PureVPN was founded in 2006 as an experiment by the company GZ Systems, located in Hong Kong. By the next year, PureVPN was available to the public, with servers based in two locations.
Since this time, PureVPN has continued to expand its service and diversify its product offering. Today, you’ll be able to find a PureVPN client for every major operating system, including mobile. PureVPN also offers several add-on products for its VPN that can further increase your safety and security online.
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 – similar to web hosting – there is no such thing as a “best VPN provider”. In fact, it’s like a whole world of confusing information where even trustworthy information is near-useless since it’s so complex. This PureVPN review is my notes from trying them out for my own purposes as a security-aware, traveling, US-based businessperson who needs good usability and good pricing. I am not a political activist or someone who regularly travels to firewalled countries.
Whether you are looking for a VPN for privacy, for website access, for avoiding geotargeting, for protecting communications or all the above, hopefully, this PureVPN review will be useful. You can also skip to next steps here.
Here’s my PureVPN review – structured with pros & cons based on my experience as a customer.
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.
PureVPN Pros / Advantages
PureVPN offers a diverse range of useful and intuitive features and add-ons. It’s sure to provide a great user experience whether you’re a novice or an experienced user. With so many VPNs on the market, it’s easy for them to all blend together. Sometimes, it feels like each VPN is offering identical service under a different name. Overall, PureVPN positions themselves as a simple, straightforward service with a very advanced, solid backend.
Interface & Usability
One of the first things that you’re sure to notice with PureVPN is that their interface is straightforward. From the sign-up form to download and initial connection, everything is clean and well-thought out.
Once you’re signed up for service, a screen prompt allows you to select from five different presets. Each preset is optimized for specific activities, like safety and security, internet freedom, streaming, file sharing, and remote usage.
If you are an advanced user, these modes are a bit odd and unclear. Other VPNs try to strike a balance for an overall good performance without sacrificing security.
PureVPN, however, will allow you to sacrifice some security protocols & push you to certain servers if you just want to stream content or share files.
For beginners, it’s useful. If you like to tweak your OpenVPN and protocol settings, it might be a downside (which I’ll touch on in the cons section).
The app status dashboard is simple and clear.
The interface provides plenty of opportunity for more experienced users to tinker with settings. But, novice users are sure to appreciate the hand-holding that it provides as they learn the ropes of how to use their VPN.
Speed & Performance
When it comes to speed, PureVPN claims to be the leader of the pack. They certainly make big promises on their homepage.
With every VPN, you will have some variation in speeds due to the extra roundtrip, server settings, and server location. Requests making the round-trip from South Africa to Atlanta, USA are going to be inherently slower than any local Internet connection.
The one part of the equation that a VPN can control is server availability (ie, not putting too many connections on a single server) and server settings – which is how the connection is engineered to provide the best balance of security and onward connections.
Other speedy VPNs like ExpressVPN have topped out at 80% of my local internet speeds when connected to the closest available server.
In my tests, PureVPN almost hit these numbers with 76% of my local internet download speeds.
That said – I did find it interesting that they use a 3rd party DNS that seems to actually speed up latency times (ie, how fast a request travels rather than the bandwidth, which is the amount of requests that a connection can handle).
While I think PureVPN is a bit over the top with it’s “Fastest VPN” claims – they are certainly one of the fastest. They have a solid focus on speed & performance.
An interesting feature that PureVPN possesses is the ability to split up certain activities you’re engaged in to optimize performance. This way, you can ensure that any sensitive information is sent through your VPN, while less sensitive activities aren’t. That way, you’ll be able to optimize performance while also staying secure. At the same time, you can forgo this feature altogether and send all your activity through the VPN to ensure complete and total security. This feature is one of the parts of their “modes” that you can choose from.
P2P & Device Support
Safety and security are of paramount concern for most torrent users, especially when you consider the hefty penalties associated with DMCA violations for copyright infringement. With over 200 of PureVPN’s servers supporting p2p file sharing, torrent enthusiasts are sure to love the service from PureVPN. Granted, p2p file sharing isn’t supported across every server PureVPN has, but 200 different servers should provide more than enough options.
PureVPN offers a client for MacOS, Windows, and Linux as well as an Android and iOS application. But, they also offer support for entertainment systems, smart TVs and devices like Roku, Amazon Fire, and Google Chromecast. With PureVPN, you’ll have protection regardless of the device you’re using to access the internet.
No-Log Policy** & Encryption Strength
The purpose of a VPN is to keep your internet activity private and secure. But, you’d be surprised to learn that many VPNs keep some sort of log of your internet activity, which seems to be counterintuitive to the mission of providing privacy.
PureVPNs offices are in Hong Kong, which maintains favorable data-retention laws for users. The company is very transparent about their retention policies. They record the amount of time you’ve been connected to a server and the amount of bandwidth you’ve used.
Outside of that, PureVPN maintains that they keep no log of their user’s activity, which means that your data will be secure and private regardless of the circumstances.
**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 highlights this section of 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. While PureVPN does not log traffic – they do log timestamps & bandwidth. Some privacy experts feel that can be risky for activities that require maximum protection.
PureVPN offers some of the most customizable encryption methods of any VPN. The company uses the OpenVPN protocol and 256-bit encryption, which is considered the industry standard.
However, advanced users are going to appreciate the support offered for other protocols such as L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2.
One nifty privacy feature that’s lacking from many VPN services is the presence of a killswitch. If your connection to the server is ever lost, PureVPN will simply kill your internet activity temporarily, instead of leaving you exposed to potential data and privacy breaches. Disconnections are rarely ever an issue since PureVPN boasts 99.99% uptime, but it’s good to know that if the server ever does go down, you’ll still have protection.
VPN services seem to be leading the charge by offering a myriad of different payment options for their customers. PureVPN provides plenty of flexibility for its users. You can pay for your service with credit or debit card, PayPal, Cashu, Bitpay or Alipay. In addition to those options, users can also pay with more than ten different coin types or Paymentwall options. You can even pay for your VPN service with gift cards from select retailers. It just doesn’t get much simpler than that.
If you’ll commit to a two-year term, PureVPN suddenly becomes one of the cheapest paid VPN services. But, for those of you who aren’t interested in such a long commitment, there are competitive month to month options.
PureVPN also offers well-priced Family Plans.
Server Location Diversity
These days, every quality VPN boasts a ton of different server locations. In the case of PureVPN, they offer plenty of servers as well. But, they’re much more geographically diverse than other VPNs. With server locations in over 140 different companies, you’ll have no problem connecting to a server that’s perfect for your needs.
Here’s one of their connections in the UK serving up restricted BBC One content.
While PureVPN does not have the raw number of servers or the raw number of countries that other VPNs have – if you are looking for a solid, balanced service, then the PureVPN setup is great.
With some VPNs, it can sometimes feel like you’re all alone if you ever have questions or run into problems. It’s also incredibly hard to judge customer support fairly (anything online is anecdotal – including what you are reading now).
That said, PureVPN differentiates themselves with 24/7/365 live chat. That way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can always get in touch with a PureVPN representative if you need to. Responsiveness is fast enough for me to consider support to be a “pro”.
They also provide good “onboarding” emails to help you get started. The emails + good usability prevented several customer support issues questions during signup.
Their knowledgebase and phone support are somewhat lacking, which requires their live chat to shoulder more of the load. I’ll mention that in the cons. But looking at access and responsiveness, PureVPN does better than others on support.
PureVPN Cons / Disadvantages
While PureVPN excels in some very important areas, it isn’t perfect. There are some issues you may encounter with PureVPN. At the same time, every VPN has its shortcomings. There is not “best” VPN – only the best for your needs and usage. What it boils down to is this: you’ll need to evaluate the pros and cons of each client before deciding which option is going to be the best for your needs.
PureVPN offers incredible discounts if you’re willing to commit to a two-year term. But, if you’re looking for more flexibility, you’re going to pay a premium for their services. On a month to month basis, PureVPN comes in at $10.95 per month, which is more expensive than most of its competitors.
Most VPN services offer discounts based on the term length you’re signing up for. Users can typically expect to save up to 50% off the cost of their VPN service by purchasing a year or more of service up front. PureVPN differentiates itself once more by offering a discount of 73% if you pay up front for two years of service. That’s a more significant discount than any of the other major VPN services offer.
However, back in 2015, a group of researchers in Spain & Australia found DNS leaks from PureVPN among others. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate a security breach, it still causes concern since DNS leaks can leave clues about your identity online. At the same time, it’s worth noting that many major VPN services have leak issues, which is why most security experts suggest combining Tor with a VPN if you are primarily concerned about security over access (see caveat above).
Additionally, this well-regarded spreadsheet of data says that PureVPN logs timestamps and bandwidth. That is not ideal, but also not especially alarming if you are conducting day to day business (like me) over the Internet. Ideally, PureVPN would wipe all logs on their servers continuously – but in order to provide consistent speeds, you need some logging.
In other words – it’s a tradeoff. If you need privacy above all else, then I’d look at others combined with Tor. If consistent performance is a higher priority, then this point is moot.
PureVPN is one of the few providers to offer add-on services in addition to their VPN service, like a NAT firewall that’s designed to provide additional security against high-level hackers exploiting loopholes in the system. Each of their add-ons costs $1.99 per month.
While these features are all very cool, I think it should be bundled or at least explained earlier in the sales process. When you are pitching add-ons that increase your security, it makes me second-guess their claims of security on their standard plans.
PureVPN doesn’t have a lot of big disadvantages. They are a good example of a company that does everything really well but also doesn’t differentiate with any single thing. That’s not a good or bad thing – it’s just what they are aiming for.
That said, there are a few miscellaneous disadvantages to keep in mind.
While PureVPN doesn’t offer a free trial, they do offer a 7-day money back guarantee. Ideally, they’d have a free trial. I understand why they don’t do a free trial, but since they don’t – I do wish the refund window was longer.
PureVPN does not do phone support. They also do not have the best knowledgebase that I’ve ever seen. Most customers will not need it since they keep everything focused on convenience, but I’d still like to see more product documentation.
While they have a diverse array of servers, they don’t have that many in several very popular countries (ie, UK). They also don’t have a super-wide geographic range either. It’s a tradeoff for sure, but also one to keep in mind. If you mainly want to stream out of one country, then you might end up with a low choice of servers at peak times. On the flip side, if you are a world traveler, you might end up short in Asia or South America.
PureVPN is a powerful and user-friendly VPN which packs plenty of high-level features. Any VPN user is sure to love their easy to use, feature-rich interface and the ability to select different modes that are tailored to different internet activities. While there aren’t many negatives to report when it comes to PureVPN, it’s important to think about exactly why you want to use a VPN. If one feature / need stands out for you – then PureVPN’s balanced approach might not be the best fit for you.
If you are looking for a well-priced, fast VPN with beginner-focused customization and global servers, you should go sign up for PureVPN.
If you are looking for good performance with a higher number of server locations, be sure to read about ExpressVPN here.
If you have an edge case for VPN usage and/or love getting into all the details – check out this reference chart here.