Background: NordVPN is one of the industry veterans in consumer Virtual Private Networks. The company headquarters is in Panama City, from where it oversees its global server network. Launched in 2012, NordVPN has since pioneered many key initiatives in the digital security space.
Starting Price: $3.09/mo
Visit Online: https://www.nordvpn.com
Review Summary & Ratings
I’ve used NordVPN for four years, and it’s been a fantastic journey. With a massive pool of over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, NordVPN offers much to like. It boasts excellent speeds and top-of-the-line security, all packaged into a user-friendly service. While it’s raised prices over the years, you still get lots of value in a single subscription.
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NordVPN Speed Test Results
Overall, the speed potential is stunning, regardless of which servers you might decide to connect.
NordVPN Price Comparisons
Pros: What I Like About NordVPN
1. NordVPN Boasts Extremely Fast Speeds
NordVPN boasts one of the most extensive server networks I have encountered. Its network includes more than 5,000 servers in almost 60 countries. Aside from excellent local content access, the vast network offers the advantage of speedy and reliable performance.
Some may wonder why this is related to speed, but physical distance from a VPN server is one of the factors affecting speed and ping response. A server near your location would give you a better chance of low ping rates and high speeds.
Our NordVPN Speed Test Results
Unlike most VPN service providers, NordVPN has not implemented the WireGuard protocol “as is.” Instead, it utilizes a modified version called NordLynx. From observation, NordLynx provides even better performance than WireGuard despite the additional elements NordVPN includes.
Overall, the sped potential is stunning, regardless of which servers you might decide to connect.
More Details on Our NordVPN Speed Tests
Test Platform Specifications
- Device – AMD Ryzen 5800X, 32GB RAM
- OS – Windows 11
- Router – Asus AX86U
- Network Connection – Gigabit LAN
- Internet Speed – 500 Mbps
- NordVPN App – Version 188.8.131.52
- Protocol Used – NordLynx
- Physical Location: Malaysia
US (New York)
2. No Compromise on Security and Privacy
Using a combination of military-grade encryption and protocols, NordVPN is one of the safest consumer-grade VPNs. AES-256 encryption is as high up the food chain as it gets. To offer some perspective, it’s the same degree of encryption that many governments and militaries utilize.
The encryption is combined with a range of security protocols which you can choose, depending on your needs. Your choice of security protocol will affect your VPN connection speed as well as what type of encryption you can use.
Yet encryption isn’t the only security advantage that NordVPN offers. There are also several other standard features (and some not-so-standard) that make it safe and private.
Like many other top-tier VPN brands, NordVPN offers a no-logs policy. That means they do not retain customer activity data for any reason. Their website states,
“Our VPN no-logs practices have been thoroughly audited and verified by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG.”
It’s important to understand that a “no-logs policy” doesn’t mean a VPN ultimately retains no information. The term refers to NordVPN not keeping data that can associate you with any particular online activities.
For those who are more serious about hiding their identity, Double VPN is something you will like. VPNs work by routing your connection through a server that changes your IP address, so your original is hidden.
Using the Double VPN feature, your connection will be routed through two separate servers, changing twice. This routing “extra” adds a buffer layer in case one of the IP addresses leaks for any reason.
In early 2022, NordVPN swapped its entire server farm to one that runs only on RAM for storage. The diskless environment means that any server seizures result in confiscating empty hardware – authorities (or thieves) can gain no applications, data, or even configuration files.
VPN Kill Switch
If you’re using NordVPN and your connection drops, you can set the application to cut off the data flow from your device. This step prevents identifying information from leaking since the VPN server no longer protects it.
You can set NordVPN to operate at two levels on this, either a complete termination of data flow or a restricted one. The desktop version of NordVPN can use both. The restricted version benefits mobile devices and allows you to choose which apps get cut off from data transmission.
3. Lots of Extra Value
NordVPN has added many additional features over the years. It’s moving from a VPN to a more comprehensive security suite. Some features like NordLocker and NordPass get sold separately. However, most privacy-related features are added to the core VPN package – at no extra cost.
Dark Web Monitoring
NordVPN detects if your email address, username, or password is posted or exposed on the dark web. The results are shown in your NordVPN app if it finds such information. If you see anything appearing in that segment, you can act quickly to remove or change the affected data.
One of the most prevalent threats online is downloading virus-ridden files that can infect your device. Instead of relying on another antivirus solution, NordVPN Threat Protections helps by scanning files before you download them. During the process, the app blocks dangerous downloads before reaching your device.
4. NordVPN’s Meshnet Extends Your Network
NordVPN is the first VPN provider to boldly go where no one has before by launching a revolutionary product called Meshnet. This feature is part of the NordVPN app and allows you to access your local network devices from anywhere securely.
Meshnet uses an encrypted private tunnel, so your data is safe even in transit between out-of-home devices. All you need is to keep the NordVPN app running on the devices you want to add to Meshnet.
5. You Can Use NordVPN on Almost All Devices
Like most other VPNs, you can use NordVPN on multiple devices and platforms. The difference is that NordVPN seems to support a much more comprehensive compatibility range. Aside from standard platforms like PCs and smartphones, you can run it on niche ones like Raspberry Pi, Chromecast, or even Oculus Quest.
This wide-ranging compatibility is essential since you’ll likely want to run NordVPN on multiple devices. Incidentally, you can use one NordVPN account to run six connections simultaneously. That’s enough for the average small family.
It’s worth noting that NordVPN can run on routers, but I don’t recommend doing so. Most home routers are held back by limited processing power and memory. The result will be slow VPN speeds that aren’t the service provider’s fault.
6. NordVPN Provides Specialized Torrent Servers
NordVPN allows P2P traffic and configures special servers for this activity. While P2P fans may find that restrictive, the servers have the advantage of P2P optimization. That means faster and more stable downloads.
Honestly, though, I find this to be a double-edged sword. While optimization does sound good, I’d prefer to have a P2P server near my location. The additional latency that longer-distance servers suffer won’t appeal to everyone.
Still, there are around 46 unique P2P server locations that NordVPN maintains worldwide. Most of the global population should be able to find a nearby location they can use effectively.
7. Works With Netflix and More
NordVPN can help you unblock many geo-restricted media platforms like Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. Most of these streaming services lock libraries to specific regions. If you’re in a location where they offer few titles, simply turn on NordVPN, and you can access many more.
If you are a big-time film and TV buff, NordVPN will become one of your best friends in cyberspace. I mostly use it with Netflix and haven’t had problems accessing content from anywhere. While I mainly use it to access Netflix US content, I sometimes connect to Netflix Australia and Netflix Japan.
NordVPN Cons: What Could be Better?
1. Slow App Launch
One of the strangest things about NordVPN is how long the app takes to launch. I run a pretty mean machine, and even Windows takes seconds to start. The NordVPN app isn’t exactly a turtle, but it’s noticeably slower to start than many competing brands.
2. The App and Browser Extensions Seem Out of Sync
If you’ve installed the NordVPN app, I recommend that you don’t use the browser extension simultaneously. For some odd reason, they seem out of sync with each other. For example, I connected to a VPN server using the app. However, the extension still detected me as unprotected (and unconnected!).
3. Split Tunneling Isn’t Intuitive
Split tunneling is the ability of NordVPN to allow you to specify which apps can operate outside the scope of the VPN. For example, some banks might not allow VPN connections for online banking. In those cases, split tunneling lets you exempt your online banking website from the VPN connection.
While the idea is excellent, NordVPN doesn’t make it convenient to manage your split tunneling list. The option is buried behind several clicks, regardless of whether you use the desktop app or browser extension.
Expect lots of frustration if you need to adjust your spoilt tunneling list frequently.
NordVPN User Reviews – What Others Say About NordVPN
NordVPN is an excellent product, and it’s not just me who feels that way. The brand showcases tremendous support from over 20,000 reviews on TrustPilot. Most reviewers recommend it for its incredible features and excellent customer support.
NordVPN Plans and Pricing
It was pretty cheap when I first signed up for my NordVPN account. However, they’ve increased prices over the years, likely thanks to the inclusion of so many new features. The best way to ensure you get the lowest prices for NordVPN is to sign up for an extended subscription period.
How Will NordVPN Cost?
I usually sign up for the longest, which is their 2-year plan. That reduces the monthly cost of NordVPN to just $3.09/mo. That saves you a ton of money compared to their regular monthly fee of $11.99/mo.
One special bonus is that NordVPN allows customers to pay by non-identifiable means. That means it accepts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which will help further dull any trail which could lead directly to you.
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Verdict – Is NordVPN a Good Choice?
NordVPN prices are on the rise, but the quality of service means I’ll be sticking with them for the long run. I maintain several VPN accounts (the ones I love the most), and NordVPN has been on that list since I started reviewing these services.
The performance of NordVPN is one of the best I’ve seen to date and well with the price. Honestly, there is very little to complain about here. If I had a major gripe, it would be about the slightly restrictive P2P services, but I’ll live with that any day.
Just because I love NordVPN doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone. There are many excellent brands available, most of which I’ve experienced first-hand.
Compare NordVPN with other providers
After You Purchase: How to Download and Install NordVPN
Before downloading or attempting to install NordVPN, it’s best to sign up for an account. Head to their website and choose a subscription plan that fits your needs. Keep your email address and password handy when you’re ready – you’ll need them to sign in to the apps.
Several app installation options exist since you can use NordVPN on most devices. The simplest way is always to use the app that NordVPN provides.
Installing NordVPN on Microsoft Windows
Method 1. Installing NordVPN via their Windows App
To install the NordVPN Windows app:
- Visit the NordVPN website and download the app.
- Double-click the installer file.
- Once the installation completes, you can launch the app.
- Sign into the service with your email address and password.
You can retain most of the default settings once you’ve signed into the app. All you need to do is select a server location and click on it to connect.
Method 2. Manual Installations on Windows
Another way to use NordVPN on Windows is by installing the OpenVPN client. Install it like any other Windows app. However, you will also need to download the OpenVPN configuration files from the NordVPN website to use with the app.
I don’t recommend using the OpenVPN client since you don’t get the full feature-set that the NordVPN app offers. For example, there’s no threat protection, kill switch, or anything else. It just provides an OpenVPN connection.
Installing NordVPN on Android Devices
Working with the NordVPN Android app is also very intuitive. It’s exactly like any other mobile app, from download to launch.
- Launch the Google Play Store.
- Search for the NordVPN app and tap “Install.”
- Once installed, launch the app and log in with your email and password.
All you need to do next is similar to windows – select a server and connect. Once the server connection links, NordVPN will protect your device.
Installing NordVPN on iPhone / iOS
The Apple version of NordVPN will work on iOS / iPhone almost identically as on Android.
- Get the NordVPN app from the App Store.
- Download and install the NordVPN app.
- Launch the app, sign in, and hit the “Connect” button.
Installing NordVPN on Web Browsers
NordVPN offers several browser-based extensions you can use. These work like the app, albeit with more limited features. If you don’t often use the VPN, this can be a good way to save on system resources. Be warned, though, that the extensions will increase the memory footprint for your browser.
NordVPN Google Chrome Extension
- Get the NordVPN Chrome extension from the Chrome web store.
- Add the extension to your Chrome browser.
- Click on the extension icon.
- Enter your email address and password.
- Hit the “Quick Connect” button.
NordVPN Microsoft Edge Extension
- Launch Edge and open the Edge Add-ons menu.
- Search for NordVPN and click “Get.”
- Click the “Add Extension” button.
- Click the NordVPN icon on the browser bar and sign in with your account.
- Connect to a server and start browsing the web.
NordVPN Mozilla Firefox Extension
- Launch Firefox and click “Add-ons” from the menu.
- Search for the NordVPN add-on and click to install.
- Hit the “+ Add to Firefox” option.
- Select the NordVPN icon on your Firefox toolbar and enter your credentials.
- Click the “Quick Connect” button to start NordVPN.
Installing NordVPN on Routers
One crucial thing to note about routers is that they don’t handle VPN connections well. Their low processing power means that the necessary encryption slows the connection to a crawl.
Only a few routers currently support WireGuard – and NordVPN doesn’t use WireGuard (it uses a modified version called NordLynx).
You must use OpenVPN instead.
- Select the “VPN” tab from your router admin panel.
- Click “OpenVPN Client,” then “Add Profile.”
- Enter your NordVPN login credentials.
- Visit the NordVPN website and download one of their OpenVPN configuration files.
- On the router admin panel, click “Choose File,” select the file you just downloaded, then click “Upload.”
- Click “OK.”
You can add as many profiles as you wish, but most routers will limit the number of pre-defined connections. Ideally, choose your most frequently used server locations.