NordVPN Review 2023: Pricing, Speed, Locations & Safety
In today's digital age, online security and privacy are becoming increasingly important. With cyber threats lurking around every corner, it's essential to use a reliable and trustworthy VPN service. NordVPN is one such provider that has gained popularity in recent years.
In this NordVPN review, we'll take a closer look at its features, performance, pricing, and more to help you decide if it's the right VPN for your needs.We’ll discuss what NordVPN is, what NordVPN does, and go over things like speed tests and feature lists.
Ready, set, go!
NordVPN review 2023: is NordVPN a good VPN?
This NordVPN review aims to answer the question, is NordVPN good? The straight answer is yes, NordVPN is good, if not very good. When compared to competitor apps like ExpressVPN, SurfShark, IPVanish and Cyberghost, NordVPN stands up very well.
For many, if NordVPN is not the best VPN, then it is surely among the group of the best VPN providers out there, but feel free to read some more comparisons yourself to get educated on the market. Many of these great VPNs have similar pricing structures as well as similar toolkits. This article aims to highlight what is special about NordVPN.
NordVPN pricing plans
First of all, how much does NordVPN cost? Let’s first review NordVPN prices:
In addition to the standard payment options, NordVPN crypto and NordVPN Bitcoin payments are also possible, along with other cryptocurrencies.
In addition to the standard payment options, NordVPN crypto and NordVPN Bitcoin payments are also possible, along with other cryptocurrencies.
How much is NordVPN for nonprofits?
Nonprofits and other charitable organizations can expect the NordVPN cost to be discounted. The company offers a special NordVPN price to eligible NGOs, and they have already granted this discount to over 1,500 various nonprofit organizations. The specific prices are not listed. To apply for the NGO NordVPN price, visit their website and fill out the appropriate form.
Are there any NordVPN coupon codes or promo discount vouchers?
We did the research, and it seems there are no NordVPN coupon codes or discount vouchers at this time. However, the standard pricing on their web site does often list specials, for example, you can sometimes get 3 months free when you subscribe to the 1-year plan or 2-year plan. But when it comes to third-party coupons and discount vouchers, caveat emptor, or buyer beware.
NordVPN free vs paid: what’s the difference?
There does indeed seem to be a free NordVPN download, however, much like other free downloads, especially for mobile devices, it comes with in-app purchases. Some differences you may experience in the free NordVPN version versus the paid one is that you might have access to fewer servers in fewer countries.
What’s more, in order for Nord to not lose money, they may do what other VPNs do and sell some of your data, anonymized of course, to data brokerage firms. There is also the chance that you will have to endure advertisements on a free VPN.
Free VPNs may also be lacking some key features, like the kill switch, split tunneling, mesh nets, and advanced threat protection.
NordVPN does have a free trial of their paid versions.
NordVPN overview: what is NordVPN & what does NordVPN do?
So what does the NordVPN platform do exactly? Well, when you want to get online, it takes your IP, masks it, and then routes your internet traffic through one of their globally positioned VPN servers, so that your ISP does not know where you are coming from.
NordVPN makes it so that you can appear to be anywhere in the world when you are browning. This is great for bypassing censorship or unblocking content that is geo restricted. This is perfect if you want no restriction on your streaming or gaming activities, or if you want to compare when online shopping in different countries and their respective websites, for example, if there is a deal on Amazon Germany and not in Amazon Australia.
VPNs are also useful for anyone interested in Tor browsing, that is, people who want to see the deep web and the dark web using onion over VPN. This sense of double anonymity is a key aspect of good and safe web browsing using the onion network, or Tor.
All in all, VPNs, and NordVPN in particular, are great for getting online without the powers that be watching what you are doing or controlling what you can see, hear and read. And for those times you get to use a free public wi-fi, then NordVPN is crucial to protect you from data brokerage firms and malevolent hackers.
Is NordVPN safe to use?
So, you want to know, is NordVPN safe? That is a great question, as the entire point of a VPN is safety and security and protecting the privacy of your data and browsing activities. There are many ways that NordVPN ensures that it is safe to use.
Some of the NordVPN safety measures are purely technical and may be difficult for average people to understand, while other methods for ensuring security might be more comprehensible to your average Joe or Jane web user.
Let’s go over some of the safety and security protocols of NordVPN, and indeed, from many other similar VPN providers.
Does NordVPN keep logs?
First off is the question of NordVPN logs. What exactly is a log? It’s precisely what it sounds like, for example, the captain’s log from Star Trek, which is a record of everything that goes in the ship, or, in your case, everything that transpires in your internet surfing.
NordVPN has a no-logs policy. This means that they do not record or log your activity, they do not store it anywhere, even anonymously.A no-logs policy means that your ISP, or internet service provider, cannot identify your IP, which is your internet protocol, and see what you are doing online.
NordVPN location: where is NordVPN based?
You now want to know, where is NordVPN located? The answer is that the NordVPN headquarters is in Panama. It helps when a VPN is based out of a country like Panama.
Why is Panama chosen as the NordVPN country? Because it is a country without data retention laws, meaning that companies that operate inside Panama are not compelled to retain data for the purpose of government surveillance. NordVPN is proudly based out of Panama.
Panama has other advantages for NordVPN’s country selection for its HQ. The country has pretty solid internet speeds and connections overall compared to many other Central American countries. It offers all three connection types like cable broadband, DSL and satellite. This means the country has got your bandwidth needs covered.
NordVPN DNS leak test
Time we turn to the subject of DNS, or domain name system. What is it? And why is it important? DNS is a system whereby things like IP addresses or domain names are translated from more human text to computer code. It is a way to identify all computers or devices accessing the internet through IP networks. You could also say it is what converts numbers to letters, and helps speed up the browsing experience.
A DNS leak is when you use a VPN to access the internet, but your DNS queries accidentally do not go through the same VPN but instead look for their own DNS servers, and this can compromise your privacy and expose your IP.
NordVPN performs a DNS leak test to prevent this from happening. It does this by only using DNS servers that are owned by NordVPN. You can always check this by visiting a DNS leak test website. In other words, Nord uses a private DNS network.
NordVPN WebRTC leak test
So, on to WebRTC, what is that? And how does it affect a VPN? This stands for web real-time communication, and it is an open source protocol that allows computers, mobile devices and web browsers to communicate with APIs, or application programming interfaces. Like DNS, WebRTC is also a risk for causing leaks outside of your VPN traffic, and a great VPN should have measures to test this and prevent it.
The NordVPN website warns its users that some web browsers like Firefox and Chrome have some security vulnerabilities and could leak data over the WebRTCV protocol. This would expose your IP which is not good. While NordVPN does not have built-in WebRTC leak test functionality, they do explain how to do this by disconnecting your VPN, checking your IP, relaunching the VPN and then going to a leak test site like browserleaks.com.
Sometimes, you want an outside opinion as to how secure and safe a product is, as normally you’d expect the brand itself to sing nothing but praises for its own product. This is where independent audits come in. But allowing an outside third-party to audit your system and test for vulnerabilities, you get a lot more credibility.
NordVPN does regular independent audits. They used one of the mega audit firms, PWC, or PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which is based in Switzerland, land of privacy and security. PWC, along with Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst and Young all have stellar reputations.
PWC has done at least two separate no-log audits of NordVPN and have given them a perfect rating. During these audits, NordVPN gave PWC full access to all of its server data. What’s more, other VPNs that do independent audits do not always opt for one of the big 4 audit companies, making Nord a leader in this regard.
When you talk about a kill switch in VPN systems, what you mean is a system that cuts off the stream of data to the public internet just in case the VPN ever loses its connection too. A kill switch is a great way to prevent accidental exposure when connections seem to be flickering on and off.
VPN disconnects can be caused by unstable internet connections, software or device failures, firewalls or antivirus software, or server and networking problems. NordVPN’s kill switch handles any case where the VPN connection drops.
The double VPN is another great way that NordVPN supports the privacy and security of your online activities. How this works is that it gives you twice the encryption. Basically, Nord will route your surfing traffic through one VPN server and then through a second one. Double VPN is also known as VPN chaining.
The benefits of double VPN are encryption that’s twice as powerful, superior IP protection from your ISP, ads, or other web snoopers, and it’s great from hiding from surveillance both corporate and state. Also, in case the connection drops with one VPN node, or if a server gets compromised, you still have another layer of VPN protection.
Dark web monitor
Have you heard of the dark web? It’s a highly secretive part of the world wide web, specifically the deep web, that is not searchable by Google or other web search tools. But it goes beyond the deep web, meaning the dark web is also where heavily encrypted activities go on.
Using a VPN like Nord to gain internet access to the dark web is a necessary precaution. The dark web is usually only accessible using something like the Tor browser or the onion over VPN system.
But there’s more. Sometimes malicious agents from the dark web scan the surface web for people’s personal information and then use it, sell it, trade it or compromise it on the dark web. NordVPN regularly scans the dark web to see if your personal data is already there, and then it alerts you so you can take action. Dark web monitors check forums and other dark sites.
As you all know by now, your IP address is available to the websites you visit so they can track you and store your data, and they will use it for a variety of means, from advertising to profiting by selling your information. A VPN masks your IP.
With NordVPN, you can get a dedicated IP address. You can opt to buy a dedicated VPN from Nord, which will be yours exclusively, but will also serve to hide your genuine IP. This is ideal if you access business servers, or if you ever want to make secure online payments. It also helps with blacklists, letting you skip them, and you will also not need to worry so much about CAPTCHAs. A dedicated IP is also useful for IoT devices, which stands for the internet of things, when devices can talk to each other and share data.
It is one thing to access the internet using a VPN tunnel, but in some cases, websites will know that you are using a VPN and will block you for this reason. This is why an obfuscated server system comes in handy. They allow users to surf anywhere even when websites do not want VPN users to land on them.
Obfuscated VPNs get around firewalls no problem, removing all information that tells them you have an active VPN running. This is all about metadata, which with an obfuscated server appears totally normal, like typical HTTPS traffic. It’s also very practical for avoiding bandwidth throttling, which is how web providers can privilege certain traffic flows over others and might be the cause for slow connections or streaming that constantly buffers.
Every now and then, a VPN may get in the way of using certain websites to their max if they do indeed need to know your IP, who you are, and other personal information. So here comes a very recent VPN feature called split tunneling.
Split tunneling creates a two way tunnel to the internet whereby most of your traffic will still go through the VPN tunnel, while at the same time, certain websites that want to access without a VPN will be available through a second tunnel that won’t be made super private.
By dividing your traffic in two NordVPN servers, you get the fastest speeds possible for all kinds of websites, not losing a second of browning time for those sites you do not need a VPN for. There is inverse splitting for only letting trusted programs access to your data, app-based splitting for selected apps, and URL-based splitting for predefined websites.
The web is rife with threats. Ads, malware, scamware, hackers, government spooks, corporate spies, and the like. You can never be too safe and secure. NordVPN’s threat protection is one step up in the cybersecurity game.
Threat protection features do things like automatically scan files before you go ahead and just download them. If Nord does indeed identify any threats, it will alert you instantly, and block the download until you are sure you still want it. NordVPN’s threat protection tool used to be a third party app called CyberSec, but today they have their own superior in-house threat protection.
NordVPN speeds: Our NordVPN test
Clearly, NordVPN speed is a super important matter when choosing a VPN, and for this reason, there are speed tests you can perform, and we did such a NordVPN test to give you accurate results.
NordVPN comes with a built-in speed test tool. It is true that VPNs do add a few tiny microseconds to your data traffic velocity. You can also use third-party speed tests to see if NordVPN is seriously affecting your speed by comparing test results with the VPN on and then off.
On average, your download speed test with Nord will give you results similar to the ones we have, with a download speed of 30 MBPS, or megabytes per second, and an upload speed of 10 MBPS.
Of course, these MBPS statistics are relative to what speeds you are used to based on your country and your local internet service providers, so take this section with a grain of salt, simply for comparison's sake.
NordVPN features list
The main features of NordVPN are:
NordVPN streaming capabilities
NordVPN password manager
NordVPN multiple devices
NordVPN quick connect
NordVPN mobile VPN
NordVPN app options
1. NordVPN locations
One of the first things about NordVPN is that it can offer IP addresses from a variety of different locations. The NordVPN server list is quite expansive. There are many NordVPN locations which you can choose from to mask your IP address.
The idea is like having a router in other virtual locations. It would be difficult to list all the NordVPN countries, although here are some key details about this VPN service and its server locations.
There are VPN servers in about 15 cities in the USA, 3 cities in Canada, and at least one VPN connection from other American countries like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile, among others. As for Europe, there are two cities in Germany and 2 in France with VPN servers from Nord.
There are also VPN connections in the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, among others. We could go on about the list of VPN countries and server locations in Australia, Asia Pacific like Japan, Africa, or the Middle East, but the list of countries and cities with Nord IP addresses is too long.
2. NordVPN streaming capabilities
The next major feature of VPNs in general and NordVPN in particular is all about streaming. All the best VPNs, including Nord, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, Cyberghost, IPVanish and more, are ready to let viewers stream movies and TV shows no matter which country they are in and from which country the streaming service is broadcasting the media.
For example, if you are in the UK and you want to watch a TV show that is only on Netflix in the USA, then NordVPN can reroute your IP to the USA to get you that Netflix show.
The idea is to unblock media content from around the world. This is important because sometimes your country has not licensed certain media. Other times, the ability to unblock is crucial because it helps get around censorship.
With NordVPN, you can unblock all media from a variety of streaming services, like Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Android TV, BBC iPlayer, Microsoft Edge, Hulu, Disney and more.
3. NordVPN protocols
When you want to protect your internet connection in order to browse the web safely, securely and in privacy, you should expect a variety of protocols from your VPN provider. A VPN protocol is a set of rules and frameworks which determine how your data is transferred from your computer or mobile device to your VPN provider. NordVPN users can leverage not one, but 3 crucial VPN protocols.
The first VPN protocol used by Nord is IKEv2/IPsec. This is an internet protocol security system which functions with an internet key exchange. The idea is to have a most secure VPN. The IKEv2/IPsec security feature employs cryptographic algorithms which cannot be broken by even the best supercomputer. Your user data will be safe with this next-generation encryption.
The next VPN protocol used by NordVPN is OpenVPN. This is a flexible protocol which leverages UDP and TCP ports. UDP stands for User Datagram Protocol, and it is used to increase data transmission speeds by establishing low-latency and loss-tolerating connections.
TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol, and what this does is to make sure the data transmission packets are reliable by placing a protocol on top of the IP, thereby solving many packet-messaging problems. OpenVPN also leverages AES-256-GCM encryption, and can take advantage of the open source VPN community to root out bugs or vulnerabilities.
NordLynx protocol and WireGuard
WireGuard is an open source communication protocol used by many VPN providers. It is popular because it is very user friendly. However, according to the NordVPN website, the WireGuard protocol is not 100% secure against hackers or other unwanted wi-fi trackers.
That’s where NordLynx protocol comes in, named because of its amazingly fast download speeds. Together with WireGuard, you get some of the fastest VPN speeds with top cybersecurity.
4. NordVPN torrenting
You might notice that it is hard to find any mention of torrents on the NordVPN website, or on any VPN site for that matter, whether it’s Surfshark, ExpressVPN or even on the OpenVPN protocol site. No worries, torrenting is still an option with NordVPN.
NordVPN is among the best VPNs for torrenting, with great P2P sharing protocols, which means peer to peer, or in other words, directly from computer to computer. You can use NordVPN with apps like uTorrent or BitTorrent, however, the free version of most VPN providers won’t really work. You need a proper NordVPN subscription.
5. NordVPN password manager
NordVPN has a product called NordPass which works alongside NordVPN to help generate and protect passwords. It’s got a great user-friendly interface, and can help with password management for all sorts of sites like online bank accounts.
Nord lets you create complex passwords because it will remember them for you, keep them secure with XChaCha20 encryption, and also uses zero-knowledge encryption which means that even Nord can’t see your password.
6. NordVPN multiple devices
Getting a VPN for your computer or phone is one thing, but most people will want a VPN which gives you simultaneous connections over multiple devices, and NordVPN offers this advantage to its users.
One VPN subscription is good for an entire household with Nord. It will cover unlimited devices and allow them to connect simultaneously with your router. Otherwise, you can individually secure up to 6 devices at the same time with NordVPN apps, no matter if they are Linux, Windows, macOS, or mobile apps using Android or iOS apps.
7. NordVPN quick connect
Speed is the name of the game. But this is not only about your browser speeds, meaning the velocity with which data travels. Sometimes you also want to make sure you can connect to the internet as fast as possible, knowing that VPNs may slow this process down because it adds extra steps.
With NordVPN you get the quick connect feature. It is a single button, you click it, and boom, you are connected. Instead of having to pick through the servers yourself and seeing which one works best at the moment, the quick connect button automatically finds the most secure and fastest server for you.
8. NordVPN mobile VPN
This article has mentioned many times that NordVPN is good for iOS and Android devices, but what really is the deal with mobile VPN technology? When you browse with your mobile, you might be tempted to use public wi-fi, like in cafes, universities, libraries, airports and other public spaces. While free wi-fi sounds good, nothing really is free, because those public servers are hoovering up your data, or sneaky hackers lurk on public wi-fi to easily pick off unprotected devices.
You can easily and quickly download NordVPN from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store. From there it’s a snap to set it up, log into your account, hit that quick connect button, and enjoy safe and secure mobile web browsing no matter if you are using data or a public free wi-fi service.
9. NordVPN app options
Your NordVPN should be versatile enough to function on many devices, operating systems, and to offer other app options.
NordVPN has a Firefox browser extension, which is great for users who shun Safari, Chrome and other branded browsers. It blocks ads and protects Firefox users from assorted malware. It also hides your IP by blocking WebRTC.
Windows is very popular for streaming and gaming, and NordVPN for Windows promises the fastest connection speeds to not interfere with those activities. There is a simple set up for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11, and you get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Mobile wi-fi access is crucial in today’s world, and for Android mobile device users, NordVPN has got your back. Works on any Android device using Android 6.0 or more recent. Get extra ad-blocking with an APK version.
For users of MacOS, especially MacOS Sierra 10.12 or higher, NordVPN guarantees to be one of the fastest VPNs. The NordVPN Mac uses NordLynx along with IKEv2/IPSec protocols for extra secure browsing.
If you want to use NordVPN iPhone or for any other iOS device like an iPad, you will get to enjoy the combination of high download speeds along with extra tight wi-fi security. This works best with iOS 13.0 or more recent versions.
Hey Linux people, Nord did not forget about you. NordVPN Linux leverages protocols like aarch64, armv5, armv7, i386 and x86_64, but it is also simple to hop between encryption protocols with Linux, and you can install a RPM package too.
There is a fine NordVPN Chrome browser extension. The installation is very easy and you can use it with the Chrome browser on many operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac and obviously a Chromebook device. A great threat protection feature blocks malware and ads, and you can disable WebRTC protocols.
If you use Microsoft’s cross-platform web browser called Edge, there is a NordVPN for you too. It’s a very lightweight extension but still promises safe and speedy VPN service. There is one-click security, split tunneling and threat protection too.
NordVPN Amazon Fire TV Stick
Like most other smart TV providers, Amazon’s Fire Stick is also compatible with NordVPN. Stream your favorite content without geo-restrictions while keeping your IP hidden and your data secure.
NordVPN Android TV
Finally, let’s talk about Android TV. Like Amazon Fire Stick, Microsoft Edge and other smart TV operating systems, NordVPN provides fast and secure data protection while you watch and stream content from anywhere, and without extra delays or buffering.
NordVPN pros and cons
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of NordVPN. Why are we going over this? Because every VPN has its benefits and drawbacks and no single VPN is perfect, although in some cases, NordVPN is damn near close.
First off, NordVPN is a top choice for protecting your private browsing data and masking your IP.
The NordVPN kill switch is an ideal tool to make sure nothing leaks when the VPN connection drops.
What’s more, the double VPN is another sweet tool for adding an extra layer of security, while the split tunnel gives you some flexibility to allow certain trusted programs, apps and URLs to bypass the VPN.
NordVPN has great reviews for streaming, especially with Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, no matter where you are or what you want to watch.
The list of servers is absolutely huge, and these include over 5,000 NordVPN servers in many cities spread over nearly 60 countries.
The prices are good, pretty affordable, and the fact that they have several packages is a nice touch.
Another nice pro is that there is a free trial with NordVPN, but also there are special discounts for students as well as a good referral points program.
Now time for the unpleasant part of being negative about NordVPN. In an attempt to be impartial, here are some criticisms we have.
Torrenting does work with NordVPN, but not always, and not so smoothly. It all depends on where you are, what servers you select, and what torrent programs you utilize.
If you want a free VPN provider, there are perhaps better options to Nord. However, it should be noted that no free VPN is anywhere near as good as a paid one, and NordVPN’s prices are not that bad.
NordVPN complaints & praise (NordVPN reviews from real customers)
We’ve scanned the rest of the reviews, chatted with everyday VPN service users, and looked at the web chat boards and forums to see what the online community is saying about NordVPN.
Positive reviews of NordVPN talk about its ease of use, and the fact that it functions just as it promises to do, protecting your privacy, securing your data, and giving you total access to the world wide web. Everyone loves the no-logs policy, though that is standard with many other VPNs like ExpressVPN and SurfShark.
Many online reviews praise the payment options for NordVPN. Aside from typical credit card payments and the ability to go out and buy NordVPN in some retail stores, they also accept in some cases Paypal, Amazon Pay, as well as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether and Ripple. What’s more, in some situations you can use cash.
Some negative NordVPN reviews discuss how it is a bit slow in certain regions, for example, in East Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
Other reviews of NordVPN that are less than favorable talk about how at times NordVPN needs to install additional programs, and you might have to do this manually. What’s more, if you want to configure NordVPN for your own router, it is not the simplest process, according to online NordVPN reviews.
Review of NordVPN customer service
Let us say a little something about NordVPN’s customer support, because that’s always important. First off, there is a help center, where you can look for answers to your Nord questions by choosing the right category in a thorough FAQ resource.
Then, NordVPN has live chat customer support. Click on the button and it starts up right away, regardless if you are a current NordVPN user or are only interested in asking questions before signing up.
Finally, there is email customer service. There is no guarantee for how long it might take you to get a response, but you will get one from a customer support specialist who knows their stuff and truly cares.
Is NordVPN worth it? Our conclusion
Well, that was quite the NordVPN review text, wasn’t it? We’ve been all through the wide world of virtual private networks, and by now, we hope you have a good idea as to how to answer the question, is NordVPN worth it? The answer should be a definite yes, it is.
Of course, this won’t stop some of you from wanting to explore the NordVPN alternatives. Some of those names have popped up every now and then in this text, like IPVanish, ExpressVPN, SurfShark and Cyberghost. Go check those out too if you feel the need, we won’t stop you.
We have looked at a lot of NordVPN features, like the kill switch, threat protection, split tunneling, double VPN, onion over VPN, and the dark web monitor. However, there are in fact even more amazing benefits to using NordVPN. Don’t be shy about doing a bit of research on their website if you like. Or, there is that free trial you could take for a test drive.
That about wraps it up once and for all. We hope you now feel you know everything there's to know about NordVPN and virtual private networks in general. And scene!
Our final NordVPN rating
While ratings always obfuscate the deeper truths revealed in in-depth reviews, we know some of you just love a good simple number. So here it is. NordVPN gets a 4.7 out of 5 stars. Do you like that action? Good.
Does NordVPN sell data?
NordVPN does not collect nor sell your data. NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy. This no-logs policy means that they do not gather the personal data of their users, they do not log their online activity, and most crucially, NordVPN does not sell this data.
Is NordVPN legit?
NordVPN is a very legitimate maker of virtual private network systems. NordVPN is one of the most commonly used VPNs on the market, and it is trusted by millions of active daily users. It is developed by the software security company called Nordsec Ltd, which is very reputable.
Has there been a NordVPN scandal or hacking in the past?
According to online research and NordVPN’s press people, there has only ever been one single data breach in the history of NordVPN. This is the only example of a scandal or hacking event in NordVPN’s long history. Only one single NordVPN server was affected out of over 5,000.