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.
- 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.
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.
Added information about Surfshark and NordVPN merging.
Updated the review to include information about NordVPN’s new feature, “threat protection.”
NordVPN Review Video
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
- : Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)
- : 6
- : PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin, regional payment systems, WebMoney
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card, bitcoin
- : 7
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 5
- : PayPal, Credit card
- : 10
NordVPN Review: Strengths & Weaknesses
- Very fast
- Easy to use
- Inexpensive long-term subscription
- Over 5,200 servers in 59 countries
- No-logs policy
- P2P servers
- Double-hop servers
- Expensive monthly plan
- No phone support
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.
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.
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.
In February 2022, NordVPN introduced its newest feature, “threat protection,” and in doing so became the best VPN with antivirus. The tool is available for all users and is always on, regardless of whether the user has an active VPN connection.
“Threat protection” is similar to antivirus software. It blocks ads, pop-ups and third-party trackers that collect private data. It also scans downloaded files for malware, then deletes files it identifies as dangerous. The feature also runs deep scans on all executable files up to 20MB.
Lastly, “threat protection” can scan files in flash drives if they are recognized as downloaded from the internet, but this is only available to Windows users.
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.
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
|Payment methods||Credit card, Google Pay, AmazonPay, ACH Transfer, UnionPay, Crypto Currencies, PayPal (via Paddle)|
|Supports split tunneling|
|Free trial available||7 days on mobile|
|Worldwide server amount||5,200+ servers in 59 countries|
|Desktop OSes||Windows, MacOS, Linux|
|Mobile OSes||Android, iOS, BlackBerry|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vilvaldi|
|Can be installed on routers|
|Can access Netflix US|
|Can access BBC iPlayer|
|Can access Hulu|
|Can access Amazon Prime Video|
|VPN protocols available||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx|
|Enabled at device startup|
|Passed DNS leak test|
|Malware/ad blocker included|
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 69 percent discount, so you only pay $3.70 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.
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. However, other providers like Surfshark, Avira Phantom VPN and Atlas VPN have removed the restriction and we’d love to see NordVPN follow suit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. If you hit a snag, be sure to read our how to use NordVPN guide.
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.
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.
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 Test Using OpenVPN
|South Africa (#110)|
|United Kingdom (#2268)|
|United States (#9260)|
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)||30||3.14||3.02|
|South Africa (#111)||168||3.17||1.83|
|United States (#5953)||532||3.20||2.27|
|United Kingdom (#2071)||332||3.38||2.58|
|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)||30||3.14||3.02|
|South Africa (#109)||137||3.05||2.03|
|United States (#8665)||493||3.19||2.63|
|United Kingdom (#2046)||328||3.13||2.67|
|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.
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.
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).
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
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.”
“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.
Law Enforcement Compliance
Unfortunately, in early 2022 NordVPN amended one of its policies to be a bit less privacy-friendly. It previously stated that as the company is headquartered in Panama, it falls under its jurisdiction alone, and would not respond to a law enforcement enquiry from abroad.
However, NordVPN reworded a post on its website, which now states that NordVPN will comply with foreign law enforcement agencies, as long as their requests are “delivered according to laws and regulations.” It does not clarify whose laws and regulations that refers to.
Even more worrying is the following statement: “We are 100% committed to our zero-logs policy — to ensure users’ ultimate privacy and security, we never log their activity unless ordered by a court in an appropriate, legal way.”
That sure sounds like NordVPN is willing to cooperate with government bodies (of any government in the world) by logging the activity of suspicious users.
According to a live counter on its website, NordVPN has not yet received a warrant from any government body or law enforcement agency. We hope that remains the case in the future. Nevertheless, we dropped its score in this section to reflect this change in privacy.
NordVPN Merges With Surfshark
In February 2022, NordVPN and Surfshark announced that they were joining forces to “strengthen their industry positioning” (read our NordVPN vs Surfshark merger guide for more details). However, both VPNs say they will operate separately and continue to use separate infrastructures. Be sure to read our Surfshark vs NordVPN guide to see how the two compare.
This merger, while historic — effectively creating the largest internet security and privacy VPN powerhouse — isn’t very surprising. That’s because in September 2021, its largest competitor, ExpressVPN, was bought by Kape Technologies, which also owns CyberGhost, Private Internet Access and ZenMate.
This NordVPN-Surfshark merger move will give a lot of strength to both independent VPNs in an increasingly competitive VPN market.
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.
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.
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 around 7,800. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.