NordVPN offers a complete service in an intuitive client that combines great looks with customizable features so that both VPN beginners and experienced users can always get the best out of the solution. The preconfigured settings are perfect for most users and because the servers are easily accessible on the main page and filtered by location, speed or type (such as P2P, double VPN, dedicated IP etc.), nothing needs to be set beforehand. However, the most demanding users can always resort to HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies or unlock the advanced settings to change connection protocols, set up custom DNS, and access other features that alter the overall behavior of the VPN.
And while NordVPN is surely great as a whole, if there’s something that stands outs when looking at its individual parts, then it’s the impressive investment in security.
Noteworthy Security Investments
Most VPNs nowadays already have their own share of security features, with kill switches and protection against DNS leaks, ads, and malware being some of the most common. But having these integrated into the software is not always conducive to them actually working properly, so it’s truly a charm to see that with NordVPN everything is reliable and runs flawlessly. Our tests showed no problems with DNS leaks and the kill switch also proved worthy of praise since not only does it cut the internet off from the device but it also kills any selected apps when the VPN connection drops, which is great news for anyone using NordVPN for P2P sharing, for instance.
The unique double data encryption is one of the company’s biggest achievements, though, with AES-256-CBC type protection being applied twice to the data transferred between the servers that support it. Naturally, this has a negative impact on speed – even though our tests were surprisingly even – but it’s a feature that is still not very common these days and which certainly deserves highlighting.
The browser extensions haven’t been ignored by NordVPN either as they block WebRTC and also benefit from CyberSec – a feature that’s available in the desktop client, too – which acts as an ad blocker and protects against malware, phishing and other threats.
NordVPN holds some pretty impressive numbers: 5,100+ servers in over 60 different countries, even including some locations that are not so commonly seen such as New Zealand, Israel, Costa Rica, South Korea, Hong Kong, and more. Still, South Africa is the only representative of its continent and as a company headquartered in Central America it’s quite surprising to see few servers in that location, too.
Running tests from Europe, the overall results show that speeds are consistent within different servers in the same region. The biggest surprise was Costa Rica which, despite the understandably high ping, produced better results than some of our closest locations. A possible explanation for is that, while still an ocean away, it’s the closest available server to NordVPN’s headquarters in Panama, and the low server traffic when testing likely helped as well.
NordVPN Costa Rica Speed Test
NordVPN Indonesia Speed Test
NordVPN Ireland Speed Test
NordVPN UK Speed Test on Double VPN Server
The other locations produced the expected results, but a word of praise must be given to the double VPN servers, which don’t weigh too heavily on the connection. As showed in the results, connecting to Dublin and London produced arguably the same numbers – which is natural given their geographical proximity – however, the latter used a double VPN server with the traffic routed through the Netherlands first. The only letdown was Indonesia, paying the price for its long distance even on a direct connection.
As mentioned earlier, there were no problems regarding DNS leaks and IP addresses were always attributed correctly, too.
Next to its outstanding desktop clients, apps, and overall clear and straightforward service, it’s in privacy where NordVPN really shines. Truth being told, there aren’t many VPN protocols to choose from in the advanced settings, but those that are available are the most reliable: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP) and IKEv2. In addition, NordVPN uses the high-standard AES 256-bit encryption and it’s important to stress once again that this is applied twice on double VPN servers. Further contributing to this great picture of safety is NordVPN’s strict no-log policy and since the company runs operations from Panama where “there are no mandatory data retention laws” – as stated on the official website – this can be considered trustworthy.
OS, Device Support
NordVPN is a true multiplatform solution since the range of supported devices includes not only the world’s most popular operating systems but some other alternatives, too, alongside the benefit of a maximum of six simultaneous connections under the same account. For computers and laptops, Windows users will need at least XP to install the VPN app, while on macOS the minimum version is 10.12. Linux is supported through OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPSec and Android and iOS devices have their own neat apps too, while the service can also be manually configured using the previously mentioned protocols.
Router support is available on DD-WRT, Tomato, Sabai, and other firmware via manual configuration, too, allowing users to extend the protection to smart TVs and other devices that don’t support VPNs by default. Last but not least, there are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
The pricing structure of NordVPN is similar in every way to the overall nature of the program: simple and attractive. There are four packages available for purchase with each offering the same unlimited access and high security on multiple platforms, making the only difference between them how payments recur. Longer term plans are cheaper and so the basic cost of $11.95 per month ends up being more expensive than for those that want to stick with NordVPN for a while.
As such, the next tier is billed once a year at $83.99, translating to a monthly cost of $6.99, but purchasing the two-year license is even better since it drops the monthly equivalence to $3.99 at a total of $95.75. However, the best plan has a very attractive total price of $107.55 for three years. This represents an amazing 75% discount when compared to single monthly payments, the same as paying only $2.99 each month. While these prices seem pretty fair given just how great the overall service that NordVPN represents, the only downside is the lack of intermediary plans between the monthly and annual options.
Fortunately, NordVPN lessens this issue by allowing its customers to test the service first, even if for limited time. The company offers a seven-day free trial with no strings attached, meaning that there are no bandwidth caps or server restrictions, including all P2P, double VPN, and other special servers. Besides that, all purchases include a 30-day money-back guarantee that can be used as an extra risk-free trial.
Payment methods include credit cards, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and even alternative options such as PayPal, Alipay, and the like.
As any great company should, NordVPN has its own blog and is active on social media, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Private contact is possible on each of these, but the preferred format of help are email – either directly or by using the official website to submit a support ticket – and live chat.
The company deserves praise in this matter as the latter demonstrated especially quick response and assistance, though it’s likely that no customer will need to resort to this thanks to the well-elaborated FAQ and tutorial pages. In fact, not only will they help in understanding how the service works by providing answers to the most varied of questions, but they also give tips about which settings to choose in order to prioritize speed, security, or whatever purpose each customer will use the VPN for. Likewise, there’s no lack of manual set up tutorials for all kinds of devices.
With intuitive apps for the complete suite of devices, a great investment in security, and a VPN network that competitors should be envious of, there are plenty of ways to use this versatile VPN. The quality of the connections even on the most distant servers is particularly impressive, while the security of a trustworthy no-log policy, reliable DNS leak protection, and an innovative kill switch mean you can feel safe with NordVPN. Likewise, those who simply want a good VPN to protect themselves from online snoopers can rely on double VPN and traffic obfuscation servers, while regularly video streamers will be thankful of a server network with great consistency to its connections.
Along with the liberty of choice given to each user to either customize their connection or go with sturdy preconfigured settings, it’s not hard to understand how NordVPN has already marked its position in the world as one of the best services for every privacy enthusiast.
- Intuitive multiplatform apps
- Double VPN and P2P support
- Plenty of security features
- Large VPN network with consistent speeds
- Trustworthy no-log policy
- Great customer support
- Attractive pricing
- Lack of intermediary plans