In my last article I considered what VPN’s actually are and why the PIA Private Internet Access people make the best widget. Today, I want to look at their App, how it works and some of it’s Settings. It is a nice little App that seems to work seamlessly.
PIA – The Main Window
When you first open the PIA App you get this main window:
You just click on the big, yellow button and the App automatically connects you to the server in the United States:
PIA has servers all over the world. You VPN IP address is listed in the window (that is what other people see). If you click on the down arrow you can monitor the connection activity (sounds boring, but you can do it if you are of a more technical mind):
PIA – Settings
If you click on those three dots in the upper right corner of the main window you can select the Settings area:
The General area has all the usual settings. It does have a Dark Theme which I really have come to prefer. The Account Tab is just normal sign in stuff. The Privacy Tab has some helpful settings:
I like the “PIA Mace” setting that blocks domains used for ads, trackers and malware. That is very good.
Now, I am the first to admit, I do not know what all of these settings do, but I still want to show you if you are ahead of me on some of this stuff. The Network Tab looks like this:
And here is the Connection Tab information:
Some of this stuff is pretty technical. I am sure some corporate network dudes would understand some of this connection information.
That is pretty much what the PIA App is like and how it works. Again, it works very nicely, I am really liking it.
However, there is one drawback to using a VPN and it is pretty much standard with whatever VPN service you use. It slows down the device on which it is running tremendously. Here is an example from my iMac using my home network. Here is my typical network speed using the Speedtest.net website:
I don’t have Fibre Optic or FIOS, but for a home network is is quite fast. Now, when I activate PIA, check what happens to my network speed:
That is quite a speed hit! So, OK, I can still run stuff and do online activity with that slower speed. However, if you really need full speed, you may need to turn off your VPN connection here, YMMV. There is one caveat here, my iMac is a Late 2012 model. That is about 120 Dog Years folks. The thing is old. It still runs pretty good, but will be in line for a new machine this year. I am not sure if my machine being this old may influence the slow speed of the PIA connection. If any of you use a VPN on a newer machine I would very much appreciate a comment on your network speed hit when using it. I am just curious here.
It really is a good idea to at least consider a VPN package. I think your safety and security is worth the cost.