NordVPN Review: how good is the VPN service?

NordVPN is a commercial VPN service with desktop programs for Windows, Mac and Linux devices, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and options to set up the service manually on modems, routers, NAS and other platforms.

NordVPN at a glance

  • over 5200 servers in 59 countries
  • no bandwidth restrictions
  • state of the art protocol support
  • no-logs policy with audit verification
  • P2P support
  • most streaming sites may be unlocked
  • excellent performance test results
  • lag-free gaming
  • advanced security and privacy features
  • Only Live Chat and Email support

NordVPN features

nordvpn interface

NordVPN has a single plan that offers all features of the service to its customers. Users get discounts when they sign-up for longer periods of time, but the feature set is always the same.

All customers may install and use the service on up to six devices at the same time. These can be desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, routers, or any other hardware that is capable of connecting to VPN services.

Note: NordVPN is offering dedicated IP addresses for €56 per year. This is an add-on service.

Most NordVPN users will likely use the provided clients, but options are available to configure devices manually if that is required or preferred.

NordVPN operates more than 5300 servers in 59 countries; the company has a strict no-logging policy and the claim was confirmed twice by independent security audits. The latest audit in 2020 by PwC Switzerland confirmed the claims.

https://nordvpn.com/blog/nordvpn-audit/

Privacy and security features

nordvpn settings

NordVPN supports a wide range of privacy and security features. The VPN service supports the state of the art WireGuard protocol, called NordLynx by the company. It is much leaner than other VPN protocols and has been modified by NordVPN engineers using a double NAT system which ensures user privacy when using the protocol.

Clients provide access to all servers, and it is up to the customer to pick a server from the country list or a specialty server.

Besides designated P2P servers, NordVPN does support Double VPN servers. These chain a user’s connection and always uses two servers in different counties to improve security further.

Regular VPN connections are routed through a single VPN server which protects the user’s IP address on the Internet. A single compromised server could reveal the user’s IP address, but that is not the case if a Double VPN is used, as the second VPN’s IP address would be revealed in that case.

NordVPN clients support a number of extra security features:

CyberSec – CyberSec integrates ad blocking and the blocking of malicious websites into the service. It is turned on by default and acts as a first-line of defense.

  • Kill Switch – if the VPN connection is terminated, for whatever reason, Internet access may be cut immediately. Instead of blocking the entire Internet traffic, users may also stop certain applications from connecting to the Internet while the VPN connection is not up and running.
  • Obfuscated Servers – The feature works only with the OpenVPN protocol. It is designed to hide the VPN traffic to use it in censorship environments, e.g. when traveling to China to protect your Internet connection in these environments.
  • Onion over VPN – Combines the benefits of a VPN with the Tor anonymity service. May be used to access .onion sites without using Tor Browser.
  • Split Tunneling – Split tunneling allows you to use the VPN for select activities only. You could use the feature to watch geo-restricted streams on Netflix or Amazon Prime, while using the non-VPN connection for other activities.

NordVPN Speed Test

We ran several tests to determine NordVPN’s performance. The system we used was connected to a 50/20 Mbit connection to the Internet from a location in Germany.

We used Speedtest.net for the test, and ran three tests for two different servers to test a local NordVPN server and a server in the United States.

Local Server results:

  • Download Speed: 53 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 20.50 Mbps
  • Ping: 13ms

Wlan test local:

nordvpn benchmark internet speed

  • Download Speed: 32.5 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 13.30 Mbps
  • Ping: 30ms

United States Server results:

  • Download Speed: 50.6 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 20.10 Mbps
  • Ping: 96ms

Wlan United States test:

nordvpn benchmark usa

  • Download Speed: 28.6 Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 6.2 Mbps
  • Ping: 104ms

The tested performance matches that of the Internet line, which is very good. Mileage may vary depending on the server or servers, and the Internet speed as well as connection quality on the user’s end. All in all, excellent speed test results for standard Internet connections.

NordVPN privacy test

A VPN should not leak the local device’s IP address, as it would not be all that great for privacy. Good news is that NordVPN passed all leak tests that we ran:

DNS Leak Test: passed (https://www.dnsleaktest.com/(

IP Leak Test: passed (https://ipleak.net/)

Unblock streaming platforms test

You may unblock streaming platforms using NordVPN. Please note that some server IP addresses may be blocked as streaming platforms may block certain IP addresses from accessing their content (if they assume that it is a VPN IP).

For this test, Netflix and Amazon Prime were selected. First, I tried to access the services from Germany using a German server; this worked without issues.

For the next test, I connected to a United States server and tried to access the two streaming services again; this worked equally well and without any issues.

Judging from comments online, but not tested as part of this review, NordVPN can be used to unlock a wide range of streaming services that include Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max and Go, Paramount Plus, Crunchyroll, as well as many others. For Netflix, all regional streaming offerings could be accessed using NordVPN.

The company behind NordVPN

Tefincom S.A. established NordVPN in 2012 in Panama. The company was renamed to NordVPN S.A. in 2020 as part of a restructuring.

In 2019, NordVPN became one of the founding members of the VPN Trust Initiative (next to ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, SurfShark and NetProtect).

Verdict

NordVPN is an excellent VPN service. It is a bit pricey if you subscribe for a single month, but if you sign-up for two years, you pay $3.30 per month effectively and get 3-months free on top of that.

NordVPN uses its own enhanced version of the WireGuard protocol, supports all the features that you’d expect from a VPN plus more, such as double-server support, streaming services unlocking, or obfuscation support.

It is not too expensive if you pay for a year or two years. While the support is quite accessible via chat and email, there is no option to call company support.

All in all, NordVPN offers excellent value for the money that you pay, provided that you subscribe for a year or a longer period.

NordVPN FAQ

NordVPN application is not opening

There are several reasons for NordVPN not opening:

  1. Check the System Tray to see if it is already running. You may also open the Task Manager, on Windows with Ctrl-Shift-Esc, and look for the NordVPN process there.
  2. Some applications, MSI Afterburner and ASUS GPU Tweak, may interfere and need to be removed.
  3. Antivirus software may block the program (as a false positive).
  4. Try restarting the system.
  5. Reinstall the application. NordVPN requires certain components.
Summary
software image
Author Rating
1star1star1star1star1star
4 based on 18 votes
Software Name
NordVPN
Operating System
Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Software Category
Networking
Landing Page
Advertisement

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «

Comments

  1. Anonymous said on July 23, 2021 at 7:34 am
    Reply

    At least it mention at end that is an advertisement, because nord only receive good reviews if they’re paid, it’s really bad, alongside with all those other services that invest so much in paid reviews (ex: express and surfshark).
    But hey, you got paid for writing this, good job.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 23, 2021 at 7:57 am
      Reply

      This is not a paid review.

    2. Anonymous said on July 23, 2021 at 1:05 pm
      Reply

      lol

    3. Mike said on July 23, 2021 at 1:21 pm
      Reply

      The word “Advertisement” you are seeing at the end has nothing to do with the article but with the video advertisement that you are obviously blocking. Way to go making a fool of yourself though.

    4. theotherguy said on July 23, 2021 at 10:28 pm
      Reply

      Totally agree. NordVPN is known for payed reviews. Even if this one isn’t, it still is a shady business practice and I wouldn’t trust such a company with my data (remember, while using the VPN they can basically see all your traffic!).
      Don’t use NordVPN!

      1. yourthirdtoe said on July 24, 2021 at 7:12 am
        Reply

        @theotherguy said on July 23, 2021 at 10:28 pm

        ok, so what should we use instead?

      2. Iron Heart said on July 27, 2021 at 7:55 pm
        Reply
  2. X Pat said on July 23, 2021 at 8:32 am
    Reply

    How has it performed for watching UK geo-locked TV like BBC or ITV?

    1. Lee Button said on July 23, 2021 at 11:51 am
      Reply

      I’ve had a few months and all UK streaming sites work fine.
      BBC websites do not work though when on UK server and have not worked out why!

    2. Rich said on July 23, 2021 at 3:38 pm
      Reply

      I used nord to watch bbc iplayer from us. Works perfectly.

  3. Tom said on July 23, 2021 at 8:57 am
    Reply

    Good review, Martin.

    Maybe one thing: for the readers, you should mention the data breach Nord suffered from in 2018, and the fact that they where incommunicado about it for several months (https://www.techradar.com/news/whats-the-truth-about-the-nordvpn-breach-heres-what-we-now-know)

    1. Lindsay said on July 23, 2021 at 2:50 pm
      Reply

      That’s damning and the fact they didn’t realise they’d been hacked for something like six months should probably fill anyone with scepticism…

    2. DrKnow said on July 23, 2021 at 6:13 pm
      Reply

      Just one server got hacked and no data monitoring took place or any traffic could be linked to accounts. This breach always gets over reported.

      Specific mention should be made of NordVPN’s responses after the attack and how they hardened their systems and had their software and systems externally security audited.

  4. John said on July 23, 2021 at 12:07 pm
    Reply

    I have been using NordVPN for 2 years now, at first I had some disconnections, but then it became super fast with no lag or disconnections at all.

    I will totally recommend NordVPN as a cheap but good service.

  5. John B said on July 23, 2021 at 12:47 pm
    Reply

    Tried it for a couple of months and it was okay with the exception that it would break some TLS certificates so I couldn’t justify staying with it. All VPNs do suffer from the problem of spammers also using them and thus many websites will hard block VPN IP addresses so on occasion I have to reconnect or outright disconnect for some websites. I do production work so I can’t be messing around with a command line or terminal dumping paragraphs of commands to do something I should be able to do with a few clicks. Went back to Private Internet Access and haven’t had the TLS issues. Apparently it’s a known issue though I wasn’t sure if they were actively pursuing a fix for it.

  6. Famously Anonymous said on July 23, 2021 at 1:27 pm
    Reply

    It works. I use it with the OpenVPN client. No problems. Good, and constant, connection speeds.

    Have had good success with streaming services in foreign countries. P2P is also good.

    Only bad point at this time is that they won’t release the details on how to connect with Wireshark. Use of the app is mandatory for that protocol.

    1. Quick Brown Fox said on July 25, 2021 at 9:18 pm
      Reply

      There is a way to use NordLynx, the customized version of the Wireshark protocol.

      1. Launch the NordVPN application.
      2. Click on the Settings button. It is the second button from the left on the right side at the top of the NordVPN screen.
      3. Click the Auto-connect link.
      4. On the right side of the panel, if the “Choose a VPN server automatically” option is turned on, click the blue space to turn it off.
      5. Doing that will open a box allowing the user to select a preferred protocol.
      6. Click the “NordLynx recommended” box.
      7. Click the arrow at the top left corner of the screen to return to the NordVPN application.

      You are now ready to surf using the NordLynx protocol.

  7. Anonymous said on July 23, 2021 at 1:52 pm
    Reply

    NordVPN is blocked in my country, Turkey. Even if you purchase the service using another VPN to access their website they won’t refund because most of the time people purchase 6/12 month plans to buy cheaper.
    For me Mullvad and iVPN practice of creating account is way better in terms of privacy. I do not have to give my email address or any contact info to the provider in Mullvad and iVPN. they create a unique ID while purchasing and you can do everything with that unique ID.

    NordVPN also makes aggressive amount of advertising on Youtube, which makes me think how much they earn to have such a big budget on advertising.

    Overall I won’t and can’t use NordVPN. So, for me personally it is not a good service.

  8. J Time said on July 23, 2021 at 3:36 pm
    Reply

    Not clear which platform this app is being tested on.
    Linux version is not so good with various problems on going.

    This review comes across as cherry picking the best points & appears to be a very short testing time frame.

    Suggest a new template is made up for a more thorough & comparative review.

    Certainly this review comes across as more promotional rather than independent.

    Anyway, Nordvpn is getting better as time progresses but at quite a slow pace.

    Cheers!

  9. booo said on July 23, 2021 at 4:26 pm
    Reply

    I ditched nord with 1.5 years left on my sub. Constant popups every couple of minutes asking me to change my password or update the program, sometimes even a few days after updating. Half the time I would connect but really had no connection at all, i would have to quit the app and relaunch a few times before the connection would work. Once it did connect it would work well. I use Mulvad now, no nagging, popups or connection problems.

  10. fk39s said on July 23, 2021 at 5:23 pm
    Reply

    NordVPN has been paying all kinds of websites and youtubers for advertising for years, I didn’t expect this one to do it too…

    -They have an absolutely shady origin, their owners are unknown, they appeared out of nowhere with huge fortunes to suddenly expand a large VPN network on a global scale and organize a colossal campaign that has done nothing but increase.

    -They use FALSE advertising, such as claiming to be the best in the world, or including a countdown to get an “offer” that restarts when you delete cookies.

    -They were hacked, instead of warning their customers they acted with extreme negligence and tried to hide it for a year, until they got caught.

    -Their MAC client piggybacks on google every 20 seconds. The web uses a multitude of integrated google services. The android app is full of crawlers.

    -They do not offer open source or audited apps.

    DO NOT TRUST NORDVPN. There are much better alternatives, such as mullvad, azirevpn or airvpn.

    1. JonSnow said on July 24, 2021 at 12:38 pm
      Reply

      almost all VPN providers are scam’s to get your money. No one knows who’s behind any of them. Some of them are ran by Governments to catch criminals.

      1. u43s said on July 24, 2021 at 5:17 pm
        Reply

        @JonSnow

        Almost all” is perhaps an exaggeration, although with free ones it certainly applies.

        Using an unreliable VPN can easily be worse than using an unethical ISP. When analyzing and comparing VPNs, the main question should be whether or not they are reliable, not the performance of any of their servers at any particular time.

  11. Uwe said on July 23, 2021 at 6:54 pm
    Reply

    Having used ProtonVPN for years. In my opinion, the best VPN provider you can get for money down-the-line.

  12. Anonymous said on July 23, 2021 at 10:00 pm
    Reply

    Maybe decentralized crypto VPNs will catch on, if the security of servers can be guaranteed. No sign ups and payment with anonymous crypto. @OrchidProtocol

  13. Yanta said on July 24, 2021 at 3:39 am
    Reply

    NordVPN has many issues. I’ve been with them for 4 years and only just renewed my subscription. The only reason I stayed – they are fast – at least using UDP. On TCP I lose up to 85% of my speed.

    1. Obfuscated servers are not supported everywhere. Not in my location.
    2. Their client is buggy and is resource heavy. I use just the OpenVPN software with a program called VPnNetMon for a kill switch.
    3. The support only two ports – 1194 and 443.
    4. Their technical support is extremely poor. Of the dozen or so issues I’ve raised over the years none of them have been resolved by them.
    5. They don’t know the technology that well. For example, I asked them about a massive DNS leaks when using their DNS servers. They support OpenVPN but have no idea what block-outside-dns does or how it affects local name resolution. That’s just one of many examples.
    6. If you change your email address during your subscription, you can’t renew your subscription. You have to subscribe as a new customer. This is because the renewal process uses your old address.
    7. You must have a cell phone to buy their product. I don’t and had to put someone else’s phone number on my bank account so Nord could send them a OTP to buy their product. Nord Support were very evasive and dishonest about this process and would not answer questions.
    8. They have different prices for different people. They also have different prices for new customers and returning customers but they don’t clarify that on their website. It’s quite misleading.
    9. Their client never picks a good server and continually nags. As I said, raw OpenVPN with a third party kill switch was the only way to go.
    10. All VPN providers have issues with being blocked by various businesses, but Nord seem to be a bigger target than others. They are worse in this respect than others I have tried. Paypal, eBay, Blizzard games all banned me for using NordVPN. Several retailers and many tech websites also block Nord. But yes, this is common across many VPN providers.
    11. Because they expect everyone to use their defective client app they decommission servers regularly and one day the server I use just stops working. Have to download the zip file with all their servers (I am always on so my PC has the server hard coded). Some of the servers are atrocious. so it takes half a day every month or so testing a bunch of servers to find one that works well.
    12. In my location they used to have many partnerships. Now they are down to 2. One is more blacklisted than the other. Of the other companies, one went bankrupt and others just vanished.

    So why do I still use them? PIA require that you disconnect from the VPN to send email or use a feature to exclude specific apps from the VPN so that emails can be sent off VPN. I don’t want my ISP reading my emails. So that was a show stopper.

    NordVPN is fast, I’ll give them that. On UDP my speeds are 95% or better of my maximum possible speed. I’m on a 100/40 FTTP service. They are also quite reliable, once you understand the quirks and as long as you don’t use their client software.

    It took me almost a month to get my new subscription sorted out, in a total vacuum with just a bunch of excuses from them. If it wasn’t for the fact that PIA can’t send emails on VPN I would have jumped ship.

    1. Dave H said on July 25, 2021 at 2:11 am
      Reply

      Not sure what you are using for an email client, I have used PIA for going on four years with no issues as far as email goes. My client is Thunderbird, abet an outdated one. Can’t stand the new interface.

    2. DrKnow said on July 25, 2021 at 2:34 am
      Reply

      You seem like a very support heavy user that tries to play around but isn’t very good at it and then really on them to bail you out.
      I’ll provide some context on some issue. Can’t comment on the ones I haven’t had.

      ———-
      2. Their client is buggy and is resource heavy.
      ———-

      Client is fine, NEVER crashed on me and is easy to use.

      ———-
      4. Their technical support is extremely poor. Of the dozen or so issues I’ve raised over the years none of them have been resolved by them.
      ———-

      A dozen issues – You seem to create your own issues at your end!
      3+ years and never needed tech support. I tested them on a free trial before I committed and the response was spot on.

      ———-
      6. If you change your email address during your subscription, you can’t renew your subscription. You have to subscribe as a new customer. This is because the renewal process uses your old address.
      ———-

      I changed my email address mid contract and the renewal went through flawlessly.

      ———-
      7. You must have a cell phone to buy their product.
      ———-

      Certainly not from my country. You don’t own a cell phone? Give me a break. No wonder you can’t work anything!

      ———-
      8. They have different prices for different people.
      ———-

      Wow, they have offers and promotions… that’s new!

      ———-
      10. All VPN providers have issues with being blocked by various businesses […] Paypal, eBay, Blizzard games all banned me for using NordVPN
      ———-

      That’s great! Any standard financial transaction shouldn’t be able to hide behind a VPN for very obvious security reasons. It’s for your protection as well as ours. Not sure why you even think this is an issue.

      ———-
      11. Because they expect everyone to use their defective client app
      ———-

      Yet again the issue seems to be your side. The app works fine.

      ——————–
      There’s a lot of PEBKAC issues here by the looks of things.

      1. user said on July 25, 2021 at 8:53 am
        Reply

        @DrKnow

        It seems that both, especially you, make a lot of assertions with anecdotal evidence.

      2. DrKnow said on July 27, 2021 at 2:52 am
        Reply

        @user
        The only anecdotal assertion is the App and believe me I hammered it before signing up. It’s got all the functions required for running a VPN in a very simple GUI and easy to test. It really is a simple app.

        The fact that @Yanta calls support and fixes it himself a dozen times suggests he created the issues. If he’d tried the app would it have worked – I’ll say yes.

        Point 11 says he’s a a meddler and moans they decommission servers – of course they will and change IPs. The app will update the server list for you automatically. Go it alone and expect to have to download the server list yourself.

        As for taking half a day month to find a decent server… and he signed up again.
        It’s anecdotal, but the servers are uniformly excellent.

  14. Rob said on July 24, 2021 at 8:55 pm
    Reply

    I’m liking these VPN reviews, keep them coming! Will you be reviewing SurfShark?

  15. Keith said on July 30, 2021 at 5:43 am
    Reply

    I’ve used NordVPN for about 2 years and love it. Had 3 issues and contacted support by chat & email and all 3 were resolved quickly. The client updates every about 3 months and I’m very impressed with how professional and smooth it works and the NordVPN business in general. I use the Android client on my phone and very happy with the overall experience. They’re located in Panama so out of jurisidiction of the 5 & 9 eyes countries.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.