NordVPN Review 2019

NordVPN connection app page

NordVPN is a Panamanian Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider, founded in 2012.

The provider takes advantage of its location inside a privacy-friendly country by following a strict no-logs policy. The provider has an extensive global server network, making it a great option for unblocking geo-blocked content around the globe.

In this review, we’ll take a close look at the VPN services NordVPN offers.

I’ve run the service through an extensive battery of tests, checking its connection speeds, global server coverage, connection protection and more. Here are just a few of the questions I’ll be answering.

  • How fast are NordVPN’s connection speeds?
  • Do NordVPN’s connections offer access to popular streaming services?
  • What type of security and privacy protections does NordVPN offer?
  • What optional protections does NordVPN offer?

We’ll also take a look at the service’s overall offerings and performance, including their customer support.

See If NordVPN Is for You

NordVPN offers comprehensive VPN protection, providing plenty of global flexibility when unblocking streaming, gaming and other content.

1-month, 1-year, 2-year and 3-year plans are available, with the 3-year plan providing the most bang for the buck.

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all of its subscription plans.

My Verdict

NordVPN is an excellent choice for users looking for a reasonably-priced, easy-to-use VPN that provides excellent online protection, while keeping your history of previous online activities well protected. Users who require their video content to be in the 4K streaming format are advised to look elsewhere.

OVERALL RANK:  4/5
Speed: 3.5/5
Tested Speed: 17.90 Mbps average download speed (independently tested)
Streaming Support: HD
Streaming Score: 4/5
Unblocks Netflix?: Yes – reliably for numerous global locations
U.S. Streaming Services Supported: Netflix, Hulu, more
U.K. Streaming Services Supported: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, more
Security Score: 5/5
Privacy Rating: 5/5
Supports Torrenting: Yes, on P2P-optimized servers
Value for the Money: 4/5
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days
Website: www.NordVPN.com

Pros:

  • HD-capable connections
  • Unblocks many streaming providers
  • Excellent connection protection
  • Kill switch protection
  • Top-notch privacy protection

Cons:

  • Lacks 4K-capable download speeds
  • No streaming-optimized servers

Features

NordVPN’s native app support has most users’ needs covered. The provider makes apps available for macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and Android TV devices.

Chrome and Firefox users can protect their browsing sessions using NordVPN’s browser extensions. In addition, you can protect all of your other devices thanks to the provider’s extensive router compatibility.

The NordVPN app lineup provides DNS leak protection, as well as kill switch protection, although you need to toggle that protection on for each app on a one-by-one basis.

NordVPN connection list

When connecting to NordVPN servers, you’ll have a number of server options to choose from, which offer a number of options. Dedicated IP servers provide an IP address that you, and only you, can use (costs extra). Double VPN servers route your connection through twin VPN servers, doubling the encryption. Obfuscated servers help hide your VPN usage.

Also available are Onion Over VPN servers, which combine a VPN with the anonymizing powers of the Tor browser.

In addition, P2P servers offer the best protection for your BitTorrenting activity. (While the provider allows P2P activity only on certain servers, the service will automatically connect you to a P2P-optimized server if you begin file sharing on a non-P2P server.)

There are no streaming-specific servers available, which makes finding a server to reliably unblock streaming content a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition. However, you can mark a server as a “favorite,” making it easier to select the same server – such as one that’s good for streaming – the next time around.

The provider’s apps are easy to use and don’t ask too much of your device’s precious resources. However, they may lack some options that experienced users might long for, such as system-wide kill switch protection and the ability to select which protocol to use.

NordVPN allows customers to simultaneously connect up to 6 devices using a single username.

NordVPN app

As of the writing of this article, NordVPN has a worldwide global server network made up of 5,570+ servers in 60 countries. While not the best in the industry, that server count still makes for excellent global coverage.

The globe isn’t the only thing NordVPN covers well, as they also tick off all the boxes in the customer support column. 24/7 live support chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library have things covered.

Streaming

It’s a tough call as to whether keeping your online activities under wraps or if unblocking streaming video is the most popular reason for using a VPN. Either way, the unblocking of streaming definitely ranks in the top 2.

In the pioneering days of both the VPN industry and the content-streaming industry, it was child’s play for a VPN to unblock streaming content that might not normally be available in your country.

However, as technology evolved, it became easier for streaming services to detect when a customer was using a VPN to access their streaming services. That’s when streaming companies began blocking the IP addresses of VPN servers.

When a VPN server’s IP address is blocked, it’s up to the VPN provider to set up new IP addresses to restore access to the streaming service. It’s vitally important that a VPN provider stays on its toes, so their customers continue to have reliable streaming access.

Many VPNs don’t do a good job of this. But NordVPN does.

NordVPN does a reliable job of unblocking streaming services in various locations around the world. That means that if your favorite Netflix movies or television episodes are exclusively housed in Spain or France, NordVPN is worth taking a look at.

During testing, the VPN’s servers showed a reliable ability to unblock Netflix content in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, France and Australia. You can also use NordVPN servers to access Hulu, which is United States-only. BBC iPlayer was also a go, as was HBO.

NordVPN’s connection speeds are slow when compared to the speeds of other VPNs (more about that in the “Speed” section), so you may be limited to HD content streaming. The provider’s average connection speeds were not reliably up to 4K levels.

Security and Privacy

NordVPN provides optimal protection for your online activities and also protects prying eyes from accessing any records of your previous online antics.

The provider coats your internet connection in highly-protective military-class encryption, preventing outsiders – like your ISP, the government, or the guy or gal one table over at Starbucks – from monitoring your online travels.

VPN protocols that the service uses include IKEv2 and OpenVPN, depending on the device you’re using. Both options do an excellent job of protecting you, but IKEv2 will usually perform slightly faster.

NordVPN apps offer an array of security features to protect your online antics. Protections include a kill switch function that protects your online activity on an app-by-app basis, a “CyberSec” feature that blocks ads and malware, and more.

The Panamanian VPN provider keeps no logs of any kind, so there are no records of your online activities to share if law enforcement or other interested parties ask for it.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are gladly accepted here, so you can go completely incognito by using a disposable email address and paying with Bitcoin.

Speed

We’ll take a look at NordVPN’s connection speeds in a moment, but first, allow me to explain how we here at Pixel Privacy determine a VPN’s connection speeds.

A team of 3 of us performs all of our connection speed tests by using a gigabit Ethernet connection located in the United States. We conduct the tests using the provider’s Windows app, and when available, we connect using OpenVPN over UDP.

To measure a provider’s average download speeds, we connect to 3 VPN server locations – Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. We perform the tests for 3 days, 3 times per day, with at least 4 hours between each round of testing.

Average Global VPN Speed Graph

NordVPN’s connection speeds averaged in at 17.90 Mbps.

These connection speeds can easily handle online gaming and HD video streaming, but if you’re looking for a VPN to enhance your 4K viewing sessions, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Cost

As with many VPN providers, NordVPN is a bit expensive when paying on a month-by-month basis. However, users willing to commit to a long-term relationship will find there are some nice savings to be had.

If you choose the provider’s 1-month subscription plan, you’ll see a levy equal to the average large fast food combo applied to your credit card each month.

However, if you’re willing to pledge your loyalty for a year, your monthly fee will drop to a medium combo per month. Promising to be true for 3 years will drop your monthly tariff down to a kid’s meal (no toy included).

A 30-day money-back guarantee is available for all subscription plans.

Alternatives

NordVPN provides excellent VPN protection, delivering above-average access to blocked content around the world. The provider delivers its services at a reasonable price.

However, NordVPN’s connection speeds are less than satisfying for 4K video connoisseurs.

Happily, 4K streaming fans will find that there are satisfactory alternatives.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN is a well-established leader in the VPN industry. The provider is arguably the best option available for video viewers and gamers.

ExpressVPN offers better global server coverage than NordVPN thanks to its 3,000+ servers in 94 countries around the globe. This allows the provider to offer reliable unblocking power for most of the major streaming services around the globe.

In addition to providing the fastest download speeds in the latest round of testing (106.78 Mbps), the provider also allows P2P file sharing on all of its servers.

The provider coats its users’ connections in a layer of military-level encryption, and a total no-logs policy keeps your precious online travels undercover.

Around-the-clock customer support has you covered no matter what time of day you have an issue.

The only real downside is that ExpressVPN is priced a bit higher than many other VPNs, although you get a high return on investment.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost logo

CyberGhost offers above-average global server coverage and speedy 4K-capable download speeds. The provider has a solid reputation for reliable service.

The service offers over 3,700 servers stationed in 59 countries, and those servers deliver average protected speeds of 58.22 Mbps. Both of these features make the VPN provider a valid alternative for VPN users looking for an excellent gaming and/or streaming provider.

The provider delivers excellent streaming service access, with a list of streaming-optimized servers designed to connect to most popular services around the globe.

CyberGhost doesn’t charge an arm and a leg (or any other set of body parts) for its fine services, and its 3-year subscription price averages in at a pittance per month.

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