ExpressVPN and PIA are well-known VPNs in recent times. But still, it is unclear Which one to choose? Which is the best value for money? Some people believe the former one is the better in terms of security and the latter is best to unblock streaming services. Is that true? Let’s find out who’s the winner.
Both VPNs own a 🤗good fame in the market. But it’s quite surprising that one will outperform the other in the end. You will find answers to all of your questions, in this guide. Without wasting your time further let’s begin.
Quick Glance of VPN Features
- 3000+ Servers in 160+ locations (94 countries)
- Unblock Amazon Prime, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Unbeatable Security Encryption with OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), L2TP, IPSec, IKEv2
- Full Torrenting Support (Dedicated P2P Servers) with split tunneling.
- Compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Consoles, routers etc.
- 5 Simultaneous device connections
- Zero Log Policy.
- Reliable kill switch
- 24/7 Customer Support
- 30 Days full refund policy
- 20000+ Servres in 77+ Countries
- Unblocks Hulu, Amazon Prime, Show Time, and other streaming services.
- Standard Encryptions for enhanced privacy
- P2P Torrenting support (unlimited bandwidth)
- Bonus features for chrome with additional settings
- 10 Simulatenous device connection
- 30 Days Full Refund Policy
VPN Company Background
VPNs are primarily used to keep your personal information private. But, have you ever thought what if the VPN is based on some surveillance country? They will leak your information to the government definitely. So, we have started with this section.
We all know that ExpressVPN is based on the British Virgin Islands (true privacy) without violating user’s privacy across years. With this ExpressVPN attracted many users worldwide over time, had no issues even when undergoes numerous audits by Cure53 and PwC.
This VPN is completely independent of the government or any other influence.
PIA is based in the United States, make it feels insecure as the US government is the main surveillance culprit (force VPNs to share the user logs). Even though the company claims zero logs on their website. They will share the details forcefully, this has been the case for IPVanish.
Speed will be the next important factor, without it there is no need to choose a VPN. As they primarily serve streaming/torrenting or even browsing. You feel them as unworthy if they don’t offer enough speeds.
- ExpressVPN offers best in class Lightway TCP protocol (similar in speed with WireGuard)
- PIA offers WireGuard protocol, claims to be the fastest VPN protocol available right now.
As we are testing the best protocols that the VPNs are offering right now. First I have tested them with US Server.
|Download Speed||135.13 Mbps||41.5 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||13.7 Mbps||15.3 Mbps|
I was quite surprised to see the results, ExpressVPN (Lightway TCP) outperforming PIA VPN with a huge difference. But, I did run the test again after connecting to the UK Server. Here are the results.
|Download Speed||234.56 Mbps||12.5 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||7. 16 Mbps||14.7 Mbps|
PIA is really slow, ExpressVPN win’s this round with a huge margin difference of about 220 Mbps (unbelievable). ExpressVPN maintains an average speed of 150 Mbps quite sufficient for streaming/torrenting smoothly.
Security and Encryption
Even though both offer the toughest encryption available (to the far they can). But there is some difference based on the VPN (as per company background). ExpressVPN is more secure being stand-alone against surveillance groups. Whereas PIA is based on surveillance country.
By default, ExpressVPN comes with AES-256 bit encryption (golden standard in the market). This is used by most services that deal with sensitive data. But you can also choose different encryption levels (offered by VPN). This cipher will be a lifesaver for weak security devices.
ExpressVPN uses the SHA-512 function for authentication coupled with perfect secrecy, which offers enhanced security.
PIA makes it a bit more interesting to compete with ExpressVPN, offering a wide range of options to switch between.
- AES-128 bit (CBC/GCM)
- AES-256 bit (CBC/GCM)
- No Encryption (Still hide your IP)
PIA uses AES-128 bit encryption as a default one and for authentication, this one used SHA-1 & SHA-2 (SHA-512) hashing algorithms. This makes this tough competition.
Tunneling protocols can make a VPN stronger or break its bones. These protocols will prioritize speed or stability, depending upon the protocol you choose. So, let’s start with ExpressVPN first.
- Lightway : Finest & fastest VPN protocol, dedicatedly available for ExpressVPN
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): Most popular VPN Protocol, it’s UDP version is way faster than TCP (stable & reliable).
- IKEv2/IPSec: Great choice for mobile devices (low specifications).
- L2TP/IPSec: Oldest VPN Protocol, speeds are high but security is poor (only choose this when others are not working).
To compete with ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access offers tough competition.
- WideGuard: Extremely fast and secure protocol even when compared with ExpressVPN’s lightway
- OpenVPN( TCP/UDP)
Though both VPNs claim to have zero logging on their website, this isn’t the case in real-time. ExpressVPN didn’t collect any user’s data, connection logs, browsing history, or anything (prooved in audit).
For additional security, ExpressVPN uses Ram-only Servers and wiping its user data every 2 weeks.
Whereas PIA claims to not collect any user data, but they are collecting email addresses, payment info along with cookies included your country origin, zip code, etc. We can’t say it’s completely trustable as the VPN states “We might disclose your personal data to any members if needed“.
Kill Switch has been considered an essential security feature nowadays to ensure your identity is safe (even when your VPN connection drops). Kill switch is available in both VPNs, but in ExpressVPN there is an additional feature to block LAN traffic as well.
Considering average users, this section will focus on the important features that both VPNs offer. Everyone might not understand split tunneling, proxy, etc. If you want a causal VPN for unblocking content or website, both can do their best.
But advanced users can notice a bit more about these users about Smart DNS & stealth servers, ExpressVPN will take a slight advantage.
This is one of the most useful features that include applications to split the traffic. For example when you want to listen to Spotify (exclude VPN connection) and browse using a VPN connection. You can use this feature to select the app that doesn’t want to use a VPN connection.
Both VPNs support port forwarding that allows you to access your devices from anywhere like hosting servers for multiplayer games, run your own website, etc. If you want to use this feature on ExpressVPN (works on router app). For PIA you can do it on a desktop or mobile app.
ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access offers SOCKS5 Proxy as well as SHadowsocks. Proxies will help you to bypass the firewall. You can route your connections through the UK, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, etc.
ExpressVPN makes it a piece of cake in unblocking Smart DNS. This keeps your identity completely anonymous when you are watching videos, shows, or sports on your smart TV or any other devices that support VPN service.
RAM Only Servers
RAM Only Servers has trusted server technology, ExpressVPN is unique. All the servers are volatile (store information only when there is power). In other terms, ExpressVPN will restart its servers every 2 weeks.
Sometimes, schools and organizations will monitor your online activities by using deep packet inspection. So, they will find out you are using a VPN (thus block VPN traffic).
But, ExpressVPN has a way to bypass them. When it’s necessary you can switch to a stealth server (do not allow anyone to detect that you are using a VPN)
It’s quite surprising how ExpressVPN covers more countries if PIA has more severs across the world. Here are the details of the servers
|Asia, Middle East, and Africa||26||31|
ExpressVPN gives a slight advantage covering more countries, as you can observe that from the statistics. But this also includes virtual servers (3%) for both VPNs, Sounds different?. They are nothing but assigned IP that will not match the physical location of the server. This makes it possible to access services where internet usage is restricted like in China. ExpressVPN does have virtual servers.
Server Connection Reliability
What’s the use of having servers if couldn’t make any reliable connection, agree?. So, here we make a comparison considering some areas, as always we will start with ExpressVPN first.
- App crashes or bugs: App getting closed or suffering from bugs frequently?
- Connections: Is your connection drops frequently?
- Speeds: Consistent and sufficient speeds?
During our tests, there are no issues with ExpressVPN (bugs or crashes) app is working perfectly. Even I tried connecting several servers, there is no drop in connections. While you have already witnessed the speeds of ExpressVPN, so I am not going to disclose that here.
PIA also gives it best to be reliable, all their platform applications running well without any bugs, crashes, or issues. All seems to be fine with PIA, but the speeds are very poor compared to other VPNs.
Here are the main comparison (User’s awaiting) capabilities of unblocking streaming services. This includes Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and many more. As a traveler (international) you need a VPN before you board. Also, there is nothing to shy or hide about people purchasing VPNs to watch geo-blocked content.
During my comparison test, ExpressVPN unblocks almost all the streaming services and stands a chance in one of the best VPNs for Netflix. It also works with Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more.
But with PIA doesn’t unblock Netflix, here you can see the Netflix is blocking PIA (USA Server). Even when I asked PIA customer support, but they didn’t solve it. This VPN couldn’t unblock other streaming services.
Both VPNs are great for torrenting and downloading files through BitTorrent and other torrent clients. All the servers support P2P torrenting, so you can have to bother about the servers. But, there is some difference between the two services.
PIA VPN offers a SOCKS5 proxy that you can use with this torrenting client. Obviously speeds matters a lot, but with ExpressVPN you don’t have to wait hours for downloading. Of Course, you have seen the speeds clearly.
Platform Compatibility & Ease of Use
|ExpressVPN||Private Inernet Access|
|Supported||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other||Android TV, Fire devices, routers||–|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Firefox, Chrome. Opera|
In this battle between VPNs (ExpressVPN vs PIA), if you are planning to install VPN on your router or smart TV, then I recommend going with ExpressVPN. Since there is not PIA support for other devices.
Both applications are simple & intuitive to use. But, you can find a lot of similarities between ExpressVPN platforms with a small window offering almost every feature at your fingertips and a separate window after you click on the Settings option.
I found the PIA application is more convenient than ExpressVPN for windows & mac. Because PIA sorted every feature into categories like protocols, encryption, and ports in use. Also, PIA offers GUI for Linux users which is fascinating.
Pricing & Refund Policies
Pricing and refund are interrelated to each other. So, I am dealing with them at once. Here is the price of the plans (latest) right now. PIA is a cheap VPN compared to others in the market
offering great value for money and one of the best among cheap VPNs available right now. PIA offers 10 simultaneous device connections at this price range.
Refund Program: PIA also offers a 30-days money-back guarantee program like all VPNs do. But they are posing some fine to be aware of. They will not directly refund your complete amount or might terminate your account for some reason.
Coming to ExpressVPN, here are the pricing plans. ExpressVPN is 6 times costlier than PIA per month plan.
Even, I don’t know why the prices are huge. If you have an opinion to get this go for the long term instead of the monthly plan (save you a lot of bucks).
Refund Program: ExpressVPN also offers a 30-days money-back guarantee program, if you are not satisfied with their premium services. But the advantage here, they will not ask a single question about why you want a refund, They will process the refund amount within 3 days to your account.
ExpressVPN supports 5 simultaneous device connections. We have to accept that PIA is the clear winner in this round.
Even if you are technically sound to handle all the VPN configurations. Customer support will be essential to handle even non-technical things (if you have any queries or issues). Both VPNs have setup guides, tutorials available on the official pages.
Both VPN services are responding quickly when you raise email tickets and contact them through chat support. While the ExpressVPN live chat customer support quickly solves the issues regarding any of your concerns.
PIA live chat support takes some time to solve them. Since we can’t say considering one example as they are responding at least. So, this will be a tie for each other.
After the biggest battle between two powerful VPNs- ExpressVPN vs PIA (Private Internet Access). Here are the results.
Being an expensive VPN, privacy & speeds makes ExpressVPN better value for money on comparing with PIA. You will get more features, better security, better support, full streaming capabilities, torrenting, and proven audits.
A quick recap of ExpressVPN vs PIA Comparision
- Company Background:- ExpressVPN
- Speed Test:- ExpressVPN
- Security:- ExpressVPN
- Servers: PIA
- Servers Reliability: Draw
- Streaming: ExpressVPN
- Torrenting: Draw
- Platform & Compatibility:- ExpressVPN
- Pricing & Refund:- PIA
- Support:- Draw
ExpressVPN is getting better day by day, but my opinion is if the prices are a little lower. Then it would be amazing (else we have to choose a long-term plan). For detailed features check ExpressVPN’s full review.
FAQs Related to ExpressVPN vs PIA
Is ExpressVPN better than Private Internet Access?
ExpressVPN is better compared with PIA, they are privacy, speeds, server location, streaming unblocking, and compatibility. Though it makes tie in some departments. PIA lost in being a US-based VPN (couldn’t keep your data secure).
Will PIA VPN Slow down my internet speed?
As you have seen the speeds, didn’t even touch 50 Mbps (even if you have a good internet connection). But you can boost your VPN slowing down your speeds. But, it’s quite common that your internet connection speeds drop.
What is a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network in short) that assigns you a new IP to keep your online activities private & Hidden from ISP, Government. Helps in unblocking Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Hotstar, and Disney+. You can also torrent with a VPN to get what you desire.
Are VPNs Legal to use?
Using VPNs to protect your personal information is completely legal anywhere in the world. But some countries impose restrictions on using VPNs like United Arabs, Russia, Iran, Iraq, etc.
Can I get ExpressVPN or PIA VPN for Free?
Do I need a VPN at home?
They are not dedicatedly designed to protect you from public networks. They also ensure the same security even for your home network using which you can unblock websites, torrent safely, unblock streaming services and prevent ISP or others tracking your data.
Should I use VPN all the time?
Its recommended to use VPN all the time and it depends on the need why you are using the VPN for. If you want to stay secure without any leaks or if you take your device to public places regularly, then keep the VPN turned on all the time.