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How well does NordVPN work? You’ve probably heard a thing or two about this VPN - possibly, you’re a step away from signing up to a plan to protect yourself and/or family household.
We’ll try to fill you in with every important detail.
TL;DR - This is the most popular VPN around. It’s fast, great for torrenting, very secure, great at unblocking Netflix (and other streams), with an app for mobile devices.
It almost does it all, including unblocking YouTube ads with the CyberSec tool.
But is NordVPN trustworthy? In short, yes. Although they don't advertise this, the company is headquartered in Panama (outside of data retention laws, aka “Five Eyes” surveillance; extra privacy for your data.
NordVPN Review 2020 🇬🇧
Read this Nord VPN review guide to see its strengths and weaknesses, based on the most accurate data we could get our hands on - including VPNs best for torrents and Nords pricings, speeds, privacy, security, features, and server locations. (Learn more: best VPN).
Is NordVPN good? At a glance:
NordVPN’s Pricing Plans – What Does it Cost? 💰
NordVPN’s official website gives you three plans to choose from, all with the same features but priced according to contract lengths - all straightforward. The longer the contract length, the better the deal that you get.
The first plan is a monthly rolling contract for £9.20/mo. A six-month contract gives you the best deal, at £6.93/mo. And the one-year is £4.43/mo. You can get 68% off even this price - on a 2-year-plan - priced at £2.80/mo.
Free Trials, to Test Them Out First?
There is no free trial option, but every customer is given a 30-day money-back guarantee. There are no hidden TOCs that will override your claim, like logging in over a set number of times or going over a bandwidth limit during this month-long window. Simply try them out and if you're unhappy, cancel and get a refund inside of 30 days.
NordVPN Speed Review: The Results 💨
In short, this one of the fastest VPNs for its level of security, options, and privacy whether using the UK or long-distance server.
With the OpenVPN security protocol in place, which provides military-grade AES encryption, internet speed drops should mostly be beyond your notice.
If using Nord to stream HD data, whether, for gaming or online television, there shouldn’t be buffering issues - tests show an average speed drop of only 5 megabits per second out of a total of 155 megabits, which is about 3.2%.
Looking at a study of 25 NordVPN servers located in different parts of the world - connected to devices based in the UK - there were no connection failures, even when connecting to distant servers. It took roughly 46 seconds to make connections, although apps took a bit longer.
Speed drops were in the range of 6-8%, which is very positive. Overall speeds were in the range of 30-60 Mbps, with one-or-two anomalies such as Indonesian servers. Great performances for most circumstances.
Related Read: Best Free VPN UK
Your Privacy With NordVPN 🕵️
As mentioned in the introduction, NordVPN is headquartered/registered in Panama, which is out of the “5/14 Eyes Surveillance” jurisdiction. In other words, they're not subject to any data retention laws.
If you are not aware, the “5/14 eyes” alliance is a humongous spy network run by several major governments, to gather and share your sensitive user data.
There's also a rumor floating around NordVPN reviews that they pay off Tefincom and Co S.A. These two companies are linked to Cloud VPN incorporated. Speculations are that this is a red flag for privacy as CloudVPN is a U.S. company. But CloudVPN is simply a payment collector - this is not a privacy concern.
NordVPN scores high in the privacy dimension.
Is NordVPN Safe 2020? – Security and Encryption 🛡️
Is NordVPN trustworthy? The answer is very. Firstly, they use kill switches... A kill switch automatically deactivates your internet connection if the VPN server connection fails, which can happen with any VPN client.
This prevents data leaks.
Rather than your ISP connection continuing to run without the protection of the VPN, the kill switch closes your client (e.g. your internet browser).
But NordVPN actually has two kill switches, which is unusual. The first stops your computer from accessing the internet when not connected to the VPN (so you don’t connect by mistake without being protected: you can turn off this feature).
The second switch closes down selected applications if your VPN server connection drops at any point while surfing.
Data Breaches 📀
In terms of security breaches, in 2018, they had a server hack.
There didn’t seem to be any customer privacy damage, though the company wasn’t very vocal about the breach.
However, they took many steps to boost trust, e.g. letting an independent security research group, VerSprite, security audit its apps.
A security breach in October 2019 revealed that NordVPN is airtight safe and doesn’t store any user activity or data. There are many reasons to be confident about this company.
NordVPN Features ⚙️
Password managers are becoming increasingly vital today - not only due to the need for online banking. NordPass stores your passwords on the cloud, so you can access them from any device or browser. This is a separate product to the VPN.
Passwords are encrypted with cryptology algorithms, to keep the information visible to you alone, killing the need to reset passwords that you forget. Generate passwords that have inbuilt randomness and store notes and credit cards on the app.
Related Read: Best Free Cloud Storage Services (UK)
#2 Tor Compatibility
NordVPN is Tor compatible with Tor (which is rare), and even has a ‘dedicated onion’ (VPN specialty servers). But is Tor legal?
Yes, as long as you don’t use it for illegal activities. Once, it was associated with the black market, the dark web, and people looking to anonymously surf the internet in order to carry out criminal activities that include “murder for hires”.
Tor stands for ‘The Onion Router'. It's a free international overlay network that conceals a user’s location/traffic from internet service provider admins.
If you use Tor, it’s a lot harder to be traced, whether you’re instant messaging, visiting websites, or posting online. However, a website can feasibly detect if some unknown user is accessing them through Tor.
#3 Security Audits
We’ve mentioned that they were audited by VerSprite. The second independent security audit was completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, another leading expert in security standards.
Tests showed no significant vulnerabilities, and smaller issues found were sorted out by NordVPN and they were retested to prove it. You can even download reports from the official website - great transparency.
NordVPN Review: Torrenting 🎥
NordVPN allows torrenting using optimized P2P servers, making them a top 2 VPN for torrenting.
Cyberghost VPN is the other one that’s also optimized for P2P - generally a rare feature that makes downloading / uploading using torrents more straightforward and convenient.
While they’re not especially vocal about their torrenting support, you can find hundreds of P2P friendly servers located around the UK, US, and other international locations. No matter where you’re located, you should find optimized servers.
By comparison, some non-optimized VPNs only let you do P2P on specific servers, which can make them very inconvenient for torrenting (requiring lots of attempts with dubious performance outcomes).
Choose the ‘P2P option’ in NordVPN’s app, to find the best P2P friendly server automatically for your specific location. No need to know where that server is beforehand; the app will intelligently locate one for you and reroute your connection for the best speeds.
A few other handy P2P features: a strict no-logs policy, cryptocurrency/Bitcoin payment options, multiple DNS and traffic leak protection layers, and double VPN/Onion Over VPN privacy.
NordVPN’s Server Locations 📡
There’s a solid number of server locations, although ExpressVPN (ExpressVPN review) stands out amongst most others.
Express has 160 server locations (while Nord has 80) - although Nord has a great number of actual servers, with 5,441 total across 59 countries.
Which gives you many options for spoofing your location, massively increasing chances that you’ll find a server optimized for your physical location. The closer a VPN server is to you, the more likely that you will receive better performance.
Most of NordVPN’s servers are located in the US and UK, but you’ll find a good mix across other continents, from Asia to Europe and the Middle East.
While NordVPN has servers in Vietnam, Turkey, and Hong Kong, they don’t have specific settings for bypassing government censorship. We’d generally recommend ExpressVPN for that.
Nord VPN Review – FAQ ❓
Is NordVPN Good for Gaming? (Surprising)
Perhaps you want to prevent DDOS attacks, ISP throttling, or to simply bypass your geo-restrictions, to play games blocked in your region - either way, a VPN could help.
Whatever VPN you use, you would think the processing - required for the various security protocols - would absolutely increase the latency/ping. The question stands as to whether your VPN is fast enough for the quality of gaming you want to do on your OS/device.
These results come from IGN. A day of playing various games - from Fortnite to Leagues of Legend - showed that Nord led to faster download speeds than when the VPN was deactivated. This is due to ISPs throttling bandwidth allocations per user. It seemed the VPN sent traffic around this network bottleneck, leading to a speed boost.
Is NordVPN Good for Netflix?
Similar effects have been seen when watching Netflix with nordVPN (crisper videos). Overall, we recommend trying it out for yourself and comparing it against the likes of Surfshark (Surfshark review) and ExpressVPN, taking advantage of the trial periods.
Opinions differ as to the best performance VPN for gaming, so a little bit of experimentation may be in order.
Is NordVPN Safe 2020?
We’ve said before that it's not enough to only use a VPN to protect your devices. You need a dedicated malware/adware blocker. When you purchase NordVPN, it comes with the CyberSec feature which filters out malicious websites and blog tracking, including adware and phishing.
You may have more peace of mind with a dedicated firewall and antivirus system such as Norton Antivirus, but it’s a pleasant extra to Nord’s sum offerings.
As for the VPN, security is advanced. It supports the OpenVPN security protocol and IKEv2/IPSec. They've also deployed WireGuard, which is a fresh new VPN protocol, though Nord’s put it under the name NordLynx. Testing looks very promising.
Does NordVPN Keep Logs?
No - it has a strict ‘no-logs’ policy, and they clearly state on the official website that none of your activities will be recorded, monitored, stored, or passed onto any third parties. This includes no timestamps, session information, IP addresses, traffic, bandwidth or other data packets.
Many VPNs who say they have a no-logs policy actually carry out something called session logging, which tracks your incoming IP address when you connect to the VPN server. NordVPN doesn't even store that much - they’re impeccably private.
The company has been independently audited by two major security firms, including PriceWaterhouseCooper, both concluding that NordVPN indeed has a no-logging policy of user data. On top of this, it’s registered in a territory free from data retention laws.
Nord VPN Reviews – Conclusion 🏁
A quick review of NordVPN: It’s pretty much an advanced jack-of-all-trades with some question marks around whether it’s the best out there for gaming (it should be in the top 5 for streaming).
Because there's a money-back guarantee, you can test this out for yourself risk-free, other than some time investment.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN review: The client seems impeccable for security, geo-blocking abilities including Netflix, data privacy - with solid speeds.
The mobile app’s high quality though with less features than the desktop client.
The one weakness is if your VPN in order to surf the network of a censored country (Iran, China, Turkey, etc) - in that case, something like VyprVPN or ExpressVPN may be a better option.
And it’s affordable for its value offerings (more: best cheap VPN). That’s it for this detailed review of NordVPN. Leave a comment for any questions or additions!