NordVPN is a zero-logs VPN that’s one of the fastest available in most locations. Access to Netflix and other streaming sites is smooth and simple on servers optimized for video. The redesigned apps look great, are available on major platforms and are easy to set up and use. A long list of routers are also supported.
NordVPN offers strong encryption and more privacy features than most. It doesn’t even log the most basic connection statistics, making it a true zero-logs VPN. This means that even if a third party requested your data, NordVPN would have nothing to show them. Customer support is informative and helpful but not as prompt as we would like.
Pricing & Deals
NordVPN offers a range of pricing plans to help you decide which is best for you. Each plan is the same aside from price. The longer you sign up, the less you spend each month.
A single month package is quite pricey at $11.95 but drops by almost half to $6.99 for annual plans. NordVPN is one of the few services offering a subscription longer than one year that’s even better value at just $3.99 monthly over two years, for a 66% saving.
Get 74% off NordVPN's 2-year plan
NordVPN Pricing & Deals
NordVPN offers a free trial as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee. The free trial is excellent as it not only does it not ask for payment details, only an email address, but it gives you full access for three days, which is plenty to get an idea of whether it’s right for you.
The money-bank guarantee is certainly over a generous period although it’s not as hassle-free as the “no questions asked” policy of ExpressVPN, for example. It requires your account to be in “good standing”, a vague term not defined in the terms of service, and you will have to go through a troubleshooting process with a customer support agent before you get your refund. Note also that purchases via the App Store/iTunes or with a gift card are not eligible for refunds.
NordVPN has a referral scheme which gives you and a friend 20% off if they sign up to any subscription. It’s the biggest such reward we’ve seen with the only catch being that the discount is applied to your next subscription rather than extending your plan with free months as ExpressVPN does.
NordVPN accepts many different payment methods including most major credit and debit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and lots of international options such as Alipay, UnionPay and WebMoney.
Speed & Reliability
NordVPN has produced absolutely outstanding results in all of our performance tests. Both upload and download speeds were consistently fast and reliable across all locations worldwide. You can be sure to expect buffer-free HD streaming and quick multiple file downloads no matter what server you choose, demonstrating that increased privacy does not necessarily mean your performance will suffer.
NordVPN Performance Data
- Download Speed Average:68.17 MbpsUpload Speed Average:23.15 MbpsPing Time Average:135 ms
- Download Speed Average:265.74 MbpsUpload Speed Average:177.03 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:313.71 MbpsUpload Speed Average:172.45 MbpsPing Time Average:3 ms
- Download Speed Average:271.52 MbpsUpload Speed Average:180.38 MbpsPing Time Average:3 ms
- Download Speed Average:222.59 MbpsUpload Speed Average:113.88 MbpsPing Time Average:9 ms
- Download Speed Average:91.63 MbpsUpload Speed Average:65.05 MbpsPing Time Average:1 ms
- Download Speed Average:197.21 MbpsUpload Speed Average:113.37 MbpsPing Time Average:5 ms
- Download Speed Average:273.86 MbpsUpload Speed Average:170.72 MbpsPing Time Average:3 ms
- Download Speed Average:77.10 MbpsUpload Speed Average:22.28 MbpsPing Time Average:94 ms
- Download Speed Average:159.59 MbpsUpload Speed Average:30.59 MbpsPing Time Average:2 ms
- Download Speed Average:126.24 MbpsUpload Speed Average:47.18 MbpsPing Time Average:15 ms
- Download Speed Average:52.34 MbpsUpload Speed Average:6.09 MbpsPing Time Average:114 ms
NordVPN is very fast, especially on local connections, the best of which reached a phenomenal average speed of 314Mbps. Average download speeds from UK to US were 66Mbps, enough to handle anything across multiple devices. Some more distant connections were brilliant, such as San Francisco to Sydney (32Mbps), but others were much slower, particularly connecting out from Australia and Canada.
Latency was also incredibly low at only 2ms for users in Amsterdam and Tokyo and 3ms in London and Frankfurt, making NordVPN a brilliant choice for streamers and gamers. Ping times in other locations weren’t quite so reliable however, ballooning out to a very laggy 114ms in Vancouver.
NordVPN connects fairly quickly, around 10 seconds on average. Once connected, performance is solid with little speed fluctuation and barely any connection drops, meaning there is no need to disconnect unless you need to switch server.
Average local upload speeds of over 100Mbps are some of the fastest we’ve seen in our tests, making NordVPN very attractive for P2P users. Local connections in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt tested significantly higher than that. If not for Canadian and Japanese servers recording only a fraction of the speed, the global average would be even quicker.
While a handful of other VPN providers may offer higher speeds on individual servers, NordVPN remains one of our absolute top picks as it delivers such well-balanced performance and doesn’t require you to make sacrifices in other areas, such as the quality of the software, for the sake of pure speed.
To read about our speed testing methodologies, please read How we test for VPN speed perforexmance.
NordVPN’s server network is pretty middle of the road when it comes to the number of locations they offer. 62 countries offers enough of a choice that you will not struggle to find a suitable location, but equally there are providers out there that offer a great deal more.
Nord does operate a large number of individual servers at just over 5,000, although your excitement should be dampened by the relatively limited number of IP addresses on offer, compared to their rival networks. This could potentially result in server congestion and reduced performance at busy times, although this is not something we’ve seen in our tests.
The lack of city-level choice is pretty frustrating, although there are manual workarounds. You are however able to choose from individual servers in each country, with the US alone having almost 2,000 to choose from. If easily selecting city-level servers is important to you then CyberGhost or IPVanish are better options for you.
Europe and the Americas are served very well, with the majority of countries covered, including a few options in South America. It’s great to see so many choices in the Asia Pacific region such as Indonesia and Taiwan, as well as several locations in Africa and the Middle East.
You can find the complete list of NordVPN server locations by country and purpose on their website below.
Platforms & Devices
NordVPN offers a decent range of custom apps for various devices including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. They have also partnered with FlashRouters so you can buy pre-configured routers, allowing you to protect all of your connected devices without installing apps on each one.
NordVPN additionally provides an extensive range of user-friendly set-up guides to manually configure your own router, as well as many other platforms and devices such as Linux and Blackberry.
NordVPN also offers proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox. The add-ons for Chrome and Firefox are incredibly easy to download and add to your browser, but some manual configuration is required for Safari. They are all very simple to use and feature a WebRTC Leak Blocker, an extremely useful tool to prevent a browser issue that can expose your true IP address.
While these do encrypt browser traffic, they are not true VPN extensions nor do they offer the same features as the desktop client, so aren’t as secure as the desktop apps. However, they are still a useful bonus feature.
Console & Streaming Devices
NordVPN has recently introduced a new Android TV app, meaning you can use it with devices such as Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick without any manual configuration. You can also use it with a range of other devices by connecting them to a configured router. This includes devices like AppleTV, Xbox360, Roku, Nintendo Wii, PS3, Sony SmartTV, Roku XDS, and many others.
NordVPN’s set-up guides are super easy to follow and include helpful screenshots to give you a better idea of what you should be doing.
Streaming & Torrenting
NordVPN is one of our top choices for reliable access to all major streaming services. Watching Netflix is where the lack of US city-level servers is actually a blessing in disguise, as you don’t have to go through and check which ones are working or not. In all of our recent tests we are yet to experience any issues with Netflix whatsoever.
Watching BBC iPlayer is just as easy through their UK server and the fast speeds meant that we could experience buffer-free HD streaming, which is a great bonus for fans of the service.
Easy access and great speeds means NordVPN is one of the most popular choices for streaming fans as it can be used across many different services, including Hulu, HBO, Sky and Now TV. It is also a good choice for Kodi users and torrenters as P2P traffic is permitted on a large number of servers, massively reducing the risk of slow speeds or congestion.
Encryption & Security
NordVPN is a great choice if you are looking for a VPN with a strong privacy focus. The only protocol available on the desktop app is OpenVPN, the most secure protocol, with the option to toggle between UDP and TCP. Other protocols can be manually installed if you require, but for the majority of people OpenVPN is the best option.
We love the VPN killswitch feature which terminates your internet connection if the VPN connection is interrupted, preventing your true IP address from being exposed. NordVPN also operate its own DNS servers to ensure that your traffic is never routed through third-party servers and is therefore always protected. Protection against DNS and WebRTC (through the browser extensions) leaks is also a huge bonus and not something that is offered by many other providers, making Nord one of the best choices if you’re looking for advanced features.
For an extra layer of privacy they also offer Double VPN or TOR over VPN, providing you with a double layer of encryption for when you are dealing with more sensitive information.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- First-party DNS
- Supports TCP Port 443
- VPN Killswitch
- WebRTC Leak Blocking
- Double VPN
- TOR via VPN Server
Since the VPN crackdown in China, NordVPN has become harder to recommend to people in that country. It does still work but requires some fiddly manual set-up to use the L2TP protocol as the apps only use OpenVPN, which doesn’t work. The censors are also reported to have got wise to obfuscated servers, which had been working well previously for NordVPN in China. There are other services that are simply more straightforward to use.
In other high censorship countries, NordVPN remains a solid choice however due to its use of obfuscated servers and powerful privacy tools such as servers optimized for use with Tor.
NordVPN operates a strict zero-logs policy, which it sets out in one of the most simple and concise privacy policies we have ever seen. From the moment you connect to any of its servers your device is no longer visible to your ISP, third-party snoopers or cyber criminals. Most importantly none of your activity is monitored, logged or passed on to third parties, giving you absolute peace of mind.
The only thing NordVPN monitors is their server loads, which is essential to maintain their excellent levels of performance. They also use this information in order to recommend you the best server based on your needs and location.
NordVPN operates under the jurisdiction of Panama, putting it beyond the reach of US and EU data retention laws. Panama does not require companies to store or report any of their data, nor is it part of any agreements that compel it to share information with privacy-unfriendly countries.
The great thing about being based in Panama is that it gives Nord 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.
Ease of use
NordVPN’s range of custom apps provide users of all platforms with a slick, simple experience, and have some nice little touches that set them apart from other providers. The main screen keeps it simple with an on/off button, your new IP address and a map of locations to choose from.
Additional options can be found in the settings menu, next to the countries list along the top of the app. They are arranged in a user-friendly way with a series of on/off toggles, and the more advanced settings have to be accessed from a drop down menu at the bottom of the list. We love that the app prompts you not to change these unless you know what you’re doing.
The browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari are good additions to the desktop client even if they merely connect you via a proxy server, rather than create an encrypted VPN tunnel, and lack the features of the main apps. The mobile apps are sleek and include some great privacy extras that protect you against DNS leaks, malware, phishing attempts and DDoS attacks. Manual configuration of other devices is kept simple by comprehensive tutorials.
Installation and set-up is super-smooth and done in a matter of minutes, making it easy even if you have never downloaded a VPN before. Whatever platform you’re using, the NordVPN website provides a series of comprehensive set-up guides for lots of different devices.
The process is as simple as downloading the relevant software from the site and following the prompts given to you by the installation wizard. Should you get stuck, you can always refer to the comprehensive support section, which makes it really easy to find out what to do next. When the install is finished, all you need to do is enter your login details and you’re ready to go.
NordVPN provides excellent quality customer support both through its extensive knowledge base and via live chat on the website. Live support agents respond quickly and are extremely friendly and helpful, managing to fix most of our issues within a couple of minutes.
Their troubleshooting guides are incredibly useful, covering a variety of potential issues and providing a range of possible solutions should any problems arise. There is also a handy search feature to prevent you from having to trawl through endless pages searching for an answer. We would like to see faster responses to customer support emails, which can be slow, but the quality of the answers more than makes up for it.
The Bottom Line
- Reliable, fast performance with speeds of up to 400Mbps
- Great choice for streaming, including access to Netflix
- Really easy to use. Quick set-up on all devices
- Good-sized global network - a choice of 62 countries
- Extra privacy features such as Double VPN and Tor over VPN
- Alternative security protocols have to be manually configured
- Browser extensions create proxy rather than VPN connections
- Connecting to a specific city isn't straightforward
- Email support can be slow
NordVPN strikes a great balance between privacy and speed to be one of the very best VPN providers out there. Commit to the longest plans and it also works out as one of the lowest priced. It’s very fast indeed in most popular locations, with reliable access to major streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Superb upload speeds make NordVPN a smart choice for heavy users of P2P software.
On the privacy side, NordVPN is a true zero logs VPN based in a friendly jurisdiction that comes with some heavy-duty privacy options that you won’t easily find elsewhere. It still works in China but it’s not the most hassle-free option available.
The software looks great and is very user-friendly unless you need to switch to an alternative VPN protocol. Fortunately, the default setting is absolutely the best option for most people. Anyone needing to easily connect to a specific city should look elsewhere but unless that is essential, you shouldn’t let that put you off this fast and highly effective VPN.