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PureVPN review: A solid, secure and affordable VPN

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
8.27
inc VAT per month

Good security credentials for a very fair price, but there are faster and more user-friendly VPNs out there

Pros 
Exceptional value for a two-year commitment
Liberal 10-device limit
Excellent track record on security
Cons 
Fiddly user interface
Inconsistent speeds with US servers
Didn't work with BBC iPlayer
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PureVPN is a virtual private networking service, which 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, the sites you visit will think you’re 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 any one for almost anything you like. The only restriction is if you want to use the VPN for peer-to-peer file sharing: PureVPN permits this, but only on certain indicated servers, which are located in countries that have no restrictions on the use of BitTorrent.

As with most VPNs, you’ll pay most if you only go for a rolling monthly subscription – although £8.27 per month isn’t bad by the standards of these things. An annual subscription is vastly better value at £27.08, while the best deal is a two-year commitment: this currently costs just £37.08 for 24 months, or £1.55 per month – one of the lowest prices we’ve seen. Shop around before you buy though 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, or you can configure the service on any router that supports outgoing PPTP or OpenVPN connections. If you do it this way then all the traffic going through the gateway will be routed via your chosen VPN server, regardless of how many clients are connected and what operating systems they’re using.

Paying customers also 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.

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. It’s admirably straightforward, but sadly won’t be all that useful to everyone, as the button always connects to your “Recommended” (or nearest) server; there’s no way to set it to a different location.

In fact, while you can nominate any number of favourite servers, 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 button at the bottom of the window that reconnects 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, Edge and Firefox 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 opens with a home screen that’s 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 single most recent server. The server list is only a tap away, but for some reason it doesn’t display latency in the mobile app.

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PureVPN review: How fast is it?

We tested PureVPN on a home fibre line. First, we installed the Windows client on a laptop and connected via a VPN server in London, which, according to Google’s Speed Test service, caused our download speed to fall from a headline figure of 200Mbits/sec to 141Mbits/sec. That’s not an outstanding performance: Hide.me, IPVanish, Malwarebytes VPN and Private Internet Access all topped 170Mbits/sec in the same test. Practically speaking, though, it’s fast enough for anything you’re likely to want to do.

And PureVPN impressed us more when we tried a US server. Connecting via New York, we still saw very respectable download speeds of 123Mbits/sec. That’s not as speedy as NordVPN, which managed 182Mbits/sec, but again it should be more than fast enough for most people.

We also tested the Android client, running on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7. This time, London server speeds hit an excellent 189Mbits/sec, but when we moved to New York, download rates collapsed to just 5Mbits/sec. Switching to San Francisco raised this to 59Mbits/sec; the best performance we got from a US server was 74Mbits/sec when connecting via Washington DC.

This doesn’t compare brilliantly to the 130Mbits/sec connection we got straight off the bat from Private Internet Access running on the same hardware. And we were frustrated at having to employ trial and error to find the best server – as mentioned above, the mobile app doesn’t give any indication of server speed.

Still, the client does include an option to favour servers that have given you the best experience in the past. PureVPN permits split tunnelling, too, so you can specify that only certain apps need to go through the VPN, while everything else goes at full speed through your ISP. The Android app also lets you send everything through the VPN for maximum security, except for a shortlist of allowed programs – 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 normally be fast enough for 4K video streaming, even to multiple devices at once – although that can’t be guaranteed if you happen to get a duff connection.

It also did a reasonable job of unblocking international streaming sites. Once we’d connected to a US server we were happily able to access the US libraries of Disney+ and Netflix, regardless of whether we were using Chrome on a Windows laptop or the dedicated streaming apps on an Android tablet.

We were also able to access BritBox and Now TV while connected to a UK-based VPN server – good news for emigrants wanting to stay in touch with British series and sport. We got mixed results with BBC iPlayer, however: we were able to watch it just fine in the Android app, but when we tried to access the site using a desktop browser it detected the VPN and refused to play.

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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, and 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. 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 between different countries, identities and streaming services then PureVPN might not be for you. The business of switching between different servers is just a little bit more cumbersome than it needs to be, and performance can vary considerably between different exit points.

However, 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, the current pricing is very hard to argue with, and as long as you stick to servers that are geographically close to your real location, speeds aren’t bad at all.

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PureVPN review: Quick facts

DetailsPureVPN
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Cheapest price:£1.55/mth (24 months)
Money-back guarantee:31 days
Devices, simultaneous:10
Locations:6,500+
Speed:Variable
24/7 customer support:Yes
Netflix and Disney+:Yes
BBC iPlayer:No
Torrenting allowed:Yes
Killswitch:Yes
Multihop:No
DNS leaks:No
Activity logging:No

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