Privacy and security are more important now than ever when it comes to our online behavior and activity. There are more dangers lurking out there now than we can even imagine: from hackers, lost passwords, and personal data being sold across the internet, it’s become almost a necessity to have the right tools for protection.
We’re not talking about your basic antivirus, we’re talking about VPNs (virtual private network), in particular, NordVPN.
NordVPN is one of the most trusted and respected names in the world of VPNs and one that I have personal experience with for both personal and business use so I’ll be reviewing it today so you can see the pros and cons, features, and plenty more so you can decide if it’s the right VPN for you to use.
Important Features and Specs
Starting off with the information you all want and need to know are the important features and specs.
No two VPNs are alike, contrary to what a friend or family member might have you believe so it’s good to see how NordVPN stacks up with their offerings for users.
Something that we all want from a good VPN is proper encryption. I won’t be getting too deep into the terminology of the tech because frankly, I feel many of you are more interested in a glance rather than a TED Talk about how NordVPN works.
NordVPN encryption is based on the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is what all of the best VPN services use, so you’re getting top-tier privacy. Similarly, they’re based out of Panama which has no data retention laws meaning that your information/browsing/downloading data is not being saved by government or private companies.
Mobile Device Use
It’s becoming abundantly clear that a good VPN needs to be usable and accessible on mobile devices. Mobile device browsing has surpassed desktop/laptop internet use, and many would agree that they spend more time on the internet on their phone.
NordVPN helps you keep your privacy safe with their mobile app and ease of use capability on your device, whether it’s iOS or Android. It’s another step to ensure that the ecosystem of your private browsing is secure.
A major feature that people want from their VPN is good upload and download speeds, and NordVPN delivers. They have a good selection of servers from a wide range of countries and the speeds they offer are very competitive which is something that has made them a great choice for personal or business use.
With a VPN on, your speed will drop compared to when your VPN is off because there is no encryption or transferring of data, but even with it on, it is still stable. Streaming for Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. isn’t interrupted either.
Servers and Connections
Speaking of servers and connections, there are 59 countries in the NordVPN stable for you to choose from. Countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Oceania, and many more offer plenty of secure connections worldwide.
Not only that but from those 59 countries, there are over 5000 servers, so you’re never scrambling to find a good server. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself being indecisive in finding the right one out of that impressive bunch.
DNS Kill Switch
Back on the topic of security and privacy, NordVPN offers a DNS Kill Switch function which allows you to kill an individual connection to a server or kill the connection for your internet so you can stop a DNS leak.
A DNS leak is a common issue when people's privacy gets breached and being able to easily stop outgoing and incoming connections to protect you.
If a NordVPN connection drops out, it’ll automatically kill the connection too, giving you added peace of mind.
Going back to the point about mobile device use, NordVPN actually allows for use on 6 separate devices simultaneously. Most of us will likely only need 2, computers and phones, but this is an attractive feature for families with numerous devices.
Being able to connect 6 devices means added privacy and protection for the whole family or if you have multiple computers/phones (work, personal). Even your router can be secured depending on what model you choose.
NordVPN is also a great choice for those who are torrenting or looking for even more secure connections. P2P (peer-to-peer) servers are specifically designed for users who are constantly uploading and downloading files and either need the secure connection or want to avoid scrutiny of piracy.
Tor servers are similar to VPNs where connections pass through multiple nodes so that the trace is harder to follow. This is for even greater privacy and NordVPN offers Tor servers to help you encrypt your connections even more than normal.
Finally, NordVPN offers an app called NordPass, which is a secure password protection app.
If you’re like me, and basically everyone in the internet age, you’re probably fumbling around with hundreds of passwords and wonder what would happen if you forgot them or lost them.
NordVPN thought of that and gives us a password manager to ease those concerns.
You can store passwords, make secure notes, credit/bank card information, and shared items that you want to be kept secure.
Cost of Privacy
Unfortunately, this bevy of features does not come free. While there are plenty of good free VPNs and free versions of VPN services, NordVPN has no free version and you’re going to need to pay.
Thankfully, the cost isn’t going to break your budget - initially. They offer a good 2-year plan which is so far the cheapest option after they had an incredibly cheap 3-year plan that was only $2.75/mo.
The best bang for your buck now is the 2-year plan which is $4.13/mo, or $99 (before tax) for that 2 year period. The 1-year plan comes out to $4.92/mo, or $59.00 (before tax). If you’re looking to simply pay as you go, it’s $11.95/mo.
You can bundle NordPass in when you purchase any of the plans as well. NordPass costs $2.49/mo for the 2-year plan, coming out to $59.76 total. You can also get the standalone 1-year plan for $2.99/mo, or $35.88 total. The 1-month plan costs $4.99/mo.
Beyond that, they offer a 2-year family plan which is $4.99/mo ($119.76 total), a 1-year plan of $5.99/mo ($71.88 total), or a 1-month plan of $7.99/mo.
The pricing is definitely a little steeper than some other VPNs, which is a common complaint for many, but given the sizable range of features and performance, it’s justifiable and the least of our concerns.
An interesting fact is that you can pay for NordVPN through cash at Fry’s Electronics and Micro Center in the U.S., and you can use cryptocurrency (ETH, BTC, XRP) which is of interest for people trying to stay even more private.
NordVPN, as mentioned earlier, is a very good deal not just because of the great selection of features, but for one of the most important things we look for in a VPN - performance.
If privacy and encryption come first, then performance is easily a close 2nd in terms of importance. Looking below, you can see some images that show a brief view of performance based on various servers and connections.
You’ll notice that the speed is considerably slower than when the VPN is off, which is normal, but it depends on multiple factors. One is how fast your existing internet is, proximity to the router, what processes you’re attempting to run (streaming, online gaming, internet browsing), and server location.
All in all, though, NordVPN's performance is very good and for most people looking to bypass geographical limitations on streaming services like Netflix or Prime Video, you’ll be able to watch in 2K or even 4K without much of an issue at all.
Even for gaming, the performance is two-thumbs-up quality as well.
Comparison to Other VPNs
The VPN market has never been hotter or more competitive. Not only do people value their privacy much more in relation to data leaks, breaches, password compromises, and a general desire to keep their information out of the hands of ISPs and assorted individuals, there is a huge assortment of VPN options out there.
NordVPN is one of the industry leaders, but by no means is it the only one out there. Some of the comparable VPNs out there include:
These VPNs offer similar (or sometimes better) features and pricing than NordVPN. TunnelBear and Proton VPN, for example, are two of the best free VPNs out there, while ExpressVPN has an outstanding selection of servers and Surfshark offers unlimited device connections, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Why NordVPN is considerably competitive is because it does just about everything, and it does it all well, even in the face of growing selection for consumers.
Uses for a VPN
For anyone that is still unsure of why they’d use a VPN, or NordVPN in particular, the purpose is to help protect your information, your data, your browsing, and nearly anything you do online.
It’s useful for those who want to bypass geographical locks on content for streaming or servers for gaming, people who want to make sure they aren’t victims of a keylogger while checking their banking/credit information, those that want to keep their internet browsing anonymous, and people who want to keep their private information from being mined and sold to ISPs and companies.
A VPN is one of the tools that I’d recommend anyone that spends a lengthy amount of time online to get. They’re cheaper (or free) than ever before, they offer more features than you’ll need, the UI’s are easy to navigate, and they help keep you safe from mounting threats on the internet.
Pros and Cons
Summarizing what I’ve said about NordVPN, I’ve included a concise Pros and Cons chart here for you to check to give a rundown of everything that makes NordVPN good, and some of the things that it can improve on.
|Plenty of servers||More expensive than the competition|
|Fast speeds||Some features are more complicated for first-time users|
|Excellent host of features||Interface can feel messy at times|
|Great privacy functionality|
NordVPN is likely a VPN service you’ve heard plenty of. If there’s one thing I can say about it, it’s that it is expertly marketed, but luckily, that’s not the only thing I had to say.
Even with an onslaught of competition, NordVPN is one of the most reliable and tested VPN services on the market.
From great performance under the pressure of high bandwidth streaming, downloading, or gaming, to strong encryption protocols, to an easy-to-use UI, or the treasure chest of features it comes with, NordVPN offers as much to the beginner privacy-hound as it does for the veteran encryption master.
Would I recommend NordVPN? The answer is a resounding yes.