NordVPN Review 2020
NordVPN is an all-rounder affordable VPN service with around 5,000+ servers suited for P2P, Netflix, and overall security. Find out if it's worth getting in this updated NordVPN review 2020.
Without a doubt, NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs online. But what makes it so special? Why is it way more famous than ExpressVPN? So after playing around with the service for a week to write this NordVPN review, I found it to be a pretty well-designed VPN app that just worked flawlessly with torrenting and Netflix streaming.
As for privacy, NordVPN is located in the data retention free jurisdiction of Panama, follows a strict no-logs policy, comes standard with features like powerful encryption, Kill Switch, Double VPN, and also optimized apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and more.
On the surface, NordVPN deserves a 5-star rating for its 5,000+ server network, however, when I dug a bit deeper, I found that it doesn’t unblock Netflix on Android boxes and BBC iPlayer on Firestick and Roku devices. This is exactly why I’ve given it 4.3/5.0 stars in this NordVPN review.
Want a Quick Overview? Here’s What’s Important
- Security. A huge variety of powerful built-in features that boost online security to a greater level.
- Logs. Privacy-focused logging policy ensures no personally identifiable information is collected and stored in servers.
- Streaming. Works well with streaming services and unblocks US Netflix library as well as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more
- Speed. Impressive speeds all-around. Here are the speed tests.
- Geo-restrictions. Gigantic server network circumcvents geo-blocks efficiently.
Here’s a video review of NordVPN for a quick glance at its major pros and cons.
My Rating Criteria
To keep things plain and simple, I’ve tested and rated NordVPN through my straight forward rating criteria mentioned below:
- Jurisdiction – What country is NordVPN based in?
- Security – Is NordVPN safe to use?
- Leaks – Can NordVPN be tracked?
- Servers – Does NordVPN work in China?
- Speed – How fast is NordVPN?
- Streaming – Does NordVPN work with Netflix?
- Compatibility – Which devices can I use NordVPN with?
- Pricing – How much does NordVPN cost?
- Trustworthiness – Is NordVPN trustworthy?
Jurisdiction – What country is NordVPN based in?
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is a country with no data retention laws. In fact, Panama is a safe haven for privacy-conscious users who value their privacy.
Panama also does not fall under 5 eyes intelligence-sharing countries, this way, Panama is not liable to share users’ information with any other country or authority if required. This is great since NordVPN doesn’t have to abide by any mandatory data retention laws.
Security – Is NordVPN safe to use?
Well judging by the fact that NordVPN is headquartered in the safe jurisdiction of Panama and offers AES-256-CBC with a 2048-bit DH key encryption, NordVPN is actually safe to use. This type of encryption has around 1.1×1077 possible combinations. Unless anyone uses a supercomputer, your sensitive data cannot be decrypted.
For even more robust security, NordVPN also uses OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), IKEv2/IPsec and more recently have added WireGuard. If we talk about encryption, NordVPN uses AES-256-CBC with a 2048-bit DH key, which is the strongest cipher in the industry.
Another thing that I really like about NordVPN is the fact that it uses Perfect Forward Secrecy for every session. This means that NordVPN uses unique session keys to ensure better privacy and even stronger encryption.
Additional Security Features
Other than the basic security features like encryption, NordVPN offers some other powerful features that are really hard to find elsewhere. To start off, let’s check out Double VPN…
Double VPN, Double The Privacy
Just like the name suggests, Double VPN feature routes your traffic through two hops which grants you extra security. With standard VPN encryption, your internet traffic travels through a single remote VPN server. It changes your IP address and encrypts all your data that gets sent and received over the internet. Simple, straight forward and just what most people need.
Double VPN encryption, on the other hand, adds an extra layer of protection. It does everything that a single VPN does, however, it encrypts your network traffic twice by passing it through a second remote VPN server. While it does make your data more secure, your internet speeds are going to suffer a bit.
Other than standard VPN protocols, NordVPN has also recently introduced the WireGuard protocol. WireGuard protocol consists of only 4000 lines of code, which is considerably less than OpenVPN. Instead of going through 400,000 lines of code, WireGuard is incredibly easy to deploy and audit for bugs.
At the moment this protocol is only available for Linux operating systems through NordLynx and iOS. However, the provider is planning on releasing the WireGuard protocol for other platforms later this year.
Dedicated IP/Private IP
Aside from Double VPN, NordVPN also offers dedicated IPs for $70/yr. You can get NordVPN dedicated IP’s for the US, Germany, UK, Netherlands, and France. Here is the list of locations you can choose from:
- The United States – (Los Angeles, Dallas, Matawan, Buffalo)
- Germany – (Frankfurt)
- United Kingdom – (London)
- Netherlands – (Amsterdam)
- France – (Paris)
If you don’t know what a Private IP is, it is basically a unique IP address assigned to a single user. This is a premium feature and it will cost extra over the standard VPN account you purchase.
NordVPN Onion over VPN
If you’ve ever used TOR, you likely know what Onion over VPN means. Tor over VPN is a foolproof strategy to ensure ultimate anonymity on the web. NordVPN is among the very few VPNs that support Onion over VPN technology.
This feature is super secure as it restricts even your TOR browsers from catching your real IP address. Frankly, Onion over VPN is one of the most innovative of NordVPN features.
Ad-blocker – How does NordVPN CyberSec work?
For added online protection, NordVPN also offers malware protection by the name of CyberSec. CyberSec works as malware and ad-blocker which makes sure you are protected from inadvertently opening malicious sites and other cybersecurity dangers lurking around the web. It is a great tool to have to add an extra layer of security to your web presence.
It is also super easy to enable. You can just head over to the General Settings and toggle on the option that says CyberSec.
NordVPN Kill Switch
NordVPN offers two different kinds of Kill Switches, one for desktops (Windows & Mac) and others for mobile devices (iOS & Android).
The desktop version has two options. The first option is called “App Kill Switch” and the other is called the Internet Kill Switch. The App Kill Switch restricts specified applications, whereas the Internet Kill Switch disables your entire internet connection.
In comparison, the mobile version of NordVPN’s Kill Switch is quite primitive. The mobile version doesn’t support selective app killing and is limited to only disabling your entire internet connection altogether.
Automatic VPN connection for Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi hotspots, especially the public ones, are notoriously insecure. Today, most people leave their phone’s Wi-Fi on, so that as soon as it detects Wi-Fi within range, they’ll try to connect to it.
NordVPN can be set to automatically turn on before your phone connects to a Wi-Fi connection. This is an excellent feature for users that travel around a lot, using Wi-Fi connections from different hotspots on the go. The auto-connect feature can be customized to work only for unsecured Wi-Fi (which makes the most sense), for secured Wi-Fi, or for both cases.
For maximum security, it is best to configure NordVPN’s Wi-Fi auto-connect feature for both secured and unsecured networks.
Logging Policy – Does NordVPN log activity?
No, NordVPN doesn’t store logs. In fact, the NordVPN logs policy follows a strict zero-logging rule, ensuring none of the personally identifiable information of users is logged. More specifically, NordVPN legitimately doesn’t retain IP address, connection timestamps, bandwidth, or your traffic data. In fact, it is clearly mentioned in the NordVPN logging policy.
The reason why NordVPN can guarantee zero logs is because of its Panamanian jurisdiction. The only thing NordVPN keeps logs of are email address, payment data, and server performance data. Don’t worry though, this type of information is pretty standard and wouldn’t actually compromise your true identity. And besides, you can just use a separate pseudo email and cryptocurrency for total anonymity.
Leaks – Can NordVPN be tracked?
No, since NordVPN doesn’t leak DNS, IP, and WebRTC, it can be near impossible to track it. Even after conducting multiple tests, NordVPN passed without any issues.
IP Leak Test:
First, I tested for IP leaks. To do that, I connected to a US server since it the most popular server to use. As you can see from the screenshot below, my original IP address is nowhere to be seen.
DNS Leak Test:
As for DNS leaks, NordVPN passed without any issues. Even after conducting multiple tests, NordVPN showed no sign of obvious DNS leaks. Check out the screenshot below:
WebRTC Leak Test:
Finally, I also check for WebRTC leaks and NordVPN passed this test too without any effort. As you can see from the screenshot below, my default IP address is nowhere to be seen.
Overall, NordVPN performed exceptionally well. However, I’m not surprised since NordVPN actually comes with built-in leak protection.
Servers – Does NordVPN work in China?
NordVPN offers around 5,000+ + servers in 59 countries all over the world. These servers support obfuscation technology and a lot of them work in China too. Speaking of obfuscation, I found it quite useful, especially when accessing Chinese websites like Bilibili. Even though it doesn’t actually offer servers in China, I managed to use the Hong Kong servers to access most Chinese content.
This is truly impressive considering that a lot of popular VPNs don’t actually work in China anymore. However, NordVPN’s obfuscation technology gives it an edge over other VPNs. But if you’re going to be traveling to China, I suggest downloading the app prior to your visit there.
Obfuscation might sound like a mouth full, it is one heck of a powerful feature. NordVPN’s obfuscation feature basically camouflages encrypted VPN traffic to look like ordinary HTTP traffic. Doing so, your VPN traffic can use port #443 and get past firewalls.
If you live in a region with heavy geo-restrictions like China, you might find NordVPN’s obfuscated server’s extremely useful. It’s truly a sophisticated technology and one that you’ll highly appreciate.
Is NordVPN good for Torrenting?
Well, NordVPN actually works great with torrenting. In fact, one of the reasons why you’ll absolutely love NordVPN is because of the sheer number of P2P and torrenting servers this provider offers. Out of 5,600+ servers, over 4,000 servers are optimized for torrenting. Literally, no other VPN provider in the industry is currently offering this many P2P servers.
In addition to a massive P2P server count, NordVPN has no annoying data limit or bandwidth restrictions that could throttle the speeds of your internet connection. In my testing, NordVPN performed exceptionally well and I easily managed to download a large torrent file without any major speed drops or connectivity issues.
In my testing, NordVPN performed exceptionally well and I easily managed to download a large torrent file without any major speed drops or connectivity issues. To read more about it, check out our NordVPN torrenting blog.
Speed – How Fast Is NordVPN?
NordVPN performed quite fast in my speed test and managed to achieve impressive speeds on my 30 Mbps connection. Here are the speed test results presented in a nice orderly table:
|Server Location||Ping (MS)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Decline by|
Here’s a screenshot of my internet connection speeds without NordVPN:
Here are the NordVPN speed test results for the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand servers on my 30 Mbps connection:
US Server Speeds:
NordVPN’s US server hardly dropped any speed at all. I managed to achieve 24.91 Mbps download speeds which is not bad at all.
UK Server Speeds:
The UK servers similarly delivered excellent speeds with download speeds peaking at 25.41 Mbps. This is super impressive considering how minor the speed drop is.
Canada Server Speeds:
The Canadian server offered slightly slower speeds, however, nothing too major. At max, NordVPN managed to output 23.97 Mbps download speeds.
Australia Server Speeds:
The Australian server also performed quite well. In fact, this server location offered the best overall speeds maxing out at 27.11 Mbps.
New Zealand Server Speeds:
Last but not least, I also tested speeds using the New Zealand server and too worked great. On average, this server location managed to output 22.75 Mbps downloading speed.
Streaming – Does NordVPN work with Netflix?
Yes, NordVPN can unblock Netflix. In fact, I was easily able to unblock the U.S library of Netflix and stream in Ultra HD picture quality. Below are performance results of my NordVPN Netflix test:
- Speed declined – 13%
- NordVPN speed (US server) – 27 Mbps
- Avg U.S server speeds – 15 Mbps to 25 Mbps
That said, NordVPN currently only unblocks Netflix on mobile and Windows apps. In my testing, it didn’t work with Android-based boxes, TVs, and Fire TV/Stick devices.
That being said, do keep in mind that you won’t be able to stream BBC iPlayer on Firestick and Roku devices as it is not currently supported. As for performance, these are some of NordVPN best servers to watch BBC iPlayer:
As for Hulu, I tried connecting to multiple US servers and all of them managed to offer fast and consistent performance overall.
You can expect similar streaming performance across most other streaming platforms mainly because NordVPN servers are equipped with a built-in SmartPlay DNS feature to help you get over geographical restrictions.
Compatibility – Which devices can I use NordVPN with?
NordVPN is compatible with almost every device you can imagine. You can use it on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and on a bunch of the other devices. There are even NordVPN Chrome extension and Firefox extensions that can help you to secure your connection without even opening the app. Best of all, NordVPN is compatible with Roku devices. Here’s a super simple guide if you want to set up NordVPN on Roku.
NordVPN Windows & macOS Apps
NordVPN Windows app has considerably improved since the release of their new updated app. The same is true for its macOS app which also works just as well. One thing I really like in the new version of NordVPN is the option to pause your VPN connection. This saves a ton of time disconnecting and reconnecting again.
The apps are nicely designed, are quite lightweight and I experienced no connectivity issues or abrupt crashes during my testing. I really like the fact that its servers are listed quite conveniently on the left-hand side of the screen.
Another thing I quite like about both Windows and macOS app of NordVPN is the settings menu. Protocols are easy to find and find and so is the option to enable or disable features like CyberSec and Kill Switch.
Overall, NordVPN offers great apps and the fact that it can be used on 6 devices simultaneously makes it even better considering its price. In case you want to configure NordVPN on Kodi, Firestick, and Routers, here are some useful guides:
NordVPN Android & iOS Apps
The usability of NordVPN mobile apps is outstanding. The Android app of NordVPN has a 4.2-star rating on Google Play Store and a 4.6-star rating on the iTunes store. Whether you’re an iPhone or an Android user, you’ll have no problem figuring out how to use the apps. In fact, the apps are extremely simple and easy to use.
It is pretty much self-explanatory when it comes to changing basic settings and making a connection to servers of your choice. As such, no user should have trouble figuring out how to use NordVPN. If you’re facing any issues with these apps, here are some fixes to apply when you find NordVPN not working.
NordVPN has joined hands with Keepod. The VPN is now compatible with Keepod devices, which are designed for students in low-income communities that cannot afford a full-fledged computer. Though it is quite ironic that NordVPN doesn’t really offer any discounts for Keepod users, considering its target market is largely people who cannot afford a personal computer.
In my opinion, this is a missed CSR opportunity. It would have been admirable to see NordVPN hand out free VPN accounts for Keepod users from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Pricing – How Much Does NordVPN Cost?
NordVPN offers 4-plans, and each of them is quite affordable. In addition, it also offers a free trial. Other than the NordVPN free trial, the current NordVPN subscription plans are listed below:
- 1-month – $11.95/mo (No discount)
- 1-year – $6.99/mo (Save 41%)
- 2-year – $4.99/mo (Save 58%)
- 3-year – $3.49/mo (Save 70% Off)
If we talk about extra value-added features, you can also get add-ons like dedicated IPs or NordVPN lifetime deal. If you want a dedicated or static IP from NordVPN, you’ll have to pay an extra $70.00 per year.
- United States – ($70/yr)
- Germany – ($70/yr)
- United Kingdom – ($70/yr)
- Netherlands – ($70/yr)
- France – ($70/yr)
As for payment methods, NordVPN accepts Credit Cards, Amazon Pay, Crypto Currencies, Ali Pay and Union Pay.
All subscription plans are covered by a 30-day refund policy. Best of all, NordVPN gives you the freedom to use one subscription plan on 6 devices simultaneously.
Trustworthiness – Is NordVPN trustworthy?
Yes, NordVPN is one of the most trustworthy names in the industry. In fact, NordVPN not only offers excellent customer support but has also openly disclosed their logs and security audits. If that’s not trustworthy I don’t know what is.
NordVPN Trustpilot Score
NordVPN currently has a 4.5/5.0 TrustScore on Trustpilot. NordVPN has made a serious comeback as back in 2018, NordVPN’s Trustpilot score dropped to just 2-stars.
If you actually go through Trustpilot reviews, you’ll notice that around 71% of users have rated the service as Excellent. Only 9% of users have rated the service as Bad which is pretty good.
NordVPN Review Reddit
NordVPN has pretty mixed reviews on Reddit. Some users either love it or absolutely hate it. Here’s one Reddit comment stating how good NordVPN really is.
Here’s another comment praising NordVPN for its fast speeds.
Naturally, I also came across a few negative comments as well. Here’s one Reddit comment complaining about slow and unreliable service.
NordVPN Customer Support
One of the biggest gripes I have with most VPN providers is with their customer service. Not only are they often time technically uneducated but also painstakingly slow. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any such issues with Nord.
NordVPN support can be contacted in two ways, either through direct NordVPN Live Chat or Email ticketing system. Either way, the support staff of the VPN is proficient and has firsthand knowledge of the brand.
I tested in different instances of day and it was available every time. Even if you ask a relatively technical question you’ll still get a human response as opposed to copying pasted answers. Overall I was extremely impressed by their customer support.
NordVPN Warrant Canary
NordVPN has introduced warrant canary which is a statement that is regularly published confirming that they have not received a secret warrant, gag order, subpoenas, or national security letters from the government. NordVPN has a 3 line statement published on their website which states:
- We have NOT received any National Security letters;
- We have NOT received any gag orders;
- We have NOT received any warrants from any government organization.
NordVPN hasn’t received any warrants so far as of 2020-03-04. You find this information at the very bottom of their about us page.
NordVPN No Logs Audit Report
For even more transparency and to answer does NordVPN keep logs, the provider even offers an independent report of their company. The audit was performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Zurich, Switzerland, which is one of the world’s most renowned auditing firms. This makes NordVPN’s audit report 100% legit and trustworthy.
In order to read NordVPN’s Audit report, you’ll need to login to your user account on NordVPN’s website, as it is not publically available for everyone.
NordVPN App Security Audit
It’s not the first time the company has carried out a third-party audit. In fact, after the no-logs policy audit conducted last year, NordVPN carried out another audit on October 9, 2019, but this time for their apps.
An independent auditing firm by the name of VerSprite that specializes in finding vulnerabilities, risks, and threats in application software, performed penetration tests based on real-world attack scenarios on NordVPN’s iOS and Android apps.
According to Laura Tyrell, Head of Public Relations at NordVPN, the vulnerabilities pointed out by the auditing firm were addressed and few changes were made accordingly. This shows NordVPN’s commitment to maintaining a flawless VPN service.
Verdict – Is NordVPN worth it?
Yes, NordVPN is totally worth it. After compiling this NordVPN review, I found it to be a very well made product. After all, it delivers smooth performance, affordable plans, and excellent features like Onion over VPN, obfuscation, and CyberSec that only a few VPN providers offer.
Not only that, but I was also blown away by how good NordVPN works with streaming services and torrenting. Despite streaming and downloading simultaneously, NordVPN still managed to crunch out considerably fast speeds. That being said, since NordVPN can’t unblock Netflix on Android boxes and BBC iPlayer on Firestick and Roku devices, NordVPN scores a 4.3/5.0 stars rating in this review. Interested in other VPNs, leave me a comment, or read our unbiased VPN reviews for 2020.
NordVPN News – Recent Developments
NordVPN recently came under fire on the French social media. The hashtag #boycottNordVPN was trending on French twitter on June 1. I couldn’t comprehend any of this because I don’t understand French, but with Google’s help, I found out what was happening.
What happened is that NordVPN apparently made an affiliate deal with a highly controversial YouTuber Le Raptor. NordVPN’s French customers didn’t take this kindly, considering the right-wing political affiliation of Le Raptor as a poor ambassador for a brand like NordVPN, which obviously shouldn’t project any political bias.
Following this, many French users began posting screenshots of them cancelling NordVPN subscription with the hashtag #boycottNordVPN. And soon, a good number of outraged French got the hashtag trending:
— Alexis Moreira (@frulysse) June 2, 2020
— Zephyr (Ahza) (@ZephyrionX) June 1, 2020
But NordVPN was quick to act. The company’s official Twitter handled replied to a user with a statement in French:
Merci de porter cela à notre attention. Nous sponsorisons beaucoup de monde. Même en faisant au mieux pour être vigilant, des comptes peuvent passer à travers les mailles, comme ici. Nous défendons la liberté d’expression, pas un camp politique. Nous stoppons donc ce partenariat.
— NordVPN (@NordVPN) June 1, 2020
If you don’t under French (like me), this is a Google Translated version of Nord’s statement:
“Please bring this to our attention. We sponsor a lot of people. Even if you do your best to be vigilant, accounts can fall through the cracks, like here. We defend freedom of expression, not a political camp. We therefore stop this partnership.”
I highly doubt that NordVPN, as a brand, would side with any overtly political stance. So we’re inclined to believe this was an honest mistake on the part of NordVPN. Considering how swiftly they acted to end the partnership, NordVPN deserves the benefit of the doubt.
But as is the way of social media, customers continued to express outrage against the company and proceeded to cancel their subscription. NordVPN is probably going to be a lot more cautious about who they let sponsor their product in the future.