Nowadays, virtual private network (VPN) services come by the dozen. Just search “VPN Service” on Google, and I am definite that you will see dozens of names listing all the way down to the second and third page and so on.
However, there are some names considered as A-Lister in the VPN industry, and one such name is NordVPN. In fact, you will see NordVPN’s name more often than other services, although it might either be because of immense popularity or their gorilla marketing tactics.
Regardless, we took our time in assessing the VPN from feature to feature and functionalities to present you this detailed NordVPN review.
Operating from Panama, NordVPN’s name has been inspired from the Nordic ideals namely trust, confidence and innovation. The VPN service has a pretty good reputation in the industry as a VPN provider that focuses not only on anonymity or unblocking but also the added cyber security.
The VPN service is perhaps the only VPN in town that offers an insanely massive network of virtual private network servers. And when we talk about its security aspects, as a savvy VPN user you would be glad to hear that that Nord offers not only military-grade encryption but also CyberSec and Double VPN, which we will discuss later.
Unlike some VPN services, Nord offers a feature rich client which keeps the diverse needs of the users in mind and cater to them efficiently.
As well know that no matter what product or service you take, nothing ever rates 100% perfect. After all, there are always some good and bad aspects of everything. Let’s see how much good and bad does NordVPN offer to its users.
- Downloading and installing the application is pretty straightforward process
- Good thing is the OpenVPN protocols gets configured automatically
- The app is capable of suggesting optimal servers depending on your needs
- One of the few in the industry that offers up to 6 simultaneous logins
- Powerful kill switch feature that kills specific processes
- Ultra-responsive customer support
- Also one of the very few that has over 5,000 VPN servers
- The VPN offers a strong focus on cyber security
- Also comes with an ad-blocker
- The app doesn’t specific the server’s city or state
- The VPN may offer automatically-configured OpenVPN protocols but other protocols requires manual labor which is quite hectic
- During the NordVPN review, we came across some servers that were unreliable
As always, we discuss the pricing plan of the VPN first in thing in the Review. Regardless, NordVPN offers 4 pricing plans so far: 1-month plan, 1-year plan, 2-year plan and 3-year plan. The pricing structure of the plan is optimized as per the affordability and needs of different users.
For instance, you can pick the 1-month plan of NordVPN if you don’t have any permanent need of the VPN service. The 1-month plan is currently available $11.95 per month. Such short-term plans are ideal for users who want a VPN for a one-off purpose such as watching seasonal sporting event, etc.
If 1-month plan seems a bit too short for your needs, you can go for a 1-year plan. Usually, the 1-year plan comes at a total cost of $143.40 per year. However, the VPN service is currently running discounts on its 1-year and plus accounts, which means you can get the same account for $6.99.
As said earlier, there are also the 2-year plan available at $3.99 billed every two year and a 3-year plan which costs around $2.99 and billed at $107.55.
The pricing page which also has a payment cart offers seamless navigation. Moreover, the overall sign up and subscription process is also simple. The payment options offered by NordVPN include credit cards, crypto currency and other online payment options such as AliPay, WebMoney, and more.
Regardless, you can be rest assured that NordVPN doesn’t keep or store any sensitive data of its users. For starters, the service operates from Panama. Yes, the country isn’t bound by the UK-USA agreement and, thus, it is not evenly remotely involved with the Five or Fourteen eyes. Well, there are more benefits to it than the one I just mentioned.
Panama isn’t a country where you would find any massive surveillance laws or data retention policies which you would find in US, and other countries. As a result, there are no such laws that would require any service operating in the region to store its users’ data or keep logs. Since there’s no one to ask NordVPN to store users’ data and share it with the government, you can be assured that your data isn’t being monitored, stored or shared.
Secondly, NordVPN might also store and monitor Cookies, Customer Service information (queries) and the server load information which is used to monitor the performance of the servers and ensure that they run in an optimal condition round the clock.
App Experience & Working
Once the registration is completed, setting up the application is really simple and painless. Whenever you open the desktop application, you’ll be asked to enter the credentials.
Once you are inside the application, you can see the servers list which is organized by type and country. The type gives you the insights into the capacity of the server and its connectivity speed.
Though you would certainly find the application easy to use, you would also surely feel the slow performance the app delivers, might be because of all the added features it has. Moreover, sometimes you might notice that some options would take too long to process.
Just like any other application, you can close the main window and it will minimize to the system tray where it will run in the background. You can in fact operate some limited options from the system stray without opening the application such as reconnect to any recently used servers.
Under the Settings menu, there are different areas you can tweak to use the application to its full potential. For instance, you can turn on the DNS leak protection which is an important feature to have. You can change the tunneling protocols and you can also turn on the internet kill switch functionality.
All in all, the application works great but you would still some flaws since nothing is perfectly perfect in this world.
Security has always been the forte of NordVPN. Over the years, the VPN service has rolled out many security-related features. Some of the features are really great and some, on the other hand, are just redundant if you ask us.
Let’s start with the tunneling protocols. Unlike many other VPN services that proudly offer PPTP, SSTP and L2TP/IPSec tunneling protocols, NordVPN seems to have decided that it is better off without these alternatives. Yes, it would be appreciated if a company offers different options to its users, but NordVPN seems to have a point there for not offering such features.
For starters, the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols the company offers come in different varieties. For instance, you can get exceptional security and a balance of speed with 256-bit AES OpenVPN protocol. Likewise, you can switch to 256-bit AES IKEv2/IPSec protocol. However, if you want more firepower when it comes to security, you can always opt for the 2048-bit OpenVPN protocol. And for iOS and Mac users, they can opt for the 3072-bit IKEv2/IPSec protocol. However, keep in mind that you might not get the level of speed you would get in the 256-bit protection.
Talking about encryption, we may also tell you that the VPN service also offers DoubleVPN feature. As the name suggests, the feature uses double encryption to give you maximum-level of security you could ever achieve over any VPN client. But then again, you would be sacrificing speed for security should you opt for this route.
Recently, the VPN service provider has introduced another security feature as well and labeled it, CyberSec. The security feature is like a 360 Degree security solution you would ever get by any VPN service. The CyberSec security suite offers malware protection, ad-blocking and protection against phishing.
There are a plenty of premium VPN service providers in town. Yet, not every VPN service provider is able to offer you a good volume of servers. In NordVPN’s case, you would be glad to know that you would get access to over 5000 VPN servers. Yes, NordVPN offers one of the highest number of servers in the industry, though you can find a few rare gems that offer more than what NordVPN offers.
The only downside you would find here is that the servers are spread across only 61 countries. We are pretty sure that if you look around, you will find a plenty of services that offer more countries and locations.
NordVPN offers a pretty powerful browser extension for Mozilla Firefox as well as Google Chrome. It is important to mention that the extension is unlike any other add-ons offered by other VPNs. For starters, the browser extension not only offers proxy services but also offer the most celebrated features like CyberSec and WebRTC leak protection. It also offers DNS leak protection. The leak protection features offer the best level of anonymity.
Browser extensions are great for users who want to secure their web activities and easily access blocked websites with a single click.
Streaming is often the driving factor behind the use of a VPN. Most users need this feature to satisfy their craving for unlimited entertainment. NordVPN has some of the best servers in the world that are optimized and tweaked to provide users with lightning fast speeds.
The VPN provider also claims to bypass ISP throttling, allowing the users to improve their streaming experience and watch ultra HD videos online in a seamless manner.
Unlimited & Anonymous Torrenting
NordVPN doesn’t limit the bandwidth. In other words, it has opened its bandwidth without placing any limiters so that users can binge or download as many files as they want. When you combine the unlimited bandwidth feature with torrenting, you get a VPN that you have always yearn for.
Automatic Kill Switch is a pretty powerful shutoff mechanism that only triggers when a disconnection occurs. The purpose of this feature is to keep the activities of the users completely private even in situations that might result in privacy leak.
Onion over VPN
If you want double the anonymity, you can always opt for the tor over VPN or onion over VPN feature of NordVPN. The features allow you to first route your traffic through a tor network and then the VPN tunnel. However, it should also be noted that the feature might slows down the speed because of double routing.
The feature offers the combine functionality of a VPN as well as smart DNS. The feature allows the users to enjoy fastest streaming speeds as well as highest encryption. SmartPlay lets you access 400+ blocked streaming services with a single click or tap.
All in all, the VPN service comes packed with a set of fairly powerful features and functionality. Though it may lag behind in some areas, it does offer exceptional security.