VPN Review: NordVPN

Only a handful of VPN providers are familiar to the general public, among which NordVPN is arguably that with the greatest name recognition. Its name evokes Sweden or Finland, and its logo, showing a snowy mountain peak, only reinforces this. However, imagining a Scandinavian company like Ikea or Volvo could hardly be further off...

What is NordVPN?

NordVPN is a VPN provider headquartered in Panama. This is with good reason, as will be discussed in greater detail below in the "Security and Privacy" section. In the competitive world of VPN providers, NordVPN is undoubtedly one of the heavyweights, if not an outright favorite. But is this popular reputation deserved? Our review will find out.

Review

Review Score
4.7 / 5
02/2020
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5
1.

Pros and Cons

Elegant app with an interactive world server map

Excellent speed

Large server network

Extra features like server categories and CyberSec

No split tunneling

Few protocol options

2.

Installation and Features

NordVPN's registration and installation are straightforward, so much so that within a matter of minutes the entire process can be completed.

In the app's control panel, a scrollable world map is the most striking, allowing users to have an immediate overview of the server locations which are being used, or available to be selected. The program's interface is clear and organized.

The user interface is divided into two columns. On the right is the interactive world map, while on the left, a menu bar lists countries, servers categories, and the most recently-used servers.

To connect to a VPN, simply click on one of the locations on the world map, after which you will be forwarded to the fastest server in the country. Through the menu bar's search function, both the country and server can be manually selected. There is also a 'quick connect' feature, which automatically connects you with the fastest server.

At the top of the menu bar, a number of switches which can be toggled 'on' or 'off', changing various settings of the program. Alongside important features like the kill switch, the program also possesses an integrated ad-blocker and anti-malware program, known as CyberSec, which can also be activated here (more on these in the "Security and Privacy" section below).

NordVPN's "specialty servers", optimized for specific purposes, truly set the providers apart from its peers. A sampling of the specialty servers includes:

  • P2P: Servers designed for peer-to-peer platforms like BitTorrent;
  • Dedicated IP: Servers which provide constant IP-addresses for a single user;
  • Double VPN: Connections which are established through two servers at the same time, for enhanced security;
  • Onion Over VPN: Servers which connect to the Tor network, for more anonymity.

Mobile App

We tested the NordVPN mobile app for Android, however, an iOS version also exists. Similarly to the desktop program, the world map is also the focus of attention on the mobile app. Servers can be selected either by clicking on a location on the map, choosing from the list of countries, or the quick-connect feature.

In comparison to the desktop version, the mobile app offers fewer settings, however, the most important features remain available.

Superficially, NordVPN tops a number of 'best-of' lists: The application is elegant and user-friendly, extra features like server categories and CyberSec are highly welcome, and the mobile app is intuitive. The world map design is a matter of preference: We liked the visualization of our connection's 'journey', however, other users may prefer the more open, minimalist design offered by different providers. One of NordVPN's clear shortcomings is the absence of split tunneling, a feature that any leading VPN provider should offer.

Score: 4.7 / 5

3.

Server Network

NordVPN has a network of more than 5,200 servers across 60 countries, and is constantly expanding. Among VPN providers, NordVPN is one of the market's heavyweights. However, like most of its competitors, the majority of NordVPN's servers are located in either North America or Europe, with relatively few servers elsewhere.

Still, even outside of North America and Europe, NordVPN is well-situated. In Asia and Australia, as well as Central and South America, NordVPN has a number of servers, while in Africa the only server is located in South Africa. This is nothing out of the ordinary though, as hardly any VPN providers offer better coverage in Africa.

Generally speaking, and in comparison to its competitors, NordVPN is also at the head of the pack in regards to its server network.

Score: 4.7 / 5

4.

Performance

The speed of all VPNs which we tested was evaluated using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. We tested random NordVPN servers at different times of the day to more accurately evaluate their speeds and performance. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.

The table below shows the average results from the last 365 days, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending).

When the test was conducted, NordVPN clocked a download speed of 166.0 MB/s and an upload speed of 32.7 MB/s, securing an impressive third place in our ranking. Nearly every VPN service promises high speeds - NordVPN keeps its word.

The chart below shows NordVPN's average speeds over the past months.

Score: 5 / 5

5.

Security and Privacy

The selection of VPN protocols offered by NordVPN is not particularly large, with support for L2TP/IPsec and PPTP stopped at the end of 2018. NordVPN seems to follow the times, meaning that some protocols will inevitably no longer be considered 'in'.

As is standard among VPN providers, the equally fast and safe OpenVPN is used by NordVPN. It is also possible to switch to IKEv2/IPsec, however, this requires manual installation of the protocol. Those who want more variability, particularly considering how easy changing protocols is in other VPN providers, will be disappointed with NordVPN's lack of variety. For the overwhelming majority of NordVPN users, however, this should not be a significant, or even noticeable drawback.

Where NordVPN does offer an overabundance of variety is In regard to security features: The different server categories alone set NordVPN apart for every security-focused VPN user.

Apart from these aspects of its program, as a company, NordVPN adheres to a strict "no logging" policy. NordVPN's Panamanian registration plays a major role in this, as data storage is not legally mandated in that country. Certain data such as your email address or payment method are saved by NordVPN, however.

The kill switch, which severs your internet connection as soon as your VPN connection disappears, can also be activated in the settings. This feature is essential, since it eliminates any risk from surfing without VPN protection.

The program passed our various VPN leak tests for IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC with flying colors.

A special feature offered by NordVPN is CyberSec, a security tool that safeguards against malware and blocks ads. As a bonus, CyberSec is a nice touch, and in our testing, its ad-blocking function proved to be surprisingly reliable. CyberSec is not designed as a replacement for a dedicated anti-virus program, but as an extra, it's more than useful.

NordVPN's deficits in terms of protocol options are made good with its extra security tools and features.

Score: 4.7 / 5

6.

Customer Support

Should you be unable to find an answer to your question in the help center, the NordVPN support team can be contacted by email or live chat. During our tests, our live chat queries were answered by a support team member in under a minute.

An email we sent to the support team was answered in around 12 hours.

The support team members we chatted with were friendly and engaged, even if they weren't able to answer our questions immediately. NordVPN's support is very good, however, it would be even better if offered in more languages apart from English.

Score: 4.3 / 5

7.

Price Point

The cost of NordVPN depends upon how long the service contract is agreed for. For example, the monthly price of a 3-year package is roughly one-fourth that of a monthly subscription, with both offering identical features, services, and access. An up-to-date price list can be found in our table below:

2-year plan6-month plan1-month plan
Price
Set-up fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Price per month $3.71 $9.00 $11.95
Contract period (months) 24 6 1
Limits
Data volume unlimited unlimited unlimited
Number of devices 6 6 6
Features
Number of servers 3,000 3,000 3,000
Number of countries 60 60 60
No Logs
P2P allowed
Tor Access
Kill Switch
Protocols
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
SSTP
SOCKS5
IKEv2

For the 2- and 3-year contracts (the cheapest monthly packages), NordVPN is a true bargain, even in comparison to many other VPN providers. These also have a 30-day money back guarantee, should the program not meet your expectations.

Conclusion

Review Score
4.7 / 5
02/2020
excellent
Visit Website
Performance
5.0 / 5
Server Network
4.7 / 5
Installation and Features
4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
4.7 / 5
Customer Support
4.3 / 5

NordVPN rightly tops numerous lists of VPN providers, offering speed, user-friendliness, and a wide variety of functions within a single, relatively affordable package. The absence of split tunneling is unfortunate, particularly for a product of its stature, however, apart from this and a few minor issues, one would be hard-pressed to find a better all-rounder than NordVPN.

Best Value for Money
NordVPN
(310,167)
5000+ servers worldwide
60 countries
No logs
6 devices simultaneously
Inexpensive 2-year package
NordVPN combines speed, user-friendliness and functionality into a coherent overall package that is also fairly affordable.
Devices
6
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
5
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
NordVPN 2-year plan
$3.71
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.7 / 5
excellent

Customer Reviews

In most review aggregators that we examined, NordVPN received very good ratings. Only Trustpilot broke with this consensus, with some users there criticizing the slow speed and general malfunctions in the app. Interestingly, Trustpilot identified a "large number of fake reviews" targeting the product, which it subsequently removed. We were unable to ascertain whether, and to which extent these impacted user ratings for NordVPN.

Customer Rating
4.2 / 5
310,167 Ratings
good
We analyzed the reviews and ratings from various portals and found 310,167 ratings with an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 .
Show sources

Alternatives

Best Overall 2020
ExpressVPN
(178,151)
Fastest VPN in our test
3000+ Server
160 cities in 94 countries
Saves no logs
30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN impresses with strong performance, a huge server network and excellently designed applications, but this quality also comes at a higher price.
Devices
3
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
6
Contract Period
1 - 12 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
ExpressVPN 12 Months
$8.33
monthly price
Visit Website
Best Overall
4.8 / 5
excellent
Surfshark VPN
(25,851)
1700+ servers in 63+ countries
Unlimited number of devices
Many apps (Linux, FireTV, ...)
Saves no logs
Very cheap on the 24-month plan
Surfshark is one of the cheapest providers on the market, but besides the price also impresses with strong protection, many features and a great support with 24/7 live chat.
Devices
unlimited
Datenvolumen
unlimited
Protocols
3
Contract Period
1 - 24 months
+3 months
Black Friday Deal
Surfshark 24 months
$2.49
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.6 / 5
excellent
hide.me VPN
(14,759)
1500+ servers
55+ locations in 34+ countries
Saves no logs
14-day money-back guarantee
with free plan
Devices
1 - 5
Datenvolumen
10 - ∞
Protocols
7
Contract Period
0 - 24 months
hide.me Free
$0.00
monthly price
Visit Website
Review Score
4.6 / 5
excellent

FAQs

What is NordVPN?
NordVPN is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider headquartered in Panama. Its program is compatible with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. NordVPN is one of the leading VPN services, uniting performance, a wide variety of features, affordability, and user-friendliness in a single package.

How does NordVPN function?
NordVPN encrypts your data traffic, securely masking your IP address by creating a virtual 'tunnel' between you and your internet provider. When a VPN connection is used, your internet traffic is anonymous: Neither your internet provider, or third parties can see or evaluate your data in any way. VPNs can also help bypass geo-blocking and gain access to streaming content from anywhere or circumvent censorship and repressive internet laws.

How secure is NordVPN?
NordVPN is considered to be very secure: It uses the OpenVPN protocol which is considered to be the gold standard. Additionally, the company adheres to a strict "no logging" policy. This was confirmed through an independent audit. Apart from that, the company is headquartered in Panama, a country where no legal requirement to save data exists, and provision to foreign governments is relatively rare. NordVPN passed DNS- and IP-leak tests with flying colors.

How good is NordVPN?
In EXPERTE.com's test, NordVPN received a very good score of 4.7 / 5, and is considered to be offer the best price-performance ratio from all VPN providers we tested. The comparably inexpensive VPN service offers an excellent package of features and services, is fast, and intuitive.

What data does NordVPN save?
NordVPN promises that it only saves its users' email addresses and payment information. This "no log" policy has been confirmed by an independent audit.

How many devices can NordVPN support?
Up to 6 devices can be simultaneously connected using NordVPN. Should you have more devices and wish to connect with the same server, different VPN protocols must be selected for the connection.

Author (German Version): Martin Gschwentner
Martin Gschwentner majored in American Studies and Media Studies in Germany, the USA and France and works as a freelance editor in Paris. He is a doctoral student at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Paris Diderot, where he is researching the influence of money on US politics. On EXPERTE.com he writes about IT security, data protection and software for the self-employed and small businesses.
English Translator & Editor: D Bare
Other languages:
Italiano Deutsch