A VPN can secure your internet traffic from ISP snooping while also making it far more difficult for spies and advertising to track you online. On top of that fundamental protection, NordVPN, unlike most VPN services, delivers a little bit of everything. It boasts a big and diverse collection of servers, as well as a formidable arsenal of rarely seen tools and stringent privacy and security policies. It also makes use of the most up-to-date WireGuard technology. Despite its premium price, it continues to impress, earning our Editors’ Choice award.
- WireGuard VPN technology is used
- Tor connections, multi-hop tunneling, and split tunneling
- There are numerous server locations
- Customer privacy is taken seriously
- Simple to use
- Interface can be a little tight at times
|Simultaneous VPN Connections||6|
|Server Locations||59 Countries|
|Geographically Diverse Servers||Yes|
|Free Version Data Limit||No Free Version|
How much does NordVPN set you back?
NordVPN is priced at $11.95 per month or $99 per year. The yearly plan is listed at a discounted rate of $59, however when your subscription is up for renewal, you’ll be charged $99 instead. Other plans with varying introductory rates are occasionally available from NordVPN. For example, you may presently get a $99 two-year subscription that will automatically renew as a $99 annual subscription when it expires. We’re not supporters of increases that are hidden in the fine print.
Credit cards, numerous anonymous cryptocurrencies, PayPal, and other online payment options are also accepted. VPN providers frequently run promotions, so when you go to check out, you might notice a different price. The average cost of a VPN service we’ve researched is around $10.05 per month and $69.10 per year as of this writing. As a result, NordVPN is on the expensive side.
Although it may be tempting, we advise against committing to long-term plans right away. Instead, try the VPN in your home setting with a free version or a short-term subscription. While other free VPNs have limitations, ProtonVPN is the only one we’ve tested that doesn’t restrict how much data free users may use. NordVPN has stopped offering a free trial because scammers were taking advantage of it.
You can definitely get a good VPN service for a lower price. Editors’ Choice winner Mullvad VPN, for example, costs 5EU ($5.73 USD at the time of writing) per month, while top selection ProtonVPN costs $10 per month and offers all of the same features (though with fewer servers). Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN and Ivacy VPN have the lowest annual fees of any non-free VPN we’ve tested, at $29.99 per year.
What Kind of Value Do You Get for Your Money?
You may use NordVPN on up to six devices at the same time for $11.95 per month. Most VPN providers also limit you to five simultaneous connections, however this is changing. An unlimited number of devices can connect simultaneously with Avira Phantom VPN, IPVanish VPN, Editors’ Choice winner Surfshark VPN, and Windscribe VPN.
Only one subscription add-on is available from NordVPN: static IP addresses for $5.83 per month ($69.96 per year). You have the option of selecting a location in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, or the United States. If you connect to the same region on a regular basis, a static IP address may assist prevent your VPN connection from being blocked.
One of NordVPN’s best features is the number of extra tools it offers for enhancing your privacy. The only three VPNs we’ve tested that enable direct access to the Tor anonymization network are NordVPN, ProtonVPN, and VPNArea. This makes it considerably more difficult to trace your connection and allows you to visit secret websites at far slower rates. Tor, on the other hand, is available for free.
Multi-hop connections are also supported by NordVPN, which it refers to as Double VPN. Instead of using just one VPN server, your connection is routed across two. That manner, even if one leg of the connection is compromised, the rest of the connection will remain safe.
Split tunneling is a new feature for NordVPN. This allows you to choose which apps’ traffic goes over the VPN connection and which ones don’t. With this functionality, NordVPN takes an innovative approach, allowing you to need or disallow VPN connections for apps. Split tunneling, Tor access via VPN server, and multi-hop connections are among the few features offered by NordVPN and ProtonVPN.
Many VPN providers, including NordVPN, have begun to expand their services beyond VPN protection. You may secure your passwords with the NordPass password manager for a charge. You can also use NordLocker to encrypt your files.
Dark Web Monitor is a feature that searches for dark web repositories that sell stolen login credentials. If NordVPN detects a hit, you will be notified and given the option to change your password on the affected service. Dark Web Monitor is now only accessible on iOS, but we’ve been promised that it will be available on other platforms soon. The Dark Web Monitor only searches for credentials linked to the email address you used to sign up with NordVPN, limiting the extent of this security. We’re excited to put this feature to the test in the future.
NordVPN supports Linux in addition to the platforms covered in this review. Some routers can also be set up to connect to NordVPN. This ensures that all devices on your network, including smart home gadgets that can’t run a VPN on their own, are protected.
A VPN, while useful, cannot protect you from all threats. We strongly advise utilizing two-factor authentication whenever possible, using a password manager to create complicated and unique passwords for each site and service, and installing antivirus software.
NordVPN Supports Which VPN Protocols?
NordVPN’s Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows apps all employ NordLynx (a WireGuard implementation) by default. As a backup, OpenVPN is available on all of those platforms. IKEv2 is only accessible as an iOS and macOS app.
The gold standards for VPNs have long been OpenVPN and IKEv2, but WireGuard is becoming more popular. It’s easy to see why: WireGuard is open source, just like OpenVPN, but it uses modern encryption algorithms and provides faster speeds.
Servers and Locations for NordVPN
The majority of NordVPN’s servers are located in the United States and the United Kingdom, which is typical of VPN providers. NordVPN, on the other hand, offers a diverse set of servers around the world, with many in Asia, South America, and Europe, as well as a few in India and the Middle East. Currently, the firm only has one location in Africa (South Africa), a continent that is mostly disregarded by other VPN providers.
NordVPN, for example, has servers in Hong Kong, Turkey, and Vietnam, all of which have internet restrictions. Because the consequences of getting it wrong are simply too high, we don’t provide a specific suggestion for a VPN to evade government restrictions.
NordVPN has a total of 5,600 servers, but CyberGhost has a network of 7,500 servers, which puts it ahead of the pack. More servers may not always imply greater service, but having a variety of options is always beneficial. You’ll be more likely to discover one near you, and the one you do find will be less likely to be overcrowded.
In terms of hardware, NordVPN recently installed additional 10Gbps servers to its network, which replaced several 1Gbps equipment. This endeavor, according to the business, will help handle the increase in data that will occur as 5G service becomes more widely available. We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
Virtual servers and virtual locations are a common topic while counting VPN fleets. Virtual servers are software-defined servers that can be hosted on a single system in several configurations. A virtual server is one that is configured to appear in a location other than its physical location. Both aren’t intrinsically bad, but we’d rather companies be open about their infrastructure. According to a NordVPN official, all of the company’s servers are dedicated and there are no virtual locations. That suggests the servers are physically located where they say they are, which is exactly what we’re looking for.
NordVPN is trying to co-locate all of its servers, implying that it will eventually own all of its physical infrastructure. In Finland, the first of its totally owned server clusters recently went live. Other firms have servers of their own, but none are as massive as NordVPN.
In addition, the organization just completed a migration to diskless servers. This is a tamper-resistant measure; nothing is written to disk, therefore seizing the servers will yield nothing. This method is also used by ExpressVPN and a few other companies.
With NordVPN, you can protect your privacy.
NordVPN is based in Panama and operates there (the firm also has operations worldwide), where there are no rules requiring the company to keep data for a specific amount of time. If it is subpoenaed, the company claims it will only comply to a court order or subpoena issued by a Panamanian court.
On its website, NordVPN makes it difficult to uncover information about its parent firm or corporate leadership. It is owned by nordvpn s.a., according to a corporate spokeswoman (formerly Tefincom S.A.). NordVPN does not publish transparency reports about law enforcement demands for information, but it does keep a warrant canary that indicates whether or not it has received any National Security letters, gag orders, or government-issued warrants.
NordVPN announced its merger with Editors’ Choice winner Surfshark VPN on February 2, 2022. According to a joint press release, the new partnership will allow the two companies to produce better goods and focus on distinct market sectors. According to the press announcement, “both companies will continue to operate independently and rely on separate infrastructure and product roadmaps.” This was not an acquisition, but a merger, according to us Cyberspace, a holding company based in the Netherlands, will be the owner of both enterprises.
NordVPN clarified its position on responding to law enforcement requests in a blog post in 2022. When we contacted NordVPN, the company reiterated their position that they are unable to log user activity. To do so, NordVPN would have to reorganize its infrastructure, something the firm claims is exceedingly unlikely. Instead than making extravagant promises that are just unrealistic, we hope that all VPNs use less bombastic marketing.
Beyond the Breach
In October of this year, it was discovered that an attacker had gained remote access to one of NordVPN’s servers. According to NordVPN, there is no evidence that the attacker obtained anything of value. In a feature article about the breach, we go into much more detail about the attack and its consequences. Since then, the company has spent a lot of effort and money protecting its systems and operations, including switching to its own server clusters and diskless servers.
The VPN Trust Initiative is a trade organisation formed by NordVPN and many other VPN providers. The Initiative’s goal, among other things, is to establish industry standards, providing some clarity to an otherwise hazy world. We’re excited to see what this organization accomplishes, but so far it’s been mainly silent. NordVPN has also been given its own advisory board.
NordVPN has also launched a bug-bounty program, rewarding researchers who uncover faults in its system with cash. Instead of vulnerabilities being weaponized, these projects try to create a stronger incentive for finding and correcting problems. NordVPN revealed in a press statement in October 2021 that it had increased its top compensation for significant vulnerabilities to $50,000 or more, further incentivizing ethical disclosures. That’s a good thing, since there’s a lot of pressure to exploit or sell new flaws.
Since 2018, PriceWaterhouseCoopers has undertaken two audits of NordVPN. It included a thorough examination of NordVPN’s server infrastructure, concluding that the firm was really adhering to its claims of not logging user data or information. The results of multiple VerSprite penetration testing audits on NordVPN’s client software have also been revealed. NordVPN stated in a press release that no significant vulnerabilities were discovered and that less serious issues were fixed. Audits are flawed instruments, but they do provide a level of accountability that we value.
In-Depth Look at NordVPN for Windows
We utilized an Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon) running the latest version of Windows 10 to test NordVPN on Windows, but the app is fantastic regardless of platform. With a monochrome blue map as its focal point, the Windows client stylistically mimics the NordVPN mobile apps. It’s a little wacky, with submarines and ships sailing across cartoon oceans, but it’s a quick method to find the server you want. It’s more polished than TunnelBear, for example, however TunnelBear has a charm that NordVPN lacks.
NordVPN’s interface strikes a good balance between fine-grained management and set-and-forget convenience. If your geography abilities are as weak as mine, you can change servers by clicking a location on the map or using the search box at the top of the screen. You have the option of connecting to the fastest server, the fastest server in a specified country, or even a specific server. The software displays the load on each and directs you to the least loaded choice. This is useful for disguising your location and allowing you to search for a server that has been blocked. Our only quibble? Everything is controlled by a succession of little drop-down menus. To spare our eyes, I’d want the app to take up some extra real estate.
Should your computer get unplugged from the VPN, the NordVPN app Kill Switch disables internet access for certain programs. This is a good precaution to take.
The ability to stop your connection is another useful function. This disconnects you from the VPN and reconnects you after a specified interval. There are times when disconnecting the VPN is the only choice, and the pause option saves you the trouble of having to remember to reconnect.
NordVPN also offers CyberSec, which is designed to combat fraudulent websites, advertisements, and botnet control. This amounts to a DNS block list, according to NordVPN’s website, albeit we have not tested the usefulness of these capabilities.
Netflix is known for preventing VPN access, but a new trend has surfaced in which the company does not block VPN connection outright, instead restricting visitors to Netflix Original programming. This is most likely due to the fact that a VPN can be used to fake locations and access content that is only available in certain geographic areas. We were only able to watch Netflix Originals while connected to a US server when we tried NordVPN. That’s remarkable, given that in prior tests, we were able to access licensed Netflix shows from Canada and the United Kingdom. However, the fight between Netflix and VPNs is still going on, and the results can fluctuate from day to day.
One issue to be concerned about is whether your VPN is leaking your genuine IP address or DNS information. NordVPN successfully changed our IP address and obscured our ISP information during our testing. According to the DNS leak test program, the server to which we were connected did not leak our DNS information.
Performance and Speed
|Download ▼||Upload ▼||Latency ▼|
|Private Internet Access VPN||10.92%||19.39%||30.73%|
|Hotspot Shield VPN||31.34%||60.02%||42.86%|
|KeepSolid VPN Unlimited||53.34%||45.80%||52.32%|
When you use a VPN, it will slow down your web browsing. We used the Ookla Speedtest tool to run a series of performance tests to see how much of an impact a VPN makes. In our article on How We Test VPNs, we explain our technique.
We discovered that NordVPN lowered download speed test results by 28.7% and upload speed test results by 24.2 percent in 2021. It had no visible effect on latency, which is likely due to its vast number of servers.
In previous years, we tested VPNs in rapid succession in order to determine which VPN was the fastest. Because of limited access to our Labs testing facility owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re employing a rolling model this year to give more up-to-date results. We’re all working from home more these days, just like so many other individuals. The most recent results are shown in the graph below.
Our post on the fastest VPNs has a detailed explanation of our speed test results. However, speed should not be the sole consideration when selecting a VPN. More crucial variables are value, convenience of use, and a dedication to privacy. NordVPN, on the other hand, believes that evaluating VPN speeds is critical and has made an open-source tool available for anybody to use. We don’t agree with all of NordVPN’s speed testing viewpoints and prefer a more realistic approach. However, the industry desperately needs work like this to standardize and de-mystify VPN ratings, and we appreciate the effort.
NordVPN for MacOS in Action
We utilized a MacBook Air (M1, 2020) with OS Big Sur version 11.2.2 to test NordVPN’s macOS VPN client, and the app worked nicely. The MacOS app’s colorful map is identical to the mobile version, but it has a light background instead of a black one.
The macOS client for NordVPN is remarkable for its simplicity. You may Quick Connect to any of NordVPN’s many servers across the world after logging in and agreeing to allow access to your Apple Keychain. If you want greater control over your experience, navigate through the list of countries on the left side of the app window, select a nation, and a drop-down menu will appear, displaying a list of all the servers in that country. It’s simpler to simply select a location on the map and connect to the VPN server situated there, but the macOS version’s server selection is beneficial. That is not the case with the iPhone app, which we are now evaluating.
The macOS software does not appear to leak your genuine DNS information like the iOS version does. By visiting the DNS Leak Test site and utilizing their Extended Test tool on a server in Sweden, we were able to rule out any leaks.
With the two servers we tested, the speed and performance were both superb. We were able to browse Weverse and watch BTS videos and other stuff without experiencing any issues. The movies loaded a little slower than on our home connection, but we noticed little to no difference in our internet experience when we used NordVPN for macOS.
NordVPN for iPhone in Action
Like the Windows version, NordVPN’s iPhone app features blue and green aesthetic elements as well as a humorous global map. When the VPN is offline, the app displays a dark header; when the VPN is connected, the app displays a brilliant green header. The iOS version of the service doesn’t allow you as much choice over which server you can use as the Windows version, but it does do rid of the tiny drop-down menus. Simply select a country, and NordVPN will locate the quickest server for you.
Choose your VPN protocol, find auto-connect options, and set up your VPN profile from the Settings menu. There’s also a “Tools” menu with an ad and malware blocker, a “Dark Web Monitor” that warns you whether information relating to your email address has been exposed on the Dark Web, and Siri shortcuts for connecting and disconnecting with your voice.
We tested for DNS leaks using two distinct VPN servers, one in Denmark and the other in the United States, and neither server caused DNS leaks, according to DNSLeakTest.com. Apart from requiring a few seconds to find a server, we found NordVPN’s speed to be good. While connected to a server in Denmark, we were able to stream YouTube videos without any disruptions or lagging.
Dark Web Monitor, a function that analyzes dark web repositories that deal in stolen login information, was just released by NordVPN. Data monitoring programs like Google’s Password Checkup tool and Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor are similar. If NordVPN detects a hit, you will be notified and given the option to change your password on the affected service. Dark Web Monitor is now only accessible on iOS, but we’ve been promised that it will be available on other platforms soon. The Dark Web Monitor only searches for credentials linked to the email address you used to sign up with NordVPN, limiting the extent of this security. When we put on the Dark Web Monitor, it did actually show us instances when compromised data dumps contained personal usernames or passwords.
NordVPN for Android in Action
When the VPN is disconnected, the NordVPN Android app displays a grey header, and when the VPN is connected, it displays a bright green header. When it comes to functionality, NordVPN really stands out. Split-tunneling, a Kill Switch, tapjacking protection, the Dark Web Monitor, and the ability to establish a custom DNS setup are all included in the Android version of the app.
When it comes to servers, the Android app allows you a little more flexibility than the iPhone app, but not as much as the Windows one. There is no list of servers to pick from, but you can choose the city where your VPN server is situated. NordVPN will link you to the city’s fastest server.
We used the DNS Leak Test Tool to check for DNS leaks on a Samsung A71 5G running Android 10 while connected to a VPN server in Melbourne, Australia. Our DNS information was not leaked by the server, and our genuine IP address was effectively hidden.
We were able to view YouTube videos and stream live video from Twitch.tv while connected to the Melbourne server, although both sites took a few seconds to open, and the video was pixelated and of poor quality. However, given the distances involved, this makes perfect sense.
Chrome OS and NordVPN
On a Dell Chrome 3100 with an Intel Celeron Processor, we installed the NordVPN Android app for Chrome OS. On Chrome OS, NordVPN is a full-featured VPN client with a multi-factor authentication option for its users. On startup, the app evaluates clients’ security scores and takes them through activating various app features to improve their security.
Split tunneling, a Kill Switch, a Dark Web Monitor, and Threat Protection, which prevents harmful websites, are among the features. The software also has tap jacking prevention, which alerts users when an app employs a screen overlay to deceive you into doing something you don’t want to do, like clicking on a malicious link.
A Fantastic VPN
NordVPN is up against some of the toughest competitors the industry has ever seen. Editors’ Choice winners Mullvad VPN and IVPN offer significantly lower prices than NordVPN, while ProtonVPN offers all of the same features for less. TunnelBear VPN features the most friendly VPN we’ve observed, and Surfshark VPN does not limit the amount of simultaneous connections.
NordVPN’s strength has always been that it combines all of the competition’s best features into a one package. It has a massive fleet of servers all around the world, and it does it while maintaining a high level of user experience. The company is also reaping the benefits of incorporating new technology like WireGuard into its core products. Despite this, NordVPN continues to be an outstanding product and an Editors’ Choice winner.
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