NordVPN Review 2020

After testing over 70 different VPN providers over countless hours, I concluded that NordVPN is the Unicorn that truly exists. It is superfast (most of the time). It is super secure with 256-bit AES encryption and default OpenVPN tunneling protocol. It is cheap.

It has one of the most extensive server pools. It has a whopping 5700+ servers spread across 60 countries. It can unblock almost all geo-restricted streaming services.

This VPN has P2P & torrenting support. It allows absolute anonymity and privacy with the Onion over the VPN feature. It has a strict no-logs policy and is located in Panama – far from the prying eyes of the 14 Eyes.

Albeit, there are various shortcomings that I will cover at the end of this NordVPN review but every VPN has several shortcomings. Even with all those negatives, NordVPN remains the best VPN that you can trust.

NordVPN at a Glance

  • Foundation Year – 2008
  • Country of Origin – Panama
  • Logging Policy – No logs (Strictly)
  • Member of 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes – No!
  • Refund Options – 30-day Money Back Guarantee
  • Number of Devices – 6 Devices for a single license
  • Supported Platforms – Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Proxy, Router, NAS

NordVPN Pros and Cons

Before I plunge into a detailed NordVPN review, here is a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of Nord:

Pros of NordVPN

  • Massive server pool of 5700+ servers
  • Spread over 60 countries
  • P2P/torrenting support
  • Works with geo-restricted content (Netflix, Amazon, BBC iPlayer, Kodi, Hulu, YouTube, and more)
  • No DNS/IP leaks
  • Amazing for gaming
  • Rock-solid, military-grade industry-standard encryptions
  • Extremely easy to use interface
  • Multi-device support against a single license
  • Fast speeds
  • Automatic software update
  • CyberSec integrated and free of cost. It contains a much-appreciated ad-blocker feature
  • Pairs with Tor or Onion Router and gives complete anonymity
  • Double data encryption
  • Kill switch available
  • Can bypass the Great Firewall of China
  • It has several specialty servers
  • Split tunneling feature available for mobile

Cons of NordVPN

  • Speed drop as compared to the connection without a VPN.
  • Cannot unblock DAZN.
  • No split tunneling for desktop. You will need to install the browser extension to get split tunneling but that too is limited to browser traffic.
  • Amazing discounts are available only if you take subscriptions for at least 2 years.
  • No discounts are available if a purchase is made from the App Store or iTunes.

NordVPN Ratings

I have rated NordVPN across various rating parameters as the table below:

Rating ParameterRating out of 10
User Interface and Experience10
Customer Support10

NordVPN Pricing | Our Rating: 9.8/10

NordVPN is cheap but it is not the cheapest option out there in the market. That makes sense because the features and security that Nord provides are nearly unparalleled.

Those VPNs that have a lower price tag compared to Nord lack various features that users often desire from a VPN service provider. On top of that, Nord has 4 different pricing slabs. Other VPN providers usually have three pricing slabs. This is where NordVPN stands out.

And, it is needless to say that considering the speed and the features provided by Nord, I find that it is quite reasonably priced. Anything less than that will be grossly underpricing the product.

However, I do feel, as an end-user, that the price could have been a tad lower than what it is now. For instance, they could have tried to match the pricing of CyberGhost and offered a price of $2.75 per month for a 2- or 3-year subscription plan instead of their current $3.49 per month for a 2- or 3-year subscription.

Here is a quick list of NordVPN pricing list for your reference:

Now that I gave you a quick snapshot of NordVPN, it is about time to take a detailed look at my experience with NordVPN.

Subscription TenureUsual PriceOffer Price
1 month$11.95 per monthNo offer
1 year$143.40 per year (paid once)$6.99 per month billed at $83.88 per year (paid once).
2 years$286.80 per year (paid once)$3.49 per month billed at $83.76 every 2 years (paid once every 2 years).
3 years$430.20 per year (paid once)$3.49 per month billed at $125.64 every 3 years (billed once every 3 years)

NordVPN Speed – Is It Really Fast? | Rating: 10/10

NordVPN takes pride in the speed and rightly so. I will not say that it beats the speed you can get without a VPN because saying so will be a blatant lie.

VPNs are known for encrypting data whenever data leaves your computer or enters it. This takes some time. Naturally, there will be some slowdown. However, other factors always come into play. Those factors include:

  • The distance of the server that you are trying to connect to from your location.
  • Time of the day when you are trying to connect.
  • Whether you are selecting the recommended server or you are manually selecting a server will also determine the speed.
  • Finally, the type of connection you use will also play a vital role.

What did I use?

  • I used a fiber broadband connection directly hooked on to the RJ45 port of my computer. No, I did not use any router in between. This ensured that I got the maximum speed according to my connection plan.
  • I tried the recommended server by NordVPN.
  • I also tried different servers randomly and used manual selection.
  • I also tried the servers that are closest to my location and farthest from my location (which is Washington D.C.).

NordVPN Speed Test Results

Indeed, it was a bit surprising to see the test results, which are shown in the table below:

Server LocationSpeedDrop in Download Speed
US – Without VPN82.05 Mbps0%
US (Recommended Server)74.02 Mbps~ 9.8%
US (New York)79.08 Mbps~ 3.6%
US (New Jersey)76.00 Mbps~ 7.31%
UK68.25 Mbps~ 16.8%
Germany66.14 Mbps~ 19.34%
Turkey48.54 Mbps~ 40.8%
New Zealand58.23 Mbps~ 29%

Look at the data in the table closely. You will notice that the recommended server in the US had a slower speed compared to the servers that were manually selected (the ones in New York and New Jersey).

There is a quick explanation of this. Whenever you connect to a recommended server, there will be more server load because thousands of people are connecting to the same recommended server at once.

There are thousands of servers that you can manually select. The odds of getting higher speeds increases dramatically when you select the servers manually because chances are there that there will be less server load.

However, these drops in speed were not of major concern as the drops weren’t very significant. Even with slower speeds, I could happily stream various shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Hulu with experiencing low resolutions or buffering.

If you notice, the speed took a big dip when I connected to a server in Turkey. It was a massive 40% dip in download speed.

Slow speeds on servers located in Turkey weren’t surprising at all. For such long-distance connections, you will get a slow speed. So, it is always advisable that you connect to servers that are closer to your location.

Essentially, when I moved to servers outside of the US, there was always more than a 10% decline in speed. It is mostly the long distance that is the culprit.

My recommendations:

a) Connect to a server that is closest to your location unless you have to connect in a far-off location.

b) Try not to connect to a recommended server. Instead, go for manual selection. Recommended servers will have more load because more and more people will use it.

How to deal with slow connection speed?

  • Switch to a server close to your location. If that is not a viable option (for instance, you may want to watch a local show streamed in Australia only like SBS Australia), move on to the next option.
  • Ensure that you have not activated the Double VPN feature. It essentially means that your data will get double encryption. This will increase the security but will slow down your speed a bit. Double VPN is available only on specialized servers. So, make sure that you are not selecting from Double VPN servers.
  • Finally, ensure that you are using the UDP protocol instead of TCP protocol. UDP is the default security protocol but you may accidentally turn on TCP while fiddling around with the settings. UDP protocol is faster than the TCP protocol.

Wondering how to switch between UDP and TCP protocol? Here are the steps:

  1. Click on the cog icon.
  2. Select Auto Connect.
  3. Find the option which reads “Choose a VPN protocol and server automatically.” Disable that option.
  4. In that option, you will get the option to choose a VPN protocol. UDP should be selected by default. If not, select from the dropdown list.
Choosing Udp

NordVPN Speed Compared to Average of 5 Top VPNs

To figure out whether NordVPN is faster than other VPN providers or not, I ran a quick comparative test in which I connected to 7 different servers in different regions using 5 different VPN providers (including ExpressVPN, SurfShark, CyberGhost, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN). Here is what I found:

 NordVPNAverage of 5 Popular VPNs
The average reduction in download speed18 Mbps19 Mbps
The average reduction in upload speed16 Mbps22 Mbps
Ping time to Google.com22ms26ms
Average connection time8 seconds10.5 seconds

NordVPN beats all the big names when it comes to speed. This led me to the conclusion that NordVPN is indeed the fastest VPN available now.

Save the Fastest Server – One great feature!

NordVPN will allow you to choose the fastest server for each location that you are trying. So, it is better that once you find a fast server, save it so that you can quickly connect to it the next time you want to connect from that location.

NordVPN Security: Military Grade Encryption and Double VPN | Rating: 10/10

Do you think hackers are the only online threat that you need to face? Think again! Sometimes, your Internet service provider or the ISP can be a culprit as well. ISPs are often known to track all your internet usage. The tracked information is then sold to many companies (advertisers).

Apart from that, the ISP keeps a log of all your activities. The government can ask for those logs and scan through your online activities anytime. This is where privacy concerns come in.

In countries like the US, the UK, etc. the government can get access to your data anytime they want. This is a serious breach of privacy.

VPNs are known to prevent that from happening. The moment you start using a VPN, your exact location, your IP address, your data – everything gets encrypted, keep your online activities completely private. Even your ISP cannot find out your online footprints.

The AES 256-bit encryption

To encrypt the data, NordVPN uses the AES 256-bit encryption technology. AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard. This is the same standard that NSA or National Security Agency of USA suggests for securing any top-secret classified information. It is also the technology that is used by US military forces.

Additionally, Nord uses two different types of VPN protocols. One is OpenVPN that is the default protocol for Windows PC, Mac PC (macOS), and even Android apps. The other protocol is IKEv2/IPsec protocol which is the default used for iOS and macOS apps.

This means that macOS users can use either IKEv2/IPsec or OpenVPN. It doesn’t matter which one you are using. Both protocols are extremely secure.

Perfect Forward Secrecy

Wondering what this is? It simply means that for every session of NordVPN, the security key changes. So, even if someone manages to steal a security key, he or she cannot use it.

The Double VPN security

Using a VPN will by default encrypt your data once. What about having the data encrypted twice? Yes, this is possible with NordVPN and this is one of the reasons why I prefer Nord.

Activating this feature will mean that your data will pass through two remote servers. In each server, your data will be encrypted. So, your data gets encrypted twice with the AES 256-bit encryption.

Usually, you will not need this and you should keep it disabled for your everyday browsing. Well, you are a better judge when it comes to knowing when you need such double encryption. Use the internet wisely!

I said earlier that enabling Double VPN will slow down your speed. This will happen because your data will travel a longer distance as it will hop through two different servers before reaching the destination. This detour will take the same time. On top of that, encryption takes time too. So, when the data is encrypted twice, speed will be slow.

Jurisdiction and Strict No Logs Policy

One of the biggest concerns for VPN users is the place of origin of the VPN. This is something I will always look for and this NordVPN review is no different. In the case of NordVPN, the jurisdiction is Panama, which is not dictated by any law that requires the company to hand over your data to any government (including that of Panama).

Panama is not a part of the 5 Eyes or 9 Eyes or 14 Eyes agreement and is not bound to share any data with the countries involved in such agreements.

This makes NordVPN completely trustworthy.

But what about the logs that NordVPN keeps?

First thing first, you need to know that Nord servers have hard drives for now. This means that all your data is stored on their servers.

However, because of their strict No Logs policy, they delete all the data. To make things more transparent and safer for users, they are in the process of switching to RAM storage.

RAM is a temporary memory that is erased every time a machine is rebooted. Switching to RAM storage will improve NordVPN’s commitment to privacy.

Is NordVPN Good for Streaming and Bypassing Geo-Restrictions? | Rating: 9.8/10

Is Nordvpn Good For Streaming And Bypassing Geo Restrictions
Is NordVPN Good for Streaming and Bypassing Geo-Restrictions? | Rating: 9.8/10

This is by far the best feature of NordVPN, at least for me. I love to watch TV shows and movies and unable to watch content available in other countries always disturbs me.

I used NordVPN to access the geo-restricted content on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in Australia and Europe. I was able to unblock all the content without a problem.

Netflix is always a big deal because Netflix has put technology in place which scans for VPN and many VPNs fail to pass the scan. Fortunately, NordVPN managed to bypass the connection from almost every server I test.

I tested this from Windows PC, Android phone, and a Mac laptop. All worked fine. However, over the course of the testing, I did realize that there are various servers from which when you try to access the geo-restricted content on Netflix, you will land directly on the US page of Netflix.

That was fine because the US Netflix page covers 99% of all the global content on Netflix. Unless you want to try out the remaining 1% of that content, you will be disappointed.

I tried content available in India, Japan, Australia, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, France, and several other places and NordVPN worked like a charm.

Talking of the streaming quality, I was pleasantly surprised to see that even in far off places like servers in India, there was no buffering or reduction in video quality.

Here is a list of streaming services (including local services) that I tested using 40 different servers for each streaming service:

Streaming ServiceDid It Work?
Netflix USAYes
BBC iPlayerYes
Amazon Prime VideoYes
SBS Australia (local)Yes
France2 (local)Yes
ABC News (local)Yes
ESPN LiveYes
HotStar (India)Yes

Bypassing the Great Firewall of China

I had a few friends in China who visited the country as a part of their official duty. They helped me test out NordVPN’s capability to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

They had NordVPN installed on their computers before they went to China. They reported that NordVPN can bypass even the Great Firewall of China with ease. There were some services that Nord couldn’t access.

That is fine! At least Nord can do something that most of the other VPNs fail to do. This is possible because of their obfuscated servers that are capable of bypassing network firewalls. These servers remove the metadata that a firewall can use to identify as something originating from a VPN protocol.

The obfuscated servers of NordVPN disguise the VPN traffic as normal internet traffic without any encryption.

The only problem is that to use NordVPN to bypass the Great Firewall of China from inside the country, the application has to be installed outside the country. If you try to install the application from within China, you cannot!

You also need to remember that obfuscated servers can work only if you are using OpenVPN protocol. So, if you want to use Nord through an iOS device, you have to download the OpenVPN app and then create a manual connection. If you have an Android device, you shouldn’t be facing any problem.

NordVPN Features | Rating: 9.8/10

It is needless to say that features are what will make a VPN service shine bright or slide into oblivion. In this part of NordVPN review, I am going to dig into this aspect. 

NordVPN is immensely popular. It means that it is doing something right. I dug deep to take a look at the features offered by the VPN service and, I will not lie, I was pleasantly surprised by their offerings.

However, there is always something more to desire for and NordVPN has left a grey area where it could improve by adding more features. Anyway, here are the best features that Nord has to offer:

Kill Switch – Nord Has It

Kill Switch – Nord Has It
Kill Switch – Nord Has It

You connect to the Internet using your VPN and then suddenly the connection to the VPN server drops. What happens then?

That’s a nightmare. All your Internet activities will be exposed immediately. People can know your IP address. They can see what type of content you are accessing. Your data will no longer be encrypted! Also, your Internet activity will be logged.

A scenario like this is never acceptable. It compromises your privacy. This is where the Kill Switch comes into action.

NordVPN application has an integrated Kill Switch. It is an advanced security feature that is designed to stop all your outgoing and incoming data once your connection to one of Nord’s servers drops.

The Kill Switch can either kill all the Internet traffic from your computer or it can kill the Internet connection to some select applications that use the Internet connection.

The only problem here is that Nord doesn’t offer an Internet Kill switch if you are using a macOS OpenVPN client. The only thing you get is the application-level kill switch. So, if your connection to VPN server drops, only your specified applications will be cut-off from the Internet. The rest of your traffic will become visible.

However, if you happen to use the IKEv2 client on macOS, you will get access to both kill switches.

No IP/DNS Leak Detected

No Ip Dns Leak Detected
No IP/DNS Leak Detected

Sometimes, if you choose to set up a VPN manually or if you use a VPN that does not come with the guarantee of DNS Leak protection, it may happen that your computer reverts to the default DNS servers.

If that happens, it will become a piece of cake for your ISP to know all your internet activities. If your ISP comes to know what you are doing online, your data and your privacy will be at risk.

As a part of my NordVPN review, I tested the application for any IP/DNS Leak using The results were really impressive. Not only IPv6 was not reachable while using Nord, no forward IP was detected either. The results were clean.

I ran the same results for over 100 different servers in 25 different locations and the results were impressive every single time.

With Nord, there is absolutely no fear of any information leak that your ISP or anyone else can grab and sell.

While is usually my preferred service for testing DNS leaks, I decided to step up the game by testing through a few more services. The ones that I used are:

  • – I scanned the NordVPN installer package using this service and it came out clean, free of any viruses or malware.
  • – This service too failed to pinpoint my actual location.
  • – They said I was from India and indeed, I connected to a server in India.

NordVPN indeed does a great job with DNS Leak protection. On top of that, it offers an auto-connection feature when you start your system. This helps to keep your device invisible on LAN (Local Area Network).

Specialty Servers of NordVPN

Specialty Servers Of Nordvpn
Specialty Servers of NordVPN

I already told you that NordVPN has over 5700 servers across the world. Some of these servers are specialty servers and they come in handy from time to time. Here is a complete list of specialty servers that NordVPN offers.

Dedicated IP Servers

This one rocks! Dedicated IP, in case you don’t know, has several advantages. For starters, it is clean and is not used or shared by any other user. This means that the IP will not be flagged.

You will, however, need to purchase a dedicated IP address. You can order it directly from NordVPN and will cost you $70 a year.

Here are some of the benefits that you can enjoy with a dedicated IP:

  • With a dedicated IP or static IP (as many call it), each time you connect to one of the dedicated IP servers of NordVPN, you will be connecting to the same IP address that will be exclusively used by you.
  • When you connect with the same IP address, streaming services from a particular country even if that country has blocked all the public or shared IP addresses of NordVPN.
  • No streaming service in this world ever blocks a dedicated IP on the grounds that it belongs to a VPN.
  • When it comes to online financial transactions, if you are using VPN to keep your financial activities safe, your bank will not flag your account with suspicious activities because you will be using the same IP address again and again.

Interestingly enough, other big names in the VPN world like SurfShark and ExpressVPN do not offer this unique feature. This feature caught me flat on my foot and I must say, I am impressed!

Double VPN Servers

I discussed this earlier. These servers will make your traffic jump through two servers, encrypt your data twice, and make you way more secure. This, however, comes with a cost. Your connection speed will decrease.

Obfuscated Servers

You already know about this from our discussion above. Obfuscated servers will help you to access content in countries that have heavy online censorship (such as China).

Onion Over VPN Servers

You must have heard of the Onion Router or Tor. It is known for protecting your privacy and identity when you browse the Internet. You can use the Tor browser if you want.

Unfortunately, there is a problem with Tor. The entry node is always capable of seeing your true IP address. Nord’s Onion Over VPN Servers overcome this problem by hiding the entry node.

Another problem with Onion servers is that they are volunteer-run, making them vulnerable to attacks anytime. Onion Over VPN will prevent those attacks and keep you completely anonymous!

What About Torrenting? Does NordVPN Support It?

What About Torrenting Does Nordvpn Support It
What About Torrenting? Does NordVPN Support It?

Governments around the world have clamped down on torrenting very heavily. We all know the stories of big torrent sites like Pirate Bay, Extratorrent, etc. This, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist anymore. They do!

The only problem is that if your ISP or the government in your country (that doesn’t like torrenting) gets to know about your torrenting activities, you can get into serious legal and copyright troubles.

The only best way to skip all the legal drama is to hide your IP and your online activities whenever you fall in love with some torrent files. NordVPN offers special P2P servers that are designed with torrenting in mind.

You can connect to one of those servers and go about torrenting happily without worries. Once you use one of those servers, your connection will be automatically rerouted to the Netherlands or Canada. Your identity will stay protected.

NordVPN claims that it never throttles your connection nor does it put bandwidth limits when you use their P2P servers. I did try it and I was pleasantly surprised. However, for the sake of keeping myself safe, I will not tell you what I download. You can try something you want!

Split Tunneling with NordVPN

NordVPN will not offer you the feature of split tunneling on desktop. This is something I did not expect. However, it is good to know that they do have browser extensions for both Firefox and Chrome which allows you to encrypt the data or traffic from your browser.

In case you have activated only browser extensions, all other apps and software on your desktop will make use of your local IP address. No traffic or data from those apps or software will be encrypted and everyone can see what you are up to.

This is precisely what split tunneling means.

I would have preferred the ability of split tunneling without browser extensions as it is available in the case of mobile devices. By default, all traffic from mobile will be routed through NordVPN but you can select the apps whose traffic will be routed through VPN. For the rest of the apps, traffic will not go through the VPN and will not be encrypted.

NordVPN Supports Multiple Devices on a Single License

Buy one license and you can install NordVPN on six devices irrespective of what operating system your device uses. How cool is that?

I will tell you a secret though. I used NordVPN on 14 devices on a single license. Wondering how?

Here is the simple thing I did. I used it on one of my routers first. This secured the six devices connected to the network of that one router. Since I connected NordVPN to a single device (the router), 5 out of 6 slots were still free.

I then connected it to another router at my friend’s place and it covered 4 more devices! That made 10 devices in total. I then installed the app on 4 more devices, making 14 devices in total.

You can use this trick too!

Browser Extensions of NordVPN

Browser Extensions Of Nordvpn
Browser Extensions of NordVPN

Nord has a couple of browser extensions – one for Chrome and the other for Firefox. One great thing about the NordVPN browser extensions is that they work on mobile devices. This is something you will never find with any other VPN provider.

On top of that, there are other great features that make NordVPN’s browser extensions the best you can get. Those features include:

  • Access to all 5700+ servers across all 60+ countries.
  • They have the ‘Block WebRTC’ feature that provides extra leak protection. This is great because almost all web browsers are known for WebRTC leaks.
  • The extensions also add a TLS v1.2 security (TLS stands for Transport Layer Security) which keeps your data protected even when you visit a website that doesn’t have HTTPS protection.

NordVPN Mobile Apps

Nordvpn Mobile Apps
NordVPN Mobile Apps

NordVPN has mobile apps available for both Android and iOS users. This is great because you may not always use your desktop to access the Internet.

What is great is that both the apps are super easy to install and they come with a surprisingly easy interface.

Irrespective of what device you are using, all you need to do is install the NordVPN app, sign in, enable the built-in adblocker, and you are good to go! Just connect to any server you want to by manually selecting one or simply use the Quick Connect feature where the app will connect to the best server near you on its own!

There are some inconsistencies in the apps though that I have discussed later in the segment about the things I don’t like about NordVPN.

NordVPN Router App

NordVPN comes with a router app. Yes, it can be installed on a router that supports VPN. This is a cool feature that only a few leading VPN providers like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost offer.

Once you install the NordVPN router app, you can essentially connect unlimited devices to NordVPN through a single license.

The NordVPN website has a step-by-step guide on how to install and configure the VPN app on your router. You can go through it there.

The router app is great because it allows you to use NordVPN on those devices that have the capability of connecting to the Internet only over the Wi-Fi, for example, some smart TVs and gaming consoles! Such devices usually do not allow VPNs but with the router app of Nord, you can use VPN on them as well.

NordVPN Doesn’t Have Virtual Servers

There are many VPN providers who have virtual servers. This means that when you connect to a server in a specific country, there is no real or physical server present in that location.

The reason why many VPN providers use this feature is that the country in question usually has a better connection. Thus, routing the traffic from that country improves the speed.

So, why doesn’t NordVPN use a virtual server? That’s because they have physical servers in every location that you try to connect to. This is a good thing. This explains how robust their server network is!

CyberSec – It is Integrated and Free

Cybersec – It Is Integrated And Free
Cybersec – It Is Integrated And Free 2
CyberSec – It is Integrated and Free

One interesting feature of NordVPN that I like the most is the integrated CyberSec feature. Wondering what CyberSec is? It is essentially a service that gives you an extra layer of protection against a myriad of online threats like phishing attempts, malware, intrusive ads, and more.

You will have the option of installing it. The option shows up after you finish installing NordVPN. You may choose not to activate the feature but I strongly recommend that you do.

In case you are wondering why you should be activating it, here are a few reasons that you might want to consider seriously:

  • It will keep those auto-play ads and annoying pop ups from showing up and disturbing you time and again. This invariably increases your browsing speed.
  • It blocks DDoS attacks. Your computer may be already infected with malware. However, once the CyberSec detects that, it will quickly and promptly disconnect your device from the Internet. Once the Internet connection is gone, the malware cannot communicate with the control server and prevent any kind of DDoS attack.
  • It will protect you from phishing scams. The moment you try to access any website, it will compare the site with all known blacklists. If it detects anything unusual like malicious software, spyware, malware, etc. it will block you from accessing that website.

Do you need more reasons? I guess not!

NordVPN User Interface and Overall User Experience | Rating: 10/10

Nordvpn User Interface And Overall User Experience
NordVPN User Interface and Overall User Experience | Rating: 10/10

I loved this part of the service and I feel obligated to write about it in this NordVPN review. The installation is simple without any fuss. It is a very lightweight application, requiring only 19 MB on your hard disk and even allows you to select the option of an automatic startup when your computer or device turns on.

The application also gives automatic update notifications. If a new version is available, you can quickly install the new update with a single click. You don’t need to go to Nord’s website to manually check for updates and download the updated version.

The overall installation experience is very smooth.

What about the user interface?

Well, the developers did manage to keep the interface as simple as it gets. You get a list of servers from the Menu. You can select from specialty servers or you can go ahead and select servers based on countries.

There is an interactive map as well that allows you to select a server by clicking on a location Pin. Unfortunately, this option is not very practical because, in locations like the US or the UK, there are way too many locations. You need to keep zooming in to get hold of a particular server! It is way easier to select a server from the country list.

The map does make a good visual that you may often want to tinker with just for fun!

In case you are using the VPN application on your mobile phone, you will have to swipe up from the bottom to get the list of servers.

Command-line for Linux

If you happen to use a VPN on your Linux desktop, you will have some problems with the user experience because there is no such thing called the user interface. It is all on the command line. But again, if you are using Linux, I guess you will know how to work with the command line and you can figure it out!

Fire TV app has a problem

In the Fire TV app, every time you start it, the default server will be selected. If you want to use a specific server, you will have to remember the server number. This is a big problem for me because I am terrible when it comes to remembering numbers! I can’t even remember birthdays! Remembering a server number is like a far-fetched dream for me!

NordVPN Gaming Experience | Rating: 10/10

If you happen to be a fan of online gaming, you are going to love the speed of NordVPN. For instance, I tried playing Valorant while connected to one of Nord’s US servers.

It was taken by absolute surprise! Valorant is a game where you need a high-speed Internet with no jitters or packet losses. It is all about split-second decision making and precision.

Theoretically, VPN and online gaming make up a good recipe for total disaster. This happens because when you use a VPN, your data will be transferred through an extra filter, it is normal to experience lag. This is something you cannot afford while playing some high-octane games like Valorant.

Fortunately, with NordVPN, the maximum loss I experience can be summed up with these figures:

  • Ping: +4.1 ms
  • Jitter: +0 ms
  • Packet Loss: +0.2%

Wondering what these are?

I could ping the game server with a maximum rise of 4.1 ms. The higher the ping time, the greater the lag. Without VPN, the ping was 51.0 ms. With a VPN, it rose to 55.5 ms, which is still a “low ping.” If the ping time is 100+ms it is called “high ping” and it is not a good thing.

With a fractional increase, I couldn’t feel any experience.

Jitter on the other hand was zero! More jitter means poor audio quality. There was no drop in audio quality!

Finally, only 0.2% extra data packet loss happened. This had no impact on my gaming experience.

However, you need to understand that there can be multiple facets that can impact your overall gaming experience. If you are connecting to a very distant server, it can lead to significant lags and jitters. Also, if you have Double VPN enabled or if you are using a server that has excess server load, you can experience lags and your overall gaming experience might not be that great!

NordVPN Customer Support | Rating: 10/10

This is one area of a business that can make or break a business empire and NordVPN rocks in this segment. Here is a quick overview of the customer support system of NordVPN:

Chat SupportAvailable
Email SupportAvailable
Phone SupportNot Available
24×7 SupportAvailable only for the chat system
Email Response Time3 hours tops
Types of Customer SupportGeneral info, connectivity, and billing
Support to Address Money-back GuaranteeAvailable

Live Chat and Email Support

They have a 24×7 chat support available that will help you with all your technical queries.

Unfortunately, the chat system is not that effective as in the case of all other VPN providers. They kind of resort to canned responses usually copy-pastes. Some non-technical or less technical queries can be handled by the chat support with ease but, if you want some highly technical support, I will suggest you go for their email support system.

Folks sitting behind desks for tech support via emails are quite geeky and they know their stuff. They will help you with your troubleshooting steps and get your problems resolved.

Huge Knowledgebase

Another form of support that is quite widespread is that of a huge collection of knowledge base articles. Almost every technology-related company has this thing and NordVPN is no different.

Their knowledge base is extensive. They have around 500+ guides and tutorials that will solve most of your technical issues. Unless you are a power user or unless you are trying to achieve complex VPN solutions over a network, their knowledge base is good enough to handle your queries!

Things I Didn’t Like About NordVPN

Like it or not, every VPN will have some problem or the other and NordVPN might be a unicorn that exists but it does have its fair share of problems. Not talking about those problems in this NordVPN review will be unfair. So, here is what I didn’t like about Nord:

Inconsistencies – A Couple of Them!

I was appalled by the fact that NordVPN is laced with some awful inconsistencies. What you ask? Keep reading!

Inconsistency in Security Protocols

The Android and the iOS apps of NordVPN are great. However, these two are not consistent when it comes to security protocols offered by each one of them. The iOS app allows two security protocols – OpenVPN and IKEv2. The Android app on the other hand has only one security protocol – OpenVPN.

Inconsistency in Specialty Servers

The Android app allows using the following specialty servers:

  • P2P
  • Obfuscated
  • Double VPN
  • Dedicated IP

The iOS app will allow using the following:

  • Onion Over VPN
  • P2P

If you see, Android users cannot get access to Onion Over VPN servers while iOS users cannot get access to Obfuscated, Double VPN, and Dedicated IP servers. I personally will love to see Onion Over VPN available for the Android app because I love Android and use it far more than iOS.

iOS lovers on the other hand will miss out a lot but they need to accept that Apple has its own defined standards for security that prevents a lot of things available on Android.

Less Number of Simultaneous Connections

There are other VPN providers who offer more simultaneous connections per license. For instance, CyberGhost allows 7 connections per license while SurfShark offers unlimited simultaneous connections against a single license.

You may argue that you can get unlimited connections with a VPN supported router but don’t forget, not everyone will have such a router. Such routers are expensive!

Absence of Split Tunneling on Desktop

I explained this earlier. I don’t understand why they decided not to keep split tunneling on the desktop. You may argue that once I install NordVPN and activate it, all traffic will be encrypted anyway.

You are right! But that doesn’t give me the liberty to selectively remove those applications whose traffic I don’t want to be encrypted or secured by VPN.

Problem with Some Geo-Restricted Content

While Nord is capable of unblocking over 400 geo-restricted sites, it has failed to open DAZN. DAZN is a subscription-based sports streaming service and has an extremely sensitive VPN detection ability. NordVPN failed to beat it. It is available in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Japan. I enjoyed it when I was in Germany for a week.

I wanted to access its content from US soil but all my attempts were futile. I hoped NordVPN could give me the much-wanted access. I was left dissatisfied. It could bypass the Great Firewall of China but couldn’t beat DAZN.

Pricing Policy is a Marketing Gimmick

Everyone will say that NordVPN is very cheap and you can get it at a price of mere $3.49 per month as a part of their limited time offer that is going to expire soon! Trust me, this offer is not going to expire anytime soon.

I saw the offer back in January 2020 and then in February, in March, and now then again in April. Now it is July and it still exists! It is just a marketing gimmick – a well-known tactic of creating a sense of urgency. Nonetheless, it is a great offer that you can get.

What’s disturbing is that you can get that low price only if you commit to it for the long term. The minimum subscription period is 2 years if you want to get that price.  Again, you have to pay that amount in full, that is, you need to pay 83.76 US dollars at once to get that price tag. However, it is a lock-in price. You will be charged 83.76 dollars every two years instead of $286.80 every two years. That’s a whopping 70% discount.

If you want to go for a monthly subscription, you will have to pay $11.95 a month. That’s quite a price tag.

No Free Trial with NordVPN

I like free trials before committing to a subscription. Free trials allow me to test every aspect and understand whether the product fulfills my requirements or not. Unfortunately, NordVPN doesn’t have any free trial. You need to pay right away.

They do, however, make up for it with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, if you don’t like the service and want to cancel within 30 days of your purchase, they will give your money back.

What doesn’t sound good is that they don’t give you the ‘no-questions-asked’ guarantee. They will always and always try to troubleshoot your problems and kind of coerce you into keeping their services. But I must say that at the end of the day, their service rocks if you can have all the bumps ironed out!

Hidden Clause – Something I Hate

They will not tell you that if you buy from iTunes or App Store and then ask for a refund, they will not do so. According to them, the refund is dictated by iTunes and App Store and that you need to contact them.

They will also not tell you that if you are making a purchase using gift cards or prepaid cards, they will not refund. Well, that does make sense because NordVPN cannot process any purchase made through BestBuy, Amazon, StackSocial, and other resellers.

I still feel that they should put this information up in the open to help customers make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions About NordVPN

Can I use NordVPN for free?

Straight answer – NO! Twisted answer – YES! What does that mean? Simple! There is no free trial available for NordVPN. You have to purchase it in order to use it. However, they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee wherein you can ask for a refund if you don’t like it or if the VPN fails to address all your needs. You, however, need to understand that it is not a no-questions-asked refund policy. They will try to first resolve your problem and if they fail, they will refund your money.

You also need to understand that those VPNs that offer free versions are very limited. The data allowance per month, the speed, the servers available, are all so severely crippled that you will eventually feel awful.

How much will NordVPN cost?

Depending on what plan you choose, the pricing will vary. You may end up paying up to $430 a year if you go by the pay-per-month plan. You can pay as little as $3.49 a month if you go for a long-term plan like that of 2 years or 3 years. Such long-term plans lead to significant savings.

How many devices can you connect with a single subscription?

This is a bit tricky to answer. For a single license, NordVPN will allow you to connect up to 6 devices, which should be sufficient if you are using the VPN at your home. You can, however, extend it to unlimited devices against a single license simply by installing the VPN on a router that supports VPN. Yes, there are such routers on which you can install VPN apps.

Once you install NordVPN on such a router, all devices connected to the network of that router will get VPN protection by Nord. So, if your router has 20 devices connected to it, you will have NordVPN on your 20 devices! You will still be left with 5 more connections that you can use.

Should you keep NordVPN active all the time?

That depends on your paranoia! If you are too concerned about your privacy, you can leave NordVPN running all the time. In fact, I will suggest that you turn on the automatic launch feature of Nord. This will ensure that every time you turn your device on, NordVPN starts up first and starts encrypting your data.

If you are about to visit a country like China or a country in the Middle East where there is extreme Internet censorship, you can always leave NordVPN running. This will allow you to access anything and everything online.

Will your ISP allow using VPN?

Any ISP in this world will figure out that you are using a VPN and they have no problem with that. VPNs are legal and they cannot stop you from using one. However, they can never know what you are doing online with your VPN connection. You should not be worried about ISPs.

Which server of NordVPN is the best?

This is a very difficult question. It entirely depends on what you want to do with a VPN. If you are looking for torrenting, P2P servers will work best because that is what they are optimized for.

If you want to access the Internet of Things from a country like China or a Middle East country, obfuscated servers are the ones you must use.

If you want to use NordVPN for gaming, I will suggest not going for long-distance servers. Select servers that are close to your location. This will help you get greater speeds.

Bottom line? It is a choice you need to make. There is no particular answer to this question.

Did NordVPN ever encounter a security breach?

Yes, there was one security breach and it was recorded in October 2019. There is nothing to worry about it though. It rather turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The hackers managed to get access to one of the rented servers of Nord and what they found was what any ISP generally finds.

Because NordVPN never stores any data whatsoever, the hackers could not get anything useful. This went on to prove NordVPN’s commitment to privacy and no-logs policy.

Did NordVPN undergo any security audit?

Yes! Two independent security audits were conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers AG and VerSprite. They did not find any critical issue but they did find small problems that Nord promptly resolved before they were put under the scanner again. The next time, they came out with flying colors. You can actually download the security audit reports from their website.

How Does NordVPN Fair Against Other Top VPNs?

Why am I adding this comparative segment in this NordVPN review? That’s because it is something everyone wants to know and I am sure even you want to know it. I have compared it against ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and SurfShark, which are the biggest competitors of NordVPN. Each one of them have their strengths and weaknesses but when it comes to speed, NordVPN beats everyone else. That doesn’t mean they are bad.

Speed Rating1st2nd3rd4th
JurisdictionPanamaBritish Virgin IslandsRomaniaBritish Virgin Islands
No LogsStrict policy of no logsStrict policy of no logsStrict policy of no logsStrict policy of no logs
EncryptionAES 256-bitAES 256-bitAES 256-bitAES 256-bit
Split TunnelingNot availableAvailableNot availableAvailable
Great Firewall of ChinaCan breach itCan breach itCannot breach itCan breach it
TorrentingYes! It has special servers for thatYes! Supports on all serversYes! It has special servers for thatYes! It has support on specific servers
Unblocks BBC iPlayerOn optimized servers for streamingYesOn optimized servers for streamingYes
Unblocks Netflix USAOn optimized servers for streamingYesOn optimized servers for streamingYes
Kill SwitchAvailableAvailable (not on iOS)AvailableAvailable
No. of Devices Per License657Unlimited
Obfuscated ServerAvailableAvailableNot AvailableAvailable
Server Pool5700+3000+5800+1700+
Mobile AppsAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable
Browser ExtensionsAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable
Router AppAvailableAvailableAvailableNot Available

Wrapping Up

NordVPN offers a great experience. Barring a few problems here and here that most of the people won’t even care about, it is one of those few VPN providers that offer the best value for money.

In a nutshell, here is what I liked about NordVPN:

  • Fast and reliable servers.
  • Advanced security features are more than capable of protecting privacy on the web.
  • Amazingly powerful when it comes to bypassing geo-blocks.
  • A simple and clean user interface that allows a lot of personalization depending on what exactly you want to achieve with a VPN.

The summary of what I didn’t like about NordVPN:

  • Inconsistencies in mobile apps.
  • Unclear terms and conditions or hidden clauses.
  • Absence of split tunneling.
  • Fewer numbers of simultaneous connections.
  • It still uses hard drive storage and I hope it really does upgrade to RAM storage.

Yes, NordVPN has its fair share of issues. At times they show an inclination towards iOS. However, that doesn’t mean that I can discard them without a second thought.

As a fact of the matter, I found NordVPN to be extremely powerful and feature-rich. From specialty servers to browser extensions with an extra layer of leak protection, from superfast servers to quick connect feature and favorite server list – these all go a long way to make life simpler while using a VPN service.

Of course, split tunneling is absent and it would have been a great addition to the main desktop app but most likely, that’s something you will not usually need.

Overall, NordVPN offers a great value with a perfectly balanced set of premium features. Needless to say, it offers the fastest speed I have seen of any VPN that I have tested and I am sure, you will love it and never regret it.

I will say, you must go for it unless you are looking for some specific features like split tunneling that ExpressVPN provides. ExpressVPN too is a great option, albeit, a bit pricier.

Dhananjay Goel is the Co-founder and CTO of BestPrivacyVPN. Dhananjay is passionate about online privacy and security.

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