A virtual private network may support many different protocols and have multiple protective layers to avoid IP and DNS leaks, but if it has only a few servers, it will simply not function. This is one of the reasons why many VPN providers try to have as many servers as possible, while also using their count as a selling point to attract new customers. And while it’s hard to deny the importance of server quantity, it’s the quality and the spread of the network that matters most. That’s why we’re taking a more in-depth look at NordVPN servers to see if their self-proclaimed “Best VPN server list for your location” is faking it or making it.
How many NordVPN servers are there?
While the quality of the servers is more important than the quantity, there is a point at which the competition simply loses due to numbers. And NordVPN, with over 5,200 servers, happens to be the absolute leader in this area. The nearest pursuers lag behind by almost a lap, with ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, TorGuard, and CyberGhost being the only ones with more than 3,000. Seeing NordVPN constantly improving these numbers leads us to believe that the status quo is not going to change anytime soon.
Another point to remember when counting VPN servers is that not all of them may be physical or dedicated servers. It’s easy to inflate the total number using virtual private servers (VPS) that are running on a machine sharing resources with many other virtual servers. Naturally, VPN providers are reluctant to admit using virtual servers, but there are some who state that they have only physical ones. For example, there are only 300+ servers in Astrill server list, but all of them are dedicated. As for NordVPN, it doesn’t brag about all of their servers being physical (we’d be shocked if all 5,200 were), but again there’s so many of them that even a portion of VPS doesn’t make the whole dish unpalatable.
So how come we’re even talking about the competitors when NordVPN is miles ahead and has no plans of stopping? Well, as mentioned previously, quality is the most important thing for any server list. We’ve already discussed the impact of physical and virtual servers. Now it’s time to see how well they are spread on the Earth’s crust.
Servers spreading faster than a wildfire
The distance between the client and the server is one of the key factors that influence the latency and speed of the connection. It’s okay if your VPN provider has a server a few hundred miles away from you. But what if that server crashes? Suddenly, you’re left with no alternative that can provide the same bandwidth for streaming or gaming. So while the overall spread is crucial for using your VPN service across the globe, the density is what determines whether you’ll be able to use it effectively.
With 5,200+ servers under its belt, NordVPN seems to have the power to cover the whole planet. Instead, it chooses the regions that have the biggest clientele (that being North America and Europe). Of all the 60 countries where NordVPN servers reside, two-thirds are in the aforementioned regions. Meanwhile, its top competitor ExpressVPN has “only” 3,000+ servers, but operates them in 94 countries, further diminishing NordVPN’s dispersion. And if we count the actual servers that are in North America and Europe (2,259 and 2,377 respectively), we’ll see that’s almost 90%, leaving 555 servers for the rest of the world. While such ratios might seem extreme at first, it’s pretty common among all VPN providers. That being said, some VPN providers like Astrill have as much as one-fifth of their servers in Asia, instead of the 4% of NordVPN.
Oceania is an important English-speaking market, so NordVPN’s server list is longer in this region – 212 or around 4%, which beats both Astrill (2.5%) and CyberGhost (2%). Finally, the growing market of India, the Middle East, and Africa is served by 68 servers, which is slightly more than 1%. Again, that’s two times more than Astrill, but CyberGhost has 65 servers or more than 2%.
So while it’s not always fair to compare different VPN providers when we don’t know how many of their servers are physical or virtual, it still shows that there are gaps on the map where NordVPN’s presence could be felt more.
NordVPN server speed
Based on the number of countries and servers, NordVPN should have no issues providing good or even very good speeds for users in most locations. And in fact, it does offer awesome speeds across a wide geography. That being said, it’s not the fastest service on the planet. For example, it loses out to ExpressVPN (slightly) among others.
Speed is one of the most difficult criteria to judge a VPN by. Starting from your location and internet service provider, continuing with the time of the test and number of repetitions, and ending with your hardware – there are just too many factors to take into account. Therefore, you should test the speed yourself and see if the difference compared to a VPN-less connection is not too big for your needs.
NordVPN servers and streaming
Where NordVPN’s ever-expanding server count really helps is in unblocking Netflix. And we’re talking not only about the US library which we were able to access and stream from Europe in Ultra HD. The UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands were also available, making NordVPN a great choice for Netflix fans. In addition to that, this applies to other streaming platforms, such as BBC iPlayer or Hulu. Kodi users should also rejoice – with NordVPN’s geo-unblocking ability they should be able to get the most out of this tool.
NordVPN servers allow torrenting
While you will not be able to torrent with NordVPN while connected to any server, this is for your own good. NordVPN’s P2P-optimized servers are strategically placed in countries like Canada or the Netherlands, which have a more liberal approach to torrenting. When connected to these servers, your P2P traffic won’t be blocked or throttled. What is more, there’s no data transfer limit when using NordVPN servers, so the only thing that can stop you from successful torrenting with NordVPN is you. If you still want to find out more, check our article on torrenting with NordVPN.