Nord VPN Review – Everything You Need to Know
What Is a VPN? Before we dive into our Nord VPN review, you should know exactly what a virtual private network is. VPNs are software that hides your IP address and tunnel your connection to a server of your choice. It could be abroad or in another region of the country. As your data is […]
What Is a VPN?
Before we dive into our
While your connection is tunneled, it will be protected. This is done through the encryption that’s in place. Different virtual private networks use different encryptions and military-level ones are the best. The only parties that would have the keys to unlock your data would be your computer and the server you’re connected to.
At a Glance
Here’s a basic overview of what NordVPN offers:
- Based in Panama
- Currently, it’s got more than 5800 servers spread out across 62 countries
- Peer-to-peer and torrenting are permitted
- Unblocks Netflix USA and other popular streaming services
- The company employs a very strict no-logging policy
- Gives you access to 24/7 Live Chat Support
- Starts off at just $2.99 a month (if you opt for the three-year plan).
Let’s take a look at what NordVPN does right.
Tons of Great Features
NordVPN comes with a ton of handy features, despite the fact that it’s quite cheap. Let’s dive into the most popular of these:
A lot of people use Virtual Private Networks to bypass geo-blocks imposed by businesses in their region. For instance, in Australia, Netflix users are given access to only 60% of TV shows on offer. That’s despite paying about the same subscription fee as US users. By using a VPN like NordVPN, you could generate a virtual IP address that points to a US server and unlocks 100% of the content.
Realistically, not all of NordVPN’s US servers will give you access to Netflix. This is because the latter is very tough on VPNs in general and is committed to cracking down on their servers. Fortunately, NordVPN has lots of servers located in the US and you’ll easily be able to find one that’s unblocked. In addition, servers located in the United Kingdom, Canada and Netherlands work well for unlocking Netflix.
NordVPN’s SmartPlay isn’t only restricted to Netflix either. In fact, it’ll give you access to around 400 streaming services including Amazon Prime, BBC, Hulu, and Pandora!
Sometimes your VPN connection can get interrupted while you’re browsing the internet, essentially exposing your identity online. NordVPN’s kill switch software will automatically prevent your device or just specific programs from accessing the internet when the connection is cut off.
Protection against DNS Leaks
Typically, most VPN users will connect via OpenVPN, which is open-source software that uses TCP and UDP ports to transmit data. However, some will choose to have theirs set up manually. The main disadvantage of the latter method is that it leaves you more susceptible to DNS leaks. Thankfully, NordVPN has measures put in place to guard against leaks, helping you keep your identity secure at all times.
Double Encrypted Servers
Double encryption is just what it sounds like. When this feature is turned on, your traffic data will be routed via two of NordVPN’s servers instead of one. When the data enters the second server, another layer of encryption will be added. This second server won’t know what your actual IP address is because the data would have already been encrypted once before.
The downside of this feature is that it takes a lot of processing power to encrypt data twice. As a result, the speed of your connection will be slowed down.
Perfect Forward Secrecy
In terms of encryption, NordVPN uses 256-AES-CBC with a 2048bit Diffie-Hellman key. This allows for Perfect Forward Secrecy, where a unique key is generated for each session. This way, even if the private key of the server is compromised, your data will still be protected.
In the above point, we looked at how secure Nord is. To begin with, you can make use of double encrypted servers. Your data would be passed through double the encryption, making it impossible for anyone to infiltrate it. They make use of military-level locks too, so you have nothing to worry about.
However, they also offer the best protocols in the game. These are a set of rules your VPN must follow to establish a connection. Depending on the one you use, how secure your time is online would differ.
Nord makes use of the most secure connections. They are OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. OpenVPN is known as the toughest protocol to crack. It’s the gold standard, and you’re advised to use programs that offer it.
WireGuard is also impressive service. It’s rather new and has taken the world of VPNs by storm. Of course, it’s secure. You’ll be able to make use of IKEv2 on iOS and Android devices. It is the second-best, after OpenVPN.
The fact that they offer kill-switches and DNS leaks makes them even more secure. We mentioned how kill-switches work, but we didn’t touch on why they’re so useful. If your VPN ever disconnects, your data would be tunneled back to your ISP. This would tell them what you’re up to, which would be dangerous if you’re accessing illegal sites. For example, Australia has been very strict with the pirating sites that citizens can access.
NordVPN isn’t just one of the most secure VPNs around; it’s also quite fast. Of course, distance is an important determining factor. The further away you are from the server, the slower it’s going to be. However, with NordVPN, you’ll still get a decent enough download speed for basic online applications, even at long distances. Let’s talk numbers.
Let’s assume that you have a 100mbps connection. If you’re connecting to a local server, you can expect to reach up to 95mbps in download speeds. That’s just a 5% loss! If you live in Europe and want to connect to a US server, your speed will cap around the 74mbps mark, which is still great for things like streaming and playing online games. Asian servers, however, will be significantly slower. Ideally, you’ll get around 12 to 15mbps at most, which is still more than enough for most online tasks.
A Wide Network of Physical Servers
As mentioned before, NordVPN offers more than 5800 servers in 62 countries. There are physical servers too, each with their own unique IP addresses. The best part is that NordVPN owns each of these 5800 plus servers, meaning that they’re not shared with any other company.
In addition, NordVPN offers city-level servers in multiple countries all over the world. This gives you the ability to reduce speed loss even further and remove latencies. For instance, there are a whopping 1800 servers spread across 20 different locations in the US. In Australia and Canada, this number is limited to 200 and 400 respectively.
Protect Many Devices
When using the platform, you can log into 6 devices from your account. What’s great about it is that all kinds of devices are supported. This includes Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux, and Android. You can install the program on Android TVs too.
All 6 of them can make use of their services simultaneously. This is appreciated if you live in a big household.
Jurisdiction in Panama
NordVPN operates out of Panama, which is pretty much a safe-haven for data. Like Switzerland and Singapore, Panama does not participate in information sharing with other countries. Hence, if your internet service provider requests traffic data from NordVPN, they aren’t legally obligated to comply.
In addition, Panama does not have data retention laws. This means that they aren’t required by law to keep logs of your traffic data and NordVPN chooses not to do so with their zero-logging policy.
However, they do keep a record of the following:
- Your e-mail address
- Payment information
- Service performance data
It also contains reports of any requests that are received to hand over user data. As mentioned, they don’t keep track of your search history. Rather, it’s very basic information, like service performance data, but that’s normal.
Their no-log policy has been tested in the past. Although you might not want to hear this, one of their servers was hacked (more on this in our con’s section). It was infiltrated remotely, and the intruder left empty-handed as there was no information for him to snag. Ever since then, they’ve become tighter with user data, auditing their systems regularly to ensure that you’re safe.
Great Customer Support
Whether you have a technical question or an inquiry about pricing, you can simply fire up NordVPN’s live chat and receive an answer right away. In our experience, the support reps have been quite helpful and are very knowledgeable about technical matters.
If you don’t want to use their live chat, you can email them. It does not take long for a representative to get back to you. Just like with their live-chat, you’re met with very helpful support reps. In terms of what you want help with, there are different email channels to use. They even have one for the press to contact them through – they’ll give you expert opinions on stories.
If you have to troubleshoot something, NordVPN’s website offers more than 500 guides and tutorials for you to peruse!
Sadly, there is no call center. We didn’t place this point in our cons sections as it’s natural for VPNs to not offer phone support these days.
Works in China
If you’re not aware, China has restricted the internet for its citizens immensely. The country is known to monitor its citizens online activity closely. Fortunately, you can use a VPN and connect to one, bypassing the blocks the Chinese authorities have placed.
Although you could do this in theory, most virtual private networks aren’t strong enough to bypass the censorship. NordVPN is thankfully not one of them, but there is a catch. Chinese authorities have blocked the Nord website, so you won’t be able to download the program. This, unfortunately, makes it useless for Chinese users, but foreigners can download the VPN before entering the country, enjoying its features.
China is not the only country that has censored their internet. You’ve probably heard that Turkey and the UAE have done it too. However, virtual private networks can be used in the UAE. That being said, you won’t be able to use it in Turkey, as they have been blocked entirely over time.
A Good Resource Center
As mentioned, there are tutorials and guides for you to use. These answer a multitude of questions, giving you almost immediate help. They have an excellent blog section too. We’re fans of VPNs that offer thorough blog sections. They’ll make using their services easier but will also provide articles on how you can stay safer online. We believe Nord offers some of the most thorough blog posts around. They regularly post content, which is the cherry on top.
There are cheaper options than NordVPN. However, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Who wouldn’t want that?
The Ability to Torrent
Torrenting has been banned in several countries. This is because it lets you illegally access copyrighted content. Fortunately, you can bypass the restrictions with a VPN. Not all VPNs are strong enough to access the government blocked sites but Nord is.
The fact that it can bypass the blocks is appreciated. However, torrenting would be extra safe as you get protection from DNS leaks and kill-switches. You’ll be taken offline the moment Nord disconnects, which would prevent the sites from knowing you were bypassing their blocks.
Speaking of torrenting, pirating sites are also blocked by governments. The most notorious example would be Australia, as they made the news for continuously restricting pages. Yes, Nord is powerful enough to unblock them.
The Ability to Access Streaming Services
Depending on the country you live in, your Netflix library would differ. With the VPN, you’ll be able to bounce your IP, accessing another country’s video bank. Similar to bypassing the block on torrenting sites, not all virtual private networks can overcome the geo-block from streaming services.
Once again, kill-switches are useful here. The feature prevents the streaming service from knowing what you were up to – or your account could be banned.
As you can see, the cons list isn’t nearly as extensive as the pros. In fact, most of them are minor complaints we have.
They take time to issue a Refund
Although customer support claims that NordVPN issues all refunds within 24 hours, it typically takes a week or more for it to reach your bank account. This is quite a slow service when compared to other top-tier VPNs. Furthermore, refunds are not granted if you purchase the VPN through the App Store or iTunes.
Can be a bit Expensive
If you want to pay just $2.99 a month, you’ll have to sign on for a three-year plan. Otherwise, it’s $11.95 on a month-to-month basis. They are not the priciest option around, but there are many more affordable choices.
The following are how much their payment plans add up to:
- 1 year – $143.40
- 2 years – $286.80
They don’t offer free trials, unfortunately, though many of their competitors do. This is a shame as you won’t be able to try out their services beforehand to see if they’re for you.
They Don’t Have the Most Diverse Servers
Although they offer thousands of servers, we don’t think they are the most diverse. Nord’s biggest competitor is
They Were Hacked
As mentioned, the virtual private network was hacked. When you’re looking for a program to work with, this is probably the worst thing to hear. You’re using VPNs to keep your data safe, so a hacker infiltrating servers might give them access to everything. It’s especially concerning due to the heavy military locks VPNs offer. They aren’t easy to by-pass unless the service has lied about how secure they are.
In October 2019, it was disclosed that the platform was infiltrated. One of their servers was hacked remotely. The company said that this only took place because the server was rented out, and was not handled directly by them. This means that it didn’t have the same security as regular servers.
As discussed, the intruder left empty-handed as user information was not found. This was due to the platform’s strict no-logging policy.
The service did not inform users that they were infiltrated until a year after the incident took place. This is concerning and makes the platform seem less transparent. The world only found out about it after reports leaked on social media. If it’s any consolation, know that they have been very vocal about it ever since, regularly issuing thorough audits to prevent similar incidents from taking place. The audits are great as you know they’ll always be on top of things.
Not the Most Extensive Device Count
The fact that they let you connect to 6 devices is appreciated. However, it’s nothing to write home about. The minimum amount is 5. There are countless VPNs, like
What Do You Look for In A VPN?
Now that you know more about Nord, you might be wondering what sets a good VPN apart from the rest. We discussed this below.
A Large Server Count
Depending on the VPN you’re using, the number of servers you have access to might differ. The best of these offer thousands of servers, and fortunately, Nord provides access to 5800 of them. They are spread across 62 different nations.
A large server pool would help with streaming services. You might live in Asia, where your Netflix library is not very big due to copyright laws. With a virtual private network having servers in multiple locations, you’ll be able to tunnel your IP to Europe, accessing their content libraries.
Having many servers available decreases the chances of your connection being slow too. If you live in Puerto Rico, you can have your IP bounced to Florida instead of California. Your data would be tunnelled to a location that isn’t too far away, allowing you to use the internet with less buffering.
Not only does NordVPN provide a large server pool, but it’s a growing one as well. The company is known to provide new IPs in key locations, like the US.
Access to Streaming Services
As mentioned, content libraries differ per country. Having your IP bounced to America would let you access its shows because its library is known to be the most diverse.
Netflix’s content libraries are very different, but their services are available almost everywhere. Some streaming services aren’t like this. Disney+ is available in only a handful of locations, but you don’t have to worry about this if you’re using Nord.
However, the number of VPNs that work with streaming services is low. Across the board, free ones won’t work. They share the same servers, which isn’t great when streaming services blacklist them.
In our review, we talked about how NordVPN utilizes military level locks. You should not use a virtual private network if it doesn’t offer one – your connection could easily be intercepted. But encryptions aren’t the only way the networks keep you safe.
You’ll be connecting to the internet through protocols. They play a role in how safe you’ll be. Although OpenVPN is the most secure, it’s not the best for mobiles.
When using a virtual private network on handsets, switching to IKEV2 is appreciated as it’s fine-tuned for it.
Even Better Privacy
On the subject of free virtual private networks, they don’t secure your privacy. They have to make their money somewhere, which is why they store logs and sell data to third parties. The information is used to send targeted advertisements. This might explain why you’ve been seeing oddly specific ads.
Free VPNs aren’t the only ones that store data, sadly. Some paid ones also do this.
Nord’s biggest competitors,
To make sure your privacy is not compromised, work with a VPN that has its headquarters in a country with no data retention laws. Nord has theirs in Panama, which is far from the 5-eyes as well. These are countries that store and exchange citizens’ information.
When it comes to VPNs, around $13 for a monthly membership is pricey. To save cash, you can go for a 1-2 year plan. The amount you’ll have to pay would reduce to around $2-4 every 30 days.
Whether you’re crazy about cybersecurity or not, you’ve probably heard of NordVPN before. They are one of the largest names in the community, which is why they regularly have sales. They offer their biggest bargains during the Black-Friday time.
Most VPNs get competitive with how low they can go on Cyber Monday. As a buyer, this is what you want.
One of the reasons Nord is so popular is due to the features it offers. Not only do you get a large server pool and superb privacy, but kill-switches and double encryptions too. Most of their competitors offer kill switches. However, not many offer double encryptions.
From the two, we think the latter is the better choice as it makes sure your connection is ultra-secure.
Another feature Nord comes with is protection from DNS leaks. Similar to the double encryptions, it is not very popular.
Although Nord bypasses China’s geo-blocks, it’s more than capable of bypassing the restrictions on torrenting sites. Finding a VPN that lets you do this might be tough, and only the best paid types are like this.
The protection from DNS leaks and kill switches are useful when accessing blocked torrenting sites. If your VPN disconnects, you’ll be taken offline instead of to the site knowing you were hiding your IP. This might get you into legal trouble, as it is governments that block these pages.
Considering all that it offers, it’s quite easy to recommend NordVPN to anyone. Thanks to the 5800 plus physical servers, great download speed is pretty much guaranteed regardless of where you are. The VPN’s SmartPlay feature allows users to circumvent geo-blocks for up to 400 different streaming services.
You’ll be able to make use of its services on 6 different accounts. What’s noteworthy is that this can be done across multiple operating systems.
However, what’s really impressive is the amount of security present for its users. With features like double encrypted servers and kill switch, coupled with the fact that its country of origin has no data-retention laws, NordVPN is one of the most secure choices around. Plus, with accessible and helpful customer support, you’ll be able to eliminate any learning curve with this VPN.
This doesn’t mean that the program doesn’t come with some drawbacks. Thankfully, there aren’t many. The most noteworthy incident is that it was hacked, though this was a rented server. It didn’t utilize the same security that regular ones do, and no data was stripped from it. However, the public only found out about the incident year later. The company may have hesitated to make this public because the infiltration was minor. Ever since then, however, they’ve thoroughly been auditing themselves.
So, with all these tips in mind, it’s up to you to make a decision about getting on board with NordVPN.