PureVPN Review

Based in Hong Kong, PureVPN has over 2,000 servers in more than 180 countries.

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Sep 23, 2020
8.2
/10
Editor's Rating
Super concerned about privacy? PureVPN has the distinct advantage of third-party auditing, making sure their no-logging policy is legitimate.
Page Contents

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.
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 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
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?

PureVPN 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
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

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
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
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
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

dns-leak-test-vpn-review
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 Personal Subscription 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
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
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
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
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
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.

To learn more, read my full review of NordVPN.

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 (or, if cost is an issue, read more about PureVPN prices).

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.
Or keep looking if you dislike…
  • Mixed customer support: 50% of the reviews mentioning customer support were negative on Amazon.
  • Only five simultaneous connections: If you have a big house with lots of devices, watch out.
  • Lackluster apps: PureVPN has a 3.4 in the Google Play Store and a 3.7 Apple App Store.

PureVPN FAQs

  • Is PureVPN any good?

    Yes, I think PureVPN is a good VPN. It has features like a kill switch and split tunneling. Additionally, PureVPN offers special servers so that you can watch Netflix and torrent files securely.

  • How do I get PureVPN for free?

    You can’t get PureVPN for free, but you can try it risk-free with their 31-day money-back guarantee. You can also try out PureVPN for three days for $2.5o.

  • How much does PureVPN cost?

    PureVPN costs between $3.33 and $10.95 depending on how long you subscribe for. If you commit to a two year subscription the cost is $3.33. Or if you want to just pay monthly, the cost is $10.95.

  • Is PureVPN legal?

    For the most part, yes, PureVPN is legal. VPNs (including PureVPN) are legal in most countries around the world. However, there are some countries where VPNs are illegal or restricted, like Russia, China, and Turkey.