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Paul Bischoff on in VPN

Panama-based NordVPN has been in the VPN game for over 10 years, and it shows in how well it manages to combine so many powerful features into an intuitive and easy-to-use package. NordVPN doesn’t just let users choose a location when connecting to a VPN, it allows them to select a VPN based on how they use it, be it streaming TV, ultra-secure privacy, anti-DDoS, or anonymity.

NordVPN subscriptions start out at $11.95 per month if you pay one month at a time. Paying for a whole year at once will cut the price in half to $6.99 a month. Finally, our reader-exclusive deal with NordVPN drops the price of a 3-year plan to a mere $2.99 per month (75% saving), which is as rock-bottom as it gets for a quality VPN. Customers can pay with a credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and some third-party payment gateways.

All subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee for accounts in good standing.

What Features Does NordVPN Offer?
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NordVPN is one of the most gracious providers we’ve seen when it comes to connecting more than one device at a time, with up to six simultaneous connections allowed. The only caveat is that each must either use different servers or be on different VPN protocols.

The default VPN protocol varies depending on which version of the app you use. The iOS and Mac versions from the Apple App Store, for example, use IKEv2/IPSec. The versions downloaded directly from the NordVPN website, however, use OpenVPN over UDP as the default protocol, but OpenVPN over TCP is also available in the app. L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and SSTP are not supported in the apps but they can be set up manually.

Users can either choose a server by country or by the type of server. Standard VPN connections make up most of the more than 4,000 servers in over 60 countries. Users can also choose from specialized servers like double VPN, Tor over VPN, and dedicated IP. Double VPN means a standard VPN is routed through a second VPN, doubling the encryption. Tor over VPN routes your traffic first through a VPN and then through the Tor network, adding anonymity to privacy. Dedicated IPs are ideal for IP-sensitive applications and websites, which require you log in from the same IP address every time (e.g. mobile banking).

DNS leak protection and an internet kill switch are both included in the app. DNS leak protection prevents DNS requests from going to your ISP instead of NordVPN’s own DNS servers, improving privacy. A kill switch halts internet traffic in the event that the server connection drops, so nothing gets leaked onto your ISP’s network unencrypted.

Most VPNs that have kill switches disable the internet altogether when a connection drops. NordVPN’s solution is a bit more nuanced. You can add specific running processes to the kill list, so only certain programs will lose their connection. If you wanted to halt downloads on your torrent manager but not your browser when the connection drops, for instance, the NordVPN app makes that a possibility. A full-on kill switch is also available.

A recent addition to the NordVPN apps is CyberSec, which when enabled blocks ads, malware, and phishing threats. If you’re like me, you’ve already got most of that stuff set up on your browser and antivirus program, but another layer of security never hurts.

NordVPN offers encrypted proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. Think of these as VPN-ish tools that only encrypt and reroute web traffic from your browser and not from your entire device.

NordVPN does not make an app specifically for Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, but you can get its Android app running on Fire OS with a bit of finesse and a mouse control app on a smartphone. See our tutorial on how to install NordVPN on Fire TV.

Does NordVPN work with Netflix?

Yes, and better than most at that. NordVPN unblocks several streaming sites including but not limited to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ABC iView, and Hulu. NordVPN accomplishes this through its trademarked SmartPlay feature, which is toggled on in the settings by default. A quick test by us proves NordVPN works as promised with Netflix. We’ve rounded up here a list of other VPNs for Netflix which have worked in our testing and here are more details on NordVPN and Netflix.

Does NordVPN work in China?

Yes, NordVPN announced in late June 2017 that it can unblock websites and content that are censored in China. Most users in mainland China should be able to simply connect to a server the normal way to bypass the Great Firewall.

If that fails, however, Nord instructs users to go into its app’s Settings menu, select Advanced Settings, and toggle on Obfuscated servers. This has the effect of making encrypted internet traffic look unencrypted, which prevents China’s deep packet inspection system from identifying VPN connections. It might add a small amount of latency, but most users probably won’t notice a difference in speed overall.

The obfuscated servers feature is currently only available in the Windows, Android and MacOS versions of the app.

How Easy is NordVPN to Use?
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After registering an account, setup is a simple standard download and install process. Each time the desktop app is opened, you’ll need a username and password to log in.

You can organize the available servers by country or by server type, as mentioned above. In the latter, the app gives the current capacity and latency in milliseconds for each server. Find the one you want and click connect. The status of all servers can be refreshed at any time.

The app looks great in Windows, and even novice users will find it unintimidating. But one downside we can’t show you in screenshots is how bulky and slow it is. After clicking a button on the app, it often takes several seconds to respond. I often find myself wondering if I actually clicked the mouse or not because it just doesn’t show any signs of life. I wouldn’t say the laptop I tested NordVPN on is powerful, but it’s not an old junker, either. It seems all those bells and whistles are weighing the app down.

If you close the main NordVPN window, the app will remain active in your system tray. Right-clicking the system tray icon will bring up a list of the five most recent servers you’ve connected to.

In the settings menu, you can opt to start NordVPN when the computer starts, toggle DNS leak protection and CyberSec, set your own DNS servers, and change the protocol. This is also where to add active process that should cut off from the internet by the kill switch.

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NordVPN’s mobile app opens to a slick world map where you can click on a pin to select a country. You can also access the same server list as on the desktop app via the menu, where servers are organized country or by their function: TV streaming, double VPN, Tor over VPN, etc. A handy search function is built in so you don’t have to scroll through the huge server list if you know exactly which server you’re looking for. We wish NordVPN had included the search bar in their desktop app as well.

What You Need to Know About NordVPN’s Servers and performance

NordVPN boasts an impressive 4000+ servers spread out over upwards of 60 countries. In the United States alone, it operates hundreds of servers. Other popular countries like the UK and Germany have a few dozen each. While the selection is more than most people will ever need, users, unfortunately, cannot specify an exact province or city. This could be an obstacle to those attempting to access content that is blocked based on region. MLB.tv blackouts, for example, block users in specific regions of the United States according to content licensing restrictions split among local broadcasters.

NordVPN’s terms of service promise 99 percent uptime. Due to the sheer number of servers to choose from, we never had a problem finding one that worked, but occasionally we did see an inordinate amount of servers showing the “Server down” status. NordVPN tells us that this is a bug in the app, not with the servers, and the issue will be mended in the next version of the app, which is currently in beta.

Our connections didn’t drop very often, but several times the app would hang when initiating a connection, forcing us to cancel and try again. This even happened when NordVPN auto-selected a server for us.

Most servers seem solid once connected, minus a few bad eggs. We had no problems streaming 1080p HD video or playing Brawlhalla, an online Super Smash Bros-style fighting game. The video was loaded far past the buffer and we didn’t notice any lag or other issues while gaming.

To make the speed tests as empirical as possible, we run a series of daily automated downloads through each VPN. A test server in Canada connects to VPN servers in five countries: the US, the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, and Germany. We download a test file of roughly 50MB in size from a CDN in each of those locations. This is repeated four times per day at six-hour intervals. The average download speed for each test is recorded and the aggregate data is displayed in the interactive chart below.

NordVPN ranks about the middle of the pack as of time of writing. Note that these results are subject to change as more tests are added. We aggregate tests from the last month to get these averages.

Keep in mind that this test is not a definitive indicator of which VPN is fastest. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness, so VPN speed tests should always be taken with a big grain of salt. My original location is in Bogota, Colombia, where I run these tests on a 10 Mbps connection. Those with faster connections may well notice a larger discrepancy in speeds.

How Secure is NordVPN?
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With the desktop app and a standard VPN, all OpenVPN traffic is 256-bit AES encrypted and uses 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is toggled on by default. Tor over VPN routes traffic first through the VPN, and then through the Tor network, allowing users to access .onion websites and adding a strong layer of anonymity. Using Tor over VPN will slow down your connection quite a bit, and your Tor exit node will change regularly, as will your IP address.

The double VPN seems a bit redundant to me, but for those who are worried that the default 256-bit encryption and a shared IP address doesn’t offer beefy enough security, then more power to you. This “double hop” VPN, like VPN over Tor, will also make a dent in your download speed.

NordVPN boasts a true zero-logs policy. Many VPN providers out their claim they don’t store logs, but what they really mean is they don’t keep logs of what users are looking at. Meanwhile, they do keep session logs of when users log in, how much bandwidth they use, and their IP addresses. NordVPN keeps neither usage logs nor session logs. Panama, where NordVPN is incorporated, has no data retention laws that apply to VPN providers.

The only information NordVPN keeps about users is their email, username, and payment information.

NordVPN recently added a security featured dubbed WifiSec. With this enabled, the app will automatically initiate a VPN connection whenever a wifi network is joined. It can be set up to auto-connect to Nord on both secured and unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Is NordVPN’s Customer Service Any Good?

NordVPN offers both round-the-clock live chat support and a ticket submission system. We were connected to a representative on live chat support within two minutes. The rep seemed knowledgeable about the product and not like an outsourced firm that copies and pastes answers.

The website includes a decent array of search-able help and tutorial articles in the support section. Both the website and app are ad-free, and we didn’t receive any unsolicited emails during the test period.

Should You Use NordVPN?

NordVPN is a powerful VPN service for those who like options. Customers get a huge range of servers to choose from, along with servers optimized for specific purposes. Security and privacy are top-notch, and NordVPN boasts a true zero-logs policy. Download speeds are very fast, but finding a reliable server can be a process of trial and error. The app looks great and includes a ton of useful features, but it’s extremely clunky and tends to lock up. Live support is fast and knowledgeable.


NordVPN review Nov

34 thoughts on “NordVPN Review 2018 – Fast, Secure & Works with Netflix (+ Save 75%)

  • I’d like to thank Nord’s customer support as the nice girl that I’ve chatted with helped me from the total isolation in Shanghai. I could access Facebook, Google and other apps in no time.

  • Paul: I recently signed up for NordVPN but it is very frustrating to use with any Amazon service. Not with prime, Whole Foods app, amazon.com, nothing…

    • Hey Jim! Yes, I agree, it was annoying before, but have you tried it now? I heard they fixed this problem recently. Currently, there are no issues with Amazon for me, try it yourself.

  • Some of the NordVPN servers are still using TLS 1.0 for OpenVPN. Nord told me that they are gradually upgrading them to the current TLS 1.2 and hope to complete this by the end of 2018.

  • Hi Paul, I used to torrent avidly without VPN before until i got caught here in Germany and the fines were nasty (daughter streaming some films inadvertently!). As such, I am paranoid now although I purchased in 2016 a 2 year subscription of NordVPN but have hardly used it due to my freaking out that these Germans will catch me.
    My question is, I want to download from Pirate Bay or kick Ass some films and some pro version cracks of anti-virus (Avast) and the works if you know what I mean.
    Is this tool really hidding my behind to these greedy folks? Will my ISP catch me if it is true what i read above in some comments that leaks take place?
    Am I safe with this thing or shall I wait until it expires in 6 months and get the heck out here?
    thank you.

    • NordVPN will adequately hide torrenting activity, yes. Just make sure you keep it on even when the file is finished downloading, because torrent clients upload files, too.

  • Hi Paul,
    My Mac works on a OS X 10.10.5. Do you know if NordVpn can be run on it? If not, what Vpn that does could you recommend? Thanks in advance,


    • Should work fine! NordVPN lets you download an OpenVPN version from its website and an IKEv2 version from the App Store, so if one doesn’t work then the other should.

  • Hi Paul. I was wondering if you used NordVPN with AsusWRT Merlin firmware? I recently had IPVanish and was very disappointed with IP and DNS leaks. I configured my router the way their website instructed and it worked for a couple hours, then leaked. I found a couple more configurations on youtube to try and again it worked for a bit then leaked. I was using Chrome browser and installed the WEBRTC network limiter and that helped with IP leak but not DNS. I spent hours on configuring without success. ExpressVPN doesn’t have my router (Asus RT-AC86U) listed on their compatibility list so I am looking for the next best thing and came across NordVPN. Do you think I should try it? I appreciate any info you can give me.

    • Hi Trevor,
      I haven’t tried it personally but I believe NordVPN has a tutorial for AsusWRT on its website. As for DNS leaks, if you’re using a Windows 10 PC, you might try disabling IPv6, which sometimes leaks DNS requests.

  • I really loved NORDVPN last baseball season as it worked with MLB.TV flawlessly. However, this season (at least 2 games in) it doesn’t matter which country/city I try to connect from I receive a blackout message. 🙁

    Hope they fix this soon. Anyone else having the same problem?

    • MLB.tv is a tough nut to crack. They use every geolocation tactic in the book and fervently block VPN servers, so even if I get it working, the solution would likely be obsolete within a few days or weeks.

  • No we tested NordVPN in Sweden for NetFlix US yahoo worked 2,5 hours since then nothing but problems, extremely slow having a 100/100 connection this should not be a problem, we are imidiatly asking money back 99 US prepaid I think not.
    Extremely disapointed back to UnoTelly scam.

    If want watch Netflix dont use NordVPN you will become ectremely disapointed first it works a few hours and then BOOM busted.

    • I use it regularly and it unblocks Netflix fine. Look through the NordVPN knowledge base to figure out which servers work with Netflix.

  • You seem to test VPNs for different services (like video streaming), but you do no mention VoIP (Skype, Whatsup, Viber, etc).
    It would be interesting to compare & recommend different VPNs for the specific use of VoIP in countries that attempt to block it (e.g. Arab Gulf countries)…

  • I would like to know whether it is really possible to hide my real iP location against snooping government or any skilled hackers using this vpn?

  • have extensively tested the multitude of vpn’s over 3 years, i have come across Nord VPN, which, although it looks rather odd, is actually rather satisfying.

    it does what it says, and well!. i’ve checked doileak.com, torguard torrent checks, i’ve done the doileak torrent tests, and at least 5 others anonymous check websites…. all show that i am properly hidden.

    i like this. a lot. and i will be using it…. oh, and speed is not an issue, its next to no drop.

  • I cannot recommend these guys.I signup today downloaded there installer and out of the box its not working on a brand new WIN10 machine. If you send them an email they will tell you that a support ticket has been opened – and man do I like to hear that. After hunting down one of the kits on the live chat I got really “great” help. first he pointed me to the installation instructions – well…it kind of insulting.Than he asked me to download a driver from some web site……I don’t think I should be asked to download a driver from somewhere install it using admin credential. Lets hope I will get my money back.

  • Interested in multiple connections at the same time – and down to ipvanish and NordIPN – concern is having two Amazon fire devices as well as PC’s and dont quite understand the limitations of either service for simultaneous connections – when my sons are here they want to do there thing as do I – will either of these work with all three of us on different devices? (xbox – fire tv – PC etc)

  • Worst customer service ever. Subscribed and cancelled the same day, 1 hour apart. We are now 10 days later, still no confirmation of cancellation and no refund. They say it might take another few weeks! It takes them forever to respond to my emails and they say it is because of my bank that it takes so long… bullsh*t! But it took them only one day to charge my mastercard! These people don’t deserve your money, take your business elsewhere!

  • among the two, iPVanish and NordVPN — which is better for me to watch live streamings and watch my amazon prime, netflix, and other net access (PH network doesnt allow these sites) another thing, how true is that VPN slows down your internet –thank you for whatever response i might get 🙂 good day

    • NordVPN is better for unblocking streaming websites. VPNs usually slow down your connection by about 10 percent but it depends on network traffic and the location of the server.

  • nord vpn claims to be the best but the truth is it actually doesnt hide your ip like everyone thinks…. if you simply type whats my ip into google while running the crappy coded software and run a torrenting program at the same time which is why half the world wants a vpn, you will find it will reveal your genuine ip and put you at risk!!! should you try to contact them about this issue they will ignore you and another thing about the poorly coded crap is it slows your pc completely!!! I SUGGEST ANYONE THINKING OF BUYING THIS CRAP TO LOOK ELSEWHERE!!!

  • Hola Paul! Cual es tu empresa de internet? Yo vivo en Colombia y quiero encontrar el internet de mayor velocidad pero nose cual.

  • Hi Paul
    can you tell me how can the VPN be used by multiple users,and how the price different if the account is using by 5 people at the same time?

    • The price doesn’t change based on how many people are using it. Every account gets up to 6 simultaneous connections.

  • NordVPN is very enticing but it doesn’t have any Asian servers and more importantly servers inside mainland China. I need at least one server location and Nord doesn’t show of list any so its not an option at this point. I would be signing on if it had at least 3 servers inside mainland China and a few in Singapore or somewhere in Southeast Asia.

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