NordVPN Review 2020
NordVPN is an all-rounder affordable VPN service with around 5,500+ servers suited for P2P, Netflix, and overall security. While the service is almost flawless, there are a few issues that I'll look into in this review of NordVPN.
NordVPN is advertised as one of the most reliable VPN in the industry. NordVPN headquarters is located in the data retention free jurisdiction of Panama and follows a strict no-logs policy.
Despite offering a wealth of amazing features, NordVPN only costs $3.49/mo and can be used with 6 devices simultaneously.
On the surface, NordVPN deserves a 5-star rating, however, the fact that it has a 2-stars Trustpilot rating and doesn’t unblock Netflix on Android boxes is why I’ve given it 3.5 stars in this NordVPN review.
Our Rating Criteria
To keep things plain and simple, I’ve tested and rated NordVPN through our straight forward rating criteria mentioned below:
- Jurisdiction – What country is NordVPN based in?
- Security – What protocol does NordVPN use?
- Leaks – Does NordVPN leak DNS, IP & WebRTC?
- Servers – Does NordVPN work in China?
- Speed – How fast is NordVPN?
- Streaming – Does NordVPN work for Netflix?
- Compatibility – Apps and supported devices
- 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. Panama also does not fall under 5 eyes intelligence-sharing countries. 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 – What protocol does NordVPN use?
For robust security, NordVPN 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. This type of encryption has around 1.1×1077 possible combinations. Unless anyone uses a supercomputer, your sensitive data cannot be decrypted.
Additional Security Features
Other than the basic security features like encryption, NordVPN offers other powerful features that are really hard to find in other VPN services. 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. At the moment this protocol is only available for Linux operating systems through NordLynx. However, the provider is planning on releasing the WireGuard protocol for other platforms later this year.
Dedicated IP/Private IP
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.
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.
Malware Blocking – 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.
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 application, 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.
Logging Policy – Does NordVPN store logs?
The only thing NordVPN keeps logs of our 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.
Leaks – Does NordVPN leak DNS, IP & WebRTC?
No, NordVPN doesn’t leak DNS, IP, and WebRTC. Even after conducting multiple tests, NordVPN passed without any issues. Here’s how we performed the leak test…
- We visited DNS Leak Test website (without NordVPN)
- Noted our Country and IP
- Visited the website again to see whether it leaks our IP
Our DNS IP and Country (without NordVPN)
Our DNS IP and Country (with NordVPN US server)
NordVPN IP Leak Test
We also conducted a NordVPN IP Leak Test and we’re quite happy to see that our IP wasn’t leaking when connected to NordVPN.
Our IP (without NordVPN)
Our IP (with NordVPN US server)
NordVPN WebRTC Leak Test
Finally, we also check for WebRTC leaks and NordVPN passed this test too without any effort. As you can see from the screenshot below, both the local IP address and public IP address don’t actually belong to me.
Servers – Does NordVPN work in China?
NordVPN offers around 5,500+ servers in 58 countries all over the world. These servers support obfuscation technology and a lot of them work in China too. Speaking of obfuscation, we find it quite useful, especially when accessing Chinese websites like Bilibili.
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 Nord’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, yes. NordVPN delivers amazing torrenting performance. 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 5,500+ 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 our testing, NordVPN performed exceptionally well and we 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 our speed test and managed to achieve impressive speeds on our 30 Mbps connection. Here’s a speed test screenshot without a NordVPN:
Here are the NordVPN speeds for the US and UK servers using our 30 Mbps connection:
US Server Speeds:
NordVPN’s US server hardly dropped any speed at all. We managed to achieve 24.91 Mbps download speeds.
UK Server Speeds:
The UK servers similarly delivered excellent speeds with download speeds peaking at 25.41 Mbps.
Streaming – Does NordVPN work for Netflix?
Yes, NordVPN can unblock Netflix. In fact, we’re easily able to unblock the U.S library of Netflix and stream in Ultra HD picture quality. Below are performance results of our 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 our testing, it didn’t work with Android-based boxes, TVs, and Fire TV/Stick devices.
Other than Netflix, NordVPN worked impressively with BBC iPlayer. As always, everything streamed in HD picture quality.
Compatibility – Apps and Supported Devices
NordVPN is compatible with almost every device you can imagine. You can use it on iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, browser and on a bunch of the other devices.
NordVPN Windows & macOS Apps
Their 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. The apps are nicely designed, are quite lightweight and we experienced no connectivity issues or abrupt crashes during our testing.
NordVPN iOS & Android Apps
The usability of NordVPN mobile apps is outstanding. 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.
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. Aside from the NordVPN 7 day trial, the current NordVPN prices 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)
Aside from the regular NordVPN plans, you can also get add-ons like dedicated IPs. 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)
If we talk about payment methods, NordVPN accepts Visa, MasterCard, and even anonymous cryptocurrencies.
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. NordVPN not only offers excellent customer support but has also openly disclosed their logs and security audits. That said, ever since the NordVPN controversy about hacked servers blew up, it’s has become hard for me to fully put our trust in the service.
NordVPN Trustpilot Ratings
NordVPN currently has a 2.0-star rating on Trustpilot. However, NordVPN used to have a 5-star rating before the Trustpilot controversy that surfaced on 6th August 2018.
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, we 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 we have with most VPN providers is with customer service. Not only are they often time technically uneducated but also painstakingly slow. Fortunately, we 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.
We 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 we’re 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 2020-01-29. You find this information at the very bottom of their about us page.
NordVPN No Logs Audit Report
For even more transparency, NordVPN 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.
On October 21st, NordVPN announced that one of their servers in Finland got hacked, however, no user data was compromised. The breach was a full remote compromise of NordVPN servers and resulted in NordVPN’s expired TLS certs floating everywhere on the web.
All and all, the breach has certainly tainted NordVPN reputation and it has become quite hard for people like me to fully trust the service again – at least for now.
Here’s the complete detail about the NordVPN hacked controversy if you’re interested.
Verdict – Is NordVPN worth it?
Yes, NordVPN is totally worth it. Despite having only a 2-stars Trustpilot rating and lack of Netflix support on Android boxes, it is still a pretty capable VPN service.
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.
This concludes this NordVPN review. Leave me a comment, or read our unbiased VPN reviews for 2020.