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I know what you did last summer.

No, really. I do. When you were uploading your vacation snaps in Starbucks, I sat and captured every packet. Every byte. I even know the password you insist on reusing everywhere. Here’s a tip, buddy; “hunter2” is not a strong password.

I know lots about you; so does your ISP. We like to keep track of you. We both had a chortle at the pics of you in a mankini at the company Christmas fancy-dress party. And we both know what sites you go on when you open up private browsing mode. Er, I mean ‘gift buying mode’. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Or Is There?

You’ve heard about VPNs What A VPN Tunnel Is & How To Set One Up What A VPN Tunnel Is & How To Set One Up Read More , right? They’re pretty powerful. They allow you to push all traffic through an encrypted tunnel, ensuring that nobody can snoop on what you’re up to.

Recently, they’ve enjoyed a surge in popularity recently due to a number of factors — these include ISP-level filtering of torrent websites, as well as a wider awareness of the risks of using unsecured wireless hotspots, which are all too common in cafes, restaurants and hotels. One VPN provider I’ve been using recently is PureVPN; an Asia-based provider of VPN services. And they’re very good.

PureVPN

Where to start with PureVPN? Well, they’re a pretty established provider based in Hong Kong. They’re one of the more seasoned VPN companies out there, and they’ve made a name for themselves by taking a strong stance against censorship and Internet surveillance.

Perhaps one of their most unique selling points is their reticence to retain activity logs, which directly contrasts a great many European and U.S.-based VPN providers. Although, they do say that they retain IP logs, in order to maintain the quality of the service. As I understand it, these can identify a user, but not that user’s activity.

Packages

There is only one PureVPN package on offer. This comes with a huge variety of endpoints to hide behind, and allows you to consume as much data as you want. There’s no mention of limits or caps anywhere on the site.

purevpn-packaged

In addition, all traffic is encrypted with a 256-bit cypher, and can be used on OS X, Windows, Linux, Android, Blackberry and iOS. Prices range from $9.95 per month, to $49.95 for a whole year’s access.

Getting Started With PureVPN

I tested PureVPN on my 2012 Macbook Pro, running a fully updated and patched OS X 10.9.2.

purevpn-mac

Instead of forcing you to manually configure the settings in Network Preferences, PureVPN has a handy little application which does this for you. This also allows you to easily switch between the various endpoints on offer, which are many and varied.

purevpn-app-main

But first, you’re prompted to install yet another application. This time, it’s the ‘PureVPN Helper’. Press ‘yes’ ad-infinitum and key in your root password when prompted.

purevpn-app-helper

Now you’re ready to start securely browsing. Select your protocol, your endpoint and type your username password. If everything works, the data traffic graph at the bottom will start to light up with activity.

purevpn-traffic-tracker

I decided to connect via a New York based endpoint, using the L2TP protocol. Once connected, I immediately browsed to Hulu Hulu: Watch Favorite TV Show Episodes Online Hulu: Watch Favorite TV Show Episodes Online Read More and started watching an episode of the achingly funny Dan Harmon comedy Community.

Sadly, Hulu is only available to those residing in the Land Of The Free. Having suffered through countless episodes of Snog, Marry, Avoid on the BBC iPlayer How To Watch TV On The Web With BBC iPlayer [Mainly UK Only] How To Watch TV On The Web With BBC iPlayer [Mainly UK Only] The Internet is becoming an increasingly important source for content of all media. There are legal and not-so-legal ways of listening to music, watching television and movies, playing games, and obtaining software. All via a... Read More , I was eager to watch some quality programming. Thankfully, with the use of a VPN, you can watch as much awesome American television as you can handle.

purevpn-hulu

Quality was steady, and I was able to watch standard definition programming without any noticeable slowdown or glitches. HD content had stutters, but was mostly watchable.

Speed Test

Right now, we know that PureVPN is great for TV nuts like myself, eager to get my grubby mitts on content that is otherwise out of my reach. But what about a slightly more scientific look at how PureVPN performs?

purevpn-speedtest

I gave the venerable Speedtest.net a run. As you can see, ping – the measure by which we determine how long it takes for your computer to reach a remote server – isn’t exactly spectacular. Although, that’s to be expected when you consider that I was connecting to a VPN endpoint on the other side of the Atlantic. High ping can be mitigated against by using a closer endpoint. With that said, anyone using PureVPN for online gaming can expect to run into more lag than they might be used to, and this might adversely impact performance. Ditto for anyone using Skype, or a video-conferencing site like appear.in Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good People have been crying out for a decent video conferencing app for ages. We thought that was Google Plus. We were wrong. Meet Appear.in. Read More .

Despite that, download and upload speeds are more than acceptable. Certainly more than adequate for casual browsing, or snatching the latest Katy Perry album off BitTorrent without getting caught by the RIAA.

Additional Features

Let’s be blunt. VPNs sometimes fall over. Computers can find themselves disconnected from the server being used to push all of its traffic through, resulting in a catastrophic loss of anonymity. PureVPN mitigates against this with something called the ‘Internet Kill Switch’. If you lose your connection with the VPN server, your computer will stop sending network traffic. Cool, right?

Other useful features include Split Tunneling, where you can decide what type of network traffic to send through the VPN, leaving everything else to be sent unobscured; as well as NAT firewalling, which protects you from unwanted inbound traffic, including the traffic sent by unauthorized third parties (read: hackers). Although, it’s important to note that the latter exists as a paid add-on, and costs an additional $2.99 per month.

Conclusion

PureVPN is a pretty solid product. Speeds are more than acceptable, and those looking for a VPN product which protects your privacy whilst existing outside of the over-reaching European and American jurisdictions will find something to love here.

But what about you? Have you given it a try? Do you have a preferred VPN service? Drop me a comment below and tell me all about it.

  1. Eric J
    March 20, 2014 at 12:32 am

    sounds promising.

  2. Franz
    March 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for the review. I am waiting for them to offer OpenVPN support on Linux.

    • Matthew H
      March 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      No worries! Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Shade
    March 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    The fact that this company keeps logs of any kind is an instant deal breaker for me. If you want something that's going to protect your anonymity as well as security, I'd recommend perusing TorrentFreak's list:
    https://torrentfreak.com/which-vpn-services-take-your-anonymity-seriously-2014-edition-140315/

    • Matthew H
      March 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      Eh. As I understand it, the logs only indicate if a connection to the VPN server has been made, by who and for how long for. I understand they are not logging user activity (sites visited, protocols used, etc).

    • Shade
      March 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      How long are their logs stored? They can be coerced to give them up by governments or certain surveillance agencies *cough*NSA*cough*GCHQ*cough*. A source IP and time information can give quite a few clues about behavior, assuming those two data points are the only data they retain.

      It comes down to a matter of what matters to you, and for me, one of my requirements is that no logs of any kind are kept.

    • M. Lystek
      March 20, 2014 at 5:47 am

      It is silly to think a VPN will company keep a big volume of connection data for too long. The TorrentFreak link that you shared is based on a questionnaire and the article itself states: "What follows is the list of responses from the VPN services, in their own words. Providers who didn’t answer our questions directly or failed by logging everything were excluded. Please note, however, that several VPN companies listed here do log to some extent. The order of the lists holds no value."

      Plus, I hope you have noticed the banner of the VPN provider which is present inside the right sidebar. Strangely enough, it is first in their listing too. Why not sling a bit of mud there too?

      Moreover, the NSA and its likes do a lot of spying on social media and gaming networks. So, data connection data from VPN companies would be the last thing on their list to look into. As humans, we leak data through many means. So, stay clean and use a VPN service as a protection measure.

  4. Shaun Stevin
    March 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Well, I travel a lot and I am always scared about open WiFi hotspots, especially in airports and restaurants. I have used many service but PureVPN is excellent with its speed and server choices.

    • Matthew H
      March 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      Same here. I try to work from cafes as much as possible, and it's nice to have an extra layer of privacy.

  5. Alex
    March 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I have been using PureVPN from a very long time. I believe they are doing an excellent job.
    Wanted to use VPN on my blackberry and PureVPN helped me out with this, I don’t think any other vpn provider supports IKEv2 protocol.

    Second feature that helped me a lot was their split tunneling feature, once I remember, wanted to use a VPN for unblocking web contents and wanted to access my office via open vpn. PureVPN support team helped me with this issue and now I can access both at the same time

    • Matthew H
      March 19, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      Yeah, it's quite interesting. I think my favorite feature is the Internet Kill Switch, personally.

  6. YouCanDoBetter
    March 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Also, they're well known for paying for reviews on blogs as a marketing tactic, and secretly logging and storing user data while they claim to be "privacy focused."

    Guess MUO is taking cash for articles now - one thing's for sure, a whole article talking about privacy and VPNs without talk of logging and data retention policies, or even glancing over their TOS or who they're willing to turn over what information to under what circumstances is way more than missing the point.

    • Matthew H
      March 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      At the start of the article, we have a disclaimer which states "This post was made possible by PureVPN. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of MakeUseOf. For more details, please read our disclaimer."

      Whilst this post was sponsored, the views are mine and mine alone. I had full editorial independence, and I feel that my review was honest, dispassionate and unbiased.

    • Q. Nauman M.
      March 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Hi,
      Here, we observe multiple views regarding the logging policy. First of all, we suggest all the visitors read our ‘Terms of Use’ instead of forming personal judgments. It will give all viewers a complete insight about our logging policy and then viewers may be able to conclude it fairly.
      If, getting attention, by paying to someone was so fruitful then every provider may launch multiple review websites instead of adding new servers and features in their services. Simply, it is not the case and that's why customers trust review websites and visit them before making the final purchase.
      We must share everything, good and bad experiences of the customers. VPN works within the internet connection and there are multiple factors that may affect the performance of the VPN. Many of which are at the end of users like Firewall, Antivirus, Protocol Support, Geo distance from the VPN server, the selection of the server as per the required service, etc. Since, a VPN provider cannot control all of them at a time therefore, we offered 24/7 friendly and highly compatible technical support for customers. Users may contact us any time on 24/7 customer support in case they may have any question or problem associated with the service and can improve their experience any time.
      Hope it helps all to decide.
      Best Regards,
      Q. Nauman M.
      Manager Customer Service & Support
      PureVPN

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