NordVPN Review 2020

NordVPN review header
NordVPN

Overall
4.5









  • Price









  • Service









  • Apps









  • Speed









  • Policy









Summary

NordVPN has introduced some excellent additional features this year which has made a very good VPN even better.

Pros

  • Fully audited no-log policy.
  • Excellent apps for all devices.
  • Amazon Fire TV support.
  • Unblocks most TV services.
  • Super fast speeds.
  • Selection of speciality servers.

Cons

  • Prices include VAT for EU customers.
  • Security blip in 2019.


NordVPN has firmly set itself amongst the leaders in the VPN industry and over the last few years, you'll have seen them everywhere from TV adverts to sponsoring huge sports teams and plenty of Youtubers.

But is NordVPN any good?

They've been one of our favourites over the past few years but we've been checking them out for 2020 to see if they still deserve the reputation they've become known for.

Service

Speeds

Download speed

NordVPN has been consistently offered the fastest download speeds in recent years and last year we commended them on their continued improvements in this area.

Throughout the past few weeks, we've been speed testing their service while using it for a variety of purposes. Everything from general web browsing and video streaming on sites like YouTube to gaming and streaming in Ultra HD on our Fire TV Stick via Netflix.

This was all done via a Wi-Fi connection and we found no issues when carrying out any of these kinds of tasks. For your everyday usage you should suffer no problems.

You're probably wondering how that translates into actual speeds. So for this, we've done some tests for you.

We took a UK residential internet connection and downloaded an uncompressed test file. The speed achieved without using a VPN was: 63.28 Mbps.

Choosing a random selection of servers, we achieved the following speeds:

  • UK – 58.63 Mbps
  • France – 58.24 Mbps
  • Netherlands – 58.36 Mbps
  • Switzerland – 60.56 Mbps
  • Sweden – 60.30 Mbps
  • New York, US – 60.44 Mbps
  • Australia – 57.17 Mbps

As the results show, even at a distance, decent speeds can be achieved. This would be more than fast enough to stream high-quality video content from across the globe without issues.

Logging

NordVPN claims to store no logs of what you do while connected to their service and up until late last year like most VPN services there was no proof if this was true or not.

In 2018 NordVPN took steps to have their service audited to prove their no-logging claims. Late in 2018, NordVPN published the results of this audit to their current customer base.

While it hasn't been shared publicly, it is available to all current and future customers and ourselves and other security industry experts have cast their eyes over it.

The consensus is that although the audit doesn't go into great detail you should, in theory, be able to trust NordVPN's ‘no-log' claims.

Simultaneous Connections

NordVPN allows you to use one service on up to six devices at the same time.

This is a decent amount of devices and while it's not the highest number available in the industry it is at the more top end of the scale in terms of the competition.

There are no limits on how many devices you can install the vast array of apps on, only how many you can use at the same time. It's unlikely the average user will ever be utilising six devices concurrently, so you're future-proofed.

Jurisdiction

NordVPN's parent company is based in Panama, which for all intents and purposes makes them an ‘off-shore' VPN provider.

We like this feature as it means they're not part of ‘5-eyes'.

Five-eyes is a group of western nations that work together to share intelligence. There are also further groups known as ‘9-eyes' and even '14-eyes' which include an even wider range of countries.

Customer Service

Getting help from NordVPN can be done via their website.

Their ‘Help' section has a large range of guides and information to assist you in helping yourself.

A new feature is the addition of a ‘chat bot'. It's similar to a live customer service rep but you're not actually speaking to anyone.

In our tests we found the flow and answers to be relatively good and it can answer a lot of questions.

NordVPN Chatbot

Can a bot replace the human touch?

However, it's always good to speak to an actual human and although you'll need to jump through a few hoops first, you can get to speak to a real person if your question hasn't already been answered.

You can also email NordVPN directly via a contact email address which is a nice touch. Outside of that though there are no other ways to get customer service.

Server Locations

NordVPN servers header

One of the reasons behind NordVPN's success over the past few years is their ability to expand and do so quickly.

At current count, NordVPN servers span some 59 countries with an eye-watering 5,516 individual servers giving you plenty of options to disguise your IP Address.

This is, however, a reduction of some 300 servers over last year and three countries dropped too, even though they added three countries the previous year.

NordVPN covers most locations across the world and apart from Africa, which does have minimal coverage in the South, there aren't many gaps across their network.

There is even a host of ‘Speciality Servers' which include options like ‘Double-Hop' that allow you to send your connection through two different locations. Although these options are limited to specific areas.

Does NordVPN use Virtual Locations?

NordVPN does not use virtual locations.

Many VPN services make use of what are called ‘Virtual Locations' to boost up the number of locations offered.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with virtual locations it's often a sneaky way of increase server location numbers but can in certain circumstances have unintended consequences depending on your usage.

As NordVPN don't make use of them, you have nothing to worry about.

Double-hop servers

If you value your privacy and you want an added layer of security then NordVPN's double-hop servers or what they call ‘Double VPN' give you that added protection.

Usually when you connect to any VPN service you connect to just one server.

By utilising the ‘Double VPN' NordVPN forward your connection from the initial server you connect to, to another server which is usually located in a different country.

For example if you connect to their United Kingdom ‘Double VPN' server it will automatically forward your connection to the Netherlands. This means your data goes from yourself to their UK server, on to their Netherlands server and then out to the wider internet.

At the time of writing double-VPN connections are available in Canada, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and 2 cities in the United States.

Does NordVPN work in China?

Unfortunately no. NordVPN does not work in China.

While some websites do claim that the service works in China in our own on the ground testing we found the service to either not work at all or work so slowly and unreliably that it can't be used effectively.

We do not recommend using NordVPN if you live or plan to travel in China. (Check out our list of VPNs that do work in China)

Does NordVPN offer Dedicated IP Addresses?

Yes, as part of their ‘Speciality Servers', NordVPN offers a range of server locations that have dedicated IP addresses.

What this means is you can connected and reconnect and get the same IP Address each time.

Although this is less secure from a privacy perspective it does offer some advantages depending on your types of usage.

The service offers dedicated IP address is just a handful of locations which is another drawback (albeit minor). Their current select includes France, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.

This is not to be confused with NordVPN separate ‘Static IP Address' offering which costs $70 per year on top of your subscription and provides an IP Address used only by yourself.

Security

Protocols & Encryption

NordVPN encryption header

NordVPN currently supports both the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols.

Over the past few years they have been experimenting with the WireGuard protocol which at the time of writing isn't publicly available for all customers but once stable and tested should be released shortly.

If you're after accessing protocols such as PPTP, L2TP and SSTP then you're out of luck as these are no longer supported on the service. While the latter two aren't recommended for security purposes, you may miss them if you need them for a specific purpose.

Across the majority of platforms, NordVPN makes use of OpenVPN using AES 256-bit encryption.

Authentication is handled with a 2048-bit RSA key. While this isn't at the top of the scale it is industry standard and an acceptable level.

Some apps make use of or allow the use of the IKEv2/IPsec protocol. As this is known to be unbreakable at this point it means your connection is secure.

Has NordVPN's security been breached?

Yes, in 2019 NordVPN suffered a security breach on one of their servers and while it is claimed no customer data was accessed, it has impacted some users' trust of the service.

The incident affected just one server in Finland but could have potentially let a nefarious hacker decrypt user traffic passing through the server or inject malicious content into any plain text transmissions (essentially connections not using HTTPS).

While there was no evidence to suggest this happened, it proved to be a serious publicity incident for NordVPN.

After the incident NordVPN recommitted themselves to improving security implementing a number of security features and systems. However, you may want to consider this when deciding to sign up or not.

Is NordVPN safe for Torrenting?

The NordVPN service allows Torrenting and P2P traffic.

However, you'll need to be aware that it's only allowed on some servers which are flagged with ‘P2P'. To be fair to NordVPN they do offer a huge range of allowable locations.

In a Reddit thread from last year some users claimed the service was slow when torrenting [1]. Admittedly the comments are well over a year old you may want to bare this in mind when testing them within their 30-day trial.

Apps

ExpressVPN apps head

Mobile Apps

NordVPN supports apps for all Android and Apple iOS devices which were redesigned a couple of years ago.

They still feature the easy to navigate interface that the original app sported but the use of space has been improved allowing for quicker connection. The layout is now more intuitive allowing you to get connected to the servers you want with ease.

NordVPN Android app

NordVPN Android app

The upper portion of the app allows you to select a server on a map view while the bottom section allows for connection to your favourite servers, speciality servers or by expanding an individual country list which can be searched for quick usage.

It's neat that individual servers are also able to be connected to and added to favourites for later use.

Behind the scenes, NordVPN's ‘CyberSec' feature can be enabled allowing protection from malware and other nasties on your mobile device plus some additional options such as using Obfuscated Servers or using TCP rather than UDP for OpenVPN.

Sadly there's no VPN protocol selection but that follows suit with the entire service. The usual range of automatic connection options are also available.

The mobile apps are some of the best we've seen from a VPN provider and will allow you to use them with ease even if you're a beginner.

Desktop Apps

Just like the mobile apps, the desktop apps available for Windows and Mac OS have also had some tweaks to their design over the past few years.

Replacing the simple map design a side panel has been added to allow quick selection of individual countries, servers and speciality servers. These include P2P specific servers, Onion over VPN servers, Double VPN and Dedicated IP servers.

This is a nice addition to the app and makes selecting a server whatever way you prefer much easier and without the need to search through multiple screens. Connection is now a quick and effortless affair.

NordVPN Windows 2019

NordVPN Windows app.

In the Settings area, you'll find extensive features.

NordVPN's CyberSec that is present across all of their apps is available plus a kill switch. There's also a smart individual app kill switch if you only wanted certain apps blocking should the connection drop.

Advanced features allow you to switch between the TCP and UDP protocol, specific dedicated DNS servers, use Obsfucated Servers and run a diagnostics tool.

In our leak tests, we found no issues when these features were enabled.

Again, the usual selection of automatic connection on boot options are available too.

Just like the mobile app, the desktop app is one of the better ones we've seen. It has been well designed for several years but the little interface tweaks that have been made in recent years have made the user experience that little bit more pleasant.

Other Apps

On top of the mobile and desktop apps, NordVPN also offers apps for Linux, Android TV and an Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick app.

Their Amazon app is nicely laid out and simple to use across the big screen.

It also has the added benefit that you can unblock many of the Amazon apps such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and others really expanding the use of your Fire TV / Stick / Cube regardless of where you are in the world.

NordVPN Fire TV app

NordVPN's Fire TV app

Does NordVPN offer Router support?

NordVPN doesn't directly offer any apps for routers.

However, they do offer an extensive set-up guide section for a variety of routers.

Due to the service dropping support for both PPTP and L2TP in recent years it means the majority of regular routers are no longer able to be configured to work with the NordVPN service.

NordVPN does have a deal with Flashrouters if you're after buying a dedicated router that supports their service, although this will require an additional hardware purchase.

It's also possible to buy the new cost-effective InvizBox 2 router configured to work with NordVPN which is another worthwhile consideration if you're after protecting your entire home or small office network.

Does NordVPN offer browser extensions?

NordVPN supports browsers with extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

This allows you to access a light-weight protected connection via your browser only. It's useful if you want to disguise your location to the websites you're visiting while retaining your regular internet connection for the rest of the tasks you carry out on your desktop, for example.

NordVPN browser extensions

Browser extensions for those quick tasks.

Although I'm not a huge fan of browser extensions they do serve a purpose for some users in certain circumstances so it's pleasing to see them supported.

How do the apps compare to the competition?

The desktop apps standout and they're some of the best designed compared to the competition.

Not only do they look pleasing but they're also easy to navigate. We love the map view coupled with the country listing. This allows you to select a location either visually or by name.

Some providers have dropped the map view and others haven't implemented it well, but NordVPN exceed the competiton here.

NordVPN and ExpressVPN apps

NordVPN takes up more space but makes connection effortless.

The mobile apps also feature the map view which can take up a lot of space on smaller screens. Although it's well designed we would much prefer a simple list view for smaller displays.

While the Fire TV apps are laid out well they're not the best designed we've seen and we much prefer the simplicity of ExpressVPN's Fire TV app which keeps everything within a static screen.

NordVPN's app requires too much scrolling, the icons are relatively large and all that scrolling and moving around can become tiresome on the eyes.

Is there an Adblocker?

Yes, NordVPN does offer an Adblocker.

The range of apps come with a feature called ‘CyberSec'.

Not only does this block adverts but it also protects against dangerous websites and malware and secures against your device being used as part of a botnet.

The feature doesn't come enabled as standard so you'll need to turn it on from the settings areas.

Although the adblocker isn't as good as a dedicated ad-blocking app it does offer some respite from annoying advertising.

Streaming

Goose VPN streaming header

Does NordVPN work with Netflix?

Another standout feature of the service is how well they work to unblock TV content and streaming services from across the world.

US Netflix is unblocked across the entire range of servers.

This allows you to connect to a local server and still gain access to the US catalogue of movies and TV shows which is a neat feature in itself.

While some other Netflix regions are available, this ‘catch-all' means many aren't.

K.G Orphanides of Wired said NordVPN was “the most reliable VPN for streaming Netflix” [2].

Does NordVPN work with BBC iPlayer?

NordVPN worked well with BBC iPlayer and in our tests was accessible across a range of different devices.

If you're using it on an Amazon Fire TV device then you'll need to access via a browser like Firefox or the built in ‘Internet' browser as it won't work directly with the app.

Does NordVPN work with Disney?

The new Disney+ service has plenty to offer and if you're a Disney fan then you'll be pleased to know that Yes, NordVPN does work with Disney+.

On the NordVPN website that have a dedicated article on how to watch securely either by connecting to their United States or Netherlands servers to access those specific regions.

Does NordVPN work with Amazon Prime?

NordVPN state their service works with the United States, United Kingdom and Japan Amazon Prime services.

Our results were a little hit and miss and so we don't recommend it as reliable enough for streaming Prime.

It doesn't work at all on Fire TV devices which NordVPN clearly state in their guides.

Other services

Services like ITV Hub, My5, 7Plus and a handful of others work well with the service and compatibility is greater than many other VPN providers.

Price

NordVPN price header

NordVPN follows the standard VPN offering with a choice of just one type of package which includes access to all their features.

This is offered on a subscription basis which ranges anywhere from per month right up to a lengthy 3-years.

It's worth considering these longer subscription periods because you'll make the most significant savings.

The current prices for these packages at the time of writing are as follows:

  • 1-month: $11.95 /mo (~£9.68)
  • 1-year: $6.99 /mo (~ £5.66)
  • 2-year: $4.99 /mo (~ £4.04)
  • 3-year: $3.49 /mo (~ £2.82)

As you can see, it's cheaper to subscribe for longer periods. The prices have risen slightly on the 2 and 3-year packages since last year but only marginally.

Our recommendation for the best combination of price and risk aversion is to take the 2-year package. It doesn't lock you in for an overly long time but gives you a higher discount over paying monthly.

It's worth noting if you're in an EU country you will need to pay VAT on top but you could be sneaky and choose ‘United States' which has a 0% VAT rate – just don't tell anyone I told you, shhh.

Payment is accepted via Credit or Debit card, a wide range of crypto-currencies using CoinPayments such as Bitcoin, Ether and Ripple.

They also accept other types of payment, including AliPay, UnionPay and AmazonPay.

A couple of payments have been dropped since last year and sadly Paypal is still not available.

There is no free trial available but that's not uncommon but they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee should you change your mind.

Verdict

NordVPN verdict header

NordVPN has been without question one of the leading VPN services in recent years and with the additions they've made it's no wonder so many users rave about their service.

The service has loads to offer in terms of servers, connection points, apps and speed making them one of our favourite providers of the year.

The audited no-log policy plus their recent recommitment to the security of their service is reassuring. However, after a security incident in mid-2019 some users may choose to look elsewhere.

We like the improvements to their apps this year making them easier to use and more intuitive for the features you need quick access to. Their Amazon Fire TV app is a massive bonus to the service allowing you to unblock content and protect your privacy on a big screen.

The prices did increase again slightly this year but not enough to be noticeable and if you're in an EU country, you'll now have to factor VAT on top of the price.

However, taxes are a fact of life and not a choice by NordVPN and even with this modest increase, they're still competitive.

Encryption is sound on the NordVPN service and we appreciate them dabbling with WireGuard. Equally unblocking media content from Netflix to BBC iPlayer and many others works better than most services.

Overall NordVPN is one of our top choices of VPN for 2020 and if you're thinking of signing up, you really can't go wrong.

Don't forget they've got a huge 30-day money back guarantee too to give you plenty of time to test their service so if you're not happy contact customer service and get a refund.

Try them risk-free today!

30-day money back guarantee

What do users' think?

Steven Howlett said “I have been happily using NordVPN for several years. Their technical performance and overall service continue to meet my expectations as a customer.”.

David Leafe said “Be very wary of accepting a seven-day free trial with this company. I tried to cancel mine before the trial expired but found myself locked into a £81.99 annual subscription fee which neither Apple or NordVPN are willing to refund – each claimng that the other are responsible”

I Meunier said “I personally never had any issues with the service, and when it comes to speed, no complaints here either.”

Mads Mortensen said “My connection randomly drops for a few seconds. Super annoying when it comes to gaming. If you're a gamer, do NOT buy this VPN.” [3]

Sources

  1. Reddit | Is NordVPN a good choice for torrenting?
  2. Wired | NordVPN review
  3. TrustPilot | NordVPN

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Christopher Seward

Author: Christopher Seward

After 25 years of using the internet, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

Comments

  1. Avatar Roger J

    I actually prefer nord over express even though people rave about express. Prefer their apps and their prices are unbeatable.

    • Christopher Seward Christopher Seward

      Hi Roger,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. There’s definitely a split of users who prefer ExpressVPN or NordVPN over the other. Thankfully they’re two of the best.

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