NordVPN Review

NordVPN is one of the best VPN providers out there, thanks to its ease of use, excellent security and wide server network. Find out more about what we liked and disliked about the service in this comprehensive and fully updated NordVPN review.

Jacob RoachSamson Max
By Jacob Roach (Writer) & Samson Max (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-09-05T23:21:34+00:00 Facts checked by Elisabeth Ivey
(Editor)
Starts from $ 367 per month
Save 69 % (All Plans)
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NordVPN sits among the best VPN providers around, offering fast and secure connections across the globe. In this NordVPN review, we’re going to look at its VPN features, pricing, speed, privacy, ease of use and, of course, security to see how NordVPN has continued to improve its service among a crowded VPN field.

Key Takeaways:

  • NordVPN is a top-notch VPN with 5,200 servers in 59 countries and excellent streaming and security features.
  • The NordLynx protocol — NordVPN’s take on WireGuard protocol — delivers better speed performance than OpenVPN and is now the default NordVPN protocol.
  • NordVPN’s forte is top-notch security, and it’s no surprise the VPN works in China and other highly restrictive nations.

NordVPN’s 2019 security breach has caused some users to question if the VPN should be trusted or not. If you want the short answer: yes, NordVPN is still trustworthy, and it’s still among the best VPN options. You’ll be able to read more about that in the “security” section below.

Stay tuned for our full NordVPN review. However, if you’d rather take it for a spin yourself, you can sign up risk-free with NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN Video Review

  • 07/23/2021

    Cloudwards completed a fresh review of NordVPN. Since our last review, the VPN has added split tunneling and dark web monitoring. It has also improved its auto-connect server location speeds, and changed the default protocol from OpenVPN to NordLynx, a version of the WireGuard protocol.

  • Absolutely. Despite the minor hack in late 2019, NordVPN’s reputation has mainly remained unblemished. The VPN service is trustworthy, and you should have no worries when using it.

  • Definitely. If you’re shopping around for a reliable, well-rounded VPN service, NordVPN fits that profile.

  • Not at all. NordVPN maintains a strict no-logs policy and boasts an array of security and privacy features that guarantee total anonymity and privacy online.

  • NordVPN prioritizes security and privacy. It maintains a strict zero-logs policy, and the parent company is based in Panama, which is as good as it gets in terms of privacy laws.

Top Alternatives for NordVPN

  1. 1
    • : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
    • : 6
  2. 2
    • : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
    • : 5
  3. 3
    • : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
    • : 7
  4. 4
    • : PayPal, Credit card
    • : 5
    • : No
  5. 5
    • : PayPal, Credit card, AmazonPay
    • : 10

Strengths & Weaknesses

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive long-term subscription
  • Over 5,200 servers in 59 countries
  • No-logs policy
  • P2P servers
  • Double-hop servers

Cons:

  • Expensive monthly plan
  • No phone support

Features

95 % – Excellent

When it comes to its feature set, NordVPN lives up to its billing as a premium VPN. The essentials are all there, and NordVPN goes further with a range of unique servers. However, some small extras are missing. Namely, there isn’t a speed test, which ExpressVPN and PureVPN both offer, though this isn’t a feature to gripe about with the service.

NordVPN Basic Features: Kill Switch, App Kill, Obfuscation

That said, NordVPN certainly isn’t lacking in features. You get an internet kill switch, which will automatically disconnect you from the internet should the VPN connection fail. There’s also an app kill switch that lets you select which apps to automatically close when the VPN connection drops or your computer unexpectedly disconnects from the VPN.

NordVPN features
NordVPN offers a well-rounded list of features.

Furthermore, you can set custom DNS servers and obfuscate your OpenVPN packets, though these features have become increasingly common among VPNs. What isn’t common is NordLynx, NordVPN’s proprietary take on WireGuard. We’ll talk more about that in the “security” and “speed” sections below.

Does NordVPN Have Split Tunneling?

In our last review of NordVPN, we gave it some criticism for lacking a split tunneling feature. The vendor seems to have taken our criticism positively and added the feature since. In general, split tunneling allows you to select some apps to use VPN protection while allowing others to access the internet directly.

NordVPN offers two choices when it comes to split tunneling. The first method is selecting which apps will bypass VPN protection, with the rest of your connection still going through the VPN tunnel. Alternatively, you can choose to enable the VPN only for specific apps, with everything else going unprotected.

NordVPN split tunneling
Although it was previously missing, NordVPN now offers a dedicated split tunneling tool that allows you to set some app traffic to bypass the VPN tunnel.

Dark Web Monitor

NordVPN also offers a few standout features, like the recently launched dark web monitoring. The tool — currently available for Android, iOS and macOS — continuously scours dark web repositories for data associated with your email address. For example, it will check dark web marketplaces that sell personal information to see if your email comes up.

If it detects any exposure linked to your personal information, you get an instant alert, prompting you to take immediate remedial action. The only quibble: the dark web monitor scans only for data associated with the email address you used to sign up to a NordVPN account.

CyberSec

Another standout feature is CyberSec, which will block ads and malware when enabled (it’s turned off by default). Although NordVPN claims CyberSec is “an advanced technology solution,” it’s pretty simple. It blocks ads and malicious sites using a known blocklist.

In short, whenever you connect, CyberSec will automatically sift through the requests your browser makes. If any of them are directed at a hostname on the blocklist, that request will be blocked. This is far from new tech — nearly every ad blocker in the Chrome Web Store does the same thing — but it’s nice to have it bundled with your VPN.

The important thing to note with CyberSec is that it’s an ad blocker first, malware protection second. Sure, it can block malicious sites, but only those on the blocklist. A secure antivirus can usually detect sites and apps that haven’t yet made it onto a blocklist using machine learning.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t use CyberSec if you’re already using NordVPN — it’s a great ad blocker in its own right — but it’s not a replacement for antivirus software. 

Torrenting With NordVPN

Another big draw for NordVPN is its unique server offerings, which we’ll get into in the “server locations” section below. On the list are peer-to-peer (P2P) servers, which are built specifically for torrenting.

NordVPN P2P servers
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for torrenting, thanks to the P2P-optimized servers.

Torrenting copyrighted content is illegal in most countries, and although we’re not advocating for breaking the law, you should always use a VPN if you’re going to torrent. Thankfully, NordVPN is a fine choice for the job, earning the top spot in our best VPN for torrenting guide. The P2P servers, combined with NordVPN’s excellent speeds, make it perfect for digital pirates.

NordVPN OS & Router Support

As for platform support, there are NordVPN apps for just about every platform out there, with decent legacy support, to boot. Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux are fully supported with applications. However, you can get NordVPN working on just about any operating system.

NordVPN also has a setup guide for nearly every platform you can dream up, from Western Digital network-attached storage to a BlackBerry (remember those?). If you’re bumping up against your simultaneous connection limit, you can install the VPN on your router, too. Although all local traffic will flow through the VPN tunnel, your router counts as a single device.

NordVPN Features Overview

  • General

    • : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
    • : 6
    • : 7 days on mobile
    • : 5,200+ servers in 59 countries
    • : Windows, MacOS, Linux
    • : Android, iOS, BlackBerry
    • : Chrome, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vilvaldi
  • Streaming

  • Security

    • : 256-AES
    • : OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx
  • Support

    • : 24/7
    • : 24/7
    • : No

Pricing

90 % – Excellent

NordVPN isn’t a cheap VPN service, especially on the monthly end of things. Sure, the month-to-month and annual costs aren’t bad, especially compared to services like Hide.me and Astrill VPN, but we’ve seen cheaper. For example, Mullvad costs only $5 per month, no matter how long you subscribe (read our Mullvad review), and CyberGhost costs only $2.25 per month on its three-year plan.

NordVPN’s monthly plan costs $11.95, which is on the higher side of the VPN pricing spectrum. It rivals even ExpressVPN (see how the two compare directly in our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison). However, if you’re interested in a month-to-month or semi-annual subscription, TorGuard and PIA offer excellent rates for durations of less than a year.

That said, NordVPN gives you a 58 percent discount for the initial annual plan, which means you pay $4.92 per month or $59 per year. Even better, the two-year plan offers a 72 percent discount, so you only pay $3.30 per month or $89 for two years.

However, NordVPN’s discounts only apply to the initial subscription. That means, after the expiry of the initial plan, your subscription renews for the current price of the service. In this case, the annual and biennial plans renew for $143.40 and $322.65, respectively.

NordVPN pricing
NordVPN is one of the most expensive VPN services at a monthly rate, but its extended plans are budget-friendly.

As for payment, NordVPN accepts nearly everything outside of straight-up cash, including bitcoin payments; though weirdly PayPal payments have to be routed through an alternative payment system called Paddle.

Each subscription comes with six simultaneous connections, which is fine, considering you can easily install NordVPN on a router. ExpressVPN offers five simultaneous connections, and CyberGhost offers seven, so six is an acceptable middle ground.

It’s important to note that although NordVPN limits you to six simultaneous connections, you can install the app on as many platforms as you want. That said, you can actively connect only six of those devices at any one time.

Subscription Add-Ons

NordVPN has a subscription add-on for dedicated IP addresses. An annual subscription for a dedicated IP address sets you back $70 on top of the regular NordVPN subscription. The IP addresses are available for the United States, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

Also, in a bid to cash in on the flourishing cybersecurity market, NordVPN offers two additional products: NordPass and NordLocker. NordPass is a password manager that costs $2.49 but doesn’t really compare to the best apps in that class.

On the other hand, NordLocker enables you to encrypt your files for only $3.99 per month on the 500GB plan, though you can also use it for free if 3GB is enough for you. However, if you purchase NordPass and NordLocker as part of the NordVPN bundle, each one costs $2.21 per month, and $1.32 per month respectively.

Moreover, the vendor offers NordVPN Teams — a corporate VPN service geared toward remote teams and freelancers in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). There are three pricing plans for teams: Basic ($7 per month per user), Advanced ($9 per month per user) and Enterprise (custom pricing), each offering a different choice of features.

NordVPN Free Trial & Money-Back Guarantee

NordVPN doesn’t offer any sort of free trial on its desktop app, at least not in the traditional sense. However, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in place, so you have up to a month to change your mind and get a full refund, no questions asked.

There is a week-long VPN free trial on mobile, though. Simply download the NordVPN app on iOS or Android and get started. The trial is tied to your payment method, and you’ll need a card on file to take advantage of the trial. Still, that’s a week of protection without spending a dime, at least on your mobile devices.

User-Friendliness

95 % – Excellent

NordVPN is dead simple to use, from the no-nonsense signup process to making your first VPN connection. Although the app isn’t as streamlined as services like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, it’s highly intuitive. There’s rarely a question about what you need to do to secure your connection.

Let’s start at the top, though. Signing up for NordVPN is straightforward, with multiple buttons on the site leading to the checkout page. (If you can’t find a way to make it to the checkout page, a VPN is probably above your pay grade.) Once there, all you need to do is select a plan, enter your email address and choose a payment method.

Getting started with NordVPN
NordVPN is a cinch to install and use, even for the greenest VPN users.

You can then download the app by going to the “VPN apps” section of the site or by logging in and going to the “downloads” tab. When you log in, there’s a dashboard where you can purchase a dedicated IP address, view your billing history and set up the browser extension (more on that last one in a bit).

Using NordVPN on Windows

The NordVPN Windows app is polished and easy to use. Once you log in, you’re connected right away; no need to sift through IP addresses or VPN protocols. NordVPN automatically chooses the best location and connects you to it. More than that, you get fine-grained control over the location you want to connect to.

There’s a large global map begging for you to explore it. If you want to switch your location, you can drag your way around the map until you find the country that interests you. This isn’t the best way to pick your location, but if you’re not a geography buff, you can simply use the left-side menu and search bar.

That left-side menu can also let you connect to a specific city or server within a country. Find the location (country) you want and click the three dots next to it. You can then choose the city from the tiny drop-down menu and choose the specific server you want to connect to. The individual servers are only noted by numbers, though: “Canada #704,” for example.

NordVPN app
The clean Windows UI makes it super easy to use NordVPN, regardless of your IT skills level.

The Windows app displays the load on each server, allowing you to pick one with fewer users, which could help if your connection is lagging. You can also “favorite” servers for quicker access in the future.

Given that you have the choice in not only the region you want to connect to but also the specific server, it seems like more could’ve been done with this system. For example, NordVPN could show the relative distance or, better yet, split off individual server selections into its own window.

That’s a minor gripe, all things considered. NordVPN just isn’t as focused as ExpressVPN in its design. Instead, it trades the smartphone-style app for an impressive server map, which gives you a sense of just how far you’re traveling virtually. It’s a different take on VPN UI design, and it works.

NordVPN pause option
NordVPN allows you to pause your VPN connection for a period so that it restarts automatically after the interval.

Another handy feature is the option to pause your VPN connection. When you click “disconnect,” you get options to pause your connection for five, 10 or 60 minutes. Once the time lapses, the app reconnects automatically, which exemplifies NordVPN’s set-and-forget simplicity.

Using the NordVPN Mobile Apps

The NordVPN Android app is a trimmed-down version of the Windows client, but it’s just as easy to use. It offers a dark web monitor, kill switch, split tunneling, CyberSec and lets you configure a custom DNS. 

NordVPN Android app
Even though the Android app misses certain desktop features, it gets the job done without a hitch.

However, you can’t drill down to pick a specific server. Instead, when you select a city, the app automatically connects you to the fastest server. There’s an option to pause your connection, too.

Using the Chrome Extension

NordVPN’s Chrome extension is mainly unnecessary when the app is available, as its feature set is limited compared to the full app. However, it still has CyberSec, a WebRTC blocker and a simpler version of split tunneling, which only allows you to add a list of websites to bypass the proxy. On the flip side, it gives you far less control over the location you want to connect to.

Other VPNs are starting to take advantage of the browser extension more — Windscribe comes to mind — so it’s disappointing to see NordVPN offers such a limited version.

That said, we’re happy to see that a browser extension is available on the Chrome Web Store. Although NordVPN’s offering is the epitome of bare bones, it allows those not using one of the supported OSes to stay protected.

For instance, you can set up NordVPN on a Chromebook with the extension. That said, using the browser will protect only your browser traffic and not your traffic using other apps. 

Speed

95 % – Excellent

For our NordVPN speed review, as with all our speed tests, we used OpenVPN UDP with AES-256 encryption. That way, we can easily compare NordVPN with the fastest VPN providers out there because OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption is pretty much universal across servers.

However, since NordVPN has moved away from OpenVPN as the recommended protocol, we did a series of speed tests with the NordLynx protocol. Moreover, we did a third batch of speed tests using the auto-connect function, letting NordVPN choose the appropriate protocol. Here’s what we gleaned from the speed test results.

Note that we let NordVPN automatically pick the fastest server in all our speed tests and used a 3 Mbps internet connection. 

nordvpn speed
NordVPN bills itself as “the fastest VPN experience on the planet,” though our tests show it still lags slightly behind ExpressVPN.

NordVPN Speed Test Using OpenVPN

LocationPing
ms
Download
Mbps
Upload
Mbps
Unprotected303.143.20
South Africa (#110)
133
2.72
2.49
Singapore (#496)
319
2.65
2.34
United Kingdom (#2268)
335
2.78
2.46
United States (#9260)
494
2.94
1.38
Australia (#636)
675
2.44
2.23
Brazil (#52)
727
2.85
2.27
Average
447
2.73
2.2

OpenVPN gave us some inconsistent results, mainly regarding upload speed. For example, the U.S. server (#9260) returned 1.99 Mbps on our first upload trial, 2.16 Mbps on the second trial and zero Mbps on the third trial. However, the download speed and ping rate results showed some consistency across the servers we tested.

Overall, the ping rate on OpenVPN increased nearly 15 times, whereas the download and upload speeds decreased by 13 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Besides that, the ping rate increased as we moved farther away from the testing location. That said, NordVPN didn’t display the same gradient in terms of speed. For instance, the South Africa server (#110) was slower than the recommended U.S. server, even though it’s the closest. 

We also noticed that OpenVPN took a little longer (about 30 seconds) to connect to the select server.

NordVPN Speed Test Using Automatic Protocol

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (Nairobi, Kenya)303.143.02
South Africa (#111)1683.171.83
United States (#5953)5323.202.27
United Kingdom (#2071)3323.382.58
Australia (#573)5633.212.47
Singapore (#496)3203.232.67
Brazil (#84)7662.892.40
Average:447 (+ 14.9 folds)3.18 (+ 1.3 percent)2.37 (-21.5 percent)

In our previous NordVPN review, it wasn’t always the best at selecting the fastest location, but that’s changed since then. Now, letting NordVPN automatically select the protocol and server seems to deliver the best results. In this case, NordVPN establishes a connection pretty fast.

Second, although it didn’t improve the ping rate, it enhanced download speeds by 1.3 percent. Most of the servers we tested (except Brazil) exceeded our unprotected speeds. However, the NordVPN-selected protocol decreased the upload speed by about 22 percent.

Another stunning discovery is that letting NordVPN select the protocol helps mitigate the inconsistency (by a significant degree), though it doesn’t solve it completely.

NordVPN Speeds Using NordLynx

Of the features laid out in NordVPN’s blog post about NordLynx, the greatest focus was on speed, with NordVPN claiming it’s “the fastest VPN protocol at [its] disposal.” We wanted to put that to the test, so we enabled NordLynx and ran another batch of tests, which you can find below. Our unprotected speed is there for reference, too.

Location:Ping (ms)Download (Mbps)Upload (Mbps)
Unprotected (Nairobi, Kenya)303.143.02
South Africa (#109)1373.052.03
United States (#8665)4933.192.63
United Kingdom (#2046)3283.132.67
Australia (#601)4323.132.29
Singapore (#475)3293.162.42
Brazil (#45)7162.892.65
Average:406 (x13.5)3.09 (-1.6 percent)2.45 (-18.9 percent)

There isn’t much to say here. NordLynx is faster (like, way faster) than OpenVPN. We were easily hitting near-unprotected speeds across locations with little fuss, though the automatic protocol setting still delivered better results. Even though inconsistency is still a familiar theme, NordLynx delivers impressive results when everything is working properly.

Security

90 % – Excellent

In recent app versions, NordVPN has done away with less secure VPN protocols: PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. Currently, NordVPN apps support only OpenVPN, IKEv2 and NordLynx (NordVPN’s take on WireGuard). 

As far as VPN security goes, OpenVPN with AES 256-bit encryption has been the standard for decades, and that’s what NordVPN uses out of the box. AES-256 encryption is nearly impossible to crack without a few billion years and a supercomputer (read our description of encryption for more on that).

However, since we last reviewed NordVPN, the fast and secure WireGuard protocol has taken the place of OpenVPN as its default VPN protocol in the form of NordLynx. NordLynx is the default protocol in its Windows, macOS, Android and iOS apps, whereas IKEv2 is available on macOS and iOS apps only.

What Is NordLynx?

NordLynx is basically WireGuard with a double NAT for a secure connection. WireGuard’s streamlined code makes it ideal for speed, but it’s no slouch when it comes to security. It uses the newer ChaCha20 cipher for encryption, which offers 256-bit encryption while being apparently faster than AES.

nordvpn nordlynx protocol
NordLynx is NordVPN’s proprietary version of the WireGuard VPN protocol, promising faster speeds while maintaining a secure connection.

The combination of newer encryption techniques makes NordLynx an impressive option, but it hasn’t been put through the wringer quite yet. That’s not to say it’s not secure — far from it, in fact — just that you probably shouldn’t use it in high-risk situations. For streaming and torrenting, though, ChaCha20 provides ample protection while keeping your internet connection faster.

To test its security, we ran a series of DNS leak tests, seeing if NordVPN had WebRTC requests, IP address leaks or DNS leaks. On OpenVPN, everything was fine, which isn’t too surprising. Everything was fine with NordLynx, too, though. Rerunning the tests, we didn’t encounter any leaks, even when using NordVPN’s ultrafast new protocol.

Is NordVPN Trustworthy? The NordVPN Server Breach

In 2019, it was revealed that NordVPN suffered a server breach the previous year. In short, an attacker got a hold of a server configuration file from one of the rented servers in NordVPN’s network, located in Finland. That attacker found a vulnerability, stealing the NordVPN TLS certificate and gaining access to a single server.

Although it was a severe breach, nothing came of it. There’s no evidence that the attacker monitored any traffic, and the TLS key expired well before the attacker could put up a fake NordVPN site.

It was a serious problem and, as such, NordVPN responded seriously, auditing every server in its network and commissioning security testing. The company took the effort to improve the security of its infrastructure and user data a step further with a bug bounty program, and it’s paying off.

However, it’s important to remember that this is a data center issue. Although a VPN provider often owns the servers in its network, it rarely operates them. The vulnerability was a result of the data center’s poor security practices, not NordVPN’s.

More Bad Press for NordVPN

We aren’t done with 2019, though, which brought up another incident: a password leak. Now, to set the record straight right off the bat, the leak was in no way NordVPN’s fault. The fact of the matter is that some people just don’t bother changing their passwords and use the same one on multiple sites. Ill-intentioned people sometimes exploit this in what’s called a “credential stuffing” attack.

This is what happened to 2,000 NordVPN users who used their passwords on less secure sites and thus, exposed their VPN passwords. To the keen eye, it’s obvious that the leak wasn’t due to negligence on NordVPN’s end. However, it still caught some flak for it, mainly due to attention-grabbing headlines from the media.

NordVPN in China

The security breach aside, let’s talk about practical security. With the excellent security levels NordVPN hits, you can only expect the service to work in China and other countries that restrict internet access.

The good news is, with its specialty VPN servers, NordVPN is well-equipped to handle more dangerous tasks online. As for which specialty server is best in China, take your pick. NordVPN made our list of the top VPN services for China because it’s hard not securing your connection while using one of the specialty VPN servers. 

We prefer the obfuscated servers most, though. You’re getting the benefit of scrambled packets without the speed loss that comes with Double VPN or Onion Over VPN (read our VPN vs proxy vs Tor guide for more on the latter).

Privacy

85 % – Very Good

NordVPN makes it clear at the beginning of its privacy policy that its top priority is customer data security. It maintains a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t monitor or store any information about your connection or what you do online.

Before getting to the VPN, let’s talk about what information is collected when you sign up. NordVPN requires an email address and payment method. Your email address must be valid — meaning you have to have access to it — so you can’t create one just to sign up. Depending on your payment method, you’ll also need to provide billing information, though this data is handled by a third party.

That’s it as far as signup information goes, which isn’t bad, all things considered. Yes, NordVPN records the email you signed up with, but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern, especially if you intend to use the dark web monitor. Plus, if you want total digital anonymity, NordVPN accepts cryptocurrencies. You can read our ProtonVPN review if you need a VPN with an anonymous email address option.

NordVPN Logging Policy

NordVPN privacy policy
Your privacy online is a guarantee with NordVPN, thanks to the zero-logs policy, an array of security features and NordVPN’s friendly jurisdiction.

NordVPN offers a short and concise privacy policy. It affirms its commitment to the “strict no-logs policy for NordVPN services.” As per the policy, NordVPN knows nothing about you when you use the VPN service, which is excellent from a privacy standpoint. 

However, you still need to peruse the general Nord privacy to understand more about the information the company gathers, including payment and communication data. Besides that, NordVPN collects cookies and your access logs when you visit the official websites. Is this cause for concern? 

As far as we know, Nord collects the information to improve service provision, process payments and enhance the functioning of NordVPN apps. For example, NordVPN collects server load data, which allows it to recommend the fastest locations without needing to dig through the massive service list. In addition, it collects your login information for authentication purposes and nothing more.

While login information is the only data NordVPN collects on local applications, there’s a sneaky setting we found tucked away in the service. The “help us improve” setting sends anonymized data to Nord, including crash reports, your OS version, how you use features in the app and “marketing performance.”

NordVPN privacy
The “help us improve” is a blemish in NordVPN’s excellent digital privacy profile, but you can turn it off.

“Marketing performance” is the kicker. Why would an app designed to maintain your privacy collect information that helps the company gauge its marketing performance? Furthermore, why does this setting come enabled by default? 

This is all anonymous data, so it’s not linked to anyone’s account, and frankly, it’s fine that NordVPN wants to collect it. The problem is that the setting is turned on from the get-go. This should be turned off, with the option to opt in, not opt out. Still, as long as you go into the settings and flick the toggle, it’s a nonissue. 

NordVPN Jurisdiction

NordVPN is owned by Tefincom & Co., S.A., an entity based in Panama, a country with some of the best privacy laws in the world. It has no mandatory data retention laws, meaning NordVPN isn’t legally obligated to retain user data for any period. Even better, NordVPN isn’t legally bound to respond to a subpoena from authorities outside the legal jurisdiction of Panama.

Streaming Performance

95 % – Excellent

The NordVPN streaming performance is excellent, which is why it made our list of the best VPNs for streaming. NordVPN has always been a streaming behemoth, and that hasn’t changed. We could access streaming services Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and BBC iPlayer without any problems.

NordVPN for streaming
When it comes to streaming, NordVPN keeps raising the bar to guarantee an excellent experience at all times.

Even when switching servers multiple times, each streaming platform loaded like it was a local session. That said, OpenVPN seems to have fallen behind NordLynx in terms of streaming performance. Although we never got a proxy error with OpenVPN, the stream took a little longer to load.

NordVPN Netflix Performance

NordVPN is great for streaming Netflix whether you’re using OpenVPN or NordLynx protocol. It got us into U.S. movies and TV libraries on the first attempt, which wasn’t the case the last time we reviewed the VPN. At this rate, NordVPN is gradually honing in on the top spot of our list of best VPNs for Netflix.

That said, OpenVPN was a bit sluggish opening movies, which is consistent with what we’ve seen with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer. Other than that minor drawback, we were able to watch Netflix movies without buffering.

Server Locations

95 % – Excellent
NordVPN server network
With over 5,200 VPN servers, you can get an IP address in 59 countries worldwide.

NordVPN has one of the largest networks out there, with nearly 5,200 servers in 59 countries. The servers are spread out well, too. The Americas get about 2,500 servers, Europe has over 2,500 servers and the remaining 200 or so servers are dedicated to the Asia Pacific region, Africa and the Middle East.

That server count may not look all too impressive next to HideMyAss, which connects to nearly 200 countries, or CyberGhost, which has a server count that tops 6,000. The difference is that NordVPN doesn’t have any virtual servers.

Even with the massive number of servers in its network, all server locations feature real, bare-metal servers (read our article on virtual servers to see why that might matter to you). 

A common practice among VPN services is to route one server’s traffic through another location. Although you’ll end up with, say, an Afghan IP address, your traffic is going through a server in a location with more infrastructure (the Netherlands is a popular choice for this). It’s a clever tactic, but not one free of fault. 

With NordVPN, that’s not a concern. When you’re connecting to a location — even a remote one like Iceland — you’re connecting to a VPN server that’s physically in that location. Furthermore, NordVPN offers a range of specialty VPN servers across its network.

NordVPN Specialty Servers: Double VPN, P2P & Dedicated IP

NordVPN offers six types of servers. There are your standard servers, which encrypt your traffic and make up the majority of the network, and dedicated IP servers, which are available at an additional cost. Everyone has access to the four specialty server types, though, which can bolster your security in several ways.

NordVPN specialty servers
The Double VPN and Onion Over VPN servers add an extra layer of security, allowing you to traverse the web risk-free.

Of the lot, the Double VPN servers are the most interesting, which sends your connection through two VPN tunnels before going to the open internet. This technique — also used by our best free VPN, Windscribe — doubles up the encryption of your connection at the cost of speed (read our Windscribe review). For situations where security is important above all else, though, they’re nice to have.

Otherwise, you have access to dedicated P2P servers, obfuscated servers and Onion Over VPN servers. Although NordVPN offers a lot of different server types, they aren’t available across locations. 

For example, the U.S. location has access to everything, while Germany misses a Double VPN option. Thankfully, it’s easy to filter by server type in the app, so you can quickly find a location.

Customer Service

95 % – Excellent

The NordVPN support team is one of the best we’ve seen. Its support section is very well maintained, and each time we had a question, a support rep was quick to answer it over live chat.

In our last review, we expressed our concern with the addition of a chatbot to the live chat tool. Our worry was that the move would negate the main benefit of live chat: response speed. 

The good thing is that NordVPN has found the sweet spot, accommodating the chatbot while making live agents easily accessible. As it stands, the chatbot tool is really useful for redirecting you to knowledgebase entries. When you type a keyword or phrase related to the issue you’re facing, say “VPN server,” the chatbot offers the basic information about the topic.

Even better, the chatbot helps you quickly escalate complex issues to a live agent. Just type the keyword “live agent” and hit the send button. The chatbot will prompt you to select the correct department to route your inquiry to and connect you to a live agent in under five minutes.

Nordvpn live chat support
NordVPN supports multiple customer support channels, but the excellent live chat channel is the mainstay.

Other Support Options

Beyond the live chat option, NordVPN’s customer service is accessible via email. You can also access the help center from within the desktop app. Clicking the “help center” takes you to a knowledgebase with a wide range of self-help resources. 

The articles are grouped into four categories: FAQs, billing, connectivity and general information. They discuss everything from setup to troubleshooting, covering everything from nontraditional installs to driver errors. Frankly, with how many articles there are, you shouldn’t need to contact NordVPN at all.

Overall, NordVPN’s customer support is excellent. Live chat has always been a strong point, and the new chatbot improves that experience considerably. However, the lack of phone support still stings.

The Verdict

NordVPN is and has been one of the best VPN services out there, though a lot has changed since the last time we looked at the VPN. The split tunneling feature and the revamp of the server network have refined some rough edges, making NordVPN a well-rounded, premium VPN. 

That said, some aspects still need addressing, like the missing phone support and inconsistent speeds with OpenVPN, though the default NordLynx protocol is much faster and much more consistent. Thankfully, those issues are easy to overlook, considering how much NordVPN has to offer. Although it still doesn’t quite rank first, it’s undoubtedly among the best VPNs out there.

If you want to make the most of the impressive NordLynx protocol, CyberSec tool or NordVPN’s specialty server, you can do so risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.  

Have you used NordVPN before? Which is your favorite NordVPN feature? Would you recommend NordVPN? Let us know about your experience in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

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24 thoughts on “NordVPN”

  1. I’ve been using NordVPN since the beginning of the year and all I have to say is that it works great for me. The speeds for me are pretty consistent. I’m in the U.S., and the speeds are great while using servers in the U.S. and Iceland. Even in far places, I have no problems with buffering and speeds, in my opinion, speeds are very good. There are times that speeds may slow down when browsing all I have to do is log out of the server and use another server or log in to the same server, this happens very rarely. Customer service is good if you like to do online chatting or email. They do respond quickly and solve the problem. I would prefer to have a phone number and have someone on the other hand, but that is just me.

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  2. Don’t know if I would give NordVPN 5 stars, but it’s definitely somewhere near that. Went to China 4 times (3 times with Nord) and it worked pretty great. The price is my only concern, I think

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  3. NordVPN sucks. It worked for a few months and then it completely stopped working for me here in China. I complete waste of the $99.00 I spent for three years. Don’t waste your money; find something better. I think all these reviews are bogus, meant to scam people into purchasing it.

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    1. Hi Paul, while I’m sorry to hear that NordVPN no longer works for you, please don’t blame us for it. We have been testing NordVPN for over three years now and have never experienced an issue like yours. We take great care to make sure that all the information we provide people is up to date and accurate and will be testing whether your problem is related to being in China, as that country has recently gotten very serious about enforcing its VPN ban. Good luck finding another provider.

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  4. It might be bad for someone, but, it’s good for me. I have set it up myself, I had no problems connecting to Netflix and I don’t face any speed issues. So whether my ISP is super fast and I just don’t notice the drop or Nord truly doesn’t affect the speed. Anyway, I think it’s good.

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  5. I’ve had NordVPN for around 18 months now. I bought a 3 year subscription with the hope of being able to watch US Netflix from Australia as at the time I’d just been connected to the NBN. I must admit I haven’t been real successfull. Last time I tried I was able to connect and watch Netflix, but it was pretty crap quality as I’m guessing the connection speed wasn’t there to watch in HD. I have the top speed plan on offer in Australia on the NBN, 100/40Mbps, so I’ve been quite disappointed in NordVPN’s ability to deliver a decent speed, keeping in mind that the servers on the West Coast are 12,764klm from Melbourne. Anyway, it’s been a while since I tried watching Netflix so I thought, upon seeing this article, that I’d test the speeds to San Francisco using Ookla speed test, both with Nord on and off along with using single and multi threaded connections each time. It’s just after 6pm so people are getting home and will be starting to use their internet for streaming etc. I have a HFC connection, (thank God I don’t have FTTN), and in all the tests I’ve done there has been very little difference in the speeds with or without the VPN running, in fact, the very last test I ran with Nord on and connected to San Francisco server #4347, 12643klms away, my speed was 99.9Mbps down, 37.4 up, and a test to a server 25klms away without Nord running 94.6/37.4 and with Nord running, 90.8/37.1, so I’m not losing much speed at all, although of course the ping times in all scenarios are much higher with NordVPN running so gaming is out of the question, but I’m impressed by the results I’ve gotten in the many tests I’ve done. One thing I’ve never tried when attempting to watch US Netflix is changing servers, so given the speeds I’m now receiving, I’m going to jump on to Netflix USA and see what the performance is like. Also, NordVPN is brilliant for torrenting as mentioned in the article. As I haven’t been able to watch Netflix USA in the past, I’ve downloaded many shows etc over bit torrent and it’s very reassuring to know that I can’t be seen. I like NordVPN, I’ll keep an eye on things over the next 18 months and if needed, move to the best rated VPN provider. Until then, like it or not, I’m stuck with NordVPN. I only paid AU $120, (US $79 for 3 years, so I can’t really complain).

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  6. I asked NordVPN:
    The update was released on November 6th.
    As of November 12, the website still has an older version 🙂
    NordVPN 6.25 (latest)
    NordVPN 6.24
    https://nordvpn.com/blog/nordvpn-windows-release-notes/

    NordVPN’s answer:
    Thank you for your letter.

    The recent update version 6.25 seems to have some functionality issues for some of our users, that is why we are currently working on a fix pack for this update, which should be available relatively soon.

    This is the reason we do not update our website with the most recent version of our application and are offering version 6.24.

    Let us know if you have any other questions.

    Best Regards,
    Customer Success Team

    Reply
  7. Must leave Nord due to weekly failures. Random fails if disconnected from WiFi, or when Linux updates or Nord sends notice that I must update nord to connect. Then use 2 hours getting working connection. Not bad except fails at least weekly. Nord has command line interface only for Linux-GNU. It does have a “critical need detector”.

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  8. NordVPN is a nightmare. took 3 days to actually get signed up, and having to try 4 different cards. 3 were denied, even though I had cleared making the overseas transaction with the financial institute. They were of zero help. Finally, while online with the guy in live chat, who literally knew nothing at all, period. The transaction went through, I received my confirmation and set everything up. Fast forward 5 hours later, where out of the blue, I get an email saying that the payment failed, just like the other 3. In fact I thought that it might of been an email, from a different transaction attempt. I check service…nope, its gone. I contact them, they tell me that payment failed, I tell them BS, because I was using the service, and if it failed, like the other 3 attempts, then I wouldn’t of had the service. He says they refunded my money the day before, but its 4 in the morning when I get the failed payment notice and he says that it was refunded before midnight, so apparently it was refunded then, while I was using the service. LOLOL I then ask how they took the money, if the payment failed, to even refund. Well, now its some silly crap about it was deemed a high risk transaction or some crap. Yeah. My transaction from friggin mastercard that was approved by them, after I got it cleared with the financial institute to make the transaction. Like I said, a nightmare. I wouldn’t trust these guys with my security, because I’ve never EVER dealt with such incompetence for 3 friggin days straight. Now I can see how they got hacked, because they didn’t know what they were doing. I fully intend to post my story on their twitter, facebook, review sites on youtube and anyplace I can. People deserve to be aware, before they go through this disaster with these guys. And them being overseas, limits the actions you can take, if they just decide to rip you off, and give you ridiculous changing details. Beware, and don’t get taken by this incompetent bunch of shady clowns

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  9. – The download speed is in best case only 100Mbit.
    – There is no way to find out/verify if the torrent traffic is really routed via NordVPN, have contacted
    support several times…
    – Apparently NordVPN do not consider their website secure, you are not allowed to change your e-mail address on the site, instead you are forced to contact them via email , and they ask you for personal information like credit card information, all sent via unencrypted email… really bad!!

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  10. Lovely app, but not a 5 star worthy yet. For the past few years I’ve been following their company, what can I say.. it moved to a better direction with that nordlynx stuff. Good job

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  11. excellent vpn
    This is the best VPN I have tried. It surpassed the 4 other products I tried and is a product that you should try!

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  12. It took me quite some time before choosing to go with Nord VPN and now it’s almost the end of of my one year subscription and I would definitely sign for another one or more.
    I see absolutely no difference when the VPN is switched on so that’s pretty good. Definitely worth it.

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  13. This stupid new feature of logging in through browser first and then logging in through app should be dropped!! I hate it! I dont trust it and its time wasting, there is No benefit and please get rid of it or this customer is leaving. Update as of 2/2/21

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  14. My story is a bit atypic since I was a NordVPN user long ago. I wanted to try some other providers to get my own opinion (the best after all). After some time, I am back using NordVPN. Why? Because there are many features that others don’t have and the quality-price ratio fits me the best. As I’ve never been disappointed, I closely followed their growth until the point I wanted to come back. Now that I am back I feel young and safe again. For me it really is the best cheap VPN around. Keep up the great work!

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  15. We’ve been using them for some years now and all was well. Suddenly things went awry. We couldn’t log in. Only recently renewed and paid for 2 year service, all was fine for several weeks and then suddenly we are disconnected, we cannot even log in let alone connect. Even their website login won’t load for us. We tried everything to reconnect or log in. Nothing worked. Multiple devices have this problem. We tried support for help but no joy. We wanted refund but they said after 30 days they don’t refund. They took our money, gave vpn for few weeks then disconnected! Very dodgy! I don’t recommend nordvpn.

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  16. Never experienced any problems with Nord vpn, although I’ve been a customer for the past months. I would actually recommend it to stay secure and bypass some geo-restrictions.
    Last example in date was the possibility to watch Prince Harry and Meghan on CBS in the US when I was not in the US. I wouldn’t have liked to be spoiled and Nord vpn did the perfect job providing me with nice speeds. I really can’t complain about the service.

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  17. Good provider overall. Good prices, they have some nice deals few times in the year. Easy interface even for people who don’t know how to use new technologies. Would recommend 5/5.

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  18. Two issues has me leaving NordVPN when my contract expires:
    1) Login through a web browser BEFORE VPN is protecting me. This, I’m told, is secure way to operate. How can it be? Without a secure tunnel I’m no more protected logging in than I would be using any other https protected site. An eavesdropper knows I am using NordVPN (strike 1) because the DNS request to their login server(?) is traveling sans tunnel.
    2) I use static DNS server entries which NEVER showed a leak on multiple leak test sites, that is, until recently. Something changed and the live person on chat gave me some BS story of having to use Nord dedicated IP option to use that feature. No, something changed because it used to work. It now shows me using Cloudflare even though I’ve set static open DNS servers from two different services, services which do NOT use Cloudflare servers. (Strike 2)
    3) Leaving before anything else changes making me feel less secure than those other two issues above.

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  19. Couldn’t ask for better features from a provider! As I work at home with some really sensitive data, I really appreciate the auto-disconnect function as soon as the servers disconnects which keeps me kinda safe. Also I really love how the app for android is designed, it’s like really fluid to navigate a pick a server.
    I use it mainly for work but I guess it works also for your own browsing activites!!

    Reply
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