PureVPN is a service that was founded back in 2007 by Hong Kong–based GZ Systems Ltd., and it has constantly tried to fight its way toward the big dogs in the VPN industry. It does so with a feature set that is fairly good (but nothing to write home about) and a vastly improved user experience from when we first reviewed it — and all at affordable prices.
That being said, PureVPN has yet to show up on our best VPNs list, so we take a deep dive into the service’s performance, pricing, feature set and overall user-friendliness to show you why. Spoiler: the VPN is good overall, but the speeds are inconsistent and its streaming performance is disappointing.
- PureVPN focuses on being affordable and easy to use, but the VPN provider still has a long way to go before we can recommend it.
- The service has an app for almost any device, plus it is very straightforward to set up and use, with a knowledgebase to answer any questions.
- We wouldn’t recommend PureVPN for streaming, as its performance is bad due to the speed inconsistencies.
- The VPN’s customer support was bad at answering even the most basic of questions.
If you factor in the price — which is a lot more affordable than our current go-to, ExpressVPN — PureVPN isn’t a bad value, but you still need to deal with inconsistent speeds. If that sounds like something you could do, by all means head to its website and pick out the plan that works for you best.
09/24/2021 Facts checked
Cloudwards completed a freshPureVPN review. Since our previous review, PureVPN has completely redesigned their app UI and now accepts cryptocurrency payments.
Yes, PureVPN has very reasonable prices and solid features, like a kill switch, split tunneling and great app availability overall, so it is a good choice for some people.
PureVPN is owned by GZ Systems Ltd., which is a Chinese company with headquarters in Hong Kong.
No, it is not. NordVPN performs much better in terms of security, speeds and streaming performance, and is only slightly more expensive.
As an overall VPN solution, ExpressVPN is much faster and has a better feature set, making it the better choice. However, it is much more expensive.
Alternatives for PureVPN
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, AliPay, UnionPay, Webmoney, Monero
- : Unlimited
- : PayPal, Credit card, PayNearMe, Bank/Wire Transfer
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, Cash, Bank Transfer, Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Swish
- : 5
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Good price compared to the competition
- Built-in speed test
- Apps available for almost any device
- Desktop app is easy to use
- Accepts cryptocurrency payments
- Customer support contact within the app
- All plans have a 31-day money-back guarantee
- Inconsistent streaming performance & speeds
- DDoS protection is a paid add-on
- Live customer support is shockingly bad
- Windows app crashed twice during testing
Kicking things off with the feature set, PureVPN has covered most of the necessities, but there is one big compromise — speed.
You get a kill switch that shuts off your internet connection when your VPN connection drops (a pretty standard feature). You also get a built-in speed test that shows your download and upload speeds in real time. In addition to this, you can also see the estimated latency to every available server, something that should help you decide which one to connect to.
PureVPN also lets you get a dedicated IP address, port forwarding and DDoS protection, but with additional monthly fees. Pricing for each of these additions varies depending on which plan you go for, and they can significantly impact the final pricing.
The dedicated IP address gives you your own IP address that you don’t share with anyone else. This makes it impossible for a third party to find out that you’re using a VPN.
Port forwarding lets you enable access to your device for things like hosting while keeping your connection secure. DDoS protection ensures that your connection is secure from a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyberattack.
DDoS protection is the most expensive add-on, and quite frankly it’s something that should be included as part of the subscription, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN do. These services advertise it as an option best suited for gamers and online businesses, but the truth is, everyone can benefit from it and it should be included at no extra cost.
There is also a split tunneling feature that enables you to decide which apps and connections will be routed through the VPN and which ones will use your regular connection. We like the ease of use PureVPN offers — the functionality is accessible from the settings menu, and you can add any apps you want to use with it.
PureVPN Features Overview
|Payment methods||PayPal, Credit card, Google Pay|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available||7 days|
|Worldwide server amount||6500|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Edge|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|VPN protocols available||IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
As far as pricing goes, PureVPN is no different than most VPN providers. You get a monthly plan that is very obviously overpriced in an attempt to push you toward a longer commitment. If you do want to subscribe for a longer period of time, though, that price drops dramatically.
The monthly plan comes in at $10.95 per month, which is dangerously close to ExpressVPN’s prices, which costs $12.95 monthly and performs much better in almost every possible way (as you can read in our PureVPN vs ExpressVPN piece).
The yearly and the two-year plan have prices at $3.74 per month and $2.91, respectively, so they’re significantly more affordable than the monthly plan. If you do want to go for PureVPN, these are the plans you should be looking at.
However, you should note that when your annual plan renews, the pricing goes up to $5.83 per month. Additionally, the two-year plan renews at $69.95 per year after the first 24 months — double the price.
This is all fine print on the pricing page, and we think PureVPN should be more up front with users about its long-term pricing. Other VPN services have deals like this that expire after the first year or two, but they don’t market them as normal pricing.
Each of the plans comes with a 31-day money-back guarantee, so if you change your mind, you can get your money back within that period. The Android app offered us a seven-day free trial when we first logged in, as most VPNs do. This is a mobile-only offer, but it is a nice addition nonetheless.
Remember those extra features we mentioned, like a dedicated IP address, port forwarding and DDoS protection? The monthly pricing for each varies depending on the length of your subscription.
They start at $2.99 per month for a dedicated IP, $0.99 per month for port forwarding, and $3.99 per month for DDoS protection. You can combine a dedicated IP with port forwarding for $3.49 per month. These prices remain the same with a yearly plan. Go for a two-year plan, though, and they are all cut down by half, which makes them a better value.
|Feature:||Monthly plan||Yearly plan||Two-year plan|
|Dedicated IP address||$2.99||$2.99 ($35.88 billed yearly)||$1.50 ($35.88 billed every two years)|
|Port forwarding||$0.99||$0.99 ($11.88 billed yearly)||$0.50 ($11.88 billed every two years)|
|DDoS protection||$3.99||$3.99 ($47.88 billed yearly)||$2.00 ($47.88 billed every two years)|
|Dedicated IP address & port forwarding||$3.49||$3.49 (41.88 billed yearly)||$1.75 ($41.88 billed every two years)|
PureVPN Referral Program
An interesting feature is PureVPN’s referral program. For example, when you purchase PureVPN and subscribe for a month, you can invite up to 24 users for a free 30-day trial, giving them an opportunity to try out the VPN for a month.
It’s a bit superfluous, given that PureVPN’s 31-day money back guarantee is available to everyone, but it’s a nice bonus nonetheless.
Signing up for PureVPN is fairly straightforward. Just head to its website and choose which plan you want to get. You’ll then be taken to a payment screen where you choose a payment method. Once your transaction is complete, PureVPN will ask you what you want to do with the service and recommend an app to download.
For example, if you pick “stream,” PureVPN will recommend a browser extension. On the other hand, if you pick “download,” the VPN service will point you toward the Windows app.
PureVPN Desktop App
Installing the desktop client is just like installing any other piece of software. Once you agree to PureVPN’s terms and agreements, the VPN will also ask you if you want to install a browser extension.
Once you’re done with the install wizard, all that’s left for you to do is log in with the credentials you chose when you signed up.
The app itself is very minimalistic, with the VPN connection location and IP address at the top and a speed test at the bottom. You can click the “connection details” button if you want to see things like which protocol is being used, whether or not the kill switch and split tunneling are enabled, and what kind of IP address you have (shared or dedicated).
The interface has four buttons in the top-left corner, starting with a home button. Following that is a location picker, which adds a helpful latency indicator for all of the servers. There’s also a support center that allows you to submit a ticket or contact PureVPN’s live chat from within the app. The fourth button allows you to use the referral program we mentioned previously.
The settings tab is in the bottom-left corner, and it is organized into three menus. The first one, “general,” features some basic settings, like enabling or disabling the kill switch. The “protocol” tab lets you choose the VPN protocol (or set it to automatic) and the “split tunneling” tab lets you configure which apps it applies to.
One thing we should mention is that, during testing, PureVPN’s Windows app crashed twice. We aren’t sure why this happened, but it’s concerning that the app crashed under regular use.
PureVPN Android App & iOS App
We also gave PureVPN’s mobile app a spin, and it was surprisingly simple to use. Using the app is very simple, with the functionality being almost identical to the Windows app, which is great. You also get quick access to the PureVPN customer support here, as well as the option to configure things like protocol and split tunneling.
However, one major downside with the Android app is that you can’t always see the server location you’re connected to — just the download and upload speeds. This happened a couple of times, but at other times it was fine, so we can only assume it was a bug in the app.
PureVPN claims to have VPN servers in over 140 countries, for a total of over 6,500 servers in 180 locations. Looking at PureVPN’s list of servers, they are pretty well spread out, covering most of the world’s key areas, and including even some less popular options like Malaysia, Algeria and Bahrain.
Two notable exclusions from this list are China and Venezuela, so if you need a solution that has VPN servers in those locations, you might want to check out our pieces on the best VPN for China and best VPN for Venezuela for alternatives.
PureVPN Server List
One thing we like is that the support article shows you, in a very organized way, which types of VPN protocol each location uses, and whether it is currently available or down.
For example, you can see that you have PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, IPsec, TCP and UDP servers in the USA and the United Kingdom, but the PureVPN servers in Belgium only include IKEv2, IPsec, TCP and UDP.
Speed is arguably PureVPN’s biggest downside, and it’s the main reason we can’t recommend the service. We used Ookla’s Speedtest to test the connection from our location in Ohrid, North Macedonia. We used a connection with a download speed of 146 Mbps and an upload speed of 143 Mbps to connect to various locations across the globe.
We also tested the streaming performance by trying to watch content on both Netflix and BBC iPlayer when connected to various PureVPN servers — the results of the speed tests are below.
PureVPN Speed Test Results
|New York, USA|
Looking at the speed test results, you will notice two things. First, the download speeds seem very consistent across locations (save for Japan). Second, the upload speeds are consistently horrible, also regardless of the location.
When testing PureVPN, speeds fluctuated quite a bit, often dropping to single digits during downloads. Yes, the speed tests’ end results were good, but this is not the kind of connection you want for things like streaming.
An outlier in the group (and not in a good way) was PureVPN’s server in Tokyo, Japan. The download speeds were so bad they made us think we’re doing something wrong. We repeated the test a couple of times, and consistently got the same disastrous results, which indicates poor performance over long distances.
That’s not the worst part, either — just look at the upload speeds. While they could’ve been worse, they took a massive hit when compared to the upload speeds we got with an unprotected connection. This makes PureVPN pretty much unusable in situations that require a good upload speed, like video conferencing or uploading large files.
Streaming performance is very inconsistent with PureVPN, because not all of their servers allow you to enjoy local Netflix content.
For example, connecting to the New York server instantly gives you a proxy error, which means Netflix knows you’re using a VPN. Fortunately, other U.S. servers, like the one in Ashburn, Virginia, work just fine. BBC’s iPlayer worked a bit better, and we were able to access it while connected to both the London and the Manchester server, which is great
Even if you manage to unblock Netflix or iPlayer using Pure VPN, you’re still not in the clear. The constant dips in download speeds mean that you’ll see that buffering screen way too often, making for a subpar experience. It also gets worse when you try to watch at higher resolutions.
Does PureVPN Unblock Netflix and Other Streaming Services?
When it comes to streaming services, PureVPN allowed us to bypass geo-restrictions for both Netflix and BBC’s iPlayer, although not on every one of its servers. That’s also where the good stuff ends, because the speeds we got were too underwhelming to stream content at any reasonable quality.
Regardless of which location we connected to — whether it was close to home in North Macedonia or halfway across the world — the download speeds varied greatly. One moment we had blazing fast speeds, and the next one we struggled to do a Google search. Upload speeds were not inconsistent (they were just bad), at only 10 to 15 percent of the speeds we got without a VPN, regardless of location.
While PureVPN supports streaming, we still wouldn’t recommend it as your go-to solution for Netflix. It’s just too inconsistent to be a good choice, and the same thing applies to other streaming services like BBC’s iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
PureVPN With Kodi
PureVPN is an option if you want to change your location when using Kodi, and it’s pretty simple to set up. You can install the VPN service on any device you’ve got set up with Kodi, and just turn it on before you start watching content. There is a support article on the PureVPN website that shows you how to do this, step by step.
This is one of the aspects where PureVPN performed admirably on our tests. The VPN client protects your internet connection with AES-256 encryption as the default setting, which is currently the gold standard from a security standpoint. You can find out more in our piece on encryption, but this is one thing you don’t need to worry about.
When it comes to VPN protocols, PureVPN supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2 and IPsec, but as you can see from the list of servers, not every VPN server supports every protocol. Within the app, the default setting allows the VPN to choose the most appropriate protocol, and it does a solid job. If you’d rather pick one yourself, you can do that from the settings menu.
As most VPN providers include a kill switch as a standard feature, PureVPN is hardly unique in this respect. It’s still worth mentioning, however, especially because you can disable it from the settings if you don’t think you’ll use it (though you generally don’t want to do that).
We took the liberty of testing our connection for DNS leaks, IP leaks and WebRTC leaks, and PureVPN passed with flying colors. Overall, security is very good, and if you use a dedicated IP address, it’s even a viable option for locations like Hong Kong, where your internet connection is more than likely to be monitored.
With privacy being one of the main reasons people use VPN services in the first place, it is also a big part of our PureVPN review. That being said, PureVPN is somewhat of a mixed bag in this regard.
The PureVPN No-Logs Scandal
In order to shift the public opinion in the right direction, PureVPN sought out Altius IT for an independent audit. The auditors found no evidence of data collection, a fact that was drilled into our heads by a PureVPN staff member who threatened us with legal action for how we previously described this incident.
Although we’re not impressed by the threats, we’re willing to let bygones be bygones. The audit showed that no significant logs were kept, so PureVPN gets a pass this time around.
PureVPN’s knowledgebase has come a long way since we last reviewed the service, but its live customer support is just bad.
The customer service section on the PureVPN website has everything you need to set up the virtual private network, and keep it running with all the functionality you need. There are setup guides, troubleshooting guides, FAQs — you name it. Everything is easy to understand, even if you aren’t a tech-savvy person.
Next up, we contacted the live chat customer service team, which you can do by clicking the button in the bottom-right corner on their website. We posed a simple question to PureVPN’s customer support, asking what the default VPN protocol and encryption were for the VPN clients. The representative answered that IKEv (not IKEv2) was the default.
To make matters worse, when we asked for clarification, not only did they ask us to elaborate, but they also claimed that the default encryption setting was “SHAH 1.” We can only assume that they were referring to SHA-1, which isn’t an encryption protocol at all. They did get it right the fourth time around, which is honestly disappointing.
The PureVPN app also offers the option to open a ticket, but with live customer support available, it’s not something people usually resort to.
If you only need the knowledgebase, we’re confident that you will find anything you’re looking for, explained in great detail and in a way that anyone could understand. On the other hand, if you need their live support, you’re in for a fun ride.
To finalize our PureVPN review, the service is something we really can’t recommend, and that hasn’t changed from the first time we reviewed it. The pricing is very good, and there’s a great feature set, but the constant drops in connection speed result in middling performance.
Do you have any intentions to subscribe to PureVPN and try it out for yourself? Are the issues we outlined above things you could look past? Let us know in the comments and, as always, thank you for reading.