Arguably the world’s largest consumer VPN provider, Hong Kong based Pure VPN is incredibly well established and boasts a truly enormous global network. Their goal is to provide online security and unblock geographically restricted websites. We recently reviewed their offering and here is what we thought:
Website: The website is exactly what you’d expect from such an established brand; professional, concise and informative. It is very apparent that Pure VPN have put a lot of time and effort into the website, it’s incredibly comprehensive and the blog is really impressive. The site is easy to navigate, responsive and gives a feeling that you are in safe hands.
Plans and Pricing: PureVPN offer 1 plan and three terms; 1, 6 and 12 months. Naturally if you go for the longest term (12 months) you are rewarded with a hefty discount of 65% and it will cost you $4.16/mo ($49.92 paid annually), the monthly plan will set you back $9.95/mo. I’m slightly concerned that 1 month price already has a saving, this could mean rebills at a higher rate - just something to keep an eye out for.
Once you hit the order form on Pure VPN you are presented with a ton of account add-ons such as Smart DNS, Dedicated IP, NAT Firewall, Dedicated Streaming and a couple of others - I would recommend grabbing the SmartDNS if you are interested in streaming TV. There are plenty of payment options, including bitcoin and AliPay (great for users based in China).
Features: The feature set for PureVPN is pretty solid, and by that I mean you get the all of the following: Desktop & mobile apps, unlimited server switching, split tunneling, unlimited data transfer and 5 concurrent logins (which is a little nuts!). The most impressive of all their features is without question their immense global network, it spans 121 countries and over 180 locations! It’s not all sunshine and roses though, Pure VPN openly admit to recording IP addresses - which I personally don’t like at all. Furthermore, hidden away in their terms and conditions they have the all to familiar fair usage policy - In other words, when they say their service is unlimited, it isn’t.
Security & Protocols: Pure VPN offers a wide range of protocols; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP and IKEv2 are available to their customers. One major advantage of PureVPN is that they manage the own network, there are no third parties and all data is handled by Pure VPN only - a real plus point. Logging IP’s is an obvious concern to anyone who is passionate about anonymity and privacy, it is concerning that PureVPN do this and really is a negative to their offering.
Customer Support: The support provided by PureVPN is solid. The support center is great and packed full of useful tutorials (including video tutorials) and knowledgebase articles, it is however slightly annoying that everything opens in a new window. The design and layout is nice and all information/action buttons are accessible Live chat is of good quality with responses being clear and timely (having to put in your details to get started is a bit of a ball ache though), the chat was answered in 30 seconds. Email support response was just over 20 hours and the quality of the response was equally as good as the live chat responses.
Customer Dashboard: The customer dashboard is the weakest part of Pure VPN’s product offering. I strongly suspect it was implemented out of necessity and without any consideration to UI/UX or future developments. There is a quick navigation (side navigation kind of thing) that has had so many links added to it, it is no longer quick to navigate. The dashboard does provide all of the information and resources that a customer would expect, but it’s just done in a way that is hard to navigate and very unintuitive.
Desktop Client: The client (both OSX and Windows) is not designed to the same standards as the frontend and the difference between Windows and OSX is ridiculous - no consistency across platforms here. It is clunky, a little confusing and provides a bunch of really unnecessary data. I was experiencing a few authentication problems when first using the client and received no notification/alert - it just appeared as if the client was trying to connect, when it couldn’t! In addition I found some buttons totally unresponsive, namely the ones under ‘Billing and Packages’. The client needs to have all the redundant extras stripped out and instead just focus on the simplicity of connecting to a location and by which protocol.
Mobile: For such an established VPN company the standard of the iOS app came as a real suprise. To start with it had an android style side menu (and not a nice new one either!) which turned me off straight away, the rest of the application isn’t too badly designed though. Past that, establishing connections was slower than expected process, profiles were a chore to install and the navigation was a little buggy. Once connected however the speeds were good and the app did exactly what it was supposed to do.
Conclusion: To conclude, it is easy to see how Pure VPN has developed such a powerful reputation. It’s network is so impressive that most other VPN providers will never be able to achieve the same coverage. The feature set is comprehensive and the pricing for all plans makes Pure VPN ultra competitive. There are serious improvements that need to be made to the experience of using any of the client applications / customer dashboard and we really don’t like the IP logging.