PureVPN gives off a distinct feeling of quality. Although there is initially a lot to digest when visiting the provider’s website, it’s easy to find out key details about the service, and the tutorials for a range of devices are some of the best we’ve seen. Add to this the fact that the performance we experienced is as good as we’ve seen from any provider, there’s plenty to recommend PureVPN.
While there are a couple of small caveats for those particularly concerned with privacy, PureVPN will suit the vast majority of users and uses. We were very impressed with PureVPN, and suspect you will be too.
Packages & Pricing
PureVPN offer two key services, named “Standard” and “Unlimited.”
Thanks to a detailed online comparison chart we could easily ascertain the differences between the plans. The standard plan is limited to 32GB of bandwidth per month, whereas the unlimited plan is (unsurprisingly) unlimited! In addition, the standard plan doesn’t offer any support for DDWRT routers.
As with most VPN service providers, PureVPN offer discounts based on longer commitment packages. The standard plan costs $9.95 per month, but $74.95 per year, representing a discount of around 37% on the monthly cost. The unlimited plan costs $18 per month, but $160 per year, representing a discount of around 26% on the standard monthly cost. There are lower-level discounts for three and six month commitment deals, as shown below.
It seems a little strange that the discount amounts don’t tally better between the two different packages, however, with those subscribing to the cheaper “Standard” package for a year receiving a more generous deal than those paying more for “Unlimited.”
In addition to the standard packages, PureVPN also offer a non-refundable “trial account” at $2.50 or, as an alternative, a three-day money back guarantee on any full package.
PureVPN prominently advertise the fact they provide 24/7 support, and we’re pleased to report that they live up to this promise.
A live chat option is clearly displayed across the website.
When we put this to the test, we received a full and detailed response to our query within seconds.
PureVPN also offer a support ticketing system, an extensive FAQ section, and a reasonably lively forum. The company is also active on social media and provides an email address for enquiries. The only thing missing is a number for telephone support, but that is a rare thing indeed for VPN service providers.
Security and Privacy
Refreshingly, it’s really easy to ascertain the technologies that PureVPN use for their service.
As shown in the image above, PureVPN support PPTP and L2TP/IPSec protocols, SSTP and SSL, with 128-bit encryption. Although it’s not mentioned on their “Packages and Prices” page, it appears that they also support OpenVPN on a beta basis, as this is mentioned as part of their tutorials.
The provider states clearly that they will never release any information about your account usage unless they are required to by law-enforcement personnel. It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t a “zero logging” service, so those who (for whatever reason) prefer to use a totally confidential service will need to find a different provider.
For the purposes of this review, we decided to sign up to PureVPN’s “Standard” plan for one month. Clicking the “Buy now” link took us to a page where we could choose our commitment period. We were also offered the option of our own dedicated IP address (in a country of our choice), for an additional $5 per month.
After choosing our monthly subscription, we were required to register with a name, email address and password, and select a payment method. Payment methods included the standard credit / debit card and PayPal options, as well as bank transfer and Payza choices. We decided to use PayPal for our review subscription.
Clicking the “Checkout” button redirected us to PayPal, where we logged on and authorised our payment.
We then received our welcome email and receipts, but were told that we may have to wait up to 24 hours (but usually an hour) for our VPN login details to arrive.
Shortly after this, we received an email saying that our order had been placed on hold for “further verification.” We were required to send a scanned copy of an official document to prove our identity. We were not completely comfortable with this, and had we not been confident that the company was legitimate, we may have had doubts about this step.
However, we sent the document over as requested, and within the hour had received our login details.
Installation and Configuration
Our review computer was a MacBook Pro laptop, running Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8).
We followed a link in our welcome email to access the Mac setup instructions, which were held within the client area.
We decided to follow PureVPN’s recommended course, and clicked the button to download the dedicated connectivity software for the Mac. This downloaded a standard Mac (.dmg) installation file.
Running the file prompted us to drag the PureVPN software to our “Applications” folder.
We did as requested and then opened the application. We were impressed to see a very clear and user-friendly “Dialer” program, quite unlike a standard VPN client.
It was clear that the first thing we needed to do was enter our VPN username and password, so we copy and pasted these in from our welcome email. We were pleased to find a “remember me” option so that we only had to do this once.
We were then able to choose a protocol (PPTP or L2TP) and a country (from a large list). To start with, we chose PPTP, selected a UK server and hit “Connect,” but were then told that a “Helper tool” needed to be installed. Thankfully, though, this part simply required us to enter our Mac’s admin password and the install completed almost immediately.
We were then able to hit “Connect” and were connected to the VPN with no delay.
At this point, we confirmed that we had a UK IP address and that we could access region-locked content.
We disconnected, and tried connecting to several servers in various countries, using both PPTP and L2TP. In every case the connection was fast and successful.
The other functionality available from the Dialer utility warrants a special mention, as it goes beyond what we’ve seen from other providers. First, there’s a “server selection tool” which helps you choose the best server to connect to based on how you wish to use the service (i.e. media viewing, poker or privacy).
There’s also a settings page where you can determine how the service operates when you start your computer, and a billing page which links through to the Web-based order pages for other services (in our case plans with a longer commitment package or the “Unlimited” plan). Finally, there is a feedback form and a way to submit a support ticket straight from the program interface.
It must be said that we were extremely impressed with how well the client software worked, as well as the level of thought that had clearly gone into it.
Connection speeds and reliability
After how impressed we had been with PureVPN’s software, we had high expectations for good download speed performance. We weren’t disappointed.
First, we used Speedtest.net to test the normal speed of our Internet connection, whilst disconnected from PureVPN’s service.
As you can see from the screenshot above, we acheived a benchmark download speed of just under 7Mbps – standard for this test location.
We then ran another test, connected to one of PureVPN’s UK servers via PPTP:
This was an excellent result, with the overhead of being connected via VPN making hardly any difference to our speed.
Next we connected to the UK for a second time, but this time using L2TP, to see if this had an impact on our speed:
While this was a tiny bit slower, it was still a great result – and unlikely to be noticeable in day-to-day use.
Finally, we connected to a US server via L2TP to run a final test:
This was again a little slower, possibly due to our physical location in Europe, but still a highly respectable result.
All-in-all, we were delighted with these speed tests, which affirmed our opinion of PureVPN as a true quality service.
As well as providing support (and client software) for PC, Mac, Android and iOS, PureVPN also provide setup guides for Linux and various routers. (Please note, however, that routers are only supported under the “Unlimited” subscription plan).
We were interested to see that there was actually an app for the iPhone as well as manual setup instructions, so we grabbed a test device to try it out.
PureVPN on the iPhone
As instructed, we headed to the Apple App Store to search for the PureVPN App.
It was easy to find the app, which installed in the normal iPhone way.
Once installed, opening the app allowed us to choose our desired server and protocol. We then hit the large “Download settings” button.
This triggered the automatic download of a settings profile, which effectively added a new VPN connection to our iPhone’s settings. Helpfully, this requested our VPN username and password so that they became stored in the profile.
As we had already extensively tested the speed of PureVPN via our WiFi connection, we decided to run a quick speed test over 3G.
First we ran a test whilst disconnected from WiFi and the VPN, but connected to the 3G network:
Then, we connected to PureVPN (via PPTP) and ran the test again:
Once again, we were delighted to see a minimal speed overhead as a result of having the VPN connection active. It’s extremely rare to see such good speed results for both PC and mobile connections.
PureVPN have a fairly extensive customer area:
As well as providing access to all the usual things: support tickets, invoices and account details, there is also the welcome addition of a “Network Status” page, and the ever-present offer of live chat support.
Also worthy of a mention is PureVPN’s “Unlimited Rewards” scheme:
This scheme allows you to earn rewards (in the form of service credit) for completing certain actions, such as promoting the company on Twitter or Facebook, or inviting friends to join. This is pleasingly innovative, and the chance of getting “something for nothing” is always pleasure to see.