NordVPN Review 2017
|4.0 / 5.0 User Ratings||59 |
|4.0 / 5.0 User Ratings||59 |
Today we are going to dissect NordVPN in our review, to educate our readers about the services and the features it offers to its users – without any sugar-coats.
NordVPN claims to be the best VPN service when it comes to protecting users from hackers, surveillance agencies and malware while browsing the internet. However, we will only share our NordVPN review final verdict with you once we have thoroughly taken you through its services.
VPN servers play an integral role in establishing the utility of a privacy service. We have said it before and we will say it again: if you are to leave an impression on a general user, impress him with your server count and locations.
The server locations are not as bad as we thought they were. NordVPN offering its 1000+ servers in over 59 countries, including the UK and US. What we liked the most about NordVPN is the fact that it offers a proper guide to help users and connect to their desired servers. For example, if you want DDoS Protection against hackers, NordVPN recommends you to connect to its Canadian server.
NordVPN provides servers in United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Lithuania, Russia, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Brazil, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Romania, Austria, Australia, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Isle of Man, Chile, Israel, New Zealand and Japan. Unfortunately we cant test all the servers while writing this NordVPN review.
NordVPN DNS Server connects automatically through their native desktop & mobile apps ensuring that your DNS requests are not routed through Google servers. Following are the DNS Servers which can be configured manually, in case you are not using the applications:
For the express purpose of keeping subscribers’ updated, NordVPN offers a dedicated page so that the clients can easily check if their required server is:
The Server maintenance page offers real time statistics offering details including server load, vacant locations etc. all in one place. Statistics are offered for all servers including:
What haunts internet users the most? No online security? Low speeds? High Pings? Honestly speaking, it all comes down to your needs and demands. A streaming lover may compromise on his online security for faster speeds, and a privacy enthusiast may compromise on high speeds for solid online security.
There is no denying that a VPN service reduces your internet speed and gives you high ping sometimes, but when it becomes a regular practice, it haunts users even more. We speed-tested the services of NordVPN before we wrote this review because we wanted to check if they had any limitations set the allocation of bandwidth and if the pings reduced.
We are sharing the results before and after testing the speeds with our readers so they can get an idea of how fast their service is and how it can affect their internet speed. The picture we are sharing below was taken when NordVPN wasn’t connected. Although we would have liked a lower ping, See all three observations were pretty impressive.
Once we connected our device to NordVPN’s fastest server “US” the speed was significantly reduced; upload speed hardly noticed any changes but the ping won the contest for us! Imagine getting 0 ping with a download speed of 85Mbps! Who wouldn’t want to watch TV shows and movies in high definition for hours and hours?!
Having reviewed various VPN services in past, we have always given priority to two particular features of a VPN service over others: the servers and the device compatibility, in that same order.
Offering support for Windows, iPhones, iPads, Mac and Android is pretty standard for VPN services, but NordVPN misses out on supporting Linux, Routers and Gaming Consoles in the devices it supports.
The mediocrity of device compatibility of NordVPN client is beyond any explanation. We fail to understand why NordVPN is not working to extend its support to Xbox One, PS3 and SmartTV users. The current device compatibility suggests that it needs to upgrade its device support as soon as possible, if it is to stay at VPN industry for the long haul.
Although you can download the official NordVPN apps for desktop from the official website there are several other trusted websites you can get the app from. These include:
You will see various other domains offering free downloads of the app, but do be careful they may come embedded with adware or even malware. I will highly recommend downloading VPN apps directly from the provider rather than 3rd party websites.
China’s recent crackdown on “illegal” VPN services or simply those that did not comply with China’s stern cyber legislation, has alarmed most netizens across the country. The Chinese government has begun removing apps of various foreign based VPN providers from Android apps stores and Apple iTunes.
For this express purpose NordVPN has announced a superb new feature in their windows app so Chinese netizens can easily bypass the firewall without the hassle of blocks or slow internet speed. The new advanced VPN solution will avoid internet traffic from passing through the Great Firewall altogether. The new improvements to NordVPN include alternate servers to circumvent censorship like that being used by China’s government.
To secure & anonymize your internet in China with NordVPN here is what to do:
This will give you an alternate list of advanced servers configured especially to bypass intrusive regimes like those in China. Feel free to check our latest china VPN list.
After signing up for the service, you can download the software for your Windows from the custom profile page. Once you have installed the VPN, open it up and enter the credentials assigned to you by NordVPN.
Click on “Log in”.
After you have successfully logged in, select your desired VPN server and click on “Connect”.
Wait for the connection to establish, once NordVPN is connected, you will be presented with this window.
See the “Settings” tab on top? We clicked on it as well to explore the other options. Can’t say we were disappointed. Upon clicking the “Settings” tab, you can also find the App Kill Switch option that lets you kill all the activity on other applications as well when your internet connection drops.
NordVPN is compatible with Android OS (4.0 devices or higher) with a great application available on the Google Play Store. If you wish to connect NordVPN manually on Android, you can setup the service using L2TP/IPsec protocols:
Check out our detailed video on how to setup NordVPN for android devices.
This NordVPN review was designed to be critical. That is why we were poised to compare the price offerings with those dished out by other VPN services. The limited compatibility had left a bad taste in our mouth, but all of that changed when we saw those beautiful pricing plans that look like a WalMart sale!
The pricing plans are simple, and easy to understand. For starters, they are offering a universal package for different prices, a common norm in VPN industry.The plans are clearly designed to cater to the needs of different users with different needs. So if you are interested in buying the monthly service, subscribe to the Monthly Package, which is available for $8/month. The Monthly Package is referred as “Simple” package by NordVPN.
The “Standard” package (the half-yearly plan), is available for subscription for $5/month. This package suits individuals who frequently travel to the countries where strict censorship policies are in place. NordVPN refers to the annual package as its “Best Offer”. You can get the subscription for as low as $3.29/month. With a subscription to the annual package, you get to save 50% of the original amount!
NordVPN currently offers a 3-day free trial for new users and begins after completing the signup process. Furthermore, they also offer 30-day money-back guarantee on all their packages for “accounts in good standing”— but users who avail their services through Apple App Store or Google Play Store cannot be reversed or refunded.
NordVPN usually offers discounts and deals for all major events like New Year, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas etc.
In times, where online privacy has become a subject of debate due to increasing online surveillance policies, NordVPN takes a solid stand and provides support of OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP and IPSec protocols.
All of these protocols are rock solid and keep your online traffic safe by tunneling them. The SSL based encryption support of 2048 is too good for the likes of hackers and online surveillance agencies to lay their eyes on your data. It makes your data complicated for the hackers, and also protects you when mass-surveillance laws are passed.
Okay, this is a tricky part. We’ll be very precise here in this NordVPN review part. We liked their Customer Support for its excellent compliance and relevancy skills, but we absolutely hated it for its slow response. When we talked to one of their support technicians, we had no idea that it would literally take them ages to respond. When their representative finally joined the Chat session, we asked the reason for delay.
He responded by saying, “Your chat did not show up”.
That was not the kind of reply we were expecting, anyway. Once he joined the chat session, we decided to stress-test the support and grilled him. We kept asking him questions about the service and the guy at the other end was gentle and answered all our questions very calmly.
So while their Live Chat Customer Support is absolutely fine, their response time is not. They need to work on that before it begins to haunt them.
To make sure that users feel safe and secure, NordVPN offers Bitcoin, Web Money, Paypal, Paysera and Credit cards as payment modes to users. The payment options are diverse and the users can easily opt for one the suggested options to pay their due invoices.
As far as the multi-logins are concerned, we think NordVPN is better than many of the VPN providers that are not even offering the multi-login option.
But when we compared it with others, it clearly let us down. With only two multi-logins, we feel that it needs to offer more login queries to its users.
We’ll be honest with all our readers here; we will vouch for any VPN provider that offers assistance for P2P traffic. Imagine downloading torrents without fearing the cops running after you for copyrights infringement cases. We tried the P2P service of NordVPN and were actually impressed that it offered us extra layer of security without causing any disturbance in the downloading speeds.
Blogging platform Comparitech covered in January of this year how most VPN providers have now been red flagged by Netflix and their IP addresses don’t unblock the US library anymore for users connecting from other countries. Instead Netflix users’ are welcome by this message:
I have tested over 18 services with Netflix when they initially enacted the ban. Only 3 services successfully managed to unblock the US library, while some 16 PVN services (9 of them US based) failed to bypass the block. NordVPN was one of the 3 brands (other two being PureVPN & ExpressVPN) that successfully unblocked US Netflix on all its servers.
NordVPN has remained one of the few providers that still provide access to Netflix US on all of its provided IP addresses. I would highly recommend to manually configure NordVPN when accessing Netflix US and always run a DNS Leak test with IPlocation or WhatismyIP.
The true grit of any VPN provider is tested when put against the best VPN providers in the world. So, I chose to compare NordVPN with industry legend Express VPN. The comparison is as follows:
|Software/Apps||Win, Mac, Android & iOS||Win, Mac, Android & iOS|
|Multi User||6 users per account||5 users per account|
|Torrent & P2P Support||Yes||Yes|
|Tunneling Protocols||OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP & IPSec||OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP & L2TP|
|Encryption||AES 128bit & 256bit||AES 128bit & 256bit|
|Pricing||$3.29/month (2 Year Plan)||$8.32/month (12 month plan)|
|Editor’s Rating||4 out of 5||3 out of 5|
NordVPN offers a competitive service bundle but does not come close to ExpressVPN’s server performance. That being said, NordVPN & ExpressVPN perform terrible in Asia, I would recommend other options. If your requirements are streaming & downloading torrents,then possibly the best option would be ExpressVPN. If however you wish to browse, use email, shop & bank online, and be gentle on the wallet while doing that I would suggest to try NordVPN.
There are a number of coupons available that you can use on the ExpressVPN subscription page in the discount code section. Here are the best ones still active:
Possibly the best place to get real time user reviews of NordVPN would be Reddits forums. Take this disappointed user for instance:
NordVPN performed very poor for this user when it came to downloading torrents. After the provider began marketing its services on various torrent websites, the service has seen a radical decline in performance.
Users have also complained that the service doesn’t work with Netflix, but after they upgraded their servers and hosted new ones in the US NordVPN works fine with Netflix US, but on selected servers only. In another interesting NordVPN review on Reddit, user VPNHunter2014 establishes that NordVPN actually performs better and offers a better service compared to other popular brands. I highly recommend NordVPN prospects to consider this review for a realistic preview.
In a fairly new review posted in December 2016 user Conundrum1911 establishes that speed & disconnection issues are now frequent when he connects through his region. This has been a common occurrence for mostly subscribers in Europe and some cities of the USA. I tested NordVPN for well over 6 hours (no test for torrents though) and it worked fine when browsing on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and other shopping websites.
Finally we come to another distraught user who had a bad experience with Nord’s iOS app:
Some VPN do tend to pay less attention to user on boarding and ease of use hence such user testimonials. I avoid iOS devices any way due to their difficult compatibility with many hundreds of apps that are already available on Android. But I do agree with the user above, NordVPN began with an appalling VPN app for iOS devices. Even to this day disconnections and no server connectivity are big issues on the iOS app when we tested it last.
NordVPN offers SOCKS and HTTP proxy servers in addition to VPN service. Users of SOCKS proxy are required to get authorization to get connected & unrestricted access, whereas HTTP works with all the major browsers available i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer.
To setup up Nord VPN proxy servers you can find all relevant tutorials on the website or feel free to ask in this nordvpn review comments.
In order to test the true grit of NordVPN I compared the service with PureVPN one of the longest serving VPN providers. While PureVPN is more acclaimed due to its phenomenally low pricing, NordVPN establishes its competency over worldwide high speed unblocking servers.
In comparison the biggest victory for NordVPN is its massive network of servers with a huge network of streaming servers in the USA alone. PureVPN by no means offer something inferior, 700+ servers is nothing meagre jus that NordVPN offers streaming optimized servers enhanced to deliver faster speed.
|Apps||Win, Mac, iOS & Android||Win, Mac, iOS, Android & Browser ext.|
|1. Live Chat|
3. Tickets & Email
5. Phone Support for Business
|Tunneling Protocols||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2|
|Encryption||AES 256Bit SHA & AES-256-GCM||CBC Blowfish 128bit, AES 256Bit SHA and Double Encryption|
|Pricing||1 Year Subscription $5.75/month ($69)||2 Years Subscription $2.44/ month ($143.52)|
|Based In||Panama||Hong Kong|
One feature where we see a stalemate are the security protocols & encryption. Both brands offer a full arsenal of varying tunneling protocols for subscribers, this is complemented by the mix of 128bit & 256bit encryption offered by both brands. One exclusive feature that NordVPN offers is the powerful Double Encryption protocol allowing you to make your data simply unreadable online.
One area where NordVPN just doesn’t compare to PureVPN is customer support. PureVPN ensures subscribers get access to its live chat, tickets, email & Skype in addition to offering a massive knowledgebase for tech support and troubleshooting. One area where PureVPN just doesn’t compare to NordVPN are the real time speed tests, NordVPN test results were more stable and faster in the long run.
When compared to TunnelBear VPN we see a significant difference between the brands. NordVPN seems to overshadow every one of the features contested. The most obvious is the difference between servers networks and while NordVPN offers more than 1000 servers across 57 countries, TunnelBear offers an unknown number of servers across 13 regions.
|Servers||1023+||Not Available (Servers Located in 13 Countries)|
|Apps||Win, Mac, iOS & Android||Win, Mac, iOS, Android & Browser ext.|
|1. Live Chat|
|Tunneling Protocols||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2||OpenVPN, L2TP|
|Encryption||AES 256Bit SHA & AES-256-GCM||AES 256Bit|
|Pricing||1 Year Subscription $5.75/month ($69)||2 Years Subscription $2.44/ month ($58.56)|
|Free Trial||No||Yes (Limited Feature)|
|Based In||Panama (No Surveillance & Data Retention)||Canada (5 Eyes Surveillance Member)|
I will add my personal testimony that TunnelBear apps are much stable and reliable than NordVPN ones. TunnelBear also offers a dedicated Google Chrome browser add-on for instant unblocking of news, streaming, social and other websites. NordVPN on the other hand offers decent apps, regularly updates them but still functionality issues remain on Windows and Android.
One place where TunnelBear just doesn’t compete with NordVPN is the security & privacy features offered. While NordVPN is powered by 5 tunneling protocols available depending on user needs, TunnelBear currently only offers 2 protocols. The same is also the case for encryption offered by both brands, NordVPN is powered by excellent ciphering features including a choice between 128bit & 256bit standards while you can also choose the provider’s Double VPN feature for even tougher encryption.
NordVPN & PIA VPN are two revered names in the privacy industry with a lot of common features among the two. There is a ridiculous difference between servers offered with NordVPN offering 1000+ and PIA VPN close to 3200 servers. A major difference is the number of countries both services have servers in and while Nord has its network across 57 countries, PIA VPN offers its massive network in 24.
|Features||NordVPN||Private Internet Access VPN|
|Apps||Win, Mac, iOS & Android||Win, Mac, iOS, Android & Linux|
|1. Live Chat|
|Tunneling Protocols||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2||OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP|
|Encryption||AES 256Bit SHA & AES-256-GCM||AES 256Bit|
|Pricing||1 Year Subscription $5.75/month ($69)||1 Year Subscription $3.33/ month ($39.95)|
|Based In||Panama (No Surveillance & Data Retention)||USA (5 Eyes Surveillance Member)|
Both providers offers high speed connectivity for HD & 4K streaming, torrents & P2P and routine browsing. While both claim to offer turbo speeds the story is otherwise. NordVPN has this issue during peak hours, speeds suffer terribly while PIA VPN has seen a constant decline in speed after it has increased the number of users.
In comparison, NordVPN offers more variety when it comes to security than PIA VPN. While both providers offer 256bit encryption, NordVPN invests in latest tunneling technologies (iKEV2 & Double VPN) while PIA VPN still resorts to the older PPTP & L2TP protocols. These are very useful when using torrents & P2P, since the PPTP and L2TP protocols have been compromised by the NSA, there is great hope in newer technologies.
PIA VPN is ideally priced for what it offers, mostly an unblocking solution more than a privacy service. NordVPN however costs double of what PIA does, but, NordVPN offers a complete privacy solution offering more servers, better protocols, better data retention policies, decent apps for all major OS and faster P2P servers. I claim this after proper testing of both services over Netflix, YouTube, and uTorrent.
One last aspect we must cover is the location of both providers. NordVPN is based in Panama, a country with no data retention laws and absolutely no invasion of user privacy. On the other hand, PIA VPN is based in one of the silliest cyberspaces in the world, the USA. Tech providers in the USA now have to retain data for up to 2 years (when required), and are also bound to hand over any user data when a warrant arrives.
For more on these providers visit our official reviews section, compare providers in real time, comment on your experience in our reviews, and visit us again for more updates.
If you want total anonymity on the internet, then NordVPN may help with its do not store any logs policy. NordVPN confirms on its website that it does not store any:
We mentioned in the start that we will give our final verdict when we have thoroughly reviewed NordVPN. We want to be very honest with all our readers here:
Cons: NordVPN needs to work on certain aspects like its device compatibility, customer support and the server count.
Pros: You can’t ignore its speed, low pings, multi-logins, protocol and encryption support.
It works great, but as of now, to be the best in the VPN industry, NordVPN has a way to go.