Updated: January 1st, 2018
This is the most detailed NordVPN review you will find. You will find everything you need to know about NordVPN in this review from pricing and performance, to encryption levels, to support and device compatibility. Also included is a detailed setup guide included to help you get NordVPN setup quickly on your device.
The fact that you are reading this review shows that you already understand that in today's online climate, using a VPN is absolutely essential - if not a necessity. So read on to find out whether NordVPN is the service provider that can give you exactly what you are looking for in a VPN.
- 30 day money back guarantee
- Very high-level security
- Multiple simultaneous connections
- Bitcoin accepted!
- Great customer support
- Speed can suffer at moments due to high-level of security
- At present, not Android supported
NordVPN are not messing around. Their bold claim of "the world's most advanced VPN" is not without warrant. They are clearly very intelligently dedicated to getting the highest security and privacy on their VPN service that is possible. The pricing (if you sign up for the 6 month or year account) is very competitive. Highly recommended as one of the best VPN providers currently out there.
Full NordVPN Review
Pricing, Plans & Payment Options
NordVPN offer a VPN service that is very affordable. The pricing ranges from as little as $4/month to $8/month. This puts them in the same price bracket as some of the best VPN service providers on the market today.
It comes as no surprise that NordVPN give customers the option of three pricing plans (this is what I have come to expect from every VPN service provider now), with each plan decreasing in cost with a longer subscription duration:
Nord give customers every payment option one would hope for (i.e. most commonly used) like PayPal and all major credit cards. In addition to these standard options, Nord also accept payment via BitCoin, which is a huge plus, since BitCoin gives customers looking to maintain as much anonymity as possible that extra layer of privacy protection:
Money back Guarantee
A 30 day money back guarantee is given to every new customer when they choose NordVPN. This is honestly what I expect from any top-level VPN service provider, since such a lengthy money back guarantee really speaks volumes to how confident the provider is in their VPN service. Clearly Nord are very confident in the quality of their service.
30 days is also, of course, more than enough time for a new customer to really get acquainted with the service and take some time to decide whether this is the one for them or not.
In addition to this generous month long money back guarantee period, NordVPN are so sure that users will find their service satisfactory that they even give first time users of the software a completely free 3 day initial "try out" period.
This is, in my experience of testing all the top VPN providers around right now, something that is exclusively offered by only NordVPN. All other providers shy away from such a bold offering to first time customers, as they fear that they will simply use the service for this 72 hour window, and then discard it when this time period expires.
However, after conducting this review NordVPN is clearly confident enough in its service that they are completely fine giving users such this introductory free trial.
There is no premium VPN service provider that does not offer a large array of features on their service and software. More than simply "ticking the boxes" of what a user should expect to get from a VPN, nowadays the providers strive to add on great additional feature-sets that help both the functionality/performance of the service as well as optimising the user experience as much as possible.
With that said, NordVPN are no exception to this. So I will go ahead and list out the main features you can expect to receive with this provider the moment you sign up and have the software installed on your devices:
- Nord boast having a unique 'double' encrypting process to all data transferred on their VPN, making their encryption one of --if not the -- best on the market.
No logs policy
- Neither user activity nor connection logs are kept by Nord. This is fantastic. Most VPN service providers claim to be "zero-logging" however many do keep connection logs. Not Nord. Good on them.
- Very rare, Nord offer users the option to connect not two, but six devices simultaneously to their VPN service. I have not come across a VPN service provider that can match this impressive feature.
24/7 customer support
- Support is provided to users via live chat (on site), email and also Facebook.
- OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols available.
- Shared IP addressed offered to users. Makes external tracking of user behaviour near-impossible.
- Google Chrome browser proxy extension available.
Personally owned DNS servers
- Gives Nord complete control over user data, which helps them keep it private and protected.
The NordVPN software is really great. From purchasing, downloading, setting up and connecting -- the whole process has clearly had a lot of thought and end-user consideration put into it. I went through this entire process and will walk you through it now, to give you an idea of how each step has been designed and developed.
I chose the monthly package, and payment was very straight forward and quick. I simply had to enter my email and create a password (to create my Nord account) then select my payment method:
Once my payment was processed, I was sent an email that gave me confirmation of payment, as well as confirming that my account was ready and setup:
Next step was to sign in and (hopefully) download a software interface for Mac -- since I am working from a Macbook -- from the Nord site without much hassle.
Luckily, this was exactly Nord's thought process too. They immediately give you a clear home screen when you login, with a tabbed layout that I easily navigated through to get my download link:
As you can see, Nord have a very clear and easy to navigate section here, which makes it super simple to locate the exact download link you need for your operating system and device. I went ahead and downloaded the Mac OS X software, which Nord have developed themselves.
With the software downloaded, installing was a breeze. It took just a few simple steps and then the software was ready to launch.
Upon launching, you are presented with a very well designed and aesthetically user-friendly home interface that looks like this:
The next step before being able to connect to a server, was to login. This was simple, since my username and password were created by myself earlier when I purchased the software (many VPNs auto-generate these to speed users through the payment process, but then the user has to go and find the email to get these details when prompted to login):
Once logged in, it was simply a case of selecting which server I wished to connect to. You have multiple ways of making this decision, with the first one obviously being by navigating the big map with all the server location pins scattered around. This map functions just like Google Maps, so it's intuitive and easy to use.
Alternatively, you can also select your server by clicking on either of the two icons to the right of the "I want to..." field atop the interface. Clicking the first 'globe' icon gives you a list of servers by country:
And clicking the icon beside the 'globe', gives you a pop list of ever server they have:
I went with choosing my server via the main map, going with a UK-based server located in London.
Connecting took literally just a few seconds, and that was me - connected and protected:
On the whole, this entire process was definitely one of the smoothest and fastest VPN setups I have experienced in the many VPN service providers I have reviewed. I could not give any improvements on this.
Since I also have an Android smartphone, I went ahead and setup the NordVPN on this device too. Here is an overview of that process:
This was the first disappointment I had with Nord, because they do not (at the time of this review), have an Android app developed. This meant that I was directed to go through the process of downloading the open source OpenVPN Connect app.
Luckily I already had this app on my smartphone from a previous VPN service provider review that also had no Android app developed yet, otherwise - you can just go to the Google Play store and download the app there for free:
With the OpenVPN Connect app downloaded and installed, you then need to navigate to the NordVPN website page that lists every .ovpn configuration file, which looks like this:
As you can see, the files are only really distinguishable (by country) by checking the first 2 digits of each file name. I again went with a UK server, so selected a random 'uk' configuration file to download.
I then imported this file to the OpenVPN Connect app, then simply entered my login details again and was connected within seconds:
I could definitely see this process being a laborious and perhaps problematic one for any user that has no experience with setting up a VPN on their Android device this way. I was able to go through this setup and connection process reasonably quickly (took about 2 minutes in total), however this was only because I have previously gone through this process with multiple VPN service providers before.
Upon updating this review NordVPN have developed dedicated mobile apps for both Android and iOS users, so you no longer have to go through the above process in order to get the VPN connected on your mobile device.
With that in mind, I went ahead and kept in the OpenVPN open-source setup process laid out above, as this can still be achieved with NordVPN, should you - for whatever reason - wish to set it up on your mobile device in this way.
NordVPN is compatible with all major operating systems and devices you would hope. Windows, OS X, iOS, Linux and Android are all supported, along with every web-connectable device you can imagine: laptop, desktop, smartphone, smartTV, games console, router, eReader, and many more.
This is the top standard level of compatibility I expect nowadays from any self-respecting VPN service provider, so I can conclude after doing this review NordVPN are delivering on this in bucketloads, which is great.
Here's a quick overview of how NordVPN's software performs across the most common operating systems and devices used today:
As expected, with Windows being arguably the most popular operating system used for decades now, NordVPN's desktop application works incredibly smoothly and intuitively thereon.
You can expect an insanely fast download and installation process with NordVPN on your Windows device. The software interface itself is as user-friendly as you would want a VPN to be.
From logging in, to choosing your server location, to connecting and disconnecting, there really is no functionality area of the NordVPN Windows software that is overly-technical or laborious to use.
The Mac software works equally as smooth and seamless as you would want. I personally use a Macbook Air so was able to try out firsthand the NordVPN for Mac over a month period to really take it for a rigorous test drive.
All the same functionality and bells 'n' whistles that come with the Windows software are integrated with the Mac app. Clearly NordVPN work hard to keep their user experience as consistently top quality as possible across all the major devices.
NordVPN Android & iOS Mobile
I went into detail as to the full user experience on mobile earlier in this review. Suffice it to say that the app delivers on all fronts. I could not find any fault or issues while using the app on both my Android device and my iPhone 7.
One great thing was that the mobile app updates with NordVPN are right in the sweet spot, frequency-wise. What I mean by this is there are regular enough updates to assure that the developers are constantly working very hard on improving both the functionality and user experience of the mobile apps -- while also not requiring so many updates to the app that it becomes annoying.
NordVPN Home Router
It is expected of any popular VPN service provider in today's competitive marketplace to allow as easy an integration of their app onto a user's home router as possible.
So when I went through this process, I was happy to find that NordVPN provide a super straight forward and fast process with this. You really require near-zero "technical expertise" to go through the steps needed to get the VPN connected onto your home router.
Speed & Performance
A quick speed test was conducted on my Macbook both without then with the VPN connected to the London-based server I selected at random.
As you can see from the results, the speed was quite heavily affected once connected to the server, with the download speed decreasing considerably. This was apparently a commonly experienced occurrence with NordVPN's servers, with many of them sacrificing speed for security. This was quite disappointing, as obviously users would ideally want both fast speeds and top security on the servers, without having to sacrifice one for the other:
I went the extra step and researched the hundreds of available individual user experiences online that have been published by people who have had firsthand usage of the app.
The general consensus is that the VPN does indeed sacrifice a noticeably higher level of speed once connected to a server, in comparison to the other most popular VPN providers around right now.
With this in mind, you should think about why you are wanting to use a VPN before going with NordVPN. Are you looking primarily for privacy protection (and thus a high level of encryption on your connection) or is unblocking online media/websites/content the main reason for you?
If it is the former, then NordVPN is a very solid VPN for you to go with. Their encryption levels are top notch and of the best in the business. So if you can handle a little slower internet speed, then go for it.
As mentioned earlier in this NordVPN review, they offer round-the-clock 24/7 customer support. They provide this through online live chat directly on their website, email and also directly through their Facebook page.
I checked just how "24/7" their support really is, and got a pretty positive reply:
I also got a response to an email-submitted support query within 30 minutes of my request, which is a solid response time. Although I didn't test their Facebook page for support response time, you can see that they are very attentive and quick with these. It's a confident approach to publicly allow users to comment and then respond back to them via their Facebook page, so I must applaud NordVPN for doing this.
NOTE: When talking about a VPN's support, it is always going to be subjective, since this is (one would hope) a completely human-based area of a service provider. So I can only speak of my personal experience with NordVPN in this aspect. I have heard some users complain of long wait-times with this provider's support, with just as many talk of super fast, attentive and friendly support. So if you go with NordVPN, then definitely let me know in the comments section at the bottom of this review how your interaction with the support went - should have needed to use it at any point.
The website itself of NordVPN is very well designed and structured. Visitors who land on the site are given clear information on what they want to know about most either directly on the home page, or via the clearly displayed navigation options throughout the site in the header and footer menus.
Here's a snapshot of what users are presented with when they land on the home page. It's a nice touch that they tailor the background image to your location - with my being shown a UK image:
It is clear that a lot of consideration for the user experience was put into this site layout, without sacrificing the actual design and feel. Many VPN sites fulfil one or the other when it comes to design and layout, but I'm of the opinion that NordVPN's site strikes a great balance between the two.
Importantly, when you last on the main homepage, the steps to actually setup your account on the website are super easy and obvious. At no point navigating the website did I ever feel lost or did not know what the next required step was.
Security & Privacy
With NordVPN being physically located in Panama, they are incredibly well positioned to provide one of the most secure VPN services, since this location makes them exempt from such privacy-compromising jurisdictions like the US and EU.
NordVPN also offer zero-logs, and they actually deliver on this, by not logging usage nor connection activity, which is great.
They use 256 AES bit OpenVPN encryption, which I always use as my default to have the most private, secure and protected connection on any VPN service I use. The "double-encryption" NordVPN employee only further solidifies this already top level of encryption.
NordVPN Review Conclusion
Overall, I am very impressed with NordVPN and the service they provide. Setting the software up is a breeze, although I do hope they develop an official app for smartphone configuration. The cost is fantastic for the level of encryption given to users, and although the speed is sacrificed for said level of top privacy and encryption -- I for one am happy to deal with that, since privacy and security is the main point of using a VPN service, ultimately.
So I definitely highly recommend giving NordVPN a try if you're looking to check out by far one of the best VPN service providers available today when it comes to encryption and security of your data.
What I liked most:
Ultimately, NordVPN out-performs its competitor VPN providers a few key areas, such a keeping zero connection or usage logs of its users (very important).
BYPASSES GEO-BLOCKING EFFECTIVELY
Although this VPN cannot give access to all popular online media streaming services, NordVPN has been proven to bypass the proxy-detection layers of both Netflix and BBC iPlayer. So if those two services are your go-to entertainment streaming choices, then NordVPN could be the one for you.
SERVER LOCATION CHOICE (especially China)
The choice of server locations are vast and numerous, which allows you to access a huge amount of content around the globe remotely, even content that is restricted to China - a notoriously censor-heavy nation - thanks to the 'obfsproxy' provided by NordVPN.
It's pretty standard these days to expect a 'money back guarantee' period from any software, let alone with VPNs specifically, so NordVPN offering a 30-day period for this is unsurprising. However, where they really do show off how confident they are in their customer's being satisfied with the service really shows by them offering a completely free 3 day trial when you first try out the VPN.
With many users wanting to have their "ass covered" online when torrenting, NordVPN are in harmony with this activity by fully allowing P2P activity on their service. In other words - you can torrent with this software. Yey.
NOT BASED WITHIN THE US
This factor reached a little controversy lately between other entities that conducted NordVPN reviews independently - since NordVPN is associated under "CloudVPN", which setup the payment for NordVPN users within the United States. However, you can be rest-assured that the actual incorporation of the company is within Panama, which means that NordVPN does not have to adhere to the much more privacy-invasive data laws imposed under a US-jurisdiction.
A nice little user-experience booster that NordVPN offer, which their competitors do not offer as standard, is a nifty little browser plugin that lets you have the VPN in your browser of choice. This gives you ability to connect/disconnect from the VPN from right inside your browser.
What I disliked most:
As with any VPN, there are invariably some negatives to the positives. No software is absolutely perfect. So with that in mind, here are the main drawbacks highlighted with NordVPN that are worth considering before going with them as your VPN provider:
As mentioned in this review, I personally experienced a drop in speed significant enough to make a note of. Speed dropping is inevitable when you connect to a VPN, as this is simply part of the process. However, NordVPN not only sacrifice a lot of speed for a higher level of encryption - the speed dropping is also rather inconsistent, which can be more annoying than a consistently slow speed!
It has been brought to our attention that some data leaking has been documented by multiple users of NordVPN. Specifically pertaining to IPv6 leaks. In Laymen's terms, this means that the 'top level encryption' that NordVPN proudly offers its users, many not be as unbreakable as one would expect.
Have you used NordVPN?
Do you have experience firsthand with using NordVPN on your personal laptop, desktop, mobile device or otherwise?
We would absolutely love to hear about how you found the software as far as functionality and usability. Was it as easy to setup and use as you hoped? Better than expected? Worse?
Whatever your experience - we want to know. Do not think twice about popping a comment below in the comments section. Be as descriptive or vague as you like. A simple "out of 5 stars" comment will be hugely appreciated -- just as a comprehensive personal review of your own!
Thanks for reading through this comprehensive NordVPN review, and should you choose to go with them, then good luck and happy surfing.
If you want to check out the most popular VPN providers that are on the same level as (or in some cases are better than) NordVPN, then check out the detailed reviews I have personally conducted below: