What is NordVPN?
Is NordVPN the best VPN for you if you want complete privacy and anonymity online?
When looking for the best VPN service to use online, you might sometimes get frustrated by all the marketing gimmicks that goes on.
Every VPN service claims to be offering the best speeds and privacy online…
NordVPN has also not been left behind in these hyphy marketing strategies.
But is it up to task… does NordVPN deliver on its marketing promises, especially in terms of complete privacy and anonymity online?
After using this VPN service for 2 years, I decided to write this NordVPN review in 2020 to provide you with all you need to know about NordVPN.
We’ll cover all the NordVPN pros and cons.
In this review, we’ll not only look at the positives of NordVPN but also the negative sides that I experienced so that you can make your decision.
Here is a quick summary of what I found out about NordVPN.
NordVPN is a very secure and fast VPN based in Panama. It allows flawless torrenting and is the best VPN for unblocking Netflix in the US.
You also get military grade security and encryption with a strict no logs policy as it’s based in Panama, a country with no user logs requirement for VPNs.
|Streaming||Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iPlayer|
|Free trial||On AppStore & PlayStore|
Here is a detailed NordVPN review of these features.
- Server Collection
- Streaming: Does NordVPN support Netflix?
- Speed: Is NordVPN fast enough?
- Torrenting: Does NordVPN allow torrenting?
- What about the No Logs policy?
- Encryption and Data Protection
- Security Features
- Does NordVPN work in China?
- Payment Options
- Refund Policy
- Multiple Devices
- Jurisdiction and Location
To begin with, how many servers does NordVPN have?
As of the time of writing this NordVPN review in 2020, NordVPN has a total of 5,200 servers spread over 59 countries.
This also translates to 5,200 unique IP addresses.
Because these servers are spread over different geographical locations, NordVPN will automatically choose the best server for you based on proximity, server loads and usage needs.
However, you can also manually select your own server from the application user interface.
Streaming: Does NordVPN support Netflix?
If your primary purpose of buying a VPN is to be able to stream your favorite Netflix shows outside your country then this is a very important feature.
Online streaming services like Netflix offer georestricted content.
So they have been on a crackdown on VPN IPs that tend to bypass these restrictions and that’s why many VPNs have a problem unblocking Netflix.
However, this is the area where NordVPN impressed me the most.
With NordVPN I was able to unblock and stream my favorite Netflix shows in the US, UK, Canada, France, Japan and Brazil.
Once you download and install NordVPN, it comes automatically with a SmartPlay feature that will enable you to stream Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer among others.
So when using NordVPN, you’ll bid goodbye to those annoying Netflix proxy server errors.
Also, while other VPN providers I tested were able to unblock Netflix too, they were not able to unblock it in all these countries at once.
Usually in just one or two regions.
Speed: Is NordVPN fast enough?
When thinking about using a VPN, speed is usually top of your list of questions.
This is also something that bothered me a lot before I bought my first VPN.
I tested NordVPN speeds by connecting to three different servers based in the USA, UK and Hong Kong.
Here is what I found out…
Before connecting to NordVPN, I tested my speeds and I had 23.62Mbps downloads and 3.75Mbps upload speeds respectively.
On connecting to the US based server, my download speed dropped significantly to 15.34Mbps while my upload increased to 5.83Mbps.
Did the UK server do any better?
Absolutely… While there was a drop still, the UK server only dropped to 19.35Mbps download and maintained a 5.66Mbps upload.
And the Hong Kong server?
Well, I was amazed. I was able to keep 100% of my original download speeds with the Hong Kong server while my upload speed also increased to 5.41Mbps.
Clearly, the USA based server didn’t perform that great.
In fact, I was almost going to categorize NordVPN as an average speed vpn… if not for the UK and HK servers that did wow me.
Both servers maintained over 80% of my original connection speed and 80% is my benchmark for a fast vpn connection speed.
For me that’s good enough.
Two things about speed with NordVPN though…
First the further the server is away from you, the slower the browsing speeds get.
Secondly, automatic server selection by the app prefers server load over performance, so for better speeds select your server manually.
Torrenting: Does NordVPN allow torrenting?
Will you be able to use NordVPN for file sharing through torrents?
Let’s leave the question of whether this is legal or not for another day.
I just wanna know… can NordVPN do it for me?
NordVPN has P2P servers that allow flawless peer to peer file sharing and torrenting.
While not all NordVPN servers support torrenting, there is a hooping collection of 4,600 servers based in 46 different countries specifically tailored for torrents that allow you to torrent with your favorite torrenting client.
In order to access these P2P servers for torrents, you’ll need to manually tap on the P2P setting in your app interface and choose your server.
As if that’s not enough, NordVPN offers you SOCKS5 proxies that you can use to set up your torrent client for faster speeds.
Based on my experience while writing this NordVPN review, NordVPN offers great torrenting with consistent speeds and safety.
What about the No Logs policy?
One of the main reasons anyone, or rather most people, jump onto the VPN bandwagon is to be able to hide their online activity from either the government or ISPs.
This is because your history of internet usage, like banking, medical history etc, can easily be used against you someday… even if you think you have nothing to hide.
So for me, a VPN that still logs my usage stats is not worth my money.
NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy that promises to keep no data of your internet usage.
This means that there are no logs of your connection timestamps, IP addresses or traffic data.
So by using NordVPN, your online activity and logs are completely private.
To make this even more interesting, NordVPN accepts payments for your subscription via multiple cryptocurrencies which helps you ensure you leave no trace of who you really are.
However, if you pay with a credit card they will keep your payment data.
NordVPN will also keep your email address… of course you need it to log into your apps and use the server.
You can also mitigate this by using a separate email address from your main one.
Keeping email and payment data is something all other VPN services do and I don’t think it’s something you should worry about.
However, in order to NordVPN to keep track of your simultaneous connected devices, they will log your username and the timestamp of your last connection.
This data is wiped 15 minutes after every session is terminated.
So if you are, stop… there’s no problem with that. Or use anonymous email and some bitcoins.
Encryption and Data Protection
Your internet usage data is always tracked by ISPs and can be sold to third party agencies for advertising purposes.
Not to forget that the government can always ask for this information anytime they feel like it through a court order.
Hackers always want a portion of the drama too through packet sniffing tools.
By using a VPN, you ensure that your internet is encrypted point to point and none of this information can be hijacked and decrypted.
NordVPN uses military grade encryption that ensures your internet connection is completely encrypted, private and bulletproof to hacking.
This encryption that NordVPN uses not only ensures that your data is protected, but your IP address and exact location is entirely private.
It achieves this by using an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys recommended by NSA for securing any sensitive top secret information.
NordVPN provides two encryption protocols, the IKEv2/IPsec protocol which is the default for iOS and macOS apps, together with OpenVPN which is the default for Windows, macOS, and Android apps.
These two encryption protocols are all you need for flawless encryption.
Apart from encryption what other safety features does NordVPN have that make it stand out as one the best VPNs for privacy online?
Well, here are additional features that come with every NordVPN app for security.
CyberSec is a feature that comes with all NordVPN apps.
It is by default turned off, but you can toggle it on and off as you please or when you deem necessary.
With CyberSec turned on, you are protected against intrusive ads, malware, phishing attempts and other cyber threats.
So you’ll be able to avoid those annoying pop ups and enjoy ad free browsing.
CyberSec will also protect you from DDoS attacks, even if your device is already infected, by immediately eliminating any connection and communication between your device and the botnet server.
Do you still need extra security from NordVPN?
Well, NordVPN can offer you more security through double encryption by sending your information through two secure VPN servers.
How does this work?
Once you turn on the double VPN feature, your traffic passes through the first remove server to be encrypted after which it passes through a second VPN server to encrypted again before it reaches your final destination.
This double encryption ensures increased security and protection of your IP address and traffic.
It is important to note, however, that this double encryption might take a hit on your connection speeds a little bit.
So for normal browsing, streaming or torrenting you wouldn’t need to turn it on.
But if you are curious about adding an additional layer of security then turn it on as it will offer more protection for your communication and information.
In almost all instances, IP addresses given by VPNs are shared.
This means that more than one person is always using the same IP address at any given time.
What if you need an IP address solely for your use?
NordVPN offers a dedicated servers feature that enables you to select an IP address that is unique to you.
This is especially important if you need a static IP address for banking or similar purposes.
So you’ll get an IP address that is only available to you and is not shared by any other NordVPN user for a more secure browsing experience.
Are you located in a country with heavy online censorship and restrictions?
In some countries internet access or access to certain services or websites are blocked by the government.
So, how do you circumvent this firewall if you need to access these websites?
NordVPN has obfuscated servers that will enable you to bypass these restrictions and firewalls and access these online content or websites.
If you want to load information from a location with restricted internet access, simply use one of NordVPN obfuscated servers and you are good to go.
Using a VPN for securely browsing the internet is great.
But the party only lasts as long as your remain connected to the VPN servers.
What happens when all over sudden, you connection drops and your VPN server disconnects for a few seconds?
Your real IP address is leaked!
That is why a kill switch is a must have for any serious VPN service provider.
A kill switch will ensure that all your internet connection for your entire device is halted when the VPN disconnects from the server.
NordVPN has a very powerful kill switch feature, that when activated blocks your device from access the web anytime your internet connection drops.
You will stay disconnected until your internet connection is back and the VPN reconnects or you manually toggle back the setting to OFF from your VPN application interface.
To make this even more interesting…
NordVPN offers you two versions of the kill switch.
The first one where your entire internet connection is blocked when a connection drops and a second one where you specify a connection cut only for specific applications.
IPv6 leaks, DNS leaks and WebRTC leaks tests
I tested NordVPN for pissible leaks in IPv6, DNS and WebRTC using ipleak.net and here is what I found out.
In all the cases that I tested, NordVPN did no leak my IPv6 address… instead all my communication was routed through a secure IPv4 address.
All DNS queries are also run through NordVPN proprietary DNS servers so I did not experience any leaks.
This means all browsing with NordVPN is secure and no third party can know the sites you visit.
Tor over VPN
TOR, which refers to the onion router, is an internet browser that enables you to browse the internet anonymously by hiding your identity.
Even so, the entry node to the TOR can always still see your real IP address.
This NordVPN review in 2020 wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that NordVPN has a Onion over VPN feature that combines the power of the Tor browser with a secure VPN channel.
So by activating the Onion over VPN feature in NordVPN you ensure that even the entry node can’t see your real IP while browsing using the Tor browser.
Onion over Tor ensures that you achieve completely anonymity online because NordVPN will hide the fact that you are using the Tor browser from other third parties as well as not logging your usage.
Does NordVPN work in China?
Just like I already mentioned earlier, there are some countries where internet access is censored.
China is #1 on this list.
Websites like Facebook and Twitter are completely blocked in China.
So the million dollar questions is … can you use NordVPN to access these websites while in China?
The answer is an absolute resounding YES.
Because of the military grade encryption and obfuscated servers that NordVPN provides, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for accessing censored content in China.
From a couple other VPN services that I have tested, it remains clear that bypassing the Chinese firewall is not easy feat.
Most VPNs failed at this.
Using NordVPN you’ll be able to bypass the great firewall as long as you install the app before going to China because you won’t be able to access to website once you are inside the country.
These obfuscated servers by NordVPN have also proved useful in unblocking access in other countries like Qatar, UAE and Iran.
All that sounds like NordVPN is really a great software that you must download and install today.
But the question that most probably keeps lingering in your mind is…
Will I have to pay an arm and a leg for all of NordVPN?
Well, YES and NO… depending on the package you choose.
NordVPN has a tiered pricing plan depending on the length of the plan you choose to subscribe to starting at $11.95 per month (most expensive) to $3.49 per month for a three year plan (cheapest).
In fact, if you only consider the monthly plan then NordVPN is expensive, just like other VPNs I review here, but when you start talking of yearly plans onwards, this becomes heavily discounted.
So at the end of the day, buying a 3 years plan makes it very cheap… and this is the plan most people choose anyway.
A 3 year plan is the only way to end up with a premium service for cheap.
In addition to that, NordVPN lets you finance your 3 year plan in 3 installments if you need to.
And each plan enables you to connect upto 6 devices at the same, including a smart TV and a router.
Let’s quickly look at the payment options that are available to your when purchasing a plan.
And this is where you can take your anonymity a step higher.
NordVPN not only accepts all the major credit cards and payments services, it also access multiple cryptocurrencies as payment.
So if you want complete anonymity, pay with some bitcoins and nobody will know who you really are… not even NordVPN themselves.
However, NordVPN does NOT accept payments via PayPal.
I then used speedtest.net to test for the ping, download and upload speeds respectively.
This shouldn’t be a problem though, unless you are a PayPal ONLY online shopper… which I don’t think you are.
What about if you purchase a plan but they don’t deliver on their promise?
Or for whatever reason that I don’t know yet, you realize you don’t like the VPN service after buying it?
Well, don’t sweat it…
NordVPN offers a 30 day money back guarantee on all plans.
Think of these 30 days like a time period for you to evaluate the service for FREE and if you don’t like it simply email customer support which is available 24/7 and ask for a refund.
And remember you have access to all the premium features during this one month that you are trying the platform so you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision.
One thing I don’t like with other company refund policies is that when I ask for a refund they get me on a call or lengthy chat to try to convince me to stay and not cancel my plan.
Once I decide I want a refund, I want just that… my money back.
NordVPN delivers on that promise in 2020.
As I near the end of this NordVPN review, let’s take a minute and talk about the devices supported by NordVPN.
Here we’ll look not only at the number of devices you can connect simultaneously but also which devices exactly can you connect.
Like I already mentioned up there, if you remember, NordVPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices to access the internet at the same time from the same account.
Apart from that, you can connect any device that runs Android, Android TV, Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome and Firefox.
With any of these platforms, you get a fully functional app that has a sleek user interface with a great user experience.
However, if you install NordVPN on your router, you can access the internet with as many devices as you want and NordVPN still counts that as a single connection.
How cool is that? 🙂
Jurisdiction and Location
NordVPN is based in and operated from Panama.
Panama, as a country, has a “no mandatory data retention law” which does NOT obligate NordVPN to keep any logs of your internet usage.
It is clearly very far away from the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes countries that are known to gather and share any kinds of sensitive user data.
As I write this NordVPN review in 2020, Panama does not have any invasive data laws that would obligate NordVPN to keep logs of your data.
Let’s finish this NordVPN review by looking at the kind of customer support you’ll get once you purchase a NordVPN premium plan.
I use the quality of support to gauge whether a company values me as a customer.
NordVPN customer support can be contacted through email firstname.lastname@example.org or via live chat.
Even though the installation instructions of most VPNs are often simple and self explanatory, there are times when you’ll need someone to help you quickly resolve a few things.
This is especially true if you are a beginner or not very conversant with tech.
With NordVPN you’ll get 24/7 live chat support to answer any questions you may have at any time.
For more technical queries, like configuring or troubleshooting your router, email has worked better for me as I get more detailed responses in a few hours.
There is also a huge knowledge with articles on the NordVPN website if you prefer to DIY your problems.
In general I was impressed with the customer support NordVPN offers.
With governments and businesses being more aggressive about tracking you online, the need for a proper VPN service to mask your online presence has never been higher.
- 5,800 servers
- Netfilx, Hulu, Amazon
- Fast speeds
- Torrenting allowed
- Zero logs
- Dedicated IPs
- Kill Switch
- Works in China
- Accepts Bitcoins
- Ad blocker
- No PayPal support
- Only 6 devices
In some countries like China, governments track your online activities as a means to surveille and control you.
On the other hand, businesses use this data through ad agencies so that they can serve you with better converting ads.
Basically, to make money for it…
So if you want to stay safe and not have your online activity logs used against you someday, then NordVPN is the best VPN that can offer you the protection you need.
From this NordVPN review in 2020, we have seen the pros and cons of NordVPN as a service.
I hope this review has helped you decide whether NordVPN is actually what you are looking for.
|NordVPN||Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer||P2P servers||6||$ 3.49|
|Surfshark||Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer||P2P servers||Unlimited||$ 1.99|
|ExpressVPN||Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer||All servers||5||$ 8.32|
Have you used NordVPN before?
Please share your experience in the comments below.