PureVPN Review

PureVPN

BestVPN.com Score 6.5 out of 10
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What is PureVPN?

This Hong-Kong based VPN offers a fast service with servers just about everywhere. Its feature-set is also something of a VPN bucket list, which is particularly impressive given cheap it can be if a long-term subscription is purchased.

Not all features work as advertised, however, and the connection logs PureVPN keeps should concern hard-core privacy advocates.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 141
  • Average Speed 48.22 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 5
  • Jurisdiction Hong Kong

Likes

  • Dedicated IP (optional)
  • P2P: yes (on selected servers)
  • Split tunneling
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Servers in 141 countries

Dislikes

  • More connection logs than other VPNS

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 750
Countries 141
Simultaneous connections 5
Bare metal or virtual servers Bare metal
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Hong Kong
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Google Analytics

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 126.77
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 48.22
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS No
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 15

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer
Amazon Prime
Hulu

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Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 750
Countries 141
Simultaneous connections 5
Bare metal or virtual servers Bare metal
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

  • 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
  • WiFi security
  • Dedicated IP addresses
  • NAT firewall
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection
  • Internet security suite
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Advanced port forwarding
  • P2P torrenting is permitted on many (but not all) servers
  • Apps for all major platforms, including Amazon Fire Stick, Kodi & Android TV

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 a 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).

PureVPN WiFi Security

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.

Dedicated IP addresses

PureVPN, in fact, offers two kinds of “dedicated IPs.” Traditional dedicated IPs can be had for $1.99 per month. These give you a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address that belongs only to you.

This is great for accessing services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix, which block any IPs known to belong to VPN services. This works because the dedicated IP is unique, and should therefore not be associated with a VPN service.

A unique IP is also useful for improving online security, as it allows you to access bank websites, internet-connected security cameras, remote servers, and other secure online services via that IP only.

PureVPN also offers “dedicated IPs” for specific sporting events and online services. These are basically temporary IPs bought up for the specific purpose of accessing certain events (so they are “dedicated” in that way). This kind of IP is not unique but can be very handy for getting round VPN blocks.

In order to find out if any special IPs are available for a service or event you want to watch, contact support via 24/7 live chat.

Advanced port forwarding

Port forwarding is very useful when you or others wish to remote-access your computer with the VPN running. With port forwarding, for example, the VPN will not get in the way if you run your own mail or games server.

Internet Security Suite

This is comprised of PureVPN’s “Ozone” and “Gravity” features, which I look at in detail when discussing PureVPN’s Windows client later in this review. I will just note here that some of the features I was able to test did not work correctly. This does cast doubt on how effective the suite is overall.

Speed and Performance

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.

Speed tests

BestVPN.com has recently introduced a groovy new speed test system that provides a scientific and objective way to measure and compare VPN speed performance. Please see our VPN speed test guide for more details.

At the time of writing PureVPN has the fastest average download speed test results of all VPNs we test  and the sixth fastest Max Speed/Burst Result.

Purevpn Download Speeds

DNS lookup time is a good measure of how fast users perceive their connection to be. Faster lookup time = faster web page loading. PureVPN’s average lookup times are er... average, but it’s maximum lookup time is pretty good (remember that lower is better in the chart below).

Purevpn Sped Tests 1

PureVPN’s connection time results are pretty much average (lower is better).

Purevpn Sped Tests 2

PureVPN puts in a strong showing in these tests. Average download speed test results are excellent, and all other results are average or better.

Leak tests

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 126.77
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 48.22
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

I ran basic test IP leak tests by visiting ipleak.net. These include IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak tests and IPv4 and IPv6 WebRTC leak tests.

These tests are performed in private/incognito mode to prevent caching issues confusing the results. They were also performed in an unmodified browser that supports WebRTC, so that we can test for WebRTC leaks (Chrome, in this case).

Purevpn Dns Leak E1516894016592

That IPv4 DNS address belongs to our ISP. Fail! I will note, though, that we did test on a number of machines and this issue only occurred on one of them. But a DNS leak is a DNS leak.

In theory, our main test machine is IPv6 enabled, but I am not confident IPv6 was working when we ran our tests. I will, therefore, retest in a couple of weeks, when we have should a new IPv6 testing setup in place.

When no DNS leaks are happening, PureVPN uses Google DNS and OpenDNS servers to resolve DNS requests. These requests are proxied through PureVPNs servers, however, and so this does not constitute a privacy risk.

Please see A Complete Guide to IP Leaks for a full discussion of what all this means. Basically, though, if we can see your real IP address or an IP address belonging to your real ISP when using the VPN, then not good.

I also checked to see whether US Netflix and BBC iPlayer work with PureVPN. Both services are unavailable using the regular desktop client (and on mobile devices). They were successfully unblocked, however, using the Chrome and Firefox browser add-ons.

Price

As long as you buy a long-term subscription, PureVPN is a remarkably cheap VPN service. Indeed, a three-year subscription works out at just $1.49 USD per month ($69.84 up-front). If paid monthly, PureVPN is $9.95 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). It is also worth noting that payment using (potentially) anonymous payment methods is non-refundable if there is a problem.

Ease of use

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

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.

Customer service

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 15

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.

I had a better experience with support this time around than I have in the past. Live chat responded quickly and was fine when I asked simple questions about the service.

I do not expect frontline live chat support staff to have deep technical knowledge, but would have preferred that the staff member pass my questions onto somewhat more knowledgeable rather than trying to answer them (incorrectly) himself.

I think most people, however, will be happy with the level of support offered via live chat.

Privacy and security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS No
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Jurisdiction

PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which is a great location for a VPN company to be based. VPNs in Hong Kong are not required to keep any logs and are comfortably outside the reach of the NSA and its ilk. There is, after all, a reason that Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong when his whistleblowing documents fist went public!

Logs

PureVPN does not any keep usage logs, but unfortunately, and despite not being required to do so, it does keep extensive connection (metadata) logs. Like every other VPN on the market, it does not log which websites you visit or what you do on the internet.

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.

It does, however, log information such as when you connect to the service:

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.

Um, this is a long way from “we do not keep any logs!” This will not be a major concern to most people, but it does open up the possibility of an end to end timing (traffic correlation) attack on users…

Controversy

A PureVPN customer was, in fact, recently identified and arrested using the connection logs that PureVPN keeps.

This is particularity surprising since PureVPN voluntarily handed over its logs to the FBI, which has no jurisdiction over the Hong Kong-based service. Yes, the guy in question was a scumbag. But many view this as a clear betrayal of trust from a service that claims to protect users’ privacy.

Indeed, PureVPN at the time loudly proclaimed on its Homepage that kept no logs (now removed). It therefore it came as something of a surprise when someone was arrested based on these allegedly non-existent logs!

Note that its privacy policy always qualified the “no logs” claim (see quote above), but many feel PureVPN was nevertheless being very dishonest.

Encryption Protocols

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

OpenVPN encryption is generally a good indicator of encryption standards across the board, and allows easy comparison between services. PureVPN uses the following OpenVPN settings in Security/Privacy mode:

Control channel: an AES-256-CBC cipher with RSA-2048 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication. Perfect forward secrecy is provided via a Diffie-Helman (DE) key exchange

Data channel: an AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication.

This is a secure setup, although it is only strong as its weakest point. The HMAC SHA1 hash authentication used on the data channel is nevertheless secure.

Other “modes” will almost certainly feature less strong encryption, but if you care about privacy and security you should be using OpenVPN in Security/Privacy mode anyway. Note that by default the desktop clients use IKEv2. This is widely regarded as secure, but not as secure as OpenVPN.

Want to know more? Please check out my VPN Encryption Guide.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that with PureVPN you get a lot of VPN for your money. And if you buy a subscription, it can be a very small amount of money indeed. PureVPN’s feature list is very impressive. It also has servers just about everywhere, is blazing fast, and seems able to unblock just about every streaming service and sporting event.

Many users will therefore undoubtedly find that PureVPN does everything they want out of a VPN for a very low price. Not all features appear to work as well as I would like, but given the wealth of features available, and that these are probably only used by a small percentage of users, this is unlikely to be a major concern for most.

The recent high-profile case involving the arrest of a PureVPN customer did also show that, broadly speaking, PureVPN does a good job at protecting its users’ privacy. For me, however, it also showed why not building a VPN to be “no-knowledge” by design is dangerous.

No matter how justified it was in its actions, PureVPN simply should not have been able to assist the FBI in its investigations after saying on its home page that it kept no logs. Those with a strong commitment to privacy should therefore give PureVPN a wide berth.

The DNS leak we detected is also concerning, although it did seem something of an anomaly. Finally, we get to the huge list of complaints BestVPN.com has received about this service. These alone make it very difficult to recommend PureVPN.

Visit PureVPN

136 Comments

  1. 1
    on November 1, 2018
    Reply

    1

  2. Karen
    on October 22, 2018
    Reply

    PureVPN is a very easy-to-use program with many possible options. It is safe and they are always there to help you in their live-chat on the website - They offer great, kind and fast help and service. The only thing they could design better is when you need to update the program. You need to uninstall the program and then install it again, not the most efficient way. But beside that, it is my all-time go-to program to get my internet freedom. And for only around 11 dollar a month!

  3. Ben R
    on September 1, 2018
    Reply

    PureVPN is a great provider, the technical support is just reactive, competent and friendly. Vladimir Nabov was able to help me and it was a pleasure to be helped by ! Thank you again !

  4. Ammar
    on August 30, 2018
    Reply

    Excellent VPN service and remote support service. Also I have to thank you and recommend the excellent service provided by Purevpn agents. Their knowledge makes magic with this excellent VPN service. He gave remote support to setup and solve all the issues.

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