Good security credentials for a very fair price, though there are faster and more user-friendly VPNs out there
- Great value for a two-year commitment
- Liberal 10-device limit
- Excellent track record on security
- Fiddly user interface
- Not as fast as some rivals
- Didn't unblock streaming services on all platforms
PureVPN is a virtual private networking service that encrypts your internet traffic and routes your connection through the company’s own servers. This means no one else can see what you’re doing online, not even your ISP – and if you pick a VPN server in a different country, you’ll appear to be located in that region, enabling you to get around firewalls and geo-restricted services such as video streaming sites.
PureVPN offers more than 6,500 servers in nearly 80 countries, and you can use them for almost anything you like. The only restriction is if you want to use the VPN for peer-to-peer file sharing – for this you’ll have to use specific servers, which are located in countries that have no restrictions on the use of BitTorrent.
PureVPN review: What do you get for the money?
A rolling monthly subscription to PureVPN costs $10.95, which at current exchange rates works out to £8.89 a month. An annual subscription works out much cheaper at £32.04, equivalent to £2.67 a month, while the best deal is a two-year commitment at £44.38 for 24 months, or just £1.85 per month. That’s one of the lowest prices we’ve seen for any VPN, and at the time of writing you get a bonus three months free as well. As always with VPNs though it’s worth shopping around before you buy, as deals change regularly.
All subscriptions let you connect from up to ten devices at once. The publisher offers dedicated VPN apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS, as well as for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. Unusually, there’s also a plug-in for Kodi, making it easy to use the VPN for video streaming on more or less any platform.
Alternatively, the service can be set up on any router that supports outgoing PPTP or OpenVPN connections. Doing it this way will send all your internet traffic through the VPN, regardless of how many clients are connected and what operating systems they’re using.
Paying customers get access to 24/7 support via a live chat service on the PureVPN website, and if you’re not happy with the service for any reason there’s a 31-day money-back guarantee – 24 hours longer than most of the competition.
PureVPN review: What’s it like to use?
The PureVPN client for Windows opens with a big obvious button in the middle, which you can click to connect to the VPN, and click again to disconnect. This is admirably straightforward, but it’s not as useful as we’d like as the button always connects to the fastest available server; there’s no way to set it to a different location.
Even if you mark certain servers as favourites, there’s no way to access them from the home screen; you have to switch to the server list page to see them. There is, however, a link at the bottom of the window to reconnect to the last server you used, and if you right-click the PureVPN icon in the system tray, a menu pops up with direct links to your last three servers. You can also install an extension for Chrome, Firefox and Brave to switch servers from within your browser.
Choosing a server within the Windows client isn’t hard. PureVPN offers a list of countries, along with ping times in milliseconds, giving you a clue as to what sort of performance you can expect. You can click on a country name to connect to its fastest available server, or expand it to choose an individual city.
Aside from that, there’s not much to see. The app’s support page provides direct links to view FAQs, log a support ticket or open a live chat on the PureVPN website, and also invites you to refer friends and family to sign up – if anyone does, you each get a free month of service.
The Android app looks very similar to the main Windows page, with one-tap links to the Recommended server and your most recent connection. Again, though, there are no quick links to your favourite locations, just a shortcut to your most recent server. The server list is only a tap away, but for some reason it doesn’t display latency in the mobile app.
PureVPN review: How fast is it?
We tested PureVPN’s performance on a Windows 11 laptop; with the VPN disconnected, the Ookla Speed Test service (speedtest.net) reported a download speed of 377Mbits/sec over our Virgin Media fibre line. Connecting to a PureVPN server in London caused a modest fall in speed, to 327Mbits/sec. That’s not bad at all: even if we were really making use of our fast fibre line, it’s unlikely we’d notice any slowdown in everyday use.
We were even more impressed when we switched to a server in New York: despite our data having to travel thousands of miles further, the connection speed barely fell any further, with an average download rate of 327Mbit/sec. That’s a reduction in bandwidth of 14.2%, compared to not using a VPN at all; we’ve seen better from Hotspot Shield (10.9%) and NordVPN (8.5%) but again it’s very doubtful that you’d notice any practical difference.
We also tested the Android client, running on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. Speeds were lower here: the PureVPN server in London gave us an average download speed of just 157Mbits/sec, while the New York server averaged 151Mbits/sec. In both cases that’s less than half of what the fibre line is capable of, but we’ve found that’s common for Android VPNs – and there’s certainly enough performance here for most things you’re likely to want to do on a tablet.
To help you get the best speeds, the client automatically selects a VPN protocol (with a recent update adding WireGuard as a secure, high-performance option), and you can also tell the software to favour servers that have given you the best experience in the past. Split tunnelling is supported too, so you can send only certain apps through the VPN, while everything else goes at full speed through your ISP. The Android app provides an additional option to send everything except for a shortlist of allowed programs through the VPN– although oddly, this option isn’t available in the Windows client.
PureVPN review: Is it good for video streaming?
Our speed tests indicate that PureVPN should be more than fast enough for 4K video streaming, even to multiple devices at once.
It also did a reasonable job of unblocking international streaming sites. After connecting to a US server on our Windows laptop we were happily able to access the US libraries of Disney+ and Netflix, and to log into Hulu. We were also able to watch British programming from BBC iPlayer and BritBox while connected to a UK server, although Now TV refused to play ball.
Things didn’t go so well on Android, however. The native Netflix and Disney+ apps weren’t fooled by the VPN, and served up their UK libraries even when we were connected to a US server. Meanwhile the BBC iPlayer and BritBox apps wouldn’t open at all until we disconnected the VPN, although Now TV did allow us to tune in on our tablet.
PureVPN review: Is it secure?
Like most VPNs, PureVPN promises a “no-logs” service, meaning that no information is stored about what you do or the sites you visit. In 2019 the company underwent an independent audit by Altius IT which certified that this was indeed the case; more recently the provider has engaged KPMG to audit its policies and compliance on an ongoing basis. This is very encouraging stuff.
It’s also reassuring to note that in November 2021 PureVPN relocated from its original headquarters in Hong Kong to the British Virgin Islands, to escape incoming legislation that might have threatened the anonymity of subscribers. Now PureVPN is based in the same jurisdiction as ExpressVPN and SurfShark, which has strong legal privacy protections.
The software includes some measures to help protect your security, too. The Windows and Android clients can each be configured to automatically connect to a secure server as soon as the computer boots, or as soon as the app is launched. There’s no way to automatically activate the VPN when you’re connected to certain networks, however, as with CyberGhost and Hide.me VPN. And while the Windows client includes a killswitch, which suspends all activity if the VPN connection is interrupted, there’s no equivalent feature on Android.
PureVPN review: Verdict
If you like to virtually hop back and forth between different countries and streaming services then PureVPN might not be ideal for you, simply because the business of switching between servers is just a little bit more cumbersome than it needs to be.
Still, it can get you into most streaming services – though you may need to experiment with different devices – and if you principally want a VPN to keep your online activity private then PureVPN might suit you very nicely. There’s every reason to be confident in its security, speeds aren’t bad at all, and if you’re able to make a two-year commitment then the current pricing is very hard to argue with.
PureVPN review: Quick facts
|British Virgin Islands
|£1.85/mth (24 months)
|24/7 customer support:
|Netflix and Disney+: