PureVPN is a pretty good VPN that manages to not do anything remarkably well while also not doing anything remarkably badly. It’s a VPN that, at the time of testing, can unblock all the major streaming services (see below) apart from Disney+, but it did struggle with buffering during peak streaming times (evenings). Its biggest selling points are its price and ease of use, but there are question marks over its past actions regarding its claimed “no logs” policy against its actual “no logs” actions.
- ✔Unblocks all major streaming services (at time of testing)
- ✔Use on up to 10 devices simultaneously
- ✔Streamlined user interface
- ✔No log audit verified by KPMG in past 12 months
- ✔Several free add-ons
- ❌Buffering on BBC iPlayer (at peak times)
- ❌Poor history with its “no log claims”
1-minute PureVPN review:
PureVPN is a mid-range VPN that, at the time of testing, did a good job of unblocking popular streaming sites in the UK and US – like BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Channel 4, and the list goes on. And while it initially struggled with BBC iPlayer, it recovered well when we tested it during a less busy time.
How we test
There are no shortcuts. We downloaded the PureVPN app and its multiple free add-ons and test everything on offers. Streaming, privacy, password managers, data removal services, on-device encryption – everything.
Note that our team is based in the UK and New Zealand and has been using and reviewing VPNs for over a decade.
Who should buy this?
If you’re big on privacy, PureVPN isn’t your choice. Too many questions are hanging over its ownership, particularly its location and past actions around its claimed “No logs” policy (see Security section below).
This isn’t a VPN for the serious streamer, either. If you’re an Expat (migrant) looking to access your home nation’s TV, there are better and more reliable VPNs.
However, if you’re just looking for a cheap VPN to watch US Netflix or BBC iPlayer (etc) occasionally or casually encrypt your internet connection, and a good deal is the most important metric for you – PureVPN starts to make more sense.
Bottom line: It’s competitively priced and scored reasonably well in our streaming tests. However, the free add-ons are a bit worthless.
Determining the value of a VPN service involves considering various factors such as the length of the subscription, the number of devices it supports simultaneously, server availability, and any additional features or benefits included.
For PureVPN, without accounting for extra features and add-ons and focusing mainly on subscription prices, we find the following options:
1-month – $10.95/month
Billed USD 10.95 for the first month, then USD 12.45 every month.
This plan is suitable for users seeking a short-term VPN solution without the commitment to longer subscription periods. It offers the flexibility of a month-to-month service, ideal for those who might need a VPN for temporary or specific purposes.
1-year – $3.74/month
Billed USD 44.95 for the first 12 months, then USD 54.95 every 12 months.
For the 1-year subscription, PureVPN typically offers a more cost-effective rate compared to the monthly option. Due to frequent promotions and discounts, the exact price can vary. Users interested in this plan should check PureVPN’s website for the current pricing. A yearly plan is a balanced choice for those who require a VPN service for an extended period but are not ready to commit to the longest available subscription.
When compared with the average cost of the top 20 VPNs we’ve analyzed, which is around $4.33 per month for a 24-month subscription, PureVPN’s pricing for its long-term plans is generally competitive. For a single-month subscription, the average cost is about $12.06 per month. PureVPN’s first-month offer of $10.95 is attractively priced, falling below this average, though the subsequent rate of $12.45 per month is slightly above the average.
2-years – $1.96/month
Billed USD 54.95 for the first 28 months, then USD 54.95 every 12 months.
The 2-year plan generally presents the best value in terms of cost per month. As with the 1-year plan, PureVPN often provides significant discounts for this longer commitment. The exact pricing details are subject to change based on ongoing promotions, so it’s recommended to visit PureVPN’s website for the most up-to-date information. This plan is ideal for users who are confident in their need for a VPN over a longer term and are looking for the most economical option.
PureVPN accepts various payment methods, including all major credit cards, PayPal, and various other digital payment options.
Design & UI
PureVPN’s new look is a big improvement compared to its previous off-the-shelf VPN UI. Now, PureVPN has a consistent design theme and well-thought-out UX.
Navigating your way around the app is intuitive, and I like how the setup process asks you what you’ll mainly be using the VPN for. In my case, I chose streaming, which led to a UI configured more towards easily selecting servers optimised for streaming services.
This is another plus-point of the new app: servers that are optimised for specific streaming services. For example, there is a BBC iPlayer UK Server for users wanted to use the VPN to stream BBC iPlayer. PureVPN has this for all the major streaming services you can think of.
Downloading and installing the app is a straightforward process, too. The only niggle is when is that you have to sign in from inside the app, which means Apple’s Keychain doesn’t automatically pop up like it would with a browser-based login. So, there are a few extra clicks needed there. Logging in on an iPhone took seconds (thanks to Keychain support in iOS).
It’s a minor criticism but a good example of how PureVPN is very good, yet still not a totally polished user experience like its rivals (ExpressVPN).
Here are a few old screenshots I have from 2018 of what PureVPN used to look like before the recent UI update.
- PureVPN review (2018) screenshot 1
- PureVPN review (2018) screenshot 2
- PureVPN review (2018) screenshot 3
I can’t fault PureVPN’s advertised compatibility list. It’s comprehensive. If you have a device that’s connected to the internet, there’s an app for it. There’s even a way to get PureVPN on a Blackberry!
You can use PureVPN on 10 devices simultaneously.
The most encouraging sign is that there is already an Apple TV app available – this is a feature that has only been available to VPNs for a few weeks, with ExpressVPN leading the way with its Apple TV App back in December 2023.
Bear in mind that you’re not getting the full-fat “Pure” experience on every device. PurePrivacy, for example, isn’t available on Mac right now – and I can’t see a good reason why not.
Mac users also can’t set PureKeep (the password manager) as the default password manager.
So my advice is to do a little digging and maybe ask specific questions via the 24/7 Live Chat if you need something other than PureVPN itself to work on a device other than an iPhone.
Note that PureVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if there is a feature that’s missing, you still have a good safety net.
Below is a table that gives you an idea of the speed performance you can expect when using PureVPN. The VPN has shown variable download speeds across different streaming servers, with some experiencing significant drop-offs during peak times.
|Download Speeds (Mbps)
|Upload Speeds (Mbps)
|PureVPN UK Server
|PureVPN US Server
After I downloaded and installed PureVPN on my M2 Mac Studio, I was taken through an easy-to-follow setup process where the VPN asked me to “Choose a purpose that best suits [my] needs and we will streamline [my] experience accordingly”.
So far, so good. Next, I selected Streaming and after a further 4-step Quick Tour of the App, I connected to the BBC server. The app promptly connected to a UK server and automatically opened bbc.co.uk/iplayer on my default browser.
Up to this point, I was really impressed with the revamped PureVPN app.
However, when I tried to watch the latest episode of Match of the Day, things started to creak. Each page of BBC iPlayer was taking a noticeably long time to fully load, and after a just-about-acceptable start to streaming Match of the Day on iPlayer and its opening theme credits, the stream started to buffer.
I immediately performed an Ookla speed test, that revealed a throttling drop-off of 95.54%. My speed went from 99.43 Mbps (without a VPN turned on) down to 4.43 Mbps (when connected to PureVPN’s BBC server).
These numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. 4.44Mbps is plenty to stream BBC iPlayer in Standard Definition, as the BBC website states that only 1.5Mbps is needed.
Suggesting to me that PureVPN’s servers are optimised for Speed Tests better than they are optimised for real-world streaming tests.
Note: I waited a couple of hours and then contacted PureVPN’s 24/7 Live Chat team to discuss this and was advised to change my Protocol to “WireGuard or IKEV”. After some fiddling with my Mac’s Privacy & Security settings, I changed Protocol to WireGuard and got a more reliable stream. For testing’s sake, I then went back to the original protocol settings and performed another Speed test that returned a 52.98Mbps result (46.72%). Suggesting the server was less busy when I performed this test, and given the timezone in mainland Europe (where a lot of BBC iPlayer VPN users would be connecting) would be roughly midnight, a less busy server would be expected.
After the BBC iPlayer buffering issue, I decided to stay with UK free-to-air streaming services and see how PureVPN’s Channel 4 server performed.
It was a bumpy start with slow-loading pages, but ultimately, PureVPN did well with Channel4.com. I was able to Stream Inbetweeners 2 in HD without any buffering.
PureVPN’s throttling drop-off was much more respectable on the Channel 4 server too. Decreasing to 48.27Mbps (51.45%).
I carried on performing streaming tests using PureVPN’s recommended Streaming server with mostly encouraging results. Below is a table that shows Speed test scores, whether I experienced buffering, and connection rating out of 10 (based on personal experience).
|Paramount + (US)
PureKeep – Password Manager
Connected to a VPN requires a certain amount of trust in your VPN, as it means rerouting all of your internet connection – and therefore internet activity – through a third-party’s servers. This is why third-party “No logs” audits (performed by another well-known and trusted company) are so valuable to users – as they’re the best way most of us can verify/trust a VPN company’s claims.
For me, Password Managers require an even greater level of scrutiny. VPN companies, in general, don’t have the best of reputations. Despite all their privacy-for-the-user claims.
Personally, I am not comfortable enough with PureVPN’s security claims. The notable caste between the FBI and PureVPN in 2016 where, despite its advertised “no logs” claims, PureVPN kept user’s IP addresses and timestamps (see Privacy section for more information on this specific case).
Despite my reservations, I downloaded the PureKeep app and created a dummy username and password to test its usability.
At first, I was impressed by the design and ease of use of the app. Everything was well laid out and the UX was very good. There was a place for Passport information, Bank details, Wifi passwords, Documents, and Authenticator – it all looked good.
Scratch below the surface and the cracks quickly appear. There was no Touch ID support, meaning I had to enter my long Master Password every time I wanted to access my passwords. And there was no way to make PureKeep my Mac’s default password manager, which meant I would have to manually search for, and open the app each time I needed access to my passwords.
Worse still, because it wasn’t my Mac’s default password manager, it meant there was no automated process for displaying the password I needed (displaying my Netflix password when I was on the Netflix.com/login page, for example), so that was an extra step.
All of this is a long way of saying that while an “Added feature” like a Free Password Manager, might look like you’re getting a good deal – you’re actually not. Apple’s native Keychain is much easier to use and it’s actually 100% free. Likewise, I’d suggest Windows’ Credential Manager and Android/Chrome’s Google Password Manager are better bets for other OS users.
This is a funky new feature. In theory. Open the PureVPN mobile app and Navigate to the PureAI chatbot, and you can ask PureAI-specific questions like “How to watch Survivor?” Which we did.
And PureAI immediately returned an error message.
Needless to say, this is another feature that promises a lot, but once you go past the first layer of usability it falls over.
PureVPN ticks all the security boxes you’d expect. No more, no less. It offers Industry-standard AES-256 encryption. This military-grade cypher scrambles your data with near-unbreakable complexity.
There are also multiple multiple protocol choices on offer (which you’d also expect): OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. This offers users a balance of speed, security, and compatibility.
So far, so standard.
Elsewhere, there are also the usual Leak Prevention guarantees.
- DNS Leak Protection: Ensures your DNS queries stay encrypted, preventing your ISP from sniffing out your activity.
- IP Leak Protection: Blocks accidental IP address leaks, further obscuring your location.
There are two further Safeguards:
- Kill Switch: Instantly cuts your internet connection if the VPN drops, preventing accidental exposure.
- Split Tunneling (Windows & Android): Choose which apps go through the VPN and which bypass it for additional control.
To sum up, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a paid-for VPN. There is nothing remarkable on offer here.
However, the security technology provided is only half the picture. If your VPN provider keeps logs on its users, then it makes its security/technology specs redundant.
This is the perfect segue for the next section of this review: privacy.
PureVPN has a less-than-perfect record and reputation when it comes to what it claims vs what it actually does. Here’s a quick history lesson.
In 2016, there was a notable case involving PureVPN and the FBI, which highlights the complexities around VPN logging policies and the potential for law enforcement requests. Ryan Lin, a man accused of extensive cyberstalking and harassment, became the focus of an FBI investigation. Despite PureVPN’s claims of a ‘no logs’ policy, the company provided information that was instrumental in the FBI’s investigation.
PureVPN was able to determine that their service was accessed by the same customer from two originating IP addresses: one from the home of Lin and the other from the software company where he was employed at the time. This information was crucial in linking Lin to the cyberstalking activities.
The case raised significant controversy within the privacy community. Many were disappointed to learn that PureVPN, which advertised itself as a no-logs VPN, kept logs of user IP addresses and timestamps, information that could be matched to external activities with logs from other web companies like Google’s Gmail service. For example, Gmail’s logs could contain the IP provided by PureVPN, and if the FBI approached PureVPN with timestamps and network logs from Gmail, PureVPN could confirm if a specific user was using a certain IP address at the same time.
This incident underscores the importance of understanding the specifics of a VPN provider’s logging policy. While PureVPN maintained that it did not log user browsing habits or the content of their internet activities, it did log IP addresses and timestamps, which, under certain circumstances, could be used to identify users.
I reached out to PureVPN for their comments on these matters, but they declined to comment.
Fast-forward to today and PureVPN is preaching reform and doubling down on its “No logs” claims in the present day. The difference now, though, is that its claims are backed by a trusted third party.
PureVPN mandated KPMG to perform an audit of its VPN in February 2023. The report was published in April of that year, finding:
- PureVPN does not log a user’s origin IP address
- PureVPN does not log a user’s assigned VPN IP address
- PureVPN does not log the specific time when a user connects to their VPN server
- PureVPN does not log a user’s activities through the VPN after connecting to the VPN server
PureVPN has 24/7 Live Chat. This is a standard feature for a paid-for VPN and is usual for common troubleshooting guidance. Real people are available to assist you with connection issues and slightly more technical tasks, such as reconfiguring your on-device VPN settings and chosen protocol.
I had a slightly more involved request for Live Chat – setting PureKeep as my default Password Manager on my Mac – and got an answer from the support team within 5 minutes (it was not possible).
PureVPN has come a long way in the past couple of years. The product is a lot more user-friendly than it used to be, and it seems to be a lot lot better at unblocking streaming services – and then fighting streaming services that block its IPs – though there is still evidence of buffering issues during peak streaming periods.
Elsewhere, PureVPN appears to have cleaned up its act with its claimed “no logs” policies and its actual “no logs” policy with a recent (ish) audit from KPMG backing up its claims.
The free add-ons that come with a PureVPN subscription are puzzling. Things like Password Manager and Privacy tools appear good value at first, but the reality is that their usefulness and user-friendliness aren’t up to standard. If you’re thinking along the lines of “the bundled password manager makes this purchase more valuable”, my advice to you is simple: it doesn’t.
All-in, PureVPN remains a mid-range challenger VPN that’s affordable but is still a long way off the best VPNs in terms of performance and reliability.