PureVPN is a simple VPN with 2,000 servers and 300,000 IP addresses across 140 countries. It unblocks US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and it also allows torrenting. However, it's rather slow and its logging policy isn't very privacy-focused. Overall, PureVPN is a cheap VPN aimed at streaming fans.
At a glance, PureVPN might seem like a very good VPN. It has thousands of servers, the highest number of IP addresses we’ve seen, and it supports 20 devices and operating systems. It also offers 24/7 live support.
However, we didn’t take PureVPN at face value and we’ve dived past its marketing claims. We thoroughly tested all its VPN apps and in this PureVPN review for September 2020, we will reveal:
- Who really owns PureVPN
- How well it works with US Netflix
- If you can trust it for anonymous torrents
- If it still works in China
- And, overall, if PureVPN is any good
If you’re in a rush you can scan through key information in the summary table below. Otherwise, scroll further down to read our detailed PureVPN review.
PureVPN Pros & Cons
PureVPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||Some User Logs|
|Jurisdiction||Hong Kong (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||Yes|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$3.33/mo over 2 Years|
PureVPN is one of the oldest names in the VPN industry, but it hasn’t quite managed to keep up with the times. It’s still a good VPN, but right now it’s PureVPN is lagging behind some of its big-name rivals in a number of areas.
You can find out all you need to know about PureVPN, both good and bad, below – starting with the company behind the VPN service.
Who is PureVPN?
About & Logging
PureVPN was founded in 2007 by GZ Systems Limited, which operates under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, putting it beyond the reach of the privacy-unfriendly US and EU.
Following further investigations, we discovered that Uzair Gadit, CEO of PureVPN, is also the co-founder of Gaditek, a company owned by the Gadit family and which operates another VPN service, Ivacy VPN. It’s unclear if GZ Systems Limited is a subsidiary of Gaditek or not, but there’s certainly a strong connnection between the two entities.
The VPN service specifically chose Hong Kong for its headquarters because there are no mandatory data retention laws, therefore it isn’t a legal requirement to store user data or share it with any third parties.
PureVPN clearly states that “if and when [it] receive[s] subpoenas that are legally upheld in the court of law in Hong Kong, [it] won’t be of much help since [it has] almost nothing of value to share”, which is reassuring.
In August 2020, PureVPN announced its intention to move its headquarters away from Hong Kong due to the city’s National Security Law. As of writing, PureVPN couldn’t confirm the location of its new HQ.
Previous controversies surrounding PureVPN’s logging policy means we’re still a little skeptical of this VPN service – you might want to look into providers with strict no-logs policies, such as CyberGhost or PrivateVPN.
It emerged that in an online harassment case that took place in October 2017 the FBI was able to identify the accused by matching the IP address of a PureVPN server used in the crime with the true IP address that he used to connect to the server.
While we don’t condone the actions of the alleged criminal, PureVPN didn’t tell customers it logged their IP address, and claimed to only log connection times and bandwidth used. Even worse, it made the false claim that: “We do NOT keep any logs that can identify or help in monitoring a user’s activity,” which clearly isn’t the case.
However, PureVPN has recently gone some way to redeeming itself with the introduction of a completely revamped logging policy, where the only information collected is:
- The day you connect to a specific VPN server location
- Your Internet Service Provider
- Total bandwidth used by each user
It does not log:
- Your originating IP address
- Connection timestamps
- DNS requests
- The IP address of your chosen VPN server
This means that nothing you do online can be traced back to you as an individual, restoring a little bit of our confidence in the service.
PureVPN has also gone so far as to commission an independent audit of its logging policy to win back its users’ trust.
Inconsistent speeds, slow long-distance connections
Speed & Reliability
PureVPN isn’t the fastest VPN we’ve tested, but it’s still pretty quick.
Download and upload speeds on nearby servers (e.g. London to London) are more than fast enough for buffer-free streaming.
Our proprietary speed testing tool also showed impressive consistency across the whole of PureVPN’s server network.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using PureVPN:
When connected to PureVPN:
Download speed without PureVPN: 91.42Mbps
Download speed with PureVPN: 72.73Mbps
Our download speed loss when PureVPN is running: 20%
PureVPN performs fairly well over international connections, like the UK to the Australia, but some connections are a bit hit-and-miss (like the UK to the US).
Take a look at the VPN speeds we recorded in our London-based tests (remember that our internet connection without a VPN is 100Mbps):
- USA: 31Mbps (download) & 19Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 63Mbps (download) & 55Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 42Mbps (download) & 10Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 41Mbps (download) & 6Mbps (upload)
As you can see, PureVPN’s upload speeds aren’t very fast on long-distance connections, but unless you plan to torrent on faraway servers this shouldn’t be an issue.
PureVPN’s ping times are average, so gamers might be better off looking at other VPNs with super low latency. You can check out our VPN recommendations for gaming here.
Looking for the fastest VPN in 2020? Then take a look at Private Internet Access.
2,000 VPN servers spread across 140 countries
PureVPN has VPN servers in 140 countries across six continents, catering to more than just the popular destinations like North America and Western Europe (although it still has VPN servers in the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia for those who need them).
PureVPN operates over 2,000 servers in total – some of these are virtual servers, which are marked with a ‘V’ on PureVPN’s server locations list. All of the other physical servers are owned by PureVPN.
What’s most impressive is the 300,000+ IP addresses – that’s one of the highest numbers we’ve ever seen and massively reduces the risk of server congestion, guaranteeing high VPN speeds.
A choice of 13 different US city-level servers and four different Australia city-level servers means that PureVPN provides coast-to-coast coverage. You can drill down to multiple cities in a number of countries:
- Australia (4)
- Canada (3)
- China (2)
- Czech Republic (2)
- France (2)
- Germany (5)
- Malaysia (2)
- South Africa (2)
- UK (4)
- US (13)
Optimized servers work with Netflix, but not recommended for torrenting
Streaming & Torrenting
PureVPN is a decent VPN if you’re looking for fast, hassle-free access to major streaming services.
PureVPN Stream Mode unlocks over 20 listed TV streaming services and channels using optimized VPN servers, including:
- BBC iPlayer
- Amazon Prime
- Sky TV
Throughout our regular tests, we generally had no issues accessing popular streaming services through the dedicated servers, but on occasion we had to try a couple of different servers in order to gain access to our favorite shows.
PureVPN isn’t a good choice for Kodi fans and torrenters, even if P2P is permitted on the majority of its VPN servers.
The past issues with PureVPN’s logging policy prevent us from recommending this VPN service for privacy-sensitive P2P activities. You can read more about PureVPN’s logging policy below.
Some readers have also reported that PureVPN support agents have recommended using Dedicated IPs for P2P traffic, which is bad advice.
A dedicated IP address is a fixed IP address assigned to a PureVPN account, and it never changes. While it might be effective for streaming Netflix, it’s not good for privacy.
If you need a VPN for torrenting, read our guide of the best VPNs here.
Works in China, but setup is fiddly
PureVPN is one of the few VPN services to still work in China, despite the recent government crackdowns on VPN providers, even if it’s becoming less and less reliable as time goes on.
You’ll have to contact PureVPN’s customer support in order to receive a comprehensive guide to setting up your VPN for China. It can be a fiddly process and involves a lot of manual configuration. Even then, PureVPN is not guaranteed to always work in China.
For more reliable alternatives, take a look at the most reliable VPNs for China.
While PureVPN’s server network is huge and likely to have servers in nearby free-speech countries, there are other VPNs with much more effective solutions for other high-censorship countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia.
VPN apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS & more
Platforms & Devices
PureVPN has a good range of custom apps for various devices including:
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple MacOS
PureVPN’s apps are easy to install, taking just minutes set up, and they’re pretty simple to use too.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
PureVPN stands out from other VPN services for providing dedicated apps for both the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Android TV, so all you have to do is download the software from the app store and you’re good to start streaming.
Streaming fans might like the fact the PureVPN also also comes with a Kodi add-on, which is very rare.
Also, you can use PureVPN on other streaming devices and games consoles like Xbox and PlayStation by setting it up at router level. You can either buy pre-configured routers with PureVPN already installed, or manually configure your existing router if it’s compatible.
If you have a DD-WRT router, PureVPN provides an applet that makes using a VPN on your router much simpler.
A PureVPN subscription also comes with proxy browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
While PureVPN’s browser addons come with WebRTC leak protection, it’s important to remember that these proxies don’t encrypt your connection so should not be used in place of the full desktop client. They are a good added bonus, nonetheless.
There are currently no extensions for Opera or Safari.
Strong encryption & plenty of advanced security features
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
It used to be difficult to recommend PureVPN for anyone with stringent privacy needs due to previous issues with its logging policy, but a recent revamp means that this is no longer so much of a problem.
The PureVPN app chooses the ‘best’ VPN protocol for you on startup, but we recommend using OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) as it’s the best protocol for all-round performance and privacy. Encryption is via the ‘unbreakable’ cipher AES-256.
You can also connect with the following VPN protocols:
- IKEv2 – very fast and secure, great for mobile devices
- PPTP – very unsafe, and can be easily cracked
- L2TP – generally secure
- SSTP – comes with some potential security risks
The VPN kill switch is an essential feature, blocking all web traffic should the VPN connection drop for any reason, preventing your true IP address from being exposed.
PureVPN also protects you against DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks – which our independent tests proved to be working effectively – giving you peace of mind that your online activity isn’t visible to anyone other than yourself.
The PureVPN desktop app also includes split tunneling, allowing you to direct specific traffic through the VPN and leave the rest to travel outside of the encrypted tunnel.
PureVPN used to have a malware and ad blocker (Gravity and Ozone), but these have been removed as of June 2019.
However, during our testing we did notice something a little odd.
When we connected to certain servers (in the UK), our traffic was routed through Squid proxy servers.
We got in touch with PureVPN to ask why this was and this was their response:
“It is to inform you that we are using squid on our multiple servers including UK for better routing.”
We then asked PureVPN to confirm that Squid does not log user traffic:
“It is to inform you that Yes, all logging is disabled on squid. Unfortunately, we cannot disclose for business reasons.”
We would like to see more transparency about this issue on PureVPN’s website.
Custom VPN apps are quick to set up but a little clunky
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up PureVPN
Installing PureVPN is super easy and won’t trouble even the most inexperienced of VPN users. Simply download the software, follow the installation prompts, then enter your login credentials.
The PureVPN apps show promise and there’s a clear focus on user experience, but we found the execution to be inconsistent.
The main dashboard is easy enough to use and can be customized by purpose (streaming, internet freedom, file sharing, security, dedicated IP), but PureVPN’s desktop apps still feel a little clunky and old-fashioned.
Well-organized configurable options can be found in PureVPN’s settings menu, and we love the helpful explanations that go alongside some of the more advanced options, such as IPv6 leak protection.
PureVPN’s mobile apps are a little more streamlined than their desktop counterparts without compromising on advanced features.
It won’t take long to set up PureVPN’s proxy browser extensions for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Just click ‘Download Extension’ on PureVPN’s website, add the extension to your browser, log in, and connect.
Helpful live chat support and comprehensive online resources
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
PureVPN’s customer support is pretty good, but it could still do with some improvements.
PureVPN has a 24/7 live chat feature, which is very handy for quick, simple questions. The support agents respond promptly and courteously but their knowledge doesn’t extend to more complicated queries – it was much the same story for email support.
The Support Center on the website is certainly comprehensive with lots of FAQs, troubleshooting advice and manual setup guides for loads of devices.
If you have a simple question, you’ll be able to find answers in minutes, but if it’s anything technically complicated you’ll have to be a little more persistent.
Reasonably priced on annual plan
PureVPN Pricing Plan
The longer you commit to PureVPN the less you’ll pay on a monthly basis – as is the case with most VPNs.
A single month is the most expensive option at $10.95, but this is reduced by a massive 70% to just $3.33 per month if you opt for the two-year plan. There’s also an annual plan for $5.83 a month.
PureVPN’s longer term plans are extremely cheap – if you’re looking to save money then PureVPN is a very strong contender.
US$10.95/moBilled $10.95 every month
US$5.83/moBilled $69.95 for the first year
US$3.33/moBilled $79.95 for the first 2 years
All plans have 31-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
PureVPN accepts a wide range of payment methods, including some more private options:
- Credit and debit cards
- Loads of cryptocurrencies through CoinPayments, including BitCoin
- Loads of international methods through PaymentWall and BlueSnap
PureVPN recently launched a seven-day trial service for $0.99 to test the service before buying into a plan. A PureVPN subscriber can also give up to 24 free monthly accounts to friends.
You can also test out the PureVPN software for 31 days risk-free with its money-back guarantee. This is genuinely no questions asked, with no hidden data caps or restrictions. If it is due to a technical issue customer support will try and fix it first.
After your PureVPN refund request is processed and your account canceled, it can take up to 30 days for the refund payment to appear in your account.
Do We Recommend PureVPN?
The Bottom Line
PureVPN hasn’t got a spotless past but a new logging policy and an independent audit to back it up have regained some of our trust.
While some might want to opt for a VPN with no controversies to its name, PureVPN is still a good choice for users that need access to content from all over the world (140 countries to be precise) and it’s useful for streaming Netflix and other services too.
Alternatives to PureVPN
ExpressVPN has proven its trustworthiness on multiple occasions - once when one of its Turkish servers was seized and no user connection logs could be found, and on other occasions when it's completed independent privacy and security audits. Read ExpressVPN review