PIA VPN vs ExpressVPN: A Detailed 2023 Comparison


author: Jeremy Roderick

Fact-checked by Ruben Olav

UPDATED: July 29, 2023

PIA (Private Internet Access) VPN and ExpressVPN are renowned names in the VPN landscape, each boasting a unique set of features and capabilities.

PIA VPN is a US-based VPN service known for its robust security protocols, affordable pricing plans, and support for simultaneous connections. It’s widely used for activities like secure browsing, streaming, and torrenting.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN is a British Virgin Islands-based VPN provider, renowned for its speed, security, and broad server network. It’s highly favored for bypassing geo-blocks on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

In this article, we’ll dissect the features of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN, scrutinizing their security and encryption protocols, no-log policies, server networks, streaming capabilities, torrenting support, compatibility, pricing plans, and customer support. This comparison aims to provide an unbiased review to help potential users choose the right VPN.

Security and Encryption

In the realm of VPNs, security and encryption are non-negotiable. VPNs use encryption to scramble your data into an unreadable format, protecting it from potential eavesdroppers. They also provide security protocols to safely transmit your data over the internet.

Why is this important? Without robust security measures, cybercriminals could intercept and misuse your sensitive information, resulting in potential data breaches or identity theft.

Comparison of the Security Features and Encryption Methods of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

PIA VPN employs AES-256 encryption, the same standard used by governments and cybersecurity experts worldwide. For VPN protocols, it supports OpenVPN and WireGuard®, which are known for their security and speed, respectively. Additionally, it offers a kill switch feature, which blocks all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops, thus preventing accidental data leaks.

ExpressVPN, similarly, uses AES-256 encryption. It provides a selection of VPN protocols, including Lightway (its proprietary protocol), OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec. Like PIA, it also offers a Network Lock (similar to a kill switch), ensuring no data leak if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops.

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, both VPNs provide strong encryption and secure protocols, thus ensuring that your data remains confidential and secure.

Here’s a quick comparison table:

ProtocolsOpenVPN, WireGuard®Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec
Kill switchYesYes

Pros and Cons for Each VPN in Terms of Security and Encryption

While both VPNs offer strong encryption and security protocols, there are a few differences to note. The choice between the two may come down to individual preference and specific use cases.



  • Offers both OpenVPN and WireGuard®, allowing users to choose between top-tier security or speed.
  • It provides an ad and malware blocker (MACE) for additional security.


  • Being based in the US (a Five Eyes Alliance member), it may be subject to stringent data retention laws, although it maintains a strict no-logs policy.



  • Provides a variety of protocols, including its proprietary Lightway protocol, which is designed for speed and reliability.
  • Its location in the British Virgin Islands is ideal for privacy, as it’s outside the 14 Eyes Alliance jurisdiction.


  • It lacks an inbuilt ad and malware blocker, which PIA provides.

Conclusion on Which VPN Provides Better Security and Encryption

In terms of security and encryption, both PIA VPN and ExpressVPN stand on a solid ground. However, the choice depends on individual needs and concerns. For instance, if an inbuilt ad-blocker is crucial to you, PIA VPN would be a better choice. Conversely, if jurisdiction matters to you, ExpressVPN’s location outside the 14 Eyes Alliance is a definite advantage.

No-log Policy & Jurisdiction

When it comes to privacy, the VPN’s no-log policy and jurisdiction play a pivotal role. A no-log policy ensures that your online activities are not recorded or stored by the VPN provider. This means even if the provider is compelled to hand over data by the authorities, they simply won’t have anything to give.

The jurisdiction refers to the country where the VPN provider is registered. This matters because each country has different laws and regulations concerning data retention and surveillance. For instance, VPN providers based in countries that are part of the ’14 Eyes Alliance’ can be legally compelled to share user data.

Did you know? The ’14 Eyes Alliance’ is a group of countries that share intelligence data with each other, potentially including user data from internet service providers and VPNs.

Comparison of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN’s No-log Policies and Their Jurisdictions

PIA VPN operates under the jurisdiction of the United States, a member of the ‘Five Eyes Alliance’. Despite this, PIA VPN maintains a strict no-logs policy. They affirm that they do not log any traffic or usage by their customers. PIA VPN’s commitment to privacy was verified in 2020 when its no-log policy was proven in court for the second time.

ExpressVPN, based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), operates in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. BVI has no data retention laws and is not a member of any surveillance alliance like ’14 Eyes’. ExpressVPN also follows a strict no-log policy. They do not store any logs of user activity, DNS queries, or connection logs. Their policy was independently audited by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), offering further transparency and reliability.

Let’s look at a quick comparison table:

JurisdictionUnited States (Five Eyes Alliance member)British Virgin Islands (No surveillance alliances)
No-log PolicyYes (Verified in court)Yes (Independently audited by PwC)

Pros and Cons for Each VPN Based on Their No-log Policy and Jurisdiction



  • Strict no-log policy that has been tested and proven in court.


  • Located in the United States, a member of the ‘Five Eyes Alliance’, which could raise potential privacy concerns for some users.



  • Strict no-log policy that has been independently audited and verified.
  • Based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction outside any surveillance alliance.


  • There are no major downsides in terms of no-log policy and jurisdiction.

Conclusion on Which VPN Has a Better No-log Policy and Jurisdiction

ExpressVPN takes the edge in this category due to its jurisdiction in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands and independently audited no-log policy. While PIA VPN has a proven no-log policy, its jurisdiction within the ‘Five Eyes Alliance’ may be a concern for some privacy-focused users.

Server Network

A VPN’s server network is vital for a couple of reasons. First, a broader server network means more options for you to connect, making it easier to bypass geo-restrictions. Second, the server location affects the speed of your connection – the closer the server, the faster your connection.

Comparison of the Server Networks of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

PIA VPN boasts an impressive server count, with over 29,650 servers spread across 70+ countries as of my last knowledge update in September 2021. This wide network coverage ensures you can find a server that suits your needs, whether for speed or geo-unblocking.

ExpressVPN, while not offering as many servers as PIA, excels in its geographic diversity. With 3000+ servers across 94 countries, it provides a truly global reach. The benefit of this wide distribution is that you’re likely to find a server nearby, no matter where you are.

Here’s a comparison table:

Server Count29,650+3,000+
Countries Covered70+94

Pros and Cons for Each VPN Based on Server Network



  • Large number of servers to choose from.
  • Good geographical coverage.


  • Lesser country coverage compared to ExpressVPN.



  • Wide geographical spread covering 94 countries.
  • High-quality server performance.


  • Fewer servers than PIA VPN.

Conclusion on Which VPN Has a Better Server Network

While PIA VPN offers a larger number of servers, ExpressVPN has a broader country coverage. Both aspects are beneficial depending on individual user requirements. If you’re looking for a wide variety of server choices, PIA VPN may be the better option. However, if you require access to servers in a larger number of countries, ExpressVPN would be more suitable.


In the world of streaming, VPNs are a game-changer. They help bypass geographical restrictions imposed by streaming platforms, giving you access to a world of content that may otherwise be unavailable in your region. But not all VPNs are created equal; some are more capable at this task than others, and the speed and stability they offer can also vary widely.

Comparison of the Streaming Capabilities of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

Let’s look at how PIA VPN and ExpressVPN fare in terms of streaming capabilities:

PIA VPN is equipped to unblock numerous streaming platforms, but its performance can be inconsistent. While it can usually unblock US Netflix, it can struggle with other regional libraries and platforms like BBC iPlayer.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN is renowned for its excellent streaming capabilities. It consistently unblocks many popular platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, regardless of the user’s location. Moreover, its fast speeds ensure a smooth, buffering-free streaming experience.

Unblocks NetflixUS mostlyYes (multiple libraries)
Unblocks HuluSometimesYes
Unblocks BBC iPlayerRarelyYes
Unblocks Amazon Prime VideoSometimesYes
Unblocks Disney+SometimesYes

Pros and Cons for Each VPN in Terms of Streaming Capabilities



  • Able to unblock US Netflix.


  • Inconsistent at unblocking other streaming platforms and non-US Netflix libraries.



  • Consistently unblocks numerous streaming platforms.
  • Provides fast, reliable connections for seamless streaming.


  • More expensive than other VPNs with similar streaming capabilities.

Conclusion on Which VPN Offers Better Streaming Capabilities

ExpressVPN is the clear winner in this category. Its ability to consistently unblock a range of streaming platforms, coupled with its high-speed servers, make it an excellent choice for streamers.


Torrenting, while a popular method of file sharing, can expose your IP address to anyone who’s interested, including cybercriminals and surveillance agencies. A good VPN helps shield this exposure by providing an anonymous IP address, making sure your torrenting activities remain private.

Comparison of the Torrenting Capabilities of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

When it comes to torrenting, both PIA VPN and ExpressVPN offer robust features.

PIA VPN supports P2P file sharing on all its servers. It also includes an automatic kill switch to protect your data if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly. Furthermore, its MACE feature provides ad, tracker, and malware blocking, enhancing your torrenting experience.

ExpressVPN also supports torrenting on all its servers. It includes a Network Lock feature — similar to a kill switch — and offers impressive download speeds. While it doesn’t offer a built-in ad blocker like PIA, it makes up for it with higher speed and overall reliability.

Here’s a comparison:

P2P Support on All ServersYesYes
Kill SwitchYesYes (Network Lock)
Ad and Malware BlockerYes (MACE feature)No
SpeedFastVery Fast

Pros and Cons for Each VPN in Terms of Torrenting Capabilities



  • Supports P2P on all servers.
  • Includes MACE for ad, tracker, and malware blocking.


  • Slower speeds compared to ExpressVPN.



  • Supports P2P on all servers.
  • Offers very fast speeds for quick downloads.


  • No built-in ad or malware blocker.

Conclusion on Which VPN is Better for Torrenting

Both VPNs support torrenting and provide security features like a kill switch. However, ExpressVPN takes the lead due to its superior speed, crucial for large downloads. While PIA VPN’s MACE feature is a bonus, it doesn’t offset the speed advantage of ExpressVPN for torrenting.

Compatibility and Ease of Use

A good VPN isn’t just secure and fast—it’s also versatile and user-friendly. Compatibility with a wide range of devices and operating systems ensures you can enjoy the benefits of a VPN whether you’re using a computer, smartphone, or smart TV. A user-friendly interface, meanwhile, makes the process of installing and using the VPN much easier, especially for beginners.

Comparison of the Compatibility and Ease of Use of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

Let’s look at how PIA VPN and ExpressVPN stack up in terms of compatibility and ease of use.

PIA VPN offers dedicated apps for all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. In addition, it provides setup guides for other devices and platforms, such as Linux, routers, and more. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate, but some users might find the range of options and settings overwhelming at first.

ExpressVPN offers a similar level of compatibility, with dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and even some smart TVs and gaming consoles. Its apps are known for their simplicity and user-friendliness. Plus, the ExpressVPN website hosts detailed setup guides for a myriad of other devices.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Smart TVsNoYes
Gaming ConsolesNoYes
User InterfaceComprehensive, slightly complexSimple, intuitive

Pros and Cons for Each VPN Based on Compatibility and Ease of Use



  • Compatible with most major platforms.
  • Offers a wide range of settings for advanced users.


  • The interface can be overwhelming for beginners.
  • No native support for smart TVs or gaming consoles.



  • Broad compatibility, including smart TVs and gaming consoles.
  • User-friendly interface suitable for beginners and advanced users alike.


  • None

Conclusion on Which VPN is More Compatible and Easier to Use

ExpressVPN is the clear winner in this category. While both VPNs are compatible with most devices and operating systems, ExpressVPN’s extended support for smart TVs and gaming consoles gives it an edge. Furthermore, its simple and intuitive interface makes it a great option for both VPN beginners and tech-savvy users.


A good VPN is an investment in your online privacy and security, but that doesn’t mean it needs to break the bank. It’s important to find a VPN that offers a good balance of features and affordability. Let’s see how PIA VPN and ExpressVPN stack up.

Comparison of the Pricing Plans of PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

PIA VPN is one of the more affordable VPNs on the market. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, it offers a monthly plan, a yearly plan, and a two-year plan, with the latter offering the best value for money.

ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is more expensive, reflecting its premium features and reputation. It also offers three plans: a monthly plan, a six-month plan, and a yearly plan, which includes three extra months free.

Here’s a quick comparison:

Monthly PlanYesYes
6-Month PlanNoYes
Yearly PlanYesYes
Two-Year PlanYesNo
Extra Months FreeNoYes (with the yearly plan)

Pros and Cons for Each VPN Based on Pricing



  • More affordable than many competitors.
  • Offers a two-year plan for even better value.


  • No extra months free.



  • Provides premium features and excellent performance.
  • Offers three extra months free with the yearly plan.


  • More expensive than many competitors.
  • No two-year plan.

Conclusion on Which VPN Offers Better Value for Money

While PIA VPN is the more affordable option, ExpressVPN offers a better balance of cost and performance. With its extensive range of features and top-notch service, ExpressVPN provides excellent value for money, despite being pricier. But if you’re on a tight budget and willing to compromise on some features, PIA VPN is a viable option.

Customer Support

Even the most advanced VPN services can sometimes experience issues, and when they do, you want to know that there’s a knowledgeable and helpful support team ready to assist you. A responsive, 24/7 customer support service is an important feature to look for in a VPN.

Comparison of the Customer Support offered by PIA VPN and ExpressVPN

Customer service is an area where these two VPNs significantly differ.

PIA VPN provides customer support primarily through its ticketing system and a comprehensive knowledge base on its website. They do not offer live chat, which means you may have to wait for a response to your queries.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN has a 24/7 live chat service and an email support system. Their website also hosts an extensive selection of guides, FAQs, and troubleshooting resources.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

24/7 Live ChatNoYes
Email SupportYesYes
Knowledge BaseYesYes
Response TimeHours to daysMinutes

Pros and Cons for Each VPN in terms of Customer Support



  • Comprehensive knowledge base.
  • Email support.


  • No live chat support.
  • Response times can be long.



  • 24/7 live chat support.
  • Fast response times.
  • Comprehensive knowledge base.


  • None

Conclusion on Which VPN Provides Better Customer Support

When it comes to customer support, ExpressVPN is the clear winner. The availability of 24/7 live chat support and fast response times make it a more reliable choice for users who might need immediate assistance. While PIA VPN has a solid knowledge base, the absence of live chat and slower response times put it at a disadvantage.


In our comprehensive comparison, we’ve covered key aspects including security and encryption, no-log policy and jurisdiction, server network, streaming and torrenting capabilities, compatibility and ease of use, pricing, and customer support.

Overall Comparison Table (PIA VPN vs ExpressVPN)

Here’s a summary of how PIA VPN and ExpressVPN stack up:

FeaturePIA VPNExpressVPNWinner
Security and EncryptionStrongStrongExpressVPN
No-log Policy & JurisdictionYes, USAYes, British Virgin IslandsExpressVPN
Server NetworkLarge networkLarge network, better global spreadExpressVPN
StreamingGood, supports popular platformsExcellent, supports more platformsExpressVPN
TorrentingAllowedAllowed, with more reliable speedsExpressVPN
Compatibility and Ease of UseComprehensive, slightly complexUser-friendly, more device compatibilityExpressVPN
PricingAffordableHigher, but offers more valuePIA VPN
Customer SupportEmail support, no live chat24/7 live chat, fast responseExpressVPN

In this comparison, ExpressVPN is the winner in most categories, except for pricing where PIA VPN is more affordable.

Final Thoughts on the Better VPN Based on the Analyzed Factors

Overall, both PIA VPN and ExpressVPN have their strengths and offer quality services. However, considering all the factors, ExpressVPN edges out PIA VPN due to its wider range of device compatibility, better global server coverage, superior customer support, and consistent performance in all areas. It offers a user-friendly interface, top-notch security, and it excels in streaming and torrenting. Although it comes at a higher price point, the value delivered justifies the cost.

Choosing a VPN ultimately comes down to individual needs and preferences. If budget is your main concern and you don’t mind a bit of a learning curve, PIA VPN is a good choice. However, if you’re looking for a VPN that delivers exceptional performance across the board and provides a straightforward, user-friendly experience, ExpressVPN would be the way to go.


Is PIA VPN or ExpressVPN better for streaming?

Both PIA VPN and ExpressVPN have streaming capabilities, but ExpressVPN excels in consistently unblocking popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, making it the better choice for streaming.

Can I torrent safely with PIA VPN and ExpressVPN?

Yes, both PIA VPN and ExpressVPN support P2P file sharing and offer features like a kill switch to ensure safe and anonymous torrenting. However, ExpressVPN’s faster speeds make it a more reliable choice for torrenting.

Which VPN has better compatibility with devices?

ExpressVPN offers broader device compatibility, including support for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. PIA VPN is compatible with major platforms but lacks native support for smart TVs and gaming consoles.

How do the pricing plans compare between PIA VPN and ExpressVPN?

PIA VPN is more affordable, offering various plans including a two-year option. ExpressVPN, while pricier, provides premium features and extra months free with its yearly plan, offering excellent value for money.

About the author

Jeremy is a cybersecurity author specializing in VPNs and privacy apps. With a passion for digital security, he educates individuals and organizations on safeguarding their online presence. Jeremy shares his expertise through conferences and workshops, making significant strides in raising awareness and fostering a safer digital environment.