The logos of Surfshark and PIA, seperated by the text VS
Click for a quick overview of this article.
Surfshark vs Private Internet Access: A Summary

Surfshark and PIA are some of the best VPN providers we’ve tested. While Surfshark shines with its comprehensive security features, including obfuscation and double VPN, PIA stands out with its massive server network of over 33,000 servers across 84 countries.

Here’s what our extensive testing revealed regarding which VPN is best in the battle of Surfshark vs PIA:

  • Security: Surfshark is better at securing your data since it uses AES-256 encryption by default and has a better security suite that includes an antivirus and ad blocker.
  • Speed: Both VPN providers offered great speeds and good ping during our testing.
  • Streaming: Surfshark performed better than PIA since it could unblock all popular streaming platforms including HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video which PIA could not.
  • Privacy: PIA and Surfshark were equally great at keeping your data private and not saving it in their servers.
  • Price: PIA is more affordable than Surfshark in both its two-year and monthly plans.
  • Ease of use: Surfshark is marginally more user-friendly than PIA.
  • Customer Service: Surfshark’s customer service team replied to our requests more promptly and gave us more detailed answers.

Overall, the two VPNs are quite similar but we’ve found that Surfshark emerges as the winner due to its better security options, unblocking capabilities, ease of use, and customer support.

Check out our full article below for detailed comparisons across several essential VPN categories.

Surfshark and Private Internet Access (PIA) are among our top recommended VPNs. So, you may be wondering which is better or which one you should pick between the two. In this article, we compare the providers and their features thoroughly to give you a clear answer on who the winner is regarding the Surfshark vs PIA battle.

Both Surfshark and PIA are budget-friendly VPN providers with great speeds and enhanced privacy features. They allow unlimited simultaneous connections across platforms like Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.

But overall, we found that Surfshark VPN has better security features and more responsive customer support.

Keep reading below for our full comparison of Surfshark vs Private Internet Access.

Surfshark vs PIA: Functionality, Features, and Other Options

In the table below, we provide you with a quick overview of the key characteristics of both VPN providers.

Servers33,000+ servers in 84 countries3,200+ servers in 100 countries
Torrents/P2P support
Simultaneous connectionsNo limitNo limit
Operating systemsWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
ProtocolsOpenVPN, WireGuard, IPSecOpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2
PriceFrom $2.19 per monthFrom $2.30 per month
Log policyNo logsNo logs
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days
DNS leak test
Double VPN
Dedicated IP
Kill switch
Split tunneling
Ad blocker
Diskless servers
Malicious website blocker
Custom DNS option
Online tracker blocker
Link to websiteGo to PIAGo to Surfshark

Surfshark vs PIA: Which VPN Is More Secure?

Based on our extensive testing, we found Surfshark to be the more secure VPN. Safety is a key consideration when selecting a VPN service. A good provider should be able to encrypt your data and keep you anonymous so that third parties can’t see your online activities.

Let’s have a closer look at how we came to the decision to pick Surfshark in this category.

Connection protocols

VPN protocols determine the security, speed, and flexibility of your VPN. PIA uses the IPSec protocol on iOS devices in addition to offering the following protocols:

  • OpenVPN (TCP/UDP): This is a fast and secure open-source protocol. It supports any TCP or UDP port, which makes it ideal for bypassing online censorship and geographical restrictions.
  • WireGuard: This is one of the latest VPN protocols still being developed. It is much faster and even more secure than the OpenVPN protocol. However, it only supports UDP at the moment. This can cause problems if UDP traffic is blocked on certain networks.
Screenshot of PIA, protocols

Surfshark VPN also supports OpenVPN and WireGuard as well as IKEv2. This is another secure and fast protocol we have found to be the best choice for mobile devices. It’s also the best option when connecting to unsecured networks, such as when traveling.

To sum up, we found both Surfshark and PIA extremely secure and reliable for private online gaming sessions, streaming in full HD, torrenting, and anything else you can think of.

We also conducted various leak tests, such as IP and DNS leak tests, to find that neither Surfshark nor PIA leaks your data online. Hence, we recommend either VPN provider if you want to access websites in censorship-heavy regions like China and want to ensure your real IP is hidden.

Encryption and extra features

Encryption ensures that your data cannot be intercepted by third parties. Both PIA Surfshark VPN use the industry standard AES 256-bit encryption to secure your sensitive information.

However, based on our tests, we discovered that, by default, PIA uses the lower 128-bit encryption, which is not ideal. You need to go to “Settings” in the PIA app and change this option to 256-bit encryption for the highest security.

At the same time, both VPN apps have an automatic kill switch that will cut your internet connection and prevent data leaks if your VPN connection drops.

Additionally, PIA and Surfshark help you stay safe online with the following additional features:

  • Ad and malware blocking: This is useful for a safe and distraction-free browsing experience. When using either Surfshark or PIA VPN, you won’t have to worry about annoying pop-ups or trackers on web pages you visit. This keeps you and your device safe from harmful links and malware.
  • Split tunneling: This feature allows you to exempt some apps from using the VPN connection. For instance, your banking app might not work with a VPN, so you can use split tunneling to access it without a VPN while the rest of your internet traffic is routed through the VPN server.
  • Obfuscation: Obfuscation disguises your VPN traffic to look like regular browsing. Thanks to this, VPN-blocking firewalls cannot detect your VPN provider, so you can browse the internet more freely.
  • Double VPN (or Multi-Hop): With Multi-Hop, your VPN traffic goes through multiple servers. This is ideal for beating censorship in countries like Russia. Surfshark’s multi-hop sends your traffic through two VPN servers, whereas PIA’s multi-hop reroutes it through a proxy. Double encryption will slow down the VPN’s speed and performance, so we recommend using it only when needed.

It’s also worth noting that Surfshark offers a robust security suite called Surfshark One, which is an all-in-one internet security solution. It includes features like:

  • Antivirus
  • Webcam protection
  • Real-time protection and scheduled scans
  • Surfshark Search, a private search engine (similar to using Incognito Mode) with no ads
  • Surfshark Alert, which informs you if your personal information is leaked online via data breaches
A screenshot of Surfshark's antivirus with real–time protection enabled

Surfshark One is available for an incredibly affordable price, just a dollar more than the basic Surfshark VPN subscription. So, it’s great value for money and bolsters your security, especially on free streaming and torrenting sites that may attempt to install malware onto your device while downloading files or streaming content.

On the whole, we found that PIA and Surfshark VPN are quite similar when it comes to security. However, our Surfshark VPN tests showed that some of its features, like the ad blocker, worked more efficiently than PIA’s.

Hence, Surfshark is the winner here as far as safety features are concerned, and if you are a fan of streaming free movies and shows online, you can enjoy them ad-free.

Most secure VPN: Surfshark

Banner with the text "Winner", "Security" and the Surfshark logo

Surfshark vs PIA: Which VPN Is Faster?

We used the trusted website to check PIA’s and Surfshark’s speeds and were happy to see that both offered fast servers. Our baseline measurements without a VPN were 203Mbps and 244Mbps for download and upload speeds, respectively, and our ping was 3ms. The results we got when using PIA and Surfshark servers are summarized in the table below.


Many factors can affect speed, such as your location and the time of day. So the numbers provided below are just a sample of our experience.

Speed metricPIASurfshark
Download speed – Netherlands (Mbps)192.59194.12
Upload speed – Netherlands (Mbps)232.46237.64
Ping – Netherlands (ms)54
Download speed – Fastest server (Mbps)193.76194.55
Upload speed – Fastest server (Mbps)236.32237.51
Ping – Fastest server (ms)64
Download speed – United States server (Mbps)123.47183.41
Upload speed – United States server (Mbps)171.14136.88
Ping – United States server (ms)101172

Based on the table above, we can see that Surfshark and PIA speeds are quite similar, apart from a visible difference on faraway servers.

However, when we tried browsing different websites, streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix, and playing online games like Minecraft, both Surfshark and PIA did great. We did not experience any interruptions or lag, even when the PIA servers were located in the US and the provider’s download speed was a bit slow.

Therefore, it’s a tie in the PIA vs Surfshark speed category because both providers gave us excellent speed test results.

However, one thing to note is that PIA has 33,000 servers in 84 countries. So, if you want access to the broadest server network, we recommend opting for PIA.

Fastest VPN: Tie

Banner with the text "Tie", "Speed" and a scale to symbolize balance

Surfshark vs PIA: Streaming Performance

One of the benefits of using a VPN is that it can help you bypass online censorship and unblock geo-restricted streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. Our testing revealed that both Surfshark and PIA work well to unblock several streaming services globally, but Surfshark excelled, as shown in the table below.

PlatformCan PIA unblock it? Can Surfshark unblock it?
Disney Plus
BBC iPlayer
Amazon Prime Video

With both VPN services, we did not face any speed issues and could stream smoothly in HD without any lag. We watched an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix using Surfshark’s super-fast servers.

TV show Breaking Bad streaming with Surfshark VPN provider connected to US server

While testing PIA, we watched the hilarious new Netflix show FUBAR and the whole episode streamed smoothly for us.

Screenshot of streaming Netflix while connected to PIA US server

However, we could not unblock Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max with PIA despite trying several different servers. Surfshark worked like a charm with both of these streaming providers.

So, Surfshark takes the lead in this category because it can unblock more services than PIA.

Best streaming VPN: Surfshark

Banner with the text "Winner", "Streaming" and the Surfshark logo

Surfshark vs PIA: Which VPN Handles Data Better?

Security and privacy go hand in hand. So, we looked closely at the privacy policies of both Surfshark and Private Internet Access to see how they handle user data and were impressed by both VPN services.

Below are our findings about the privacy practices of PIA and Surfshark.

PIA”s privacy details

  • PIA is based in the United States, which is part of the 5-Eyes intelligence alliance. This means the company may be ordered to provide users’ information to assist with lawsuits. However, since PIA has a strict no-logs policy, it has no user information to hand over to authorities.
  • You can create a PIA account simply by providing a viable email address.
  • Bitcoin payments are supported, so you can pay for PIA without making your personal information known.
  • The provider was audited by Deloitte in 2020, and the results confirmed that PIA takes its zero-logs policy quite seriously.
  • PIA uses diskless RAM-only servers, which are more resistant to breaches or tampering by hackers.
  • The service has SmartDNS that allows you to access otherwise unavailable content on your smart TV and other devices.

Surfshark’s privacy details

  • Surfshark is headquartered in the Netherlands. This is a 9 Eyes country that collects information on its citizens and shares it with other governments. However, a strict no-logs policy makes Surfshark VPN trustworthy.
  • All you need to register with Surfshark is an email address.
  • The service also allows you to pay with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Hence, you can buy the VPN anonymously.
  • The company was the first to receive the AV-Test (renowned German cybersecurity research institute) seal of approval.
  • Surfshark also uses diskless RAM-only servers.
  • The VPN provider also has a SmartDNS feature for streaming geo-restricted content on your smart devices.

Considering the above points, we find the distinction between the two VPN services too negligible to declare a clear winner. Therefore, in this category, it’s a tie between Surfshark and PIA.

Most privacy-focused VPN: Tie

Banner with the text

Surfshark vs PIA: Which Provider Is Cheaper?

Both PIA and Surfshark are considered some of the cheapest VPNs on the market. However, PIA’s cheapest plan is slightly more affordable than Surfshark’s subscriptions.


With long-term subscriptions, you only make one payment for the entire subscription period. Therefore, your account would be credited per subscription period and not per month. Also, even though we try to keep the prices below updated, they may fluctuate. Always visit a VPN provider’s website to check its prices.

  • Private Internet Access (PIA) 2 Years (Plus 2 free months) $2.19mth Deal View offer
  • Private Internet Access (PIA) 6 Months $7.50mth View offer
  • Private Internet Access (PIA) Monthly $11.99mth View offer

Even if you opt for the monthly package, the PIA price is slightly cheaper, making the VPN provider the winner of the PIA vs Surfshark affordability category.

The cheapest VPN: PIA

Banner with the text "Winner", "Price" and the PIA VPN logo

Surfshark vs PIA: Which App Is Easier to Work With?

In our list of top VPN providers, all services are very user-friendly. However, Surfshark makes it easier for beginners to find its features or change essential VPN settings. Below, we go into more detail about what we discovered about the installation process and interface of the two providers.

Installation process

The installation process for both Surfshark and PIA was pretty straightforward and similar.

Once you’ve created an account, you can log into the website and download the appropriate file for your operating system. You can then open this file, after which the VPN will be installed. Finally, all you have to do is open the VPN app and sign in with your credentials to access its dashboard.

Before setting up your VPN on your iOS or Android device, you must download the VPN app from the provider’s website or the App Store or Google Play Store. After downloading and installing the app, you only have to permit it to adjust your network settings. When you click “Agree,” the VPN will be ready to go.

PIA vs Surfshark user interface

Both Surfshark and PIA’s desktop apps have a clean and modern user interface. They’re super easy to use, even for beginners.

You can see the list of server locations and select your preferred one. Then, all you have to do is hit the connect button to start using the VPN.

Screenshots of Surfshark and PIA’s app home screens are provided below.

The Surfshark VPN app connected and PIA VPN app connected next to eachother

We do think that Surfshark’s app is a bit more comprehensive overall and offers a couple of extra options that give it an edge over PIA. For instance, it comes preset to use the highest level of encryption, while PIA allows you to customize the encryption, making it slightly more confusing for new users.

Hence, Surfshark is our top choice regarding user-friendliness and a platform suited to beginners and advanced users alike.

Most user-friendly VPN: Surfshark

Banner with the text "Winner", "Ease of use" and the Surfshark logo

Customer Service: How Well Are Users Supported?

The quality of a VPN provider’s customer service can also be important. We found that Surfshark’s customer support was slightly better than PIA’s because of its promptness in replying to our questions and the expert knowledge of its team. If your VPN doesn’t work, these are the two most important things customer service should be able to offer.

These are our findings regarding Surfshark’s and PIA’s support team:

  • Each of these VPN providers offers live chat support.
  • Both agents were able to provide us with appropriate answers. However, Surfshark’s team was much quicker to respond and was more thorough in their response.
  • PIA and Surfshark have a support database containing the answers to frequently asked questions and helpful guides.

The difference between the customer service of these two providers was very small. However, Surfshark took the win since the support agents were more prompt in responding to us and thorough in their answers.

VPN with the best customer service: Surfshark

Banner with the text "Winner", "Customer service" and the Surfshark logo

PIA vs Surfshark: Which VPN Is Better?

Private Internet Access and Surfshark VPN are quite similar regarding security and performance. Moreover, both VPN providers offer unlimited simultaneous connections on various devices at an affordable price. But Surfshark VPN has a slight edge, in our opinion. The list below shows the winner of each category essential VPN category:

  • Security: Surfshark
  • Speed: A Tie
  • Privacy: A Tie
  • Price: PIA
  • Ease of use: Surfshark
  • Customer Support: Surfshark

In our Surfshark vs PIA battle, Private Internet Access holds the upper hand in terms of its extensive server network and lower price. But just for a slightly higher price, Surfshark packs a punch with its efficient security features and strong customer support. You can try all the features we mentioned above for free for 30 days through Surfshark’s money-back guarantee.

Check out our other VPN comparison articles:

Surfshark vs PIA: Frequently Asked Questions

Have some specific questions about our PIA vs Surfshark comparison? Just click on one of the FAQs below to expand the answer.

Is Surfshark VPN better than PIA?

Both Surfshark and PIA are excellent VPNs you can use to browse privately and unblock geographically restricted content. But Surfshark offers more security features and better customer support which makes it slightly better than PIA. On the other hand, PIA has a massive network of 33,000+ servers.

Is PIA VPN still good?

Yes, PIA is one of the best VPNs out there that offers great speeds, strong security features, and one of the largest server networks with locations in over 80 countries. You can use it to unblock Netflix and other streaming services as well as stay safe and anonymous online. Check out our PIA review for more information.

Is Surfshark still a good VPN?

Yes! Surfshark is near the top of our list of the best VPNs out there. It’s lightning-fast, secure, and easy to use. According to our in-house testing, it’s the fastest VPN currently on the market.

Leave a comment