ExpressVPN vs PureVPN

More and more people are turning to VPNs to keep themselves and their data safe while browsing the web. However, VPN websites tend to be heavy on technical terms and light on explanations. As such, it’s a safe bet that some people fail to understand how their chosen service works. This could mean that you’re missing out on features that would be helpful or overestimating the protection that the default security settings provide.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find a complete breakdown of every feature ExpressVPN and PureVPN offer, as well as a jargon-free explanation of what this means for you. This should help give you the understanding required to make an informed decision, and if you decide not to go with either of these services, you’ll be better prepared to compare rival VPNs on your own in the future.

Highlights

ExpressVPN

  • Consistently high speeds
  • Very strong on security and privacy
  • Unblocks all kinds of geo-restricted services from abroad
  • Works in China

PureVPN

  • Very attractive price point
  • Offers more servers than most major VPN providers
  • Solid security and privacy features
  • Fast enough for HD live streaming

ExpressVPN vs PureVPN pricing

ExpressVPNPureVPN
Subscription periodsOne monthOne month
Six monthsOne year
One yearTwo years
Special offerSave 35 percent with the ExpressVPN 12 month plan.Get 82 percent off and pay just 1.99 a month with PureVPN's two year subscription.
Highest price per month$12.95$10.95
Lowest price per month$8.32$1.99
One-year price$99.95$38.95
Money-back guarantee30 days31 days

ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive services on the market for monthly subscribers. PureVPN is $2 cheaper at $10.95 USD per month, but really, neither provider actually expects you to pay this. That’s because they each offer steep discounts for users who are willing to commit to a longer subscription upfront.

ExpressVPN, for instance, provides 12 months of coverage for $99.95, effectively reducing its price by 35% when compared to what you’d pay on a rolling monthly plan. This works out at just $8.32 per month.

An annual PureVPN subscription costs $38.95 (rising to $53.95 after the first year). However, if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get two years of coverage (plus an extra three months free) for $53.95. That’s an 82% discount and brings your average monthly cost down to just $1.99.

ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, while PureVPN’s lasts for 31 days. This means that whichever service you choose, you’ll be able to try it out and simply claim a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. PureVPN also offers a seven-day trial account for $0.99, but you’ll have to be careful since this automatically bills you for a full year of coverage if you don’t cancel it in time.

Best Deal for ExpressVPN: Save 35 percent and pay $8.32 a month ($99.95 total) with an ExpressVPN 12 month subscription.

Best Deal for PureVPN: Get two years and an additional three months free with PureVPN for $53.95, an 82 percent saving ($1.99 a month).

ExpressVPN vs PureVPN features

ExpressVPNPureVPN
Simultaneous connections510
Operating system appsWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TVWindows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV
Manual install devicesSome routers, set-top boxesLinux, routers, set-top boxes
Split tunnelingYes (desktop apps only)Yes (Android)
Free extrasMedia Streamer Smart DNS, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and EdgeOfficial Kodi addon, ad-blocker, malware-scanner, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge

Regardless of whether you pick ExpressVPN or PureVPN, you’ll have access to a wide range of apps. There’s even a command line-based program for Linux systems, which is impressive since you’ll often have to rely on the OpenVPN manager for configuring VPN connections. ExpressVPN allows five simultaneous connections per account, although PureVPN lets you connect ten devices. You can follow manual setup instructions to install either service on your router, which lets you sidestep the connection limit and secure every device on the network.

Both services provide browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, although ExpressVPN’s work slightly differently. They essentially let you control the app without leaving the browser. In contrast, PureVPN’s extensions work more like a proxy and only protect your browser traffic. ExpressVPN’s mobile app also lets you connect automatically whenever you use an unsecured public wifi hotspot.

ExpressVPN and PureVPN both allow you to let certain apps pass data through the VPN without encrypting it. This feature is known as split tunneling, and it’s helpful in all kinds of situations. For instance, you can use it to unblock streaming services from back home while traveling without preventing yourself from accessing local services at the same time.

Streaming and unblocking

No valueExpressVPNPureVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.comPureVPN.com
Unblocks Netflix (Regions Tested)12/28US, UK, Germany, Hong Kong, South Africa
Unblocks Sky Go
Unblocks Prime Video
Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Unblocks ABC
Unblocks CBS
Unblocks NBC
Unblocks ITV
Unblocks Channel 4
Unblocks Hulu
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.14
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months

When it comes down to sheer unblocking ability, ExpressVPN comes out on top. It allows you to access plenty of major streaming services from abroad and even works with the notoriously tricky Amazon Prime Video. Further, ExpressVPN can access more than 10 regional Netflix libraries, which is very impressive given that most of its rivals simply settle for accessing the American and British catalogs.

To its credit, PureVPN performs admirably. It works with a good range of streaming platforms, including BBC iPlayer, which ExpressVPN has been struggling with lately. Additionally, PureVPN users can access multiple Netflix libraries, including Netflix Japan, which is in high demand. One of the best things about this VPN is it tells you exactly which servers can unblock a particular service, so you don’t have to rely on trial and error.

Which of these VPNs work in China?

Huge swathes of the internet are inaccessible in China because of the country’s draconian censorship laws. The tools used to restrict access are known collectively as the Great Firewall, and these are constantly being improved and upgraded. At the time of writing, most VPNs are blocked outright and can’t be relied on while in China. Happily, ExpressVPN and PureVPN both work perfectly well and will allow you to access the wider internet from the mainland. Indeed, ExpressVPN makes our list of the best VPNs for China.

Setup and interface

ExpressVPNPureVPN
Automatic setup wizardWindows, MacOS, Android, iOSWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS
Main location selectionList-basedList-based
Extra settings pagesYesYes
Mobile friendlyYesYes

Whichever service you choose, you’ll have access to a clean, user-friendly desktop app. ExpressVPN places a quick connection button front and center alongside buttons that let you connect to the last server you used or the fastest server currently available. The settings menu is separated into tabs, which helps keep things neat. The server selection page does something similar, sorting them into two lists: “Recommended” and “All Locations.”

ExpressVPN app

PureVPN takes a slightly different approach. This service asks you to select a mode based on your intended activities (streaming or file-sharing, for example) and will automatically connect you to a suitable server. Alternatively, you can manually select a server from the main page. The server list is sorted by latency, meaning the fastest ones are always at the top. Users can also click a button to see servers specifically optimized for unblocking streaming sites. The settings menu feels a little cluttered, but really, this is a very minor complaint.

PureVPN app

ExpressVPN’s mobile app is almost identical to the desktop one. The only real difference is that a couple of security features (IPv6 leak protection and the option to use ExpressVPN’s DNS servers) are missing. However, it also offers automatic wifi protection, a feature that isn’t present in desktop versions. Additionally, the kill switch remains, which means you don’t have to manually configure one in your phone’s settings.

ExpressVPN mobile app

On mobile devices, PureVPN looks a little different. It has the ubiquitous quick connection button on the main page, but the server list has shifted to its own screen. Users can still switch modes as needed, although the dedicated IP address mode is missing. Most of the functionality remains intact, except you’re limited to IKEv2 or OpenVPN connections (more on these later).

PureVPN mobile app

Servers and performance

ExpressVPNPureVPN
Server countries9478
Total number of servers3,000+6,500+

Usually, you’ll find that a VPN covers a few dozen countries. ExpressVPN and PureVPN, however, aren’t satisfied with this. Instead, they go further, providing access to servers in a far higher number of locations. PureVPN has an advantage in terms of server numbers with more than 6,500 compared to the 3,000+ of ExpressVPN. However, ExpressVPN covers more countries (94 to PureVPN’s 78).

ExpressVPN has a significant speed advantage, however. Its average download speed is 475 Mbps, which is fast enough to stream 4K video on multiple devices simultaneously. In contrast, PureVPN averages around 98 Mbps — this is still fast enough for most purposes, but you could start to see issues if you share your internet network with lots of other people.

Here’s a full list of every country where these VPNs have servers:

ExpressVPNPureVPN
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Angola
Argentina
Armenia
Aruba
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Estonia
Egypt
El Salvador
Ethiopia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jersey
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Montserrat
Myanmar
Netherlands
Nepal
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saint Lucia
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Syria
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Ukraine
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yemen

Security

ExpressVPNPureVPN
VPN protocolsLightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
OpenVPN data encryptionAES-256AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096RSA-2048
Cloaking technologyYesYes
App securityKill switchKill switch
DNS statusPrivate DNSPrivate DNS

ExpressVPN and PureVPN both let you connect via various up-to-date VPN protocols. This includes OpenVPN and IKEv2. However, while PureVPN also supports WireGuard (one of the fastest VPN protocols available today), ExpressVPN has developed its own called Lightway. This security-focused protocol also boasts particularly high speeds.

Both VPNs use effectively uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption to keep your traffic hidden. However, ExpressVPN’s RSA keys are twice as long, which should provide some extra protection against anyone attempting to break in. That said, currently, 2048-bit keys are considered secure enough. Whichever service you choose and whichever device you’re using, you’ll have access to a kill switch. This blocks you from using the internet if your connection to the VPN drops unexpectedly, preventing you from inadvertently browsing without protection.

The two VPNs also offer traffic obfuscation. This disguises your VPN traffic as regular web traffic, allowing you to navigate blocks (such as censorship restrictions in China). In the case of ExpressVPN, you don’t need to do anything to set this up — the obfuscation automatically occurs when you connect to a server.

Privacy

ExpressVPNPureVPN
HQ baseBritish Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands
Connection logsSomeNone
Activity logsNoneNone
User details for sign upEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoinBitcoin

ExpressVPN doesn’t store any personally identifiable data or traffic logs. It does store some aggregate data for statistical and diagnostic purposes. However, none of this can be used to trace your activities back to you. Further, as it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, this VPN isn’t legally required to keep any logs.

While PureVPN used to be headquartered in Hong Kong, in late 2021, it also moved to the British Virgin Islands. What’s more, not only does it not keep any activity logs, it doesn’t keep any connection logs like many other VPNs. It also has one of the clearest privacy policies of any VPN we’ve seen.

You aren’t required to provide much in the way of personal information with either VPN, only an email address. Furthermore, ExpressVPN and PureVPN both offer the option of paying in Bitcoin. If those bitcoins are mixed before payment, and you use a burner email account, you can essentially sign up anonymously for either service.

Configuration

No valueExpressVPNPureVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.comPureVPN.com
Address allocationSharedShared
Dedicated IP possible? US
UK
Canada
Australia
Germany
Singapore
Malta
DDoS protection additional fee
NAT firewall
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.14
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months

ExpressVPN and PureVPN each use shared address allocation. This means you’ll share the same IP address with everyone else connected to your server. This helps obscure your activities since everyone’s traffic is combined, making it far more difficult to tell which user accessed a given website.

Of these two, only PureVPN lets you get a dedicated IP address. For an extra $2.99 per month, users can obtain an IP address from one of seven countries (US, UK, Singapore, Malta, Germany, Australia, or Canada). Usually, it’s easy to blacklist VPN servers since so much traffic is coming from a single IP address. A dedicated IP address makes it easier to fly under the radar since only you have access.

Customer service

No valueExpressVPNPureVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.comPureVPN.com
24/7 live chat
Ticket support
Email support
Average email response time49 mins45 minutes
Searchable knowledge base
Phone support
Video guides
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.14
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months

Both ExpressVPN and PureVPN make it easy to get help when you need it. They each have a searchable knowledge base, a 24/7 live chat help desk, and a YouTube channel full of video guides.

Let’s say you can’t access live chat, though. Perhaps you’ve just arrived in China and are unable to access your VPN’s website. In cases like these, email support is your best option. We sent ExpressVPN and PureVPN three questions each over email to see how quickly they responded, how informative their replies were, and how useful email support is compared to live chat. Here are the results of our tests:

ExpressVPN
Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
How do I install this VPN on my router?21 minutes1Yes
Which of your protocols is the most secure?3 hours, 15 minutes1Yes
What kind of logs do you keep?43 minutes1Yes
PureVPN
Question Initial response timeNumber of emailsQuestion answered
How do I install this VPN on my router?8 hours, 4 minutes1Yes
Which of your protocols is the most secure?3 hours, 38 minutes1Yes
What kind of logs do you keep?18 hours, 31 minutes1Yes

As you can see, ExpressVPN had a much faster average response time. However, PureVPN’s average was dragged down by one particularly slow reply. It’s important to realize that response times are impacted by all kinds of things, including the time of day you ask your question, the current demand for support, and the number of staff manning the help desk. As such, you might find that your questions are answered significantly quicker than ours were.

Both services answered using a mixture of pre-written and customized responses, often including links to their existing help articles. Importantly, it never felt like we were being brushed off; in fact, the replies encouraged us to send another message if we had any further questions.

The winner: ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is our top choice. PureVPN is a solid everyday VPN with some of the lowest prices around, provided you’re willing to commit to a long-term plan upfront. Its network offers more servers than most major providers, its speeds are decent, and it offers plenty of flexibility as far as security is concerned. Despite all of this, though, ExpressVPN comes out on top for a few reasons.

First, it has a spotless privacy record. Throw in additional protections like ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol, and it becomes clear which service makes it easier to stay safe online. Additionally, ExpressVPN is faster, easier to install on a router, and able to access a huge number of Netflix libraries. For these reasons, ExpressVPN has made it into our list of the overall best VPNs. Suffice it to say, ExpressVPN will be able to handle just about anything you throw at it, from unblocking the internet in China to streaming and torrenting safely.

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ExpressVPN vs PureVPN FAQs

Are VPNs legal?

Yes, virtual private networks (VPNs) are legal in most countries. The legality of using a VPN depends on the country or state you live in and any other relevant laws that may apply to your situation. Generally speaking, it is legal to use a VPN service to protect your online privacy and security. Its worth researching any local laws that may restrict the use of a VPN. For example, in some countries, such as China and Russia, it is illegal to use a VPN service or face potential fines or jail time for noncompliance.

Will my ISP know I'm using a VPN?

In theory, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will not be able to detect that you are using a VPN service. This is because when you connect to a VPN server, the connection is encrypted, and your ISP will be unable to see which websites or services you are accessing. However, Some ISPs may attempt to block VPN connections, which can affect your ability to access certain websites or services. As such, it is useful to be aware of any potential restrictions on using a VPN service in your region. Additionally, some ISPs may log information about the IP addresses you are connecting from, so it is essential to use a reliable and secure VPN service.

What is bandwidth throttling?

Bandwidth throttling is a practice used by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to reduce the amount of bandwidth available to certain users or services. This usually occurs during periods of high demand when an ISP’s network is overloaded, and they need to prioritize traffic. By reducing the speed of specific connections, they can ensure that everyone gets an acceptable level of service. However, some ISPs may also throttle your connection if they think you are using excessive data. VPNs can help to prevent this type of throttling by encrypting your traffic and making it challenging for your ISP to detect what services or websites you are accessing.