NordVPN (2021) Review guide
Are you looking for a new NordVPN review? That’s logical, the last couple of years these services have gained enormous popularity, almost 30% of the internet users has been using VPN services over the past 5 years. We at Globalwatchonline.com tested and tried all different providers for you, read our comprehensive NordVPN review and learn everything about this service, we are sure that once you’re done reading you will know if this provider suits you.
Who and what is NordVPN?
NordVPN is a secure, fast and incredibly easy to use VPN. Their VPN app uses the industry standard 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN tunneling protocol (by default).Their server park is large, with 5300+ servers across 59 countries. At the moment NordVPN is the absolute number 1 in our best VPN top 10 in 2021.
This makes streaming videos and accessing blocked content a walk in the park. In our tests, Netflix streaming worked with over 90% of servers we tested. This is the highest, we’ve seen. Since they have so many servers, it’s easy to find a fast performing server – especially important for torrenting.
- NordVPN also supports P2P & torrenting on all servers and also have an Onion over VPN feature for the ultimate privacy and anonymity.
- NordVPN does not collect any logs and they operate out of a country with no data retention law (Panama). Their pricing starts from $3.71 up to $11.95/mo depending on your subscription length.
NordVPN falls under Tefinkom & Co, whose headquarters are in Panama. This strategic location of its headquarters also means that this provider is not hampered by laws or agencies that enforce inspection of Internet data. It is also not susceptible to the digital sharing policy of the so-called “14 eyes.“
- NordVPN has been around since 2008 and has managed to prove itself as a reliable and fast VPN service that values privacy. In addition, the company has also found a way to make American Netflix work via VPN.
What are the advantages and pro’s?
- Fast speeds with 5,460 servers in 60 locations
- Privacy – no logs of user activity
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Streaming – unblocks Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Built-in ad and malware blocking
- Works in China
- Specialty servers like P2P, Onion over VPN, Double VPN
- 24/7 live chat
Table of Contents
NordVPN has a huge amount of servers worldwide
With over 5,200 servers across 59 countries, NordVPN automatically selects the best server based on location, loads, or your specific needs.Take your pick from a plethora of servers from almost anywhere in the world.
- NordVPN’s connections are fast
- The speed tests show a drop in speed, but you notice little to nothing of it
- During daily use there was no noticeable difference in speed, even when gaming or downloading
- NordVPN automatically selects the fastest available server
The connection speed is great in all countries
Speed, along with the stability and consistency of that speed, is necessary when comparing VPNs to be sure that loss of speed is not significant, and to ensure a positive online experience. Our benchmark ISP connection speed is 250Mbps down and 25Mbps up as you can see below. I tested the download speed with NordVPN in three locations: two in the US and one in the UK. You’ll see in the results below that download speed was above 110 Mbps for all three tests, which is among the best VPN speeds with current VPNs. This speed and stability easily allow for torrenting and streaming.
New Jersey (Quick Connect: Fastest/Closest Location)
- Ping: 16ms
- Download: 141.41 Mbps
- Upload: 8.95 Mbps
- Ping: 16ms
- Download: 144.52 Mbps
- Upload: 12.21 Mbps
- Ping: 151ms
- Download: 112.82 Mbps
- Upload: 10.47 Mbps
95%+ Servers Worked with Netflix
Since geo-locations and restrictions are often found with Netflix, NordVPN allows you to bypass these restrictions. When attempting to unblock Netflix with NordVPN, we found that while not all servers worked with Netflix because of Netflix’s crackdown of certain IPs that belong to VPNs, 14 out of 15 US servers work, 3 out of 3 CA servers work, and the UK server works. You can view the specific results below
- 14/15 US servers work
- 3/3 CA servers work
- UK server works
I selected the region and connected to the fastest server.
- Manassas (US) – Yes
- San Francisco (US) – Yes
- Dallas (US) – Yes
- Chicago (US) – Yes
- Seattle (US) – Yes
- St. Louis (US) – Yes
- Phoenix (US) – Yes
- Los Angeles (US) – Yes
- Miami (US) – Yes
- Buffalo (US) – Yes
- Atlanta (US) – Yes
- New York (US) – Connection Issues/Proxy Detected
- Charlotte (US) – Yes
- Salt Lake City (US) – Yes
- Denver (US) – Yes
- Vancouver (CA) – Yes
- Toronto (CA) – Yes
- Montreal (CA) – Yes
Does this mean that NordVPN is just super fast even during your daily use?
Yes it does! As testers, we noticed no difference between the speed of our ‘bare’ connection and that of our connection with Nord. This applied to all kinds of different online activities: from regular browsing to gaming and downloading. Both using P2P-based torrenting and downloading games on Steam were very fast.
- One possible reason for the fast VPN connections is the automatic server selection of this provider. Like many other providers, NordVPN automatically chooses the fastest server at a given server location to connect to. Since NordVPN has many servers, this almost always guarantees a good and fast connection.
How does NordVPN work?
The 3-step process for signing up and installing NordVPN is extremely simple. First, head to NordVPN.com to choose your payment plan. You can choose between 1-month, 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year plans. Once you select and create an account with your billing information, you’ll be directed to the setup process you see below.
Download NordVPN from NordVPN.com.
Be sure you have at least 19 MB of free space on your local drive. Choose which drive you would like to install NordVPN.
Select where you would like to create shortcuts for NordVPN. The setup wizard gives you the option to select between the desktop and start menu/finder folder, or both.
And it’s as easy as that! NordVPN has been installed. From here, you can automatically launch and begin using your VPN for secure browsing, streaming, and torrenting.
Once installed, NordVPN will provide an automatic software update if available. You can either choose to do so then or remind you of the update at a later time.
Great Usability, Excellent User Experience And Tons Of Features
One feature of NordVPN is CyberSec, which you will be prompted to add after the completed install. This can further protect you against intrusive ads, malware, phishing attempts, and other threats. While it is optional, there are three major benefits to enabling CyberSec:
- First, the main feature of CyberSec is integrated protection from phishing scams and major cyber threats. It immediately compares websites you’re browsing with known blacklists and will block your access if malware, spyware, or any malicious software is known.
- Second, CyberSec will protect from any DDoS attacks, even if malware has already begun to infect your device. CyberSec will immediately eliminate connection and communication between your device and the control server of the botnet.
- Third, CyberSec will hide any of those pesky pop-ups, autoplay ads with or without audio, and other distracting advertisements. This allows for faster load speed and an all-around better browsing experience.
Specialty servers that fit your needs perfectly
NordVPN offers multiple types of specialty servers, allowing you to choose which best fits your needs:
- With dedicated servers, you can select an IP address that is unique to you and unable to be shared with any other NordVPN user, creating an even more secure browsing experience.
- Need extra security? NordVPN offers double encryption while sending your information through two secure VPN servers.
- Trying to load information abroad in a location with restricted internet access? With NordVPN, you can browse or stream using one of their obfuscated servers that gives you full access to the information you need right away.
- If you’re looking for even better security in protecting your data and behaviors online, NordVPN can be paired with The Onion Router, or Tor, that enables anonymous communication and protects from traffic analysis.
- Have no limit on peer-to-peer file sharing with NordVPN, with no bandwidth threshold or activity tracking.
NordVPN’s features create a secure online experience for you, whether it’s protecting you while on a public Wi-Fi network or giving you access to any content while traveling. While NordVPN’s setup and use are extremely simple, their 24/7 support is one of the strongest features that will help you along the way.
Military-Grade Encryption and Data Protection
NordVPN’s military-grade encryption protects your connection to the internet and ensures your privacy, but not just from hackers. Did you know that internet service providers often track your internet usage to sell that data to advertisers?
As well, any of your internet usage and traffic can be summoned by the government for your activity logs. Any time you are connected to the web, these logs and activities are being tracked, unless you use a VPN. With this military-grade encryption, your data, IP address, and location are entirely private. Want to know more about this? Then read our guide ”what is a VPN”
- Many people think they may not have anything to hide, but so much of your data can be used against you without you knowing. Your medical history, banking information, work emails, etc. can all be at risk of being accessed when not using a VPN. NordVPN uses an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys, which is recommended by the NSA for securing any classified and top-secret information.
Two different encryptions available at NordVPN
Nord VPN also uses two different VPN protocols. However, there is no need for you to determine which is best for you since NordVPN aims to make using their VPN easy. The IKEv2/IPsec protocol is default for iOS and macOS apps, while the OpenVPN is the default for Windows, macOS, and Android apps. This means that macOS users can choose between the two, but both are dependable and recommended by NordVPN.
New NordLynx encryption available
By the way, the new protocol NordLynx is very promising. This protocol combines the speed of the relatively new Wireguard protocol (which NordLynx is based on) with NordVPN’s custom double Network Address Translation (NAT) system. The result is an efficient, secure encryption protocol that allows users to achieve up to twice the download and upload speeds, according to the provider. However, this combination of proprietary technology and WireGuard makes it less transparent than WireGuard on its own. NordLynx is currently the default option when using NordVPN.
One is good enough, but two is even better! With NordVPN, you have the option to enable Double VPN, which means as your traffic passes through the first remote VPN server to be encrypted, it passes through a second VPN server to be encrypted a second time before reaching your online destination securely. This allows for double encryption, increased security, and IP address privacy and protection. This is even better then their competitors like ExpressVPN and Surfshark.
- While not everyone needs Double VPN, you have the option to protect your communications and information securely with this feature.
- NordVPN recommends disabling it for private everyday browsing, when you need high-speed internet, and for browsing the Tor network. Double VPN is included in the NordVPN subscription package (and can be enabled whenever you feel it is needed) in their Android, macOS (OpenVPN), and Windows apps.
No Logging Policy
Using a VPN keeps your online activity and logs completely private. With NordVPN’s no-log policy, they promise that no logs are kept of connections or usage, which means no connection timestamps, no IP addresses, and no traffic data. They go a step further to accept multiple cryptocurrencies for payment to ensure you leave no trace of who you are.
However, they do monitor some lesser important data, such as:
- Service performance data (for recommending most suitable servers)
- E-mail address
- Payment data (but you can also use bitcoins)
That’s the regular stuff that most (if not all) VPN providers are logging and it’s nothing you should be worried about. Especially when NordVPNs payment processor isn’t tied up with their main company. If you want to, you can read their logging policy.
Kill Switch Feature
NordVPN’s Kill Switch will allow you to use the web securely even if your VPN connection drops. You have two options:
- Internet Kill Switch will completely shut down your internet access when you’re not connected to the VPN or if your connection drops. Mac OS OpenVPN client doesn’t have this option, but its IKEv2 client has both types of switches. This is great for added security (you can be sure that your data won’t leak) when you’re torrenting or using Tor.
- App Kill Switch allows you to choose which apps will get closed if your connection fails. So, for example, you can choose to only shut down Google Chrome or a different browser but not your other apps. This is available on Windows and Mac OS. It’s good to use when you’re streaming, so the streaming platform won’t detect that you’re using a VPN and block you.
This feature isn’t automatic, but it’s really easy to set up. You just need to turn it on in settings and select the apps if you decide to use the app Kill Switch. I’ve used a lot of VPNs, so I know that sometimes you have to enable the kill switch yourself in settings.
DNS Leak Test
If you are running Windows or have set up a VPN manually, your system can revert to the default Domain Name System (DNS) servers, allowing your ISP to see what websites you are visiting. Oftentimes, you may not even know a leak like this has happened unless you choose a VPN service that guarantees DNS leak protection.
- With NordVPN, your devices only use DNS servers operated by NordVPN, so you don’t have to worry about your information leaking and being sold to third parties. As well, NordVPN promises that if you test and still see a DNS leak with NordVPN, they will immediately help to sort out any issue.
You’ve got an android phone, MacBook laptop and Windows PC? Don’t worry, NordVPN works perfectly on them all. NordVPN is our top pick for both Android and Mac.
NordVPN supports simultaneous connections and allows you to secure up to six devices with one account, no matter what operating system you use. What is great about NordVPN as well is that you can connect to your router, which allows you to secure every device connected to that network, while only using one of the six available spaces.
Torrenting/P2P Supported + Onion TOR
NordVPN allows peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic on certain servers, but you will need to find which server to connect to with their server recommendation feature. With this option, you instantly get a suggestion for the best server for you. For further security, if you connect to other NordVPN servers using P2P, the app will automatically reroute you to servers in Canada or the Netherlands. This is why NordVPN is actually our top recommended VPN for torrenting.
With NordVPN’s Onion Over VPN feature, you gain the advantage of Tor combined with the security of a VPN tunnel. The Onion Router (Tor) allows you to browse while hiding your identity, but the entry node can still see your real IP address.
- Using the Onion Over VPN feature, not even the entry node can see your IP address. Have complete anonymity while using Tor, as NordVPN keeps third parties from seeing that you use Onion and does not track your online activity.
- Onion servers are often volunteer-operated which means that anyone can run them, which allows you to be open to attack. Onion Over VPN ensures that you are fully protected from these attacks while still securing your anonymity.
Jurisdiction & Location In Panama, Perfect For Privacy, No Data Retention
NordVPN is based and operated under the jurisdiction of Panama. Because of their “no mandatory data retention” law, NordVPN does not need to store any logs. There are no obligations in which NordVPN is required to keep the activity or communication logs of its users.
Knowledgeable Customer Support via Live Chat
NordVPN can be contacted by email@example.com or through live chat. Even after reviewing over three dozen different VPN providers, hundreds of hours of testing, examining and reviewing, we still have questions or need for technical assistance.
- Whether it’s to double check the encryption offered for your router, or a simple troubleshoot on a newly built rig, you will be forced to deal with the customer support of your VPN of choice. If you’re a newcomer or not technically inclined?
- You might have some technical questions. Any VPN worth their salt will have a prolific database of tutorials, how-to guides and informational articles in addition to live chat & quick email support.
Live chat and e-mail contact
No different to the best of the best, NordVPN offers 24/7 live chat that will assist you with any question you may have. I used their live chat twice, for an encryption question and an open-ended question.
- Both times the Customer Support Rep was quick to help, but came with copy & paste answer. Should you opt to use their email support, for more technical questions or if the live chat agent did not fully resolve your issue, you’ll receive another assistant who will help you with your VPN.
Knowledgebase and quick facts
Just as important as live assistance for minor questions is the vast directory of support articles you will have access to. For a topic as technical as networking, making it accessible to your everyday layman is no small task. After going through their directory and quickly skimming to any support related page I could find, I estimate NordVPN to have well over 500 guides and tutorials.
- NordVPN’s headquarters is in Panama
- Strong 256-bit encryption is supported
- NordVPN has good security protocols for all devices (OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec and NordLynx)
- NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy
- The NordVPN kill switch works properly and has a filter list
- To create an account, you only need an email address and password
- Nowadays, logging into NordVPN is via the browser
Great VPN for Gaming Purposes
NordVPN excelled once again. They had fast server connections, good stats and we had zero issues while gaming. Besides being awesome at gaming related stuff they are also our overall top-rated provider.
Haste Game Recap
While connected with their Quick Connect feature, NordVPN had a connection speed almost identical as without VPN. Ping was down only 4.3ms and a total Packet Loss was a mere 0.1%.
- Ping: 52.9ms (+4.3ms)
- Jitter: 1.6ms (+0ms)
- Packet Loss: 0.1% (+0.1%)
In our test, the ping climbed from 7ms without VPN to 20ms with VPN, which in all honestly was not even noticeable. Download speed loss was 1.45Mbps and Upload loss was 0.20Mbps.
- Ping: 20ms (+16ms)
- Download: 19.64Mbps (-1.45Mbps)
- Upload: 2.12Mbps (-0.67Mbps)
We also took a look at the Apex Legend’s own servers to guarantee that we are always connected to the best server available. The best ping happened to be their Amsterdam server, coming in with 58ms.
Playing on US Servers
Of course, when connecting so far away there is going to be a delay in your connection. Just based on the physical distance the data has to travel there is going to be a loss on connection time, nothing a VPN provider can do about that. But what they can do is minimalize extra time on their end, and NordVPN has done it very well. Here are some stats about our connection to the US server.
- Ping: 132.6ms (+82.8ms)
- Jitter: 3.3ms (+2.0ms)
- Packet Loss: 0.0%
- Ping: 128ms (+122ms)
- Download: 11.27Mbps (-9.82Mbps)
- Upload: 2.00Mbps (-0.79Mbps)
Gaming Session Recap
- Ping (EU to EU): 54.9ms (+5.1ms)
- Long Distance Connection PING (EU to US): 128ms (+122ms)
- Download: 19.64Mbps (-1.45Mbps)
- Upload: 2.12Mbps (-0.67Mbps)
Great 3rd Party Ratings
NordVPN has over 100 thousand ratings on Apple’s app store. With a 4.6 stars rating it ranks as the top 23rd app in the utilities category.
Google Play Store
On Google’s play store, NordVPN has racked up over 280 thousand ratings, concluding in an overall score of 4.2 stars.
NordVPN has a rating of 4.5 stars on Trustpilot, it has been rated 4700 times.
Unfortunately, NordVPN notes that if you purchase NordVPN through the Apple iTunes/App Store, refunds must be requested with iTunes/App Store support and cannot be processed directly with NordVPN. In addition, payments made using any prepaid or gift cards cannot be refunded. NordVPN cannot process purchases made through resellers, including Amazon, BestBuy, StackSocial, etc.
Nord VPN pricing and subscriptions
NordVPN offers tiered pricing depending on the length of the plan you can commit to. Beginning with their one-month plan at $11.95 per month and going all the way to $3.71 per month if committing to three years billed annually, NordVPN has a very clear pricing policy with no hidden fees. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for all pricing packages.
NordVPN doesn’t offer a free trial, but they do offer a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee, which works as a trial for you. You will need to enter your credit card credentials though, so be sure to cancel it if you’re not happy with the service
- Monthly: $11.95/mo($143.4 per year)
- 1-Year: 4.92/mo ($59.04 per year)
- 2-Years: $3.71/mo ($44.52 per year)
With one plan, you can secure up to six devices, including a smart TV and router. All those subscriptions come with a one-size-fits-all plan. Including:
- No logging: Yes.
- Ease of the VPN software: Signing up and using the app was VERY user-friendly.
- Hidden fees & clauses: They cannot grant refunds if you purchased an app directly through the iTunes/App Store. Payments made using pre-paid cards or gift cards will not be refunded.
- Upsells: No upsells.
- DNS leaks: None.
- Jurisdiction: Panama
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IPSec, PPTP & L2TP.
- Kill-switch: Yes.
Personally, I am all in favor of simplicity and fairness when it comes to pricing. Give me one plan all-inclusive plan and a few payment options and I’m happy. What’s more, they don’t set a bandwidth limit like many free VPNs.
Along with all major credit cards and payment services, NordVPN accepts multiple cryptocurrencies for payment. PayPal is currently not supported.
Money Back Guarantee
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for any accounts that are in good standing. Simply contact their customer support team, which is available 24/7, to request a refund.
Conclusion: Do We Recommend NordVPN?
NordVPN has been one of the leading VPN providers with the best security. As you can see throughout this NordVPN review, the reasons for their popularity are valid. It’s secure, fast, and easy to use, with some amazing features to ensure your data and information are always protected even when surfing on Netflix, or Kodi.
That’s why they take the first place on our list of VPNs. Also, with a customer support team like NordVPN’s, you’ll never have to feel alone in ensuring you’re browsing securely. I absolutely recommend NordVPN if you’re looking for a great solution for an even better price!
- NordVPN has plenty to offer, from fast speeds, to optimized servers and the ability to bypass geoblocks on streaming platforms like Netflix. It offers excellent security features like AES 256-bit encryption and a strict no-logs policy to keep you safe online.
- It can also work in China, provided that you install it before you get there, and it’s compatible with a wide range of devices. And when it comes to support, NordVPN is quick to respond with helpful and friendly answers.
- Its biggest downfalls for me were the long connection times and that it’s slightly more complicated to use for torrenting than other VPNs. If you’re concerned about these issues, I’d recommend ExpressVPN because it offers top speeds and security without the problems I faced using NordVPN.
How does NordVPN compare to other VPNs?
NordVPN is a popular and often chosen VPN provider. This is partly because they advertise a lot on YouTube and TV. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that NordVPN is one of the best VPNs out there today. In fact, NordVPN does incredibly well compared to other VPNs. Check out how NordVPN is doing compared to IPVanish, ProtonVPN, and CyberGhost.
Is there a NordVPN free trial?
NordVPN has a 7-day free trial but it’s only available for Android devices (you can check out other VPNs with free trials here). If you want to try out NordVPN on other devices, it’s still possible. You can use NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out risk-free, and then get your money back if you’re not satisfied with it (essentially costing you nothing). The refund process is really simple — all you have to do is reach out to the live chat rep and ask them to cancel your subscription. I got my refund in 5 days.
Does NordVPN work with Fire TV Stick?
Yes, NordVPN has a native app for Fire TV Stick (version 2 or later) that you can download from the Amazon App Store. Once you download the client and log in, you can find the server in the country you need and connect.Thanks to its large server network, you can easily unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max and dozens more. Plus, you can watch live TV streaming platforms.
Can NordVPN block ads?
NordVPN has a CyberSec feature which blocks ads, malware, and trackers. I tested it out and it blocked ads on BuzzFeed, Forbes, DailyMail and other ad-heavy websites. It even stopped me from accessing a few websites with malware which is great since only a small number of VPNs offer an ad-blocking feature (CyberGhost is our #1 pick). This feature is really easy to set up. All you have to do is go to the settings page and press a button. As soon as you connect to a server, NordVPN will block ads and you’ll be able to browse without interruptions. This can even boost your loading times without that extra content.
Will NordVPN allow me to watch TV?
Yes, NordVPN can let you watch TV if you use live TV streaming services. These are usually region-based so you need to connect to the accurate server to access them. For example, if you want to watch the US TV channels, you can do so on Sling TV, FuboTV, AT&T, Hulu with Live TV, and more. If you’d like to watch Ireland TV, you can do that on TG4. NordVPN has a large server network so you’ll have an easy time bypassing regional geoblocks. Most of the live TV streaming services let you subscribe with a gift card which you can get from anywhere, so you’ll be able to get an account even if you don’t have one.
Where is NordVPN based?
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is not a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, like many of these VPNs. This is great because none of your information will end up in the hands of intrusive governments so your privacy will stay protected. Plus, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy so your information doesn’t get stored. Even if the governments requested an inquiry into your account, they wouldn’t be able to find anything.