Skip to main content

PureVPN review

A feature-packed VPN with some irritating flaws

PureVPN Hero
(Image: © PureVPN)

TechRadar Verdict

PureVPN has speedy WireGuard connections, some appealing features, and is fairly priced for what you get. But poor unblocking results and assorted app and usability issues show the service isn't quite as capable as the top VPN competition. If you're interested, test the service with the 7-day $1 trial before you sign up long-term.

Pros

  • +

    Fast WireGuard-powered download speeds

  • +

    Passed a no logging audit

  • +

    One plan covers up to 10 users

  • +

    Unblocks BBC iPlayer

Cons

  • -

    Couldn't unblock US Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus

  • -

    Windows kill switch issues

  • -

    Mac app is short on features

  • -

    Various app annoyances

PureVPN has been in the VPN business since 2007, so it's no surprise that the company has built up a lengthy list of features.

The service covers most of the technical basics: strong encryption via WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2; DNS and IPv6 leak protection; torrent support; split tunneling to control which apps use the VPN; and a smart kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops.

Platform support is a highlight, with dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and more downloads and tutorials to help you set up the service on routers, Kodi, Android TV, Amazon's Fire TV Stick and more.

PureVPN Locations

PureVPN has thousands of servers across the world (Image credit: PureVPN)

You can use PureVPN on up to 10 devices simultaneously, and in an unusual bonus, this provider allows you to share these 10 slots with your family. If there are four people with phones, say, they can each install and use PureVPN with their own login, and you'll still be able to connect six other devices at home.

PureVPN's network has a sizeable 6,500 servers across 96 locations and 78 countries.

Recent improvements are mostly about the apps, with PureVPN optimizing its WireGuard support, simplifying app interfaces and introducing some small but welcome tweaks. Login problems, for instance? Most apps leave you to figure it out for yourself, but PureVPN gives you a login screen link to talk directly to the support team; very thoughtful.

PureVPN Payments

PureVPN accepts payments from PayPal, credit cards and Bitcoin (via CoinGate) (Image credit: PureVPN)

PureVPN pricing

Pricing starts fractionally higher than average at $10.95 billed monthly (opens in new tab).

The annual plan (opens in new tab) looks good value at $3.24 a month, especially as that's covering up to 10 family members. But that's partly due to a one-off discount, and it renews at $4.49.

A special two-year plan (opens in new tab) is priced at $1.99 a month. That's cheap, but it also renews as the $4.49 a month annual plan.

It's not on the regular pricing page, but the PureVPN website also offered us a five-year plan for only $1.49 a month. That undercuts just about everyone else, although Ivacy's current five-year price is even better at $1.19 a month.

This isn't just about the main plans, though. PureVPN has several optional extras.

Dedicated IPs look like a good deal at $2.99 a month for addresses in the US, UK, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Malta and Australia. Private Internet Access, NordVPN, Astrill and others charge $4 to $5, sometimes more.

Port forwarding is an optional extra at $0.99 a month, or you can add a dedicated IP with port forwarding for $3.49.

There's even DDoS protection, handy for gamers. Okay, it's an extra $3.99 a month, but most providers don't offer it at all.

PureVPN 7-day Trial

You can test PureVPN out for 7 days for just $1 (Image credit: PureVPN)

If you're intrigued, there's a sort-of 7-day trial. You have to pay upfront, but only $1, and if you cancel the account before the week is up, you get that dollar back.

There's support for paying via cryptocurrency if you're looking for maximum anonymity (although cards and PayPal are accepted, too).

If you sign up for a full plan and you're unhappy, there's a 31-day money-back guarantee, with no dubious clauses in the small print to catch you out. If you're unhappy, just send an email and ask for a refund.

PureVPN Privacy

PureVPN looks good on the privacy front on the whole, but there are caveats (Image credit: PureVPN)

Privacy and logging

PureVPN's privacy policy (opens in new tab) gets off to a good start, with a lengthy list of all the data the service doesn't log: 'We DO NOT keep any record of your browsing activities, connection logs, records 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 generated by you.'

The policy also explains that there is some session logging: the day you connected to a specific location, your ISP, the connection length, how many connections you make, and the overall total bandwidth you use. But this can't tie your account to a specific internet action, and it's unlikely to compromise your privacy.

The policy goes on to explain that PureVPN employs 'a few tools' in its apps to 'conduct VPN diagnostics and monitor crash reports.'

This kind of crash reporting isn't uncommon, but we expect it to be optional, and that's not the case here. There's no 'Send crash data?' option in Settings – PureVPN sends it regardless (and if you don't read the privacy policy, you'd never even know this was happening).

PureVPN No Logging VPN

PureVPN has passed a no logging audit conducted by KPMG (Image credit: PureVPN)

No logging audit

In 2020 PureVPN announced it had passed a no logging audit by KPMG (opens in new tab), which concluded that the service doesn't log a user's origin IP address, a user's assigned VPN IP, the specific time when a user connects to a VPN server, or log a user's activities through its VPN connection.

PureVPN also says it opted for an 'always-on' audit policy, which means KPMG can 'initiate a non-scheduled privacy audit at any time of the year, without any prior notice.' Sure enough, in August 2021, the company reported it had passed a second no logging audit.

These checks appear to be thorough, with PureVPN saying they involve 'the inspection of our complex infrastructure, server configurations, codebase, technical data logs, and global servers', along with 'interviews of our personnel who are involved in server maintenance and database handling.'

The reports haven't been made public, so you can't check out the details for yourself. And they're only attempting to verify the main no logging policy – they don't look for privacy issues in general.

Still, we're not complaining: even with these limitations, there's vastly more reassurance here than you'll get with most VPNs. Hopefully PureVPN will continue with regular audits, and make the full reports available, not just a sentence or two.

Setup

Installing the Windows app was simple, but we did notice one small issue. Not only was the setup program configured to install PureVPN's Chrome extension by default, but it tucked this option away on the 'agree to the Terms and Conditions' page. We suspect many users just click 'I agree' as soon as any small print-related options appear, and they won't even realize they're installing the Chrome extension, as well.

This almost certainly won't be harmful, but we prefer installers to be more explicit about what they're doing. Have a separate 'Add Chrome extension?' installation step, for instance, so users are very clear on what's happening. And have the answer set to 'No' by default, ensuring you'll only get the extension if you specifically ask for it.

PureVPN Windows Interface

The Windows client features a plain and simple interface (Image credit: PureVPN)

Windows app

PureVPN's Windows app interface is plain and very simple, in fact mostly just white space. A status panel displays the recommended location, and tapping on the location list displays more. There's a big On/Off button to connect and disconnect, and some tiny sidebar icons for other app areas (Settings, Help, Account).

The location picker is better than most, with a Recent Locations list, a Favorites system, and a searchable list of countries with ping times to help you spot the fastest.

Clicking an arrow to the right of a country expands it to list any cities. That's a familiar idea, but most VPN apps only display that kind of 'expand me' indicator when a country has multiple locations. PureVPN does it for all countries, so we regularly expanded a list to find it included only one city.

Connection times were faster than many at around 2-4 seconds for WireGuard, 6-10 seconds for OpenVPN. Desktop notifications alert you when you're connected.

The app displays your current upload and download speeds in a status area. We noticed this worked with WireGuard and IKEv2, but not when we switched to OpenVPN (the speeds were always displayed as zero).

There were regular prompts for feedback. 'How is the connection quality?', asked the Windows app, every time we connected. 'Is PureVPN helping you out?', asked the Mac app, both when we connected and disconnected. You can dismiss these with a click, but after doing that for the 30th, 40th, or 50th time, it starts to be annoying.

PureVPN Windows Settings

The Windows app has few settings (Image credit: PureVPN)

The app has relatively few settings. A kill switch blocks your internet connection if the VPN drops, plus there's a choice of WireGuard, IKEv2 and OpenVPN TCP/UDP protocols, and split tunneling allows you to choose which apps use the VPN, and which don't.

Our kill switch test gave mixed results. It worked just fine with OpenVPN and WireGuard, blocking our internet access as soon as the VPN dropped. But it had no effect at all on IKEv2 connections, and our traffic was exposed until the app noticed the problem and reconnected (typically in just a few seconds, fortunately).

A Help button includes a limited and poorly presented FAQ. This has only nine items, answers are basic and outdated (a 'slow speed' answer doesn't list WireGuard as a protocol), and although some of the content can scroll off the bottom of the page, there's no scroll bar to easily bring it back into view.

You can at least submit a ticket from within the app, or open a live chat window, but this also isn't ideal. When we clicked the Chat button, it opened a browser tab at a link similar to https://direct.lc.chat/109xxx87, which wasn't even branded PureVPN. It's probably staffed entirely by PureVPN employees, and it's all entirely safe. But it would still be reassuring if the live chat window opened on the PureVPN site, rather than some third-party service that most users won't recognize.

PureVPN Mac App

PureVPN's Mac app has light and dark themes (Image credit: PureVPN)

Mac app

PureVPN's Mac app has a similar layout to the Windows version, but there are differences in how the apps work, which could be annoying if you need to use both.

The Windows app has groups of options represented by sidebar icons, for instance. The Mac build has several different groups, in a different order, and displays them as text.

Connect with Windows, and you'll see the current upload and download speeds, plus you can choose a new location by clicking the server name. Connect with Mac, you'll see the total data uploaded and downloaded, but clicking the server name does nothing.

The Mac app drops some Windows features, too. In particular, there's no split tunneling or OpenVPN support.

This is still a decent Mac VPN app. It's straightforward to use, connected quickly for us, and has WireGuard support and a kill switch. Sure, it's different to Windows in some areas, but if you only ever use a Mac, you may not care.

Other providers often go further, though. They'll typically take far more care to unify their app design across platforms, and their Mac apps can be as (or even more) powerful than their Windows cousins.

PureVPN Android App

PureVPN's Android app looks very much the same as the Windows client (Image credit: PureVPN)

Mobile apps

PureVPN's mobile apps take elements from the desktop editions, add a few new ideas of their own, and present them in a simpler, more stripped-back interface.

The Android app has the same location list and pulsing Connect button as the Mac, and also got us connected in just a few seconds. It integrates with Android's 'always on' kill switch and supports split tunneling, but there are no automatic launch or connect options, and no ability to open a live chat session from within the app.

PureVPN iOS App

The iOS app looks a bit different to Android, and borrows some inspiration from the Mac software (Image credit: PureVPN)

The iOS app looks a little different, with the Mac's left-hand text sidebar, but the location list and basic app operations are much the same.

There's yet another combination of features for iOS users, too. An iOS-only 'VPN On Demand' option enables automatically connecting to the VPN whenever you access a particular site. There's a useful new setting to automatically connect if the VPN drops. Protocol support is good, with the option to use WireGuard, OpenVPN, IPSec and IKEv2, but there's no Android-style split tunneling.

These are still very useable apps, and easy to operate, which more than cover the VPN basics, and have decent ratings on their respective app stores (4.2 for Android, 4.3 for iOS).

The top providers usually do a better job of making their mobile apps look and feel the same, though, and PureVPN's offerings are a little underpowered by comparison.

Speedtest.net performance benchmark

We used several speed testing sites to determine PureVPN's performance (Image credit: Speedtest.net)

Performance

We measured PureVPN speeds from US and UK locations, using several performance testing sites and services (SpeedTest's website and command line app, TestMy.net, Netflix's Fast.com and more). We check the download speeds at least five times from each site, then check again using another protocol, before repeating this all over again in an evening session.

OpenVPN speeds were mid-range at 180-190Mbps in the US, 250-260Mbps in the UK. That's better than some – Surfshark didn't reach 200Mbps in our last OpenVPN speed test of the service (though admittedly its WireGuard speed was four times as fast) – but CyberGhost, Hide.me and Mullvad all beat 400Mbps in recent reviews.

When we unleashed PureVPN's WireGuard connections, though, it was a very different story. This time the service reached 460Mbps in the UK, 750-840Mbps in the US, earning it a top 10 place in our performance charts. (TorGuard's 950Mbps is the current speed leader.)

Keep in mind that although we take more than 100 speed measurements of each VPN, you may see very different results depending on your location and setup, so it's worth taking the 7-day trial and running a few speed tests of your own.

Netflix menu showing popular shows

PureVPN failed to give us access to US Netflix in our tests (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix and streaming

Most VPNs claim they let you access geoblocked content from anywhere in the world, and PureVPN is no exception. 'Movies, TV shows or sporting events; PureVPN allows you instant and unrestricted access to your favorite content', the website claims.

The apps don't have specialist streaming locations, so you're left to choose a server in the country you need, connect, and see if your streaming service is accessible.

That worked just fine with BBC iPlayer, where PureVPN got us complete access from all three of our test locations.

But it didn't deliver at all with US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney Plus, with PureVPN failing to get us in, no matter which servers we tried.

If unblocking is your top priority, you'll get far better results elsewhere. CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, ProtonVPN, Surfshark and others each unblocked every one of our test streaming platforms in their most recent reviews.

PureVPN Platforms

PureVPN has setup guides for 15 different platforms (Image credit: PureVPN)

Support

Get past the initial hassles and PureVPN has a large support site (opens in new tab) with a huge number of tutorials and troubleshooting guides. The opening page points you to categories like Setup Guides, Troubleshoot, FAQ, and Account and Billing, for instance, and most of these sections include more content than you'd expect.

The Setup Guide has subsections for 15 platforms, for instance (yes, really), and even some of those individual sections have more content than the entire support site of lesser VPNs.

There's a lot of information here, and some unusual and welcome touches. You don't have to bookmark a particular tutorial to view it later in your browser, for instance – in many cases you can download a PDF for more convenient offline reading.

PureVPN Support Error

The search function was sometimes less than useful (Image credit: PureVPN)

A Search box should help you find the articles you need, at least in theory. But in our tests it didn't always choose the best guides, or display results with the most relevant first.

Even when we did find suitable tutorials, the content often covered the basics only. There was usually enough information to get by, but it's not as up-to-date or in-depth as we see with ExpressVPN, NordVPN and the best of the competition.

If the website can't help, you're able to raise a support ticket from within the client. Our test question got a basic but just-good-enough reply in around 30 minutes.

Alternatively, you can use live chat on the website. As we mentioned above, responses can be very basic, even with simple queries. PureVPN couldn't get close to the level of support we'd received from top competitors like ExpressVPN, then, but response times are good, and most replies were enough to solve our immediate issues.

PureVPN review: Final verdict

PureVPN is faster than most, has a decent feature set and is good value on the longer-term plans. But the unblocking failures, kill switch and assorted app issues prevent this service from competing with the very best VPNs.

Mike Williams
Mike Williams

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.