Last Updated: September 2, 2021
- Company location: Panama
- Number of servers: 5393 servers
- Zero-log policy: Yes
- Protocols: NGE/IKEv2/IPsec
- Stealth VPN: Yes - obfuscated VPN servers
- Double VPN: Supported
- Ad-blocker: Yes
- Torrenting: Supported - Dedicated servers
- Streaming: Supported - high-bandwidth streaming
- Customer support: Outstanding 24x7 support
People on a tight budget who wish to stream heavily and privately.
- High-grade internet privacy and security
- Kill Switch
- NordVPN Double VPN
- Torrenting not supported on all servers
- OpenVPN configurations aren’t easy to manage
- Varied performance depending on geographic location and time of usage
Based in Panama, NordVPN uses OpenVPN and Internet Key Exchange v2 technologies in its applications to hide the user’s IP address and to encrypt all the incoming and outgoing packets. There are also provisions for access to Tor anonymity network, double encryption, and P2P sharing. Keep scrolling to read our complete NordVPN review updated for 2021.
NordVPN earlier used L2TP/IPSec and Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) connections for routers, but this was discontinued as the technology became obsolete and insecure. It was replaced by IKEv2/IPSec protocol, which is the latest addition in NordVPN protocols. We now have NordVPN’s desktop applications available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, apart from the mobile versions for Android, and iOS. You can also use it for AndroidTV. Each subscriber can make 6 simultaneous connections on multiple devices under his name.
But that’s all. For our NordVPN review we also tested:
Onion Over VPN
As soon as you are connected to the web, every piece of your traffic goes through your Internet Service Provider. If there is no technological barrier to prevent your ISP from logging your online behavior, your government can compel the ISP to give up your information. The only acceptable way to prevent this is by using NordVPN’s secure, encrypted tunnel. Furthermore, using Onion Over VPN routes your connection through the Onion network, which adds extra layers of security to your data.
The NordVPN Kill Switch continually monitors your network connection to the VPN server. If for any reason the connection is broken, this feature immediately blocks your device from accessing the web, until the VPN tunnel is live again. Although your data has already been encrypted, the Kill Switch feature prevents the accidental exposure of your data.
Split tunneling is a networking feature that allows users to access different security domains like public networks and LAN at the same time. It is available for mobile and as Chrome and Firefox browser extensions for desktops.
Built around WireGaurd protocol, the future industry standard, NordLynx’s speed outperforms mainstream protocols 10 times over. The increase in speed is significant when the user chooses a nearby VPN server and the content delivery network is not more than a few thousand miles away. The existing users may have to update their apps to use this feature. It also has to be manually enabled from the settings.
NordVPN ad blocker comes as a feature of the CyberSec package. This means you won’t have to deal with potentially malicious pop-ups or auto-playing videos anymore. A surplus bonus is the faster loading times on websites with dozens of ads.
NordVPN Advanced Features
On the more technical side, NordVPN offers other more advanced we’ll discuss in this review:
CyberSec technology is used to protect NordVPN’s users from unsafe and malicious domains and unwanted advertisements. Although when downloaded from Google Play Store, this feature will no longer block ads because of Google’s policies. You’ll continue to be protected from malicious sites nonetheless.
DNS Leak Protection
When you connect to a VPN service, all your online traffic is assumed to be routed through the VPN network. That includes the DNS queries. All this traffic is supposed to go through the encrypted tunnel straight to your VPN provider’s DNS servers. But more often than not, your queries travel to the default DNS servers (DNS leak) belonging to your internet service provider (ISP), and this is a humongous security flaw. Now, when you connect to NordVPN, your device only makes use of DNS servers operated by NordVPN. All your DNS queries travel via the encrypted tunnel and are resolved on the very VPN server you are connected to.
NordVPN Servers and Locations
NordVPN operated around 5393 servers, according to recent statistics. These servers are distributed across 59 countries including the USA, UK, and Germany, among others. Until March 2019, the company also operated in Russia. But when NordVPN declined the Russian authorities’ directive to join a state-sponsored registry of banned websites, they declined. Since then, the Russian citizens no longer have access to the local NordVPN servers which even though still remain active.
Keeping all the above features aside, you must be wondering how fast is NordVPN. So, with the Quick Connect feature that enables the user to connect to the fastest server, NordVPN has made getting online a breeze. Whatever it is that you do the most – browsing, streaming, or torrenting – everything works blazingly fast. Keep in mind this limits your choice of which server you want to connect with. It is mainly for those who want speed above all.
Now, different NordVPN reviews in 2021 have different claims regarding the speed fluctuation. In our tests, the NordVPN speeds fluctuated on being connected to different servers in the USA, Hong Kong, and Germany.
Results with the Germany servers (Frankfurt):
Results with the Hong Kong servers:
Results with the USA servers (New York):
Results without NordVPN:
So, as it is apparent, there is a minor drop in speeds when using the service, but this is mostly insignificant in day to day use.
NordVPN Privacy and Jurisdiction
The question which almost immediately follows the discussion about VPN services is its legitimacy.
Is NordVPN legitimate?
In all the countries where any other VPN is legitimate, yes. Perfect for a VPN service provider, NordVPN functions under the Panama jurisdiction.
Who owns NordVPN?
This VPN service is owned by a company called Tefincom, based out in Panama. Now, Panama has no mandatory data retention laws, no participation in the Fourteen Eyes alliances. It, thus facilitates the company going forward with its zero log policy.
Regarding privacy, NordVPN asks for your data for service provisions and for the payments for those services. Your email ID is required to establish your account and for retrieving your password in case you lose it. During payments, the payment partners collect basic information like the IP address, the ZIP code, owner’s name, credit card info, etc. Some of this information is also retained by NordVPN in case of recurring payments. Moreover, country details are also taken into account for tax purposes.
Email IDs are also used to send the user important updates, respond to your inquiries, and send marketing content that the user can opt-out of at any time.
NordVPN Security and Protocols
NordVPN uses Next Generation Encryption (NGE) in IKEv2/IPsec employing very strong keys and cryptographic algorithms. Moreover, this protocol allows for auto re-connect in case the internet connection gets interrupted.
Next, AES-256-GCM is used to generate Phase 1 NordVPN encryption, which is impossible to break by brute force techniques using a common computer. Added to this we have SHA-384 to ensure data integrity. The VPN service also makes use of Perfect Forwarding Secrecy (PFS) using 3072-bit Diffie Hellmann keys. IPsec then secures the tunnel between the client and server using the strong 256-bit AES encryption.
IKEv2/IPsec is advised by NordVPN and has been adopted as a default in the NordVPN apps for iOS and macOS.
So, how safe is NordVPN?
In a nutshell – it’s as safe as they come.
NordVPN Leak Test Results
While selecting a VPN service, leak test results should be way up on the list of deciding factors. It is all the more critical to test for IP address leaks when the VPN connection is running, as well as when it is in the reconnecting stage. Most of the VPNs leak your IP address while reconnecting following a dropped connection.
While we tested NordVPN for leaks, we couldn’t find anything sketchy.
NordVPN and Streaming Services
Test results establish that the NordVPN streaming service is one of the fastest out there, no questions asked. When tested with Netflix, a streaming platform with some of the toughest geo blocks out there, NordVPN knocked all of them down, regardless of the server location. Be it Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, or HBO GO – they all stream at blazing fast speeds irrespective of the VPN server that you choose. That said, you should expect no loss in streaming quality either.
How Good Is NordVPN for Torrenting?
With specific servers that are optimized for P2P sharing and streaming, you can share and receive large files at unlimited bandwidth. With no restriction on the amount of data and a firm zero-logs policy, torrenting using NordVPN is a dream.
But what’s more, users aren’t restricted to any particular torrent client. You can choose your ideal server manually or let the app select it automatically for you (depending upon usage) and work with the torrent client that you prefer. Moreover, with the provision for SOCKS5 proxies, you enjoy faster speeds than your regular VPN service.
Something that’s highly praised in NordVPN reviews.
Here are our results of testing torrent speeds with and without NordVPN active.
With NordVPN active:
Can NordVPN Bypass Geo Blocks?
Yes, it can. For instance, Netflix’s robust geoblocks stop several VPNs from accessing the service, but that isn’t the case with NordVPN. The SmartPlay feature is specifically designed to bypass geo-restrictions and keep you secure at all times. This is done by combining DNS with VPN technology to easily evade blocks while maintaining security.
That said, all VPN providers face the challenge of being able to run a good VPN service from China. The Great Firewall of China offers very limited internet access to its citizens but with NordVPN having no servers in China, it’s users remain safe and hidden. To access blocked content, the users need to connect to VPN servers outside the country, and with NordVPN’s obfuscated servers, the whole job is a breeze.
Ease of Use
It’s fairly easy to use NordVPN. For instance, during the initial sign-up, once a user has selected their plan, they will enter their credentials and choose a payment method. After the user has set up their password, NordVPN will almost immediately download the application. You install the application, log into it and you’re good to go! That’s how easy it is.
The interface of the application itself is quite neat and user friendly. With all the servers listed on the left side and all the secondary features listed in the settings, the app has been designed very efficiently. There are also several apps NordVPN offers, including their Firefox and Chrome extensions. The browser extension will allow users access to a tool that blocks WebRTC information, at least.
To give you the best possible NordVPN review, we also tested the Customer support.
There’s an FAQ section at NordVPN’s knowledge base, which is further divided based upon categories.
The users can also choose to directly contact the company for support. The live chat is good as well, as most of NordVPN’s employees being quite knowledgeable about the company’s product. This is worth mentioning because live chat functions on other VPNs are mediocre at best.
E-mail support can take a few hours to generate a response, whereas live chat only takes several minutes. They give users the answers they need quickly without any hassle. Customer support is one of the main reasons why NordVPN has such positive reviews.
As NordVPN is a paid service, there’s no provision for free trials. Users who are unhappy with the service can get a refund, as NordVPN is supported by a 30-day money-back policy. You must be wondering how much is NordVPN for, so here are the different NordVPN plans:
- $3.67 per month for 2 years’ subscription
- $4.92 per month for a year’s subscription
- $11.95 per month for a monthly subscription
Now the only question that really matters right now would be “Is NordVPN worth it?” NordVPN pricing is quite within the budget if you go with the 2-year subscription.
NordVPN Review – Verdict
There’s no second thought about NordVPN being one of the best VPN service providers out there. NordVPN reviews prove it.
Yet, it’s not a complete package. Consistency of speed is the biggest issue at hand, there being a significant chasm between different servers. But for those who don’t mind, NordVPN offers a ton of features that are hard to find at the price that they offer. Packed with unique functionality and protected by a strict no-log policy, and a balanced overall experience, NordVPN is great value for money.
Yes, it is. The company abides by the best VPN security practices, its service is free from DNS leaks, and with all the advanced security protocols in place, your data is safe.
Yes. Apart from the inconsistent server speeds, there’s nothing wrong with NordVPN. With the balanced user experience that it offers, it is definitely worth your money.
Yes. On the many different servers that we tested Netflix on, none of the geo blocks remained standing. And for the most part, there was no loss in streaming quality.
There are no laws surrounding NordVPN that bars its usage in most countries. The only exceptions are China and Russia and other countries where VPN is not legal. Judging by VPN reviews, most users didn’t encounter any difficulties.