NordVPN Review: Is it the Best VPN Out There?

NordVPN is based in Panama, one of the best places in the world for companies that do not keep user activity logs. In terms of user interest and features offered, it is one of the best consumers Virtual Private Network Services (VPN) this money can buy. Best of all – it’s really not that expensive.

With a vast pool of 5,000 servers in 62 countries, NordVPN has the largest network I have seen to date. It also supports almost all forms of consumer devices and is known for its ridiculous user-friendliness.

At the same time, it also offers enough options to cover all bases, from Onion support to military-grade encryption and continuous updates that keep it at the cutting edge of technology.

Here’s a quick Review of NordVPN

About the company

  • Company – NordVPN
  • Founded – 2012
  • Country – Panama
  • Website – https://nordvpn.com/

Ergonomics and specifications

  • Applications available for – iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Mac
  • Browser Plugins – Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Devices – Router, Android TVs,
  • Encryption – IKEv2 / IPSec, OpenVPN
  • Streaming and P2P allow

Benefits of NordVPN: What I like about NordVPN

Pricing 1- NordVPN: Reasonable choice in the long term

NordVPN has different prices that you can choose according to the duration of your subscription. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the subscription period, the lower the price you pay per month.

NordVPN has adjusted the prices of its long term plans in September 16th, 2019. The plans for years 3 and 2 now cost 3.49 and 4.99 per month respectively (3.99 and 2.99 per month respectively). I have to say that NordVPN presents a reasonable value proposition for $3.49 per month on the three-year plan.

If you pay per month, NordVPN’s prices are on par with industry standards.

2- NordVPN can help you protect your identity

Personally, I believe that VPN providers should not be located in countries where data retention laws are too strict. These laws and the main function of VPNs – anonymity – only present a conflict of interest.

We have seen exactly how bad this can be for some VPN users, such as in the case of IPVanish, a U.S.-based virtual private network service provider, which allegedly provided Homeland Security with logged information about one of its users, resulting in the arrest of a suspect. The biggest controversy in this case was that it was not even supposed to have these logs.

Strict No Logs Policy

Given what I shared above, I am also more inclined to believe FNVPN when it publicly states a no logging policy.

According to their own website, NordVPN guarantees a strict no logging policy for NordVPN services, which means that your activities using NordVPN services are provided through an automated technical process, are not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or transmitted to third parties.

Anonymous payment method

Since you only need a username and password to register, true paranoid people also have the option of paying by unidentifiable means. This includes crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, which will help to mitigate any trace that might lead you directly to them.

Immobilizer

If you ever use NordVPN and your connection is interrupted, you can configure the application to terminate cutting off the data flow to your device. This prevents your identity from leaking, as it is no longer protected by the VPN server.

You can configure NordVPN to work on two levels: complete end of data flow or restricted access. The desktop version of NordVPN can use both. The restricted version is more useful for mobile devices and allows you to choose which applications on your device are prevented from transmitting data.

Dual VPN

Double VPN is a solution that will appeal to those who are more interested in hiding their identity. VPNs work by routing your connection through a server that changes your IP address so that your original address is hidden.

By using the Double VPN feature, your connection will be routed through two separate servers, thus modified twice. This adds an extra buffer layer in case one of the IP leaks for any reason.

3- Strong Encryption protects your data

By combining military encryption and secure protocols, NordVPN is one of the most secure virtual private networks on the market. AES-256 encryption is as high up the food chain as it is now and is used by governments and militaries around the world.

Encryption is combined with a range of security protocols that you can choose from depending on your needs. Your choice of security protocol will affect your VPN connection speed as well as the type of encryption you can use.

Now, OpenVPN is the fastest and most robust NordVPN protocol, but it has been tested WireGuard as well. WireGuard is an upcoming protocol that is supposed to be able to outperform everything on the market in terms of speed as well as encryption levels.

4- NordVPN Speeds – One of the fastest VPNs on the market

NordVPN has one of the most extensive server networks I have encountered to date. It boasts over 5,000 servers in 62 countries. Some of you may wonder why this is related to speed, but the physical distance of a VPN server is one of the factors that affect the speed and ping response. A server located near your current location would give you a better chance of low ping rates and high speeds.

VPN speed tests are only used as guidelines because many factors affect the actual speed. To get the most out of a VPN connection, you need a powerful device (for managing encryption and decryption) as well as a high actual transmission speed of your Internet connection.

NordVPN Con: What’s not so good with NordVPN

1- P2P Limited to specific servers

If you remember the speed ranges of the above tests, I managed to get speeds ranging from 30Mbps to 127Mbps. This is perfectly suitable for streaming video, even HD content. This means that technically, you should be able to perfectly stream content from any site around the world.

As usual, my standard test was to try to connect to BBC iPlayer, which went well. I also streamed some smooth and stutter-free 4k YouTube videos.

NordVPN allows P2P traffic but this is limited to specific servers. To do so, you will have to make the selection in your NordVPN client. I just recommend to choose “P2P Servers” and allow NordVPN to select the best one for you.

Peer connections were a bit intermittent at first, but once you gave it some time, I realized that everything was going well. I was able to run my torrents almost at the speed I reserved for my downloads, which was a lot!

Real world situation and updates

Can you play on NordVPN?

If, for any reason, you feel the need to play via a VPN, you must select a server near you in order to reduce delays caused by longer pings. The line speed should be fast enough. However, if you plan to use the VPN to connect to specific foreign servers to play, this may cause a small problem.

Ping rates increase quite quickly as the server is far away. This is not isolated from NordVPN, it’s a fact of life – technical limitations, so to speak.

NordVPN on underpowered routers

All these tests were performed on the default protocols and settings of the NordVPN Windows client. An important point to insert here is that all VPNs generate a considerable overload in terms of CPU resources consumed due to encryption and decryption.

This makes them less ideal for working with underpowered devices such as routers. I would not recommend running a VPN service from a router unless you have a VERY good router (which probably costs a bomb).

Desktops, laptops and newer mobile devices (less than 2 years old) should be fine.

NordVPN breach caused by vulnerabilities in a data center in Finland

NordVPN has confirmed that an attacker has breached one of its servers in Finland. The incident occurred in March 2018 (news reported on Engadget 18 months later) and there is no indication that a NordVPN user was affected or that his data was accessed by the malicious actor.

Here are some key points about the violation, based on an email sent on October 23rd, 2019:

  • While connected to the server, the hacker could only see what an ordinary Internet Service Provider would see, but this could not have been customized or linked to a particular user.
  • The server itself did not contain any user activity logs. None of the NordVPN applications sent user-created credentials for authentication. User names and passwords could therefore not be intercepted.
  • The NordVPN service as a whole was not hacked; our code was not hacked; the VPN tunnel was not breached. NordVPN applications are not affected. It was an individual instance of unauthorized access to 1 belonging to more than 5000 servers of the company.

    Chronology of the incident:

  • The affected server went online on January 31st, 2018.
  • Evidence of the violation was made public on March X of 5, 2018.
  • The potential for unauthorized access to the NordVPN server was limited when the data center deleted the undisclosed management account on X XUM Xth, March 20th.
  • The server was shredded on April 13, 2019 – at which time NordVPN suspected a possible breach.

Verdict: Is NordVPN a good buy?

With the lowest long term pricing plan I’ve seen so far, NordVPn is a little hard to beat in terms of cost. In addition to a very extensive network, state-of-the-art features and an excellent reputation, NordVPN is a big winner.

As far as speed is concerned, I think it is a bit more unstable than ExpressVPN but not much. After all, the experience went smoothly and I felt that I was not limited by the use of a VPN service. Well, maybe during single downloads, but that’s pretty rare for me.

Final Review Summary on NordVPN

Pros 

  • Reasonable long-term plan price
  • Trustworthy and feature-rich
  • Massive server network

Cons 

  • P2P limited to specific servers

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