Best VPN-services Sites

1

Hotspot Shield VPN Reviews

4.9 out of 5.0

2

Ivacy VPN Reviews

4.8 out of 5.0

3

NordVPN VPN Reviews

4.7 out of 5.0

4

CyberGhost VPN Reviews

4.6 out of 5.0

5

Norton Secure VPN Reviews

4.5 out of 5.0

6

VPNCity VPN Reviews

4.4 out of 5.0

PureVPN VPN Reviews 2020

PureVPN VPN Reviews 2020
Price
Quality
Guarantees
Support
Summary

Quick Background & Features Info

Founded in 2006 by their parent company GZ Systems, PureVPN is one of the oldest and largest VPN providers on the market.

From their humble 2-server beginnings, PureVPN has quickly expanded their operation and they now boast more than 2,000 servers across 180 different countries.

Their services are compatible with all major devices including:

  • Windows
  • Android
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Linux

If you are particularly keen on optimizing your online protection, you can even set PureVPN up to work with your routers, smart TVs, browsers like Chrome and Firefox and streaming services (like Roku, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast)

They’ve recently introduced a ‘virtual router’ feature for Windows devices, which means you can empower a Windows desktop or laptop with ‘router’-like features to connect up to 10 different devices.

Some VPN services, like VyprVPN for example, will only limit you to two different simultaneous connections. So the fact that you can connect PureVPN to a real router, in addition to setting up a ‘virtual router,’ means you can connect TONS of different devices. (Probably more than you’d ever want or need.)

They also have a ‘split-tunneling’ feature which means you can choose how (and where) you’d like to send traffic – through your VPN or internet service provider as usual. Your data can be split as needed.

While PureVPN doesn’t offer their own TOR, you can use one on top. Combining VPN’s with the Tor network to add an additional layer of privacy and security.

PureVPN has a kill switch feature that works like a fail-safe. The goal is to make sure your privacy and anonymity are never compromised, and that your personal information is never divulged.

Last but certainly not least, PureVPN comes with the NAT Firewall add-on so that all possible hacking loopholes are secured.

PureVPN Overview

OVERALL RANK: 53
USABILITY: Simple and easy to use
LOG FILES: No Logging
LOCATIONS: 140+ countries, 2000+ servers
SUPPORT: Responsive Live Chat
TORRENTING: Allowed
NETFLIX: 2/4 Servers Worked with Netflix
ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL: 256-bit AES; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and even IKEv2
COST: $3.33/mo
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.PureVPN.com

PureVPN Pros

1. Supports All Major Protocols (OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP …)

‘Man-in-the-middle’ (MiTM) attacks are some of the oldest (and most common) ways that hackers gain access to your sensitive information.

You might not even sense that anything is wrong. But somehow, someway, someone has placed themselves between you and your intended connection (like a browser or a website).

They can then read your emails, see what websites you’re going to, grab your session cookies to fool different websites into thinking they’re you, and even get personal information or passwords.

Many times the very tools used to help intercept these practices, like WiFi Pineapple, can be used to perform them by anyone, anywhere. Like, sitting in your local coffee shop for instance. Now, browsing emails or booking a flight while sipping a latte can turn out to be not such a relaxing afternoon after all.

This potential risk now extends to mobile devices, apps, and even your smart devices too.

To combat these problems, PureVPN offers all major protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and even IKEv2.

While OpenVPN is your best bet to get both benefits from security and speed, you might also need to choose L2TP/IPSec based on device availability or PPTP (in only a few certain cases where you’re not as worried about security vulnerabilities).

2. Industry Standard 256-bit Encryption

Brute force attacks are another unfortunately common practice.

Hackers eventually figure out your passwords and pin numbers through a series of repetitive, lightning-fast, trial-and-error combinations.

They’re one of the oldest tricks in the book (besides simply guessing your spouse’s birthday or kid’s name). And they’re actually increasing.

For example, a recent wide-spread attack on WordPress sites has been directed by a Russian company being used by the country to launch cyber attacks (you can’t make this stuff up).

The best form of defense in this case, is prevention. That comes in the form of 256-bit encryption, which is one of the most secure connections possible. It is so secure that it is used by government agencies around the world.

Your encrypted tunnel gets sealed shut so that third-party sites, ISPs, and nefarious, shadowy organizations worthy of being the next Bond villain, can’t see what you’re up to.

In addition, your privacy and anonymity is completely safe thanks to their ‘end-to-end’ connection. This includes when you switch from one IP to another (or another, or another) across PureVPN’s 80,000+ options.

3. Some Pretty Cool Features

One of the things that I really liked about PureVPN is just how many features and options they offer their users.

For starters, they offer a kill switch, five simultaneous connections, support for all major protocols, DDoS protection, advanced port forwarding, split tunneling, and a NAT Firewall.

In fact, they provide such a plethora of ways to optimize and customize your VPN experience that it would make even the best VPN blush.

Unfortunately, while these services are great in theory they have some functionality issues that need to be worked out.

I personally experienced a killswitch failure and, after reviewing a number of forums and third-party reviews, realized that almost every customer has experienced some type of issue here or there with some of the features that PureVPN offers.

4. Unrestricted Torrenting

PureVPN is solidly pro-torrenting.

Why’s that noteworthy?

Because ever since copyright infringement lawsuits have began flooding the marketplace, more and more VPNs are shying away from P2P servers.

Often, the ones who do still offer torrenting-friendly servers only allow it on a small handful of offerings.

But PureVPN doesn’t have these restrictions.

You’re free to use torrenting on any of their servers. So download away!

5. Quick Live Chat Support with OK responses

When dealing with a VPN, your security is on the line. As such, you want to ensure that your questions and concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently through a responsive customer support department.

When we first reviewed PureVPN, we were not happy with their support. While it offered live chat functionality, all of the responses seemed to be auto generated. However, PureVPN responded well to criticism and came back with a responsive and quick live chat system that directly addressed the questions I asked in under a minute.

I started off with a simple two-question approach. I wanted to know if users are able to utilize the TOR network, and I wanted to know what was being done to prevent DNS leaks.

As you can see above and below, they responded quickly, but it felt like a typical form response. What followed the greeting was another answer that seemed to be a copy paste job.

However, once I clarified my questions, I received a much better answer.

The responded with a simple statement regarding the TOR network, and I re-clarified that I had asked a second question.

They responded to that with a link that allows users to test for DNS leaks.

They didn’t go into specifics on how these issues were addressed, but the answer came quickly and it was helpful. I gave them definite props for that, especially when one considers where this service once was in terms of customer service.

It has improved by leaps and bounds.

4. 2/4 Netflix Servers Worked Properly

PureVPN claims to work with Netflix. That’s actually a bigger deal than you might think.

Netflix and VPNs have been at war for a few years. Whereas once users could utilize a VPN’s tunneling service to access geo-blocked Netflix content from other countries, the streaming service eventually caught onto this and unleashed a blocking system that stops most VPNs cold.

When we tested a select number of PureVPN’s servers with Netflix, we had a 50% success rate, which is huge!

Here are the four PureVPN servers that we connected to before checking Netflix:

  • United States: WORKED
  • Canada: WORKED
  • United Kingdom: BLOCKED
  • Netherlands: NO NL SERVER

Most VPNs out there can’t get any Netflix functionality, so the fact that we got two out of four to play Netflix content even almost places PureVPN on our Netflix-friendly VPN list. That’s a huge feather in the cap of this service.

PureVPN Cons

PureVPN is an affordable service, they have some cool features, and a great selection of servers. But there are a number of issues that potential users must take into account before they entrust this service with their internet security.

1. Slow Download Speed

NOTE: This Speed Test was done in 2019, so I can’t say that it’s still accurate.

Here’s a speed test I ran on speedtest.net to ensure the accuracy of this review. I then connected to PureVPN and ran these tests once more.

Here are our results:

US Server (New York)

  • Ping: 125ms
  • Download: 29.41 Mbps
  • Upload: 29.06 Mbps

EU Server (Amsterdam)

  • Ping: 40ms
  • Download: 35.49 Mbps
  • Upload: 27.29 Mbps

Asia Server (Hong Kong)

  • Ping: 355ms
  • Download: 6.77 Mbps
  • Upload: 3.62 Mbps

UK Server (London)

  • Ping: 53ms
  • Download: 62.48 Mbps
  • Upload: 45.90 Mbps

Their Amsterdam server (the fastest that I could find) only topped out at 35 Mbps out of 100, which is not great.

That’s troubling when you consider that their top competitor, PIA, offers servers with more than double the download speed at a very similar price.

2. No Leaks Found

When you are in the market for a VPN, you are typically there for one reason and one reason only.

Security.

Whether you want to protect yourself when working from public wi-fi or bypass censorship laws in your country, personal security is (and should be) your primary concern when selecting a new VPN service.

I tested their service on the following websites and found no leaks:

  • IPLeak.net
  • Perfect-Privacy.com
  • BrowserLeaks
  • IPX.ac
  • VirtualTotal.com

3. As of 2019 PureVPN is a Certified “No-Log” VPN

PureVPN markets their product as a “Zero Logs” VPN.

Since last year, they’ve been audited by a 3rd party company and are now certified as a “No-Log” VPN.

Costs, Plans, and Payment Options

The first, and most noticeable ‘pro’ about using PureVPN is the price tag.

They’re still one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and offer a phenomenal price for customers on their 1-year plan.

Here’s how it all breaks down.

Month-to-Month Plan

  • $10.95 per month
  • 0% Savings

3 Months Plan

  • $8.00 per month
  • 27% Savings

One Year Plan

  • $3.33 per month
  • 70% Savings

They also allow customers to purchase their service with almost every payment method imaginable (even Target gift cards). It’s nice to see untraceable crypto currencies listed as a payment option. This will allow users to pay with an untraceable online only form of currency. That’s a huge plus for VPN users who want to remain hidden.

In addition to their budget-friendly pricing and wide array of payment options, all of their purchases come with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Do I recommend PureVPN?

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this service over many of the others that we’ve reviewed.

PureVPN offers an admittedly affordable service with a wide server selection. Their customer service department gave me a positive experience and it had a 50% success rate with Netflix. These are all great things that a VPN should strive to achieve.

I recommend using NordVPN – it’s in the same price range, but you get a quality product you can trust. 

PureVPN is a premium service that operates 2,000+ servers in 140+ countries. It offers unlimited bandwidth, P2P compatibility, and high-end security features including military-level encryption and port forwarding.

Even better, it can unblock Netflix. But it’s not as reliable as our top five recommended VPNs, since the speeds were slow and the quality was poor.

Streaming – Does PureVPN Work with Netflix?

  • Netflix US: Yes
  • Hulu: Yes
  • HBO GO: Yes
  • BBC iPlayer: Yes

PureVPN can unblock most popular streaming sites, including Netflix US. Although my connection was sluggish, I could stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, and BBC iPlayer in HD. For a faster connection and consistent upload and download speeds, check out a VPN with excellent support and servers distributed all over the globe, like ExpressVPN.

The VPN’s streaming profile optimizes your connection for high-speed streaming, but it uses a weaker encryption protocol than its other profiles. According to the customer support agent I spoke to, this is because stronger encryption protocols will slow down your connection.

You can increase your encryption, but this will reduce your speed. I can’t recommend this, given that my speeds while using the streaming profile were already slow, even with the weaker encryption.

PureVPN also operates specialized servers for most popular websites. If there’s a specific website you’d like to unblock, you can search for it on the server-selection page and receive a list of servers that can unblock it.

PureVPN Speeds

Whether you want to torrent, stream, or just browse, it’s crucial that your VPN offer high-speed connections. It’s normal to experience some speed loss, because your data has to travel farther to reach the VPN server. However, the difference should be barely noticeable with a premium VPN.

When determining the speed of an internet connection, we measure three things:

  • The download speed is the rate at which you can pull data from a server to your device. The higher this number is, the faster your internet connection will be. This is measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
  • The upload speed is how quickly you can send data from your device to others. The higher this number is, the faster you’ll be able to send files and upload data. This is also measured in megabits per second (Mbps).
  • The ping is how long it takes your connection to respond after you’ve sent a request. The lower this number is, the faster your connection will be. This is measured in milliseconds (ms).

During my analysis of PureVPN, I measured my speed while connected to a local server and to a server in the US. The usual assumption is that connection times to a local server are quicker, because the data has less distance to travel.

My speed before connecting to PureVPN was 12.49 Mbps download, 0.91 Mbps upload, with a ping of 34 ms.

When I connected to my local PureVPN server in Australia, my download speed dropped slightly to 10.75 Mbps, and my upload speed dropped to 0.85 Mbps. My ping increased to 76 ms. I didn’t notice any speed difference.

However, when I connected to a US server, my download speed plummeted to 3.78 Mbps. My upload speed actually increased slightly to 0.87 Mbps, and my ping increased to 216 ms. This was still fast enough to stream in high definition, but my connection definitely lagged.

Is PureVPN Good for Torrenting?

Yes. PureVPN supports P2P file sharing. In fact, it offers a dedicated torrenting profile and specialized servers to ensure that your P2P connection is as fast and secure as possible.

Security – Is PureVPN Safe?

PureVPN offers reliable security protocols, but its no-logs policy came under fire in 2016 as a result of its involvement in a criminal investigation.

Does PureVPN Keep Logs?

PureVPN is headquartered in Hong Kong, outside the 5/9/14-Eyes jurisdiction. It claims to keep a strict no-logs policy, but was able to supply a user’s records in a 2016 cyberstalking investigation.

The court documents credit PureVPN for supplying information that linked the use of two separate email accounts and identified the user’s home and workplace IP addresses.

After the court case, PureVPN updated its privacy policy to reassure its users:

“We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, records of the VPN IPs assigned to you, your original IPs, your connection time, the history of your browsing, the sites you visited, your outgoing traffic, the content or data you accessed, or the DNS queries generated by you.”

But can this VPN really be trusted? There’s no way to prove whether or not PureVPN continues to log users’ data. If you’re looking for a VPN to protect your anonymity, PureVPN might not be the best choice for you. You can check out our guide to the most transparent VPNs available, instead.

Does PureVPN Have an Ad Blocker?

Yes, PureVPN’s app includes a built-in ad blocker.

Does PureVPN Work in China?

Yes, PureVPN is able to bypass China’s firewall and VPN blocks.

It also operates servers in China for high-speed access to local websites.

Price and Value for Money

PureVPN is feature-packed and offers great value for money.

Does PureVPN Have a Free Version?

PureVPN doesn’t offer a free trial. It does offer a well-priced, 3-day paid trial, though.

PureVPN’s Refund Policy

PureVPN offers a 31-day, money-back guarantee.

Is PureVPN Compatible with My Device?

You can connect up to five devices simultaneously with PureVPN. There are apps available for all devices, including Smart TVs and gaming consoles.

Encryption

PureVPN uses 256-bit encryption to protect your data.

Leak Protection

The VPN offers DNS, IPV6, and WebRTC leak protection.

Internet Kill Switch

PureVPN’s automatic kill switch prevents unprotected data leaving your network in the rare event that your VPN connection fails.

Split Tunneling

The VPN’s split tunneling feature lets you choose which data you send through your VPN connection, and which you don’t. This is great in office environments, for example, where you need to connect to some services using your local IP.

PureVPN Customer Service

I opened a live support chat to find out more about the encryption protocol the VPN uses for its streaming profile, since the website is very vague about it.

Unfortunately, this was a frustrating process. The support agent was polite, but did not read my question properly. In fact, they just redirected me to the exact page I was asking them to explain.

I then waited a few moments while, I assume, they were doing some research. Their second answer was helpful, and resolved my query.

PureVPN’s customer service needs improvement. Overall, this wouldn’t be enough to prevent me from using a VPN, but it is something to keep in mind if you value customer service like I do.

User Experience

PureVPN is straightforward and easy to use, but its app requires a lot of power to run.

I tested it using a Windows 8 device with 4GB of RAM and an Intel Core i3 processor. Running the app caused my computer to slow down to a frustrating pace. It even froze my computer four times during an hour-long session. If you’re operating a slow or older device, I’d recommend using the browser extension instead.

When getting started, it took less than five minutes to download and install the app. Once you log in, it’s ready to go. You don’t need to manually adjust any settings, but you can customize your connection in the preferences window.

When you’re ready to connect, you’ll need to select a profile for your VPN. Each profile is designed to optimize your connection for its intended use.

It’s easy to switch servers. If you select Popular Websites and enter the service you want to unblock, the app will recommend a series of servers that are best suited for that site. You can also search for them manually by location.

Overall, I found the app frustrating to use. Although it’s functional and well designed, it took a huge toll on my device’s performance.

Conclusion

PureVPN has all the features you need in a premium VPN, but its performance and customer service don’t measure up.

The app was very demanding on my computer’s resources, causing my system to slow down and, a few times, freeze altogether. The problem resolved immediately after I closed the app.

During my speed tests, I enjoyed a high-speed connection on my local PureVPN server. But I lost a lot of speed when I connected to US servers. Although I was still able to stream HD content from the major websites I tested, like Netflix US, my loading times were very slow. If you’re after speedy streaming on any server, and extra features thrown in, too, such as specialty streaming servers, check out one of these top five VPNs for Netflix.

The VPN’s customer support was a letdown, too. I found it frustrating that I needed to ask my question twice before the support agent understood it properly.

It should also be mentioned that PureVPN’s no-logs policy came under fire several years ago, when it was able to supply a user’s records in a 2016 cyberstalking investigation.

With all of these issues in mind, I don’t recommend PureVPN

In a perfect world, picking the best VPN would be easy. It would be full of great features and cost next to nothing. You would even forget that it’s running, unnoticed in the background, all while using advanced encryption protocols to add an impenetrable layer of security. Today, I continue the search for the holy grail of VPNs. Could PureVPN be that mythical VPN that works flawlessly with every bonus feature you could want?

In this PureVPN review, I’ll review its pros and cons, the company behind it, key features, and how it performed for me. Then, I’ll show you the subscription options available with PureVPN, what the customer support is like, its apps, and how it compares to my favorite VPNs. Let’s jump right in!

Pros and Cons of PureVPN

Before we dive in, let’s go over the best and worst parts about PureVPN.

What We Like

  • No data logging policy: Audited by an independent third party making PureVPN “no-log certified.”
  • Feature-packed: Kill switch, split tunneling, Netflix, and torrenting make for a great combination with PureVPN.
  • Speed: PureVPN excelled on Mac and didn’t disappoint on Windows.

What We Don’t Like

  • Mixed customer support reviews: PureVPN doesn’t have great tech support, according to customer reviews on Amazon.
  • Only five simultaneous connections: Depending on how many devices you have in your house, this may be too few.

About PureVPN

PureVPN’s app for Mac. Screenshot from PureVPN’s Website.

PureVPN is one of the older VPNs on the block, having been founded in 2006. Because they are headquartered in Hong Kong, they are not subject to international surveillance alliances like Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes. This makes it more difficult for PureVPN to be forced into handing over user’s data, a great plus for VPN companies. While a VPN company’s location doesn’t tell you about their trustworthiness, it helps to not be beholden to a government’s anti-privacy laws.

Now, more than a decade after PureVPN was founded, PureVPN has grown to have more than 2,000 servers in over 140 countries around the globe. This kind of worldwide presence is important for VPNs because the speed of your Internet depends partially on your distance to the server. Having so many servers around the world almost guarantees that PureVPN will have one close to you. So far so good, but let’s talk about what kind of features PureVPN offers.

PureVPN Features

PureVPN Features

PureVPN works by creating a virtual private network (VPN) when you’re connected to the Internet on your home connection, cellular network, or a public Wi-Fi hotspot, although it’s really only necessary when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network. This creates a middle man between you and your Internet Security Provider (ISP) so that your ISP only sees you accessing the VPN servers. This means your ISP will have no idea what you’re doing on the web. This also keeps your real IP address hidden from websites you visit.

Will PureVPN Log My Data?

PureVPN Privacy Policy. Screenshot from the PureVPN website.

I know, I know. Who reads the privacy policy, right? But actually, a VPN company’s policy on data logging is more important than any fancy feature, namely whether or not they log your web traffic and private IP address. So, does PureVPN keep logs of your session data?

Well, they used to log some personal data, but they changed their privacy policy to be a true no-data-logging VPN in 2018. To make a long story short, there was an incident in which PureVPN helped the FBI identify an individual based on his usage of PureVPN. PureVPN received flak for this because their claims of not logging data at the time turned out to be misleading.

After that incident, PureVPN changed its privacy policy and even got an independent security firm, Altius IT, to verify that their system doesn’t log any data that could identify a user. Altius IT said they:

“…did not find any evidence of system configurations and/or system/service log files that independently, or collectively, could lead to identifying a specific person and/or the person’s activity when using the PureVPN service.”

So to summarize, you can feel safe that PureVPN will never log your web traffic. PureVPN is one of only a few VPNs to have been audited by a third party. With other VPNs, you have to trust them when they say they aren’t logging your data.

Does PureVPN Have A Kill Switch?

Kill switch in the PureVPN Windows app. Screenshot is taken from the PureVPN website.

A kill switch, also known as a network lock feature, is a feature that “kills” your Internet if your VPN connection goes down. This feature could save your skin if you’re a journalist or downloading content that might be copyrighted. Without a kill switch, a momentary outage could expose your private IP address to your ISP and the websites you’re on. Luckily, PureVPN does have a kill switch on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux.

Does PureVPN Offer Split Tunneling?

Split Tunneling

No, split tunneling isn’t the reason the toilet clogged that one time at your in-law’s. Split tunneling is a feature that lets you decide which of your Internet traffic gets encrypted by the VPN and which goes directly to your ISP. Without it, your VPN is either on or off.

Why is this feature nice to have? Imagine you live in New York City. You want to rewatch The Office on Netflix in HD without any buffering. And at the same time, you want to browse the web securely. Bam! Split tunneling to the rescue. I’m glad to announce that, yes, PureVPN does offer split tunneling, on Android and Windows at least.

Can I Use Netflix with PureVPN?

Connecting to another country’s Netflix or your home country’s while you’re traveling isn’t as easy as it once was. Nowadays, many VPNs don’t work with Netflix, because of Netflix’s VPN detection system. PureVPN, however, has figured out a way to bypass these filters so that you can watch Netflix with PureVPN. Even if you’re not streaming shows all the time, it’s good to know you have the option.

Can I Use Torrent with PureVPN?

You can torrent files with PureVPN. Just make sure you are connected to one of their special servers set up for peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfers. Another thing to keep in mind is that PureVPN doesn’t have P2P servers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or Australia, so you may have a slow torrenting experience if you’re located in one of those countries. But overall, PureVPN is looking good. They’ve got all the important features. Let’s see how they do in terms of security and encryption.

PureVPN Encryption

How Encryption Works

Just like the security of a lock depends on how the lock stands up to different types of abuse, the same can be said about encryption. If you want to protect your privacy on the web, then you need a VPN with strong encryption. PureVPN uses AES-256 for data encryption, which would take billions of years for current computers to crack using brute force. So yes, I would say PureVPN’s encryption is strong and secure.

AES-256

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is an encryption algorithm used to encrypt data with a 128-, 192-, or 256-bit key lengths. AES-256, meaning AES with a 256-bit key, is ubiquitous in the encryption field because it’s fast, secure, and doesn’t use much computing power. The United States uses AES-256 to encrypt top-secret information, which is why sometimes you will see this advertised as “military-grade encryption”.

PureVPN Protocols

Internet protocols determine how data packets are sent across a network. The degree of security a VPN has depends on the protocol chosen. PureVPN uses OpenVPN/IKEv2 on Windows, OpenVPN on macOS and Android, and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols on iOS. All of these protocols are considered highly secure by the infosec community. For those who prioritize speed over security, PureVPN also lets you choose between the PPTP protocol and “No-Encryption”. You can find more information below on these VPN protocols.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol used to make secure tunnels for your web traffic. OpenVPN is sometimes referred to as the gold standard when it comes to VPN protocols, and rightly so because it offers a good balance of speed and security. It offers up to 256-bit encryption using the Open SSL library and many other security features that can be configured as desired with protocols such as PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2/IPSec, SSTP, and more.

IKEv2/IPSec

Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a widely used VPN protocol that automatically re-establishes your connection with your VPN after you’re disconnected from the Internet. This comes in handy when you would like to switch between Wi-Fi and mobile hotspots, which happens all the time when you’re on a mobile phone. IPSec, or Internet Protocol Security, is a collection of Internet protocols to securely send data over an Internet connection.

L2TP/IPSec

Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) combines with IPSec to create a highly secure VPN client. L2TP generates the VPN tunnel while the IPSec handles encryption, channel security, and data integrity checks. L2TP/IPSec is somewhat slower than IKEv2 and OpenVPN and sometimes has problems getting past firewalls, but is still a great option to have available.

PPTP

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) has been used often since the 1990s. It creates tunnels to encapsulate the data packet, and a secondary protocol like GRE or TCP is used for encryption. PPTP is generally considered obsolete and not the most secure method around. Although PPTP is very fast, I wouldn’t use if for it’s security issues.

Testing PureVPN

So now that we know what’s under the hood, let’s find out how PureVPN performs when the rubber hits the road. I’m most concerned about speed and security. For speed, I’m testing the download, upload, and ping of my Internet connection before and after turning on PureVPN. And for security, I’m going to see if PureVPN leaks my IP address using DNS and WebRTC leak tests.

Speed Tests

You’ve probably noticed the first time you tried out a VPN that your Internet seemed to slow down. No, that wasn’t your imagination. If you think of the VPN as the middleman between you and your ISP, you can understand why that extra step often slows you down. The degree to which you are slowed down, however, can differ greatly with various VPNs. I’ve tested VPNs that slowed me down by only 3% and others that that slowed me down a whopping 65%. That’s a big range, so let’s see where PureVPN falls inside it.

Please note that your VPN Internet speed is determined by many factors— time of day, location, Internet Service Provider, VPN server distance, and of course the VPN service provider. I’m testing PureVPN in Warsaw, Poland on a Macbook Pro and Lenovo ThinkPad.

PureVPN Download Speed Tests

In my download speed test, PureVPN performed better on Mac than on Windows. My speed decreased by 26% on my Mac and by 44% on Windows. For Windows, I would say that it is around the average speed drop on a VPN. For Mac, I would say above average and I’m impressed my speed stayed above 300 Mbps.

PureVPN Upload Speed Tests

For upload speeds, I got the opposite results. PureVPN kept my upload speed significantly higher on Windows, compared to Mac. The upload speed dropped by 48% on Mac and only 11% on Windows.

PureVPN Ping Speed Tests

Now let’s look at ping, or latency. This metric is probably most important for gamers who don’t want to lag when playing online. PureVPN increased my ping by 118% on my Macbook Pro and by 380% on my Lenovo laptop. If you’re a competitive gamer, this means I would recommend PureVPN if you have a Mac, but with Windows, I’m not so sure.

Overall, PureVPN performed excellently on my Mac and average on my Windows laptop. Keep in mind if you want higher speeds while using PureVPN, you can choose PPTP encryption or the “No Encryption” option, although that eliminates most security benefits.

DNS Leak Test

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a naming convention that converts the domain names from text to numbers. When you visit a website, your computer connects to that DNS server and shares your IP address.

With some VPNs, your computer keeps using your ISP’s DNS addresses instead of the VPN’s. This means websites you visit could see your real IP address even though you’re using a VPN. Luckily for PureVPN, I performed DNS leak tests on Mac and Windows and can report that PureVPN passes DNS leak tests.

WebRTC Leak Test

Another way a VPN could leak your privacy is through a WebRTC leak. WebRTC, otherwise known as Web Real-Time Communication Test, allows web browsers to communicate directly with each other rather than going through an intermediate server. WebRTC is used because it provides faster speeds for video chat, live streaming, and file transfers. So, does WebRTC have any downside?

Well, any two devices communicating via WebRTC need to know each others’ private IP addresses. This means a website or third party could use WebRTC to detect your real, private IP address. Once again defeating the point of all that military-grade encryption. Fortunately, I tested PureVPN on Mac and Windows and found PureVPN showed zero WebRTC leaks.

PureVPN Subscription Information

Now that you’ve got the low down on PureVPN, let’s see if their subscriptions will put you in sticker shock. Keep in mind that PureVPN has a 31-day money-back guarantee. They also have a 3-day trial for $2.5o, if you want to test the water first.

Options

PureVPN Subscription Options

As luck would have it, PureVPN’s subscription prices are quite affordable, ranging from $3.33 to $10.95 a month. With a long term commitment, the price comes way, way down. When it comes to payment options, you can pay for PureVPN using a credit card, PayPal, cryptocurrency, and other region-specific options.

PureVPN Business Subscription Options

If you want to purchase PureVPN for your business, that will cost you between $8.45 and $9.99 a month per user up to ten users. The price goes down even more when you add more users. You can choose dedicated IPs available from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, Malta, or Singapore.

For each subscription, you can connect five devices simultaneously from the same country. With any subscription, you’ll be able to switch between an unlimited number of servers.

Manual Configurations

Even if you don’t live in a smart home reminiscent of The Jetsons, chances are you have some devices other than a desktop PC and mobile phone. To accommodate that, PureVPN has apps for Linux, Google TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Kindle. For other devices, you will need to manually configure PureVPN. That means you can also use PureVPN on routers, tablets, PS4, Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, Kodi, and Smart TVs.

Supported Browsers

In case you like to have your VPN integrated with your web browser, PureVPN has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

PureVPN Customer Support

Unless you’re a tech guru or really, really good at googling, chances are you will glad to have tech support when a problem pops up. So, does PureVPN have good customer support? Let’s find out.

PureVPN Customer Support Options. Screenshot from the PureVPN website.

Features

If have a question, you can reach out to PureVPN via email or live chat 24/7. They also have a support center full of helping guides and FAQs, as well as a “Contact Us” form which is similar to sending an email. While live chat is my preferred method of contacting support, I know some people prefer the old-fashioned phone call. If that’s the case you’re out of luck with PureVPN.

Customer Support Ratings

The PureVPN app has a rating of 3.3 on Amazon out of over 600 reviews. Nothing to brag about, but also not terrible. Looking at the breakdown of ratings, we see around 40% gave PureVPN five stars, and 30% gave it one star. It seems like users either love PureVPN or you hate it.

Then I looked at comments referring to customer support specifically, 14 came up— half positive and half negative. While that sounds bad, keep in mind that’s seven negative customer service reviews out of 600. For the most part, the customers that had negative experiences had issues customer support couldn’t solve, with two users saying it felt like they were “speaking to robots”.

The PureVPN App

PureVPN iOS App. Screenshot from PureVPN’s Website.

Since chances are you own a smartphone, you’ll want an app for that. PureVPN has you covered with apps for iOS and Android. In terms of customer reviews, both apps scored similarly as PureVPN did as a whole on Amazon. PureVPN has  3.4 stars in the Google Play Store and 3.7 stars in the Apple App Store. In a recent review, Shiva Bhattarai noted,

“Very reliable service. Four star because I was not able to use the dedicated IP for couple of days making my work life hard, but their customer service was nice to resolve it in few days. “

PureVPN Vs. NordVPN

NordVPN App

If you’ve seen any of our best VPN lists, you’re probably familiar with NordVPN. Let’s see how PureVPN compares to one of the most popular VPNs out there. First off, let’s look at server numbers. More doesn’t necessarily mean better, but you know, it often does. PureVPN has over 2,000 servers in 140 countries (including virtual servers). By comparison, NordVPN has more than 5,500 servers in 58 countries.

PureVPN vs NordVPN Features Comparison

Let’s start with what they share in common. Both PureVPN and NordVPN have great no data logging policies. PureVPN and NordVPN both operate in countries not part of any international surveillance alliance. They both have a kill switch feature and they both have special servers for P2P torrenting and Netflix. They both give you the option of a dedicated IP address.

The only big category in when it comes to split tunneling. Split tunneling is available on Android and Windows from PureVPN, while NordVPN doesn’t have split tunneling on any device. With NordVPN, you get the same shared IP address every time. PureVPN gives you dynamic IP addresses, meaning each time you access the VPN you will be assigned a different IP address.

NordVPN and PureVPN are remarkably similar in price. PureVPN is slightly cheaper if you look at the monthly price with no subscription ($10.95 vs $11.95). But then NordVPN is slightly cheaper when you look at prices with long term commitments ($2.99 vs $3.33). Overall, NordVPN and PureVPN have similar features and come with almost identical price points. The scale tipper for most will be whether you value NordVPNs massive number of servers, or whether you need split tunneling that PureVPN has.

Recap of PureVPN

To bring it all together, I think PureVPN is a solid VPN choice. Their apps have all the important features. My speed tests showed PureVPN is fast (but not the fastest). And while they could have been more transparent regarding their data policy in the past, it’s nice to see they have bee independently audited to not keep logs. So let’s break down PureVPN to see if it will be a good fit for you.

Choose PureVPN if you appreciate…

  • No data logging policy: You don’t have to take PureVPN’s word for it, this has been checked by an independent third party.
  • Hong Kong location: Being based out of Hong Kong means PureVPN isn’t a part of any international surveillance alliance.
  • Split Tunneling: Offered on Windows and Android, this feature lets you route some traffic through PureVPN and some to your ISP.
  • Netflix: PureVPN gets past Netflix’s filter and has fast enough speeds to let you binge as much as you want.
  • Speed: PureVPN was pretty fast on both my Windows and Mac computers.

Design and Features

Boasting more than 2,000 servers across over 140 countries, PureVPN can help you connect to tunnels through the internet on six out of the seven continents. Giving users the ability to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, PureVPN supports Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS through various apps, as well as Chrome and Firefox through extensions, and hardware including routers, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV devices.

A major selling point for PureVPN (like some of its competitors) is that it’s based in Hong Kong, so therefore out of the jurisdiction of the “five eyes.” This should, in theory, provide cover if you were to use this service for nefarious reasons, but China’s recent announcement of it exerting more control over the territory throws that benefit into question.

PureVPN has long stated that it does not keep logs of its users' activity, but the 2017 arrest of a Massachusetts man who used the service to allegedly stalk a person raises eyebrows on that claim. Federal officials said “PureVPN was able to determine that their service was accessed by the same customer from two originating IP addresses,” which makes it unlikely that no data was collected at that time. However, it’s worth noting, the company revised its privacy policy in 2018, and in August 2019 it was certified as log-free by a third-party auditor.
Testing the VPN using its Mac OS app also proved to be similarly complicated. Featuring a simple, straightforward, one-button interface, you’d expect to click “connect” and be on your way to getting protection, but that’s unfortunately not what we experienced. Instead, when we clicked the button, the VPN whirred to life but eventually stalled out, unable to make a complete connection to its service – its status read “looking for your new Location” and didn’t allow us to access the internet until it was otherwise disconnected.
Fortunately the “Live Chat” button on PureVPN’s website provided prompt, knowledgeable, and helpful support and eventually got us online, though not in an ideal way. The company’s representative had us open the app’s settings and change from its automatic mode, which selects from among several VPN protocols, to L2TP, a highly secure but ultimately slower protocol. In trying out the other protocols listed in PureVPN’s preferences, some (IPSEC, L2TP) worked, while others (SSTP, TCP, UDP) repeated the same “Looking for your new Location” issue.

That’s a shame, because PureVPN has one of the user-friendliest interfaces going among the VPNs we tested. Hard to see, a “change mode” link in the top left corner of the app gives users the ability to customize their PureVPN usage with just a click, providing options titled “Stream” (for watching video online), “internet Freedom” (for accessing websites that are blocked in your region), “Security/Privacy” (designed to keep data encrypted and safe), “File Sharing” (self-explanatory there), and “Dedicated IP” (likewise). But these shortcuts didn’t work as we’d hope, since several of the PureVPN protocols that support them weren’t connecting for us.

Performance

Knowing that many of PureVPN’s protocols weren’t working, we connected through L2TP to put the service to the test and determine if it would be the best VPN for gaming, for streaming video through Netflix, or just simply for keeping internet usage private while not slowing it down significantly. Our initial speed tests alone told us it wasn’t going to meet the challenge – PureVPN was the slowest VPN we tested in 2020.

Our speed tests were conducted using SpeedOf.Me. Using the website, we took an average of PureVPN’s download and upload speeds in the afternoon and evening, comparing it to the average speed of our internet connection without using a VPN, as well as competing VPNs to determine which service was the fastest VPN of 2020. In both the afternoon and evening, PureVPN’s download performance was the slowest of any VPN we tested, and cut the speed of our internet connection by 75% or more. As it applied to uploads, PureVPN’s speeds weren’t nearly as bad – in the evening, it scored second-fastest among the VPNs we tested. But that hardly made it worth recommending.
To check PureVPN’s performance as a gaming VPN, we used ping testing on several popular online multiplayer games – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and League of Legends – and played the titles to see what the scores meant in-game. Results varied depending on which title we were testing, but overall the results were underwhelming, whether they were taken in the afternoon or evening. Without a VPN, the average ping response for Fortnite was 21ms and 20ms in the afternoon and evening, respectively. With PureVPN it was 80ms in the afternoon and 172ms in the evening. League of Legends saw a less dramatic increase, but was still more than 25ms slower, on average. Counter-Strike was even less responsive than Fortnite while using PureVPN, though that’s just by the numbers.
But by the pixels, Counter-Strike mostly performed well, though it suffered stutters and hiccups that may have led to us getting shot up a time or two. The game was playable and enjoyable but not ideal, and we wouldn’t recommend using PureVPN to play it. The experience of playing Fortnite while using PureVPN was even worse, especially at the start of the match when the game lurched in fits and spurts, leaving us exposed right from the drop, as the game hung for what was maybe a half second at a time, but felt like eons. League of Legends suffered no such stutters, making the VPN worth its weight in gold, despite its difficulties.

Surprisingly, Netflix streamed crisply and clearly using PureVPN, though we did struggle to connect to the service a few times. But once we were in, the fast, furious scenes of Netflix’s action movie Extraction streamed like they were on the silver screen, with no buffering, blurring, or motion artifacts, whatsoever. It was a pleasant surprise after such a bumpy ride.

Purchasing Guide

Offering a 7-day, $0.99 trial, PureVPN has several different pricing options, each giving users the ability to get a money-back guarantee after 31 days. A one-month PureVPN subscription costs $10.95. To get the cost down to $5.82 per month, users will have to sign up for a year-long PureVPN subscription that runs $69.95. The best deal, bringing the price down to $3.33 per month, is the $79.95 two-year PureVPN subscription. The service also gives users the ability to add features such as port-forwarding, dedicated IP addresses, and DDos protection, onto the service for additional fees.

Verdict

With a good, user-friendly interface, there’s a lot to like in PureVPN, if only it worked as advertised. Privacy-seeking internet users would do better spending their money on a competing service, but if PureVPN gets tweaked to function as designed, it could be a front-runner in the future.

Our Verdict

PureVPN has a lengthy and appealing feature list, but look at the details – app usability, what the Windows app is doing under the hood, the quality of the support site – and the service just isn't as capable or professional as the top VPN competition.

For

  • Loads of features
  • Decent value
  • Unblocks Netflix, Disney+
  • Wide platform support

Against

  • Apps have many issues
  • Below-par support site
  • Nasty encryption concern with the Windows app

Hong Kong-based PureVPN has been in the VPN business since 2007, so it's no surprise that it's built up a lengthy list of features: 2,000+ self-managed servers across 140+ countries and 180+ locations, with apps for nearly everything, a wide choice of protocols, torrent support, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a smart kill switch, split tunneling, and payment via Bitcoin if you need it.

Platform support is another highlight, with dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and more downloads and tutorials to help you set it up on routers, Kodi, Android TV, Amazon's Fire TV Stick and more.

There's support for connecting up to 10 devices simultaneously, too, up from five since our last review and more than most providers - NordVPN only has six.

ricing is a little higher than average at $11 billed monthly, $8.33 on a six-month plan, and an effective $5.82 a month billed annually.

PureVPN used to offer a two-year plan at $3.33 a month. That's disappeared, though, which leaves the service looking a little expensive. Sign up for its annual plan and you're charged $70; choose Surfshark's two-year plan and you'll pay $48.

There's a small compensation in PureVPN's 7-day trial. This costs $1, but it gives you plenty of time to see if the service does what you need, and if you cancel your account before the week is up, you get your dollar back.

There is also a 31-day money-back guarantee for the regular commercial plans, which is more generous than many. PureVPN's refund policy used to include some sneaky conditions where you wouldn't get your money back if you'd connected more than 100 times, or used more than 3GB of data, but we are happy to say that these have been dropped. It's now advertised as a 'no questions asked, risk-free, stress-free' money-back guarantee, so if you're unhappy, just send an email and ask for a refund.

Privacy and logging

In a previous review, we pointed out that PureVPN made a big deal of its 'zero log' policy, explaining that this meant the company didn't record what you did online. But the small print said there was some session logging, which appeared to include the time you connect to a server, your incoming IP address and the total bandwidth used.

This isn't a minor detail. In October 2017 reports appeared of a man arrested on suspicion of conducting "an extensive cyberstalking campaign", in part based on PureVPN records showing that its services were accessed from originating IPs including the accused man's home and workplace. The 'zero log' VPN kept some kind of logs, after all, and these were able to help connect internet actions to a specific account.

PureVPN sort of responded to this in a blog post, where the company pointed out that it didn't keep full logs, such as your browsing history, and its limited session logging had been fully detailed in the privacy policy.

This doesn't address the issue of why the company described itself as keeping 'zero logs' in the main part of the website, though, when this turned out not to be entirely true. That's also not a trivial point. Logging policies are based almost entirely on trust, and a VPN isn't likely to be trusted if it's seen to mislead users or bury the reality of a situation in the small print.

The company has worked to address these issues, though. It began with the privacy policy, which now includes probably the most explicit no-logging sentence we've ever seen: 'We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, records of the VPN IPs assigned to you, your original IPs, your connection time, the history of your browsing, the sites you visited, your outgoing traffic, the content or data you accessed, or the DNS queries generated by you.'

In 2019 PureVPN engaged Altius IT to audit its 'security systems and privacy policies', and this was the conclusion of the report:

“[We] did not find any evidence of system configurations and/or system/service log files that independently, or collectively, could lead to identifying a specific person and/or the person’s activity when using the PureVPN service.”

While that's good news, there's no detailed information on the precise scope of the audit, or exactly what Altius IT examined. There's also no commitment to ongoing audits.

Contrast this with TunnelBear, which now does annual reviews covering apps, infrastructure and its website, and publishes detailed technical reports on (for instance) security issues found within the apps and how they've been addressed.

PureVPN has taken a step forward, then, but that's just the start. Next, we'd like to see a promise to carry out regular audits, with a much wider scope, and where the full report is made public – not just a sentence.

Apps

Handing over your money to PureVPN is unusually easy, as the company supports just about every payment format there is: credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies (via CoinPayments), AliPay, assorted gift cards, and more than 150 other payment methods via the Paymentwall platform.

After parting with our cash, the website pointed us to download links for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, the browser extensions and more. We grabbed the Windows client, and as it was downloading, a welcome email arrived with login details.

The installer offered to install PureVPN's proxy extension for Chrome and Firefox, as well as the Windows app, which looked like a convenient touch. But although we accepted the option to install the browser extensions, that didn't happen; only the app was installed.

On launching the app, it prompted us to pick one of five modes: Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File Sharing and Dedicated IP. We suspect most people will wonder whether to choose Internet Freedom or Security/Privacy, and there's no immediate guidance to explain the difference.

The support website told us that selecting a mode would optimize PureVPN's settings for that task. For example, choosing Security/Privacy would prioritize security above all else, but the Streaming and File Sharing modes would optimize for speed.

It's not clear what this means. Choose the Streaming option, for instance, and this apparently gets you 'Low Security.' Well, that might be okay, but how 'low'? Low, in what way? There's nothing wrong with task-based mode selection, but we would like a clear display of the low-level settings for each mode, so that experienced users can understand the consequences of their choice.

Fortunately, there's a workaround. Head off to the Settings dialog and you can choose your preferred protocol and other key options, ensuring you'll get the security you need. Well, maybe – but more on that later.

After selecting a mode, you're able to pick locations from a dashboard. This has plenty of functionality, allowing you to browse locations by cities or countries, search by name, see ping times, or create favorites for speedy recall later.

A 'Change Mode' link enables switching to another mode, at least in theory. When we tried, the app warned that we must close our current connection first. Well, okay, but then why not grey out or hide actions when they can't be carried out?

Connection times were reasonably fast at around three seconds for IKEv2, eight seconds for OpenVPN. Desktop notifications alert you when you're connected.

Elsewhere, the Settings box has plenty of options; some useful, some not.

There's a neat touch in PureVPN's startup options. The app doesn't just enable launching on system start; it can automatically open your default browser once you're connected.

Need a different protocol? PureVPN allows you to choose from OpenVPN TCP/UDP, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP and IKEv2.

Although the PureVPN website advertises split tunneling, the ability to send only the traffic of specified apps through the VPN, it wasn't immediately visible in the Windows app. We had to enable a Beta Features setting to access it, which is a little worrying, as the app warned 'beta features may be unstable.' (Split tunneling has been in beta for at least six months, too, which doesn't give a good impression of PureVPN's development resources.)

A Help and Feedback link displays the main support site within the client. Sounds like a great idea, but it's very poorly implemented. The window where it's displayed is too small and can't be resized, so there are always vertical and horizontal scroll bars. And the 'articles' are embarrassingly short, even by FAQ standards.

Clicking the question 'How do I select network type?', for instance, gets you this advice: 'Go to Settings. Select Network Type. Select desired option.' Well, uh, thanks for that.

A 'PureVPN Ideas Forum' link supposedly allows you to suggest new ideas for the service. Unfortunately, clicking it did precisely nothing. Our idea is to properly test the existing apps, before even thinking about adding new features.

A 'Support Ticket' link was more successful, allowing us to send a message to support by typing in a box and clicking Submit – very easy.

Advanced features include IPv6 leak protection, and a multi-port option which intelligently chooses the best port, avoiding any closed or throttled options. You can choose to use a non-NAT network to get a unique IP address, and port forwarding is available if you need it.

We took a look at PureVPN's Android app, and it was much the same story as the Windows version. After choosing a 'Mode', we were able to select countries, cities, or choose a Purpose (optimized for China, unblock this or that streaming service, and so on). It's more awkward to use than the average VPN app, but you'll figure it out easily enough.

What's maybe more interesting is that the Android app doesn't drop most of the desktop's settings and options, which is what we normally see. It has a very similar feature set, including a choice of protocol (OpenVPN TCP/UDP or IKEv2), a kill switch, split tunneling, port forwarding and more. Again, if you'll use some or all of that functionality, it's well worth a try.

Windows app testing

PureVPN's Windows app looks reasonable and is certainly packed with features, but does it deliver the functionality you need? We ran some in-depth tests to find out.

The choice of protocol proved to be the first issue. Whether we selected OpenVPN UDP or TCP, the app always connected via IKEv2.

Digging deeper, we found that the app was failing to connect via OpenVPN, and by default, if the app can't get online with one protocol, it automatically switches to another, and keeps doing this until it runs out of options. There's nothing wrong with this kind of fallback feature in principle, but the problem is PureVPN doesn't tell you that it has done this or show you the protocol you're using, which means there's no way to see how secure your connection might be.

It got worse when we noticed that the app's native Windows network connections (IKEv2, L2TP) had the data encryption setting 'Optional... (connect even if no encryption).' So, in theory at least, you might think you're connecting via super-secure OpenVPN, when in reality the app is using the ancient PPTP with no encryption at all.

To put this in perspective, we suspect it's very unlikely that you'd get an unencrypted connection, as the server should never allow that. But there's no excuse to allow even the faintest possibility, especially as it's so easy to fix. Just set the network connection to use at least the alternative 'Require encryption (disconnect if server declines)' setting, like almost every other VPN around.

We're also left with a bonus concern: if PureVPN could make a simple mistake like this, what else has it missed?

Finally, we checked out the app kill switch. In theory this should block internet access if the VPN drops, ensuring your data won't be transmitted over an alternative unencrypted connection. But in practice, we found multiple issues with IKEv2 connections.

Sometimes, after we forcibly closed the connection, the kill switch didn't work at all, and our real IP was exposed until the app could reconnect.

When the kill switch did work, it displayed an alert asking if we'd like to reconnect. If we said yes, the app fully enabled our internet connection, and traffic was unprotected until it could connect. (A better VPN app allows itself to communicate with the server, but blocks everything else until the tunnel is enabled.)

Worse still, after repeatedly closing an IKEv2 connection while PureVPN was trying to re-establish it, the app was so confused that it told us the VPN was active, when in reality it was down, leaving us unprotected.

That's one of our more extreme tests, designed to evaluate how an app behaves in extreme situations, and it could be that you'll never run into the issue in real-world use. Most VPN apps don't fail quite that badly, though, and it's another indicator that PureVPN's Windows app isn't as good as it needs to be.

Performance

Our performance tests began using the benchmarking sites SpeedTest and TestMy to measure download speeds from a UK location on a 75Mbps connection, when using our nearest UK server.

Our baseline connection speed (without a VPN) managed 70-71Mbps, and this fell to a median of 64-65Mbps when using PureVPN, around a 9-10% slowdown. Some VPNs achieve 4-5Mbps more, but you're unlikely to notice much difference.

To see just how fast PureVPN could go, we ran the same tests from a US location, connecting to our nearest US server, and using a 600Mbps connection.

PureVPN scored very well on our daytime tests, with median speeds of 190-250Mbps. Some VPNs are much faster – Speedify managed 275-410Mbps, speed champion Hotspot Shield reached 460-580Mbps – but a lot of companies struggle to reach even 100Mbps.

Unfortunately, our evening runs were so poor they were hard to believe, at 2-15Mbps.

This could be some issue of PureVPN's (overloaded or failing server, say), but it could also be a benchmarking problem, something to do with our test setup, or its route to PureVPN. (We tested during April 2020, when coronavirus lockdowns had boosted internet and VPN traffic, and maybe that contributed to these low figures.)

As our first run returned broadly similar results to our last review (190-250Mbps vs 200-300Mbps), we're going to treat those speeds as more typical, and not mark PureVPN down for its lower test results. These still raise a question, though, and we'd recommend keeping them in mind if you sign up. Don't just do one-off speed tests, spend your 7-day trial checking the performance of multiple servers at several times of day, making sure they deliver the consistency you need.

Netflix

Most VPNs claim they let you access geoblocked content from anywhere in the world, and PureVPN is no exception. 'Movies, TV shows or sporting events; PureVPN allows you instant & unrestricted access to your favorite content', the website claims.

The apps claim built-in support for many platforms, too, including Amazon Prime Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix and more. This isn't easy to find – it's not displayed upfront, you must choose a 'Popular Websites' option, then click a drop-down list to view the website names – but once you've found your way around, it's easy enough to use.

It didn't get us access to BBC iPlayer, unfortunately, as the site displayed a 'this content doesn't seem to be working' error. This isn't the error message we usually see when the BBC detects VPN use, so it's possible there's some other complication. We had exactly the same issue the last time we looked at PureVPN, though, so if you also have this problem, it's probably not going to go away any time soon.

There was better news with Netflix, where not only does PureVPN support multiple countries (US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan), but they work as expected, with no odd error messages, leaving us free to browse and stream whatever Netflix content we liked.

The company failed to get us into Amazon Prime Video, unfortunately, but our testing ended on a positive note with PureVPN successfully unblocking Disney+, something we rarely see with other VPNs.

Support

PureVPN has a large support site with a huge number of tutorials and troubleshooting guides. The opening page points you to categories like Setup Guides, Troubleshoot, FAQ and Account and Billing, for instance, and most of these sections include more content than you'd expect.

The Setup Guide has subsections for 15 platforms, for instance (yes, really), and even some of those individual sections have more content than the entire support site of lesser VPNs.

PureVPN has updated some of the very old content we noticed last time (the 'How to Setup VPN on Windows 10' article was dated October 2015), and there is plenty of useful content here, but we still have some issues.

A good 'How to set up OpenVPN' article should point you to the OpenVPN website and describe how to get it working with your system, for instance. PureVPN instead recommends you download a custom and outdated version of OpenVPN, then follow a dubious set of instructions, including making system-wide and fundamental Explorer settings changes (disabling the 'Hide extensions for known file types' option), just to make the tutorial work – very bad practice.

If the website can't help, you're able to raise a support ticket from within the client.

We asked why our Windows app wasn't able to connect via OpenVPN. A reply arrived within 30 minutes, but its main suggestion was to use another protocol, not exactly helpful. The agent also asked for more details, and we replied with these, but didn't receive any further response.

Alternatively, you can use live chat on the website. We were able to contact a support agent within a couple of minutes, but found we got the same basics-only response as we received to our ticket. PureVPN couldn't get close to the level of support we'd received from top competitors like ExpressVPN, then, but response times were good, and the replies were enough to solve our immediate issues.

Final verdict

PureVPN gives you a lot of functionality and is solid enough value, with an impressively wide variety of platforms supported. However, customer support is somewhat wobbly, and there are some worrying issues here which prevent this service from competing with the best VPN players out there.

PureVPN is a popular, heavily-marketed VPN service based in Hong Kong. In previous PureVPN reviews, I found numerous problems through extensive testing. In this new and updated review, I set out to answer the following questions:

  • How well do the new PureVPN apps perform?
  • Does PureVPN still suffer from data leaks?
  • How fast is PureVPN with servers around the world?
  • Is PureVPN worth the price?
  • What is the history behind the company?

While PureVPN has improved a bit since the last review, there were still many problems identified.

PureVPN overview

Here is a brief overview of my findings for this PureVPN review.

Pros of PureVPN

  1. Low cost
  2. Live chat support

Cons of PureVPN

  1. PureVPN connection problems (not connecting)
  2. Inconsistent speeds (often slow)
  3. DNS leaks
  4. Clunky apps
  5. Logs user data and provides to FBI (despite the “no logs” policy)
  6. Bad reputation and track record

Additional research findings

  1. Run by Gaditek in Pakistan (with Ivacy VPN)
  2. Does PureVPN work with Netflix?
  3. Does PureVPN work well for torrenting?

PureVPN Pros

1. PureVPN is cheap (low cost)

PureVPN is a low-cost VPN service with their current prices. You can see how much PureVPN costs below for the different subscription plans:

To get the best savings, you’ll need to go with the two-year plan. PureVPN is indeed an inexpensive VPN with these prices, but the key question is value. (How much do you get for your money?)

You’ll see in the screenshot above that PureVPN is using “LAST SOLD 35 sec ago” alerts. These numbers may be fake, as PureVPN was caught using fake random number generators on their sales page before (evidence further below).

PureVPN does not support cryptocurrency payments (Bitcoin)

One drawback with PureVPN is that they do not currently support Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payment options. Here are the available payment options from their website:

  • Credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Alipay
  • PaymentWall
  • BlueSnap
  • Gift Cards (Gift card payments are non-refundable!)

I asked PureVPN about this and they told me they closed Bitcoin support a few weeks ago. The chat representative did not offer any explanation for doing this, but said it may be back at some point in the future.

If you want to pay for your VPN using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, there are better options available.

PureVPN refund policy

If you want a refund on your PureVPN subscription, you have 31 days to claim it. This 31-day refund window is pretty good. Here are the PureVPN refund terms:

If you aren’t satisfied with PureVPN’s service for any reason whatsoever, then you can claim a refund within 31 days of your order date.

Remember, we will first try to resolve your issue successfully before processing the refund request.

Auto-recurring can be changed or cancelled anytime by contacting our customer service at [email protected]

There are also some payment options that are non-refundable, such as gift cards, and Google Pay.

2. PureVPN offers live chat support

Another ‘pro’ for PureVPN is their live chat support. Live chat is available 24/7 and accessible through the PureVPN website in the bottom-right corner.

I tested out PureVPN’s chat support and I was quickly connected to a representative every time.

Overall, the chat representatives were pretty responsive and helpful with random questions I had.

Now let’s move on to the cons…

PureVPN Cons

Here are some of the cons I found in testing and researching PureVPN.

1. PureVPN connection problems (not connecting)

Just like with the last time I tested and reviewed PureVPN, there were numerous connection problems.

Even with the new and updated apps, I was still having issues with PureVPN not connecting to many servers.

Above you can see I was getting the message, “Unable to connect to remote server” at the top of the app. This occurred with many servers I tested in Europe, such as Austria and Estonia (above).

Another connection problem I had with PureVPN is that it would apparently connect, but there would not be any bandwidth (100% packet loss). I’m not certain what was causing these connection problems with PureVPN – but it’s also not too surprising. The last time I reviewed PureVPN, I also identified various connection problems.

2. PureVPN slow speeds

Another problem I found through testing is that PureVPN can have very slow speeds – often wildly inconsistent.

I ran dozens of speed tests for this PureVPN review. My baseline (non-VPN) speed for testing was 160 Mbps and my physical location was in Western Europe.

My baseline speed (with no VPN connected): 160 Mbps download; 9.5 Mbps upload

Now let’s examine the PureVPN speed test results. First, I ran numerous tests with nearby servers in Europe. Theoretically, given the close proximity, these servers should give me speeds close to my baseline speed – but that was not the case.

Here’s a nearby PureVPN server in Frankfurt, Germany under 5 Mbps:

Those are very bad speeds, to say the least – but this was the norm.

Here is another PureVPN server I tested in Amsterdam, around 2 Mbps:

Now, another PureVPN server I tested in Paris, France, around 6 Mbps:

Lastly, I tested a PureVPN server in Stockholm, Sweden, which actually gave me the best results of the servers in Europe, just under 50 Mbps. While this was the best result, it is still quite slow in comparison to other VPNs I’ve tested, such as which gave me over 140 Mbps with every server in Europe.

Next I tested PureVPN servers in the United States.

Here is a PureVPN server in New York, which was also quite slow at around 21 Mbps:

This PureVPN server in Chicago also had speeds around 20 Mbps:

Last up was a PureVPN server in Dallas, TX, also quite slow at around 7 Mbps:

Overall, these are not very good speed test results.

Why is PureVPN so slow?

PureVPN has always been slow for me in testing it for reviews – so this is not new or surprising. PureVPN may be slow due to server congestion. This is when you have too many people loading down the servers with excessive bandwidth, which results in slow speeds for everyone. Upgrading to better servers or renting more servers would help this problem.

I’m not sure exactly why PureVPN is so slow. Although speeds were slightly better with this review than the last review, there is still a long way to go.

3. PureVPN and DNS leaks

In the previous review, PureVPN had a serious problem with data leaks.

I found the PureVPN apps would constantly leak IP addresses as well as DNS requests. Here is an example of previous IPv4 and IPv6 leaks with PureVPN:

Now let’s fast forward to today.

Before running any tests, I ensured that all leak protection settings were activated, as you can see below:

PureVPN is still leaking, but with this review, I only identified DNS leaks. I ran the PureVPN Windows and Mac OS apps through some basic VPN tests.

Here you can see I’m connected to a UK PureVPN server, but I was getting DNS leaks, whereby my DNS requests were getting out of the VPN tunnel and being handled by my ISP. This exposes my browsing history and general location to third parties.

Note: These were active leaks when the connection was stable.

To identify leaks, I ran tests changing up the following variables:

  • Connecting to different PureVPN servers, including virtual locations
  • Changing the “mode” I was using “Security / Privacy, Stream, Internet Freedom, etc.
  • Changing up the protocol

I did not find DNS leaks with every server, protocol, and “mode” that I tested, but there were some clear cases where DNS requests were leaking out. This undermines the effectiveness of the VPN, while also exposing your data to third parties.

4. PureVPN’s clunky apps

PureVPN informed me via email a few months ago that they had improved their VPN apps over the previous versions. That was the main reason for doing the new review, to see if the apps are better.

While the apps are an improvement over previous versions, I still found them to be rather clunky. For example, server selection can very very tedious:

  1. First you need to select which “mode” you want to be in. You can choose from Stream, Internet Freedom, Security / Privacy, File-Sharing, and Dedicated IP.
  2. Servers will then appear in a jumbled order based on Ping times. This can make it frustrating to choose the server you need.

Here I am again having server connection problems, but you can also see the servers are listed by country and not in alphabetical order.

Depending on which “mode” you are using, choosing a server based on the city may not even be possible.

On a positive note, the PureVPN app does have an option to search for a specific server.

5. PureVPN logs user data and provides it to the FBI

As we have covered before here on Restore Privacy, PureVPN is an example of a VPN that was caught logging user data and handing this data over to the FBI.

For years, PureVPN has claimed to have a “zero log policy” and not keep any data. However, in 2017, news broke that PureVPN had not only logged user data, they had also provided this data to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) for a criminal case. The records of this were made public.

There was quite a bit of attention on PureVPN after this case came out. PureVPN claimed it was a limited event, however, but there’s no telling if that is true.

It’s also interesting to note that this all transpired despite PureVPN being based in Hong Kong with no legal obligation to comply with US authorities.

Update: PureVPN completes no-logs audit

On a positive note, however, PureVPN has completed a third-party no logs audit. The audit was conducted by Altius IT in June 2019. The auditors’ report confirms that PureVPN now conforms with their no-logs policy and privacy protection procedures.

Will this help to salvage PureVPN’s reputation and the damage caused by the logging case and cooperation with the FBI? Only time will tell – but that brings us to our next point…

6. PureVPN has a bad reputation and track record

One thing that is important to look at when considering trust is the VPN’s track record and reputation.

With PureVPN, it isn’t pretty. Aside from the logging case above, there have been other PureVPN scandals in the news. For example, PureVPN was in the news for data leaks (something I pointed out in 2017). I also found that PureVPN uses numerous virtual server locations. In other words, many of their exotic server locations are not where they claim, but rather are spoofed.

PureVPN virtual server locations

If you look at PureVPN’s server list, you see a large number of servers that begin with “vl” – an abbreviation that stands for “virtual location”.

Using a small number of virtual server locations is probably OK to give users access to exotic locales. There are other reputable VPNs that do this. But when a large percentage of the network consists of these spoofed locations, it is problematic.

PureVPN caught lying about sales numbers

PureVPN was also caught lying about numbers to boost conversions on its sales page. PureVPN used to do this with text that stated, “492 People bought the 2 year today!”

Below you can see the fake sales numbers, along with the random number generator code to produce them:

  • increment_num from 457 “bought the 2 Year today!”
  • random_num from 1608 to 1897 “are looking right now!”

After this scam was exposed, PureVPN scrubbed their website to remove the code. Today, they are still using “LAST SOLD 35 sec ago” alerts.

Additional research findings:

Below are additional findings from my research of PureVPN for this review.

1. PureVPN connected to Gaditek in Pakistan (with Ivacy VPN)

According to PureVPN’s website, it is officially operated under the business GZ Systems Limited, which is based in Hong Kong. But is PureVPN being operated out of Hong Kong?

If you dig a bit deeper, you will find a company called Gaditek, based in Karachi, Pakistan. PureVPN appears to be owned and operated by Gaditek, which lists PureVPN as one of its brands:

PureVPN appears to be owned by the company Gaditek, based in Pakistan.

Whether PureVPN is operated in Pakistan or Hong Kong does not really matter from a legal perspective, since the company is legally based in Hong Kong, which is the jurisdiction it falls under.

There are also people who allege that Gaditek (PureVPN) is operating a network of VPN review sites, where PureVPN is consistently ranked as the top recommendation. See this report for further information.

PureVPN linked to Ivacy

For many years there have been rumors (and lots of evidence) that Ivacy is merely a rebranded (white label) version of PureVPN. This would not be too surprising since PureVPN offers a white label version of their product, which they advertise on their website.

Finally, in March 2019, Ivacy staff officially admitted that PureVPN has “minor stakes” in Ivacy. (We’ll examine PureVPN more below.)

This isn’t too uncommon, however, as there are other VPNs that appear to be independent but are owned by the same entity:

  • This article in PCMag describes how j2 Global owns IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me.
  • I also learned that the parent company of CyberGhost VPN (Kape) also owns ZenMate VPN.

Does PureVPN work with Netflix?

Unfortunately, PureVPN does not work well with Netflix.

The key problem I encountered when testing PureVPN with Netflix was buffering. Although I found that PureVPN could access American Netflix (not blocked), I did have buffering problems due to slow speeds.

Below I am in “Stream” mode while connected to one of PureVPN’s US servers. As you can see, Netflix is not blocked, but the speeds were so slow that the stream was buffering (spinning red circle).

The Netflix buffering issue seemed to occur randomly.

For these reasons, I would recommend going with a different VPN for Netflix (not PureVPN).

Does PureVPN work well for torrenting?

Many people are looking for a safe, reliable, and fast VPN for torrenting. This is because torrenting is often a grey area (depending on what you are torrenting) and this can put you at risk for copyright infringement.

So is PureVPN a good option for torrenting?

I would argue no. PureVPN is not a good VPN for torrenting when you examine the three criteria from above:

  • Safe – PureVPN suffers from data leaks, which can expose your activities to your internet provider, and other third parties, such as copyright trolls. It only takes one leaked packet to expose your identity and online activities.
  • Reliable – PureVPN is not very reliable and suffers from connection problems.
  • Fast – PureVPN is certainly not fast, based on my own test results.

Considering these factors, PureVPN is not a good VPN for torrenting. You may want to consider other options.

PureVPN review conclusion

PureVPN has both pros and cons. On a positive note, it did better in testing than in the previous review. On a negative note, there are still many areas where PureVPN can improve. This is particularly the case in the performance area:

  • speeds
  • leaks
  • connection stability and reliability

Based on these factors, all research findings, and the test results, PureVPN does not earn a recommendation.

With a VPN, or virtual private network, you can ensure that your data is secure on your network and hidden from prying eyes. PureVPN has a large collection of VPN servers across the world, offering some of the best geographic diversity we've seen. It could use some brushing-up in the UI department, however, and it has a dud of a dedicated streaming server. We recommend Editors' Choice winners NordVPN or Private Internet Access as more full-featured alternatives.

What Is a VPN?

When you use a VPN, your web traffic travels through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN service's secure server before heading out into the wider internet. This means that any bad guys monitoring your network won't be able to see your web traffic or trace your movements on the internet back to you. The next time you use a public Wi-Fi network, such as the one at your local coffee shop, you might want to fire up a VPN to make sure no one is snooping on your movements.

 VPNs protect your privacy, but they can also unlock restricted content. In countries with oppressive internet policies, activists and journalists use VPNs to sidestep government censorship and contact the outside world. VPNs can also be used to access region-locked content, such as BBC and Netflix streaming services, though many such companies are starting to fight back against VPN cheats. More on this below.

While using a VPN is a great step toward better security, it's important to know the limitations of VPNs, too. Although VPNs obscure your IP address, the Tor service is far better at providing true anonymization. Also, if the site you're headed to doesn't use HTTPS, your traffic may be intercepted along the way, anyhow. One thing a VPN can do is help secure your data from your ISP, lest it be sold.

There's a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that's the case, don't worry! We've got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.

Pricing and Features

PureVPN currently offers neither a free version nor a free trial of its product. There is, however, a seven-day money-back guarantee. If you're unwilling to plunk down cash for a VPN, consider the numerous excellent free VPN services on the market. TunnelBear and ProtonVPN, for example, have excellent (albeit limited) free products.

PureVPN costs $10.95 per month, though there are usually discounts on offer. You can also opt to pay $59.00 for a one-year subscription. Subscription payments can be made via just about every means you could desire: credit card, Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), PayPal, and so on. You can even pay with gift cards from popular stores. If you ever dreamed of using your Starbucks gift card to buy a VPN service, this is your chance.

PureVPN has a reasonable monthly price, but one that is just slightly above the $10.50 average monthly fee I'm used to seeing.  Private Internet Access has many times the servers that PureVPN offers, and is far more affordable, at $6.95 per month.

When you go to complete your transaction, PureVPN gives you the chance to purchase add-on services. These include an additional firewall and other extras, which I discuss in detail later.

Whichever plan you choose, you get five licenses to spread across all your devices. PureVPN has clients for Linux, macOS, and Windows, as well as mobile clients for Android and iOS. You can also secure just your browser traffic with the PureVPN Chrome plug-in.

There is also a business version of PureVPN, priced on a per-seat basis. It's $8.00 per person per month, with additional plans that include more features.

PureVPN also offers software for routers and streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV boxes, and Kodi-powered systems. TorGuard VPN sells routers and Apple TVs with its software preinstalled, as does Private Internet Access. Running VPN software on your router can be a smart way to extend protection to every device in your house—including smart devices that can't run VPN software, like your fridge or your game console—at no additional cost.

Other benefits include PureVPN's allowing P2P file sharing and BitTorrent traffic on more than 200 of its servers. Its Split Tunneling feature also lets you select specific traffic to go through the VPN, which is excellent. That way, you can keep certain activities secure and allow more data-hungry but less sensitive functions to get all the access they need.

PureVPN doesn't do everything, however. For instance, it doesn't provide access to the Tor network, in addition to its VPN protection, which NordVPN does. The absence of such fringe features doesn't hurt PureVPN's score, however, though their presence can help boost the profile of the competition.

VPN Protocols

VPN technology has been around for a long time; as a result, there is more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel. PureVPN supports several VPN protocols, including: IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN, and SSTP. All of these provide 256-bit encryption, except PPTP, which offers only 128-bit encryption. Generally, I recommend that people use OpenVPN where possible, because of its speed, reliability, and open-source status. I am, however, happy to see that PureVPN offers many choices, from legacy support to the latest standards.

Servers and Server Locations

It's safe to assume that a VPN company will add or remove servers as demand increases or slacks, but the number and location of servers are useful indicators of a VPN service's robustness. The more servers there are, the more bandwidth is available to each user on each server. The more server locations there are, the more likely you are to find a fast and reliable connection when you travel abroad. Numerous server locations also means more choices for spoofing your location, too.

PureVPN currently offers users some 750 servers across 140 countries in 180 different locations. The list includes servers in Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, North America, and South America. In fact, it offers some of the best geographic diversity I have yet seen among VPN companies. Simply having VPN servers in 19 different African nations puts it leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

But not everything is necessarily as it seems. PureVPN told me that 54 of the 141 country locations are physical servers while the other 87 are virtual locations. A virtual server is a software-defined server; basically, a physical server running multiple virtual servers that can be configured in different ways, including being made to appear to be in a country other than where they're actually located.

Virtual servers can be an issue if you want to know exactly which countries are handling your data. That's difficult with PureVPN. Although you can find out which servers are virtual, a representative explained to me virtual servers are placed "in a location nearest to the actual physical location." That's not an exact location, and doesn't go toward addressing the issue of knowing where data is at any given moment. This might matter if you're concerned about your data passing through or being stored in specific legal jurisdictions.

Both NordVPN and Private Internet Access (3 Months Free with 1 Year Subscription at Private Internet Access) offer well over 3,000 servers. These companies also do not use any virtual locations and own physical hardware in each of the countries they serve.

Note that PureVPN also offers servers in China, Russia, and Turkey. That's particularly notable as these countries have oppressive internet policies. While many VPN companies no longer offer servers in China or Russia in the face of restrictive local laws, PureVPN still does.

In general, I don't think it's possible to make a final judgment about the privacy powers of a given company based solely on the country in which it operates. It is, however, important to know what the policies of the company are and the legal framework they operate within. I suggest would-be consumers consider the facts and go with the company they feel most comfortable about.

Your Privacy With PureVPN

A VPN is intended to improve your privacy, but that only works if the company providing the service takes steps to make sure that your information is secure. After all, if a VPN is keeping tabs on what you do, it's no better than a spy that you're paying for, or an ISP.

PureVPN recently update its privacy policy and the results are good. It's very easy to read and understand. It's not interactive, like TunnelBear's, but its bullet-pointed format makes for breezy reading, if you're into that sort of thing. In the policy, PureVPN says that it does not log your activity or DNS requests. It also does not log your true IP address or the IP adresss of the VPN server you use. This is excellent.

It does, however, note when you connect to a server and the total bandwidth used during your session. This kind of data gathering is not unusual among VPN services. The records that are kept, the company says, could not "associate any specific activity to a specific user."

Since we first reviewed PureVPN, the company has come under fire for disclosing user information to the federal government in response to a criminal investigation. While I am far from being an expert in law enforcement, the disclosure seems in line with the company's privacy policy. Concerned readers should consider the case carefully.

A company representative for PureVPN told me that the company only gathers revenue from subscription sales. That's good, as some VPN companies have intercepted user web traffic to insert ads. Still, others have sold anonymized user information, a practice by ISPs that many use a VPN to prevent in the first place.

Note that PureVPN is headquartered in Hong Kong. This is a bit ironic, given how repressive some of China's internet regulations are. Hong Kong doesn't have mandatory data-retention laws, though, so PureVPN is not required to store data on users or their behavior. However, the Chinese government has been working to ban VPNs that don't comply with certain restrictions. I invited representatives from PureVPN to explain in detail what steps the company takes to protect user data while operating in China. PureVPN representatives pointed out that Hong Kong has a special legal relationship with the rest of China. Indeed, the city is actually an "autonomous territory" within China. As such, a company representative described it as the, "best place in the world to keep anything hidden."

I'm not a legal expert, but PureVPN's representatives explained that Hong Kong maintains its own "legislative, judiciary [...], sets its own rules on immigration, public order, education, civil aviation, and monetary system." The practical upshot, PureVPN's representatives explained, is that, "PureVPN does not have to comply with the laws stipulated by [the People's Republic of China], instead, there are no such restrictions on doing a VPN business in the autonomous jurisdiction of Hong Kong."

As a rule, I don't think it's possible for me to make a judgment on a VPN company's privacy practices based solely on the location of its headquarters. To do so would be xenophobic at the least. What I do know is that PureVPN's legal situation is more complicated than that of the average VPN service. I also know that its privacy policy lays out strong protections for consumers simply by not collecting the most sensitive information. Again, I cannot claim to be a well-versed in the law (especially not international law). My advice, as always, is that consumers consider the facts and make a decision that feels comfortable to them.

Hands On With PureVPN

For this review, I installed PureVPN on a Lenovo ThinkPad T460 running Windows 10. Installation on my test system was quick, but it did require a separate installation of Microsoft Visual C++ 2013.

When you create an account for billing purposes with PureVPN, you enter an email and a password (a mere 12 characters, with no special characters—hardly secure). But this isn't the password or login information you use with the actual PureVPN app. Instead, you receive an email with the password and username in plaintext. Other VPNs also handle user logins this way. The logic is that it separates your usage and payment identities, allowing for greater anonymity. I'd like to see PureVPN handle this more elegantly—and more securely. First-time customers may be confused, wondering why the login credentials they used to purchase a subscription don't work in the client.

When you launch PureVPN, a screen prompts you to select one of five options: Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File Sharing, and Dedicated IP. Depending on what you select, PureVPN delivers a customized experience. This is clever since it elevates features users might not be familiar with by presenting situations they probably understand, but I wonder how helpful it will be for someone who just wants to get online. I much prefer the approach of NordVPN or TunnelBear, which have a simple button to activate the VPN under default settings.

Clicking any of these buttons activates the VPN, but the idea is to give you access to the best tools for whatever you're trying to accomplish. Privacy, it turns out, is what I would consider to be the default experience for a VPN client, letting you search the available servers and select one for connection. Stream, on the other hand, is meant to let you quickly start using services like Netflix. Ironically, I found that I wasn't able to use Netflix when PureVPN was active.

There are other settings buried within the app. The Protocols pull-down menu lets you choose from the available VPN protocols, as well as PureVPN's custom Stealth protocol. Each option is accompanied by a rating for speed and security, which is certainly helpful. By default, PureVPN is set to Auto and chooses the protocol it thinks best. Many VPN companies are grappling with potential leaks, where your information may be briefly exposed. PureVPN addresses this with its Gravity option, which taps into the company's secure DNS servers.

The Global Map tab on the left lets you bypass PureVPN's recommendations and simply select one of the company's servers. Personally, I prefer this kind of interface, and I wonder why PureVPN decided not to use it as the centerpiece of its app.

The PureVPN client feels much zippier since the last time I used it. While it is bright, the use of colorful photos sometimes makes it difficult to read. Once connected, you see your connection status, your current IP address, and your session duration in the lower half of the interface. There's also a traffic chart, showing how much bandwidth you have consumed during in your session. It's a good way to be aware of internet usage. PureVPN doesn't have bandwidth caps, though, so it's mostly window dressing unless you have some other need to meter your usage.

PureVPN and Netflix

There are still borders in cyberspace, particularly when it comes to streaming video online. Services offer differing content based on customers' locations. Because you can use a VPN to hide or spoof your location, many streaming services attempt to block VPN traffic.

One thing to note is that if you plan on watching Netflix, PureVPN won't be much help, as mentioned above. In my testing, I found that Netflix detected that I was using a VPN and blocked streaming. I had the same issue even when I was using PureVPN's streaming mode. That's doubly disappointing.

It's not surprising that Netflix blocks access from PureVPN servers, as it has done the same for most VPNs, but it is eyebrow-raising, considering the hoopla that PureVPN makes about being to stream content from anywhere. What's the point in having a streaming server if you can't, well, stream? Some VPNs are able to work with Netflix, although it can vary from day to day as Netflix fights back against them.

Note that although Netflix does not explicitly ban the use of VPNs, it takes a dim view of their use. Section 6c of Netflix's terms of use outlines the company's right to use technology to verify your location and that content will only be available in the primary country of the customer.

Beyond VPN

If you're itching to get a little more out of your PureVPN subscription, the company offers add-ons for additional monthly fees. An additional 99 cents per month gets you a NAT Firewall, and $1.99 per month buys you a dedicated IP address. You can also tack on DDoS protection for a dedicated IP address for $2.25 per month.

You can spring for the P2P protection for $1.99 a month, but don't expect it to hide your torrenting. PureVPN explains that this is actually intended to scan torrent files for malware. TorGuard VPN offers some more robust options specifically for heavy BitTorrent users.

Similarly, $2.99 a month will get you what PureVPN describes as Enterprise Grade Security and Privacy. With this add-on, you get malware protection and ad blocking on the network level, provided by PureVPN. Again, I don't believe that these kinds of sweeteners will ever replace a
full-featured antivirus app on your computer.

While it's great to see PureVPN offering more features for customers, I am confused by the difference between some of them. Moreover, several VPN companies offer ad blocking or network malware protection with their entry-level pricing, which makes me question the value these features really offer. One thing I do like, however, is that PureVPN includes thorough explanations for each of these features, so at least you can make an informed decision.

Speed and Performance

Regardless of what VPN you use, your speed performance will likely take a hit as a result of the extra security measures. Most of the time this is just a mild annoyance; it's hardly like going back to the days of modem screeches and dial-up performance.

To measure a VPN's impact on web browsing, I compare the average results from Ookla's speedtest.net (which is owned by PCMag's publisher, Ziff Davis) on domestic servers both with and without the VPN active. I then find a percent change between those results. That way, I can simulate how most people use PureVPN. I then perform the same tests, but using a test server in Anchorage, Alaska, and a VPN server in Australia. Putting that much distance in the mix serves as a stress test meant to simulate the conditions people might experience connecting to servers in other countries. Network conditions can change at the drop of a hat, so your mileage may vary.

In the latency tests, PureVPN increased ping time by 200 percent domestically and 287.2 percent internationally. TorGuard VPN actually reduced latency by 6.7 percent in my domestic tests, and TunnelBear had the smallest impact on international latency results, increasing ping time by only 270.3 percent.

PureVPN used to rule the roost in my speed tests, but that's no longer the case. I found that it reduced download speeds by 5.1 percent domestically and 55.7 percent internationally. Those are respectable results in this all-important test, but not the best. TorGuard VPN decreased domestic download speeds by only 3.7 percent, and AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite increased international download speeds by 39.9 percent.

In the upload tests, PureVPN reduced speeds by 6.2 percent domestically and 97.6 percent internationally. Again, these are good results, but not the best. IPVanish increased domestic upload speeds by only 2.9 percent and Private Internet Access increased international uploads by only 97.3 percent.

For the first two years of testing, I found that PureVPN actually improved download speeds by a large margin—between 300 and 400 percent. That is to say, that downloads and uploads were faster with PureVPN than they were without, which flew in the face of all conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, this was consistent over the course of several rounds of testing over several years, and was not the only VPN service to show similar, albeit smaller, results. Recently, I moved PCMag's testing infrastructure from an aging DSL connection to a zippier FiOS connection. Since then, no VPN has shown the unusual ability to actually improve speeds, which may figure into the change in results.

The practical upshot is that PureVPN is no longer the fastest VPN, and its score has been adjusted to reflect this. While we at PCMag do not consider speed to be a major variable when choosing a VPN, we did think it important to recognize PureVPN's speed test results. As it stands, TorGuard VPN has the least significant impact on download speeds and a reasonably small impact on uploads. It's now our pick for the fastest VPN.

PureVPN for Android

The PureVPN app for Android is available from the Google Play store for free, but it requires a subscription to use. The app brings a lot of familiar design elements from the Windows client, but with a few changes. A Material Design button in the lower right corner pulls up a list of servers to which you can connect.

But while the app blends in on Android, it's not a straightforward experience. As with the desktop versions, there's no obvious way to get online immediately. And the five modes the app presents are broken down further, which might confuse an inexperienced user simply looking to get online quickly. Also, the Material Design button uses an AC power plug as an icon, which is a bit bewildering, considering that it has nothing to do with electrical power.

Unfortunately, my problems with the Android app were more than just aesthetic. When I tested the app, it often crashed. I could even cause a crash by taking specific options, and reproduce it consistently. The app also yielded poor speed test scores with its default settings. A company representative advised me to enable the Multi Port option from the Protocol section, which solved the problem.

Speaking of speeds, even when it was working, PureVPN yielded a mixed bag of speed scores. The app racked up a disappointing speed test score, a below average upload score, and a blessedly average download score. It's disappointing that PureVPN, which performs so well on Windows, can't repeat the feat with its Android VPN client.

PureVPN for Mac

When I last reviewed the PureVPN Mac app, I discovered I had to download the client from the PureVPN website—it's not available from the official Mac App Store.

The layout is broadly similar to that of the Windows version, with its five modes that connect you to the best server for your current situation. That said, I find this approach overly complicated. It would be handy to also have a button that simply connects you to the nearest server, in addition to this step-by-step approach.

The PureVPN client looks quite at home on macOS—one of the few Mac VPN apps that manages to match the macOS aesthetic. The app presents you with some basic information, such as server ping time, but if you're looking for more data, go to the Menu Bar icon, which reveals your connection status, which protocol you're connected with, your current IP address, the location of the VPN server to which you are connected, and the sent and received data rates.

PureVPN for iPhone

The PureVPN iPhone app looks similar to the Android app. It's a strong design, but I am disappointed that the company doesn't keep its app more in line with the iOS design aesthetic. The app also lacks the map view and the status information, such as session length and bandwidth, found in the desktop version of the app. Instead, the iPhone app uses pretty (if dubiously useful) pictures of different locales. In our testing, we found that PureVPN had strong speed test scores, ranging from acceptable to excellent.

As with the other PureVPN apps, there's no obvious way to get online quickly in its iPhone VPN app. Instead, you have to navigate through a series of pages designed to connect you with the best server for whatever you're trying to do right now. Out of the box, you can connect via IPSec or IKEv2 VPN protocols with the PureVPN iPhone app. There's an option to manually configure an L2TP connection, but no option to connect via our preferred option, OpenVPN. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, by contrast, does support OpenVPN on iPhone.

The PureVPN iPhone app includes a host of content blocking and control features called Ozone and Gravity. It's a bit of a grab bag, ranging from blocking apps to blocking sexual content online. In our testing, we found that many of the Gravity and Ozone features either did not work as we expected, or didn't work at all. Our review of the iPhone app explored these features in depth.

While these features are extras that don't really affect the app's VPN functionality, we do feel that it's better to not include features that don't work. We hope that PureVPN will revisit its Ozone and Gravity offerings on iPhone and either fix them or remove them all together.

PureVPN for Chrome and Firefox Browsers

If you're looking to keep a small footprint, PureVPN offers plug-ins for both Firefox and Chrome browsers. The advantage of a plug-in is that it's lightweight and can be installed anywhere you have access to a browser. The downside is that it only encrypts your browser traffic, leaving other applications to make use of greater bandwidth, albeit on an unencrypted basis. If you're a gamer but want to encrypt your online activities, this could be handy.

I have looked at the Chrome plug-in previously, but was unable to log in and test it this time around. That's disappointing. I will continue to try to get it running, however, and will update this review if and when I succeed.

One notable aspect is that the Chrome plug-in also blocks some WebRTC elements. These allow websites to use certain elements of your computer—your webcam, for example. Not everyone is a fan of WebRTC because of this, and blocking tools like those included in PureVPN have begun popping.

The Times Have Changed

In the past, we gave PureVPN an Editors' Choice and a boost to its score based on its unprecedented speed test results. But with those no longer in play, we had to return to our core criteria when it comes to evaluating a VPN: value, security, and flexibility.

In most of these areas, PureVPN succeeds but does not excel. It has numerous add-ons, but their value is questionable and is included in the price of other, more robust services. We are also disappointed that its Chrome plug-in and streaming servers did not perform as expected. Its privacy policy is excellent, and while it is based in Hong Kong we wouldn't blink if we saw these policies in other VPN services.

PureVPN is not a bad service by any measure, but it's not the best. Editors' Choice winner Private Internet Access offers a spartan experience at an unbeatable price, while its companion winner NordVPN costs slightly more than average but packs excellent features into an excellent interface. Consider those before looking to PureVPN.

Pros

  • Geographically diverse servers.

  • Add-on features like Firewall and dedicated IP.

  • Allows P2P and BitTorrent.

  • Blocks adds.

  • Strong privacy policy.

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Cons

  • Tedious to get online.

  • Comparatively few servers.

  • Unclear where virtual servers are located.

  • Unfamiliar legal situation.

  • Some features didn't work in testing.

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The Bottom Line

PureVPN boasts an outstanding network of international VPN servers, but its user experience leaves something to be desired, and some features didn't work in testing.

If you surf the Internet without a VPN, then you are unprotected from all sorts of bad actors. You might encounter malware and viruses, wreaking havoc and causing you to lose data. You also might be granting access to your sensitive, private information to hackers, identity thieves and others.

Surfing the web with a VPN means that when you’re online, all of your data is sent through encryption to a secure server that’s owned and managed by your VPN provider. This means that any cyber villains won’t be able to follow your movements regardless of where you roam online.

Using a VPN may have other advantages as well. For instance, it can grant you access to websites that would otherwise be restricted or considered unsafe. Activists use VPNs to get around government censors, and some people get to look at region-locked content thanks to a robust VPN.

Pure VPN Server Locations


When PureVPN began operations back in 2006, they had only two servers. With more than a decade behind them, they now advertise that they have more than 2,000 servers that are found in more than 140 countries.

Their VPN server locations include North, Central and South America along with Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. This is a fairly impressive spread, which is a mark in PureVPN’s favor. However, it is advisable to note that they are headquartered in Hong Kong. Thanks to the increasing strength of China’s influence in the region, this isn’t necessarily the most advantageous location for the home office of an online privacy provider.

China’s online policies are notoriously Draconian, which is why many of its citizens wouldn’t dare go online without benefit of a VPN. The country’s government is seeking to place increasing restrictions on VPN providers and ban those providers who fail to comply. Hong Kong does enjoy special legal status that gives it autonomy from many of China’s more repressive laws, but it is a murky situation that may adversely affect the privacy of PureVPN’s customers at some point.

Having said that, it also is worth pointing out that PureVPN doesn’t necessarily have physical servers in each of these 140 locations. In many cases, the company uses virtual servers instead. These servers are defined by software. Essentially, a single physical server can house multiple virtual servers, making them appear to be housed in diverse locations. Users who want to be certain about where their data is being routed may not like this feature.

Pricing


PureVPN does not offer a free trial of its product, but you can take advantage of a 31-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee if you pay for the service and find that it’s not up to par.

A basic month-to-month PureVPN account costs about $10.95 per month. A one-year subscription can be had for less than $50. The company runs frequent specials through which you can get discount pricing on two-, three- or even five-year plans.

Add-on services are available for extra fees. These services may include a firewall, a dedicated IP address and DDoS protection. Most of these add-ons run an extra two to three dollars a month, which can add significantly to your cost.

Features


PureVPN offers some pretty decent features such as compatibility with almost any devices and the ability to work with all sorts of routers, streaming services and smart televisions. It does not offer an in-house TOR, so that would have to be an additional purchase if you want an extra bit of protection.

Nonetheless, those are desirable features – when they are operational. The bad news for PureVPN is that many of their features just aren’t all that reliable. For some features, like the kill switch, working “most of the time” isn’t good enough. Sophisticated users should demand more reliability.

Disappointing Speed


Another area in which PureVPN leaves much to be desired is their speed. Using any VPN is bound to play a little havoc with speed, but the tortoise-like speed with which PureVPN operates is enough to make you want to tear out your hair. Testing revealed that PureVPN’s fastest servers moved at a rate of just 35 out of 100 Mbps.

That is not a lightning-fast time, so if you expect your web browsing to move with speed and efficiency, then PureVPN may not be the right choice for you.

Logging Policy


People use VPNs because they want privacy and anonymity when they’re online. Accordingly, it makes sense that someone who uses a VPN wouldn’t be keen about having their VPN company logging their traffic.

PureVPN has claimed that they keep no logs of their customers’ activity for many years. Until recently, most people think that they hide something in the fine print. Now that they’ve been audited by the independent US audit firm, Altius IT, we can say with absolutely certainty that PureVPN does not keep any type of logs that (including the government) can be traced back to a user.

Customer Support


PureVPN does not have the best reputation for customer service, either. Many users remarked online about running into trouble with the service only to be given the runaround by the customer service department, leading to a great deal of frustration.

People usually subscribe to a VPN service for specific reasons. They want to stream Netflix outside of the U.S., protect their communications over open Wi-Fi, or participate in file sharing for TOTALLY LEGITIMATE REASONS.

Understanding that’s how people use a virtual private network, PureVPN, officially based in Hong Kong, provides a list of servers based on those common use cases. Instead of asking you where you want to connect and sending you on your way, this service first asks what you want to do. PureVPN provides five options: stream, internet freedom, security/privacy, file-sharing, and dedicated IP—the latter requires an extra fee.

The streaming option even goes so far as to ask which website you want to use. PureVPN’s list is quite extensive including the major cable channels, HBO, Netflix U.S., Amazon Prime U.S., as well as options for streaming sites in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and India.

The streaming option country list in PureVPN for Mac.

For the most part, all of PureVPN’s various functions will allow you to choose from a list of 52 countries. The exception is the file-sharing option, which includes a much larger list of more than 140, though that option is made up mostly of virtual server locations.

By virtual locations we mean that PureVPN doesn’t have physical servers in countries such as Argentina, Mauritius, or Turkmenistan. Instead, the servers are somewhere else such as Brazil, Europe, or North America, but using an IP address for the stated country of origin.

This is standard practice for PureVPN, and the company is not shy about it. There’s an information page on the company’s website explaining what it’s doing. Each virtual location is tagged as such within the desktop apps, as well as on the server list on the website.

In 2017, PureVPN told us it used virtual server locations to bypass low-quality infrastructure in developing countries. That way users can still appear to be in a particular country, perhaps to take advantage of local websites, while still using a robust server backed with higher bandwidth.

Besides marking virtual locations, PureVPN also marks locations that can be used for P2P file sharing, and a phone icon indicates the server will work with VoIP applications.

The App Settings section in PureVPN for Mac.

The rest of PureVPN’s app for Mac is fairly basic. It includes settings such as launching on system startup, which isn’t enabled by default (a nice touch). There’s also an Internet Kill Switch under Advanced Options, as well as an alert that will let you know if you’re not connected to the VPN. Again, both of these options are not enabled by default, which shows a nice respect for user choice. There are also options for adjusting port forwarding, and NAT (network address translation), or non-NAT networks.

As for its privacy policy, PureVPN says it does not log browsing activities, the VPN Internet Protocol (IP) addresses you use, your originating IP address, connection time, or DNS queries. PureVPN also says it received a clean bill of health from Altius IT in 2019.

PureVPN does log some information, however. For example, it logs the VPN location you connect to but not the IP address. It also logs the length of your connections, but not specific times, as well as tracking how many simultaneous connections your account has at any given time. The company says it keeps this information for technical assistance, as well as general product analytics.

PureVPN hit a bit of controversy in 2017 when it handed over user data to the FBI under subpoena that confirmed what the user was up to online. I asked PureVPN what happened in that case, and the company said that at the time its privacy policy allowed for keeping data that it no longer does.

PureVPN has NAT and non-NAT options for power users.

PureVPN’s connections use OpenVPN by default with data encryption handled by AES (either GCM or CBC), data authentication is SHA 1 or SHA256, and the handshake is RSA-2048 with RSA-4096 as a fallback. If OpenVPN doesn’t work the fallbacks are L2TP and IKEv2.

PureVPN costs $70 per year. There is also a six-month plan for $50, or you can pay on a month-to-month basis for $11 per month. As usual for a VPN service, PureVPN wants people to sign up for at least a year by making that option the cheapest by far.

PureVPN requires an email address and password at sign up, which is standard practice. It accepts payments using PayPal, credit cards, crypto currencies via Coin Gate, Alipay, gift cards via Paygarden, as well as a number of other specialty payment services. There isn’t a cash option, but cryptocurrencies at least offer some manner of anonymity since you are paying directly to a cryptocurrency wallet.

As for the company itself, it is officially based in Hong Kong. There are some company employees based there, but most people work remotely. Taking a look at listings on LinkedIn, there are a large number of employees in Pakistan, as well as people in the UAE, Australia, and the U.S. The CEO and founder is Uzair Gadit.

Performance

PureVPN’s usage options on Mac.

PureVPN is a solid performer overall. In our tests, it maintained about 28 percent of the base speed, which puts it in the mid-range in terms of speed compared to competing services. We found that speeds were excellent for the UK and Germany, a little weak in the U.S., and surprisingly good in Asia and Australia.

Overall, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a capable connection with PureVPN.

Conclusion

PureVPN is a good service. We wish the company would update its look on Mac, but it has good speeds, the privacy policy now makes the right promises, and we know who’s running the company.

We’d feel better if this service didn’t have an exotic location. As we’ve discussed before, foreign VPNs may make users feel better about avoiding the so-called Five Eyes countries and passive spying on networks, but you often trade off accountability on the part of the VPN. We’re not saying that’s the case here, but it’s always a concern. Furthermore, anybody who’s been watching the news in recent months cannot feel good about Hong Kong as a bastion of personal privacy.

We’re also going to take issue with PureVPN’s pricing at $70 per year. That’s a bit high in our opinion when you can find much cheaper options that also offer extensive streaming options. For this kind of money we’d expect NordVPN-style features such as Double VPNs and TOR over VPN, or extra power-user settings.

Perhaps those features will come in time. If you can catch PureVPN on sale we’d recommend it, especially for Netflix streaming. At $70, however, we’d suggest comparing it to other services at the same price.

Editor’s Note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

  • PureVPN's price is not great, and the exotic business location of Hong Kong does not seem as ideal as perhaps it once did. Still, the desktop app for Mac is usable and helps users decide what they want to do with their VPN service. There are also a few features for power users to dip into, just not as many as with competing services.

    Pros

    • Good speeds
    • Easy-to-use interface
    • Doesn't log browsing activity

    Cons

    • Uses virtual server locations
    • Exotic business location

Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn't like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he's not covering the news he's working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.

Quick Background & Features Info

Founded in 2006 by their parent company GZ Systems, PureVPN is one of the oldest and largest VPN providers on the market.

From their humble 2-server beginnings, PureVPN has quickly expanded their operation and they now boast more than 2,000 servers across 180 different countries.

Their services are compatible with all major devices including:

  • Windows
  • Android
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Linux

If you are particularly keen on optimizing your online protection, you can even set PureVPN up to work with your routers, smart TVs, browsers like Chrome and Firefox and streaming services (like Roku, Amazon Fire, and Chromecast)

They’ve recently introduced a ‘virtual router’ feature for Windows devices, which means you can empower a Windows desktop or laptop with ‘router’-like features to connect up to 10 different devices.

Some VPN services, like VyprVPN for example, will only limit you to two different simultaneous connections. So the fact that you can connect PureVPN to a real router, in addition to setting up a ‘virtual router,’ means you can connect TONS of different devices. (Probably more than you’d ever want or need.)

They also have a ‘split-tunneling’ feature which means you can choose how (and where) you’d like to send traffic – through your VPN or internet service provider as usual. Your data can be split as needed.

While PureVPN doesn’t offer their own TOR, you can use one on top. Combining VPN’s with the Tor network to add an additional layer of privacy and security.

PureVPN has a kill switch feature that works like a fail-safe. The goal is to make sure your privacy and anonymity are never compromised, and that your personal information is never divulged.

Last but certainly not least, PureVPN comes with the NAT Firewall add-on so that all possible hacking loopholes are secured.

PureVPN Overview

OVERALL RANK: 53
USABILITY: Simple and easy to use
LOG FILES: No Logging
LOCATIONS: 140+ countries, 2000+ servers
SUPPORT: Responsive Live Chat
TORRENTING: Allowed
NETFLIX: 2/4 Servers Worked with Netflix
ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL: 256-bit AES; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and even IKEv2
COST: $3.33/mo
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.PureVPN.com

PureVPN Pros

1. Supports All Major Protocols (OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP …)

‘Man-in-the-middle’ (MiTM) attacks are some of the oldest (and most common) ways that hackers gain access to your sensitive information.

You might not even sense that anything is wrong. But somehow, someway, someone has placed themselves between you and your intended connection (like a browser or a website).

They can then read your emails, see what websites you’re going to, grab your session cookies to fool different websites into thinking they’re you, and even get personal information or passwords.

Many times the very tools used to help intercept these practices, like WiFi Pineapple, can be used to perform them by anyone, anywhere. Like, sitting in your local coffee shop for instance. Now, browsing emails or booking a flight while sipping a latte can turn out to be not such a relaxing afternoon after all.

This potential risk now extends to mobile devices, apps, and even your smart devices too.

To combat these problems, PureVPN offers all major protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and even IKEv2.

While OpenVPN is your best bet to get both benefits from security and speed, you might also need to choose L2TP/IPSec based on device availability or PPTP (in only a few certain cases where you’re not as worried about security vulnerabilities).

2. Industry Standard 256-bit Encryption

Brute force attacks are another unfortunately common practice.

Hackers eventually figure out your passwords and pin numbers through a series of repetitive, lightning-fast, trial-and-error combinations.

They’re one of the oldest tricks in the book (besides simply guessing your spouse’s birthday or kid’s name). And they’re actually increasing.

For example, a recent wide-spread attack on WordPress sites has been directed by a Russian company being used by the country to launch cyber attacks (you can’t make this stuff up).

The best form of defense in this case, is prevention. That comes in the form of 256-bit encryption, which is one of the most secure connections possible. It is so secure that it is used by government agencies around the world.

Your encrypted tunnel gets sealed shut so that third-party sites, ISPs, and nefarious, shadowy organizations worthy of being the next Bond villain, can’t see what you’re up to.

In addition, your privacy and anonymity is completely safe thanks to their ‘end-to-end’ connection. This includes when you switch from one IP to another (or another, or another) across PureVPN’s 80,000+ options.

3. Some Pretty Cool Features

One of the things that I really liked about PureVPN is just how many features and options they offer their users.

For starters, they offer a kill switch, five simultaneous connections, support for all major protocols, DDoS protection, advanced port forwarding, split tunneling, and a NAT Firewall.

In fact, they provide such a plethora of ways to optimize and customize your VPN experience that it would make even the best VPN blush.

Unfortunately, while these services are great in theory they have some functionality issues that need to be worked out.

I personally experienced a killswitch failure and, after reviewing a number of forums and third-party reviews, realized that almost every customer has experienced some type of issue here or there with some of the features that PureVPN offers.

4. Unrestricted Torrenting

PureVPN is solidly pro-torrenting.

Why’s that noteworthy?

Because ever since copyright infringement lawsuits have began flooding the marketplace, more and more VPNs are shying away from P2P servers.

Often, the ones who do still offer torrenting-friendly servers only allow it on a small handful of offerings.

But PureVPN doesn’t have these restrictions.

You’re free to use torrenting on any of their servers. So download away!

5. Quick Live Chat Support with OK responses

When dealing with a VPN, your security is on the line. As such, you want to ensure that your questions and concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently through a responsive customer support department.

When we first reviewed PureVPN, we were not happy with their support. While it offered live chat functionality, all of the responses seemed to be auto generated. However, PureVPN responded well to criticism and came back with a responsive and quick live chat system that directly addressed the questions I asked in under a minute.

I started off with a simple two-question approach. I wanted to know if users are able to utilize the TOR network, and I wanted to know what was being done to prevent DNS leaks.

As you can see above and below, they responded quickly, but it felt like a typical form response. What followed the greeting was another answer that seemed to be a copy paste job.

However, once I clarified my questions, I received a much better answer.

The responded with a simple statement regarding the TOR network, and I re-clarified that I had asked a second question.

They responded to that with a link that allows users to test for DNS leaks.

They didn’t go into specifics on how these issues were addressed, but the answer came quickly and it was helpful. I gave them definite props for that, especially when one considers where this service once was in terms of customer service.

It has improved by leaps and bounds.

4. 2/4 Netflix Servers Worked Properly

PureVPN claims to work with Netflix. That’s actually a bigger deal than you might think.

Netflix and VPNs have been at war for a few years. Whereas once users could utilize a VPN’s tunneling service to access geo-blocked Netflix content from other countries, the streaming service eventually caught onto this and unleashed a blocking system that stops most VPNs cold.

When we tested a select number of PureVPN’s servers with Netflix, we had a 50% success rate, which is huge!

Here are the four PureVPN servers that we connected to before checking Netflix:

  • United States: WORKED
  • Canada: WORKED
  • United Kingdom: BLOCKED
  • Netherlands: NO NL SERVER

Most VPNs out there can’t get any Netflix functionality, so the fact that we got two out of four to play Netflix content even almost places PureVPN on our Netflix-friendly VPN list. That’s a huge feather in the cap of this service.

PureVPN Cons

PureVPN is an affordable service, they have some cool features, and a great selection of servers. But there are a number of issues that potential users must take into account before they entrust this service with their internet security.

1. Slow Download Speed

NOTE: This Speed Test was done in 2019, so I can’t say that it’s still accurate.

Here’s a speed test I ran on speedtest.net to ensure the accuracy of this review. I then connected to PureVPN and ran these tests once more.

Here are our results:

US Server (New York)

  • Ping: 125ms
  • Download: 29.41 Mbps
  • Upload: 29.06 Mbps

EU Server (Amsterdam)

  • Ping: 40ms
  • Download: 35.49 Mbps
  • Upload: 27.29 Mbps

Asia Server (Hong Kong)

  • Ping: 355ms
  • Download: 6.77 Mbps
  • Upload: 3.62 Mbps

UK Server (London)

  • Ping: 53ms
  • Download: 62.48 Mbps
  • Upload: 45.90 Mbps

Their Amsterdam server (the fastest that I could find) only topped out at 35 Mbps out of 100, which is not great.

That’s troubling when you consider that their top competitor, PIA, offers servers with more than double the download speed at a very similar price.

2. No Leaks Found

When you are in the market for a VPN, you are typically there for one reason and one reason only.

Security.

Whether you want to protect yourself when working from public wi-fi or bypass censorship laws in your country, personal security is (and should be) your primary concern when selecting a new VPN service.

I tested their service on the following websites and found no leaks:

  • IPLeak.net
  • Perfect-Privacy.com
  • BrowserLeaks
  • IPX.ac
  • VirtualTotal.com

3. As of 2019 PureVPN is a Certified “No-Log” VPN

PureVPN markets their product as a “Zero Logs” VPN.

Since last year, they’ve been audited by a 3rd party company and are now certified as a “No-Log” VPN.

Costs, Plans, and Payment Options

The first, and most noticeable ‘pro’ about using PureVPN is the price tag.

They’re still one of the cheapest VPNs on the market and offer a phenomenal price for customers on their 1-year plan.

Here’s how it all breaks down.

Month-to-Month Plan

  • $10.95 per month
  • 0% Savings

3 Months Plan

  • $8.00 per month
  • 27% Savings

One Year Plan

  • $3.33 per month
  • 70% Savings

They also allow customers to purchase their service with almost every payment method imaginable (even Target gift cards). It’s nice to see untraceable crypto currencies listed as a payment option. This will allow users to pay with an untraceable online only form of currency. That’s a huge plus for VPN users who want to remain hidden.

In addition to their budget-friendly pricing and wide array of payment options, all of their purchases come with a 31-day money-back guarantee.

Do I recommend PureVPN?

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this service over many of the others that we’ve reviewed.

PureVPN offers an admittedly affordable service with a wide server selection. Their customer service department gave me a positive experience and it had a 50% success rate with Netflix. These are all great things that a VPN should strive to achieve.