am really happy about it. Even got it pretty cheap for 99 USD (3 years) , so the price concern is not so huge any longer. Do you think its design is still a problem? I know that is a personal question, just wondering., They got some cool new features too.