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I have been using HideMyAss VPN for over a year, and I am quite happy with it. My blog post “My experience with HideMyAss” went viral and since then I have received a lot of requests from VPN vendors to review their services.
I have been looking for alternatives to HideMyAss since they made headlines regarding privacy issues, for some more details on this check out LulzSec Sony hacking case. Coincidentally, PureVPN has approached me and requested to evaluate their service. Their “split tunneling” (keep reading, this is pretty cool!) feature caught my eyes. To satisfy my inherent nerdiness and general curiosity I decided to give PureVPN a try. The following is an account of my experience using PureVPN:
and then explore it so you get a better sense how it works.
My first attempt to setup PureVPN failed; well, I tried manually, following their instructions for Mac OS. While I consider myself quite knowledgable about technology and setting up dialers and network connections, I got frustrated and downloaded their installer. This little piece of software (Beta version for Mac) is really simple to install and makes life a lot easier, just enter your login details and click connect, the dialer takes care of the rest – perfect!
I quite like their “Server Selection Tool” where you can select by country or purpose making it pretty obvious what to chose even for novices.
PureVPN works with various Windows versions, OS X, Linux, Android and you can set it up on your iPhone and iPad as well. No matter what platform, they seem to have you covered. They support SSTP, L2PT, IPSec and PPTP, with 128-bit encryption, but not OpenVPN.
I used pureVPN for about 2 weeks while traveling between the US and Canada on the road and at home. For testing purposes I selected servers in various countries and I must say, the speed they are providing is impressive. As expected speeds varied by server, but most of the time, the my connection is fast enough to watch streaming videos without any problem.
PureVPN is one of the few providers who support Split Tunneling, routing only some traffic (some applications) through the VPN while allowing access to a LAN or WAN at the same time. If you need to access a corporate network or have applications that don’t play nicely with VPNs, Split tunneling will help maintain your sanity, because you don’t always have to disconnect from and reconnect to PureVPN. Unfortunately, this feature is only available with their Windows dialer, but with the majority of computers still running Windows chances are, you’ll be able to use it.
I used Chrome, Skype, Dropbox and a variety of other programs without issues, but Mail didn’t connect no matter what. Unable to resolve this issue I contacted support, which you can conveniently do from within their application. The interface is straightforward and works well. I received a response via email within 24 hours. Unfortunately their response was less than customer oriented, just a one liner directing me to the server selection in their application, which didn’t help much. Only after playing around with it I discovered that a few servers have “email” in brackets at the end, and after selecting one of those receiving email was a breeze.
Unfortunately this reminded me of another support contact when I inquired about their “logging” policies a few weeks earlier, an important issue if you are serious about protecting your privacy. The response was similar, pointing me to their terms and conditions without further explanation.
Customer service is important to me, not that I use it often, but when I pay a premium, I do expect first class support, not canned one-liners. This maybe a non-issue for you and maybe whoever got my inquiries might just have had a bad day. Overall I read many positive things about their support.
I use all Apple products, but other people in the office use Windows. They too were quite happy with PureVPN and were actually able to use some of the advanced features they offer, like Split Tunneling, the Country Selection Tool, and Secure DNS.
PureVPN offers a feature called Secure DNS, basically a way to hide your DNS queries from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Even though you are using a VPN, your computer may still send DNS queries to your ISP, which in turn then knows where you are navigating to and, at their option, can drop your connection or record your activity. Other VPN providers implement their own solutions to resolve this issue, but if you are seriously concerned about privacy, this is an easy-to-miss step. Please make sure you know where your DNS queries go BEFORE heading out there!
PureVPN offers a variety of payment options including PayPal, making it easily available to most people. They currently do not accept bitcoins.
PureVPN’s pricing is straight forward, but not cheap when compared to similar services with plans starting at 9.95/month and up. However, considering the speed and ease of use compared to other providers the price is certainly justified. Committing to a longer time gets you about a 20% discount. If you decide to go with PureVPN I would certainly advise yearly subscriptions.
If you liked this review, please share it with your friends. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about PureVPN, especially if your thoughts are contrary to mine and/or you have used it yourself!