PureVPN is a VPN service that was born in 2007 in Hong Kong. It would be impossible to perform a PureVPN review without first mentioning the huge number of complaints BestVPN.com has received about this VPN service. Please see the comments section at the end of this review to read some of these.
That aside, I found a fully-featured service, but one that is somewhat dishonest about the logs it keeps. Furthermore, PureVPN was slow in Security/Privacy mode. It also leaked my Internet Service Provider’s Domain Name System (DNS) address, even when DNS leak protection was enabled (which it is not by default).
That said, servers in locations all over the world, split tunneling, dedicated IPs, and sophisticated port forwarding could make PureVPN a compelling choice for those who need these features.
PureVPN Pricing and Plans
PureVPN has streamlined its pricing structure since we last looked at the service. It now offers a simple, one-size-fits-all subscription plan starting at $10.95 per month. Reductions are available for bulk time purchases, with a two-year subscription costing just $.2.95 per month.
No free trial is available, but PureVPN does offer a seven-day money back guarantee. This, however, should be approached with extreme caution. If you look through the comments below this review, you’ll see a host of complaints from people who haven’t received a refund they feel entitled to.
In addition to this, many customers complain about being double-charged, about money disappearing from bank accounts, and suchlike.
Alternatively, a three-day trial is available for a non-refundable cost of $2.50.
Payment can be made via credit/debit card, PayPal, AliPay, CashU, and a variety of gift cards. PureVPN also accepts a selection of cryptocurrencies via a partnership with PaymentWall.
Paying with gift cards or a cryptocurrency can allow you to pay for the service anonymously. Please be aware, however, that PureVPN will still know your real IP address (as will any VPN you use).
PureVPN offers the following features:
750+ servers in 141 countries
Five simultaneous connections
Support for OpenVPN, Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)/Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP), and Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) VPN protocols
Other than HideMyAss, PureVPN offers more server locations than any other VPN provider I know of. For those who need access to lots of servers, or to servers in exotic locations, this could be killer feature.
The fact that you can connect up to five devices to service at once is also nice. Please see my VPN Encryption Guide for a discussion on the different VPN protocols (tl:dr version – just use OpenVPN).
The PureVPN software comes with a suite of features designed to improve your overall internet security. These include antivirus/anti malware protection, ad-blocking, URL filtering, app filtering, and more. If these features work then their operation is transparent, so I was unable to review them.
This a feature that I am seeing offered by an increasing number of VPN services. It automatically detects when your device connects to an unsecured WiFi network and offers to enable the VPN for you. I have not tested this feature, but it could be useful in protecting you from hackers when using public WiFi hotspots.
Here is a video review of PureVPN made by the BestVPN.com team.
PureVPN claims that it keeps no logs at all:
“We Do Not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs. We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc. after you connected to any of our servers.”
But it then goes on to seriously qualify this statement:
“Our servers automatically record the time at which you connect to any of our servers. From here on forward, we do not keep any records of anything that could associate any specific activity to a specific user. The time when a successful connection is made with our servers is counted as a “connection” and the total bandwidth used during this connection is called “bandwidth”. Connection and bandwidth are kept in record to maintain the quality of our service.”
So in reality, PureVPN keeps a fairly full set of connection (metadata) logs. This will not be a major concern to most people, but does open up the possibility of an end to end timing (traffic correlation) attack on users. Please see our Five Best No Logs VPNs feature for a full discussion on VPN logs and logging.
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, and makes a big deal of the fact Hong Kong has no data retention laws forcing VPN providers to keep logs. It is therefore something of a shame that it does in fact keep quite extensive metadata logs anyway.
P2P torrenting is allowed on some servers.
Is PureVPN Secure?
The best yardstick of a VPN service’s technical security (and overall technical competence) is the OpenVPN encryption it uses. When I was forwarded to live chat with a technical support staff member, however, he was unable to provide almost any details about this.
He told me that PureVPN uses an AES-256 cipher and RSA-2048 handshake encryption, before abruptly disconnecting our chat sessions. I was therefore unable to learn whether AES-256 is used on both the control and data channels, what hash authentication is used on either channel, or if Perfect Forward Secrecy is used.
This inspires zero confidence whatsoever in PureVPN’s technical security (or knowledge, or competence, or even the politeness of its support staff).
The PureVPN website looks smart, and does a good job of listing the features on offer. It is rather light on details, however. A Support section is available, which includes FAQs and a fairly extensive knowledgebase.
Other than the Support section on its website, customer support is primarily via 24/7 live chat. It is also possible to request a support ticket. Live chat responded quickly and was fine when I asked simple questions about the service.
When I asked more technical questions, I was passed to the tech department, who simply disconnected me when I pressed for more details than the very basic information they were able to give me.
A knowledgebase provides access to a host of data about setting up the service.
Signing up is easy. You have to provide a name and an email address, but these don’t need to be verified in order to register for the service. PureVPN may be able to obtain additional information via your payment method, but it supports various “anonymous” payment methods.
When you sign up, PureVPN invites you to download the software. A confirmation email with your account details is sent to the email address you provided.
The PureVPN Windows VPN Client
The Windows client looks smart and is packed with useful features.
PureVPN doesn’t explain what difference each “mode” makes to your connection settings, so I’ll just have to assume they are suitably optimized for the advertised tasks.
I have no idea why Bahrain gives me the best Ping times from the UK!
The map is pretty.
It’s possible to use your Windows device as a VPN hotspot. This means that other devices can connect through it to the internet while benefiting from its VPN protection. This is a cool feature, although I was unable to test it as my USB WiFi stick doesn’t support Windows 10’s mobile hotspot feature.
It seems that, by default, the Windows client uses IKEv2. I think OpenVPN would be a better option, but IKEv2 is still good. Please see my VPN Encryption Guide for a discussion on this issue.
The PureVPN client supports advanced port forwarding options.
It also supports (IPv4) DNS leak protection and IPv6 leak protection (it disables IPv6). At least in theory. Enabling DNS leak protection requires restarting the app in Admin mode. This probably explains why DNS and IPv6 leak protection are not enabled by default. You should defiantly tick these boxes as soon as you start using PureVPN!
However… even with DNS leak protection turned on, I discovered a DNS leak (see below)!
The kill switch (with optional auto-redial feature) is great, and I quite like the optional feature that reminds you if the VPN isn’t turned on.
Split tunneling allows you to exempt selected apps from the VPN, and is a very handy feature.
Even with DNS protection enabled, I had a DNS leak.
PureVPN Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
All tests were performed on my Virgin Media UK fiber connection, using the OpenVPN User Datagram Protocol (UDP). I also ran a few quick tests using the default IVEv2 protocol, and the results were similar.
I tested the European servers in Security/Privacy mode, and the US server in Stream mode (as this presents a typical use-case from the UK).
Download speeds using Secure/Privacy mode are very disappointing. Stream mode is much faster, even when testing transatlantic servers.
That UK IP address belongs to my ISP. Fail! This is particularly bad as I have enabled DNS leak protection.
Both BBC iPlayer and US Netflix were blocked (even in Stream Mode).
PureVPN has custom apps for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android. It also supports various protocols that can be manually configured on a wide range of devices, including routers.
The Android App
Since I have an Android phone, I tested the Android app.
The app looks similar to the desktop client, which is no bad thing.
It is easy enough to use.
It also includes many of the best features of its desktop sibling. These include a kill switch, advanced port selection and support for split tunnelling.
PureVPN Review: Conclusion
Fully featured software (both desktop and mobile)
Servers in 141 countries
Five simultaneous connections
Dedicated IP (optional)
24/7 live chat support
Advanced port forwarding
P2P torrenting allowed on many servers
Seven-day money back guarantee
I wasn’t so sure about:
I have no idea if the various advertised security features actually work
Speed performance in Security/Privacy mode is mediocre at best
Doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer or US Netflix (unless you ask for a dedicated IP)
Lots of connection logs (which blurb misrepresents)
DNS leak, even with DNS leak protection turned on
Huge number of complaints that BestVPN.com has received about the service
Tech support hung up on me when I asked for details of the encryption used
PureVPN appears great on the surface. Its software is smart-looking, and is loaded with useful features such as port forwarding, split tunneling, and a kill switch.
This is all badly let down, however, by not performing a VPN’s most basic function – hiding your real IP address. A DNS leak when DNS leak protection is enabled is, frankly, unforgivable. I was also shocked by the way support simply refused to talk with me when they couldn’t answer my questions. And then we get to the reader complaints below…
There are people, however, who will value the large number of server locations PureVPN offers, or some of its more unusual features.