Starting at $2.79/mo
NordVPN is arguably one of the most recognized VPN providers in the world. Since its inception, NordVPN has garnered awesome reviews and is widely regarded as the best VPN available, but when it comes to internet privacy we test before we trust.
We put NordVPN through our in-depth review process to find out whether they are truly a top contender and help answer the common questions we get, such as:
- Is NordVPN super fast?
- How secure is NordVPN compared to others?
- How well does NordVPN handle torrenting?
- Can NordVPN help me bypass country restrictions on content?
- What’s the story with their data breach?
In this review we will explain everything you need to know regarding NordVPN, but we’ve put the most important key specs just below:
Key Specs and Important Features
What We Like
What We Don't
Who is NordVPN?
Founded in 2012, NordVPN is owned and operated by the Panama based company Tefincom & Co S.A. (There was a dispute about this in the past, as users were worried that the CloudVPN, INC. company who was named at checkout via PayPal was actually a US based company. They released a statement clearing that up.)
Because NordVPN’s parent company is headquartered in Panama they are beyond the reach of US and EU retention laws.
Panama is not currently part of a treaty with any country which would compel them to share information with another country. Because of this, any online activity that goes through their VPN cannot be traced back to you.
Privacy & Security
Laws, Logging, Encryption
Military Level Encryption
Encryption protects a VPN’s internet traffic from prying eyes. It ensures data is not readable by unauthorized entities. NordVPN uses the unbreakable military-grade encryption to ensure your internet traffic is safe at all times.
NordVPN implements the 256-bit AES encryption with SHA384 authentication. For key exchanges, the VPN service uses 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman key. These encryption settings vary with protocols in use, which include the recommended OpenVPN and the highly recommended IKEv2/IPsec.
If one VPN is good, double VPN is great!
NordVPN’s double vpn, commonly known as server chaining, is the use of two servers instead of one. When enabled, your traffic is tunneled through a first VPN server.
The traffic from the first VPN server is then tunneled through another VPN server. By doing this, you get impeccable security and ultimate privacy. That is, double encryption and IP protection.
Onion over Tor
DNS Leak Protection
DNS is the backbone of the internet. When accessing a website, DNS requests are used. At times DNS requests can be made out of the VPN tunnel, and this exposes your privacy and security. NordVPN has a strong DNS leak protection system that always ensures there are no DNS leaks.
But we don’t just take them at their word. We tested for DNS Leaks and are happy to report that there were none.
At a high level, NordVPN does not store any use any personal identifiable information such as:
- IP Address
- Traffic Logs
- Session Information
- Connection Timestamps
- Bandwidth Usage
To guarantee that NordVPN is a no-log VPN service, NordVPN invited PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, a Big 4 auditing firm, to perform an audit on the no-log policy.
The firm audited relevant aspects of the VPN service regarding the policy and concluded that the policy is fair and accurate.
According to the canary report on the website, NordVPN has not received any National Security letters, any gag orders, or even any warrants from any government organization.
What information do they store?
Because NordVPN has to ensure users don’t exceed the 6 simultaneous connections, the use an algorithm that keeps the username and timestamp of the session while your session is active.
This data is hashed separated across the globe for extra protection. This non-identifiable data is then deleted within 15 minutes of disconnecting from their network
It’s worth noting that NordVPN.com uses 2 trackers
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
It appears NordPVN uses Google Analytics to monitor their website tracking and Google Tag Manager embeds to help better implement their remarketing efforts across the web. We don’t like that it’s Google, however, we don’t feel like this is a threat.
2019 NordVPN Databreach
On October 20th, it came to the limelight that NordVPN was compromised.
These revelations forced NordVPN to issue a statement about the hack. According to the official response, NordVPN acknowledged that one of its servers in the Finland data centers was breached. The hack was due to a vulnerability caused by poor configuration by a third-party in the data center. In the statement, NordVPN insisted that it is only the server that was breached and not the entire VPN service.
NordVPN also acknowledged that some TLS keys were acquired. According to the VPN service, “These keys could not and cannot be used to decrypt any encrypted NordVPN traffic in any form.” In the report, the VPN service also stated that no user traffic was monitored, no user credentials were affected, and the affected server did not contain any user activity logs.
Besides the hack, there were allegations that NordVPN is involved in data mining and has ties with Tesonet – a company associated with data scraping. NordVPN has refuted the claims stating that they are false, completely inaccurate, and unverifiable.
Server Network & Speed
Huge Server Network, Really Fast Speeds.
Security and privacy are the most important factors when using a VPN, but most users won’t want to use it if the differences in speed between their ISP and the VPN provider are too different.
Various factors such as the encryption level, the server location, the server load, and the time of day have an impact on speed so you may encounter slightly different results; however we did our best to test the server at multiple times per day and publish the average speeds.
With NordVPN’s extensive network of over 5500+ servers, chances are you’ll be able to easily connect through a server right in your backyard. Being in close in proximity to the physical datacenter is a big factor in getting optimal speeds.
We conducted speed tests to determine the ping, download, and upload speeds by connecting to NordVPN’s network with AED-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocol.
We used the “quick connect” function inside the app which selects the server closest to our physical location.
While our readers are spread across the globe, we feel that testing from the closest location will show what percentage latency you can expect when you connect from your regional area.
From the speed test results above, one thing is clear about NordVPN; it is a fast VPN service with high download speeds even in furthest servers.
The only noticeable thing is the drop in upload speeds in furthest servers. Although there is a drop from the baseline test, the VPN speeds are sufficient for streaming HD content, torrenting and downloading files quickly.
Streaming & Torrenting
Excellent for streaming services & torrenting
Despite various bans and crackdowns on VPNs by various streaming platforms, NordVPN continues to gain access to the content quickly.
This is possible due to NordVPN’s Smart Play feature. This inbuilt feature seamlessly combines Smart DNS technology with the VPN service. SmartDNS enables you to access content from various platforms while the VPN service provides the required protection.
The best thing, you do not need to configure this feature. Since it is built in, just connect to a VPN server and stream content from the selected region.
The downside, unlike other top-notch VPNs, NordVPN does not indicate which servers are for Netflix or BBC iPlayer. And since some servers will not gain access to streams, you need to use the old hit and miss method.
You can also check NordVPN’s help page for servers that work with streaming.
Torrents & P2P
NordVPN fully supports P2P traffic and torrenting on its servers.
NordVPN servers are optimized to ensure you get unlimited bandwidth when torrenting, no ISP throttling, and the service ensures that your P2P traffic is safe from prying eyes such as copyright agencies.
Since it is a no-log VPN, you also do not have to worry about your torrenting activities. No one will know whether you were torrenting as long as you stay connected to NordVPN’s network, and be sure to close your torrent client prior to disconnecting.
In an effort to combat spam, a lot of websites have implemented integrations with bot checking captcha services which sometimes get triggered when browsing with a VPN IP address.
Some VPN’s IP addresses constantly trigger these captchas which makes for an annoying browsing experience, so we test some sites where they commonly get triggered to see if there are any interruptions.
After browsing consistently for days we’ve never had a site trigger the captcha.
Plans & Pricing
Big Savings for Paying Up Front
All Features Included
NordVPN offers its fully-featured VPN service in four subscription plans.
Similar to most VPNs, NordVPN has both expensive and cheap subscription plans.
Overall, this is one of the most affordable VPN services as most of the plans have a discount. Here is a detailed view of the subscription plans;
- The Monthly Plan goes for $11.95 every month. This is the most expensive plan.
- The 1-year plan costs $6.99 per month. That’s $83.88 billed after every year. This plan saves you 41% off the original price of $143.40.
- Next is the 2-year plan that costs $4.99 per month. That’s $119.76 billed every 2 years. This plan saves you 58% off the original price of $286.80.
- Finally, the best and recommendable plan of all, the 3-Year Plan: costs at $3.49 per month. That’s $125.64 billed every 3 years. This is the money saver subscription, as it saves you 70% off the original price of $430.20.
NordVPN Payment Options
Being a big player in the VPN industry, NordVPN offers a wide array of payment methods. It supports Amazon Pay, Alipay, UnionPay, and major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard, Amex, and Discover.
NordVPN also allows cryptocurrency payments. Supported cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple. Unfortunately, NordVPN does not support PayPal since the move to opt for a self-hosted payment system.
30-Day Money Back Guarantee
NordVPN offers new users 30 days to try the VPN service. If you are not happy with it, you can cancel the subscription and get a full refund. According to their refund policy:
NordVPN offers new users 30 days to try the VPN service. If you are not happy with it, you can cancel the subscription and get a full refund.
It’s important to note that subscriptions purchased via the iTunes/App Store are subject to iTunes/App Store refund policies. This means we cannot grant refunds if you purchased an app through the iTunes/App Store – you will have to contact store support for that.
Payments made using prepaid cards or gift cards will not be refunded. NordVPN cannot refund any purchases made from our resellers (Amazon, BestBuy, StackSocial, etc.). In this case, refunds are handled according to the terms of service of the reseller from which the product was purchased. For payments made in cryptocurrency, the equivalent amount in US Dollars will be refunded in the same cryptocurrency (based on the rate of exchange at the moment of refund).”
Platform & Devices
Key Specs and Important Features
NordVPN didn’t get to be one of the biggest VPN providers without being easily accessible. You can install NordVPN on every major operating system, yes even Linux!
NordVPN also recognized that users needed protection on their entertainment devices and have built apps that are easy to install for the consoles and streaming platforms below:
Consoles & Systems
NordVPN has a proprietary AndroidTV app, which means it will work with all android based streaming devices to encrypt and protect your traffic. You have two options on installing NordVPN on the FireTV stick.
NordVPN offers a proprietary amazon fire tv app and that will fully encrypt your traffic, however it’s important to note that we couldn’t get Netflix to work with this version of the app. If you want to watch Netflix through the android based streaming devices it needs to be installed at the router level.
The same logic applies for the gaming consoles. The setup is not difficult, and the benefit is that you never have to worry about your device being connected securely; if the router is secure everything connected to it is secure.
NordVPN also offers extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
While these are easy to setup and use, they only encrypt the data you’re transmitting through that browser window, so we really don’t see a reason to use these over the desktop version of the apps.
Ease of Use
Simple to Setup Protection on all Platforms
Using NordVPN is about as straightforward as you can get, if you can install an app on your phone then you can protect yourself easily. NordVPN’s guides and tutorials are extensive enough that you should never have to contact customer support to get it up and running.
NordVPN uses the three-step method to get you started. All you need is to choose a subscription plan, create an account using a valid email address and lastly, select a payment method and fill the required information and check your inbox for further instructions. To use the three-step method, navigate to the pricing section of the NordVPN website.
After setting up your account, download and install your preferred VPN client app and log in. NordVPN provides client apps for most computing platforms. They have apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. NordVPN also offers browser extensions and support to various routers.
Desktop Apps (MacOS & Windows)
Mobile Apps (Android & Ios)
The mobile apps sport the same bluish NordVPN theme with similar features in the desktop counterparts.
Once you launch the mobile app, you are presented with the main menu page. The page contains a settings icon, server map, login and sign up buttons, various categories such as favorites and special servers, and lastly countries with their respective servers.
Browser Extensions (Chrome & Firefox)
The NordVPN browser extensions secure your browsing internet traffic, blocks malware and ads, and prevents WebRTC leaks.
These extensions provide limited VPN functionality in that they protect internet traffic from your browser. For system-wide protection, it is recommendable to use desktop VPN apps.
They Seem to Have Your Back.
The Bottom Line
Do We Recommend NordVPN?
NordVPN is a top-notch VPN service with stellar features. It is incorporated in Panama – an ideal place for privacy-oriented companies, and it is a no-log VPN service that has been audited by PwC.
Its vast server network ensures you will gain access to worldwide content quickly. The VPN service offers unlimited bandwidth, faster speeds, military-grade encryptions, and a ton of security and privacy features for bypassing censorships, geo-restriction, and ensure your privacy and security is safe at all times.
This VPN service offers a robust and reliable VPN service suitable for newbies and advanced users. It is also a choice to go for if you want to gain access to streaming platforms such as Netflix US and if you like torrenting.
Despite recent revelations about their hacked server in Finland, NordVPN assures users that nothing of importance was compromised, and security and privacy is their top priority. The VPN service will take all necessary measures to prove it.
NordVPN User Reviews
Real Reviews from Real Customers