What does NordVPN offer that others don’t?
Most VPNs use the same underlying technology, so how much better can it possibly be?
Is it better than ExpressVPN, PIA, Cyberghost, IPVanish, Surfshark and other highly rated services?
How fast is NordVPN?
Can NordVPN unblock region-locked websites (Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video)?
Is NordVPN safe and private?
Does NordVPN work in China?
Is it really better than the cheaper alternatives?
I’ll cover all that and more in this NordVPN review.
During my time with NordVPN I used it to secure my connection while traveling to China and for unblocking video streams that I couldn’t normally access from my home in Turkey. I also put it through a battery of tests to gauge its speed and security.
I summarized my thoughts on NordVPN below, but read the full review to get a comprehensive look at this premium VPN service.
NordVPN Review Summary
NordVPN is a true jack of all trades, able to unblock all sorts of region-locked content, bypass China’s Great Firewall, and quickly download files. It boasts better performance than most when it comes to streaming. I challenge anyone to find a VPN with more advanced security while keeping the experience simple and novice-friendly.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN is a piece of software that helps to make you more anonymous online, encrypts your internet use, and lets you effectively trick your laptop or mobile device into thinking it’s in another location. And in case you’re wondering… it’s short for ‘virtual private network’!
In short, VPNs have become really handy, affordable everyday tools. By choosing the best VPN service out there, you’ll be equipping your laptop, PC, mobile – even your games console – with a potentially game-changing bit of software. VPN has so many benefits. You may want to use them to help keep your online life completely anonymous from prying eyes – especially now that so many of us are working or schooling at home. Maybe you’re a keen torrenter and you don’t want your ISP to know. Or perhaps its the eyes of your government that you want to avoid.
But because the best VPNs also let you change your IP address to one in a completely different city or country, these services have taken on a much wider use. VPNs are fantastic for streamers, for example, who want to have access to a whole world of shows and films on Netflix and more. While if you’re on holiday and find your favorite app is banned (think about some of the internet censorship in Cuba, Turkey, China – even Canada), an online VPN will let you use the internet in the way you’ve become accustomed. And that’s just for starters…
But these days, VPN services are a dime a dozen. When you search on App Store or on Google, you’ll find hundreds of VPN services, with names you’ve never heard of and with backgrounds you can’t trust. How then, can you pick a safe, secure, fast and feature-rich VPN service? A VPN service that will actually protect you? We’ve simplified your search by picking the best VPN app for iPhone, iPad and Mac.
The best VPN on the market today is NordVPN. In this NordVPN review we’ll show you why this popular VPN is one of the best VPNs around.
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services online and it’s easy to see why. A lot of VPN apps have old and convoluted apps. NordVPN’s app is simple and modern. Just turn it on, select the location if you want and then forget about it. The iOS app is simple and the Mac app provides you with pro customization tools if you wish to tweak the settings.
The VPN market is a tough one, with a lot of competition around, but NordVPN knows exactly how to stand out from the crowd: it piles on the professional features, delivering way more than just about anybody else.
Top-notch platform support includes apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux.
- Consistently tops the list of best VPNs for reputable sources
- Automated kill switch disables the internet on the device when VPN is not connected
- Double VPN feature encrypts your internet traffic twice
- Clear and easy-to-use interface
- Works in China
- Works with streaming services like Netflix, HBG Go and more
NordVPN offers tiered pricing depending on the length of the plan you can commit to. NordVPN has a very clear pricing policy with no hidden fees. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for all pricing packages. Here’s what NordVPN costs:
- The 1-month plan costs $11.95
- The 1-year plan is $4.92 per month
- The 2-year plan is $3.71 per month
Is There a Free Version of NordVPN?
Unlike TunnelBear, ProtonVPN, and other ‘freemium’ VPNs, NordVPN has never offered a completely free VPN service.
However, you can get a seven-day 100% free trial on mobile (iOS and Android) devices.
If you need more time before deciding to purchase, you can try NordVPN out for free with its 30 day money-back guarantee (
What methods can you use to pay for NordVPN?
The company accepts payment by all major credit cards, PayPal, and other services such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (via CoinPayments), and assorted other systems (AmazonPay, UnionPay, SOFORT Banking and more).
Is NordVPN really better than the cheaper alternatives?
No matter how broke you are or how desperately you’re in need of security, you should never resort to a cheap VPN. The likes of TigerVPN, TunnelBear, Hola and more may actually be sabotaging your security and anonymity.
Come to think of it, there’s no such thing as a cheap VPN, a catch is always there. Once you operate with a cheap VPN, you’re actually paying the price with your personal info, data, and credentials. So are they worth the risk? NO. Let’s read why.
WHAT ELSE IS AT RISK?
According to the Threat Research Center president:
“The lower the cost of the app, the greater the chance they have security problems.”
Well, I agree with him 100%. Nothing good comes out of entrusting a cheap VPN. Shall I explain why?
- First of all, cheap stuff attracts millions. Can you imagine how many of those are using the same servers? There goes speed.
- They sell your personal information for profit.
- There are a few cheap VPNs that impersonate a legit software. In other words, they’re present to steal your information, send you spam emails, or make your device vulnerable enough for hacking.
- Their encryption is very limited, that’s of course if there is any, to begin with.
- Over time, you’ll be bombarded with unwanted ads.
- Privacy is everything and you won’t be able to sleep at night knowing that these VPNs collect user-data and store them for further use. (Sell them to sister companies).
- You might be suddenly directed to websites with malicious software that might target your device.
With all that being said, we can safely say that you have been warned. Subscribe to a real VPN service provider and avoid subjecting yourself to attacks and theft of that nature.
NordVPN Servers and Server Locations
Part of what you are paying for with a VPN subscription is access to the company’s fleet of VPN servers. These are the machines through which your web traffic will flow. Generally speaking, it’s good to have a diverse distribution of servers, since this will ensure that you’ll be able to find one close by, no matter where you travel, and likely get better service because of that closeness. It also gives you more options for spoofing your location.
NordVPN offers 5542 servers distributed across 59 countries. Among my top-rated VPNs, NordVPN offers the best balance of hardware and virtual servers in the most countries. In addition to having the most server locations, NordVPN also excels in geographic diversity, with several in Asia and excellent coverage across Europe and America. This means you can specifically select a server nearer to you within a certain country, so you can enjoy better speeds, lower latency, and more reliability.
NordVPN Security, privacy, and logging
Many VPNs make big claims about their security features and privacy, and NordVPN is no exception. I was curious to find out whether NordVPN can walk the talk.
NordVPN does an excellent job of being transparent to customers in an understandable way and more companies should emulate its efforts.
NordVPN is clear about the limits of its data gathering. The company says: ‘Nord guarantees a strict no-logs policy for NordVPN Services, meaning that your internet activity… is not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or passed to any third party. We do not store connection time stamps, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or browsing data,’ That’s what you want to hear from a VPN company. Better still, NordVPN makes it clear in its policy (and verified to me) that it only generates revenue through the sale of VPN subscriptions. The company does not sell user data.
This is an advanced security feature that keeps your IP address and traffic secure, even if the VPN connection drops.
It’s designed to block traffic if your connection is compromised, keeping your data and IP address hidden.
NordVPN offers you two options:
- Internet Kill Switch will completely shut down your internet access when you’re not connected to the VPN or if your connection drops. Mac OS OpenVPN client doesn’t feature this option, but its IKEv2 client has both types of switches. This is great for added security (you can be sure that your data won’t leak) when you’re torrenting or using Tor.
- App Kill Switch gives you the ability to choose which apps will get closed if your connection fails. So, for example, you can choose to only shut down Google Chrome or a different browser but not your other apps. This is available on Windows and Mac OS. It’s good to use when you’re streaming, so the streaming platform won’t detect that you’re using a VPN and block you.
This feature isn’t enabled by default, but it’s really easy to set up. You simply need to turn it on in settings and select the apps if you decide to use the app Kill Switch.
NordVPN browser extensions
The NordVPN clients are generally very polished and user-friendly, but they’re not your only way to work with the VPN. The company also offers Chrome and Firefox extensions which allow you to control the client and service directly from your browser.
You install the add-on directly in your browser and just click on the extension to connect. It’s ideal if you’re just looking to encrypt your browser traffic quickly, like when using Chrome and a public WiFi connection.
Is NordVPN customer service any good?
Much like any other networking technology, a VPN can misbehave in many ways, and figuring out exactly what’s going on can be a real challenge. That’s why even the most experienced user can benefit from quality VPN support.
NordVPN’s support site gets off to a good start with its lengthy list of troubleshooting guides. Whether you’re trying to diagnose slow speeds or dropped connections, understand error messages, change your password or cancel your account, there’s useful information to hand.
Most articles are well-written and deliver in all the key areas. They don’t assume technical knowledge, instead taking the time to explain the background, offering multiple suggestions to resolve most problems, and linking to other relevant articles. For example, where other VPNs might have a single line suggesting you “try another server” to help diagnose speed problems, NordVPN also links to a detailed article explaining how to find the best location for you.
Competent customer support staff are available around the clock via live chat on the NordVPN website.
I’ve contacted NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat support on several occasions, and never have I had to wait more than five minutes to get a response.
Besides the live chat option, you can send a direct email.
Streaming – Does NordVPN Work With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Other Services?
To get a feel for NordVPN’s unblocking abilities, we ran several tests, checking whether we could access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and geoblocked YouTube sites while connected to various NordVPN servers.
I started with the UK and US Netflix libraries, both of which were a success. I even tested the US Netflix library across NordVPN’s US servers, and I was able to unlock content to stream in HD easily on each one.
Then I headed over to Netflix Australia, which I was also able to access hassle-free.
South America was my final test. I tested Netflix libraries in Brazil, Chile, and Peru, and I was able to stream in HD across all.
Netflix results were great, with five out of five locations unblocking the service. It’s no surprise that it’s the best Netflix VPN in 2021.
Amazon Prime Video worked, too. After connecting to a US NordVPN location, we logged into Amazon.com rather than our usual Amazon.co.uk, and were able to stream US content.
(Keep in mind that Amazon’s Prime Video terms states the company will ‘use technologies to verify your geographic location’ and ‘you may not use any technology or technique to obscure or disguise your location’, so you break these rules at your own risk.)
Unblocking YouTube is always much easier, and sure enough, NordVPN gave us instant access from each of our test US servers.
BBC iPlayer has far better VPN protection than YouTube. Getting access proved far more difficult, too, but one of the servers got us in, and that allowed us to stream whatever content we liked.
NordVPN ended on a strong note, too, instantly bypassing Disney+ protection with the first location we tried (the second and third worked, too.)
While testing, I found that NordVPN can stream Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, and more in Full HD.
NordVPN is also reliable for unblocking Google, Facebook, and other popular sites that are often blocked in schools and workplaces, as well as in heavily censored countries like China and Russia.
If streaming is your primary reason for choosing a VPN, NordVPN is a sure bet.
Does NordVPN allow torrenting?
NordVPN has unlimited bandwidth and data caps for completely unrestricted torrenting. But it also allows torrenting and P2P sharing across any of its servers.
Since NordVPN keeps no logs and is headquartered in a privacy-friendly location, your torrenting activity or history cannot be leaked to anyone. It’s safe to use with uTorrent or any other BitTorrent client, with guaranteed anonymity.
DNS protection through NordVPN’s own DNS on every server further protects you from leaks and revealing your torrenting activity. It’s a solid choice for torrenting and P2P sharing, not just for security, but also for its speed and performance.
Unlike most VPN providers, NordVPN doesn’t even push me to torrent on specific servers. I usually just pick a fast server near where I live and start downloading.
kill switch stops all internet traffic if the VPN unexpectedly disconnects. That means your P2P traffic is always encrypted no matter what. NordVPN excels here for actually having two kill switches. A general internet kill switch blocks all net access when you’re not connected to the VPN (this can be easily turned off if it’s inconvenient), while an app kill switch closes your chosen applications if the connection goes down.
Does NordVPN work in China?
NordVPN is a veteran VPN provider in China and provides fairly reliable access to the free and open internet from the mainland. I spent some time in Beijing shortly before writing this review and kept NordVPN connected on my iPhone pretty much the whole time. I didn’t have to change any settings; it just works. In addition, NordVPN has features like the Kill Switch which will make sure that your online activity is never exposed, even if your VPN connection fails. Plus, since it doesn’t have servers in China, it doesn’t have to apply strict local laws when it comes to internet usage and data logging. This means that nothing you do online will reach the Chinese government.
The only downside is that you can’t use it if you’re already in China. NordVPN doesn’t have a website there, so you won’t be able to download it. If you’re going to China, make sure that you install and set it up before you leave your country.
Speed: Is NordVPN fast?
NordVPN is the fastest VPN we’ve tested to date, thanks largely in part to its new, proprietary protocol: NordLynx. It’s based on WireGuard which is currently the fastest protocol on the market.
I was really impressed by NordVPN’s consistently fast speeds. Every VPN will slow you down a little bit as it sends your traffic to different servers (and the further away a server is, the slower your speeds will be). But while testing different NordVPN servers across the world, I didn’t notice the speed drops at all as there was no difference in my browsing, streaming, or even gaming experience.
With NordVPN’s servers, you’ll get fast speeds no matter how far the server is from your location
NordVPN’s fast download speeds allowed me to stream shows for hours without lag or buffering, while the low ping made it easy for me to play games. I even managed to have high-quality video calls thanks to its upload speeds.
Apps: What devices work with NordVPN?
NordVPN makes apps for more devices than any other VPN provider I know of. NordVPN offers apps for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. I highly recommend that people use an app with a VPN, since it is easier to use, requires no manual configuration, and grants access to additional features. Another thing that impressed me was that NordVPN has an app for Linux as well. Most VPNs don’t have Linux clients but you can install NordVPN on Ubuntu (I tested this one and it worked great), Debian, Linux Mint, and Elementary OS. What’s even more surprising is that its app is really easy to use on Linux so you don’t have to operate it through command prompts.
Simultaneous Device Connections — One Account Supports 6 Devices
I can connect six devices at once to my NordVPN account. . This is quite beneficial considering ExpressVPN offers 5. I tested this out by installing NordVPN on 2 of my iPhones, my MacBook, Linux laptop, and LG TV. With all of these devices using the connection simultaneously, I still didn’t notice any drop in speed.
In addition, you can install it on your router. This way, your entire network will be under VPN protection. Not all routers support VPNs, so make sure that you choose one that does. It’s also worth mentioning that you might not be able to install any VPN if you use an ISP modem.
App design is fairly consistent across all platforms, so if you know how to use one, then using another should feel familiar. NordVPN apps are simple to set up and easy to use.
NordVPN Client setup
Getting a VPN client installed and working properly can sometimes be a challenge, but the well-designed NordVPN app has clearly been set up to keep hassles to an absolute minimum. NordVPN is really easy to install and set up.
Once you download the app, it will open and prompt you to log in. When you click on that button, a web page will open up and ask for your login credentials. You can enter them, and the app will open again and you can start using NordVPN immediately.
NordVPN doesn’t require any special setup. Everything is ready for you to use it.
NordVPN’s macOS app is notable in its simplicity. After logging in and agreeing to give access to your Apple Keychain, you can Quick Connect to any of NordVPN’s many servers around the globe. If you want a bit more control over your experience, you can scroll through the list of countries on the left side of the app window, choose a country, and open a drop-down menu that reveals a list of all of the servers in that country. It’s easier to just choose a spot on the map and use the VPN server located there, but it’s useful that the macOS version gives you a choice when it comes to servers. That isn’t the case with the iPhone version.
From the Settings menu you can choose your VPN protocol, find auto-connect options, and set up your VPN profile. There’s also a “Tools” menu, which allows you to turn on an ad and malware blocker, a “Dark Web Monitor” which tells you if information related to your email address is included in Dark Web leaks, and Siri shortcuts so you can connect and disconnect with your voice.
This is a top-quality VPN which exceeded our expectations in everything from platform support and privacy, to ease of use, unblocking abilities and its excellent support. This is a polished, powerful and professional service. NordVPN is one of our favorite VPNs. It excels in speed, security, and torrenting. It has a network of 5,515 servers in 59 countries, and it unblocks fifteen Netflix libraries on its user-friendly apps. Currently, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs you can get and it’s affordably priced.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10.
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