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NordVPN Review

Simon Migliano
By Simon MiglianoUpdated
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NordVPN screenshot

NordVPN: Ranked #2 out of 99 VPNs that we tested

NordVPN has been growing at a very fast pace since launching in 2012, and it’s now one of the largest VPN services on the market with over 12 million customers worldwide (according to NordVPN themselves).

NordVPN has grown so much that it now claims to be the “best VPN service provider of 2019” but we all know that’s easier said than done, right?

We needed to understand how good NordVPN really is and answer questions our readers have been asking us:

  • Is NordVPN safe?
  • How fast is it?
  • Does it work with Netflix?
  • Is torrenting and P2P allowed?
  • Is NordVPN easy to use?

We tested it extensively for weeks to find out, and in this review you’ll see exactly what we discovered.

But before we dive into it, lets take a quick look at NordVPN’s pros and cons:

  1. Very fast VPN speeds
  2. Log-free & no IP, DNS & WebRTC leaks
  3. Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer & more
  4. P2P & torrenting allowed on many servers
  5. Huge server network: 5,500+ servers across 60 countries
  6. User-friendly apps for PC, Mac, iOS, & Android with ad-blocker
  1. Alternative VPN protocols have to be manually configured
  2. Streaming sites inaccessible via Firestick app & router connections
  3. Obfuscated servers don't always work in China
  4. No obfuscated servers for iOS

Works with

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux

Price from

$3.29/mo

Still want to know more about NordVPN and whether it’s the right VPN for you?

We’ve carefully tested every single NordVPN app so you can rest assured that we left no stone unturned.

Without further ado, lets get right into this review starting with NordVPN’s speed.

Speed & Reliability

Very fast speeds across the world

NordVPN is a very fast VPN – as long as you connect to nearby VPN servers.

It’s not the fastest VPN there is (these VPNs are currently faster), but NordVPN is still very quick and you won’t experience any speed issues.

Both same-country (UK server to UK server) download and upload speeds are impressive, with minimal internet slowdown (around a 5-6% drop from our normal internet speeds).

This makes NordVPN a very good choice for both streaming fans and torrenters.

Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a London test server.

Before using NordVPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    94.83

  2. UploadMbps

    91.8

  3. Pingms

    3

When connected to NordVPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    90.51

  2. UploadMbps

    86.28

  3. Pingms

    5

Download speed without NordVPN: 94.83Mbps

Download speed with NordVPN: 90.51Mbps

Our download speed loss when NordVPN is running: 5%

As you can see, NordVPN registered very impressive speeds when we connected to a nearby VPN server. It’s less impressive – but still very usable – over long-distance connections, though.

Here are the average download and upload speeds connecting out from the UK to NordVPN’s servers:

  • USA: 47Mbps (download) & 48Mbps (upload)
  • Germany: 78Mbps (download) & 77Mbps (upload)
  • Singapore: 17Mbps (download) & 6Mbps (upload)
  • Australia: 22Mbps (download) & 3Mbps (upload)

Ping times are also fairly low on most of NordVPN’s servers, which is good for gaming although there are better VPNs available to gamers.

Server Locations

Over 5,500 VPN servers spread across 60 countries worldwide

Globe with a blue flag60Countries
Image of a city landscape90+Cities
Image of a pink marker5,500+IP Addresses

NordVPN’s server list covers 60 countries – it isn’t the widest VPN server range we’ve seen, but it should almost certainly ensure there is a server located near you.

Screenshot of NordVPN Server List in App

NordVPN provides a whopping 5,500 VPN servers, none of which are virtual, with each server given a static IP address. This is the highest number of VPN servers provided by a top VPN service, which is impressive. Even better, NordVPN owns all of the servers in its network.

NordVPN’s server network covers all of the popular server locations such as the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada, as well as less common locations including Argentina, Egypt, and Albania.

NordVPN provides city-level server choices in five different countries, too:

  • Australia (five locations, 200+ servers)
  • Canada (three locations, 400+ servers)
  • Germany (two locations, 200+ servers)
  • India (two locations, 20+ servers)
  • The US (20 locations, 1,800+ servers)

NordVPN used to offer city-level choice in the UK (London and Manchester) but recently removed the Manchester VPN servers as “their performance was lacking.”

NordVPN has added even more servers in London in order to ensure the best speeds for those located in the UK.

Streaming & Torrenting

An excellent choice for streaming & torrenting

Thanks to its SmartPlay technology, NordVPN consistently works with popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer via its desktop and mobile custom VPN apps.

To watch Netflix, simply click on the US or UK VPN country server and the NordVPN app will automatically find the best option for you.

NordVPN also unlocks loads more Netflix libraries, including Canada, Japan, France, Italy, and Germany.

Not all of NordVPN’s UK servers provide access to BBC iPlayer, but a quick message to live chat will let you know which ones are currently working.

That will save you the trial-and-error of testing out all of NordVPN’s hundreds of UK servers. This is a big plus, as many other VPN providers can’t unlock BBC iPlayer.

Unrestricted access to streaming services doesn’t stop there. Many of NordVPN’s customers use the VPN service to stream:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • HBO
  • Sling TV
  • Sky
  • Now TV

Unfortunately, NordVPN is currently experiencing issues with streaming via its Firestick app and router connections, meaning that you can’t watch Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or other popular streaming services using those setups.

The NordVPN team have told us that its engineers are working on a solution.

For the meantime, you can stream Netflix and the likes on your TV by connecting your laptop computer to your TV with a HDMI cable. Just use the NordVPN desktop app to access streaming content and it will display on your TV screen.

Torrenting

Torrenting (and other P2P traffic) isn’t allowed on every single NordVPN server, 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 NordVPN’s server list – these are listed under ‘Speciality Servers’ within in the app settings.

However, the following countries do not permit P2P:

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates

If you attempt to torrent while connected to a VPN server that doesn’t support P2P NordVPN will simply re-route your traffic through a dedicated server located in either Canada or the Netherlands.

With plenty of added security features – such as its VPN kill switch – and a no-logs policy, NordVPN is without a doubt one of the safest VPNs for torrenting. Fast uploads and downloads make it a great choice too.

Bypassing Censorship

Obfuscated VPN servers work in China intermittently

Since the VPN crackdown in China, NordVPN has become a little less reliable for residents or visitors in China, but it’s still a pretty good choice of VPN.

Users have reported that NordVPN’s obfuscated servers often bypass the Chinese censors, but others have experienced difficulties connecting to them.

NordVPN’s obfuscated servers are spread out fairly evenly, with options in North America, North Africa, Asia, and Europe, so you shouldn’t be too far away from one.

There are no obfuscated VPN servers available on the NordVPN iOS app, though, so iPhone users may struggle to connect from China without some manual configuration.

See our latest VPN recommendations if you’re looking for a reliable VPN for China, or you can read our ExpressVPN review or our VyprVPN review, two of our top choices.

That’s just China, though – in other high censorship countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia NordVPN remains a solid VPN choice to bypass censorship.

Platforms & Devices

Protect all your devices with a wide range of custom VPN apps

Apps

Windows LogoWindows
Mac LogoMac
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid
Linux LogoLinux
Router LogoRouter

NordVPN has simple native VPN apps for all major operating systems:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux (yes, even Linux)

If your device is not compatible with the custom apps above, you can also install NordVPN on your router.

What’s more, you can use NordVPN on up to six devices at the same time using just one VPN subscription, which is one of the highest allowances we’ve seen.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

AppleTV LogoAppleTV
Amazon Fire TV LogoAmazon Fire TV
Chromecast LogoChromecast
Nintendo LogoNintendo
PlayStation LogoPlayStation
Roku LogoRoku
Xbox LogoXbox

NordVPN has an Android TV app, meaning you can use the VPN app with streaming devices such as Android TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick without any manual configuration.

While NordVPN come with a Firestick app, you can’t currently watch Netflix using it, so if you own a Firestick and want to use a VPN app with it, take a look at our roundup of the best VPNs for Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

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. It’s not too difficult and it means that all devices connected to the router will be protected.

Again, NordVPN router connections don’t currently provide access to popular streaming websites and services.

Browser Extensions

Chrome LogoChrome
Firefox LogoFirefox

NordVPN provides VPN extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

These VPN add-ons encrypt your browser traffic, but protection ends there so we always suggest using NordVPN’s extensions in conjunction with the main VPN application or client.

The extensions also have an in-built WebRTC leak blocker, which is an extremely useful bonus.

NordVPN doesn’t yet have VPN extensions for Safari or Opera browsers.

Encryption & Security

Secure VPN with advanced features but lacking protocol flexibility

Protocol

IKEv2/IPSec

OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)

WireGuard

Encryption

AES-256

Security

DNS Leak Blocking

First-party DNS

Supports TCP Port 443

VPN Kill Switch

WebRTC Leak Blocking

Advanced features

Double VPN

TOR via VPN Server

Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.

NordVPN has only one choice of VPN protocol by default, but it’s our personal favorite: OpenVPN. The iOS and MacOS apps (available to download directly from the Apple App Store) run on IKEv2, though.

OpenVPN provides the perfect blend of speed and security. It encrypts all your internet traffic using the ‘unhackable’ AES-256 cipher.

Screenshot of NordVPN Settings Menu in App

You can also use IKEv2 with NordVPN’s Windows and Android apps if you like, but it requires an extra download and a lot of advanced setup (manual configuration).

The VPN kill switch feature protects your IP address in the event of a connection drop, and NordVPN’s privately owned and operated DNS servers ensure end-to-end protection.

NordVPN provides Double VPN (multi hop) and Tor over VPN (Onion over VPN) for extra encryption.

As with all the VPN providers we review, we carried out extensive testing to find IP and DNS leaks when using NordVPN and we are happy to report that we found no leaks whatsoever.

Screenshot of browserleaks.com test results for NordVPN

Leak test results on browserleaks.com while connected to a NordVPN US server. We test from the UK.

NordVPN has recently released a new technology for Linux users called NordLynx that’s based on the WireGuard VPN protocol.

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.

Logging Policy

No-logs VPN in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction

NordVPN doesn’t log your traffic or store any user logs, making it a safe and trustworthy VPN.

Here is all the information that NordVPN does not store:

  • IP addresses
  • Connection timestamps
  • Session information
  • Used bandwidth
  • Traffic logs

Server loads are monitored to maintain the optimal performance of VPN servers for users, but this information isn’t personally identifiable.

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.”

Screenshot of NordVPN's logging policy

A representative from NordVPN demonstrated how this algorithm works using the following diagram:

Screenshot of NordVPN's customer support reply about logging

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.

What does all of this mean? That this information can’t be traced back to an individual user.

We would, however, like to see this section included in NordVPN’s Privacy Policy rather than the Terms of Service for clarity.

Nevertheless, we are content that NordVPN upholds your privacy, and it will absolutely will not sell your personal data to any third parties.

Jurisdiction

NordVPN was founded in 2012 is operated by Tefincom & Co S.A. which is headquartered under the legal jurisdiction of Panama, putting it beyond the reach of US and EU data retention laws.

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, so there is absolutely no way that any of your online activity can be traced back to you.

In 2018, NordVPN came under some heat as it was accused of not being headquartered in Panama. The reason for the controversy is that when you purchased NordVPN on Google Play Store, at the time the Seller of NordVPN was listed as CloudVPN INC. (a company registered in the US), and not Tefincom & Co S.A.

It turns out that 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 type of transactions.

 

Ease of Use

Quick and easy setup with simple custom apps

How to Install & Set Up NordVPN

The NordVPN website has comprehensive VPN setup guides for whatever platform you happen to be using, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need them.

All of NordVPN’s custom VPN apps run smoothly and are almost entirely self-explanatory.

If you want to play around with advanced settings then you’re welcome to do that too – they’re clearly labelled and the app even warns you not to do so unless you know what you’re doing.

Browser Extensions

Screenshot of NordVPN Chrome Extension

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. We’d recommend enabling ‘Block WebRTC’ from the settings menu to prevent any potential IP leaks.

Customer Support

Helpful live chat support & useful online resources

24/7 Live chat support
Online Resources

NordVPN provides excellent quality customer support both through its extensive knowledge base and via online live chat.

Email support isn’t as good and we’ve found responses to be slow at times. There is really no reason to email customer support, though, as NordVPN’s live chat service is 24/7.

Encounter any issues? NordVPN running slow, perhaps? No problem – support agents respond quickly and are extremely friendly and helpful, managing to fix most of our VPN issues within a couple of minutes.

NordVPN’s troubleshooting guides are very useful, too, covering a variety of potential VPN issues and providing a range of possible solutions.

Pricing & Deals

Fantastic value for money on longer plans

NordVPN Coupon

NordVPN

Get 58% off NordVPN's 12-month plan

  • Tested

NordVPN Pricing Plan

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services on the market, and it’s not very expensive at all. Also, every NordVPN price plan offers exactly the same VPN features.

NordVPN costs a fairly pricey $11.95 if you pay month-by-month, but the price drops by almost half to $6.99 a month for annual plans.

For the biggest savings, NordVPN’s three-year special deal costs just $3.49 per month, a saving of 70%.

NordVPN accepts a few different payment options, but it recently made the decision to stop accepting PayPal. The VPN service now uses Adyen for credit card payments, which it claims offers a greater level of privacy for customers due to its self-contained nature.

Here are the accepted payment methods, which include some cryptocurrencies for those seeking higher levels of privacy:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • Direct debit
  • Amazon Pay
  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Ripple
  • Alipay
  • UnionPay

NordVPN no longer comes with a free VPN trial, but it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Read our guide to find out how you can make the most of this guarantee.

You can cancel your NordVPN subscription within 30 days by contacting the customer support team through live chat. You will have to go through a troubleshooting process first, but the refund should be processed within 10 business days.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon leads our investigations into VPN safety and internet freedom research. His work has been featured on the BBC, CNet, Wired and The Financial Times. Read full bio

Top10VPN

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When a review is marked "Verified Customer" it means we've verified that the reviewer has had a genuine experience with the company.

Best Positive Review
 100% 

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.

Best Critical Review
 40% 

inconsistency

Verified Customer

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.

Showing 10 out of 239 reviews
  1.  20% 

    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 Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
    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!

  2.  20% 

    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.

  3.  20% 

    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!

  4.  40% 

    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.

  5.  80% 

    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.

  6.  100% 

    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

  7.  80% 

    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.

  8.  60% 

    Spotty p2p

    Verified 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.

  9.  80% 

    No nonsense service

    It's a service I have no complaints about, it works just as it should - I can watch my favorite sports streaming channels live, I can watch US Netflix. Sometimes it does take some time to find a working US Netflix server but all is good

  10.  100% 

    Perfect for umm... getting stuff for free

    I'll be completely honest -- where I live torrenting could get you fined. And there are some things which you can't legally get. So when I had to choose between what I want and what I would possibly get I went the third way and got a VPN. Tried some providers, but I liked NordVPN the most because of many P2P friendly servers, good speeds, and integrated killswitch. One could argue that a lack of port forwarding might be an issue, but it isn't for me. Shame I can't pirate it, but that would be too ironic I guess.