NordVPN Expert Review

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Rating ?
5.0 / 5.0
Features 4.8 / 5.0
Ease of Use 4.9 / 5.0
Pricing 4.7 / 5.0
Reliability & Support 4.8 / 5.0
DanielKrohn_150

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss ...

NordVPN User Reviews
4.7
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FreekyGuy
Jan 17, 2017
  •  5
Win & iOs apps are great

Personally, I enjoy the service. It's not very cheap but you must pay for quality. They offer great protection and wide server network which is is regularly updated. The only thing I dislike is that they don't provide is port-forwarding, however promised to be delivered next year. Other than that - great! I use win app and iOS mobile app, so can't speak about other apps.


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Tommy Stoned
Jan 13, 2017
  •  5
Tor over VPN!

Nordvpn, makes me feel `Highly` protected while browsing Agora Market, Silk Road, etc. LOL


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Px
Jan 13, 2017
  •  5
Dream

Works like a charm! People, just don't sell out!


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How to use NordVPN 4.9 / 5.0

INSTALLATION

There are many ways to connect, some very simple, others that require more technical finesse. NordVPN provides all the basic features of its competitors, and then some. The difference is in the details, and in the quality of service. We intend to test NordVPN in its most commonly used settings, since that is generally how it will be used.

Nord has applications for Windows and Mac, as well as native apps for OS X, Android, and iOS. Other systems were not left out, but do not have a native app and must be set up manually. Not to worry, however, as Nord VPN’s site does an exceptional job of taking you by the hand and showing you how to configure the connection for these other systems.

For example, if you have a Windows phone or a game console, you should be able to use Nord VPN. You should even be able to implement the service on specific routers.

All VPN providers need to ensure that their clients can connect heterogeneous equipment, and all serious vendors propose numerous features. What is less common, however, is being able to access all servers using any desired protocol (OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP and IPSec), which Nord enables you to do. There are protocols that protect you more, such as openVPN, and others that protect you less, such as PPTP. Specific applications however, may dictate a specific protocol.

I am equipped with a PC running Windows 10, as well as an Android smartphone, so I will be conducting my tests with these devices.

What I seek to test is the ease with which we can set up their application. For my PC, I went on the website of NordVPN and downloaded their Windows application. The download started, and at the end of it, I simply had to install the application.

Once launched, I was prompted to enter the username and password of the connection, and I was ready to begin.

For Android, the process was nearly identical, except that I downloaded through the PLAY STORE. Once again. I downloaded the app, accessed my account using my ID and password, and was ready to begin.

The installation of these two applications is exceedingly simple and should be easy, even for true novices.

Want to see how to install NordVPN? See our how-to here.

EASE OF USE

I use NordVPN on my PC significantly more than on my Android, so this is where I will focus most of my attention. The Android app, however, behaves similarly to the PC application, so most of the remarks I make will be relevant to the former.

The application is simple:

As I mentioned above, NordVPN proposes standard servers of limited use. They are mainly used to surf and to view streaming programs (they define nowhere what standard servers can be used for) and special purpose servers.

If you want peer-to-peer capabilities (e.g. for downloading torrents), high-speed streaming with a guarantee of no interruption, a dedicated IP access, Tor, DDOS prevention, access to Netflix USA, or double VPN, you should use special servers designed for this use. You cannot for example, connect to a standard server to download a torrent. NordVPN detects this activity, and information flow is cut off.

When you connect to NordVPN, it shows you a list of countries, which you then choose from, after which it connects to a standard server of that country. It looks simple, but is mostly irrelevant for me because I never connect on a normal server (I also download a fair amount) and want to choose a fast server that allows peer-to-peer.

If you want to connect to a special purpose server, you must select the next tab, labeled "Servers," which will allow you to choose the server appropriate for your needs. If you want to connect to a special purpose server, you must select the next tab, labeled "Servers," which will allow you to choose the server appropriate for your needs. This tab allows you to make a precise choice for your connection, and in my opinion is quite handy! There were a few instances in which I could not connect to a server, but those were rare. I believe that a user guide of the application is needed, but I have not seen it anywhere. NordVPN boasts on it’s simplicity, and they certainly follow through on this.

Interface- MapSelection by Country



Download

Pricing 4.7 / 5.0
Best Offer
$5.75/month
Standard
$7.00/month
Simple
$11.95/month

Compared to the competition, prices are rather reasonable: $11.95 for a month, $42 for six months ($7/month) and $69 for one year ($5.75/month).
If you search a bit more thoroughly, you may even find coupon a code that significantly reduces the registration price.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

I appreciated that they do not offer discounted plans with limited features, such as limited volume exchange with lower priced plans. Whichever plan you chose, you are entitled to the same service.
You are also entitled to a money back guarantee of a month, which is enough time to gauge the provided service, once you have tested the geographical blocking.

However - and this is not clear on the website - subscriptions are automatically renewed at the end of their period. Your account settings will not tell you if automatic renewal is active, and you cannot preemptively turn this off. You will need to call support for that and/or check your bank statements.

I am also relatively sure that, rather than offering you the best available rate (i.e. current coupon rate), the renewal is done at standard rates.

Almost all VPN operator’s settings default on automatic renewals, and I dislike this, especially as they often do so without informing their subscribers. Even if the subscribers are informed, they are always at the mercy of a health problem or an oversight, which can cause them to be regularly charged for a service they no longer use.

If the VPN providers want to offer an automatic renewal service, it should be an opt-in option for the users. This trade policy, I repeat, is not specific to NordVPN.

The support specialist informed me that this will be modified in the near future. When this is the case, you will be the first to know!

NordVpn is one of the most affordable VPN Services – surely the most secure - but beware of automatic subscription renewals.

Reliability & Support 4.8 / 5.0

By clicking “Help” from the menu bar, I could choose from several options: writing my query in the search box, browsing tutorials and FAQs, filling out a form, or starting a live chat. The support is active 24/7, and the skills of my interlocutor were over and above what I usually observed in the support services.

The Bottom Line
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)
Nord is simply the best combination of speed, security and service

To build such a network, as well as maintain it and provide support, requires a lot more effort and intentionality than I could handle. My job, however, is to have a look at how it works, and to write down my impressions.

NordVPN is:


  • A serious service

  • Stable Enough (at worst)

  • Easy to install

  • Protective of its users

  • An excellent support provider

  • Very attractive in terms of rates (especially if you find a coupon).


At the price of three dollars per month for an annual subscription with a coupon, we would be really encouraged. This is one of the best market prices.

The only downsides:

  • Ease-of-use is somewhat less easy than expected

  • Functionality has some ways in which it could be improved upon

  • Some unwanted bugs


In our extensive experience, there is no such thing as a perfect VPN services. Some excel in areas where others languish, and vice versa. NordVPN is not recommended so highly for no reason, as they maintain a positive balance between all attributes, and their users seem to agree. Just see the reviews above!

So, if you are looking for a great deal on your VPN, NordVPN is an excellent choice.

NordVPN
5.0 / 5.0
Detailed expert review
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

 

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

 

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

 

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

 

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

 

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

 

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

 

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands               Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

 

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

NordVPN is a great one-size-fits-all VPN that works seamlessly with Android devices as well as a range of up to 6 other devices simultaneously. Unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands             Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

NordVPN is a great one-size-fits-all VPN that works seamlessly with iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can connect up to 6 different devices simultaneously or run your wifi on an entirely secure network. Unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands             Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

NordVPN is a great one-size-fits-all VPN that works seamlessly with iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can connect up to 6 different devices simultaneously or run your wifi on an entirely secure network. Unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes..

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands             Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

If you like watching live video streaming and downloading torrents, NordVPN is a great one-size-fits-all VPN that will secure your connection with powerful tools and blazing speed. Unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands             Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

NordVPN users in the states enjoy ultra fast TV streaming while securing their privacy at all times. It's a great one-size-fits-all VPN that will secure your connection with powerful tools and blazing speed, and unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

Operating under the jurisdiction of Panama, NordVPN has a network of 559 servers located in 49 countries. Their VPN servers support a number of configurations for encryption and specific uses like file sharing and streaming media. They offer regular VPN connections with strong encryption options such as 2048 bit SSL for the OpenVPN protocol or AES-256 bit encryption for the L2TP protocol. If you need more security, then you can connect to their Double VPN server where traffic is routed through two servers and encrypted with two layers of AES-256-CBC encryption. The OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP with IPSec protocols are supported on all their servers. The service supports up to 6 simultaneous connections so you can connect all of your devices.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any log, to encrypt exchanges on 2096 bits, to hold their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and to display a "kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nordvpn_protection

They also have some servers equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we'll just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I couldn't find a way to check it out by myself. Please consider the same problem exists with all the other VPN providers. We only know the "Bad guys" that we catch logging information.

Same for the exchange encrypted on 2096 bits. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, especially during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article.

Same for their double VPN, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to this useful tool that will show you all the information leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity was hidden properly and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch"  button was operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN provides excellent protection and this is the predominant feature of a VPN.

NordVPN provides almost too good protection, given that 2096 bit encryptions are too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities available today.

In 2010, researchers managed to crack 768-bit keys, and it took deep pockets (as INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year).

It is estimated that 2096 bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology called quantum computer, which will eventually crack just about anything, but it’s in initial stages and is characterized by a complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding

This technology is not available to everyone. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just took everyone to setbacks and have announced to have launched a quantum communication satellite. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts must depend on the value of data that must be protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities, but personally I feel properly protected with 256-bit encryption, because the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionate to the secrets I want to keep.

And what about the real interest of a dual 2096 VPN bits except for a marketing stunt? Personally I do not see the point.

You probably think that if it can do more it can do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, it is not the case!

The more sophisticated the encryption, the more speed tends to deteriorate. Regarding the double-VPN, velocity drops below what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however, the US Navy developed a very low frequency communication system, allowing for instruction transmissions to submarines, without requiring them to come to the surface. It's really slow. It takes several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message. But it is justified by safety requirements. They want to avoid  tracking the location of submarines at all costs.

I am not a spy, I would not book myself in crime or terrorism, I do not live in a country that easily puts people in jail for their ideas, I just want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems enough to me. Each person should evaluate their encryption needs according to his own criteria.

The quality of protection is one of the highlights of NordVPN . It protects us far beyond our current needs

 

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we used the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately we cannot ignore the temptation that some VPN vendors might have to increase the priority when they detect a flow for measuring speed.

Not to say that VPN operators cheat, but in my opinion, they might be tempted to do so. This is why I performed an additional less accurate test that complies with my needs.

For now, we will focus on Speedtest .

I have a very comfortable connection. My Internet connection is fiber optic, my download speed (without VPN) is 520 Mb per second, my upload speed is 240 Mb, and my ping 7 ms. Thèse performances are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider.

Nordvpn_speed01

My connection without VPN

This is way above the scope of possibilities of all VPNs on the market. I suspect my test platform majorly doesn’t disrupt the results.

Considering the quality of my connection, I expect to measure 100 Mb / s up and down behind the VPN speeds and the pings around 20 ms when the server is near. This is what I have witnessed with some NordVPN competitors.

I measured the speed of some of NordVPN’s best servers which had the ability to make P2P and unfortunately the observed rates were well below my expectations:

Nordvpn_speed02

Germany server 41

Nordvpn_speed03

Germany server 35

NL_server

Nederlands Server 14

The prize going to double VPN’s performance:

Nordvpn_speed04

I thought NordVPN was unable to do better than that, until I retested on a Sunday morning. The measured results were completely different :

Nordvpn_speed05

German server 35

I feel that this difference in performance is because NordVPN servers might not be dedicated, and that their bandwidth would not be contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

To feel more secure, I decided to add an additional speed test: establish what volume torrents I was able to upload behind NordVPN in 24 hours, and how long it takes to download a very specific torrent (always the same).

This additional test is questionable, because the torrents trading systems depend on supply and demand: if nobody requires torrents that I share, I might have the fastest system, the amount uploaded will be null. Similarly, if the fastest servers are not there to share the torrents that I want to download, I might have a very fast connection but my transfer will take too long.

That said, if I measure my uploads for a period of 24 hours, I the shared volume will reflect the speed of the server, particularly because torrents sharing protocol favors faster connections. Similarly, I chose to download the torrent to be shared by fast servers that are constantly active.

Even unscientific, it is this information that gives me the impression of speed or slowness of my service, because I don’t mind winning or losing a few milliseconds when I indulge in everyday surfing.speed01

Over 24 hours I uploaded 43.5 GB of data with NordVPN (the graph does not show more than six hours) . This is more less half the volume that I usually get.

speed02

Downloading a 3.5 GB file took a little less than 24 minutes after an initial latency of five minutes. 29 minutes in total. Again, we are very far from what other operators offer.

On its website, the section features NordVPN talks about "lightning speed" and “blazing throughput”

None of these expressions reflect the reality in my opinion.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present :

bugs

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will connect so many devices someday. In the top right of the app, you can see the counter with the number of connected devices.

The problem is that only one computer was connected. The counter is inaccurate. Therefore, I if I am abroad, my ability to connect might be denied because the number of devices falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it's just a visual bug, that they're fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that can be connected. So see...

Do you want another one? Here's another one.

To help us choose the best server to connect to, NordVPN gives us three indications:

  1. The activities allowed on this server when hovering the name of the server with the mouse,
  2. The ping or responsiveness of that server,
  3. The percentage of server load represented by a small colored rectangle. Green is not busy, Orange is rather busy, I have not seen red.

In theory, to correctly choose a server, we need to verify that its activity matches our needs, then we pick the one with the lowest ping, and the lowest load, Th.s should ensure we benefit from the fastest speed.

We have already established that this was not the case. In addition, if you had been so far connected to a slow server and you click on the button "exchange server", the values of pings on display will have no relation with the result we are actually going to get.Nord08

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

nord09

There are people who crash their equipment just by looking at it. I had a bit of that reputation long ago. It might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I identified is really compromising and will not affect quality service.

This is an attempt to prove that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some competitors often do.

Our promise is to do our best, so you know what you can expect and what you cannot expect with NordVPN.

Besides we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we took our subscription. And I 've kept them in the black until the test was completed. This is to avoid VIPr treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. While running tests, I was disconnected only twice during my sleep, and according to my setting, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. Whatever I didn't want to show to my internet service provider had been interrupted with my connection as programmed.

I had some problems with the Android app, especially  trying to connect was often difficult.

After my tests I consider that the service is stable (at least on PC) and that it complies with my security requirements.

How to choose the server with the most suitable speed?

To determine the best server to connect to with NordVPN,  you ought to choose a server compatible with the desired activity, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

This process is insufficient in my opinion. There is no button that automatically measures the server’s performance, according to the specific use that complies with your needs. Other operators offer this service, but not all. However, considering the discrepancy in speed of NordVPN’s servers, it is highly called for.

And by the way, there is no dropdown list in the application allowing to choose your protocol, particularly if you prefer a 256-bit encryption.

How to avoid getting rejected by websites that ban some of our IP?

This is not strictly speaking a NordVPN’s bug. But as a result of the IP that already has been given to others resulting in rejection by some servers, because users connected to the same IP, had an inappropriate attitude in the past.

403

Here is, for example what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that does not please them.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP does not get banished. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP.

It would be great if all servers had this feature by default, or a possibility for each server to choose your IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent some sites from refusing to deliver streaming broadcasts for geographic blocking, although the server is chosen in a developed country?

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch some TV programs in my native language. But for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed out of the country where these programs can be watched

If you connect normally, the streaming is rejected.

This is called geo-blocking and a VPN is the right tool to turn this around.

In theory, simply connect with NordVPN to a server from the original country where you usually watch the program. You must also have a fast enough connection to fool the target site into believing you are actually in that country, although in fact you are nesting under a coconut tree holding a Pina Colada in your right hand and a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed, please send us the pics!

Unfortunately, this workaround does not always work, because the assigned IP might not be recognized by the content provider as a country IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN.

netflix

Example of geographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix that, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, if any, which will assign you a different IP, that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. One of which should be accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. But in Belgium there is only one server. Same for Denmark Bulgaria ... I will not write down the whole list.

This is why it is recommended, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, to ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you like so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty cool feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do to give their users a more enjoyable experience, but they are definitely among the best VPNs out there.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
DanielKrohn_150
Daniel Krohn
(Technical writer, ex-robot manual creator gone privacy enthusiast/VPN expert)

The NordVPN Windows desktop app secures your connections with powerful tools and blazing speed, and unlike other premium VPNs, you don't have to pay much to get high speed and security.

It’s no big secret that NordVPN is reputed as the best VPN out there. It has excellent reviews nicely propped on the homepage from very happy customers, as well as links to articles by bigwig industry publications like PC Mag, Forbes etc. I wanted to figure out what all the fuss was about, so took it upon myself to do my own audit.

NordVPN really speaks to its users; It’s an entire package of unbeatable specs - like 2048-bit encryption, “double VPN,” and 554 servers in 49 countries to choose from - that pretty much places it at the top of the market. I really like how the site outlines the top 12 reasons why it’s the best VPN out there. From “lightning speed” to no logs to an “automatic kill switch,” the site had me convinced from its homepage. When I tried it for myself, it was smack on accurate with all its promises. Exceptionally fast and secure, and with an easy to use interface – even for dummy users like me – I would have to admit, NordVPN gives you a good run for your money.

Under the support section, they have some handy tutorials for users with virtually any operating system (including iOS and Android). I followed the Mac tutorials – complete with screen grabs and easy instructions; making my experience really easy and educational at the same time.

Their pricing plan did have me a bit dubious. I didn’t want to commit to a whole year – which is 52% less than signing up for one month – as my general rule of thumb is to sign up for online services one month at a time. After all, you never know if a better option might appear on the market. Thus, I chose the one-month plan of $11.95, which is more expensive than some other VPN options, but as I have learned, you get what you pay for, and you get a lot in this case.

Right now, Nord is running two specials for 72% off 2-year subscriptions and 66.5% off 1-year subscriptions. Click here to take advantage of them. For the 1-year coupon, apply the code 70off at checkout to take advantage of the deal. And if you have any trouble applying the code, see our post Applying Tricky Nord Codes.

PROTECTION

NordVPN swears not to be keeping any logs, encrypts exchanges in 2096 bits, has their own DNS servers in order to prevent leakage, and has a " kill switch" to stop some applications in case of accidental disconnection.

Nord Settings                            NordVPN Protection Settings

Some of their servers are also equipped with dual VPN.

Regarding the non-retention of logs, we will just have to take their word for it, because although their support rep was rather convincing, I could not neither confirm nor deny this conclusively. Please consider that I cannot confirm with any VPN providers, as there is no standard test for this.

The same goes for the claim of 2096-bit encryption. To check this, I would have to intercept the data exchanged, particularly during the key exchange phase. It would require too many resources for the context of this article. The same for their double VPN capability, since they would have to give me access to the configuration of their servers.

However, thanks to our tool, which can show you if any information is leaking from your connection, I could confirm that my identity is properly hidden and that there were no DNS leaks.

I also found that the "kill switch" is operational.

I am convinced that NordVPN protects you very well, and this is the main feature that you look for in a VPN.

NordVPN protects you almost too well, because a 2096-bit encryption is much too sophisticated for the decryption capabilities that we have today.

In 2010, researchers cracked a 768-bit key, and it took deep pockets (an INRIA research institute French equivalent to 425 quad-core PC for one year). It is expected that 2096-bit encryption will not be cracked by brute force before 2030. There is an emerging technology, quantum computing, which should eventually have the ability to crack just about anything. It is, however, still in its infancy, and bears complexity that goes far beyond the limits of my understanding. To be sure, this technology will not be available to everyone when it is first released, mostly due to its costly nature. To my knowledge, it is far from operational. The Chinese just announced their launch of a quantum communication satellite, which is a huge breakthrough. They also have goals for 2030.

The encryption efforts are dependent on the value of data that is being protected, and the NSA does not disclose its actual capabilities; I personally feel, however, adequately protected with 256-bit encryption since the efforts to crack my exchanges would be disproportionately large compared to the secrets I want to keep. And what about the practical use of a 2096-bit dual VPN, except for the purposes of a great marketing stunt? Personally, I do not see the usefulness, but maybe it has more use than I give it credit for.

You would likely think that if it can do more, it could do less. That would be true if there was no impact on speed. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The more sophisticated the encryption protocol is, the more the speed tends to deteriorate. As for the double-VPN, the velocity drops beyond what is acceptable.

Everything is relative, however; The US Navy has developed a very low frequency communication system that allows it to send instructions to their submarines without requiring them to come to the surface. It is exceedingly slow, taking several minutes to send a message about the size of a mobile phone text message, but it is justified by the security it affords. They must avoid the disclosure of their submarine’s locations any price.

I am not a spy, nor would I involve myself in crime or terrorism. I also do not live in a country that jails its citizens for their ideas; I simply want to protect my privacy, and a 256-bit encryption (OpenVPN) seems adequate to me. Every individual should evaluate their encryption needs according to their own requirements.

The quality of protection is one of the hallmarks of NordVPN. It protects us far beyond our current needs.

BUGS

Beware of bugs. They are not blockers, but they are present.

Nord Devices Bug

Here is the first of them. Our contract gives us the right to connect up to six devices at once behind the VPN. Not having a large family, I doubt I will need the ability to connect this many devices at once.

In the top right of the app, you can see the number of connected devices. The problem is that I only had one computer connected at the time of this screen shot. The counter is inaccurate, and because of this, I might find myself abroad, denied connection because the number of devices has falsely reached its maximum.

The support tells me that it is just a visual bug, that they are fixing it, and that it has no negative effect on the number of devices that I can connect.

One last little bug: I managed to crash the application. Do not ask me how I did it. I was already disconnected, so it did not affect the safety. I was about to close the application when I saw the following message:

Nord Crash Bug

There are people who can crash their equipment just by looking at them. I had that reputation long ago. It looks like it might be coming back!

None of the bugs that I showed you is really a reason for concern, as they do not affect the quality of service. This is more of an attempt for us to prove you that we are not just reciting the operator's brochure to give you our opinion, as some of our competitors seem to do.

Our promise is to do our best and most honest review, so you can know what to expect and not to expect with NordVPN.

Besides, we did not inform NordVPN of our intentions when we purchased our subscription, and I kept them in the dark until the test was completed. This was obviously to prevent biased treatment.

STABILITY

NordVPN for PC is rather stable. During my tests, I was disconnected only twice while I was sleeping, and according to my settings, the service did not reconnect automatically.

The good news is that my protection remained active. What I did not want to show to my internet service provider had been properly hidden, as I had programmed it to do.

I did have some problems with the Android app, particularly with connecting, which was sometimes difficult. This, however, should not deter most people.

In light of my tests, I consider the service to be stable (at least on PC), and that it is compliant my security requirements.

USE

In this section, I would like to discuss three items:

  1. How to choose the server with the fastest speed.
  2. How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs.
  3. How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country.

How to choose the server with the fastest speed

With NordVPN, to determine the best server to connect to, you must choose one that is compatible with the activities you are performing, connect to it, determine its speed, and repeat the process with another server until you are satisfied.

I consider this process to be very inefficient, as there is no function for automatically measuring the server’s performances based on the type of server you are looking for. Some operators offer this service, but not most. However, considering the discrepancy speeds of NordVPN’s servers, it would be called for.

Speaking of which, the application also lacks a dropdown list allowing one to choose a protocol, which is especially important if 256-bit encryption is preferred.

How to avoid being rejected by websites that ban some IPs

This is not, strictly speaking, a NordVPN bug, but there are IPs that already have been given to others that are resulting in rejection by some servers. This is due to the fact that, because users had connected to the same IP, the website blocked them in the past.

Nord IP Detection

Here is, for instance, what happens when you try to access a site named cpasbien with an IP that they have blocked.

The workaround for this is to use a different server, whose IP is not forbidden. NordVPN has some servers that will give you a dedicated IP. It would actually be better for all servers to have this feature by default, or alternatively, to have the possibility for each server to choose our IP in a scrolling list.

How to prevent sites from refusing to stream broadcasts due to geographic blocking, despite choosing a server in what should be a suitable country

When I travel, I sometimes want to watch TV programs in my native language, but for copyright reasons, broadcasting is not allowed outside of the country in which you can normally watch it.

If you connect normally (without a VPN), the streaming is rejected. This is called geo-blocking, and a VPN is the right tool to get around this.

In theory, it should be sufficient to connect to a server of the country where you want to watch the program (with a suitably fast connection) with NordVPN, thereby fooling the target site by making it believe that you are in the same country, even you are, in fact, relaxing under a coconut tree with a mojito in your right hand, holding a straw between the toes of your left foot.

If you succeed doing that, please send us the pictures!

Unfortunately, this theory does not always work in the real world because the assigned IP might be recognized by the content provider as a VPN IP. This problem arises with virtually all VPN operators and not just with NordVPN. Users are, for example, running into issues with Netflix when using certain VPN servers.

Nord Netflix ErrorGeographical blocking despite the selection of a server in the appropriate country

To fix this issue, you need to choose another server in the same geographical area, which will assign you a different IP, one that will be accepted by the sites broadcasting the programs that you want to watch.

In France, NordVPN has four servers. Of the four, there should be one that is accepted by the TV sites you want to watch. Belgium, however, has only one server. The same goes for Denmark, Bulgaria and a handful others.

Therefore, we recommend, as long as your money-back guarantee is valid, that you ensure that the sites displaying your favorite programs are accessible from NordVPN’s servers. Otherwise you might end up traveling, without being able to watch the latest episode of Dallas that you so much!

Having the ability to choose multiple IP in every server would be a pretty nice feature.

To summarize, I think that NORDVPN has still some work to do in giving their users all the desired features. They do, however, provide as good an experience as any other VPN out there in this regard.

SPEED

For most of our speed tests, we use the site Speedtest by Ookla. This is an extremely serious site, but unfortunately, we cannot ignore the temptation that VPN vendors may have to increase the priority of speed when they detect a flow for measuring it. This is not to say that the VPN operators cheat, but I posit that they might be tempted to do so.

I tested from my baseline of about 20Mbps download and a ping of 15ms, not particularly slow nor particularly fast either. These performance specs are stable and guaranteed by my Internet service provider. I also tested not only the regular VPNs, but also some of the “niche” ones, like Ultra Fast TV, Tor and DoubleVPN. Here are the results.

Speed Test- Baseline
My connection without VPN.

Speed Test- US #1 Speed Test- UK Server Automatic                       US Server #1                        UK- automatic

Speed Test- Romania Automatic Speed Test- Russia Automatic                       Romania- Auto                       Russia- Auto

Speed Test- Dedicated IP- Germany #70 Speed Test- Ultra Fast TV                        Ultra fast TV               Dedicated IP- Germany #70

Speed Test- Double VPN- Russia - Netherlands Speed Test- Double VPN- UK - Netherlands             Double- UK - Netherlands  Double- Russia - Netherlands

Speed Test- P2P- Sweden #12 Speed Test- P2P- US #305                    P2P- Sweden #12                     P2P- US #305

As you can see, the results vary considerably, and I suspect that if I were to do these tests on a different day, or simply at different times of the day, I would get different results. No matter how fast or reliable the connection is with a VPN provider, this kind of fluctuation is somewhat inevitable. I also suspect that this difference in performance is due to NordVPN servers not being dedicated, and that their bandwidth is not contractually guaranteed (this type of contract is more expensive).

I was particularly impressed with my connection speed during my first “Double VPN” test, as I was expecting the speed to be slower. As you may know, as a general rule, the more encryption you have, the slower the speed. I was even able to stream Netflix almost with waiting for buffering with the Double VPN connection.

Another point worth mentioning is that the connection that Nord automatically chooses for you for a particular country is not always the best or fastest. It appears that it is sometimes worth testing a few connections (of which there are many, to say the least), instead of taking the easy way and just letting the program decide for you. This is a bit of a disappointment, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Overall, the connections they offer are very fast and certainly can handle whatever you can throw at them. I especially appreciate the selection of “special purpose servers” they provide.

  • 559 Servers in 49 Countries
  • 2048-bit SSL Encryption
  • No Logging Policy
  • Double VPN and Tor VPN Connections
  • VPN Gateways Tuned for Streaming Media
  • Get started with NordVPN now
Money Back Guarantee (Days): 30
Mobile app:
Devices per license: 6
VPN Plans: www.nordvpn.com
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