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With such a great reputation behind it, I decided to do this NordVPN review to see if it is really a top contender for the #1 VPN spot. With so many threats to online privacy and clampdowns on streaming services, I want to make sure that NordVPN can live up to its promises.
Most importantly, I’ll look at some important questions related to NordVPN’s service. Is NordVPN safe to use? Can it unblock Netflix and other streaming services? Has NordVPN improved on its average speeds? And, of course, does NordVPN’s prices compare to its features?
I’ll look at these questions and more in this NordVPN review to help you decide if this is the right VPN service for you.
Is NordVPN safe?
NordVPN places security and privacy as its main selling points. Many VPN services claim to provide complete anonymity on the internet, but only a few can back it up in features and evidence. NordVPN is one the few, having these security and privacy features:
- Military-grade encryption
- Latest tunneling protocols
- Minimal logging
- Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
That’s why NordVPN is favored by sensitive user groups, such as journalists and political activists, as well as those wanting to enjoy unblocked streaming content. It can back up its claims of top-notch privacy and security, reliably and effectively.
You may have seen that NordVPN has suffered a security breach back in 2018, which has allegedly put a spot on its reputation. However, as it turned out, the incident was isolated to one server, and it wasn’t possible to reach any critical infrastructure from it, to begin with. In the aftermath, NordVPN has put some serious effort to increase the security of their servers by announcing a bug bounty program and signing a partnership with VerSprite.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
NordVPN uses the military-grade AES-256 encryption, which is used by banks and many government institutions. This is an extremely strong cipher – in fact, it’s so strong that a hacker using a brute force attack (where they try many combinations) would need billions of years to break it.
The following protocols are supported as of writing this NordVPN review:
- NordLynx (WireGuard)
- OpenVPN UDP
- OpenVPN TCP
NordLynx is a proprietary version of a next-gen WireGuard protocol that gives you blistering speeds and even better security. NordVPN was one of the first to offer this tunneling protocol on major platforms. OpenVPN is a reliable and time-tested choice, while macOS and iOS users can also try IKEv2.
L2TP/IPsec and PPTP are no longer supported, but that’s actually OK. These protocols are outdated both in terms of security and performance.
NordVPN kill switch
NordVPN offers not only a standard internet kill switch, but also an app kill switch. A kill switch helps you stay secure by shutting off the internet connection if the VPN stops working. That way, your real IP address won’t be unintentionally revealed.
When you’re using the internet, NordVPN will shut off the connection if it stops working suddenly. However, with the app kill switch, it will also shut off certain apps if NordVPN suddenly stops working.
NordVPN’s kill switches are not turned on by default. To do so, you’ll have to click the small Settings cogwheel in the top-right corner.
You can turn on one or both kill switches. For the app kill switch, you’ll also need to add the apps that you want the kill switch to apply to.
In my tests, I found NordVPN’s kill switches to be effective every time. When I tried to interrupt the VPN connection on several occasions, the internet or app was shut down every time.
IP and DNS leak protecion
NordVPN has IP and DNS leak protection. This means your identity won’t leak via your IP address, and your online activities won’t show via your DNS requests.
Of course, the only way to be certain is to run DNS and IP leak tests. Therefore, I connected to a French server and was assigned the IP address 126.96.36.199. Then I checked whether our IP address or DNS queries were leaking – here are the results:
- IP address: 188.8.131.52
- Location: France – Paris
This is the NordVPN-given IP address, meaning there is no IP leak.
- DNS address: 184.108.40.206
- Location: France – Paris
This is the IP address of a NordVPN DNS server in Paris, France. As you can see, the two IP addresses are connected. This means that there are no DNS leaks.
NordVPN is owned by Tefincom S.A. – a company based in privacy-friendly Panama. This is important because VPN service providers operate according to the laws of the country they’re based in.
Panama is a small country in central Americas that doesn’t require VPN companies like NordVPN to collect data on their users – a great thing for user privacy.
It also doesn’t belong to any far-reaching intelligence alliances like the Five Eyes global surveillance group. This allows NordVPN to have a real no-logging policy, meaning they know very little about you.
Independently-audited no-logs policy
NordVPN guarantees a strict no-logs policy for NordVPN services, meaning that your activities using NordVPN Services are provided by automated technical process, are not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or passed to any third party. We do not store connection time stamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or other data.
However, they take it a step further than anyone else on the market. Because it’s virtually impossible for users to see what happens behind closed doors, NordVPN decided to prove their no-logs policy and ordered an independent audit.
This no-logs audit was performed by the world-renowned accounting firm, PwC, who found no discrepancies between NordVPN’s no-logs policy and what they do in practice. As a result, this service is one of the few to have an independently-audited no-logs policy.
They have recently repeated the audit by expanding the scope. It included interviews with employees, technical log inspections, and more. The special server types, including Obfuscated, P2P, and Double VPN, were also tested. Still, PwC came to the same conclusions – in no shape or form their no-logs claims could be mistrusted.
Other technical features
The list of security features in the NordVPN suite is very impressive:
- Double VPN (multi-hop)
- Onion over VPN (integration with the Tor network for even more encryption and traffic rerouting)
- CyberSec (browser security feature)
- Free SOCKS5 proxy
- Obfuscated servers
- Invisibility on LAN
By meeting the significant security and privacy needs of people in high-stakes situations (think dissidents in totalitarian regimes), NordVPN provides an answer for any everyday issue as well. Whether it’s anonymous torrenting you’re interested in or secure public wifi use, these features have you covered.
NordLynx – a safe implementation of WireGuard
NordVPN announced its proprietary NordLynx protocol at the end of July 2019, becoming the first major VPN to implement WireGuard. WireGuard is a super-secure tunneling protocol that has major performance benefits over other protocols. In April 2020, NordLynx became available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
Perhaps most importantly, the WireGuard’s code is are to audit because it has only 4,000 lines of it. Compare this with IPsec’s 400,000 lines of code, or OpenVPN+OpenSSL’s 600,000 lines.
To make NordLynx possible, NordVPN had to solve a privacy issue:
[WireGuard] can’t dynamically assign IP addresses to everyone connected to a server. Therefore, the server must contain a local static IP address table to know where internet packets are traveling from and to whom they should return. It means that the real IP address of a user must be linked to an internal IP address assigned by the VPN.
NordLynx fixes this WireGuard issue by developing a double NAT (Native Address Translation) system, allowing the VPN to establish a secure connection without logging any identifiable details.
NordVPN is one of a few VPN providers that give users anonymous purchase options. Not only does it support multiple cryptocurrencies, but it also allows you to sign up without any personally identifiable information, such as your name, address, or contact details. The only thing you’ll need is an email address, which can be a throwaway account.
You can buy NordVPN using the following anonymous purchase options via CoinPayments:
- Bitcoin Cash
- Tron (TRX)
- Ripple (XRP)
NordVPN has one of the best server lists in the industry. It allows them to provide truly global coverage and reliable connections all over the world. At the moment, NordVPN has 5000+ servers in 59 countries.
If you don’t have a particular location in mind, NordVPN can automatically select the best server for you based on their loads. To learn more, read our NordVPN servers article.
In addition to the standard ones, there are also specialty servers optimized for addressing particular user needs. NordVPN allows you to choose from:
- Dedicated IP servers – for users who bought a dedicated IP address
- Double VPN servers – for multi-hop fans who want to send their connection via two servers
- Obfuscated servers – when you’re in a country with restricted internet access
- Onion over VPN servers – when you want to run Tor on top of a VPN
- P2P servers – optimized for torrenting, no bandwidth limits
Not all server types are available in every country, so you should check for the latest coverage updates on the NordVPN website.
Is NordVPN the fastest VPN?
My latest test for this NordVPN review has shown that NordVPN is the fastest VPN on the market. That’s mainly because of the new tunneling protocol named NordLynx, a proprietary version of WireGuard. But how fast is NordVPN, exactly?
To answer this, I first tested my baseline connection speed (without a VPN connection) from Europe. Then I ran the same speed test while connected to NordVPN servers in Germany, the US, and Australia.
|Average speed||132 Mbps|
|Germany server||252 Mbps (15% drop-off)|
|US server||213 Mbps (28% drop-off)|
|Australia server||177 Mbps (41% drop-off)|
|Germany server||87 Mbps (71% drop-off)|
|US server||88 Mbps (70% drop-off)|
|Australia server||5 Mbps (98% drop-off)|
|Germany server||46 ms|
|US server||136 ms|
|Australia server||339 ms|
To give some context for these results, I can say that the connection speed in each location is enough to stream in UHD (4K) without buffering issues. Also, as is obvious, you can see that the speeds drop the further the server is from my location in Europe. Nevertheless, NordVPN’s speeds are the best and should be enough for most users.
For the best possible speed, simply click the Quick Connect button. You will be connected to the fastest and nearest NordVPN server. The downside is that you won’t be able to choose the location, but you can always pick the fastest server from a particular country.
Does NordVPN support my device?
NordVPN supports a wide range of devices, so they most likely support yours. NordVPN has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV, plus extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
People often ask how many devices does NordVPN allow simultaneously. The answer is that you can use this VPN on up to 6 devices at the same time. This is a pretty good benefit, but can VPN be shared? Turns out, you can use one subscription to cover your entire household or share it with your friends.
NordVPN’s apps are pretty uniform across the different platforms, with a simple interface that’s easy to use.
NordVPN desktop apps: Windows, macOS, and Linux
NordVPN’s apps for Windows and Mac have a pretty similar interface and feature set. Both NordVPN for Mac and NordVPN for Windows offer AES-256 encryption, the CyberSec suite of features, a kill switch, and much more.
When you launch the app, you’ll see a world map with server locations. You can either manually choose the country you want to connect to or click the Quick connect button.
There’s also an option to search for specific servers by city.
On the top-right of the screen, you’ll see a cogwheel for the Settings menu, where you can control all the security features, notifications, auto-connect settings, and more. I advise you to go over these settings because some of the defaults are not ideal for maximum security.
NordVPN for Linux will require a bit more work to set up, as is typical for Linux clients. While it isn’t as visual as the Mac and Windows versions, it offers the same options, although with command lines.
NordVPN mobile apps: Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad)
NordVPN’s apps for Android and iOS offer a great experience on mobile. In fact, I can go so far as to say that NordVPN for iOS and Android provide a comparable level of security as desktop clients.
NordVPN’s iOS app has a kill switch integrated into it. For Android users, they’ll have to find the Always-on VPN option in their phone settings.
There are fewer tunneling protocols available on these apps, but the ones that are still there are some of the safest. I’d go so far as to say the NordVPN mobile experience is pretty similar to the desktop one.
NordVPN’s mobile apps can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play. There’s also an APK file available if you want to download and install the Android app manually.
NordVPN for web browsers: Chrome and Firefox
NordVPN has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These are listed as proxy extensions, but they will help you to change your IP address, protect your communications, and also block ads and trackers.
Some VPN providers offer free browser extensions, which are more of a marketing trick. They usually offer only a few locations and no extra features, such as malware blocker. That’s not the case here – NordVPN browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome come with the full server list, CyberSec, and WebRTC blocker.
You can download the extension for your browser from the Chrome Web Store or Firefox Browser Add-ons website. NordVPN Chrome extension review score is quite good, and it has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. The Firefox counterpart also has a good rating but less than 100,000 downloads, which probably has to do with Chrome being way more popular.
Which other platforms does NordVPN support?
NordVPN has an app for Android TV devices. Therefore, if your smart TV uses Android as its OS, you can use the VPN service. There’s also an app for Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick. Here’s a tutorial on how to install NordVPN on your Amazon Fire device.
While some providers offer the Smart DNS tool for connecting smart TVs, game consoles, and similar devices without encrypting their traffic, NordVPN chose another path. By combining VPN and Smart DNS, they’ve created SmartPlay – a tool that unblocks content and keeps you safe at the same time.
You can manually configure NordVPN on most routers. The majority of firmware supports the freeware OpenVPN client, but some use the IKEv2 tunnel. Additionally, if you have a Synology, QNAP, AsusTor, or Western Digital MyCloud NAS server, chances are it will work with NordVPN as well.
NordVPN also works with OpenVPN open-source software. Of course, that means you won’t be able to use any other tunneling protocol, which is a pity given how fast NordLynx is. Finally, while NordVPN doesn’t have an app for Kodi, it works great with this media player.
Is NordVPN good for streaming?
NordVPN is the best VPN for streaming. It unblocks multiple services and provides excellent speeds. Read on to learn about NordVPN for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming platforms.
Can NordVPN unblock Netflix?
In short, NordVPN is the best VPN for Netflix. It has proven successful, time and time again, at unblocking Netflix USA from anywhere. In my tests for this NordVPN review, Netflix wasn’t blocked on any of the US servers I tried – that’s quite a stunning achievement.
The situation was just as good in other popular Netflix locations – Japan, UK, Germany, Netherlands. Only several of the NordVPN servers I tried were blocked, but there were always more in the same country I could try. You can learn more about this in our NordVPN for Netflix page.
Does NordVPN unblock Amazon Prime and other platforms?
Yes, NordVPN will unblock Amazon Prime in no time! If you prefer other streaming platforms, such as HBO, Hulu. Disney+, and others, NordVPN will be able to help you as well.
What’s more, NordVPN has apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick in case you want to watch your favorite movies or shows on a big screen. And if you configure it on a router, you can use NordVPN’s unblocking capabilities on a wide variety of smart TVs and game consoles.
Torrenting with NordVPN
NordVPN is the best VPN for torrenting. It even has P2P-optimized servers in more than 40 countries, along with military-grade encryption and unlimited bandwidth. Thanks to the NordLynx, a proprietary WireGuard tunneling protocol, you will enjoy the best possible speeds that’ll help you finish all downloads in no time!
Torrenting and using BitTorrent-based streaming apps (such as Kodi or Popcorn Time) can be risky. Luckily, NordVPN meets all the criteria for being a privacy-first torrenting VPN. It has an independently-audited no-logs policy, no leaks, and a reliable kill switch that works either on the app or connection level.
Additionally, NordVPN is one of the few VPN services that offer a free SOCKS5 proxy. This is a convenient way to protect yourself from those situations when you load up your torrent client but forget to turn on your VPN. You can set up NordVPN SOCKS5 proxy on all popular P2P clients, such as uTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, or Deluge.
Finally, if you want to learn more about torrenting with NordVPN or find instructions on setting up its SOCKS5 proxy on your P2P client, head straight to our dedicated NordVPN Torrenting page.
Support: NordVPN’s live chat, email, and tutorials
NordVPN has excellent customer support that will answer most or all of your questions. Your support options include:
- 24/7 live chat support
NordVPN’s live chat and email
One way to access live chat is to visit the NordVPN website and click on the Support widget button at the bottom-right of your screen. A window will appear with a search box, FAQ, and an option to choose between email or live chat. You might also get a chatbot instead, which will give you an opportunity to contact a live person anyway.
I found that live chat support agents are top-notch, very responsive, and knowledgeable. I had to wait a few minutes at most before the agent was assigned. The response times were even shorter, and I had to wait for an answer only if the question was more complex.
If the issue is too difficult to solve during a chat session, you can expect an answer via email within hours. I was happy that they were ultimately able to solve every issue that I had.
NordVPN’s FAQ and knowledgebase
Both the FAQ and the knowledgebase sections are detailed and cover the most common issues. The FAQ is divided into two parts – VPN Setup Tutorials and the actual questions and answers section. The former covers major platforms and other devices, while the FAQ itself has nearly 20 entries.
When it comes to the rest of the knowledgebase, it’s divided into three big sections: General info, Billing, and Connectivity. General info covers NordVPN’s features and SmartPlay. The Billing section talks about payments and subscriptions. Finally, the Connectivity has a dedicated section for all major platforms plus SOCKS5 proxy, routers, and NAS devices. Overall, there are more almost 150 articles, so you should be able to find answers to most questions in an unlikely scenario where live support goes down.
Pricing: is NordVPN the cheapest on the market?
For a top-tier product, NordVPN is very cheap. Here are the available subscription options and their prices:
- 1-month plan for up to 6 devices: $11.95/month
- 1-year plan for up to 6 devices: $83.88 ($6.99/month)
- 2-year plan for up to 6 devices: $119.76 ($4.99/month)
- 3-year plan for up to 6 devices: $125.64 ($3.49/month)
All NordVPN pricing plans offer the same suite of features (AES-256 encryption, NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, DNS leak protection, app, kill switch, etc.) and allow up to 6 simultaneous connections. There are anonymous payment options available, such as crypto, for those concerned about privacy.
If you’re getting buyer’s remorse, NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This comes with no strings attached and no small print. The only thing to be aware of is that you can’t get a refund if you paid in Bitcoin or something similar.
The cost may not be the lowest on VPN on the market. That said, no other VPN offers as much value for money.
Should you get NordVPN?
Yes, you should get NordVPN. It’s definitely one of the best VPNs on the market right now, and in many ways, it’s the VPN global leader. The only service that can compete with NordVPN is Surfshark VPN. You can read about it in our Surfshark VPN review.
NordVPN has faultless privacy and security features, with industry-leading encryption and protocols. Its servers are capable of getting around Netflix and other streaming blocks, and its P2P-optimized servers are good news for torrenters. Additionally, it’s the fastest VPN service that you can get.
Unfortunately, NordVPN doesn’t offer native support for routers. However, you can probably set up yours manually by following step-by-step instructions. And should you have any questions, its strong customer support is ready to help you out 24/7.
If you want an industry-leading VPN for entertainment, security, privacy, or all of the above, you absolutely can’t go wrong with NordVPN.
What does NordVPN do?
NordVPN is a VPN service, and its main goal is to secure your internet connection. This is done by encrypting your traffic, which is sent through a VPN server of your choice. In the process, your real IP address becomes hidden, making it really hard for the ISP or your government to know what you’re doing online.
Another thing that NordVPN does protect you while you’re torrenting. It has P2P-optimized servers in more than 40 countries that don’t put any limits on your bandwidth. Finally, NordVPN can unlock Netflix and other streaming services that are geo-blocked and unavailable in your country. It can even let you access those websites that are blocked in China and other countries with restricted internet freedom.
How does NordVPN work?
NordVPN, like any other VPN service, acts as a mediator between you and the website or other online resource that you want to access. Without a VPN, all your data, including browsing history, can be seen by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). When you turn on NordVPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel that shields your connection from the ISP or the government.
When you connect to a VPN server, your real IP address becomes hidden, and you obtain the server’s IP in public. The way your data is transmitted depends on the VPN protocol used. The most popular tunneling protocols are OpenVPN and IKEv2, with the next-gen WireGuard gaining popularity. Speaking of which, NordVPN supports NordLynx, its proprietary WireGuard version on all major platforms.
How much does NordVPN cost per month?
The monthly price of NordVPN depends on your chosen pricing plan. You can buy NordVPN for as low as $3.49/month. Of course, if you take a shorter plan, the prices do go up, but NordVPN is among the cheapest services anyway.
The two-year plan costs $4.99/month, while the one-year option is $6.99/month. And then there’s a monthly plan for $11.95.
How to get NordVPN for free?
At the moment, there’s no way to legally get NordVPN for free. It has neither a free version nor a free trial. However, you can try NordVPN risk-free for 30 days. This VPN has a money-back guarantee, which means that you’ll get back what you’ve paid if you decide that this service is not for you.
How to cancel NordVPN subscription?
To cancel your NordVPN subscription:
- Log in to your account on their website.
- Go to My Services, and you’ll see Private and secure Internet access (VPN) at the top of the section.
- Click the three dots next to the blue Change plan button.
- Choose Cancel automatic payments and press Yes when prompted.
Where is NordVPN based?
NordVPN is registered in Panama, a privacy-friendly country with no data retention laws. Besides, it doesn’t belong to the Fourteen Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. Therefore, it would be hard to find a better place for a VPN.
How many devices does NordVPN allow per account?
NordVPN allows six simultaneous connections per one account. That means you’ll probably be able to have all of your devices connected and still share your account with family or friends. Also, don’t forget that if you set up NordVPN on your router, you’ll be able to protect any number of devices in your household.
Why won’t my NordVPN connect?
There are multiple reasons why NordVPN failed to connect. You can start by checking if your account is still active because there might’ve been a problem with auto-renewal.
Another cause of NordVPN not connecting can be due to issues with app configuration. You can try switching the tunneling protocol or connecting to another server.
If that fails, I recommend running the in-app Diagnostics Tool. You can find it by opening Settings, clicking Advanced, and choosing Run Diagnostics Tool. Then all you have to do is click Reset app.
If all else fails, my advice would be to reinstall TAP drivers. To do so on a Windows computer, go to Control Panel, then Add or remove programs, and uninstall NordVPN network TAP. Afterward, download the NordVPN TAP drivers and try again.
How do I know that NordVPN is working?
If you’re connected to a VPN server, that doesn’t mean it’s working as it should. Therefore, the best way to know if NordVPN is working is to check for IP and DNS leaks. You can do that by connecting to one of the VPN servers and visiting the ipleak.net website.
If you see the IP and location of your chosen server, it means you’re protected. However, if you either the IP or DNS leak test shows your real IP and location, it means that your VPN is leaking. It’s always better to be safe and sorry, so even though our tests have shown that NordVPN doesn’t have any leaks, I encourage you to run this test yourself.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN – which one is better?
NordVPN is often compared to ExpressVPN, as these are one of the few leading services in the VPN industry. The answer actually depends on your needs. For example, if speed is your primary concern, you should pick NordVPN. But if you want an app for a router or the Smart DNS feature, you should go with ExpressVPN.
Since there’s no clear-cut answer to this question, I suggest you to check our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison. It gives a detailed overview of both providers and will make choosing the right one much easier.