NordVPN and PureVPN are both market leaders with many users. While PureVPN was the bigger name in the industry four years ago, a lot has changed, and now NordVPN sits on top. But has PureVPN moved beyond the troubles and controversy from the past few years to reclaim the title?
This PureVPN vs NordVPN comparison will give you a clear answer.
Here are the eight categories we will use to compare the two services:
- Company background and jurisdiction
- Speed tests
- Streaming and torrenting
- Security and Encryption
- Prices & Refunds
By the time we finish evaluating all these categories, you’ll have everything you need to know to choose between them. So let’s not waste any time.
1. NordVPN vs PureVPN background and jurisdiction
While VPN services are great tools for protecting our privacy, there is something we must not forget. Your VPN service can potentially monitor and record your online activities. After all, their apps and servers are encrypting and decrypting your internet traffic.
VPN services have strong incentives to protect your privacy, but that are no guarantees. Some services have even been caught violating their own “no logs” policies. One example is IPVanish, which provided user logs to the FBI – but that’s not the only example, as we’ll see in a minute with PureVPN.
There are also some VPNs that have been busted for embedding tracking libraries in their apps. Hotspot Shield VPN is one such example.
While past results are no guarantee of future performance, a company’s background (and geographic location) are the best indicators that we have of how well they will protect our privacy in the future.
NordVPN background and jurisdiction
NordVPN is one of the best-known, and most trusted companies in the VPN industry. It has undergone multiple security and privacy audits, further bolstering trust. The company is based in Panama. Because the country of Panama has no mandatory data retention laws, and is not a member of any international intelligence alliances, the company is well insulated from outside pressure to reveal user data. Add in the fact that the service is a no-logs VPN provider that has been audited multiple times, and we have no problem recommending their products.
NordVPN itself is part of the new brand, NordSec. The rebrand includes two other NordSec products: NordPass, a secure password manager, and NordLocker, a combined encryption tool and secure cloud storage solution. Both of these products did well in testing for the reviews.
PureVPN background and jurisdiction
PureVPN is a product of GZ Systems Limited, a Hong Kong company. However, during our research, we discovered that a company called Gaditek, based in Karachi, Pakistan, lists PureVPN as one of its brands.
That isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. An important thing to know is that PureVPN’s legal jurisdiction is in Hong Kong. And this is something to worry about, given the political unrest and increasing influence of China on Hong Kong’s internal policies. While your data is probably safe for now, the future is far less certain.
PureVPN logs user data for the FBI
No discussion of PureVPN would be complete without discussing the logging case. A few years back, PureVPN was caught logging user data and handing it over to the FBI. Since this happened, it seems PureVPN has been in a downward spiral, losing both trust and users.
It is difficult to trust a company with data security after it has been caught logging users for state agencies. Consequently, we no longer recommend PureVPN to our readers.
Company background and jurisdiction winner: NordVPN
2. NordVPN vs PureVPN speed tests
As you are probably aware, all VPNs slow down your connection. This is only logical given all the work a VPN must do to protect your data. But after testing more VPNs than we care to remember, we’ve learned that how much a VPN slows down your connection varies wildly from service to service.
We’ve gotten excellent results in past NordVPN speed tests, but PureVPN may have something to say on this subject. According to the PureVPN website,
Our self-engineered VPN service and proprietary apps are optimized for evolving broadband connections. Our service runs seamlessly in the background to provide the fastest speeds across the globe.
So now let’s examine a few PureVPN vs NordVPN speed tests. This should be good.
Note: All speed tests are done using the 500 Mbps connection in our US-based lab.
For the first round of testing, we tried VPN servers located in the UK. A fast and secure UK VPN is vitally important as legal privacy protection is fast becoming a memory in the United Kingdom.
PureVPN server in UK: 18.45 Mbps
A download speed of 18.45 Mbps on a 500 Mbps connection is really bad. Can NordVPN do better?
Here was the NordVPN server in UK: 295 Mbps
With a speed of 295 Mbps, NordVPN is around 16 times as fast as PureVPN for this testing location.
Given PureVPN’s speed claims, perhaps this is just some kind of issue with PureVPN’s connection from the USA to the UK. Let’s find out if they are more competitive when connecting to locations in North America.
PureVPN server in the United States: 59 Mbps
This is better than the PureVPN server in the UK, but is still nothing to brag about. Now let’s compare this to NordVPN.
Here was a NordVPN server in the United States: 445 Mbps
Yes, you are reading that correctly. With a maximum possible download speed of 500 Mbps, NordVPN delivered over 445 Mbps. That’s the highest speed we’ve ever seen in our VPN testing. Note also that NordVPN scored a ping of 24 ms. That makes NordVPN a promising VPN for gaming, when low latency is important.
As a result, even with PureVPN’s improved results, NordVPN is still more than 7 times as fast.
That’s enough for us. PureVPN’s bold claims aren’t backed up by results. NordVPN was much faster than PureVPN in all server locations we tested. And this is not an anomaly. NordVPN also came out on top in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison.
Note: One reason that NordVPN is so much faster than PureVPN is because it uses the WireGuard VPN protocol. WireGuard promises much faster speeds than OpenVPN, while also delivering upgraded security and the latest encryption.
Speed test winner: NordVPN
3. NordVPN vs PureVPN features
So far things aren’t looking good for PureVPN. Let’s see who wins in the features comparison.
This service claims a network of over 2,000 VPN servers and over 140 countries. That’s pretty impressive. Even ExpressVPN, one of the top VPN services in the world, only supports 94 countries. Unfortunately, after the debacle with PureVPN’s speed claims, we’re inclined to follow the old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
In our tests, we’ve found that PureVPN utilizes many virtual server locations. These are servers that advertise a given location, but in reality, are located somewhere else. PureVPN does this for many of their exotic locations.
PureVPN supports a full range of VPN protocols throughout their network, and a wide range of devices and operating systems, including Linux and various routers. It even offers an app for Firestick, but we certainly wouldn’t call it the best VPN for Firestick due to the performance issues. Note that the apps that they provide for the various devices were buggy and clumsy in our tests, as discussed in the PureVPN review.
Connections – One other nice feature of PureVPN is that it supports 10 simultaneous connections, about double the industry standard.
What about NordVPN?
NordVPN has all the basic features you might want, along with many advanced features. They offer all the same apps and browser extensions that PureVPN does, but with added features. NordVPN even goes a few steps beyond, supporting unusual hardware like the Raspberry Pi, as well as VPN routers like the Vilfo.
These guys were one of the first companies to integrate the WireGuard protocol into their network. It arrived in the form of NordLynx, a fast, lean, privacy-focused implementation of WireGuard on the NordVPN server network.
NordVPN also offers a large network of 5,400 servers spanning 59 different countries. And unlike with PureVPN, NordVPN does not use any virtual server locations that broadcast fictitious geolocations. All of NordVPN’s servers run on dedicated hardware in the true location that matches the IP address.
Another great feature of NordVPN is the large number of specialty servers that are optimized for different use cases:
- P2P servers that are optimized for torrenting and file transfers.
- Obfuscated servers that hide VPN traffic to get around blocks and restrictions. (These come in handy if you need a good VPN for UAE or China.)
- Double-VPN servers that pass your traffic through two VPN servers for extra security.
- Tor-over-VPN servers that add an extra layer of encryption through the Tor network.
One of my favorite NordVPN features is CyberSec. This feature is enabled directly in the NordVPN apps and will blocks ads, trackers, malware, and phishing domains.
CyberSec is beneficial in terms of privacy and faster page load speeds, since ads and trackers will no longer be eating up your bandwidth. Check out the best VPNs with ad blocking here.
Both NordVPN and PureVPN offer dedicated IP VPN add-ons. A dedicated IP VPN may be useful for streaming.
Connections – NordVPN allows for six simultaneous connections with your VPN subscription. This is about average. However, there are some VPNs that offer an unlimited number of connections, as we noted in the NordVPN vs Surfshark comparison.
Features winner: NordVPN
4. Streaming and torrenting with NordVPN and PureVPN
Both services support streaming and torrenting. Let’s see if PureVPN can score some points against the other guys in this important aspect of VPN use.
Streaming at home is becoming increasingly popular, a trend that really kicked off during the lockdowns. Untold millions of people would love to use a VPN to view content from around they world. Even though most major streaming services use geo-blocking technology to control who can view their content, a good VPN can usually get through restrictions to unblock websites and content.
There are a few, but only a few, VPNs that can defeat geo-blocking technology, and deliver an enjoyable streaming experience. The gold standard for this is the ability to provide connections to the Netflix US content libraries. So let’s see how our competitors do on this important capability.
NordVPN – If unblocking Netflix is high on your list, you need to test drive this VPN. They give you access to not only the United States Netflix, but also many other Netflix regions around the world. Beyond Netflix, NordVPN is also a great VPN for BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney Plus, and many more.
Simply connect to a NordVPN server in the region you want to unblock, and enjoy streaming content. Here we are using a NordVPN server in the US to unblock the US Netflix library:
In addition, thanks to the incredible speed of their server network, you should be able to stream HD content without any annoying delays, buffering, or interruptions.
PureVPN – In our tests, PureVPN was able to access US Netflix – but there was a problem. PureVPN speeds with Netflix were slow, which resulted in playback and buffering issues. Below you can see the PureVPN server for Netflix was having troubling loading the content with slow speeds.
This is where PureVPN falls down. Because their server network is so slow, they can’t display streaming content at full resolution without buffering. In other words, if you watch a streaming video with PureVPN, you will likely find yourself watching a blurry (low-quality) image that occasionally freezes while waiting for adequate bandwidth.
Given that the problem here is the speed of the network, this kind of problem will most likely apply to other streaming services you want to access with PureVPN.
NordVPN is easily the winner when it comes to streaming.
So how do NordVPN and PureVPN compare with torrenting? Privacy, reliability, and speed are what matter here. Can PureVPN compete?
- NordVPN is perhaps the fastest VPN in the world and provides excellent protection against leaks. We recently rated it the best VPN for torrenting with excellent speeds and secure, leak-proof applications.
- As we will discuss in a moment, PureVPN is leaky. This means the network and apps can leak your personal data to the internet. And that means your identity could be revealed, potentially even leading to legal trouble when torrenting. Add in the speed issues we found earlier, and this not a good option for torrenting.
NordVPN beats PureVPN when it comes to torrenting too.
Streaming and Torrenting winner: NordVPN
5. PureVPN vs NordVPN encryption and security
Security and encryption are of the utmost importance for a VPN. Unfortunately, only one of these two services can be counted on here.
NordVPN and PureVPN have comparable levels of encryption:
- PureVPN: Offers a range of encryption options up to and including AES-256
- NordVPN: AES-256 for the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols; ChaCha20 ciphers for the WireGuard protocol
NordVPN gives you more options for VPN protocols and encryption. Additionally, the WireGuard protocol is considered more secure than OpenVPN by some experts. This is because WireGuard uses the latest encryption standards and is significantly smaller, operating on a leaner codebase that is less bloated and easier to audit.
Both NordVPN and PureVPN offer a kill switch in their respective VPN apps, and this should theoretically protect users against leaks. In our tests, the NordVPN kill switch worked perfectly, and we could not detect any leaks. Below is the NordVPN Windows client.
NordVPN has built-in leak protection with all apps for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS.
PureVPN was a different story. Unlike NordVPN, we discovered DNS leaks with the PureVPN Windows client, in addition to other bugs and problems.
The PureVPN DNS leaks are a serious issue, as you can see in the screenshot below taken with the PureVPN Windows client:
These DNS leaks with PureVPN expose your browsing history (via DNS requests) to third parties, as well as your general location and internet service provider. No leaks were identified with NordVPN.
NordVPN has undergone the following third-party audits:
- A no-logs audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland.
- A second PricewaterhouseCoopers no-logs audit covering regular, obfuscated, Double VPN and P2P servers (completed in 2020).
- An application and infrastructure audit conducted by VerSprite.
PureVPN had their no-logs policy audited in 2019 by Altius IT. This is important, because they are one of the VPN services that previously turned over user logs to the FBI, despite having a no-logs policy at the time.
Unlike with NordVPN, we have not found any references to PureVPN security audits conducted by outside firms.
VPN server security
NordVPN has converted all of its VPN servers in their network to diskless operation (a.k.a. RAM-disk mode). This makes it impossible for any data to be stored on the server, while also protecting NordVPN from rogue third-party server seizures, which has happened to a few VPNs. Either way, there are no logs available.
PureVPN does not use RAM-disk mode for its servers, which puts PureVPN users at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, more VPNs are converting their networks to RAM-only operation, a trend we first noted in the ExpressVPN review.
Security winner: NordVPN
6. Privacy: PureVPN VS NordVPN
The security win goes to the team from Panama. Which service is better for privacy?
PureVPN – We have already covered the following issues that give PureVPN low marks for the privacy category:
- A past history of logging users for state agencies.
- Jurisdiction in Hong Kong (increasingly under the thumb of China)
- Data leaks that expose user data to third parties
It’s clear that PureVPN does not do very well in the privacy category.
NordVPN has a strong record of protecting the privacy of its users and is based in Panama, a country renowned for privacy-focused businesses. NordVPN also earns privacy points for being a verified no-logs VPN (audited twice) and having a RAM-disk server network.
Privacy winner: NordVPN
7. Prices and refunds
Let’s see how these two compare when it comes to pricing.
PureVPN pricing – They offer a 7-day trial for $0.99, after which you are auto-subscribed to their one year plan priced at $77.88 ($6.49/mo). If you don’t like that, you can sign up for their six-month plan, which runs $49.98 ($8.33/mo), or their one-month plan at $10.95 per month.
All PureVPN subscriptions come with a 31 day money-back guarantee, but PureVPN support put me through the hoops when trying to get my money back. And considering the baseline price, PureVPN is definitely not the cheapest VPN by a long shot.
NordVPN pricing – You can get a one-month NordVPN subscription for $11.95/mo, a 1-year subscription for $59 ($4.92/mo) or a 2 year subscription for $89 which comes out to $3.71 per month… if you use the NordVPN discount coupon here:
All NordVPN plans come with a 30 day money-back guarantee, but without the refund hassle you get with PureVPN.
Does NordVPN or PureVPN offer the best refund policy?
The difference here is small: NordVPN gives you a 30 day guarantee, and PureVPN gives you a 31 day guarantee.
Price and Refund Winner: While the refunds are basically the same, NordVPN offers much lower prices than PureVN. So the winner for this category, again, goes to NordVPN.
Calculating the value of a product can be hard since it depends greatly on what you plan to do with that product. If you need a service that excels at streaming, you’ll place much more value on streaming performance than someone who doesn’t.
Since we can’t tell you how you are going to use your VPN, we can only compare NordVPN vs PureVPN on the three key characteristics that every user expects from their VPN: security, privacy, and speed.
Unfortunately for the PureVPN team, NordVPN is superior in all three categories:
- NordVPN is many times faster than PureVPN
- NordVPN is more secure
- NordVPN is more likely to be able to protect your privacy today and into the future
Value winner: NordVPN
Conclusion: NordVPN wins
Tallying up the results of our 8 test categories, we see that NordVPN won all 8 of them. Yes, this NordVPN vs PureVPN was rather lopsided. Here’s a summary of the test results:
- Company background and jurisdiction: NordVPN
- Speed tests: NordVPN
- Features: NordVPN
- Streaming and Torrenting: NordVPN
- Security and Encryption: NordVPN
- Privacy: NordVPN
- Price and Refund: NordVPN
- Value: NordVPN
Given the bugs and leaks we saw in PureVPN’s clients, the slow speed of their network, their history of sharing user data despite being a “no-logs” VPN, and the precarious situation of their home jurisdiction, there is no way we can recommend PureVPN.
We can, however, wholeheartedly recommend NordVPN. It continues to excel in our tests and is one of our top-recommended VPN services.
Want to give NordVPN a try? Be sure to grab the discounted rate with this coupon:
Have you used either PureVPN or NordVPN? If so, share your experience below in the comments to help others. And if this comparison has motivated you to invest in one of our contenders, please let us know which one you chose and why.