PureVPN In Depth VPN Review and Full L2TP & SSTP Speed Test!

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We have an In Depth VPN Review and Full L2TP & SSTP Speed Test of PureVPN ready for our visitors!  This is our most detailed and thorough VPN review type where we take a long look at the service and run complete speed tests on their servers.  We also have this type of review available for HideMyAss VPN, VyprVPN, VPNTunnel.SE, and iVPN.net.  Our review of PureVPN will take you behind the scenes on their service and provide a speed test results on their L2TP & SSTP servers.

PureVPN is a solid VPN provider and one of the few out there with a SSTP offering in every package.  We thought this would be a good chance to take a look at SSTP speeds from a major provider, and also compare them to a more standard L2TP VPN service.  SSTP is a newer VPN protocol that works wonders in areas that block standard PPTP and L2TP.  It essentially works the same as a secure session over HTTPS.  For the uninformed, that’s like logging into a secure website with the prefix “HTTPS:”.  Granted that’s a simplification, but hopefully you get our drift.  For more info on VPN protocols, and details on SSTP check our Learn article on the subject.  PureVPN is fairly well known in the middle east with an excellent track record in UAE.  Their SSTP offering is a big reason for that success, so we thought it would be best to take a look for ourselves!

The VPN service from PureVPN includes PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP in every package.  Not bad when you consider their pricing.  Gets even better when you figure that the service is unlimited and they don’t mind file sharing!  This means you can get complete VPN service on your Win7/XP/Vista/OSX/iOS/Android/Windows Mobile devices without having to break the bank every month.  PureVPN boasts servers in 14 countries including:  UK, USA, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, Singapore, Ireland, Malaysia, and Russia.  They have quite a few servers available, with the majority of them being split between the US and the UK.  Their server tally is 31 as of this writing, and PPTP and L2TP offer the biggest selections.  The SSTP server list, although smaller, still includes multiple US and UK servers plus various servers around the globe.  The service has been expanding over the last few months with a relatively big build out occurring this summer we reported on in July.  The service has continued to grow since then and all signs point to continued growth in 2012.

VPN service from PureVPN is available in either a “manual configuration” format, or on Windows, through standard “phonebook dialers”.  Phonebook dialers are essentially small applications that allow you to connect to servers for either PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP.  To be honest, it is really not as much an application as it is a pre-configured set of network locations.  The advantage to the phonebook dialer is that you don’t have to manually configure the new network connection, and you don’t have to install a big piece of custom software.  The disadvantage is that you don’t get a whole lot of advanced features.  Still, we found that the phonebook dialers work pretty well in our tests.  If you add the small dialer file to your desktop, VPN is only two clicks away!

As you can see below the phonebook dialers contain lists of the servers.  There is a separate phonebook dialer for each VPN protocol, and the link to download the dialers is made available immediately after purchase.

L2TP Phonebook dialer:

PureVPN L2TP Phonebook Dialer

PPTP Phonebook dialer:

PureVPN PPTP Phonebook Dialer

SSTP Phonebook dialer:

PureVPN SSTP Phonebook Dialer

To start the VPN connection using the phonebook dialer just choose your server and hit “Connect”.  You will be prompted to provide your username and password that you received from PureVPN.  There is an option to enable saving the password if you prefer the convenience.  Note that for L2TP you must access the properties dialog and enter the PureVPN preshared key provided in your registration email.  You only need to do that once before connecting to the particular L2TP server.  After that the preshared key is saved.

PureVPN L2TP PreShared Key

When you are connected you can roll your mouse over the network icon in Windows to verify the VPN connection.  To disconnect, all you need to do is doubleclick to enable the dialer again and click “Hangup”.  It’s just that simple.

PureVPN VPN Hangup

Properties for each server can be accessed via the phonebook dialer, but no setup is required after downloading the dialer files.  For our review purposes the properties give us some info on the encryption being utilized by PureVPN.  The security options for SSTP are below.

PureVPN SSTP Properties Security

Security options for PPTP shows us the obvious information that PPTP is less than secure than both SSTP and L2TP.

PureVPN PPTP Properties Security

L2TP security options are clearly set for using an encrpyted password, for example.

PureVPN L2TP Properties Security

Since the phonebook dialer is lacking in some advanced features you might find at other providers, PureVPN has built out their main website for customers.  Normally you might find a “location helper” inside the VPN providers software.  PureVPN actually offers a Location Helper on their website.  The location helper will show you which VPN servers are fastest for your connection.  This can save you some valuable time when selecting a VPN server in the phonebook dialer.  The location helper process is three steps.

Step 1, Select your Purpose:

PureVPN VPN Location Helper

Step 2, PureVPN will detect your location by IP, or you can provide the Country and State.  Select  “Find Server” to begin:

PureVPN VPN Location Helper 2

Step 3, view the Results:

PureVPN VPN Location Helper 3

OK, so now that we’ve given you a good feel for PureVPN, it’s time for the speed test results!  As always, our speed test methodology is constructed to provide an unbiased look at how the VPN servers are performing.  For more information on our speed test methodology, take a look at our Learn article.  Our speed test of the PureVPN services includes their L2TP and SSTP servers.  We utilized our standard method with SpeedTest.net to get an accurate look at the download, upload, and ping of each server.  The speed tests for L2TP were performed on a Thursday in the evening, while the SSTP tests were performed on Saturday in the evening.  Although we tend to prefer testing everything all once, the large number of servers and manual nature of the tests required that we break it up…still we do conduct multiple runs on each server for the best look at how they are performing.  As always, our speed test results are shown in KiloBytes per Second (KB/s).  If you have trouble understanding the difference between Kilo/Mega/Giga and Byte/Bit we suggest you read our Learn article on network speeds.  For example, 1000 KiloBytes (KB/s) translates to 8 Megabits per second (Mbps).  1000 KB/s times 8 (btyes to bits) = 8000, and 8000 divided by 1000 (Kilo to Mega) = 8.  In other words, 1000 KB/s = 8 Mbps.  As a point of reference, our testers machine, which is located on the east coast of the US, has a maximum download speed of 3750KB/s (30Mbps) and a maximum upload speed of  375 KB/s (3Mbps).

The L2TP server list is so long for PureVPN we had to cut up our result screenshots.  Click the images to enlarge.

L2TP Results Page 1:

PureVPN L2TP Speed Test Results 1

*note that in the above screenshot there are two “Germany 1” servers.  The second one should be “Germany 2”.  Typo…our bad.

And, L2TP Results Page 2:

PureVPN L2TP Speed Test Results 2

Here are some select screenshots from SpeedTest.net:

PureVPN L2TP Netherlands 1 ServerPureVPN L2TP Russia ServerPureVPN L2TP UK 6 ServerPureVPN L2TP US 4 ServerPureVPN L2TP US 5 Server

That’s a lot of numbers, and a lot of L2TP servers, so what does it all mean?  Well, for starters, the PureVPN network is pretty damn good.  In order to make sense of the speed test results for L2TP, we figured a summary would be helpful.

PureVPN L2TP Speed Test Results Summary

Now that’s a little easier to understand!  The PureVPN L2TP servers performed wonderfully for our tests.  Download and setup of the phonebook dialer was a breeze – as was connecting to the servers.  No problems to report.  The speeds from the servers is pretty amazing when you consider forty percent of the servers have average download speeds greater than 1500 KB/s (12Mbps).  Although that is obviously shy of our testers maximum download which is 3750 KB/s (30Mbps), it’s still pretty damn fast.  In reality, anything above 750 KB/s (6Mbps) should be fast enough to watch even the toughest high definition video online.  If you’re looking for specific speed recommendations regarding streaming, check our Learn article where we have a list of speeds for popular providers and a general recommendation for watching both standard and high def content.  On the upload side, almost sixty percent of the servers came close to reaching our testers maximum upload speed of 375 KB/s (3Mbps).  Needless to say, these two numbers clearly show that the PureVPN L2TP network is no slouch when it comes to speed.  Overall you should be able to browse effortlessly and stream either video or audio without a problem.  When you combine this with the geographic locations offered, and their reported speeds, we think PureVPN has a solid L2TP VPN network.  Users in the United States can pull good speeds out of many locations in Europe (including Russia!), and users abroad should be able to find strong speeds in their region, and also back in the US.  That means you have the ability to connect securely, and quickly while at home, and overseas!

Now for the SSTP speed test results:

PureVPN SSTP Speed Test Results

Here are some select screenshots from SpeedTest.net:

PureVPN SSTP Switzerland ServerPureVPN SSTP UK 3 ServerPureVPN SSTP US 2 Server

Since there are less SSTP servers than L2TP, there is no need to do a summary.  We, of course, expected SSTP to be slower than the L2TP offering.  Since, by it’s very nature, SSTP should be slower than L2TP.  We were pleasantly surprised though, considering the servers that were available averaged download speeds greater than 550 KB/s (4.4Mbps).  Not too shabby.  More than enough for secure browsing, email, IM, audio streaming and even some video streaming.  Although we probably wouldn’t recommend trying to pull down HDTV at this speed, you shouldn’t have any problem with standard def video.  We were a little surprised that some of the servers were consistently unavailable though.  We tried over a 48 hour period to connect to the servers listed as “N/A” in the above table.  And just for grins, we tried to connect to them again at the time of this writing.  No dice.  Although this isn’t entirely unexpected as SSTP is a relatively new VPN protocol being offered by VPN service providers.  There is also the fact that L2TP is really the backbone of the PureVPN network.  The servers that are up also provide relatively good coverage around the globe with the US, UK, Europe, and Asia available.  Since the primary purpose of SSTP is to get around areas and networks where L2TP and PPTP are blocked, its really important to have servers available in various locations.  If you look at the speed in context, and the servers available by need – then well the PureVPN  SSTP network is doing pretty good.  Not many providers offer this VPN protocol, and those that do, typically charge extra.  So just keep that in mind.  Still, we would have loved to see every server available.

After completing the speed tests on both the L2TP and SSTP servers, our team felt like PureVPN exceeded our expectations.  The servers for both L2TP and SSTP responded quite well during normal web browsing.  The speed results indicate the L2TP network is very healthy, and that SSTP, although not as robust, is still available around the world.  We also had a few occasions to chat with support via the website live chat and found them generally friendly and very responsive.  Considering they provide a 3 day moneyback guarantee, we weren’t surprised.  There’s really no reason why PureVPN wouldn’t stand behind their network, its clearly a solid network and shows good promise for the future.  As a parting note, PureVPN is also available for your DDWRT router, with setup instructions and support available in case you need it.  Routers by Buffalo, Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, and TP Link are supported.  If you’re looking for more customer feedback on PureVPN, we suggest you head on over the full editors review and take a look at what others have to say about PureVPN!

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