NordVPN is by far the most popular VPN service on the market thanks to its communication strategy (sometimes even invasive) to praise its performance and quality. However, is it really the safe bet it tries to sell us? The answer is in our 100% objective NordVPN review.
WHAT IS NORDVPN?
If you are used to watching your favourite YouTubers on the platform of the same name, then you’re likely familiar with NordVPN. The service was launched in 2012 by four cybersecurity enthusiasts who have been putting a lot of effort into communication lately. This is good because NordVPN, now based in Panama, has more than 14 million customers worldwide in 2019 and certainly even more today. It is currently the leader in a very competitive market.
NORDVPN OFFERS: A SIMPLIFIED AND INTEGRATED INTERFACE
The remarkable feature of NordVPN is its interface, which is both straightforward and comprehensive. Upon launching the app, a world map is displayed, allowing you to quickly connect to a country by clicking on its icon. Additionally, a banner on the left side of the application gives you the option to choose the country from which you want to browse the internet. Moreover, you can select a specific server or even a city’s location by using the three small dots next to each country on the banner. However, city selection is not available for all countries, only for larger ones such as the United States and Canada.
Regardless of the selection, NordVPN automatically suggests the most suitable VPN servers based on your location, ensuring optimal protection while only slightly affecting the connection speed.
We also appreciate the speed of the connection. Unlike some VPN service providers that take a long time to connect to a server, even those located nearby, NordVPN is highly responsive and switches servers in just over three seconds. Navigating from New York to Tokyo has never been faster. We conducted tests on three different devices with the same NordVPN account logged in simultaneously to confirm the service’s usability.
On the downside, the desktop application could have provided more information about the statistics when connecting to a server or the network protocol used. It is also not possible to choose a protocol preference in the desktop application, which is unusual compared to the mobile application where it is possible.
NordVPN does not have dedicated servers for streaming content, such as the American Netflix catalogue. However, it does have several tabs for connecting to peer-to-peer servers for torrent downloads and servers specific to the Tor network (dark web). Other useful features include a Internet Kill Switch for security and split tunneling to set security on specific applications. The VPN also includes a feature called CyberSec, which blocks the display of ads and malicious sites.
The advanced NordVPN settings are not extensive, but it is possible to define a specific DNS or hide one’s computer on the local network while still having access to connected devices.
On the Android app, you will find the same world map with the same servers. It seems to be more feature-rich while still being minimally intrusive. It is possible to choose the protocol by preference in the options, and there is a feature that displays alerts against applications that may add an overlay of screens and potential exposure of your email address in the event of a hack. It would have been useful to be able to set this for an email address other than the account one.
In conclusion, although the mobile and PC ecosystems complement each other, there are still some advanced options missing and a lack of convergence. However, the ability to connect up to six devices with the same account is a plus.
Nord Security: A Brand Beyond
In addition to its VPN services, Nord Security has expanded its offerings by creating other security suites, including NordPass, and NordLocker, and integrated antivirus protection with NordVPN.
NordPass: An Efficient Password Manager
NordPass is a password manager similar to Dashlane or 1password. It is a standalone application, separate from the VPN, and operates efficiently. NordPass operates simply as a digital safe that stores all of your passwords, from online shopping sites to Google, Apple, Steam, and Microsoft accounts, and even bank and healthcare numbers. When you visit a site, the NordPass application or browser extensions will automatically enter your credentials, eliminating the need for manual input.
Importing existing passwords from your browser or another password management application is also possible with NordPass. Additionally, it has the capability to generate complex, almost unbreakable passwords for you.
Another feature of NordPass is its data breach scanner, which checks a database of emails, passwords, and bank IDs that have been leaked through hacking on the internet. If the data is considered vulnerable, NordPass will prompt you to take necessary measures to address the issue.
The NordPass subscription is separate from NordVPN. Unlike other password managers, there is no free version available. You can also opt for an Ultimate subscription that includes all of Nord Security’s solutions in one package.
NORDLOCKER, ENCRYPTED CLOUD STORAGE
Nord Security has not stopped there and has expanded its offerings by developing its own secure cloud system, NordLocker. This solution is similar to what is offered by Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive, and is compatible with PC, MAC, Linux, and mobile platforms, although the latter does not yet perform optimally.
NordLocker is easy to use on PC and MAC, with a drag-and-drop interface and support for all types of files. It uses two top-of-the-line encryption algorithms, AES-256 and 4096-bit RSA, which are also standard on other platforms and offer military-grade security.
File sharing between users is available, but it requires both parties to create an account and use the application. Currently, the interface is only available in English.
VPN CONNECTION: OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE
As mentioned earlier, NordVPN does not have dedicated server locations for every use case, but it has a large global network of over 5,000 servers across 60 countries, which is less than some of its competitors but still efficient. The results of various tests carried out using fiber, wired, and Parisian connections from the Nperf site are impressive.
One of the strengths of the VPN is its impressive internet connectivity speeds, which regularly surpass 200 Mb/s in downloading, even on servers located thousands of kilometers away. Additionally, the ping (in ms) is relatively low, though online gaming may still be challenging, especially with American servers.
When it comes to streaming, NordVPN performs exceptionally well. All popular platforms and their foreign catalogs are accessible, including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, OCS, and Apple TV+. However, to fully enjoy the streaming experience, a strong connection is necessary to avoid buffering. Some servers may be blocked by certain services, but you can easily switch servers to another server until you find one that bypasses geo-blocking.
NordVPN supports two connection protocols: OpenVPN (in TCP and UDP modes) and its proprietary solution called NordLynx. OpenVPN is a standard protocol found on most VPN services, while NordLynx is exclusive to NordVPN and is derived from WireGuard. The company claims that NordLynx is better at ensuring user confidentiality while providing improved performance. However, they also consider it “not very secure” as it does not dynamically assign an IP address to each internet user connected to a server and therefore requires the storage of some personal data on the network. It’s unclear if this information is accurate at present.
Comparison with CyberGhost under WireGuard shows that NordLynx outperforms WireGuard in terms of performance, and the same trend is observed on other foreign servers. However, it’s worth noting that WireGuard is expected to evolve in the same way OpenVPN did in the past. Finally, NordVPN doesn’t seem to be taking the availability of servers in authoritarian zones seriously, as it’s currently impossible to connect to servers in China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Egypt.
NordVPN places a strong emphasis on privacy, which is highlighted on the main page of its website. Like other VPNs, NordVPN guarantees that it does not keep any record of the user’s activity through a “strict no logs policy” This means that NordVPN does not know when you connect to the internet, what sites you visit, or what content you download.
To demonstrate this commitment to privacy, NordVPN has enlisted the help of four independent auditing companies. The reports can be reviewed by NordVPN users directly from their customer area, providing a strong show of confidence. The service also regularly updates its audits to maintain its credibility.
It’s important to note that some information is still collected, such as the user’s email address (which is required to open an account), as well as data related to exchanges with customer service and temporary time stamps of connections. This is to prevent excessive sharing of the same account.
In 2018, NordVPN suffered a hack on one of its Finnish servers. This resulted in the leak of an SSL key, which allowed a third party to retrieve information and impersonate NordVPN. However, no user data was leaked, and there was no hostile intrusion. NordVPN has detailed the aftermath of this incident in a blog post.
NordVPN Customer Support
If you need customer support for NordVPN, there are several options available to you:
- Live Chat: NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat support on their website. Simply visit the NordVPN website, click on the chat icon in the bottom right corner, and start a chat with a representative.
- Email: You can also email NordVPN support at email@example.com. They typically respond within 24 hours.
- Help Center: NordVPN has an extensive help center with articles and tutorials on a wide range of topics, including troubleshooting, billing, and general information about the service.
- Social Media: NordVPN has an active presence on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and you can reach out to them via those channels as well.
No matter which option you choose, NordVPN’s customer support team is highly responsive and knowledgeable, and they are committed to helping you resolve any issues you may have.
The service could benefit from adding more advanced features and perhaps a selection of servers dedicated to specific use cases. It may also be criticized for having prices that are slightly higher than its competitors, but one must recognize that quality comes with a price. Overall, NordVPN trustworthy VPN connection never let you down. Worth to try with their 30 day money back guarantee.
FAQ NordVPN Services
The basic service of both VPNs is to provide access to servers located around the world. However, there are some notable differences between the two services:
The interface of the applications, for a computer or mobile devices, is different between the two services. CyberGhost focuses on usage (access to streaming video and downloading), while NordVPN uses a world map for its app. Server performance is not equal between the two services, with CyberGhost’s VPN server performance lagging behind NordVPN. Lastly, the price is in favour of CyberGhost, which is cheaper than NordVPN.
Installing NordVPN on a computer or smartphone is very easy.
For a computer, you need to go to the official website, subscribe, and download NordVPN. The installation is done in three steps, and you only need to click on a server to connect to it. For mobile, go to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and download the IOS app. Once installed on your phone, log in to your account and allow the app to use a VPN connection. Then, connect to a server to start using the VPN.
Yes, and streaming sites are some of the main selling points of the service. To do this, you need NordVPN subscription and connect to a server network located in the country of the streaming services you want to access through the NordVPN app.
NordVPN allows up to 6 different devices to connect to its app simultaneously with one subscription. So, you can share the subscription with multiple people to reduce costs.
The NordVPN app is compatible for simultaneous connections with various devices, including a mobile (Android and iOS), computers (Windows, Mac, and Linux), some routers, and smart TVs (Android TV and Samsung Smart TV).