PureVPN Review

Review

PureVPN Review (2017 VPN Review)


PureVPN
PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based provider founded in 2006. Since then, it has gained a reputation for being a respected provider with solid encryption, global server coverage, and state-of-the-art software. That said, our testing revealed connection problems and some serious security issues. Sign up now or read our PureVPN review in full below.

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Pricing & Plans

PureVPN has an interesting subscription model, with plans being named after what its customers plan to use their VPN for. It is broken down into three categories: Premium Users, Streamers, and Downloaders. The prices of said plans depend on if you’re buying a monthly subscription…

PureVPN monthly plans

…or an annual subscription.

PureVPN annual plans

The Downloaders plan is the cheapest of the bunch at $4 a month when purchased annually, or $8 a month when purchased monthly. Meanwhile, the Premium Users plan (which is effectively a combination of the Downloaders and Streamers plan) is the most expensive, at $7 a month when purchased annually or $13 a month when purchased monthly.

Sadly, there is no PureVPN free account or trial that allows you test drive the service before committing. That said, it has a seven-day money back guarantee in place, so if you ultimately decide that PureVPN is not for you, you can request a hassle-free refund.

You can pay for your PureVPN plan using any one of its extensive range of payment options. Given that it has one of the biggest selections I’ve seen during my time reviewing VPN providers, I’d be surprised if your payment method of choice is not available. PureVPN accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, PayPal, Discover Card, Bitpay, CoinPayments, PaymentWall, Alipay, Cashu, and many, many others… Heck, it even accepts Walmart gift cards!

Conclusion

  • ProsPROS
  • Global coverage
  • Fast speeds
  • Compatible with 50+ platforms
  • ConsCONS
  • IPv6, DNS & WebRTC leaks detected
  • Connection issues on select servers

Features

PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based provider founded in 2006, with its first commercial services launched in 2007. Since then, it’s grown to be a well-respected provider in the VPN industry that has received critical acclaim from the likes of Mashable, CNET, and The New York Times.
All PureVPN accounts sport the same features, which are listed clearly on the provider’s website.

PureVPN features

I was pleased to see the great features that PureVPN offers, including its Internet kill switch, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited server switching, and IP leak protection. I was also impressed with its generous five simultaneous connections, which allows you to safeguard all of your devices.

One feature I was skeptical about when I conducted my PureVPN review, however, was its promise of anonymous IPs. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on BestVPN.com, no VPN provider will make you truly anonymous online, which makes PureVPN’s anonymous VPN claims rather sketchy.

Also worth noting is the ever-important PureVPN server locations. They’ve got over 500 servers scattered in 141 countries across the globe, including seldom-covered areas such as Oceania, Africa, and Central America.

PureVPN servers

Add-Ons

In addition to its set features, PureVPN has a number of add-on features available. Each clocks in at $1.99 per month – no matter if purchased annually, bi-annually, or monthly.

Dedicated IP VPN

A dedicated IP doesn’t do much in the way of security or increasing anonymity. This is because it’s your private IP, and so whatever you do online can always be traced back to you by PureVPN. However, there are plenty of perks to having a dedicated IP, which PureVPN explains in their handy graph:

dedicated IP VPN

NAT Firewall

PureVPN writes that its NAT Firewall protects you by blocking unrequested connections, malicious inbound traffic, exploits, bad data packets, and other nasties.

PureVPN firewall

DDoS Protection

The PureVPN DDoS protection add-on adds an extra layer of security to your existing VPN plan. It does this by hiding your real IP address from attacks and filtering traffic to your connection through anti-DDoS mitigation servers.

This add-on is not only enticing to those who are concerned with online security, but to streaming aficionados and gamers as well. You can see why in PureVPN’s explanatory graph below.

DDoS protection

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Security & Privacy

PureVPN has some sturdy security features in place. While I’m dubious about the repeated claims on its website of anonymous browsing (we touched on this issue earlier in this PureVPN review), you can’t deny the privacy benefits of features like these:

PureVPN security

PureVPN has a number of protocols on offer, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2. I’d personally recommend OpenVPN over the others, as its 256-bit AES encryption and SHA-1 for data authentication makes it considerably more secure than the other options. To learn the difference between these protocols, you can read BestVPN.com’s helpful guide on the subject.

Any of the aforementioned add-on features I mentioned will also toughen the security and privacy of your PureVPN account.

In regards to logging, PureVPN keeps session logs but no activity logs. It justifies its possession of session logs by saying that they’re used to identify session durations, bandwidth used, access attempts made to its servers (for security and troubleshooting purposes), and user clicks on its software (to track the popularity of specific features and improvements).

The PureVPN Website

PureVPN’s website is very modern and stylishly designed. A general overview of the service can be found on its landing page, with designated sections such as ‘Why PureVPN,’ ‘Features,’ ‘Server Location,’ and ‘Pricing’ going into further detail.

PureVPN website

The site is easy to navigate, with each section containing heaps of helpful information that don’t leave you clamoring for more details. I was also a fan of the surplus of graphics on the PureVPN website, which made it easy on the eyes and helped break up all of the tech-heavy information the site contains into more digestible pieces.

Also worth noting is the PureVPN blog. It is regularly updated with interesting articles on cyber security, industry news, and company updates.

Support

Clicking on the Support tab on PureVPN’s website gives both existing and potential users access to its mammoth-sized knowledge base.

PureVPN help page

Users can either type in their query into the knowledge base search engine, or poke around the company’s setup guides, how-to guides, and FAQ page. These can be found by scrolling further down the page.

If you can’t find the answer to your question in the PureVPN knowledge base, or have a pressing issue that requires direct contact with the company, you can either ask it via their 24/7/365 live chat, email PureVPN at [email protected], request a support ticket, or send the provider a message via its online contact form.

For this PureVPN review, I decided to test its live chat by sending them a query regarding their logging policy. I was immediately prompted to enter my name, email address, and question.

PureVPN live chat

I was immediately put in touch with a support agent who kindly asked me to wait a few minutes for a response to my query. I did eventually get the answer to my (admittedly simple) question, but it took well over 15 minutes to receive it, which I think is a bit too long for a service that boasts being manned 24/7, 365 days a year.

All in all, the live chat felt pretty robotic. While a canned answer was enough to answer my security question, if you’re after a more personalized answer or have a more complex issue that needs to be resolved, I’d recommend you send them an email or submit a support ticket.

The Process

Signing Up

To sign up for a PureVPN account, you first have to go to its Pricing page. Once you select your preferred plan, scroll down and select your preferred payment method. Once that is chosen, you will be prompted to enter your name, email address, and payment details.

Once signed up, you will receive two emails: one containing both your VPN and billing area login details, and one containing tips on how to use PureVPN.

For the purpose of this PureVPN review, I decided to sign up for a monthly subscription of their Premium plan.

Setting Up

Setting up your PureVPN client is fairly simple. Firstly, go its website and log in to the Member Area using your billing area login details. This will be your email address and user-created password.

Once logged in, click the Download tab in the upper right corner. You will be presented with all platform options. Choose your desired platform and launch the PureVPN setup wizard.

PureVPN setup wizard

The setup wizard was fairly standard, and took minutes to get through. Once successfully downloaded, I was prompted to launch the PureVPN client.

Once the client is open, sign in using the randomized login details that you received in your first welcome email from PureVPN.

PureVPN review

The PureVPN Windows VPN client

Instead of having a one-size-fits-all client for its users, the PureVPN client offers a customizable experience dependant on what you want to use the VPN for during that particular session. You can choose between Stream, Internet Freedom, Security / Privacy, File-Sharing, and Remote / DEDI IP.

PureVPN experiences

I liked that you don’t need to commit to one option, but can change whenever you feel like it. That said, I won’t be checking out all of the options for this PureVPN review. Instead, I will stick to the option that I consider the most important and that allows me to fully test out their Internet safety features: Security / Privacy.

Once I selected my desired experience, I was prompted to select my desired location and encryption. Regarding encryption selection, I liked the wide range to choose from and how they clearly note the speed and security of each.

PureVPN encryption

Concerning location, I was similarly pleased with the large selection, as well as the fact that they clearly label the servers that support P2P.

PureVPN set location

During my testing, I tried to connect to several random locations. I started with Australia. If successfully connected, you will be presented with a screen like the one I got below, which clearly displays your IP and location.

PureVPN connection

I tried a few other servers, from popular picks to the US to more obscure choices like Honduras. Each connected without issue. That said, during our video testing, we had some connection issues with Hong Kong. For my PureVPN review, I decided to see if this was a reoccurring problem or a one-off.

Sadly, like the BestVPN.com video reviewer, I also could not connect to Hong Kong.

PureVPN Hong Kong

While I had no problem connecting to servers besides Hong Kong, PureVPN has come location-dependent server issues that you should keep in mind if you have your heart set on one or several specific locations.

Back to reviewing the actual PureVPN Windows client. Once you are successfully connected to your server of choice, click on the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the client and select Settings. Here you will see basic information such as the protocol used and basic settings.

PureVPN settings

Clicking on Advanced settings will present you with more advanced security features, such as DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch to protect you in the event your connection drops, and split tunneling.

PureVPN advanced settings

Clicking on the Modes option, meanwhile, will allow you to switch to a different experience if you so wish.

The other tabs on the PureVPN client are not particularly noteworthy. The Global Map tab off to the right will show you the server list as well as a map, while the Latest and Greatest tab is just company updates from PureVPN.

Aside from the connection issues, I was overall impressed with the PureVPN client. It was very easy to use, not to mention easy on the eyes. I was also a fan of their advanced security features and the wide range of servers and encryption types to choose from.

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

PureVPN download speed
PureVPN upload speed
Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

PureVPN claims to be the fastest VPN on the market, and while I can’t say with any certainty that that’s true, its servers are fairly speedy, as you can see in the graphs above. One anomaly that’s worth pointing out, however, are the slow VPN upload speeds. I was left scratching my head as to why they were slower than the with VPN results. Further testing just showed more of the same. Use of LZO compression could explain this anomaly, but testmy.net is supposed to use pre-compressed test files, so this shouldn’t be the source of the issue.

I originally planned on comparing the speeds of the Security / Privacy mode and Streaming mode, but to my surprise, I could not connect to a single one of the designated streaming servers. Pretty awful considering that a lot of people use VPNs solely for the purpose of streaming – especially those looking to connect to US servers.

Also very worryingly, IP leaks and DNS leaks were detected during our video testing, showing connections coming out of the US when they were meant to be elsewhere. I am very sorry to report that leaks were detected during my own testing. DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks all revealed my true location. This is hugely disappointing and also very worrying, especially given that I was using PureVPN’s Security / Privacy experience during testing and had both “Switch to secure DNS” and “IPv6 Leak Detection” turned on.

Leaks of any kind are a massive security liability that can put you in danger. Ensure that VPN is working properly by testing for yourself at ipleak.net for WebRTC and DNS leaks, and test-ipv6.com for IPv6 leaks. Alternatively, you can use doileak.com, which is a mix of the aforementioned tests.

One positive that popped up during our testing of PureVPN? It turns out it’s one of the few VPNs that’s yet to be blocked by Netflix! The same, however, cannot be said about BBC iPlayer.

Other Platforms

Besides Windows 10, PureVPN is compatible with over 50 other platforms. These include Mac, Linux, HP WebOS, Android, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Blackberry, Boxee Box, DD-WRT, and various gaming consoles. So whatever device you have that needs safeguarding, there’s a high chance that PureVPN has got you covered.

Detailed setup guides for each are found in the PureVPN help center.

PureVPN Mobile App for iOS

PureVPN has both a free version of their iOS mobile App, as well as one for users with paid subscriptions. The paid version is a mirror image of their desktop client, offering multiple modes, plenty of server locations, and fast speeds. It’s even available in four languages: Dutch, English, French, and German.

The free version of the PureVPN mobile App for iOS is also quite good. It has plenty of server locations to choose from and customizable settings that allow you to choose between PPTP/L2TP and the Auto Protocol. While it doesn’t offer modes, users can choose from different “purposes” such as USA TV watching, UK TV watching, social media and chatting, and higher security and anonymity.

PureVPN Review Conclusion

I liked

  • A wide array of payment options
  • Reasonably priced add-ons
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Global network of servers
  • Compatible with over 50 platforms
  • Helpful knowledge base
  • Fast speeds
  • Supports P2P on select servers

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Slow live chat exchange
  • Keeps session logs
  • Some connection issues

I hated

  • IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks detected
  • Streaming servers won’t connect

PureVPN has been in the VPN industry for over a decade and has built a reputation for being a finely-designed and trustworthy provider. It isn’t hard to see why: The client software is both impressive and intuitive, the help center is great, there’s a slew of reasonably priced add-ons available for purchase, and its speeds aren’t bad to boot. That said, the provider is not without its flaws – and the flaws that it does have are huge deal breakers. Longstanding connection issues with select servers are bad enough, but WebRTC leaks, DNS leaks, and IP leaks are all absolutely unacceptable. That said, due to its long list of pros, we wouldn’t necessarily dissuade anyone who doesn’t care much for online privacy from giving PureVPN a try. But you should proceed with caution.

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