TL;DR: PureVPN has everything you can look for in a VPN and it offers excellent value for money.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, more and more companies are going online these days. While this shift towards a more remote and work from home practice has its advantages, there are a few grave dangers too. One of those primary concerns is online security and privacy. With everyone shifting online, there’s a steep increase in cybercrimes and many people are becoming a target. While a VPN won’t solve this problem, it will however improve the security of the user and reduce the chance of them becoming a target.
But it isn’t limited to this only and has many other features. Now that you have decided to get a VPN, you will have to go through the struggle of choosing from a large number of VPNs available. Sure, you could go for the widely known VPNs. But since everyone will be going for those too, there’s a high chance that this will result in even more congestion in already overcrowded servers. So what do you do then? Well, you go for a slightly less known VPNs compared to the famous ones. In this article we will look at one such VPN which might not be that famous but still packs a punch. We are talking about PureVPN which has a really good performance to value ratio. But before we begin, here’s some obligatory technical information regarding VPNs.
What is a VPN?
To know what a VPN is, let’s refer to that one place we always go to whenever we need to know something. This is what is written about a VPN on Wikipedia:
A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on an end system (PC, smartphone etc.) across a VPN may, therefore, benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is a common, though not an inherent, part of a VPN connection.
This definition is kind of overwhelming for most beginners. So a more simple explanation for it will be this. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that gives you online privacy and anonymity. It creates a private network from the user’s internet connection. VPN routes the users’ connection through a remote server. This way it masks the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the user making them virtually untraceable. Most important, a VPN service establishes secure and encrypted connections. This provides far greater privacy and protection than a regular connection.
What is the need for a VPN?
Now that you know what a VPN is you will be itching to know what is the need for it and what are some of its use cases. You would also want to know whether VPN is a must and you won’t be able to access the internet without it. The answer is that it isn’t required to be connected to a VPN while accessing the internet. It’s just that using a VPN makes your connection secure and anonymous. Let us now see some common uses of a VPN.
- Hide Your Browsing Activity: Whenever you browse the internet, your Internet Service Provider can see what websites you are visiting and what files you are downloading. Not only this, but even other prying eyes will also be able to track your activity. This data can be sold to third parties who might use it for malicious activities. So if you want to hide your browsing activity from your ISPs and other third parties then you can connect to a VPN. Using a VPN your connection becomes secure and anonymous. On the local network only a single connection will be visible. All the other traffic that needs to be transferred will pass through the VPN connection. This way your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Governmental agency won’t be able to track you. They will not be able to link your session with your IP address. However one thing you should keep in mind is that VPN providers may still track and log your activity.
- Bypass ISP throttling: Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) intentionally slow down the speed of a user’s broadband internet connection. This is usually done by the ISPs to regulate a network’s traffic and to alleviate network congestion. While this is a common practice the result of this throttling is that users get a lower speed than they were supposed to. This throttling can be bypassed by using a VPN. A VPN routes your connection through their secure tunnel, preventing your ISP from throttling your connection.
- Unblock Geo-Restricted Content: Imagine these scenarios. You are someone who is traveling to a different country and want to access your native Netflix or Prime Video library. Or you are someone who wants to access the catalog of a different country because a particular title isn’t available in your region. Normally you would be out of luck in both these scenarios but using a VPN can easily solve these problems for you. A VPN will mask your location based on the server you are connected to. This enables you to access these region-restricted services from anywhere in the world.
- Bypass Internet Censorship: Many countries are known for notoriously censoring a majority of the online content as well as restricting access to many websites. China is one such country that comes to mind. In such cases you can use a VPN to gain access to these restricted contents. However one thing to note is that most VPNs aren’t capable of bypassing this.
- Downloading Torrents: Downloading torrents might land you in trouble in multiple countries. Even if it isn’t illegal, downloading a torrent can be painstaking because most ISPs throttle the speed. Some ISPs might even serve you notices for downloading torrents. Universities and other Institutes also block torrents. Using a VPN you can bypass these restrictions and also ensure that you don’t land in trouble.
What makes a VPN good
Like in most things, there are a few desired attributes that most VPNs should have. Here we will look at a few of these attributes. In fact these attributes will lay the ground-based on which we will separate both NordVPN and ExpressVpn.
- Security: This is the topmost priority for most VPN users. The level of security a VPN can provide decides how effective a VPN is. A good VPN can be characterized by the following features: Level of encryption: A good VPN will use military-grade encryption like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256). This is the most common type of encryption used by VPNs and is very effective in protecting your information. DNS leak protection: A good VPN should provide you protection from DNS leaks. Kill Switch: Another feature that most good VPNs should have. It prevents your traffic from leaving in case your connection is interrupted. These and many other features ensure your security is protected.
- Level of encryption: A good VPN will use military-grade encryption like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256). This is the most common type of encryption used by VPNs and is very effective in protecting your information.
- DNS leak protection: A good VPN should provide you protection from DNS leaks.
- Kill Switch: Another feature that most good VPNs should have. It prevents your traffic from leaving in case your connection is interrupted. These and many other features like this will decide how good a VPN is in protecting our privacy.
- Speed: What is the benefit of having a private and secure connection if there is no high-speed bandwidth to accompany it? This is the case with most free and low tier VPNs. Their speed is so slow that all you could do is barely browse a few sites or so. If you are someone whose primary reason for using a VPN is to stream and download content then this will affect you.
To be able to stream contents without any buffering, then as per Lifewire your internet speed needs to meet these requirements:- 0.5 Mb/s to view standard definition movies on a laptop computer. While you can stream at speeds of 0.5 Mb/s, the quality is grainy on a large screen, much like watching an old VHS movie. Netflix recommends at least 1.5 Mb/s. 3 Mb/s to view standard definition video (480p) on a T. 4 Mb/s to view high definition video ( 720p, 1080p ). 5 Mb/s or more for the best 1080p experience. 15 Mb/s to stream 4K (but 25 Mb/s is preferred). Also recommended is a 4K Ultra TV with an HEVC decoder. So for a VPN to be considered a good VPN, it has to at least meet these above requirements.
- Logging Policy: Another primary reason people use VPNs is to hide their online activities and prevent ISPs from monitoring and tracking their online activities. The thing is even though the ISP and other third parties won’t be able to track users, the VPN provider will still possess this particular information. There is no guarantee what they will do with that data and nothing is stopping them from selling these data to third party buyers. Also if the VPN provider is based in one of the member countries of the 14 eyes, then there is a chance government surveillance officials might ask for these data in the guise of national security. This is especially relevant if your VPN provider is based in a 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance country. VPNs in these countries can be legally obligated to provide your data. For this reason a good VPN should not store any of your information at whatsoever. So a VPN is as good as its logging policy. Most good VPNs have a strict no-logs policy.
- Number of Servers: The number of servers a VPN has is also a great indicator of how good a VPN is. Having a large number of servers available has its advantages. Here are two such reasons why large no servers can be beneficial. First, more no of servers means that you can switch between servers in case one of the servers isn’t working. So you can find a server that best suits your requirements. Secondly, a huge no of servers would mean that there will be less congestion in a particular server. As a result you will get better speeds. So any good VPN should have a large number of servers spread across the globe.
- Location of Servers: Having a server in multiple regions and locations would mean that we can access unblocked content in all these regions. So along with having a large number of servers, a good VPN should also have these servers spread across more countries and regions.
- Pricing: Pricing is the final deciding factor for most people. After all the VPN that you decide to go for will largely depend on your budget. So it doesn’t matter how many features a VPN has if the pricing isn’t right a VPN won’t sell. So for a VPN to be considered good, it has to have the perfect performance to price ratio.
Well now that the technicalities are out of the way, let’s take a look at PureVPN and it’s features.
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong and is one of the most affordable VPN providers. It has a widespread server coverage and provides a good enough bandwidth speed. It might not be as known as the other famous providers, but it gives them tight competition at the least. It has a large number of servers spread throughout the globe. It also has a lot of features that a good VPN should have. Their security standards are also as good as any. Coupled with all these features and a very affordable price, PureVPN makes a very compelling claim in the VPN market.
When it comes to a VPN, the thing that is on most people’s top priority is their security. This is one of the main reasons people decide to use a VPN. Any VPN that claims to be one of the best, needs to provide a fully secure connection. PureVPN has some very decent features in this respect and performs very well in terms of protecting the privacy of its users.
- Anonymous Surfing: Using PureVPN you remain completely anonymous. It accomplishes this by assigning you an anonymous IP from the region of your choice. So whenever some data traffic is transferred from your network, it will seem as if it was being passed from that particular server. Hence, your identity will be protected.
- IP Address Masking: Since the VPN server assigns you an anonymous IP address, your actual IP address is never revealed. So this keeps your real IP safely hidden while you browse the internet with complete privacy. No one will be able to track your traffic and network request back to you.
- VPN Hotspot: You can connect to PureVPN using desktop clients to get a secure connection. You can also turn your device into a hotspot and hence secure all devices that are connected to your desktop.
- Router Configuration: Having PureVPN means that you don’t have to worry about configuring it to support your router. This is because PureVPN is compatible with a wide range of routers available. So you can easily secure your home or office network no matter what your router is.
2. Network Protocols
The protocols a VPN supports decides how much effective the VPN is. These protocols enable the VPNs to safely send the user’s data through the internet. This is necessary for browsing websites, using social media, or doing just about anything else online. They make sure that the user’s connection remains private no matter what. A tunneling protocol is simply a way to transfer information from point A to point B. It may offer an underlying layer of encryption, but it is not considered secure. However a VPN protocol is different from the tunneling protocol. It has many extra functionalities. It performs end-to-end encryption and also authenticates traffic data. It also uses obfuscation of the data which helps in hiding the traffic that the VPN is serving.
PureVPN supports the following protocols:
- OpenVPN TCP
- OpenVPN UDP
3. Logging Policies
Using a VPN might help you in keeping your traffic and activities safe from your ISP. However, your VPN provider might still possess your data and there’s no saying what they can do with it. This is one of the biggest concerns most people have while buying a VPN. What if your VPN provider is tracking and logging your activities? What stops them from selling your data? Almost every VPN you will find has their straight out claims that it doesn’t log any data. And this is a bit misleading in our opinion. Because to function properly, there are a few user data that a VPN needs to have. But in case of some VPNs there is no transparency as to what they log and what they don’t.
PureVPN has a very transparent logging policy. They clearly state what kind of data they are storing and what they are not storing. They also go on to state why exactly they collect the date and what they use for it. Going through their logging policy on their website makes it clear. Here are the details that you can find on their website.
Information We Collect at Signup
- Your Name
- Email Address
- Payment Method
How We Use This Information
- To provide, operate, and maintain our Services
- To improve, personalize, and expand our Services
- To communicate with you, either directly or through one of our partners, including for customer service, to provide you with updates and other information relating to the Service, and for marketing and promotional purposes
- To process your transactions
- To find and prevent fraud
- For compliance purposes, including enforcing our Terms of Service, or other legal rights
We have no logs or records of:
- Your origin IP address
- Assigned VPN server IP address
- VPN session timestamp
- Your browsing activities
- DNS requests
In a nutshell:
- We don’t know what you access, browse, upload, or download with our service.
- We are unable to identify at what time you connected to the VPN, with which IP address and which VPN IP was assigned to you.
- Even if we are compelled to share user information, we simply cannot because we have nothing personally identifiable to share.
4. Geo Unblocking
With an increase in the number of streaming services available, the number of shows available in each region is decreasing. So as a result many shows now aren’t available to stream in a particular region but are available in some other region. This has given rise to a completely new use case for VPNs. People have now started using VPNs so that they can unblock these Geo-restrictions and what shows and movies that are not available in their region. However, Netflix can recognize whether or not someone is using a VPN or not and hence will not serve them the blocked content.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case with PureVPN. We were able to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu from different regions without them ever detecting that we were using a VPN. We were able to do High Definition content streaming in all these regions using PureVPN. There were very little connection problems. It was also completely buffering free. We never encountered any problems while Geo-unblocking contents in any of the streaming services we used.
Encryption is another key aspect of a VPN that is often overlooked when checking out a VPN. The level of encryption a VPN provides while serving the traffic determines how secure the connection is. This is necessary so that your ISP or any other 3rd parties are not able to see what you are doing. Most VPNs do a great job at this.
Likewise, PureVPN comes equipped with modern security protocols that secure your connection and keeps you safe from all external threats. PureVPN provides 256-bit military-grade encryption security. This safeguards your wireless router network from all kinds of security threats. It does so by using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption. This encryption uses a 256-bit key for encryption which makes it even more secure. It would take about a billion years for a supercomputer to decrypt something that has been encrypted by AES 256. So rest assured, no one can find out your online activities. Having a virtual IP also ensures that you remain anonymous and your real IP address isn’t exposed.
6. Bypassing Censorship in China
China has one of the highest amounts of internet restriction among all countries. The ‘Great Firewall of China’ blocks thousands of sites that can’t be accessed by the people. This includes popular sites like Google, YouTube, Google Translate, Facebook, and Whatsapp. While you use a VPN to access these services when in China, most VPNs are blocked. This is because China has some very good anti-VPN tech that succeeds in blocking most VPNs. So not all VPNs work in China and only a few VPNs can bypass this. PureVPN can. Given that you have it installed before being in China, you can easily access those sites.
PureVPN has a total of 2000+ VPN servers in 180+ spread across 140+ countries. Yes 140+ countries. PureVPN is one of the few VPNs with the most no of servers. All its servers are encrypted and have a dedicated IP address. It claims it has state-of-the-art servers engineered for an optimum mix of performance and speed. It also has Dedicated Streaming Servers which offer insane streaming speeds. This helps in watching online content without buffering.
Other than privacy and security, the other thing that we cannot compromise is Speed. No matter what purpose we use it for, we will need high-speed internet to get an uninterrupted connection. So even if a VPN is very secure, if it doesn’t have enough speed then it’s of no use. So we checked out what the speeds that we got while using PureVPN. But before that we measured our speed without a VPN.
We got a download speed of 42.04 Mbps and an upload speed of 35.54 Mbps. The response time we got was 11 ms. So this was our base speed without having a VPN. Now let’s see how a VPN affects the speed.
We first used the auto function which is supposed to find the server that best suits you and connects you to it. The server we connected to was the Los Angeles, CA server. So here are the speed test results while connected to that server. The download speed was 30.18 Mbps and an upload speed of 26.11 Mbps. So, both the download speed as well as the upload speed was reduced slightly but it still was very decent. The response time was 64 ms which can be considered above average for a VPN.
Next we connected to the United Kingdom and checked out the speeds. The server we connected to was the London, UK server. The download speed was 28.31 Mbps and the upload speed was 22.43 Mbps. This was again very similar to the US server. The ping however got a hit, and was 118 ms. Moving on to a server in France we again got similar results. The download speed was 29.16 Mbps and the upload speed was 25.12 Mbps. Likewise the ping again took a hit and was 126 ms. This was expected due to the large distance between the user and the server.
So we come to the conclusion is that being connected to PureVPN will reduce your speed but it would still be usable. This speed was still fast enough for streaming, downloading, and other browsing activities. So if you have a high-speed connection, be assured that you won’t be limited by its server speed.
9. P2P Support
P2P, also known as peer to peer connection, is what is used for downloading torrents. As most of you might know, downloading torrents can be tricky. You might get in trouble for this. In fact, it is illegal to download torrents in someplace. You might also get notices from your ISP for the same. So hiding your identity while downloading torrent can be considered a safe choice. So using a VPN for torrenting is kind of a necessity. It helps you in keeping your connection anonymous while you are downloading or seeding a torrent. Some ISPs also throttle the connection speed if they sense that you are downloading a torrent or uploading it.
PureVPN has servers that are self-engineered and self-optimized servers which have been designed keeping P2P traffic capability in mind. Using PureVPN, your normal connection becomes a P2P optimized network. So everything that you download or send over the P2P networks server remains remain secured because of strong and high-grade encryption. It also uses strong encryption AES 256-bit Encryption to encrypt your network. This assures you that no one can pry on your personal information and neither your ISP or any other Government agencies will be able to see what you are doing, thanks to the VPN.
10. Other Features
- Internet Kill Switch: If your VPN connection is ever interrupted or if the connection fails, the VPN will make sure to immediately stop any kind of traffic from either entering or leaving your device. In such cases where your VPN connection drops unexpectedly, Kill Switch disconnects you from the internet, safeguarding your privacy. Network Lock will immediately stop any kind of traffic from either entering or leaving your device. So your personal information including your IP address will not be exposed to your ISP or any other prying eyes.
- Split Tunneling: PureVPN has a split tunneling functionality. It lets you route some of your device or app traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel. The other devices or apps access the internet directly. So only those apps that require protection will have access to the VPN connection. You can choose which app you want to exclude from using the secure VPN connection.
- WebRTC Leak Protection: PureVPN masks your real IP address. Instead, it uses one of its own dedicated IP addresses. This protects your real IP from leaking at websites and web services. No one will be able to trace your activities back to your real IP address.
- IPv6 Leak Protection: PureVPN also offers IPv6 leak protection which ensures that the connection remains anonymous. It safeguards the online traffic from the ISPs, Government agencies, and other prying eyes including hackers, trackers, and any other spying entity. In case there is an IPv6 leak then your actual online identity is exposed and you no longer remain anonymous. PureVPN ensures that it doesn’t happen.
- DNS Leak Protection: A Domain Name System(DNS) is a kind of identity that every website has on the internet. A DNS is nothing but a string of numbers also called an IP address. Each IP address is linked to a URL which is easier for a human to remember. How this is relevant is that many VPN providers use a third-party DNS. These 3rd party DNS aren’t encrypted. They are vulnerable to manipulation, and hence don’t provide the same level of security. A DNS request is generated that exposes your real online identity on the web. The DNS requests are sent to the DNS server or DNS servers which are set in your configuration settings. PureVPN resolves all the requests on its own VPN DNS servers network which prevents it from being spied on and monitored as the DNS request never reaches your ISP. It makes sure that none of your data is leaked and that you remain completely anonymous online.
- Bypass ISP throttling: PureVPNlets you bypass the throttling that your ISPs impose. It will change your virtual location and also route all your internet traffic through a secure encrypted tunnel. This makes all your activities completely anonymous and also bypasses the throttle. So you can use the full bandwidth no matter how many times your ISP throttles your speed.
This is where PureVPN really shines. The following are its offerings.
- Free Trial: Unlike other VPNs, PureVPN has a free 7-day trial for 0.99 $ only. So you can try out the VPN and decide whether or not you like the VPN. However, once this ends you will be automatically subscribed to their 1-year plan. So you should keep that in mind.
- 1 Month Plan: Like most other VPNs, this is its most expensive plan. It costs $10.95 which is still cheaper than what the other VPNs offer.
- 6 Month Plan: This is the mid-tier plan from PureVPN. At $8.33 per month, it costs $49.98 for 6 months. This plan is billed once every 6 months.
- 1 Year Plan: This is the more affordable plan. It costs a total of $69.96 for its yearly plan. The cost per month for this plan is $5.83. This plan is billed once every year.
PureVPN Free Trial
PureVPN used to have a free trial on their website. However they stopped it. That being said, if you sign up for PureVPN using this link you have a 31 days money back guarantee + 74% Discount and you can always get a refund if it doesn’t work.
Special Coronavirus Trial: Due to the current crisis, PureVPN started a 7 days trial on their webpage for $0.99
- Making a 7-Day trial available for $0.99.
- Increasing multi logins from 5 to 10 on each account.
- Allowing premium users to gift 12 free monthly accounts.
- The PureVPN team are working remotely so you can get seamless service.
PureVPN Pros & Cons
PureVPN Review Verdict
Despite not being that famous, PureVPN shines in almost every category. It packs a lot of features at a very affordable price. So if you are looking for a VPN but don’t want to go with the more established and famous one, which is really overcrowded these days, you can go for PureVPN.