After running into privacy issues several years ago, Hong Kong-based PureVPN has been focusing on regaining its reputation as a reliable, trustworthy provider.
Improvements include revamping apps, doubling its network size, and enabling access to more geo-restricted streaming platforms.
In my 2022 PureVPN review, I took the desktop and mobile apps for a test drive to see what this provider has to offer. Some of the questions I sought to answer were:
- Is PureVPN fast?
- Does PureVPN work with geo-restricted sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video?
- Does PureVPN offer strong privacy and security features?
- Does PureVPN work in China?
Read on to find out the answers to those questions and many more.
I’ve been using PureVPN to browse, stream, torrent, access public wifi, and play online games. You’ll find a quick summary of my findings below, but you can read the full review to find out more details.
If you like, can read more on the criteria used to test PureVPN and our wider VPN testing methodology.
PureVPN has decent unblocking potential (although US Netflix may pose issues) and speeds fast enough for streaming HD video. It allows torrenting and doesn’t impose any limits on bandwidth or data.
PureVPN offers an excellent suite of security features and is now a true no-logs provider that makes user privacy a priority. Apps are easy to use and live chat is available, although overall customer support could be improved.
PureVPN key data
|OVERALL RANK: #13 of 75|
|Average Speed*:||98 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K, HD video conferencing|
|Other Streaming Services:||Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, ITVX, All 4|
|Encryption Type:||256-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||No logs|
|Protocols:||WireGuard, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2|
|Value for Money||
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$2.08|
|Money Back Guarantee:||31 days|
PureVPN pros and cons
- Unblocks many streaming platforms
- Strong encryption
- Improved no-logs policy
- Allows torrenting
- Easy-to-use apps
- Some fast speeds
- Connect 10 devices
- Some connectivity issues
- Support could be better
- Some features require an additional fee
- Past privacy issues
I’ll provide more detail on each of these pros and cons below.
Speed: Is PureVPN fast?
I saw pretty good results when testing PureVPN for speed and performance. I had no issues watching 4K video on most servers and was able to use HD video conferencing software and play online games with no problems while connected to geographically close servers.
PureVPN has recently ramped up its server network, doubling its size to more than 4,000 servers in over 140 countries. Note that around half of these countries are serviced by virtual servers. This means that the servers aren’t actually located in the country, but still provide you with an IP address from your chosen location.
I did have some issues connecting to some servers. Either it would take a long time (around a minute or so) to connect to a server or the connection attempt would appear to time out (although I didn’t get an error notification). Sometimes a successful connection required several attempts. This was more frequent on the mobile app, but it could be a source of frustration, especially if you tend to switch servers often.
I tested three PureVPN server locations at three different times of day. The average speed for all tests was 98 Mbps, which represents a significant improvement. This now puts PureVPN a little above average when we compare it to other top VPNs.
The servers we tested were located in Europe, North America, and Asia. The average speeds for each location were:
- North America: 105 Mbps
- Asia: 90 Mbps
- Europe: 99 Mbps
Global average: 98 Mbps
When connected to nearby servers (in North America), speeds were quite good – as expected. And they remained in the same ballpark even when connected to more distant servers in Europe and Asia. PureVPN’s speeds have improved quite a lot and you shouldn’t feel any slowdown with most activities, including browsing and streaming.
I also tested PureVPN with online gaming and everything worked as expected. I made sure to connect to a server close to my actual location to keep my ping times low and I didn’t experience any lagging or disconnects.
Note that these tests can only provide a rough indicator of performance, and the results you see in practice could differ greatly. The internet is generally volatile so speed test results can be quite random. You may see smaller or larger discrepancies in speeds depending on various factors including your base internet speed and how many devices are connected to the internet.
See also: Fastest VPNs
Apps: What devices work with PureVPN?
PureVPN provides a generous limit on the number of devices you can connect at a given time, capping out at 10 simultaneous connections. This is pretty generous considering the industry standard is five or six, and makes PureVPN a good option for families, roommates, or anyone who has a lot of gadgets to protect.
So what devices are compatible with PureVPN? The VPN has apps for the following:
- Windows 10, 8.1, and 8
- MacOS 10.10 and above
- iOS 11.0 or later
- Android 8.0 and newer
- Amazon Fire TV
It can be manually configured with Linux systems and some routers. PureVPN browser extensions are available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Brave. These only protect your browser traffic and leave other apps exposed.
The desktop apps are fairly easy to use. PureVPN recently updated all of its apps and the new design is slick and intuitive. You have the classic gigantic Connect button on the app’s main page, and there are various menus to choose from on the left side of the app.
A few handy features of the desktop app are:
- Favorites: You can add locations to a favorites list by clicking the star to the right of the location name.
- Server labels: Icons in the server list denote which servers are virtual and which are most suitable for P2P and VoIP calling.
- Language: PureVPN offers seven language options including Chinese, French, German, and Turkish.
General app behavior settings include launching and/or connecting on startup.
Other features I’ll go into further down include a kill switch, a choice of protocols, and split tunneling (Windows-only).
PureVPN’s mobile app is barebones compared to the desktop versions. You don’t get many options and can simply choose your server based on your location. The only other option within the app is to change your protocol.
Streaming, Netflix, and Kodi
Does PureVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, it does. I was able to watch Netflix US without any issues. In fact, streaming worked extremely well across the board. Beyond Netflix, I was able to access Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer as well. The only service I had trouble with was Amazon Prime Video. However, according to the internet, others have had success accessing Amazon Prime Video over PureVPN. It’s a big cat and mouse game between VPN providers and streaming services, so it can always be hit and miss. Still, all things considered, streaming is one of PureVPN’s strong points.
PureVPN is also compatible with Kodi addons and can be installed on most devices that Kodi runs on.
Here are our recommended VPNs for streaming if you’d like for more information on the topic.
Does PureVPN allow torrenting?
Yes, PureVPN allows torrenting.
To find a server suitable for P2P, you can simply look for the P2P symbol against servers on other lists. PureVPN doesn’t impose data caps or bandwidth limits. It offers port forwarding, which can help with torrenting speeds, although you’ll need to pay extra for this feature.
The Windows app has a split tunneling feature that diverts only select traffic through the VPN. If you’re worried about slowdowns, you could channel your P2P traffic through the VPN while using your regular connection for other tasks.
Apps have a built-in kill switch that halts your internet connection if the VPN connection drops for some reason. Note that this is disabled by default.
Many users have been concerned about PureVPN’s past privacy issues, but its policy has been greatly improved in recent years (more on that below).
See also: Best VPNs for Torrenting
Security, privacy, and logging
PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based company and as such is not subject to mandatory data retention laws.
The subheading for its privacy policies reads:
We do NOT keep any logs that can identify or help in monitoring a user’s activity.
However, details of a 2017 FBI case contradicted that statement, as PureVPN’s logs were reportedly handed over to authorities to aid in a conviction.
Now, this was a criminal case, and it is fairly standard for VPNs to state that they will hand over information to law enforcement if they possess any. The logs in question were not browsing logs, but connection logs. These involve real user IP addresses and VPN connection times. While they don’t reveal actual user activity, they can be matched with logs from third parties, such as email providers, to corroborate activity, as was the case here.
Other VPNs keep similar logs, and should disclose this in their terms. With this provider claiming that they keep no logs at all, and then seeing actual logs surface, it understandably unnerved users.
Since this case, PureVPN has been working to rebuild its reputation. The company has now scrapped the recording of connection logs of any kind. It won’t record user or VPN IP addresses or timestamps. One positive side of a company being burned in this way is that it will likely tread very carefully to ensure it doesn’t jeopardize user trust again.
As an additional show of good faith, PureVPN underwent a 2019 audit by Altius IT, which verified the new no-logs policy. After detailed evaluation and auditing, Altius IT reported that it didn’t find any evidence that shows PureVPN keeps any data that could identify any specific person or any browsing activity. PureVPN also has an ongoing contract with KPMG, whereby the auditor performs unscheduled assessments of PureVPN’s systems.
PureVPN fares well on the security front and uses 256-bit encryption (considered military-grade) in conjunction with 2,048-bit RSA keys for authentication. You can choose between multiple protocols for encryption, including WireGuard, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2. All of the above is considered very secure. The only thing I would mention is to stick to WireGuard, OpenVPN, or IKEv2. L2TP is nearing its end of life cycle.
As far as IP address, DNS, and WebRTC leaks are concerned, we were happy to see that PureVPN wasn’t vulnerable to any of these leaks.
IP Test – No VPN
IP Test – With VPN
DNS Test – No VPN
DNS Test – With VPN
Does PureVPN work in China?
The answer to that question is… maybe.
I wrote to PureVPN’s Support department to find out if the service worked and the answer I got was a bit confusing.
So, the answer states that connecting from China will be difficult but it may work. Try these servers. And best of luck.
I’ve seen reports on the internet of people successfully connecting from China using PureVPN, so there’s a good chance it’ll work, but no guarantee.
Bear in mind that even though many VPNs work in China, their websites may be blocked. If you’re planning to use PureVPN while in China, it may be best to make a copy of the support documentation before traveling as it might be inaccessible from within the country.
Is PureVPN customer service any good?
As a large provider, it’s no surprise that PureVPN comes with a wealth of documentation to help with everything from getting started to troubleshooting and dealing with specific use cases. This can all be found by visiting the Support Center under the My Account tab.
If you can’t find what you need or simply have a quick question, the 24/7 live chat support is ready to give a prompt response. But my experience with the live chat wasn’t very good. When I typed in a question, a bot replied, instructing me to choose from various categories to pin down my issue. However, there are only a few categories displayed and there’s no way to type any questions manually. You have to select one of the categories.
I eventually gave up on the chat and sent PureVPN my question via email. I got a response the next day, which is absolutely fine.
PureVPN offers one paid plan, which differs in price depending on the length of term you sign up for.
To try the service for one month, it will cost you $10.95. You can get a discount for signing up for 12 months at $3.24 per month. Finally, there’s a two-year option that costs $49.95 (and gives you three extra months for free), which works out to $2.08 per month.
The lowest monthly price is quite good for a two-year term; lower than the best offers from many other providers. All plans come with a 31-day money-back guarantee, which is an improvement on the 7-day refund policy of the past.
PureVPN accepts payments via major credit cards and PayPal as well as bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, which is great if you’re looking for that extra layer of privacy.
Here’s the latest PureVPN Coupon.
Do I recommend PureVPN?
Overall, PureVPN is suitable for browsing, torrenting, and streaming. It provides an easy-to-use interface with several customization options. Performance-wise, speeds are decent, but there were some connectivity issues. PureVPN provides easy access to streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, although US Netflix was unreliable. Mobile users will be pleased to see a revamped, intuitive app.
When it comes to security, PureVPN ticks all the boxes with strong encryption, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, and a built-in kill switch. The past bad press around its privacy may be a red flag to some potential users, but this provider has made great strides in this regard.
While PureVPN has a decent offering, there are some downfalls including connection issues and lackluster support. If you’re open to shopping around for other options, there are plenty of worthy contenders.
NordVPN is a great all-rounder that offers the best speeds out of every VPN we tested and incredibly strong security. It boasts seamless setup and a stellar user experience, including a suite of advanced features. Plus it unblocks a ton of streaming sites with ease and works in countries that actively block VPNs such as China.
ExpressVPN is another alternative that pegs good speeds and reliable connections. It has a large network of servers, great unblocking abilities, strong security, and top-notch support.
How does PureVPN compare to other popular VPNs?
Here’s a breakdown of how PureVPN compares to two of the most popular services, NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
|Website||PureVPN.com||ExpressVPN.com||NordVPN.com||Average Speed (Mbps)||37 Mbps||193 Mbps||196 Mbps||OpenVPN data encryption||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||Kill Switch||Desktop only||Allows Torrenting||Connection logs||Some aggregated data||Unblocks Netflix US||Unblocks Prime Video||Unblocks Hulu||Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Lowest monthly cost||$1.33 per month||$6.67||$3.29||Money back guarantee||31 days||30 days||30 days||Overall rating||6.5||9.3||9.7|
|Best deal (per month)||$1.33|
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Methodology used for VPN testing
Below you’ll find the criteria used to assess the VPNs we review. It’s essential to be consistent across the board so that our reviews are reasonably objective and that we’re not comparing apples to oranges. For that reason, we want to expose our criteria.
- Speed – Speed is one of the most critical factors of any VPN. Slow speeds can be frustrating and prevent you from streaming or even browsing the web. To make sure we address this issue, we make sure all of our recommended VPNs scored very high in our most recent speed tests.
- Apps & ease of use – More people than ever are using VPNs today. So app design and its intuitiveness are critical. We look at the client apps’ UI, the features they provide, the supported operating systems, and their complexity.
- Streaming services – It’s getting harder and harder to access major streaming platforms over VPN. But many VPN providers can still provide access – with varying degrees of success. We test VPNs against a range of popular streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and more, before recommending a VPN provider for streaming.
- Torrenting – P2P file-sharing has been around for a long time, and it’s still going strong. Some VPN providers disallow torrenting altogether, while others go as far as providing dedicated P2P servers. We look at each VPN’s policy around torrenting and run tests on those that do to see how well they handle file-sharing.
The above represents a high-level view of our methodology. If you’d like more details, have a look at our full VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach helps us better understand the services to recommend the right VPN to the right users.
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