For more than ten years, PureVPN has been one of the major players in the VPN industry. A VPN provider doesn’t stay in business that long unless they are doing something right, and PureVPN does a lot of things well. They have many server locations, an interesting pricing model, and an overall reputation for reliability. Yet, on closer inspection, there are flaws that become apparent which include leaks that can affect your security.
PureVPN was founded in 2006 and became commercially available in 2007. That means they were among the earliest providers of VPN services to the mainstream public. The company is based in Hong Kong and is regularly mentioned by websites such as CNET and Mashable as a top-tier VPN provider. They’ve certainly earned their reputation by packing valuable features into their VPN service, and their prices have remained reasonably low throughout the years. Sometimes, though, the sheer length of time a company has been in business will make them a giant in the industry. The problem is that sometimes businesses ride that reputation at the expense of a failure to evolve with new technology.
PureVPN still employs multiple security protocols, permits up to five simultaneous connections, and more that 80,000 IP addresses to ensure anonymity. They even have unlimited bandwidth which is useful, even though your ISP is still going to ding your data allowance. The company is not a bad option, but we’d like to see some improvements which bring them in to line with other providers where leaks are concerned.
Speed is a major consideration for most people that purchase VPN service. Individuals want to stream media without hiccups, especially those who maybe using their VPN in a foreign country to unblock services like Netflix. Speed can also effect the performance of VoIP applications like Skype. When you connect to a VPN it is normal to experience a slight reduction in speed, although the best VPN service like the one offered by VPNaccounts.com will keep this to a bare minimum.
PureVPN claims to be the fastest VPN account on the market, and why not? Most VPN providers make a similar claim. The reality is often less attractive than the hype, however. While PureVPN does boast admirable speed overall, they sometimes drop the ball when it comes to streaming. The company suggests specific servers for streaming media. Some users have reported that they are unable to connect to these servers, presumably because there are too many people using them. From what we can observe, the speed of these servers is fine…if you can connect. The fastest VPN in the world won’t mean much if you can’t connect.
It is also worth noting that PureVPN upload speeds are proportionally slower than those offered by other providers. It’s hard to say why. Of the various server locations offered by PureVPN, the Switzerland server performed worst in speed test. The best speed was accomplished via the East Coast US server. That’s all well and good, but what if you need a Canada-based server to access content restricted to that area. We’d like to see better speed across the board from this provider.
PureVPN Features and Price
In taking a look at the pricing model employed by PureVPN, one can see that the prices are competitive but complicated. To begin, the company assigns different categories to your expected usage. There are different price points for what the company refers to as Downloaders, Streamers, and Premium users. Downloaders will only pay $8 per month for unlimited bandwidth. Streamers will pay $10 each month for zero buffering. Premium users pay $13 per month and are allotted optimized servers which let you do it all. All of these plans are recurring on a monthly basis.
Something neat is that PureVPN offers yearly service but also breaks it down according to the three categories mentioned above. Downloaders pay $36 annually, Streamers pay $60, and Premium users pay $84. That accounts for some considerable discounts if you pay by the year. Each plan, whether it be annual or monthly, is backed with a 7-day money back guarantee. That is probably enough time for you to give the VPN a test drive to see if it will work for you, but a free trial would probably attract a few new customers and extending the guarantee to 30 days would be beneficial.
PureVPN has multiple payment options which include Visa and MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Bitpay, and Discover to name just a few. They’ll even let you pay for VPN service with a Wal-Mart gift card if you can believe that. Users report no issues when completing their payment.
Let’s talk server locations. PureVPN has 500 servers in 141 countries. That is an insane amount of coverage. You’ll even find servers in places like Oceania, Africa, and Central America. The bottom line is that more server locations is always a good thing. You can’t have too many. As we mentioned above, though, some of these servers are difficult to connect to. Once again, it doesn’t matter how many servers you have if you can’t use them all.
PureVPN used PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, and something they call the “revolutionary” stealth protocol. They claim to offer protection against IPV6 and DNS leaks, but testing has revealed the opposite with some servers. Some servers were even more prone to these dangerous leaks. Users are promised unlimited bandwidth and the freedom to switch between servers as much as they like. One big selling point of the company is its claim of 80,000 plus IP addresses. A dedicated IP address does confer some significant advantages like Home Security Camera Protection, something the company stresses will prevent someone from hijacking the video monitors of your home security system and viewing them online. You can also get greater FTP security when you limit the use of FTP to your specific IP address, but the truth is that most individuals won’t be too concerned with a dedicated IP address.
The NAT Firewall used by PureVPN is seemingly strong. The company clams that it will block unrequested connections, malicious inbound traffic, exploits, and bad data packets. From what we observed, these claims are mostly true, although there is the issue of those pesky leaks we mentioned. Here’s the deal. In testing done by many review sites, IP leaks and DNS leaks were detected during video testing. These leaks revealed the true location of the user. Not only does revealing your true location compromise your anonymity, it also affects your ability to stream media from restricted applications.
Connecting to PureVPN
You’re going to need to download the PureVPN client from the provider’s website if you want to get the most from this VPN. That’s a downer because it is so much easier to simply configure the existing VPN client on your system with the PureVPN credentials. The upside is that the PureVPN client is attractive and user-friendly. Once you install it, the entire array of options is at your fingertips and any of them can be accessed with a single click.
A nice element of the client is that you are offered server options based on what you intend to do. You’ll be asked to select options for streaming, file sharing, or security and privacy depending on which is more important to you. Selecting one of these options will connect you to the server which best meets your needs by default. When there are 500 servers to choose from, this saves time. You can also change your choice at any time with ease. Once your choice is made, you’ll be prompted to select which protocol you prefer.
You can, of course, set up default options the first time you use the VPN client to bypass the selection screens. We like options, though, so our preference is to customize as we are allowed to do with each browsing session.
There is a VPN Kill Switch feature, common now to most VPN providers, which can be configured to prevent applications from accessing the Internet if your VPN connection drops. This is also handy. How many times have you been browsing with your VPN only to discover that the connection to the server has dropped and you’ve been browsing without any protection? This feature will prevent that. It simply closes apps you designate when the VPN connection drops.
There are a number of choices when it comes to the security protocols offered by PIA VPN. The standard protocols of PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN are available. In most cases, the OpenVPN protocol is going to be the best choice for most users.
Thing get even better when it comes to encryption. Private Internet Access VPN will protect you with AES-256 encryption, but that is just the beginning. You can also further authenticate with SHA256 and handshake with RSA 4096. It should be noted that using the handshake will administer a significant reduction in speed. All this probably sounds somewhat overwhelming to most VPN users, though, who find the standard encryption offered by the VPN tunnel to be enough.
This provider takes the same approach that many VPN companies do in regards to logging traffic. They do not log or retain logs of your browsing activity. The reason this is important is because any provider could be compelled to turn over logs at any time by a government agency. If those agencies came knocking with a court order, there would be little that could prevent them from obtaining logs if there were any to obtain. The best way to safeguard the security of individuals is to maintain no logs. You cannot turn over anything that you do not have.
The pluses of using PureVPN are significant:
- 500 server locations. In theory, you shouldn’t have to worry about geographical restrictions.
- Competitive pricing. This is especially the case when you pay for a year in advance.
- A dedicated IP address. Not all will need this option but some will appreciate it.
- Unlimited bandwidth.
The minuses, however, are troublesome:
- Testing has revealed IP and DNS leaks that can expose your actual location.
- Inability to connect to some servers.