Panama-based company, NordVPN, is well recognized in the VPN world, and has a reputation for being secure and feature heavy.
They are especially safety oriented because there are no data retention laws in Panama. The company also offers three different pricing plans for its users.
NordVPN’s global reach covers 65 countries, though note that there are few in Africa (only 2 in Egypt and South Africa) and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia, but rest assured that Europe and the US is covered extensively.
NordVPNs customer service is very good. I tested the live chat and got an answer from a rep named Anthony within 30 seconds. I’d choose this route over submitting a question to the support system, as you’ll receive an automated email with an ID number that identifies your claim which takes longer to process.
Their FAQ section, however, is pretty extensive and could probably answer any question you have if you were willing to comb through it.
You can’t have it all, so they say. But NordVPN does offer a three day free trial, which gave me a superb chance to put the service through it paces.
Additionally- NordVPN does have a 30 day money-back policy for customers in good standing. However, those who purchased the program through the Apple App store or the Google Play Store will not receive refunds.
Let’s dig deeper.
NordVPN offers three separate plans for users.
Simple starts at $11.95/month.
Standard is a 6-month plan that is priced at $7.00/month for 6 months ($42.00).
The most popular package is the 1-year plan, which is $5.75/month for 12 months ($69.00).
All plans offer the following features: a no log policy, P2P, a global network of VPNs (excepting the locations previously alluded to), fast speeds, ease of use and a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.
The 1-year plan is one of the cheapest I’ve seen on the market.
NordVPN has over 700 servers, the majority of which are located in Western and Central Europe. You may feel that they lack coverage in other areas of the world (Oceania, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe) but note that this is somewhat characteristic of most VPN companies. They setup servers where the main demand is, and basically as and where they can.
One amazing feature of NordVPN is their device connection policy. NordVPN tops the field with the most simultaneous connections offered at 6. SIX.
I don’t really have the need to connect six devices, but for those of you with larger families or who have a stack of devices, this may be a cheap way for you to get full coverage.
NordVPN can also be connected to any device, from Windows to Mac to Android to Blackberry (yes, Blackberries still exist) and operates with systems like Linux, iOS and Win.
In addition, NordVPN will also connect to your TV or your router or even your game console, which is a perk if these are what you use to stream content. I stream almost exclusively on my Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, Mac) and NordVPN worked well on my laptop.
NordVPN’s program is pretty nicely designed: connecting is as simple as selecting a country name and flag from a dropdown menu. Other intuitive menus offer streamlined options to turn ‘on’ or ‘off’ certain features, which include DNS Leak protection and a Kill Switch, which is helpful as an added layer of security.
Security & Privacy
Like most VPNs I’ve reviewed, NordVPN uses military and government grade encryption- 256-bit.
Because the company is based out of Panama, the company does not have to comply with any mandatory data retention laws. Therefore, it assures users that it has a no-log policy, which is great for security.
In addition, NordVPN wins with a double encryption, which encrypts data twice- an element of security Nord promises is only available with their technology. I dig this double encryption. I’ve heard some speculators say it’s “unnecessary” , but let’s face it, can you ever be too secure?
This feature makes me feel especially secure that my data won’t be compromised over high risk public networks.
In addition, Nord also offers the Kill Switch feature for ensured protection. I find the Kill Switch necessary because it’ll halt any data transfer if the VPN fails, which could be a huge deal if you’re in the middle of online banking or something similar.
Using a VPN with a Kill Switch is always a top priority for me, and I recommend that all users find a VPN that has this technology- it’s just smart, especially when you’re on the go.
In addition, NordVPN amps up the security with the DNS Leak resolver, which is truly fantastic.
On occasion, your DNS server will send unencrypted queries outside of the VPN’s protection, leaving you vulnerable to tracking from a determined hacker or government entity. Fortunately, NordVPN covers your back with their DNS Leak resolver, so your DNS queries are secure and untraceable.
Major props to NordVPN for recognizing and solving this seldom discussed (but important) issue.
I mentioned this above, but NordVPN’s servers are all located in Panama, which is great news for users who want to be absolutely sure that their data is not retained. As there are no laws in Panama that enforce data retention, users can rest assured that their information and their search histories are out of the hands of a prying government.
Speed & Performance
Historically, speed has been a bit of an issue for Nord. You’ll read this on other reviews around the web. Many believe this to be because they are oversubscribed. The reason being that speeds used to slow down when the US woke up!
They have ironed out most of the creases in this theory by expanding server capacity and adding new servers. In addition, the system is much better designed now to circumvent speed issues.
However, I feel that the double encryption slows down the service at times. If you are double-encrypted and one or both servers are very busy it makes plain sense that you will see a lag. I know this because I have triple and quadruple encrypted before.
But the answer is simple. Connect to a different server or turn off double encryption. Hell, single is enough for individuals surfing the web.
So is there a trade off between speed and top security? I get asked this all the time. And in my experience there is, but as the internet gets faster so do VPNs. Time will heal this issue.
The reality with VPNs is that certain servers will be quicker for you at different times, depending on your setup and location. So it is not as simple as to say the US servers are slower than the European ones – though people do spout this crap.
With NordVPN, you can choose a server based on your priority, so if you feel the need for speed (think streaming and downloading), you can always switch to a faster server. The system even tells you which is preferable.
As previously stated, NordVPN’s customer service ticket system is not as effective as the live chat. They are a big, busy VPN provider and as such ticket queries may take a while to resolve.
They do, however, have an incredibly informative FAQ page for those that would prefer to troubleshoot for themselves, but I personally love to be able to talk to a customer service representative and as such tend to dive straight into live chat.
NordVPN offers a 30-day refund policy, which is should be standard in the VPN world, but it isn’t. I also appreciate the 3-day trial; I’m sure you will do too.
Signing Up & Getting Started
With NordVPN, signing up is very, very simple. Just enter an email address, a password, and some payment details and you’re golden.
And yes, they even allow you to pay with Bitcoin, which is a blessing for the hyper-secure onliner.
After payment, you’ll be directed to a downloads page and from there, step by step instructions (complete with helpful pictures!) will guide you through the process. I like that they have even considered non-techies in this process and made it accessible to all users. The entire process is very intuitive.
NordVPN Review Conclusion
My feelings about NordVPN are generally very positive. They have fantastic perks, and ones that really matter. They offer secure double encryption, you can pick a server based on your browsing priorities, and they also have great features like DNS Leak protection and a Kill Switch. These will all make you feel super safe when browsing or buying on public networks.
I also love that they offer their service on up to 6 devices. This makes it really accessible for families or small businesses.
The customer support ticket system is a potential pain point, but they’ve put a lot of effort into getting you up and running quickly and easily, so the likelihood of needing to submit a ticket is slim.
Speed can slow a tad on double encryption, and the odd server fades here and there, but overall it’s a reliable service. I happily streamed Netflix and BBC iPlayer over Nord with no issues.
- Double VPN encryption
- Kill Switch
- DNS Leak Protection
- Very affordable
- 6 Simultaneous Connections
- Double VPN encryption can slow you down sometimes
- Ticket support is a bit slow