Private Internet Access is one of the most well-known VPN providers in the world and with cheap prices and a good service it's not difficult to understand why they've got subscriber numbers in the millions.
One important question when choosing a VPN provider is, Do they log? When considering Private Internet Access as your VPN service you'll want to know more specifically, Does Private Internet Access log?
In this article I aim to answer that question by not only looking at their policy and claims but also looking at cases that prove or disprove their log claims.
Does Private Internet Access Log
The simple answer is, No, Private Internet Access does not log.
But what does “log” actually mean? Let's first take a look.
What are logs?
A “Log” or “Logging” refers to records kept by a VPN provider. These records can contain almost anything but depending on what they contain depends how private your VPN service really is.
General logs may include such details like your name and payment type for accounting. These would be considered minimal logs and you could expect to see these types of logs at many VPN providers. After all, most legitimate companies need to produce financial records.
Some providers such as Private Internet Access have devised ways in which they don't need to retain financial records for such transactions. For example, they're one of few providers who accept payment via gift card. The process is simple, on the Private Internet Access website you enter your gift card code and receive account details.
In this instance, no financial records are stored about you and because you don't need to create an account this can't be linked to your personal identity. With payment methods such as Paypal and Credit Card these inherently are linked to your identity.
Usage logs are more important as these would contain details such what you did while connected. Almost no VPN provider claims to retain these types of logs, although it's more likely that free VPN services would be inclined to record your usage. Private Internet Access claims not to store usage logs.
Metadata is the who, the where and the when. Metadata logs would therefore be a record of what time you connected, what server you connected to, what IP address you were assigned and how much data you transferred etc. It would not be a record of what you did.
Some VPN providers do retain metadata and it's important to choose a provider that doesn't, retains such data for a minimal time or stores minimal metadata information.
Private Internet Access log claims proven
Nearly every VPN provider claims they're not logging the important information that would link your usage to your identity. This is clearly not true. Cases such as the recent PureVPN issue and the historical EarthVPN case confirm this.
While some of these cases stretch back as far as 2014 which in VPN industry terms is a lifetime, the issue remains to this day.
Private Internet Access has found themselves in a group of providers that have had their log claims tested. Having such large subscriber numbers inevitably brings about a few bad apples. It is those bad apples that ultimately become the test cases of how strong our VPN service's privacy claims really are.
In early 2016 a US bomb hoax investigation took place which found the user responsible had been making use of the Private Internet Access service. As part of the investigation, Private Internet Access received a subpoena to cough up any details on the user responsible.
Private Internet Access replied with the only answer they could, as they don't log details on their users or their actions they had nothing to offer. You can read more about that particular incident here and here.
Conclusion: Does Private Internet Access log
When using any VPN service there always needs to be an element of trust. VPN providers can make wild claims that none of us can ever hope to prove or disprove.
Private Internet Access claims to store no logs. This has been backed up in a criminal investigation.
For the purpose of proof, the fact Private Internet Access couldn't assist in such a high profile criminal case as a bomb hoax should reassure you that their no log claims are solid.
As with all VPN providers, you should exercise caution but for the purpose of reassurance of truth, Private Internet Access is one of the leading providers.
Finally, if you're using a VPN to commit crime then you ultimately deserve to get caught and a VPN service probably isn't for you. For those interested in privacy protection, Private Internet Access would appear to make one of the best options.
This article is purely personal opinion based on publicly available information. We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter of why you trust or distrust Private Internet Access's claims or the cases which add weight to their claims. Let us know what you think in the comments and add to the discussion.