Nord VPN Review – Speed Test, Features, and More
Nord VPN Review
Nord VPN is a longstanding VPN service which we’ve referenced and even recommended in previous articles about VPN. So, when they asked us about a review, it was an easy offer. Of course we want to try it out and possibly earn money if we, and you, like the product.
I have previously used other VPN including Express and Vypr. I uninstalled them for the purpose of trying Nord out. In disclosure, I, the writer, receive 1 year of free Nord VPN membership in exchange for this review.
The Basics: What is Nord VPN
Nord VPN is a VPN and proxy service offering an easy-to-use interface, pricing from $2.75/month (for a 3 year plan) , and no logging. With servers in 59 countries, apps for nearly any web application or device, and support for Netflix, HBO, and other movie streaming apps, Nord actually stands out a great deal when compared to some alternatives.
Nord VPN Specs
Cost: $11.95 Monthly, $5.75 Per Month Yearly, $3.29 Per Month Bi-Yearly (Discounts and sales frequently available)
Servers: 3,000 +
Payments: Paypal, Credit & Debit, Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, etc.), AliPay
Devices per Account: 6
Available in China: For now
Guarantee: 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
What Does Nord VPN Log?
Nord VPN advertises no logging, which means that they don’t keep records of your internet usage. However, they do log your email address (with your account), payment records, and service performance data (which they use to recommend better servers).
Nord VPN Features
While Nord VPN comes with all the standard features offered by most VPN, they do have a few things that stand out. For example, a dual kill switch, dual IP hiding, Onion over VPN, and SmartPlay. Let’s take a look at what each of these features are.
SmartPlay – SmartPlay helps you to choose a server not blocked by Netflix or another streaming site. This is important because sites like Netflix eventually block IP addresses associated with VPN, so your VPN will have to keep switching in order to allow you to view Netflix. Why would you want it? If you’re not in the USA, using a VPN to stream movies from U.S. sites can give you access to thousands of additional programs and shows.
Kill Switch – Nord VPN offers a dual kill switch to instantly block all programs and activity in case your VPN connection goes down. This can prevent your actual IP address from being logged in case something goes wrong. How useful is it? Unless you’re hacking something or on a website that you don’t want anyone to know about such as dark web, you likely won’t make much use of this feature. If you just want VPN for a little additional privacy, a few seconds of IP visibility certainly won’t ruin your reputation. However, the feature is there and works quite well.
DNS Leak Protection – If you’re a DIY person, this will protect your DNS from leaks. However, 90% of users won’t ever need this.
Onion Over VPN – Tor allows you to protect your privacy and access the dark web or just your regular email more anonymously, but it doesn’t always work with VPN. Onion Over VPN allows you to route your internet traffic through VPN first and then through the Onion Router.
Encryption – NordVPN offers 256-AES-CBC encryption with 2048 bit Diffie-Hellman key which is more secure than the standard RSA keys. Mac users get IKEv2/IPsec security protocols (what’ I’m using) with AES-256-GCM and a 3072 bit Diffie-Hellman key. What does that actually mean? It’s a high-efficiency cryptographic block cipher, which translates your data into an encrypted cipher that can only be unlocked with the single-use key. If someone accesses your data, they still have to unencrypt it.
Start on Boot – Auto-launch and connect when you turn your computer on.
Proxy Servers – Proxy servers available including SOCKS 5
Customer Service – The customer service is very available and extremely knowledgeable, that’s rare for VPN services, which are usually less professional when it comes to support.
How is Nord VPN’s Speed?
I’ve been using Nord VPN for several days and comparing it with my colleague’s use and review as well. I have noticed some considerable differences. For example, in the USA, she noticed considerable lag. I am in Europe and did not.
My speed test with no VPN is:
Ookla: 37.75 Download (slow, I know)
Netflix Fast.com: 36 Download
With Nord VPN running:
Ookla: 35.39 Download
Netflix Fast.com: 28 Download
So, while my initial connection is fairly slow, Nord actually minimally impacted the base speed. If you’re running on faster internet, you may notice it more, but in my case, I was still able to stream a Netflix movie with no lag and use the Internet with no real differences.
However, I tested out servers in multiple countries and those in the USA are definitely faster than European servers. That’s saying something considering I’m in Europe. However, this may be because Europe has more users when I typically log on, which is very early in the morning (2-5 AM) for most Americans.
What About the Interface
Nord VPN offers a really simple and relatively easy to use interface. Everything is simple, well labelled, and does not require any real technical knowledge at all. The interface is simply a map with two drop down menus, one which allows you to choose a server and the other where you can update your settings. I won’t run you through that because it really is that self-explanatory.
Where Is Nord VPN Located?
Nord VPN is located in Panama, where they’re registered as a corporation by Tenfincom Co S.A. under serial number 87190896. This is a fairly standardized and normal practice in the VPN world, often because companies must protect themselves from litigation in countries like the USA. So, most VPN are located in countries like Panama, Singapore, Russia, Switzerland, etc.
NordVPN bills you through a company set up in the USA, CloudVPN Inc., a subsidy set up to accept payments from U.S. customers without raising banking flags for fraud (like payments to foreign countries often do).
Unfortunately, all of the company registration for both corporations is handled through Nord VPN’s lawyer, so there are not other details on the company.
What About Tefincom?
If you’re wondering what Tefincom is, they are basically a shell company. The company is registered at 50th Street, Global Plaza Tower: 19th Floor, Suite Hcountry, Panama. This is an address shared by at least a half dozen other organizations, including Systemo, Cascado, and Rekvid, primarily international shell companies exposed in the Panama Papers. So, Tefincom is a shell, set up to hide who really owns Nord VPN.
But, should you be suspicious? Probably not. By protecting their identity, Nord VPN also ensures that your web usage is safer. Of course, you have no idea of who is actually behind the company or why, but if you want to use a VPN, that seems to be your goal for yourself anyway.
Nord VPN has a lot to offer, especially for users who don’t specifically need a lot of technical control. However, Nord also has a lot of high-end functions that light users simply won’t utilize. Budget-wise, Nord VPN is low-cost and affordable, providing you go with the 2-year contract. You can also save a great deal if you choose to buy during a sale, where monthly costs for a 2-year contract go down to as little as $2.75 instead of the standard $3.29 (Private Internet Access is $2.91, Vypr is $5, and Express is $8.32.). So, Nord is neither expensive nor the cheapest you can get, but is pretty far into budget territory, if you’re willing to commit for the long-term.
I also found that Nord compares favorably well to other VPN when it comes to speed. I don’t experience lag issues with movies or YouTube, and it had no learning curve at all for me, but it may with a less tech-ie user.
At the end of the day, Nord VPN makes a great VPN solution for beginning as well as intermediate users. If you need extremely high speeds, you may be better off choosing another option like Express but if not, Nord worked quite well for me and will for you as well.