Private Internet Access vs Surfshark

The online market is packed with VPN providers vying for your hard-earned cash. These VPNs use aggressive marketing tactics and often use technical jargon to advertise their services. This can make it difficult for the uninitiated to differentiate between them. As a result, internet users may struggle to understand what each feature does and whether the VPN is as good as it claims.

To address these issues, our VS articles compare popular VPNs directly. We delve into 10 carefully curated categories to check each VPN’s performance, giving you the opportunity to see which VPN is more reliable, has better speeds, is more user-friendly, and is better suited for streaming. You can use the comparisons below to find out whether PIA or Surfshark is a better option for you.



  • Allows unlimited connections
  • Fast, reliable speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Strong on security with a true no-logs policy
  • Excellent unblocking capabilities
  • Incredibly good value for money

Private Internet Access

  • Decent server speeds
  • Anonymous registration is possible
  • No-logs policy has been proven in court
  • Servers in 84+ countries
  • Includes encryption customization settings

Pricing and discounts

No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
Subscription periodsOne month, six months, one year, two years, three yearsOne month, one year, two years
Special offer82% off two year plans and 2 months free
Highest price per month$11.99$17.95
Lowest monthly cost$2.19$2.19
One year price$39.95$41.88
Money back guarantee30 days30 days
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

While some VPNs differ greatly in cost, it is very hard to pick between these two providers on price alone. Both VPNs offer extremely good value for money and can be considered two of the cheapest high-quality VPNs currently available on the market.

A single month with Surfshark will cost you $12.95, meaning that PIA is a touch cheaper at just $11.99. You can pick either VPN to gain privacy and unblock content while traveling for work or on vacation.

Where both these VPNs really shine is in their lengthier, discounted plans. A 3-year PIA subscription comes with 3 extra months for free and will set you back just $2.03 per month. That means you get 39 months of VPN use for $79.

With Surfshark a three-year plan is not available. However, a two-year subscription costs just $2.39 per month, putting it in the same ballpark as PIA. You even get 1 month extra for free! Plus, you only have to shell out a total of $59.76 to get the discount, which many people prefer.

Overall, we found the costs to be too close to really pick them apart. For this reason, we recommend that you choose your preferred service by considering each VPN’s features and attributes. This will allow you to see which provider offers better value for money overall.

PRIVATE INTERNET ACCESS DEAL:Cut the cost by 82% with PIA’s three-year deal and get 3 months extra for free!  This works out to just $2.03 per month.

BEST DEAL FOR SURFSHARK:Cut the monthly price by over 80% with Surfshark’s two-year plan, and get 1-month extra for free! This works out to just $2.39 per month.

Winner: It’s a draw


No valueBetternetPrivate Internet Access
Simultaneous Connections10Unlimited
Devices SupportedWindows, macOS, Android, iOS, ChromeWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux
Manual install devices Routers
Free extrasChrome extensionBrowser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, automatic ad/malware blocking
Best deal (per month)$7.99
Get 39% off a 12 month plan
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan

Private Internet Access and Surfshark both offer decent multi-platform support. Each service has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Firesticks, and Linux. Both these VPNs also have browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

In terms of features, Surfshark is an extremely solid all-rounder. Users get a kill switch, strong encryption, DNS leak protection, a choice of protocols (including super-fast WireGuard), split tunneling, ad and tracker blocking, malicious website protection, obfuscation, No-Borders mode, and a free Smart DNS service. It’s extremely versatile.

With PIA, users get a kill switch, a choice of protocols (including super-fast WireGuard), split tunneling, ad blocking, malware filtering, obfuscation, and a SOCKS5 proxy. Port forwarding works with both the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols.

With PIA you can not only choose between protocols but also opt to either strengthen or weaken the encryption depending on your needs. This allows you to get better speeds in times when the highest levels of encryption aren’t strictly necessary.

While this may appeal to some advanced users, it is worth noting that Surfhark provides super-fast speeds while providing full-strength encryption at all times.

Both these VPNs are very evenly matched. Surfshark’s free Smart DNS service may appeal to users who own a console or some other device that won’t let you install the VPN directly – whereas those who want to regularly seed torrents may prefer PIA’s port forwarding feature.

Finally, we will note that anybody looking for a static dedicated IP, will need to subscribe to PIA. PIA offers dedicated IPs in the UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the USA. This static IP address costs a little extra and is reserved for your use only. This feature is not currently available with Surfshark.

Winner: Its a draw

Streaming and unblocking

No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
Unblocks Hulu
Unblocks HBO Max
Unblocks Prime Video
Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Unblocks ABC
Unblocks CBS
Unblocks NBC
Unblocks ITV
Unblocks Channel 4
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

When it comes to streaming international services using a VPN, we would have to go with Surfshark over Private Internet Access. Not only is Surfshark faster overall (which makes it better for streaming without buffering), but it is also more reliable for accessing popular streaming platforms.

In our tests, Surfshark was able to access around a dozen different Netflix regions, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Prime Video, Crunchyroll, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, ESPN, Peacock, DAZN, and international services in diverse locations such as Japan, the Netherlands, South America, Australia, and many more.

PIA was able to access Netflix USA and BBC iPlayer. However, it failed to unblock Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sky Go, and ITV. For this reason, we would have to recommend that you test PIA with your streaming services before committing long-term. The good news is that you can do this using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Anybody looking for a VPN for streaming will be better off opting for Surfshark, which consistently manages to provide access to an absolutely massive list of streaming platforms.

Winner: Surfshark

Do these VPNs work in China?

China is a country that imposes widespread restrictions on popular Western services and websites. This makes it impossible to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and many other important websites and services including news platforms like the BBC and the New York Times.

As a result of this censorship, many people visiting and living in China require the use of a VPN to stay in touch with friends or family living in the West. Unfortunately, the Chinese government has installed an expensive firewall that is extremely effective at blocking VPNs, and Chinese ISPs work hand-in-hand with the government to block access to VPN websites.

This makes it hard to subscribe to a VPN in China and means that very few VPNs work there to bypass censorship. So, how did PIA and Surfshark compare?

The good news is that Surfshark provides both obfuscation and a special No-Borders mode that is designed to bypass strict firewalls. This allows users to connect while in China.

With PIA, obfuscation is available on its desktop applications while connecting using the OpenVPN protocol. However, we have heard mixed reports about whether this works in China. For this reason, you may want to test it yourself, or simply stick with Surfshark.

Remember that we strongly recommend you subscribe to the VPN before heading to China if possible. This will ensure that the VPN is already installed on your devices, and you will not have to worry about the VPN’s website being blocked by Chinese ISPs.

Find out more about the best VPNs for China in our dedicated article.

Winner: Surfshark

Setup and interface

No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
Automatic setup wizardWindows, Android, macOS, Linux, iOSWindows, Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS
Main location selectionList-basedList-based
Extra settings pages
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

We found the process of getting a subscription and installing both of these VPNs to be extremely easy. Simply head over to the VPN’s website, pick the subscription period that you need, and provide your payment details. Following that, you will be able to install the VPN onto your various devices.

The VPN apps only require a minimal amount of space on your hard drive, and they install using a simple wizard that puts all the necessary components of the VPN protocols in the right place on your computer. This makes it possible for even the least technical of users to get either VPN working.

In terms of usability, Surfshark is easier and more user-friendly for beginners. The VPN apps look nicer, and come preset to use the highest level of protection right out of the box. With PIA, you can customize the encryption, which makes it slightly more confusing to use. Other than that, however, both VPNs are easy to navigate and a pleasure to use.

Winner: Surfshark

Servers and performance

No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
Server countries91100
Total number of serversUndisclosed3,200
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

Both these VPNs have massive server networks with IP addresses available on every continent. This makes them both useful for bypassing censorship, or regional blocks that are imposed using geo-restrictions.

When it comes to server location options, Surfhark is slightly better. It provides servers in 100+ countries. With PIA, you can connect to servers in 84+ countries, which is still extremely impressive.

So how do those servers perform in terms of speed? Both VPNs provide the ultra-fast, modern tunneling protocol WireGuard. This makes them both fast.

In our most recent round of testing, PIA had a global average download speed of 73 Mbps. This makes it fast enough for HD streaming, playing multiplayer games, and other data-intensive tasks.

Surfshark, on the other hand, had global download averages of 189 Mbps, which makes it considerably faster than PIA, and a much better option for anybody who wants the very best bang for their buck.

Winner: Surfshark


No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
VPN protocolsWireGuard, OpenVPN, IPSec on iOSOpenVPN, WireGuard
OpenVPN data encryption256-bit AES256-bit AES
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096 RSA-2048
Kill Switch
Private DNS servers
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

When it comes to providing data security and privacy, both VPNs are reliable. They both give the option to connect using the OpenVPN protocol with futureproof AES-256 encryption. This ensures that local network providers, ISPs, government snoops, hackers, and any other eavesdroppers cannot snoop on the contents of your web traffic.

As mentioned earlier, PIA offers some additional functionality by letting you choose between different encryption settings. This may make it more interesting to techy users. However, at their strongest setting (which is how Surfshark is set at all times) both these VPNs offer a similar level of security.

We tested both providers for IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks that would betray your data privacy, and found both VPNs to be completely secure. You can trust both these VPNs to keep your data safe.

In addition, both these VPNs have networks that run on diskless servers. The VPN can pull the plug on a server and instantly erase all the data passing through it, which is useful in the case of emergencies, or if one of its servers is ever raided by the authorities.

Winner: Its a draw


No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
HQ base of operationUnited StatesThe Netherlands
Connection logs Effectively none
Activity logs
User details for signupemail address, payment details, state and zip codeEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, Ethereum, Bitpay, and LitecoinBitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

Both Surfshark and Private Internet Access have solid no-logging policies that promise never to track your source IP address, the IP address of the servers you connect to, or any of the data that pass through its servers. The VPNs never hold any records of what you did while connected to its servers.

The VPNs differ slightly when you consider where they are based. Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands. This is a country that lacks mandatory data retention directives or invasive government intelligence agencies.

PIA, on the other hand, is based in the US. This country is home to the NSA, warrants, and gag orders which means the VPN could theoretically be forced to provide logs about its users to the US government and nobody would know.

With this caveat aside, we will mention that PIA has proven its no logs policy in court on numerous occasions, and there is no evidence that it has ever betrayed the privacy of its users to American authorities. This should make it suitable for most home users’ needs in terms of privacy.

Surfshark has undergone a full third-party audit of its policies and infrastructure. That audit verified the VPN’s no logs claims, which helps to add trust to its service. PIA has not paid for this kind of third-party verification.

Winner: Surfshark


No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
Address allocationSharedShared
Dedicated IP address
DDoS protection
NAT firewall
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

Both these VPN services provide access to shared IPs that multiple users connect to each session. This mixes each user’s traffic with that of many other users, which helps to improve your privacy.

PIA lets you purchase a dedicated static IP. If you use this kind of server, you will be the only person assigned the server’s IP, which lacks the anonymity of a shared server.

As you would expect, both these VPNs hide your computer’s location from the websites and internet services you use. They conceal your home IP from any users you connect to directly peer-to-peer, for example when torrenting. This helps to protect you against hackers who might probe your home network for open ports or other potential vulnerabilities.

Both these VPNs use DNS-based filtering to block trackers, ads, and a list of malicious websites known to contain phishing or malware. This not only protects your devices but improves your experience by getting rid of adverts and improving page load times. The feature even helps to save data on your mobile plan!

The only notable difference between these VPNs, in terms of configurations, is that Private Internet Access allows users to port forward. This lets you access resources on your home LAN remotely (such as NAS drives or a computer), host a game, or forward to a torrent client so you can seed to other members of your torrent community.

Surfshark VS Private Internet Access for Gaming

When it comes to playing data-hungry multiplayer games online, the most important VPN features to consider are server locations and connection speeds. A larger choice of servers will let you connect to different game servers around the globe, to play against gamers in different regions.

After testing both of these VPNs, we would have to recommend Surfshark for gaming. Not only does it have over 3200 servers in 100+ countries (compared to 84+ countries with PIA); but it is also much faster.

In our tests, it registered average download speeds that were more than double that of PIA. This makes it better for playing Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, CoD MW2, and any other popular online games that you love.

Winner: Surfshark

Customer service

No valuePrivate Internet AccessSurfshark
24/7 live chat
Ticket support
Email support
Average email response time2 hours, 28 minutes
Searchable knowledge base
Phone support
Video guides
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 82% on the 2 yr plan
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

The good news is that both these VPNs take customer service seriously. They both allow you to contact them to ask questions either via email or using a live chat window on their website. Best of all, live chat support is available 24/7 with both these providers, which means you can ask questions at any time of day and from anywhere in the world.

To help their international users, the live chat support window with both these providers has Google Translate built-in. The English-speaking agent will be able to understand your questions and respond, no matter which language you use.

The only slight caveat is that we found Surfshark’s agents to respond faster. We were often left waiting for an agent for between five and 10 minutes when using PIA’s live chat window. With Surfshark this wasn’t the case.

Once connected we found the agents with both of these services to be polite, knowledgeable, and able to help with our requests. Though, if we had to choose which service was better, we would have to say that we did find the Surfshark agents to be a bit more responsive and knowledgeable.

Both VPNs have superb resources on their websites. They both provide FAQs, setup guides, articles, and blog posts about using the VPN and gaining online privacy. These are fantastic resources that help you with setting up and using the VPN on any device.

For added transparency, we have included the email response times for each VPN below:

QuestionInitial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
Can I install Surfshark on a DD-WRT router?5 hours, 47 minutes1Yes
How do I set up Surfshark for use in China?9 hours, 25 mins1Yes
Does Surfshark protect against WebRTC leaks?21 minutes1Yes
QuestionInitial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
Is PIA based in one of the 5 Eyes countries?11 hours, 7 minutes1Yes
What kind of encryption does PIA use?3 hours, 19 minutes1Yes
How can I install PIA on LibreELEC devices?11 hours, 50 minutes1Yes

Winner: Surfshark

The winner: Surfshark


Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux


Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

As you can see, Surfshark was the clear winner in this head-to-head battle. It came out ahead in the following categories: Privacy, Customer Support, Servers and performance, Streaming and unblocking, Setup and interface, China, and Gaming. The other categories: Pricing, Features, and Security were all tied.

We found Surfshark to offer overall better value for money, despite costing a few cents more each month. It has more servers to pick from around the world and was more than twice as fast as PIA. The apps were easier to use and came packed with all the features the average home VPN user needs.

When it comes to streaming, Surfshark was better thanks to its ability to access more popular international streaming services. Anybody wanting to seed torrents may prefer PIA thanks to its port forwarding feature.

In terms of security, these VPNs are tied thanks to their no-logging policies, strong AES-256 encryption, kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation options. We prefer Surfshark over PIA due to the latter’s base in the US; a country that engages in widespread surveillance.

Surfshark Coupon
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
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