Observer Content Studio is a unit of Observer’s branded content department. Observer’s editorial staff is not involved in the creation of this content. Observer and/or sponsor may collect a portion of sales if you purchase products through these links.
Are you considering getting a VPN? If you’re looking at different VPN services, NordVPN will definitely be at the top of the list of most online reviews. If you’re wondering why that is, you’re in the right place.
In this NordVPN review, we’re going to thoroughly examine not only what NordVPN claims to offer but also how they do based on feedback from real users of NordVPN around the globe.
🔎NordVPN: First Look
👍 What We Liked
- Over 5500 servers to choose from
- AES-256 Bit Encryption
- DNS and IP leak protection
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming platforms
- Compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux
- Strict no-logs policy
👎 What We Didn’t Like
- 30-day money-back guarantee available in place of a free trial
- Inconsistent customer service
The Bottom Line
NordVPN is a Virtual Private Network that ensures your personal information is secure, encrypted, and anonymous. With over 5500 servers in 59 countries, you can use NordVPN for streaming, torrenting, and even online gaming. The company boasts no limits on bandwidth and has P2P servers optimized for file sharing, streaming, gaming, and more.
Not every VPN is good for every situation. Depending on what you are using it for one of the below VPNs may be a better option:
- Cyberghost – servers located in Romania, safest for torrenting
- Tunnelbear – best UI and always fresh IPs mean it is rarely blocked
- ExpressVPN – very fast VPN that is rarely blocked by streaming services
If we had to pick NordVPN’s super power, it is best for streaming and gaming.
Is NordVPN Trustworthy?
NordVPN has been tested thoroughly for security flaws. The most severe breach they’ve ever had was when a hacker accessed a server. Luckily though, they weren’t able to see any information beyond what an ISP would see because NordVPN does not keep any other information.
NordVPN has been recommended by high-profile tech analysts and YouTube influencers and won four ProPrivacy Awards in 2019. NordVPN has an “Excellent” rating on Trustpilot, and everywhere you look, people are recommending NordVPN.
What Does NordVPN Offer?
Many of their features and services are relatively standard among VPN providers, but here are some of their most popular features.
AES-256 Bit Encryption: The core value proposition of a VPN is that all your internet traffic flows from your device to a server before it goes out to the world wide web. In that “tunnel” between your device and the server, your activity is encrypted using AES-256 Bit Encryption – one of the strongest forms of encryption around.
DNS and IP Leak Protection: Having your traffic pass through a VPN server before going out to the web allows your IP address and DNS to be hidden from everyone else. Luckily, leak tests show that NordVPN has good DNS and IP protection. Plus, you can even purchase a dedicated IP address for perfect forward secrecy.
AdBlocking and Malware Protection: NordVPN has a proprietary technology called CyberSec that not only blocks ads but also offers protection from suspicious domains and other sources of malicious software. CyberSec works on mobile and desktop but requires the client app to be installed on the device. You can also use a double VPN for even stronger protection.
Customizable Kill Switch: Ok, so “kill switch” sounds pretty dramatic, but all it does is shut off all internet activity if the connection to your VPN is disrupted. This makes sure that no packets (aka your data) get sent out unsecured if your VPN connection drops or something goes wrong.
You can choose whether to have the kill switch feature enabled, and it gives you access to a few more customization settings.
Wide OS Compatibility: NordVPN works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and has a number of different browser extensions. It’s even compatible with most routers with some manual configuration.
It also works with a double VPN for simultaneous connections, has a great user experience, and supports Onion Over VPN – a special feature that allows you to access the Onion network without The Onion Router (Tor) browser.
Thousands of Servers and Over 50 Server Locations: Over 5,500, to be a little more exact. Why does this matter? Geographic distance matters when it comes to internet speed. It takes noticeably longer to send information to a server on the other side of the globe than it does to send to one in a nearby city.
Having so many servers also means that each individual server isn’t overloaded. NordVPN will even work in China and offers specialty servers for streaming Netflix and BBC iPlayer alongside split tunneling so you can watch Netflix from your local IP addresses or another country.
Strict No Logging Policy: Even the most secure system is susceptible to hacking, but in the case of NordVPN, there’s hardly any valuable information someone can access by hacking thanks to their no-logging policy.
Six Device Connections: NordVPN allows a user to connect up to six devices using a single account. Plus, you can install NordVPN at the router level to cover all devices at home, leaving five installs for laptops or phones that travel outside your home. You’ll want to prioritize devices that you frequently connect to public wi-fi.
Three VPN Protocols: NordVPN supports three VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, and NordLynx. Different protocols will have better or worse security and faster or slower speeds.
OpenVPN is an open-source, widely used protocol and is considered the most secure. IKEv2/IPsec is the default protocol and generally strikes a balance between speed and security. NordLynx, on the other hand, is the newest protocol and capable of incredible speed capabilities.
NordLynx is NordVPN’s version of WireGuard. According to NordVPN, WireGuard has a number of security vulnerabilities, so they developed their own version to “overcome WireGuard’s vulnerabilities.”
Dark Web Monitor: This is an optional, easy-to-use feature that will continuously scan the dark web for your private information and alert you if any is discovered. This is incredibly valuable because it will give you an opportunity to change your passwords and set up additional protection measures before your information is exploited.
NordPass: NordPass is an encrypted password manager. It will generate strong passwords for you, store passwords you give it and even allow you to share passwords with other people securely. It doesn’t just remember passwords; it also stores credit card information and even private notes.
NordLocker: NordLocker is a cloud storage service focused on the privacy and security of your files. NordLocker encrypts all your files for you and will even allow you to encrypt every file on your computer so that only you can access it.
24/7 Customer Service: NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat, email, and their help center. The help center can assist with basic issues and common problems. Email can be good for non-urgent needs, while the chat support can help when you’re having an issue that needs to be resolved quickly. Like with any service, the quality of support varies.
Is NordVPN Fast?
Speed is everything for a VPN, because if it’s not a fast VPN connection then you won’t use it, and if you don’t use it you won’t get the security benefits. Fast download speed and upload speed are the difference between a happy and mad user.
Of course, NordVPN’s website claims that they offer the “fastest VPN experience on the planet,” but is this true?
As a matter of fact, it is! You can double-check this by googling “fastest VPNs,” and you’ll see stats showing how, thanks to NordLynx, NordVPN offers the fastest VPN speeds. It’s even fast enough to stream 4K content! Plus, depending on your operating system, you can use the quick-connect feature to get up and running quickly.
Still, except in cases where your ISP is throttling traffic of a specific type (common with torrenting), you should expect that traffic through any VPN will be slower than without.
This is due to each packet being encrypted and also to do with the physical distance to the server you’re connecting to. In a local scenario connecting to the closest server, the drop in speed is typically less than 20%.
Another limitation of internet technology, in general, is that it does take time to travel. Within a few hundred miles, the travel time is so fast that we don’t really notice it. However, when hundreds of miles become thousands of miles, it can add 200 milliseconds of lag time or more if the servers are under heavy load.
NordVPN is affected by this, but not any more so than any other VPN provider.
What Can You Use NordVPN For?
Anyone who wants to secure their privacy and protect their information can use a VPN, but here are three common use cases.
NordVPN for Streaming
It’s well known that streaming services like Netflix have different libraries in different countries. But you can access those libraries by using VPNs and connecting to a server in a different country. HBO Go, HBO Now, Spotify, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime are also common streaming platforms that access varies from country to country.
If you’re located outside the United States, for example, but want to access Netflix content only available in the US, all you have to do is open NordVPN and select one of the US servers.
NordVPN for Gaming
Depending on the status of your internet connection and whether your ISP is throttling your traffic, you might be able to get faster internet speeds and lower pings when using it to game. This may take some experimentation, and speed tests with different servers will likely depend on how loaded they are. Still, your speed test results should give you the info you need.
The security benefits are also very applicable to gaming. When you’re signed into a gaming service and actively sending data back and forth, your data is not as protected as it could be if you were using a VPN. You could be vulnerable to DDOS attacks, malware, and other attacks.
NordVPN for Torrenting
Every benefit of VPNs comes into play when you’re doing peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfer. P2P file transfer is the most common type of traffic that ISPs will throttle, and using a VPN hides what type of traffic it is from your ISP, which makes them unable to block it. NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for P2P support.
Torrenting is also notorious for security risks, and keeping all your data encrypted and anonymized keeps you much safer as you transfer files.
Feedback from Real Customers
Most NordVPN reviews are positive. In fact, 72% of over 5,200 reviews on Trustpilot are 5-star, and 11% are 4-star ratings, with only 11% being 1-star. Here are some of them for you to see for yourself, also check out nordvpn reviews reddit has to offer:
NordVPN Plans and Prices
NordVPN is for sale on their website, and you can also get occasional deals through other websites and blogs. Their mobile apps are available on the Google Play Store and the App Store.
The most affordable way to purchase is with their 2-year plan, which only costs $3.71 per month. If you’re not ready to commit to two years, you can opt for the 1-year plan, which costs $4.92 per month.
If you pay month-to-month, then 12 months would cost you $143.40. As you can see, if you know you will be sticking with it, it’s much better to purchase the 1-year or 2-year plan and take advantage of those savings.
NordVPN Frequently Asked Questions
Is There a Free Version of NordVPN?
There is not a free version. They do, however, offer a 30-day guarantee which functions the same as a 30-day free trial would, so if you want to try it out but aren’t sure you want to commit yet, you can take advantage of that 30-day window to test them out.
Is It Easy to Cancel My Subscription?
For the most part, yes, it is easy to cancel. But the service does renew automatically unless you get on and cancel it before renewal. Most of the few negative reviews about NordVPN have to do with their refund and cancellation policies after the first 30-day window.
How Do I Get Money Back From NordVPN?
Requests of this type go through their customer support team, and whether you can get your money back would completely depend on your individual situation. If you’re within the initial 30-day period, you should be able to get your money back without much difficulty. If it’s after that, it may be harder.
Can You Be Tracked Using NordVPN?
No. Your information, data, and traffic that goes to and from your machine is anonymized and encrypted when it passes between the VPN server and your device. NordVPN does not collect or store user data or any information about you or your traffic, making it virtually impossible for people or cookies to track your activities.
Which Server is the Best?
If you’re looking for high-speed and low ping, the best server would most likely be the one closest to you. If that one is under a heavy load, then you should try to connect to a server that’s almost as close. If you are trying to access a streaming library in a specific country, then the best server would be the one in that country that is under the lightest load.
Does NordVPN Unblock Every Site?
No. Some sites have ways of detecting when traffic is coming through VPNs and block it. NordVPN flies under the radar of most of these detectors with their advanced server obfuscation. But big sites with large development teams are working hard to control who is able to access their site, view the source here.
Is NordVPN Customer Service Good?
The general feedback about NordVPN’s customer service is positive. The criticism of their customer support is usually in regards to a billing or refund issue, and it’s impossible to know who or what is to blame in a given situation. Generally, NordVPN’s customer service is helpful and responsive.
Here are the top alternatives I would recommend based on your situation.
- Cyberghost – Best for torrenting due to the location of their servers
- Tunnelbear – Best UI and always fresh IPs mean it is rarely blocked
- ExpressVPN – Very fast VPN that is rarely blocked by Netflix
If I had to say what NordVPN is best at it is streaming Netflix and gaming.
NordVPN: The Takeaway
NordVPN is a fantastic choice for a VPN, and is one of the best vpns for streaming. It comes with all the features you might want. And NordVPN provides a highly secure and fast VPN service to keep your information and traffic anonymized and encrypted.
You can also take advantage of the extra VPN apps like NordPass and NordLocker to complete your online protection. Plus, as long as you remember to cancel your subscription, you can take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee and test out its features that way.
Have you tried NordVPN? Tell us what your experience was like in the comment section below!