The Basics: What is NordVPN
NordVPN is a Virtual Private Network and proxy service offering an easy-to-use interface with no logging. Having servers in 62 countries, apps for nearly any web application or mobile device, and support for Netflix, HBO, and other movie streaming apps, Nord actually stands out quite a bit when compared to some alternatives.
- Cost: $11.95 Monthly, $5.75 Per Month Yearly, $3.29 Per Month Bi-Yearly (Discounts and sales frequently available)
- Countries: 62
- VPN Servers: 3,000+
- Payments: Paypal, Credit & Debit, Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, etc.), AliPay
- Devices per Account: 6
- Logs: No
- Netflix: Yes
- Torrenting: Yes
- Available in China: Yes
- Guarantee: 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
What Does NordVPN Log?
NordVPN 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 the fastest servers for your location).
While NordVPN comes with all of the standard features offered by most VPN’s, 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 the details for each of these features.
SmartPlay – SmartPlay helps you choose a server that is not blocked by Netflix or another streaming site. This is important because sites like Netflix eventually block IP addresses associated with VPN’s, so your VPN will have to keep switching IP’s 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 – NordVPN 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. For instance, if you are browsing alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.bondage on Usenet and your Wifi connection decided to reset. The Kill Switch would detect the loss of contact with NordVPN and stop all internet traffic until you were reconnected and could safely browse your very private newsgroups.
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. Onion Over VPN allows you to route your internet traffic through your VPN first and then through the Onion Router.
Encryption – NordVPN offers 256-AES-CBC encryption with a 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman key which is more secure than the standard RSA keys. Mac users get IKEv2/IPsec security protocols 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 is unlocked with a single-use key. If someone accesses your data, they still have to decrypt 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 tech support.
How is NordVPN’s Speed?
With the help of my colleague I’ve been comparing NordVPN for several days and 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
- Ookla: 37.75 Mbps Download (slow, I know)
- Netflix: 36 Mbps Download
- Torrenting: 37 Mbps Download
With NordVPN Running
- Ookla: 35.39 Mbps Download (slow, I know)
- Netflix: 28 Mbps Download
- Torrenting: 36.4 Mbps Download
So, while my normal Internet connection is fairly slow, NordVPN actually minimally impacted the base speed. If you have an extremely fast Internet connection, 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. I was particularly impressed with the speed of torrenting.
However, I tested out servers in multiple countries and those in the USA are definitely faster than European servers. That’s saying something, considering that 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
NordVPN offers a really simple and relatively easy to use interface. Everything is simple, well labeled, 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 NordVPN Located?
NordVPN is located in Panama, where they’re registered as a corporation named Tenfincom Co S.A. under serial number 87190896. Registration in Panama 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’s 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 registrations for both corporations are handled through NordVPN’s lawyers, so there are no 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 H, 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 NordVPN.
But, should you care? Probably not. By protecting their identity, NordVPN also ensures that your identity and Internet activity is safe as well. Of course, you have no idea of who is actually behind the company, but if you want to use a VPN, that seems to be your goal for yourself anyway.
NordVPN has a lot to offer, especially for users who want something user-friendly and that just works. Nord does have a lot of high-end features, but they somehow manage to keep everything very intuitive. Budget-wise, NordVPN 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 not expensive at regular price but is pretty far into budget territory if you are willing to commit for the long-term.
In my review, I found that NordVPN compares very well to other VPN’s when it comes to download speed. I don’t experience lag issues with movies or YouTube, and there was no learning curve at all for me.
At the end of the day, NordVPN is an excellent solution for new as well as intermediate users.