With so many virtual private network (VPN) services out there to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to picking the best VPN service for you. Sure, there are the popular picks like household-VPN-name NordVPN or big-name competitor ExpressVPN, but there are other contenders like PureVPN that have their own unique features to consider.
PureVPN has some pretty loud hiccups, but there are still some shiny pros for those seeking a VPN contender.
Our top five VPNs
- Hotspot Shield
PureVPN prices and plans
Of the 13 VPNs we’ve reviewed, you won’t find PureVPN in the top three for cheapest VPN pricing, whether you’re looking at monthly, annual or the multi-year pricing models offered by some VPN providers. But it is the cheapest of our current top five. Like a lot of VPNs, PureVPN charges in US dollars and unless you stick to the more expensive monthly plan, you’ll be paying either an annual or biennial subscription upfront.
The table below breaks down the three pricing options available from PureVPN.
PureVPN prices and contract lengths
|Plan||Monthly price||Upfront price||Detail|
|One-month plan||US$10.95||US$10.95||Check price|
|One-year plan||US$5.83||US$69.95||Check price|
|Two-year plan||US$3.33||US$79.99||Check price|
Data effective 28/04/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
As is the VPN pricing trend, the more you pay upfront, the better value you get overall. You also get a seven-day trial with the one-year plan, and this one-week trial also can be bought for 99 cents if you’re so inclined. That said, PureVPN does have a 31-day money-back guarantee on its plans, so you can use that as part of an extended trial, too, if you don’t mind ponying-up more cash initially. Still, the best value comes from the two-year plan with what breaks down to a US$3.33 monthly fee.
Check out the table below to see how PureVPN compares to our current picks of the top five VPNs.
|PureVPN||US$10.95/mth||Stacks of servers||View plan|
|NordVPN||US$11.95/mth||User-friendly, speedy connection||View plan|
|ExpressVPN||US$12.95/mth||Blocks ads of your choice on all devices||View plan|
|Hotspot Shield||US$12.99/mth||Incredibly fast performance||View plan|
|CyberGhost||AU$18.49/mth||Seven simultaneous devices||View plan|
Data effective 28/04/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
PureVPN connectivity and user experience
If you’re new to VPNs, PureVPN has a fantastic guided onboarding process, which tells you everything you need to know to get connected. When installing the software on a Windows computer, there’s even a pre-ticked option to install a PureVPN Chrome extension, and it’s great to see that PureVPN supports Windows versions right back to Windows XP.
Once the PureVPN software is installed, it does take a breath to load up, unlike other VPNs we’ve revied that start instantly. When it is open, simply tap the giant circle button in the middle of the screen to connect, then hit it again to disconnect. It takes about four seconds to connect to a server and, unlike other VPNs, you don’t usually have to wait extra time for your internet connection to catch up. Because disconnection also feels close to instantaneous, it means real-time online services like music streaming weren’t interrupted during our tests.
The PureVPN software shows the location you’re connected to, your current VPN IP address, as well as your upload and download speeds in relation to the online tasks you’re currently performing. If you were to just click connect, it’d find the best nearest server, but you can also click on the globe icon to find recommended servers, recent locations, and any favourites that you’ve manually starred. This screen also lets you browse locations by popularity or search for them. There’s also a handy support button for quick access to FAQs and live chat (it launches a browser), which is a nice in-app touch.
In terms of locations, PureVPN has the most of our current top five VPNs with more than 140 countries covered. Well, that’s the number that PureVPN claims; it was 118 by my count at the time of updating this review. That’s still a lot – the most out of our top five VPNs – but it’s not quite the “140+” claim.
As for servers, PureVPN is second only to CyberGhost for total number of servers as far as our current top five VPNs are concerned: PureVPN has 6,500+ and CyberGhost has 7,000+ (albeit only in 91+ countries). Even though PureVPN plays second fiddle to CyberGhost for server count, PureVPN is ahead for both number of servers and countries compared to the other three VPNs in our top five. You can see the full PureVPN server list here. It is a shame that you have to disconnect from a server before connecting to another one on the PureVPN software (not the app), which involves unnecessary clicks.
That’s basically all great news so far, but what’s infinitely less great – particularly because this is meant to be a background companion designed to protect what you normally do online – is how PureVPN doesn’t always play nice with particular sites and services. In my Australian server tests, Macquarie Dictionary failed to load, the NBA website was slow to load initially and only partially loaded elements, and Kayo Sports flat out refused to open at all. One Facebook link I attempted to access would close the new tab as soon as it opened. It’s also not a great look that ExpressVPN’s website flat out failed to load, either.
PureVPN also didn’t play nice with software while connected to Australian servers in my tests. Slack failed to send and receive messages, Battle.net wouldn’t load content, Steam was incredibly slow and failed to load pages, and games wouldn’t launch from the Epic Games Launcher. Connecting to a US server fixed the website and Battle.net woes, but not the others (it was hit-or-miss with Slack). Live support was fast to respond to my issue but didn’t provide practical steps for rectifying these issues.
Further testing and research suggests that this is likely related to PureVPN’s heavy-handed treatment of peer-to-peer (P2P) services, which includes Slack but also is more commonly connected to torrenting. This PureVPN P2P support page flags US, UK, Canada and Australia as servers that don’t allow P2P, which helps to explain why I didn’t have these issues when I connected to a New Zealand server. While this could be seen as an admirable overextension to respect local anti-piracy laws, it does undermine the practicality of treating PureVPN as a background protector that doesn’t get in the way of your usual internet goings-on, including the abundance of legal P2P uses.
After the 99c trial period, the cost is equivalent to a more common $6.49 per month (1 year charged upfront at $77.88) —about what you would expect from other powerful VPN services but not as low as the annual plan for Private Internet Access (PIA), which works out to only $2.85 per month.
PureVPN number of devices
PureVPN takes out another top spot in comparison to its top-five peers by offering the most simultaneous connections for a single account. While most VPN services are going to struggle to compete with the unlimited simultaneous connections offered by Surfshark, PureVPN blitzes its nearest competitors by allowing for 10 simultaneous connections. Compare that to the seven on offer from CyberGhost, the six from NordVPN and the five apiece for ExpressVPN and Hotspot Shield.
Below is a list of devices that officially support both the PureVPN app and manual configuration:
- DD-WRT routers
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
While there are a lot of expected devices in the app-supported list above, it’s great to see some love for devices like Kindle (read our 10th gen review here). And below is a list of devices that officially support PureVPN manual configuration only:
- Linksys routers
- Asus routers
- Belkin routers
- Tomato routers
- TP-Link routers
- D-Link routers
- MikroTik routers
- Sitecom Gigabit routers
- Sabai routers
- TRENDnet routers
- Nintendo consoles
- Boxee box
- Google Chromebook
- Microsoft Surface
- Synology NAS
- Blu-ray players
- Asus DSL
- Raspberry Pi
- PlayStation 3
- PlayStation 4
- Xbox 360
- Xbox One
- Unroad Home
- Nvidia Shield
- Apple TV
- Apple Time Capsule
- LG smart TVs
- Western Digital Live TVs
- Panasonic TVs
- Android TVs
- Now TV Box
- Samsung TVs
- Toshiba TVs
- LG smart TV upgrader box
As you can likely tell from all the scrolling it took to reach this bit of text, that’s a lot of supported devices. Thankfully, there are configuration guides for a lot of these devices on this PureVPN support blog.
Because of how a VPN works, there’s no getting around the reality that your total connection speed will be slowed when using one. Depending on the VPN service, download and/or upload speeds will be partially or greatly impacted, while latency – the overall responsiveness of your connection – tends to take the most noticeable hit. The table below is reflective of speeds achieved with a Superloop NBN 100/40Mbps Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) connection when I tested PureVPN during the middle of the day (using Speedtest.net, and you can test your internet speed here).
|VPN server||Download speed||Upload speed||Latency|
|US VPN (recommended)||57.41Mbps|
|US VPN (manual, closest)||62.30Mbps|
In terms of speeds, PureVPN fares well in terms of connecting to local Australian servers (Sydney was the recommended server). Latency effectively remained unchanged with acceptable percentage differences for download and upload. It starts to fall apart when connecting to international servers, though.
Strangely, PureVPN’s recommended US server was in Phoenix, which bucks the trend of my recent tests that tend to default to a server that’s closer to the US West Coast. Connected to this server, it’s no wonder that the latency as well as upload and download speeds all had massively noticeable percentage differences compared to the Sydney-based PureVPN server.
One of the use cases for a VPN is stepping around geoblocked content, which is handy if you don’t mind running the risk of having your account banned (read the Ts and Cs) for a chance at streaming content from the US or other regions. Similarly, if you’re abroad and want to access Australian content, a global VPN can be used to connect to an Australian server and stream content from services back home.
Below is a table detailing how PureVPN fared in my tests for popular US and Australian streaming services that have a knack for sniffing out VPN connections.
|Service||ExpressVPN compatible?||Buffering speed|
|Stan (including Stan Sport)||Yes||Extremely slow|
Netflix US, HBO Max (on a second LA server) and Hulu worked great with PureVPN, but Peacock had issues. While the webpage would load and trailers played in the background, clicking play on watchable content resulted in a VPN error. This was consistent across a handful of US servers I tested Peacock with. Meanwhile, I had to force a hard refresh to even connect to Kayo Sports or Stan with an Australian server, and the slow buffering speeds are at ends with other VPNs I’ve tested.
The next table grabs the hefty 34% best-case download difference for connecting to a PureVPN US server and applies it to the average typical evening download speeds (TEDS) for NBN providers across available fixed-line NBN speed tiers. The three columns on the right show how many simultaneous streams can be run on a single account for popular US 4K streaming services. Because Hulu has the option to upgrade to unlimited streams, it doesn’t tap out at the max limit of Netflix or HBO Max.
|NBN speed tier||Average NBN TEDS||CyberGhost TEDS||Netflix 4K|
|HBO Max 4K|
|NBN 12||11.42Mbps||7.54Mbps||Too slow||Too slow||Too slow|
|NBN 25||21.45Mbps||14.16Mbps||Too slow||Too slow||Too slow|
|NBN 50||45.17Mbps||29.81Mbps||1 stream||1 stream||1 stream|
|NBN 100||86.67Mbps||57.20Mbps||2 streams||3 streams||2 streams|
|NBN 250||212.10Mbps||139.97Mbps||4+ streams||8 streams||3+ streams|
|NBN 1000||337.50Mbps||222.75Mbps||4+ streams||13 streams||3+ streams|
One of the bigger selling points of PureVPN is its commitment to its zero-logging policy, which effectively means the company’s dedication to your anonymity is aligned with the protective purposes of VPN software. PureVPN backs its zero-log policy so much that it’s established an always-on audit policy, meaning it can be audited at any time.
There’s a wealth of information and options inside your PureVPN login. This member’s area has typical account information, but it also has easy access to port forwarding, the help desk, as well as apps and PureVPN browser extensions. Clicking on ‘Other Devices’ provides blog guides for connecting specific devices, even if some of these are just a blanket guide for connecting via a router.
Another big tick for PureVPN is it provides inbuilt protection against viruses, malware, botnets and spyware, which is great for additional peace of mind and also sets it apart from competitors.
PureVPN vs other VPNs
In terms of pricing, PureVPN is at the top of our current VPNs for monthly pricing, and also has competitive pricing if you fancy an annual or biennial subscription. PureVPN’s server count is second only to CyberGhost (6,500+ vs 7,000+) in this comparison, but it effortlessly has the highest server count. Even if it’s not quite 140+ by my count, it still easily clears the 94 on offer from the next nearest top-five competitor (ExpressVPN).
If you want a VPN that covers all or a lot of your critical devices, PureVPN’s generous 10 simultaneous connections offers greater versatility than a lot of other VPNs, and all of our current top five. The auditable zero-log policy provides great peace of mind, while the VPN-level antivirus and anti-malware offers great security that other VPNs do not.
PureVPN would be a proper top-three contender if it wasn’t so aggressive with its anti-P2P steps that get in the way of regular internet usage on Australian and US servers in particular. None of the other VPNs that I’ve tested have this issue. It also doesn’t help that PureVPN is one of the slowest VPNs in our recent tests.
Should I buy PureVPN?
This is a tough one. On one hand, PureVPN has many admirable features, including 10 simultaneous connections, a robust zero-logging policy as well as VPN-level antivirus and anti-malware. It also covers a lot of countries and has a stack of servers. On the other hand, the P2P blocking on Australian, US, UK and Canadian servers make PureVPN less of an invisible protector and more of a frustration whenever it blocks regular internet activity.
PureVPN isn’t the fastest or most consistent VPN, but if you want a VPN that offers a lot of devices with servers in 140+ countries, it’s worth considering.