Few VPNs have become as popular for consumers than NordVPN. In the short amount of time since its beginning, the company has gained notoriety for being reliable and completely trustworthy. They have applications for just about any operating system that you can think of, and server speed are among the highest of all paid VPNs. They do many things right, the most important probably being their outstanding customer service. If you’re looking for a VPN to compare to all other VPNs being sold, start with NordVPN first. This article will go in-depth on everything about the company, their software, and all the attributes that come along with its paid subscriptions. Once you’re done, you’ll know exactly if the service is the right tool for your computer or smartphone.
A Little about the Company
NordVPN is very young. Having begun just seven years ago in 2012, the company is headquartered in Panama. It’s unclear who started the company itself, but the website claims that there were four entrepreneurs who each had a hand in its creation. Since that time, they have grown each year, increasing the amount of server on the platform and features that are available to customers. The first operating system that NordVPN was featured on was Android OS, having ventured onto iOS, Mac OS-X, Windows, and Linux since then. Panama has few laws regarding data retention, which was a contributing factor in their server’s location there. They have a great and completely transparent logging policy, along with a customer base that’s continuously growing. Today, NordVPN is ranked among other top-selling choices within the category, and even sponsored by multiple organizations that exist online and offline.
Pricing and Affordability
Nord’s has four primary plans, with the cheapest options not necessarily being the “cheapest,” depending on how long you use the VPN on your devices. This means that you should know how long you plan on using the VPN for before paying for anything. The lowest cost options available is only $2.99 every month, with the highest being for the smallest duration. The $2.99 per month plan covers three years total, but can only be acquired when you pay for that entire period. That means you’ll have to put down $107.55 with this one. Compared to the highest prices one ($11.95), that’s about 75-percent in savings if you were to use the per-month options for the same timespan. This is similar to plan you’ll find with other VPNs of the same type, so you’re not going to find much of a difference between Nord and their competitors. Where you will find a contrast is a price itself. Nord is slightly more expensive than the competition, and may even set you back significantly if you never upgrade to a longer plan. In short, pick Nord if you’re able to get plans that are longer than at least a month.
NordVPN accepts payment in a variety of ways. You can use either Cash (if you’re in tHE USA), Bitcoin, credit/debit, and even AliPay or WeChat.
Cash Payment – Cash is the least likely payment options that you’ll use for NordVPN, but it’s also the most secure and anonymous. If you pay with cash, you won’t have to worry about any information exchanging hands since the transaction will take place almost entirely offline until you put in your key (for proof of payment). Unfortunately, don’t count on doing this if you’re not in the United States. The second best anonymous payment options are with Bitcoin, which you can use to keep your identity unknown provided you’re familiar with Bitcoin mixing. This involves placing your crypto through a web platform that will erase all traces of your coins from the Blockchain. If you didn’t know, Bitcoin can technically be tracked, since all transactions end up on Blockchain. Anonymity is provided by taking away your name from the transaction with the mixer, resulting in your purchases with the “mixed” coins being nameless.
Using a Card – Credit and Debit is probably the easiest way to pay, but also the most vulnerable to identity theft. NordVPN itself is safe to use with cards, but the risk comes along from phishing sites that might fraudulently pose as the VPN. If you’re going to pay for the service this way, do it by using a trusted search engine or typing in the address in the URL manually.
Alipay/WeChat – Alipay and WeChat are good payment options for everyone, especially if you’re located in a country that blocks VPNs. NordVPN is one of the few that can potentially get past such strong blockades as the “Great Firewall of China.”
What about PayPal? – For the time being, NordVPN doesn’t feature PayPal as an alternative payment choice. It once did in the past but discontinued the service due to some users abusing the money-back feature of the exchange website. NordVPN certainly isn’t the only website to do this, but not having PayPal in their lineup could prevent potential customers from beginning a subscription with the service.
Free Trial and Reimbursement
NordVPN’s free trial is a bit different than other VPNs, in the sense that you’re not getting a trial period. Instead, there’s a money-back guarantee that lasts a little over a month. This is a very recent change that the company has undertaken, considering how a few bad apples took advantage of the offer and abused it. Because of this, you should be certain about getting a subscription before you put down anything. The money-back-guarantee is honest, however. If for any reason you don’t enjoy the platform, they will reimburse you. Yet you must use particular payment methods for this to be so, such as Bitcoin. If you paid with credit or debit, your reimbursement would take longer to get to you. So stick to Bitcoin if you think that you’re likely to ask for a refund.
All Protocols and how they Protect You
NordVPN uses OpenVPN by default, which is what you’ll get during a normal installation. There are other protocols available but you likely won’t have to do any switching, unless you’re an advanced user. the second best besides OpenVPN would be IKEv2/IPsec, a good option for those that like speed but similar security features that are similar to OpenVPN. Both of these tunnels through to their destination via AES-256 encryption. Encryption is strong enough to prevent hackers from getting into the signal, which allows your traffic to remain unmonitored from places such as your service provider or fraudulent websites. IKEv2/IPsec is the primary protocol option for Mac OS-X and iOS.
Kill Switch Features
Majority of current paid VPN applications utilize some sort of kill switch feature, which allows your hidden IP address to remain that way. NordVPN has several types of kill switch features added with all of their platforms. But for those most part, it works quickly disabling all incoming and outgoing traffic whenever the connection suddenly disconnects. If this weren’t the case, your programs would attempt to reconnect using your ordinary IP address. The only exception to this is the built-in “kill switch” that already exists with Android. If you have an Android device and wish to activate it, simply toggle the VPN to always be on in the operating system’s Network Settings.
How it Works with Tor and Other Browsers
If you weren’t aware, NordVPN is perfectly safe to use over the Tor Browser. Tor is a Browser that’s operated by Mozilla Firefox that can connect to .onion websites. If you wanted to browse the web in a way that left you as anonymous and your presence as untraceable as possible, Tor would be your best method for connecting to various websites. NordVPN can work over Tor by simply opening up the application as you would before getting on the browser. After that, you would simply go to the destination site that you wish. There’s nothing complicated about connecting to this VPN with Tor at all. Once you’re on a server, everything’s ready to go.
Widgets included with the VPN
The primary widget for NordVPN is the browser extension that can be downloaded from your favorite web browser’s add-ons page. Connecting to one of Nord’s servers using this method is free, but you won’t get the same quality servers that you would with signing up for the paid subscription. Still, it works well if you’re not concerned about anything other than what your browser on the web. You won’t be able to unblock torrent content or even get downloads to starts, considering if your service provider blocks them from your access. If you’re planning on getting the application for your computer or laptop, then this won’t be a necessary download.
Headquarters and Relationship with Host Country
As mentioned earlier, NordVPN is located in Panama and has been since its inception. Panama is far away from the surveillance practices of the five and fourteen eyes locations of North American, Europe, and Australia. These countries form a coalition that routinely conducts surveillance on businesses and organizations that are within their respective jurisdictions, and sometimes beyond. Since Nord doesn’t count itself as a VPN that has to concern themselves with this, you’re ensured to maintain complete anonymity from the Panamanian government, and Nord itself if you wish.
Server Number and Quality
NordVPN has about 5700 servers that are spread out to approximately 59 countries. The numbers could grow higher or lower with every month, but this is the average for the current period. A good majority of the servers are in North America and the European Union, although there’s also a good portion of them based in Asia/Pacific as well. Other regions are also covered, including multiple regions within Africa and South America. Still, your server choices probably won’t change much but you shouldn’t have anything to worry over if the server you’re looking for isn’t based somewhere that isn’t normally used.
Testing Its Speed
Speeds tests are a great way to determine if your VPN is good enough for the connection you’re using. You could either test it out yourself or see how it gauges for other users. When running through a standard speed test, Nord VPN has an average download speed of about 86 megabytes per second on a high-speed broadband connection. As expected, uploads are a little bit lower, coming in at 65 megabytes per second. Pings or the latency of a connection (the delay time) ranks at about 13 milliseconds. Keep in mind that this is measured with a very high-speed connection that averages higher than 400 Mbps with no VPN at all. So Nord should function at about half the speed at which you’re used to.
Streaming Netflix and Other Music/Video Websites
If your purpose for getting a VPN for entertainment purposes, you’re in luck. NordVPN is one of the most reliable for streaming movies online in high definitely resolution. There are no servers that are specifically built for streaming content, but you won’t need that, to begin with. On their website, Nord recommends that users connect to a server that’s closest to their home location when streaming content. Yet this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re in a country away from the United States or the EU. Many people that live outside of these regions prefer the US/EU versions of Hulu, Netflix, etc. If you’re in this category, you should be able to get through with long distance servers but might experience the occasional skip if you’re connection speed isn’t very high.
File Sharing and Torrent Compatibility
NordVPN uses protocols that feature UDP and TCP, which are ports that can encrypt traffic that comes through from torrent clients. If this wasn’t added, then you would likely remain blocked from file-sharing content. When you connect to a server with Nord and wish to download and/or share files, simply go to the website or client of your choosing, using magnet links or direct download to access the torrent itself. Metadata is found quickly, and your files will go up and down at speeds that could easily top the average of your speed test. Other file-sharing apps that exist for sharing music will also work with Nord, so the possibilities with what you can get on your computer are endless.
How it Performs with DNS Leaks
When you download and install NordVPN, your DNS servers will go through the company’s dedicated addresses. This all but ensures that none of your personal information every makes it into the hands of outside sources as you handle business on the web. But to check things out for yourself, you could always perform your very own DNS leak test online. Nord has been tested countless times by a multitude of tech sites, with the majority of them showing good result for Nord. DNS leaks are something that can plague even other VPNs that Nord competes with.
User Agreement and Logging Policy
NordVPN lays bare their logging policy in the terms of service that’s listed on their website. The best thing about it is how simple it is to understand and read. There is no hidden meaning behind anything that is said in the agreement. No logging exists at all, or at least for the most part. Nord has even attempted to tell their customers the truth about logging, and the way it works. Logging is something that all VPNs rely on in some fashion. The major difference is the type of data taken, and what’s done with it afterward. For a trusted company like Nord, this could involve ordinary analytics that monitors traffic that comes in and out of their website or simply security features that will alert the VPN when too many devices are using one account.
Customer Service and How to Contact
NordVPN excels with customer service, and will generally respond to open inquiries quickly with few delays. You can contact them through live chat support or via email with a support ticket. The tickets are issues after your message is sent on the website. To send a question or concern, you will have to give out your email address to the Nord, so be careful with this if you aim to stay completely anonymous from the company itself (such as those that may have purchased their subscription using a cryptocurrency or cash payment). For all else involving interactions with their representatives, they’re complimented as nice, polite, and easy to talk with and explain situations too. Nord does a good job of making their customers feel special and never ignored.
Compatible Operating Systems
If you have either Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS, NordVPN will work of them. You can download the application from the store applications that exist on the mobile versions. On a computer, simply go to the Nord’s website and get it from there. Of course, you’ll have to purchase a subscription to the service before you’re allowed to download anything. Since Nord has no real trial, is sort of eliminates the worry of having to remember when a free period will expire. If you’re going to be using the VPN on multiple platforms, remember to download it for each device you anticipate using it on so that you won’t have to worry about it later. When that’s done, you should be able to log into your account without any issues. If you go over the number of devices that are allowed, then you’ll be given a notification about it. Try using a router if the number given isn’t enough for you; most computer and smartphones are compatible with VPN routers.
Number of Devices that can Be Used with One Account
With NordVPN, you can use up to six devices with a single account. If you need more, you’ll have to either purchase an additional account or set up the VPN on a compatible router. If you chose the latter option, Nord has a tutorial on their website that will show you recommended routers and what to do when you’re ready to place in on. But six should suffice for most customers, although there are brands out there that offer a higher count of devices than Nord. If you were to purchase a subscription from your smartphone, be sure that you don’t mistakenly get the version that’s specifically for mobile devices. If you do so, you won’t be able to use it on your other devices. But it’s not hard to miss, and Nord will walk you through the payment steps by carefully showing what you’ll get with the brand at the time of checkout.
How it Stacks Up against the Competition
NordVPN is considered one of the best of the best VPNs. That means competition is fierce since so many like it must be compared to the service. ExpressVPN is one that’s about the same, at least feature-wise. Both services have superb server speeds, great customer service, and can be downloaded with numerous platforms. One big difference with them is server count. Nord has more than Express does, but about the same amount of countries. Additionally, Express has a great free trial that lasts a week, while there’s nothing with Nord except a money-back guarantee. With Express, you also won’t have to provide any payment details when you’re ready to start the trial; simply download the application and use it until the timer expires. In this sense, Express has the advantage but is equal to Nord in most other aspects. You would do well with either service.
Pros and Cons
The bulleted list below shows the major advantages and disadvantages of NordVPN. Some of them have been described already, but you’ll get all the main points in one easy-to-scan-through log.
- Surprisingly, not the most Expensive VPN Around – After looking around at various VPNs that are similar to Nord, you’ll quickly find out that its plans aren’t the priciest that you’re going to see. Nord has low-cost options available and can be subscribed to with a monthly plan that’s less than twelve dollars (monthly).
- Puts in a Lot of Effort to make aid Customers during Chat/Email – The two choices that customers have for contacting Nord may not seem like much, but the combination of live chat support and email and better than some of the rest of the VPNs out there. They’re prompt, reply quickly, and are very informative about their product. Whatever problems you might be having can be settled with someone on the other end.
- Virtually all Servers will unblock Netflix – You won’t find a single server that doesn’t have Netflix support. That’s great news and will keep you from having to sort through what’s listed until you found one, unlike some of its rivals. The same applies to other alternative streaming sites such as Hulu and Amazon.
- Up to Six Devices can be Used Per Account – Six devices per account is enough to have a medium-sized household connected to Nord’s VPN servers. And if that isn’t enough, router support is easy to set up with the platform. Nord will walk you through all the steps that are needed to get you online either way.
- Fast Connection Times – Sign in and server connectivity will happen fast, and that goes for ISPs that are less than broadband speed. No matter if you’re on a smartphone or personal computer, getting through to a server will never leave you feeling impatient.
- Based in a Safe Country – Since Panama is where NordVPN calls home, you’re getting a service that is totally outside of the control of what larger superpowers have been capable of doing. But even if Panama were to create any laws relevant to data retention, the platform never secretly collects any of your browsing info; while this is a hypothetical situation, there would be little for them to turn over in the first place.
- Has recently Canceled their Free Trial Period – Within the last few months, Nord announced that they were ending their free trial period, blaming people that were attempting to cheat the VPN out of a plan by extending the free period. There’s no reason to believe that this is false, but it would have been nicer if Nord didn’t give away such a privilege to the rest of the honest people out there.
- While not the most expensive, not the Cheapest Option Either – NordVPN has prices that could win the approval of someone that’s not looking to spend a small fortune on a VPN, but might not be the best choice for anyone that places price first on their list of importance when subscribing to applications. Finding comparative brands with significantly cheaper plans isn’t hard to do, and many of them offer discounts to steer potential customers away from Nord for this reason.
Overall, NordVPN remains a popular VPN choice for first-time buyers and long-term VPN users alike. If you’re the kind of shopper that doesn’t want to shop around for too long. You should put it high on your choice of possible services that you may end up with. Be mindful when you do so since Nord doesn’t have a free trial period. But there’s enough good press and reviews out there for anyone to see just how great a VPN Nord is, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s the kind of platform to which many other paid VPNs are compared. Anyhow, try it out when you’re ready, and allow Nord to protect you from the places that you visit online!