On the surface, NordVPN looks like a really impressive service. It claims to have a huge global server network, the ability to unblock tons of streaming platforms, and iron-clad security and privacy features. Plus, you can get it all for just $3.49/month. That all sounds great, but is there a catch?
Overall, NordVPN is a fast, safe, and reliable VPN. I got superfast speeds on nearby and long-distance servers. Plus, I was able to unblock an impressive number of geoblocked streaming platforms. NordVPN also has world-class security and privacy features and it’s backed by a legit 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out without risk.
- Fast speeds on local and international servers. It was super fast in most locations. However, its long-distance servers weren’t great for gaming. Check out how well my speeds held up here.
- Strong security and privacy features. With AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy, you can trust NordVPN to keep you safe and to be responsible with your data. Read the full report to see how many unique security features it offers.
- Optimized P2P servers make it good for torrenting. While I’ve tested other VPNs that are easier for torrenting and have entire P2P server networks, I didn’t have issues using uTorrent, BitTorrent, Popcorn Time, and other websites. Find out how quickly I was able to download files here.
- Easy to install and configure. Its apps are really simple to navigate, even for beginners. Check out what makes its interface so user-friendly here.
- Works in China. Thanks to its obfuscated servers, it’s one of the few VPNs that can work in China. Read about its ability to work in restricted countries.
- Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. While it’s not the cheapest VPN, NordVPN lets you try its features free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. Read ahead to see how long it took to get a refund.
- Couldn’t unblock Amazon Prime Video or Sky Go. I also had a couple of issues with Disney+ and Hulu on certain servers. See the full results of all the streaming platforms I tested here.
- Long connection times on some servers. I had to force quit the app and re-attempt to connect on some US and Canadian servers. Check out my analysis of its server network here.
NordVPN Features — Updated in March 2023
Streaming — Unblocks 35+ Streaming Platforms, Including Netflix, Hulu, and More
It was simple to access some of the most popular streaming platforms with NordVPN. The only sites NordVPN couldn’t unblock were Amazon Prime Video and Sky Go. Although the VPN offers streaming-optimized servers, I was able to unblock most other platforms without these. I performed my tests connected to the NordLynx protocol since it gave me the fastest speeds.
I experienced some buffering when connected to certain servers, but most of the time I had a smooth streaming experience. Disney+ and Hulu were the only services I had trouble unblocking; in the end, I got them to work.
Unblocked: 14 Netflix Libraries
NordVPN successfully unblocked 14 Netflix libraries, including ones in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, Germany, and more. Netflix is constantly updating its VPN-detection software, so finding a VPN that reliably overcomes this is impressive.
Netflix worked well with NordVPN — I had really fast speeds and could watch content seamlessly on long-distance servers.
After testing 45+ of its servers across the globe, I managed to unblock these streaming sites:
NordVPN has 80 servers in Tokyo, so you can always find one that's not crowded
While connected to Tokyo server #604, I was able to watch Alchemy of Souls on Netflix in HD. Even though Tokyo is over 5,500 miles from my current location, I was really impressed with how smooth the stream was.
You'll also be able to unblock Hulu + Live TV with NordVPN
All the servers I tested not only gave me access to Hulu’s shows but also allowed me to unlock Hulu’s entire add-on library, which is great for sports streaming.
I wanted to make sure its speeds were fast enough for streaming live sports. So, I connected to NordVPN’s Virginia, Charlotte, Denver, and Atlanta servers to watch an MLB game, and my speeds were fast enough to stream without interruptions.
NordVPN worked well with Disney+ on US servers. But, when I accessed the Australian library, Melbourne server #689 was slower and caused some annoying buffering. However, it improved after I reloaded the page.
I watched 3 episodes without any loading times between videos or buffering
I also tested servers in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth and managed to access Disney+ Australia with each one.
Unblocked: HBO Max
I was impressed that every video instantly loaded with the highest picture quality available
I tested 10 servers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Virginia, and all of them worked well.
Unblocked: BBC iPlayer
NordVPN worked great with live sports events on BBC iPlayer too
I connected to 12 different UK servers, and they all gave me access to BBC iPlayer without issues.
Blocked By: Amazon Prime Video
Unfortunately, NordVPN is one of the many VPNs that fail to get around Amazon Prime Video’s strong geoblocks.
I started out by testing its servers in Charlotte and Buffalo. While they accessed the US site, Prime Video still detected that I was using a VPN and prevented me from watching any shows. I then tried switching to its New York server #6718, but I still received the VPN error message.
I was also blocked when I tried to access libraries from the UK, Germany, and Japan
If you want a VPN that consistently bypasses Amazon Prime Video’s geoblocks, there are quite a few options available.
Blocked By: Sky Go
Sky Go has notoriously strong geoblocks so most VPNs can’t unblock it
This means that NordVPN might unblock Sky Go in the future so it’s worth it to check again
Speeds — Exceptionally Fast Speeds on All Servers
I was really impressed by NordVPN’s consistently fast speeds. Every VPN will slow you down a little bit as it sends your traffic to different servers (and the further away a server is, the slower your speeds will be). But while testing different NordVPN servers across the world, I didn’t notice the speed drops at all as there was no difference in my browsing, streaming, or even gaming experience.
I examined 3 main components during the speed tests:
- Download speed shows how fast the data is downloaded from a server. You need about 5 Mbps for HD streaming and 25 Mbps for 4k streaming.
- Upload speed shows how fast the data is sent to a server. You need around 2 Mbps for high-quality video calls, and around 5 Mbps to send files quickly.
- Ping (measured in ms) shows how long it takes for data to travel to and from your device. This is important for gaming, and you need less than 100 ms to play online games without lag.
With NordVPN’s servers, you’ll get fast speeds no matter how far the server is from your location
NordVPN’s fast download speeds allowed me to stream shows for hours without lag or buffering, while the low ping made it easy for me to play games. I even managed to have high-quality video calls thanks to its upload speeds.
While NordVPN’s speeds are impressive once connected to its servers, it took a long time to establish that connection sometimes (especially on US and Canadian ones). Sometimes it took so long (more than 5 minutes) that I had to force-quit the app and reopen it. However, usually after I did this it would connect much faster.
NordLynx Protocol Gives You The Fastest Speeds
NordVPN recently launched a new protocol called NordLynx. It’s based on WireGuard which is currently the fastest protocol in the industry. But while WireGuard is great for speeds, it’s not the most secure. So NordVPN made it stronger with double NAT technology.
I wanted to see how fast NordLynx is in comparison to other protocols, so I tested its speeds (as well as OpenVPN’s speeds) on 6 server locations.
The difference was especially noticeable on far-away servers like the one in Japan or Australia
NordLynx was the fastest protocol on all server locations — but that’s not its only benefit. I noticed that it only took me 5 seconds to connect to a server with NordLynx (in comparison, it took 30 seconds with OpenVPN). This is great because your connection drops every time you switch servers, so NordLynx’s quick connections will save you from annoying wait time.
Because NordLynx had the fastest speeds, I performed all my other speed tests using the NordLynx protocol.
I started out by collecting my base speed (with NordVPN disconnected) so I could compare the speed drops later on with the VPN connected.
No VPN connection (Pozega, Serbia):
After that, I used its “Quick Connect” feature which connected me to a server in Belgrade. There was almost no slowdown at all and it wasn’t noticeable when I was streaming, browsing, or gaming.
Quick Connect (Belgrade, Serbia):
Then I connected to Croatia, which is close to my location in Serbia. I maintained high speeds which was surprising because most VPNs my team and I test decrease our speed by at least 15%.
Zagreb, Croatia (539 km from base location):
So, you can use servers in your country and countries nearby without worrying about your speed changing (you’ll be able to stream and browse without lag).
I was impressed with NordVPN’s speeds on its international servers. While my speeds did drop, the decrease wasn’t significant enough to affect my online activity. It was still easy to stream without lag, browse, and even play games on some servers.
First, I tested its servers in Italy since it’s close to my location in Serbia. The distance didn’t make any difference at all.
Rome, Italy (630 km from base location):
The same thing happened when I connected to a UK server — my speed dropped by only 11.37% which is really impressive for a server 2,830 km away from my location in Serbia.
London, UK (2,830 km from base location):
I was impressed by my results when connected to a New York server — this is 7,294 km overseas from where I’m located, and the speed was even better than when I connected to the UK server. While the ping increased a bit, it was still good for lag-free gaming.
New York, US (7,294 km from base location):
The first significant drop in speeds happened when I connected to a server in Tokyo. It’s understandable, considering that it’s 9,270 km away from me. But even though my speeds decreased by 42.07%, I didn’t have any issues when streaming. The only instance when I did notice the difference was when playing online games — due to 123 ms latency, there was a lot of lag.
Tokyo, Japan (9,270 km from base location):
Finally, I tested NordVPN’s server in Adelaide (Australia) which is the furthest location from where I am. I expected speeds to drop drastically to a point where I’d experience lots of lag and long page loading times — but this was not the case. Though speeds dropped by 44.66% (which sounds like a lot), I still managed to get impressive download speeds of over 60 Mbps which allowed me to continue streaming in HD without buffering and browse the internet with quick page loading times.
However, the ping was really high on the Australian servers, so it was less than ideal for gaming. I got shot several times when playing Apex Legends because of the slow response times, but I could still play some of the less demanding games like Hearthstone or Civilization V.
Adelaide, Australia (14,749 km from base location):
Are NordVPN’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes
NordVPN is a good gaming VPN, but it’s not one of the best. Its speeds are fast enough for lag-free gaming on a lot of servers. But, I had issues with a few, so it could give you some lag depending on where you live.
First, I tried playing Apex Legends while connected to NordVPN’s Germany server, and I didn’t experience any issues. Usually, when I connect to a VPN, I miss a lot of shots due to lag, but I managed to win 3 matches without missing any targets (or getting killed because lag makes it hard to see the enemies).
Apex Legends needs fast internet speeds, and NordVPN didn’t make me lag once while I played the game
Even though my game lagged sometimes, I could still play without major issues
I tried playing on other servers in Japan and New Zealand, but the distance made the ping really high, which caused lag and glitches.
NordVPN makes smooth gameplay possible on local servers and some long-distance ones. However, you have to make sure that the server enables ping lower than 100ms. Anything above that, and it will be harder to play.
Server Network — 5,552+ Servers With Optimized Options
NordVPN also allows you to select a specific region or a specific server
Unfortunately, it took a long time to establish a connection on some servers (especially on US and Canadian servers). Sometimes it took so long (more than 5 minutes) that I had to force-quit the app and reopen it. However, usually, after I did this it would connect much faster.
NordVPN only has physical servers, and there are no virtual server locations. This is rare because most VPNs have at least some virtual servers in hard-to-reach locations. They can cause a decrease in your download speed and higher ping because they’re usually far away from the country you want to connect to.
NordVPN is also working on establishing full ownership of its network. So far, it’s been renting servers after thoroughly vetting each provider. As it moves into private server ownership, NordVPN will be able to offer you better security and stronger privacy.
In addition, NordVPN started using 10 Gbps servers (most VPNs only have 1 Gbps servers). This means that you’ll be able to get even faster speeds — especially if your base connection is faster than 500 Mbps.
You can also choose a specific P2P server in a dropdown menu below the ‘Country’ menu
I’ve definitely used other VPNs that make torrenting way easier than NordVPN. It’s nice to have specialty servers for P2P, but way easier to just use a VPN that’s entire network supports it. That way you don’t even have to worry about connecting to a specific server before opening your BitTorrent client.
NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy so your torrenting activity won’t be stored or accessible by third parties. It has a kill switch that immediately stops all internet traffic if a VPN connection drops so your data (or activity) won’t be revealed to hackers or your ISP. Plus, when testing NordVPN, I didn’t get any DNS leaks so I was confident that my IP address remained hidden the entire time I used Popcorn Time.
Some firewalls are especially good at detecting VPN traffic (especially those in countries with strict censorship like China) so they’re trickier to get around. Obfuscated servers help to hide your VPN traffic so it looks like you’re just browsing from your computer without a VPN. This helps you get around stronger firewall blocks with ease.
To set up Obfuscated servers on NordVPN, go to settings and select OpenVPN (TCP) as your protocol. Then, turn the Obfuscated servers button on — after that, you’ll be able to see the option on your server list.
When you open the ‘Country’ dropdown menu, you’ll be able to choose a specific country to connect to
You can choose from several countries, including the US. The app also gave me several server options per location.
Onion Over VPN Servers
When visiting the Dark Web, you need an extra layer of protection. If your ISP knows you’re accessing the Dark Web, they could alert the authorities or flag your traffic as suspicious. This can put you in a tough spot if something bad happens.
These servers will protect you by showing your ISP only that you’re using a VPN, not that you’re accessing the Dark Web. This way, only NordVPN will know that you’re using Dark Web — but since it doesn’t keep any logs and all of your data is wiped from the servers with every reboot, this won’t affect your privacy.
Onion over VPN has the added benefit of allowing you to access .onion websites from any browser (which saves you the trouble of downloading and using Tor or another onion browser).
Double VPN Servers
You can also just select ‘Open VPN (TCP/UDP) and go to the main page, all specialized servers will appear in the sidebar menu
Even though it can boost your security, it’s not recommended for everyday use, torrenting, or streaming because it will slow your speeds down. If you just want to browse, stream, or torrent, it’s best to have it off.
I tested the speeds to see what kind of results I would get. It wasn’t as bad as I expected (after all, my traffic had to run through two different servers), but I still wouldn’t recommend it. A 54% drop can be really huge for someone with lower download speeds.
US to Canada
NordVPN can also give you a dedicated IP address. This means that you’ll get an IP that no one else can use except you. This is great for online banking — if your location changes too often when accessing your account, your bank could block you.
It’s also beneficial for businesses. If you want secure access to your systems, you can give each employee a dedicated IP address and whitelist them, effectively banning anyone who’s not on the list (thus keeping your sensitive files secure).
Shared IP addresses can also end up on blacklists by a lot of websites (you don’t know how someone before you used the IP). So, you can get blocked by a website without doing anything wrong. Having a dedicated IP prevents this.
While this is great in some cases, it’s also not necessary to use it all the time. It limits you to only one location, which is not ideal for streaming or torrenting.
Diskless (RAM) Servers
In an effort to make its service more secure, NordVPN has a completely diskless server network. This is a colocated server network, which means that nothing will be stored locally on the servers (not even the operating system). These servers are fully owned and maintained by NordVPN, so there is no third-party involvement. This further reduces the chances of a data breach.
This is excellent news for NordVPN’s users because even if a hacker breached into one of the servers, they wouldn’t get any information. It would just be an empty piece of hardware. The same thing would happen if a government seized these servers. So, your data will be even more secure and private than ever.
Security — Military Grade Encryption and No DNS Leaks
Encryption and Security Protocols
NordVPN has AES 256-bit encryption which is a standard in the industry and used by governments. This encryption is hard to crack through with brute force attacks so it would take hackers billions of years to get through it. In addition, it uses Perfect Forward Secrecy which means that the encryption key changes with each session so it can’t be stolen.
When it comes to security protocols, NordVPN offers several choices:
- NordLynx protocol — Based on WireGuard, this speed-boosting protocol is set as the default on NordVPN’s apps. Since WireGuard isn’t the safest protocol yet, NordVPN combines it with double NAT which ensures that your data doesn’t end up on the server. It’s available on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS.
- OpenVPN protocol — You can choose between UDP and TCP versions. UDP is the faster one so it’s good for streaming, but the TCP version is more secure. It’s available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- IKEv2/IPSec protocol —This protocol is good for boosting security and privacy and it’s available on Apple devices. It’s also good for mobile devices using a 3G or 4G LTE connection because it can restore the connection that dropped faster.
- L2TP/IPsec and PPTP — These protocols used to be supported but this is no longer the case because they have weaker security.
DNS Leak Protection
When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel. This means that all of your personal identifiers (such as your IP address) get stripped down so you can stay private. However, sometimes pieces of your information leak through and can reveal your identity and activity to third parties (like hackers or your ISP). This is not a good thing when you’re hoping to stay anonymous.
Here are some elements that are susceptible to leaks:
- DNS leaks happen when your DNS requests run through your regular traffic (reaching your ISP) instead of your VPN. DNS translates domain names into IP addresses (of the websites you visit). This is bad because then your ISP can easily see what you’re doing online.
- WebRTC is a technology that allows you to have calls without having to use plugins or apps for this (for example, over Google Hangouts). While this tech is awesome, it has a flaw where it reveals your IP address to these websites. This way, your real identity is revealed to that site and your ISP.
- IP address leaks happen when your real IP is exposed to your ISP. There are two types of IP addresses — IPv4 (which is older) and IPv6 (which is newer). Most VPNs can hide your IP if you’re using IPv4 but problems happen when you use IPv6 because many VPNs still haven’t caught up with this tech. You can turn off your IPv6 and solve this problem (or simply use a good VPN like NordVPN which can hide this as well).
I performed leak tests on the following sites:
DNS leaks are dangerous because this means that hackers can easily see your real information
During my tests, I focused on all three types of leaks. I was impressed to find that NordVPN didn’t leak my DNS, WebRTC, or IP address.
The fact that it didn’t leak my DNS is not surprising considering that NordVPN runs its own DNS servers (which means you get better DNS leak protection and privacy). As you can see in the screenshot above, the DNS server my traffic went to is in the United Kingdom (it would be a DNS leak if it was in Serbia).
My IP address stayed hidden as well — the screenshot shows an IP from the UK even though I’m from Serbia. If there was an IP leak, it would show my country and city. I have IPv4 enabled on my Windows desktop and it didn’t leak. I ran the same tests from its Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux apps and didn’t experience any leaks.
NordVPN’s kill switch ensures your personal info and data won’t be revealed, even if your VPN connection drops. NordVPN has a few different kill switch options:
- Internet Kill Switch will completely shut down your internet access when you’re not connected to the VPN or if your connection drops. It’s available with every NordVPN app except the macOS OpenVPN client (you need to use its IKEv2 client, which has both types of switches).This is great for added security when you’re torrenting or using Tor.
- App Kill Switch allows you to choose which apps will get closed if your connection fails. So, for example, you can choose to only shut down Google Chrome or a different browser but not your other apps. This is available on Windows and Mac OS. It’s good to use when you’re streaming, so the streaming platform won’t detect that you’re using a VPN and block you.
I’ve used a lot of VPNs, so I know that sometimes you have to enable the kill switch yourself in settings and that’s the case with NordVPN. If you forget to turn it on after you log in, you’re susceptible to leaks, which is a pretty big disappointment considering NordVPN is good for privacy in almost every other way.
If you want to protect only certain apps, click on “App Kill Switch" and choose which ones
I tested it out by downloading a game from BitTorrent. Breaking a VPN connection this strong is hard, but I found that switching to a different server will do it (albeit briefly). As soon as I changed my server, my internet connection was shut down (I used the internet kill switch on my Windows desktop). My download from BitTorrent stopped completely as well. The moment the connection was restored, so did my traffic.
NordVPN’s kill switch is natively integrated into the macOS, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android devices 8.0 or higher apps. It can be enabled on Android devices running on 7.0 or below by enabling “Always On VPN” and “Block Connections Without VPN” in the device’s settings.
If you’re using Linux, you can enable the system-wide kill switch feature by typing the “nordvpn set killswitch on” command. To disable it, type the “nordvpn set killswitch off” command. The current status of the kill switch can be found by typing the “nordvpn settings” command.
With NordVPN’s split tunneling feature, you’ll be able to choose which apps you want (and don’t want) to use through the VPN connection. It’s useful when you need to access certain websites with your real IP address (like sensitive business files, bank accounts, smart home devices, etc.). For example, I use it to access my bank account on my regular traffic while streaming shows on HBO Max.
This option is available on Windows and Android (Android TV as well). To turn this on, just go to settings and press the toggle button. Then, pick what apps should use a VPN connection
If you turn this setting off, all of your traffic will be routed through NordVPN. The same thing happens if you get a NordVPN extension — essentially, you’ll only protect your browser, but not all of the traffic traveling from your device. You can also select which websites can bypass the VPN connection.
Another great aspect of NordVPN is its built-in ad blocker (which you won’t find with many providers). Not only will it reduce the number of ads you see, but it will also block malware-infested websites and trackers. It’s a great feature if you spend time reading content on blogs, websites, and forums, but don’t expect to get rid of ads on YouTube or similar websites that offer a free plan with ads.
Here are its other benefits:
- Boosting your load speeds. When ads show up on your screen, they have to be downloaded (which takes up a ton of bandwidth). But if you block them, you can significantly increase your speeds (especially on mobile devices).
- Better privacy. Ads have built-in tracking capabilities so advertisers can create a better picture of what you might need at any given time. This isn’t harmful on its own, but data breaches happen all the time, and all of the data that the advertisers accumulate could end up in the hands of criminals. By blocking ads, you’re effectively protecting your online privacy.
- Fight malware. Ads and other files that you may run into while using the internet could be ridden with malware. This isn’t really obvious, so you might miss it and inadvertently download something malicious. NordVPN’s CyberSec is there to block your access to this type of content. However, its scope can be limited because it only blocks websites that are already on a threat blacklist.
I tested it with Forbes since its annoying ads always make it hard for me to read its articles.
With CyberSec, I could read Forbes without any distracting ads on the page
I also tested it with other websites like Daily Mail, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, etc., and each time the ads disappeared. However, it didn’t block ads on YouTube or Spotify — you have to get a premium subscription for these services to do that. I couldn’t get it to work on Facebook either.
CyberSec is pretty easy to turn on — just go to settings and press the toggle button.
By turning CyberSec on, I got rid of ads on pages like Forbes, BuzzFeed, DailyMail, and others
Threat Protection is a good feature to use along with CyberSec. It gives you additional protection from malware with these functions:
- Detects malware on web pages and files. It will block files and URLs that are infected and also delete downloaded malware from your device.
- Protects you continuously, including when you’re not connected to the VPN. While CyberSec requires you to be connected to the VPN, Threat Protection works whether you are connected to the VPN or not.
Threat Protection provides an extra level of security by letting you know if you have downloaded infected files
Threat Protection is available on the Windows and macOS desktop apps. However, to use it on my MacBook, I had to download the app from the website — it wasn’t available on the App Store. Threat Protection on iOS and Android is the Lite version. This does most of the same things as the full version, but it can’t delete malware from your device. The Lite version is also available on Linux.
Meshnet is one of NordVPN’s most unique features. It allows you to connect different devices all over the world through encrypted private tunnels. Powered through NordVPN’s NordLynx technology, it works as a virtual encrypted LAN to connect your devices. For example, you could easily access files from a friend in another country, and the connection between your 2 devices would be secure.
You can also funnel traffic from 2 devices through one IP address. This gives you access to additional residential IPs. You’ll typically be using data center IPs with a VPN, which are more likely to get banned than home addresses (residential IPs). So, this function can be helpful for streaming. For example, you could connect to a family member’s IP in the US to access US Netflix. However, I recommend sticking to the VPN’s servers more often than not because connections like this won’t be encrypted, leaving the data on your devices vulnerable.
It’s easy to use the Meshnet feature. All you have to do is enable it on your device and link a new device by sending an invitation. You’ll send this link through an email. This will send them a special IP address assigned to the device you installed the NordVPN app on.
Once you’re linked up, you can use Meshnet for sharing files, streaming, and gaming. You can connect up to 6 devices to NordVPN, which will automatically be linked with Meshnet once it’s enabled. In addition, you can connect up to 50 external devices. I really like this feature, and it makes NordVPN stand out.
Dark Web Monitor
This is another unique feature — NordVPN’s Dark Web Monitor detects if the email address associated with your account appears on a leaked database on the dark web.
It’s available on the macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS services, and it’s simple to set it up. On the desktop apps, go to “Preferences,” then “Dark Web Monitor,” and turn it on. On the mobile apps, you can find it under “Settings,” then “Tools” to enable it. The tool runs quietly in the background, and you don’t need to be connected to the VPN for it to work.
NordVPN's Dark Web Monitor notified me of the services affected, so I could ensure I changed my passwords
When I enabled the Dark Web Monitor, I was surprised to see that it returned 16 leaks linked to my email address. Most of these were many years old, but I was impressed with the level of detail about the possible leaks and breaches.
NordVPN has ioXt certification for its mobile apps, which is not something that many VPNs have. The ioXt Alliance aims to ensure industry-wide compliance with the highest privacy and security standards. Being a certified product holder and partner, you can rest assured that NordVPN meets these strict standards.
To be certified, VPNs must go through a very rigorous testing process. NordVPN scored the highest marks on the assessed criteria for its mobile apps. This includes areas such as password management, vulnerability reporting program, proven cryptography, and others.
NordVPN doesn’t have a scandalous past like many other providers and their parent companies do, but there was one incident in 2018. One of its servers in Finland was hacked.
However, the criminal couldn’t get anything since there was nothing to steal. NordVPN doesn’t keep any logs, so the data of its users remained safe. Since then, NordVPN is determined to improve its security and plans to roll out these changes in response:
- All servers to be diskless (RAM) so that no user data is ever stored. This way, even if a breach occurs, there’s no data or even configuration files to steal.
- A privately-owned server network means that it would have full control over its server park and thus provide better security to its users.
- Security audits (even for vendors). NordVPN plans on running thorough audits of its own infrastructure as well as of the infrastructure owned by its vendors.
- Bounties for anyone who catches a bug in NordVPN’s code.
- Partnership with a cybersecurity firm (VerSpite) which will perform penetration tests to prevent future issues and make NordVPN more secure.
Invisibility on LAN
This security feature will keep your device hidden on both private and public networks — basically, the owners of the network won’t be able to see that you’re using their WiFi. This is great for public WiFi networks because it boosts your security and privacy.
However, it’s not so great when you’re at home and using your private network or at work. You won’t be able to use printers, connect to your TV or any other devices. So it’s best to use this option when you’re on the go.
Privacy — A Strict No-Logs Policy and a Privacy-Friendly Location
It’s important to note that NordVPN actually does retain pieces of data about you. It needs to store your email address to communicate with you, and your payment details to keep your subscription active and process refunds. However, storing this information is very common and it doesn’t affect your privacy. Basically, it can only see that there’s an account in your name, but not what you’re doing with it.
There are also two algorithms that we wanted to explore (that seemed like they could be collecting data):
- An algorithm that checks the server load. NordVPN uses this to assess what the fastest server is for you at any moment. So, it aggregates data across all users to monitor this, but it can’t personally identify you.
- An algorithm that limits the simultaneous connections. NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections which is more than enough to cover all of your devices. However, it needs a way of knowing how many devices you’re using with one account. To do this, NordVPN keeps your username and the timestamp of your last session while the session is active. This data is held for only about 15 minutes after your session ends and it can’t be traced back to you.
This is because NordVPN only holds limited data about users, so even if it complies with the request, it doesn’t store any personal information anyway. In short, while NordVPN is committed to providing the privacy you need to protect your identity, it doesn’t make any guarantees that this is always possible under legal circumstances.
One of the great things about NordVPN is its location. It’s owned by Tefincom S.A and its headquarters are in Panama which is based outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. This Alliance is an organization of countries and governments that have intrusive data retention policies, and it includes countries like the US, UK, Australia, Canada, etc. Since Panama is not a part of it, it doesn’t have to share your information with others.
As a bonus, NordVPN publishes a warrant canary on a daily basis. This means that it shares any requests for user information it gets from governments and companies, such as gag orders, warrants, etc.
Torrenting — P2P-Optimized Servers and Privacy Features for Safe Torrenting
NordVPN is definitely a good option for safe torrenting. However, I wouldn’t give it top points for ease of use in this category since not all of its servers can be used to torrent.
However, it does have certain features that make it a decent VPN for torrenting:
- It has optimized P2P servers in 45+ countries. Even if you forget to connect to one of its torrenting servers, NordVPN will redirect you to it as soon as it detects P2P traffic.
- NordVPN has a kill switch that stops all of your internet traffic if your VPN connection drops. So, you’re protected from accidental leaks.
- It’s based in a privacy-friendly location and has a strict zero-logs policy. This means that even if leaks happen (which is nearly impossible), third parties won’t be able to access your data.
- It has DNS leak protection, which I thoroughly tested and didn’t find any leaks.
Thanks to all of these features, you’ll have an easy time accessing qBittorrent, BitTorrent, Kickass Torrents, RARBG, Pirate Bay, uTorrent, Deluge, Vuze, Kodi, Transmission, and Popcorn Time.
During my tests, I didn’t experience any connectivity issues and my speeds were more than fast enough for uninterrupted torrenting. I downloaded music files like The Complete Mozart’s Edition (which includes over 160 CD’s worth of music) without experiencing any lag.
Another great feature is the SOCKS5 protocol which can boost your torrenting speeds (but at the expense of security because your traffic isn’t encrypted). All of this shows that NordVPN can protect its users and keep their information safe.
Nonetheless, I should note that my team and I do not condone illegal torrenting or streaming. However, you can use P2P services to share files legally. It’s always good practice to research any sites you use to download torrents to ensure they’re not sharing copyrighted material.
Does NordVPN Work in China? Yes.
You can use NordVPN in China thanks to its obfuscated servers which make your VPN traffic look like regular traffic to the Chinese firewall. It also has features like the Kill Switch which will make sure that your online activity is never exposed, even if your VPN connection fails. Plus, since it doesn’t have servers in China, it doesn’t have to apply strict local laws when it comes to internet usage and data logging. This means that nothing you do online will reach the Chinese government.
NordVPN doesn’t have any servers in China either so you won’t get access to exclusive content available there. However, there are servers available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam which will unblock similar alternatives.
Simultaneous Device Connections — One Account Supports 6 Devices
You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously to your NordVPN account. I tested this out by installing NordVPN on my Android phone, my Windows desktop, Linux laptop, MacBook desktop, and Samsung TV. With all of these devices using the connection at once, I still didn’t notice any drop in speed.
To cover more devices, you can install it on your router. This way, your entire network will be under VPN protection. Not all routers support VPNs, so make sure that you choose one that does. Another thing worth noting is that you might not be able to install any VPN if you use an ISP modem.
As a side note: I’ve used other top VPNs that offer more device connections — For example, it’s common for many top VPNs to offer 10 device connections and some VPNs won’t limit you at all (like Surfshark and IPVanish). So if you have a big family or just a ton of devices and don’t want the hassle of setting it up on your router, there might be better options for you.
Installation & Apps
Device Compatibility — Compatible With Mac, Windows, Android, and More
Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile Apps
You can download NordVPN on a wide variety of devices and operating systems. I installed it on my Android phone, Linux laptop, MacBook, and Windows 10 desktop computer. The apps have a pretty similar interface with the familiar map feature and a sidebar with the list of servers. I found this convenient since there wasn’t a learning curve for every OS — and I especially liked the fact that NordVPN has similar features on any device. VPNs sometimes get rid of certain elements of their service in mobile versions, so this is refreshing.
Another thing that impressed me was that NordVPN has an app for Linux at all. Most VPNs don’t have Linux clients but you can install NordVPN on Ubuntu (I tested this one and it worked great), Debian, Linux Mint, and Elementary OS. What’s even more surprising is that its app is really easy to use on Linux so you don’t have to operate it through command prompts.
The MacBook desktop app was similar to the Windows and Android counterparts and was really easy to use. The only noticeable difference is that you get access to IKEv2/IPSec protocol on macOS and you won’t get split tunneling on either Mac or Windows. A good thing is that you can download NordVPN on any macOS version as early as Sierra 10.12 and any iOS device starting with OS 11.0.
Smart TVs and Gaming Consoles
NordVPN’s apps are also easy to download on Android TV, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV Stick. You can find them in the app stores and download them within a few moments. You get similar features on these devices, but the interface is a bit different — you won’t get a map. This is not a big deal since you can choose from a long list of servers.
There’s also an option to install NordVPN on devices like Smart TVs, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation. You can do this in a few different ways. The easiest one is to use NordVPN’s SmartDNS proxy which means that you change the DNS on your device. NordVPN has a guide for this and it takes only a few minutes to set it up (I tested it on my Smart TV). This option works well on PlayStation and Smart TVs.
You can also set up a hotspot on your computer as you would on your phone and use the VPN connection from your computer on other devices.
It has extensions available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. During my tests, these extensions performed really well although they aren’t as great as its apps. They lack a few useful features and only protect your browser while a VPN app protects your entire device. Still, they’re really useful if you want protection as soon as you fire up your browser.
Routers and NAS
Finally, if you want to protect all of your devices at once with NordVPN at no extra cost, you can install it on your router. But be careful about what kind of router you have — I assumed this will be possible for my router but it isn’t compatible with NordVPN.
To save you the trouble, only get routers with ASUS WRT, DD-WRT, ASUS Merlin, Gl.iNET, EdgeRouter, NetDUMA, DrayTek, Portal, Tomato, Mikrotik, OpenWRT, Sabai, OPNsense, pfSense, and Padavan. You can also buy one of NordVPN’s own routers (with a built-in VPN) which give you a certain number of available device connections.
NordVPN can also be installed on NAS, provided it’s Synology, Western Digital MyCloud, QNAP, and AsusTor.
Set-Up & Installation — Takes Minutes to Install and Configure
NordVPN is really easy to install and set up.
Once you download the app, it will open and prompt you to log in. When you click on that button, a web page will open up and ask for your login credentials. You can enter them, and the app will open again and you can start using NordVPN immediately.
NordVPN doesn’t require any special setup. Everything is ready for you to use it. However, if you want to learn more about how to access different elements of the app, read on.
The first thing you’ll see on the page is the world map with dots in countries where NordVPN has servers. There’s also a button that says “Quick Connect” at the bottom of the map.
All you have to do is click on it and NordVPN will connect you to the best server for your location. This will usually be a server in your own country. If you want to use a server in a different location, you’ll need to select it manually.
Connecting to a Normal Server
You can choose a normal server with NordVPN through the map or the sidebar list. Both of these methods will connect you to the best server in the location of your choice.
If you want a specific server or a region, you need to find the country you want to connect to and click on the three dots. This will open up a small window where you can choose between different regions and servers numbers.
Connecting to Specialized Servers
Specialized servers are also located in the sidebar menu. When you first install the NordVPN app, you’ll be able to use P2P servers and Onion over VPN without any additional setup.
To select a Dedicated server, an Obfuscated server, or Double VPN servers you’ll have to manually set them up.
How to Set Up Dedicated IP and Double VPN
- Click on the gear icon at the top right corner. This will take you to the settings menu.
- Select ‘Auto-connect’ in the sidebar menu.
- Turn ‘Choose a VPN protocol and server automatically’ off. This will allow you to choose between OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) and NordLynx.
- In the dropdown menu, choose OpenVPN (UDP).
- Go back to the main page in the app. Now you will see Dedicated IP and Double VPN servers in your sidebar. You’ll also be able to choose P2P servers and Onion Over VPN. Clicking the three dots on the side will open a smaller window where you can choose specific regions and servers.
How to Set Up Obfuscated Servers
- Click on the gear icon. You’ll arrive on the settings page.
- Choose ‘Auto-connect’ and turn ‘Choose a VPN protocol and server automatically’ off. This will allow you to choose between OpenVPN (UDP and TCP) and NordLynx.
- In the dropdown menu, choose OpenVPN (TCP).
- Go to ‘Advanced’.
- Turn Obfuscated servers on. When you go back to the main page in the app, this will be the only ‘Specialty Server’ available. If you click on the three dots on the right, you’ll open a smaller window that will allow you to choose a country and a specific server.
Changing Settings in NordVPN
In the desktop app, you can open the settings up if you click on the gear icon in the top right corner. This will take you to a menu of different settings.
- In ‘General’ you can set up how and when the app will launch, choose a language for the app, and turn CyberSec (NordVPN’s ad blocker) on or off.
- In ‘Auto-Connect’ you can choose the VPN protocol, which server the app will automatically connect you to, and whether you want to connect to a VPN every time the app detects a new WiFi connection (you can also set up trusted WiFi networks).
- In ‘Presets’ you can create custom VPN connection settings and shortcuts to websites or apps for quick and secure one-click access.
- In ‘Kill Switch’ you can turn the kill switch on or off and choose between an internet or app kill switch.
- In ‘Split Tunneling’ you can turn split tunneling on or off, as well as choose which apps will always use VPN traffic.
- In ‘Advanced’ you can turn the Obfuscated servers on, set up Custom DNS and Invisibility on LAN.
You can also go to ‘My Account’ and change your personal details.
On mobile devices, the gear icon is in the top left corner. Once you click on it, you’ll arrive in a menu with all of the settings easily accessible. All you have to do is click the toggle button if you want something on or off.
NordVPN offers affordable pricing, and you can choose between 3 tiers: the Standard plan gets you just the VPN, the Plus plan comes with the secure password manager (NordPass), and the Complete plan comes with both NordPass and 1 TB of encrypted cloud storage (NordLocker). While $3.49/month for a 2-year Standard plan seems like a great deal, you only pay that price until the end of your term. Be warned, though: after your subscription renews, the price almost triples. For the 1-year subscription, the price almost doubles after the first term.
NordVPN has a great price as long as you don't want to use it longer than a couple years
You can pay for NordVPN with all major credit cards, Direct Debit, Sofort, Google Pay, Union Pay, Amazon Pay, Ripple, and iTunes. Other payment methods include Adyen and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monera, zCash, and Dash. Plus, you can also get it in retail stores like BestBuy and Target. NordVPN also accepts PayPal but only in certain countries like Germany, France, Japan, and a couple of others.
If you need more time before deciding to purchase, you can try NordVPN out for free with its 30 day money-back guarantee. I wanted to test the legitimacy of this policy and to do this, I contacted its live chat team. They were very supportive of my decision and didn’t pressure me to change my mind at all. After 3 business days, my money was refunded in full.
You can also test NordVPN out for 7 days. However, this option is only available on Android.
There’s also NordVPN Teams which is a business version of NordVPN which is designed for companies. Business owners can negotiate the price with NordVPN depending on the size of their team and their individual needs.
Reliability & Support
If you need any help, NordVPN has different measures of support in place. For one, you can go straight to the chatbot on its website. It’s super-helpful and friendly. As soon as you click on the button, the chatbot will offer you a few of the most common subjects and answers.
If the chatbot can’t help you, it will direct you to a real human live chat representative
Once you ask a question, the chatbot will offer you an answer that best suits your keywords. If you still don’t find an answer among its replies, it will send you to a live chat representative who will take over your case. One thing that I didn’t like about this is that the chatbot asked me to insert my email address. However, this isn’t a big deal because I didn’t receive any unsolicited emails from NordVPN later.
You can also reach out to its support team through email. The responses are, as expected, slower than what you would get with live chat support, but they are also more detailed. I still got a reply within a few hours.
The response was really helpful and the staff suggested that I reach out if I have more issues so they can help
If you’d rather look for the solution yourself, you can use its extensive knowledge base if you go to the “Help” tab on its webpage. You’ll find a lot of answers there as well as helpful articles and links.
The Bottom Line
Simply put, Good Value for Money...
NordVPN has plenty to offer, from fast speeds, to optimized servers and the ability to bypass geoblocks on streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO Max. It offers excellent security features like AES 256-bit encryption and a strict no-logs policy to keep you safe online.
It can also work in China, provided that you install it before you get there, and it’s compatible with a wide range of devices. And when it comes to support, NordVPN is quick to respond with helpful and friendly answers.
Its biggest downfalls for me were the long connection times and that it’s slightly more complicated to use for torrenting than other VPNs. It’s also unfortunate that it’s unable to unblock Amazon Prime Video and Sky Go. On top of that, I had difficulty finding the right servers for gaming.
However, despite these slight downsides, NordVPN is great value for money.
If you’d rather look for the solution yourself, you can use its extensive knowledge base if you go to the “Help” tab on its webpage. You’ll find a lot of answers there as well as helpful articles and links.
FAQs on NordVPN
Is there a NordVPN free trial?
No, NordVPN no longer offers a free trial. If you want to try it out, you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out risk-free and then get your money back if you’re not satisfied with it. The refund process is simple — all you have to do is reach out to the live chat rep and ask them to cancel your subscription. I got my refund in 3 days.
Does NordVPN work with Fire TV Stick?
Yes, NordVPN has a native app for Fire TV Stick (version 2 or later) that you can download from the Amazon App Store. Once you download the client and log in, you can find the server in the country you need and connect.
Thanks to its large server network, you can easily unblock Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max and dozens more. Plus, you can watch live TV streaming platforms.
Can NordVPN block ads?
NordVPN has a CyberSec feature and the more advanced Threat Protection feature that blocks ads, malware, and trackers. I tested it out and it blocked ads on BuzzFeed, Forbes, DailyMail, and other ad-heavy websites. It even stopped me from accessing a few websites with malware which is great since only a small number of VPNs offer an ad-blocking feature.
This feature is really easy to set up. All you have to do is go to the settings page and press a button. As soon as you connect to a server, NordVPN will block ads and you’ll be able to browse without interruptions. This can even boost your loading times without that extra content.
Will NordVPN allow me to watch TV?
Yes, NordVPN can let you watch TV if you use live TV streaming services. These are usually region-based so you need to connect to the accurate server to access them.
For example, if you want to watch the US TV channels, you can do so on Sling TV, FuboTV, AT&T, Hulu with Live TV, and more. If you’d like to watch Ireland TV, you can do that on TG4.
NordVPN has a large server network so you’ll have an easy time bypassing regional geoblocks. Most of the live TV streaming services let you subscribe with a gift card which you can get from anywhere, so you’ll be able to get an account even if you don’t have one.
Where is NordVPN based?
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is not a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. This is great because none of your information will end up in the hands of intrusive governments so your privacy will stay protected.
Plus, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy so your information doesn’t get stored. Even if the governments requested an inquiry into your account, they wouldn’t be able to find anything.