PureVPN Review 2019

BEST FOR: Great for advanced users and value for money

  • Works with Netflix
  • Doesn't keep logs
  • Full suite of security features
  • Easy-to-use apps and extensions
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PureVPN Overview

Joel Timothy

Last updated: 01 April 2019

PureVPN is a product of GZ Systems Ltd. It was founded back in 2007 in Hong Kong. After starting out with 2 servers, the service has grow significantly since then and amassed a huge number of users. They now claim to be “the most loved VPN,”and in this PureVPN review, we will seek to establish whether they deserve the self-proclaimed title.

Pros

What we liked

  • Works with Netflix
  • 2,000+ servers in over 140 countries
  • Owns and controls its server network
  • Superb speeds
  • Fully featured apps
  • 24/7 Live chat support

Cons

What can be improved

  • Keeps connection logs

Security & Privacy

Privacy

First of all, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which is a superb choice for a VPN to operate from. Hong Kong is a friendly country in terms of internet freedom, and it does not require VPNs to keep any logs. Further, it’s not a member of the 14 Eyes, and it’s also comfortably outside the reach of the NSA.

In terms of keeping logs, PureVPN explicitly states that they do not keep any usage logs. Their website states:

“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.” 

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. This helps us understand the flow of traffic to specific servers so we could optimize them better.”

PureVPN, however, does keep a few details: your connection time and bandwidth. It may seem minimal, but PureVPN’s connection logs can be used against you. In August 2017, a report released by the United States Department of Justice showed that PureVPN had collaborated with the FBI and given connection logs that were then used to incriminate a user. PureVPN later confirmed this to be true after various outlets picked the story up. This is not good news for any privacy-focused user, and we surely didn’t expect this from a Hong Kong-based VPN.

To boost your privacy, PureVPN offers DNS Leak Protection, Web TRC Leak Protection, and IPV6 Leak protection. However, our tests showed a number of IP and DNS leaks so something to be aware of

Security

PureVPN uses top-of-the-line, military-grade 256-bit encryption to protect your data. This is the most recommended data encryption and is usually impossible to crack. The AES-256-CBC cipher is combined with RSA-2048 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication.

Generally, this can be described as a secure setup. However, the HMAC SHA1 hash authentication used on the data channel is not the most secure. We would love to see PureVPN upgrade to HMAC SHA2, which is even more secure. PureVPN also employs perfect forward secrecy via a Diffie-Helman (DE) key exchange.

As for the protocols, PureVPN offers a variety of connectivity protocols including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2. Among these, OpenVPN is the most recommended protocol. This is because it’s very secure and greatly balances this security with speed. PureVPN uses the IKEv2 protocol for its Windows client. However, you can still choose the protocol you want to use.

  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • IKRv2
  • SSTP
  • OpenVPN

PureVPN also implements other important security features to keep you safe. These include an automatic kill switch, DDoS protection, and the NAT firewall, features that we shall discuss more in the Features section further down in this review.

If you want complete control over your online reputation, you can also go for PureVPN’s dedicated IP which means you won’t have to use a shared VPN IP.

If we’re rounding up PureVPN’s performance in this are we’d have to conclude that it falls quite short in the privacy department but fares better as a ‘secure VPN

Pricing & Payment

The following are the plans offered by PureVPN

These are the current available packages:

1 month: $10.95/month

6 Months: $8.00/month

1 year: $3.33/month

1 month

$10.95

Per month

31-day money-back guarantee

most popular
3 Months

Save
70%

$10.95

$8.00

Per month

31-day money-back guarantee

1 year

$3.33

Per month

User favorite

31-day money-back guarantee

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

Free Trial

PureVPN does not offer a free trial, and their money-back guarantee time frame is quite limited in comparison to other top VPNs.

Further, PureVPN has been using unquestionable sales tactics for quite some time. Though they have done away with some which could be easily identified as fake, the “Last Sold” found in the pricing section is still questionable.

7-Day Money-Back Guarantee

While doing this PureVPN review, we noticed that a lot of customers have complained about not receiving their money back after presenting their requests. So we headed to the refund section to have a look at the refund conditions. There are a number of conditions to receiving a refund, so make sure to check these if you think there’s a chance you’ll need a refund for the VPN.

They also require that you haven’t used more than 3 GB of bandwidth or exceeded 100 sessions. The problem with this tricky clause is that you can’t keep track of the bandwidth you’ve used; this almost always catches users off-guard. We would therefore recommend testing the VPN using the less advertised 3-day subscription plan that goes for $2.50.

Payment Options

PureVPN accepts all major payment methods. You can use your credit or debit card as well as PayPal, Alipay, Paysafecard, Payza, Skrill, and many more. You can also make your payment via Western Union and Bank Transfer option if the amount is more than $500. These would be most appropriate payment options for a business VPN account.

PureVPN also accepts coin payments as well as gift cards if you want to remain anonymous. However, it’s important to note that these two payment methods are not eligible for the 7-day money back guarantee.

To activate the money back clause, send an email to help@purevpn.com stating your VPN username and the reason for canceling the subscription.

Credit cards
Payment Service
Crypto Currency
Others
and more!

Performance

Using PureVPN is a pretty good experience, though you will be disappointed to find that not all features work as advertised. PureVPN’s effort to offer client apps for Android TVs and other exotic devices has not been flawless either, with some of these clients performing poorly.

We also found as mentioned that the VPN leaks DNS and IP addresses, something that users have always complained about. This coupled with the logs they keep brings their privacy level down to “would hesitate to recommend.”

Speed Test

In terms of speed, PureVPN does quite well. However, the speed you get depends on the protocol that you choose to use. PureVPN’s recommended protocol is IKEv2, which performs quite well.

We also noticed that the speeds you get with PureVPN are determined by the mode you choose. The streaming mode is by far the fastest.

Here are screenshots of speed tests we did for this PureVPN review. The first one is my speed test without a VPN, which is meant to give us the baseline.

PureVPN

We then connected to a nearby server using PureVPN Netflix stream mode, and the speeds were pretty decent.

PureVPN

With a distant server, there was a further decline in speeds, which can be attributed to the increased distance.

PureVPN

Generally, PureVPN comes out as a  fast VPN service.

This speed test was recently conducted on April 15, 2019.

Servers & Location

PureVPN is quite impressive in the number of countries and total locations covered. The VPN has 2,000+ servers in 180 locations and 140+ countries. Unlike most VPNs that focus their servers in particular countries, PureVPN has implemented its server network throughout a wide range of countries.

What really impressed us is PureVPN’s great reach to countries in continents that are otherwise ignored by most VPN services, like South America, Asia, and Africa. However, most of their servers are virtual, something that isn’t so great.

Virtual servers are servers that give you an IP address belonging to a particular country, but the server itself is based in another country. However, PureVPN is transparent enough to highlight that the servers are virtual, both on the website and in the client apps. Further, PureVPN owns and controls its entire server network, and so it can be termed as a Tier-1 VPN.

North America has a total of 210 servers, Europe has 349 servers, Oceania has 34 servers, Asia has 120 servers, Central America has 8 servers, Africa has 36 servers, and South America has 26 servers. All PureVPN packages can access all servers.

The VPN uses about 20 IP addresses for each server.

Features

Device Compatibility

PureVPN does exemplary well when it comes to compatibility. The VPN is compatible with almost all important services, and the connection can be configured on almost every router. You can use it on:

  • Windows
  • Mac desktop
  • Android
  • iOS smartphone
  • Android TV
  • Firestick and compatible routers.

The VPN also offers PureVPN Chrome and PureVPN Mozilla, which are browser extensions with a simplified functionality of the PureVPN app.

Smart DNS?

We found that PureVPN does not offer SmartDNS services. It also doesn’t have a .onion website version.

Split Tunneling

PureVPN offers Split Tunneling, a feature that is super useful. Split tunneling allows you to exempt certain apps from the VPN. This means that you can do various activities through the encrypted VPN servers, while others go through your ISP. You can therefore still access your local bank while using PureVPN to watch worldwide streaming services.

However, during our PureVPN review, we noticed that the feature usually fails sometimes, letting the VPN encrypt all traffic.

Features
Smart DNS
Bypass Netflix
Onion Tow Web Address
Split Tunneling
Stealth Technology/Servers
Allow Torrenting
Automatic Kill Switch
ipv6
Open Ports

Virtual Router

Virtual Router is one of PureVPN’s special features, as it is not offered by many VPNs. This feature allows you to create a virtual router with your PC. You can then connect up top 10 devices on this hotspot and enjoy tons of VPN protection. Cool feature!

Internet Kill Switch

A Kill Switch is another crucial tool that diligently protects your privacy. It does so by immediately terminating your internet connection whenever you lose your VPN connection. This feature comes in handy if, for example, you want to leave your computer downloading P2P content. With an automatic Kill Switch, you can rest assured that your internet traffic is always protected.

Dedicated IPs

To let you enjoy optimum security and total online freedom, PureVPN offers dedicated IPs to users. A dedicated IP gives you total control over your internet profile and greatly improves your security. You can use it to securely access bank websites, a home security camera, remote servers, and other services that allow a single IP.

PureVPN’s dedicated IPs are available for Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, the UK, and the US. There are a number of services that block IP addresses belonging to VPNs. Dedicated IPs are not classified as VPNs.

DDoS Protection

The DDoS protection feature is a very welcome addition. It is meant to protect you from all sorts of complex DDoS attacks. DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service, and it has been growing in popularity and usefulness over the past few years – hence the importance of this feature.

NAT Firewall

PureVPN’s NAT Firewall provides an extra layer of security and stops hackers from utilizing any loopholes to attack you. This feature is implemented at the server end and blocks any dangerous traffic and data packets from reaching you.

Advanced port forwarding

Advanced port forwarding is a feature that lets you or others gain access to your computer when the VPN is running. Port forwarding allows the VPN not to block you if you run your own email or games server.

PureVPN WiFi Security

WiFi hotspots can now be found everywhere you go, and the threats associated with hotspots have also increased. PureVPN’s WiFi Security automatically detects when your device connects to an unsecured WiFi network and then enables the VPN. This protects you from any dangerous hackers and even from marketers who may want to collect data from you.

PureVPN Setup & User Interface

PureVPN Review

A quick look at the PureVPN website gives a picture of a well organized and simplistic look. The website is easy to navigate, and the only flaw worth mentioning here is not including a Help button at the top. To go to the Support Center, you have to scroll to the bottom of the page and look for it among so many other buttons.

PureVPN Review

Signing up is really straightforward, and you just need to click Get PureVPN Now.

You can then choose a subscription plan and a preferred payment method. After payment is complete, you can then create a password for the member login. You will receive an email with the client username and password, which are automatically generated.

PureVPN Review

You can then log In at PureVPN.com and choose the clients you want to install. PureVPN has quite a large selection of clients.

PureVPN Review

The Desktop Client

To test the experience for this PureVPN review, we first installed the Windows client. To do this, just click the type of device. You can then install and launch it. To have all functionalities, launch the app as admin. You can still go to the tray and right click the app, and select Restart as admin.

PureVPN Review

The PureVPN app is fully stocked with features, and unlike most VPNs, it doesn’t have a simplistic look. Advanced users will appreciate this, but the novice user who just wants to keep their data secure might not appreciate it.

Nevertheless, using the app is quite easy, and there are various modes dedicated to certain tasks. You can choose between:

  • Stream
  • Internet Freedom
  • Security/Privacy
  • File-Sharing
  • Dedicated IP

All these modes are optimized for their various tasks, and we recommend you choose one according to what you want to do. This is not the easiest path for a person who just want to connect to a VPN and enjoy all the benefits that come with it. PureVPN should consider including a direct connection mode where a user can just choose a country to connect their VPN to.

Selecting the Security/Privacy is will give you an option of selecting your preferred server, and you can even run a ping test before connecting.

PureVPN Review

You can then connect to a server of your choice, of course depending on your needs.

PureVPN Review

The connection takes about 10-20 seconds.

PureVPN Review

One mode that deserves some credit is the Stream mode.

The mode is highly optimized for working with various streaming options. We were very intrigued by it, and we tested almost all the services listed there. Surprise – they all work!

Customization Options

The PureVPN client has a number of customization options.

First comes the advanced option that helps you enhance your security.

PureVPN Review

Here, you can enable IPv6 leak protection, activate the Kill Switch and choose a manual port. You can also select between various protocols.

The other customization options give you a chance to make use of PureVPN’s special features as discussed under the Features section.

You can make use of split tunneling and also the VPN Hotspot. These two features require Admin rights.

PureVPN Review

The app also includes a support ticket option, where you can contact support from in case you have any difficulties with your client.

PureVPN allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, and so you will be able to use it on all your devices or secure your whole family.

Some PureVPN Features Not Working

On the downside, there have been various complaints about some of PureVPN’s features not working – specifically the Kill Switch and PureVPN Split Tunneling. We tested these two features and were disappointed to find that indeed these did not work for us.

We first activated the Kill Switch and left the two other options checked.

PureVPN Review

We then disconnected the VPN manually to see if our internet connection was terminated. The PureVPN client gave this message: “All your Internet activity has been stopped to protect your data, as per your settings preference. We are trying to auto-reconnect. If you do not wish to wait please, cancel reconnect manually and un-check Activate Internet Kill Switch under the Settings tab.”

PureVPN Review

This was totally wrong , as my internet was working perfectly well. The auto-reconnection didn’t work, and you can’t reconnect it manually. To connect to the VPN again, we had to go back and disable the Kill Switch. Considering that a Kill Switch is a feature that has been effectively implemented by other top VPNs, this is a huge disappointment with PureVPN.

PureVPN SmartPhone App

The PureVPN Android app is simpler than the desktop app. At the homepage, you can choose between four modes: Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, and File Sharing.

PureVPN Review

All these modes are similar in appearance after selection. You can choose to connect automatically, select a country, or even a city.

PureVPN Review

Advanced customization options are also available.

PureVPN Review

Compatibility

Netflix

To find out if PureVPN works with Netflix, we tried searching a TV show that is only available in the US. We saw that PureVPN works great with Netflix. It also works worldwide with almost all other major streaming services. In the client, you get a message suggesting that you watch certain streaming media through a PureVPN dedicated server.

I tried a number of these streaming modes PureVPN offers, and they always worked at super speeds.

China

PureVPN’s app and website imply that the VPN works in China. We contacted support to clarify, and they said that the VPN works in China. However, it’s important to know that VPN usage in China is subject to steep fines and potentially imprisonment, so we don’t recommend you use it in China. To sign up, you can just contact them via the live chat feature which is available even without a VPN/proxy. They will then give you a 1-hour trial account to sign up.

The VPN further allows torrenting, and there’s a dedicated mode that you can use for P2P.

Devices

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac

Browsers

  • Chrome
  • Firefox

Others

  • Android Boxes
  • Router Configuration
  • DDWRT Router

Customer support

PureVPN’s customer support is quite commendable. We were impressed that their 24/7/365 customer support responded in less than 10 seconds and was quite helpful. For this PureVPN review, we submitted a simple question, and the support got back to me almost immediately.

Apart from the live chat support, PureVPN also has:

  • Email/ ticket support
  • FAQs
  • Forums

The ticket system is meant to handle technical queries, and it definitely offers more information than the live chat agents. Users are free to submit a request at any time. It is also embedded in the apps. We also tested this service, and we got a reply in 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is impressive.

The knowledge base is well stocked with FAQs and troubleshooting guides, and you will often find your answers there.

Conclusion

Generally, PureVPN comes out as a very strong VPN. The functionalities offered coupled with the huge network reach and fair prices (if you subscribe for a longer duration) gives users huge value for their money. The super fast speeds and the fact that the VPN works with most streaming sites makes the VPN suited for the Netflix library. However, keep in mind that you can’t run away from the connection logs they keep or the DNS leaks. Considering that they promise zero logs, PureVPN should act on this to ensure it really meets the standards of users how expect complete privacy from their VPN.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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