Do you feel the need to take back control of your internet browsing? NordVPN suggests it can help, so in this NordVPN review, I will take a look at what it offers. And let you know what I think of it piece-by-piece, feature-by-feature.
NordVPN – Pros and Cons
Not looking to spend some time reading all of this article? Don’t worry, below I have prepared a selection of what I think are Nord VPN’s pros and cons.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Servers in 61+ countries
- Allows for Six simultaneous connections
- Bitcoin payments supported
- Great for P2P Torrenting
- Perfect for privacy with no log collection
- Customer support is not the best
- Not the fastest VPN service
- Cost more than the average VPN
- Reports of issues with the Windows client
Plans and Pricing
Compared to the average price of a VPN in most countries what this provider offers is a little more expensive. However, what you get for that extra is a decent level of functionality. One that will give you the tools to regain any lost privacy.
Choosing a Monthly Plan
Thankfully Nord VPN packages come in a selection of three. So, it’s easy to find a pay monthly, 6-monthly, or yearly plan that suits you. Here are your choices:
- Pay Monthly: Billed at $11.95 per month
- 1-year plan: Billed in advance $69.00 every 12-months
- 6-month plan: Billed in advance $42.00 every 6-months
Regarding payment methods, NordVPN payment can be made using PayPal, bitcoin, its partners Paymentwall, and of course, debit/credit cards. Furthermore, each of the above plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee, which is great for peace of mind.
How to Sign up
Fortunately, some thought has gone into this process, the result is a streamlined one. You could be using the service in minutes. To do so, you will be required to do the following:
- Enter a valid email address
- Add your preferred payment method
- Click the link in the confirmation email
- Download the software for your chosen device
After completing the above process, to hand you will have a plethora of how-tos and additional information. Meaning, you can be protected in no time.
As a widely supported VPN service, you won’t find a platform not covered. And that means support for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Plus, there are Android and iOS apps, which allow you to purchase a NordVPN subscription via the app stores. Additionally, should you wish to add NordVPN protection throughout your home, some routers are compatible. And that means everyone in your home can benefit from increased privacy when online.
Additionally, there are browser plugins, for Chrome. It secures data that is transmitted while you surf the web on a desktop, laptop, or compatible tablet. However, compared to some other browser plugins offered by its competitors, it’s not quite as advanced. Yes, they protect you, but you can’t choose a specific server, just a location. On its own, that is not a big deal, as you are safe, but some people prefer a choice.
- Six connections at once
- Servers in 61-countries and growing
- You pick from: Open VPN, IKEv2, PPTP, IPSec, and L2TP VPN protocols
- Dedicated IP addresses available on request
- Smart DNS Service
- Tor over VPN
- Double VPN
- DNS Servers
- P2P Supported
- VPN access to China via obfsproxy
- Socks5 proxies
- Web proxy and web proxy extension for Chrome (free of charge)
How Good is NordVPN Privacy?
Being based in Panama has some distinct advantages for a VPN client and its customers. As such, it sits clear outside of the influence of state actors like the NSA and GCHQ. And that means the traffic going to and from it is completely un-monitored. So, if privacy is your biggest reason for using Nord servers, it’s a great choice. It does not collect or keep any user logs. Nor does it store timestamps, bandwidth, traffic logs or IP addresses. Which means, nothing you see or do via a NordVPN server can be traced back to you.
So, you know your connection would be private, but what about secure. How easy could the connection be hacked?
The answer is, if someone is determined enough, it is possible. But, NordVPN security is among the best around. It uses DHE-RSA-AE256-SHA encryption software to secure its OpenVPN, and that’s fantastic because it means RSA-2048 and HMAC SHA1 encryption and authentication is used. Additionally, the use of a Diffie-Hellman key provides a perfect level of forwarding privacy.
What does the above mean for you?
It means that when using Windows, macOS, or Linux, you are about as protected as is currently possible. However, all encryption methods are always under attack from a government or rogue actor. So, you can expect security to be consistently tightened.
Now, if you decide to use an Apple mobile device, there’s good news. The iOS app comes with phase 1, IKE cyphers. These provide it with AES-256-GCM keys for encryption and SHA2-384 keys for continued integrity. Together with 3072-bit Diffie-Hellman keys, these guarantee mobile privacy.
How fast is the service?
Much like its competitors such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a connection speed of up to 60Mbps. Although, having completed a few tests in and around Europe, I’ve seen speeds between 18Mbps and 60Mbps. Why such a wild difference? The answer seems to be it depends on the server location, with the further away equating to slower speeds.
For example, I am based in the UK, so when connecting to a server in Amsterdam, Holland, I saw a max download speed of 32mb. However, if for instance, I picked a server in Illinois, U.S.A, I then saw that drop to 18Mbps. Additionally, the speed, at least for me can be determined by the time of day. Here in the UK, that time seemed to be in the afternoon. Resulting in lower download speeds no matter where a server is, but no lower than 18Mbps.
With more than 1,490 servers in more than 61-countries NordVPN locations are as varied and widespread as most of their competitors. Those countries are as follows:
- Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria
- Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria
- Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic
- Denmark, Estonia
- Finland, France
- Gorgia, Germany, Greece
- Hong Kong, Hungary
- Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan
- Latvia, Luxembourg
- Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova
- Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway
- Poland, Portugal
- Romania, Russia
- Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
- Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey
- Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam
One often reported negative of the service is server congestion. Meaning lots of people using a single server slows it down. Fortunately, the company has listened to its customers and has heavily invested in upgrading its network. And that means less congestion, and you can see real-time stats for each server on the website.
As for what server you connect to, the NordVPN apps will auto-connect you to less busy servers not too far away. Which means less congestion and improved performance overall.
Access to popular services
Although for most I can say Netflix is accessible via NordVPN, I write that with caution. As some users have experienced issues, why? That could be because of the aggressive policy Netflix uses to block VPN clients. So, while this client is compatible, you may find yourself contacting support. My advice is, ask to be directed to help on this as soon as you sign up.
As for the likes of BBC iPlayer, HBO, HULU, and sites like YouTube, again, reports from multiple users have also been mixed. So, again ask questions and read as much NordVPN how-to information as possible.
Is the NordVPN client worth giving a try? Yes, it is. It comes with a decent selection of features, all neatly packaged, and it is perfectly private. However, if your main use is for multi-player gaming you may be from time-to-time let down by server speeds. But, if your goal is to stream it should work perfectly no matter where your server is located.
My tip: Make use of the customer service at sign-up as much as you can. Doing so can help to iron out any possible issues before your 30-day money back guarantee expires.