NordVPN Review: Detailed Testing & Analysis (17 Pros and 3 Cons) – Updated April 2019
NordVPN might be considered a giant in the VPN industry, but it is important for us to know if it really delivers the value to its customers.
With so many sites recommending NordVPN, it is impossible to know the right information.
Not until I perform an in-depth NordVPN review with detailed testing and analysis.
The results will decide on their own if you want to purchase the VPN service or pass it on!
I reviewed NordVPN to find out:
- Is NordVPNs double VPN encryption powerful?
- Does it fall under 5 eyes,9 eyes and 14 eyes?
- Does it unblock Netflix with all devices?
- Is NordVPNs speed too slow?
- Does NordVPN leak IP?
- Is the price worth it?
You will find all these answers and more with screenshots and real-live images for the different tests I performed.
Let’s examine what I like and dislike about NordVPN.
Don’t want to read the whole review? Use filters instead……
+ What I liked about NordVPN
Liverpool FC Makes NordVPN their Cybersecurity Partner
Liverpool Football Club has announced that it has made the new global partnership with the leading cybersecurity company i.e. NordVPN.
The decision was made in the light of increasing importance of online safety and security.
NordVPN will now work with LFC to provide fans with online solutions across their devices. The idea is to protect their online supports present around the world.
NordVPN will protect their online security and identity when they access unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi in stadiums, hotels, cafés, airports, etc.
Billy Hogan, LFC Director, and CCO said
“We’re delighted that NordVPN has become our first official cybersecurity partner. With so much information constantly shared online, we’re committed to introducing greater levels of protection to secure the confidential data of our fans”
The fun part is, you also get a chance to win tickets to LFC home games!
Jurisdiction (Panama is a ‘No Data Retention Law’ Country)
NordVPN is based in Panama, a country known for its beautiful islands, an abundance of mountains and rainforests, but most importantly a country having no data retention laws.
Panama does not fall under 5 eyes, 9 eyes, or even 14 eyes intelligence sharing countries. That means Panama is not liable to share users’ information to any other country if required.
Even though Panama does not fall under internet surveillance countries, but we do know that Panamanian Justice accused former President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli for abusing privacy rights by illegal wiretapping of more than 150 people.
On top of that, the Forum of Journalists conducted a poll in 2012 in search of freedom of speech for journalists in Panama.
It concluded that 82% of local journalists’ freedom of expression was restricted by threats from President Martinelli.
Despite the fact that President Martinelli no longer governs Panama, we are still unsure if there will be a violation of privacy and human rights again.
But still… Panama is the safest county in terms of online privacy having no data retention laws.
True No Logging Policy
In conjunction with NordVPN’s jurisdiction of operation, which by the way doesn’t fall under the 5 eyes and other surveillance alliances, their logging policy is pretty much spotless.
I have to admit after a quick chat with the customer support representative, I was convinced that they don’t keep any logs. By that, I mean usage or connection logs.
If you don’t know what connection and usage logs are, I highly suggest you check out my in-depth VPN logs research guide.
Anyways, the only things they do keep logs of our Email address, Payment data and server performance data to be exact.
Don’t worry though, this type of information is pretty standard and wouldn’t actually compromise your true identity.
Is NordVPN tracking users’ location through latitude and longitudes on Linux?
As per the comment of one NordVPN user on Reddit, the provider may access to your original location through latitudes and longitudes.
In case you use its Linux app, you can find an unusual file by the name of insights.dat in your NordVPN app data.
In order to clear the air and discover the truth, I contacted its customer support and received the following response:
“We do not track or store any personally identifiable information. Upon connecting to a VPN server, our applications send a call to our API, which has access to a geo IP database for determining an approximate user location.
This is done so that the app could identify the best server for the user and connect to it. The location data is then stored locally, on the user’s device. We do not save this information anywhere else.
Without storing that information, the app would be unable to determine the best server in cases when the user is already connected to a VPN server.
If the user clicked ‘Quick connect’ while connected to a remote server, the app would choose where to connect from the server’s standing point, not from the customer’s perspective.
The folder that contains the location data can only be accessed with root privileges. We could use ping to determine the best server as well, which we did in the past.
However, pinging more than 5000 servers would take a lot of time and device resources.
The method we’re using right now doesn’t compromise users’ privacy and is a lot more efficient.
If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask”.
The above feedback from NordVPN suggests that they do not have any intentions regarding the users’ logging whatsoever.
When you connect to any NordVPN server, their API received a particular message instantly. They are bound to take this initiative as it helps the provider in identifying the best server location for the user.
Therefore, they are supposed to store users’ location data since they cannot determine the best servers for the users if they are connected to other VPN servers already.
Not to forget that NordVPN does not store users’ location data anywhere else other than their own devices.
However, the story does not end here.
The Reddit follower also indicated that you should use an OpenVPN client instead of using the company’s default client.
This is how you can tackle such situations proactively.
NordVPN has 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest VPN encryption in the industry. But most importantly it has a Double VPN Encryption.
It means, NordVPN encrypts your internet traffic not once, but twice.
But… how is it different from other VPN providers that do not offer this feature?
To answer this, I must explain how a single VPN encryption and double VPN encryption works.
When you are connected to a single VPN encryption, it means your internet traffic travels through a remote VPN server.
It changes your IP address and encrypts all your data that are sent and received over the internet. Simple.
Double VPN encryption adds an extra layer of protection. It does everything that a single VPN encryption does, but the internet traffic passes through a second remote VPN server and gets encryption one more time.
One thing you must know is that this feature does not activate on itself. You will find a ‘Double VPN’ option in NordVPN app under ‘Specialty Server’ tab.
Once you click on it, NordVPN will find you the best server. At the bottom of the picture, you can see 2 VPN servers appearing i.e. Russia and Netherlands.
It means, first it connected to the Russian server, and from there it connected to Netherland server. See the difference?
This way, you reach the internet destination securely and privately.
Extremely Frugal price plans
NordVPN is extremely affordable, in fact, if you compare it to ExpressVPN, it’s without a doubt a lot cheaper (in a good way).
The plans are pretty straightforward and there is no flashy premium, elite or platinum kind of pricing plans. Instead, it just offers a simple 3 year, 2 years, 1 year and a regular 1-month plan.
Best of all:
All of the above-mentioned plans expect the regular monthly plan comes with pretty hefty discounts.
How much exactly.
Well, take a look at their plans below.
Now granted, you’ll find cheaper options on the internet. However, rest assured, none of them can offer so many features and servers at such a frugal price point.
Personally, I’d go with the 3-year plan since its much cheaper, plus I wouldn’t have to worry about my subscription expiring anytime soon.
Overall, I believe NordVPN pricing plans leave little to be desired.
In addition to its conventional pricing plans, Nord also offers bespoke packages for small and medium-size businesses.
Availing this service is also super simple. You just need to inform the provider regarding the number of accounts you require. After doing so, you will receive a quote within 2 days.
Even though I have not used this service myself, I’m glad they’re at least offering one.
7-day NordVPN trial:
Before I started my review NordVPN, I actually got myself a 7-day NordVPN free trial just to get familiar with their service.
I was also quite impressed by the fact that they actually include all the premium features as well in the trial version.
Easy & secure payment options:
Nord also offers some of the most flexible payment options I’ve ever seen.
Instead of just offering payment gate for a visa, MasterCard and PayPal, NordVPN goes to some great lengths at offering a wide range of diverse payment options, even including support for anonymous cryptocurrencies.
- Credit Card (via PayPal)
- PayPal (See the best VPN services for PayPal here)
- Sofort Banking
- Cash (For US residents)
NordVPN ditches PayPal following the partnership with Adyen
NordVPN hosts a variety of payment options. From crypto to credit cards, NordVPN basically supports them all.
This includes PayPal too. It’s all pretty standard, you head on over to their site, select a payment option and check out.
However, things have changed in the past few days.
You see, what many have failed to notice is their recent discontinuation of PayPal support.
Yup, that’s right, you can no longer purchase a NordVPN subscription through PayPal.
Now, there isn’t much available online regarding this sudden shift. Heck, I just found out about this issue through Twitter.
In response to a recent Tweet, NordVPN linked their official blog post explaining the reason behind ditching PayPal.
— Marquis de (@Kerloar) February 1, 2019
Here’s what went down:
Basically, they were too concerned about the growing number of security risks that they have finally discontinued their long term partnership with PayPal.
Instead of relying on PayPal, NordVPN has now shifted to a self-hosted payment processing solution. Doing so, NordVPN will manage all customer data and recurring subscriptions themselves.
So who are they substituting PayPal with?
Well from now on, instead of PayPal, Adyen will manage all of NordVPN’s secure transactions.
For those of you who don’t know, Adyen is among the world’s leading payment providers. Unlike PayPal, Adyen provides a self-hosted payment system.
According to NordVPN’s official’s blog post:
“The versatility that Adyen offers and its experience with markets all over the world will help us become even more flexible and better at pursuing our goals”.
Without a doubt, PayPal has always been a pretty viable payment option. Now only time will tell how Ayden ones up them.
What do you guys think about this sudden shift? Let me know in the comments.
Exceptional NordVPNs Specialty Server Types
While I was reviewing NordVPN, I can’t help looking at the abundance of features that I found under the ‘Specialty Server’ option located on the left menu of the app.
There are 5 types of servers available. Each server type is important depending upon its usage. made I will describe them one-by-one.
You will find the list below:
- Dedicated IP
- Double VPN
- Onion Over VPN
- Standard VPN Server
- Obfuscated server
These servers are best for torrenting because they are optimized for P2P sharing. You get to choose from hundreds of servers.
While downloading torrent, which is a risky business in its own self, NordVPN has no bandwidth limits and would not log your internet activity.
I have discussed P2P servers in the torrenting section in detail.
This is your personal IP address given to you by NordVPN. It will never be shared with other NordVPN users and is yours to use all the way.
This feature costs extra other than the VPN account you purchase. NordVPN has dedicated IP address for only 4 countries i.e. UK, US, Netherlands, and Germany. It costs users $70/year for each country IP.
I have discussed how to setup NordVPN dedicated IP in this guide below in detail.
Double VPN encryption is double-layered protection by NordVPN where you connect to two different servers before reaching the internet.
For example, once you enable double VPN protection, it will route you to one country, then another country until you reach your destination.
I have discussed how to access double VPN encryption in the guide below in detail.
Onion Over VPN
When it says onion, you’re probably aware why NordVPN is giving its feature that name. That’s because onions have layers.
NordVPN tried to combine the feature of The Onion Router (Tor) and the VPN itself. The Onion Over VPN servers does the same work as Tot browser and more.
When you are using Tor, your ISP knows you are using Onion, though it will not know what you’re using it for. But Onion Over VPN will give you an extra layer of protection of having your online traffic protected with a VPN tunnel.
You can also connect to standard VPN server while using Tor browser and it will shield you from third-parties and even protect your online activity from being tracked by ISPs.
Standard VPN Servers
NordVPN has a huge server count currently standing at 5,254 servers and presence in 60 countries.
I find the addition of new servers every other week, which is impressive to say the least.
The greater number of servers meaning greater internet freedom. You get to access more websites that are located in a particular country/city region.
If you face heavy online restrictions in your country, only then you’re suggested to use one of Nord’s obfuscated servers.
A country like China where the cyber environment is extremely complicated, a VPN requires advanced methods to bypass their firewall.
This is where obfuscation comes to play. It involves high technological complexity also known as ‘Plan B mechanism’ that tries alternate ways to connect to a VPN when the standard method fails.
These servers, therefore, can bypass their network firewalls.
Be sure that they are only be used in a restrictive environment. In any other cases or countries, you’re good to use standard VPN servers or other specialty servers.
NordVPN Dedicated IP Address
NordVPN offers dedicated IP address for only 4 countries i.e.
- US (LA and Dallas)
- Germany (Frankfurt)
- UK (London)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
$70 is the annual price for NordVPNs dedicated IP address for any ONE of these countries. This makes it around $5.83/month for each IP.
It’s a lot! And, you will need a valid VPN account to avail this benefit.
But why is it necessary to get a dedicated IP address? And why it is so expensive?
Every time you connect to a VPN, your original IP address is replaced with a VPN IP, which is shared by all NordVPN users.
If you purchase dedicated IP, NordVPN will hand you a personal IP which will only belong to you.
Sometimes shared IP address may get blacklisted by websites, such as while accessing Netflix or any other website. It will give you access to sites that have IP limits.
To get NordVPN IP address, you need to subscribe to NordVPN. Once you have subscribed successfully, go to the same page you will see an option ‘Get Coupon’
Insert a code i.e. dedicatedip
The coupon code will turn green, which will mean that the code is accepted. Just check out by entering payment details.
Now you will have 2 NordVPN accounts. One for a VPN account and other for dedicated IP address.
Now open NordVPN app on your device and click on Dedicated IP address tab located on the left menu.
It will connect you to whichever country IP you have purchased.
To get more coupons, visit our NordVPN coupons guide.
The NordVPN Kill Switch feature worked flawlessly for me.
To test the kill switch feature, I simply closed one of the running NordVPN services from the task manager.
As soon as the error message showed up, I immediately noticed that my internet connection got disabled.
NordVPN is available in almost all devices that are frequently used by online users. These include Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Android TV, Linux, and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
You can download NordVPN app for some of these devices from below:
iOS App: NordVPN App Store
Expert Customer Support
One of the biggest gripes I have with most VPN providers is with their customer support. 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 two ways, either through direct 24/7 NordVPN Chat or Email ticketing system.
Either way, the support staff of the VPN is proficient and has firsthand knowledge of the brand.
Moreover, NordVPN chat support is actually 24/7. I tested in different instances of day and it was available every time.
Best of all:
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.
Malware Blocking (Securely Shop Online with NordVPN)
Did you know that there are on average 23 fake websites for every online retailer?
Luckily, NordVPN prevents your devices against phishing attempts from online hackers and cybercriminals.
There’s a feature called CyberSec that block ads and malware.
When the first time you access NordVPN, it asks whether to enable CyberSec feature. Always enable it to enhance your browsing experience.
CyberSec feature will block suspicious websites or any online retailer website that it believes can infect your device.
You would need to turn this feature ON, by going into Settings and scroll down to enable CyberSec.
To conclude, it will give you 3 benefits:
- Block dangerous websites
- Avoid botnet control
- Skip annoying ads
NordVPN Does Not Leak DNS
If your Domain Name Server (DNS) is leaking while you’re using a VPN, you are busted!
That is why I performed a DNS leak test on NordVPN and it passed with flying colors.
Here is what I did:
- I visited DNS Leak Test website (without NordVPN)
- Noted my Country and IP
- Visited the website again to see whether it leaks my IP
My IP and Country (without NordVPN)
My IP and Country (with NordVPN US server)
NordVPN Does Not Leak IP
I applied the same process going into NordVPN IP Leak Test and I was fascinated to see my IP wasn’t leaking when connected to NordVPN.
I visited IP Leak Test website and checked on my IP.
My IP (without NordVPN)
My IP (with NordVPN US server)
NordVPN P2P review, Torrenting without a fear
In my experience reviewing VPN services for a living, I’ve often encountered services that don’t usually support P2P.
For instance, just at the top of my head, TunnelBear doesn’t support P2P at all. In fact, they use to have an entire landing page explaining why.
While it’s understandable why VPN providers don’t want to deal with intricate copyright issues, you’ve got to admit a VPN isn’t complete without P2P support.
Thankfully this isn’t the case with NordVPN. On the contrary, you’ll be glad to see there’s a dedicated option just for P2P in the NordVPN client.
NordVPN in China: It Works!!!
For users in China, NordVPN came up with obfuscated servers.
Countries like China that has strict internet laws and regulations, the so-called Firewall of China, obfuscated servers work best.
Obfuscated server option is technically disabled in NordVPN app. To enable, you need to tap Settings and scroll down to click on Advanced Settings.
Enable obfuscated server option and return to servers tab on top.
Here you will find Obfuscated server appear in the left-side tab. Once you click on it, users in China can easily connect to the best server available.
For a detailed review, visit our guide NordVPN for China and unblock Chinese Firewall.
NordVPN Introduces 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.
In the US and other jurisdictions that fall under 5, 9, and 14 eyes countries, the government can serve ISPs, companies, and VPN service providers with secret warrants.
These warrants are designed to force companies to hand over any record or detail about a customer for investigation.
At the same time, companies are forbidden to inform users about such a request.
This is where a Warrant Canary comes in to play. NordVPN regularly published its statement on its website saying:
- It did NOT receive National Security Letters
- It did NOT receive gag orders
- It did NOT receive any warrants
Once this statement disappears from its website, users will know that NordVPN is served with one of these. Since its inception, NordVPN hasn’t received any warrants.
Even if it did, NordVPN promises NEVER to hand over users’ data because they have none. They are based in Panama where gag orders and warrants are not legally possible.
Passed CDT Checklist
CDT is an organization that fights for global online civil liberties and human rights. It is a staunch advocate of a free and open internet.
It has created a checklist for online consumers in choosing the right VPN, to which it calls ‘signals of trustworthy VPNs’.
It has set out a few questions for all VPN service providers. If consumers could find reasonable answers to these questions related to NordVPN, then they should be satisfied with their security.
Here are some of the questions:
What is the public facing and full legal name of the VPN service and any parent or holding companies?
There were rumors that NordVPN was in fact owned by the Lithuania-based data-mining company called Tesonet.
The rumors were laid to rest when we dig deeper. NordVPN is indeed one of many Tesonet’s many partners. But does it make you worry about your data and online privacy?
It should Not!
Tesonet protected users’ privacy by registering the company in Panama (that doesn’t have data retention laws) where it is not legal to demand data by authorities.
The relationship between NordVPN and Tesonet doesn’t affect users, neither does it pose any concern.
Does the company, or other companies involved in the operation or ownership of the service, have any ownership in VPN review websites?
NordVPN doesn’t have any stake in a VPN review website, that’s for sure. But, it is hard to deny that NordVPN controversy with Trust Pilot was a hard pill to swallow.
NordVPN is accused of submitting fake reviews on Trustpilot. The review website then removed all the fake scores so their TrustScore fell down to 5 from 9.
What is the service’s business model (i.e., how does the VPN make money?
NordVPNs earn revenues from their sole business model i.e. from VPN subscriptions. NordVPN does not sell data to third-parties since they are based in Panama, that doesn’t require you to retain consumers’ data.
NordVPNs Non-Profit Organization Program
NordVPN helps the non-profit organization by giving them discounts on VPN subscription.
Even journalists and human rights advocates can apply for this offer. These individuals can ensure
- Safely communication with their sources
- Report the news without fear of being watched
- Secure access to information
Let us check what non-profit organizations have to say about NordVPN.
Amnesty International, a global human rights movement of 7 Million + people…
“NordVPN is essential to Amnesty to ensure that employees are kept safe by offering a stable and high-grade VPN service that has global coverage.”
Guardian Angel, Children’s Charity based in NY City…
“NordVPN provides us with the privacy and security that we need to keep our programs discreet, and our program participants safe”
– Now for the things, I dislike about NordVPN
NordVPN Speed Test
Keeping your online privacy secure isn’t the only thing you want when using a VPN, but speed matters too.
The part that truly haunts VPN users, the dreaded speed drop.
Having said that:
I tested the speed of NordVPN on a long-distance server and short-distance server.
I will be displaying real live speed test results with you all below as I go along while testing.
Here are variables for the speed test:
- Physical location: Netherlands
- Internet speed (without NordVPN): 31 Mbps
- Long-distance servers: the US and Australia
- Short-distance servers: UK and Switzerland
Internet speed (Without NordVPN)
United States- New York server (5.0 Mbps)
Distance from my destination: 7,457 Km
The decline in Speed: 84%
Australia – Sydney server (4.3 Mbps)
Distance from my destination: 14,784 Km
The decline in Speed: 86%
The United Kingdom – London server (7.1 Mbps)
Distance from my destination: 515 Km
The decline in Speed: 77%
Switzerland – Swiss server (2.9 Mbps)
Distance from my destination: 820 Km
The decline in Speed: 90%
What I Conclude with NordVPN Speed Test
I was disappointed with the speed results while knowing how much I was liking this VPN provider.
With 31 Mbps internet connection, I was only able to achieve a maximum of 7.1 Mbps of speed is not acceptable.
I was expecting poor results for long-distance servers for the US and Australia, but getting a 2.9 Mbps speed in Switzerland is not up to the standard.
NordVPN with Netflix (Only works in Windows & Mobile Apps)
NordVPN works with Netflix no doubt, but it does not work on Android-based boxes, TVs, and Fire TV/Stick devices.
I encountered this problem when I was done testing NordVPN Netflix on Windows and Mobile Apps. But when I tested it on Nvidia Shield, it would not work.
I checked it with their customer support and there they confirmed that NordVPN is currently not working with Netflix in Nvidia Shield and other devices I mentioned earlier.
NordVPN Trust Pilot Controversy
Trustpilot is a genuine and transparent consumer review website. On 6th August 2018, Trustpilot notices unusual activity under NordVPNs review panel.
Upon further investigation, it found out that some users were submitting a fake review with a 5-star rating.
That, unfortunately, got linked with NordVPN since it was responsible for its review panel.
Trustpilot deleted all the fake reviews in reply and assured users that manipulation of reviews is a threat to their consumers and business.
Currently, its TrustScore has fallen to 5 from 9 with 339 reviews.
Only after I conducted a detailed NordVPN review, I placed NordVPN at #3 position in our VPN table trailing behind PureVPN and Surfshark.
The most outstanding fact was its partnership with Liverpool FC, its malware blocking feature, and warrant canary. Pricing is good too.
Speed test was the only thing I could not comprehend. Besides that, all is good.
I would definitely recommend our readers to go for this VPN.
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