Updated on January 12, 2019.
What we liked:
What we didn't like:
What we didn't liked:
NordVPN is a Panamian company, owned by Tesonet LTD offering VPN services since 2012.
NordVPN is also among the biggest VPN companies out there and what we would call a mainstream VPN provider. They have servers in 62 countries and some good arsenal of VPN features.
There is much to be liked about NordVPN but unfortunately as it is the case with companies of their size they can't score well in all departments and in our review those departments NordVPN did not impress were Privacy/Transparency and Speed.
A recent lawsuit filed in TX, USA by Lluminati (owner of scandalous hola.org) against NordVPN's parent company, shed suspicion on the company's privacy record and paved the way for speculation.
As you may have heard Hola.org was exposed to be selling their customers bandwidth and traffic, invading most principles of privacy and security. They were suing NordVPN's parent company alleging that they were using Hola's technology for their own purposes.
Even though NordVPN abjectly declined being involved in any such activity and went as far as offering 3rd party audit of its services and tried to distance its business from their parent's company other ventures which were the actual target of the lawsuit, there is a serious question to be asked.
Other than that there has always been somewhat of a consensus among reviews of NordVPN that the ownership of the company is well hidden and there isn't much transparency about them.
Here is a screenshot of their user reviews on Trustpilot, averaging 5.1 out of 10:
NordVPN has a well put together web site where you can quickly find about all their features or network of servers. Regretfully it all boils down to their aggressive push to choose a somewhat lengthy 3 year membership plan along with a fake countdown clock that can easily be reset if you clear your browser cookies.
In interest of objectivity we can't fault NordVPN for pursuing its commercial interests, after all everyone must make a living. What is concerning however is the length of that plan - 3 years!!! At such low prices could be interpreted in our personal opinion that NordVPN doesn't care so much about retaining customers and is more interested extracting the biggest amount of money from them.
Moreover whenever you see a 3 year plan or too low prices being pushed it is a sign the company is preparing to be acquired or sold to another venture, which brings a bunch of potential problems you'll have to deal with due to you being locked in with 3 year plan.
Here is the pricing scheme of NordVPN:
NordVPN is packing some good punch when it goes down to features:
- Double VPN (multi-hop)
A feature that will tunnel your traffic through 2 VPN servers before it hits its target.
- Onion over VPN
Feature that will tunnel your VPN traffic through TOR exit node
- Obfuscated servers
Servers that are masked as SSL traffic or other type of traffic that is harder to detect by the Great Chinese Firewall or similar firewalls.
- P2P servers
- Servers where downloading of torrents and other P2P activity is allowed
- OpenVPN and IKEv2
Support for both OpenVPN vpn protocol (considered most conventional choice) and IKEv2 which is still secure (but not as secure) by todays standards yet faster than OpenVPN.
- CyberSec - service that blocks known domains and web sites that are associated with advertising and malicious traffic.
Nord VPN also offers Killswitch on both its Mac and Windows app, unfortunately the Mac App does not have Internet killswitch, so you'd have to settle for Killswitch that blocks only a particular App. If such an App also has a System Service running that could result in the service being exposed while the app is killed by the Killswitch.
We also noticed a weird "Allow access window" in their Mac app and even though they have a screen to explain there is nothing to worry about, the "Allow" button itself was just empty, without any text inside, which raised an eyebrow.
Other than that both the Windows and Mac apps had a sleek easy to use interface and apart from some of the servers misfiring and not connecting we didn't have much to frown about.
There is also the ability to purchase a Dedicated IP, although we found the prices to be wildly more expensive than VPNArea's (who also deploy a private VPN server as bonus for you), so we suggest you skip that add-on (it is paid for additionally).
We tested their Apps for leaks at ipleak.org and did not find any. It has been said by other reviewers that their Mac App leaks IPv6 address when IKEv2 is used. However as mentioned above, if you're focusing on privacy in general we recommend you try a different provider.
NordVPN however is still an excellent provider for other purposes such as unblocking Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
We were pleasantly surprised that NordVPN works very well for unblocking Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Speeds were not as good as we've seen from other VPN providers and if you scout the web for user reviews you'll find many claiming NordVPN is slow, but in our tests they scored enough to allow for a quality streaming.
We tested in our 200/100 mbps connection.
On one of their London servers tested against a SpeedTest London infrastructure we've got the following results, decreasing our speed 65%:
64,16 Mbps download
27,69 Mbps upload
Testing VPNArea's London server we got nearly 3 times more on download. IPVanish also scored higher.
However 64mbps of download speed is more than enough for streaming.
Here is a test of one of their USA servers:
13.64 mbps upload
Again not as impressive as others we've tested but enough for streaming but may be not enough for some more graphic intensive games if you're connecting to a USA server.
Below are results of downloading a static 100mb file from 2 different EU locations while connected to NordVPN's UK servers. Results should be multiplied by 8 as they're in megabytes not megabits. It is good to keep in mind that speed tests are relative and dependant on many factors:
2019-12-11 18:41:52 (6.81 MB/s) - ‘100MB-frankfurt.bin.23’ saved [104857600/104857600]
2019-12-11 19:23:08 (5.29 MB/s) - ‘100MB.test.92’ saved [100000000/100000000]
NordVPN provides support via Live Chat and EMail. There are plenty of positive and negative feedback of their support out there as it is with every VPN company. We've found that the level of knowledge differed among different chat agents and albeit a bit distracted we did get the information needed from them. As is the case with big companies, chats are overloaded, hence the distraction we mentioned. That is a guess of course and our general impression.
NordVPN is an established VPN provider and while it offers good set of features related to privacy, due to various factors mentioned in this review we don't recommend it to privacy-oriented users.
On the other hand NordVPN offers good server variety and works for unblocking Netflix and BBC iPlayer and there is much to be liked about this provider if accessing streaming sites is your main purpose of using VPN.
Their Apps are also easy to use, despite their Mac App not being among our favourites.
We don't recommend you go for their 3 year plan, as 3 years is a lifetime in Internet. 1 year is the term we recommend for any VPN provider.
Their 1 year price is not as competitive as VPNArea's for example, but if you're willing to shed a few bucks extra NordVPN is still a good choice.