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Reviewing PureVPN in 2020 is tricky. It has a lot you would want from a reliable VPN – plenty of servers, excellent security features, and affordable prices. Yet, it also raised some privacy concerns in the past.
Before giving the final verdict, let’s see what exactly makes this decade-old VPN provider so controversial.
In this PureVPN review, I’ll discuss its security and privacy features, its apps, and devices it supports, as well as the pricing, customer service, and other things. Let’s see if the deals are worth it!
Is PureVPN safe?
PureVPN advertises its services as a tool to complete anonymity when browsing the internet. Besides, the service is said to have entertainment value via streaming services unblocks.
Their strongest selling points are:
- Military-grade encryption
- Latest tunneling protocols
With that said, there were certain problems in the past. PureVPN was at the center of the scandalous disclosure of user data to the FBI in 2017. So, when it comes to the safety of this tool, you’ll have to take the provider’s word for it. Ultimately, their technical prowess is impressive, but whether that will be enough to protect your privacy is for you to decide.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
Let’s start with encryption, which is one of the most substantial aspects of PureVPN. This provider uses the practically impenetrable AES-256 encryption.
Combine this with top of the line WireGuard tunneling protocol, and you’ve got yourself a very efficient and secure connection. There’s also a plethora of older alternatives that want to avoid all issues that all early adopters face: OpenVPN, IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2. Not all of these are available on each device type, but all apps have at least one secure tunneling protocol, which is more than enough. Doesn’t matter how old or recent your device is, you’ll have options.
PureVPN kill switch
An essential security feature: the kill switch stops all internet traffic if your VPN connection drops. This prevents your real IP address (and identity from leaking), maintaining your anonymity online.
You can activate the PureVPN kill switch feature by going to Preferences:
It even allows you to select additional kill switch preferences. Auto-redial will use a firewall to block internet traffic when re-dialing, and you can also stop all traffic from going in or out of your device even if you disconnect manually. It’s one of the most-customizable kill switch options I’ve seen.
IP or DNS leak protection
IP or DNS leaks are probably the worst things that can happen to you when using a VPN. This means that your IP address, your browsing history as well as your location can be traced right back to you.
With that said, I decided to run an online test to see how reliable PureVPN is.
First of all, I connected to Sweden with my PureVPN account and was assigned the IP address 188.8.131.52.
Then I checked whether it was leaking:
As you can see, this is the IP address PureVPN gave me, meaning there was no IP leak.
Where is PureVPN located?
People often ask where PureVPN is located? It’s located in Hong Kong, which is a privacy-friendly location. This location is also not part of the 5-9-14 eyes countries, which essentially means that it’s under no obligation to share users’ information with countries belonging to that surveillance framework. However, all of this is continuously threatened by mainland China pressing it with excessive surveillance measures. These developments inevitably affect the safety of this VPN. This is especially true now when China unveiled its new national security legislation. It marks the departure of “one country, two systems” status that Hong Kong used to have, and means that this VPN provider could lose its ability to provide anonymity.
PureVPN operates under the name of GZ Systems Limited, which is owned by a parent company Gaditek. What should be worrisome is that it’s based in Pakistan, which is notorious for its data retention laws and may be able to use its military muscle into bullying PureVPN to release vital user information specific especially if users engage in any activity unfavorable to the country’s authorities.
It was discussed in our major research on the hidden owners of popular VPN products. Gaditek is shady. As we show in our study, they maintain several websites to promote PureVPN as the #1 VPN. One of these is a widely-known and well-ranked site called vpnranks.com:
So, if you’re wondering how come you’ve been reading all these great PureVPN reviews, well, it might just be that marketing gun aimed at you.
PureVPN logging policy
However, when you look a little closer, this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s worth highlighting that PureVPN in 2017 assisted an FBI investigation that led to the arrest of a Cyberstalker. While it is commendable that a criminal was brought to books, this is a concern for a VPN that “supposedly” does not monitor user activity or store logs.
Independent audits of VPN security and no-log policies are becoming more common, and PureVPN has joined the fray. They have now had their no-log policy audited by a leading California security audit service, Altius IT.
The results? The report states:
“[we] did not find any evidence of system configurations and/or system/service log files that independently, or collectively, could lead to identifying a specific person and/or the person’s activity when using the PureVPN service.”
This sounds like a good set-up. However, I cannot guarantee that their ghosts from the past won’t return again.
Other technical features
Other than secure encryption, proper tunneling protocols, and a kill switch, PureVPN has these technical features:
- Wifi security: automatic protection when your device connects to an unsecured public Wifi.
- Port forwarding: mainly useful for P2P and connecting directly to your PC from a remote location.
- Split Tunneling: lets you choose which apps should connect to the internet through the VPN and which can go directly through the ISP.
What is more, PureVPN boasts a server network of 2000+ servers across 140+ countries (virtual and real locations), which is quite an impressive number.
The best way to decide on a VPN’s speed is to run some tests.
|Average speed||65 Mbps|
|Germany server||134.88 Mbps (54% drop-off)|
|US server||99.66 Mbps (66% drop-off)|
|Australia server||116.81 Mbps (61% drop-off)|
|Germany server||28.86 Mbps (89% drop-off)|
|US server||6.06 Mbps (98% drop-off)|
|Australia server||3.90 Mbps (98.5% drop-off)|
|Germany server||24 ms|
|US server||139 ms|
|Australia server||307 ms|
As you can tell from the tests, PureVPN download speeds are good, whereas upload speeds are somewhat lacking. You should be able to stream HD videos without issues, but if file exchange is something that you’d like to do, it would be very hard if you will be connected to a location that is too far away from yours.
On a more positive note, when connecting to most servers on the list, the client connects quickly, the speeds are decent, and the connections seem reliable.
Does PureVPN support my device?
PureVPN supports most major device types, including desktop, mobile devices, smart TVs, and more.
PureVPN desktop app
The PureVPN download supports these desktop apps:
When you’re installing the app on your chosen device, you get to choose the primary purpose of why you’re getting the product (Stream, Be secure, Download and Other):
The installation of PureVPN is no different than the majority of the programs. All you have to do is follow the steps, and you’ll be fine.
Once you’re on the app, you get to choose your IP location:
When you do that, you are sent to this page:
This screen may be a bit confusing. Say, you want to stream videos and be secure at the same time? Somehow these preset choices suggest that you will only have online security and privacy if you choose that option.
If you want to change any other settings and preferences, got to the Preferences icon, which has several useful sub-menu options:
Having that said, each mode is configured in such a way that it would meet minimum requirements so that the intended function would work effectively. Manually setting them on top of presets might yield mixed results. If you want stability, it’s best to stick to pre-made modes.
PureVPN mobile app
You can get PureVPN on:
Once you download and log into the app, you get this screen to choose your IP location:
What I like about the mobile version is the VPN on-demand feature. To activate it, go to the Settings:
Choose Advance -> On Demand VPN:
In this window, you can turn it on – meaning, your phone will connect to a VPN automatically whenever you are browsing certain websites and domains.
PureVPN for web browsers
PureVPN has extensions for Chrome and Firefox. When you’re installing your desktop app, you get a chance to install your chosen extension at the same time:
For me, however, this didn’t work. To test their browser extensions, I had to install them separately. The downside is that it only encrypts your browser traffic. However, this solves the infamous browser-level issue of leaking WebRTC. Most VPN can only avoid WebRTC leaks just by using their proprietary browser add-ons.
The plug-ins themselves are a bit clunky. I had trouble logging in in Chrome and Firefox versions. They need to improve the add-ons. Due to how lightweight they are, for some people, these tools will be the only way they can set up a VPN on their devices.
Once you get them set up and running, using them is a breeze. You can quickly select a country, there’s a Popular Websites tab and Prevent WebRTC leak switch is at the bottom. This is a bare minimum but it should get the job done if you really just need to unblock websites and browse the web safely.
Other PureVPN apps
The following platforms also have apps or can be configured manually:
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Smart TVs
- Routers (including DD-WRT applet)
- Gaming consoles
The number of servers doesn’t automatically mean that the service is going to be better. However, the opposite is often true – low server count makes the service more susceptible to huge loads. PureVPN is somewhat safe in this regard, they have 2000 across 140 countries.
Having this in mind, you should also factor in how evenly spread these servers are. This helps to determine the actual network size and coverage. To get a better picture in that regard read our article on PureVPN servers.
Rather than create one mode that works for everything, PureVPN decided to go the other route and create 5 of them. Their names are pretty self-explanatory:
- Streaming (a mode that compromises security for maximum speed. Best used for video streaming and gaming)
- Internet Freedom (a mode that compromises speed for better security and privacy. Use cases include content unblocks and secure browsing)
- Security/Privacy (a mode that provides maximum protection against cyber threats and monitoring from the third parties. Use this when working with very sensitive data)
- File Sharing (a mode that trades in security measures for download and upload speeds. When downloading files from P2P networks, you’ll get the best speeds with this one)
- Remote Access Server/ Dedicated IP (with this mode you should get full speed if you were to connect to the same country as per dedicated IP. This mode has the best of both worlds. It will additionally cost an additional 0.99 USD every month)
Adapting the modes to the user preferences you should get the optimal performance. Such set up should be crystal clear for new users, however, it may be inconvenient for users that are accustomed to being able to do everything at once. Without the additional tweaking.
Streaming with PureVPN
PureVPN unblocks multiple services and provides good enough speeds. Read on to learn about PureVPN for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming platforms.
PureVPN SmartDNS helps you to bypass geo-blocks that streaming websites put in place to restrict users from accessing their content. This is achieved by routing your connection through a corresponding DNS repository, that trick streaming service into thinking that you’re located in a country where it’s unblocked.
The great thing is that you can use SmartDNS on virtually any device, even on those that don’t natively support VPNs. The tradeoff is that this feature doesn’t encrypt your data, which might be bothersome for some. For everyone else, it’s an essential feature if streaming is an essential aspect of your VPN usage.
Does PureVPN work with Netflix?
PureVPN is capable of unblocking Netflix US and UK libraries, but the other catalogs will remain inaccessible. For most users, this should be more than enough, except, of course, if you’re looking for a VPN that can access the Japanese library.
If you want to avoid all the hassle that might arise from switching servers that might get blacklisted in Netflix, catching VPN users. You can opt-in for a dedicated IP to guarantee unrestricted access to Netflix. Seeing how even the regular subscription does this trick, this may seem like overkill.
PureVPN on other streaming platforms
With PureVPN, you can watch other popular streaming platforms, such as the BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. If you’re having trouble accessing any of these, there are detailed instructions available on their website’s Support Center.
What’s more, you can use PureVPN and Kodi together. There’s an add-on that you can download and use on your Kodi-enabled device.
Does PureVPN support torrenting?
Yes, but not in all countries. PureVPN does not support torrenting in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada:
Furthermore, we have blocked P2P on some of our servers as per changing Global Web Policy. We don’t allow p2p/filesharing where it’s illegal by law named United Kingdom (UK) , United States (US), Canada, Australia etc.
All in all, I must say that PureVPN is an excellent choice for torrenting. In addition to their good server selection and download speeds, there are also some nice additional features. For example, port forwarding is crucial if you need to maintain a download/upload ratio.
Does PureVPN work in China?
PureVPN does work in China. However, this does not mean that provider’s website is unblocked. What this means is that you might have to figure out how to get this VPN installed. If you’re traveling to China, you should install in on all your devices beforehand.
Due to PureVPN operating from Hong Kong as their headquarters, this helps them to set up many servers in Asian countries. This means that when in China, you’ll always have servers nearby.
However, don’t expect this to last forever. With mainland China pressing Hong Hong with national security legislation, the ability to bypass The Great Firewall of China could soon be a thing of the past. It’s not clear how it will affect this provider, so follow all future updates.
The PureVPN Support’s page on their website is divided into five main categories:
That’s a nice feature to have to help your potential customers find the answers to the questions they may have about the product, its setup, etc. If the answer is not there, you can use a chat bar at the bottom of the page.
Once you purchase one of their plans and face some issues, you can use these Support options:
- Nicely designed and very informative knowledge base
- Support ticketing system
- 24/7 Live chat support
I have to admit that the PureVPN 24/7 live chat support is speedy. When I inquired about the FBI case and their no logs policy, I got instant replies and helpful assistance with relevant links.
You can quickly initiate a chat by opening the support chat window in the bottom right corner of your browser page. And, you can chat right away.
Nevertheless, lots of unsatisfied PureVPN customers have left comments all over the internet about clunky support. There have been lots of issues regarding the 7-day money-back guarantee, losing connections, not being able to connect to servers, and the like.
The complaints on the internet are usually unrelated to the response speed because the support team is quite quick. However, you may get automated messages with related links to the PureVPN FAQ pages, which may not help you sort out your problem.
How much does PureVPN cost?
One of the standout benefits of subscribing to PureVPN is that it supports the use of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and dozens of anonymous payment options when receiving payments. This is great if you intend to stay incognito at every given stage of your dealings with the VPN provider and remain untraceable.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, PureVPN has raised the number of simultaneous connections from 5 to 10. What’s more, premium users get to gift 12 monthly accounts.
Finally, there’s a new 7-day trial for $0.99 that includes all premium features. You can cancel it anytime, and if you don’t – you’ll be subscribed to the annual plan with 47% off.
Apart from the 1-month plan, PureVPN prices are highly affordable. Here’s how all three offers look like:
- 1-month plan – $10.95
- 6-month plan – $8.33/month
- 12-month plan (after the 7-day trial) – $5.82/month
Opting for one of these plans would provide you with enterprise-grade encryption, multi-login (ten devices at the same time), 2000+ secure servers in 140+ countries, as well as 24/7 customer support.
What I like about their pricing plans is that each of them comes with a 31-day money-back guarantee. You can refund PureVPN purchase after using it for almost a month, with no strings attached.
What we don’t like is the short payment options list – it’s either a credit card or PayPal.
Should you get PureVPN?
PureVPN now is a secure VPN service with a confirmed no-logs policy. The service is on the same level as the other market leaders.
To sum up, if you mainly need to spoof your IP address and location to access geo-blocked web content, you will be satisfied with PureVPN and its amazingly low pricing.
Does PureVPN Have an AdBlocker?
Yes, if you toggle on the Content Filter feature while using PureVPN ads will be blocked before they’re even loaded. This will work with any browser that you may be using, including Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Edge, or Opera.
Does PureVPN Have a Free Version?
PureVPN doesn’t have a free version. However, it offers a 7-day trial that costs only 0.99 USD. This should be plenty of time to decide if the service is worth a full subscription price. Most importantly, you can cancel at any time and get your dollar back.
Does PureVPN offer anonymous payment methods?
One of the standout benefits of subscribing to PureVPN is that it supports the use of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and dozens of anonymous payment options when receiving payments. This is great if you intend to stay anonymous at every given stage of your dealings with the VPN provider and remain untraceable.
Is PureVPN legal?
VPNs are built with privacy in mind. Some countries restrict usage of VPN because users can bypass certain laws put in place to control the public discourse. This means that VPNs are illegal in following countries: North Korea, Russia, China, Turkmenistan, Oman, Iraq, Iran, Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Turkey. Always be extra cautious if using VPN software there.