PureVPN Review 2023: An Average VPN or Something More?
PureVPN has been around since 2007 and is undoubtedly one of the veterans in the industry. Despite its long history, this VPN never managed to break into the top-tier ranks of the elite VPN services. It has a massive and diverse network, capable of both streaming and torrenting, and exceptional security characteristics.
So, if everything is as good as it sounds, why isn’t everyone jumping on the PureVPN bandwagon? Well, the company’s “almost” zero login policy and its lackluster support have tarnished its reputation over the last few years. With that in mind, has PureVPN managed to right the ship, and is it worth your membership in 2022? To get to the heart of the matter, in this detailed PureVPN review, we’ll test every feature and aspect of their service.
TL; DR – Table Overview of Main ExpressVPN Pros and Cons
- Can unblock all streaming sites
- Well spread-out server network
- Up to 10 simultaneous connections
- Very good for torrenting
- DDoS and Port Forwarding only available at an additional cost
- Limited choice of protocols
- Network connections can drop from time to time
- Expensive monthly plan
How Fast is PureVPN? – A Thorough Test of Its Speed
Speed is one of the most important performance factors of every VPN service. And, even though PureVPN doesn’t advertise as the fastest VPN on the market, speed is always the first thing we check when reviewing any Virtual Private Network.
Before we dig deeper into analyzing the results, we must note that the Internet is generally volatile, and speed tests can often be random. That said, to ensure our network performance is unaffected by any outside factor when testing PureVPN’s speed and performance, we used a dedicated network suitable for 1-2 users.
Before examining this VPN’s speed, we first ran several baseline tests without a VPN to establish a median value of our regular network. The numbers for our baseline test are:
After establishing a baseline value for our network, we manually picked a nearby server from their list and connected to it. Here are the results for the PureVPN manually-selected local server connection:
Following this speed test, we checked how PureVPN’s “Recommended Server” auto-connect feature works compared to manually choosing locations. Here’s how PureVPN’s auto-connect feature performed:
Lastly, we also analyzed how our network will perform when connected to a PureVPN server over 7,400 miles (12,000 kilometers) away. Here are the results of PureVPN’s remote server speed:
The main conclusion we can draw from these PureVPN tests is that there’s a noticeable drop down in download speed when connected to any of the PureVPN servers. Although the service is still very much usable, it simply can’t compare with the fastest VPNs on the market. Even when connected to a nearby local server, you can expect a speed drop of at least 20 percent.
On the bright side, as you can see from the screenshots above, PureVPN’s “Recommended Server” connections are very intuitive. You can get an equally fast network connection by connecting automatically as you would going through the process of selecting a location manually. This makes the user experience much more convenient, as you can connect with one click, and you’ll be good to go.
Additionally, when connected to a remote server, the VPN performed well, with the expected ping increase in the normal ranges. Overall, although it can’t stand up to the fastest VPNs on the market, it offers average to above-average connection speeds across the board.
Besides the Recommended Server feature, there aren’t that many options you can choose from. You can browse the server list or use the search bar to find a specific server you have in mind. There’s also a “Favorites” tab, which displays any servers you might’ve saved to use again. With all of this in mind, it seems that PureVPN primarily targets casual VPN users looking for a straightforward and easy-to-use VPN service.
PureVPN Servers – Locations and Availability
We have to give credit where credit is due – PureVPN’s server network is well spread-out and covers every corner of the globe. Compared to most other VPNs in the industry, PureVPN offers an above-average server network. Currently, the company provides more than 6,500 servers in 180+ locations in over 140 countries worldwide.
The majority of these servers are located in Europe (2700+) and North America (1700+). Having said that, you can find more than enough suitable servers regardless if you live in South America, Central America, Asia, Oceania, or Africa.
On their site, you can find useful information on which servers and locations are virtual, while the apps also mark P2P-suitable servers. That said, we would like to see all of the features listed in one place, preferably in the apps themselves, as this would allow a convenient process for picking suitable servers.
Is PureVPN Safe? – A Detailed Overview of Its Security Features
Yes, PureVPN is a safe and secure VPN service. For a better understanding of how capable this VPN actually is, let’s take a look at all of PureVPN’s security features:
- Kill Switch – PureVPN’s kill switch keeps your network safe by cutting off your entire connection in case of any sudden VPN network connection drops. This setting is always turned on by default in every featured PureVPN app.
- Split Tunneling – The split tunneling feature provides the added convenience of routing just a part of your network connection through a VPN server while still accessing the Internet directly through other apps and programs. As of writing this PureVPN review, the split tunneling feature is only available on Android.
- Port Forwarding (Add-on) – This feature allows you to access remote internet-connected devices or services anywhere on Earth. It mostly comes in handy for gaming and torrenting. With that in mind, PureVPN’s port forwarding feature is only available at an extra subscription cost.
- Dedicated IP (Add-on) – If you want a more secure VPN network that you won’t share with any other PureVPN user, you can order a dedicated IP address. The company currently offers dedicated IPs in the US, the UK, Singapore, Malta, Germany, Australia, and Canada. That said, like port forwarding, it’s only available at an additional price.
- DDoS Protection (Add-on) – DDoS protection protects your IP address from malicious attempts of flooding your network. However, if you want to enjoy the added DDoS protection, you’ll have to pay an additional monthly fee.
PureVPN promises a feature-packed service that delivers on all fields. While it can be the ultimate tool for ensuring safety and privacy, unfortunately, a lot of essential features are hidden behind an additional paywall. Without the three premium-priced features, you’re left with a very basic VPN service that does not offer you much room for personalization.
Does PureVPN Log User Data?
No, PureVPN doesn’t log any identifiable user data when you connect to their VPN servers. This means that they don’t know your real IP address, your VPN server’s IP address, the specific time you connected to the server, or any activities you undergo when using their service.
We were pleased to see that PureVPN applies an “always-on” audit policy, which means that they accept to undergo random and unscheduled audits any time throughout the year. In the past couple of years, they were audited by Altius IT and KPMG. Both auditors confirmed that PureVPN shows no indications of logging data that could lead to identifying specific users.
However, since we like going into the tiniest details to ensure user protection, we must mention that PureVPN does include some information in its connection logs. Their technicians know the day you connected to their VPN service, how long you were connected, and how many connections you used. Again, all of this information is without specific connection timestamps or IP details. But, it is still something to keep in mind since you’re not exactly log-free, just “log-free from any identifiable data”, as they put it.
Does PureVPN Use Virtual Servers?
Yes, PureVPN employs a significant number of virtual servers in its service. Although they don’t precisely list how many virtual servers they operate, each virtual server listed on their site has the letter “V” next to it. This makes it easier to avoid such server locations, which we recommend you always do.
The bulk of PureVPN’s virtual servers are located in Asia and South America, although there’s a substantial number of them in Europe as well. Even though virtual servers allow easier access and instant connection, they’re simply not as safe as real servers. This is mainly because they can become a honeypot for anyone who manages to access them.
PureVPN Available Protocols
As you can see from the screenshot we’ve taken from their Windows client, PureVPN only supports three types of protocols. Let’s take a closer look at each one:
- IKEv2 – The fastest of the three available protocols, IKEv2 is excellent for streaming and P2P file sharing. We must note that IKEv2 is not compatible with all OS and devices, so you might not be able to utilize it if you’re using an incompatible device.
- TCP – Aside from IKEv2, PureVPN supports OpenVPN TCP as the safer and more secure online browsing option. TCP is relatively fast but fairly average when it comes to streaming capabilities. That said, its strengths lie primarily in network encryption and stability. This makes it a well-balanced protocol and PureVPN’s default protocol setting.
- UDP – Faster than TCP but a bit less stable than it, OpenVPN UDP is a similarly adept protocol for all-around use. Like the previously-listed OpenVPN version, it’s available in all PureVPN apps.
Although you can find information on PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and SSTP protocols on many of their pages, as well as the majority of online review sites, be careful, as this information is not accurate. PureVPN doesn’t support these protocols anymore.
Since we took Windows as a particular example, these additional protocols were only available for PureVPN Windows app versions 7.1.2 and below. If you’re using a version that’s at least 7.1.4 or above, like we used while testing PureVPN, you’ll only have the three above-listed protocols at your disposal.
PureVPN Streaming Capabilities – Can it Unblock Netflix?
When you open up PureVPN’s site, you’ll notice that they claim to work with any significant streaming platform you can think of. This prompted us to do a manual check of each of the top streaming sites in the industry. We’ve found that PureVPN performs excellently in unblocking these sites:
- Netflix (Tested on the UK, the US, and Japan versions)
- BBC iPlayer
- Amazon Prime Video
- HBO GO
- ITV HUB
As you can see from the extensive list above, PureVPN’s capability to unblock streaming sites is certainly one of its strongest sides. Besides this, this VPN has proven to be very efficient in bypassing the Great Wall of China, a feat not many services can boast with. Overall, PureVPN provides more than 2000 servers optimized for smooth streaming.
The only thing we’d like to see is a special categorization that showcases the servers most suitable for streaming. Without this, finding a server that’ll unblock a specific site from the first try is mostly luck-based.
Is PureVPN Good for Torrenting?
If you frequently torrent movies, tv shows, or games, a VPN is a necessary tool for avoiding any legality and copyright issues regarding the files you download. The most important features to pay attention to when choosing a VPN for torrenting are privacy, network security, and download speed.
PureVPN fairs pretty well in terms of the first two factors. To determine how the VPN performs when it comes to the latter one, we’ve decided to test their service in practice. Firstly, we downloaded a file to establish a base torrenting performance of our network:
After this, we tried downloading the same file from the same torrenting platform, this time when connected to one of PureVPN’s P2P-supported local servers. Here’s how PureVPN performed for torrenting:
The VPN service managed to maintain fairly equal performances as we had on our base test download. With slightly lower average speeds and the same peak maximum download speed, it proved to be an excellent choice for torrenting.
Keep in mind that this was only with a basic PureVPN plan that doesn’t come with a port forwarding option. If you add this feature to your subscription, you can expect even more efficient P2P results.
How Much Does PureVPN Cost? – Overview of their Price Plans
PureVPN offers three subscription plans – a one-month, one-year, and two-years plan. They also advertise a 7-day trial for only $0.99, which is available if you opt for their one-year plan. Of course, you can cancel your subscription before the end of the trial and avoid paying the yearly subscription fee. Here’s a close-up inspection of how much each PureVPN subscription plan costs:
At a little less than $11 per month, their monthly subscription plan is a bit more affordable than most other VPNs on the market. If you opt for the one-year plan, you’ll save 47 percent by paying $69.95 upfront. This comes out a little over $5.8 per month. In case you want to commit to a two-year plan with PureVPN, you’ll have to cash out $80 upfront, making the monthly fee $3.33 when spread across 24 months.
When it comes to payments, PureVPN supports only Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and PayPal. This is a bit barebone compared to what the leading VPNs on the market can offer. In line with that, the lack of cryptocurrency payment solutions may deter more privacy-conscious customers from purchasing this VPN.
Aside from these three plans, you can also customize your PureVPN service by adding several features, with additional cost. The addition of port forwarding will cost you an extra $0.99 per month, a dedicated IP address an additional $2.99 monthly, and DDoS protection runs at $3.99 per month.
Suppose you want to add all three into your service. In that case, you would be paying an extra $8 per month just for this. When you add it to the base subscription plan, this will run you a mind-boggling $19 per month on a one-month subscription and over $11 per month on the two-year plan. For a VPN, this is completely unacceptable.
Even though these features won’t break the bank, we couldn’t help but observe that you can get most of these for free if you opt for a different VPN service. Additional charges for port forwarding and DDoS protection are especially a huge letdown. It’s something PureVPN needs to be called out on, as it gives away the message that they’re primarily out for profit and not user protection.
Does PureVPN Offer a Free Trial?
No, PureVPN doesn’t feature any free trial offers. That said, they do provide a unique 31-day money-back guarantee. They highly emphasize that this is not a “one month guarantee”, but exactly 31 days from the moment you purchased a subscription.
The money-back-guarantee covers all three plans, as well as auto-recurring payments. Even their $0.99 trial account is refundable. So, if you wind up so unsatisfied with their service that you want 99 cents back, you’ll get it within 24 hours from your request.
PureVPN Apps and Extensions
PureVPN might not be a leading VPN service, but the variety of apps and extensions it offers is on par with the best in the business. We’ve tested all of their apps and extensions to bring you the crucial details on all of them. Here’s a comprehensive overview of PureVPN’s apps and extensions:
PureVPN for Windows
We tested the 7.1.4. version of the PureVPN Windows app, which is significantly more streamlined than the 7.1.2 version and those before it. It doesn’t allow for much customization nor has many features you could personalize. Most of the settings revolve around connectivity modifications, and you can also manage the kill switch feature.
After extensively browsing through all of the available options, we were surprised to see that PureVPN’s Windows app doesn’t come with a split tunneling feature. As one of their most popular platforms, and one on which users arguably need this feature the most, the lack of split tunneling is a bit disappointing.
PureVPN for macOS
The PureVPN macOS app comes with almost identical features and capabilities as the Windows version. It also comes with an internet kill switch but doesn’t support split tunneling.
Like the Windows app, the 3.0.17 and above versions of the macOS app are much more barebone than the 7.2.2 and below versions. The only noteworthy differences are the slightly better connection speeds, partly due to the inherent performance features of macOS desktop computers.
PureVPN for Android
PureVPN’s Android app makes VPN use a pleasure. It’s simple, uncluttered, and you can access everything you need with just a few taps on your screen. As far as features go, the Android app has all of the characteristics of its desktop counterparts, plus the added benefit of a split tunneling feature.
When testing their Android app, we used the latest 7.2.5 version, which is arguably their best Android app to date. It has integrated support features and is available in eight different languages at the time of writing this review.
You can even change the app’s theme and personalize many different settings. Such dedication to mobile apps leaves us wondering why did the VPN choose a completely different approach when designing its desktop versions and strip down the Windows and macOS versions of their previous capabilities.
PureVPN for iOS
The PureVPN app for iOS is similar to the Android one, again, with one noticeable difference, the lack of a split tunneling feature. Identically to all other apps, the iOS one received a big revamp recently, so any app version that’s 8.12 or above is significantly more intuitive and streamlined compared to versions 7.2.3 or below.
PureVPN for Routers
If you prefer to secure your entire home network through one point, the best way to go about it is to set up PureVPN for your router. This way, you can connect unlimited devices and ensure automatic protection on your Wi-Fi network as well. The service lists over 30 supported router brands on its site, with detailed set-up instructions for almost every featured option.
PureVPN is one of the many VPN providers that have partnered with FlashRouters. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up the VPN on a router on your own, you can buy pre-configured routers directly on their site.
PureVPN on Other Devices
Aside from supporting the major desktop and mobile platforms, PureVPN also provides you with the option of setting it up on your PlayStation or Xbox console. It’s also compatible with Android TV and Firestick TV. Lastly, there’s also a functional Kodi add-on which you can install on your Kodi-enabled device.
PureVPN Browser Extensions
PureVPN offers add-ons for both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Both add-ons come with built-in protection against WebRTC leaks and don’t have any bandwidth or network speed limitations.
The Firefox browser extension allows you to connect to any of their servers based in over 180 locations and 140 countries. In comparison, the Chrome extension lacks a bit, as it only allows you to choose from 30 countries. Both extensions feature excellent encryption and are more than adept at providing you with an anonymous and secure browsing experience.
How to Install PureVPN Apps
Regardless of which devices or operating system you have, you can rely on PureVPN installation guides and tutorials to help you out when setting up your service. Having said that, you can easily install all PureVPN apps in just a few steps. Here’s how to install PureVPN apps on your devices:
- Pick one of their premium accounts and register
- Download the appropriate app for your device/OS
- Install the app and accept the permissions when prompted
- Load up the app and complete the login process
- Click on the “Recommended Server” button to instantly connect to a VPN server
PureVPN Customer Support – How Reliable Is It?
As we’ve mentioned in the intro, PureVPN hasn’t done the best job of providing a stable and reliable customer support service in the past. Be that as it may, our experience with their support service was enjoyable throughout this detailed research. We’ve contacted them several times, and we’ve always received prompt and useful replies.
The best way to contact their support staff is to open up the live chat feature on the bottom right side of their site. You simply type in your credentials, ask the question, and can expect a friendly agent to reply in less than a couple of minutes. The live chat is conveniently available 24/7.
Besides live chat, you can contact the support through email, although this is a much slower option, as you’ll have to wait at least several hours for a response. Alternatively, you can reach out to them via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Google+.
PureVPN has also created a very impressive and comprehensive Help Center, divided into eight separate questions. From the extensive FAQ section to the troubleshooting and detailed setup guides, you’re bound to find a useful answer to your query, no matter how complicated.
PureVPN Google Play Reviews
With over 28,000 reviews on Google Play, PureVPN is undoubtedly one of the most popular VPNs in the store. However, the sheer numbers aren’t made up from only positive reviews, as PureVPN maintains a fairly average rating of just 3.7. The bulk of these are overwhelmingly either five-star and one-star reviews, meaning that users either love or hate what PureVPN has to offer.
Staying true to the top-quality customer service they have on their site, PureVPN has made sure to cover Google Play reviews in great detail. As you can see from the comment thread above, the PureVPN support staff is very attentive in answering every question, complaint, or praise users leave on Google Play.
And these aren’t just generic copy-paste replies. You can see that the staff manually goes through each review and tries to help. As far as the specific types of complaints go, most revolve around the instability of the service’s apps, unexpected crashes, and frequent troubles when connecting to a server.
Reddit’s Take on PureVPN
Generally regarded as above-average tech users, the Reddit community more often has a better insight and a more accurate take on VPN performance and quality than you could find browsing general reviews like those at Google Play.
Taking this into account, as the more tech-savvy VPN user base, Reddit users have a predominantly unfavorable opinion of PureVPN. We’ve browsed a number of subreddits and topic threads covering PureVPN on Reddit, and the general feeling in the Reddit community is that new users should stay away from this VPN. Here’s an excerpt from one of the Reddit threads:
Bottom Line – Can PureVPN Compete with the Top VPNs?
There’s no arguing about PureVPN’s functionality, as it performs steadily across all platforms for all purposes. You can use it to unblock geo-restrictions, stream content, or torrent files without any limitations. All of this is available alongside a reliable support service and industry-standard privacy features.
If you can live without DDos protection and port forwarding, and you don’t need a dedicated IP address, PureVPN is a solid choice, as it offers very good value at its price point. However, if you’re looking for any of these three features, this VPN is simply not for you.
Overall, it’s an average VPN that delivers a solid service but doesn’t excel in any particular way. If you’re a casual VPN user and are ready to opt for one of their long-term plans, it’s definitely worth the money. PureVPN can offer you a well-rounded but basic service capable of delivering on all fronts. That said, if you’re an advanced user looking for a feature-packed VPN, look elsewhere, as PureVPN’s base plans won’t be able to meet your demands.
Where is PureVPN Based?
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, the Chinese administrative region that’s not a part of Five-eyes, Nine-eyes, or Fourteen-eyes organizations. This is encouraging news, as the service can’t be forced to give up user data, a prerequisite for every privacy-focused VPN.
How Many Simultaneous Devices Does PureVPN Allow?
PureVPN allows up to ten simultaneous connections. This means that you can connect up to ten devices to their service at any time, without any restrictions or performance limitations. There are also no limitations on the type of devices you want to connect utilizing your ten available connections.
Can I Trust PureVPN?
If online privacy and safety are your primary concerns, PureVPN is a virtual private network you can trust completely. It may not be the most comprehensive or fastest VPN on the market. Still, it doesn’t keep any logs, is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, and it offers excellent customer support around the clock.
What To Do If I Can’t Connect to Netflix with PureVPN?
If you have any trouble unblocking Netflix with PureVPN, the best way to resolve the issue is to contact their support, and they’ll promptly recommend a server you can connect to. The service also offers a dedicated IP at an additional cost. It provides you a surefire way of accessing Netflix every time.