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PureVPN review: Have this VPN’s privacy issues been fixed?

Writer: Ray Walsh
VPN and Privacy Expert
Reviewed by: Paul Bischoff
Tech Writer, Privacy Advocate and VPN Expert

purevpn logo PureVPN shatters the stereotype that ‘cheap’ means ‘inferior’, setting a new standard for affordable VPNs. Where many cheap VPNs cut corners, PureVPN manages to balance low costs with an impressive, feature-packed service that performs well above its pay grade.
In this review, I tested PureVPN for a couple of weeks. I used it to access international streaming platforms, play games, and make video calls. I tested PureVPN’s speed to check how it compares to other market-leading VPNs. What I discovered might change your perspective on what an affordable VPN can offer.

To carry out my review, I used a meticulous VPN testing methodology. I analyzed the privacy policy, checked how the apps implement encryption, and tested the VPN for data leaks.

My tests revealed that PureVPN has reliable apps and everything home internet users need to gain online privacy. Unlike many budget VPNs, PureVPN excelled in accessing streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Keep reading to learn what makes PureVPN unique, and to find out whether I ultimately recommend PureVPN over other leading VPNs.

Do I recommend PureVPN?

If you want a cheap VPN that offers strong encryption, a massive choice of servers, and the ability to access streaming services, then I can’t recommend PureVPN enough. PureVPN can protect your data against hackers on public wifi and prevent ISP snooping at home.

The no-logging policy is well-written, stating PureVPN does not retain any records of your online activities, your IP address, or the servers to which you connect

Perhaps the most impressive thing about PureVPN is its super-massive network of 6000+ servers in 65+ countries. It’s ideal for bypassing region blocks, watching foreign TV platforms, or visiting your home streaming services on vacation.

I am confident that many home internet users will find PureVPN to be perfect for their needs. It is good for streaming, gaming, torrenting, and making video calls.

PureVPN key data

OVERALL RANK:  #5 of 72
Speed
Score: 7
Average Speed*: 399 Mbps
Video Streaming Support: 4K, HD video conferencing
Streaming
Score: 8
Netflix: Yes
Other Streaming Services: Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime
Security
Score: 9
Encryption Type: 256-bit AES
Kill Switch: Yes
Log Policy: No logs
Protocols: WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2
Value for Money
Score: 8
Lowest Monthly Cost: $1.96
Money Back Guarantee: 31 days
Websitehttps://www.purevpn.com/

PureVPN pros and cons

Pros:

  • No-logs policy has been independently audited
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, FireTV, Apple TV, Linux
  • A choice of protocols (OpenVPN, Wireguard, IKEv2)
  • Dedicated IPs and port forwarding are available (but cost a little extra)
  • System-level kill switch
  • DNS leak protection
  • Large server network
  • Works with popular streaming services
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • Split tunneling is available in Windows and Android only.
  • Split tunneling will not work when using the WireGuard protocol
  • Kill switch available for Windows, Android, and Linux only
  • No ad blocking or tracker blocking feature
  • Lacks advanced features like Tor over VPN and multi-hop
  • Port forwarding costs $1.49 more

PureVPN features

This review focuses primarily on the Standard PureVPN plan. This is distinct from the Plus and Max plans, which add additional services (more on this later).

The Standard PureVPN plan will let you:

  • Work remotely securely
  • Prevent ISP tracking
  • Prevent government surveillance
  • Bypass blocks at work or on campus
  • Access regional websites and streaming platforms
  • Use public wifi safe against hackers and tracking
  • Access home services while on vacation
  • Bypass censorship in countries with widespread restrictions

Here is a comprehensive list of the features available with PureVPN:

  1. Global server network: PureVPN boasts over 6500 servers in more than 65 countries, offering a vast selection of physical and virtual servers (labeled in the app). This extensive network allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and censorship.
  2. Choice of VPN protocols: Users can pick from various VPN protocols, including IKEv2, OpenVPN (TCP, UDP), and WireGuard. Each protocol offers different benefits, for example, OpenVPN includes obfuscation by default to help with connecting in countries like China and the UAE.
  3. No-log policy: PureVPN follows a strict no-logs policy and has been independently audited to validate this claim.
  4. Streaming: PureVPN works well with streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.
  5. Torrenting: PureVPN allows torrenting throughout its network.
  6. Split tunneling: Available on Android and Windows devices, this feature allows you to select specific applications or services to route through the VPN while others use your unprotected internet via your regular IP address.
  7. Apps for all platforms: PureVPN supports a wide range of devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. It also makes browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
  8. Simultaneous connections: You can connect up to 10  different devices at the same time, making it a decent option for families or people who own many devices.
  9. Security: PureVPN has essential security features like an internet kill switch and 256-bit encryption.
  10. Leak protection: PureVPN effectively hides your IP address and prevents DNS leaks, ensuring your online activities remain private.
  11. Fast speeds: PureVPN offers high speeds suitable for data-intensive tasks like streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
  12. Customer support: PureVPN provides customer support through various channels including 24/7 live chat, an email ticket system, setup guides, FAQs, and a blog.
  13. Low-cost subscriptions: PureVPN represents excellent value for money.
  14. Works in China: PureVPN obfuscates your connection by default when you use the OpenVPN protocol. It works in countries like China.
  15. Add-Ons: There are various add-ons available like a dedicated IP address and port forwarding. These features cost extra. You can further upgrade to a full security suite that includes a password manager, online data removal service, and file encryption application.
  16. 31-day money-back guarantee: You may try the VPN risk-free for a month.

Apps: What devices work with PureVPN?

PureVPN lets each subscriber connect up to 10 devices at once. This makes it a decent option for larger families or people who own many devices. You can install and use custom PureVPN apps for:

In addition to these apps, it also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Just note that this is a proxy extension for your browser and does not provide the same level of protection as the full VPN.

Routers

PureVPN provides a lot of support for VPN-compatible routers. It has guides for setting up the VPN on a large number of router brands, which I have listed below. The VPN also has a custom DD-WRT app that you can install onto a DD-WRT router.

PureVPN on DDWRT Router

  • DD-WRT router
  • Mofi router
  • Huawei router
  • Tomato router
  • Linksys router
  • Zyxel router
  • Asus router
  • TP-Link router
  • Arris router
  • Belkin router
  • Dovado router
  • GLinet router
  • D-Link router
  • DrayTek router
  • Padavan router
  • Netgear Genie router
  • Sitecom Gigabit router
  • MikroTik router
  • Sabai router
  • pfSense router
  • TRENDnet router
  • Netgear router (Netduma and Nighthawk)

If you find the idea of manually installing DD-WRT on a router too daunting, you have the alternative to purchase a router pre-configured from FlashRouters.com. These DD-WRT routers come set up to work with PureVPN right out of the box.

PureVPN pricing

The low cost of the standard plan is impressive considering the level of service it provides.

PureVPN pricing

Although PureVPN has more expensive plans, they do not provide any additional VPN features. Instead, you can pay extra for access to a password manager, an end-to-end encryption service for sharing files (or securing them in the cloud), and a personal privacy service that automatically removes your data from data brokers and helps you to improve the privacy of your social media accounts.

The standard plan has everything you need to get full access to the VPN (except for two features that are bolt-on extras). A one-month plan to PureVPN costs $10.95, which is in line with what other premium VPNs charge.

A one-year plan reduces the cost to $3.74 per month, which makes it much more affordable. PureVPN is cheapest VPN when you commit to subscribing for two years. This gives you an 84 percent discount and reduces the cost to $1.96 per month. This makes PureVPN one of the most affordable VPNs on the market.

Whether you feel you need the extra features you get with a Plus or Max plan is your choice. The additional cost is very reasonable if you don’t already have a password manager, data removal service, or file encryption service.

By comparison, the cheapest plan available with ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month and the cheapest plan available with NordVPN costs $4 per month. PureVPN costs less than both of those industry leaders.

Family and Duo plans

PureVPN recently added a Family Plan. This gives you 5 separate accounts with a single subscription payment of $8.33 per month (when you opt for the 2-year plan).

Alternatively, you can get a Duo Plan, which gives you two complete Standard PureVPN accounts for $3.12 per month (2-year plan). This is perfect if you are a couple who both own many devices and want access to more than 10 simultaneous connections between you.

VPN extras and add-ons

Although PureVPN is cheap when you opt for the 2-year plan, you have to pay extra for port forwarding and to get a dedicated IP.

Many people who torrent want port forwarding, which costs an extra $1.49 per month. This increases the total cost of a subscription to $3.50 per month when you get a 2-year plan.

Anybody in need of a dedicated static IP reserved for their use only will need to pay an extra $2.49 per month (this is the cost if you commit to the 2-year plan, it costs $3.99 per month if you only subscribe for one year).

The cost of the dedicated IP option is very affordable compared with competing VPNs. However, I would prefer PureVPN to include the port forwarding feature in its standard plan. PrivateVPN, for example, costs about $2 per month and includes port forwarding in its standard plan.

Payment options

PureVPN makes it easy for you to get an account by accepting various debit and credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, and AMEX). It lets you pay via PayPal and Google Pay. Bitcoin payments are made via Paymentwall.

Money-back guarantee

PureVPN has a 31-day money-back guarantee. This provides you with the opportunity to test the VPN on your devices and to access the streaming platforms or services that interest you. You can use it to compare with other VPNs risk-free.

Speed: Is PureVPN fast?

PureVPN has integrated the WireGuard protocol into all its applications, enabling it to deliver better speeds than streaming, torrenting, gaming, and data-intensive tasks.

To check exactly how it compares to other market-leading VPNs, I conducted extensive testing of the VPN speeds. I used a specialized testing machine in the United States, equipped with a minimum bandwidth of 2 Gbps. This setup allowed me to check the VPN’s top speeds.

My tests focussed on servers in three distinct locations: the UK, the US, and Hong Kong. These results revealed PureVPN has a global average top download speed of 399 Mbps.

You can see the results of all my tests below:

Test 1Test 2Test 3Test 4
UK (London)441 Mbps197 Mbps335 Mbps324 Mbps
US (New York)828 Mbps756 Mbps301 Mbps628 Mbps
Hong Kong169 Mbps299 Mbps271 Mbps246 Mbps
Global average399 Mbps

These speeds are extremely impressive, and mean that PureVPN is well suited to carrying out tasks like streaming, gaming, and torrenting.

PureVPN’s global average was bolstered considerably by its fast US servers. A few comments online claim consistency can be a bit sporadic.

I tested these claims myself by connecting to a server in India using my laptop and home broadband setup. The VPN reduced my internet speed by 50%, which is quite a lot. With this in mind, we recommend that you test any location you plan to use regularly yourself during the money-back guarantee window.

Does PureVPN work with streaming platforms & Kodi?

Fans of Kodi for streaming on devices like Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Firestick will be happy to know that PureVPN has apps for all those platforms that you can use to protect your streaming activities. This ensures that you never need to worry about anybody monitoring your activities on Kodi, and can access a wide array of region-locked streaming services and add-ons.

Does Pure VPN work with Netflix?

To test PureVPN with Netflix I connected to servers in various countries to check whether it unlocks the local Netflix catalog and any exclusive shows available in that region.

  • I connected to the New York server and was able to watch the Great British Baking Show, which is a US exclusive.
  • I connected to the UK server and could stream It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia, which is a UK exclusive.
  • I connected to a server in Japan and was able to access the movie Gintama, which is a Japanese exclusive.
  • I connected to a server in France and was able to watch the French film The 400 Blows, which is unavailable outside of France.
  • I connected to a server in Canada and was able to watch the Canada-exclusive show, Mr. D.

As you can see, the results of my tests were conclusive. PureVPN is one of the most reliable cheap VPNs for watching Netflix. This makes it an extremely good option for Netflix subscribers who want to make the most of their account while on vacation.

Does PureVPN work to watch British TV?

To test whether PureVPN is a good option for streaming British TV on vacation, I connected to the UK server. I then tried out all of the UK’s free streaming sites. I was happy to find that the service worked with BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and Channel 4. This makes it perfect for anybody who wants a fix of British TV shows, or BBC News.

PureVPN on BBC iPlayer

Does PureVPN work with popular US streaming platforms?

If you want to access US TV platforms and streaming services while abroad, then you will need a VPN that works with popular US streaming services. Even US residents within the US might want a VPN to bypass sports blackouts of the NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLB.  So, how does PureVPN compare to other market-leading services in this area?

We tested it extensively and are happy to report that it worked with the following services:

  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • Max
  • Peacock
  • FreeVee
  • Midnight Pulp
  • Paramount+
  • Amazon Prime (US)
  • Tubi (US)
  • Pluto TV
  • Crackle
  • Xumo

Does PureVPN work with other international streaming platforms?

I tested PureVPN with region-locked freeview streaming services in a wide number of locations around the globe. Below, you can see the results of my tests:

  • Germany: PureVPN worked to watch region-locked content on ARD Mediathek.
  • France: PureVPN worked to watch France.tv.
  • Brazil: PureVPN worked to watch GloboPlay.
  • Canada: PureVPN worked to watch CBC Gem free content.

As you can see, PureVPN worked to access a selection of free TV services around the world. This makes it suitable for people keen on accessing their home streaming services on vacation.

The only notable exception was Ten Play Australia. I tested an Aussie server but got an error message that asked me to turn the VPN off.

Does PureVPN allow Torrenting?

Yes. PureVPN does not block P2P connections of any kind, so it is a solid option for torrenting. The WireGuard protocol is the best choice for faster speeds. The Windows and Android apps include split tunneling, which is useful if you want to torrent with the VPN while doing other tasks through your regular IP address.

Another feature that makes PureVPN a solid option for torrenting is its port forwarding feature. This will let you seed torrents more easily while connected to the VPN, which is important to stay in good standing with your torrent community. The only caveat is that port forwarding is an add-on that costs an extra $1.49 per month.

Security

The most important aspect of any VPN is how good it is at providing data privacy and security.

When I tested PureVPN’s apps, I was happy to see that it did not bother with any outdated protocols. Instead, it sticks to trusted protocols like OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), WireGuard, and IKEv2. These are secure protocols that can protect your data against surveillance and hackers on public WiFi.

For readers who like to know the technical details, we have included the OpenVPN encryption details for PureVPN below:

  • Data channel: an AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication.
  • Control channel: an RSA-2048 handshake encryption and HMAC SHA384 hash authentication.
  • Perfect forward secrecy prevents future sessions from being decrypted using a past session’s key

This is a robust implementation of the OpenVPN protocol that aligns with current standards for VPN security. Elsewhere, PureVPN uses AES-256 encryption for its IKEv2 protocol and ChaCha20 for WireGuard.

By default, PureVPN chooses the VPN protocol automatically. My tests suggested that this will default to IKEv2 most of the time. I would recommend switching to WireGuard for maximum speed.

I also recommend switching the Connect to Fallback setting off. This will ensure that the VPN only connects using your specified protocol. This is important for users who want to know exactly what protocol they are using to secure their data.

PureVPN review - protocol selection

PureVPN does not state anywhere on its website that it uses obfuscation. However, it works in China, so common sense suggests that the VPN is obfuscating connections when you use the OpenVPN protocol. Unfortunately, we do not know what kind of obfuscation PureVPN uses.

Leak tests

A secure VPN must fully protect your internet connection without leaking any data outside of the VPN tunnel. The VPN must handle your DNS requests using its own servers. To ensure that the VPN is rock solid for privacy purposes I carried out tests to check for IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks that could expose your IP address or data to third parties. See the results below:

PureVPN DNS leak test

As you can see, PureVPN did not reveal my IP address in any of the tests. PureVPN securely handles DNS requests with its own servers.

Tracker blocking

PureVPN tracker blocking

Tracker blocking is only available if you pay for an account that includes PurePrivacy. If you try to enable the feature without a Max account, it will not work. It will block trackers that allow advertisers to follow you around the web, and in turn, cut down on targeted ads.

Unlike some other VPNs, this feature only prevents tracking cookies from being stored on your device. It does not prevent ads from loading or protect against malicious domains as with some of its competitors.

Kill switch

A kill switch is an important VPN feature that cuts off your internet if the VPN connection fails. This ensures that you do not leak any unprotected traffic to your ISP, local networks, or government snoops. I tested the PureVPN kill switch to check whether it functions correctly.

I purposefully crashed the app and was happy to find that the VPN connection remained established even when the app closed.

I then relaunched the app and chose to reconnect to the VPN. At this stage, the kill switch kicked in momentarily to prevent my real IP address from leaking. Only when a connection had been re-established was I able to use the internet.

That means the kill switch, which comes enabled by default in PureVPN, is system-level and will work to prevent all leaks, even if the app crashes.

PureVPN review - kill switch

We recommend that you leave the PureVPN kill switch set to Automatic IKS for now. This is because the Manual IKS setting hasn’t been populated yet (the provider told me that it is in the process of rolling out this feature and that it will eventually include some additional options in a drop-down menu).

Logging

Jurisdiction

PureVPN was founded in Pakistan but is officially based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This puts the VPN well out of reach of invasive jurisdictions like the USA, the UK, and the EU. BVI does not have any mandatory data retention directives that apply to communications providers or VPNs, which means the VPN is free to enforce a solid no-logging policy.

FBI case from 2017

In 2017, PureVPN received some bad press for supplying connection logs to the FBI. PureVPN was approached by the FBI and asked to provide details of the activities of a specific user’s IP address.

The VPN was able to help the FBI by providing connection logs (details of the VPN server IP address and times that the suspect source IP address had connected to the VPN). This information allowed the FBI to use a time-correlation attack to connect the suspect to criminal activities including cyber-harassment.

Although this was a very specific case that only affected the privacy of one user, the VPN still got a lot of bad press for helping with the investigation. Users and the press criticized the VPN for supplying logs it should not have had if it was truly a no-logs VPN. However, the policy at the time did specify that the VPN kept some connection logs, including users’ IP addresses.

Since then, PureVPN has updated its policy and stopped storing IP addresses and connection timestamps. If approached in another investigation, it would not have the information required to comply with a similar disclosure.

PureVPN has been regularly audited by third parties who confirm that the VPN is adhering to its no-logging policy.

Logging policy

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I carefully analyzed the PureVPN no-logs policy to see if I could find anything unwanted. I was happy to find that PureVPN collects only essential information like name, email address, password, and payment method. The policy states that PureVPN does not store any logs that could identify or monitor user activity, including browsing activity, connection timestamps, browsing history, or DNS queries.

The policy states that PureVPN collects non-identifiable data like the day of connection. However, it does not track or store personal IPs, exact locations, specific connection times, or any user activity logs. These are the types of connection logs that could be used to mount a time-correlation attack, and it is good to see that these are no longer collected.

The policy states that some data is collected for service improvement purposes (software analytics, email, live chat, and feedback form data) but these cannot be used to track users’ activities or connections.

One thing worth noting is that the VPN does know the IP address you are assigned when you purchase a dedicated IP. The policy says:

 “NOTE: In the case of a Dedicated IP addon purchase, a fixed and dedicated VPN IP is assigned to the user which remains in our records for 25 days after a subscription ends.”

Overall, we found the policy to be strong. It has been independently audited a total of four times. These audits showed that the VPN’s infrastructure is protecting users in line with its policy.

The only exception to this rule was when users set up manual connections using legacy protocols. PureVPN has since removed support for legacy protocols (L2TP and PPTP).

Does PureVPN work in China?

Yes. Although PureVPN does not specify what kind of obfuscation it uses, the VPN works in China. It can bypass the country’s strict firewall to provide people in China with access to restricted services like Facebook and Google.

PureVPN recommends using the automatic protocol selection when in China, as this will ensure the user can connect.

Customer support

Nowadays, people expect good customer support from their VPN. PureVPN is attempting to match the service provided by other market-leading VPNs.

If you have any questions about setting up or using the VPN, you can contact PureVPN via email or live chat. This live chat is available on its website to prospective customers as well as subscribers – making it easy enough for anybody to find out about PureVPN.

Unfortunately, the live chat experience was a little disappointing. The agent sent me a message that said “Hello! I will be happy to help you!” and then disappeared for 5 minutes. The agent apologized and answered my question, before disappearing for another 7 minutes when I asked a follow-up question.

The wait times between questions disrupted the conversation and made my experience frustrating. Other than that, the agents seemed to handle questions effectively, though they did sometimes forward me to a blog post that didn’t answer the question.

PureVPN customer support

The PureVPN website is also a bit of a mixed bag. The features section tells you what the VPN does, but it lacks a complete list of features. For example, I saw no mention of the kill switch, obfuscation, or split tunneling features. This information ought to be front and center.

The help page has FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and setup guides for each platform. This allows anybody to get the VPN working on their devices. However, the amount of information provided is a touch lacking compared with other VPNs. For example, the FAQs section answers just 6 questions:

That said, you will find additional FAQs dotted around at the bottom of other pages and guides – so these aren’t the only FAQs on the website. However, it is a shame that it doesn’t have a central database of all FAQs, where users can search through them.

A blog is also available, which provides information about the VPN’s features, articles about online privacy, and streaming guides designed to help you get the most out of the VPN. This blog is the most complete part of the website and is an excellent resource.

Should I buy PureVPN?

If you want a fast and reliable VPN that is excellent for streaming and provides solid online privacy, then PureVPN is a great choice. The VPN performed exceptionally well when accessing international streaming services, and it provides a decent feature set for the cost.

The no-logs policy has been thoroughly audited on numerous occasions, and the VPN now ensures it keeps no connection logs.

All things considered, I found PureVPN to offer excellent value for money and superb reliability. It is easy to use and has everything users need to gain online privacy at home, at work, or while using public wifi.

The only real downside is that the live chat could be better, but considering the relatively low cost of this VPN, that is a pretty small complaint. I would also prefer the port forwarding to be included in the standard account, but unfortunately, anybody in need of this feature for torrenting will need to pay a little extra.

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