NordVPN is one of the most popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions in the market. A VPN is typically used to enable safe connection to the internet that prevents IP-address based tracking and spoofing. It also allows the user to use services of a specific nature that he or she won’t be able to use without using the VPN provider. For example, a user in China can access Netflix through a VPN even though the Netflix service may not be accessible in the Chinese subcontinent. NordVPN, founded in 2012 has grown to include more than 200,000 users using hundreds of servers around the globe. At its core, NordVPN is similar to any other VPN solution that provides security, non-traceability and accessibility to its users. But NordVPN employs several other powerful features on top of the conventional VPN suite to be consistently rated highly by tech articles and reviews.
Features of NordVPN
- Choice of geographical servers- Upon firing up the NordVPN interface, one sees the world map to choose the server that one would deem well-suited. Choosing a geography that is near to you would help you to get a faster server (because of the lesser distance between your computer and NordVPN’s server). NordVPN also allows you to mark servers as favourites that would allow you to reselect the same servers when connecting to the VPN later.
- Connecting on start- You can choose the server to connect to when starting the NordVPN application. This can fast forward the setup process and get your work going quickly.
- Choice of server types- NordVPN also allows you to choose the type of server that would best serve your browsing needs. If it is streaming that you are looking for, you can choose an Ultra-Fast TV server but if you are into file sharing and downloads, you can opt for P2P network server. This helps you to choose a server that will be more specific for your needs.
- Multi-platform access- NordVPN has installable files for the PC, Mac and Android and iOS phones. The multi-platform availability of NordVPN makes it better suited in today’s day and age as users today do have a range of devices that they and their families like to use.
- Smart play- NordVPN’s trademarked smart play service helps you to access streaming services by “being” in different countries. The VPN masks your IP-address and replaces it with an IP of the country that you choose. This helps you to access country-specific content. For example, Netflix may be having some shows only for Indian viewers. If you are in, say, Germany, you can smart play Netflix by “being” an Indian viewer.
- Double data encryption- NordVPN’s much talked about feature is the double encryption technique that is uses to protect your browsing. It simply takes your browsing traffic through two different NordVPN servers (which you can choose) that takes the security up several notches.
- No log keeping- NordVPN boasts of no log keeping of either the activity or connection (some other VPN solutions like ExpressVPN log the connection). NordVPN’s no log keeping policy also go hand-in-hand with its regular automated DNS server leak checks on its own servers that maintain the no log policy.
- Panama jurisdiction- NordVPN’s country of incorporation happens to be Panama which places it outside jurisdictions in Asia or the EU or US. Even if a court were to subpoena your browsing records, NordVPN would be under no obligation to produce it (not that they would have it anyway).
- TOR with VPN- Website browsers have associated TOR with near invincible secure browsing. That is however untrue and high activity via TOR is of interest to cyber-crime branches around law enforcement agencies around the world. NordVPN adds the VPN layer on top of TOR browsing to keep TOR-based activity, fully anonymous.
- Facility of a ‘kill-switch’- This feature allows you to stop all your browsing activity (hence, the name killing) once the connection to the secure VPN is lost. This also includes terminating the process associated with any application like a multiplayer game etc. that could be using the NordVPN service. This mechanism helps tie any loose ends in the browsing activity, and maintains the protection even outside the scope of the VPN.
The Pros and Cons of NordVPN
NordVPN’s features and approach to security bring in a lot of advantages.
- Highly secure and anonymous browsing- NordVPN, through its double encryption and no-logging policy and Panama incorporation is the ultimate solution for safe and secure browsing. It ensures that all activity on the internet is fully anonymous and outside jurisdiction.
- Mature features including the kill-switch- In addition to being a great VPN solution, NordVPN brings a lot more to the table. The kill-switch helps you to be at ease even if the connection to the VPN gets broken. The smart play feature is useful for the TV and movie enthusiasts who miss out on great content because they are in a different country.
- Customer support- NordVPN’s customer support comes highly rated. Accessible easily from the website, the customer support is well-trained and adept at solving technical challenges in accessing certain servers and is also good at recommending servers for specific purposes.
- Attractive pricing- Though we will visit the pricing in a different section, we can still say here that NordVPN packs its impressive suite of features under a great pricing package that makes it excellent for buyers of all sizes.
NordVPN faces stiff competition from a lot of VPN solutions out there. In certain aspects, NordVPN shows up certain cons as well.
- Server unavailability- NordVPN is very popular amongst a wide range of users (streamers, downloaders, gamers etc.) Hence, getting server availability during peak hours can be a challenge. If the usage doesn’t need high internet speeds, then NordVPN can manage. But in applications like gaming, even minor slowdown can be a big buzzkill.
- Unavailability of alternative protocols- NordVPN doesn’t support certain security protocols (like OpenVPN- Auto) and if you want to use those protocols then you have to move outside the NordVPN app to use the protocols.
- Simpler mobile app- The mobile app doesn’t offer the range of features that the desktop apps boast of. While this is probably in the interest of simplicity, but this can cause issues to advanced mobile users.
- Unavailability of customer support- The customer support for NordVPN is excellent. However, because of its high demand, getting their responses in time can be challenge, especially during peak hours.
NordVPN’s license includes support for up to six devices (generally covering a family) with support for servers across 60 countries equipped with 24/7 live-chat support.
The three pricing options are as follows:
- USD 11.95 per month- This is a monthly plan with no discounts whatsoever and is aimed at users just getting started. The billing is done monthly.
- USD 5.75 per month for 1 year- This is for the entire year (with 52% savings). The billing amount of USD 69.00 is done annually.
- USD 3.29 per month for 2 years- This is the most advertised plan in their website, with a mention of 72% savings. The billing is done once in two years for USD 79.00.
- USD 2.75 per month for 3 years- This is also a well-advertised deal, with a mention of 77% savings. The billing is done once in three years for USD 99.00.
We have already looked at NordVPN’s impressive suite of features that covers its privacy. Revisiting that from the privacy perspective, we observe that NordVPN’s privacy is the best-in-class due to the following features.
- Panama jurisdiction- No jurisdiction can subpoena any internet activity of any user.
- No logging policy- There are no logs maintained for connection or activity.
- Secure AES-256 bit encryption- The encryption algorithms used are military grade and fully fool-proof.
- Routing traffic through two VPN servers (double encryption) – The double encryption protocol makes tracing your activity, next to impossible.
- Support for TOR over VPN- NordVPN supports TOR browsing but takes it through its VPN. This makes your TOR browsing additionally secure.
Speed & Performance
NordVPN offers excellent browsing speeds due to its impressive 3,400 servers across the world. Due to this, the speeds typically offered by NordVPN are of similar nature to your existing browsing speed.
- For example, if your download speed is 10 Mbps and upload speed is 9 Mbps, then with a nearby NordVPN, your speeds will look something like 9.8 Mbps and 8.2 Mbps.
- If you move your server a little farther away (say, you started in Germany but moved to The Netherlands) you will get a further drop in speed, though still manageable (download would be somewhere around 8 Mbps and upload would be 7.5 Mbps).
- The speed will keep decreasing slowly as you move away from your home location.
- The speed and performance is somewhat improved if you select an Ultra-Fast server (useful for streaming).
- NordVPN supports a variety of location servers including:
- The Americas- Servers here are in the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and Chile.
- The EU and UK- Servers here cover almost all countries in the EU including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Spain, Finland, Austria and the Czech Republic.
- Asia and Australia- Severs here include India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand.
- Africa and the Middle East- NordVPN doesn’t support a lot of nations here but servers here include UAE, Egypt, South Africa and Israel.
NordVPN has an amazing customer support who provide round-the-clock assistance and support for issues with pricing, server access, browsing speeds, server selection etc. The customer support is accessed from the blue icon on their website. Clicking on it brings up a list of issues that one can choose or one may directly access their chat support.
NordVPN is an excellent VPN provider that gets the basics and the advanced VPN aspects right. With an excellent pricing model backed with a dedicated customer support, NordVPN is nothing less than a force to be reckoned with in the world of internet security.