NordVPN Review: how good is the VPN service?


NordVPN is a commercial VPN service with desktop programs for Windows, Mac and Linux devices, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and options to set up the service manually on modems, routers, NAS and other platforms.

NordVPN at a glance

  • over 5200 servers in 59 countries
  • no bandwidth restrictions
  • state of the art protocol support
  • no-logs policy with audit verification
  • P2P support
  • most streaming sites may be unlocked
  • excellent performance test results
  • lag-free gaming
  • advanced security and privacy features
  • Only Live Chat and Email support

NordVPN features

nordvpn interface

NordVPN has a single plan that offers all features of the service to its customers. Users get discounts when they sign-up for longer periods of time, but the feature set is always the same.

All customers may install and use the service on up to six devices at the same time. These can be desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, routers, or any other hardware that is capable of connecting to VPN services.

Note: NordVPN is offering dedicated IP addresses for €56 per year. This is an add-on service.

Most NordVPN users will likely use the provided clients, but options are available to configure devices manually if that is required or preferred.

NordVPN operates more than 5300 servers in 59 countries; the company has a strict no-logging policy and the claim was confirmed twice by independent security audits. The latest audit in 2020 by PwC Switzerland confirmed the claims.

https://nordvpn.com/blog/nordvpn-audit/

Privacy and security features

nordvpn settings

NordVPN supports a wide range of privacy and security features. The VPN service supports the state of the art WireGuard protocol, called NordLynx by the company. It is much leaner than other VPN protocols and has been modified by NordVPN engineers using a double NAT system which ensures user privacy when using the protocol.

Clients provide access to all servers, and it is up to the customer to pick a server from the country list or a specialty server.

Besides designated P2P servers, NordVPN does support Double VPN servers. These chain a user’s connection and always uses two servers in different counties to improve security further.

Regular VPN connections are routed through a single VPN server which protects the user’s IP address on the Internet. A single compromised server could reveal the user’s IP address, but that is not the case if a Double VPN is used, as the second VPN’s IP address would be revealed in that case.

NordVPN clients support a number of extra security features:

CyberSec – CyberSec integrates ad blocking and the blocking of malicious websites into the service. It is turned on by default and acts as a first-line of defense.

  • Kill Switch – if the VPN connection is terminated, for whatever reason, Internet access may be cut immediately. Instead of blocking the entire Internet traffic, users may also stop certain applications from connecting to the Internet while the VPN connection is not up and running.
  • Obfuscated Servers – The feature works only with the OpenVPN protocol. It is designed to hide the VPN traffic to use it in censorship environments, e.g. when traveling to China to protect your Internet connection in these environments.
  • Onion over VPN – Combines the benefits of a VPN with the Tor anonymity service. May be used to access .onion sites without using Tor Browser.
  • Split Tunneling – Split tunneling allows you to use the VPN for select activities only. You could use the feature to watch geo-restricted streams on Netflix or Amazon Prime, while using the non-VPN connection for other activities.

NordVPN Speed Test

We ran several tests to determine NordVPN’s performance. The system we used was connected to a 50/20 Mbit connection to the Internet from a location in Germany.

We used Speedtest.net for the test, and ran three tests for two different servers to test a local NordVPN server and a server in the United States.

Local Server results:

  • Download Speed: 53 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 20.50 Mbps
  • Ping: 13ms

Wlan test local:

nordvpn benchmark internet speed

  • Download Speed: 32.5 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 13.30 Mbps
  • Ping: 30ms

United States Server results:

  • Download Speed: 50.6 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 20.10 Mbps
  • Ping: 96ms

Wlan United States test:

nordvpn benchmark usa

  • Download Speed: 28.6 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 6.2 Mbps
  • Ping: 104ms

The tested performance matches that of the Internet line, which is very good. Mileage may vary depending on the server or servers, and the Internet speed as well as connection quality on the user’s end. All in all, excellent speed test results for standard Internet connections.

NordVPN privacy test

A VPN should not leak the local device’s IP address, as it would not be all that great for privacy. Good news is that NordVPN passed all leak tests that we ran:

DNS Leak Test: passed (https://www.dnsleaktest.com/(

IP Leak Test: passed (https://ipleak.net/)

Unblock streaming platforms test

You may unblock streaming platforms using NordVPN. Please note that some server IP addresses may be blocked as streaming platforms may block certain IP addresses from accessing their content (if they assume that it is a VPN IP).

For this test, Netflix and Amazon Prime were selected. First, I tried to access the services from Germany using a German server; this worked without issues.

For the next test, I connected to a United States server and tried to access the two streaming services again; this worked equally well and without any issues.

Judging from comments online, but not tested as part of this review, NordVPN can be used to unlock a wide range of streaming services that include Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max and Go, Paramount Plus, Crunchyroll, as well as many others. For Netflix, all regional streaming offerings could be accessed using NordVPN.

The company behind NordVPN

Tefincom S.A. established NordVPN in 2012 in Panama. The company was renamed to NordVPN S.A. in 2020 as part of a restructuring.

In 2019, NordVPN became one of the founding members of the VPN Trust Initiative (next to ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, SurfShark and NetProtect).

Verdict

NordVPN is an excellent VPN service. It is a bit pricey if you subscribe for a single month, but if you sign-up for two years, you pay $3.30 per month effectively and get 3-months free on top of that.

NordVPN uses its own enhanced version of the WireGuard protocol, supports all the features that you’d expect from a VPN plus more, such as double-server support, streaming services unlocking, or obfuscation support.

It is not too expensive if you pay for a year or two years. While the support is quite accessible via chat and email, there is no option to call company support.

All in all, NordVPN offers excellent value for the money that you pay, provided that you subscribe for a year or a longer period.

NordVPN FAQ

NordVPN application is not opening

There are several reasons for NordVPN not opening:

  1. Check the System Tray to see if it is already running. You may also open the Task Manager, on Windows with Ctrl-Shift-Esc, and look for the NordVPN process there.
  2. Some applications, MSI Afterburner and ASUS GPU Tweak, may interfere and need to be removed.
  3. Antivirus software may block the program (as a false positive).
  4. Try restarting the system.
  5. Reinstall the application. NordVPN requires certain components.

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