NordVPN Review 2019
NordVPN is an all-rounder affordable VPN service with over 5600+ servers suited for P2P, Netflix, and overall security. For the price of 2.99/mo, NordVPN manages to offer a 4 stars service.
NordVPN is advertised as one of the most reliable VPN in the industry.
With so many sites ranking NordVPN above other reliable VPNs, it makes one wonder, what makes NordVPN so good?
So after testing NordVPN for around a week, I can definitely vouch for this VPN.
And why not? After all…
NordVPN only costs $2.99/mo, its leak-proof, it’s based out of Panama, it offers 5600+ servers and it’s good for torrenting, Netflix and for a bunch other applications.
There’s a lot to love about this VPN, including few flaws which we’ll discuss in this NordVPN review.
My Rating Criteria
To keep things plain and simple, I’ve tested and rated NordVPN through my straight forward rating criteria mentioned below:
- Pricing – How much does NordVPN cost?
- Security – Encryption & features
- Jurisdiction –Is it located in a 5-eyes country?
- Speed – How fast is NordVPN?
- Streaming –Does it work with Netflix?
- Leaks – Does it leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
- Trustworthiness – Logs, Audit report, CDT & Warrant Canary
- Compatibility – Apps and supported devices
Pricing – How much does NordVPN cost?
NordVPN offers 4-plans, and each of them is quite affordable. The current pricing plans of NordVPN are listed below:
- ($2.99/month) – Save 75% 3-year
- ($3.99/month) – Save 66% 2-year
- ($6.99/month)– Save 41% 1-year
- ($11.95/month) – Save 0% 1-month
All of the above-mentioned plans except for the regular monthly plan comes with pretty hefty discounts.
NordVPN is extremely affordable, in fact, if you compare it to ExpressVPN, NordVPN cost is without a doubt a lot cheaper.
Now granted, you can find cheaper options on the internet, however, pretty much no VPN provider in the industry is offering the same number of features and servers as NordVPN.
Personally, I recommend opting the 3-year NordVPN pricing plan. It’s much cheaper compared to other plans and I wouldn’t have to worry about my subscription expiring anytime soon.
Easy & secure payment options
NordVPN 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.
The supported NordVPN payment methods include:
- Credit Cards
- WeChat Payments
- Ali Pay
- You can also make a payment through iTunes or Google Play.
- Cash (For US residents) through Fry’s Electronics, Micro Center and others.
- PayPal – Discontinued (Reason discussed below)
Why NordVPN discontinued PayPal?
Basically, NordVPN was too concerned about the growing number of security risks with PayPal and decided to end their long term partnership.
If you’re like millions of people who use PayPal for secure payments, you’ll be disappointed to see that NordVPN no longer support PayPal payments.
Naturally, when NordVPN discontinued PayPal payments, a lot of people got disappointed.
In response to multiple Tweets, NordVPN linked their official blog post explaining the reason behind ditching PayPal.
If you don’t feel like reading their official blog post, here’s what went down:
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 what 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.
NordVPN Money Back Guarantee
Just like a lot of VPN providers there days, NordVPN offers a hassle-free full 30-day refund policy.
If you encounter any issues with NordVPN refund, you can go through their painless refund procedure and have your full subscription fee refunded within a week or so, at least that’s what I experienced.
According to one Reddit user, NordVPN not only responded to his refund request within 30 minutes but also refunded his money within a couple of days.
Overall, people really seem to like NordVPN’s refund policy, and so do I.
NordVPN Discontinues the 7-Day Free Trial after Being Massively Abused
NordVPN has recently taken down their extremely desirable 7-day free trial due to widespread abuse by scammers.
But this isn’t the first time NordVPN’s free trial was subject to abuse. In fact, some time back in 2018, NordVPN changed their very popular 3-day free trial to a 7-day free trial due to the fact that the 3-day trial didn’t require the users to enter credit card information.
However, considering that NordVPN free account has been discontinued for good, it seems as if the 7-day free trial didn’t prove too fruitful for the company.
According to a spokesperson of NordVPN, the abuse of their free trial was so massive that it significantly disrupted their infrastructure and overall degraded their service.
That’s truly disappointing considering that NordVPN was one of the last few VPNs that offered a free trial. All other major VPN services like PureVPN and ExpressVPN only offer a money back guarantees.
Security – Encryption & Features
NordVPN has all the right bells and whistles to help you browse the web safely and securely.
In a world where you’re never too far away from a cyber-attack, it seriously pays off to have a reliable VPN by your side with tons of security features.
If we talk about encryption, NordVPN uses 256-bit encryption, which is the strongest cipher in the industry. 256-bit encryption is overkill and has around 1.1×1077 possible combinations.
Unless anyone uses a supercomputer, your sensitive data cannot be decrypted.
Now let’s dive into some of the security features that NordVPN offers…
Double VPN, double the privacy
Just like the name, 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 encryption does, but 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.
Here’s how you can enable NordVPN’s double VPN feature…
- To use NordVPN’s double VPN feature, navigate to the ‘Specialty Servers tab
- Now, you can either click on the button that says Double VPN or use the three dots to choose a server of your choice
- Once you connect to the server of your choice, you should see two server locations as opposed to just one.
Only a handful of good VPNs offer double VPN encryption, and NordVPN is one of them.
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 NordVPN CyberSec that block ads and malware.
CyberSec works as a 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.
When the first time you access NordVPN, it asks whether to enable CyberSec feature. Always enable it if you want to avoid getting bombarded by pesky adware and intrusive advertisement.
In addition, the 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
CyberSec proves NordVPN’s commitment to guarding user’s web security which further justifies the high position that this provider enjoys in the list of best VPN services for 2019.
NordVPN Kill Switch
NordVPN offers two different kinds of Kill switch, one for desktops (Windows & Mac) and others for mobile devices (iOS & Android).
Kill switch for the desktop version
The desktop version of NordVPN’s kill switch 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.
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.
Kill Switch feature is an absolute lifesaver. It works flawlessly and exactly as advertised.
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 Specialty Servers
There are 6 different types of specialty servers available in the NordVPN application. Below is the list of specialty servers that NordVPN offers:
- Obfuscated server – Special servers to bypass powerful firewalls
- NordVPN P2P – Optimized for torrenting
- Dedicated IP – Single IP address for a single user
- Double VPN – Double encryption for double privacy
- Onion Over VPN – Combines the power of TOR and VPN
- Standard VPN Server – Everyday secure servers for everyday use
While I was reviewing NordVPN, I couldn’t help but appreciate the abundance of features that I found under the ‘Specialty Server’ tab.
Each server type severs a different purpose, and I personally find it quite useful, especially when accessing Chinese websites.
Now let’s check out what each specialty server is good for shall we?
Obfuscation might sound like a mouth full, it is one heck of a powerful feature.
If you live in a region with heavy geo restrictions, you might find Nord’s obfuscated server’s extremely useful.
China uses its super powerful Great firewall to restrict VPNs and foreign content, while countries like Oman can impose heavy fines up to $1,300 just for using VPNs.
If you’re wondering how the obfuscation feature of NordVPN works, it basically camouflages encrypted VPN traffic to look like ordinary HTTP traffic.
Doing so, your VPN traffic can use port #443 and get past firewalls.
It’s truly a sophisticated technology and one that you’ll highly appreciate.
NordVPN P2P servers
One of the reasons why you’ll absolutely love NordVPN is because of the sheer number of P2P servers this provider offers.
Out of 5600+ servers, 4831 servers are optimized for torrenting. Literally, no other VPN provider in the industry is currently offering this many P2P servers.
Don’t believe me? You’re free to do your research.
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.
Dedicated IP/Private IP
If you don’t know what Private IP VPN 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 currently offers dedicated IP’s for only 4 countries in the following locations:
- United States – Los Angeles, Dallas, Matawan, and Buffalo
- The United Kingdom – London
- Netherlands – Amsterdam
- Germany – Frankfurt
NordVPN’s dedicated IP in any of these countries costs $70 for one year only.
In order to avail NordVPN’s dedicated IP, you’ll need to have a valid VPN account.
Dedicate IPs are great for online gaming and for accessing popular VoD services like Netflix that are prone to blocking shared IPs.
Here’s how you can purchase NordVPN’s dedicated IP…
- To get NordVPN IP address, you need to first subscribe to NordVPN
- Once you have subscribed successfully, scroll down the page and look for “Your coupon code”
- Next, insert the code “dedicatedip” in the field provided and click apply
- Now you should see a green checkmark below, and the price plans should now be updated automatically
- Now you can open up the NordVPN app on your device, and click on the Dedicated IP address tab to choose a server of your choice
I’ve already covered this feature earlier in this review, however, just for a refresher, Double VPN encryption offers double-layered protection.
Once you enable double VPN protection, your traffic will get routed through two encrypted VPN servers as opposed to just one.
I particularly use double VPN when I’m down at my local coffee shop. You never know who might be looking to steal your data.
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.
If you just use TOR alone, your ISP can identify and potentially even block your TOR traffic.
However, by using NordVPN’s Onion over VPN feature, you can not only restrict the TOR browser from knowing your real IP but also deceive your ISP at the same time.
Frankly, Onion over VPN is one of the most innovative of NordVPN features.
Standard VPN Servers
This is probably the first thing you’ll notice when you first log in to the NordVPN app.
Although standard servers are nothing special, however, when you actually check out the server count, you’ll be blown away.
At the moment, NordVPN’s server count is currently offering 5600+ servers in 60 countries.
Unlike PureVPN or PrivateVPN, NordVPN only uses bare metal physical servers. I tested a bunch of their server location and couldn’t find any virtual server.
This is seriously impressive!
With a massive and globally diverse server park, you can access pretty much any geo-restricted content imaginable.
You can check out the complete list of thousands of NordVPN servers here.
Jurisdiction – Is it located under 5 eyes, 9 eyes and 14 eyes?
NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, a country known for its beautiful islands, an abundance of mountains, but most importantly, a country with no data retention laws.
If you don’t know, Panama does not fall under 5 eyes, 9 eyes, or even 14 eyes intelligence sharing countries.
Panama is not liable to share users’ information to any other country or authority if required.
This is great since NordVPN doesn’t have to abide by any mandatory data retention laws.
But…there has been few incidents in the past that make me wonder if Panama is truly free from government surveillance.
For instance, even though Panama has no known active internet surveillance programs, we do know that the Panamanian Justice department accused the 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 and concluded that 82% of local journalists’ freedom of expression was restricted by threats from President Martinelli.
Even though President Martinelli no longer governs Panama, I’m still not sure if there’s any possibility of the Panamanian government violating privacy and human rights in the future.
Optimistically speaking, the chances of government agencies demanding logs from NordVPN are extremely low, considering the robust logging policy of the provider.
Speed – How fast is NordVPN?
NordVPN performed quite well in my speed test. The download speed of 28.45 Mbps and upload speed of 18.61 Mbps is highly satisfactory for a base connection of 30 Mbps.
I further tested the NordVPN speeds on US and UK servers to determine how fast the provider really is.
US Server Speeds:
NordVPN’s US server hardly dropped any speed at all.
UK Server Speeds:
The UK servers similarly delivered excellent speeds with download speeds peaking at 26.07 Mbps and upload speeds peaking at around 6.00 Mbps.
While speeds are decent with just a 20% drop, you might find better speeds with ExpressVPN.
NordVPN Streaming – Does it work with Netflix?
Yes, NordVPN can unblock Netflix, however, it only works on mobile and Windows apps. currently, it doesn’t work with Android-based boxes, TVs, and Fire TV/Stick devices.
I encountered this problem when I was testing NordVPN Netflix servers on Windows and mobile Apps.
When I tried to access Netflix with my Nvidia Shield for the review, it did not work.
I checked it with NordVPN support and there they confirmed that NordVPN is currently not working with Netflix on Nvidia Shield and other devices I mentioned earlier.
This should be technically considered as a con, but since you can access Netflix with NordVPN’s mobile and desktops apps, I’m still considering as a pro.
VPN Leaks – Does it leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
I performed a leak test on NordVPN and it passed with flying colors.
A VPN leak occurs when your real IP address, DNS or WebRTC is disclosed despite using a VPN’s encrypted private tunnel.
A leaking VPN can be seriously frustrating and can be the reason for your exposed online identity.
Here how I performed the leak test…
- 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 DNS IP and Country (without NordVPN)
My DNS IP and Country (with NordVPN US server)
I also conducted a NordVPN IP Leak Test and I was quite happy to see that my IP wasn’t leaking when connected to NordVPN.
My IP (without NordVPN)
My IP (with NordVPN US server)
Trustworthiness – Logs, Audit report, CDT & Warrant Canary
NordVPN logging policy follows a strict zero logging rule, ensuring none of the personally identifiable information of users is tracked.
NordVPN legitimately doesn’t retain IP address, connection timestamps, bandwidth, or your traffic. In fact, it is clearly mentioned on the policy page on Nordvpn.com.
I have to admit, after a quick conversation with NordVPN support chat support, I was convinced that NordVPN logs are pretty much non-existent.
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 NordVPN logs are the 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.
To cut to the chase, you can consider NordVPN among the very best logless VPN in the industry.
NordVPN Customer Support
One of the biggest gripes I have with most VPN providers is with 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 Nord VPN live 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.
Passed CDT Checklist
CDT is an organization that fights for global online civil liberties and human rights. It is a staunch advocate of 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, leading to NordVPN rating drop down to 5 from 9.
What is the service’s business model (i.e., how does the VPN make money?
NordVPN earns 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.
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 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 July 3rd, 2019. You find this information at the very bottom of their about us page.
Even if they did, NordVPN promises NEVER to hand over users’ data because they have none. They are based in Panama where gag orders and warrants cannot be legally obtained.
For even more transparency, NordVPN even offers an independent report of their company.
The audit was performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Zurich, Switzerland, which is one of the world 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.
Terrible transparency – Who Owns NordVPN, No One Knows
When it comes to disclosing the people running the business, NordVPN is anything but transparent. The only thing NordVPN publicly discloses is their jurisdiction of operation, that’s about it.
However, as far as the actual stakeholders or owners of the company are concerned, they don’t disclose anything about it.
Unlike CyberGhost, NordVPN also doesn’t offer any transparency report. There’s no way of knowing whether they comply with law enforcement or not.
What’s even worse, when I shot them an email for my transparency guide, they didn’t felt the need to get back to me. The lack of transparency makes me wonder what they might be hiding from their users.
NordVPN Trust Pilot Controversy
Let’s be honest, no one like fake reviews. Yet, on 6th August 2018, Trustpilot notices unusual activity under NordVPN’s review panel.
Upon further investigation, it found out that some users were submitting fake NordVPN reviews with 5-star ratings.
The incident significantly tainted the reputation of NordVPN, since the company was solely responsible for managing its review panel.
Following the incident, Trustpilot immediately deleted all fake NordVPN reviews and published a statement on NordVPN’s official Trustpilot page.
Currently, NordVPN has a two-star rating on Trustpilot.
Compatibility – Apps and supported devices
NordVPN is compatible with almost every device you can imagine. You can use it on iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, Linux, browser and on a bunch of the other devices.
Their Windows app has considerably improved since the release of their new updated app.
The same is true for its browser extension and offers another convenient method to protect your browsing sessions.
The usability of NordVPN apps is outstanding and 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.
In addition to offering support of mobile and desktops, NordVPN is also compatible with certain routers. However, the setup process can get a little too technical.
If you’re new to setting up VPNs on routers, you might find this guide useful.
Since NordVPN offers six simultaneous connections, you can protect multiple compatible devices at the same time.
Verdict – Is NordVPN worth getting?
Yes, NordVPN is definitely worth getting.
Only after conducting a detailed NordVPN review, I can safely say, NordVPN delivers smooth performance, affordable plans and a wide range of excellent features, which earns it my seal of approval.
Even though NordVPN is quite good, we can’t overlook the few flaws of NordVPN.
The fact that they don’t offer any transparency report, their Nvidia shield devices don’t work with Netflix, and they have an unsatisfactory Trustpilot rating, I’m giving them a 4-star rating.