PureVPN review

Billed as the world's fastest VPN (virtual private network), PureVPN promises to be a good option for anyone who wants to use a VPN to stream region-locked video, or wants online anonymity and security without sacrificing speed.

Being based in Hong Kong, PureVPN is outside the '14 eyes' group of countries that share user browsing data (find out more about that in our main VPN guide), but its association with China brings its own worries.

On the flipside, there are more than 750 servers on the PureVPN network in 141 countries. The company says the network is self-managed rather than cloud-based. Logging is restricted to the time at which connections are made, and nothing else.

Installation is as easy as any other Windows program. The main interface features several broad modes of use, similar to CyberGhost VPN.

Stream is obviously for streaming geoblocked media, and file sharing enables anonymous torrenting.

Online Privacy mode prevents ISPs using deep packet inspection of traffic for clues about your activities.

Internet Freedom mode allows people to make calls in countries where VoIP is frowned upon.

If you select Stream, a long list of unlockable services pops up, or you can enter a search term. Netflix is not on the list but, at the time of writing, if you select the United States as a location and connect, you get access to Netflix US. Also, the Android version lists Netflix US as an unlockable service.

What worried us slightly was that under App Settings, the default selected protocol seems to be PPTP. This is an obsolete protocol that was cracked about a decade ago and should never be used.

Luckily, when selecting a country, this seems to be upgraded to the much more secure L2TP. Other options include IKEV, which is especially good for mobile users.

Along with the usual kill switch to drop the internet connection should the VPN tunnel collapse unexpectedly, there are one or two cool features. For starters, there's an option to launch your default browser once a VPN connection is established.

Another feature is split tunnelling. You can set which apps use the VPN and leave all others to use your normal, uncloaked connection.

That way, if you live somewhere in which ISPs are monitored for VPN use, your VPN-tunnelled traffic can hide amongst the unencrypted stuff using the special 'Stealth Protocol'. As with a similar facility in IPVanish, the idea is to disguise VPN packets as HTTPS traffic.

The interface isn't resizable on the Windows version, so the global server map is a pain to navigate. Individual servers are hidden, so there's only one clickable blob per country, meaning you also don’t get a choice of, say, east coast or west coast USA.

At $10.95 (£8.50) per month for 5 simultaneous users, Netflix US access makes PureVPN great value for the home user. The two-year deal works out at just $2.95 (£2.30) per month. The refund policy is strictly 7 days, but you must use less than 3GB of bandwidth or have made fewer than 100 connections. Also, a trial account is $2.50!

OUR VERDICT

A fast, reliable VPN for home streamers, file sharers and those wishing to use VoIP, but being based in Hong Kong will set alarm bells ringing for those looking for untraceable online anonymity.