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In this comparison, we’re pitting ExpressVPN vs PureVPN. You may have heard of the former, but what about the latter? Is there anything in particular that makes it less known? Let’s compare the two VPN providers and find out!
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and has 3000+ servers in 94+ countries. It uses the Lightway tunneling protocol, works with Netflix, and has RAM-only servers. Meanwhile, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong and has 6500+ servers in 140+ countries. It uses IKEv2 and OpenVPN tunneling protocols, offers a dedicated IP, and can get around geographical restrictions.
Continue reading for a more detailed overview of each VPN’s features, starting with connection speed.
|“Best for” nominee||Best overall, Fastest VPN, Best VPN for USA||Best overall, Fastest VPN, Best Chrome extension|
|Price starts from||$8.32/month||$2.91/month|
|Review||ExpressVPN review||PureVPN review|
Typically, ExpressVPN uses its proprietary Lightway tunneling protocol as the fastest option. Meanwhile, PureVPN doesn’t have a comparably fast protocol, for example, WireGuard. That means that PureVPN loses in the first category by default.
Below you can see the results from our VPN speed test comparing the performance of each provider with OpenVPN tunneling protocols.
ExpressVPN vs PureVPN: 14-Day Speed Average
|Download Speed||195 Mbps||77 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||425 Mbps||165 Mbps|
|Download Speed||135 Mbps||84 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||324 Mbps||244 Mbps|
|Download Speed||239 Mbps||151 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||504 Mbps||427 Mbps|
As you can see, PureVPN is trailing behind ExpressVPN even when both use OpenVPN.
|All physical servers||No||No|
|Owns all servers||No||No|
PureVPN has 6500+ servers across 140+ countries, while ExpressVPN has 3000+ servers in 94+ countries. At first glance, it seems that PureVPN is in the lead but plenty of its servers and locations are virtual.
Also, ExpressVPN has one crucial upside – RAM-only servers. Such servers guarantee that any potential browsing data logs are wiped whenever the servers are restarted.
Other than that, both providers use virtual servers to some extent, don’t own their entire server network, and allow P2P traffic.
|Free trial||N/A||7-day trial for $0.99|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||31 days|
|Payment options||Credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Paymentwall (AliPay, UnionPay, and more)||Credit card, PayPal|
Both VPNs use a fairly standard pricing plan and offer three different subscription options. Additionally, PureVPN has a 7-day trial for $0.99, while ExpressVPN lacks that.
On the other hand, ExpressVPN has a few anonymous payment options, while with PureVPN, you can only choose between a credit card and PayPal. Still, the win goes to PureVPN for being cheaper and offering a “free” trial.
The three ExpressVPN pricing plans are as follows:
The longest one-year plan grants you a 35% discount, which isn’t a lot compared to most VPN providers. However, you can try getting a better deal by using various ExpressVPN coupons. Plus, in addition to credit cards and PayPal, you can also pay via Bitcoin or Paymentwall. Lastly, the service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
With PureVPN, you can pick between three subscription plans:
The most extended plan gives you a hefty 73% discount. If that’s not enough, you can also peruse all the other PureVPN coupon codes that are available.
However, keep in mind that some of the PureVPN features are only available as bonuses. For example, a dedicated IP or DDoS protection costs $0.99/month, while port forwarding costs $0.25/month. Plus, you can’t get both a dedicated IP and DDoS protection at the same time.
Besides that, the 7-day free trial actually costs $0.99 and will renew to a yearly plan if you don’t cancel on time. Finally, all plans come with a 31-day money-back guarantee and can be bought with a credit card or PayPal account.
|Protocols||Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2||OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|DNS and IP leaks||No leaks||No leaks|
|Security features||TrustedServer, Stealth servers, split tunneling (except iOS), port forwarding, MediaStreamer||Split tunneling (Android), dedicated IP, port forwarding|
Like most VPNs that take your security seriously, ExpressVPN and PureVPN are equipped with AES-256 encryption, kill switches, and high-quality leak protection. Common tunneling protocols include OpenVPN and IKEv2. Furthermore, both offer split tunneling and port forwarding features.
Overall, ExpressVPN is the more secure option as it brings more to the table.
ExpressVPN security features
For a substantial price tag, ExpressVPN offers a good number of security features for various use cases.
- TrustedServer is the name of the RAM-only server technology that ExpressVPN utilizes. With it, privacy is guaranteed on a technical level as no data gets stored on hard drives.
- Stealth servers allow you to get around internet censorship measures, such as DPI (Deep Packet Inspection).
- Split tunneling enables you to select apps or websites that should go through or ignore the VPN secure tunnel.
- Port forwarding makes it easier to establish connections to your network remotely and is important for seeding torrents.
- MediaStreamer is essentially Smart DNS, with which you can get around geo-restrictions on devices that don’t typically support VPN apps.
- Lightway is the proprietary tunneling protocol that ExpressVPN offers. It’s lightweight, reasonably fast, and based on the WolfSSL cryptographic library.
PureVPN security features
PureVPN is priced slightly lower than your average VPN. As such, the features it offers are pretty ordinary as well.
- With split tunneling PureVPN, you can select which applications should go through the VPN connection.
- For a bonus cost, you can select a dedicated IP from seven different countries.
- Port forwarding costs a small extra fee and allows you to configure your network and make it accessible remotely.
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands||Hong Kong|
|Logging||Independently-audited and court-proven no-logs policy||Independently-audited no-logs policy|
Both providers have an exciting history in the privacy department. Furthermore, they are based outside the reach of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and have been audited by third parties. In the end, ExpressVPN has better privacy practices and scores another point.
In 2017, ExpressVPN was contacted by Turkish authorities when investigating the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey of that time. They seized some servers from ExpressVPN, hoping to get some valuable information from them. And yet, no relevant data could be gained.
Furthermore, ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and has also been independently audited by PwC and Cure53, some well-known names in the cybersecurity industry. Moreover, you can also use Bitcoin to maintain your anonymity while buying the VPN.
On the other hand, Hong Kong-based PureVPN was able to assist the FBI in a cyber-stalker case by providing incriminating information. Although done for a justifiable reason, this undermines the legitimacy of their no-logs claims.
Luckily, the VPN underwent some independent audits after this debacle, which may relieve some. But others might not be convinced. Plus, there’s also no way to pay for this VPN anonymously.
|Major dedicated apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Other dedicated apps||Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Chromebook, Routers, Kindle Fire, Nook HD||Fire TV & Fire Stick, Android TV, Kodi add-on, DD-WRT applet|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Edge (beta)|
|Manual setup||Chromecast, Nvidia Shield,||Router, QNAP, Synology, OpenELEC, Raspberry Pi, Chromebook|
Both VPNs have dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. Additional applications are also available for Android TV and Amazon Fire OS. Furthermore, both have browser extensions available for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. Naturally, setting up a router with a VPN is also possible with both services but ExpressVPN has a dedicated app for that.
ExpressVPN device compatibility
One of the most exceptional features of ExpressVPN is the fact that it has a dedicated app for routers. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of ExpressVPN supported devices. You can also utilize the VPN on Chromebooks, NAS (Network Access Storage), BlackBerry phones, e-book readers, and much more. The only downside is that you can have only five devices connected simultaneously.
PureVPN device compatibility
Instead of a multi-purpose router software, PureVPN has a DD-WRT applet available. Furthermore, it has an app for Kodi, making the VPN available on any device that supports Kodi natively. Finally, a single subscription allows you to connect ten different devices simultaneously, which is two times more than what ExpressVPN offers.
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
|Smart DNS||Yes (MediaStreamer)||No|
The two providers are quite alright for streaming but not good enough to make it on our list of best VPNs for streaming. In particular, PureVPN lacks a Smart DNS feature, which is especially important for users who want to stream and get around geographical restrictions on devices that don’t support VPN software, such as game consoles or smart TVs.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN is too expensive compared to the rest of the providers on the list. However, the MediaStreamer feature makes it a better option than PureVPN.
Torrenting and P2P
|Allowed on||All servers||Selected servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||No||No|
|Split tunneling||Yes||Yes (Android)|
In terms of torrenting, ExpressVPN and PureVPN are almost on par. The one downside of PureVPN is that it doesn’t allow torrenting on all servers. Also, it allows split tunneling on Android only.
Otherwise, both VPN options are pretty good as they work in most countries and come with the port forwarding feature. Still, only PureVPN is good enough to make it on our list of best VPNs for torrenting.
|Works in China||Yes||Yes|
|Stealth VPN||Yes (Stealth Servers)||No|
|Tor over VPN||No||No|
If you’re planning a holiday in China, you might be disappointed to hear that neither of these VPNs is on our list of best VPNs for China. However, ExpressVPN has Stealth Servers, which are pretty reliable against the online censorship measures of the regime.
Meanwhile, since PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, it is close to China and has an easier time getting new servers up and running around there. Additionally, the less-common SSTP tunneling protocol is relatively effective against the Great Firewall of China.
Thankfully, both VPNs provide excellent customer support around the clock. Whether you prefer 24/7 live chat or email communication – ExpressVPN and PureVPN have you covered. Plus, their support pages are pretty extensive and have neatly categorized guides for many use-cases.
Best VPN by category
|Speed and servers||Wins✔️||Loses❌|
|Total wins||5 out of 9||3 out of 9|
ExpressVPN vs PureVPN – which is better?
Meanwhile, PureVPN has the benefit of being cheap and allowing more simultaneous connections. Furthermore, both providers have excellent customer service but ExpressVPN is more reliable in censorship-heavy countries, such as China.
Which VPN do you prefer? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Is PureVPN better than ExpressVPN?
No, PureVPN is not better than ExpressVPN. Although cheaper, it lacks any stand-out features that would make it an above-average VPN. Meanwhile, ExpressVPN is faster, has a proprietary tunneling protocol, RAM-only servers, and better privacy.
Does ExpressVPN work in China?
Yes, ExpressVPN works in China. You even don’t have to do anything because Stealth Servers are turned on whenever a VPN detects the presence of Deep Packet Inspection.
Is PureVPN any good?
PureVPN is a fairly standard VPN. It’s reasonably priced, has good server coverage, and a decent amount of security features. However, it lacks any exceptional features and its privacy practices are a bit murky.
Is PureVPN free to use?
No, PureVPN is not free to use. However, it has a 7-day “free” trial for $0.99 and a 31-day money-back guarantee.
Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.