As someone who takes his online privacy seriously, I am always on the lookout for the best VPN service.
My criteria for a top VPN is a service that provides efficient speed, reliable servers and flexible plans.
Hence, in this NordVPN review, I will judge this service based on these particular aspects.
Overview of NordVPN
Reading up on this VPN’s background was a pleasantly surprising experience. Apparently, the providers are on a mission to safeguard the masses from cyber snoopers.
According to my knowledge, a group of engineers founded NordVPN in 2012. These engineers witnessed pervasive mass surveillance and repressive internet censorship themselves and decided to do something about it.
Since its inception, this VPN has grown in tandems. It now offers the biggest server library in the entire VPN industry. In addition to that, Nord has made a name for itself by bypassing Netflix’s powerful VPN detectors.
All this and more will be discussed as you continue to read on this NordVPN review.
What makes NordVPN Different?
Searching for a suitable VPN is a bit of a hassle. There are thousands of service providers on the web and each claims to be the greatest.
Most VPN succeed in providing some level of online security. However, there are VPNs that offer something extra. As you will further understand in this NordVPN review, this VPN differentiates itself through its superior service.
Below, I have explained the features that I believe make this VPN stand out.
OpenVPN: Balancing Speed with Security
Although you can connect this VPN through variety of protocols, I personally favor OpenVPN. The reason for this is simple.
OpenVPN provides a perfect blend of speed and security. It is an open source technology and has a proven history of being an efficient tool against hackers.
Moreover, this tunneling protocol has the ability to enable Perfect Forward Secrecy. A feature that adds an extra layer of security on your server.
The OpenVPN protocol in Nord comes with AES 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit DH key.
In addition to this, the providers have also added IKEv2/IPSec, which is inbuilt into the Windows client of the service. On Mac and iOS, they are the only option and are accompanied by 3072bit DH Key and AES-256 GCM.
In case you are willing to sacrifice security for speed, you can go for PPTP. L2TP is another choice for the netizens and TLS secures the browser extension of the VPN.
To sum up, Nord has equipped itself with powerful protocols to safeguard users from online threats.
Multihop Protection: A VPN on a VPN
The multihop is a neat feature. It has the ability to establish a chain of VPNs, making you hard to track.
With multihop enabled, the second VPN server has no idea about your original ID. It also provides double encryption protecting you from the most advanced hacking tools.
Of course, all this comes at a price. It is practically impossible to stream or download content with multihop on.
Every VPN claims that your online privacy is their number one priority. But few can actually deliver on this promise.
Many times, it is the external factors stopping a VPN from ensuring that your personal information remains personal.
This happens in countries where VPNs are required by law to store the confidential information of their customers.
Other times, a VPN is located in a country with no mandatory logging law. However, it is still a risky choice.
Unfortunately, there are vigilant agencies in the world, which enjoy authority in multiple countries. They can pressurize any VPNs into giving up your data.
And I am not drawing imaginary scenarios. Take the 14-eyes for example; it is an alliance of fourteen countries that regularly spy on their citizens.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about jurisdictions with this service, as it is located in Panama. A country with privacy friendly laws, where no vigilant agency enjoys unrestricted access.
Zero Logging Policy
The providers do add a caveat that they keep your Email address, Payment data and server performance data.
However, you can even avoid giving away this information by opting for a bitcoin payment.
In any case, the data retained by the providers is insufficient to track you down or your online activity.
P2P and Torrenting Support: Unhindered Downloading
Many VPNs shy away from supporting P2P, especially torrenting support. After all, who wants to get involved in those intricate copyright issues?
Thankfully, this is not one of those VPNs. You will be glad to learn in this NordVPN review that this service provides dedicated servers for torrenting.
These servers offer fast and secure downloading. You can find them in the specialty section of the app.
Netflix and BBC iPlayer Support: Superior Streaming Experience
In recent years, Netflix has been on a crusade against VPN services. Although the site does not explicitly mention VPNs in its ToS, it is hell-bent on blocking tools that unblock geo-restricted content.
Some of you might be reading this NordVPN review to find out if this service offers dedicated streaming server. But the bad news is that this VPN has no such option.
Despite that, my test reveals something pleasantly surprising; this VPN unblocks Netflix’s US library.
Now this is no small feat as Netflix has implemented some powerful VPN detectors.
Another site with potent VPN detection system is BBC iPlayer. This streaming service is only accessible in the United Kingdom. Hence, people outside the region need a VPN to access it.
In my tests, NordVPN was easily able to unlock the British streaming service. All this proves that the providers are true to their promise of unblocking geo-restricted content.
No DNS or IP Leaks: The Results are in
Call me paranoid but I am not easily satisfied about my online security. In fact, DNS and IP leak tests are a regular part of my procedure whilst evaluating a VPN.
Therefore, I tested out this VPN on ipleak.net, dnsleaktest.net and ipleak.com in this NordVPN review.
The DNS address was the same as the IP address, in all of my tests. That’s why, I can conclude that DNS and IP leaks are not an issue with this VPN.
NordVPN Kodi: Unlocking the Hidden Treasures
Kodi is a software that has a treasure trove of video content. It allows you to watch plethora of video content through a myriad of add-ons.
The only catch is that many of these add-ons are geo-restricted. This means that add-ons that are available in the United States cannot be accessed by anyone outside the country.
To get past Kodi’s restrictions, you require an efficient VPN service. I tested NordVPN on Kodi myself while writing this review and determined that it works efficiently with the platform.
Areas of Improvement
I rarely demand perfection from a VPN service. But since NordVPN has set superior standards for itself, I would like it to take things to the next level.
Following are some aspects of this VPN that I found during NordVPN review which need for further improvement.
Little Information about the Owners
The company behind this VPN is Sociedad Anónima, meaning it is an anonymous organization.
While most providers are secretive about their operation, some VPNs do take their information public. VyprVPN and ProtonVPN are two prominent examples of public VPN services.
Personally, I commend these services as they have included transparency into their service.
The relationship between a VPN user and the provider requires a certain level of trust. And in my opinion, blind trust is never a good thing.
Hence, this an area in which I believe this VPN can introspect.
Slow Refund Procedure
While conducting NordVPN review, I browsed through several social media forums. One constant complaint I saw was that it takes a month for the VPN to provide a refund.
Meanwhile, other VPN services are able to give the refund within few days.
Regardless, this isn’t something that would make me turn away from this brilliant VPN. But I would suggest the providers to improve upon this aspect of their service.
Pricing and Plans
It is clear that this VPN provides great value for your money. But the question remains; how much does this service actually costs?
Well, the answer is extremely straightforward, as this VPN has not designed any complicated pricing plans.
As always, you will find cheaper options on the internet. But rest assured, none of them provide as much security and efficiency as this VPN.
Another good thing is that these plans come with all the features provided by the service.
But as you may have guessed, this structure pulls you in for the long-haul. It does that by providing you ridiculous discounts for the annual, semi-annual and biannual plans.
The semi-annual plan provides 24% discount and the yearly plan saves you 41% of the cost. Meanwhile, you get a whopping 66% discount on the biannual plan.
Overall, NordVPN review shows that these pricing plans leave little to be desired.
Business Plans: Online Privacy for Your Organization
With its conventional pricing plans, this VPN also provides a special package for small and medium businesses.
To avail this service, you need to inform the providers regarding the number of accounts you require. After doing this, you will receive a quote within 2 days.
Even though I have not used this service myself, I am glad the providers are offering privacy solutions to businesses.
Payment Methods: Anonymous Options Available
Some of the prominent payment options offered by this VPN are following:
- Credit Card (via Paypal)
- PayPal (See the best VPN services for Paypal here)
- Sofort Banking
- Cash (For US residents)
As you can see, the providers accept multiple cryptocurrencies. This is great news for customers who wish to stay anonymous during the transaction.
Refund Policy: A Month to Evaluate the Service
I mentioned before in this NordVPN review that it takes a month for the providers to give you a refund.
Coincidently, the providers also let you request a refund within the first month of use. This gives you ample time to test out the service and see if it’s as good as advertised.
In comparison to this, many VPN services have refund windows that only extend to a week at most.
Reliable and Professional Customer Support
Operating a VPN can be a tough ask for the causal users.
Although the client of this VPN is easy to operate (more on that later), some problems do arise time to time. In this scenario, the users require quick and professional support.
While researching for this NordVPN review, I came across four sections on the customer support side of the provider’s website. It includes Getting Started, Billing, Connectivity and General Info. In addition, a search bar graces the ‘Help’ category.
The articles, guides and FAQs on the support section are short but extremely helpful. However, one thing I noted was they were not organized efficiently.
For instance, the first question in the Getting Started section is about setting up the VPN on Smart TV.
I would like the providers to take the conventional approach and start with the simpler things. For instance, they could start with a simple tutorial on how to run the VPN on Windows.
Anyways, customers can also opt for direct support through the 24/7 Live Chat or Email ticketing system.
Impressively, the support staff of the VPN is proficient and has firsthand knowledge of the brand.
Moreover, the Live Chat is actually 24/7. I tested in different times of day and it was available on every instance.
Server Locations: Extensive Coverage
Suffice to say, the server list of this VPN gives it the bragging rights. With 5000+ servers spread out across 62 countries, Nord has the biggest server library in the entire VPN industry.
The extensive server network of this VPN extends to Asia Pacific, Europe, Americas, Africa and the Middle East.
Below are some of the most sought-after server locations of NordVPN.
The VPN provides 1970+ servers from the United States. These servers come with Double VPN, Obfuscation and P2P compatibility.
With the USA servers of NordVPN, you can unblock the US library of Netflix. This provides you access to content that is otherwise blocked outside of the USA.
For users seeking to access British content, this VPN provides 540+ servers from the Great Britain. Interestingly, the NordVPN UK servers are P2P compatible, which means they are fit for torrenting activities.
Furthermore, Nord VPN UK servers have Multihop and obfuscation capabilities.
Ever since the Australian government introduced the mandatory data retention law in 2018, the demand for VPN has increased in the Down Under.
NordVPN provides 225+ servers from Australia to ensure that the users in the country enjoy digital privacy.
Does this VPN use Actual or Virtual Server?
Many VPN providers use virtual server locations. These servers spoof a location while being present elsewhere. For instance, a virtual server can actually be in Moldova but it can spoof a location in Ukraine.
To detect virtual servers in the humongous server list of this VPN, I ran some of its servers on Ping.pe.
Thankfully, I was not able to detect a single virtual server in all of my tests.
Selecting Your Servers
Picking out your preferred servers on this VPN is a gratifying experience, especially on Windows and Mac.
The servers are scattered throughout the map and can be selected by clicking their respective markers.
With this, you can also choose the servers from the list in the countries section.
Speed and Performance
Previously, many users had complaints about the speed of this VPN. According to them, this service was not good enough for streaming and downloading content.
But it seems that the providers have taken that criticism to heart. Recently, there has been a buzz about how fast this VPN has actually become.
To see if the hype was genuine, I took the VPN for a spin to include a genuine and unbiased speed test in this NordVPN review.
Before connecting to the VPN, I ran Speedtest.net and recorded the following variables:
After this, I connected to the much-desired VPN server and the results were following:
Naturally, I tested the UK servers next and the figures were once again impressive.
From there, I hopped to Down Under and got the following variables for the Australian server.
At last, I tried out the Canadian servers and received the following speed.
As you can see, the NordVPN download speed is sufficient for browsing, streaming, gaming and other online activities. In fact, this VPN is one of the fastest, if not the fastest VPN around.
NordVPN Dedicated IP Address
To further strengthen your privacy on the web, Nord also offers dedicated IP VPN to its users. Normally, a VPN lets you share IP address with other users.
And although these IPs are secure, they are often slow and unreliable. In contrast, dedicated IPs are faster and more efficient.
Following are the regions in which this VPN offers dedicated IPs:
United States: Dallas, Buffalo, Matawan, Los Angeles
United Kingdom: Amsterdam
However, good things are seldom free. You are required to pay $70 for any dedicated you wish to purchase.
Can NordVPN thwart the Great Firewall of China?
As we all know, China has imposed some outrageous internet restrictions on its citizens. It has blocked everything from social media platforms like Facebook to search engines such as Google.
And if that is not enough, Chinese government has made several VPN services obsolete by employing advanced censorship techniques.
Fortunately, this VPN is not one of these services. Through its Obfuscation server, this VPN is even able to circumvent the censorship tools devised by the Chinese government.
Furthermore, the customer support service is available 24/7 for anyone in China who needs assistance in using the VPN.
Security and Privacy Concerns
As I stated before, this VPN is based in Panama where digital privacy is a non-issue. To the relief of most internet users, the country isn’t under direct influence of NSA or GCHQ.
That is why the service can assure users that it does not keep any logs. Other than that, the VPN is a trusted brand name on its own.
From social media influencers to investigative journalists, many known figures have endorsed this VPN.
With popular individual vouching for this VPN, it has managed to gain extra credibility.
That’s why, one really shouldn’t be concerned about their privacy with this VPN connected.
Privacy Tools Offered by Nord VPN
The phrase ‘leaving no stone unturned is an apt way of describing this VPN’s attributes. This is because providers have gone out of their way to fulfill the privacy needs of the users.
Web proxies are quick and easy solution to access geo-restricted content. This tool allows you to change your IP and bypass regional restrictions.
Note that web proxies are not a replacement for a VPN, as they do not encrypt your data traffic. But they do provide little privacy with greater online freedom.
YouTube needs no introduction. It has long established itself as the premium resource of high quality video content.
Unfortunately, in many regions, YouTube is restricted in one way or another. Some countries block individual videos on the site while others have banned the site altogether.
Nord VPN allows you to circumvent these restrictions with its YouTube proxy.
Users can also plug in a VPN router and secure their connection with little effort. Moreover, this router automatically encrypts every device that is connected with it.
Overall, these handy devices work as a shield against hackers and other online threats.
Nord VPN Additional Features
Over the years, VPN services have evolved into much more than simple online privacy providers.
As this NordVPN review tells you, the providers of this service have embraced this revolution.
They have done this by including some extremely handy additional features into the overall package. These features are listed below:
- DNS Leak Protection
- Onion Over VPN
- Kill Switch
- Simultaneous Connections
- Tor Over VPN
- Free Security Tools
The latest and perhaps the most significant added feature of this VPN is CyberSec. It is a tool that protects your devices from dangerous websites, DDoS attacks and unwanted ads.
Cybersec keeps you secure by scanning web addresses against general website blacklists. It blocks website that host malware, spyware, tracker and phishing traps.
Moreover, this feature keeps you away from botnet control. It does that by cutting any communication your device might have with the command and control server of the botnet. With all this, this technology also blocks pop-ups and other advertising material.
Overall, Cybersec is the cherry on top of NordVPN’s overall service. It does fail in some instances but considering it’s a new feature, I will give it time to become more efficient.
DNS Leak Protection
NordVPN DNS leak protection takes online security to another level. A DNS leak is an issue that occurs by sending DNS queries through insecure networks. Therefore, after availing DNS leak protection, you are able to protect your DNS queries.
Onion Over VPN
If you want to access dark web (TOR network) securely, you should avail Onion over VPN feature. Thus, you can route your traffic with VPN before sending it to the Onion router.
Through the NordVPN Smart Play benefit, you can unblock and watch your preferred media content from anywhere hassle-free. As a result, you can access to 400+ media streaming services like Netflix, Pandora, BBC, iPlayer and others.
The providers promise to protect your online data. To fulfill this promise, they have introduced a NordVPN Kill Switch feature.
Kill Switch automatically blocks your device from accessing networks and websites in case your VPN connection drops.
With the Kill Switch enabled, no ISP or government will ever get a chance to snoop on your online activity.
By letting you use one account simultaneously on up to six devices, this VPN takes digital privacy to a completely new level.
This implies that you get six accounts for the price of one. Through this feature, you and your mate can use one account at the same time.
Tor Over VPN
Additionally, the brand provides Tor over VPN services for users looking to experiment with less popular online security options like the Tor network.
Personally, I do not recommend Tor on its own as it is an outdated and obsolete software. However, a combination of Tor and with a VPN is a sneaky way of avoiding cyber surveillance.
Free Security Tools
All Free Security tools are completely free and require no registration for use. It offers the following free security products:
Secret Notes – A self-deleting encrypted message sending service
Encrypted Chat – A self-deleting encrypted chat session for up to 5 people
Proxy Extension – A special extension for Google Chrome
Ease of Use
The VPN has well designed interface that is easy on the eyes. Furthermore, the software itself is intuitive and navigable.
As soon as you sign in, it provides an option to connect with the service.
The countries section allows you to connect with all the server locations provided by Nord. You can set your favorite servers in this section or connect to dedicated IPs, Double VPN, Onion over VPN and P2P compatible servers.
Lastly, the settings section lets you toggle features such as CyberSec, Auto Connect, Kill Switch and others.
Judging from my experience, the client is well equipped with tools to safeguard your connection from threatening entities.
It can be used easily even by the causal users. More than that, it provides sufficient options to cater to different preferences of the users.
Users will be glad to know that this VPN is supported on almost all popular platforms.
After performing the sign in process, you can use the brand on your preferred devices securely.
This VPN service offers exclusive apps for Android and iOS devices, these apps are available on Google Play Store and iTunes respectively. This means you can access the VPN on your smartphone device in a matter of minutes.
With all this, you can also make your connection secure by setting it up this VPN on your router.
NordVPN for Windows
The custom client of the VPN for Windows is available for free download on the web. It hardly takes few minutes to install and provides Cybersec and dedicated servers.
It also has a kill switch feature to prevent your location from being exposed. Overall, it is an extremely capable software.
NordVPN for Mac
Likewise, you can easily download and install the respective service’s app on your Mac devices.
I used this service myself on Mac for this NordVPN review and faced no issues whatsoever.
You can get started with this VPN simply by signing up for an account and then you should download the desired app.
After downloading the app, you just need to setup the VPN on your Mac device. Now, connect to any server of your choice and start experiencing online freedom straightaway.
NordVPN for Linux
NordVPN recently released is dedicated client for Linux. You download the application from its official website and give it a try.
If is one of the few VPN providers in the market that is offering a VPN client for Linux operating system. However, if you like old school and don’t want to use the app, then you can set up the service through OpenVPN and PPTP manually.
This way you can use NordVPN Ubuntu services and use the VPN on Linux Mint and Debian.
NordVPN Not Working on Linux
When I was reviewing the app, I came across some users complaining about various issues faced in the new Linux client. One user on linuxquestions.org posted a comment highlighting problems of no connectivity and IP leaks.
When my senior editor reached out to their customer support inquiring about problem, their support staff notified that the new client version has various bugs and users will face certain problems.
The support agent guided a way out of this problem by selecting the protocol to SSL. However, there is no guarantee that this will solve the problem. My recommendation would be to configure NordVPN manually on Linux until the bugs from the app have been fixed.
NordVPN for Android
NordVPN review shows that the service is compatible with all the major platforms including Android. The installation process of this VPN on Android devices is straightforward.
You need to follow basic steps to complete the whole process hassle-free. Here is the list of steps that includes:
- Create your account first
- After creating your account, download and install the app on your Android device
- Open the app and mention all the required details
- Now, connect to any server and start enjoying online anonymity immediately
NordVPN for iPhone
The apple lovers can gain optimum online privacy and ultimate digital freedom with the custom app of this VPN.
From what I understand, the app is available on iTunes and is somewhat similar to the Android App.
NordVPN on Router
Once the service is connected to your router, it will benefit VPN users with a safe Wi-Fi where it will encrypt the internet traffic on the network automatically. It will get all of your devices secured if you happen to have a large household or a small company.
One thing is for sure, the providers have everything covered when it comes to device compatibility.
In addition to using the VPN on different operating systems, you can also add their extensions in your browser.
The VPN provides extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
To satisfy the privacy needs of Chrome users, the VPN has crafted a dedicated add-on. If you avail the said feature, you can protect your crucial data that is passed through your browser.
The Chrome extension allows you to connect with servers from 62 countries. It has an in-built WebRTC leak protection and CyberSec features. There is nothing more to this add-on than that.
It does not allow you to shuffle between protocol options or perform any other configuration.
Regardless, I found this extension to be extremely convenient. It is a simple solution to your privacy related worries.
The Firefox extension of this VPN is similar to its Chrome add-on but it is somewhat slow. The extension takes time to load and is often unstable. Other than this, it is provides minimalistic features and is user-friendly.
NordVPN for Non-Profits
The biggest takeaway from this NordVPN review might be the mission of the providers. Evidently, it is not just the revenue that drives the VPN providers.
For them, this software is a tool that can liberate anyone whose digital rights are being repressed.
This is why the providers help NGOs and other institutions take on governments that use the internet to target dissidents.
By reaching out to rights activists and journalists, the providers help free flow of information from troubled regions.
The overall goal of this VPN is to battle online censorship on every front and ensure an open internet.
By the conclusion of this NordVPN review of 2018, I am overwhelmed with the effectiveness and efficiency of this service.
Admittedly, the service invests heavily in advertisements and makes tall claims. But more often than not, it delivers on its promise.
If you have something to add than feel free to leave a comment below.