Private Internet Access — or PIA, as it is commonly called — is one of the more well-known VPN providers on the market today. If you check out our Private Internet Access review, you’ll see that we love its user-friendly design, impressive speeds and solid track record of security and privacy.
TorGuard, though lesser-known than PIA, is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated VPN options. In our TorGuard review, we noticed that TorGuard offers solid security and has some similar strengths and weaknesses as PIA, namely the impressive speeds but lackluster streaming performance.
With both providers showing up strong in the same key areas but weak in others, we thought it would be appropriate to have a match up between PIA’s established popularity and TorGuard’s potentially unrecognized greatness.
Setting Up a Fight: PIA vs TorGuard
In order to get a clear idea of how these VPNs stack up to one another, we’ve created a nine-round system. In each round, we will look at one critical aspect of VPN performance, such as speed, security or streaming.
We’ll compare how each VPN does in that specific category, then decide on a winner for that round. The winner of each round is assigned a point, and the provider with the most points at the end wins the battle.
TorGuard and PIA appear on our fastest VPNs roundup, with PIA coming in at number two and TorGuard at number four. When comparing the two side-by-side, it’s easy to see why PIA ranked higher in that article than TorGuard.
We tested each VPN in the same five locations and found that the PIA speed test results had higher upload speeds, download speeds and ping times in three out of five locations.
TorGuard beat PIA in the U.S. and Switzerland, but PIA still had a respectable 116Mbps and 89Mbps, respectively in those locations. TorGuard, on the other hand, had only around half of PIA’s speed in the UK and Israel.
Both VPNs are solid when it comes to performance, but PIA beats TorGuard on paper and was noticeably more responsive in our real-world testing. PIA generally loaded websites slightly faster and would reliably default to 1080p when loading videos, whereas TorGuard would occasionally default to 720p on slower servers.
Despite the impressive speeds offered by both providers, it’s not going to be very helpful if you plan to use either of these VPNs for streaming. With PIA, we could only get Netflix working. Both Hulu and Amazon Prime told us we had to turn off our VPN if we wanted to watch anything. In short, for comprehensive streaming, check out ExpressVPN instead.
PIA also failed to get us into BBC iPlayer, with the site refusing to load at all, something we’ve never seen before. If you’re trying to get access to BBC content, we suggest checking out our best VPN for BBC iPlayer article.
As for TorGuard, things were even worse. We could not get Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime video working at all. BBC iPlayer let us get on the site, unlike with PIA, but then told us that we could only watch something if we were in the UK, despite being connected to the London server.
Neither one of these VPNs is ideal for accessing geo-blocked content on streaming sites. Although both have the speed for it, neither one can sneak past the VPN detection of most sites. We recommend taking a peek at our best VPN for streaming article if you’re looking for a way to watch that content.
However, we have to pick a winner between these two for the round. We’re giving it to PIA because it managed to get us into Netflix, which is ever so slightly more than TorGuard can claim.
3. Security and Privacy
TorGuard and Private Internet Access offer the combination of protocol and encryption that we suggest. The difference is that TorGuard defaults to it, while you need to set up PIA a bit.
TorGuard opens up from the start with AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocol enabled. PIA has AES-128 encryption selected out of the box instead, which offers a slightly lower level of security in exchange for a slightly more responsive performance.
Aside from OpenVPN and AES encryption options, PIA also allows users to choose from a few choices of handshake methods. Although it’s not shown in the desktop client, it’s also possible to set up L2TP and PPTP connections with PIA if you do so manually.
Likewise, TorGuard offers some additional protocol options for those who are interested, but these must be set up manually because the client is only equipped with OpenConnect and OpenVPN. The additional protocol options include L2TP, PPTP and IPsec.
As we saw in our PIA vs. NordVPN article, PIA has a track record of privacy. PIA has been subpoenaed by the FBI in the past, and it was unable to hand over any relevant information about its users due to its no-logging policy.
To see which VPN would be better for those who are often torrenting large files, we tested both VPNs with the same torrent file. We connected to the closest server on each network that was giving us good speeds. We tested each VPN a few times to make sure our results were reliable and consistent.
We were expecting PIA to be slightly faster based on our earlier speed testing, but the results were actually a bit surprising. Private Internet Access was not slow by any means, quickly reaching speeds of just over 8MB/s on our test torrent and staying there for the duration of the download.
TorGuard, on the other hand, took several times longer to get going compared to PIA. Once it revved up, it was only able to peak at 5MB/s and was more often cruising around 4MB/s. Although both VPNs allowed for torrenting, and TorGuard was serviceable, PIA was about twice as fast and got torrents going much more quickly.
5. Server Locations
Incidentally, PIA and TorGuard have comparable total server counts with each provider boasting more than 3,000 servers. The major difference between each network is how these servers are distributed around the globe.
Private Internet Access has its servers concentrated in a total of 50 locations in 30 countries. The majority of the location options are spread out around the U.S., and only a few other countries have more than one location.
TorGuard offers a more diverse list of options with 68 locations in 55 countries. Although it’s not quite the size of something like HideMyAss’ network — which has 290 locations in 190 countries, as you can read about in our HideMyAss review — it still offers some solid choices that will do the job for most people. TorGuard even has six locations in the Middle East, which can be a relatively rare find.
6. Simultaneous Connections
If you’re looking for a way to protect all of your home devices, few VPN providers can beat what PIA has to offer. Private Internet Access allows users to connect up to 10 devices at once to a single account.
This beats out most top-shelf providers, as you can see in our IPVanish vs. NordVPN article, which points out that NordVPN offers only six and IPVanish meets PIA’s impressive 10 connections. TorGuard gives users a total of five simultaneous connections, which is better than many VPNs on the market but still pales in comparison to what PIA offers.
PIA and TorGuard both have a similar pricing model that features a single plan with three or four duration options. Starting with monthly pricing, TorGuard is priced on the more expensive side, making it comparable to some of the high-end options on the market.
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
- : Unlimited GB
- : 5
PIA, on the other hand, is several dollars less on a month-by-month basis, making it a solid choice for those who are only interested in a short-term VPN. TorGuard also offers a three-month plan that brings its price down to a comparable level with PIA’s monthly pricing.
Both providers have a six-month and year-long subscription option as well. Strangely enough, TorGuard is actually slightly more affordable in the six-month timeframe, while PIA offers a better deal when you sign up for a year-long plan.
That said, PIA is a better deal across the board if you do a VPN price comparison that accounts for the fact that a PIA account allows for twice as many connections.
Unfortunately, there is no PIA free trial, but it does offer a seven-day refund period. This lets potential users try out the service while still having some way to get their money back if things don’t work out. Comparatively, there is a way to try TorGuard for free, but it requires sending in a previous VPN invoice.
Starting with the websites for each provider, PIA has a better overall layout. It’s easy to find and download the PIA installer, and setting up an account is easy as well. TorGuard has a massive badge on its website advertising its seven-day free trial, but as we mentioned in the last section, this trial requires that you send in your old VPN invoice.
The checkout page for TorGuard is a bit more confusing with literally a dozen add-on options cluttering the page, and the TorGuard download page is more difficult to find without a tab for it at the top of the page, like PIA has.
As for the software, both providers use a very simple layout with minimal clutter. The PIA software is cleaner with only the bare minimum of information and options shown on the main page of the client. Meanwhile TorGuard gives you several key options on the main screen in the form of dropdown menus.
TorGuard has two problems that are not present with PIA: It does not have a search function in its server list, and it performs the TorGuard login each time you connect. This login process can occasionally cause a failure to connect and make the connection process take a bit longer.
The only thing we really have a problem with in PIA’s client is the PIA kill switch, which has options for “off,” “auto,” and “always.” What this means is a bit obscure, but it is set to “auto” by default. This seems to block only outside internet traffic when the VPN is on, while the “always” setting will also block internet traffic even if the VPN disconnects.
Overall, PIA has a more refined client with much less going on. Neither VPN causes problems on our computer, but the PIA user experience is much smoother from start to finish. From the better website layout and easier-to-navigate checkout to the more streamlined software, PIA offers a more user-friendly experience.
When it comes to extra bells and whistles, TorGuard doesn’t bring too much to the table. There is an app kill that can be configured to terminate a defined list of programs in case the VPN ever loses connection. TorGuard also allows users to specify a custom proxy server for increased security.
Meanwhile, PIA supports SOCKS5, which allows users to set up PIA with a proxy. In short, a proxy adds an additional bounce to your internet signal before connecting to the VPN server. This helps add an extra layer of online anonymity but at the cost of slower connection speeds.
Private Internet Access also has what it calls MACE, which blocks domains that are used for ads, trackers and malware. When it’s turned on, this can add just a small amount of additional security and anonymity.
Neither one of these providers can contend with a VPN like ExpressVPN when it comes to features, which you can read more about in our ExpressVPN vs. IPVanish and ExpressVPN vs PIA articles. That said, PIA still manages to pack in a couple of nice extras that TorGuard doesn’t have, giving it just enough of an edge in this round to secure the point.
10. Final Thoughts
This was a much closer matchup than the eight-to-one score would indicate. PIA only managed a narrow victory in several of the categories, such as streaming and security. TorGuard offered a solid showing with respectable speeds and tight security of its own, but it seems that PIA’s better reputation is well earned, as it was always one step ahead of TorGuard.
If you have experience with either one of these providers, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.