NordVPN is one of the highest-rated VPN providers on the market. This company offers privacy and security thanks to its network of fast and reliable servers. Our NordVPN review takes a closer look at the different security features and answers any questions you might have about the pros and cons of choosing NordVPN.
PC Magazine called NordVPN the best VPN service of 2017. This VPN provider is a popular option due to its great reputation and affordable price.
The company behind NordVPN has its corporate headquarters in Panama. Audits have verified the company’s claims that it doesn’t store any data logs from internet users.
NordVPN immediately stands out from other providers thanks to the advanced security features offered and the huge number of servers and locations available.
We recommend this VPN provider whether you want to preserve your anonymity when you browse the web or need a secure connection to share sensitive data for your job. You can also use NordVPN for torrenting, watching Netflix and other streaming services with geographical restrictions, or for gaming purposes.
How Does NordVPN Keep Your Data Safe?
NordVPN establishes a secure VPN tunnel when you connect to one of their servers. Your connection is an encrypted link between your device and the server you chose.
The requests you send to the server and data you receive are hidden thanks to encryption. If your ISP or an attacker intercepts this traffic, the information will be useless since they won’t have access to the encryption key.
Note: NordVPN uses 256-bit encryption keys to prevent hackers from being able to conduct attack
This algorithm is common because it requires a huge amount of computing power to crack, and attackers typically don’t have access to this amount of computing power when conducting attacks.
NordVPN is one of the safest VPN providers because it uses two different security protocols. The NordVPN app will automatically select the best security protocol depending on the device you use and the server you selected.
Many VPN providers use the OpenVPN security protocol. This protocol protects your data while delivering a fast connection speed.
NordVPN also uses the IKEv2/IPsec protocol. This security protocol hasn’t been cracked yet and provides a higher level of security. Note that your NordVPN app might implement the OpenVPN protocol if using the IKEv2/IPsec protocol would slow your connection down.
Some servers have more security features available. You can choose to connect to a NordVPN server that supports Double VPN.
Double VPN means that the server you use will encrypt your data twice. Data travel through two servers when you use Double VPN and the second server encrypts your data again. The advantage of using this feature is that the second VPN server won’t see your IP address while the first VPN server won’t see your final destination. This feature is a great way to hide your online activities from your ISP.
NordVPN also has a few servers that support Onion Over VPN. The Onion Network, sometimes referred to as Tor network, is a network of servers owned by volunteers.
This network hides your online activities by randomly routing your requests through different nodes. It’s very hard to track where traffic comes from and what the final destination is when you use this network, but server owners can access some information such as your IP or destination. Your ISP can also see that you are using the Onion Network.
Combining a VPN with this technology provides you with an additional layer of security. Using a VPN means that your ISP won’t be able to tell that you are using the Onion Network.
Your VPN provider will also encrypt your data and hide it from the owners of the servers that make up the Tor Network. Onion Over VPN is an advanced security feature that most users probably don’t need, but it’s a feature that can come in handy if you want to share sensitive information such as patent files or work as a journalist or activist.
The CyberSec feature is a built-in tool that will improve your browsing experience. You can enable or disable it in your NordVPN app if you decide you don’t need it.
This feature blocks ads, including pop-ups and video ads. It also blocks your device from taking part in DDoS attacks. Attackers can infect devices and remotely control hundreds of devices to overload a server in a DDoS attack. It’s difficult to determine if there is DDoS malware on your devices since you won’t notice it, even when your device takes part in an attack.
The CyberSec feature also blocks malicious websites. It compares URLs with malicious URLs from different blocklists and will block access to webpages that contain suspicious code. We think this feature is a great way to keep you safe when you browse the web.
Kill Switch And DNS Leak Protection
You need a VPN provider that offers some kind of DNS leak protection. If you install an update on one of your devices or fail to properly configure your VPN, your device will send requests to a default DNS server.
Google owns some of the most popular DNS servers, but your ISP might route your traffic to other third-party DNS servers. You might use a VPN but the sites your ISP and other parties will be able to see the sites you visit if you use an unsecured DNS.
Using a secure VPN tunnel means that your traffic requests go to a secure DNS server, typically owned by your VPN provider. NordVPN provides an online DNS leak test tool that you can use to make sure your current connection sends your requests to a secure DNS server.
The kill switch feature serves a similar purpose. Your devices might automatically establish connections outside of the secure VPN tunnel. This scenario could happen if your device drops the connection to the VPN server you were using.
The kill switch feature monitors that status of your connection to the VPN server. It stops all requests and data transfers if the secure connection drops.
We like these two security features because they will prevent your ISP from intercepting your traffic and activities.
Can You Use NordVPN On All Your Devices?
You will find NordVPN applications compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are phone apps available on Android and iOS.
You can also download the proxy browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These extensions work on desktop and mobile.
NordVPN also offers a router app that you can use to protect traffic for up to six devices at once.
Shared And Dedicated IP Addresses
There is another important feature we should mention in our NordVPN review. Because VPN providers route your traffic via servers that other customers use, you typically end up browsing the web or downloading files with a shared IP address.
Using a shared IP address isn’t an issue if you want to protect your identity and prevent advertisers or your ISP from tracking you online. However, some online services such as PayPal will require you to verify your account every time you log in from a different IP address. Some networks might restrict your access if you use an IP that is different from the one you had when you created your account.
NordVPN gives you the possibility to use a dedicated IP address. There is no need to purchase an add-on to use this service.
Using a dedicated IP address will prevent you from verifying your online accounts and we recommend that you use a dedicated IP address to avoid getting locked out of your employer’s network if you work remotely.
You can get a dedicated IP address in different countries, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands. Getting a dedicated IP address is an interesting feature since most VPN will charge you an additional fee for this service.
Server Locations And Speed
NordVPN operates over 5,000 servers. You can connect to more than 2,000 different servers located in the U.S. and will get access to more than 2,000 servers in European countries.
There is a huge selection of countries and locations. A lot of these servers work with P2P downloads.
You will also find a few servers that work with the Double VPN feature discussed above or that give you access to the safer Onion Over VPN network. These features aren’t available for every location.
NordVPN offers excellent server speed. There are several servers optimized for P2P to guarantee fast upload and download speeds. We recommend NordVPN if you are looking for a fast and reliable VPN service you will primarily use for torrenting due to the wide selection of P2P servers available.
Does NordVPN Store Your Data?
NordVPN claims that it doesn’t store any of your browsing data. Independent audits have confirmed that this is true.
Because NordVPN is in Panama, there are no legal requirements to track or log anything. There are no laws that would require NordVPN to hand over your data to your ISP or another party.
The company won’t record your IP when you use their services. They won’t log the sites you visit or the files you download. The VPN provider doesn’t record any connection timestamps and doesn’t collect data linked to bandwidth use.
NordVPN collects your email address and payment information. The company also logs data linked to customer service and server load.
Experience With The NordVPN Apps
We think the NordVPN apps deliver a positive experience in spite of a few drawbacks. The main issue we encountered with these apps is the map interface.
The app lets you see all the available servers on a map. You can tap on the map to connect to a server. We like the idea, but this is very impractical since there are over 2,000 different servers available in Europe and the map displays a clump of pins.
Thankfully, you can switch off the map view and choose your server in a list. This feature is a lot more convenient and allows you to connect to a server in a few taps.
You can access the app settings if you want to choose a preferred DNS or protocol. You can also save favorite servers and locations. The app makes it very easy to choose a server and switch servers if you need to.
Overall, we liked the different apps but felt the map interface was unnecessary and wished the advanced settings were easier to access.
The NordVPN website has several tutorials you can follow to install the correct VPN app on the device you want to use. The tutorials will walk you through the process of configuring your VPN connection, but you can also download and install configuration files to save time.
We recommend that you take the time to explore tutorials to gain a better understanding of how the apps work and to discover the different features.
There is room for improvement with the app design, but we like that the apps are easy to navigate and allow you to quickly get started with the service, even if it’s your first time using a VPN.
We also tested the browser proxy extensions. The extensions look like streamlined versions of the different apps. You can choose your server among a list of available locations and access more settings if you need to.
NordVPN delivers 24/7 technical support in case you encounter a problem with their services. The NordVPn website has a great selection of tutorials you can use to troubleshoot problems.
The only drawback is that you have to select your platform or protocol to find the correct tutorial. Adding a search box would make these resources easier to browse.
The tutorials are very detailed and accessible even if you aren’t tech-savvy. The site also has an FAQ section, and there is a fairly active community of NordVPN users on Reddit who might be able to answer your questions.
The NordVPN blog is another interesting resource with tech news and advice. If you need help, you can email customer support. NordVPN claims to offer 24/7 assistance but it’s unclear how quickly you will get a response to your email.
The lack of a live chat feature is somewhat of a drawback. Most VPN providers have a ticket system and offer some kind of chat support.
How Much Does NordVPN Cost?
We recommend NordVPN because this company offers a transparent pricing model. There is only one plan offered and your price will vary in function of how long you subscribe for. You won’t have to worry about add-ons and other fees.
Subscribing to NordVPN will give you access to all the features mentioned above, but keep in mind that not all the servers offer the advanced security features we discussed. You can connect up to six devices at the same time with one subscription.
The base monthly price is $11.95, which can be a good option if you would like to test NordVPN. You can subscribe for a year and save 41% off the base price by paying $83.88.
You can save 66% by subscribing for two years and paying $99.75, or pay $107.55 for three years and end up paying $2.99 a month.
Subscribing for three years is the most interesting deal, and paying $2.99 a month for a high-quality VPN service with over 5,000 different servers is probably the best price you can find at the moment.
There is a 30-days money back guarantee, but we think NordVPN should offer a free trial so you can test the server speed and explore the different features before deciding if you want to commit for three years.
You can sign up with your email address and won’t need any additional information. NordVPN accepts many different payment options, including credit cards, crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, Alipay, and other options.
Rating And Verdict
We want to end this NordVPN review by giving this service a rating of 5 out of 5 possible points. We have discussed a few drawbacks throughout this review, including the lack of a live chat feature, the somewhat clunky map interface of the app, and the fact that NordVPN doesn’t offer a free trial.
However, the $2.99 a month price and the quality of the service more than make up for these few drawbacks. It’s difficult to find another VPN provider that delivers the same speed and performance. Many smaller providers such as Freedome, or Disconnect VPN just don't compare.
We also know that NordVPN respects your privacy and won’t log your data or activities. We like the fact that you can use advanced security features such as Double VPN or Onion Over VPN if you need to.
We strongly recommend NordVPN because it’s a fast and reliable service and you will get access to several server locations. We also like the easy set-up process and the many online resources available to help you get started.