After years of foolishly running my online business via public WiFi, I decided to start using a VPN to secure my communications (and access a bit of out of market sporting events while traveling).
But I found out that finding the right VPN to suit my needs was a bit complicated. There’s no such thing as a general “best” VPN – instead, they all have to make tradeoffs that fit many but not all needs. ExpressVPN and PureVPN were two that I looked at closely.
I reviewed ExpressVPN here and reviewed PureVPN here. I combined my notes from those posts to write this ExpressVPN vs. PureVPN post around the most common VPN considerations. You can skip to my conclusion here.
But first, here’s a bit of background.
ExpressVPN is perhaps one of the most leading VPN providers. The company has been around since 2009 and has grown significantly since. It currently boasts 145 server locations spread across 94 countries, with over 1,000 servers in total. They are based in the British Virgin Islands.
PureVPN offers more server countries – 141, to be exact – but just over 750 servers. The Hong Kong-based company started in 2006 and doesn’t currently seem to have quite as large a fan base as ExpressVPN, but does have happy customers, nonetheless.
They both have advantages & disadvantages in my experience. This ExpressVPN vs. PureVPN comparison will look at each based on – pricing, features, performance, usability, customer service, and market focus.
Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All opinions and data are based on my experience as a paying customer performing independent research.
Many VPN providers have similar pricing structures using subscriptions that range from 1-month to 12-months. ExpressVPN, for example, offers a 1-month subscription for $12.95, 6-month for $59.95, and 12-month for $99.95. Obviously, you’ll save a good amount of money by purchasing an annual subscription.
But, what if you don’t want to spend all that money on a service you know nothing about without first trying it out? Fortunately, ExpressVPN has a 30-day money back guarantee, which customers rave is super easy to use if needed. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can get your money back, no questions asked.
PureVPN’s structure is a little different. It does have a 1-month subscription for $10.95 and 6-months for $53.70, but no 1-year subscription. Instead, it has a 2-year subscription with incredible savings. You can order this for $70.80, which saves you $192 over a monthly subscription.
This subscription is at an incredibly competitive price among VPN services, especially considering that PureVPN provides 5 simultaneous connections. If you break their pricing down by connection, it’s even cheaper.
The only issue is that PureVPN only has a 7-day money back guarantee, which doesn’t give you a long time to decide if you like the service.
If you’re looking for the PureVPN business or family subscription, you’ll meet a whole new set of pricings. The plans range from $49 to $179 per month, or discounted pricing of $288 to $1,008 if billed annually. ExpressVPN doesn’t have a business subscription option.
Both ExpressVPN and PureVPN have a wide range of payment options. You can pay for either provider’s subscription using a credit or debit card, PayPal, and several other payment forms, including Bitcoin. The latter will help keep your identifying information private to either service.
If price is the main factor in your decision, then PureVPN comes out way ahead. Their pricing is truly solid. However, there are other factors that go into overall value, so let’s turn to ExpressVPN and PureVPN’s feature sets & security considerations.
Features and Customization
If tons of features are what you’re looking for, you’ll likely find both VPN providers impressive. So, let’s start with security features.
Both providers offer 256-bit encryption, which is the same as what banks use to encrypt their customers’ financial and personal information. They also both have some of the same protocols, like OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IPSec. PureVPN additionally offers IKEv2.
With either service, you can also use a Stealth protocol, which can make it easier for your web traffic through the VPN to look like regular traffic.
They both have no traffic logging, but they both log bandwidth and timestamps to increase network reliability. They both allow you to connect via Tor seamlessly. They both use 1st party DNS and protect against IPv6 leaks. ExpressVPN offers a .onion web address so that you can even manage your account anonymously.
In both my ExpressVPN review and PureVPN – I highlighted their dedication to encryption and privacy with both getting a caveat for the metadata logging.
Caveat – Note that no VPN is 100% secure. Your traffic is still routing through a company. Any company can go out of business or go rogue. If you are trying to avoid your American ISP – then you are simply replacing distrust of Comcast/Charter with the trust of your VPN. If you are a political activist where trust is a life or death situation, you need to be using something like Tor. This is a segue to ExpressVPN’s / PureVPN’s unique features, but the point remains using a VPN does not instantly create security/privacy. That is something you do via aligning company incentives (ie, paying for companies who maintain security) & being proactive.
ExpressVPN and PureVPN both allow simultaneous connections of your devices, with ExpressVPN allowing three on the same account and PureVPN allowing five. Connections on business trips can be much more convenient than with other VPNs that only allow one device to connect at a time.
You typically don’t need more than three connected devices if you’re traveling alone on business, so either service is helpful in this area. If you’re looking to use the VPN at home, though, PureVPN will allow more of your devices to connect at one time.
One feature that’s incredibly helpful that PureVPN offers but ExpressVPN doesn’t is split tunneling. This feature lets you choose what information to encrypt through your VPN and what information to send to the internet as usual.
Split tunneling helps you increase your speeds, which often get slower when you use a VPN. You can always do this manually through several settings with other VPNs, but it’s complicated and not necessarily practical for non-advanced VPN users to figure out. In fact, PureVPN buckets the modes into VPN “modes”.
ExpressVPN allows you to change some protocols but tries to strike the speed/security balance automatically.
Overall, security and helpful features are very much in line with both VPN services, but PureVPN offers a slight edge with more connections and split tunneling.
Performance and Speed
ExpressVPN and PureVPN are both known as some of the speediest VPN providers on the current market. It helps that they are larger companies with several server locations to choose from, which helps you find the perfect server combination wherever your location is around the world.
Judging from a variety of real speed tests conducted by users of each VPN, it seems that ExpressVPN does have more consistent speeds for both uploading and downloading.
Through the VPN, ExpressVPN users noticed only a slightly slower upload and download speed than they normally have without the VPN. Speeds are fairly consistent regardless of whether they use a local or non-local server.
PureVPN’s results are usually a little less consistent, with wider variations of high and low upload and download speeds through the VPN than ExpressVPN’s speeds. Still, it gets excellent speeds, but yours may vary depending on the location of the server you choose and your current location.
Here’s my baseline non-VPN internet speed.
Here is ExpressVPN’s typical test.
Here is PureVPN’s typical test.
Notice that their speeds are within a margin of error of each other. PureVPN’s latency is a bit lower with ExpressVPN’s bandwidth a bit higher.
Both those tests are from Atlanta (my home) with the closest geographic servers.
I was able to stream BBC from both with no choppiness with their respective UK servers.
Like their slight difference in feature set – PureVPN has an interesting way to sort their servers. In addition to location, they also have a way to sort servers by “purpose”.
ExpressVPN, on the other hand, lists servers by location and encourages you to let them sort by performance automatically.
Overall, ExpressVPN has an edge in performance. However, if you use VPN for gaming and/or streaming, you might not notice the difference due to PureVPN’s “modes” and/or specialized server selection.
PureVPN and ExpressVPN are close to equals in the user-friendliness department.
Aside – and yes, this “close to equals” is a bit ridiculous – I’m not trying to be over-neutral. Both ExpressVPN and PureVPN target a very similar audience. They do have some important differences, which I’ll summarize in the conclusion. But I do want to lay out how they compare on each consideration.
Either way – both websites are clean, simple, and easy to navigate.
The only negative with PureVPN’s is that it seems more salesy than ExpressVPN’s. Between the automatic ‘Live Chat’ pop-up when you visit and the obviously fake speed performance graphics in the ‘Why PureVPN’ section, it’s almost like the company is trying too hard to get your attention. ExpressVPN’s website is very professional and non-pushy. You can also see it in their app design.
As far as the clients go, you’d likely be equally impressed with either one. Each company has apps for several devices, like Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. They all have excellent reviews regarding their simplicity, yet users can still utilize the services’ full set of features if they choose.
You can set up either client in just a few minutes after purchasing a subscription and downloading the file.
One thing I love about PureVPN’s client is that, as soon as you sign in, you can choose what you’ll mainly be using the VPN for, such as Security, Streaming, File-sharing, etc (as mentioned in the features). The client then automatically adjusts the features to meet your needs best. Of course, you can always tweak them yourself, but this is ideal for beginners or people who just want the quickest setup.
ExpressVPN’s client has a neat ‘Smart Location’ feature that will help you choose the best server based on your current location and needs. If you’re not too savvy with server locations, this is a convenient option.
Both clients let you further customize advanced features if you choose. They also offer some small informational blurbs to help you understand each feature before adjusting it.
These are both excellent clients with simple interfaces and customizable options for beginner to advanced users.
Both services align well in the customer support department. ExpressVPN and PureVPN both have exceptional support teams that are available 24/7 to answer your questions. You can contact via e-mail, a website contact form, or live chat, with the latter usually giving you the speediest response.
Reliable customer service is perfect for frequent travelers and busy people who simply don’t have time to waste trying to figure out why they can’t connect or why their connection might be super laggy. Jump on live chat through the website or the VPN provider’s mobile app and get a quick answer.
The support team for each seems extremely knowledgeable about some topics. Some customers have noted that PureVPN’s initial responses sometimes seemed canned and robotic, but if they press for a more in-depth resolution, they end up with what they need.
And, as mentioned previously, you may have a bit of a struggle with PureVPN’s customer service if you’re looking to take advantage of the 7-day money back guarantee. Other than that, customers seem pleased with the service of both companies.
Additionally, the websites for both providers have excellent troubleshooting guides to walk you through things you want to figure out on your own.
ExpressVPN’s support guides are incredibly in-depth, with almost any topic available that you could want it to cover. Most include screenshots to help you further troubleshoot. They even have a way to export your error logs directly from the app.
PureVPN’s guides also cover a vast number of topics. They aren’t quite as fancy with screenshots, but the guides explain subjects in a way that will get you solving several issues on your own.
ExpressVPN and PureVPN have a lot of similarities in their market focus. They both aim to target a broad range of people who would need to use a VPN service for either basic security or more advanced anonymous browsing. They reach an audience of all expertise levels, basic to advanced.
However, PureVPN has an additional focus that ExpressVPN neglects: business & family customers.
PureVPN’s Business VPN subscription has a dedicated portal that lets you manage your account and your employees’ accounts. Each employee will then have his or her dedicated account manager to control his account.
The Business VPN will mainly protect employees who work remotely or go on frequent business trips. VPN protection can keep business data safe in anyone’s hands, and your business will even get a dedicated server to help keep things speedy.
PureVPN also enlists a dedicated support team to Business VPN users. This 24/7 support team is specially trained for Business accounts to help resolve any issues you have quickly. So, there’s one less stress on you while you’re away on business.
So, although PureVPN doesn’t necessarily focus solely on marketing to business owners, it certainly does provide a lot of benefits to them that ExpressVPN doesn’t.
Other Factors to Consider
ExpressVPN vs PureVPN: Which one is right for you?
I’ll admit that it’s a difficult choice between these two. Here are a few more things to consider before making your final selection:
- Purchasing a 2-year PureVPN subscription over two ExpressVPN annual subscriptions will save you $192.10.
- PureVPN offers a subscription specifically designed for businesses to protect their teams and critical data.
- ExpressVPN remains more consistent in speed and performance than PureVPN across all servers.
- ExpressVPN’s apps are among the highest-rated for any VPN. They’re simple to use and offer other advanced features for you to stay protected on your mobile device.
Conclusion: ExpressVPN vs PureVPN
ExpressVPN and PureVPN are both excellent choices for a VPN for everyday use.
If price is the primary factor for your choice, then you should go sign up for PureVPN here.
If consistent speeds and/or server options is your primary factor, then you should sign up for ExpressVPN here.
Kudos on securing your Internet – be sure to put whichever one you go with to everyday use :)