PureVPN is very fast and kind of shady. What is it good for? We’ll try to answer that and more.
Before we start to take PureVPN apart and judge them for seemingly betraying their heavily promoted no-logs policy, we’ll take a deep breath and have a look at the big picture.
If it weren’t for the scandals and signs of negligence, we’d have no qualms putting it on our Top 10. PureVPN is very fast, has plenty of servers, good comfort features, security features, and doesn’t come close to breaking the bank.
Unfortunately for us and them, all the good things are pushed to the side due to PureVPN in the past sharing data on their users with law enforcement and leaky software.
But before we share our final verdict, let’s see what exactly makes this decade-old VPN provider so controversial.
Security and privacy
First, let’s see what PureVPN does well security-wise:
- Practically impenetrable AES-256 encryption
- OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2 protocols
- Split Tunneling: a great feature that lets you choose which apps should connect to the internet through the VPN and which can go directly through the ISP.
- 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.
As you can see, our PureVPN review does find quite a few upsides to look out for. And then comes the cold shower.
Does PureVPN log your data?
Short answer: no.
In the past, there have been several serious issues with PureVPN’s attitude towards privacy. Let’s take a look at them.
Officially, PureVPN is based in Hong Kong and operates under the name of GZ Systems Limited. After a bit of digging, however, you’ll find that a Pakistani company called Gaditek boasts PureVPN as part of their portfolio:
We discussed this in our major research on the hidden owners of popular VPN products. Gaditek is kind of shady. As we show in our research, 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.
What’s even more concerning, though, is the rather controversial FBI case from Fall 2017. When performing their investigation, the FBI contacted PureVPN about a US-based cyberstalker, who was using this VPN service to stalk on a former roommate, her family, and friends.
Contrary to their advertised no-logs policy, however, PureVPN retrieved the theoretically non-existent logs. These logs helped to determine the suspect had accessed his Gmail and another email account from the same IP address. The service was also able to say that the same user had accessed the VPN from two different IP addresses – the suspect’s home and place of work.
The FBI apprehended the cyberstalker.
However, times have changed. 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.”
Now that’s what we call progress.
Does it leak?
PureVPN had been found to leak IPv4, IPv6, and DNS requests even with all the necessary security settings enabled.
This is probably the worst that can happen to you, no-logs policy or not. This means that your IP address, your browsing history as well as your location can be traced right back to you. With that said, the basic tests we ran showed no leaks of any kind, so it’s unclear whether the leaks are no longer an issue or triggered by unorthodox circumstances.
What else can be as catastrophic as leaks while using PureVPN to protect your privacy? A faulty kill switch. Unfortunately, as we have found, your traffic will not always be blocked the moment your VPN connection drops.
This faulty kill switch may reveal your IP address, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) as well as your location. The problem is that if you stay online, you will be automatically connected to the internet via your ISP, which means total disclosure. Then again, a faulty kill switch is better than no kill switch.
Speed and performance
Our PureVPN tests reveal good speeds that are comparable or even better than those offered by market leaders.
PureVPN boasts a server network of 2000+ servers with 300,000+ IP addresses in 180+ locations across 140+ countries (virtual and real locations), which is quite an impressive number.
While not in the ballpark of NordVPN or TorGuard, it’s still a very respectable server fleet. Which might be the reason for the very good speeds we’ve experienced during our tests.
Read more about PureVPN server list
Speed test results
Our base connection speed was around 300 Mbps download/upload at the moment of testing. Here are the speeds after we connected to PureVPN servers:
- Download: 91 Mbps (30% of baseline)
- Upload: 49 Mbps (16% of baseline)
- Download: 104 Mbps (34% of baseline)
- Upload: 10 Mbps (3% of baseline)
- Download: 87 Mbps (29% of baseline)
- Upload: 4 Mbps (1% of baseline)
As you can see, the speeds are great and the drop-off percentages are reasonable.
While we’ve certainly seen worse-performing VPN services, PureVPN hasn’t convinced us that they’re the fastest on the market. 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.
Ease of use and multi-platform support
The PureVPN download page promotes a wide variety compatible platforms:
- Android TV & Amazon Firestick
- Raspberry Pi
- Xbox One & PlayStation
- Browser add-ons for Chrome and Firefox
The installation of the client is quite straightforward: nothing fancy, nothing unusual.
Before we go into the PureVPN interface, we just need to tell you that this is probably the least professional-looking VPN application we’ve seen. If this app was a person, you wouldn’t give it the time of day.
To be frank, this screen may be a bit confusing. Because, what if 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.
You may also see some advertising at the top of the Dashboard page, which can be annoying and distracting.
If you want to change any other settings and preferences, got to the Preferences icon, which has a number of useful submenu options.
Apart from the Dashboard, you can also choose the Ozone and Gravity features from the main menu in the left panel. Ozone is an advanced firewall that can block malware hiding on your system from accessing the internet. It will also filter out all kinds of content that you don’t want to see when browsing or searching the web. Gravity is an ad-blocker and a safe search feature.
Although the PureVPN interface may not be the most trendy regarding design or ease of use, it certainly has a lot of options to play around with.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
PureVPN claims that you can use it with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Kodi as well. Well, we gave the whole thing a shot for this PureVPN review and succeeded:
We could access the Netflix US library!
However, if you’re looking for a reliable and solid service for streaming TV shows not only on Netflix but on multiple streaming platforms, we would advise you to look further: we were not able to unblock the BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Amazon Prime using PureVPN.
P2P and torrenting
The best security and privacy you can get is using a VPN for P2P file sharing and torrenting. But is it a good idea to use PureVPN for torrenting?
If you want the short answer, we’d say no.
Tests for this PureVPN review went rather badly. For example, we found that it permits torrenting only on some specific servers located in countries like Kenya and Kazakhstan. You’re not allowed to use any of the main locations, such as the US, the UK, Canada, and others where torrenting is illegal.
Another issue is that the fastest and most secure VPN protocol for P2P file sharing is OpenVPN. However, this VPN provider may not be the most reliable when it comes to OpenVPN.
All in all, we must say that PureVPN is not your best choice for torrenting. We recommend that you do some more digging to find the most secure VPN service to use with your BitTorrent client.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Theoretically, PureVPN should work well both in China and other censorship-heavy countries like Iran, Russia, and Turkey. It has a good variety of tunneling protocols and lots of server locations spread around Asia in general and China in particular.
There’s one caveat, however: the faulty kill switch we mentioned earlier.
Until PureVPN fixes its kill switch feature, we can’t recommend using it in any heavily restricted state.
Unfortunately, PureVPN’s customer support leaves a lot to be desired. We don’t doubt, though, that PureVPN is working hard in the background on this issue.
First, let’s see the options you’re given when you visit the Support Center.
- Nicely designed and very informative knowledge base
- Support ticketing system
- Live chat support
The PureVPN live chat support is really fast. When we enquired about the FBI case and their no logs policy, we got instant replies and helpful support with relating links.
You can easily initiate a chat by opening the support chat window in the bottom right corner of your browser page. And, you can chat away right away. Mind you, these support agents may not be technically at the top so it’s possible that your particular issue will not be tackled in the end.
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 are usually not about the response speed because the support team is quite quick. However, the usefulness of the information is doubtful. You may simply get automated messages with related links to the PureVPN FAQ pages, which may not help you sort out your problem.
Here are the PureVPN pricing plans you can choose from:
- 1-month plan: $10.95 per month
- 1-year plan: $4.08 per month
- 2-year plan: $2.49 per month
- 5-year special plan: $119 ($1.98 per month)
Apart from the 1-month plan, PureVPN offers very low prices for its services. No wonder why many reviewers consider this provider as one of the best values out there. If we compare these prices with premium VPN services, we must say that PureVPN wins this battle. Its 2-year and 5-year plans set the lowest prices for our top 10 best VPNs.
Also, we have to give kudos to PureVPN for the huge amount of available payment methods, including plenty of anonymous ways to pay for your subscription:
While a free PureVPN version is not available, you can try it for 3 days by creating a trial account for $2.5.
If you want to use it for free, go for the 31-day no-hassle money-back guarantee. We suggest though that you read the PureVPN Refund Policy carefully to be on the safe side.
So, make sure you know what you sign up for.
It’s true that PureVPN made a serious mistake by promoting itself as a no-logs policy flag-bearer and seemingly betrayed its customers in the past, which may be an issue for those users who want absolute online security and privacy. Luckily, they’ve really improved on that and have a now-confirmed no-logs policy.
Nonetheless, we would advise users to look for a premium VPN service that offers multi-hops and other security features for a higher level of anonymity.
However, if you simply need to spoof your IP address and location to access geo-blocked web content, you may well be satisfied with PureVPN and its amazingly low pricing.
Let us learn from your experience
Have you read our PureVPN review and disagree with our opinion? What are your impressions?
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