You will be amazed going through any review of this VPN. It seems like this service doesn’t have any downsides at all. But perfectly good reviews are usually a nice reason to doubt their objectiveness.
That’s why we have decided to test it out by ourselves. And we are willing to share the results with you. So, it NordVPN as great as it pictured? Let’s find out.
NordVPN is based in Panama, according to the website of the provider. Which is great because this country doesn’t obey any jurisdiction. Thus, authorities cannot demand any user data from the provider. Although, when we bought the account to write this review of NordVPN, the banking system has displayed that the payment went to the US-based company – CloudVPN Inc.
It made us question if the service is indeed located in Panama. So we contacted the support team addressing this question to them. The thing is that CloudVPN is used only to collect payments to be able to accept more transactions since banks don’t trust payment requests from Panama. NordVPN itself is truly operating in Panama.
This makes a lot of sense, and such an answer has totally satisfied us. So we moved on to the next step of our NordVPN review – servers. Currently, this service has over 5000 operating servers, that are located in 62 countries. It is really impressive – you can meet the VPN provider with so many servers quite rarely.
But one thing confused us – a lot of servers are located in the UK and the US. Usually, providers prefer to choose other countries that are not included in the Five Eyes jurisdiction. It is worth mentioning, though, that NordVPN has servers all over the world, providing users with locations in Asia, Europe, South, and Central America. Even the Middle East and India are covered.
As you can see locations of servers are really diverse, which is a great advantage for the VPN service. Since a lot of customers use it while traveling to protect their devices from malefactors or to access the content that is censored in certain countries, they will appreciate servers that are located not far away from them. The shorter the distance is, the higher is the connection speed user gets.
Another thing that influences the performance is the number of people connected to one server. So if the provider has more servers, users can spread among them, and every one of them gets a decent piece of the bandwidth.
All NordVPNservers are dedicated, the provider doesn’t own virtual ones. Sure, we don’t say that virtual servers are a bad thing, but they can be located somewhere else than in the place they appear to be. So it’s nice to know that the server is placed exactly where it claims to be placed.
Another advantage this provider has is that a lot of its servers are specialized for certain activities. For example, NordVPN has servers for torrenting. Some servers have double encryption, some offer the TOR connection, some are enforced with anti-DDoS. It seems like this NordVPN has everything covered.
NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections which are quite enough. The provider has applications for all popular operating systems and can be installed even on RaspberryPi and a router. For those who struggle with the protocol connectivity, the service offers extensive tutorials.
What do you get with NordVPN?
- Over 5000 servers around the world
- All servers are dedicated
- Specialized servers
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Built-in adblock
- Protects from web threats
- Wide amount of features
- Expensive monthly plan
- Support team answers in live chat may be not quite informative
Industry-leading features and a number of competitive advantages will cost you quite a lot with a monthly plan. We’ll talk about NordVPN prices in details further in our review, but for now, let us just state that f you go long-term, the service will cost you no more than an entry-level VPN with a limited set of features and questionable reliability.
Privacy and Security
Since the provider operates from Panama, it doesn’t belong to 14-eyes jurisdiction. Thus, governments can’t get any user data from NordVPN. So the service won’t even potentially identify you to any authority, and law enforcement can’t track the activity of NordVPN users.
Encryption and Protocols
NordVPN supports PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN. The OpenVPN protocol has 256-AES-CBC encryption with a 2048bit DH key. MacOS and iOS users will be protected by IKEv2/IPsec protocol and AES-256-GCM encryption with a 3072bit Diffie-Hellman key. This provider has pretty good protection – one of those you can trust without any doubt.
The provider offers some additional features that can improve the protection:
- Kill Switch – if turned on the system will interrupt the connection once the VPN goes down. Quite a useful feature that can save your privacy.
- DNS Leak Protection. When the VPN connection is set manually, the device is exposed to the potential DNS leak. Turn on this tool to not let the leak happen.
- Onion over VPN. If you want some more protection visiting the TOR network, you can use NordVPN to stream the traffic through provider’s servers and just then let it reach the Onion Router.
- SmartPlay. It is a vital feature for those who use a VPN for streaming. With its help you can access more than 400 geo-restricted services.
- Double Data Protection. This is a truly unique feature that will run your traffic through two double vpn servers and only then route it to the destination point. Thus, your data is encrypted two times and can’t be tracked anyhow. Although, this feature cuts the connection speed significantly.
- Obfuscated Servers. Users who need to overcome advanced censorship systems of their countries (like in China or Russia) may use obfuscated servers specially developed for this purpose.
More than just a VPN
NordVPN offers a collection of additional features called CyberSec. It can block ads and malicious software. Also, it protects the device from DDoS-attacks at the network level. We can’t say that it blocks all ads, but the number of banners decreased significantly. It is a nice addition to the VPN service itself since ads can track the movement of the user between sites.
To block malware, the provider simply uses the list of sites that spread the malicious software. So it’s not really the best protection, because the blacklist is not something steady. New sites with malware appear all the time. So it’s better to use a proper antivirus.
We are not trying to belittle the efforts of NordVPN. Additional protection never hurts. We just don’t want you to believe that you can skip the antivirus and just rely on the VPN service. The anti-DDoS feature also seems to work fine. But again – as an additional layer of protection.
NordVPN Logging Policy
As well as most VPN services, NordVPN has no-logging policy. The provider would monitor only the data related to the app crashes and the performance of the program if the user agreed to provide the service with this information. So you can be sure none of your activities online will be recorded. Add the Panama location, and you can rest assured there is nothing to worry about.
NordVPN is compatible with TOR. Moreover, the service has a special feature “Onion Over VPN” that is created specifically for dark web users. Using the TOR network with NordVPN is simple. No additional setup is required.
VPN services cut the connection speed significantly quite often. It happens because when you use it, the physical distance between you and a server gets bigger than it is when you use a normal connection to the internet. As a result, some increased latency takes place.
Of course, remembering the number of servers NordVPN has, we were sure that the speed would be fast enough. Still, we wanted to test it out and see if the connection slows down significantly.
We started with 100 Mbps speed and had 6 ms ping, 98.8 Mbps download speed and 52 Mbps upload speed. Note that our office is located in Europe. Sure, first of all, we tested the European server. Ping went up to 36 ms, the download speed was on 75 Mbps, and the upload speed was at 49 Mbps. Pretty good results.
Then we moved to the US server. Keep in mind the distance between Europe and the US. So ping has risen to 102 ms, the download speed dropped down to 56 Mbps and the upload speed – to 29 Mbps. For a 6 thousand miles distance it is a great speed.
Time for the Asian server. The ping was 209 ms, the download speed – 13 Mbps, the upload speed – 6 Mbps. Yes, not the fastest connection ever. But bear in mind the distance between Europe and Asia. After tests we’ve run, we can say that NordVPN is relatively fast. Sure, some providers are faster. But results of this one are not bad either.
No Leaks Detected
One of the most important things – to make sure that IP and DNS are not leaking. So we’ve run tests using different sites that detect if there is a DNS leak having NordVPN turned on. All 5 sites we used have shown no DNS leakage. So with this VPN service, you can be sure your private data is perfectly safe.
Torrenting and Streaming
Now let’s talk about one of the main purposes of why people use VPNs – torrenting and streaming. Free content is nice, isn’t it? Although, you can get into trouble downloading and uploading any files illegally. The good VPN will protect you from authorities keeping your IP address hidden. But not all providers allow torrenting.
Same story with streaming services. How annoying is the fact that you pay for, say, Netflix, but you still can’t watch your favorite show because it is blocked for your country. Some VPN providers manage to work with Netflix and the like unlocking the content for users.
Is torrenting allowed?
NordVPN works well with torrent clients. Moreover, it is a perfect VPN for torrenting. Why? First of all, the fast connection this service has allows downloading and uploading files without any struggle. Your speed will be almost as high as it is without the VPN being turned on.
Also, don’t forget about servers that are wired for torrenting. They give the user better protection and higher speeds. NordVPN made a great move creating specialized servers for different needs. That’s what listening to your audience means.
What about Netflix?
NordVPN seems to work with Netflix. Of course, not all servers will work – Netflix does a pretty decent job detecting and blocking IP addresses that belong to VPN providers. But some of them did work. We’ve discovered 3 servers that worked in the US, one in the UK and one in the Netherlands. Canadian servers were blocked.
You can always contact the NordVPN’s support team and ask them to help you with choosing the right server for streaming in your location. Also, don’t forget the SmartPlay feature that allows access to the geo-blocked content.
Other streaming options
NordVPN works with more than 400 different streaming services. Thus, the service you use will most likely be accessible with this VPN provider. Again, if you have any difficulties, you can get help from the support team. Also, you can ask them if NordVPN works with the particular service in advance, so you know if this provider suits your needs.
How much does NordVPN cost?
This provider has pretty high prices, but offers impressive discounts for yearly plans. The pricing is pretty fair – you get a lot of benefits with NordVPN. So, pricing plans are as follows:
- Monthly – $11.95/mo.
- 1 year – $6.99/mo.
- 2 years – $3.99/mo.
- 3 years – $2.99/mo.
The 3-years plan NordVPN tends to show off as a limited offer.
There are a lot of payment options. NordVPN accepts even AliPay and bitcoins. The last one is great if you want to stay completely anonymous. When you pay for your subscription, you get access to the software immediately. You can download and install it right away.
30-days money-back guarantee is available, but refunds are not a simple thing with this provider. First of all, you will have to wait for up to 30 days to get your money back. Moreover, if you buy the software via iTunes or App Store, NordVPN can’t grant you a refund. If you used pre-paid or gift card, you can’t get a refund as well.
On the plus side, the provider offers a three-day free trial. But it is quite limited and won’t let you test the VPN service out thoroughly.
No matter how advanced you are with technologies, you may always have an issue you will need some help with. This is especially true if we talk about VPN services. Say, you need to check the encryption that the provider offers for your particular router. Or you have some troubles with setting everything up.
And if you are quite new to this technology, you will most definitely face some issues at a certain point. So having good support is crucial. Just imagine waiting for hours for an answer when you need help right here right now.
Most providers don’t offer extensive support, which is bad. But that’s not our case. NordVPN has pretty much perfect support for its customers. You can get in touch with the support team by writing them at email@example.com. Also, there is a live chat which is simply amazing.
The support system is available via live chat 24/7/365. So you can just drop the line and helpful agents will answer you quite quickly.
You may be not quite satisfied with the answer, though. We contacted the support via the live chat three times on different matters, and every time we got a copy pasted text as an answer. So we’ve figured that chat is working more like some kind of search instrument that helps you finding the right article in the knowledgebase.
Another story is going on with emails. The support team answers quite quickly. Assistants will help you out both with information regarded questions and technical issues. So if you have some bigger problems with your VPN, we’d advise you to try the email.
NordVPN has a pretty vast knowledgebase with a lot of detailed articles. We looked there for solutions for various issues, and every time we found a relevant article. So there is a great chance that you can just read a tutorial and figure the solution by yourself without talking to the support team
Do we recommend NordVPN?
We definitely recommend this provider. It is a reliable and pretty fast VPN that has a lot of useful features. It is easy to use, and the interface is very simple and intuitive. With as many servers as NordVPN has, it is quite unlikely that you won’t find the location that will let you access content and won’t cut your connection speed.
Sure, some will say that this VPN service is too expensive. But if you’re planning to use it for a long time, you can go for long-term plans. Then it won’t cost you much more than any other provider. And you will get really high-quality software.