Two Popular VPN Services: Long Term Review of PIA and Tunnel Bear

Robin Harris has published a long-term comparison of two of the more popular VPN services. I will suggest that anyone thinking of using a VPN should read his article in ZDNet at http://www.zdnet.com/article/long-term-review-two-popular-vpn-services. Like Robin Harris, “I object to coffee shop script-kiddies to intercepting my email and passwords.”

I have been using PIA (Private Internet Access) for about a year or so in my MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone and am pleased with the product. I travel a lot and it has worked well for me. I did find it a bit confusing to set up on the MacBook Air but an email sent to PIA Support was answered within a couple of hours and gave step-by-step instructions that worked perfectly. (Why don’t they copy-and-paste Support’s instructions into the setup instructions?) The iPad and iPhone version were easy to set up; installation required only a minute or so on each.

While I agree with most of what Robin Harris wrote about PIA, I do have to disagree with one thing he wrote:

If the Wi-Fi [network] is heavily loaded, the extra handshaking required to initiate a VPN connection may never complete. In the average cafe the VPN worked well. But on an overloaded hotel Wi-Fi the VPNs were rarely able to connect.”

I don’t remember that ever happening to me. I spend about 75 nights per year in hotels in various countries and don’t ever remember having that problem. Admittedly, two months ago I spent a week and a half in a hotel in Jerusalem, Israel. I did have problems connecting via the hotel’s obviously overloaded wi-fi network. However, I had problems when connecting with or without the VPN! The attempted use of PIA’s VPN didn’t seem to make any difference. The first couple of nights, I was awake at 3 AM as I hadn’t yet adjusted to the timezone difference. Connecting at 3 AM worked well both with and without the VPN. However, attempting to connect to the hotel’s wi-fi network at 8 PM was a wasted effort, both with and without the VPN. Even without the VPN, sometimes I could not connect. Once I did connect, performance was very slow and I frequently was disconnected.

In short, the use of the PIA VPN doesn’t seem to make any difference to me when it comes to getting connected.

I last used PIA four days ago in a hotel in North Carolina and it worked well. Even though the hotel seemed to be very busy with many guests (the parking lot was full), everything worked perfectly with the VPN. I don’t have any experience with Tunnel Bear, the second VPN tested by Robin Harris.

Again, you can read Two popular VPN services: Long term review of PIA and Tunnel Bear at http://www.zdnet.com/article/long-term-review-two-popular-vpn-services.

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