NordVPN Review

NordVPN is a very popular VPN service with a large customer base. While it is highly recommended on many sites, it can be difficult to find honest information about this VPN provider and here we have tested their service extensively.In this updated and in-depth NordVPN review, we put their service through extensive testing and let the test results stand on their own. I wanted to find out once and for all:

  • Is NordVPN too slow?
  • Is NordVPN secure (no leaks)?
  • Do all of the features work correctly?
  • Is it actually worth the price?

Now let’s examine the results.

NordVPN overview

Although NordVPN offers pretty good speeds overall, I did find there to be some performance variability in the network. On a positive note, however, NordVPN speeds continue to improve as they add new servers to the network, which improves bandwidth for all users.

NordVPN also does well in the features category with advanced leak protection, obfuscation to defeat VPN blocks, and specialized servers to offer more anonymity (see the double-VPN servers and Tor-over-VPN servers). NordVPN also continues to work with Netflix and other major streaming services.

The “best value” VPN service

NordVPN is without a doubt the best value VPN on the market, coming in at only $2.99 per month. This is an exceptional price for a fully-featured VPN with secure apps and good performance. Other top-rated VPN services are significantly more money:

  • VPN.ac Review ($9 per month)

Overall NordVPN remains one of the top recommendations. It is a great all-around VPN for a variety of different users, and you certainly can’t beat the price or the 30 day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN features

NordVPN offers some solid features to enhance user privacy and security. Let’s take a look at a few of these features.

NordVPN CyberSec

NordVPN CyberSec is a security feature that includes a malicious sites filter and an advertisement and tracking blocker. I found it to work well in testing, effectively blocking all advertising domains on different sites that I visited.

NordVPN’s CyberSec feature seemed to do well with blocking ads in the basic tests I ran for this review.

NordVPN kill switch

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that is now offering two different kinds of kill switches. A kill switch is important because it blocks traffic if the VPN connection drops, which protects you from de-anonymization and your regular traffic being exposed.

In the screenshot below you can see the two different kill switches:

  • Internet Kill Switch – This will block all traffic if the VPN connection drops (recommended).
  • App Kill Switch – This will close applications if the VPN connection drops, but will not block any traffic.
nordvpn kill switch
NordVPN offers two different kill switches.

If you are concerned about IP address leaks it would probably be best to use the “Internet Kill Switch” as this will offer the most protection and block non-VPN traffic through the firewall.

I tested the Internet Kill Switch and found it to effectively block traffic when there was not an active connection to a VPN server.

Tor (Onion) Over VPN

Despite the drawbacks of the Tor network (namely slow speeds and the potential for IP address leaks), it can still be combined with a VPN for more privacy.

NordVPN offers three server locations that exit onto the Tor (onion) network:

  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Latvia

Unfortunately, I found the Onion-over-VPN servers to be rather slow, but this is entirely due to the Tor network, which routes all traffic through three different Tor relays, thereby slowing everything down.

Double VPN (multi-hop)

Using a multi-hop VPN offers many advantages over a standard VPN setup (single server). If a server were to be targeted (monitored), a multi-hop VPN configuration would add further protection by helping to conceal incoming and/or outgoing traffic.

NordVPN currently offers 16 double-hop VPN configurations, which they list on their website. For those wanting a higher level of privacy and security, the double-encryption is worth the performance tradeoff.

You can learn more about the different features offered by NordVPN on their website here.

NordVPN servers

NordVPN boasts a huge server network, which currently includes about 4,400 servers in about 60 countries.

nordvpn servers
NordVPN has an extensive server network with locations all over the world.

In the past year NordVPN has expanded and updated their server network to improve performance. This has resulted in less congestion and better speeds for all users. You can see real-time bandwidth stats for every server on the NordVPN website (see Servers in the navigation menu at the top).

Obfuscated servers – NordVPN also has a nice lineup of obfuscated servers, which will automatically obfuscate (hide) all VPN traffic to look like regular HTTPS traffic.

Does NordVPN work with Netflix?

Yes. NordVPN continues to work well with Netflix, even though most VPNs are getting blocked by the service.

With NordVPN you can get full access to American Netflix, UK Netflix, and some other regions as well. It is definitely a solid Netflix VPN considering the server selection and good performance.

Below I’m using a NordVPN server in New York to stream Netflix from my location in Europe:

nordvpn netflix
NordVPN works well for streaming Netflix.

You can check Netflix availability for the region you want to use on the NordVPN website.

Is NordVPN good for torrenting?

Yes. NordVPN is an excellent choice for torrenting because it is verified no logs VPN provider and there are zero restrictions on torrenting or P2P downloads.

When torrenting with NordVPN, be sure to enable the kill switch to protect you in case the connection drops. This will ensure your real IP address stays protected and secure. You can also find guides on the NordVPN website showing you how to setup NordVPN with uTorrent and BitTorrent clients.

Does NordVPN use virtual server locations?

For this NordVPN review I also checked a number of different servers to verify the true server location. Some VPNs use what they refer to as “virtual server locations“. One example of this would be a server in Singapore spoofing a location of Sri Lanka. This is easy for VPNs to do because they can declare any location they want for a range of IP addresses they purchase.

To check for virtual server locations, you can simply ping the server from different data centers around the world and triangulate the location.

I tested various NordVPN server locations all around the world and everything checked out. You can get the server URL from the NordVPN website (see Servers from the navigation menu). NordVPN does not appear to be using any virtual server locations.

nordvpn virtual servers
All of NordVPN’s server locations checked out.

All of NordVPN’s servers appear to be in the advertised location (no virtual server locations). This is indeed a benefit for NordVPN users, while some VPNs rely heavily on virtual locations, such as PureVPN, for example.

NordVPN privacy test results

Once again, NordVPN has made some excellent improvements in the areas of privacy and security in the past year. Extensive testing did not find any leaks with the Windows or Mac OS apps.

I tested the Windows and Mac OS clients using the basic VPN tests and checks with the site ipleak.net.

Overall the test results were good for the Windows and Mac OS clients:

  • No IPv4 leaks
  • No IPv6 leaks
  • No DNS leaks

No leaks – here is a test result showing everything working correctly with the NordVPN client (no leaks).

nordvpn webrtc ip leaks
No leaks were found.

You can see in the image above that the NordVPN Netherlands server is providing me with an IPv4 address, blocking IPv6, and handling DNS requests. The WebRTC leak results above are local IP addresses (not leaks).

With the latest update to this review, it is clear that NordVPN has made some great security improvements with its Windows and Mac OS applications.

NordVPN logs

Another important aspect in terms of privacy and security is NordVPN’s logging policy.

In November 2018, NordVPN was audited by a reputable “Big 4” accounting firm to verify and certify NordVPN’s “no logs” policy. Unfortunately, the auditing firm is not allowing for the public release of the results, but existing NordVPN customers can view the report in the NordVPN member’s area.

I obtained a full copy of the report and examined the findings.

  • NordVPN was audited by a reputable (Big 4) accounting firm, which had full access to examine NordVPN’s servers, interview employees, observe operations, as well as inspect configurations, databases, and any other relevant aspect of the VPN service.
  • The audit officially verified NordVPN to be a “no-log service” that remains true to its policies.
  • NordVPN does not store connection logs, IP addresses, traffic logs, or any internet activity information.

While NordVPN does enforce connection limitations (like nearly all VPNs), this does not contradict their policies. Here is a further explanation of NordVPN’s logging policy from their website:

NordVPN strictly keeps no logs of your activity online. That means we do not track the time or duration of any online session, and neither do we keep logs of IP addresses or servers used, websites visited or files downloaded. In other words, none of your private and secure data is logged and gathered at any time. As a result, we are not able to provide any details about your behavior online, even if you request it yourself.

NordVPN is based away from the EU and US jurisdiction and is not required to collect your personal data and information– it means nothing is recorded, monitored, stored, logged or passed to third parties.

Overall, NordVPN is a solid choice if you are looking for a no logs VPN provider that has been verified.

Can you install NordVPN on a router?

If you are looking to use NordVPN on a router, you basically have three different options:

  1. Get a pre-configured router from an outlet such as Sabai Technology or FlashRouters. These will be somewhat expensive, but it will be ready to use with NordVPN right out of the box and pre-configured with the router firmware you need.
  2. Get a VPN-enabled router that can be used with a VPN without any flashing required. The best selection of VPN-enabled routers comes from Asus. Asus offers numerous routers that can be easily loaded with OpenVPN configuration files (from any VPN provider) and be working in just minutes.
  3. Flash your existing router. This can be tricky and dangerous, so you will want to proceed with caution if you go down this route. The degree of difficulty will depend on the router you are using.

Tip – When using NordVPN on a router, connect to the nearest server with the lightest load. Also, be sure to go with a router that has enough CPU to give you the speeds you need.

NordVPN dedicated IP address

NordVPN also gives you the option to get a dedicated IP address. They offer dedicated IP addresses in the following locations:

  • United States (Buffalo, Los Angeles, Dallas) – $70
  • Germany (Frankfurt) – $70
  • United Kingdom (London) – $70
  • Netherlands (Amsterdam) – $70

The cost is for one year access to the dedicated/static IP. Despite the higher cost, NordVPN is among the best VPNs for a static IP. You can purchase a dedicated IP address by contacting NordVPN’s support to arrange the IP location and have them add it to your account.

NordVPN support

In previous NordVPN reviews, I found the support to be somewhat slow (email tickets with delayed responses). Fortunately, they now have full chat support and the representatives are quite helpful.

Live chat is available 24/7 to answer any random questions you may have. Chat support is accessible directly on the NordVPN website in the bottom right corner.

I initiated a few different chat sessions to bring up various issues and questions. It did not take long to connect with a representative (under a minute) and the support team was helpful in answering all my questions.

NordVPN has significantly improved in the support category over the past year.

NordVPN refund

As we discussed above, NordVPN offers a 30 day refund window, which is quite good for the VPN industry.

Here is the exact refund policy copied from the NordVPN website:

If you wish to claim a refund, you can do so within 30 days following your purchase of NordVPN service. We want you to be fully satisfied with our services. However, we will troubleshoot an issue you experience first. There are several nuances to a VPN service configuration and we solve 99% of issues encountered. NordVPN reserves the right to suspend, terminate, or refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason. No refunds will be considered for accounts deleted for violation of our Terms of Service.

There’s nothing too surprising here – every VPN reserves the right to suspend accounts for violations of their terms.

Fast refund – NordVPN was very fast to refund my money after I initiated the request (same day). This is excellent customer service. Although I have heard about NordVPN wanting to troubleshoot issues before processing a refund, I did not experience that myself and I have never heard of a refund being denied.

So is NordVPN recommended?

Absolutely.

NordVPN earns a strong recommendation based on the latest test results for this NordVPN review. It has made huge improvements over the last year, which include:

  • Hundreds of new servers added around the world
  • Faster speeds throughout the server network
  • Great security and privacy features (CyberSec, ad blocking, specialty servers)
  • Better apps with more security (improved kill switch functionality)

 

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