However, can it compete with the best VPN providers when it comes to general usability and performance? Read on to find out in our in-depth PureVPN review.
PureVPN 1-minute reviewIn terms of pricing, short and mid-length plans aren’t hugely appealing, but if you’re lucky enough to catch a deal offering five years, you can find some rock-bottom prices. A $0.99 seven-day trial is also useful, and you’ll have 31 days to claim a refund on any plan if you don’t like the service.
While it has some blots on its copybook, the fact PureVPN has undertaken a second zero-logging audit with the firm KPMG is a great indication of its commitment to user privacy. We're also happy to see the introduction of an 'always on' auditing policy, which allows KPMG to inspect PureVPN without notice at any time.
Speeds are average, and while we experienced some intermittent slow-downs, on the whole performance is certainly acceptable – more than swift enough to stream in HD or even 4K.
On that note, PureVPN is a decent choice for streaming, as it can unblock a number of Netflix libraries alongside Disney+, but BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime fans will be left wanting. Torrent support is promising, but the fact it’s unavailable in the most popular locations means you’ll have to compromise with a distant server – although this doesn’t affect speeds too much.
The apps themselves aren’t up there with the best, but offer a good number of extra features – and the same goes for mobile as well as desktop. However, we discovered some worrying encryption fall-backs, and under heavy testing, the kill switch didn’t perform as we’d expect.
Support is serviceable, and it’s a bonus that live chat is an option. There’s a huge range of on-site guides, and while the ticket system wasn’t perfect, for the majority it will be acceptable.
All things told, while PureVPN is a decent option and certainly has its merits, the truth is that it simply can't compete with the likes of ExpressVPN or NordVPN when it comes to sheer power and usability – and as such, it doesn't feature on our current list of the best VPN services available today.
PureVPN on paperNumber of servers: 6,500+
Number of countries: 140
Platforms supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Routers, Android TV, Amazon FireStick, Microsoft Surface, Kodi, Roku, Boxee, Now TV Box, Raspberry Pi, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox
Simultaneous connections: 10
Split tunneling: Yes
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols: OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, PPTP
Country of registration: Hong Kong
Support: 24/7 live chat, email, knowledgebase
Latest updatesSince we undertook our comprehensive review of PureVPN, a couple of important changes have occurred.
Firstly, we've seen the server count double to over 6,500 – that's more than big names such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, and should help avoid any server overload issues.
Secondly, in October 2020 PureVPN finalized the findings of its audit with the 'big four' firm KPMG. This audit once again proved PureVPN's claims of no logging. What's more, PureVPN now has an 'always on' auditing policy, which essentially means KPMG is free to undertake audits of PureVPN whenever it likes, with no prior notice.
Finally, it's worth noting PureVPN has rolled out an update to its apps, which we'll cover in our next round of comprehensive VPN testing.
PureVPN price: how much is it, and is there a PureVPN free trial?Starting out at nearly $11 on a single-month plan, PureVPN is hardly a bargain – but this is what we’ve come to expect from most VPNs if you want the luxury of a rolling contract. To save a bit of cash, you’ll want to commit for a little longer.
Six months will set you back $8.33 a month, and a year will round off at $5.82 a month. After this, however, PureVPN’s pricing gets a bit confusing. It’s been known to offer a two-year plan, but that seems to have gone.
However, although it seems almost impossible to find, PureVPN does offer a gargantuan five-year plan. This cuts the monthly price down to an incredibly cheap $1.32 a month – one of the lowest prices we’ve ever seen from a VPN. Combine that with our exclusive TECH10 code, and it’ll cut another 10% off, working out at $1.19 a month.
Even though that’s a five-year plan, it offers such good value that it’s the same price overall as the one-year plan. We’re not sure how long it’ll be available for, though, so we’ll keep this updated as and when it changes.
Whichever plan you choose, you’ll be covered by a 31-day money-back guarantee so that you can test it out, and for $0.99, you can also get a fully-fledged seven-day trial without fronting too much cash – even though you’d be able to claim it back.
How private is PureVPN, and does it keep logs?PureVPN doesn’t have a spotless record when it comes to protecting user data. In 2017, a man was arrested for online wrongdoings, and part of the evidence used to do so were PureVPN records which included his work and home IP addresses. Ethics aside, this isn’t good form for a VPN – services primarily designed and used as privacy tools.
Since then, PureVPN has taken efforts to be able to truthfully claim to be a ‘zero-logging VPN, and has undertaken two audits of its security systems and privacy policies.
The conclusion of the first audit was that Altius IT, the auditing firm, “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.”
The second audit, however, is more impressive. Undertaken by KPMG – one of the 'big four' auditing firms – this audit again proved PureVPN's claims of zero-logging to be true. What's more, PureVPN is now in an 'always on' auditing contract with KPMG, which means the firm can investigate the VPN provider without notice at any time.
In terms of apps and features, you’ll get some useful extras like IPv6 and DNS leak protection, a multi-port option, port forwarding, and the possibility to use a non-NAT network to use a unique IP address.
How fast is PureVPN?Speed is an important part of any VPN, and PureVPN’s performance was mixed. In our daytime tests on a 600Mbps US connection, we saw excellent speeds of 190-250Mbps. That’s seriously competitive with some of the fastest VPNs. On our 75Mbps UK line, we averaged around 64-65 Mbps, which is perfectly serviceable.
However, in our US evening tests, speeds slowed to a snail’s pace of 2-15Mbps. However, these tests were undertaken in April 2020 when the world was plunged into lockdown and internet use surged.
In previous tests PureVPN delivered speeds similar to our recorded daytime speeds, so we’d take that as a benchmark, and we won’t judge it too harshly on what may have been a one-off server issue. However, as with any VPN, make sure you do some thorough testing before your trial or a money-back guarantee is up to make sure it’s suitable at all times.
How good is PureVPN for streaming and torrenting?Netflix VPN performance is important to many – and streaming is now possibly the most important factor when it comes to VPN use – so this is an essential area.
PureVPN delivers well when accessing Netflix, unlocking a host of libraries with ease. It’s also capable of unblocking Disney+, which is generally regarded as one of the more difficult nuts to crack.
However, the same can’t be said for BBC iPlayer or Amazon Prime Video – in our testing we couldn’t access either of these services. If you’re happy with Netflix and Disney+, PureVPN is a decent choice, but if you need the best of the best, picking service from our rundown of streaming VPN services is a better choice.
In terms of torrenting VPN performance, PureVPN is fairly capable. You’ll get split tunneling, NAT firewall protection, and decent download speeds as mentioned above. However, many of the most popular server locations – including the UK, US, Canada, and Australia – block P2P sharing. While there’s nothing stopping you from selecting a different server, providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN either allow torrenting on every server or will automatically reroute your connection to one that does.
How good are PureVPN's desktop apps?Before we start, it's worth mentioning that the results below were achieved with a previous iteration of PureVPN's apps. There are newer versions now available, which we'll cover in our next round of testing.
Once you’ve signed up to PureVPN, there’s a decent selection of apps to choose from – Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, plus extensions for Chrome and Firefox. That’s all pretty standard, but what’s impressive is further support for more niche devices such as Roku, routers, PlayStation and Xbox, Fire Stick, and a bunch more.
When we launched the Windows app on our test machine, we were faced with the choice between five modes - Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File Sharing and Dedicated IP. Picking one is a bit of a conundrum, though, as there’s not a huge amount of guidance on which is best for what activity besides the title. More info is available on the site, but we’d like to see that without having to search for it.
There’s also manual configuration, so that if you fancy picking your own protocol and other options, you can do so – and on that note, you’ll get access to OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP and IKEv2. No WireGuard yet, though.
There are a few oddities – split tunneling has been in beta for a heck of a long time – and the in-app support is poorly implemented and not entirely comprehensive. The gist is that there are tons of great ideas at PureVPN HQ, but perhaps not the manpower to implement them.
In use, we found a number of problems. If the app fails to connect through your chosen protocol, it falls back to another, and will carry on as such until it finds a connection – all the while never giving you any notice of this. Worryingly, in the settings we discovered that the app was set to ‘encryption: optional’. So, in a worst-case scenario, you might think you were protected and totally private, but in fact using the thoroughly outdated PPTP protocol with no encryption.
When tested to within an inch of its life, we also noticed the kill switch fell foul and didn’t work as we expected. The repeated closing of connections that caused the problem is unlikely to happen in normal use, but it’s not hugely impressive.
How good are PureVPN's mobile apps?On mobile, things are fairly similar, but it’s pleasing to see that the apps carry over a fair amount of functionality. While they’re not hugely intuitive, there are plenty of options like connection optimization for certain purposes (streaming, unblocking the web in China etc.), protocol switching, a kill switch on Android, port forwarding and more.
In fact, when comparing to the competition, the mobile apps are probably better on the whole than the desktop offerings – they outstrip some big players in terms of features.
What customer support does PureVPN offer?Since our last review, PureVPN’s support site has been improved, and essential guides have been updated to provide fairly comprehensive instructions to remedy most common issues users may have. In fact, there’s a huge range of articles for just about every operating system, plus a plethora of suggestions for accessing Netflix.
You can also raise a support ticket from within the app, but our experience with this wasn’t stellar. Our initial query was answered in around 30 minutes – not terrible – but we only received fairly rudimentary advice, and our follow-up questions were left unanswered.
If the guides can’t help you, your best bet is to use the live chat function. We received a reply in a couple of minutes, and while we didn’t get quite the level of support we’re used to from truly premium services like ExpressVPN, PureVPN’s live chat was swift and did get us up and running.
PureVPN: Final verdictPureVPN’s appeal lies in its wide device support, large server network, excellent value ultra-long-term plans, and – when they work correctly – the fact the apps on most operating systems deliver a good amount of functionality. We also appreciate the commitment to user privacy, and welcome the introduction of the 'always on' audit with KPMG.
However, what’s not quite so impressive are the connectivity issues and slightly dodgy kill switch performance, which are quite feasibly problems that might affect the average user – and that’s why it can’t truly compete with leading providers such as ExpressVPN.