VPN is an app that allows the user to hide his online activity. Moreover, it is used to protect the users from hackers and snoops. To hide your IP address, personal data and browsing activity, you need a VPN. Therefore, let’s learn more about NordVPN in this NORDVPN review, the best VPN for every user.
What is NordVPN?
NordVPN offers a little bit of everything. It has large and different servers, an impressive arsenal of rarely seen tools, strong privacy and security practice, the latest WireGuard technology, and approachable clients for every major platform. The company is trying to improve its infrastructure security in the future. It’s an excellent service that is performing well in testing. In this NORDVPN review, we will tell you everything you want to know.
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NORDVPN Review: Pros and Cons of NordVPN
As every application, Nord VPN has pros and cons. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Pros of NordVPN
1✔️ Excellent performance and speed
2✔️ Solid, independently audited security features
3✔️ Unblocked streaming websites
4✔️ Great customer support
5✔️ Acceptable price
6✔️ 30-day money-back guarantee
7✔️ WireGuard VPN technology
8✔️ Multihop and Tor connections
10✔️ Many server locations
Cons of NordVPN
1❌Linux client has no graphic interface
2❌No router app
NORDVPN review: Main roles of NordVPN
For hiding your IP address, browsing activity, streaming and more, you should use Nordvpn. Check these roles for its main usages:
NordVPN is good for streaming since it unlocks all the main streaming platforms, Its SmartPlay technology can get into all video platforms.
It offers many servers that have the best streaming libraries. You can install it on various devices like Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV, Kodi and Roku.
NordVPN is very good for streaming Netflix from various international locations. The UK and US libraries worked perfectly and even in Japan.
Loading times and video frame rates had no issues. It’s the highest-rated VPN for Hulu in the entire market.
The resolution remained constant throughout the entire test.
Unblocking HBO Max
The load times were quick and the overall experience was very similar to before VPN.
Unblocking BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and Disney+
BBC iPlayer worked with high definition content, no stutters, and fast load time, but it took a while to find a server that supports it.
Disney+ worked perfectly, but it’s not easy, so you need to find the right option.
DAZN worked well but not with the US servers.
NordVPN is the best when it comes to streaming, but It’s a good idea to try several servers so even if it fails with one, there is a real chance that it will work with another server or location.
NordVPN is a very good option for torrenting in the entire VPN market. While P2P downloads don’t work on all server products, there are specialised servers all around the world with fast and reliable performance.
This can be an absolute lifesaver in countries where torrenting is forbidden. You’re free to use any server you want for torrenting. However, if P2P traffic gets detected on a non-P2P server, you will be reconnected to a server that supports P2P. So be aware if you notice a strange server switch.
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NORDVPN Review: Features of NordVPN
1. Servers and Locations
NordVPN is truly a global player. Their fleet consists of 5100 servers in 60 countries. As for locations, Europe contains ~2100 servers along 37 countries, Asia contains ~450 servers along 12 countries, The Americas contain ~2400 servers along 7 countries and the rest of the world contain ~200 servers along 3 countries.
2. Speed and Performance
If you use a VPN, you want to keep a good internet connection. The potential loss of internet speed according to tests on many devices was assessed using speedtest.net. Here are the results:
- A small decrease in speed, but you won’t notice that expected drop in speed
- Automatically switch to the fastest possible server available.
- Fast P2P downloading
NordVPN’s speeds are blazing fast, especially when using the NordLynx protocol, developed by NordVPN itself, where speed and security are improved. The only registered drops were in the furthest locations from Europe.
For the final result, after putting the fastest protocol download speeds from all around the world together, NordVPN retains 79% of your original connection speed.
Performance with other protocols by this NORDVPN review
NordVPN offers many protocols. Below, you can see the different speeds in numbers depending on which tunnelling protocol you use:
- NordLynx: 248.7/126.7
- IKEv2: 237.8/55.8
- OpenVPN (TCP): 36/28
- OpenVPN (UDP): 212.6/74.6
IKEv2 and NordLynx are close in terms of download speed. The worst reduction was 99%, the lowest was – 7%.
The OpenVPN (TCP) version is pretty slow, but that’s a sacrifice for a more stable connection. OpenVPN (UDP), however, is a much faster option, depending on your location the speed reduction can be as low as 3% (UK) or as high as 87% (Japan).
Only NordLynx and OpenVPN (UDP) have reductions as low as 13% in terms of upload speed. IKEv2 and OpenVPN (TCP) will be slower if you are further. Remember this if you’re planning to upload large data files.
This data tells us that NordVPN is indeed a pretty fast VPN. If you’re picking a close location, you’ll barely even notice you’re using a VPN. If the location is further away, there will be some speed drops, which in some cases can be solved by switching tunnelling protocols – with NordLynx being the fastest solution here. Otherwise, the service ensures that you won’t have to wait long for web pages to load and for videos to buffer.
Many tests showed that Hotspot Shield VPN is the fastest VPN, having the smallest impact on both download speeds and latency. Surf Shark VPN snuck in excellent upload speed test results. Speed alone shouldn’t be the only standard you use to choose a VPN. Value, easy usability, and a commitment to privacy are important factors.
For this NORDVPN review, we ran our NordVPN speed tests using both wireless and Ethernet connections. Speeds in the US vary according to the user’s state and provider. And with any speed test, results are going to depend on your local infrastructure, with hyperfast internet service yielding higher test speed results.
The amount of speed lost is very important, as the use of any VPN can typically cut your internet speed by half or more. NordVPN reduces connection speed by 53% on average, compared to the 32% speed loss that was tested in 2019. While not as fast as some of its competitors like ExpressVPN and Surf Shark, we found that NordVPN’s speeds were reliably fast; there were never any sudden low or service interruptions, and where we expected it to go under, it proved itself up to the task.
NordVPN’s overall global average speed was 91Mbps during my testing, in a dataset with average non-VPN speeds of 194Mbps, The notable context here is that across the averages of my five test zones, NordVPN never fell below 85Mbps. It’s still one of the most compatible and stable VPNs.
Speeds during daily use
NordVPN automatically allows you to switch between their servers for the fastest one on a specific location, which guarantees a stable and fast connection.
Download speeds were lower by 35 per cent, and upload speeds were affected by 23.9 percent based on tests in September 2021, but the effect on the delay was negligible. They have improved in performance compared to the previous testing.
All pricing plans in NordVPN come with the same features and benefits.
In total, there are three pricing tiers, a 1-month plan with 11.95$ a month, a 1-year plan with 59$ a year, 2-year plan for 89$ for 2 years. The longer the plan is, the better the savings.
The writer of this NORDVPN review analyzed all the available payment options and found many including like credit cards, AmazonPay, Sofort, PayPal, ACH Transfer, and even prepaid cards. You can also pay using iTunes, Google Pay and for the most privacy-cautious, you can buy with cryptocurrencies or retail stores.
Note that VPN companies sometimes offer promotions, so you may see a different price when you check out.
Some people may also want a constant IP address, which NordVPN provides for $5.83 per month. NordVPN offers special IP addresses in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US which was made for preventing your VPN connection from being blocked, especially if you connect consistently to the same region.
4. Security and Privacy
NordVPN is one of the safest VPNs. Military-grade encryption and secure tunnelling protocols make sure that data is safe, and NordVPN’s standard servers run on RAM. RAM servers are very useful for a VPN: as the data gets deleted every time your server is restarted, there is no information to steal.
Here’s what we think about NordVPN’s safety:
- Headquarters are in Panama
- Strong AES 256-bit encryption
- many encryption protocols: OpenVPN TCP/UDP, IKEv2/IPSec, and NordLynx
- Strict no-logs policy
- Kill switch
- You only need an email address and password to create an account
After creating your account and installing your client, you can connect to any server with the encrypted connection, making your traffic unreadable for external watchers, that is why NordVPN uses the AES-256-CBC cipher.
From there, you can access the server through the use of the SHA-512 hash function. It changes data into 512 binary digits so that it’s meaningless data to all outsiders. These are then compared to the cryptographic hashes created and stored on their servers when you were creating your account, and if they match you can get in.
Many competing VPN providers use SHA-256, so NordVPN is really surpassing the limits here in terms of what’s possible. The SHA-512 function is more algorithmically composite, affording better safety for its users, and more difficult to break for anyone trying to get in.
Users’ data is transferred between the VPN server and their device using tunnelling protocols. NordVPN supports these three main options. OpenVPN, IKEv2IPsec and NordLynx.
OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) – an open-source VPN protocol that is used by many major VPN providers. It is secure and works on numerous platforms. On NordVPN, you can choose a safer (TCP) or faster (UDP) method.
IKEv2/IPsec – is best used on mobile devices. It’s much less CPU intensive, and good in establishing a reconnection, making it perfect for a smooth switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data. It’s available on iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS.
WireGuard (NordLynx) – this is NordVPN’s next-gen WireGuard VPN technology. It’s an upgrade on older protocols, with superior options for speed and security. Available on all NordVPN clients.
Most VPN service providers are renting the servers they’re offering to customers. This often means they control them by installing custom software, leaving some control to the third-party owning the data centre. This can easily backfire.
NordVPN is the biggest VPN provider to offer colocated servers.
If you are trying to stay anonymous but the connection to the VPN server drops, you could expose your location, IP and not even know about it.
That’s why this NORDVPN review recommend using NordVPN that has a system-wide kill switch, and an app kill switch.
The Internet Kill Switch will cut Internet access if the client detects that you’re not connected to a VPN. App Kill Switch affects a specific app – imagine that you’re torrenting using a VPN and don’t want any of the P2P traffic to go directly through your ISP, app kill switch on µTorrent client would prevent data leaks by closing the app.
On the iOS and macOS apps downloaded from the App Store, the system-wise kill switch is on by default and built into the client. You won’t see its icon but it will kill your connection if the connection to the VPN drops. On Windows and macOS, you can configure the kill switch on a per-app basis, while on Linux and Android, you can only enable a system-wide kill switch.
If a government wants to ask for your usage logs, they should contact a Panamanian court. Panama has no data reservation laws, NordVPN doesn’t have to keep any data on their users. This is why it’s important to select a VPN service provider that isn’t located in a Five Eyes country or an invasive country.
The only data they collect is related to crash error reports and application diagnostics data. If you find that this is unacceptable to you, you can easily opt out of anonymized app usage at any time from their client.
Security and privacy audits
NordVPN hired an independent agency, PwC, to perform an audit, and also put themselves through app security audits.
They’re always trying to improve their service and are offering bug bounties for testers who find bugs on their HackerOne page. So NordVPN is taking the necessary steps towards transparency.
NordVPN scored the highest marks on all criteria, including the highest level 4 on the vulnerability reporting program. In addition to accepting external submissions, it also has a public research rewards program. They got a level 4 ranking in password management. App APIs need re-authentication for sensitive transactions.
Recently, this certificate has been applied to VPN apps, while previously it was exclusive to IoT devices. This new change also means that only a handful of VPN services can show off about having it. NordVPN is at the forefront with the other industry leaders.
Breach and Recovery
In October 2019, an attacker remotely accessed one of NordVPN’s servers but there was no evidence that the attacker obtained anything significant. We discuss the attack and its consequences. It’s unfair to judge a company for security incidents because attacks are a frequent occurrence. A company should be judged on how it handles a security issue, instead of holding them to the impossible standard of perfection. Since the breach was disclosed, NordVPN took several steps to improve its security and win back the trust of the public. The company employed VerSprite to help prevent any potentially dangerous data centres and created a successful Bug Bounty on the HackerOne platform to disclose security issues for cash and this is done in public. This exercise is significant in transparency.
NordVPN removed servers that did not ascend its security criteria and began to move other servers to co-located facilities. In late summer 2020, the company completed its transformation to diskless servers, which are seized and offer better protection to important encryption key information. Data on these servers remain encrypted in memory, and you must rebuild the entire server whenever it’s rebooted.
In addition, the company made an audit by PriceWaterhouseCooper in 2018, and reaeased this report to customers. It included an examination of NordVPN’s server infrastructure and found that the company was indeed living up to its claims of not logging user data or information. NordVPN also built better incident response policies to be able to respond faster and more transparently.
In general, it was a good move that NordVPN made a good faith effort to protect customers. The company invested significant time and capital into making its systems and practices less vulnerable. In short, they seem to learn from past mistakes.
It is difficult, however, to fully endorse the privacy practises of any given VPN company. Doing that would require more access to the company’s code and hardware, as well as the technical expertise to interpret it all. That’s why NordVPN made much effort to rebuild trust, and why PCMag held off so long on restoring the company’s Editors’ Choice award. As always, the consumer must ask himself whether or not he is comfortable with trusting NordVPN, or any company with his personal information. This NORDVPN review recommends NORDVPN as the best one when it comes to security.
5. Mobile Apps
Both iOS and Android versions clients use a map/country list hybrid to select the server, and even settings and notifications are accessible by clicking identical icons in the corner of the screen.
The key differences are some platform-exclusive features. For example, iOS has a Favourites tab just below Recent Connections. You can’t turn off the kill switch, and there’s Dark Web monitoring that checks data leaks.
Meanwhile, Android has split tunnelling, a configurable kill switch, pausing, and auto-connect. There is a difference in tunnelling protocols, as well. iOS can use IKEv2, OpenVPN, and NordLynx, unlike Android which doesn’t have IKEv2. On other hand, Android is one of their apps to have passed ioXt certification, so it shows their compliance with the highest security standards.
It is refreshing to see an iOS app that has so much going on considering the restrictive nature of Apple’s policies. The developers clearly put that idea into how to create value in NordVPN clients even in cases when iOS policies work against them. Split tunnelling and the customizable kill switch still makes Android better, However, this is something that many mobile VPN users are used to.
SmartPlay is a special feature for letting you seamlessly access media wherever you are through bypassing streaming media blocks. It automatically kicks in when you’re using a NordVPN and trying to access streaming sites like Hulu, HBO Now, and others.
This technology also works on devices that don’t have NordVPN apps. If your device has internet connectivity, you can change its DNS settings – this allows using SmartDNS, and using NordVPN SmartPlay technology without the client.
So, NordVPN is a VPN with streaming media as one of the main reasons. Don’t forget that SmartDNS is not a security feature and doesn’t add any layer of encryption when used without the client.
7. Specialty Servers
If you’re looking to use a VPN for a specific case you’ll get the best experience with a server fully optimised for it.
Dedicated IP servers – you can have one on the official site of NordVPN. When connected, your IP will not change, so this is useful if you’re not that concerned about staying anonymous. They’re only available with OpenVPN in UDP or TCP mode.
Double VPN servers – Combines two VPN servers to make a VPN-VPN connection, which makes data pass through two of their servers to reach their destination, which ensures maximum privacy. You can use it with OpenVPN in UDP or TCP mode.
Obfuscated servers – useful only in extreme censorship cases, these servers make VPN traffic look like regular HTTPS. Governments that limit VPN usage depend on traffic analysis to block VPNs. These servers solve this problem by fooling such analysis methods.
P2P servers – created for P2P traffic and best used when downloading files using torrents, but they are great for any type of P2P traffic.
Onion over VPN servers – these servers combine the Tor network with VPN to create a VPN-Tor connection, so traffic passes through the VPN server and then goes through 3 Tor nodes, which adds a layer of misdirection, making it harder to trace any online activity back to you.
8. Split Tunnelling
The NordVPN split tunnelling feature lets you choose which apps to use the VPN connection for, and which can connect without it, while on Windows, you can disable or enable VPN for specific apps only.
This allows you to control better how you want to use your VPN in your setup. That way, every time you’ll launch the app, you’ll also turn the VPN on.
The Android version has fewer customization options, It’s only possible to configure apps through inverse split tunnelling. That way, you can turn your VPN off for selected apps, which means that they’ll be routed directly through your ISP.
Mac, Linux, or iOS don’t have these features, though with continuous support they should be available in the future.
NordVPN’s CyberSec feature uses its proprietary DNS servers to filter online ads and dangerous websites. Once you switch the CyberSec feature from the options screen, it will start cross-referencing your sites in real-time.
CyberSec filters out threats like blacklisted pages associated with malware and spyware spreading, or trackers. When it triggers, you’ll be notified and won’t be able to enter the website. It also works as an ad blocker.
Dark Web Monitor
This spooky-sounding feature warns you of your personal data weaknesses. It checks dark web marketplaces and pastes bins for data related to your email address. If it ends up there, there’s a good chance that the hackers reached the services you’ve been using.
If you’re using the same password in several places, your other platforms can be vulnerable. NordVPN tells you if your email ever ends up in a dark web marketplace.
This feature is available to iOS, Android, and macOS.
Pausing and auto-connect
VPN auto-connect makes firing up your device and going online easier, but it also keeps you connected to a VPN, besides, you need to turn it off altogether to access something without a VPN connection.
This situation can be harmful to user error: if you forget to enable your VPN later, you will be exposing your IP. You can solve this by auto-connect on NordVPN which also comes with a pause feature.
After you click pause and select time, the connection will automatically begin after the timer runs out.
It’s a feature that can be best appreciated when you switch VPN service and find out that it’s missing.
This is the last feature in NORDVPN review, the Presets. It is another recently added feature that you can switch to infinity. You can create your own custom VPN settings that you can access directly from the app’s main screen which allows you to choose the kind of servers you want to connect to, switch added features, and build your best type of VPN connection.
You can even include shortcuts to some apps that are accessible from the main screen of the app. This feature is better if you’re using different VPN servers for different services. To make your setup more simple, there are some pre-made presets, but currently they are only available on macOS.
NordVPN and many other VPN companies have begun to expand their offerings beyond VPN protection. You can protect your passwords with the NordPass password manager for an additional fee, besides that, you can encrypt your files with NordLocker.
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NORDVPN review: Available for different devices
You can set it up on your router – or instead, use one of the available apps for your desktop and mobile devices.
The available NordVPN apps for devices are different. The Windows app is by far the most powerful – but the options for macOS, Linux, mobile devices, and browser extensions are also worth it.
1. NORDVPN review for Windows
The most full version of the NordVPN feature in Windows. Besides getting two types of split tunnelling and two types of a kill switch, but also invisibility on LAN, auto-connect, and pause features.
The only available tunnelling protocols from the client are NordLynx, and OpenVPN (UDP/TCP). Using IKEv2 requires you to use a manual setup, however seeing the speeds, there’s hardly any point to bother.
You’re also getting a clickable map interface making choosing the connection country easier, or you can use the country list in the sidebar. If you click the three dots that appear when you hover your mouse over a country, you can select a particular server ( fastest one). So, NordVPN covers any method you prefer.
2. NORDVPN review for MacOS
Till writing this NORDVPN review, NordVPN has two apps for macOS. The first one is available from the App Store, while the second is downloadable from their official website, both versions support the most recent Presets feature. The latter is known as the sideload version and has many recent updates, but it only has OpenVPN tunnelling protocols. Also, macOS kill switch works only for specific apps, but you can’t set it up so that it stops the entire online connection once the VPN connection is interrupted.
The app store version supports IKEv2, OpenVPN, and NordLynx tunnelling protocols, besides that the kill switch is enabled by default without the option to disable it.
NordVPN introduces some confusion by introducing two Mac versions. Moreover, this approach provides additional benefits for its users.
3. NORDVPN review for Linux
You can only download RPM and DEB packages from their official site. There is a community-made Arch Linux port with guides for manual OpenVPN and IKEv2 connections.
If you’re a Linux user you won’t get a graphical application, so you’ll have to set up everything using the OpenVPN stack with a command-line terminal. So, the experience seems weak when compared to what Windows or macOS users have. A minimal graphical interface would be a welcome addition and would save you numerous trips to their website when you want to switch servers.
That aside, everything else works fine, however, there was a strange bug with the kill switch. When enabling it, the app thinks that the subscription has expired, so it prevents connecting, which leads to redirecting to their order page. At other times, the app was slow in responding to commands.
NORDVPN review: Customer Support
NordVPN has a lot of support options which we mentioned in this NORDVPN review. The guides and FAQs in their support webpage give you in-depth tutorials to a wide variety of questions. Besides that, it has a Chatbot to direct you to the solution for most common issues.
Their crown jewels are the 24/7 live chat and email and with this former, the customer can get an answer in minutes. If the issue is complex to solve via chat, they’ll get back to you via email but still, they respond within a few hours.
Overall, NordVPN’s customer support is very good so you can even contact their support agents via live chat without registration. The accessibility and quality of provided assistance are the best qualities for the VPN service.
NORDVPN review: Can you get NordVPN for free?
According to this NORDVPN review, yes. you can get a free 7-day trial so you’ll be able to use NordVPN with any device, but you’ll need to download NordVPN on your Android device (this account shouldn’t have any NordVPN accounts registered already).
After downloading the app and making the account, you’ll start your free 7-day trial.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have a month to ask for a refund. In total, this can get you 37 free NordVPN days.
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