ExpressVPN vs. PIA

ExpressVPN vs PIA

In the digital age, it’s essential to have a tool to protect yourself. Just as you’d protect your ID in the real world, you need to do the same online. You don’t want your IP address shared with everyone either. A VPN is a service that keeps this from happening. You connect to an independent network server in a different location, then your connection is routed to the website or network you were initially trying to connect to through the VPN’s server. This way, anywhere you visit, sees the VPN’s unique IP address rather than yours.

However, this is the bare minimum expectancy. Any VPN provider offers this essential service. What sets quality apart is the additional features on offer. Lightning-fast speeds, kill switches, built-in multiple platform compatibility, simultaneous connection limits, etc. These are the things that put the best VPNs on the top of the list. And from that list, we’ve picked two excellent services to compare and show to you with this article.

ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access both offer a user experience that is difficult to match, with great reliability, high speeds, and ease of use. With this article, we want to see which one deserves to be called the best and which one deserves your dollar more. So strap in as we conduct comparisons, take a look at some trusted opinions, and deem a winner.



Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Lowest Pricing



Server Count



Country Count



Number of Devices



Money-Back Guarantee

30 days

30 days

Torrenting / P2P




256-bit AES

128-bit/256-bit AES





Strict no-logging

Strict no-logging


What is ExpressVPN?


ExpressVPN started out back in 2009, and since then, has grown massively alongside the explosion in popularity surrounding VPN services. Since then, it has worked to distinguish itself from the competition with its high quality.

ExpressVPN’s most significant selling point is definitely its high speeds. ExpressVPN boasts some of the highest recorded speeds on the entire VPN market, with only a select few services able to match it.

ExpressVPN user interface

You can download ExpressVPN’s easy-to-use software here.


What is Private Internet Access?

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access also started back in 2009. Like ExpressVPN, it experienced a remarkable rise in popularity with the surge of public interest in VPNs. However, PIA stands out by offering one of the most affordable prices of all high-end premium VPNs.

While its quality is a huge selling point, possibly PIA’s biggest strength is its utter generosity. It offers more features, more simultaneous devices on a single plan, and more available servers than a substantial majority of other premium services. All of this, at a fraction of the price of most providers. That, among other factors, is why Private Internet Access is considered such a massive player in the VPN space.

Private Internet Access user interface

You can download PIA’s VPN right here.


The First Trial: Speed

Connection speeds are a significant factor in users’ choice of which VPN is right for them. No matter how many wonderful features a VPN service is able to offer, none of that matters if the speed is subpar. You likely won’t care much about the excellent interface or the handy killswitch if you can’t even stream a video without it sticking and freezing every second.

As high-end services, both of these VPNs offer speeds that certainly won’t disappoint. However, that isn’t to say that there’s no clear winner. We conducted our own tests, as well as looked at the results from other trusted sources to see which one held the highest.

Starting off with Private Internet Access, the speed tests were about what you’d expect from a premium quality service. Our connections clocked in at anywhere between 60%-80% of our original connection speed, depending on which server location we chose. While this might seem like a considerable loss of speed, you have to keep in mind that VPNs take your connection to a unique location before allowing it to connect to the site you’re visiting. This detour will almost always have some sort of impact on your speed. So the question simply comes down to which provider can minimize this impact.

Other sources have had similar findings, with some of the lower speeds being measured at around 40%-50% of original connection speed and a few higher reports saying 85%-95%. With so many servers, it would make sense that PIA has a bit of a wide range in the quality of its speed. However, since most average VPNs tend to average around the 30%-40% margin, PIA finds itself comfortably in an above-average spot.

Taking a look at ExpressVPN, on the other hand, the results were pretty astounding. In our tests, we found most servers, even those in geographical locations quite far from us, gave us speeds around 90%-95% of our original connection speed. This is almost unheard of. Some of the closer locations even showed no discernible impact whatsoever.

Other sources report similar, with many saying they saw absolutely no impact on their speed, a couple even reporting a mysterious rise in speed and lowering in ping when using ExpressVPN, and a very select few reporting speeds as low as 60%-80% of their speed without ExpressVPN on (which is still well above average for VPNs).

Without a doubt, ExpressVPN takes the cake on this one.


The Second Trial: Servers & Locations

The second thing we’ll be taking a look at is the span of servers each provider has. This includes the number of servers, as well as the total number of countries that they’re spread over.

These factors affect the reliability and speed of the connection that the user has. The top VPN services want large server ranges so that they can offer steady connections to any of their users, no matter where they’re connecting from. It certainly wouldn’t be ideal if you were trying to connect to the internet in the US and you had plenty of servers to choose from, but they were all in China. That’s quite a distance for your connection to have to travel just to get to a website.

With ExpressVPN, you can expect a decent count of more than 3,000 servers over a massive range of countries, a total of 94. That server count is solid, but what’s really impressive is that country coverage, definitely placing ExpressVPN on the higher end.

Many online people have reported having great connections to these servers, no matter where they were connecting from. Anywhere from the US to Europe to Australia, almost every single reviewer has said that ExpressVPN’s connections hold up and stay reliable. Despite their handy killswitch, you’ll likely never have to use it for a disrupted connection.

Looking over to Private Internet Access, they boast an absolutely unmatched 35,000 server count spanning 78 countries. While their country count is lower than ExpressVPN, they have one of, if not the single highest server count of any VPN on the market.

Online sources confirm that they have no issues connecting and holding a reliable connection from worldwide. Obviously, some countries will have fewer options with PIA than with ExpressVPN, but those within the covered countries will have a massive range of options, all with a stable connection.

Despite ExpressVPN’s impressive country coverage, PIA wins this one.


The Third Trial: Privacy & Logging

If you’re looking for a VPN in the first place, privacy and security are probably pretty big points for you. All the great features in the world won’t compare to airtight security.

PIA and ExpressVPN both offer the same military-grade encryption techniques that have become standard for most VPNs. PIA even provides a choice between 128-bit encoding and 256-bit encoding. Essentially, one’s just slightly faster than the other but a bit less encrypted. These techniques make your data practically impenetrable when you use either service, so you have absolutely no need to worry about the quality of protection put on your connection with either VPN you choose.

So, since these services are roughly equal in this category, let’s move onto logging.

Logging is the practice of VPN providers keeping some sort of record or log of your unique connection when you use their service. This can range anywhere from a non-identifying log, such as one that just keeps the time and date of your connection, to identifying logs that hold your personal IP and what you used the service for.

Both services boast a strict no-logging policy, claiming that they do not keep any records on their users of any kind. Both services have been audited by third-party companies, confirming that this is the case. Due to this, many users trust both of these services to keep a good hold of their information and protect it vehemently.

This one’s a tie. Both of these providers are secure and trustworthy.


The Final Trial: Price

You wouldn’t be alone if price plans were the most significant factor of your decision here. A VPN can offer everything below the stars, but a big enough price tag would be enough to make that offer quite a bit less tempting.

ExpressVPN is famous (or, more appropriately, infamous) for its hefty price tag. It offers several different plans with varying prices, but no matter which angle you look at it from, ExpressVPN is the most expensive high-end VPN on the market.

Starting with its monthly plan, you’ll be paying a heavy fee of $12.95 a month. Yes, that’s pretty unheard of, but almost every VPN provider makes their monthly fee somewhat outlandish to encourage users to go for longer-term plans. Their six-month plan comes out to about $9.99 a month, and their yearly plan comes out to $8.32 a month… not precisely the bargain you’d hope for with a longer-term price plan. ExpressVPN offers some unmatched quality, but with a price like that, you could practically afford plans with three average budget VPNs and still have spending cash left over.

PIA, on the other hand, has some far more reasonable prices. Their monthly plan comes out to $9.95 a month. No, that’s not amazing, but the deals for higher plans make up for it. For their annual plan, you’ll be paying $3.33 a month, and with their 3-year plan, it comes out to about $2.20 a month. Now that’s a bargain for long-term plans.

While ExpressVPN’s quality can excuse a heftier cost, it’s up to you to decide if it’s really worth it. PIA, on the other hand, has some excellent quality at a great price. It’ll give you some bang for your buck and won’t empty your wallet when you start your plan.

Sorry Express, PIA takes this one by a landslide.

Final Verdict

Every service has its strong suits and has something unique to offer users. You might disagree with our choice, and that’s alright. What works for most users might not work for you. However, without further ado, our pick for the champion spot is….

Private Internet Access!

Yes, it’s true that ExpressVPN packs a serious punch. Its quality and features are almost unrivaled in the VPN space, and for people who don’t mind its price tag, it’s an excellent option. However, Private Internet Access takes the cake with its incredible value for a seriously high-quality product packed with features and outstanding reliability.