PureVPN review

PureVPN has tons of features, but small irritations hold it back

PureVPN review
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

PureVPN has a good deal of useful features with a huge server network, and if you choose the long term plans it can be quite affordable, too. Unfortunately, it also has its share of flaws. The kill switch is clunky, streaming capabilities are poor, and the support is far from the best – and subsequently can't challenge for any titles.

Pros

  • +

    Recent zero-logging audit passed

  • +

    Plenty of simultaneous connections to share out

  • +

    Useful for BBC iPlayer

  • +

    Huge range of devices supported

Cons

  • -

    Both live chat and on-site support are poor

  • -

    Unable to unblock Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video

  • -

    Slightly buggy apps, including the kill switch

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PureVPN has been in the business for quite some time, starting back in 2007. It has been – and still is – a feature-packed VPN offering good value for money. P2P support, IPv6, and DNS leak protection are just some of the features present, and in addition, the provider has a huge network with over 6,500 servers in 78 countries and plenty of supported devices.

Read on to see our in-depth review and how PureVPN fares when compared with the best VPN providers on the market today.

Do note that if you just want to see specific parts of the review, you can jump to a section you want by using the navigation bar at the top of the page. 

PureVPN 1-minute review

PureVPN’s pricing for the longer-term plans is very affordable. The 1-month plan is pricey at $10.95, but the cost dwindles considerably with the 1-year plan which is priced at $3.24 per month. Furthermore, the 2-year plan is only $1.99 per month, and you get 3 extra months for free, which makes this 2-year plan one of the cheapest in the business. There’s also a 31-day money-back guarantee, and at certain times incredibly cheap 5-year plans are available – we'll let you decide if you want to sign up for that long.

As mentioned above, PureVPN is a feature-packed service with good security too. There’s support for OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. Full torrent support, split tunneling, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch.

You'll also get apps for a huge range of devices, including PC, Mac, Linus, iOS and Android, plus extensions for Firefox and Google Chrome. There are also plenty of walkthroughs to help you get up and running on devices that are a little more niche, like Amazon Fire Stick, android TV, Kodi, routers and more.

Last time we reviewed PureVPN we saw that it had a huge breadth of server locations at 180+ in over 140 countries, but although the server count has stayed at 6,500, that's been whittled down to 86 locations in 78 countries.

That's arguably a good thing, though, as the remover servers were reportedly poorly performing virtual servers, and 78 is still a fine selection to choose from.

PureVPN has also recently started upgrading its server infrastructure from 10Gbps to 20Gbps, which means more throughput and better performance for users. Read more on that here (opens in new tab).

Finally, PureVPN has relocated to VPN hotspot the British Virgin Islands, moving away from Hong Kong, but the more important update is the provider's brand new zero-logging audit, which we'll expand upon below. 

PureVPN on paper

Number of servers: 6,500+
Number of countries:
78
Platforms supported:
Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Routers, Android TV, Amazon FireStick, Microsoft Surface, Kodi, Roku, Boxee, Now TV Box, Raspberry Pi, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox
Simultaneous connections:
10
Split tunneling:
Yes
Kill switch:
Yes
Supported protocols:
WireGuard, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2/IPSec
Country of registration:
British Virgin Islands
Support:
24/7 live chat, email, knowledgebase

Latest updates

Since we undertook our comprehensive review of PureVPN, a couple of important changes have occurred.

Firstly, we've seen the number of server locations trimmed down to 78 countries from 140+. That's a good thing, though since the ones we've lost were slow virtual servers.

The biggest news, though, is the fact that PureVPN has just undertaken a successful no-logging audit. That's a big tick any privacy fan's copybook.

PureVPN pricing

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PureVPN price: how much is it, and is there a PureVPN free trial?

The pricing starts at $10.95 for a 1-month plan which is pricey, but a lot of VPNs have similar pricing for similar plans. That said, with 1-year and 2-year plans, the price becomes much more affordable. 

The 1-year is priced at $3.24 per month which is already a way cheaper option than the 1-month plan. However, the real bargain comes with the 2-year plan, which is priced at $1.99 a month, with three extra months thrown in too. Apply the exclusive coupon code TECH15, and you'll get another 15% off any plan – dropping the overall price to just $1.69.

Be aware, though, that PureVPN often changes its prices, so make sure to check for yourself if you're considering it. 

PureVPN has been known to offer some very impressive deals, including a mega 5-year plan, so if you're interested it's well worth checking the site itself to see if it's running any flash deals. You can also bag a 7-day trial for just $0.99, which is great for testing out the service. 

Beyond the basic pricing, you can bag a dedicated IP for $3.49/mo (cheap compared to the competition), DDoS protection for $3.99/mo, and port forwarding for $0.99/mo, but we had a few issues adding these to the cart – and when we contacted  the live chat support agent, we got absolutely no help at all.

Whichever plan you choose, you’ll be covered by a 31-day no-quibble money-back guarantee so that you can test it out, which is a generous 1 day more than the apparent industry standard, and payments can be made with credit card, PayPal, and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum). 

How private is PureVPN, and does it keep logs?

PureVPN has had some issues in the past with keeping a clean record when it comes to protecting the user data. For example, in 2017, a man was arrested for his online misconduct and included in the evidence were records from PureVPN, which included his home and work IP addresses. Ignoring the ethics, this isn’t something you want to hear from a VPN provider, since VPNs were primarily designed and used as privacy tools.

That said, after the unfortunate incident, PureVPN has been increasing its efforts to pass as a ‘zero-logging’ VPN service by getting its security systems and privacy policies audited. We’re glad to say that PureVPN passed the most recent audit and is now verified as a true zero-logging service.

PureVPN states in its provacy policy: ' We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, records of the VPN IPs assigned to you, your original IPs, your connection time, the history of your browsing, the sites you visited, your outgoing traffic, the content or data you accessed, or the DNS queries generated by you '

However, if you look a little closer, you'll see that it does collect the day you connected to a specific location, your ISP, the connection length, how many connections you make, and your overall bandwidth usage. there's nothing in there that should be able to identify you, but we feel the opening statement of the privacy policy is a little disingenuous all the same.

In terms of apps and features, you’ll get some useful extras like IPv6 and DNS leak protection, a multi-port option, port forwarding and the possibility to use a non-NAT network to use a unique IP address.

PureVPN review app settings

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How fast is PureVPN?

Performance and speed are a vital part of a VPN service, and we found out that PureVPN’s performance was good, if slightly changeable. In our tests using OpenVPN, we got speeds of 250-260Mbps for the UK, and in the US we got 180-190Mbps. While this isn’t by any means bad, this does put PureVPN somewhere in the average and below-average performance compared to plenty of other services.

However, WireGuard performance was great, with speeds of 460-460Mbps and 750-840Mbps for the US, which makes it one of the fastest services around, with only a handful scoring higher than 840Mbps, like IPVanish, Hide.me, and a few others.

In reality, these speeds will be more than acceptable for most users, but as we begin to see faster and faster baseline connections, it's always advisable to futureproof your VPN choice should you have the chance to get a gigabit connection in sometime soon.

However, connection speeds can be massively variable, and although our results are aggregated from over 100 tests on a range of testing software, you might get different results – and with that 7-day trial on offer, it might be worth doing a bit of your own testing to make sure.

How good is PureVPN for streaming and torrenting?

Good streaming performance is a must-have option for many users, making this area quite important. Unfortunately, PureVPN is poor in this regard and doesn’t make for a good streaming VPN.

In our tests, we only got access to BBC iPlayer, which coincidentally is one of the harder services to crack. This gave us hope that PureVPN will continue to unblock the rest, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video were all unavailable for us to access with PureVPN. So, if you want a good Netflix VPN, we'd have to pick ExpressVPN or ProtonVPN

In terms of torrenting VPN performance, PureVPN is fairly capable. You’ll get split tunneling, NAT firewall protection, and decent download speeds as mentioned above. However, many of the most popular server locations – including the UK, US, Canada and Australia – block P2P sharing. While there’s nothing stopping you from selecting a different server, providers like ExpressVPN or NordVPN either allow torrenting on every server, or will automatically reroute your connection to one that does.

PureVPN review app showing locations

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How good are PureVPN's desktop apps?

At first look, PureVPN’s apps are very simple and somewhat plain, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. A simple approach is favorable to some, like us for instance. There’s an on/off button and to bring up the list of locations you’re only one click away. Apart from that, there are also icons further down that will display additional features, and that’s all there is to the interface.

Choosing a location is easy and intuitive, with features like Favorites, Recents, a useful search bar, and ping times as well, which makes it easier to choose the fastest server.

Selecting a server that's suitable for P2P, however, is rather tricky on desktop. The FAQ on-site says to look for the 'P2P icon', but in our experience that's only visible on the mobile apps. Mac and Windows users are left out in the cold.

Connection times were average to good, ranging from 3-5 seconds depending on protocol. That's perfectly acceptable.

The app offers a few extra settings – split tunneling, a kill switch, a few different protocols and the option to auto-launch when you start your PC. However, the IPv6 leak protection and multi-port options we had last time are gone.

If you get into a sticky situation, you can click the Help button, but the FAQ section this brings up is thin, and sometimes you can't even scroll all the way to the bottom of an answer. You're better off heading to the website.

However, submitting a ticket in-app is a nice addition, but it does take you to a third-party page. It's probably perfectly fine, but a little bit of PureVPN branding would go a long way here.

The biggest issue we found was the kill switch. When testing different ways of closing the connection while checking our IP address, we fairly often saw our regular IP sneak through. That means the kill switch didn't work, and the app allowed unprotected traffic through it unprotected. It's unlikely to happen in regular use, but it's not exactly perfect.

How good are PureVPN's mobile apps?

The Android app is more of the same when compared to its desktop counterparts. This does include the features too, as spilt tunneling is available for Android as well. Still, some things were missing that should have been there. 

PureVPN's Android VPN now boasts a kill switch, which we were unable to find our last review. Good stuff. However, there are also no autoconnect features, which are fairly common on mobile clients.

The iPhone VPN is a little different in layout, but overall it's much the same product and fits nicely in with the rest of the PureVPN app family. There are a few differences in functionality, though.

On iOS you can autoconnect when you visit specific websites – not specific networks, though – and will reconnect itself should the connection drop out. However, you won't be getting split tunneling on iOS. 

PureVPN review support

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What customer support does PureVPN offer?

Since the last time we reviewed the service, PureVPN’s support site has gotten better, with many important guides being updated. The guides now provide thorough instructions for any common issues the users may encounter. To be more precise, there’s actually a huge number of articles for almost every operating system, and plenty of suggestions on how to access Netflix.

Still, for anything other than most common issues, some of the guides have basic content only. Usually it'll be enough, but you might be out of luck if you have some more advanced problems.

You can also raise a support ticket from within the app, but our experience with this wasn’t stellar. Our initial query was answered in around 30 minutes – not terrible – but we only received fairly rudimentary advice, and our follow-up questions were left unanswered.

If the guides can’t help you, your best bet is to use the live chat function. However, while response times were good, the actual assistance we received was less than stellar, and although it'll probably sort you out in most situations, it's nothing on the class leaders' chat services.

PureVPN: Final verdict

PureVPN has great performance with a large network and plenty of locations to choose from. One of the service’s main appeals is that it supports a huge number of devices and operating systems, in addition to supporting 10 simultaneous connections. With its long-term plans, it’s also very affordable. and we welcome the introduction of the 'always on' audit with KPMG.

However, what’s not quite so impressive are the kill switch issues and weak performance figures, which are quite feasibly problems that might affect the average user – and that’s why it can’t truly compete with leading providers such as ExpressVPN (opens in new tab).

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.

With contributions from