NordVPN, one of the fastest growing VPNs on the market, is known for its large number of server networks, fast speeds, multiple platform options, and its introduction of their CyberSec feature. We wanted to validate for ourselves this VPN’s ratings found online. We decided to test the product and give you the information in this NordVPN review, so you can make an informed decision if this provider is right for you.
NordVPN is a premium feature VPN that boasts one of the biggest server networks out there. In fact NordVPN servers number over 1,500 and are located in 61 countries around the world. But does the VPN deserve its feature-packed reputation or is it more hype than substance. In our NordVPN review 2017 we set out to find out.
NordVPN Review – Pros & Cons
- Massive server network: over 1,500
- Specialized Tor and anti-DDoS servers
- Wide choice of clients for each supported platform
- Impressive Windows client with minimalistic design
- Cybersec offers some internet security features
- Marginally more expensive than some competitors
- Server recommendation feature isn’t strong
- Some servers slower than others
- Can’t chose the server city
- Unknown staff
NordVPN Editor’s Score: 92/100
NordVPN Setup and Usability
Users can get the NordVPN set up in a matter of minutes.
After purchasing a subscription and entering their new NordVPN login credentials, users are taken to a download area which has apps available to download for all the supported platforms. NordVPN Android and iOS apps can also be installed directly through the Google Play Store and iTunes.
We were particularly impressed by the granular installation options available for each platform. Windows users, for example, can chose to download the main application, an OpenVPN connection GUI, or manually install .OVPN and .PBK connection files if they so prefer. NordVPN download files and support are also available for the DD-WRT and Tomato router firmwares. Raspberry Pi users can install via .OVPN configuration files.
We also thought that the user interface (UI) was seriously impressive on the Windows 10 client that we used for this review (we opted to test on the full application rather than the OPVN GUI). Users can chose a location to connect to visually on a map that even features icons such as ships and trees. Despite the visual simplicity of the home screens, there’s also plenty of power packed into the settings menus. Overall, NordVPN is a far cry from some of the clunky alternative on the market that seem to have discounted this area of VPN software entirely.
Rating: 9/10 Easy installation and well-designed UI
#1: Servers for every purpose
Whether you’re hoping to NordVPN torrent, stream geo-restricted multimedia, or simply need a means of securing your traffic through encrypting and tunneling it through another server, NordVPN has options to meet your needs.
These include double VPNs (a daisy-chained network in which traffic is encrypted and tunneled twice for extra security), Onion over VPN (for Tor browser users) and anti-DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service attack) servers for those requiring connections with minimal interruptions. Users can also chose to direct traffic through dedicated IP VPN servers, obfuscated servers, as well as through the company’s wide network of “standard servers” with connection locations spanning from Albania to Vietnam.
#2: Panama headquarters
Those fearing that the prying eyes of the NSA will get their hands on NordVPN usage data can rest easy. The company is based in Panama although it does maintain a service called CloudVPN Inc. which is based in the US but only acts as a payment processor. This means that users’ data is processed and stored in a country without data retention laws that has been known to take a rather benign view of customers’ right to privacy.
#3: Multiple protocol support
Using NordVPN users can choose to connect from a wide variety of protocols including OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, IPSec, and PPTP. This provides support for those wishing to connect a wide variety of devices to the VPN, including older machines for which PPTP may be the more suitable option.
#4: Six simultaneous connections
NordVPN also allows users to make six simultaneous connections to the network. This makes it a great choice for those wishing to use one subscription for their PC, router, tablet, and home entertainment center. NordVPN’s six device limit is more generous than that offered by some other providers.
#5: Auto connect and kill switch
Those that want their VPN to run continuously on their machines will be pleased to learn that NordVPN features both a kill switch (cutting the VPN connection as soon as the connection is lost), a start on startup option, and an auto-connect feature which allows users to select the server that they automatically connected to when the program launches.
#6: CyberSec Support
NordVPN has recently begun offering support for CyberSec, a security upgrade which automatically blocks users from accessing suspicious websites. Impressively, the program can prevent the host computer from participating in DDoS attacks even if it has already been compromised by malware. This provides users with a good degree of online protection even if they are not running a dedicated internet security package on their machines.
Rating: 10/10 The server choice alone warrants full marks
Can NordVPN Unblock Netflix?
Unlike some other NordVPN reviews, we wanted to make 100% sure that the service hadn’t been blocked by Netflix’s attempts to deny access to IP addresses that are known to be managed by VPN providers.
We are pleased to report that, as the company states in its help center, we were able to unblock Netflix without issue using one of the US servers. For viewers hoping to access other Netflix regions through the VPN, France, India, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are all currently supported. NordVPN has taken a proactive approach to ensuring that its users manage to access Netflix successfully and has even recommended specific servers to use if others are unsuccessful. We are confident that this is one provider that users can feel confident trusting for Netflix access over the long term.
Rating: 9/10: It works and the company is committed to keeping it that way.
NordVPN undoubtedly packs some great features, but does it all come at a hefty price? Fortunately not. At $11.95/month for the monthly plan, $7/month for the six month plan, and $5.75 for the yearly plan it is marginally more expensive than some options on the market, but given its rich feature-set and that fact that it works with Netflix, we would personally be happy to shell out the small difference.
There is no NordVPN free option but the company does offer a fully featured 3-day no credit card required NordVPN free trial. This is a nice touch that many competitors don’t feel the need to offer.
All plans come with a 30 day month back guarantee and Bitcoin is accepted for payment.
Rating 8/10: Marginally more expensive than some competitors, but in our opinion, it’s more than worth the difference.
How Fast is NordVPN: Servers and Performance?
NordVPN’s UI isn’t great at providing recommendations for the best server for a certain purpose (streaming, gaming, etc) in the way that some providers are, but the speeds its offers are impressive. In addition, its wide network of 1,500 servers, including dedicated specialty servers, is among the best in the industry.
From a baseline downlink of 40.16 Mbps, speed only dropped to 35.07 Mbps when connecting through one of the company’s servers in Belgium. Connecting to a server in the US dropped the speed to 23.95 Mbps. These are good metrics that are more than sufficient for practically all browsing and streaming requirements.
One strange limitation worth pointing out is that users are unable to specify the city they are connecting to. We’re not sure where “Australia server 17” is located, but it’s probably not important that we know.
How Secure is NordVPN – NordVPN Logs
Based in Panama, which currently has no data retention or reporting laws, NordVPN is a totally no-logs provider. According to its help center, the only information kept about users is their email address and billing information. That’s a pretty ironclad guarantee if we ever saw one.
For those that really want to max out on their online security at all costs, the double VPNs (which tunnel and encrypt traffic twice) are a great option. NordVPN currently operates 17 such servers including those based in the UK and the US.
One thing, though. If you’re interested, don’t expect to find much information about the staff members or executive leadership of NordVPN. The company prides itself on anonymity and that evidently extends to its own public image.
Rating: 10/10: A true no-logs provider with great security options.
Is NordVPN Reliable: Customer Support
Finally, the customer support.
NordVPN offers 24/7 email and live chat support. Users have reported positively on interactions with the staff and you certainly get the impression that these are in-house professionals deeply familiar with the product’s operation.
There’s also a well populated help center which features an extensive selection of in-depth tutorials on how to get every configuration the platform offers up and running. The Android setup tutorial, for instance, walks through getting every connection protocol setup one-by-one.
Rating: 9/10: One point off for lack of phone support. Otherwise, it’s great.
NordVPN Rating by SecureThoughts.com
NordVPN is a premium VPN that lives up to its reputation. It’s fractionally more expensive than some other solutions on the market, but for stellar Netflix support and industry-leading features that even stray into the realm of internet security, we think it’s a worthwhile investment.
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