NordVPN is often listed as one of the top VPN services and is used by over 14 million users. Thanks to being located in Panama, the company doesn’t have to retain data, making it more private for users. While you’ll find plenty of hype, how well does this VPN actually perform? See for yourself in this NordVPN review.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by NordVPN. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.
Overview of NordVPN Features
Currently, NordVPN has more than 5,400 servers in 59 countries, making it widely available. Plus, in many countries, you can also choose from multiple servers to better target specific cities. For instance, want to watch east coast content in the US, but you’re on the west coast? Just choose an east coast server.
If the general NordVPN servers aren’t enough, you can also choose from several specialty servers, such as:
- Double VPN – better encrypt your traffic by routing it through two servers.
- Onion over VPN – traffic is also routed through the Onion network in addition to a standard server.
- P2P – ideal for the fastest and most secure file sharing.
- Dedicated IPs – get a dedicated IP versus a random IP based on the server you’re using.
Don’t need to route all your traffic through a VPN? No problem. Split Tunneling, available for Windows and Android, lets you route only some of your traffic through the VPN. Some of the other major features include:
- Dark web monitoring
- Set presets for specific servers and sites
- NordVPN automatically chooses the fastest server
- Block ads and malicious sites with CyberSec
- Use MFA for better account protection
- SmartPlay – built-in smart DNS mixed with the VPN to cloak your IP for private streaming.
Not only do NordVPN servers help you access content while masking your IP address, but the service also offers Threat Protection and Meshnet. With Threat Protection, you get an extra layer of protection against malicious sites and files. Only files that are downloaded from the Internet are scanned.
With Meshnet, you’re able to access encrypted private tunnels and devices. Instead of a server, you connect to a device, and all traffic is encrypted. It’s powered by NordLynx and is ideal for file sharing, remotely accessing files, and even LAN gaming. You can have up to 10 devices and access up to 50 with invitations.
The great part about NordVPN is that you can download on most devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, most major browsers, Firestick, Android TV, Xbox, PlayStation, and more.
Obviously, one of the most important features of any VPN is security, so I wanted to cover this separately in this review. If you’re afraid of your traffic being decrypted, don’t worry. NordVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption. You can also choose from three VPN protocols, including:
- OpenVPN – most commonly used and compatible with most every device.
- IKEv2/IPsec – developed by Cisco and Microsoft. While secure, it can sometimes be slower.
- NordLynx – a version of WireGuard, which isn’t as feature-rich as OpenVPN, but is usually noticeably faster
Currently, NordVPN is building a network of colocated servers that can only be accessed by NordVPN staff. But, as of September 2020, all servers are diskless RAM servers, meaning no data is ever stored locally.
Finally, there’s a kill switch, which I personally feel every VPN should have. If the connection between your device and VPN ever cuts off, the Internet connection is cut off as well to prevent any unencrypted traffic.
There are several support options. If you need immediate help, try the 24/7 live chat or send an email. Or, if you are just trying to figure out how to set things up, which is surprisingly easy to do, check out the support center.
Before diving into how the VPN performed in tests, let’s take a look at pricing. Choose from several options, including:
- Monthly – $11.99
- 1 Year – $59.88/year ($4.99/month)
- 2 Year – $83.43/year ($3.09/month)
Additionally, you can bundle NordVPN with other Nord services. There are two bundle options (available in monthly, one year, and two year plans) for NordVPN with NordPass and NordVPN with NordPass and NordLocker.
Getting set up is as easy as downloading the appropriate app(s) and signing in. For me, this was Windows and Android, and both work similarly. Both interfaces are incredibly intuitive, so if you’ve never used a VPN before, don’t worry about complicated setups. In fact, from the home page, simply select a server and connect.
While I don’t use Netflix, I did test Disney+, Hulu, YouTubeTV, and Paramount+ with NordVPN. Outside of changing my location on YouTubeTV, everything connected in countries throughout the world, so even if I was traveling outside my home country, I could still watch my favorite shows. For YouTubeTV, I tested viewing local west coast stations, as I’m based on the east coast. There were no issues whatsoever.
Once again, if you’re traveling, you don’t have to miss out on your regular shows. Stream all your favorites no matter where you are, as if you were right at home on your couch.
The only service that gave me a little trouble was HBO Max. The website and mobile app kept freezing when I connected through the VPN. It took multiple tries before I was able to maintain a connection without anything freezing, but HBO Max doesn’t always perform well even without a VPN, so I’m blaming that on HBO.
Overall, the picture quality and speeds for all the services I tested were comparable to not using a VPN. I honestly couldn’t tell much difference outside of a show or movie taking a few extra seconds to load initially. Speeds tended to be approximately 10 to 15 percent less overall than being online without a VPN.
I personally would recommend letting NordVPN automatically pick the fastest server for a specific country. When I manually chose servers, I’d occasionally experience some buffering issues, but that’s usually because the servers, like New York for instance, already had heavy traffic.
Also, I had better speeds when connecting via OpenVPN versus other options. This is true across most VPNs.
The P2P server worked flawlessly for torrenting. Downloads finished lightning fast. You don’t have to worry about painfully slow downloading when using NordVPN.
Overall, NordVPN is one of the easiest-to-use VPNs around. While you can custom configure settings, the defaults work surprisingly well for most needs, from streaming to downloading to just keeping your Internet activity private. It’s actually an affordable option that also helps protect you from malicious ads and files. Plus, if you bundle, you can get other Nord productsf for a nice discount.
Sign up for NordVPN today to stay safer online, stream content all over the world, and much more. There’s even a 30-day money back guarantee.
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