NordVPN is a fast and extremely secure VPN service that offers strong AES-256 encryption, simple custom apps, and a large network of servers in 58 countries. It comes with a huge range of advanced security features, direct P2P support, and the ability to reliably unblock Netflix – all for a very reasonable monthly price.
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services in the world, surpassing 12 million users since its launch in 2012.
It’s also one of the fastest, safest, and most reliable VPN services we’ve reviewed. It offers market-leading encryption, an independently verified no-logs policy, and a wealth of advanced security features including split-tunneling, double VPN, and effective leak protection.
NordVPN unblocks Netflix effortlessly and supports torrenting and P2P file-sharing on all of its servers. It has user-friendly, feature-packed apps that are ideal for both beginners and experienced users – all of which are available for just $3.49 per month on a three-year plan.
However, NordVPN still has areas it needs to improve. In October 2019, news of NordVPN’s server breach shook the VPN industry and put the service’s security into question. You can’t stream Netflix via its Amazon Fire TV app and there’s a lack of transparency about the people who own and manage the company.
In this NordVPN review we’ll explain exactly how the VPN performed in our tests for data leaks, logging, connection speeds, and much more.
You’ll find out if you can still trust NordVPN, how to stream your favorite shows and whether you can torrent safely. First, we’ll take a look at NordVPN’s pros and cons.
NordVPN Pros & Cons
NordVPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||No Logs|
|Jurisdiction||Panama (Privacy Haven)|
|Works in China||Unreliable|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
|Cheapest Price||$3.49/mo over 36 Months|
Does NordVPN keep logs?
Logging & Jurisdiction
The best VPN logging policies are clear, transparent, and go into depth about what data the VPN does and doesn’t collect.
NordVPN reassures users that their personal data is safe, secure, and private, while outlining each and every data collection process it undertakes in simple, plain English.
- IP addresses
- Connection timestamps
- Session information
- Used bandwidth
- Traffic logs
This already makes NordVPN one of the most private VPNs available.
There are some pieces of information that NordVPN does collect when you sign up for an account, though. These include your email address and payment data, which is a very common practice among VPN providers.
If you’d like to benefit from maximum security you can sign up with a new email address and pay via cryptocurrency.
Even if you don’t follow these extra privacy steps, NordVPN can’t link any of your online activities to you as an individual, nor can it disclose that information to any third parties. It would be able to prove that you have an account but not what you’ve done while using the VPN.
NordVPN also monitors server loads in order to maintain optimal performance and to recommend the most suitable servers to users. This information isn’t personally identifiable — like your browsing history and IP address are — and many other private VPNs do this.
Within its Terms of Service, NordVPN states: “To limit the number of simultaneous sessions of an active user, an algorithm keeps their username and the timestamp of the last session status while the session is active.”
We wanted to find out how that would affect user privacy, so we got in touch with NordVPN and a representative demonstrated how the algorithm works using the following diagram:
The information is hashed using different dynamic components and temporarily held in separate and standalone databases around the world. This data is deleted 15 minutes after the session is terminated. This means that at no point can this information be traced back to an individual user.
NordVPN has gone above and beyond to prove that its logging policy is water tight.
In November 2018, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audited NordVPN’s servers and code to look into its no-logs claims.
While the audit isn’t publicly available, NordVPN said this in a blog post announcing the results: “The auditors’ goal was to see if our service lives up to our claims of providing a no-logs VPN service, and we believe we’ve passed the test.”
Due to legal restrictions, we can’t quote or summarize the audit results, which isn’t ideal, but users can access it through their NordVPN online account. Before you read it you’ll have to agree to the audit’s terms and conditions, which stipulate that you can’t refer to the information within the audit without prior written consent from PwC.
While this audit approach isn’t fully accessible, it does show that NordVPN is willing to go out of its way to prove its commitment to a no-logs policy.
NordVPN has also recently become a founding member of the VPN Trust Initiative (VTI), a coalition that aims to create and enforce industry standards to make VPNs safer and more transparent.
Where Is NordVPN Based?
NordVPN was first launched in 2012 by Lithuanian entrepreneur and co-founder Tom Okman.
Okman also founded Tesonet, a company which acted as one of NordVPN’s earliest investors. NordVPN is now owned by parent company Tefincom S.A., which operates under the legal jurisdiction of Panama.
This puts it beyond the reach of US and EU data retention laws. NordSec, the umbrella name for all the various Nord products, also has offices in Cyprus, Lithuania, Panama, Switzerland, the UK, and the US, but that does not affect its jurisdiction.
Panama does not require VPN companies to store or report any of their data, nor is it part of any agreements that compel it to share information with other countries.
Being based in Panama gives NordVPN the power to deny any third-party data requests from foreign governments and law enforcement agencies, so there is absolutely no way that any of your online activity can be traced back to you.
NordVPN publishes a daily warrant canary to let users know that it hasn’t received any National Security letters, gag orders, or warrants from any government organization, which goes to show that your personal data is in safe hands with NordVPN.
However, there is one glaring contradiction to NordVPN’s overall transparency that we don’t like, and that’s the lack of information about the people behind the company.
There are no details on NordVPN’s website to tell users who founded the service, aside from the fact it was started by “four childhood friends.”
When we asked NordVPN for further details a member of the live chat team said that they couldn’t release the information as the company doesn’t “want to make it easy for anyone to knock on [its] door.”
We still trust NordVPN due to its clear no-logs policy and independent audit, but we are disappointed in the lack of transparency. Other private VPN companies like TunnelBear are very open about the people in leadership roles.
There’s one more thing you should know. In 2018 NordVPN was accused of not being headquartered in Panama.
When you purchased NordVPN in the past, the Seller was listed as CloudVPN INC. (a company registered in the US), and not Tefincom & Co S.A.
But CloudVPN INC. is a payment processor and NordVPN was simply using it to handle payments, similarly to how other VPN providers use payment processing companies to manage these types of transactions.
This has no bearing on NordVPN’s legal jurisdiction, so your personal data isn’t at the mercy of US data retention laws and surveillance practices.
All in all, NordVPN is a trustworthy, safe VPN with the ideal logging policy for private, anonymous browsing. We’d like to see more transparency regarding the leadership team behind the company, but this doesn’t take away from NordVPN’s proven commitment to privacy.
Is NordVPN secure?
Encryption & Security
DNS Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
WebRTC Leak Blocking
TOR via VPN Server
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
One of the reasons we rate NordVPN so highly is due to its robust security offering. It offers top-of-the-range VPN protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2, super strong encryption ciphers like AES-256 with perfect forward secrecy, and a wealth of useful extra features including:
- VPN kill switch
- Split tunneling
- Double VPN
- Onion over VPN
- DNS leak protection
- Obfuscation tools
That said, NordVPN hasn’t always been as secure as it is now. As we’ve already explained, in March 2018 one of NordVPN’s servers was hacked, but NordVPN didn’t disclose the breach to users until October 2019.
The delayed reaction to the hack was enough for us to question how much we could trust NordVPN, but after talks with the team we are confident that NordVPN is doing everything in its power to prevent future attacks and will ensure higher levels of transparency from now on.
Protocols & Encryption
NordVPN uses the best protocols and encryption ciphers available to protect your personal data from snoopers and hackers. The type of encryption depends on the app that you’re using, so we’ll break it down for you.
The MacOS, Windows, and Android apps use OpenVPN when downloaded directly from the website, which is our preferred VPN protocol.
OpenVPN provides the perfect blend of speed and security. NordVPN encrypts all OpenVPN traffic using the ‘unhackable’ AES-256-GCM cipher with a 2048-bit DH key. This unbeatable combination will keep your data super secure.
When downloaded from the Apple store the iOS and MacOS app also use OpenVPN, but they give you the additional option to connect through a newer protocol called IKEv2.
While IKEv2 doesn’t have the same reputation that OpenVPN has gained since its launch in 2001, it’s still considered secure and fast. IKEv2 is particularly good for mobile devices as it handles network changes (like going between WiFi hotspots) really well.
NordVPN’s IKEv2 connections use AES-256-GCM coupled with SHA2-384 and Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). The use of PFS ensures that the VPN session keys won’t be compromised even if the private key is stolen.
It is possible to use IKEv2 with a Windows or Android device but it requires an extra download and some manual configuration. There are setup instructions available to help you through this more advanced setup on NordVPN’s support pages.
All the above apps allow you to toggle between UDP and TCP, which are types of communication protocols used by OpenVPN. UDP is faster than TCP, but if you’re experiencing connection instability we recommend swapping over to TCP.
In summary, NordVPN’s level of encryption for both OpenVPN and IKEv2 is the best of the best – it will ensure that your data remains secure and private.
It’s worth noting that NordVPN used to provide the option to connect via L2TP/IPSec and PPTP protocols, but it discontinued support for them as of December 1st 2018 due to the security issues they present. This demonstrates how NordVPN is willing to adapt its offering to keep users as safe as possible.
NordVPN has also recently released a new technology for Linux users called NordLynx that’s based on the WireGuard VPN protocol, with some tweaks to make it more privacy-friendly.
WireGuard is a new VPN protocol that aims to be faster and more secure than the current standards, but it’s still in development so should be considered experimental at this point.
In the latest update, NordVPN added a NordLynx option for iOS, too.
Here’s a quick summary of all the VPN protocols available and how secure they are:
NordVPN also has a suite of extra security apps, all of which come under the NordSec banner. Nordlocker is a file encryption tool, NordPass is a password manager, and NordVPN Teams is its business VPN.
These are useful tools that show NordVPN cares about digital privacy and security. They’re all totally separate from the NordVPN app, so you don’t have to worry about signing up for anything you’re not interested in should you purchase NordVPN.
Does NordVPN Leak Your Data?
When you use a VPN all your internet traffic should flow through a secure, encrypted VPN tunnel, but sometimes bits of personal data like your IP address can slip through the cracks. That’s why we completed our comprehensive testing process by checking for IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks that can expose your private information.
When we tested NordVPN we were pleased to find no leaks whatsoever. It comes as no surprise because NordVPN runs its own DNS servers, and goes to great lengths to protect your online data.
This screenshot shows the results of our leak test when connected to NordVPN’s Windows app, but we found the MacOS, Android, and iOS apps to be equally robust.
Extra Security Features
One of the most important features the NordVPN apps come with is the VPN kill switch, which protects your IP address in the event of a connection drop.
This feature is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Linux, and can be found within the app settings menu. For iOS, there’s no need to enable it as the kill switch is built into the app.
NordVPN actually provides two types of kill switch: an internet kill switch and an app kill switch. The internet kill switch works by blocking your device’s connection to the internet if the VPN connection drops suddenly, while the app kill switch – available for Windows and MacOS – allows you to apply to kill switch protection to selected apps only.
We recommend using the system-wide internet kill switch as it’s the safer option. You should have this enabled all the time, but it’s especially important if you’re in a high-censorship country or torrenting.
Unfortunately, the Android (and FireTV) app is missing the essential kill switch feature, which is common to a lot of other Android VPN apps.
It is possible to manually configure a kill switch as long as your phone is running Android 7 or a later version. It’s not very tricky – even beginners should be able to set it up with a little help. Just go to Settings > Wireless and networks > More > VPN, find NordVPN and toggle Block connections without VPN.
In addition to the basics, NordVPN also provides loads of extra security features.
Double VPN (also known as multi hop) is an advanced tool that routes your internet traffic through two different servers and encrypts it twice to provide extra privacy. This will slow down your connection considerably, so only use it if you require super high levels of privacy.
You can also use Onion over VPN to route traffic securely through the Tor network, and obfuscated servers to mask VPN traffic in high-censorship countries like Turkey and Russia. Like Double VPN, Onion over VPN can be slow due to the multiple layers of encryption.
NordVPN’s Android app comes with split tunneling, so you can choose which apps to route inside and outside of the VPN tunnel. We don’t recommend using this unless an app requires access to local content.
There’s another NordVPN feature that we’ve found useful, and that’s Invisibility on LAN. This option will make you invisible on your local network. Be sure to disable this if you need to access devices on the local network, like wireless printers or a NAS.
What Is CyberSec?
In addition to the standard VPN features that NordVPN offers, it also comes with a proprietary suite of security software, named CyberSec. The all-in-one tool aims to block ads, protect against malware, and prevent DDoS attacks.
A handful of other VPNs have integrated ad-blockers, and even fewer provide anti-malware and anti-tracking technology, so it’s great to see that NordVPN is offering these extras.
However, the effectiveness of CyberSec is under debate.
We know for sure that the ad-blocker works, because we put it through our own tests. Take a look at this ad-filled web page before and after we enabled CyberSec:
You can see that CyberSec effectively blocks annoying browser ads. Our tests also revealed that it removes ads on YouTube too.
In practice, however, NordVPN’s malware blocker isn’t up to scratch with standalone anti-malware software. This is because it only blocks malicious sites that are already on the database, but in reality new sites are popping up all the time.
According to AV-Test’s 2018 report, NordVPN’s app didn’t detect any of the 49 phishing or malware websites visited during its tests. Hotspot Shield, on the other hand, detected 15, while F-Secure Freedome picked up on 31.
As with all VPNs, you should not use NordVPN in place of effective anti-virus and anti-malware software.
Does NordVPN Contain Any Viruses?
We scanned NordVPN’s .exe installer package using Malwarebytes just to be sure it was clean and, thankfully, no virus threats were detected.
We also put the file through VirusTotal.com and it came out clean.
You can rest assured that NordVPN doesn’t contain any malware.
NordVPN Vulnerability: Fixed
NordVPN is by no means perfect (no VPN is) and at Top10VPN.com we don’t just write reviews – we take an active role in encouraging VPN providers to continually improve upon their services. One way we do this is by flagging up potential security flaws with the VPN provider directly in order to keep our readers as safe as possible.
Recently, we discovered a potential vulnerability with NordVPN, so we got in touch with the team directly.
NordVPN provides instructions for MacOS and Windows manual configuration with the IKEv2 protocol, intended for users in high-censorship countries.
However, NordVPN was recommending that users install a root CA certificate to their device, allowing full permissions, including SSL. This could have enabled a hacker to decrypt users’ traffic should they compromise NordVPN’s servers.
Clearly these instructions needed changing to prevent users from exposing themselves to such a vulnerability, so we suggested some changes.
NordVPN took our advice and improved its instructions for MacOS, removing the security issues.
Unfortunately NordVPN’s current infrastructure doesn’t allow for the same changes to be applied to the Windows manual setup. At least the instructions now come with the below warning message:
We’re really pleased that NordVPN listened to our suggestions – it goes a long way to showing that NordVPN really does care about the security of its systems and users.
NordVPN Hack: Is Your Data at Risk?
In October 2019 it emerged that NordVPN had been the subject of a hack.
The hacker managed to gain access to a NordVPN server, used as a VPN endpoint and based in Finland, which was hosted by third-party company Creanova.
Poorly-configured security on that individual server’s remote management system allowed the hacker to gain access to it. The hacker was then able to view the file system and, theoretically, retrieve any data stored on it.
NordVPN informs us that it was not aware of the incident until 13 April 2019, when it was shown a dark web post of the hackers responsible bragging about it, dated March 2018.
At this point NordVPN took that server, and all others hosted with Creanova, out of service, then ‘shredded’ (securely wiped all data) from the servers, and terminated its contract with Creanova.
NordVPN stresses three important facts about the hack:
- No user credentials were affected. In other words, no one’s privacy or anonymity was compromised.
- There are no signs that user traffic was monitored. No user-sensitive data could be read from the server itself, either, as NordVPN is a no-logs service. This means the server contained no information regarding user data or browsing activity.
- The VPN tunnel was not compromised. This means that the service as a whole still worked as intended.
NordVPN claims that the hack was the fault of Creanova, as it had no idea that the method the hackers used to gain access was even a possibility. Creanova blames NordVPN, as it claims that the company was careless with its security.
None of that matters. While it may be NordVPN’s ultimate responsibility to rigorously check the security of its servers, what we believe matters most is the manner in which NordVPN responded to the hack – and it responded badly.
We still believe that, from a technical standpoint, NordVPN is one of the most advanced, most private VPN services available. Hackers will always attempt things like this, and the important conclusion is that no NordVPN users were harmed or compromised.
However, the huge delay from the hack being discovered to NordVPN informing the public is a big disappointment. We wouldn’t blame anyone for doubting NordVPN’s trustworthiness at the moment.
NordVPN has since made a number of concrete strides towards genuinely preventing another hack from taking place, and it’s certainly a case of ‘better late than never’.
Here’s what to expect from NordVPN in the near future:
- Partnership with cybersecurity consulting firm VerSprite to carry out penetration tests and make NordVPN safer than ever before.
- Bug bounty program to reward those that successfully identify vulnerabilities in Nord’s code.
- Infrastructure security audit and vendor security assessment to prevent a similar breach occurring again.
- Network of collocated servers exclusively owned by NordVPN to avoid any vulnerabilities caused by third-party providers.
- Diskless RAM servers. This means that if someone seizes a server they are effectively seizing an empty piece of hardware with no user data or configuration files on it. NordVPN recently announced that so far half of its servers have been moved to RAM disk, with the aim being to take that figure to 100% by October 2020.
The score that you now see at the top of this review is updated to reflect our drop in confidence in NordVPN as an honest and open VPN service provider.
It is now, ironically, more technically secure than ever – but it will take some time for it to rebuild its reputation in our eyes.
You can read more about these developments on NordVPN’s blog post.
If you’re still not convinced by NordVPN’s credentials, have a read of this independent security audit NordVPN commissioned to look into its Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android apps.
The auditors did find several vulnerabilities, but NordVPN fixed them all.
How fast is NordVPN?
Speed & Reliability
All VPNs slow down your internet connection somewhat, but the best ones make it unnoticeable. Thankfully this is the case with NordVPN – we experienced average speed drops of just 2% on nearby servers.
In fact, our latest speed tests showed NordVPN to be one of the fastest VPNs available, both on local and international connections. NordVPN is incredibly reliable and more than powerful enough for HD streaming, smooth torrenting, and effortless browsing.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using NordVPN:
When connected to NordVPN:
Local Speed Tests
We tested our internet speeds, first without a VPN and then again when connected to a NordVPN server in the UK. We used the results to calculate our average speed loss percentage.
- Download speed without NordVPN: 94.37Mbps
- Download speed with NordVPN: 92.59Mbps
- Our download speed loss when NordVPN is running: 2%
As you can see, the results were very impressive: just a 2% decrease in our download speeds and 5% in uploads – perfect for streaming and torrenting.
Ping times are also fairly low, so you should be able to play games like League of Legends and Fortnite with minimal lag, as long as you connect to a server close to your physical location.
You might be wondering why you’d even want to use a VPN for gaming.
Well, there’s a few reasons:
- Protects against DDoS attacks by masking your true IP address.
- Prevents ISP throttling by encrypting your traffic.
- Reduces ping times by connecting to a VPN server located nearer the gaming server.
For the absolute best VPNs for gaming you can check out our dedicated article here.
Global Speed Tests
Once we tested local speeds we looked into how well NordVPN performed over longer distances. These results were just as impressive, particularly connecting out to the US.
Here are the average download and upload speeds connecting out from the UK to NordVPN’s servers:
- US: 74Mbps (download) & 43Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 83Mbps (download) & 94Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 63Mbps (download) & 21Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 56Mbps (download) & 29Mbps (upload)
Even as far as Australia NordVPN produces incredibly fast speeds – well above average.
We also compared the speeds to different cities within the US – East Coast, West Coast, and Southern US. Here’s what we found:
- New York (East): 74Mbps (download) & 43Mbps (upload)
- Los Angeles (West): 62Mbps (download) & 36Mbps (upload)
- Dallas (South): 76Mbps (download) & 28Mbps (upload)
- Seattle (North-West): 67Mbps (download) & 47Mbps (upload)
NordVPN performed pretty consistently across all locations, which is great news for those who need city-specific access to content.
We make sure to test speeds often to give you the most up-to-date results as possible. NordVPN hasn’t always been this fast, but we are happy that it continues to go from strength to strength even as its user base expands.
NordVPN works to unblock Netflix
Streaming & Torrenting
One of the most popular reasons for using a VPN is to unlock streaming and entertainment content, but the big players like Netflix and BBC iPlayer make it really difficult for VPN users to access their video content. We tested NordVPN to see if it could beat the blocks.
Thanks to its SmartPlay technology, we found that NordVPN consistently works with popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Its quick speeds make for ultra-smooth, buffer-free watching, too.
There are no dedicated streaming servers like the ones used by CyberGhost or HideMyAss! because NordVPN’s SmartPlay does the hard work for you. You can choose any US server and it will unlock all your favorite Netflix content.
The same goes for all the servers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK. NordVPN allows you to access these Netflix libraries, all of which have different shows and movies to enjoy.
If you choose a server outside of the countries listed above, NordVPN’s SmartPlay will kick in and you’ll still be able to access US Netflix.
While NordVPN doesn’t give up much technical information about it, we do know that SmartPlay combines the ‘best features’ of VPN technology with Smart DNS to make watching your favorite shows super easy. It’s enabled by default, so there’s no need to play around with the settings menu to watch your favorite shows.
Unsurprisingly, SmartPlay’s unrestricted access to streaming services doesn’t stop there. NordVPN’s website says you can secure access to over 400 streaming services.
Here are some of the most popular:
- BBC iPlayer
- Sling TV
- Sky Go
It’s much harder to watch BBC iPlayer shows using a VPN because the BBC aggressively blocks VPN IP addresses. The fact that NordVPN works consistently to unlock iPlayer shows is testament to its streaming capabilities.
While NordVPN is a very reliable VPN for smooth, effortless streaming on desktop and mobile devices, it’s the complete opposite for Smart TVs and streaming devices.
For several months, NordVPN has been experiencing issues with streaming via Fire TV Stick, Android TV, and smart TVs.
The customer support team has told us that NordVPN engineers are working on a solution, but there is currently no estimated time frame for when it will be fixed.
For a more reliable Fire TV Stick experience, check out our VPN recommendations for Firestick.
NordVPN is a fantastic VPN for torrenting, with loads of super fast servers optimized for P2P traffic, and plenty of advanced security features such as the VPN kill switch to keep your activity secure. NordVPN’s no-logs policy also makes it one of the safest VPNs for torrenting.
Not all NordVPN servers allow P2P traffic, but there’s still more than enough server choice to keep torrenters and Kodi streamers happy.
You can torrent while connected to almost every country on the server list. These optimized servers are super easy to find – they are listed under ‘Speciality Servers’ in the app settings – and work reliably.
However, P2P traffic is not permitted in the following countries:
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
If you try to torrent while connected to a VPN server that doesn’t support P2P, the VPN app will simply re-route your traffic through a dedicated server located in either Canada or the Netherlands.
The apps detect P2P traffic using a “special algorithm” that NordVPN assured us didn’t affect its no-logs policy. This is likely a real-time analysis tool that detects traffic, but doesn’t go on to store that data.
In addition to its P2P-friendly VPN service, NordVPN provides a SOCKS5 proxy which can be used alongside torrenting clients like BitTorrent. It’s faster than a VPN, but we still don’t recommend using it.
While this proxy spoofs your IP address, it won’t encrypt your traffic, which puts your online privacy and security at risk.
NordVPN has over 5,300 VPN servers in 58 countries
NordVPN provides 5,300+ VPN servers with each server given a static IP address. This is among the highest number of VPN servers provided by a VPN service, which is impressive. The choice of 58 countries isn’t the widest VPN server range we’ve seen, but it should almost certainly ensure there is a server located near you.
The server network covers popular locations like the UK, US, Australia, and Canada. It also serves less common countries such as Argentina, Albania, and Vietnam.
There’s plenty of choice in Europe, North and South America, and Asia-Pacific. While there are a few options in Africa and the Middle East, this region is lacking somewhat in comparison to NordVPN’s overall offering.
And it doesn’t finish there. NordVPN gives its users city-level server choices in five countries:
- Australia (five locations, 200+ servers)
- Canada (three locations, 300+ servers)
- Germany (two locations, 200+ servers)
- India (two locations, 20+ servers)
- The US (15 locations, 1,600+ servers)
This means that users in those countries can choose to connect to a server even closer to their exact location, which improves speed and allows you to access city or state-specific content.
NordVPN also provides a dedicated IP address service for those who need to stick with one IP address for prolonged periods of time. This comes at an extra cost, though, and it’s not as private as using the standard NordVPN IP addresses, which are shared by many users at one time.
NordVPN’s network is wholly made up of physical, bare metal servers – none of them are virtual. This means that all the servers are physically located where you expect them to be. This is fairly uncommon, and many VPN providers choose to have at least a small percentage of virtual servers in some locations.
NordVPN is also working on building a network of self-owned servers. Owning servers is ideal for security and transparency and it will give NordVPN full control over its physical infrastructure.
The recent hack proved that relying on a third-parties to provide VPN servers can lead to security vulnerabilities. Not many VPNs own all the servers in their network, so it’s very impressive that NordVPN is taking on this huge task to strengthen its service even more.
For the time being, NordVPN still rents some servers, but it is keeping data center providers to even higher standards than before to ensure that your personal data remains safe.
Does NordVPN Work in China?
It’s essential to use a VPN in China as some of the most popular websites like Google and Facebook are censored there. However, it’s difficult to find a VPN capable of beating Chinese censors, especially since the March 2018 VPN ban.
While NordVPN is a great VPN for the vast majority of countries, it’s no longer a reliable option for China, so we don’t recommend it for users staying in or traveling to the country.
Lots of users have complained of not being able to access the service while in China. The consensus is that NordVPN has been very inconsistent recently, working one week and not the next. This is a fairly common problem even for the best VPNs, but NordVPN has been particularly unpredictable over the past several months.
Lately, NordVPN has been encouraging users in China to manually configure the VPN on their device rather than using its custom apps, as they are often blocked.
While manual configuration isn’t too difficult, it’s not ideal.
Occasionally NordVPN’s custom apps do work in China, as long as you follow these guidelines:
- Connect through the Quick Connect option using the UDP protocol.
- If Quick Connect doesn’t work try connecting to servers in Singapore, Japan, Canada, the UK, and the US.
In the past, NordVPN’s obfuscated servers worked in China by masking VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic. However, the Chinese censors have gotten wise to this, and they are no longer an effective tool for circumventing censorship in China.
NordVPN’s obfuscated servers are still a useful tool for other high censorship countries like Iran, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE. To use this tool you first need to enable the obfuscated servers option within NordVPN’s settings menu. As these servers are more complex than NordVPN’s regular servers you should expect some slowdown.
Is NordVPN compatible with my device?
Platforms & Devices
NordVPN has a range of user-friendly native VPN apps for all major operating systems, including desktop, mobile, and TV devices. They’re all easy to set up and simple to use, with clean, intuitive interfaces.
You can buy a multi-device subscription directly from NordVPN’s website, where you’ll find download files for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You’ll also find links to the Google Play, Apple, and Amazon stores for Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV respectively.
There are no single-device subscriptions but you can purchase a plan through the app stores if you want. Just be aware that you won’t benefit from NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee if you buy a plan through the Apple store.
In addition to the main platforms, you can manually install NordVPN on a NAS (Synology, Western Digital MyCloud, QNAP, and AsusTor), and selected routers.
Installing a VPN at router-level isn’t too difficult and it means that all devices connected to the router will be protected. You can buy routers pre-configured with NordVPN’s software, which saves you the hassle, but these are pretty pricey ($150 and above).
NordVPN supports the following routers:
- ASUS WRT
- ASUS Merlin
- DrayTek Vigor
- Ubiquity EdgeRouter
What’s more, you can use NordVPN on up to six devices at the same time using just one VPN subscription. This is one of the highest allowances we’ve seen, and if you install NordVPN on your router it will protect everything connected to it while only counting as one device.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
NordVPN has an Android TV app, so you can use the VPN app with streaming devices such as Android TV and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick without any manual configuration. Just download it straight from the Google Play Store or Amazon Appstore.
As discussed above, these apps currently don’t support streaming on Netflix and some other popular platforms.
If you want to run NordVPN on your other streaming devices or games consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, though, you’ll need to install it at router level as discussed above.
NordVPN provides simple VPN browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
These VPN add-ons are similar to the desktop and mobile apps but there’s one crucial difference: the browser extensions are proxies rather than true VPNs. This means they only encrypt your browser traffic, leaving email apps or torrenting clients unprotected. If privacy is your priority you should stick with the desktop application.
The browser extensions are useful for those seeking a lightweight alternative to a VPN, which may give them better speeds. You can access all the same countries that are available on the main apps, but you can’t drill down to city level or make use of NordVPN’s specialty servers.
It couldn’t be much easier to set up NordVPN’s browser extensions – just go to the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox store and download the add-on to your browser.
Once you’ve logged on you can choose a server and connect.
In terms of features, the Chrome and Firefox extensions are pretty much identical. They include an ad-blocker and in-built WebRTC leak blocker, which is an extremely useful bonus since a WebRTC leak gives away your true location. Both features can be found in the settings menu in the top right corner. Due to the way a browser extension works there’s no kill switch included.
VPN extensions for Safari or Opera browsers are not available yet.
Simple, User-Friendly Custom Apps
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up NordVPN
NordVPN offers the ideal balance of technical complexity and ease of use – it packs in loads of extra features while remaining intuitive and simple enough for absolute beginners.
The easiest way to use NordVPN is by downloading its custom apps directly from the website or relevant app store, which can be done in a matter of minutes. You shouldn’t need much help, but if you do NordVPN’s website has comprehensive VPN setup guides for whatever platform you’re using, as well as around-the-clock live chat support.
All of NordVPN’s custom apps run smoothly, providing the highest levels of encryption and privacy, but there is some disparity between the features of each device.
The Microsoft Windows app is by far the most advanced of the NordVPN’s collection.
Once you’ve successfully installed the software and logged in you’ll be presented with an interactive map. You can click on the map to connect to a server or use the sidebar on the left. This will automatically connect you to the fastest server in that country.
It’s also possible to choose specific servers – there are multiple per country – by clicking on the three horizontal dots that appear when you hover over the country name on the sidebar. The servers each show their load percentage, which gives you an indication of the performance you can expect.
The lower the percentage, the better the speeds will be due to low congestion. Some countries also offer city-level choice, which you’ll find on the Region drop-down menu.
You can also access NordVPN’s specialty servers from the sidebar, including Dedicated IP, Double VPN, Onion over VPN, and P2P.
The ‘Quick connect’ button makes connecting even simpler and is a great tool for those who don’t need to access geo-specific content. If you click that button NordVPN will choose the best server for you based on your physical location.
For those who want to take advantage of NordVPN’s extra features, head to the settings menu by clicking the cog symbol in the top right-hand corner of the client. All the settings are made up of On-Off toggles, so they are very easy to configure.
No matter your experience level, we recommend that all users enable the Internet Kill Switch found under the Kill Switch tab. This will ensure you are protected 100% of the time by disabling internet access when not connected to the VPN. You can also do this on an app-to-app basis using the App Kill Switch.
From the General settings tab you can see which software version you are running, as well as choose to launch the VPN on Windows startup. From here you can also enable NordVPN’s CyberSec, which blocks unwanted ads.
The Auto Connect tab allows you to auto-connect on unsecured WiFi and select your preferred VPN protocol – OpenVPN UDP or TCP.
Finally, the tab labeled Advanced includes custom DNS settings, in addition to Invisibility on LAN and Obfuscated servers, which is effective for high-censorship countries.
There are two versions of NordVPN’s Mac app: one that you download directly from the website and another that is only available through the Apple App Store.
The main difference between the two is the protocol options available, as well as the way the kill switch works. The IKE Mac app, which is available from the Apple store, allows you to connect through OpenVPN UDP/TCP or IKEv2, whereas the direct download from the website is OpenVPN-only.
The IKE kill switch works system-wide, which means if the VPN connection suddenly drops it continues to protect all apps without terminating them. On the other hand, the OpenVPN version of the Mac app kill switch terminates only the apps you specify if the VPN connection drops.
Aside from those two differences the MacOS apps work much the same as the Windows app, with CyberSec, Double VPN, dedicated IP, obfuscated servers, Onion over VPN, P2P, and custom DNS.
NordVPN recommends using the IKE app over the OpenVPN one, unless you’re located in a country that restricts access to VPNs.
NordVPN’s Android app is similar to the desktop apps, with a server location map, Quick Connect, and all of NordVPN’s specialty servers.
The settings menu is a little bit more sparse but there’s still CyberSec, local network access, the option to connect with OpenVPN TCP or UDP, and custom DNS. The Android app is the only one in NordVPN’s suite that includes a split tunneling feature. This allows you to route certain apps outside of the encrypted VPN tunnel.
While there’s no integrated VPN kill switch feature, you can enable one manually via the Android settings. NordVPN gives instructions for this within the app settings.
Before connecting we recommend disabling the ‘Help us improve’ toggle within the settings menu, which is enabled by default. When enabled this feature sends aggregated anonymous data such as crash reports, marketing performance, and feature usage data to NordVPN.
Due to the Apple Store’s strict guidelines, we find VPN apps for iOS to be the most simplistic, with very few features. NordVPN’s iOS app is no different.
You’ll find all the same server locations, as well as the specialty servers and Quick Connect feature, but the settings menu is the most bare of all NordVPN’s apps.
You can toggle on CyberSec and choose between OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IKEv2, and NordLynx. Like the Android app, we recommend switching off ‘Help us improve’, which is enabled by default.
There’s no kill switch feature listed in NordVPN’s settings menu, but rest assured that it’s baked into the app and enabled by default.
NordVPN’s iOS app is also able to sync with Siri, so you can activate and disable NordVPN’s protection with voice commands.
Amazon Fire TV/Android TV
NordVPN’s Android TV app should make streaming on your TV super easy as it’s also compatible with Amazon Fire TV Stick, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to our expectations. For several months, NordVPN’s Android TV app has been blocked by Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming platforms.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use NordVPN on your Android TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick, though. It’s still essential for protecting your privacy and online security.
Once you’ve downloaded the app from the Google Play Store or Amazon Appstore just sign in and find your preferred server location. If you use your Fire TV Stick with Kodi you can use the P2P specialty servers too.
The settings menu includes CyberSec, TCP override, optional data sharing, and TV mode.
Helpful 24/7 live chat support & useful online resources
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
NordVPN provides users with excellent quality customer support through its extensive knowledge base and online live chat.
The live chat is instantaneous and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We found that support agents responded quickly and were extremely helpful. Most of our VPN issues were fixed within a couple of minutes.
We tested the email support too and received a prompt, helpful reply.
NordVPN’s troubleshooting guides are very useful, too, covering a variety of potential issues – like TAP driver errors or streaming problems – and providing a range of possible solutions.
NordVPN is fantastic value for money on longer plans
NordVPN Pricing Plan
NordVPN’s month-by-month plan costs $11.95, which is fairly expensive. However, the price drops dramatically by to $3.49 per month on a three-year plan. This represents great value for money, especially since you can use NordVPN’s feature-rich apps on as many as six different devices at once.
These huge discounts may seem too good to be true, but the only catch is that you have to pay the full cost of the plan upfront, which is common practice.
US$11.95/moBilled $11.95 every month
US$6.99/moBilled $83.88 every 12 months
US$4.99/moBilled $119.76 every 2 years
US$3.49/moBilled $125.64 every 3 years
All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
NordVPN accepts several different payment options including:
- Credit and debit cards
- Direct debit
- Amazon Pay
Recently NordVPN stopped accepting PayPal so it could have more control over users’ purchasing experiences and to reduce security risks.
Instead, it now uses Adyen, which it claims offers a greater level of privacy for customers due to its self-contained nature.
Is There a Free Version of NordVPN?
NordVPN used to offer a free trial, but it stopped providing this in May 2019 due to “widespread abuse.”
Unlike TunnelBear, ProtonVPN, and other ‘freemium’ VPN services, NordVPN has never offered a fully free VPN service alongside its premium apps.
What NordVPN does offer in place of a free trial or free app is a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can cancel your subscription within 30 days by contacting the customer support team through live chat. You’ll have to go through a troubleshooting process first, but the refund should be processed within 10 business days.
Read our guide to find out how you can make the most of this refund guarantee.
Do We Recommend NordVPN?
The Bottom Line
NordVPN is one of the fastest, safest, and most reliable VPN services we’ve tested, and has been so for several years now. It will encrypt your internet traffic with the best VPN protocols and ciphers, while safeguarding your personal data with its strict, independently verified no-logs policy.
There’s nothing you can’t do with NordVPN – it unblocks Netflix effortlessly, torrenting is permitted on the majority of its super fast servers, and you can browse freely from over 90 locations worldwide. Its user-friendly, feature-packed apps make it ideal for both VPN beginners and experienced users.
There are a few areas in which NordVPN could improve. One of the most frustrating things is that you can’t watch Netflix via NordVPN’s Fire TV app.
NordVPN is also in the midst of regaining user trust after the details of its server breach surfaced, but it has shown a real commitment to improving the security of its infrastructure to prevent future hacks. If anything, it’s an even safer product now.
NordVPN comes a close second to ExpressVPN, with one main advantage – its super affordable monthly price (on multi-year subscriptions).
Alternatives to NordVPN
ExpressVPN is currently our #1 VPN, as it provides an ever-so-slightly better overall experience than NordVPN - but it's very close. Read ExpressVPN review
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Easy to use, but secure and for a good price
Wanted an easy to use, but secure VPN, tried several providers and in the end stuck with NordVPN. I really like the one-click interface and an integrated killswitch for extra security, speed is quite nice too. And for the price, it is worth it IMO. Never hurts to be extra secure in this day and age.
Nord VPN has, in my experience been inconsistent. In China. Perhaps not in other parts of the world, but alone, for me -in China, the service does not always work.
Still waiting for refund after 5 months.
I bought the 1 month option and the software didn't work. It didn't connect to the BBC iplayer and the connection speeds to other sites were terrible. I requested a refund after 2 weeks of trying to get to work but never received a reply. I wrote a review on a website and Nordvpn requested a reference number that they never sent me so I edited the review to say I didn't get the number so they reported my review because I didn't post the number they never sent to me. If you do want to try this software then try the 1 month option because if it doesn't work they might not honour their refund promise.Simon | Top10VPN Expert
Hi Gareth, sorry to hear you've had a bad experience with NordVPN. We've always experienced fast speeds throughout our NordVPN tests, so you may want to get in contact with the NordVPN customer support team via livechat on their website to see if they can troubleshoot the issue.
Reasonable price, useful app
My brother used it in the US and while traveling in EU. I personally got it for privacy, while using public wifi, also sometimes at home or if I want to search from the perspective of another country. Price is reasonable. Btw, I had to contact their support once (as you can't change your username by yourself) and the support was great, works 24/7.
Works no more
For a good couple of weeks now Nordvpn will not work with bbc iPlayer, I believe the BBC's agressive stance with vpns got the better of them, the BBC detect how many are logged into one particular server, more than 8, they will then block it. With nordvpn you will have to "manually" switch which will be always too slow as the BBC as mentioned before is always one step ahead. Another (once) very good vpn has just died. RIP. it still works for Netflix but if it's the BBC you want, don't bother anymore. Their team has just "templates" for answers a proof that they are definitely surpassed.Simon | Top10VPN Expert
Hi Franck. Thank you for your review. Access to BBC iPlayer can be very tricky with a VPN, but we've just tested NordVPN and it's currently working. We asked a member of the live chat support team for help and they gave us a few server numbers to try (the first one worked for us). The BBC's crackdowns on VPNs are very aggressive at the moment and that means that some days you may struggle to access the service, but NordVPN have been very good at finding solutions quickly. I hope that helps!
Avoid this product
I don't say this because of just the one issue in Outlook that caused an error on send/receive the support was not able to figure out. I say this because they blamed it on Microsoft, yet when I switched to another VPN, there was no issue and I have used other VPNs and not had this problem before. Also, it took two weeks longer than the 30 day return option they offer and they refused to refund my money. I don't think this is right since it is clear to me they have a problem with their product and the don't want to admit it.
Don’t subscribe NordVPN services if you are using iOS and living at China
It won’t work if you are living in China when using iOS device to connect to the VPN via iOS app. On 4 April all of obfuscated servers went down suddenly, when I ask support, they say some of new server will be release, please wait a couple of the days. Also support tell me that for a temporary method to connect NordVPN at China is download IKeV2 profile than connect manually, it is my nightmare beginning ,IKEv2 it might connect but will be disconnect after few minutes or half hour, may be one hour without any notice for you, IKeV2 won’t connect automatically. That’s why I need to keep my eyes on my iPhone every minute to check the status, you don’t know when it will be disconnected, you never to receive any instant message from WhatsApp/Line etc... You can’t to check gmail/ Facebook etc.... I need to keep my eyes on my iPhone! Until to now, NordVPN still can’t to connect VPN via iOS app at China, they will always to say apologize for your inconvenience, please wait but they don’t how long it will be until it works! They are a liar, they wouldn’t refund if you are over 30days money back guarantee even they can't provide service via iOS system! Please consider when you want to subscribe NordVPN if you are using iOS device!
Not the best for use with 365 & one drive
I have used NVPN now for over 6 months, however, it stops me from accessing One drive, Pcloud, and Win 365 as well as many other web sites. I have done everything that is suggested but still it stops my connections between my desktop and these sites. The mobile version works OK but having contacted NVPN on a number of occasions they suggest to carry out quite complex things to my connections and this should not have to be the case so I vote NVPN down on these issues, if it happens to me it must happen to others too.
Very good VPN choice
Been using NordVPN for quite a while now. Overall experience is very good with fast speeds and ability to watch some shows that are geo-restricted. Linux app could be more polished with a nice GUI, but CLI version works fine too. Overall 4 stars, but it could be 5 if they keep improving.
Great for streaming
I found it very useful when it came to streaming because I could finally access US streaming and channels that I couldn't before. Works well with Netflix too, very easy to change the location
Works with BBC
I purchased NordVPN not that long time ago, and still don't see any cons coming up. I use it mostly for watching various events, like Premier League or FIFA, works with BBC iPlayer, so for me, it's enough. I'll give them 5 stars when the price is lower.
Spotty p2pVerified Customer
Overall the number of servers and locations are good for many operations, but for p2p it's rough. Even using dedicated P2P servers, I get disconnects regularly, losing my connection. I've gotten them when using non p2p as well, but consistently when using p2p. After some minutes the connection just goes dead for about 10-30 sec. Enough to kill some transfers and affect browsing, requiring frequent log ins.