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NordVPN Review

 93.632% 
(245 User reviews)
NordVPN screenshot
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Ask Simon about NordVPN

Our Verdict

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs of 2020 and it secures internet traffic with high-level encryption. NordVPN allows torrenting on almost all 5,000+ servers, and it unblocks most streaming services including nine Netflix libraries. Overall, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs and offers great value for money.

NordVPN is 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.

It’s also one of the most popular VPN services in the world, surpassing 12 million users since its launch in 2012.

NordVPN unblocks US Netflix and allows anonymous torrenting on many 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 $3.71 per month on a two-year plan.

However, there are still 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. On top of this, NordVPN’s Amazon Fire TV app doesn’t work with many Netflix libraries 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 extensive 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 its pros and cons.

Compare NordVPN to its top rivals side-by-side.

NordVPN Pros & Cons

  1. Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer & more
  2. Very fast speeds across its server park
  3. Zero-Logs & no IP, DNS & WebRTC leaks
  4. Torrenting allowed on most servers
  5. Cheap price on long-term plans
  6. Good Firestick app for streaming
  1. Limited VPN protocols on Windows & Android apps
  2. Firestick app only works with US, UK, & Canada Netflix
  3. Smart DNS doesn't unblock Netflix
  4. Manual setup required for China
  5. Doesn't accept PayPal payments
  6. Small Finland server breach in 2018

NordVPN Key Summary

Data CapUnlimited
Speed93Mbps
Logging PolicyNo Logs
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionPanama (Privacy Haven)
Servers5,394
IP Addresses5,394+
Countries59
US NetflixYes
TorrentingPermitted
Works in ChinaUnreliable
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$3.71/mo over 24 Months
Official WebsiteNordVPN.com

Does NordVPN Work With Netflix?

Streaming & Torrenting

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for unblocking US Netflix, with the VPN always working with popular streaming services in our tests. Its quick speeds allowed us to stream geo-blocked content in HD without any buffering, too.

We tested over 100 US NordVPN servers and all of them worked with streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. We repeat these tests on a daily basis to make sure that the VPN is always capable of beating these geo-restrictions.

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.

NordVPN American Netflix

NordVPN works reliably with US Netflix.

The same goes for all the servers in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, 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, SmartPlay will kick in and you’ll still be able to access US Netflix. You can read even more about how well NordVPN works with Netflix here.

SmartPlay works so well that NordVPN can unblock over 400 streaming services. Along with the ones we’ve already mentioned, this includes popular services like Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer.

Although NordVPN is a very reliable VPN for buffer-free streaming on desktop and mobile devices, it’s much less capable for Smart TVs and streaming devices.

A significant downside to streaming with NordVPN is that it only works with the US, UK, and Canada Netflix library on Fire TV Stick.

Similarly, NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature doesn’t work with Netflix in any country. It worked when we tested it with Hulu and BBC iPlayer, though, so it’s still a decent choice for unblocking content on Apple TV and games consoles.

Torrenting

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 the 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.

Screenshot of NordVPN speciality servers, including P2P

However, P2P traffic is not permitted in the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Ukraine
  • 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.

How fast is NordVPN?

Speed Test Results

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:

  1. DownloadMbps

    94

  2. UploadMbps

    99

  3. Pingms

    4

When connected to NordVPN:

  1. DownloadMbps

    93

  2. UploadMbps

    94

  3. Pingms

    8

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: 94Mbps
  • Download speed with NordVPN: 92Mbps
  • Our download speed loss when NordVPN is running: 2%

As you can see, NordVPN’s short-distance speed test results were very impressive: just a 2% decrease in our download speeds and 5% in uploads – perfect for buffer-free Netflix streaming and fast torrenting downloads.

Ping times are also fairly low, so you should be able to play games with minimal lag, as long as you connect to a server close to your physical location.

Global Speed Test Results

Once we tested local speeds we looked into how well NordVPN performed over longer distances. These results were just as impressive, particularly connecting to a US-based server.

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

USA (New York):

  • Download: 74Mbps (21% slower)
  • Upload: 43Mbps (57% slower)

Germany (Berlin):

  • Download: 83Mbps (12% slower)
  • Upload: 94Mbps (5% slower)

Singapore:

  • Download: 63Mbps (33% slower)
  • Upload: 21Mbps (79% slower)

Australia (Sydney):

  • Download: 56Mbps (40% slower)
  • Upload: 29Mbps (71% slower)

Even in locations as far as Australia, NordVPN maintains incredibly fast speeds – well above what we typically see from other VPNs.

To test NordVPN’s speed performance across its server network, 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 its performance continues to go from strength to strength as its user base expands.

How Fast is NordVPN Compared to Other VPNs?

You’ve already seen the results of our manual testing – now you can see the latest results for NordVPN from our custom VPN speed testing tool.

The graph below compares NordVPN’s average loss of internet speed to other popular VPNs while running on our New York server.

Speed tests run automatically four times per day. Test connection speeds are capped at 100Mbps to recreate a typical home internet connection.

This chart shows the average speed loss experienced by the VPN each week when compared to using a normal 100Mbps internet connection with no VPN at all – the lower the percentage the better.

You can check results as far back as the past eight weeks – that way you can get a good impression of how reliable NordVPN is, not just how fast it can be.

VPN Speed Performance Comparison Chart

Use our Speed Test Tool to compare NordVPN’s speeds across different cities.

As the graph above shows, NordVPN has outperformed all other VPNs over the previous eight weeks.

In our latest short-distance test results, the VPN reached an impressive maximum speed of 93Mbps, while other top VPNs, like PIA and ExpressVPN, peaked at 90Mbps and 86Mbps respectively.

What’s most impressive is how fast and reliable NordVPN’s speeds were. Over the previous eight weeks, the VPN’s speeds never fell below 87Mbps, with ExpressVPN falling as low as a disappointing 76Mbps at some points.

However, what’s important for streaming geo-restricted content from elsewhere in the world is how a VPN performs on international connections — and NordVPN was also the fastest VPN when connecting to far-away locations.

When connecting to a London-based server from New York, our automated speed testing tool found NordVPN’s speed peaked at 85Mbps and fell to 8-Mbps at its lowest point. This again beats out competitors like ExpressVPN, whose speeds ranged disappointingly from 76Mbps to 59Mbps. 

NordVPN’s reliable performance means you won’t be left frustrated and confused by a sudden drop in your internet speeds. As a result, you can always count on NordVPN to keep your Netflix and Hulu streaming buffer-free.

NordVPN is a verified no-logs VPN

Logging & Jurisdiction

We examined NordVPN’s privacy policy in detail and found that it doesn’t log your traffic or store any VPN connection logs.

Instead, it 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.

In fact, NordVPN is one of only a few VPNs to have had its no-logs privacy policy audited by a third-party company. NordVPN has been audited twice by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), once in 2018 and again in 2020

Both audits officially confirmed NordVPN’s no-log claims and verified that the VPN does not store the user’s IP addresses, connection logs, or browsing activity.

Screenshot of NordVPN's logging policy

NordVPN is an audited no-logs VPN service.

This makes NordVPN one of the most private and trusted VPNs available.

Some pieces of information are collected 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 is aggregated, which means that figures like the total amount of data used and the servers connected to are combined from every single user. That means that it isn’t personally identifiable— many private VPNs do this.

Its Terms of Service state that: “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:

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. This means that at no point can this information be traced back to an individual user.

While NordVPN’s efforts to keep users anonymous is one of its strongest attributes, we would like to see this section included in the company’s Privacy Policy rather than its Terms of Service.

Where Is NordVPN Based?

NordVPN operates under the legal jurisdiction of Panama, which is excellent for privacy

This puts the VPN beyond the reach of US and EU data retention lawsPanama does not require VPN companies to log or report any of their data, nor is it part of any agreements that compel it to share information with other countries. This makes Panama a ‘privacy haven’ and an overall great VPN jurisdiction.

Being based in Panama gives NordVPN the power to deny any 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.

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.

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 this VPN service.

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.

All that’s known publicly is that Lithuanian entrepreneur and co-founder Tom Okman launched NordVPN in 2012.

A screenshot showing Tesonet's investment in NordVPN

Startup monitoring website Dealroom has logged Tesonet’s early investment in NordVPN.

Okman also founded Tesonet, a company which acted as one of NordVPN’s earliest investors.

There are no other details on the company’s website regarding 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.”

Screenshot of NordVPN live chat support

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 falsely accused by some other publications 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.

Screenshot of NordVPN payment receipt

But we found 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 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 safe and secure?

Encryption & Security

Protocols

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

Smart DNS

SOCKS

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
  • Ad-blocker
  • DNS leak protection
  • Obfuscation tools
  • WireGuard

That said, the service 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, yet the company 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 App 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 the website’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 called NordLynx that’s based on the WireGuard VPN protocol, which you can read more on in the section below.

Here’s a quick summary of all the VPN protocols available and how secure they are:

Table of VPN encryption protocols and their security risks.

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 which show the company cares about digital privacy and security. They’re all totally separate from the NordVPN app as well, so you don’t have to worry about being signed up for anything you’re not interested in.

What is NordLynx?

NordLynx is a proprietary VPN tunneling protocol that’s built on top of WireGuard. NordVPN has added a few tweaks to make the protocol more private and secure.

The main benefit of NordLynx is that it is incredibly fast. In fact, we put it through our speed testing process and the results are very impressive.

From our base in London, UK, we connected to various locations around the world using both a UDP and NordLynx connection.

 You can view the full results in the table below:

As you can see, NordLynx is consistently faster than OpenVPN connections, particularly when connecting to a far-away server. This is particularly useful when streaming geo-restricted content from Netflix libraries and other streaming sites around the world. NordLynx will keep up with your baseline internet speed, so you can stream in HD and 4K.

But WireGuard is still very early into its development, so NordVPN has added some of its own technology to make the as-yet untrusted VPN protocol more secure. 

In short, NordLynx implements double NAT (Network Address Translation) on top of WireGuard, sidestepping a potential risk inherent in the protocol. Ultimately, NordLynx is more private than a pure WireGuard connection but retains the same level of incredible speed performance. 

The only disappointment is that NordVPN has not added these improvements to the open-sourced code, but have instead packaged it as a branded product — ultimately stifling WireGuard’s overall development. 

But while NordLynx and WireGuard are certainly exciting technologies, we still advise you to stick to UDP OpenVPN connections for now. Unlike WireGuard, OpenVPN has been improved over 18 years of open-source development, so it’s now well-established as the most secure VPN protocol.

Even so, we expect WireGuard to soon challenge OpenVPN as the best available VPN protocol. As a result, it’s encouraging seeing NordVPN embrace cutting-edge technologies and to give users more options.

Leak Test Results

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.

Screenshot of browserleaks.com test results for NordVPN

NordVPN passed all of our leak tests.

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.

The 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?

All NordVPN subscriptions come bundled with the provider’s security software, named CyberSec. CyberSec is a comprehensive security tool that blocks ads, protects against malware, and prevents DDoS attacks.

A small number 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:

NordVPN ad blocker CyberSec

Web page when CyberSec is switched off.

NordVPN ad blocker

Web page when CyberSec is switched on.

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 threats 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, but it is certainly better than nothing.

NordVPN Vulnerability: Fixed

NordVPN is by no means perfect (no VPN is) and at Top10VPN 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, as part of this, it 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.

The team took our advice and improved its instructions for MacOS, removing the security issues.

Screenshot of NordVPN's updated instructions for MacOS IKEv2 manual set up

NordVPN changed its instructions to show permissions for IPSec only.

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:

Screenshot of NordVPN's Windows IKEv2 manual setup disclaimer

We’re really pleased that NordVPN listened to our suggestions – it goes a long way to showing that it really does care about the security of its systems and users.

NordVPN Server Hack

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 it 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 how the company 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 users were harmed or compromised.

However, the huge delay from the hack being discovered to the public being informed is a big disappointment. We wouldn’t blame anyone for doubting NordVPN’s trustworthiness at the moment.

The provider 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 colocated 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 the website’s blog.

If you’re still not convinced by NordVPN’s credentials, have a read of this independent security audit it commissioned to look into the Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android apps. The auditors did find several vulnerabilities, but NordVPN fixed them all.

NordVPN has over 5,000 VPN servers in 59 countries

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag59Countries
Image of a city landscape90+Cities
Image of a pink marker5,394+IP Addresses

NordVPN provides 5,394 VPN servers with each server given a static IP address. This is among the highest number of servers provided by any VPN, which is impressive. The choice of 59 countries isn’t the widest server range we’ve seen, but it’s still enough to ensure there will be one 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.

Screenshot of NordVPN Server List in App

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.

Server Security

NordVPN’s network is wholly made up of physical, bare metal servers – none of them are virtual. In addition, 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 server locations – VPN servers that are not physically located in the country where their IP address is registered.

NordVPN is also working on building a network of self-owned servers. Owning servers is ideal for security and transparency and it will give the company 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.

NordVPN is a bargain on longer plans

Pricing & Deals

NordVPN Coupon

NordVPN Pricing Plan

NordVPN’s month-by-month plan costs $11.95, which is fairly expensive. However, the price drops dramatically by to $3.71 per month on a two-year plan. This represents great value, 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.

  1. Monthly

    US$11.95/mo

    Billed $11.95 every month
  2. 6 months

    US$9/mo

    Billed $54 every 6 months
    Save 24%
  3. 2 years

    US$3.71/mo

    Billed $89 every 2 years
    Save 68%

All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

Credit CardYes
BitcoinYes
AliPayYes
UnionPayYes

NordVPN accepts several different payment options including:

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

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?

Sadly, NordVPN does not offer a free version of its service.

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.

Does NordVPN Work in China?

Censorship

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 the 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.

For reliable alternatives, you can read our recommendations for the best VPNs in China. We’ve found ExpressVPN and Astrill to be the most effective for bypassing the Great Firewall.

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 the 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

Apps

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

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 App 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
  • DD-WRT
  • DrayTek Vigor
  • Gl.iNET
  • Mikrotik
  • NetDUMA
  • OPNsense
  • OpenWRT
  • Padavan
  • pfSense
  • Portal
  • Sabai
  • Tomato
  • 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

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

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.

Browser Extensions

Chrome LogoChrome
Firefox LogoFirefox

NordVPN provides 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.

Screenshot of NordVPN Chrome Extension

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 Connect to a Server with NordVPN

  1. How to Connect to a Server with NordVPN on MacOS

  2. How to Connect to a Server with NordVPN on Android

How to Change Settings in NordVPN

  1. How to Change Settings with NordVPN on MacOS

  2. How to Change Settings with NordVPN on Android

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 the website also 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.

Windows

Graphic of NordVPN Windows app

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 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 the service will choose the best VPN 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.

MacOS

Graphic of NordVPN Mac app

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 App Store, allows you to connect through OpenVPN, WireGuard, 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.

Android

Graphic of NordVPN Android app

NordVPN’s Android app is similar to the desktop apps, with a server location map, Quick Connect, and all of the 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.

iOS

Graphic of NordVPN iOS app

Due to the App 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

Graphic of NordVPN Android TV app

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. The app only works with the US, UK, and Canada Netflix libraries.

If that’s a dealbreaker, it 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

Customer Service

24/7 Live chat supportYes
Online ResourcesYes

NordVPN can be directly contacted through an automated chatbot, 24/7 live chat, or via email. We found the representatives to be very helpful and resolved all of our issues promptly. 

Live chat support can be initiated from the bottom-right corner of the support section of NordVPN’s website. You are initially greeted by the ‘NordVPN chatbot’, an automated chat agent that will attempt to answer your query.

We typically find chatbots, like Windscribe VPN’s Garry, to be unhelpful and a waste of time. However, after our tests, we discovered that the NordVPN automated agent is helpful and very good at interpreting what is being asked. 

We tested the NordVPN chatbot many times to ensure it was on par with human support and it worked well without any major issues. The automated agent has a distinct advantage over human support, too, as all replies were instantaneous — so we were not left waiting for an answer to our questions.

NordVPN customer service

NordVPN’s automated chatbot is fast and helpful.

For those times when you do need human support, though, just type “get me a human” and you will be passed on immediately to a member of NordVPN’s customer service team.

Like most other top VPNs, NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat. We tested the live chat feature many times, asking questions about Hulu streaming, double VPN encryption, and about the company’s ownership. We were connected to a customer service agent within thirty seconds each time, which is very fast.

For all of our questions, the support agents responded quickly and were extremely helpful. Most of our VPN issues were fixed within a couple of minutes.

NordVPN live chat

NordVPN’s customer support agents are knowledgable and courteous.

For more detailed guides or technical information, NordVPN offers a large knowledge base with articles covering FAQs, general information, billing information, and connectivity troubleshooting. 

Overall, NordVPN’s support is close to the very best. We were particularly impressed with how accessible its guides and information were, even when discussing complex technical topics. The automated chatbot is the best we’ve tested and its customer service agents are knowledgeable and quick to respond.

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 only watch the US, UK, and Canada Netflix libraries via the VPN’s Fire TV app.

The company 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

ExpressVPN

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

CyberGhost

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a great budget VPN, popular with streaming fans. It's our top recommendation for BBC iPlayer and works well on almost every device. Read CyberGhost review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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