NordVPN Review

UPDATED: February 17, 2016

Overall Score:

Price

4
out of 5

Features

5
out of 5

Speed

3.5
out of 5

Customer Service

5
out of 5

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.

Company Summary

NordVPN are a well established VPN provider in the space, and rightfully are recognised as one of the best there is. They operate under the jurisdiction of Panama, where there are legally no mandatory data-retention laws, which certainly gives them an edge against competing VPN providers. It's for this reason, along with their very high-level attention to anonymity, that they offer zero logs and data holding to all users.

Homepage Snapshot

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Operating System Compatibility

Pricing Summary

$8 for one month account
$5 
per month for six month account
$4 per month for one year account

VPN Protocols Offered

L2TP

PPTP

OPEN VPN

IPSec

Pros

  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Very high-level security
  • Multiple simultaneous connections
  • Bitcoin accepted!
  • Great customer support

Cons

  • ​Speed can suffer at moments due to high-level of security
  • At present, not Android supported

The Verdict

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

PRICING

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. 

PLANS

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:

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PAYMENT OPTIONS

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:

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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. 

Feautures

Double encryption
- 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.

Multi-device connection
- 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. 

Protocols
- OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols available.

Shared IP
- Shared IP addressed offered to users. Makes external tracking of user behaviour near-impossible.

Chrome Proxy
- 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 Software

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.

PURCHASING

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:

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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:

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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.

DOWNLOAD

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:

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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.

SETUP 

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:

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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):

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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:

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And clicking the icon beside the 'globe', gives you a pop list of ever server they have:

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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:

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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. 

MOBILE SOFTWARE 

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:

DOWNLOAD

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:

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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:

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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:

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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. 

Compatibility

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'm pleased to see Nord delivering on this. 

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:

Without VPN:

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With VPN:

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Support

As mentioned earlier in this review, NordVPN 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:

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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. 

The Website

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:

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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. 

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. 

Finally, it is worth mentioned the multiple free tools/add-ons that NordVPN users get when they use their service. Further security-increasing services given to users at no extra cost include a Google Chrome proxy add-on and two features that allow users to chat with each other in complete privacy and anonymity via Secret Notes (like SnapChat but with text) and Nord's own encrypted chat. 

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.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
NordVPN
Author Rating
4
Chris Beattie
 

Managing Director & Editor in Chief at Fried.com -- I live for tech, fitness, autonomy, music and purpose.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Kelly Maggart - July 1, 2016

It’s not really a comment, it’s a question. In my search for a vpn I came across one that also scanned for malware & adware. It’s called F-Secure FREEDOME. However, I don’t think that it functions at the level of security that NordVPN does. Since you research vpn’s I would like to know if you’ve come across any other vpn’s that offer the security that NordVPN does with the malware & adware screening??

Sincerely,
Kelly Maggart

Reply
    Chris Beattie - July 4, 2016

    Hi Kelly! Thanks for your great question. I myself have actually been searching for an all-in-one type solution just like you mention, but have unfortunately yet to find a secure VPN service that also offers legitimate malware & adware protection. You are correct in saying that NordVPN does not offer such protection, nor do any of the top VPN services currently out there.

    Rest assured I will let you know the moment I find and review a VPN service that does offer this. Thanks again, Kelly!

    Reply
      Kelly Maggart - July 4, 2016

      Hey Chris, Thanks for getting back with me. Which malware, adware app would you recommend then?? Are there any free apps that are any good, or an app that is reasonably priced?? I would really appreciate your input. I had 2 accounts hacked on 06/20/2016 so I really need to do this as quickly as possible. I’m laid off from work right now, that’s the reason I’m watching the money closely. If the free apps won’t do the job please tell me. Thanks again!

      Sincerely,
      Kelly Maggart

      Reply
      Kelly Maggart - July 5, 2016

      Hey Chris,

      I actually have another question for you. Have you ever checked out 360 Security? If so, would you please let me know what you think about the app? I would really appreciate it. I like the NordVPN that you did the review on, however, I still need a malware & adware app. Thank you.

      Sincerely,
      Kelly Maggart

      Reply
        Chris Beattie - July 5, 2016

        Hey Kelly,

        Thanks again for explaining more about your situation — really sorry to hear you were hacked!

        Unfortunately we have not expanding our reviewing into the anti-virus and malware protection space just yet (we’re working on it, though!) so sadly I cannot give you any really insightful info on this, especially on the best free software in that space.

        Personally I have heard nothing but great things about Kaspersky, so I would recommend trying them out. I believe they offer a generous free trial period, so you can see if it fulfils your security requirements before deciding to pay or not.

        Hope that helps, Kelly. Thanks again for reaching out!

        Reply

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