Private Internet Access or PIA for short is among the best VPNs on the market. This comes from the many satisfied users that have been using it for some time now.
As you might know, online security providers are usually based on multiple types of encryption protocols that you can switch on the fly, depending on what exactly you want to achieve.
PIA offers a conglomerate of 3 security protocols – PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS 5. They are mainly suitable for those who have compatibility issues with the PIA client or the OpenVPN protocol.
We’ll talk about how you can configure the PIA app on two different setups:
- L2TP setup
- PPTP setup
But, first things first, let’s see how you can install the VPN client.
1. PIA App – installation step-by-step guide
1. Download the client and install it. Run the executable with administrator rights for a proper installation.
2. When the Windows User Account Control (UAC) will ask you for the administrator password, type it in and press Yes to proceed.
3. Press on Save after you enter the credentials
4. After the installation process finishes, the PIA client will initiate and you’ll be asked to enter a Username and Password. You should have received those on your e-mail address.
5. Done deal, you are now the proud user of Private Internet Access VPN
2. PIA App – L2TP step-by-step configuration guide
Before we start, you should know that you will need the Generated PPTP/L2TP/Socks 5 username and password.
In order to get them, log in to the VPN’s client control panel, click on the Generate Password button under the Generate PPTP/L2TP/SOCKS Password section. The username will start with an x, and the password will be randomly generated.
Now we’re back on track. Follow the next steps to configure the PIA App with the L2TP protocol:
- On the keyboard, hold the Windows key while pressing X. This will open the Quick Links menu
- Click on Network Connections
- Look for the Network Status section and click on Network and Sharing Center
- Click on Connect to Workplace
- On this section, configure the settings as in the following screenshot
- As you can see, for the Internet Address, you will type in us-east.privateinternetaccess.com
- As for the Destination Name, type in Private Internet Access L2TP
- Check the Allow other people to use this connection option. Do this only if you want other people to see your VPN connection on the network
- Click on Create
- On the top right side of the screen, you’ll see the newly-created L2TP VPN connection. However, don’t click on it for now
- Summon up the Quick links menu again by holding the Windows key and pressing on X
- Click on Network Connections
- In the Network Status section, search for the VPN connection and connect to it. Enter your credentials and it will automatically connect
- Click on Ok. In order to verify if the connection works, go on the PIA official site, and at the top of the page, you should see a notification in green letters saying that You are protected by PIA
That’s all you have to do in order to configure a PIA L2TP connection.
3. PIA App – PPTP step-by-step configuration guide
The steps are relatively the same but for the sake of concision and consistency, I’ll put them here all the same:
- Hold the Windows key and press X to open up the Quick Links menu
- Open up the Control Panel
- There, click on View Network Status and Tasks
- Click on Set up a new connection or network
- Click on Connect to a Workplace, and then click on Next to proceed
- Next up, click on Use my Internet connection (VPN)
- In the Internet Address field, type in us-west.privateinternetaccess.com or, if you’d like to use a specific location, go on the official PIA site and search for all the available locations
- For the Destination Name field, type in Private Internet Access PPTP
- Check the option that says Allow other people to use this connection
- Click on Create
- Before doing anything, open up the Quick Links menu again
- Click on Network connections
- Search for the PPTP connection you just created, right click on it, and click on Properties
- From there, go to the Security Tab
- In the Type of VPN field, set it to Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
- Under Data Encryption, set it to Require Encryption
- Check the Allow these Protocols option, and then also check Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol and Microsoft CHAP Version 2
- Click on the Networking tab
- In there, uncheck everything except Internet Protocol Version 4, and then click on Ok
- Finally, in order to connect to the VPN, click on the Network icon in the System Tray on your desktop activities bar, look for the Private Internet Access PPTP option, and click on Connect. Enter your credentials when you’re asked
And this is how you configure a PIA PPTP connection.
Now let’s see how you can properly get rid of Private Internet Access if you’re planning on switching online security provider for whatever reason.
4. How to uninstall Private Internet Access
You can do this using one of two methods:
- By using the inbuilt uninstaller
- By manually deleting all the PIA files
The first method should be used if you’re not content with their services or if you want to change VPNs. However, if you’re uninstalling it because of update errors or antivirus warnings, then you should manually delete all the appropriate files.
This is just to ensure that absolutely everything is wiped clean and that you can then reinstall it as smoothly as possible.
1. Using the inbuilt uninstaller
- Open up the Start menu and look for the Uninstall Private Internet Access option
- If any security warnings appear, click on Yes to give permission to the PIA uninstallation app
- Wait for the uninstallation process to finish
Just like when you installed PIA, a black empty window with a flashing white cursor should appear. It will close itself after the process terminates.
2. Manually removing Private Internet Access
Whether you want to have a clean slate for a future reinstallation or if you’ve been told to do so by the PIA staff, these steps for manually removing the client will guide you through the process:
- Exit the PIA app by right-clicking on the icon in the system tray, and pressing on Exit
- Go to the Program Files folder
- Delete the pia_manager folder
- Open up the Device Manager by pressing on the Windows key and R. Then, type in devmgmt.msc
- Uninstall the TAP adapter driver. To do this, look for the Network Adapters section, click on it, and then right-click on the TAP-Windows Adapter V9, selecting Uninstall
- A dialog window was opened, asking you to confirm the deletion of the driver. Check the little box, and then press Ok.
- Press the Windows key + R combination again, and then type in %APPDATA%. Go to Microsoft, then Windows, then Start Menu, and finally Programs. Once you’re there, right-click on the Private Internet Access folder, and click on Delete.
- Open up the Task Scheduler by pressing the Windows key + R combination, and type in taskschd.msc.
- On the new window, look to your left, and search for Task Scheduler Library. Click on it, and then look in the middle of the window. Right-click on Private Internet Access, and select Delete. Confirm the removal by clicking on Yes.
These are all the steps you have to take in order to manually uninstall Private Internet Access. Ideally, you should also reboot your computer for all the changes to set in properly.