VPN Review: PureVPN
PureVPN's name insinuates that other VPN providers (its competitors) have lost their way. The imagined argument likely continues, that the push for more features and extras has driven service providers away from their true purpose and essence. As such, voices of dissent, call out for a "pure VPN experience". Our test shows if PureVPN is a true 'reformer', or simply a charlatan looking to profit off of a niche market by advertising itself as something that it isn't.
What Is PureVPN?
Pros and Cons
First class server infrastructure
User-friendly mobile apps
24/7 live chat
Shared data with governments in the past
Installation and Features
PueVPN is compatible with a number of operating systems and devices: Along with apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux, it's also possible to set up the service for routers, smart TVs, or gaming consoles. Browser extensions are offered for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. You can find downloads of all clients, as well as guides for setting up the VPN on routers and other devices in the "Downloads" section of the customer area.
PureVPN is compatible with a number of operating systems and devices.
We found PureVPN's older desktop client, still available as the "Legacy" application, to be somewhat too cluttered. The developers appear to have heard our complaints since the service's new apps have a much cleaner user interface. Although we don't want to sound picky, the developers might have taken this a step too far, since the client's start window now appears empty, and could do with a few extra functions here and there.
In the middle of the start window, you'll find a power button. By clicking on it, you'll be connected to the "recommended" server, in our case, this was in the US. During testing, we noticed that so far as ping was concerned, this "recommended" server was often only the third-best, so it isn't exactly clear what criteria are used.
Below the power button, you'll see the location you last connected to. Through the sidebar on the left, you can navigate to the app's other functions and features.
Following its latest update, PureVPN developers cleared up its desktop clients' user interfaces.
To the right of the server list, you'll see all available countries listed alphabetically (some "favorites" are pre-programmed) along with their ping details. Using the search bar, you can quickly find the country you're looking for.
Clicking on the arrow to the right of a particular server will open the location menu, where, if available you can select a specific server location (such as a city). Servers that are optimized for P2P filesharing are marked as such. Streaming servers, which used to be offered, are no longer available. In this area, PureVPN has suffered from a lack of success, as we'll discuss in greater detail in the "Performance" section below.
By clicking on the star symbol next to a server, you can add it to your favorites, which are visible to the left of the server list. Here, you'll also be able to see your most recent locations, as well as the currently recommended server. Some of these categories could be displayed in the client's main window, but having to open an extra menu isn't the end of the world.
Any favorites you select will be grouped to the left of the server list.
The features offered under "App Settings" are, to date, a little bit sparse: These include changing protocols, configuring auto-start options, and a kill switch, for severing your Internet connection whenever your VPN encounters an issue. This ensures that you never surf unprotected.
You can also turn on personalized server selection, which automatically connects you to servers that you had a good connection to in the past. Designating a connection as good or bad can be done by clicking on the star symbol while using a VPN tunnel.
And that's all! In particular, the absence of split tunneling, which was offered in older versions of PureVPN, is a bitter loss. We hope that this feature, which allows you to exclude apps or programs from using the VPN tunnel you create, will return in the future.
A few other (at cost) add-ons are offered in PureVPN's customer area, such as a dedicated IP address or port forwarding, the latter of which improves your VPN's performance.
In the customer area, you can purchase a few add-ons, such as port forwarding.
PureVPN also overhauled its mobile app, which offers nearly the same functions as the desktop client. By tapping on the central button, you can automatically create a VPN connection, or, scroll through the location list for a specific server.
Split tunneling is offered for smartphone users, allowing you to choose which apps use your VPN connection, and which rely on your regular connection.
Split tunneling is only available to users of PureVPN's mobile app.
As we noted in our last review from 2019, PureVPN's desktop client desperately needed an overhaul. At face value, we're very pleased with the changes that have been made since, however, a few important features have been cut. If PureVPN could strike a better balance between simplicity and functionality while bringing back useful features like split tunneling, the app would be a real contender.
Score: 4 / 5
PureVPN's server infrastructure is impressive: According to its figures, the provider has more than 6,500 VPN servers spread across 180 locations in 140 countries. Plenty of countries in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, neglected by other VPN providers, can be found in its server list. However, most of these are virtual servers.
PureVPN's server network is impressive, but its details are not up-to-date.
PureVPN's figures don't appear to be the most current. For example, when counting manually, we noted around 100 locations (as opposed to the 180 advertised). A support staffer confirmed our research, noting that some locations had been indefinitely removed from the database owing to "security concerns". These include places like Armenia, Morocco, Croatia, and Liechtenstein, the last two of which are surprising inclusions. The biggest problems were that we weren't provided with any additional information, and could still select the locations from the server list. However, connections could not be established. Had we not asked directly, this would have been quite puzzling.
Even with this issue, PureVPN's server network is impressive. All the same, we would certainly welcome greater transparency.
Score: 4.7 / 5
The speed of all VPNs from our sample was evaluated using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. We assessed random PureVPN servers in the US and Germany at different times of the day in order to more accurately gauge their performances. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.
The table below shows the average results from the last 365 days, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending):
During testing, PureVPN clocked a download speed of 113.1 MB/s and an upload speed of 41.4 MB/s, securing it a respectable eleventh place in our ranking, in the solid middle of the pack.
The diagram below shows PureVPN's average speeds over the past months.
In terms of surfing, PureVPN showed itself to be a reliable companion. Connections were established quickly and the VPN tunnel(s) remained stable, with the kill switch also fulfilling its responsibilities.
We were able to stream some foreign content on Netflix and the BBC's iPlayer but not with Amazon Prime Video or Disney+.
PureVPN is less well-suited for a trip to China. During testing, we couldn't establish any connection, despite some sources noting that it was possible.
Overall, so long as you don't need a VPN for usage in China or with some streaming platforms, PureVPN cuts a good figure in terms of performance.
Score: 3.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
PureVPN uses AES 256 to encrypt connections, which at present guarantees maximum security. Although in the past, the service offered a wide selection of VPN protocols, most of these can only be selected with the Legacy application. Generally speaking, today, the service relies upon OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec. WireGuard, the new gold standard among protocols, is not, to date, supported.
We didn't uncover any leaks during testing.
In 2017, PureVPN was criticized by data privacy activists when it became known that the company had cooperated with the FBI to nab a cyberstalker. Undoubtedly, this cooperation was for a good cause, however, the case raised plenty of questions about how the FBI determined that the stalker was using PureVPN in the first place: The "No-Logs" policy seems to not be without caveats while the provider's location in Hong Kong didn't stop it from working with US authorities.
In order to win back its users' trust, PureVPN has submitted to several independent audits. Altius IT and KPMG confirmed the service's "No-Logs" promise in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Unfortunately, we couldn't find either of these reports and as such, their conclusions aren't entirely known.
It can be said that the provider is on a good path owing to its agreement to independent audits, particularly because of how hard it is to regain trust in the VPN market after it has been lost owing to a scandal. This is because there are plenty of top providers that have not broken their commitments.
Score: 3.3 / 5
PureVPN has a well-supplied support center featuring a variety of setup guides and FAQs. The entries are comprehensive and accompanied by plenty of screenshots and hyperlinks.
PureVPN's support center offers plenty of resources.
The service also offers a 24/7 live chat. Here, we're happy to report that our questions were promptly answered within a matter of seconds. For less-pressing or more complicated issues, support tickets can be filed, which are answered by email. Since chat team members are unable to always answer technically demanding questions, this is important. You can also file the ticket directly through the app. Answers are sent to the email linked with your account. During testing, we waited around 3 hours for a response.
Score: 5 / 5
PureVPN is one of the most affordable VPN services that we tested. As usual, the subscription declines in price as the contract's length increases. In particular, the 12-month package is very reasonably priced, and the provider regularly offers sales. The table below shows the current prices:
|2 years||1 year||1 Month|
|Base price per month||$2.91||$4.16||$10.95|
|Contract period (months)||24||12||1|
|Number of Devices||5||10||5|
|Number of servers||6,500||6,500||6,500|
|Number of countries||141||141||141|
|No server logs|
Alongside PayPal and credit cards, AliPay, CoinPayments, and even a variety of different coupons and vouchers are accepted For all those who want to protect their identities, even in terms of payment method, PureVPN really rolls out the red carpet.
PureVPN offers a 7-day trial version, however, you'll need to input your payment information before starting and remember to cancel promptly.
Regaining trust is difficult in the VPN market. Owing to its data privacy issues in the past, we remain cautious about PureVPN's "No-Logs" promise.
Should you not lose any sleep over those types of issues and be able to make do without split tunneling, PureVPN offers a relatively affordable and well-performing VPN with a large server network and user-friendly (if not slightly spartan) apps.
In reviewing services, we always attempt to do so as objectively as possible, however, subjective opinions can sneak in, and performance can vary from day-to-day and user-to-user. As such, it's advisable to take a look at what the overall consensus is amongst a larger pool of users. To help you do this, we've compiled user reviews from respected review platforms.