Before you take a step to the detailed depths of each and every aspect in my NordVPN review, you need to keep a clear mind that whatever the outcome, everyone is entitled to their own reviews.
It’s almost inevitable that in the digital world we now live in, and with the wave of cyberattacks and unlimited censorship laws that have cropped up, the best VPN is the way around it. Speaking of great VPNs, we’re a step closer to finding out if NordVPN is still a worthy contender in 2020 and hopefully remains consistent throughout the New Year to come. Read on!
NordVPN Review – An abridged review
The abridged review always lets you know exactly what to expect further on, just in case you don’t fancy a detailed reading.
|Servers||5500+ servers in 59 countries|
NordVPN – what we know so far
- Based in Panama away from the 14-eyes alliance.
- It has around 5500+ servers in 59 locations.
- Unblocks geo-restricted websites or platforms like US Netflix and more which we’ll discuss later on.
- It offers a strong backing of security features like military-grade encryption, DNS and IP leak protection and an active Kill Switch.
- Fast or good speeds for streaming or torrenting.
- A supportive 24/7 live chat.
Knowing that NordVPN is led to be one of the top-tiered VPNs in the industry, working steadily to protect all your data passing it through an encrypted tunnel.
This Virtual Private Network has support towards all the major devices and apps that include, Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, Linux, Browser extensions, Android TV and much more.
Moving ahead will slowly unveil that despite the rumors about the server breach, NordVPN is still standing tall in the industry.
NordVPN according to my rating criteria
A VPN has a set duty to its users; to provide the best security, speeds, anonymity and the ability to unblock restricted websites in the process. In my NordVPN review, I’ll be testing out its competence based on the following criteria:
Pricing – Is NordVPN an affordable option?
Yes, it is.
Before looking at anything, I believe that the majority of VPN users need to know exactly how much they’re going to invest in an app.
For example, when you’re out looking for a certain piece of clothing, but at the same time are on a budget, you’re probably going to check the price tag first and then make up your mind on whether you should try on the item.
Similarly, many VPN users usually go straight to the pricing page and scan through which package is best suited for their needs. Coming back to NordVPN, its pricing plan is quite to the point and perfectly sorted out.
Its monthly plan, however, might be a little overpriced, but again, why would you go for a limited-time package? Take a look at the NordVPN pricing sheet below:
- The 1-month plan is $11.95/mo. (Saving 0%)
- The 1-year plan is $6.99/mo. (Saving 41%)
- The 2-year plan is $4.99/mo. (Saving 58%)
- The 3-year plan is $3.49/mo. (Saving 70% and is the most reasonable)
Another thing great about NordVPN besides having reasonable prices, is that it also has a free trial for anyone still unwilling to invest into the VPN.
Dedicated IP cost
Besides the above-mentioned prices, NordVPN also provides static ip vpn service for anyone who’d like a personal IP address. However, additional charges do apply. It costs around $70/year, in addition to whichever package you decide to go with.
This includes a limited platform of servers to choose from in locations:
- United States – (Los Angeles, Dallas, Matawan, Buffalo)
- United Kingdom – (London)
- Netherlands – (Amsterdam)
- Germany – (Frankfurt)
- France – (Paris)
The 7-day free trial
NordVPN used to have a completely free trial period, but put that to a stop due to it being misused. However, it does offer a 7-day free trial period for Android and iOS devices. You can find it on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
However, I did contact the chat support asking to reconfirm this, as most websites including their own mentioned that they stopped giving a completely free trial. To this, they replied:
Meaning it does allow you to test the VPN out, but if you don’t unsubscribe to the free trial within the 7-day time frame, you’ll automatically be subscribed to the 1-year paid package. So, make sure you’re fully aware of the amount of time you take during your testing.
The NordVPN refund policy
Besides the 7-day free trial from the app stores, NordVPN also offers a 30-day refund policy. That’s like an extension for everyone to gain access to the NordVPN premium features. But again, this 30-day refund policy only applies towards those who purchase the app from the website itself and not the app or play stores.
Also, please note that for any payments made using gift cards or prepaid cards, a refund will not be applicable.
Always go through the terms and conditions thoroughly before paying for anything, to avoid confusion later on.
The great thing about NordVPN is that it allows unlimited means of payment methods. These include:
- Credit cards
- Amazon Pay
- WeChat Payments
- Crypto Currencies
- Bitcoin (For maximum anonymity)
- Payments through (iTunes and Google Play)
- Cash (If living within the US) at shops Fry’s Electronics and Micro Center
It doesn’t take a lot to get started. Getting your NordVPN subscription takes only 3 steps:
- Create your account by providing an email ID
- Select one of the payment methods mentioned
And that’s about it!
Location – Is NordVPN’s jurisdiction safe?
When buying into a VPN, sometimes you might be overly flustered with the pricing plans or maybe the vastness of the featured security measures that you might fail to even look into where the VPN originates from. That’s why you should always go through VPN reviews, or in this case a NordVPN review.
NordVPN has been in the VPN game since 2012, and it’s safe to say that it hails from a privacy-friendly region called Panama. This is completely away from the 14-eyes alliance, so you don’t have to worry about anyone selling or stealing your data.
Since it’s already established that NordVPN is from a region that’s safe and out of major retention laws, let’s talk about what it has to offer in terms of server coverage. When looking at a VPN, never look for one that has the biggest list of random servers, but rather one that covers up a wide portion of countries spread across the globe.
For example: since VPNs don’t usually have any servers in China, they should always incorporate servers in neighboring countries like Japan, Russia, Vietnam, North Korea, etc.
NordVPN does indeed have a huge coverage of servers, namely, 5500+ servers in 59 countries. To get the best results according to your location, it’s always good to tweak around, switching the servers to get the best results.
Here’s a glimpse at only a portion of NordVPN’s server locations:
Does NordVPN work in China?
Yes, it does!
As a counterpart to its safe jurisdiction and also the variety of servers it possesses, if it works in China, it’ll work anywhere in the world. Thanks to NordVPN’s obfuscated servers feature and need to provide double encryption, you can now take NordVPN anywhere in the world with you, including China. However, connecting to one of these servers may slow down your speed.
Security – Discussing its encryption protocols and other features
Besides having a wide coverage of server locations, NordVPN is also known in the industry for having a strong security backing. A VPN, in general, should be able to provide the best security measures, keeping every user’s device and data safe.
Here’s a complete insight into what makes NordVPN the safest option in terms of security:
When choosing any VPN, I tend to normally go for one that has a strong encryption base. A great VPN always runs on military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and that’s what NordVPN possesses. It helps encrypt your data, even while surfing or streaming on the most restricted websites. It’s basically impenetrable!
Just like encryption, a VPN should definitely incorporate the best listing of protocols; mainly OpenVPN. It’s known to be the best, with IKEv2/IPSec falling second in line.
NordVPN uses the OpenVPN protocol and IKEv2/IPSec. It also introduced a newer and speedier protocol called Wireguard and according to the chat support; mentioned that for the moment is only available on iOS and Linux. So, to whoever was still under the impression that this newest addition to the protocol family, was still under testing, you can now find them on two platforms!
Thirdly, a functional Kill Switch is definitely something to look into when choosing a VPN. NordVPN has an inbuilt Kill Switch that you can control manually, depending on whether you need it or not. It protects your, activities, identity, data, and physical location from ever leaking out or being exposed if ever the VPN connection fails or gets disconnected.
Constant visits by annoying ads can be extremely distracting. With NordVPN’s CyberSec technologies, you can kiss all those annoying ads and malicious websites goodbye. You don’t have to worry about any viruses infiltrating your device or system.
With the Double VPN feature, you can now route all your traffic through not one but two highly encrypted servers. This will provide each device with double the security.
DNS leak protection
NordVPN made sure that its app came with DNS leak protection, making sure all your online digital footprints are completely secured and contained.
Onion Over VPN
NordVPN facilitates the ability to route your traffic through their VPN and then to the Onion Router (TOR network etc.) for extra protection.
This is a technology that lets you access over 400 geographically restricted services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, Hulu and more. This is an app-based feature which is definitely a bonus especially with more and more VPN servers becoming unable to access Netflix.
Invisibility – Will NordVPN leak my DNS, IP and WebRTC?
No! It won’t!
There’s no point in investing in a VPN that has good speeds but fails to prevent your DNS and IP from leaking out. What good will streaming on Netflix do from a geo-restricted location, if your true identity and physical IP is leaked out?
Luckily, NordVPN still stands tall in not only the best security features but also in making sure that you are completely leak-free!
Of course, I wouldn’t just assume that out of thin air, but instead conducted a few tests of my own.
For my IP leak test, I went to ipleak.org and connected to a US server. The results I got were:
For my DNS leak test, I went to dnsleak.com and connected to a US server. The results I got were:
For my WebRTC leak test, I went to browserleaks.com and connected to a US server. The results I got were:
They’re all completely leak-free!
Streaming – Can I access Netflix with NordVPN?
Yes, you can!
One of the most difficult things to gain access to is restricted streaming platforms like Netflix. Since it is on the hunt to lock down IP addresses that VPNs provide, it makes it all the more difficult. Very few to little VPN providers work with unblocking Netflix, which is why I was completely thrilled when it actually worked!
However, not all the servers work with Netflix, and that’s normal. Overall during testing, I was completely decided with a conclusion that maybe only 1 in 5 servers would work. But, when I tested it out using different servers, at least 4 out of 5 did work.
I tested it out using the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands servers, and they all worked quite well with the service. However, when I tried connecting to its Canadian server and attempted to sign in on Netflix, this is what popped up:
This is completely alright because again not many VPNs work with Netflix, to begin with and let alone an entire list of servers. Besides unblocking the US Netflix, UK Netflix and more libraries, it also works pretty well to unblock other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and a lot more.
What about torrenting or P2P?
Apart from streaming, NordVPN works pretty great for torrenting as well. If you take a look at the app, it already has strong P2P support with optimized servers. For those who haven’t seen the app, here’s what it looks like:
As you know, torrenting is absolutely illegal in most parts of the world, and by most parts, I mean in most major countries of the world. It is a risk to try and access it by downloading copyrighted content, but that’s why the use of VPNs has increased over the years. Using a VPN is the safest way around it.
NordVPN comes packed with powerful encryption and other security measures, making it absolutely one of the safest choices for torrenting or P2P file sharing. Apart from this, NordVPN also provides its SOCKS5 proxy which works amazing when set up with any of your torrent platforms. This heightens the overall speed.
Yes, it may falter having limited encryption, but it still provides reasonably good security measures like DNS leak protection, Double VPN, and Onion Over VPN features, which is all you’ll need for safe torrenting.
Speed – How fast can NordVPN go?
I believe it is a complete myth when people seem to think that a VPN that mainly built for security and providing access to restricted websites that are sometimes geo-blocked are capable enough to provide the most unbelievable speeds.
That’s not how it works. A VPN is designed to go according to or support ultra-high speeds that are in line with your local connection speed. Using a highly encrypted VPN sometimes weighs in heavy on the local speeds after being connected with the VPN.
The thing is, without a VPN, your ISP can throttle with your local connection speeds during streaming or throttle with your bandwidth.
When I tested out NordVPN, I was pleased with the results, mainly because there wasn’t much of a decline in the speeds after the VPN connection in comparison to the local connection. The results for my NordVPN review for speed are as follows:
All speeds were tested out on speed test.net., the results before connecting to the VPN were:
First, I wanted to check what the speed result would come out with, using the Quick Connect button, which is my leak favorite. Here are the results:
And even though the speeds aren’t all that bad, it’s still nice to be able to choose your own server locations for better speed results.
The speed test results after connecting to the VPN on US server:
The speed test results after connecting to the VPN on UK server:
The speed test results after connecting to the VPN on the AUS server:
The speed test using Double VPN servers (UK-Netherlands):
The speeds always differ according to different server connections. You should know that from the many VPNs I’ve tested out or even connected to, NordVPN has pulled out the best speeds, which combine as its overall performance in being able to provide unlimited and unthrottled bandwidth.
Compatibility – a VPN for all your devices
Not everyone uses or two devices, and the option of needing a VPN to support multiple devices should always be considered first. As for NordVPN, it has support towards numerous and all the major device platforms and apps for:
- Android TV
- Browser extensions (Chrome and Firefox)
NordVPN on Windows and macOS
NordVPN is one of the best apps for Windows and macOS clients, with quite a smooth interface to operate. This is perfect for anyone, even if they’re new to using VPNs. You can easily download it from the website itself, which hardly takes a few minutes. Once downloaded and installed, you’ll be asked to log in with the credentials used to subscribe to the VPN service.
The apps interface was a little confusing for the first 5 minutes, but after looking around and fiddling with it, it gets easier. Most of you might see a map and get a little flustered. But trust me, it’s a piece of cake! It allows you to zoom in and out on the map, with little pins marking exactly which server is where. The only drawback is that there aren’t any names on the pins. But that’s alright because it also includes a list of all its server locations on the left side of the screen.
Additional to this, the Windows client also offers a list of personalized settings for choosing dedicated IP, Double VPN servers, and Onion Over VPN and P2P optimized servers. If ever the need to activate arises, just click on it and you’ll be provided with the most suitable server for your task.
For the macOS client, you have an active Kill Switch, CyberSec feature, obfuscated servers, a selection of UDP/TCP protocols and Custom DNS.
You can set up the VPN on your Windows, with 3 simple steps:
You can set up the VPN on your macOS with the following steps:
NordVPN on Android
Just like the Windows apps, the Android version couldn’t be simpler to start with. You can find the app on the Google Play Store or download its APK file from the website itself. The Android app is one of the most widely downloaded version incorporating the best ratings by many satisfied customers, which we’re largely thankful to because of the amazing security features it provides.
Once you download and install the app, a map opens up, allowing you to zoom in and out of the locations, unveiling the various server pins. Just like the Windows client, this might take a long time to navigate through which server you want to connect to. Luckily for you, the Android app also displays an alphabetical list of server locations that you can span through; connecting to the most suitable one for the job.
The android version also includes additional security features like the CyberSec feature blocking ads and malware. It also includes its obfuscated servers, TCP/UDP protocols that you can switch to and from, P2P optimized servers, Double VPN, and Onion Over VPN servers.
Setting up with the Android app is extremely simple, just follow through with these steps:
NordVPN on iOS
The iOS app can be found on the Apple App Store. Once you download and install the app, you’ll see a slight difference on the map as compared to the Android and Windows clients. On the map the location pins usually overlap each other, the iOS map however, has a wider spacing for the location pins. All the markings on the iOS map are far apart and a lot more distinguishable.
Below the screen, you’ll find a quick-connect button, connecting you to the best server location, depending on where you’re physically located. But of course, if this gets a little difficult to navigate, just scroll upwards, unveiling the entire list of server locations for you to click on.
Where additional app features are concerned, there’s a lacking as compared to the other device apps, missing out its obfuscated servers and no TCP/UDP control. However, the app does run on NordLynx, which is a protocol powered by WireGuard technologies. There were, however, some issues regarding privacy.
So to work around this, NordVPN developed a NAT system (Network Address Translation) to boost up user privacy safely. There’s also a tutorial on how to set up NordLynx on iOS.
This iOS client only has P2P optimized servers and Onion Over VPN servers. There’s no dedicated IP nor Double VPN panels for you to choose from.
Included in its list of additional features is the CyberSec feature, a Kill Switch, and the Auto-connect bar. You can even connect to Siri through the VPN. There exists a great scarcity of effective VPNs for iOS devices namely iPhones, and NordVPN seems to be one of the best, also my public choice.
To set up with NordVPN on iOS, just follow these simple steps:
NordVPN on Browser Extensions
For all those that are looking for a simple and quick fix to safe surfing or the unblocking of a particular website on your device, NordVPN allows extensions for both Chrome and Firefox. All you have to do is download the extension from the Chrome web store or the Firefox Add-ons page.
The only difference between the extensions and the other device apps is the fact that it doesn’t have any map for you to choose from. Once you enter in your login details, you’ll find a button that says Auto-Connect, which connects you to the fastest server according to your location, or a Choose Location button, letting you select a particular server.
A part of the extensions are security options like the CyberSec feature and an option where you can block WebRTC from leaking.
Setting up NordVPN on Chrome:
Setting up NordVPN on Firefox:
Tutorials and multi-device allowance
Besides this, it also has a whole lot of tutorials for you on its website. It shows you how you can manually set up with the various platform versions with great ease. These tutorials are also provided for Routers that support OpenVPN.
Did you know that NordVPN also allows you to connect up to 6 devices per subscription? Now you and the whole family can enjoy Netflix privileges on all your devices with maximum security.
Reliability – How much can you trust NordVPN?
Even after going through all the innumerable details regarding NordVPN’s speed, security measures, ability to bypass geo-restricted platforms and even its functionality in China, the reliability of a VPN is also determined on its privacy policies. Your data and all the activities you carry out are at risk without a VPN. So, why add to the plate and go for a VPN that isn’t trustworthy?
Let’s take a look at the underlying facts:
Its no-logging policy
As little as an email ID and the last sessions timestamp is collected, which is included in the same policies as other VPN providers.
A safe jurisdiction
The whereabouts of a VPN also matters largely. Since NordVPN originates from a privacy-friendly region, it all the more adds to its safety. This is especially handy for using the VPN in countries like China, Canada, the US, Russia, etc, where surveillance laws run high. Amplified security features for online privacy is necessary!
In addition to its policies, NordVPN also added another surety to its list of policies, reassuring the user’s maximum security. It went something like:
Customer support chat
Another factor to look into is a competent support chat. Trust me, this is extremely important to look into. Imagine having a ton of questions, and expecting answers from the website. When there is none of the web page, you’ll automatically run to the support chat. It’s extremely frustrating when a support chat lacks the basic requirements of knowledge or even attitude towards its clients.
However, as for NordVPN, I found absolutely no flaws with their support staff. I had a bunch of questions while writing this NordVPN review, which was answered with great patience. You can also contact them through email.
What a Reddit user had to say
I usually like going through other reviews other than creating my own. This is necessary as a VPN works differently for everyone. Anywho, here’s what a Reddit user had to say about the VPN, which seemed to have numerous upvotes:
What CNET had to say
As I said, it’s always important to look at other leading reviews, and one source that I also rely on is CNET, one of America’s leading platforms for reviews. Here’s what they had to say about NordVPN:
Ratings according to Trustpilot reviews
The NordVPN Breach
A born rumor to a full spun fact, that Finland one of the NordVPN servers were hacked. However, this doesn’t sum up the entire trustworthiness of the great VPN. NordVPN continued to strive forward even after the slip. You can read the full story and response in the blog section.
To conclude – Do I recommend NordVPN?
Yes, I do!
Compared to many other great VPN providers with the best security features, NordVPN does indeed stand out in a matter of overall performance. In this NordVPN review, we went through the great speed outcomes it provided, strong backing of security measures, its safe jurisdiction, offered a wide coverage of servers, optimized for P2P and unrestricted streaming.
NordVPN strongly fights the world’s prevailing issues – online privacy and security. The inbuilt Kill Switch along with a combination of other advanced features like its SmartPlay technology that allows access to geo-restricted streaming sites, which so many other VPNs fail to provide.
Apart from my views about the great app, NordVPN managed to snag around 4.6/5 ratings on the App Store and around 4.5/5 star rating on the Google Play Store. That in itself speaks volumes! This is what makes NordVPN one of the best VPN services, which is why I highly recommend it!