Review

NordVPN Review – 2017


The NordVPN review found NordVPN's reputation and effectiveness undiminished in the face the recent Panama Leaks, as this Panamanian provider continues its strict logless policies and undoubtedly strong encryption. 
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Review of: NordVPN
VPN by :
NordVPN
Version:
ProVPN
Price:
5.75

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On May 24, 2016
Last modified:January 9, 2017

Summary:

Our latest NordVPN review found the same top tier service with hefty encryption and true logless policies, and welcome tweaks. Read on to find out more.

Pricing & Plans

NordVPN offers three pricing plans, with the only differentiation found in price. The slightly above average price of $11.95 get you a month’s subscription, and the cost drops down to $7 per month if you sign up for six months. If you like the service and want to commit for a year, you’ll pay the $5.75 half off the original Simple plan cost. Best of all, there’s a 30-day refund, so you can give NordVPN a spin before seriously committing.

NordVPN Pricing

Refunds are happily given to customers within the 30-day period after the initial payment goes through. However, you must give NordVPN’s tech support a fair chance to resolve any technical issues that might come up. We’ll explore that deeper in the ‘Support’ section further on.
NordVPN Referrals

There’s also a referral avenue in place if a friend joins the service, as is standard with many providers.

Conclusion

  • ProsPROS
  • Reliable network speeds
  • Hefty encryption
  • No logs
  • P2P OK
  • Multi-hop VPN tunneling available
  • ConsCONS
  • Medium speeds

Features

NordVPN Servers
This well-regarded Panamanian provider with no Mossack Fonseca links that we know of (yet) continues to serve up excellent value for money with an ample 6 simultaneous connection policy, and over 550 servers in 47 odd countries. This makes for pretty robust network coverage for most of the world, save for Africa, though South African servers are a welcome sight. P2P filesharing, meanwhile, is allowed on: Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Latvian, Dutch, Canadian, and Luxemburger servers. You may also opt for servers utilizing Tor over VPN, or dedicated streaming servers for higher speeds and unblocking needs.

NordVPN Emergency VPN

NordVPN also makes the admirable gesture to offer Emergency VPN service free of charge to those living under authoritarian rule who may be persecuted for word, deed, or thought, advocates, and journalists exposed to the same (potentially) life-threatening conditions.

NordVPN Emergency VPN Registration

Take a look at NordVPN’s trial offer for yourself after the jump. Alternatively, keep reading for thoughts on some impressive security measures that NordVPN has in place

Visit NordVPN »

Security & Privacy

The legal situation in Panama should need little introduction at the time of writing. Suffice it to say the nation didn’t become a tax haven because of lax privacy laws, but rather from a contrary legal climate shrouded in secrecy. Panama has no mandatory data retention laws to this effect, meaning that NordVPN keeps no logs. Therefore, you have little to worry about, provided you aren’t misbehaving so erratically that a sovereign intelligence agency starts sniffing around (and maybe even then). To that effect, Tor over VPN or multi-hop connections do provide a further layer of security.  On top of this obfsproxy is superb for bypassing deep packet inspections by your Internet service provider.

NordVPN Review

Security is handled using AES 256 bit for data encryption, RSA 2048 for handshaking and SHA-2 for data authentication. NordVPN’s security remains undoubtedly solid – servers are protected with a firewall, and different ports are used for SSH connections. Forthcoming updates will also include the altogether speedier IKEv2 VPN, though OpenVPN remains the superior option for security.

The website

NordVPN Homepage

NordVPN has an eye-catching website that’s also quite functional, with relevant links to Pricing, Features, and Servers well laid out.

The footer has links to weekly updated social media accounts, further resource links, and a handy translation option for thirteen languages.NordVPN Homepage Bottom

NordVPN’s blog is also worth a look with biweekly or so updates ranging from service updates to industry news, and VPN tips & tricks galore.

Support

NordVPN has done a swell job building a formidable FAQ section to go with clarity present elsewhere on the site. It also has detailed setup guides. It gives equal attention regardless of platform or device, to assuage any user concerns and fix any problems that arise.

NordVPN Tutorials

Support queries were answered after a few minutes wait time at the most, and agents were both courteous and well-trained, as were the email responses that followed from the chat below. It’s great to see 24/7 LiveChat support and emails back within hours.

NordVPN Support

The NordVPN support team informed me that further updates are also on the way for both iOS and Windows Apps.

The Process

Signing Up

Signing up is a breeze, and is achievable with major credit cards, PayPal, or Bitcoin. Then, just navigate to the downloads page and follow the thorough setup instructions replete with pictures, or those contained in the installer itself.

The NordVPN Windows VPN client

Calling the NordVPN App for Windows easy-to-use and stylish would be an undersell, it works that well. You can access servers by country or individual node, and simply tap on the connection button at the bottom to connect after choosing a server. It would be nice to see individual nodes labeled by location as well, however, so users have more of an idea for geolocation purposes.

NordVPN Windows Client

The settings tab has useful options such as auto-connect, killswitch, DNS leak protection and the UDP/TCP toggle dropdown for when VPN blockage is taking place versus for higher speeds.

NordVPN Windows Client Settings

Looking at servers from the Server tab shows handy uptime and capacity stats which may be useful if you’re looking for the best speeds. You’ll also find the dedicated Anti DDoS, Tor over VPN, and Smart TV streaming-optimized servers here for quick connection.

NordVPN Windows Client Servers

Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC and IPv6 Tests)

One drawback you might expect with heavy security measure in place is slower speeds, and you’d be right to an extent, though in testing both informal browsing and streaming, there was little to no obvious lag. Speeds averaged in the five Mbps range on the United Kingdom and Dutch servers while US servers fell closer to two Mbps, on account of geographical distance. While these speeds might be alarming at first glance, there are faster servers dedicated to streaming, and it may well be a non-issue for those driven to the market primarily by security needs.
NordVPN Download
NordVPN Upload
Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.

It was great to see no IP leaks or IPv6 leaks – save the WebRTC Bug (which we have a five minute DIY guide for) – seeing as how they essentially invalidate using VPN software in the first place, rendering it ineffective in many ways.

Head to ipleak.net and for DNS leaks, and the pesky WebRTC bug, while test-ipv6.com will test IPv6 leaks. If you’re still concerned, doileak.net is something of a mix of the other two websites. Run tests every so often to check that NordVPN is running as promised and that your unique device and network configurations aren’t left ‘unlocked,’ even by accident.

Update January 2016: Reviewer Dmitri is no longer with BestVPN.  Thanks to comments from reader Martin, we have run additional tests and have detected IPv6 leaks. WebRTC remain an issue, and which also detected our real IPv6 address.

Other Platforms

NordVPN is available on the platforms you’d usually expect such as OS X, iOS, Linux, and Android. You may also use NordVPN with DD-WRT, Asus, Tomato routers, and the pfSense firewall.

NordVPN Platform

NordVPN Android Client

The bespoke Android App was similarly easy to setup and had the same appeal as its Windows counterpart. It’s no small matter, as some providers skimp on mobile security.

NordVPN Andoid

There’s also the same handy server bits previously discussed, such as VPN over Tor, so you can seamlessly transition between platforms at any time.

Other/ Free Services

NordVPN Other Services

You may opt to use some other services for unblocking or bypassing censorship if you live in or pass through countries such as China or Iran, without the explicit need for privacy. SmartDNS is more or less a VPN without manual server selection capabilities. You can read more on them here.

NordVPN Youtube Proxy

There’s even a fun dedicated proxy for YouTube streaming without Google siphoning up your data. The yellow caption – button to the right is the icing on the cake.

NordVPN Review Conclusion

I liked

  • Logless
  • Tough encryption
  • Smooth clients across platforms
  • Speedy support
  • Network reliability

I wasn’t so sure about

  • Medium speeds
  • WebRTC

I hated

  • Nothing

While the promise of low(ish) speeds may scare some folks off, it would be at the cost of mistakenly shunning a provider for which security trumps every other concern, but nevertheless features workable performance and consistency on every front. What’s more, the truly logless policy on hand, as well as several freebies make the service appealing beyond its price. Try out NordVPN’s Apps yourself by signing up below.

Visit NordVPN »


Dimitri M Expat in Europe - pathos for good conversation and Italia's Grande Juventus.

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27 responses to “NordVPN Review – 2017

  1. I have read through all of these messages, and there are a few topics that need clarification, at least for me. Here we go….

    1. IP leaks. After being alerted to the IPv6 leaks, you replied that you HAD, in fact, detected an IPv6 leak, and that you had contacted NordVPN about it. Has NordVPN done anything to address the problem? If not, can I fully trust NordVPN to conceal and protect my actual IP address while running a P2P program? This sounds like a serious vulnerability to me.

    1a. IPv6 Leaks. I don’t understand what you meant by saying “Unfortunately, most ISPs still do not support IPv6….. which makes performing IPv6 leak tests tricky.” Please explain.
    How did you run the test successfully?

    1b. Can you tell me where and how, or suggest a reliable link, where I can run tests for any and all leaks? (DNS, WebRTC, IPv4, IPv6, others?).

    1c. ‘Alex’ wrote on 11/4/16 that he thoroughly checked for DNS, IPV4, IPV6 and WebRTC leaks and nothing is showing. But he said that he had disabled WebRTC IPv6 from his machine. Is that risky? Are other programs affected? How is that even done? What are the drawbacks, there’s gotta be some!
    And finally, what method was used to thoroughly check for these leaks?

    2. Why is it being said that NordVPN support is basically non-existent? Do you provide an online chat, or an 800 number when issues inevitably arise? Or is there just an email address where I have to wait for help?

    3. Wanted to confirm that NordVPN has an automatic kill switch? Messages indicate it does. How do you “check for it” as one writer suggests?

    4. Will I be able to select the locations of the server I will use? Am I sent to the best option automatically? Another VPN made me sign off & back on to select a specific location.

    Thank you for reading my concerns. Sorry for being so long-winded. I am ready to buy, but not until I have complete info, just like everyone here.

    You have my email address, I submitted it with this msg. If you prefer you can reply to my questions directly by email, or here in this forum if you prefer, or both. I’d prefer email, but it’s your call.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi R R P,

      1. NordVPN responded by pointing us to this article. As I also replied to Anonymous Coward on this thread, do not consider this an adequate response. Most VPN users will not check to see if they have an IPv6 leak, and then search for solution hidden deep in NordVPN’s support database. They will instead blithely leak their real IP address for all the old to see, and not be aware of the issue.

      Most VPN apps from other providers these days at least disable IPv6. That NordVPN’s does not is a major problem. We have contacted NordVPN to let it know our feelings on this matter.

      1a. Many of BestVPN.com’s reviewers work from home using connections from ISPs that do not support IPv6. On my newer reviews, at least, I always note this, and state that I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks because of it. We are aware that this is an issue, and are working on fixing it. BestVPN.com is now looking into leasing an IPv6-capable line into our central office. Reviewers will then be able to remote-access this in order to run proper IPv6 tests.

      1b. ipleak.net now supports IPv6 leak tests, and is IMO by far the best one-stop-shop for IP leak detection when using a VPN.

      1c. Given that most home users at this point do not even have IPv6 available from their ISPs, disabling IPv6 does little harm at the present time. In fact, disabling IPv6 is what I and BestVPN.com officially recommend. It is also what most VPN clients do, but I also recommend manually disabling in your OS. Just in case.

      As use of IPv6 becomes more popular, disabling IPv6 may become more problematic. Good news, though, is that the new “official” open source OpenVPN supports IPv6 properly, so expect to see better support for IPv6 from providers moving forward (since most custom VPN clients are built on top of the official open source code).

      Please see here for a discussion on the subject, here for instructions on how to disable IPv6 in your OS, and here for my Complete Guide to IP leaks.

      2. As you can see from this review, this is not our experience. But I’m sure for JP it was.

      3. The NordVPN desktop client includes an automatic kill switch. I don’t think this is also true for its mobile apps. The only only way I know to test it is to kill the app suddenly (in Windows right-click icon in the Task Bar -> Exit). If the kill switch is working then you should no longer be able to access the internet until to reset your DNS settings.

      4. You can select server location.

      I have replied here because the answers may by helpful to other readers.

  2. Be careful, nordvpn is leaking ipv6 address. I tested it with two cabel providers in Germany vodaphone and Unitymedia) who both provide ipv6 and ipv6-test finds me with north VPN on.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Thanks for letting us know. Unfortunately, most ISPs still do not support IPv6. This is an issue which affects most of our reviewers, and which makes performing IPv6 lkeak tests tricky. We _have_ now performed an IPv6 leak test for NordVPN, and I can confirm that we detected an IPv6 leak. We have contacted NordVPN about this.

        1. Hi Anonymous Coward (love the name!),

          Yes. NordVPN has also pointed us to that page. I do not, however, consider this an adequate response. Most VPN users will not check to see if they have an IPv6 leak, and then search for solution hidden deep in NordVPN’s support database. They will instead blithely leak their real IP address for all the old to see, and not be aware of the issue.

          Most VPN apps from other providers these days at least disable IPv6. That NordVPN’s does not is a major problem. We have contacted NordVPN to let it know our feelings on this matter.

    No problems with the service whatsoever. Well, maybe Android app drains battery a bit too much, but other than that – reliable nice service.

  3. Does it’s job well in few clicks.

    Their new app for Windows has greatly improved, comparing to the old one. No more crashes, everything is very smooth and clean. They added enormous amount of servers over the past few months therefore speed has also increased. I have 50 Mbps connection and speed tests shows around 40-45 Mbps most of the time. No DNS or IP leaks, works with all geo-restricted services I need.

    1. Hi Devpn,

      Thanks for letting us know about the improved connection speeds, although we performed extensive test quite recently (early December) and still found speeds to be an issue.

    nord vpn claims to be the best but the truth is it actually doesnt hide your ip like everyone thinks…. if you simply type whats my ip into google while running the crappy coded software and run a torrenting program at the same time which is why half the world wants a vpn, you will find it will reveal your genuine ip and put you at risk!!! should you try to contact them about this issue they will ignore you and another thing about the poorly coded crap is it slows your pc completely!!! I SUGGEST ANYONE THINKING OF BUYING THIS CRAP TO LOOK ELSEWHERE!!!

  4. Over the past few years I tried more than few VPN services. I travel a lot and in order to access my home server I need a static IP, that’s where VPN comes in handy. And Nord does a great job regardless of where I am. What surprised me is that in addition to their security benefits, I was able to access US Netflix from any country I’ve been. This is a very rare bonus now, especially after Netflix started the war with VPN providers. Their apps are great and very easy to use, works on all of my devices.

    I was unable to find any obvious flaws. All in all – happy and recommending these guys to everyone.

    I have to say the NordVPN support is basically non-existent. I have submitted several support requests and the only reply is an automated reply with an ID# inserted as they have received my request. Also, the closest NordVPN severer to my location is ~178miles and my connectivity connection speed is approximately 55% of my ISP connectivity speed. I have tried all the possible Protocol selection and no improvement was noticed. I would not recommend NordVPN at this time unless you are nearby one of the existing NordVPN servers and didn’t require support.

  5. I’m a total newbie to this, so I need something clarified (sorry if it is a dumb-dumb question). So, I’ve read that if one is in the US, it is advisable to pick a service based outside the US to avoid Big Brother’s spying agency (you know the 3 letters). OK, say I pick NordVPN which is based in Panama. Now–at installation you need to pick a server. They are located all over the world. If I pick a US server, presuming the best performance that way, does that put me right back in the same boat of exposing myself to spying by that 3 letter US agency, or is that safe now because I’m using going through the VPN? Or–should I select a server outside the US? Sorry if that’s stupid question with an obvious answer, but I’m new to this and I don’t really know for sure what is obvious and what isn’t. THX in advance!

    1. Hi K.B,

      Assuming that you live in the US, picking a US server will (in general, although other factors apply) provide the best performance. If you are concerned about government spying, however, it is advisable both to use a non-US (or FVEY) based service, and also to use servers located outside these countries.

      1. Thanks so much for your prompt reply, Douglas! That’s what I thought, I just wanted to be sure. If I’m going to follow the recommendations I don’t want to do something stupid and invalidate my effort. Now, I don’t see FVEY at your link. Did you mean FYFY? (Love the glossary!)

        Another question: Are these services dependent on any certain router specs, or do they work through pretty much any relatively modern router/gateway? Thank you again!

        1. Hi K.B.,

          Ah. Yes, sorry. FVEY is an abbreviation of for Five Eyes. It’s my glossary that contains the typo (now fixed). VPN services usually work using a software client. Even moderate-spec smart phones are powerful enough these days to encrypt/decrypt OpenVPN connections with no meaningful slowdown. It _is_ possible to run a VPN client on your router. This has many advantages, but the router’s spec becomes a major factor. Only high-end routers have the processing grunt to handle VPN without badly slowing down your internet connection. Compare, for example, this and this recently reviewed routers.

  6. My favorite VPN. In past month speed has improved greatly, they are adding new servers on weekly basis, apps are great looking and very easy to use. Definitely a great choice!

  7. I enjoy the service. Definitely one of the best I’ve seen. Speed is fine, very easy to use as they have apps for all platforms. But best of all – still works with US Netflix!

  8. The slow speeds are a major concern. On occasion I have experienced speeds as slow as 10% of normal speed. This makes the service worthless in my opinion.

  9. I tried NordVPN and found that I could only use some “leased” servers to access HBO Go. I tried a few and found them too slow to watch a movie without interruptions of the movie stream. I unsubscribed.

    Leave your thoughts and impressions on NordVPN here.

    1. I really like NordVPN. The setup has been idiot-proofed – you can just download it and go (make sure you setup and check the kill-switch if torrenting) – and it works perfectly for my needs. The user-interface is clean and intuitive.

      The only issue I had was that the first P2P server I tried was painfully slow. I just skipped onto another and away I went. The kill-switch works really well and I haven’t had any problems with it at all, and I tested it thoroughly just to be on the safe side. I have also thoroughly checked for DNS, IPV4, IPV6 and WebRTC leaks and nothing is showing through (though nothing would with the latter two as they are disabled by default on my machine).

      They use GoogleDNS to resolve DNS requests, but even then Google does not actually know who you are as your request is coming from a VPN server with a shared IP. Google will also delete identifiable logs after 24-48 hours, but, as I say, even identifiable logs at Google will only direct anyone looking to NordVPN rather than the user.

      So far it has been very reliable too. Very occasionally it will have a little panic attack and reconnect and disconnect rapidly for a minute or so, but those seem to sort themselves out without any intervention, and they are rare enough that they can be ignored (easily a 9.5/10 for stability). Morevoer the kill-switch works so well in these situations that I am not concerned that my IP is being flashed around torrent trackers (not that I would ever download anything illegal, of course).

      I haven’t had much interaction with their customer service team yet so I do not have much to report on that unfortunately. However I did notice when digging around on their website that their live chat is very often unattended, even when you would expect them to be within working hours in Panama.

      1. Hi Alex,

        Yes, as long as a VPN provider fully proxies DNS requests, I don’t see a major problem with leveraging Google DNS (or similar).

        1. I just thought I would leave an update to say that my DNS no longer appears to be routed through Google DNS servers, and instead shares the same IP address as my VPN server. I don’t know why this change has occurred, but it is fine by me nonetheless.

          I have also now had more interaction with customer services. I have had both slow and quick responses from them, but the outcome of the the interaction was positive in that my problem was resolved (Spotify was not working over the VPN, which resolved when I disabled Smart-Play in the VPN settings).

          I also want to mention that the screenshots of NordVPN that you have in this article are dated. They have updated their app since this article was written, and it now has much nicer appearance.

          1. Hi Alex,

            Thanks for keeping us updated. I’m glad your issues have been resolved. Regarding the screenshots, unfortunately we can’t realistically keep up with every software update made by every VPN company. We do, however, re-review the more popular services fairly regularly, and the next time we do this for Windscribe we will review the updated client.

    2. Nord VPN started out great. But now their servers are down most of the time and the remaining ones are very slow. Used it for about four months but by the last month it was basically useless. Unless NordVPN gets their shit together i would reccomend that people stay far far away from their products.

      TL;DR: Nord VPN sucks.

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