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Is it Worth Your Hard-Earned Money?
Let us start this PureVPN review by stating that it is arguably amongst the oldest VPN service providers in the world today. The company has had its fair share of controversies over the years, and many have praised them for running a solid service. So, PureVPN has received everything from the highest praises to the worst reviews from disgruntled users after it was revealed that they disclosed IP address.
Things for Hong Kong based PureVPN turned south back in 2017 with their data logging scandal. They received a lot of flack from the community and privacy advocates. However, we are hearing that the company has since then mended their ways and is asking users to give them a second chance. After all, everyone deserves a second chance which is why we did exactly that for this review. We will reveal if 2019 and onwards is the time that VPN users should make the switch to once highly unrecommended PureVPN.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
Country of Incorporation: Hong Kong
Founded date: 2006
Kill switch: Yes
Keep logs: Yes
Free trial: No
Simultaneous connected device: 5
VPN network: 2000+ servers across 140 countries
Refund policy: 31 days guaranteed
PureVPN has been around for over a decade. The company’s VPN software first showed up back in 2006, and it was rudimentary at best. Interestingly PureVPN is a sub-company, the mother company is registered as GZ Systems which is headquartered in Hong Kong.
At the time of writing this PureVPN review, it has upwards of 2000 servers dotted across the world in over 2134 server locations, meaning thousands of IP address which is pretty good when compared to other VPN services. Another interesting titbit or fact as we like to call is that unlike other VPN service providers they don’t rent servers but own them. That why users’ data and IP address are more secure, at least in theory.
While PureVPN supports all major platforms and a few obscure ones they no longer have an iOS app. Their app was apparently removed a few years back and never returned. It is disappointing for iPhone fanboys like us, but Android users are unaffected.
We like to think that we are a group of positive VPN reviewers which is why we are starting with the pros. Interestingly the service has quite a few advantages which are worth considering.
Now we all like saving money, and PureVPN, fortunately, gives us a chance to do so with its 2-year plan. The 2-year plan is considerably and comparatively cheap costing just $3.33 a month, which is 74% markdown compared to the competition.
While PureVPN has two other plans, this one happens to offer the most significant savings, and it is something we’d recommend to anyone who wants to signup for the service.
We were very impressed with the download speeds offered by PureVPN across almost every IP address we connected to. While VPNs do throttle your speed to a certain degree premium quality ones shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on overall upload and download speeds.
Suffice to say were walked away impressed with some decent speeds (something we discuss in detail below in our ‘Speed Test’ section).
Now one of the primary reasons why PureVPN openly supports torrenting is because they are based in Hong Kong (we will get into that a little later below). While other services also support torrenting, but with PureVPN the speeds are excellent, and there is no cap on how much you can download. Plus you get your pick of IP address.
Many competing VPN services have dropped support for P2P IP address aka torrenting because they could become party to a copyright infringement case. So, PureVPN is amongst a handful of services still offering IP addresses for torrenting as a feature. Plus, if torrent sites are blocked in your part of the world, PureVPN will help to unblock it with a unique IP address.
Finally, torrenting is available across many of its servers. In our experience, almost any server we connected to were torrent enabled. Considering that PureVPN owns these servers, there is no chance that the feature will disappear any time soon.
In addition to supporting all traditional computer and mobile platforms, PureVPN supports several unconventional platforms like routers, Kodi, Xbox One, Roku, Playstation, Amazon firestick, Android TV, Chrome cast, Boxee box and Raspberry Pi amongst others.
One of the most significant drawbacks associated with PureVPN is that it is blocked in China so no new IP address! If you happen to be living in China, it will not work. You will not even be able to access their site with a Chinese IP address leave alone downloading the app. Plus since there is no PlaySore in China downloading the app for Android is impossible anyway.
However, apart from it not working with an IP address it also does not work if you happen to be a resident of Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Those are at least the countries we know of where it does not work, and so they could be more IP addresses they block. It is a bummer because the competition like ExpressVPN and NordVPN both work in these countries and China.
As of this writing, PureVPN does not have an iOS app. It is sad because iOS is the most widely used mobile operating system. When chatting with customer support, we asked them why iOS support was listed on their website despite it being removed over a year ago. The answer we got was an apology followed by them mentioning that Apple was reviewing their iOS app.
So, when exactly will their app appear on the AppStore? Nobody knows, not even the company’s customer support. The previous app didn’t have good user reviews and was subsequently removed. This time perhaps they are aiming for better user reviews. But in the meanwhile, if you want to use a VPN on an iOS device then its best to go elsewhere.
PureVPN isn’t one of those services which is crammed with security privacy features. However, while it does have all the bare essentials, there are a few extras which are worth mentioning. If anything, we mention them because they may have some influence on your decision to signup for the service.
One of the best things about PureVPN VPN provider is its security privacy features in favor of internet freedom. People use VPNs because they want to connect to the internet securely and anonymously with an unknown IP address. PureVPN makes that possible with its Kill Switch, and Split Tunneling features each with its own IP address.
We are happy to report that unlike many competing VPN services in Canada, PureVPN has a working Kill Switch feature which is secure. In the past, even PureVPN’s Kill Switch didn’t work as intended, but that has since been fixed.
We tested the secure Kill Switch feature here in Canada by disconnecting via their desktop app. As soon as the connection was dropped, the WiFi disconnected. So, it works because the kill switch is supposed to cut the internet connection to ensure that all data is always transmitted securely via the VPN.
The Split Tunneling connection feature does not break any new ground because many competing VPN services already offer the feature but is another way to secure your connection. What this feature does is provide you two tunnels through which your apps connect to the internet. One of these uses regular internet while the other uses the VPN.
For instance, if you want to only encrypt your torrenting all traffic from Canada IP address it can be routed through that tunnel in Japan with a Japanese IP address, while your Google Chrome and Firefox browsers use the regular Canadian IP address etc., use the unencrypted internet. We connected to several server locations, and the feature worked precisely as advertised.
PureVPN like many of other best VPN services offer browser extensions which for now are limited to Firefox and Chrome, but it provides another way to get secure internet freedom. Downloading and installing the extensions takes a few minutes.
Now while PureVPN has numerous server locations, the browser extensions aren’t using VPN servers. Sure, they come with WebRTC leak protection, but these are proxy servers which means your data isn’t encrypted during transmission which is why we don’t advise you substitute the desktop client for the browser extension.
Now, this is one of those features we found ourselves using a lot, and we assume that many people reading this in Canada will use it too. The ping test is a feature of the software which when used from Canada gave us a good look at what to expect. As soon as you fire up the desktop version of the client, you see a little red label on the top right which reads “Run Ping Test.”
Running a ping test will reveal the server locations closest to you in our case it is Canada. The values you see for each server is the distance your data has to travel. Naturally the further the server locations from Canada (our location) you will consequently experience a slower connection. Ideally, once you run the ping test, connect to a server with the lowest ‘ms’ which means that you’ll experience the lowest latency. The good news is that after the ping test all server locations are listed based on their distance with the closest ones listed above.
PureVPN has a pretty basic pricing structure which is something we personally like. Though as someone living in Canada, we don’t like it’s high price. Despite living in Canada, the below pricing is in USD.
Now like all VPN services, PureVPN has its fair share of over 2000 server locations across the globe which is why the speed in our opinion should vary, and it does for that very reason. That said we still had to test the overall speed and performance of the VPN and compare it to competing services.
As a baseline for everyone reading this review, we are based in Toronto, Canada and use a broadband connection. Our speeds are excellent except when there is a storm that knocks down the lines.
The nearest server locations are in the UK and USA. The speeds we got were on average 20% lower than without using a VPN provider. Which means we were running at 80% percent of our average speed.
Connection to server locations further like Australia and Japan saw our speed dip to 40% percent.
While the speeds aren’t hugely impressive, they were consistent. Each time we connected, ran a speed test, disconnected and then reconnected the servers worked on the first try. The speeds we got also didn’t vary from one server to the next within the same country which is good. However, when compared to other premium tier VPN services these aren’t the best speeds out there. Though the performance is consistent.
PureVPN has over 2000 servers in 2134 server locations across the world. That puts PureVPN on par with most of the top-tier VPN service providers with multiple servers. However, the significant difference is that the company owns the servers.
Want to stream Netflix? Read on! PureVPN mentions on their website that using the service will allow users to unlock 20 services which they have listed and includes Netflix which is on par with the best VPN services. However, unlocking and streaming US Netflix does require you walk through a few steps we thought you should know for this review.
The first step is to click on the link on the left which reads “change mode.” Then you select the ‘Stream’ mode. You then choose the US server location (if you want to stream US Netflix) and cross your fingers.
During our testing for the review, only one of the servers streamed Netflix. That could be because Netflix has blocked all other servers. Though your mileage may vary, if you ask us, we wouldn’t advise that you subscribe to PureVPN to only stream Netflix. We hope that new servers can be added which allows us to stream Netflix. Though Netflix tends to actively block servers so those too could be rendered obsolete soon.
The VPN provider helped law enforcement catch a cyber stalker which is good on the one hand, but on the other, it disappointed the entire community which relied on the company’s promise never to collect or reveal personal information putting it against internet freedom. Things like an IP address are considered private information, so collecting, storing and exposing that to law enforcement defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN provider.
Though we decided to dig deeper for people reading this review and found that the company did collect usernames, payment information and email address which are required during initial signup, they also collect information about the total bandwidth that users consume.
In terms of security, like all best VPN services they offer support for various connection and encryption protocols like PPTP, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec and SSTP. By default, the service uses OpenVPN which happens to be an industry standard and a well-rounded protocol for VPNs.
In addition to all of the above, the service uses 256-bit encryption which is something we personally like. They call it Military Grade and to some extent that may be the case, but most of the best VPN services are using it.
In addition to the standard security features mentioned above, they also use what’s called Ozone, which is an antivirus program, that works by warning you if a website is sketchy and if someone is attempting to infiltrate your computer. We checked out a few known sketchy sites for the review, and it did work as advertised!
Then there is Gravity which is an Adblocker. In our experience during the review, it does work as advertised with a 90% percent accuracy.
PureVPN offers like all the best VPN services advertise 24/7 customer service via chat and email. However, we like putting these customer service claims to the test for our review, and we have done this even for the best VPN services out there. So, it is only fair we did that here too.
We got in touch with customer service via Live Chat for the review and sent a query stating that we were not happy with the service, three days into using it and wanted a refund. The customer service got back to us several hours later, i.e., via the live chat window saying that we’d have to generate a Ticket via the website. Posted below that message was a link. We click on the link, the page took three to four minutes to load (a long time!), and then an error popped up.
We then contacted customer service via live chat and mentioned the issue. To our surprise, they didn’t know about it. But said we’d had to wait a few days and check back to the page and see if it works. Because it is apparently only via that page, we can get a refund. That is indeed not good customer service.
So, our experience with customer service wasn’t great, and we suspect it will be the same for many other people.
Email support, on the other hand, was a canned response, i.e. a template. No matter what we asked the email we received back was a template with a list of general steps which didn’t even work.
If PureVPN servers want to compete with the best VPN services out there, they will have to do more than just offering secure IP addresses from across the world.
PureVPN’s offers a refund policy stating that anyone can claim a refund within 31 days if they are not happy with the service. In the past, they have been criticized for having an obscure and hard to maneuver refund policy. However here too things are not as they seem.
The company states that they process refund requests within 24-hours, but the money takes 30 days to be refunded. Plus, special plans aren’t eligible for a refund, like a 3-day or week-long trial account.
It is tough for us to openly recommend PureVPN in this review to anyone other than someone who is hellbent on using a mid-tier secure VPN service with above premium pricing. PureVPN offers nothing which is out of the ordinary other than being based in Hong Kong and owning all the VPN servers.
Most if not all the features offered by PureVPN secure servers can be found with competing services which are around 35% cheaper as a whole. Plus, PureVPN does not have that great of a reputation to begin with, not to mention deceiving advertising. They claim to have an iOS app, but there isn’t one. Also they claim no logging, but they are logging many things.
While speed is consistent and secure something we noted in this review and the wide variety of apps for just about any device you can think of is welcome, it does not overshadow the fact that they aren’t doing anything particularly groundbreaking. It is a culmination of so many drawbacks which makes it hard for us to recommend PureVPN.
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