Let us start our PureVPN review with a look at how the company came into being. In 2006, Hong Kong based GZ Systems Ltd. began experimenting with a VPN to help guard against throttling of bandwidth by ISPs of users who stream media or play online games. Thus, PureVPN was born. In 2007, they started commercial operation of PureVPN with servers in just two locations. They quickly grew in users and in number of locations, expanding to sixteen in the first year alone. Today they have one of the largest VPN networks with over 750 servers in 180 locations, spread among 141 different countries. Their technology has grown as well. They have developed custom software for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. They have a self monitored gigabit network with over 80000 IP addresses available throughout the world for their subscribers.
Pricing and Special Offers
PureVPN used to offer a variety of VPN packages but have now settled on a single one. It is sold in three term length plans. Like many VPN providers, they have increasing discounts on these plans based on term length. These plans are monthly, 1 year, and 2 years. This means that currently you can get a month of PureVPN service for $10.95, 12 months for $2.99 per month, and 2 years for just $3.29 per month. This means you can save 73% off their regular monthly price if you sign up for a year of their service.
They also sell a few add-ons which are as follows:
- NAT Firewall – $4.99 /Mo
- Dedicated IP – $4.99 /Mo
- Dedicated IP w DDoS Protection – $5.99 /Mo
So, what do you get for your money with PureVPN? They offer the following benefits to all of their subscribers:
- Free custom VPN Software for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android
- 5 Simultaneous connections
- Unlimited VPN bandwidth and usage
- Worldwide virtual IPs from more than 750 servers in 141 different countries
- Shared IP addresses among subscribers for better privacy
- Choice of VPN protocols: OpenVPN (TCP-UDP), SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and PPTP
- Encryption choice based on purpose
- The ability to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions
- Wi-Fi hotspot protection against hackers and identity theft
- VoIP support to save on long distance costs
- Support for P2P and file sharing
- 31-day money back guarantee
PureVPN has a variety of ways to pay for their VPN service. They accept the following credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, VISA Electron, and VISA Delta. If you like to keep all of your online payments in one place, PayPal is also accepted. For those who want a little more anonymity, you can pay by Bitcoin. They also accept payments through Paymentwall, Alipay, CashU, and many others. If you pay by either PayPal or Bitcoin, all that is necessary to establish an account is a username, password, and an email address.
Risk-Free Trial Period
PureVPN knows that you would like to test out their service for yourself before you decide to buy it so they offer new subscribers a 7-day, 100% money back guarantee. This should be enough time for you to completely test out their VPN service and support. You are eligible for this refund if you satisfy the following:
- Your refund claim is within 7 days of your order date.
- Your account has not been already suspended by PureVPN for any breach of the TOS.
- You have not used more than 3GB of bandwidth (total upload and download data transferred).
- You have not exceeded 100 sessions (the number of times you connected to PureVPN services).
- You have not previously claimed a refund under this policy.
If you are in compliance with all of the above mentioned criteria, and you are not completely satisfied with their service, then they will refund your full purchase price. To claim your refund, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your VPN username and your reason for cancelling the subscription. No refunds will be given later than seven days from purchase date.
PureVPN Network and Server Locations
As we said in the introduction, the PureVPN network started with just 2 server locations but has grown to over 180. They self manage their gigabit network of VPN servers which has grown to over 500 VPN servers in 141 different countries with access to over 80,000 IP addresses. They have servers on nearly every major continent including Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America.
The best coverage is in United States (14 cities – 90 servers), United Kingdom (5 cities – 60 servers), Canada (3 cities – 20 servers), The Netherlands (1 city – 15 servers), France (2 cities – 16 servers), Italy (2 cities 16 servers), and Germany (3 cities – 42 servers). Here is a list of the number of cities in each region, sorted by country:
- Africa – 16 cities (32 servers)
- Cape Verde, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia
- Asia – 32 cities (80 servers)
- Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam
- Europe – 48 cities (249 servers)
- UK – Gosport, Leicester, London, Maidenhead, Manchester
- Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, , Turkey
- Middle East – 8 cities (8 servers)
- Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemem
- North America – 37 cities (158 servers)
- Canada – Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver
- US – Ashburn, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Jersey, New York, Ohios, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, Seattle
- Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Island
- Oceania – 5 cities (34 servers)
- Australia, New Zealand
- South America – 9 city (26 servers)
- Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname
Looking at this list of cities, it is easy to see that PureVPN has servers all over the world and multiple servers in more popular locations as we mentioned previously. Their network supports most VPN protocols including: OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, and PPTP. We will discuss a little more about these protocols when we review the PureVPN custom software.
PureVPN also implements data routing, whereby in the interest of network efficiency during peak times you may be routed to a different datacenter than the one you chose. This redirection uses business and commercial logic to route you to a low latency, high speed server at another datacenter within the same country or barring that, the nearest available country. We could see this being an issue if you were connecting to a particular country for a purpose (IP address) and they in the interest of network efficiency redirected you to another country.
PureVPN is committed to the freedom of the Internet and allows file sharing in many of their locations. Limiting file sharing to these locations helps them to maintain the overall performance of their network. Also these locations are generally more friendly to file sharing and P2P software usage.
Privacy and Security
We Do Not monitor user activity nor do we keep any logs. We therefore have no record of your activities such as which software you used, which websites you visited, what content you downloaded, which apps you used, etc. after you connected to any of our servers. Our servers automatically record the time at which you connect to any of our servers. From here on forward, we do not keep any records of anything that could associate any specific activity to a specific user. The time when a successful connection is made with our servers is counted as a “connection” and the total bandwidth used during this connection is called “bandwidth”. Connection and bandwidth are kept in record to maintain the quality of our service. This helps us understand the flow of traffic to specific servers so we could optimize them better.
From this excerpt, you can see that PureVPN only logs the connection time and bandwidth used for their users. They do not log any specific activity such as sites visited, content downloaded, or software or apps used while connected to their VPN network. They are located in Hong Kong, which has no mandatory data retention laws. That being said, they will comply with proper judicial channels with clear proof of violation of TOS in accordance with the best interests of their customers and the company and turn over any specific information they may have about said activity if it exists.
What kind of encryption does PureVPN offer to users of their network? Their Windows software supports a variety of protocols including OpenVPN, SSTP, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP. They implement OpenVPN as their primary default protocol on their Android client. By default, all data is encrypted and decrypted using a AES-128-CBC cipher initialized with a 128 bit key. If you are the more paranoid type, you can manually choose a higher encryption strength. Their Mac OS X software supports L2TP and PPTP. Their iOS app uses the IKEv2 protocol which is considered to be just as secure as OpenVPN but is good for mobile devices because it reconnects easily and maintains the VPN session when the connection is lost or changes. This is due to its support of MOBIKE. This means that regardless of your operating system of choice, you can always be assured that Internet traffic is securely encrypted with a reliable connection when accessing a PureVPN server.
PureVPN is one of the few services that has a 24/7 live chat to answer any light technical, sales, or billing questions you might have. We tested their live chat and I’m happy to say that they seem to always be there. They respond almost immediately and will redirect you to another agent if the one that answers your call cannot assist you. Sometimes they would direct us to FAQs and support pages to help with our questions. For more technical problems, they provide a 365/24/7 email ticket support system with a very fast response time. They will usually get back to you within an hour. The response we received from our question was fast, professional, and concisely answered.
Hands-On Testing of the PureVPN Network
PureVPN has custom software for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. You can download these custom clients from the PureVPN setup page, which can be accessed by logging into the member area of their website. The login button can be found just above their main menu as shown in the image below.
Once you have logged into the member area of their website, you will see a navigation menu down the right-hand side of the page. A partial view of this menu is shown below. When you click on “Download Apps”, as is shown below, you will be redirected to a page with various icons representing different operating systems.
Hovering the mouse over the icon for your operating system will display a dropdown list. Select your software version from this list and click on it to begin the download process for Windows and Mac OS X. Hovering over the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices will direct you to the appropriate store (iTunes or Google Play) where you can then download and install the app to your device.
They offer a manual setups guide here to configure their VPN to use Linux. They also have links to guides to configure their service to work with Blackberry, Boxee, Roku, PS4, Apple TV, routers, and many other devices. Once you sign up for an account, they will send you a welcoming email with all of the information that you need to connect to their VPN network of servers.
Connecting with the PureVPN Windows Client
As we said before, you can download the PureVPN Windows software from the membership area of their website by logging into it and then clicking on “Download Apps” under the Navigation menu. Once you get on this page, hover your mouse over the Windows icon (shown inset left). This will bring up a dropdown list. Select the software version you want to install from this list and click on it. The Windows list has three choices: PureVPN Windows; PureVPN Windows Old; and a Comparison (this will let you look at a table comparison of the two Windows clients and then choose the one you want to install). The new client has modes that have been preset to simplify the VPN connection process to allow you to begin using the PureVPN service immediately. Our review will examine the new Windows client.
Once the client installation file has been downloaded to your computer, right-click on the file and choose “Run as Administrator”. This will bring up a welcoming screenshot like the one shown on the left in the image below. On the next screen you will need to accept the terms of their TOS and click the Next button. This will be followed by a few more informational setup screens for the installation location, startup menu folder, and other tasks which includes creating a desktop icon. Fill these in and click the “Next” button till you see the install screen.
Click the “Install” button on this screen and the client installation will begin. A small window will open showing the PureVPN client configuration, and then you will see a screen like the one shown on the right in the image above. Click the “Finish” button on this screen to complete the installation. Normally to run the PureVPN Windows client, you right click on the its desktop icon and click “Run as Administrator” but, since the “Launch VPN” box was checked, it will launch when you click the “Finish” button.
The first time you open the client, you will see a verification and login page similar to the one shown on the left below. There are options to create an account or reset your password if you have forgotten it. It you have the information from your welcoming email, enter in your “VPN username” and “VPN password” from it. These have been entered and redacted from the image on the right below.
Once you have correctly entered your credentials, click on the “Login” button to finish launching the client. The PureVPN Windows software will automatically remember this information for future logins. This will bring up a mode screen which is shown on the left in the image below. This screen will let you choose your purpose for using the PureVPN service and preset the software so that you can easily connect to the appropriate VPN servers to accomplish your goal. This mode can be changed later if you desire.
The modes that they have pre-installed are as follows:
- I want to stream – This will set the client to make it easier for you to stream media while maintaining your Internet security.
- I want Internet freedom – This will allow you to access the content of your choice without compromising your security, privacy or anonymity.
- I want security/privacy – This mode increases your Internet security to avert monitoring by third parties which includes; governments, ISPs, and hackers.
- I want file-sharing – This mode will allow you to share files using your favorite P2P platform with less threat to your Internet privacy.
- I want to use for remote/dedicated IP – This mode helps dedicated IP users configure and use their IPs without hassle. It can also be used to have the client manually connect to PureVPN network servers which can be useful in some cases.
The “Learn how to use” button is not a mode and will merely redirect you to the PureVPN website support page concerning the Windows client usage. To choose a mode to start the client in, mouse over the mode and then click on the “Select” button as is shown in the screenshot on the right in the image above. This will place a green circle with a white check in it in the upper right corner of the mode, indicating that it has been selected and activate the “Next” button so that you can click on it. Once you have chosen a mode, then click on the “Next” button to continue.
Select the “I want to stream mode” and click on the “Next” button. This will bring up a screenshot like the one shown on the left in the image below. This is the client dashboard in its initial state. The left-hand side of the screen has the following static components:
- The PureVPN shield logo – This is for branding purposes.
- The Client Menu – This contains three items.
- Dashboard – This is the menu item in the image shown and it has two ways (select location and select purpose) to select the VPN server that you want to connect to.
- Global Map – This menu item has two tabs: server lists and map.
- Latest and greatest – This contains some overviews of the latest happenings in the VPN industry and some of the new developments and special offers from the PureVPN blog. Clicking on one of these will redirect you to the blog in question.
- Link icons – Links to PureVPN on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
We will discuss some of these components in greater detail later in this section of the review.
The other two-thirds of the dashboard has a comment as to the mode of the Windows software (stream content from anywhere). Radial buttons to choose the VPN server (select location and select purpose) followed by a combination search/dropdown list for locations or purposes. The bottom right of the dashboard shows a location icon, your current location as seen by other Internet users, and an icon representing the current state of the connection.
The first screenshot above shows the initial dashboard without a location selected. The second screenshot shows the dashboard once a location has been selected. This causes the dashboard to display a green “Connect” button. In the screenshots above the location shown is your true location and the solid red circle indicates that you are not protected by the VPN network. Clicking on the “Connect” button will then display the dashboard in its connecting state which is shown in the screenshot on the left in the image below. The dashboard in its connecting state displays “Connecting”, flags representing your real country and the country of the VPN server you are connecting to, and a grey “Cancel” button. The “Cancel” button allows you to stop the connection if an error occurs or you change your mind.
The screenshot on the right in the image above shows the client dashboard in its connected state. In this state the dashboard displays a graph that will allow you to look at the upload and download speeds (by means of checkboxes). The speed is also shown digitally in mbps. The second section shows the session duration, the virtual (public) IP assigned by the VPN server, and the location that you are connected to, Manchester, United Kingdom. There is now a red “Disconnect” button. Finally the location shown at the bottom right is the location of the VPN server you are connected to and the icon is now a green circle indicating that you are protected by the PureVPN service. Clicking on the “Disconnect” button will return to the dashboard in its unconnected state. Once there you can choose another location or purpose and connect to another VPN server.
You can see how easy it is to connect to a VPN server using the PureVPN Windows client, simply select a location directly or a purpose (the software will choose the fastest VPN server from your location to accomplish your goal), and click on the “Connect” button. The appropriate server, VPN protocol, encryption, and etc. are chosen by the client (based on mode) without any input from you.
As we previously said their are two ways that you can have the software choose a VPN server: by location and by purpose. The first way is by location. There are three ways to select a location: by choosing one directly from the dashboard, by clicking Global map on the menu and the choosing one from the servers tab, or by clicking Global map on the menu and selecting one from the map tab. These are independent of the mode you are in.
The first way that you can choose a location is to select it directly from the dashboard. Locations selected from the Dashboard are made at the country level. To select a location from the dashboard, you must first choose the “Select location” radial button, then hover the mouse over the search icon (magnifying glass) in the dropdown list. The search icon will become a down arrow as is shown in the first image below. Clicking on this arrow will open up the location selection screen as is shown in the second screenshot in the image below.
Locations on this screen can be listed using three different views: countries, region, and favorites. The screenshot on the right below shows location list viewed by country. Since Albania was already selected, it is shown highlighted in grey in this list. This view shows a list of all the countries organized in alphabetical order. The list also shows icons for P2P and VoIP beside the country if it is supported there. These icons are shown in all dashboard location views. To the far right of each country is a hollow yellow star. If you hover the mouse over this star, you will see a message to add the country to your favorites list as is shown below. To add the country to your favorites, simply click on the star which will then turn solid like the one for Aruba in the image. Click on the star beside Albania now to favorite it. To remove a country from your favorites list click on the solid star beside it in any of the views.
Now that we have seen the countries view for locations, let us take a look at the other two views. These are shown in the image below. The first screenshot shows the regions view. This view list the locations by region. The regions are as follows: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East. Each region can be expanded to show the countries or compacted to hide them by clicking on the up/down arrow to the far right of it as was done for Oceania and Europe in the image below. A country within a region must be selected to connect to a server on the PureVPN network. Notice Albania is still shown as the selected country and it is now a favorite. Selecting a country to connect to highlights that country in all list views.
The second screen above shows the last location view, Favorites. Notice that Albania shows up as the first country in the list. The favorites list is organized alphabetically by country. Notice Albania still shows as the selected country in this view. Clicking on it or another country will return you to the unconnected dashboard. You can then click on the “Connect” button to connect to a new VPN server.
The other two ways that you can select a location use the Global map menu which is shown in the images below. The first is by accessing the Server list tab which has two views as shown below. This will let you choose a server at city or state level. The first screenshot in the image below shows the “Servers” view of the tab. In this view, the servers are organized alphabetically by country. You will see a number in parentheses to the right of each country. This is the number of cities within that country which have PureVPN severs. The country list can be expanded to state or city level as Australia is below or contracted by clicking on the down/up arrow to the right of the cities number. In this view, location selections must be made at the city or state level. Note also that Melbourne and Perth have been selected as favorites by clicking on the open yellow star to the right of them. Once selected a solid yellow star will be shown beside the city location.
The screenshot on the right in the image above shows the “Favorites view” of the Server list tab. In this view your favored countries are arranged alphabetically and the number of favored cities within that country is shown in parentheses. The countries in this list can also be expanded into their cities as is Australia and Canada above or compacted using the down/up arrow, similarly to the servers view. Regardless of your chosen view, all that is necessary to connect to a VPN server location using the server list is to choose a city and then click on the green “Connect” button.
Using the responsive search function for the Dashboard location or the Global map server list will make it even easier to find and select the location you want to connect to. This is illustrated in the image below. Suppose you wanted to quickly find the United Kingdom and connect to it using the dashboard. By using the responsive search feature and typing “un” without the quotes you can filter the country list as shown in the screenshot on the left. All that you then need to do is click on the United Kingdom and then the “Connect” button. The software will then connect you to the fastest VPN server in the United Kingdom from your current location.
However, if you want to connect to United Kingdom – London, then you will first have to select global map from the menu. Then type “un” without the quotes in the responsive search and you will see a screenshot like that shown on the right above. Expand the United Kingdom. All that you then need to do is to click on London and then the “Connect” button. The software will then connect you to the fastest VPN server in London – UK from your current location.
The last way that you can select a location to connect to is to select Global map from the side menu and open the Map tab. The map tab is shown in the first screenshot in the image below. Each region of the PureVPN server network is shown as a separate pin on this map with the region name and number of servers shown below it. Zooming in on this map by clicking on one of the regions like Europe as was done in the second screenshot will allow you to select one country (The Netherlands) from it. The selected country will be represented by a blue pin. Clicking the “Connect” button will complete your connection to a Netherlands VPN server.
Now that we have examined the different ways that you can select a location using the PureVPN Windows client, let us look at how the software selects servers based on the mode and your chosen purpose. The first mode that we will examine the purposes for is the streaming mode. The purpose list is reachable directly from the dashboard. Click the radio button beside “Select purpose”. Hover the mouse over the dropdown box (you will notice the magnifying glass change to a down arrow) and click on the dropdown box as shown in the first screenshot . The second screenshot shows some of the purposes for the streaming media mode.
Expanding the Watch Netflix purpose will display a list of countries that you can connect to that will allow you to watch Netflix as is shown in the first screenshot below. Clicking on one of the countries will return you to the dashboard where you can then click on the “Connect” button to complete your connection to that country. You can also create favorites for purposes as is shown for Australia and Canada in the first screenshot. Favorites are created the same way for purposes as they are for locations (by clicking on the open yellow star to the right of the country). This will turn the star solid yellow indicating that it is a favorite. The second image below shows the favorites for two VPN purposes.
The procedure to select a purpose is the same regardless of the mode chosen.
The complete list of purposes for the different modes are as follows:
- I want to stream mode
- Optimized for China (recommended), Optimized for China (alternative), Watch Netflix, Watch Amazon Prime, Entertainment channels, Watch sports channels, Watch Zattoo, BBC iPlayer, CW TV, HBO Now, Hulu, ITV, RTE, Watch BeIN Sports, Sky TV, TVCatchup, ESPN, Sport1, WWE
- I want Internet freedom mode
- The complete list from the I want to stream mode; + VoIP; Social media; Online gaming; Poker
- I want Internet security/privacy mode
- This mode has no server selection by purpose, only location
- You can also select the connection protocol. The choices that you can choose are as follows: Auto, PPTP, TCP, UDP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and IKEV2 (see the settings section in this review for a description of each).
- I want file-sharing
- Optimized for China (recommended); File-sharing
- I want to use for remote/dedicated IP – This is primarily to help setup and use a dedicated IP address from the country of your choice.
- Selecting IP will also let you manually connect to PureVPN servers by putting the server name
- The purposes you can select from it include the complete list of “I want Internet freedom” without Online gaming; + Higher Security and Anonymity; Data retention Security
- It also allows you to select the VPN protocol from the same list as I want Internet security/privacy.
The last thing we want to look at for the PureVPN Windows client is the menu at the top-right of the client near the minimize Window icon that can be accessed by clicking on the menu icon (three horizontal bars). This menu is shown in the screenshot in the image below. It is composed of the following components:
- Settings – This contains the general settings that you can manually set for the client and a link to more advanced settings. We will take a look at these in a moment.
- Modes – This will display the modes for the client so you can see which one it is currently set for and change it if your wish. (shown below image on the right).
- Check for updates – This will always make sure that you have the latest client available.
- Restart as administrator – Some features can only be changed with administrative rights. This will restart the client with those rights.
- General – This will take you to various web pages on the PureVPN website.
- Terms of Service – This will open the TOS for you to review.
- Feedback – This will take you to a page that will let you provide real-time feedback on the Windows client to help them improve it.
- About PureVPN – This will take you to a short history of the company.
- Help – This will take you to their main support page for their knowledgebase.
- Getting started – This will open a getting started guide to show you how to use the client software.
- Exit – Clicking this will completely shut down the PureVPN Windows client. Other methods used to close it will just send it the system tray where it will continue to run.
Now let us examine the manual settings that you can change for the software. These are contained under the settings menu which in shown in the images below. The basic settings for the client connection are shown in the first screenshot. It is divided in the following sections:
- Login info – This has your saved login credentials (username, password) and a link to reset the password if you need to
- Protocols – This lets you change the VPN connection protocols.
- Auto – This is supposed to be both secure and fast.
- PPTP – This protocol is fast but not as secure as others.
- TCP – This is a secure OpenVPN protocol that guarantees packet delivery. It is slower than OpenVPN (UDP) but more reliable. This makes it good for connections over long distances and in rural areas.
- UDP – This is a faster secure OpenVPN protocol which is good for most VPN uses.
- L2TP/IPsec – This is an alternative secure protocol but due to the ports it needs, it could have problems with some firewalls.
- SSTP – This is a secure fast protocol that can use TCP port 443 which allows it bypass most firewalls, even the “Great Firewall of China”.
- IKEv2 – This is another fast and secure protocol but also supports MOBIKE which makes it good for mobile devices.
- Settings – This contains settings that you can activate that control the general behavior of the client .
- Redial automatically if the connection drops – This will attempt to limit the time you are off the VPN network.
- Launch on system startup – This will start the client when Windows starts up.
- Auto-connect after launch – This and the previous two settings are an attempt by the software to always keep you connected to the VPN network.
- Sync favorites – This will sync favorites between your Windows and other devices when you log into the client.
- Disable tips – Setting this will stop the popup tips from PureVPN.
The last thing on the basic settings page is a link to more advanced settings which when clicked will bring up a settings page like that shown in the screenshot on the right in the image above. The top of this page will let you set the scale of the bandwidth graph settings to either mbps or kbps. It is laid out in two sections:
- Security – This will let you set some advanced features for the client to increase your security while using the PureVPN service.
- Encryption – This has three settings.
- No encryption – We recommend that you do not use this setting because it negates the reason you chose to use a VPN.
- 128 bit – This provides a medium level of security balanced against the speed of the connection and is good for streaming and some other purposes.
- 256 bit – This gives you the greatest level of security while using the PureVPN servers and should be used in more secure situations like online banking.
- Switch to secure DNS – Setting this will ensure that all DNS queries pass through the VPN to secure servers making it harder to track your online searches.
- IPv6 leak protection – Turning off IPv6 will help ensure that your true IP is not leaked.
- VPN not connected reminders – This can remind you if the VPN connection drops. It can be set for 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour.
- Activate the Internet VPN kill switch – Activating this will ensure that you are never connected to the Internet unless you are connected to the PureVPN network. If the server connection drops, access to the Internet will be disabled from your computer.
- Split-tunneling – This will allow you to chose which applications will be tunneled through the VPN. The rest will go through your ISP using your true IP address. Do not activate this unless you need to because it will compromise your privacy.
- Link to manage split-tunneling – This will open a page where you can turn split tunneling on/off and add apps to be tunneled through the VPN. The client will offer to scan your system for apps like browsers to tunnel or you can add your own.
- Make it permanent – This will enable/disable split-tunneling each time the client is launched.
- Add to menu – This will add a menu item for split-tunneling to the menu shown previously.
- Split tunneling can be used with both Windows 32 and 64-bit environments.
- Encryption – This has three settings.
- Select language – This will allow you to change the language of the client to English, Dutch, French or German.
The page ends with a link to return to the basic settings.
The PureVPN Windows software makes it easy for you to connect to VPN servers in their network. They have modes setup to choose the encryption algorithm, protocol used, and other technical criteria. All that you have to do to connect to a VPN server on their network is choose a location, either country, state, or city, and click on the “Connect” button. Once connected you will see a graph of your bandwidth and the new virtual IP assigned by the network server. It has some advanced features that the more tech savvy can appreciate like a VPN kill switch, secure DNS, IPv6 leak protection, and split-tunneling. So no matter your technical prowess, you will appreciate the ease of use of the PureVPN Windows client.
Connecting with the PureVPN Mac OS X Client
As we said before, you can download the PureVPN Mac OS X software from the membership area of their website by logging into it and then clicking on “Download Apps” under the Navigation menu. Once you get on this page, hover your mouse over the Mac icon (shown inset left). This will bring up a dropdown list. Select the software version you want to install from this list and click on it. The list has four choices for Mac versions: 10.5-10.7; 10.8-10.95; 10.6.8 users; and 10.10.0 and above. The new Mac OS X client has modes that have been preset to help make it easier to connect to the VPN servers on the PureVPN network. This review will examine the latest Mac OS X app that is for Mac OS X Yosemite and above.
Once the file has finished downloading to your Mac, open it and it will begin installing to your machine. Drag and drop the PureVPN app into your applications folder and it will then appear on your home screen. When you first open the software, you will see a login screen. Enter your PureVPN username and password and then click on the “Login” button. This will open up a screen that will let you select the mode you want to run the software in. Select the “I want Security/Privacy mode and click on the “Next” button. This will bring up the app dashboard which is shown image below.
This is the app dashboard using the Security/Privacy Mode. There are two things you can change on this dashboard. You can click on the link to L2TP and change the VPN connection protocol. The Mac app supports SSTP, L2TP and PPTP. SSTP is the strongest of the encryption algorithms but we are just going to leave it set to L2TP for now. The dashboard also shows the location that other Internet users see for you in the lower right corner, along with an icon that represents your current connection state. Notice the red circle indicating that you are not currently connected to the PureVPN network. So let us see how easy it is to change that.
The only other thing you can change on the dashboard is your location. Make sure “Select Location” is set as it is above. Now click on the “Search location” dropdown box. This will open the locations that you can connect to in country mode. The image below shows what this screen looks like. This screen will provide you a list of the countries that you can connect to using the PureVPN service in alphabetical order. Each row of the list displays a flag for the country, the country name, and icons for P2P and VoIP (if it is supported by VPN servers in that country).
Scroll down the list till you see a screen similar to the one shown in the image below with the United Kingdom and the Unted States in it. Notice that each row also has a yellow outline of a star on the far right. Clicking on this star will allow you to select that country as a favorite location. Once you click on the star, it will become solid yellow indicating that it is now a favorite. Once selected, favorites are seen in all views. Click on the stars beside the United Kingdom and the United states. Your sceen should now look similar to ours.
Be careful not to click on a country itself. It you do, the app will begin the process of connecting to a VPN server in that country and you will have to cancel it so that you can make your favorite. Once you see a screen similar to the one above, click on the “Favorites” column heading to change to the favorites view. Your screen will look similar to the one shown below.
You can also see that both the United Kingdom and the United States VPN servers allow VoIP but that neither allows P2P traffic. This is probably a good thing since most legal copyright challenges come from these two countries. The PureVPN network has many servers that are much better suited for P2P traffic so you should have no trouble finding one to suit you. They even have a mode specifically setup to help you do just that.
You will notice one other column in the dashboard location list, the “Region” one. Click on this column now. You should see a screen like the one shown below. The regions that you can select between are as follows: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East.
You will also notice that to the far right of each region is a down arrow. Clicking on this arrow will expand the region and show the countries that have VPN servers that you can then choose to connect to. This is illustrated in the image below where the North American region has been expanded into its component countries.
Regions can be a useful way to find servers for those of us who may not be geography experts and know where every country in the world is located. We wish this were the case and our trivia team results would be better. For example you know you want to connect to the Middle East region, but have no idea which countries are found in the Middle East. Country selection by region should be your choice to help you find a VPN server to connect to. Another case might be you want to P2P and find the closest country to your location that has VPN servers that allow file sharing.
One other way that you can filter the location results is if you know where you want to connect to, you can start entering the country name or region in the responsive search field. For example, if you wanted to connect to The Netherlands, start typing “neth” without the quotes and you will see a screen like the one shown below.
Ok, you have seen how easy it is to select a country to connect to using the PureVPN Mac OS X app. Now try connecting to a VPN server on their network. Click on the favorites column in the image above which will bring up your favorites screen which we saw earlier and is repeated below.
You will see the solid yellow stars beside your two favorites. All that is necessary to remove a country from the favorites list is to click on the solid yellow star beside it. Now that we have that taken care of, connect to a VPN server in the United States. Click on the United States under country. That is all there is to it. As soon as you click on the US location the connection process starts and you will see a screen like that shown below.
The screen above tells you that the connection process has begun. It tells you that you are connecting from your true location to a VPN server in the United States. The image also shows a flag representing your country with animated dots going to the flag of the country you are connecting to. Finally, there is a “Cancel” button that will allow you to stop the process if an error occurs or you change your mind. After some time and technical housekeeping by the Mac software, you will see a screen like the one shown below.
This screen tells you that you are currently connected to a VPN server in Houston, Texas – United States. It says that your current session is 43 seconds long and shows the virtual IP address that the VPN server assigned to you. The red circle at the bottom right of the app has been replaced by a green one indicating that all of your Internet traffic is being encrypted and secured and that your privacy is being protected. There is a big red “Disconnect” button that will allow you to stop your current VPN connection and return you to the dashboard where you can then select another country to connect to.
So you have seen how easy it is to select a location and connect to a VPN server using the PureVPN Mac app. Now let us look at a practical example of how you might use the app to help provide you a more open and free Internet. Suppose you are an expatriate of the UK living in another country like the US and you decide you want to check on local politics at home (look in on how the referendum to have the UK leave the European Union is progressing). You open your browser and go to the BBC iPlayer website and click on the live news feed or your favorite political host show. Rather than seeing how the referendum is going, you see an image like that shown inset left. So how can PureVPN help you resolve this?
First disconnect from the United States VPN server. This will return you to the dashboard of the app where you can choose a new location to connect to. Open the location finder and scroll down to select the United Kingdom as is seen in the image below.
Click on United Kingdom which will start the process to connect to a VPN server there. You will see a screen like the one shown below so that you can be sure the connection process has started.
Looking at this screen, You can clearly see that you are connecting to a VPN server in the United Kingdom. After a short period of time, you will see a screen similar to the one shown below.
You can see by the green circle in the bottom of the image above that you have successfully connected to a VPN server in Manchester, United Kingdom. The screen shows you have been connected for 30 seconds and you have a new IP address for the UK. Now let us try that experiment with the BBC iPlayer. Open your browser and go to the BBC iPlayer home page. Click on the same show that you tried to watch before. You should now be able to see the content as is shown in the image inset left. Now you can finally catch up on how the referendum is going as well as your favorite BBC shows. Indeed, the PureVPN Mac app has a mode to help you watch many of your favorite shows from a variety of countries called the “I want to Stream” mode.
If you want a little more control over where you connect within a particular country, the app has a way to select your location at the city or state level. The access this click on “Global Map” on the side menu. You can click on any of these that you like to be redirected to the Blog in question. Once you click on “Global Map”, scroll down till you get to the United States and click on the down arrow to the right of it to expand it. You will then see a screen like the one shown below.
The above image is the servers view of the “Server list” tab. In this view you will see all of the countries shown in alphabetical order with a number in parentheses. This number represents the number of locations inside that country that PureVPN has servers in. Clicking on the down arrow beside this number will expand that country’s list as was done with the United States in the above case. Click on the stars beside Chicago, New York and Georgia to select them as favorites. Scroll up and do the same for two locations in the United Kingdom. That completed, click on the “Favorites” column header now and expand the list for the United States by clicking on the down arrow to the right of it. You will see a screen like the one shown in the image below.
Being able to choose the city or state can give you a little more control over where you connect within a country which can be a help with large countries like the United States. For example, if your lived in a Pacific area country and you wanted access to stream content from the United States, you would probably want to connect to a VPN server on the west coast of the US and not be sent to one on the east coast. Being able to select a state or city on the west coast ensures that your VPN path is shorter and thus more reliable. The same can be said for those in Europe who want to connect to the United States to stream content. They will probably want to connect on the east coast for the same reason. Being able to select the city or state gives you that ability. All that would be necessary to complete a connection to a VPN server in Georgia, given the above scenario is to click on the Georgia location.
Their is a second tab associated with the “Global Map” menu which you can see in the image above, the “Map” tab. Click on this tab now. After zooming in on Europe by clicking on the location pin representing it, you will see a screen like the one in the image below. To see the box pointing to the Netherlands location, simply hover the mouse over it.
Clicking a location on this map will select it so that you can connect to it. You can tell when a location has been selected because the location pin representing it will turn blue as is shown in the image below where Denmark has been selected.
If you wanted to complete the connection to a VPN server in Denmark, all you need do is click on the green “Connect” button. One thing you should note is that if you are already connected to the PureVPN network and try to connect to another location, the app will prompt you to disconnect from your current location before connecting you to your new one.
The PureVPN app provides another way to select the server you want to connect to and that is by purpose. All modes support finding a VPN server by purpose except the security mode. First let us change the mode to “I want Internet freedom”. You can do this by clicking on the menu icon (3 horizontal bars) in the upper right corner of the app as shown in the image below.
It does not matter which screen you are in, the menu is a static component of the app and is always available to click on. We will discuss more about this menu later in our PureVPN review. Once you have the menu open, click on “Select Mode” and you will see a screen like that shown in the image below.
You have been working using the “I want security/privacy ” mode as can be seen by the green circle with a white check in it shown it its upper right corner. Hover the mouse over the “I want Internet freedom” mode and then click on the select button that appears. This will open up the dashboard for the freedom mode as is shown in the image below.
To find a server by purpose, first make sure the “Select Purpose” radial button has been selected as is shown in the image above. Next hover the mouse over and then click on the “Search Purpose” dropdown box. This will open up a screen like the one shown in the image below.
The purposes on this screen include Scaling the Great Firewall of China, using VoIP, and getting access to social media in censored areas. However a great many of the purposes are devoted to faster streaming of various media and online gaming. Each of these purposes can be expanded to show the countries that can be used to realize it by clicking on the down arrow to the right of it as you did with locations earlier. Click on the arrow beside “Optimized for China (alternative)”. This will bring up a screen like that shown in the image below.
Notice that a couple of the countries have been selected as favorites for this purpose. Choosing favorites will allow you to easily connect to a VPN server to accomplish your chosen goal. Clicking on one of these countries under “Purpose” will connect you to a VPN server in that country. Select the Algeria and Australian locations as favorites was done above. Now click on the “Favorites” heading. This will bring up a list as is shown below.
Notice “Watch Netflix (faster streaming)” has also been chosen as a favorite purpose. Expanding one of these favorites and clicking on a country will have you connected to a VPN server watching your favorite Netflix movie or overcoming the censorship of the Chinese government in just a minute. You can see how using purposes can help you find a VPN server for what you want to do and then connect you to it in just a couple of clicks.
Ok, remember that menu that we told you we would have a look at later. Well, its later so click on the menu icon and lets have a look at it. You should see a menu like the one shown in the image below. It consists of the following items:
- Basic settings – This contains basic and advance settings that you can manually set to affect how the app operates. (more on these later in the review)
- Select mode – We have already seen how this operates. It opens the modes screen and lets you see your current mode and change it if you wish.
- Terms of Service – This will open the TOS on the PureVPN website for your viewing pleasure.
- Getting Started – This will open a start up guide for the app so you can see how to use its features.
- Feedback – This will open a webpage on the PureVPN website where you can provide real-time information on the app and what new features you would like to see or report issues that you think need fixed.
- Help – This will take you to the main support page of the PureVPN website.
- About PureVPN – This will take you to a short outline of the history of PureVPN.
- Check for updates – Using this will ensure that you always have the latest version of the app.
- Quit – This will minimize the app to the menu bar.
Now let us have a look at the basic settings. Click on “Basic Settings” in the menu and you will see a screen like the one shown in the image below. The basic settings screen which is divided into the following sections:
- Login info – This is your PureVPN username and password that you entered and it automatically saved when you first logged into the app. You can show the password if you have forgotten it.
- Protocols – The Mac OS X app supports three protocols natively.
- SSTP – This is excellent protocol for security and can help navigate most firewalls.
- L2TP – This is the more secure protocol, but it can be a little slower that PPTP.
- PPTP – This is a lesser secure protocol but because it is generally faster than L2TP it can make a good choice for steaming activities and general surfing.
- Settings – These are some general settings which can control the apps behavior.
- Redial automatically if the connection drops; Launch on system start up; Auto-connect after launch – Setting these three will ensure that the VPN stays on as much as possible.
- Sync favorites – This will sync your favorites between other devices when you log into the app.
- Disable tips popup – This will stop the popup tips but you will still be able to see them by clicking on the light bulb if you want.
- System Auto Sleep Mode – Setting this will determine how the app responds to the auto sleep mode of your computer. It can be set to disconnect the VPN during sleep mode or prevent the sleep mode from occurring.
The last part of the basic setting screen is a link to the more advance features of the app that can be set. Clicking on “Show advanced options” in the above screen will display these advanced features. This will result in a screen like the one shown below.
Notice the “Security” section now shows up on the page. The four different settings that you can set to improve your security and privacy while using PureVPN on your Mac are as follows:
- Switch to secure DNS – This will ensure that all DNS requests will be sent through the secure tunnel to PureVPN servers. This will keep others from being able to monitor your requests and track you.
- IPv6 leak protection – This will disable Internet access for IPv6, thus keeping it from revealing your true IP address.
- VPN not connected reminders – This can be set to 1 minute, 5 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour and will ensure that you know when the VPN connection has dropped.
- Activate Internet kill switch – This is a VPN kill switch. Setting it will ensure that if the VPN connection drops, you will be disconnected from the Internet until it is re-established.
The only way to completely quit the PureVPN Mac OS X app is to click on it in the menu bar and select “Quit PureVPN” from the drop down menu that appears as is shown in the screenshot in the image below.
The PureVPN Mac OS X app is easy for anyone to use. Just select a mode to run in and the app takes care of all the technical aspects of connecting to one of their VPN servers. All you have to do is decide on a location and then connect to it. It will have you connected to their network with just a few mouse clicks. It supports SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP protocols. As simple as it is to use, it still includes some advanced features like a VPN kill switch, secure DNS, and IPv6 leak protection.
Connecting with the PureVPN Android App
As we said before, you can download the PureVPN custom software from the membership area of their website by logging into it and then clicking on “Download Apps” under the Navigation menu. Once you get on this page, hover your mouse over the Android icon (shown inset left) and tap on the “Download app” button that appears. This will take you to the Google Play store where you can then download and install the app. The app requires Android 4 or later.
Once you are on the Google Play store, you will see a screen like that shown on the left below. Tap on the “Install” button and the app will start to download and install to your device. At some point in this process, you will see a screen like that shown in the second image below. You must give the app this access in order to continue. So tap on the “Accept” button and the install will continue as shown in the last screenshot below.
Once the install has finished, you will see a screen like that shown on the left in the image below. Tap on the “Open” button and app launch for the first time. Subsequent launches will have to be made using the PureVPN icon that has been installed in your app area. When it first opens, you will be treated to a small three screen slideshow. The second of these screens in this slideshow is displayed in the middle below.
From any of the slideshow screens, you can tap on the “Already have an account”, Log In link shown in the second image. Where? Yes we wondered the same thing. It turns out that it may be truncated on some smaller Android screens as it was on ours. But if you tap just under the right edge of the “Sign up” button, the slideshow will close and you will be presented with a screen where you can type in your credentials as is shown in the last screenshot in the above image. Enter your PureVPN “username” and “password”, close your keyboard, and then tap on “Done”. Once your credentials are authenticated by the PureVPN, you will see a screen like the one shown on the left in the image below.
This is the PureVPN Android app mode selection screen. Sliding up on this screen reveals the four modes that the app can be set to. These are as follows:
- Stream – This mode allows you to stream media (movies, music, TV shows, etc.) at the fastest speed while still enjoying the encrypted protection of a VPN without artificially imposed geographic boundaries.
- Internet Freedom – This mode seeks to remove both the economic and social boundaries of the Internet imposed by companies and governments. This is probably the best mode for general surfing.
- Security/Privacy – This mode will provide you with the highest level protection for both your Internet traffic and personal privacy. As you might expect, this is the best mode to use for personal or business information transfer, banking, or any purpose that you want the most security and privacy.
- File Sharing – This mode is for those who believe that all media should be able be freely shared with friends and associates.
Modes basically make it easier for the average (non-technical) person to enjoy all the benefits of using a VPN immediately. Setting a mode, which is essentially the use you intend for the VPN, takes care of the technical aspects of the connection. This includes the protocol used, the encryption algorithm employed, the strength of the encryption, and other technical details necessary for a fast and reliable connection to accomplish your goal. All that is left to the user is to decide where he wants to connect to. You have to choose a mode to use the app but you can change it as we will show later in this review. So tap on the first one, “Stream” and you will see a screen like the one shown on the right in the image above.
This is the main dashboard of the Android app for the streaming mode. Different modes will display different images. The dashboard shown is in its disconnected state. The bottom of the screen shows your true IP address. There are two icons of note on this screen: The connection plug (white plug facing down in a green circle) and the menu (three horizontal dots) in the upper right corner. Tapping on the plug will open a screen like the one shown on the left in the image below and tapping on the menu will open a screen like that shown on the right.
This screen has six icons. The first three contain flags of countries in them. These are the last three connections that you made using the app with the newest one at the top. Tapping on one of these will connect you to a VPN server in that country. Tapping on the fourth one (yellow circle with a white location pin) opens a screen that will let you select a location to connect to. Tapping on the fifth one (target inside a blue circle) opens a screen that will let you choose a purpose and then a country to connect to that will allow you to fulfill it. Tapping the last icon (green circle with upward plug) will return you to the dashboard. We will review how to chose a connection location in a moment.
The screenshot on the right above is the menu for the app. We will examine the last three items on this menu first. Then we will take a look at the “Settings” menu. Tapping on “Select mode” will open a screen similar to the one you first encountered when you opened the app that will show you which mode the app is currently in and let you change it. It is illustrated in the first screenshot in the image below. Tapping on “Share” will open a screen like the one shown in the middle that will let you share the app with friends and colleagues using a variety of ways. Tapping on “Feedback” will open a ticket template like the one shown on the right that will let you send real-time feedback to the PureVPN staff concerning the app.
Tapping on “Settings” in the above menu will open a screen that will let you change a variety of settings that affect how the app behaves. The app settings are divided into sections as follows: Preferences, Advanced, Help, and General. The preferences section is shown in the first screenshot in the image below and includes the following settings:
- Profile – Tapping on “Profile” will open a screen like that shown in the middle below. This shows your account, the email address associated with it, and the username and password needed to use the PureVPN service that you entered to login to this app. There is a checkbox to show/hide the password.
- Protocol – The PureVPN Android app supports both OpenVPN protocols. OpenVPN is considered by many to be the most secure VPN connection protocol. Tapping “Protocol” will open a screen like that shown on the right in the image below.
- UDP – This is the User Datagram Protocol and useful for most VPN purposes. It is the app’s default protocol. It is faster that TCP because it does little error checking and there could be packet loss.
- TCP – This is the Transfer Control Protocol and it does error checking of packets and corrects it. This makes it slower than UDP but also more reliable over greater connection distances or in rural areas with weak signals.
- Cities – This will show cities and allow you more granular connection control as you will see later in this review when we look at how to choose a location to connect to.
- Sync favorites – Turning this on will sync all your favorites to other devices when you log on to the app.
- Auto reconnect – Turning this on will maximize your VPN uptime.
The second section of settings is “Advanced” and includes only one item, “Split Tunneling” and is shown on the left in the image below. Tapping on “Split tunneling” will open a screen like that shown in the middle below where you can turn it on. This will open a screen like that shown on the right below that will allow you to choose the apps you want to go through the VPN tunnel. All other Internet traffic will go through your ISP and your true IP address to the open Internet. Don’t enable this unless you know how to use it because it can weaken your privacy.
The third settings section is called “Help”. It contains the following components:
- Feedback – Tapping on this will open an app feedback screen like the one we saw earlier in this review.
- Did you know – Tapping on this will redirect you to the main PureVPN support page.
- About us – Tapping on this will redirect you to a page containing a brief company history of PureVPN.
Now that we have looked at the app menu and settings, let us take a look at how to select a location to connect to. Recall that clicking on the plug on the dashboard which is shown on the left in the image below will bring up a screen like that shown on the right.
Tapping the icon beside “Where do you want to go today?” will open a screen which will let you select the location that you want to connect to. This screen has four views which are shown in the image below. The views are as follows: by region, by country, by city, and by favorites.
The first screenshot in the image below shows the locations by region. The regions that you can choose from are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East. Each region shows a map of its shape to the left of it and the number of countries it contains under it. A region can be expanded into its respective countries as shown in the case of Oceania in this screenshot or compacted by tapping on the up or down arrow to the right of it. You must tap on a country name to connect to a VPN server from this view. This is useful if you know the area you want to connect to but not any of the countries in it. Favorites cannot be saved from here.
The second screenshot below shows the “Countries” view of the locations. It shows the countries arranged in alphabetical order with the country flag to the left of it. You can select favorites from this view by tapping on the open heart to the right of it. The heart will turn solid green indicating that that country has been made a favorite.
The third screenshot above shows the “Cities” view of the locations. It can be accessed by tapping on the menu icon on this screen if it is not already turned on as shown above. The cities view shows the countries in alphabetical order with the country flag to the left of it and a number in parentheses to the right of it. This number represents the number of city or state locations it contains. Each country in this list can be expanded into its cities/states by tapping on the down arrow beside it or compacted by tapping on its respective up arrow. You can connect to a city or state by tapping on its name in this view. Favorites can also be selected by tapping the heart beside a city or state.
The last screenshot above shows the favorites view. Selecting favorites makes it easy to find locations that you connect to a lot. The favorites are listed as countries in alphabetical order with its flag to the left of it. Cities are shown under these, alphabetically by country with the name shown under it. All entries have a solid green heart to the right of them. Tapping on one of these hearts will remove that entry as a favorite. Tapping on a country name or city will connect you to that location.
Another way that you can choose a location to connect to is by means of purpose. Tapping on the icon to the right of “What do you want to do today?” will open the purpose screen. This screen has two views: purposes and favorites. The first screen shows a variety of purposes that the VPN can be used for in its current mode with an image that represents it to the left of it. Each can be expanded into the locations that are suited for it by tapping the down arrow to the right of it. This is shown in the second screenshot below where the streaming BBC iPlayer was expanded into the United Kingdom. Tapping on United Kingdom on this screen will connect you to a VPN server there that will have you watching BBC iPlayer in almost no time. Favorite countries used for purposes can be made by tapping on the hollow heart beside the country name as is also shown in the same screenshot where the United Kingdom now has a solid green heart showing that it is a favorite. The last screenshot below shows the purposes that have been made a favorite with streaming entertainment channels and streaming BBC iPlayer expanded to show the countries that you like to connect to accomplish these goals.
Not that we have looked at the different ways that you can choose a location to connect to for the PureVPN Android app, let us connect to a VPN server on their network. You have decided that you want to watch some Australian football from Perth. First tap on the location icon. This will bring up a screen like the one shown on the left in the image below. Make sure you are in city view, then tap on the magnifying glass at the top of the screen. Now type in “per”, without the quotes and you will see a screen like the second one below. Tap the down arrow and then tap on Perth as shown in the last image.
As soon as you tap on Perth, you will see a screen like the one shown on the left below which indicates that the connection to a PureVPN server has commenced. After a short time you will see a screen like that shown in the middle which shows you are now connected to a VPN server in Australia and can begin enjoying your Australian football. To disconnect from the Perth VPN server, tap on the plug and then tap the plug icon to the right of “Disconnect” on the following screen as shown in the last image.
You have seen how easy it is to connect to a VPN server using the PureVPN Android app. Just a few taps will have you connected and watching your favorite shows from the BBC iPlayer or skirting the Great Firewall of China to receive unbiased news and social media. Whether you make your connection by location or purpose, all it takes is a few taps on your device screen.
Connecting with the PureVPN iOS App
As we said before, you can download the PureVPN custom software from the membership area of their website by logging into it and then clicking on “Download Apps” under the Navigation menu. Once you get on this page, hover your mouse over the iPhone icon (shown inset left) or the iPad icon and tap on the “Download app” button that appears. This will take you to iTunes where you can then download and install the app. The app requires iOS 7.0 or later.
Once the app installs to your device you will need to open it to run it. The first time you run the app, you will need to enter your PureVPN “Username” and “Password” to log into it. Once it opens you will see a modes screen like the one shown on the left below. You will need to choose a mode to start the app in. It is currently using the high security mode as indicated by the green check to the right of it. This is fine so tap on it and let’s continue. You can change it later if you want.
Once you tap on the mode, you will see the main screen for the app as shown in the center image. You are not connected at the moment so it shows your true IP address. If you were connected to a VPN server, it would show the virtual IP that it assigned you. Now tap on the plug in the green circle. This will open a screen like that shown in the last image, which we call the travel screen because from it you can travel virtually to almost anywhere in the world.
This screen has three country icons to the right of “connect to respective country name”. These are the last three counties that you connected to. This is followed by a location pin icon to the right of “Where do you want to go today?”. Tapping this pin will open the location selection screen which has four views illustrated by the screens in the image below. The icon to the right of “What do you want to do today?” will open a purposes screen that will let you select a location to accomplish said purpose. The plug at the bottom will return you to the main screen.
The first screen below shows the region view. In this view the regions that are shown alphabetically with a number in parentheses to the right of it indicating the number of countries in that region that PureVPN has servers in. Each can be expanded to show these countries by tapping on the down arrow to the right of it as was done to Oceania in the example below.
The next way that a location can be viewed, by country, is shown by the second image below. This view shows the latest connections first , followed by the countries in alphabetical order. You can select countries as favorites by tapping on the open star to the right of it which will then turn solid yellow. Tapping on a country name in either of these views will connect you to a VPN server there.
The third screen in the image above shows the location by city. In this view, the countries are shown in alphabetical order by country with a number in parentheses to the right of the country name. This number represents the number of cities/states that you can connect to in that country. You can select favorites in this view as well.
The last location view, favorites, is shown in the last screen in the above image. This shows all of your favorite locations to connect to which makes them easier to find. Countries and cities can be shown here. All have a solid yellow star to the right of them. Tapping on this star will remove that selection from favorites. Tapping on a location under favorites will connect you to a VPN server in that location.
As we said earlier in this review, there is a second way that you can choose a location to connect to, by purpose. Tapping on the target icon beside the “What do you want to do today? on the travel screen which is repeated below in the first screenshot will open the purposes screen for the current mode. This screen is shown as the second screenshot below for the “I want to stream” mode.
The third screenshot above shows the “Watch Zattoo” purpose which has been expanded to allow you to choose a country to watch Zattoo from. Germany and the United Kingdom have been marked as favorites for this. The last screenshot shows your favorite countries to watch Zattoo from.
Now that you have seen how to select a location to connect to, let’s make a connection to London, United Kingdom so that you can catch up on your favorite British TV shows. From the travel screen which is shown in the first image above, tap on the location pin. This will open the locations screen. Select the cities view and scroll down to the United Kingdom and expand it. You should see a screen like the one shown on the left below. Tap on the London location and the app will begin the process to connect you to a VPN server there as is shown in the second screenshot.
After a short time the connection will complete and you will be retuned to the main app screen as shown in the third screenshot above . You are now connected to a London VPN server and have a virtual IP address in the UK that will let you watch all of your British television shows. When you want to disconnect, simply tap the plug in the red circle and then tap on the disconnect plug on the resultant screen as shown in the last screenshot above.
The last thing we want to examine before closing our PureVPN review is the iOS app menu. The menu can be accessed by tapping on the menu icon (triple horizontal lines) in the upper right of the main screen which can be seen in the third screenshot in the image above. This will result in a screen that looks similar to the one on the left below. We will take a look at the settings menu in a moment. The modes menu will open the modes screen you used earlier in this review. The feedback menu will open a comment screen on the PureVPN service like that shown in the last image below which will let you provide feedback to their staff. Tapping “Cancel” will close the menu without saving changes.
The settings screen is shown in the first image below. The first setting that we will look at is Protocol. Tapping on the right-arrow beside IKEv2 will open a screen to allow you to change this protocol. The default protocol, IKEv2, is very secure and supports MOBIKE which makes it good for multi-homed devices like the iPhone. If you cannot get IKEv2 to connect to a VPN server you can change protocols and try L2TP and PPTP but you will have to download the appropriate profile first.
There are two switches: one to share favorites between devices when you launch the app and another to show the cities view in location selection. Tapping on the right-arrow beside “On Demand VPN” will open a screen like that shown in the third screenshot below. This has a switch to setup On Demand VPN which will let you add URLs and domain names to the list. That will cause the VPN to auto-connect when you try to access them as shown in the last screenshot. The primary setting for the general category will let you change the language used by the app: English, French, German, and Dutch.
The PureVPN iOS app makes it easy for you to connect to their service. It utilizes modes that can help you with all the technical details of your connection. They even have a mode to help uses set up and use their dedicated IP addresses. All that remains for you to do is decide what you want to use the VPN for, choose the appropriate mode, and tap on a location to connect to a VPN server on their network. This means with just a few taps you can be securely surfing the Internet, watching your favorite shows without artificial restrictions, or accessing unbiased news and social media sites. The app uses the IKEv2 protocol which is good for multi-homed devices.
We run speed tests on our top providers every so often to make sure performance is up to par. In our testing there was quite a difference between our ISP connection speed and the encrypted connection through PureVPN. The performance is still fast enough to stream HD content and download without issues. If you decide to connect to a popular country like the United States, then we suggest you select a specific server location. That way you can choose between a server on the east coast versus the west coast based on your current location.
As you can see from the images above, the encrypted connection lowered our base ISP download speed from 134.95 Mb/s to 48.40 Mb/s. This is a drop of 64% to a server in Atlanta, GA. This is acceptable and plenty fast enough to perform a wide range of tasks.
PureVPN has been in the commercial VPN business since 2007. They started their network with just two locations and now have over 180 spread across 141 different countries. They have over 750 servers with over 80,000 IP addresses for their subscribers to use. They have multiple servers in popular countries like the US, the UK, Canada , France, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands. They log session time and bandwidth used by their users but they do no record any of the individual activity, software or apps used or accessed, or sites visited by users while using their services. PureVPN is VoIP and P2P friendly and even shows which servers are best for these activities on their network. They will comply with proper legal authorities regarding illegal activity or violation of their TOS and turn over information about the single topic of violation if it exists. However, they are based in Hong Kong which does not require that such information be retained.
PureVPN has custom software apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. These apps are easy to install and allow their users to connect to VPN servers with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen. Their custom software uses a concept of modes. Modes simplify the technical setup of the connection based on a particular purpose. This means all the user has to do is select a mode to use and a location to connect to. You can select location directly or by purpose using their software. Their Windows, Mac OS X, and Android apps include some of the more advanced features available for VPNs including VPN kill switches, secure DNS, IPv6 leak protection, and split tunneling. Their iOS app has On Demand VPN.
All of their apps provide some of the best encryption available in the industry in AES-128 and AES-256. Their Windows client supports a variety of VPN protocols. Their Mac OS X software supports SSTP, L2TP, and PPTP. Their Android app uses OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) which is considered one of the best VPN protocols by many in the industry. Their iOS app defaults to IKEv2 which is secure, fast, and reliable. Also its support of MOBIKE makes it an ideal choice for multi-homed devices like the iPhone and iPad because it makes reconnection to the VPN easier when changing Wi-Fi hotspots or transfering from home networks to cellular data.
In addition, PureVPN has manual tutorials and visual setup guides to connect to their service using Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Ubuntu, routers, and over 20 other devices using a variety of VPN protocols. Their support begins with 24/7 online chat. They aalso have a large FAQ database and an email ticketing system.
What we liked most about the service:
- They have clients for Windows and Mac OS X.
- They have mobile apps for iOS and Android.
- Modes to simplify connecting for non-technical users.
- Five simultaneous logins.
- They have kill switches in their Windows, Mac OS X, and Android software.
- They have other advanced features like split tunneling, VPN on Demand, secure DNS protection, and IPv6 leak protection.
- They have a 31-day money back guarantee.
Ideas to improve the service:
- Remove limitations on money-back guarantee.
- Include NAT firewall protection as many top providers do.
The PureVPN network includes most continents. They have servers in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Oceania, and South America. They have a fast VPN network as illustrated by our speed test. PureVPN is offering an extra discount for our reaadersThey offer a 31-day money back guarantee so you will have plenty of time to test their service and see if it fits your needs. Give their VPN service a test and see if its for you. If you like it, you can sign up for unlimited access from just $2.99 per month.