A feature-packed VPN with a rocky history, but a bright future if they continue improving.
|Price||$2.95/mo ($35 for 12months)|
|Bypasses China Firewall||Yes|
In this PureVPN review, I am offering full disclosure of the service and all of its aspects in 2019.
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Hong Kong (safe jurisdiction), I do recommend PureVPN, which costs around $3.29/mo. on a 2-year plan. It offers fast speeds and is capable of bypassing geographical blockades in China, forced censorship on Netflix, and p2p/torrenting restrictions worldwide.
It did have a shady history, but PureVPN has worked on improving its service. It offers 12 compatible apps for different operating systems and platforms. As of recent, it also ranks among the few providers that offer dedicated/static IPs for personal use, hence why it ranks on #4 out of 180 in our list of recommendations.
An Analysis of PureVPN’s Security
On the basis of PureVPN’s location, encryption, app virus checks, security add-ons and logging policy, my in-depth analysis reveals that the underdog is a good choice for leveraging online anonymity (albeit, there are areas of improvement).
PureVPN is Located in Hong Kong (An Internet-Friendly Jurisdiction)
PureVPN has its headquarters in Hong Kong, so lets start this review by talking about its hub. This former British colony, is now an autonomous territory of China. However, does that make it a place where VPNs should not be residing?
Nope! Despite China’s notorious reputation regarding its draconian internet privacy laws, Hong Kong is more at par with major European countries than the mainland itself. At least, as far as internet freedom and data privacy laws are concerned.
Hong Kong is not bound by any data/information gathering or sharing agreement like the 14 Eyes, as we found out in detail after conducting a study on invasive some jurisdictions can be in terms of data privacy.
Hong Kong is not bound by any data/information gathering or sharing agreement like the 14 Eyes, as we found out in detail after conducting a study on invasive some jurisdictions can be in terms of data privacy.
Supports OpenVPN and has Military Grade Encryption
PureVPN offers support for protocols like SSTP, PPTP, and L2TP. However, most apps utilize the OpenVPN protocol to secure you online, as it allows the implementation of military-grade encryption.
The provider utilizes AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA1 hash authentication for the data channel, and AES-256-CBC cipher with HMAC SHA384 hash authentication and RSA-2048 handshake encryption for the control channel.
Native Apps for all Platforms are Free from Malware
To test if PureVPN is safe to download/install, I performed tests on all apps supported by the provider from VirusTotal.com. The results reveal that all apps are secure from viruses/malware.
Supports Port Forwarding, Split Tunneling, and Dedicated IPs
The Hong Kong based provider is among the few in the marketplace that support advanced features like the Port Forwarding, DDoS Protection, Split Tunneling and IP leak protection.
All these specialty features combined boost the overall protection you receive for downloading torrents or streaming on VoDs. Of course, I would like seeing an addition of DoubleVPN and Onion over VPN too.
How to Turn On Port Forwarding
- On the Windows client, just go to Settings
- Click on Port Forwarding
- Select the “Configure” option
- Decide which apps to Block/Allow
A Logging Policy Shrouded in Controversy
What does PureVPN’s logging policy actually entail? It turns out that they now have a well defined logging policy. The only problem is that while they do claim to be logless, in reality they store minimal timestamp information (only for a day).
Apart from that, they collect your name, email and payment details, but that is understandable as any firm requires such information to create user accounts and manage them.
PureVPN is Not CTD Compliant Yet
The Center for Transparency and Democracy now offers VPNs a chance to make themselves more transparent to their users by answering a series of related questions. It started with ExpressVPN and other providers like Tunnelbear, which have aced their compliance tests.
PureVPN has not responded to the calls by CTD yet to verify their transparency. This can create serious trouble for it in the upcoming times, especially if more providers become compliant, leaving PureVPN behind.
Transparency is a virtue that is regarded extremely highly in the VPN domain and if PureVPN is not taking enough steps to match up the industry standards related to this issue, it would find itself in troubled waters very soon.
PureVPN’s Pricing, Refund, and Payment Methods Review
If you are contemplating whether or not to sign up with PureVPN, you might want to learn more about their pricing, refund, and payment methods information. Here is a breakdown of each to ease the decision-making process:
Affordably Priced Subscription Plans
Based on my analysis, the provider offers three attractive plans to prospective customers:
- 1 Monthly Plan –$10.95/mo.
- 1-Year Plan – $35.40 billed once ($2.95/mo.) (Highly Recommended)
- 2-Year Plan – $79.00 billed once ($3.29/mo.)$69.12 billed once ($2.88/mo.)
If you opt for the first one, you will have to pay $10.95 per month, which is not a very affordable deal at all.
The best plan offered by PureVPN currently is its 1-Year Deal, costing you just $2.95/month. The cumulative cost of this plan is just $35.40 billed once for a full year’s worth of subscription.
You might be allured by other VPNs as they have lower prices per month, but if you see things through, these cheaper monthly deals often come as part of long term commitments, so in actual they are expensive than PureVPN’s 1 Year deal for the general users.
NordVPN’s best deal will cost you $107.55 billed once, so if you look at PureVPN’s cost for the 1 year deal, its not just incredibly affordable but also highly convenient as it doesn’t bind you in a long term commitment.
Pricing for Optional Add-ons
Once you select a plan, you even have the option of acquiring optional add-ons, which further improve your security. These add-ons can be purchased at an extra price. Details are available below:
- $0.99 for Port Forwarding
- $1.99 for a dedicated IP
- $2.25 for a Dedicated IP with DDoS protection
Payment Methods Supported by PureVPN
PureVPN supports a huge list of payment options. Among the standard options, include Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Cashu, and PayPal. Bitcoin is also available to leverage maximum anonymity.
The provider also implements PaymentWall, which allows PureVPN to accept payments in 150 different methods from over 200 countries worldwide, leaving no stone unturned.
For more diversity, PureVPN even allows you to pay via AudioCoin (ADC), BlackCoin (BLK), CloakCoin (CLOAK), CureCoin (Cure), LiteCoin (LTC), and the list goes on.
Not a Very Transparent Refund Policy
PureVPN says that it offers a “31 Day Refund Policy”, but fails to inform users that the money back will be void if you exceed a certain number of GBs of bandwidth used.
The service needs to change its approach to the way it markets such offers by becoming more transparent. Even an asterisk on top of such announcements should boost its credibility.
Marketing is acceptable and all brands to indulge in practices that help them in promoting their service, but it should never come at the cost of poor transparency.
PureVPN Offers a Paid Trial, Not a Free One
In addition to a 31-day refund, PureVPN offers a 3-days trial account for users at a measly $2.50. By applying for this, you get access to the providers’ complete offerings/features.
Unlike other providers that have canceled their free trial and neither choose to offer a paid one, I would say that the provider played it quite cleverly here. This is the closest that you can come to a PureVPN free account and its great that it’s there for you to take the service out for a test ride before actually committing to it.
LifeTime Subscription Available (5-Years in Reality)
From 2-year special deals to special promo codes and other discounts, PureVPN makes sure to offer prospects a lot of incentives to sign up. One of them includes the “Lifetime subscription” that is quite popular.
I get a lot of users telling me that they had a lifetime plan, but they started getting billed after the fifth year. That is because this subscription is only valid for 5 years.
Server Count and Locations Appraisal
PureVPN server list now exceeds 2000+ servers in over 140 countries worldwide. This sounds majorly impressive, but I had one major problem with it.
The provider focuses majorly on regions like Europe and North America as far as offering servers are concerned. Here is a breakdown of the server count region wise:
- North America: 667 Servers
- Europe: 807 Servers
- Asia: 321 Servers
- Central America: 12 Servers
- South America: 84 Servers
- Africa: 150 Servers
- Oceania 93 Servers
- Total Servers: 2134
Approximately 69% of the servers offered by PureVPN are located in North America and Europe, while Asia gets just a paltry 15% of its servers, making it a majorly undeserved region.
It is understandable that internet penetration is high in these regions and secondly, the knowledge and need to protect oneself online is also high, but it would be good to see a more diverse listing of servers.
PureVPN definitely needs to add more servers in the Asian and African regions. This will help the provider to a large extent in reducing the problems that you face when you connect to servers further away from your location while using the service.
PureVPN Uses both: Bare-Metal and Virtual Locations
PureVPN, like many other providers these days, does not offer physical servers in all of its locations. It also utilizes virtual locations mainly for availability in countries with tough internet laws.
The primary difference between the two is exactly what their names imply. Physical servers are actual servers which exist in a physical form somewhere, while the virtual servers are fictitious.
Testing on their az1-ovpn-udp.pointtoserver.com server revealed that it is actually located in Edinburgh, UK. Some other virtual locations used by PureVPN include: Aruba, Saudia Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen.
Speed Testing PureVPN’s Servers
To get a final verdict on how fast the provider actually is, we ran a PureVPN speed test on different servers in multiple regions.
The best speeds were found in 5 regions which included the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and France. In these locations, on an average, PureVPN managed to deliver 73.57Mbps in download and 64.59Mbps in uploads.
Surprisingly, PureVPN’s fastest server is located far away from Hong Kong, where the provider is actually located!
Germany servers by PureVPN were the fastest out of ones we tested, making it a very good option for streaming in Europe and North Middle Eastern regions.
Streaming, Torrenting, and VPN Ban Capabilities of PureVPN
The entire purpose of purchasing a VPN is to finally bypass those irritating geo-restrictions, forced censorship, and hefty fines due to engaging in torrenting. Here is my analysis of PureVPN on all three criteria:
PureVPN Can Unblock Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer
PureVPN is one of those rare services that can offer you a stellar unblocking experience. Not only does it unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer UK, but it can work on almost all popular geo-restricted services and sites easily.
I was especially surprised when PureVPN worked on Hulu, as its a fast-growing service but not many providers offer special unblocking services for it.
The biggest roadblock in unblocking such major streaming sites is a thing called a VPN Ban. PureVPN keeps things stable by changing its VoD servers fast enough to avoid detection via IP filtering or DPI (techniques adopted for banning VPNs).
Engage in Carefree P2P/Torrenting
PureVPN strongly primes itself as a VPN for torrenting.
But what’s so special in that?
That’s because, many VPNs dont support Torrenting these days due to the massive fines and lawsuits being filed for copyright infringement these days by large scale media houses and copyright trolls.
Just select the File-Sharing mode on any app and gain access to a list of exclusive PureVPN P2P servers. The best part of all: you can even activate Split Tunneling and SOCKS5 proxy for maximum protection
Inconsistent Performance in China
PureVPN fails to offer consistent performance in China. Unlike other providers like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark, it does not offer a dedicated Chinese page for residents to download the product.
As far as Chinese expats are concerned, the VPN does work in bypassing “The Great Firewall”, but performance seems to be incredibly inconsistent. One reason for this could be the lack of “obfuscation” available.
PureVPN needs to invest in obfuscated servers either through Xor or the Stunnel protocol, which redirects the VPN traffic to port 443, making it look like regular HTTPs traffic, fooling sites/countries that impose VPN bans.
PureVPN Extra Service Features
Apart from all the conventional features that every other VPN app offers, PureVPN sets out to define itself as an exclusive service making available some useful gems for p2p/torrenting and streaming on VoDs.
Split Tunneling is a feature that works exactly like what its name implies. It “splits” your traffic, and allows you to be in charge of what goes through your VPN tunnel and what doesn’t.
This feature works well for torrenting. You can allow the uTorrent application to use the VPN while disabling the encryption on other apps and your browser.
PureVPN offers a kill switch that has received some complaints. The feature did not work properly until 6 months ago and many users were aghast about it, and that’s because the importance of a properly functioning kill switch is undeniable.
In the event of a connection drop, this feature protects your real WebRTC/DNS/IP address from leaking, which in turn keeps you protected from DMCA notices and the hefty fines that accompany them (if you engage in downloading of pirated files).
When you connect to a VPN, you gain access to a network of dynamic/shared IPs. These addresses are in use by hundreds of users from different areas around the world, hence making it impossible for ISPs and governmental agencies to track your identity.
However, there are many corporate job roles that require dedicated IPs to access certain databases. Luckily, for you PureVPN offers many, which guarantee:
- Secure Remote Access – With PureVPN’s dedicated IP, you gain the ability to control who accesses your server database and discarding those that are not allowed to.
- Online Banking Security – By limiting your bank accounts access to a single IP, you can prevent hackers and snoopers from stealing your information.
- Two Factor Authentication – PureVPN’s dedicated IPs are the new way to set up two-factor authentication on any online resource of your choice.
- Risk Free Online Reputation – Since the IP address is completely under your control, you do not have to worry about a tarnished reputation.
- Home Security Camera Protection – Through a dedicated IP recognized by your home network, you can gain access to live feeds of your home cameras from anywhere at any time.
PureVPN really surprised me by offering a Hotspot feature, as it allows users to use VPNs on other devices, without going through the fussy process of installing more client apps.
Not even the most popular VPNs out there offer the same feature, which makes this one from Pure quite unique and immensely valuable. Here is how you can create your own VPN Hotspot:
- In the system tray, right-click on the icon for PureVPN and choose “Restart as Admin”
- Now click on Settings > App Settings > Protocol > TCP/UDP/Stealth
- Turn the VPN on by clicking on “Connect”
- Click on VPN Hotspot option
- Hit the“Enable VPN Hotspot”
- Set a Network SSID and a password
- Connect any other device to the network!
PureVPN Problems and Fixes
The live chat option is the most preferred option for solving any problem or get something fixed/patched up. Whether you want to know simply how to use PureVPN or you want to get info on the refund policies, just ask them and they’ll most definitely guide you through any major issue you are having.
But PureVPN also offers a very well built support repository for this task as well.
This repository contains virtually all types of guides on troubleshooting issues you might have. However, according to my own experience, some of them may be outdated and may not work. So the best option is to go neutral and give the problem a search on Google and you will get a good enough answer to solve your issues in a jiffy.
A user can have or experience any sort of issue, but some of them are major and highly occurring so I am relaying their solutions here:
1- PureVPN Android App Not Working in China
If you are going to China, you must make sure that you have the latest version of the PureVPN Android app on your phone as the app is not available on the Google Play Store in China.
If the PureVPN app is not working there, you can’t do much as you can’t access their live chat support or their repository and neither can you even reinstall the app.
2- PureVPN Windows 10 Not Working
The most problematic app offered by PureVPN is the one for Windows 10 OS. It has minor niggles and glitches that can make it difficult to work with the app.
If the app is not responding or working for a long period, then you might need to uninstall and reinstall the app. This almost fixes up all major issues.
Sometimes, you just need to switch between different protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP, etc. as this can create issues.
There are many other errors that might show depending on the kind of technical issue afflicting your system, so it’s best to consult chat support for it.
3- Unable to Connect to Remote Server
Sometimes, the server won’t get connected to and that can result in you getting the error of “PureVPN unable to connect”. You can deal with it firstly by waiting it out and try again after a couple of minutes. But if it’s still not working, PureVPN support offers an excellent 6 step guide to get through it. You can access the guide here.
Apps/Device Compatibility Information
PureVPN offers dedicated applications for all platforms, devices, and hardware. You can easily install the VPN on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. If that were not enough, you even have apps for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers
Here is a brief overview of what you can expect with each app that PureVPN offers:
PureVPN Windows App
PureVPN’s Windows app is prone to stopping suddenly, not being able to initiate connections, and some glitches with other important features as well. On the experience scale, I would probably not give it more than 5/10.
It works fine usually, but sometimes it can be a major spoil sport. Also, there are some features in it that I really found confusing. Firstly, the Client has a “Select Mode” option, which looks like this:
There are two options titled “Internet Freedom” & “Security/Privacy” are exactly the same thing so there was no need to add an extra mode that does the exact same thing, just because you wanted to fill up some empty space.
Another big issue: the default protocol is set at IKEv2. Its just not right, because the industry norm for the default protocol and what’s also the best option security wise is OpenVPN protocol.
PureVPN Mac App
PureVPN App for Mac is inherently stable and does not have any major problems at all. It even is the best app among the lot by some distance. I wonder why team PureVPN is not replicating its performance on the Windows app. On the rating scale, I would give it a 9/10.
PureVPN Android App
With a low disk profile and lightweight structure, PureVPN Android app will not bog down even the worst of Android devices. It is highly navigable and all options like settings are easily accessible.
This implies that the developers did put effort and thought into designing a UX specifically suited to the platform. Netflix worked fine, but the speeds were slow. One the rating scale, the Android app gets 7/10 from me.
PureVPN iOS App
PureVPN iOS app was not available actually for a very long time and this one just came out recently. So far, its been good and is actually built on the same lines as the Android app.
UX and UI are good and the connections don’t simmer for more 10 seconds before going through, which is pretty darn good considering that VPN apps for iOS usually take more than 15-20 seconds to do that.
I would give it a rating of 8/10 as it’s faster than the Android app but not as flawless as the Mac app.
PureVPN Supported Routers
You will need live chat assistance to setup PureVPN on Router. That’s because this task requires a certain degree of technical knowledge. PureVPN works and is supported on all popular routers and since a single PureVPN premium account will allow you 5 multi-logins, setting it up on a router will allow you to bypass that limit and make it work on all of your devices.
PureVPN currently supports most routers and you can find a way to setup it up on any them on its support repository. However, PureVPN offers the best compatibility with the DDWRT router as it has a dedicated app for it.
How to Install PureVPN on Kodi?
PureVPN is the only provider in the marketplace that currently offers support for Kodi. You can easily download and install the add-on on the entertainment platform to keep your identity secure. For instructions on how to install PureVPN on Kodi, follow this guide.
PureVPN’s Customer Support is Not Up to the Mark!
The provider seriously under-performs in aspects of customer support. The live chat feature and the agents behind it feel too mechanistic.
For e.g. I asked them whether the refund policy becomes void after you’ve consumed a certain amount of GBs in your bandwidth.
The reply I got had a link to its refund policy page, instead of a much more detailed and personalized answer.
Sometime earlier, the chat support executive would also ask if you had a PureVPN account or not before answering any query, however, this doesn’t happen now.
Top-notch live chat support is essential towards delivering the best vpn service, and PureVPN seriously falls short of it in this aspect.
This is one of the most problematic points of an otherwise good enough service
PureVPN’s Review via Trust Pilot
Review aggregation sites like Trustpilot are often a highly honest indicator of what the public or the average user thinks of the service and its performance standards holistically.The ratings on the site for PureVPN were delicately positive.
Around 85% of users rated it as a 5 star service from a total of 7624 reviews. Meanwhile, only a measly 3% gave ratings surrounding the Average/Poor/Bad criteria. Mostly, users have had a positive experience using the provider.
How to Cancel PureVPN’s Subscription Plan
Usually, the support team follows back within a day or submitting the request. They might first ask you the reason for cancelling the membership and try solving the issue. To cancel your account, follow the process below:
- Use your account credentials and login in to your account on the site
- Go to the Cancellation form and fill out all the details
- Your request for the cancellation of your subscription will now be processed by PureVPN
Bear in mind that there are some sort of payment options, on which the refund policy does not apply. For example, if you use the anonymous payment method Bitcoin, you cannot file for a refund.
Do I Recommend PureVPN?
Yes! I do recommend PureVPN to those looking for an affordable yet feature-packed VPN service for regular browsing. There are improvements required in bypassing “The Great Firewall”, but overall you receive good protection.
All dedicated software clients function smoothly and responsively, which adds to the likeability of the VPN. Add this to the large number of servers available, dedicated IPs, and the Hotspot feature, PureVPN provides good value for your money. You can get a plan for $2.95 from here.