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Works on a variety of devices
Torrenting and most streaming services supported
Both unlimited server switching and bandwidth
Dedicated connection modes
Allows completely anonymous payments
Difficult past issues to overcome
Speeds can be extremely slow
Support is lackluster at best
Refund policy limitations
No refund for cryptocurrency payments
PureVPN is one of the oldest VPNs available, and has the history to prove it, not all of it great. However, if you can overlook the troubled past of data gathering, its current offerings are sufficient for most VPN needs and it’s easy enough for beginners to use.
PureVPN was founded in 2006, but launched in 2007 in Hong Kong, away from the data retention laws that affect the rest of China. That makes this, jurisdictionally, a great VPN location for privacy. However, in 2017, PureVPN ran aground of privacy laws and despite claiming to retain no customer logs, was involved in a legal case in which a man was convicted of stalking based on data gathered from PureVPN logs. Since then, PureVPN has changed its policies and the data collected.
Add this to the military-grade security PureVPN employs, a relatively easy to use interface, and successful circumvention of streaming blocks, and PureVPN today is a service that some users will find reliable and easy to use.
When you open PureVPN the first time, it can be a little confusing to get it going. Sure, there’s a simple one-click automatic connection option that will immediately throw you into the Connection Modes interface that links you to a server optimized for what you want to accomplish. But if you’re concerned with connecting through a certain country or city, that can be a little harder to find.
The Connection Modes are a feature that other VPNs don’t have. Users choose from one of five options — Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File-Sharing, or Dedicated IP — and their connection is automatically optimized for that specific function. The downfall to this is that unless you dig around, you may not realize that more than just a server location is changed according to what you want to do. For example, if you connect using the Stream mode, the security protocols used are decreased to reduce the amount of lag you may experience while streaming.
Users that are interested in more granular control over these features can dig down into the Settings to create defaults, like consistently high security, but those are not intuitive actions with PureVPN. It takes some playing around in the interface to learn what you can and cannot do versus what is done automatically for you.
PureVPN also allows connection from a plethora of devices, so users that want to can use a VPN on a gaming console, smart TV, streaming device, router, or smartphone.
Like most other VPNs, the setup process is simple. You purchase the plan you’d like to use — PureVPN has no free-trial plan. Then you download the file and run it. Once it’s run, the setup wizard will walk you through a series of options, and after just a few clicks, you’re connected and ready to surf, stream, or download. Unfortunately, users interested in deeper control may need to dig around in the settings (with PureVPN disconnected) to find the settings they want to change.
PureVPN also allows connection from a plethora of devices, so users that want to can use a VPN on a gaming console, smart TV, streaming device, router, or smartphone should have no trouble getting connected.
In our test, PureVPN performed consistently in the mid-low speed range when connected to a server without one of the Connection Modes selected. However, when we selected different Connection Modes, we saw vastly different speeds depending on the mode. For example, in Streaming Mode, the connection speed is higher than Internet Freedom mode.
During our tests, we connected from the U.K., Hong Kong, the U.S., and the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Hong Kong was one of the slowest connections while the Netherlands was one of the fastest. The U.S. and the U.K. both performed at similar speeds.
PureVPN offers up to five connections for anyone using the service, however, if you find that you need more than five connections, you can set up a PureVPN virtual router to act as a hotspot for your location. This will allow you to connect up to 10 devices via the hotspot. You’ll need to run the PureVPN app as an administrator but it’s a useful way to extend the connected devices allowance if you need to.
“We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, record of the VPN IPs assigned to you, your original IPs, your connection time, the history of your browsing, the sites you visited, your outgoing traffic, the content or data you accessed, or the DNS queries you generated.”
Where PureVPN wins in the VPN marketplace is in the security department. In addition to PureVPN using a variety of security protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, UDP, and IKEv2, it also employs an AES-256 cipher for encryption with an RSA-2048 handshake and SHA-1 authentication. Then it wraps all that with additional security features to ensure your movements and activities are protected while you’re connected through PureVPN. These features include:
In the past, there also seemed to be a problem with PureVPN leaking DNS information, however, we tested extensively to determine if any DNS information was leaked from numerous servers in various Connection Modes, and not one test showed leaked information. It appears that PureVPN’s DNS leak protection is working properly to protect users from data loss.
Additionally, for users who don’t need all their internet traffic protected, PureVPN offers split-tunneling that allows you to decide what should be included in VPN traffic and what can travel along your own wireless network.
It appears that PureVPN’s DNS leak protection is working properly to protect users from data loss.
One thing that PureVPN has been vocal about is allowing torrenting on its service. Not only does PureVPN offer a Connection Mode specifically for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing, but users are not restricted to only using that connection mode when sharing files. Most PureVPN servers are enabled for torrenting, though users will encounter a few that are not. And the servers that are enabled offer substantial speeds to make the transfer of files fast and easy.
We tested streaming a variety of content services while using PureVPN. On a general connection, users are likely to encounter some difficulty with streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, switch over to the Streaming Mode and availability for these services opened up. There’s also a nice benefit to using PureVPN to stream these blocked content services — users can specify the exact service through which they want to stream. For example, there is a Netflix-specific streaming capability, as well as one for Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and several other streaming services.
The Streaming Mode connection also optimizes speeds to reduce the amount of buffering or lag that users experience. Unfortunately, this increase in performance comes at the cost of a decrease in security. If you’re in a safe location, it might not be a big deal, but for users streaming from less secure locations, this could be a concern.
Another feature that PureVPN has going for it is the cost of the service. It’s one of the lowest in the market when purchasing one-two years of service. On a monthly basis, PureVPN costs $10.95/month. However, if you purchase a longer-term plan, the price drops considerably to $3.33/month when purchased for a full year at $39.96, or $2.88/month when purchased for two full years at $69.94
Sadly, there is no free trial for PureVPN, but there is a 31-day Money-Back Guarantee. However, receiving a refund can be affected by a number of things, including the method of payment. For example, it is clearly stated that users who purchase PureVPN with cryptocurrency will not be able to get a refund, even if they change their mind within the first 31 days.
If you’re not happy with the standard pricing for PureVPN, like many other VPN services, when you visit the website and start to leave the page, a pop-up ad appears. In some cases, this add can drop the price of the service to as little as $23.88 for one year, making it $1.99/month.
Probably the biggest competitor for PureVPN is Private Internet Access (PIA), a U.S.-based VPN service. PureVPN wins against PIA when it comes to cost. With PIA’s one-year plan costing $5.99/month (when paid yearly) and the two-year plan costing $3.49/month (when paid yearly), and PIA only has a seven-day Money Back Guarantee.
PIA comes in slightly ahead of PureVPN for torrenting, since PIA has no restrictions on any of its servers against torrenting. But PureVPN has hands-down better security for torrenting and most other activities. PureVPN also offers a larger selection of devices from which users can connect, and PureVPN’s Connection Modes make it easy for users to accomplish the task at hand without putting too much thought into the connection.
If forced to choose between the two, PureVPN would likely come out on top for two reasons: First, the length of time in the industry gives PureVPN enough experience and staying power to make it worth taking a chance on, and the other reason to choose PureVPN is because it is functional for a variety of users from the most basic beginners to those who are advanced enough to want the granular controls available in PureVPN.
Still can't find what you're looking for? Check out our roundup of the best VPN service providers.
Overall, PureVPN is a solid choice for a middle of the road VPN that is serviceable to both beginners and advanced users. The security issues of the past seem to have been (mostly) addressed, and the security that’s available through PureVPN is reassuring. Add in the Connection Modes that take the guesswork out of getting what users want to accomplish done, and PureVPN will work for nearly everything you might need a VPN to do.
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