NordVPN Review – Is It Any Good in 2021?
Is It Really the Best VPN Service Out There?
Ease of Use
Whether you are a certified techie or new to the world of VPNs, one thing is sure: NordVPN is simple and easy to use and offers a platform that is both user-friendly and intuitive for users of all experience levels. Additionally, Nord offers apps and services for all major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. NordVPN does offer a trial subscription, but if you are looking to access the full range of features offered, you will need to purchase one of their affordable subscription plans then download the correct version of the app for your OS.
Once you download the appropriate app, you can then log in using your details provided at sign-up. Then you will be able to select from the various servers and locations that best fit your needs. NordVPN allows connections of up to six different devices, including mobile phones, routers, or Windows Mobile devices. NordVPN is also available as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers. Instead of downloading a separate application, the VPN can fully integrate into the browser of your choice.
However, it should be noted that if you are using the in-browser plugin, your activities within the browser will be protected by NordVPN. The benefit of using the plugin is that it comes with a built-in ad-blocker. Not only will you be protected by annoying pop-up ads, but you will also be protected from any malicious site you might come across.
VPN Server Locations
Out of all the VPNs available on the market, NordVPN boasts one of the widest arrays of servers to choose from. Currently, this VPN has over 5800 different servers located in 59 countries across the globe, including many top-tier locations. What is most surprising is that NordVPN is even available in reclusive countries such as China, where internet services are both restricted and heavily monitored.
NordVPN allows for unfettered access to some of the most restricted content, such as video streaming services that are usually impossible to crack when using similar VPN providers. This VPN allows users to instantly access streaming services such as Amazon Prime, BBC, Netflix, and even Disney+ with relative ease. You will also be able to connect this service to any Android Box, Android TV, or Amazon Fire Stick TV with no restrictions. Additionally, the Nord services are available in various countries but heavily focus on the US, Canada, the UK, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Germany.
In addition to excellent service, NordVPN offers pricing plans for any budget. The shortest plan starts at $11.95 for one month of VPN service; however, if you are looking for a more affordable pricing option, they also offer a 6-month plan for $9.00 per month, or a 1-year plan, which is only $5.75 each month. The cheapest option is the 2-year plan, which will cost you just $3.71 each month and is among the more popular options offered by Nord. When you consider all of the top-of-the-line security features, various servers, and reliable speeds, NordVPN is one of the most affordable options available.
When you are using a VPN, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you can trust that you are being kept secure from hackers, nosey service providers, or in some cases, even the government. Luckily, NordVPN uses a state-of-the-art AES system with 256-bit keys that will keep your data safe and secure.
This encryption method is unbreakable by current standards and will allow you to surf safely and anonymously at all times. As if that were not enough, Nord also has the option to allow for double encryption to add an extra layer of security and protection. Double encryption is excellent if you deal with much sensitive information and remain anonymous from government agencies’ prying eyes.
In fact, NordVPN also offers what is called a “process kill list” that will automatically shut down specific applications if your internet or VPN connection is lost. This added feature will ensure that your sensitive information remains private in any situation, even over a poor connection.
Lastly, these VPN features are accessible through the Onion to the network for maximum security while browsing. Nord ensures that your traffic is entirely untraceable by routing it through a series of servers.
Speed and Connectivity
Security is not the only issue that VPN users are concerned with. For most, speed is also a top priority. With NordVPN, users can experience lightning fast speeds and connections with the ability to optimize their connection through the fastest server option. Of course, speeds will vary from one country to the next, but the fastest servers are generally located within the UK, US, and Canada. If you are looking to stream content quickly, you can use the “Ultra Fast TV” option, which will allow you to stream video content or movies uninterrupted at blazing speeds.
Troubleshooting and Customer Support
If you ever have any issues, NordVPN has got your back. They offer several routes to find support for your issues, including email support, an FAQ section, and award-winning live support options.
If you have an issue, your first stop should be the FAQ section. This section is well organized and packed with relevant information and processes to help you to solve your issues. All potential issues are well documented and readily available to get you up and running without even talking to support staff.
However, if you have difficulty resolving an issue or need to speak to their support team directly, the email support function is available at any time, night or day. In most cases, their support staff will respond within a few hours, which is much faster than the 24-hour timeframe offered by most other VPNs.
If you cannot wait for a few hours, you are also in luck. Nord also has a live support option. If you navigate to the bottom of the homepage, if you click on the chat icon and enter your query, you will be contacted immediately regarding your issues. Initially, your query will be fielded by a helpful bot, but if the bot cannot resolve the issue, it will be turned over to a live human.
Compatibility with Netflix
One of the most common uses for using a VPN is to access Netflix in an unsupported region or unblock other regional libraries. Luckily, Nord is one of the best VPNs around when it comes to using Netflix. Not only does it allow for superfast speeds, but it is guaranteed to work. It also comes with support for all smart TVs and Fire TV devices. When we put this VPN to the test, it performed consistently and in HD for all geo-blocked content.
To put NordVPN to the test, we tried over 100 different servers, and we were able to stream Netflix on all of them successfully. These tests were even repeated over multiple days to ensure constant reliability. Frequently, Netflix will update their service to beat VPNs, but it could never catch Nord on any server.
Many VPNs have dedicated streaming servers in order to best stream content, but with Nord’s “SmartPlay” feature, you will not need to switch servers. The VPN will automatically choose the best server in the region of your choice. This option makes it simple to stream, and you can stay on the same server for multiple streaming sites.
Throughout our tests, we were able to verify that NordVPN can unblock a total of 14 different Netflix libraries. The most popular regions are the UK, South Korea, Japan, India, and Brazil. All of these regions have their restricted content, which is not available outside; however, we can stream them all in stunning HD format.
NordVPN is also compatible with such streaming services like Hulu, HBO Max, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. With one easy to use VPN, you can stream all your favorite apps with confidence.
If you are a Fire TV Stick user, you can even download the Amazon store’s NordVPN app. The only problem with using the Amazon app is that it does not unblock content in all of the regions listed above, although most of them were confirmed.
If you are using a different device or a smart TV, you can take advantage of the Smart DNS Proxy option offered by NordVPN. With this convenient function, we were able to successfully unblock content from popular regions on non-VPN compatible devices such as the Apple TV and the PS4.
If you are looking for a reliable VPN for unblocking Netflix content, NordVPN works on a wide range of apps and is available on almost any device.
Nord VPN for Torrenting
Another popular application for VPN users is to obfuscate traffic while using a torrenting client. NordVPN has many dedicated servers optimized for P2P traffic and many helpful security features that will keep you safe. One such feature is the VPN kill switch, which is excellent for keeping your torrenting activity secure. Additionally, Nord has an iron-clad no-logs policy, which has made it one of the safest and most trusted torrenting VPNs around.
Even though not every server on the Nord network allows for P2P streaming, there are plenty of options available to keep Kodi and Stremio users happy.
We were able to successfully torrent to just about every country that is listed on the server list. These servers are both optimized for P2P and relatively easy to find. To find them, locate the “specialty servers” option in the app settings, and choose from the list.
However, there are quite a few countries that do not allow P2P connections. These countries are South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Israel, and Malaysia, among a few others globally.
The good news is that if you attempt to torrent while you are connected to a VPN server that is not capable of P2P connections, the app will simply redirect your torrenting traffic through a dedicated server that is located either in the Netherlands or Canada.
The NordVPN app uses a proprietary algorithm that Nord claims will not affect their “no logs” guarantee. This means that it is quite likely that it employs a real-time analysis tool in order to differentiate the traffic but does not enter that data into a log.
Not only is NordVPN used by those looking for a P2P friendly service, but it also provides a tremendous SOCKS5 proxy. This proxy can be used in tangent with popular torrenting clients such as BitTorrent. Even though it is faster than a VPN, many users recommend against using it. It will spoof your IP address, but it will not encrypt traffic. This could leave you vulnerable to potential security risks, and it is better not to leave it to chance.
NordVPN claims that 85% of its server network is open to torrenting and P2P connections. When you are looking for these servers, they are named as “P2P Optimized” from within the app. Using these servers, we were able to clock speeds of 9.8 MiB/s. Even though torrenting is blocked in many countries, NordVPN remains one of the best torrenting or P2P connections options.
Nord VPN Speed
Anyone who has ever used a VPN will tell you that all VPNs slow down your connection to a certain degree. However, how noticeable is that slowdown? The best VPNs will make that slowdown unnoticeable, which is undoubtedly the case when using NordVPN. On average, our tests only yielded drops of around 2% when connecting to servers nearby.
Out of all the recent speed tests conducted, Nord came out near the top as one of the fastest and most reliable VPNs on the market. This test was repeated on both international and local connections alike. NordVPN proved reliable, robust, and powerful enough for streaming HD content, browsing, and torrenting.
With NordVPN Connected to the US
In fact, NordVPN is one of just a handful of companies that have their no-logs policy audited and verified by a third-party company. The firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has audited the company twice: in early 2018 and also as recently as 2020. Both of these official audits upheld and confirmed that the no-logs policy does not register or store any confidential information such as connection logs, browser activity, or IP address.
NordVPN does what not many other VPN services dare to do. Due to their willingness to audit and verify their services, they have become one of the most trusted and secure VPNs on the market today.
However, no VPN can operate without a few key personal details that are required to sign up for a subscription. NordVPN does require users to include their email address and payment information. However, this is a widespread and secure process.
If you are worried about privacy leaks or data breaches, you can also choose to sign up with a newly created email address and use cryptocurrency as the payment method.
However, even without these extra privacy measures, NordVPN will not pinpoint or link any of your activities online to you specifically. It is also against their policy to allow that information to be seen by third parties, including law enforcement. Most anyone would be able to prove that you signed up for a VPN service, not what activities you used it for.
Another way that NordVPN distances itself from the pack of other VPN providers is that it continually monitors and regulates server loads in order to maintain optimal performance and make recommendations to their users as to which server will be best for them. They do this by aggregating data and looking at statistics such as the total amount of data used on each server from all users. They only look at this information in total, and nothing is personally identifiable. This tactic is used by most private VPN services as well.
The NordVPN Terms of Service outline this process by stating that they use a proprietary algorithm that allows them to keep both the username and the previous session’s timestamp only while the session remains active.
In order to understand how that policy would genuinely affect the end-user privacy and security, we were able to get in touch with a Nord customer service agent who was able to provide details as to how the algorithm actually works.
According to the agent, the information goes through a hashing process that uses dynamic components. That information is then held temporarily in standalone databases located in different places around the globe. Once the session is terminated, the data is deleted after 15 minutes. There is no point in this entire process where the data could be traced back to any user.
Where Is the NordVPN Service Based?
NordVPN bases its operations under the legal jurisdiction of Panama. Due to Panama’s location and current legislation regarding privacy, this is ideal for hosting a server.
This strategic location means that NordVPN services are outside the reach of the United States and the EU’s retention laws. Additionally, it is not a requirement of the Panamanian government to report or log their data for VPN service providers. They are also not legally required to share any of their information with other countries. Panama is a virtual privacy wonderland and an excellent location for VPN jurisdiction.
If that were not enough to persuade you, Panama also allows VPN services to deny any data requests that are made from foreign governments or agencies. There is no way any traffic routed through the NordVPN servers can be identified or traced back to any individual user.
The company itself operates under the umbrella name of NordSec, which also has additional offices located in Switzerland, Lithuania, Cyprus, the US, and the UK; however, the VPN company is not beholden to any of these territories or their jurisdiction.
The NordVPN company also publishes a helpful “daily warrant canary” in order to inform its users that it has not received any gag order, warrants, or National Security Letters from any governments or government agencies. This gives their customers absolute peace of mind, letting them know that they are in good hands when using this VPN service.
The installation process for the NordVPN app on your PC or Mac is straightforward and can be completed in three easy steps. Before you begin the installation process, you will need to head over to NordVPN.com and subscribe to one of the payment plans detailed above. Once you fill out your subscription with the appropriate billing information, you are ready to log into your account and install the app.
Once you are logged into your account, head over to the “downloads” section and click on the file that corresponds to your operating system.
In order to install the app, you need to have at least 19 MB of space available on the drive you are installing it on. Select that drive and continue the installation process.
Choose the location for your NordVPN shortcuts. The installation wizard will give you the option to choose between the desktop and the start menu. You can also install a shortcut in the finder folder.
It is as simple as that! NordVPN has been successfully installed, and you are ready to start browsing, streaming and torrenting anonymously.
Once you have installed the VPN app, it will automatically update whenever new software becomes available. You can also set it to remind you of current updates at a later date.
If you are looking for the NordVPN app for Fire TV, iOS, or Android, they are available for easy download in their respective app stores.
One fantastic feature of NordVPN is its CyberSec technology. This is additional (and completely optional) software that will protect your system from malware, phishing attempts, and intrusive ads.
If you choose to install the optional CyberSec software, you will see three main benefits:
- Firstly, the most attractive feature of the CyberSec software is the integrated protection that will prevent any significant cyber-attacks and even phishing scams. It will immediately compare any website that you are browsing against a list of known blacklisted sites, and additionally will block any spyware, malware, or other malicious software from being installed.
- The second great feature of CyberSec will protect your network from any intrusive DDoS attack, even if the malware is already present on your system. CyberSec will terminate the connection and sever communication between the botnet attack and your device.
- Lastly, the CyberSec app will also eliminate and hide any pesky pop-ups or autoplay ads with noisy audio or unwanted advertisements. This means your browser will have faster-loading speeds and give your browser a more enjoyable browsing experience
NordVPN’s Specialty Servers
In addition to the variety of standard servers that NordVPN offers, they also have an array of special servers so you can choose the option that best fits your personal needs. These dedicated servers come with a few unique benefits:
- Using a dedicated server, you can select a unique IP address that will not be shared with any other Nord user. This means you will experience an even more private and secure browsing experience.
- If you are looking for even more protection, you can also utilize one of NordVPN’s double encryption servers, which will bounce your traffic between two different locations.
- If you are trying to access information while abroad in a location that restricts their internet access, you are in luck. You can use NordVPN to stream content or browse anonymously by accessing one of their obfuscated servers. Using one of these servers will blanket you in protection and allow you to access your information instantly.
- If you are looking for the ultimate protection setup, you can even use NordVPN in tandem with the Onion Router or a Tor browser. Using one of these options will allow you to access communication anonymously and shield your traffic from data analysis.
- Lastly, if you are a heavy torrenter, you can enjoy no limit on the P2P file-sharing server. These servers do not have any bandwidth threshold and do not log or track activity.
Using NordVPN will genuinely unlock your browsing experience and keep you protected from unwanted tracking or snooping. It is always a great idea to turn on NordVPN when using public WiFi or access any sensitive information while traveling. NordVPN is extremely easy to set up and use, but do not let that fool you. The network is quite robust and delivers unparalleled protection for any type of traffic.
NordVPN offers a military-grade encryption package at a price that anyone could afford. When using this VPN, you are not only protecting your privacy; you are also walling yourself off from malicious hackers and phishers. Are you aware that most internet service providers have the ability to not only track and log your data usage but also sell your personal data to annoying advertisers? Additionally, they can be subpoenaed at any time to provide logs of your internet activity to government agencies.
Any time you are on the internet, you are potentially being logged and tracked by unwanted sources. This is, of course, unless you are using a VPN. The military-grade protection that Nord offers will not only encrypt your data, but it will also obfuscate your IP and change your location for ultimate privacy.
Even if you think you have nothing to hide, using a VPN can be in your best interest. There are many cases where your personal data can be accessed and used against you. Think about how much information you provide online. A clever enough hacker could find information such as your personal medical information, work emails, or even banking information. Using NordVPN will ensure your data passes through their Advanced Encryption Standard and is decoded with a 256-bit key. The NSA even recommends this type of encryption in order to keep any top-secret or classified documents confidential.
In reality, Nord uses two separate but robust VPN protocols. The best part about using this VPN, though, is that you will not have to determine which one is best for you. NordVPN will do all the hard work for you and always aims to make their VPN simple to use. The iOS and macOS apps utilize an IKEv2 protocol, while the OpenVPN system is the standard for Android and Windows apps. Mac users have the option to toggle between the two, but Nord suggests a reliable option right out of the box. It really could not be any easier to keep yourself protected.
Conclusion: Should I Use NordVPN?
NordVPN is one of the best VPN options available on the market for a good reason: it is simple to use, and it provides some of the best protection available in a private VPN service. As you can see from this review, there are dozens of reasons why this VPN is used by so many professionals as well as beginners.
Not only is it safe and secure, but it is blazingly fast and has some of the best features of any VPN. When you use NordVPN, you can rest assured that your data and traffic are safe and completely anonymous, and you are not being tracked or recorded by any logs.
Lastly, if you ever have any issues with the product, Nord’s fantastic customer support team is readily available to offer assistance. At a starting price of just $3.71 per month, you cannot go wrong when you are using NordVPN.