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BSN’s PureVPN Review: The Gamer

Dominik

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PureVPN is as high-profile as you can get in the world of VPNs, but does name recognition equal top privacy guarantees? How about security? That’s what this review is here to answer.


PureVPN Review Summary
3.67 BSN Score
Pros
Good server variety. Consistent speeds. Excellent Gaming VPN service.
Cons
Poor P2P/torrenting performance. Lack of a spotless track record with privacy. Some innocent snake oil peddler had his trial marketing strategy stolen.
Summary
Here we are, indeed, torn between whether to praise PureVPN’s godly latency in gaming applications or gawk at its mundanely inconsistent torrenting speeds. Admire its beautiful design language or scoff at its privacy mishaps. Nod at its competitively priced tiers or shake in anger at its trial requirements stolen out of some used car salesman’s playbook. If yin-yang impressions were a relevant performance metric for virtual private networks, PureVPN would be revered as the Mona Lisa of the industry and this review would have somehow sounded even more pretentious. This way, the only thing we can conclude is that assuming you aren’t gaming a lot, you can probably do better.
Performance4.5
Privacy & Security3
Ease of Use4.5
Pricing3

PureVPN Performance

PureVPN is somewhat unique in the sense that it offers a variety of services catering to highly specific niches. All of those solutions do what they’re supposed to do quite reliably, though the standout performer has to be the company’s Gaming VPN platform. Behind that self-explanatory name is a stellar compromise between enjoying high-quality online experiences and protecting one’s identity online.

Compromise may even be underselling it because PureVPN’s Gaming service is more like black magic. It simply shouldn’t work as well as it does but it just keeps surprising us by consistently delivering excellent performance, particularly in regards to server response times. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on where you’re located, as that’s by far the most important factor when it comes to determining ping degradation and other performance drop-offs that VPNs create by the sole fact of existing. We wrote about it in more detail under “Does a VPN slow down Internet speeds?” so do check it out.

However, if you’re from the United States or Central Europe, chances are you’ll be able to find several high-performance PureVPN servers in your immediate vicinity. Even if you aren’t, this ecosystem consists of a couple thousand servers spanning 140 countries, so it’s probably worth giving it a go.

Gaming aside, those who hate having fun will still find PureVPN Premium to be a perfectly capable creation that can easily handle 4K video streaming. And yes, it can circumvent geographical content restrictions on Netflix and pretty much any other platform you can think of. That’s largely thanks to its dedicated IP integration, though note that some devices may require a bit of extra fiddling, at least in Netflix’s highly specific case.

But that’s not a huge obstacle to overcome, especially since PureVPN itself provides you with plenty of support resources to do so. And a company that takes the time to think of the American kids dual-booting Linux on OG Amazon Firesticks who also happen to be aficionados of Japanese Netflix exclusives is A-OK in our books.

PureVPN only stumbles in the torrenting department, in spite of having reliable port forwarding integration. Unfortunately, that technology is useless if you’re actively throttling peer-to-peer traffic, or are unable to avoid setting off red flags causing many of your potential clients’ ISPs to do so. PureVPN doesn’t appear to be a stranger to either option; the company has reportedly been throttling users on some scale since at least 2018 and we can confirm its service continues to perform sluggishly with most types of P2P communications. Not always, mind you, but more than enough to stand out from otherwise impeccable throughput. Whether that’s intentional or not is beside the point – if you’re big on torrenting, PureVPN is not the best choice for your privacy needs. Speaking of which…

PureVPN Privacy & Security

PureVPN enforces a relatively standard no-logging policy that doesn’t record any sort of user activity but does store IP addresses of devices accessing its servers, along with their timestamps. Those are, in turn, linked with accounts, so the company could at the very least trace your name to a specific server and prove you used it at a certain time – if compelled to do so.

While the chances of that turn of events actually happening are extraordinary at best, believe it or not, the near-impossible scenario already happened years ago. What’s left is a pretty substantial blemish on PureVPN’s track record, even though this could have happened to nearly every other VPN provider out there.

PureVPN Warrant Canary

That’s why it’s extremely unfortunate that PureVPN doesn’t appear to be a huge believer in warrant canaries. It has never maintained one and showed no indication of even considering the idea. The benefits of warrant canaries, as limited as they may be, are well-documented, so it’s a shame one of the industry leaders isn’t even giving this clever communications method a go when it’s one of the rare few companies that could have actually leveraged it to its full potential instead of merely using it for cheap PR points.

Fortunately, PureVPN does occasionally attempt something resembling transparent behavior in other ways, one of which are independent audits that third parties perform on its systems about once a year. That’s not a hugely forthcoming track record but it’s (sadly) still better than what most other VPN providers can demonstrate. If nothing else, we’re at least thankful a massively popular VPN service like PureVPN isn’t an aficionado of “security through obscurity” – arguably the stupidest idea ever to grace the world of technology that even 19th-century locksmiths rejected.

PureVPN Ease of Use

PureVPN prides itself on its accessibility as it did, indeed, manage to craft a rather pleasant-looking and intuitive app on both desktop and mobile. You’ll probably agree after spending just a few minutes with it, so no real complaints here. Ok, maybe there’s some room for improvement in regards to PureVPN’s enormous online knowledge base which insists on loading like it’s 1995 whenever you attempt a search but hey, at least the 21-century bandwidth ended up with consumers.

PureVPN Pricing

PureVPN Premium will set you back between $5 and $11 per month, depending on whether you agree to a year-long commitment or decide to keep your options open. A 6-month plan amounting to $9 per month offers a decent compromise solution, with those figures being the very definition of average in this day and age. Not to say the service isn’t better than that, of course.

PureVPN also offers a seven-day trial of its Premium subscription that’s kind of free but not really. It costs $1 and even comes with a money-back guarantee but let’s face it – it still leaves a wrong impression.

Trying to get your credit card info in exchange for some discounted service period that they pray you’ll forget to cancel is a tactic employed by the shadiest Internet businesses out there. In an ideal world, a legitimate company with a truly viable product should deem such gimmicks beneath it but alas, here we are.

PureVPN Review Summary

Here we are, indeed, torn between whether to praise PureVPN’s godly latency in gaming applications or gawk at its mundanely inconsistent torrenting speeds. Admire its beautiful design language or scoff at its privacy mishaps. Nod at its competitively priced tiers or shake in anger at its trial requirements stolen out of some used car salesman’s playbook.

If yin-yang impressions were a relevant performance metric for virtual private networks, PureVPN would be revered as the Mona Lisa of the industry and this review would have somehow sounded even more pretentious. This way, the only thing we can conclude is that assuming you aren’t gaming a lot, you can probably do better.


Editor’s Note

BSN’s PureVPN Review has been written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.

If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.

The overall score doesn’t represent an average of all individual ratings but a weighted average which values Performance as 33%, Privacy & Security as 33%, Ease of Use as 12%, and Pricing as 22% of the final figure. It’s meant to standardize our reviews by giving more weight to the attributes we value the most in VPNs (speed, privacy, and security) without completely disregarding the rest. Naturally, much like any other review out there, the starting points/ratings are still inherently subjective to a particular reviewer’s experience.

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