|Based in||Hong Kong|
|Support||Chat + Email|
I went into this PureVPN review with high hopes. Sure, PureVPN has had a rough few years with faulty apps, mediocre performance, and a scandal involving the FBI and handing over user data — but maybe they’ve turned things around. Maybe?
So I thought.
In this PureVPN review, I ran the service through extensive testing and then analyzed all aspects of the VPN to help you decide if this VPN is worth your money. Unfortunately, the test results weren’t pretty. Speeds were inconsistent and slow, the VPN apps were plagued with bugs and connection errors, and the overall quality seems to have gotten worse since I conducted the PureVPN review last year.
So let’s start out with an overview before we get into the weeds.
Here is a brief overview of my findings for this PureVPN review.
- Cheap one week trial
- Live chat support
- PureVPN connection problems (not connecting)
- Inconsistent and slow speeds
- Expensive prices for full-term subscriptions
- DNS leaks
- Clunky VPN apps
- PureVPN logged user data for the FBI
- Does not work well with Netflix
Additional research findings
- Run by Gaditek in Pakistan (with Ivacy VPN)
- Does PureVPN work well for torrenting?
- PureVPN comparisons
Here are the Pros of PureVPN.
1. PureVPN one week trial
With PureVPN, you can get a cheap one-week trial for only 99 cents. That’s not too bad. The one-week trial is boldly advertised on their homepage, so it seems to be the preferred option to acquire new customers.
I checked the refund policy and if you are not happy with the trial, you can still request a refund.
But there’s a problem. After the trial expires, you are locked in to an expensive subscription at $6.49 per month (we’ll discuss this more below in the Cons section).
So while this is not a normal free trial VPN where you don’t pay anything, it is still a discounted trial offer.
2. PureVPN has live chat support
Another good thing about PureVPN is the live chat support. However, this is common with the top VPN services. Live chat is available 24/7 and accessible through the PureVPN website in the bottom-right corner.
I tested out PureVPN’s chat support and I was quickly connected to a representative.
Overall, the chat representatives were pretty responsive and helpful with random questions I had.
Now let’s move on to the cons…
Here are some of the cons I found in testing and researching PureVPN.
1. Connection problems (PureVPN not connecting)
With the latest round of testing for this PureVPN review, I ran into a regular problem. The problem was PureVPN not connecting to the servers. In other words, I clicked the connect button and after a long time the VPN would time out and eventually return an error message.
Above you can see I was getting the message, “Unable to connect to remote server” at the top of the app. This occurred with many servers I tested.
Another connection problem I had with PureVPN is that it would apparently connect, but there would not be any bandwidth (100% packet loss). I’m not certain what was causing these connection problems with PureVPN.
2. PureVPN slow speeds
On the PureVPN website, they boldly claim to be “the fastest VPN service ever!“
I tested these claims with a 500 Mbps internet connection – and the results were not very good.
Here was a PureVPN server in the United States, giving me only 59 Mbps.
Not a good start. This is under 12% of my baseline connection speed.
Next, I tested a PureVPN server in Canada. Once again, the speeds were not very good at only 39 Mbps.
This is about under 8% of my baseline speed. It’s clear that PureVPN is not the best VPN for Canada with performance like this.
In addition to the slow download speeds, you can also see that latency, or ping, was unusually high. Ping should have been lower given my location in the United States. With slow pings, PureVPN would not be a good VPN for gaming.
Next I tested PureVPN servers in the UK, and the results were similar. Here was a PureVPN server in London at only 18 Mbps.
So these speed tests are only getting worse with PureVPN. While servers that are further from my physical location can be slower, they should not be this slow.
Comparison with NordVPN
To show you a quick comparison, let’s take a look at NordVPN. Here is a NordVPN server in the UK with speeds of 295 Mbps:
You can see that NordVPN blows PureVPN out of the water in terms of performance.
Now let’s see how fast NordVPN was with a server in the United States. Here I’m testing a NordVPN server in Seattle and getting 445 Mbps.
It’s clear that PureVPN has a lot of catching up to do. It is nowhere near the speeds you will get with top-performing VPNs, as you can see in our NordVPN vs ExpressVPN report.
Why is PureVPN slow?
Many VPNs invest money in high-end server infrastructure that can deliver the fastest speeds to their users. This may explain why PureVPN is slow: they are not running the best servers with sufficient bandwidth for their user base.
3. Expensive prices and limited payment options
Further up in this PureVPN review we commended the cheap free trial option. We noted, however, that the price jumps up after the trial is over. Notice the fine print in the image below:
As soon as the free trial is over, prices jump up to $6.49 per month. This is certainly not a good cheap VPN by any stretch of the imagination. And the prices for the 6-month and 1-month plans are even worse. Of course, there are VPNs that are more expensive, such as ExpressVPN and Perfect Privacy, but they don’t trick you with a cheap free trial.
For a VPN under $4 per month, you can check out Surfshark or NordVPN.
And speaking of prices, here is another issue I noticed…
Limited payment options
At the time of this PureVPN review, there are only two options for payment: PayPal or credit card.
If you want to pay for your VPN using Bitcoin, gift cards, or other cryptocurrency, there are better options available. For example, both CyberGhost and NordVPN support Bitcoin payments.
PureVPN refund policy
If you want a refund on your PureVPN subscription, you have 31 days to claim it. This 31-day refund window is pretty good. Here are the PureVPN refund terms:
If you aren’t satisfied with PureVPN’s service for any reason whatsoever, then you can claim a refund within 31 days of your order date.
Remember, we will first try to resolve your issue successfully before processing the refund request.
The refund policy also references certain payment methods that are not refundable, such as Google Pay. Proceed with caution.
4. PureVPN and DNS leaks
In previous PureVPN reviews, I found the apps to suffer from data leaks, particularly IPv6 leaks.
So let’s see how PureVPN did in the latest review.
Before running any tests, I ensured that all leak protection settings were activated, as you can see below:
Ok, so we should theoretically not find any leaks with PureVPN at this point with all leak protection settings activated. Next, I ran the PureVPN Windows app through some basic VPN tests.
Here you can see I’m connected to a UK PureVPN server, but I was getting DNS leaks, whereby my DNS requests were getting out of the VPN tunnel and being handled by my ISP. This exposes my browsing history and general location to third parties.
Note: These were active leaks when the connection was stable.
To identify leaks, I ran tests changing up the following variables:
- Connecting to different PureVPN servers, including virtual locations
- Changing the “mode” I was using “Security / Privacy, Stream, Internet Freedom, etc.
- Changing up the protocol
I did not find DNS leaks with every server, protocol, and “mode” that I tested, but there were some clear cases where DNS requests were leaking out. This undermines the effectiveness of the VPN, while also exposing your data to third parties.
5. PureVPN’s clunky VPN apps
VPN apps should not crash, stall out, or require you to start the Task Manager to force quit the program. Unfortunately, with PureVPN, the VPN apps simply do not function well.
For example, server selection can very very tedious:
- First you need to select which “mode” you want to be in. You can choose from Stream, Internet Freedom, Security / Privacy, File-Sharing, and Dedicated IP.
- Servers will then appear in a jumbled order based on Ping times. This can make it frustrating to choose the server you need.
Here I am again having server connection problems, but you can also see the servers are listed by country and not in alphabetical order.
Depending on which “mode” you are using, choosing a server based on the city may not even be possible.
On a positive note, the PureVPN app does have an option to search for a specific server.
6. PureVPN logged user data for the FBI
As we have covered before here on Restore Privacy, PureVPN is an example of a VPN that was caught logging user data and handing this data over to the FBI.
For years, PureVPN has claimed to have a “zero log policy” and not keep any data. However, in 2017, news broke that PureVPN had not only logged user data, they had also provided this data to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) for a criminal case. The records of this were made public.
There was quite a bit of attention on PureVPN after this case came out. PureVPN claimed it was a limited event, however, but there’s no telling if that is true.
It’s also interesting to note that this all transpired despite PureVPN being based in Hong Kong with no legal obligation to comply with US authorities.
PureVPN completes no-logs audit
In an attempt to revive trust, PureVPN has completed a third-party no logs audit. The audit was conducted by Altius IT in June 2019. The auditors’ report confirms that PureVPN now conforms with their no-logs policy and privacy protection procedures.
Will this help to salvage PureVPN’s reputation and the damage caused by the logging case and cooperation with the FBI? Only time will tell.
7. PureVPN does not work well with Netflix
Unfortunately for those wanting to stream their favorite movies, PureVPN does not work well with Netflix.
The key problem I encountered when testing PureVPN with Netflix was buffering. Although I found that PureVPN could access American Netflix (not blocked), I did have buffering problems due to slow speeds.
Below I am in “Stream” mode while connected to one of PureVPN’s US servers. As you can see, Netflix is not blocked, but the speeds were so slow that the stream was buffering (spinning red circle).
The Netflix buffering issue seemed to occur randomly.
For these reasons, I would recommend going with a reliable VPN for Netflix (not PureVPN).
Firestick – Many people use the Amazon Firestick or Fire TV to stream content from various sources. Loading a VPN on Firestick will allow you to access streams that may be geo-restriced. PureVPN offers a Firestick app, but the slow speeds will still be a problem.
And speaking of Amazon, you may be wondering if PureVPN is the best VPN for Amazon Prime. The answer is no, it didn’t work well in our tests here, either.
Additional research findings:
Below are additional findings from my research of PureVPN for this review.
PureVPN, Gaditek and Pakistan (with Ivacy VPN)
According to PureVPN’s website, it is officially operated under the business GZ Systems Limited, which is based in Hong Kong. But is PureVPN being operated out of Hong Kong?
If you dig a bit deeper, you will find a company called Gaditek, based in Karachi, Pakistan. PureVPN appears to be owned and operated by Gaditek, which lists PureVPN as one of its brands:
Whether PureVPN is operated in Pakistan or Hong Kong does not really matter from a legal perspective, since the company is legally based in Hong Kong, which is the jurisdiction it falls under.
There are also people who allege that Gaditek (PureVPN) is operating a network of VPN review sites, where PureVPN is consistently ranked as the top recommendation. See this report for further information.
Is Ivacy a rebranded version of PureVPN?
For many years there have been rumors (and lots of evidence) that Ivacy is a rebranded (white label) version of PureVPN. This would not be too surprising since PureVPN offers a white label version of their product, which they advertise on their website.
Finally, in March 2019, Ivacy staff officially admitted that PureVPN has “minor stakes” in Ivacy.
This isn’t too uncommon, however, as there are other VPNs that appear to be independent but are owned by the same entity:
- This article in PCMag describes how j2 Global owns IPVanish, StrongVPN, and Encrypt.me.
- I learned that the parent company of CyberGhost VPN (Kape) also owns ZenMate VPN and Private Internet Access.
Does PureVPN work well for torrenting?
Many people are looking for a safe, reliable, and fast VPN for torrenting. This is because torrenting is often a grey area (depending on what you are torrenting) and this can put you at risk for copyright infringement.
So is PureVPN a good option for torrenting?
I would argue no. PureVPN is not a good VPN for torrenting when you examine the three criteria from above:
- Safe – PureVPN suffers from data leaks, which can expose your activities to your internet provider, and other third parties, such as copyright trolls. It only takes one leaked packet to expose your identity and online activities.
- Reliable – PureVPN is not very reliable and suffers from connection problems.
- Fast – PureVPN is certainly not fast, based on my own test results.
Considering these factors, PureVPN is not a good VPN for torrenting. You may want to consider other options.
For those who are interested in seeing how PureVPN compared to some of our other top-rated VPNs, we have a few comparison reports.
First up is our NordVPN vs PureVPN comparison. In this report we see that NordVPN beat out PureVPN in all speed tests, while also offering more secure applications, better support for Netflix, and a cheaper price. NordVPN was the big winner here.
Second, we also have a PureVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison. While PureVPN came out slightly cheaper, ExpressVPN had much faster speeds, butter streaming support, more reliable apps, and a much better track record. It’s clear that ExpressVPN came out on top.
That’s it for PureVPN comparisons, but we have many other VPN comparisons if you are interested.
PureVPN review conclusion
When I began working on this PureVPN review I wondered it the service was improving over previous years. I must conclude that the answer is no. PureVPN lags behind the other market leaders in performance, security, and reliability.
While there are a few positive aspects of PureVPN, it is not a VPN I can recommend after testing it for this review.
Alternatives to PureVPN
Click the VPN name below to read our full review – or grab the discount for the best savings. All three of these VPNs have a 30 day money-back guarantee.
You can also check out our guide on the Best VPN for other recommendations.
If you have used PureVPN, feel free to share your honest review (good or bad) below.