NordVPN Review 2021: A Top Notch VPN Service for Users on a Budget
VPN or virtual private networks are the by far the best way to protect your privacy online. VPN providers like NordVPN extend a private network like tunnel between the server and your computer, letting you send or receive data across public network without the fear of anyone snooping in, and even your ISP (internet service provider) cannot monitor your web traffic. Having used many VPN service I have found NordVPN to be one of the most reliable services. It packs robust protection and a huge collection of features into a sleek client which runs consistently across many platforms. With multiple device compatibility, military grade encryption and double VPN, the NordVPN exceeded expectation on many fronts.
- Military grade encryption
- Double VPN and Cyber security
- Connect upto 6 devices with 1 account
- Easy interface
- Over 5500 servers
- High speed
- Slightly high price
- Trial version unavailable
NordVPN comes packed with a lot of features which cannot be found in other VPN providers. The reason I prefer NordVPN over others because it uses Advanced Encryption Standard with 256 bit-keys. It was used by the NSA to protect national data. Any software or hardware requiring low latency or high throughput can rely on NordVPN. The encryption provided by this app is military grade and so robust that it actually uses double VPN. Double VPN encrypts your online traffic not once but twice by creating an added layer of privacy. In reality, your connection goes through two different servers in two different regions.
A fairly intuitive cyber security feature auto-blocks suspicious websites, viruses or malwares and doesn’t even let ads pop-up every now and then. Cyber security lets you avoid botnet control by not letting the device participate in DDoS (distributed denial-of-service)
One of the most exciting features of the NordVPN is the addition of IKEv2/IPsec which makes use of high level cryptographic algorithms, which are very hard to crack, to secure your network. OpenVPN, a versatile protocol, can be used for both TCP and UDP ports. TCP port is for online browsing while UDP is better for gaming and live streaming. OpenVPN uses AES-256-CBC with a 2048-bit DH key, much like the one used by Windows and Android.
DNS leak protection ensures that the DNS request doesn’t leak through the VPN tunnel. While using VPN, it is very important to ensure that all traffic originating from your device, even the DNS request, is routed through the VPN network, unless you want your ISP to see what websites you are visiting. NordVPN takes care of it by providing a DNS leak test that check for any leaks due to manual VPN setup or system reset.
A dedicated IP address is useful to access IP restricted networks. However, NordVPN currently provides dedicated IPs in the US, the UK, Germany and Netherlands only. Dedicated IP works only with OpenVPN networks.
Does VPN keep logs?
Compatible with TOR
Does it work in China?
Average Speed Tests
Windows (7 and above), Android (4.1 and above), MAC (10.10 and above), iOS (9 and above), Linux, smart TV, Wi-Fi routers etc.
Easy to use
Contact via email and forum 24/7. Friendly and efficient customer support
$11.95/month (1 month license)
$9.00/month (6 months license)
$6.99/month (12 months license)
$2.75/month (36 months license)
NordVPN has an estimated 5500+ servers spread across no less than 60 countries. The Americas and Europe has nearly 4000 of these servers divided among them. The US has the largest number of servers followed by the UK and Netherlands. Even small nations such as Vietnam and Cyprus have 2 servers each. So no matter where you are in the world, you can easily access a VPN server closest to you. There are quite a lot of servers in the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions ensuring wide coverage.
Does NordVPN keep logs?
No, it does not. Although many VPN services promise complete anonymity on the internet it is rarely true, as the VPN provider itself may keep log of your activity. One of the main reasons I preferred NordVPN over other popular services is because of their strict no-log policy. No data of the online activity like duration, time, servers used, visited websites or even IP addresses is recorded by Nord.
Does NordVPN hide IP address?
Yes, NordVPN not only encrypts your traffic but also manages to hide your IP address so that third party viewers cannot spy on your activities. It manages to keep your IP address hidden from your ISP by routing traffic through other IP addresses.
Does NordVPN have a kill switch?
Yes, it does. Even the best VPN connection sometime drops leading to your device being connected to the internet through regular network by default. This exposes your online activity to your ISP. The automatic kill switch can automatically disconnect your device from the internet or stop certain programs from using the net in case the VPN connection drops. The auto kill switch ensures total privacy even when VPN servers are down.
At max, six devices can be connected. This is another aspect where NordVPN beats its closest competitors quite easily. While other VPN services offer connection to 3-5 devices, NordVPN lets you connect 6 devices simultaneously without compromising on the security of any of them. A single VPN account let me protect my smart phone, desktop, smart TV and my laptop all at once.
How many total servers are there?
There are over 5500 servers distributed all over the globe allowing you to access VPN network even from the most remote places you are on vacation in. Connect to NordVPN anywhere from the world and it will automatically show you the server physically closest to you. As many as 60 countries have NordVPN servers with the maximum number of them situated quite obviously in United States. The UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and India are among many other countries to provide VPN servers.
What devices are compatible
NordVPN is compatible across a wide range of platform including Android, Chrome, Firefox, iOS, Linux, macOS and of course Windows. It supports Windows 7, 8, 10 and higher versions. Mac OS versions such as 10.10- Yosemite, 10.11- El Capitan, 10.12- Sierra and 10.13- High Sierra are compatible. Web browsers such as Firefox, Chrome and Linux are made compatible by using L2TP protocol. It is not limited to desktop or laptops and can be used on Android devices, from 4.1 jelly bean to 8.0 oreo, as well as iOS, such as ipads, iPods, and iOS 9 or higher. Other than the above mentioned devices the NordVPN is also compatible with Amazon Kindle, wireless routers, game consoles and smart TVs.
Is NordVPN compatible with TOR?
Yes, it is compatible. TOR, or as it is better known as The Onion Router, is also a private browsing network which encrypts online traffic but routes HTTP traffic only. With NordVPN you can add an added layer of security to protect your privacy on the internet by encrypting at every connection point thus eliminating the chance of identifying the source and the sink of the traffic.
Using a TOR network alone, though it protects your privacy does not guarantee privacy from your ISP. Your ISP can see when you are using a TOR network and this might not be a problem in most countries, however in some authoritarian states the use of TOR might be restricted. This is where NordVPN comes in to save the day. With the onion over VPN your internet service provider can no longer see if you are using TOR and your IP address remains hidden even after your traffic is decrypted at the exit node.
Can you use Torrents with NordVPN?
Yes, NordVPN does allow you to use torrent and share P2P files which means you can hide your IP address while using torrent. Peer to peer sharing of files over torrent allows users who are downloading the file to view the IP address of any other user. With VPN no one can see your IP address. Moreover since this VPN does not cap bandwidth, you can download as much content as you want that too at high speeds.
Can you access Netflix from NordVPN?
The ever growing popularity of Netflix warrants its compatibility with the best VPN and indeed it is. NordVPN provides exceptional speed when streaming on Netflix. The large number of servers spread across so many countries ensures that you get the optimum speed wherever you are. You can easily watch the popular shows on Netflix in complete privacy at high speed without buffering. NordVPN automatically selects the best server for you while watching Netflix. I streamed the latest season of Orange Is the New Black from NordVPN and it ran smoothly and without any lag.
Is it available in China?
Surprisingly yes, it’s available. Using any kind of VPN in China is a strict no-no, what with all the websites blocked and the country having its very own social networking platform. The internet in China is controlled domestically and the Chinese government has a vice like grip on the internet there. However Nord, using an advanced VPN solution, allows you to use VPN in China. All you have to do is go to the settings menu, select the advanced settings option and enable obfuscated servers. This unlocks an alternate server list for heavily restricted areas. Using VPN in China one can access many blocked sites in the country such as Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
How was the average speed test?
NordVPN provides exceptional speeds across the world depending on how far you are from the server. I tested the VPN speed at many places across the world using the ever reliable Ookla speed test. As expected I got the highest speed in the US, specifically near Washington DC, followed by Amsterdam, Netherlands and London, UK. The speed is evidently higher in Europe than in the Americas. The speed of VPN depends on several factors such as proximity to server, level of encryption, protocol being used and the internet speed. I got an average of 80 to 100 Mbps download and upload speed across Europe and the US. Speed in India and Japan are above average ranging from 50 to 80 Mbps. I recorded the lowest speed in Honk Kong. Download speed was around 50Mbps while upload speed below 15Mbps. Australia also had low upload speed and average download speed. Barring a few exceptions, NordVPN offers attractive speed in most countries. In short closer the server, greater is the speed.
Downloading and installing the NordVPN is a walk in the park. One account is all it needs to set you up across several platforms. I found the user interface quite sophisticated yet fairly easy to navigate. Even amateur users can easily find their way through the interface. The features are neatly organized into sections so that you can easily avail them. Connecting to the VPN is as easy as it gets and it also recommends the server closest to you. A very intuitive interface makes for an immersive experience overall. This is arguably the best VPN I have used so far and most consistent in its service.
24/7 assistant support is provided by NordVPN. You can contact them using the help center which answers all your queries. There are separated categories for you to find the problem quickly. If you have specific questions then contact them via email. There is also a separate email if you want to talk about business development. Help is always at hand and the customer support guys are polite and efficient.
1 Month$11.95 /month
- Billed $11.95 every month
- 30-day money-back guarantee
3 Years$2.75 /month
- Save 77%
- Billed $99.99 every 3 years
- 30-day money-back guarantee
1 Year$6.99 /month
- Save 41%
- Billed $83.88 every 12 months
- 30-day money-back guarantee
NordVPN has four plans on offer. The one month plan will cost you $11.95 per month. The one year plan comes at $6.99 per month, while the 6-month plan would cost you $9.00 every month. However, if you are going to use it for a long period I suggest you go for the two-year plan which is by far the most popular and the one that I use. It will only set you back by $2.75 per month. A 30-day money back guarantee is also in place in case you are not satisfied by the service which I can vouch will hardly be necessary.
To figure out whether the VPN service has gained ground in the US, I took help of Google Trends. Google Trends is a web facility of Google which shows how often a search term is entered in relation to the total search volume across various languages and regions of the world. It provides geo-specific understanding of the searched term or product.
I used Google trends to understand how the VPN service has performed in the US and other nations of Europe over the past one year. Worldwide the interest for NordVPN over the past year has increased gradually starting at 50 and at the 75 mark. China is the country showing the highest interest in the service. The interest in United Kingdom is relatively subdued with Scotland showing most interest. In the United States it shows a gradually increasing interest for this VPN service with New Jersey topping the maximum interest list in the country.
On searching with ‘buy NordVPN’ in the US the graph shows peak interest during late November and early December, 2017. A worldwide search shows peak interest between November and December last year.
NordVPN review yielded similar results with interest peaking from December, 2017 to January, 2018. It peaks again during March, 2018 and May, 2018. Australia shows the most interest among other regions.
Can You Hide Your Identity And Location While Accessing Social Media Sites?
When it comes to protection of privacy on social media NordVPN provides outstanding results. Almost all the user reviews that I have read on Twitter and Facebook are positive and users are highly satisfied with the app. So I decided to test the VPN service and to access several social media sites. NordVPN let me access and browse Facebook and Twitter with my privacy completely intact.
Should You Buy It?
Having used the NordVPN for nearly a year now, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a strong and efficient VPN service without the usual bandwidth limits and slow speeds. It has all the qualities that make a VPN service worth a few dollars every month. Although its server park is the biggest, it is slower than ExpressVPN. However, if you are on a budget, I would recommend NordVPN over its closest competitors, AirVPN and TorGuard.
- Outstanding encryption
- Huge number of servers
- Good (but not excellent) download speed
- Responsive support
- A bit high price
- No trials (but there is 30 days money back guarantee)