PureVPN Review – Many Features For A Low Price Tag
Does This Reasonably Average VPN Stand Out?
Pricing and Features
If you are interested in purchasing PureVPN, you might have to make a small commitment first. Unfortunately, they do not offer a free trial of their product. If you wish to try the VPN, you will need to put down 99 cents; however, this can be refunded after seven days if you are unhappy.
If you want to avoid fees at all, there are several completely free VPN options, such as ProtonVPN or TunnelBear but be aware; these products have a data cap on how much you can use.
If you are looking for a monthly option, PureVPN runs $10.95 each month; however, there are often discounts, so check back often. If you would like a more discounted option, you could choose to subscribe for a year at $69.95 or two years at $79.99. While two years may seem like a long time to commit to a VPN, the discount offered by choosing this option is quite substantial.
When it comes to payment options, PureVPN offers just about every option imaginable. You can choose to pay with a standard credit card or PayPal or other crypto options such as bitcoin. They even allow you to pay for your VPN service by using popular store gift cards. A very innovative and anonymous way to pay if you ask us.
When considering their monthly price, $10.95 is not bad and is just slightly above the $10.50 monthly fee industry standard. For example, the premium NordVPN service costs only around $1 more each month; however, this service also comes with specialized servers for streaming and torrenting. Another popular service, Private Internet Access, offers many more servers at a more affordable $6.95 each month.
When you go to checkout, you will also have to option to add on additional services. These services range from basic extras to other firewall services. Whatever plan you select, you will be given five licenses available for use over any of your devices. PureVPN offers individual clients for Windows, Linux, macOS, and additional apps for iOS and Android devices. If you are looking for a browser plugin, PureVPN offers a downloadable plugin for Chrome but none for firefox at the moment.
PureVPN also offers a business plan that is based on a per-user basis. For each user, it is $8.00 each month and can be customized with additional features.
They also provide proprietary software installed on routers and streaming devices, such as Android TV boxes or Amazon Firestick. If you are looking for something a little less complicated, companies like TorGuard and Private Internet Access sell devices with the VPN software pre-loaded onto them.
While running a VPN on a router might be a little more complicated to set up, it can be a great way to protect all of your devices since any device that connects to it will be under the blanket protection of the VPN. This includes any smart devices you may have, such as a smart fridge or vacuum.
Other benefits of PureVPN are the ability to share files over a P2P network, including Bittorrent of over 200 different servers. They also feature the handy Split Tunneling option, allowing you to route traffic of your choosing through the VPN while other traffic goes through your ISP. This will enable you to stay secure no matter what activities you are doing online.
PureVPN does have some limitations, however. For example, they do not allow access to the Tor network like most other services do. They are also missing many of the smaller features that most other VPNs provide, which unfortunately does not help them against their competition.
VPN technology is nothing new but the protocols that VPNs use can change often. With that in mind, let’s take a look at which protocols PureVPN uses and how they compare to the competition.
PureVPN uses several different encryption protocols such as SSTP, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and our favorite, OpenVPN. All of these methods allow for 256-bit encryption, other than PPTP, which only supports 128-bit encryption.
If possible, we always recommend users choose OpenVPN. OpenVPN generally offers the best speed and reliability, and because it is open-source, it is continuously tested against vulnerabilities. While we recommend OpenVPN, it is nice to see that PureVPN has so many options for VPN protocols.
Servers and Server Locations
One of the biggest concerns when searching for a new VPN service is their number of servers and their locations. In most cases, a VPN company will increase or decrease their server load depending on the demand for access. The number of servers in a given location is a good indicator of traffic passing through those locations.
The greater the number of servers in a specific location, the more bandwidth there is to handle the demand. Consequently, the more locations a company has, the better chance you have to find a reliable and stable connection, especially if you often travel: the more server locations the company offers, the more choices you have when choosing a spoofing location.
When writing this article, PureVPN offers over 750 servers, 140 different countries, and 180 locations total. Their server list is relatively robust and includes Asia, Australia, Africa, Central America, Europe, South America, and North America. Compared to other companies of similar size, PureVPN offers quite a variety of locations to choose from. They offer 19 sites in Africa alone, which is more than many other companies can say.
But when it comes to servers, not everything is cut and dry. A representative for PureVPN explained that only 54 of the 140 locations were actual physical servers. The other 87 are, of course, virtual locations. Virtual servers are defined by the software running on the server and spoof the location to one different than where the server is located physically. These servers can be useful for many reasons, but they are also quite concerning to some.
Many users are concerned about their data passing through a location other than where they are spoofing from. Knowing exactly where your data is passing through at all times is rather difficult when using PureVPN. It is entirely possible to find out which servers are virtual, however. The representative states that these virtual servers are all labeled as “in a location near the physical location.” So while you will never know exactly where the data is, you can identify virtual servers and use others instead.
Other companies such as Private Internet Access or NordVPN offer their services with over 3,00 servers to choose from. They never use any virtual location, and the company owns all the hardware.
Virtual servers are mainly used to spoof from countries with restrictive internet policies, such as China, Russia, and Turkey. So while virtual servers are not preferred by many, they do serve a legitimate purpose.
Overall, it is not precisely fair to determine the quality of a VPN company based solely on its countries. What is more important is their policies and the legal framework they operate under—understanding any VPN company’s privacy policies when considering a new VPN service.
PureVPN and Privacy
Many people choose to use a VPN to enhance and protect their privacy from prying eyes by spoofing their location. The concept only really works when users genuinely trust the VPN service provider to safeguard their information and keep it secure. A VPN can see most of the information you would want to hide from your ISP, so you need to trust that it is secure.
One of the main points of the policy is that the company will not log your DNS requests or activity. It will also never log your actual IP address or even the IP of the server you are connecting to.
One caveat that PureVPN makes is that whenever you connect to a server, they record the total amount of bandwidth you used during your session. The company details that they store the records in a way that could never rightfully be connected to the activity of a single user.
In recent years, PureVPN has been thrown into the fire to handle some user’s information. They reportedly turned over this information in response to a federal government request in the process of investigation. If this concerns you, you should probably start reading up on other company’s privacy policies.
When we spoke to a company representative, they informed us that the company never sells any data and only collects revenue from its subscriptions. That is good news considering that some VPN companies have been injecting ads into their user’s traffic. Even worse, others have sold their customer’s information to ISPs outright.
The PureVPN headquarters is located in Hong Kong. This is a little concerning considering China’s influence on the country and its restrictive nature concerning internet privacy. However, Hong Kong is still without any internet data-retention laws, so it is not required to keep information on its users. Currently, the Chinese government is working ardently to ban all VPNs, so it is worth keeping an eye on this situation.
The representative of PureVPN claimed that Hong Kong still possesses a separate legal relationship from mainland china and is not entirely beholden to their restrictions. That means if they can keep things hidden from China, they can keep things hidden from anyone.
Hands-On With PureVPN
For this review, we tested the PureVPN Windows client on the latest version of Windows 10. Installation was quick and easy. However, we were required to install Microsoft Visual C++ 2013.
When you sign up for a PureVPN account, you need to enter your email and a password; however, your account info is not the information you need to log into the app itself. For that, you will receive a separate email that will provide your username and password to use in plaintext.
The idea is that by using two separate logins, you separate yourself further from any identifying information. Doing it this way does allow for greater anonymity; however, it does seem like a clunky and outdated way to go about it. Additionally, if you are a first-time VPN user, you might be wondering why the credentials you used to sign up are not working correctly.
When you sign in and get around to launching the app, you will be prompted with one of several screens: Dedicated IP, File Sharing, Security/Privacy, Internet Freedom, and Stream. Each option will provide you with a completely different experience. This is great for first-time or amateur users who are not quite sure exactly which settings are right for them; however, they seem to be lacking a button that connects by using the default settings.
When you click on any of these buttons, it will activate the VPN settings that you chose. Understandably, this design was meant to provide users with the easiest and quickest VPN experience possible, but unfortunately, it just seems to add more steps to a simple process. We even had issues when we used the buttons for what they were designed to make more simple streaming services. We had to toggle the setting even to get connected to Netflix.
By clicking any of these preset buttons, you will activate the VPN; however, many other app settings are either buried or difficult to locate. If you can identify the protocols menu, you will be able to choose from any of the protocols PureVPN offers, as well as the bonus feature called “Stealth” protocol. Each option will show you how it rates for both speed and security, which can help make a decision. By default, the app will automatically select the protocol that it thinks is best for you.
While many VPNs are battling potential leaks, PureVPN attempts to rectify the situation by introducing its custom solution. It is called the “gravity” option, which forces a connection to their secure DNS servers.
The app also features a global map, allowing you to get around the suggested connections and choose one of the server options available. From our research, we have found that most users actually prefer this feature, so it is a mystery as to why they did not use this feature at the heart of their app.
It is nice to see that PureVPN has put some effort into redesigning their app, as it seems to be much smoother than the last time we used it. However, the color scheme is quite bright, and sometimes it makes it difficult to read the settings themselves.
When you are connected to a server, you will notice your current IP address, the connection status, and the duration of your session located at the bottom of the interface. PureVPN also features a traffic chart that allows users to see the bandwidth they are using in each session. It is an easy way to keep track of internet usage; however, it is rather useless as it does not have a usage cap.
Overall, despite some room for improvement, PureVPN performed relatively well, and we had no significant issues with the Windows client.
PureVPN and Netflix
When it comes to streaming content, service providers are very aware of your location. They offer different content libraries based on geography, and each of their plans is priced accordingly. For that reason, many streaming services take using VPNs to spoof your location very seriously. Many of them put a great deal of effort into making sure that you are actually where you say you are to stick to their contractual agreements.
If you plan on streaming online content, PureVPN probably isn’t your best bet. In our testing, Netflix was able to determine that we were using a VPN in most of our tests. This issue repeated itself even when we turned on the “Streaming Mode.”
It is not surprising that a streaming service puts so much effort into blocking VPN servers since it is potentially money out of their pockets. However, most other VPNs will be able to get around the region block with a small amount of toggling. With PureVPN, it is possible to stream Netflix, but it takes a lot of time and effort to find a server that works well.
We had similar issues when we tried Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, although these services worked more often than in our Netflix test. If you are looking for a VPN specifically to stream content, you might look into NordVPN or ExpressVPN, which have a much higher rate of success.
If you expect more value from your VPN subscription, you are probably looking for a company that provides a few extras alongside their standard service. With PureVPN, however, these extras will cost you a little more than the standard subscription.
For an extra 99 cents each month, you can add a NAT firewall, and for $1.99, you can also add your dedicated IP address. Lastly, for $2.25 each month, you can receive a dedicated IP with additional DDoS attack protection.
As far as torrenting goes, if you pay $1.99 extra, you will receive PureVPN software to scan any downloaded torrent files for malware. While these features might sound nice, other VPN companies offer them no extra cost to their users. These additionals can extend the value of the product, but with PureVPN, you need to pay more to enjoy them.
It is nice to see that PureVPN is trying to broaden its offerings to potential customers; however, the difference between some of their extras is almost indistinguishable. Additionally, they are not providing the ad-blocking software that many VPNs have been offering alongside their product.
While extras are great, it is not sure whether the bonuses offered by PureVPN are worth the time and money.
Speed and Performance
One of the biggest questions you might have about a VPN when you are in the market to buy is how it will affect you speed and performance when connected. In order to test the performance of PureVPN, we put it to the test using speetest.net by Ookla and our Windows 10 PC.
We tested the connection without the VPN connection to establish a baseline for comparison for our first test.
Next, we tested the VPN without changing the settings and connected to the “best” server for our location. We suspect that the best server is actually just the nearest location, but here are the results:
As you can see, our ping increased substantially, and both the download and upload speeds decreased by around half. That is to be expected, and these speeds are relatively average.
For our next test, we connected to the US server that was nearest to us. In this case, it was Seattle, Washington.
As expected, the ping increased dramatically when we distanced ourselves further, and both the download and upload speeds are slower than we’d expect them to be. Still, despite these slower than average speeds, it’s not as bad as we expected for the price tag.
If you are looking for a VPN that will blow you out of the water with speed, PureVPN certainly isn’t the one for you, but it does offer reasonable rates at a relatively low price.
PureVPN for Android
If you are looking for the PureVPN app for Android, you will find it in the Google Play store. To use the app at all, you need to have an active subscription. The app is very similar in style and operates to the Windows App, with only a few minor changes. If you click the button in the lower right corner, you will find a list of available servers you can connect to.
Even though the app matches the feel of the Android OS, it is not exactly a smooth experience. With the desktop versions, there are many exact options to choose from to connect immediately. With this app, the five methods mentioned previously are obfuscated into their sections. Someone who has no experience with this app might have difficulty navigating their way around the menus.
To our dismay, many of the issues with the app go beyond its aesthetic appearance. When we tested the app, we experienced many crashes—using the default settings, the app connected with less than average speeds. When we spoke to a representative, they advised us to use the “multi port” option available in the protocol section. This solved our connection issues, but this solution would not be completely obvious to the average user.
As far as the speeds go, the app consistently produced disappointing rates in both download and uploads. While the Windows client seemed to work without a hitch, it appears that PureVPN needs to focus a little more on their android app.
PureVPN for Mac
If you are a Mac user, you might be disappointed to learn that the PureVPN app is not available in the official Apple store. Instead, you will need to head over to the PureVPN website to find the Mac application.
The style and layout of the Mac app are incredibly similar to that of the Windows version. It has five different modes to choose from, so you can connect to the best server depending on your current needs. If you are a Mac user, you are probably used to simplicity, and this app does not make getting connected easy.
They attempted to add the macOS’s aesthetic style so that Apple users aren’t entirely overwhelmed; however, the app itself still looks clunky and a bit outdated. Once you connect, you can find information about your current session in the lower portion. You will see ping time and location, but you can find them in the Menu Bar if you want more details.
The Mac version on this app hits home the point that PureVPN should consider an overhaul of all of their apps to make them more user-friendly and create fewer hoops that users need to jump through. Hopefully, that happens soon, but for now, the PureVPN apps are some of our least favorites to test recently.
PureVPN for iPhone
To our dismay, the iPhone application looks quite similar to the one offered for Android. It is excellent that they want to keep some consistency across their platforms; however, you will discover that it leaves much to be desired if you read the Android review.
It keeps the overall iOS aesthetic and design; however, it lacks many of the features you would expect, such as the map view, session length, or bandwidth information provided by the app’s desktop version. Our speed tests of the app performed smoother than the Android app, and we did not have any connection issues. However, the speeds are also slower than their desktop counterpart.
You can use several different encryption protocols right out of the box, which is one redeeming quality. The PureVPN iOs app features IPSec, IKEv2, and L2TP. Sadly, like many iOs VPNs, the PureVPN app does not feature OpenVPN. It is more difficult for developers to include this protocol due to the open-source status and Apple’s unwillingness to support it.
The iOS app does feature a few extras that are worth mentioning. They feature the Ozone, as mentioned earlier, and Gravity extras that can unblock certain content. However, their effectiveness is questionable as much of the content we tested remained blocked.
While the extras and features of the iOS version are nice, it is not enough for us to overlook the apparent issues that still need to be worked out. We hope that PureVPN can improve its app’s design and functionality, but for now, it is challenging to recommend any of these apps.
The Times Have Changed
When comparing PureVPN to other VPNs on the market, it is essential to consider the whole package. The things that matter most to prospective users are security, speed, and value.
While they did not blow any speed records out of the water, the speed test yielded acceptable results and proved that connection speeds are not the biggest issue for PureVPN. One problem that they should address is their spread of servers so that users can connect quickly no matter their location.
PureVPN does offer great value, especially if you are willing to sign up for longer-term contracts. In closing, PureVPN is a reasonably average VPN that offers adequate service if you don’t care about the aesthetics or usability of all of their apps. While Windows users should have no problem, other users might consider a more stable mobile version such as NordVPN or CyberGhost.