NordVPN is one of the big names in the VPN market, and one of the software installed on all our staff’s devices. We have been using NordVPN for quite a while by now, and it is still one of Anonymster’s favorite VPN connections. In this NordVPN review, you will come to know the main features of this VPN provider, how onion over VPN and double VPN work, the NordVPN server list, and even how to get a NordVPN free trial.
Whenever you need a VPN easy to use, fast, highly reliable to protect your sensitive data, and that solve problems like accessing the US Netflix Library, NordVPN is certainly one of the top names in the list.
That doesn’t make NordVPN the perfect VPN provider. As for every VPN connection, there are many pros but even some cons that we discuss in this NordVPN review.
We spent several days to prepare this NordVPN review and we keep on updating it as there are changes in the service. We explain all the features that come with it as well as a few things we believe could be improved.
So let’s start with a summary of the main features that you will get when you subscribe to NordVPN.
NordVPN Review Summary
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- Protocols and Encryption: IKEv2/IPsec (AES-256-GCM / SHA2-384 / PFS 3072-bit), OpenVPN AES-256-SHA, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, SSTP
- Double VPN: Yes
- Servers: 5025+ worldwide server locations in 62+ different countries
- Server Switches: Unlimited
- Bandwidth: Unlimited
- No Logs: Yes
- Kill Switch: Yes, with the possibility to select the applications
- P2P & BitTorrent: Yes
- Smart DNS: Yes
- DNS Leak Resolver: Yes
- Streaming Services: Yes
- Smart Play: Yes
- Compatible OS: Win, iOS, OS X, Android, Linux, Blackberry and more
- Compatible Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android, Routers, Game Consoles and More
- Multi Login: Up to 6 devices
- Proxy list: Yes (free)
- Customer Care: 24/7 Live Chat, Ticket system, Facebook, Twitter or Email
- Bitcoin: Yes
- Money Back Guarantee: 30 days
As you can see, the list of features is quite impressive and in this NordVPN review, we have tested all of them for your reference.
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NordVPN Privacy & Security
Among the others, NordVPN has implemented the VPN protocol IKEv2/IPsec.
The IKEv2/IPsec protocol employs a robust cryptographic algorithm. NordVPN uses AES-256-GCM for encryption, coupled with SHA2-384 to ensure integrity, combined with PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy) using 3072-bit Diffie-Hellmann keys.
If all that sounds like the Arabic language to you, here is the translation.
IKEv2/IPsec protocol is the ultimate for your protection. This protocol is excellent to guarantee maximum security, speed, and stability. NordVPN highly recommends connecting through this VPN protocol that has been adopted as the default protocol in the iOS and Mac OS apps.
Alternatively, you can use the OpenVPN protocol with AES-256-CBC, 2048bit DH key encryption. You can choose the OpenVPN protocol and rest assured that all your data will be in any case perfectly safe.
Other protocols available are L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SSTP but you shouldn’t use any of these unless you have a particular reason for doing that. These are in fact the VPN protocols that offer the lowest protection.
NordVPN is based in Panama, a paradise not only for tourists but for the privacy too.
The Panama government doesn’t impose VPN providers to store information about the users. Therefore, NordVPN doesn’t keep any log of your online activity.
In the case of a legal investigation, there will be no trace of what you have done online or the websites you visited
DoubleVPN is a NordVPN feature to enhance your security.
What is Double VPN and how it works?
We tested this feature during our NordVPN review and we have found the Double VPN to be a clever privacy solution to make your connection more secure. When you connect to the Internet using a standard VPN connection, your traffic passes through a VPN server before reaching its destination, for instance, the website you are visiting.
When Double VPN is active, your traffic goes through a VPN server that redirects it to a second VPN server before reaching its destination. This way your traffic is encrypted twice making your sensitive data totally safe.
Most likely, you will not use this feature for routine tasks but only when a high-level of anonymity is required, and you want to be more than sure that your personal info is not snooped.
However, this extra layer of protection takes quite a toll regarding speed. The double encryption process will make your connection slower than using the standard VPN service.
The Double VPN feature is available only on some servers. Some of the VPN servers that support Double VPN are listed here:
As this NordVPN review shows, the company takes your privacy extremely seriously. The VPN protocols combined with the Double VPN feature work very well to make your connection super secure.
The WiFiSec feature is one of the most interesting tools you will enjoy with NordVPN. Public or free WiFi networks are well-known to be highly insecure. As a general rule, you should never connect to a public or free WiFi hotspot.
However, the NordVPN WiFiSec feature detects when you are connecting to such unsafe WiFi network and automatically activate the VPN protection. You can set the WiFiSec to auto-connect and it will activate automatically whenever both secure and unsecured networks are joined.
This feature will make your Internet experience both more secure and enjoyable. The NordVPn Adblocker has a CyberSec feature that blocks dangerous websites and lets users avoid annoying ads.
Pricing & Plans
NordVPN offer 3 different plans you can choose from. Doesn’t matter which one you choose, you will enjoy exactly the same features.
As it is customary in the VPN market, what determines the difference in price is the length of your subscription. Of course, the longer the plan and the most you will save.
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From time to time, NordVPN runs special promotions. If NordVPN is in your bucket list, you should look for NordVPN special offers since you will save a lot of money. For instance, at the moment there is a super convenient promotion for a 2-year plan that will drop the price to a surprising $3.99/month. You can access the promotion here.
NordVPN has a 30-days money back guarantee. So if during the NordVPN trial period you experience issues that the support team cannot solve, you can ask NordVPN a refund, and you will regain your money. Thanks to this guarantee, you can benefit from a NordVPN trial without risking a dime.
NOTE: The 30 days NordVPN refund policy doesn’t apply if you get the app via iTunes/App Store or Google Play Store. If you buy NordVPN there, the refund policy of those stores applies.
NordVPN Free Trial
This is a little secret we want to share with you in our NordVPN review.
Are you still not sure if to get NordVPN or another VPN connection? Would you like to have a NordVPN trial 100% free without getting into your wallet?
This is possible even though it is not widely advertised. In the FAQ section under “Billing & sales questions” you will see that you can have a 3-day NordVPN free trial. That’s enough time to put NordVPN to the test and finalize your decision.
To open a 3-day NordVPN free trial, you need to get in contact with the NordVPN Help Center.
If you consider the quality of this VPN, the high level of security offered and its many features, you can easily see that NordVPN is one of the best deal on the market.
Many are the functionalities of NordVPN. Not all of them may be of interest to you. It all depends on your Internet habits and needs. It is anyway good to know what you can do with your VPN connection and how you can use it to the full.
This is a core feature to protect your privacy and one that should never miss in the VPN you choose.
In case the VPN connection fails, the kill switch will instantly block all the Internet connection to prevent accidental IP leaks or exposure of your sensitive data.
This is not a unique feature since most of the best VPNs have an automatic Kill Switch. However what we like is the fact that you are given the possibility to choose which software or application to block in case the VPN connection drops out.
This option is contemplated only in the software for Windows and Mac OS. If you use iOS or Android, all the internet connection will be disabled.
NordVPN DNS Leak Resolver
DNS Leak is a significant threat while using a VPN. Sometimes the DNS (Domain Name Server) may send unencrypted queries outside the VPN tunnel. When that happen, your IP address and the websites you are visiting become visible and therefore you are not anonymous anymore.
Even worse, unless you run a test like the one we provide here on Anonymster, you don’t know if you are the victim of a DNS leak. Through the test, you can see if the visible IP is the real one or the one assigned by the VPN server.
However, to avoid this annoyance, NordVPN has implemented the DNS Leak Resolver that prevents accidental DNS leaks giving you peace of mind while connected.
NordVPN support P2P and BitTorrent download only on a few selected servers. The company explained that this choice was made to improve the overall VPN stability.
To connect to a P2P server you have two options:
- Log in to a dedicated P2P server (more detail on that when we discuss the application)
- Rerouting service. This is a service that has been introduced by NordVPN in 2016. If you are connected to a non-P2P server, and you turn on a torrent client, the system will automatically reroute you to a P2P server in Canada or Netherlands. If the torrent is not active for more than 3 minutes, your VPN connection will automatically resolve to the original server.
The re-routing process will take more or less 5/10 seconds. At the end of the rerouting process, it may happen that you cannot be able to open the web pages. You can quickly solve the issue by re-opening your browser or using an incognito window.
Smart Play (NordVPN DNS) & NordVPN Netflix
Smart Play is a technology automatically activated in the background of your app. It is basically a Smart DNS, and its purpose is to gain access to as many streaming services as possible.
Basically, you will find Smart Play very useful if you want to access your favorite website while traveling abroad or if you want to watch streaming contents from other countries.
Smart Play is designed to be efficient at bypassing geo-restriction.
For instance, many websites like for example Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Pandora provide different content depending on the Country you are connecting from.
So, if you want to access the Netflix US while traveling outside the USA, this is not possible. You can log into the Netflix website of Country you are (if there is any) and watch only the content available over there.
NordVPN DNS Smart Play solves this problem rerouting your request to a VPN server located in a Country where the access to that very website is not restricted. This is automatically managed by the system, and you don’t have to take any action. This is a smart way to have access to all your favorite contents wherever you are around the world and without taking extra steps.
In fact, the comfort of having the Smart Play feature is that you don’t need to manually connect to a server located in the Country you need.
For instance, if you are connecting from France and want to watch the US Netflix, you don’t need to find a server in the USA and log into it. NordVPN will detect the website you are trying to access and automatically reroute your request to the appropriate server that is not blocked.
Some of the websites that you can access thanks to the NordVPN DNS Smart Play technology are:
- Amazon Prime
- ABC Go
- TNT Drama
- NBC Sports
- many more
Onion Over VPN
NordVPN offers a practical solution to add an extra layer of security while you surf the Internet.
The NordVPN Onion over VPN servers allows you to connect to the Internet through the TOR (The Onion Router) network.
The uniqueness of this feature lays on the fact that you can access the TOR network without downloading the Onion browser on your device. NordVPN Onion over VPN will take care of everything.
Using NordVPN Onion over VPN servers, you combine the functionalities of a VPN with the anonymous navigation guaranteed by TOR.
This feature is interesting if you are really concerned about your privacy and security. However, do not expect the speed performances to be great. We had several tests during our NordVPN review that confirm some limits of onion over VPN.
Your connection will become very slow because of the combined effects of the VPN and TOR. When this option is activated, you can consult web pages but forget about downloading or streaming any content.
Even though this option is attractive, we believe that connecting directly to TOR is still the best solution if you want to use the Onion Browser.
6 Simultaneous Connections
When you subscribe to NordVPN, you can enjoy a generous 6 simultaneous connections, a lot more than what other best VPN providers offer.
This is really useful if you have several devices connected to the Internet or if you want to protect all your family’s devices.
However, you cannot connect two devices to the same server. This is the only limitation you have with this feature, but with so many servers available we don’t think this a problem.
Now NordVPN Works In China
On June 2017, NordVPN has announced a service update that allows NordVPN to work even in China. NordVPN is among the few VPNs that are strong enough to bypass China censorship.
They have set in place obfuscated servers that have been specifically designed to access the Internet in countries with severe censorship in places like China, and Middle East countries.
You can read our dedicated article that explains how to use NordVPN in China
NordVPN Servers List
When you decide to buy a VPN connection, there are a few things that you cannot compromise on. One of this is the network of VPN servers available and their location. For this reason, we included in our NordVPN review a section dedicated to the NordVPN server list.
The more VPN servers you have at your disposal and the most enjoyable and secure the use of your VPN will be. When you can connect to different servers in any location around the globe, you will have more access to geo-restricted contents, better opportunities to fake your IP address, find more deals when shopping online and so on.
If you want to discover all the potentiality of your VPN connection and why a large VPN servers’ network is necessary, you may read our guide that explains in details what is a VPN.
NordVPN server list features many options all around the globe. They are 5025+ located in 62+ different countries.
Here you can find the updated NordVPN server list.
The NordVPN server list is continually expanding, so the figures you see in this review will keep increasing over the months.
A kind of interesting feature of NordVPN is the possibility to choose dedicated server depending on what you want to accomplish with your VPN.
These are the dedicated NordVPN servers available:
- Anti DDoS
- Dedicated IP servers
- Double VPN servers
- Onion over VPN
- Standard VPN servers
Later on, in the article, we will explain the difference between these servers and how to access them.
Chrome and Firefox Extensions
NordVPN offers encrypted proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. We will update our NordVPN review to keep you informed when extensions will be available for other browsers.
NordVPN Customer Support
As we were preparing our NordVPN review, our experience with customer support has been positive.
First of all, it is important to notice that NordVPN offers a 24/7 Live Chat. This is the service we tested the most since it is the primary tool you will use if you experience problems.
We got in contact with the support team through the Live Chat over a period of several days and at different hours. We always got a response in less than a minute. We have found the team to be quite friendly and helpful either we were inquiring about general information or technical issues.
Of course, we didn’t inform NordVPN that we were contacting them from Anonymster to avoid any particular treatment, so we have a solid ground to believe that any customer will receive the same service.
Besides the Live Chat, you can contact the customer support via email.
However, if you experience any technical issue, you may at first have a look at the “Help “ section. You can get there from the official website homepage by clicking on the top menu “Help.”
Under the section “Troubleshooting,” you will find an exhaustive series of article explaining how to solve some of the most common issues that users experience.
Have a look even at the Tutorials section where you will find detailed technical information on how to set and use NordVPN with different OS and devices. Here, for instance, you have tutorials on:
- how to install NordVPN on Linux
- how to set SOCKS5 on torrent clients
- how to install NordVPN on your router
Most of the time a tour into the Help section is all you need to solve your issues.
How To Use NordVPN
NordVPN is well known to be one of the most user-friendly VPN connection on the market.
Therefore, our NordVPN review wouldn’t be complete without exploring every little feature of the software.
During the installation, we didn’t experience any major issue and the all process was quite easy and straightforward.
To sign up, it will take less than a minute. You just need to:
- Choose your plan
- Insert your email (use a disposable one if you want to have more privacy)
- Select a payment method (you can pay with Bitcoin if you want to enhance your privacy)
After these simple steps, you will land on the NordVPN download page from where you can install the software on your device. You may decide first to have a look at the Welcome Guide if you want to read some useful information about NordVPN functionalities.
How To Use The NordVPN Software
Choosing Among NordVPN Servers
As you open the app, you will be presented with a map of the world on which all the NordVPN servers’ locations are displayed.
To start using the VPN, you can just click on any server you see on the map, which is a kind of cool and easy way to get started.
Alternatively, you can manually choose a NordVPN server clicking on the top left menu “Country List.”
This one will open a list of all the countries available, and you can pick the one you prefer.
As we mentioned before, there is a network of dedicated NordVPN servers for specific tasks like P2P, Anti DDoS, Onion over VPN and so on. You may decide to connect to any one of them in two different ways:
#1 Through The NordVPN Servers’ List
- Click on the hamburger menu on the top left
- Click on the menu “Server List”
- You will see a complete VPN servers’ list. Interestingly, for each one of them, you will see the usage status and the distance from your location. You may refer to this chart to select the best performing server in the chosen Country.
- Click on the top menu “All servers.”
- From the drop-down menu choose the kind of server you are looking for between AntiDDoS, Dedicated IP servers, Double VPN servers, Onion over VPN, P2P, Standard VPN servers
- Once you have selected the type of server, choose one from the list.
#2 Use The Search Field
- Click on the “Search” field in the top right corner
- A window will appear with a quick link to some of the most used VPN servers like the ones located in the USA, P2P, Onion over VPN and Double VPN.
- Alternatively, you type the kind of server you are looking for, and you will get the complete list.
Differently than many other VPN providers, with NordVPN you don’t need to disconnect before switching server. You just click on the next server and the system will reroute you automatically. It is just a detail, but we have found it very comfortable.
If at any time you want to disconnect the VPN, you just need to click on the button at the top.
NordVPN doesn’t have a VPN server speed test to get a complete list of the best performing servers. Even though in the server list you can see the NordVPN servers performances, we would be happy to see this feature implemented since it will make your search for a good server a lot easier and faster.
NordVPN Review – Settings
Connect On Start
You can use this option to select a server that NordVPN will automatically connect to every time you launch the VPN.
You just need to click on “select” and choose a server from the list.
This is a critical feature. We firmly advise you to set it since it will enhance your security.
The kill switch will block all the selected programs in case the VPN connection fails. This is very important to prevent accidental sensitive data leaks.
Just click on “Add Apps” and then on “Add program to Kill List.” From the list select all the program that will be blocked every time the VPN is not active.
NordVPN Review – Advanced Settings
From this menu, you can decide how the VPN has to work.
For instance, you can choose to start the VPN on boot, where you want to display the icon or make a choice between the TCP or UDP protocol.
You can use this menu even to set your custom DNS. Usually, there is no need to change this setting. But if you want to set your own DNS you can do it here.
Use this option to send an email directly to the support team.
This is a quick link to the Help Page on the NordVPN website. In this page, you will find a lot of information on how to use NordVPN, some troubleshooting articles, and even several tutorials to set NordVPN.
You will use this function only if you are experiencing some problem. You may decide to send your log file to the support team to help solve the problem.
However, this is your personal decision. The NordVPN team cannot access this information unless you decide to send the log to them.
NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy, and since they are based in Panama, they are very serious about it.
Here you can store your most used VPN server.
When you are inside the “Server List” menu, you will see that next to each server you have the heart icon. Click on it to set the server as favorite, and it will be automatically added to the Favourite Servers list.
How To Change VPN Protocol
In the course of our NordVPN review, we realized that switching VPN protocol is not as easy as it should be.
For instance, if you are using MAC OS X you have an app for OpenVPN and one for IKEv2. Therefore you need to download both of them. If then you want to switch to any other VPN protocol, you have to do it manually from your device settings.
More or less the same concept applies to all other Operating Systems and devices.
They have a well-done tutorial section that guides you through all the process of switching VPN protocol, but it would be a lot easier to have an option to apply the changes directly from the app.
When it comes to changing VPN protocols, we didn’t find NordVPN to be that user-friendly.
Of course, NordVPN rightly recommends to use only OpenVPN or IKEv2 protocol and never switch to any other. However, if for some reason you want to change VPN protocol and you are a beginner you may find the task daunting.
NordVPN Mobile App
A key part of our NordVPN review is the test of the mobile app. Most likely, you will use the NordVPN mobile client extensively and we tested it to asses its user-friendliness.
The mobile app has a look very similar to the Windows and Mac OS X client.
The functionalities are pretty much the same even though the mobile app is somewhat more limited when it comes to settings.
To select one of the many NordVPN servers, you can use the world map or click on the right bottom menu “Countries.”
From the menu on the right select “Servers”
You will see a list of all the countries where the VPN servers are hosted. As you click on one of them, you will be automatically connected to the best performing server in that very country.
The mobile app has been recently updated and now you can pick dedicated servers as it happens with the Windows and OS X version.
Clicking on the top right hamburger menu, you will have the option to choose some settings for your VPN.
As for the security settings, you can decide to activate the Kill switch or the Smart Reconnect function.
In the case of VPN connection failure, the Kill Switch will block all the applications while attempting to reconnect to the same server. The Smart Reconnect instead, will automatically reconnect to another working server as soon as the VPN connection drops.
The mobile app is straightforward to use even though it could be implemented with some more features to make it more similar to the Windows or OS X client.
NordVPN Speed Test
This is a crucial section of our NordVPN review.
Speed is one of the most important features of a VPN connection. The service has to be of course secure, but at the same time the VPN shouldn’t excessively slow down your connection unless you want to deal with some frustration.
NordVPN claims to be an incredibly fast VPN connection. So let’s see now if their claim is real or not.
During the test, we were streaming a video from YouTube.
This is our connection speed without the VPN active. We were connected to a WiFi network, and the connection speed wasn’t that great in the first place.
At first, we connected to a server nearby our current location.
As you can see, we experienced just a minor drop in speed.
This is instead the test using a server many miles away from where we are.
We tested NordVPN connecting to three different areas around the globe. Apart from the server in Brazil, the performances didn’t drop significantly. Considering the distance from our original location, we were pleased with this result.
Let’s see now what happened when we connect to a Double VPN server.
In this case, we could see the effect of two VPN servers working together. The double encryption took its toll on the speed. However, the connection was still fast enough to stream content without any buffering.
This is instead the speed test using an Onion over VPN server.
That was, as expected, the most disappointing test during our NordVPN review. TOR is slow by itself, and once it is combined with a VPN, the performances are even worse. The speed dropped to the point that we experienced buffering watching the YouTube video and even page reload didn’t work at times. Onion over VPN can only be used if you need to consult a web page without downloading any content.
Even though Onion over VPN may be a handy feature, we still believe that it would be a better idea to connect to TOR without using NordVPN.
NordVPN Review – Conclusion
NordVPN lives up to its fame as one of the best VPN connection.
As we explained in this NordVPN review, this VPN comes with many features that will assist you while surfing the Internet. This VPN provider takes your security very seriously, and its functionalities will help you to enjoy to the full the potential of the web.
Accessing streaming content will not be a problem, including the US Netflix library. All your sensitive data will be totally safe and hidden from prying eyes. Do not forget that NordVPN has its base in Panama that, thanks to its super protecting privacy rules, makes it for one of the most secure VPN on the market.
As far as functionality, the extensive test we performed for this NordVPN review revealed that there could be some improvement. For instance, to switch VPN protocol is not as easy as with other VPN providers. Apart from this detail, if you are a beginner or don’t need to change the VPN protocol often (which usually you shouldn’t), NordVPN is a very user-friendly provider.
Price-wise, NordVPN is an excellent option. It ‘s hard to find another best VPN provider offering you so many features and excellent data protection for such a cheap price. We believe that NordVPN is one of the best options when you shop around for a VPN connection.
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