NordVPN Review: The Way to Success (2019)
It is a completely new review of one of the largest VPN services in the world.
I wrote the review of this provider two years ago. At that time, it didn’t be a leading VPN. That’s why I will not only tell you about today’s capabilities of NordVPN but also describe incredible changes that have happened during the last two years.
You will learn:
- How has NordVPN surpassed its competitors?
- Why is it increasing the number of servers at such a pace?
- Why do I use NordVPN for Netflix?
- How to use NordVPN for free?
- How to cancel NordVPN?
This review provides the full analysis of the situation with NordVPN that happened in 2018 and test results of the VPN, which were made with the help of network packet analyzer. The review also covers practical usage of the VPN, as well as operating peculiarities of additional features of the VPN and a detected drawback that appears with a slow Internet connection.
The content of the article:
- NordVPN capabilities
- Interesting facts about NordVPN
- NordVPN pros
- NordVPN cons
- Plans and pricing (how to use for free)
- The easiest way to subscribe for NordVPN
- How to cancel NordVPN
- Information about the owner of NordVPN
- Top 3 alternatives
|Free VPN ranking||No free plan|
|Paid VPN ranking||Highest|
|OSes||Apps for all platforms, settings for all devices|
|VPN protocols||OpenVPN, IPSec|
|Customer support||Live chat|
|Pricing||$3.49 - $11.95 per month|
- IP and addresses of visited websites masking;
- Websites unblocking
- Robust encryption
- TCP/UDP protocols
- NordVPN DNS servers
Additional features and capabilities:
- Unblocks Netflix
- P2P servers
- Obfuscated servers
- Dedicated IP
- Double VPN
- Onion Over VPN
- Kill Switch
- App Kill Switch
- Custom DNS
- CyberSec (malware, phishing, and other threats protection)
NordVPN has one of the most extended functionalities among all VPN services. Besides, NordVPN apps have useful capabilities on all platforms, except iOS (technical limitations of this platform do not allow to go beyond an ordinary VPN).
However, there are other VPN providers that have additional features, safety settings, and various VPN protocols. Why is exactly NordVPN the best?
To answer this question, I have to remind you what demands are placed on VPNs today. It is enough to open Reddit and look through VPN topics there. It becomes clear that a modern customer uses Virtual Private Network mainly for entertainment rather than work. Well, the major requirements:
- The VPN itself (IP masking, sites unblocking, bypassing geo-restriction, etc.)
- Netflix and streaming in general. Perhaps, the issue of websites unblocking is one of the most relevant today.
- Safe torrenting. This problem is closely intertwined with the previous one as there are more and more entertaining servers and sites that use P2P technology.
- The number of servers. It is similar to bakeries – if you have a lot of them in your city, which one will you prefer? I think a bakery which is not far from you and which has fewer customers. The same is for a VPN service – the more servers it owns, the more countries (and even cities) and the fewer users it has. Therefore, you have higher and more stable speeds while using a certain location.
- Speeds of servers. No one wants to surf the Internet at a low speed.
- Anonymity. Customers usually want to be reliably protected without making any additional efforts.
- Zero logs. It is immensely important for a VPN not to save data (IP-addresses, URLs, transferred data, etc.).
Only if a VPN has all of these features, it makes sense to speak about extended functionalities. The combination of all these additional compatibilities makes the VPN a good player.
This is the reason why NordVPN has outflanked its competitors. It increases the number of servers rapidly, for the last year the number has grown from 4700 to 5700 (for July 31, 2019 there are 5795 servers in 60 countries). All servers are in fast locations and support Netflix for every region and provide P2P/torrenting. The provider does not save logs and uses the most robust VPN protocols together with invulnerable encryption standard.
And this is the fundamental of NordVPN!
There is another set of functions. I will tell about them a little bit further.
First, let’s analyze, what has been changed for the last two years?
- A cheaper 3-year plan has appeared;
- The number of servers has increased from 768 in 57 countries to 5795 in 60 countries;
- Kill Switch has been added for all applications;
- CyberSec protection has appeared;
- Some of the servers support obfuscation now;
- It is possible to pay with Amazon Pay and 2 additional cryptocurrencies, PayPal is unavailable.
It is quite impressive, especially taking into account that there were other VPNs even better than NordVPN. However, they didn’t pay too much attention to infrastructure development and have dropped out from the top 10.
Now it’s time to tell you about one important fact in NordVPN history and about the case with advertising in the UK. Then, I will show you test results that have impressed me a lot and make me using NordVPN myself.
Interesting facts about NordVPN
The false hype around botnets
Speaking about NordVPN, it is impossible not to mention a curious situation that could discredit NordVPN, how they managed to find the way out of this situation, and how they were able to combine their favorable jurisdiction in Panama with the experience of being a huge tech company.
Actually, each hidden information that fell out into the hands of competitors may turn out into a scandal in a big business.
That is what happened to NordVPN in 2018. Now it is difficult to say who was an initiator of a scandal. However, the simple truth is that NordVPN was blamed for using customers’ bandwidth for implicit goals. It was also identified as a botnet.
That’s how it was.
Last summer, the “disclosing” information about NordVPN connection with Tesonet appeared in several resources. The photos of documents which prove that Tesonet Darius Bereika, the CEO of a Lithuanian company, is also a director of CloudVPN were revealed. CloudVPN owns a part of NordVPN infrastructure. It is also a company in the USA through which payment for NordVPN is transmitted.
Tesonet was proofless presented as a company that reveals and resells users’ data:
“Yes, no one should use a VPN or security service that is tied to Tesonet. As we’ve discussed already, since Tesonet is a data mining company (despite them claiming they aren’t)”,- said on scam.com.
For a reader, any connection with Tesonet will seem something evil.
I looked deeper and puzzled out what lies beyond Tesonet accusation and if there is any connection with NordVPN.
I have found really interesting facts about NordVPN. However, they are rather pluses than minuses.
What are these facts? Why did NordVPN was indirectly blamed for creating a botnet based on users' computers, and why has the end of this hype only added trust to NordVPN? Keep reading to find out the answers.
So, I'll start with Tesonet. This is a Lithuanian tech company that specializes in network technologies in several areas at once. It has a large team of 700+ professionals, and their infrastructure has more than 12,000 servers in 70 countries.
Why did foes (competitors, haters or others) come down on Tesonet?
They laid emphasis on the connection with NordVPN and even ProtonVPN.
At that time, it was easy to provide fake information about the fact that Tesonet developed a botnet based on NordVPN. However, nobody talked what exact Luminati patent was in question and how it is connected with NordVPN.
The hype continued lasted for six months until NordVPN conducted an independent audit of its “No Logs” policy in order to deny involvement in the hidden collection of information.
What have I learned? NordVPN does not save logs for sure. Moreover, they are connected with a large and experienced company in the sphere of network technology. Besides, they managed to defend their reputation.
I read users’ opinions about the reason for the scandal on Reddit. There is an opinion that it was for benefit of a competitor, Private Internet Access.
NordVPN incident with advertising
In January 2019, NordVPN broadcast ads in the United Kingdom. The ads exaggerated the dangers of public Wi-Fi hotspots, urging concerned people to use NordVPN.
Nine complainants called in question the NordVPN statement and addressed a complaint to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).
In May 2019, the ASA agreed with the complainants and gave an opinion that advertising should not appear in this form. During the analysis, they tested the NordVPN software and recognized that it really uses VPN technology and traffic encryption, protects traffic while using public Wi-Fi, and hides the user's location.
In this section, I will enumerate all NordVPN benefits. The information will be supported by the test results and my practical experience.
NordVPN free trial
It is reasonable to try NordVPN before paying for their service. You can also save your money and subscribe for a 3-year plan.
For this, use the NordVPN free trial (for mobile devices) during 7 days.
Why for mobile devices?
The NordVPN free trial is available only for Android and for iOS. However, it is not a problem as everybody has Android or iPhone where it is possible to check if everything works properly.
Learn more in the section “Plans and pricing”.
Record number of servers
I have already mentioned that NordVPN has more than 5700 servers in 60 countries. It is more than other VPNs have. However, that is still not all. The user also can choose any server he wishes.
I will explain.
There are other VPN services with more than 1000 servers. However, not all of them provide the possibility to choose a certain server. More often, there is a choice of locations in the app, and a certain server in a given Data center is chosen automatically.
Besides, NordVPN’s servers are arranged in ascending order of their load.
Here is an example of the less loaded servers in the UK:
Actually, NordVPN chooses the fastest server in the fastest location by default. It is made for the ease of use. You can expand the list of servers and click on the needed server.
Specialty NordVPN servers
Do you ask yourself “Is it safe to use a torrent with this server?” when connecting to a VPN before using a torrent tracker?
NordVPN has solved this problem – it has made a separate list of locations that support torrenting.
There is also a list of servers for TOR Over VPN, Obfuscated servers, double VPN, and Dedicated IP:
The specialty server list is in NordVPN apps for all platforms (on iOS only Onion Over VPN and P2P).
Good choice of countries
NordVPN offers an excellent choice of countries and cities. The number of locations depends on the purpose of NordVPN usage.
- 60 countries maximum;
- 45 countries for P2P/torrenting;
- 15 countries with obfuscation;
- 7 countries for double VPN;
- 4 countries for dedicated IP.
Honestly speaking, I use no more than 20 servers from the list and 2-3 when at home. However, the understanding that I can choose even more locations adds an additional level of convenience.
It is difficult to find more significant characteristic for a VPN than speed. While using NordVPN, I experienced low speed neither with a slow 3G connection nor with the speedy fiber-optic Internet.
The test showed perfect speed in 100Mbps channel*:
United States: Download - 83Mbps, Upload - 58Mbps
Germany: Download - 89Mbps, Upload - 48Mbps
Singapore: Download - 47Mbps, Upload - 38Mbps
* speeds depend heavily on Internet Service Provider and can significantly vary during the time
NordVPN for Netflix
If you visit Reddit and write “VPN” in the search bar, you will notice how many posts about unblocking Netflix and other streaming video services are there.
Guess what is the leader and mentioned more often there?
Right, NordVPN, Nord VPN, Nord.
Actually, people use NordVPN for Netflix. My tests have proven this – in 10 of 10 cases, an automatically suggested server for the USA, the UK, Japanese, and other countries unblocked Netflix:
I liked the efficiency of NordVPN. I was so satisfied with the test results that started using NordVPN for unblocking US video content for my own purposes outside working hours.
Two versions of NordVPN for Mac
Particular features of macOS led to the fact that some VPN software developers choose the path of least resistance and use built-in system technologies, whereas others create applications without the usage of basic system compatibilities. That’s why it is difficult to choose a good VPN for Mac that would be functional.
NordVPN did a good thing. They created 2 applications for macOS.
One of them uses a standard protocol for Apple IPSec/IKEv2. It is called NordVPN IKE. It has simple functionality but it is available only from the App Store.
The second app repeats all NordVPN compatibilities for PC (uses OpenVPN protocol, supports obfuscation, etc.). However, it is available only from the official website of NordVPN in form of pkg installation.
By the way, exactly due to these functions, NordVPN for macOS is available in China (Apple has removed VPN from the App Store at the request of the Chinese authorities). Now you just have to install it from pkg file.
NordVPN for Chrome and Firefox
NordVPN for Chrome is the second most used platform after Windows 10.
NordVPN for Chrome ranking
However, it is not the VPN in its true sense. When you use NordVPN as the extension for Chrome or Firefox, it is rather a proxy than a VPN. NordVPN proxy can encrypt your data as well, it also hides addresses of visited websites, protects your against IP leaks through WebRTC, but it works only within a browser.
It is easy to use NordVPN for a browser. It is enough to choose a location or click “Quick Connect”.
NordVPN Chrome extension
I recommend using the main VPN application. It has more compatibilities than the extension for Chrome or Firefox. It will protect all traffic of your device and not only that one which is inside your browser.
If you need a VPN (but not a proxy) for a browser, It’s better to use ExpressVPN. Its app for browsers supports VPN technology.
Not all VPNs are loyal to torrenting. Even less of them openly support it.
NordVPN went ahead – it not only allows P2P but also offers special servers for torrenting.
It provides almost 5000 servers in 45 countries where P2P is allowed.
You can easily use NordVPN for torrenting on all operating systems.
I advise you to use Internet Kill Switch or set up App Kill Switch. If you do so your ISP or an administrator of a network you use won’t be able to detect that you use torrent tracker when your traffic remains without protection while reconnecting to a VPN.
We have already found out that NordVPN has been probably launched by Lithuanian specialists who work at Tesonet. Anyway, obvious interconnections point that way. Whoever launched the software, he made it properly, making the Panamanian company Tefincom S.A. the actual owner.
The law of Panama is extremely loyal to the companies registered within their jurisdiction. In fact, it means that it is almost impossible to have any legal impacts to such organization from abroad. It means that NordVPN is enough protected against possible pressure. Including pressing in order to obtain the information about registered users.
High security level and privacy protection
A good VPN should not only change the IP address and bypass geo-blocking. It should reliably protect traffic, addresses of visited sites and protect a user against IP leaks.
I have tested NordVPN thoroughly under various conditions with:
- Ordinary Internet connection;
- Public Wi-Fi hotspots;
- Unstable 3G connection.
I used not only http and https, but also ftp, sftp, ssh and WebRTC.
I can confirm that NordVPN changes real IP to a virtual one in a stable way:
Information is obtained through the service whatismyip.com
No IP leaks were detected (the test was carried out with the help of ipleak.net).
To make sure that the application works properly, I used network analysis tool, Wireshark.
Here are the results of traffic interception at the network card level over IPv4 with NordVPN UDP and TCP:
Results of traffic interception: NordVPN with UDP
Results of traffic interception: NordVPN with TCP
This is how the encrypted information that NordVPN sends to a VPN server looks like
I will explain.
The first screenshot shows the exchange packages between a computer and a VPN server. IP of a Denmark server 188.8.131.52 and IP address of my computer is clearly visible in my Wi-Fi network 192.168.1.7. There are no other IPs. Moreover, all traffic goes through a VPN channel. The screenshot also illustrates the usage of UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and a standard port of OpenVPN protocol 1194.
The second screenshot shows similar data, however, with TCP protocol. You can see that NordVPN uses port 443 in this case, which is used by web-browsers for https. In fact, VPN traffic is masqueraded as https.
On the second screenshot, you can see the content of the resulting segment. It is impossible to understand what is written here. This is the result of AES-256 encryption.
Well, NordVPN uses a robust VPN protocol as expected. Besides, it uses 1194 port for UDP, 433 port for TCP, and encrypts traffic as well.
Security and privacy protection are confirmed.
Bypassing the Great Firewall of China
It is well-known that China blocks the most popular Internet websites such as Google, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and many others.
The primary way to unblock such sites in China is to use a VPN. The problem is that VPNs are banned there. Besides, their usage is monitored and blocked with the help of special equipment.
However, technology is on the go and some VPN services have learned to bypass even Chinese protection.
NordVPN is one of them. NordVPN’s servers with obfuscation have been made especially for such cases. Obfuscation is able to change some of OpenVPN signs and make it almost indistinguishable from ordinary https traffic.
To see all servers with obfuscation, you need to enable “Obfuscated Servers” in the settings of Windows application.
NordVPN Obfuscated Servers for China
To use servers with obfuscation, you can also choose a location in the corresponding block of countries in the apps of other OSes.
NordVPN software for Linux
NordVPN is available almost for all Linux distributors:
- Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux Mint;
- Fedora and QubesOS;
- RHEL and CentOS;
You can find the instructions on the official website of the provider.
Detailed instructions for routers
NordVPN would not take the first position if it did not support routers.
We do not recommend using a VPN with your router If you have a simple cheap one and you want to connect more than one device to your Wi-Fi. Due to the heavy load on the processor during encryption/decryption of your traffic, there will be a noticeable decrease in speed.
But what if you have enough powerful router?
Then you can easily configure NordVPN on it using the detailed tutorials.
Two variants of Kill Switch
I will describe two additional features of the NordVPN application - Internet Kill Switch and App Kill Switch.
Which one to choose?
Internet Kill Switch blocks all device traffic if a VPN is disabled.
App Kill Switch works separately with the applications that you have chosen. It can either block their traffic on Mac or close them (on PC and Mac).
I use both of these functions.
I advise you to use Internet Kill Switch. This will ensure that your real IP will be hidden in any situation.
As for App Kill Switch, I configured it only for qBittorrent:
Use App Kill Switch with those applications that are not safe without this function.
Do you think that a VPN is not enough secure even with Kill Switch? In this case, NordVPN offers to use Double VPN. A chain of two VPN services will hide your location more than reliably.
However, is it worth it? I think that ordinary VPN is enough trustworthy. Moreover, when you use double VPN, the speeds are reduced and the choice of countries is narrowed to 7.
There are cases when you need to visit a website with the same IP address. It can be, for example, a payment system.
How to act in this case?
There are two ways:
- Select a specific server, remember its number and connect only to it. This method has a drawback – the IP server may be changed one day.
- To use servers with Dedicated IPs. Their IPs do not always static. However, the choice of countries is narrowed down to 4.
I have not found any cons while using NordVPN. However, there is one shortcoming to my point of view. Let’s cover it.
Possible connection error with slow Internet
Sometimes it happens that the mobile Internet or Internet connection through public Wi-Fi hotspot is quite slow. While testing NordVPN, I noticed that the PC application connects to the VPN a little longer than other platforms. When these two factors are together, “Timeout” connection error pops up.
Maybe it is connected specifically with my Windows version or hardware, but the situation like this has happened several times.
I suppose that the developers set a fixed time for the application to connect to the VPN. That’s why the application does not have time to connect to the server.
Plans and pricing
NordVPN has a reasonable price, even when competitors assumed that $10 per month is a standard. In 2017, NordVPN had a two-year plan that cost $3.29 per month. The price was considered as reasonable.
Today it costs $3.49 for a 3-year subscription.
NordVPN has the following plans:
$3.49 per month for 3 years ($125.64 every 3 years);
$4.99 per month for 2 years ($119.76 every 2 years);
$6.99 per month for 12 months ($83.88 every year);
$11.95 for a month.
NordVPN plans and pricing
The price for Europe may be shown in euros.
NordVPN supports the following payment methods:
- bank cards;
- Amazon Pay;
- Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Dash, Ethereum (ETH), Monero (XMR), Zec, Ripple (XRP).
How to use NordVPN for free?
You can use NordVPN limitless only with a paid subscription.
However, there are two ways to use NordVPN for free:
- To use 7 free trial days in mobile apps
- For Android:
- Visit NordVPN website and get acquainted with current tariffs;
- Download NordVPN from Play Market and click “SIGN UP”;
- Register to use a plan with a free trial.
- For iOS:
- Visit NordVPN website and look through current tariffs;
- Download NordVPN from the App Store and click “SIGN UP”;
- Register and choose a 12-month plan.
NordVPN 7-day free trial
Payment will be automatically made only after 7 days. You can unsubscribe from the service during this time.
2. Pay for the service and then return the money within 30 days from the date of subscription. I will explain how to do this in the next section.
NordVPN is the number one in our ranking of the best cheap VPNs.
The easiest way to subscribe for NordVPN
The easiest way to get NordVPN – to subscribe for the services through NordVPN website.
In the customer panel, you will easily find useful links for downloading software. There you can also find tutorials for NordVPN setup.
How to register NordVPN anonymously?
The only anonymous method is to pay for the service with cryptocurrency. Here are some steps for anonymous registration:
- Install a new web browser that will be used only for a VPN in the future. For example, Vivaldi or Opera and do there all other steps.
- Use a new email only for a VPN. It’s better to use an email service, where you do not have to verify your address through SMS. You can also use an online service for receiving SMS.
- Register NordVPN account, paying for cryptocurrency.
- Install and launch an application for the needed devices.
My advice is advisory and not designed for criminal activity.
How to cancel NordVPN
No matter how ideal the service is, there are cases when you have to unsubscribe from it. It may be connected with the desire to try another VPN service, lack of money, technical or other reasons.
Simple steps to cancel NordVPN
- If you use NordVPN for the first time and what to get your money back less then 30-day usage:
- Contact customer support with the request to cancel your subscription and get your money back;
- Follow all instructions;
- Use Google Play Market or Apple App Store in case you have subscribed for a VPN through a mobile app.
- If you use a VPN for more than 30 days:
- Visit your NordVPN account;
- Cancel subscription;
- Use Google Play Market or Apple App Store in case you have subscribed for a VPN through a mobile app.
Information about the company owner
A Google Street View image of the building where NordVPN is registered
In the section “Interesting facts about NordVPN”, I have already told you about possible interrelationships of NordVPN with Tesonet.
Once again, it doesn’t influence a lot on NordVPN’s legal independence.
On the one hand, it is proven that NordVPN has relevance to a certain CloudVPN company, which is an official developer of NordVPN and interacts with NordVPN infrastructure.
NordVPN stated that they collaborate with CloudVPN because of the convenience of accepting payments, in other circumstances, there might be difficulties in transactions with a Panamanian company.
On the other hand, there is the Lithuanian Tesonet, whose director and CEO CloudVPN is Darius Bereika.
It means that nominally NordVPN and Tesonet are related to each other, though NordVPN does not belong to either Lithuanian Tesonet or the American CloudVPN. NordVPN is officially owned by the Panamanian company Tefincom S.A.
It means the jurisdiction of these companies does influence NordVPN. I think that all claims about “false jurisdiction” are fanciful.
I provided this information to fully cover the activity of NordVPN only. It doesn’t influence on quality of their services.
Address Tefincom S.A.:
50th Street, Global Plaza Tower,
19th Floor, Suite H,
Panama City, Republic of Panama
So, what is NordVPN? This is the best VPN service according to Best VPN Zone and many other resources. Its scale, dynamics, development, capacities, and reasonable price make it the number one VPN in our list of the best VPN services as well as on the other reviews on cooltechzone.com.
Let’s have a look at what NordVPN is suitable for. Are there any tasks it cannot deal with?
- Unblocking websites;
- Hiding a real location;
- Information location;
- For using double VPN;
- For China, Iran, Tajikistan, etc.;
- Online gaming;
- Other cases of VPN usage.
Doesn’t suitable for:
- Not found
All information presented in this article was obtained while practical usage of a VPN on 4 platforms and partially taken from open sources. My opinions are based on previous experience and reflect my personal point of view.
Top 3 Alternatives
CyberGhost is a great alternative to NordVPN for torrenting and Netflix. CyberGhost offers a 24-hour free trial period for all platforms, has special servers for streaming and torrenting, the same “bulletproof” traffic encryption, more than 4000 servers in 60 countries, ad blocker, and other useful features. It’s even cheaper - from $2.75 per month.
Surfshark is the cheapest of the best VPN services. Like NordVPN, it has traffic obfuscation, a 7-day free trial for mobile applications, 700+ servers in 50 countries, double VPN, and other functions. It costs only $1.99 per month.
ExpressVPN is a “premium” VPN provider. It owns 3000+ servers in 190 locations in 94 countries. It has perfect extension functionality for web browsers, Split Tunneling for selecting applications that work with or without the VPN, applications for all devices. Its price is from $ 8.32 per month.
Lots of positive reviews