NordVPN Review 2020: Is it Still the Best VPN in 2020?

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NordVPN Review

NordVPN is a leading Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider based in Panama. It began operations in 2012 with a single server and has grown and expanded enough to serve more than 12 million users worldwide. In this NordVPN review, we leave no stone unturned as we go down hard to bring you all the necessary information you’d want to know about this provider.

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What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the server of a VPN service. The VPN service gives your device a new IP address. Hence, your online traffic is routed through this server, making it impossible for any other person to see your data, not even your internet service provider (ISP). A VPN will not only prevent you from hackers but also spying from your ISP or even the government. Thus, it helps you to browse the internet anonymously so that the only person that knows is you.

PROS:

  • Easy to use
  • 5900 servers in 60+ locations
  • Privacy audit for no-logging claims
  • Unblocks Netflix
  • MultHop and Tor connections
  • Allows up to six simultaneous connections
  • Effective kill switch
  • Blocks malware. Phishing, and ads
  • Speedy live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

CONS:

  • Basic browser extensions
  • No Split Tunneling

Want to try NordVPN? Proceed to their website here.

NordVPN Pricing & Features

Pricing and Plans

NordVPN offers four pricing plans which are clear and straight-forward. The monthly plan goes for $11.95, while the 1-year plan gets you a 41% discount at $6.99/month. You save 58% on the 2-year plan at $4.99/month; however, the significant saving is on the 3-year plan with 70% at $3.49/ month.

The pricing is structured in a way that you save lots of money when you subscribe to a more extended period i.e., its 3-year plan.

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Compatibility

NordVPN works with a wide range of OS and devices, including

  • Windows
  • Android
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android TV
  • Linux
  • Firefox
  • Chrome, and
  • Individual routers.

How Many Simultaneous Connections  Does NordVPN Support?

NordVPN is easy to use and allows you to connect up to 6 devices using a single subscription. However, if you connect all your devices on the same server, you must choose different protocols for the VPN connections. Since TCP and UDP are different protocols, it means that you can connect a total of four devices on the same server concurrently.

VPN Servers and Server Locations

One of the considerations when choosing a VPN is the number of serves that it provides. A VPN with a huge server location provides you with a great opportunity of getting a nearby server, which tremendously improves performance. It also gives you the ability to spoof your location and unblock websites for streaming, online shopping, airline ticket purchase, and more.

NordVPN Servers

NordVPN provides you 5875 servers, which is enormous and only second to CyberGhost, which has 5900 network of servers. The number of servers a VPN could easily reveal the popularity of the VPN service because they only spin servers on an as-needed basis. NordVPN has servers in 59 locations, which is a broad geographical coverage. However, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN with its server coverage in 94 countries. The massive number of servers is an assurance that you are unlikely to get an overburdened server.

NordVPN has a total of 1800 servers in the US in 15 locations, 690 servers in the UK in 1 location, and 200 servers in 1 location in Germany. In the Asia Pacific, the VPN has servers in Australia, Singapore, Japan, HongKong, and seven more countries. NordVPN has 30 servers in South Africa, 18 servers in India, and 18 VPN servers.

NordVPN does not use virtual servers. All its VPN servers are physically in the regions that they claim to be.

How does NordVPN Protect Your Privacy?

Before you purchase a VPN, it’s crucial to find out whether it offers the kind of privacy that can protect your online activities. When you use a VPN, it gets access to your online activities, just like your ISP. It could track your online activities or even identify you to a third party. Hence, it’s essential to find out how a VPN safeguards your privacy.

To begin with, NordVPN operates under the legal jurisdiction of Panama, where there are no metadata laws that require a company to retain its user’s data for a specific duration of time. It means that NordVPN can only respond to a subpoena or court order issued by a Panamanian court.

Secondly, according to NordVPN’s privacy policy, it is a strictly no-logs VPN service meaning it does not keep records of its user’s online activities. Hence, if they are slumped with a court order, they won’t have any data to give.

Thirdly, NordVPN redirects your internet traffic to disguise where your phone, computer, or any other device is where it makes contact with other websites. Also, it uses AES 256-bit encryption to make all the information you send across the internet unreadable to anyone who intercepts your traffic. Even your ISP can’t see your online activities. The VPN implements some of the best VPN  protocols to afford you a one-click to online security.

VPN Protocols

VPN protocols are essential as they determine how data is routed through a device. NordVPN offers four main VPN protocols i.e., OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, Wireguard, and SSTP. I’ll discuss all VPN protocols in full in another article to come. But for purposes of this review, I’ll briefly discuss only the four protocols.

1. OpenVPN

OpenVPN is a highly secure protocol that’s used by many leading VPN service providers. It runs on either TCP or UDP Internet protocols. The TCP internet protocol ensures that your data will be delivered not only in full but also in the right order. On the other hand, the UDP internet protocol focuses on speeds. NordVPN lets you choose between the two.

The pros of OpenVPN are many and include being open source. Meaning anybody can check its source code for any hidden code or vulnerabilities that could compromise your VPN’s security. It is versatile, very secure, and bypasses most firewalls.

On the downside, it has a complicated setup, more so if you try to set up your own OpenVPN.

2. IPSec/IKEv2

Microsoft and Cisco developed IKEv2, and its fast, stable, and secure. It provides a secure VPN connection by establishing an authenticated and encrypted connection. IKEv2 uses IPSec tools to offer comprehensive VPN coverage.

Among the valuable IPSec tools, the Mobility and Multi-homing protocol that ensures a VPN connection even when you move from between internet connections. This makes your IKEv2 a dependable and stable protocol for mobile devices. It works with most of the leading encryption algorithms; hence, it’s among the most secure VPNs. Also, it uses less bandwidth, communicates faster, and bypasses firewalls.

On the downside, IKEv2 is not compatible with many systems, and according to Edward Snowden’s revelation, it was potentially compromised by the NSA. However, programmers, including NordVPN, managed to patch up the issue.

3. WireGuard

WireGuard is the newest VPN protocol in the VPN industry. It is the fastest and uses state-of-art cryptography better than even OpenVPN or IPSec/IKEv2. It’s free and open-source, meaning anyone can check out its code; hence, it’s easy to deploy, audit, and deburge.

On the downside, it’s implementation is still in the early stages and so it does not provide full anonymity.

4. SSTP

Microsoft developed the Secure Sockets Tunneling Protocol (SSTP). It supports AES-256 protocol, it’s easy to set up, and bypasses firewalls. The drawback is that Microsoft privately owns it and so its code is not available for testing by researchers.

NordVPN provides OpenVPN and IkEv2 on all its platforms, which is a good offer for VPN users. I highly recommend OpenVPN, and IKEv2 is my second best. NordVPN Linux app already supports WireGuard. I tested the NordVPN’s Linux implementation of WireGuard, and it’s incredible. NordLynx, the technology that NordVPN built around the WireGuard VPN protocol, is also available on its iOS apps.

In November 2018, NordVPN passed a third-party audit of its no-logs policy in November by PricewaterhouseCooper. Also, in October 2019, it underwent an audit of its app by Versprite. NordVPN patched vulnerabilities revealed through penetration testing. This shows NordVPN’s commitment to security and transparency.

Other Important Security features include:

  • Automatic Kill Switch
  • Cybersec
  • Double data encryption
  • Onion over VPN
  • DNS leak protection

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NordVPN Speeds and Performance

The performance of a VPN is a top consideration. You want a VPN with speeds to help you stream content without buffering. We tested NordVPN speeds by using the Ookla speed test. We experienced a little dip in both the download and upload speeds. The connection was fast for most of the servers we tested. Using geolocation, we were able to prove that the servers were where it claimed they were.

Speed Without VPN

Speed Without VPN

Speed With VPN

Speed With VPN

Does NordVPN Unblock Streaming Websites?

Many streaming websites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu are geo-locked; hence you cannot access them from specific regions. That’s why you require a VPN that that has unblocking capabilities. NordVPN allowed us to access Netflix with every server we tried. You can use both the Windows client as well as its browser extensions to access Netflix. We were able to unblock many more streaming websites including:

  • Hulu
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sound Club
  • Hotstar India
  • HBO GO
  • Showtime
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • YouTube, and
  • ESPN

Does NordVPN allow Torrenting?

NordVPN offers optimized servers specifically for P2P or torrenting. They provide hundreds of P2P servers in the UK, US, and many more locations around the globe. Hence it will be easy to find a nearby server. Even though NordVPN does not allow torrenting on all its servers, if it senses P2P activities, it redirects you to the most appropriate P2P server.

Client setup

NordVPN Set Up

You can either manually set up the VPN or use apps provided by NordVPN. We recommend using the apps since they are easy to use and also offer you access to factors beyond VPN. Its Windows client design features resemble the NordVPN mobile.

If you click on the quick connect option, you’ll find at the system tray or the top of the screen; the VPN connects you to your closest server for better speeds and performance. The VPN allows you to change servers by clicking a location on the map. Alternatively, you can use the search bar at the top of the screen.

Final Verdict

NordVPN has the qualities and features you would want from a VPN service. It is transparent, fast, and uses robust encryption to protect its user’s privacy. It is excellent at bypassing censorship and unblocks many websites across the globe. It’s a no-logs service and protects its users against all VPN leaks. It is in the same league as ExpressVPN.

We recommend NordVPN to our readers.

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