UPDATING… ExpressVPN vs PIA: Which Is the Best VPN For You?

It’s no secret that at Cloudwards.internet we predict ExpressVPN is the finest VPN cash can purchase. It has nice safety, pace and options, which mix to make a streamlined digital personal community bundle that anybody can use. It isn’t good, although: it has one of many highest value tags we’ve seen for a VPN.

Non-public Web Entry is extra cheap and comes with related speeds, safety and options. On this ExpressVPN vs. PIA head-to-head, we’re going to see which supplier is the only option for you. We’ll evaluate them in 5 rounds to see if PIA actually is a greater decide or if that’s simply wishful pondering.

This matchup will give a broad overview of the 2 suppliers within the context of one another. If you need extra element or to see how they stack up amongst VPN suppliers, learn our ExpressVPN evaluate and Non-public Web Entry evaluate.

Setting Up a Struggle: ExpressVPN vs. PIA

We’re pulling from the factors set in our VPN opinions to match ExpressVPN and PIA. Our opinions have fairly just a few sections, although, so we condensed some to be extra concise right here. For instance, the second spherical covers pricing, however will even focus on the variety of simultaneous connections with every plan.

That makes it simpler to create a good comparability, as not all sections can be weighted equally in any other case. As an example, supported units is a vital class, however a win in that space wouldn’t maintain the identical worth as one in safety.

We’ve condensed the battle to 5 rounds: options, pricing, ease of use, pace and safety. We’ll begin every with particulars about what we’re searching for, go over what the suppliers deliver to the desk, give our ideas on how they evaluate and declare a winner. Whichever supplier takes three or extra rounds wins.

In an effort to keep away from ambiguity, we’ll take a definitive stance in every spherical. That doesn’t imply rounds won’t be open to interpretation, although. We urge you to learn by every part as a substitute of skimming winners so you possibly can type your individual opinion.

Whereas that’s one thing we all the time suggest, it’s particularly necessary right here, as PIA and ExpressVPN are each nice choices. In contrast to our PureVPN vs ExpressVPN comparability, you can’t go improper with both supplier.

Begins from$ 667month-to-month
  • Quick
  • Killswitch
  • Servers in 94 international locations
  • Three simultaneous connections
  • Dear

$ 291month-to-month
  • Straightforward & quick server switching
  • Quick
  • Low-cost
  • Mediocre server community
  • Doesn’t get into most streaming providers
  • Generally is a ache to make use of



There are a whole lot of VPNs available on the market, lots of which can securely join you to the web. ExpressVPN is our gold commonplace, and it’s not simply due to its core operate. We’re going to have a look at the options ExpressVPN and PIA provide that separate them from the remainder of the pack.


ExpressVPN is a plain software on its face, which has main upsides in ease of use. There are options, however most are hidden deeper within the shopper. The primary focus is to get you related as quick as doable.

There’s extra beneath the hood. Our favourite characteristic is the pace check, which helps you to routinely strive every server in ExpressVPN’s community. The outcomes are for latency and obtain pace, so you may get a good suggestion of which server you must hook up with as a substitute of doing so by trial and error.


As soon as you’re related, you possibly can confirm the safety of your reference to the IP handle checker and DNS leak check. There are instruments to check these  on-line, however a sanity test in-application isn’t a nasty factor.

If one thing goes improper, you should utilize ExpressVPN’s diagnostics device. It’ll spit out a bunch of textual content most customers won’t have the ability to decipher. If you’re among the many few that may, you possibly can snuff out issues. In any other case, it’s primarily there so you possibly can ship a log to the provider’s assist.


The 2 most notable options are break up tunneling and a killswitch. Break up tunneling, which helps you to direct some visitors by the VPN and different visitors by regular channels, will be configured with most VPNs. That stated, the method is prolonged and annoying, as you possibly can see with IPVanish (learn our IPVanish evaluate).


ExpressVPN’s break up tunneling characteristic is configured within the shopper on a per-app foundation, a lot the way in which Astrill handles it (learn our Astrill evaluate). You possibly can set it to solely enable sure apps by the tunnel or exclude them from the tunnel. That’s helpful, particularly for those who participate in an occasional on-line sport that requires the quickest speeds doable.

A killswitch is a necessary characteristic. In case your connection to the distant server drops, it’ll sever your web connection, by no means exposing your IP handle. It’s a main purpose why ExpressVPN earned slots in our finest VPN for torrenting and finest VPN for China guides.

ExpressVPN’s mentality means a fast connection and the important options can be found if you’re keen to look. Whereas it’s not as configurable as TorGuard (learn our TorGuard evaluate), it supplies a streamlined expertise with all of the options you’ll want.


PIA has a extra strong characteristic checklist, however nonetheless doesn’t hit the extent of NordVPN (learn our NordVPN evaluate). The options are extra flashy than ExpressVPN’s, however they don’t have an effect on the tunneling expertise as a lot, which places PIA at a slight drawback for this spherical.

Most notably, PIA doesn’t embody a break up tunneling characteristic within the shopper, one thing ExpressVPN and even decrease tier suppliers, corresponding to StrongVPN, provide (learn our StrongVPN evaluate). You possibly can nonetheless configure it manually, however the course of is reasonably tough.

PIA can also be lacking testing and diagnostic instruments. Neither is of the utmost concern, however they’re options that ExpressVPN gives that it omits.

A killswitch is offered, although, which ought to assist defend you in privacy-unfriendly international locations or throughout torrenting binges. If you’re within the former, you will want to up the encryption stage. PIA makes use of AES 128-bit by default, which is superb for pace, as we’ll see later, however not for safety. Fortunately, you possibly can up the safety with a single click on within the settings.

PIA features a malware and ad-blocker known as MACE, too. That may be a considerably widespread characteristic in VPNs, with suppliers corresponding to NordVPN together with their very own taste of malware safety. It’s not likely a distinguishing characteristic and doesn’t maintain a candle to the devoted malware safety you get with our finest antivirus software program.

It’s not a nasty inclusion, however it’s higher to buy your safety a la carte. We suggest Bitdefender as a devoted antivirus (learn our Bitdefender evaluate).

Streaming efficiency is spotty, so ExpressVPN positively has an edge in that space. We had been capable of entry U.S. Netflix, however we had hassle moving into BBC iPlayer and Hulu. Amazon Prime Video labored, however solely on one miserably sluggish server.

Contemplating ExpressVPN is the finest VPN for Netflix, PIA doesn’t look nice this spherical.

Spherical One Ideas

PIA has goodies that ExpressVPN doesn’t, which will be attractive. That stated, ExpressVPN has a extra well-rounded vary of options that lets you configure and check your connection.

The foremost factors are streaming and break up tunneling, each of which ExpressVPN handles with grace. PIA’s clunkiness in these areas doesn’t evaluate nicely, that means ExpressVPN distinguishes itself sufficient for a win this spherical.

Winner (Options): ExpressVPN
Non-public Web Entry


Whilst you shouldn’t go along with a free VPN (try our worst free VPN information to see why), you shouldn’t should empty your pockets for privateness. We’re going to match ExpressVPN and PIA’s value, distribution of plans and variety of simultaneous connections to see which supplies the higher worth.


We aren’t going to beat across the bush — ExpressVPN isn’t low cost. The month-to-month plan is among the many costliest we’ve seen and the low allowance for simultaneous connections doesn’t assist the matter.

Plan Month-to-month Semi-Yearly Yearly
Value Plan
$ 12 95month-to-month
$ 59 956 months
$ 99 99yearly consists of three free months
Bandwidth Limitless GB Limitless GB Limitless GB
Included Units three three three

Plans embody three simultaneous connections and limitless bandwidth. The variety of connections isn’t horrible, however it’s not well-suited to be used past a single person. Making an attempt to setup ExpressVPN for a household can be like arguing over who’s streaming Netflix on the identical time.

Whereas we predict the month-to-month price is a nasty worth, the semi-annual and annual plans aren’t the worst we’ve seen. At $10 a month for six months and $eight monthly for a yr, the charges are respectable. If you’re shopping for ExpressVPN, we advise one among them.

It doesn’t provide a free trial or long term plan, although, which hurts. Biennial and triennial plans give loyal subscribers a greater worth and we’re disillusioned by ExpressVPN’s omission of these choices.

The shortage of a free trial isn’t as dangerous, contemplating ExpressVPN gives a beneficiant 30-day money-back assure. Whilst you nonetheless should pay upfront, ExpressVPN refunded our cash with out query after we examined the assure.

You get what you pay for, and ExpressVPN doesn’t value extra only for the sake of turning a revenue. It’s a superb platform that rewards you for placing in a few further . In comparison with the cheaper PureVPN, which is way worse, its worth is obvious (learn our PureVPN evaluate).


PIA is among the many most cost-effective top-shelf VPNs. Whereas the money-back window is smaller and there’s nonetheless no free trial, you get extra simultaneous connections for much less cash.

Plan Normal
Value Plan
$ 6 95month-to-month
$ 35 946 months
$ 39 95yearly
$ 69 952 years
Bandwidth Limitless GB
Included Units 5

We hardly ever suggest month-to-month plans as a result of they’re not a superb worth. Such isn’t the case with PIA, with its month-to-month price coming in round $three lower than most of its competitors’ costs. In comparison with the remainder of the market, the month-to-month price is superb. In comparison with PIA’s lengthier plans, although, it’s nonetheless flat.

PIA gives semi-annual and annual plans, too, however we don’t suggest the previous. You’re solely saving about $5 for half the time. The annual plan is sort of spectacular, contemplating it cuts the month-to-month price virtually in half.

The annual plan is within the candy spot of PIA’s choices, because it supplies a comparatively low upfront value for 12 months of safety. There’s a biennial plan that additionally lowers the month-to-month price, however it’s solely $20 cheaper than shopping for two annual plans.

Neither supplier gives a free VPN, however most are dangerous anyway. The one exception to that’s Windscribe, which has among the best free plans we’ve seen, as you possibly can learn in our Windscribe evaluate.

PIA’s solely weak spot on this spherical is its brief refund window. ExpressVPN gives a month to fiddle with the service whereas PIA solely gives every week. It’s nonetheless sufficient time to check out the service, however you’ll should be diligent to get your a reimbursement.

Spherical Two Ideas

Moreover a shorter money-back window, PIA wins in each side of the spherical. Options play a big half in value, although, and we nonetheless suppose ExpressVPN has the sting there. That stated, PIA’s extra restricted set of options for a far lower cost is sufficient to win this spherical.

Winner (Pricing): Non-public Web Entry
Non-public Web Entry

Ease of Use

Some area of interest VPNs are infamous for his or her poor ease of use. That isn’t the case with ExpressVPN and PIA, which supply wonderful person experiences and lots of settings. Due to that, we’re searching for small benefits on this spherical and counting on our preferences after utilizing them.


ExpressVPN has a ready-to-go mentality, from checkout to beginning the VPN. Signing up for a plan is so simple as selecting the period, coming into an e-mail handle and deciding on your fee technique. For true anonymity, you possibly can even use a burner e-mail and pay with cryptocurrency.

As soon as you’ve discovered the installer to your working system and completed the obtain, ExpressVPN will ship you to the principle window of the person interface. It’s deceptively easy at first, with solely three buttons populating the window. The big “on” button within the middle will get you related.


By default, ExpressVPN will select a “smart” location. If you’re happy with the AI-assisted selection, click on the “on” button to attach. The gray defend behind the button will flip inexperienced, letting you understand the VPN is on.


We predict the sensible places are subpar. ExpressVPN often will get the geographical location right, nevertheless it doesn’t all the time decide the perfect server. For instance, throughout our evaluate, it selected Amsterdam 1, which was the perfect location. Amsterdam 2 had higher speeds for Netflix, although.

Fortunately, discovering your individual optimum server isn’t tough. ExpressVPN’s pace check operate helps loads, along with its wonderful server navigation. You click on on “select location” to deliver up the server checklist, which has three tabs: “advisable,” “all” and “current.”


The primary tab simply recommends servers just like the sensible operate, so it’s not all the time spot on. You possibly can scroll by the checklist of servers simply, although. ExpressVPN segregates them by continent after which nation, making skimming easy. It’s also possible to use the search bar on the prime of the window.


You possibly can favourite servers you frequent by clicking the star icon subsequent to them. Then, they are going to seem beneath your lately related servers within the third tab.

Three buttons isn’t all ExpressVPN has to supply. Yow will discover its superior settings by clicking the three dashes within the prime left of the UI. There, you possibly can configure how the VPN behaves at startup, setup break up tunneling and set up the browser extension.


ExpressVPN’s strongest level in ease of use is its segregation of options. The interface is straightforward sufficient that even somebody frightened of a mouse and keyboard can get round it with out sacrificing core VPN performance.


PIA’s sign-up course of is analogous. After deciding on a plan, you’ll be despatched to the fee choices to finish checkout. We used PayPal when testing and PIA routinely used that e-mail to ship our account particulars, which we weren’t thrilled about.

After a second, our e-mail pinged 3 times as a receipt, an e-mail with obtain hyperlinks and our account particulars arrived in our inbox. The password to your account is routinely generated to extend safety. It’s a random bundle of numbers and letters, so you’ll want the finest password supervisor to retailer it. We suggest Dashlane (learn our Dashlane evaluate).

Installers are discovered within the management panel, which can also be the place you possibly can change your e-mail and password, improve your subscription, be a part of beta packages and extra. We used Linux throughout testing, so we discovered that installer and set to work. We rated PIA because the finest VPN for Linux, in spite of everything.

Don’t fear if you’re a Home windows person, the set up course of is simply as easy.

There are fairly just a few choices if you first load the appliance. You’ll be requested to log in, however it’s also possible to set how PIA behaves when beginning up, handles notifications and auto-selects servers. The default configuration works, however you possibly can tweak it earlier than loading the VPN.

That’s the solely window you’ll see from PIA. The remainder of the appliance is dealt with within the tray, which takes time to get used to. If you need one thing extra in your face, you should utilize the browser extension, which capabilities in kind of the identical approach.

The position of PIA might be a professional or a con, relying on what you want. For us, it’s a minor annoyance as a result of VPNs require some hands-on configuration and we favor to not deal with that in tiny pop-up menus. In case you fall on the “set it and overlook it” finish of the spectrum, although, we will see the attraction.

PIA’s pace stood out throughout testing. It related to servers in a blink and the automated server switching took no various seconds. The decrease stage of encryption brought on the pace enhance, which is sweet for ease of use, however not for safety. Fortunately, you possibly can up the encryption stage within the settings.

You entry the settings menu by right-clicking the tray icon. The total settings menu reveals the identical choices that had been there throughout login, however clicking on “superior settings” will present controls for the killswitch, leak safety and MACE. It’s also possible to handle encryption there, which is ready to AES 128-bit by default.

The controls are there, however we can’t assist however really feel that PIA’s dedication to a minimalist design hurts it on this spherical. It’s out of the way in which, however in a approach, that makes you overlook the appliance exists. We favor a UI, however even those that need their VPN to be out of sight should set it up in some unspecified time in the future. PIA doesn’t make that as simple as ExpressVPN.

Spherical Three Ideas

Neither service is unusable, particularly in comparison with some suppliers available on the market (learn our AirVPN evaluate for context). Even so, it’s clear that ExpressVPN gives a extra fluid person expertise, even when PIA’s isn’t dangerous.

Easy and streamlined is the secret, and ExpressVPN feels extra acquainted than PIA. If you need a much less hands-on strategy, then PIA could also be a greater possibility.

Winner (Ease of Use): ExpressVPN
Non-public Web Entry


VPNs will eat your pace, so it’s necessary to maintain the hole as small as doable. We examined ExpressVPN and PIA in 5 places to know how they carry out beneath regular and excessive circumstances. We’ll additionally briefly contact on the server rely and unfold on this spherical.


ExpressVPN has a leg up on this spherical, as it’s one of many quickest VPN suppliers we’ve examined. Whereas many VPNs can keep first rate speeds in the identical nation, it’s distinctive in that it stays comparatively quick over lengthy distances. As you possibly can see from our pace chart beneath, you’re giving up little pace when connecting to ExpressVPN.

Our exams had been run close to Amsterdam utilizing speedtest.internet. The primary, unprotected rating is our comparability quantity. The community load was stored as near the baseline as doable.

  Ping (ms) Obtain (Mbps) Add (Mbps)
Unprotected 13 38.46 four.03
Amsterdam, NL (2) 17 33.84 three.47
Lisbon, PT 51 31.28 three.53
New York Metropolis 106 11.76 three.53
Taichung, TW 297 6.00 2.22
Tokyo, JP 276 31.95 2.45

The ping stood out most. Whereas you’ll naturally introduce extra latency as you journey lengthy distances, ExpressVPN stayed shy of 100 milliseconds when connecting to comparatively shut servers. That is likely one of the important causes it beat the competitors in our finest VPN for gaming information.

Obtain speeds are nice, too, minus our testing in Taiwan, which we’ll get to in a second. ExpressVPN gained our finest VPN for streaming information because of this. It didn’t drop greater than 7 megabits per second wherever in our hemisphere.

Japan had stunning outcomes, however we couldn’t reproduce them with a lot consistency. The outlier was Taichung, which destroyed our unprotected add and obtain speeds. Latency wasn’t horrible, however the poor pace efficiency means that server has issues.

Fortunately, ExpressVPN has a big server community that may bypass just a few mediocre choices. Whereas the variety of servers isn’t large — you possibly can select from 148 — the unfold is spectacular. ExpressVPN has a presence in 94 international locations, together with distant places corresponding to Vientiane and Algiers.

Some servers, particularly in distant areas, are digital, which doesn’t often current an issue with connection. There are issues in regards to the safety of them, although.


PIA additionally earned a spot in our quickest VPN information by sustaining most of our unprotected pace. As with our earlier testing, the numbers within the desk beneath are courtesy of speedtest.internet. We examined from a coworking area in Bosnia for this spherical, although.

Location: Ping (ms): Obtain (Mbps): Add (Mbps):
Unprotected: 13 28.38 eight.39
Vienna, Austria: 40 20.17 7.97
Rozendaal, Netherlands 44 20.38 7.80
New York Metropolis 109 16.25 6.96
Los Angeles, CA: 188 eight.69 2.67
Tokyo, Japan: 265 13.74 1.94

The service stays quick throughout lengthy distances like ExpressVPN, however there’s a extra important decline in pace on  preliminary connection. ExpressVPN is quicker when you’re connecting to a server near your location.

Connections in Austria and the Netherlands ate eight Mbps off our unprotected pace, which isn’t dangerous, however greater than ExpressVPN took. New York and Japan took round half our pace and Los Angeles took virtually two-thirds.

There’s a bigger hole in speeds in your first connection and a extra important decline when connecting over lengthy distances. PIA doesn’t submit dangerous outcomes, by any metric, however it’s not on ExpressVPN’s stage.

PIA has three,160 servers, however the distribution isn’t as vast as it’s with ExpressVPN. There are 52 places to select from throughout 33 international locations. You can’t entry unique places as a result of many of the servers are in main media facilities such because the U.S. and UK.

Spherical 4 Ideas

PIA and ExpressVPN put up wonderful numbers for pace, however it’s clear that ExpressVPN has an edge. Like many rounds on this comparability, PIA isn’t dangerous nevertheless it doesn’t attain the bar set by ExpressVPN. You get a narrower unfold of servers and barely decrease speeds with it.

Winner (Velocity): ExpressVPN
Non-public Web Entry

Safety & Privateness

Safety is a very powerful a part of any VPN. In spite of everything, the aim of the service is to guard you. We’re going to have a look at the encryption requirements ExpressVPN and PIA use, in addition to how they deal with your information. We might usually check out customer support right here, as nicely, however ExpressVPN and PIA are each wonderful in that division.


ExpressVPN has among the finest safety within the business, with a superb privateness coverage, as well. It makes use of OpenVPN by default, that means there are a number of configuration information you possibly can obtain and tweak to enhance sure areas of safety.

You need to be wonderful with ExpressVPN’s defaults, although. It secures your information with AES 256-bit, one of many strongest block ciphers obtainable. That encryption is backed by a 4096-bit RSA key, which needs to be loads to get you thru the Nice Firewall of China.

OpenVPN is the default protocol, however ExpressVPN additionally helps L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and SSTP. All servers assist OpenVPN, however the different protocols are server-dependent. In case you don’t mess with the encryption settings, you’ll use OpenVPN routinely, which is the only option for most individuals.

We examined the safety utilizing third-party instruments for DNS, webRTC and IP leaks and ExpressVPN handed for every metric. We belief ExpressVPN’s built-in instruments, however utilizing third-party providers verified the claims within the software.

Its safety is prime notch and so is the privateness. ExpressVPN maintains a strict no-logging coverage, that means none of your info is stored on file, not even quickly. If a authorities company got here knocking, the service would don’t have anything handy over however a bundle of clean exhausting drives.

It’s unlikely anybody will come knocking, although. ExpressVPN is predicated within the British Virgin Islands, which has among the finest privateness legal guidelines on the planet. Your information is protected from spying by the federal government and web service suppliers.


PIA has wonderful safety, too, however, as we’ve mentioned all through this comparability, you’ll must configure it to get essentially the most out of it. Even so, PIA is understood for its robust stance in favor of internet neutrality and strict condemnation of authorities surveillance, that means your web visitors is in good palms.

The service makes use of OpenVPN with AES 128-bit by default. It isn’t as safe as ExpressVPN’s 256-bit default, nevertheless it has upsides for pace. That stated, can change the extent of encryption to match ExpressVPN’s within the settings.

There are different protocols obtainable, too, however you’ll must request them. You will get L2TP and PPTP, in addition to SOCKS for those who simply want a proxy, although you can’t set them up within the interface. You’ll must ask PIA for these protocols. It’ll offer you a separate login you can then use to modify protocols.

OpenVPN is the only option for many conditions, although, in order that isn’t too massive of a problem.

Like ExpressVPN, PIA didn’t have any leaks after we examined.

PIA has a strict no-logs coverage, too, however its location within the U.S. is regarding. The nation doesn’t have a retention coverage, that means PIA doesn’t must hold logs by regulation. Given its monitor document, we’re inclined to imagine that PIA’s privateness claims are true.

Some suppliers, corresponding to HideMyAss, have claimed a no-logs coverage just for it to be revealed in court docket that they’re retaining info, as you possibly can examine in our HideMyAss evaluate. PIA has no such blemishes on its document, so you need to be protected.

Spherical 5 Ideas

PIA and ExpressVPN have top-notch safety and wonderful privateness insurance policies. Regardless of which you select, you’ll be protected. The aim of our comparability is to separate hairs, although, and it’s clear that ExpressVPN has an edge after we achieve this. It has higher default encryption, simpler entry to completely different protocols and a extra comforting location.

Even so, that shouldn’t deter you from PIA, as its privateness coverage and safety requirements are simply pretty much as good.

Winner (Safety & Privateness): ExpressVPN
Non-public Web Entry

Last Ideas

ExpressVPN seems like somebody took PIA and refined it. Each provide wonderful providers by virtually any metric, together with pace, safety and options. ExpressVPN’s extra intuitive interface, greater speeds and refined characteristic set make it a greater possibility, although.

That shouldn’t put you off of PIA for those who favor its performance and options. We like MACE loads, and suppose the pace outcomes put up a superb combat. Whereas it can’t meet the gold commonplace of ExpressVPN, few suppliers can, so don’t really feel discouraged if it’s a extra engaging choice to you.

Winner: ExpressVPN

If neither really feel like the fitting match, make sure that to learn our different VPN opinions.

Do you want ExpressVPN or PIA extra? Tell us within the feedback beneath and, as all the time, thanks for studying.

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