NordVPN will appeal to the privacy conscious and perhaps even the paranoid, especially those engaged in torrent file-sharing. Based in Panama, NordVPN offers privacy and security features that provide one of the best VPN experiences available.
High Privacy and Anonymity
First and foremost, NordVPN touts its numerous privacy and anonymity features. These include:
- no logging whatsoever
- headquartered outside the USA and EU. NordVPN is based in the Central American country of Panama
- no restrictions are placed on torrent file-sharing
- private payment methods, such as BitCoin, are accepted
- some pretty cool innovations such as “Double VPN” and “Tor over VPN” (more below)
- advanced users will appreciate the strong encryption capabilities including 2048 bit SSL for OpenVPN
Panama is outside the US and EU which offers certain advantages especially for privacy and the risk of overzealous government surveillance. NordVPN makes clear that it keeps absolutely no logs, neither user logs or connection logs.
NordVPN offers L2TP/IPSec and PPTP along with OpenVPN 256-bit AES protection and uses a double-layered encryption system offering users maximum protection.
Top Tip – For ultimate privacy, you could sign up with an anonymous email address and pay with BitCoin. As NordVPN can provide support through a live chat tool you don’t even need to share your personal email address for receiving support.
NordVPN is at the lower end of costliness for VPNs. An annual plan will cost you only $4.00 per month while the figure for semi-annually and month-to-month plans is $5.00 and $8.00.
Cheaper month-to-month VPN plans do exist, but we think the few extra pennies a month for NordVPN are worth it for all of the privacy and unique features it offers.
NordVPN also provides a 3-day money back guarantee and, apparently, free trials may also be available upon request. Plenty of payment options are available, including private payments via BitCoin.
Good Number of Exit Gateway Servers
NordVPN currently has servers in 26 countries. That’s not the most in the industry, but plenty especially if you want to take advantage of their enhanced security features such as Double VPN or Tor over VPN – see ‘Advanced Features’ below.
Torrent File-sharing Permitted
NordVPN expressly allows P2P torrent file-sharing.
NordVPN has the advanced features you’d expect from a serious VPN provider such as a kill switch and DNS leak protection. But the following two features, seemingly unique to NordVPN, really caught our attention.
With NordVPN’s “Double VPN” your traffic is routed through at least two servers between you and the destination site you want to visit. That’s very strong privacy protection.
You >> NordVPN hop #1 > NordVPN hop #2 > site you want to visit
With NordVPN’s “Tor over VPN” your traffic is first encrypted by NordVPN and then sent over the Tor network (further scrambling it) before exiting Tor to access the destination site you want to visit. When enabled, Tor over VPN also lets you access .onion websites (so-called hidden “dark net” websites).
You >> NordVPN > Tor Network > site you want to visit
As a bonus, NordVPN offers up a host of other potential goodies too including Encrypted Chat, Secret Notes, a free Proxy List, Web Proxy and a Google Chrome Web Proxy Extension. All of all of which are free from any logging
Easy to Use
We liked the app a lot. It’s crisp, clean and intuitive. The display clearly indicates which servers support torrents (“P2P”) and Tor.
NordVPN’s app has a clean interface and is easy to use. The opening display shows the current status of each of its servers letting you see which is currently fastest. The app also has DNS leak protection and a kill switch which can be activated with a single click.
The installation process is as it should be: straightforward and uncomplicated. Settings are automatically configured during setup but you can also change anything you want.
NordVPN currently offers only a Windows app. Android, Mac and iOS apps are currently under development, but NordVPN provides OpenVPN guidelines for using their VPN service with these other operating systems.
NordVPN imposes no bandwidth caps or speed limits.
Users can simultaneously use NordVPN on 2 devices allowing you to be protected on computer and smart phone or tablet at the same time.
Along with providing clear instructions and a comprehensive FAQ page, they also offer excellent and quick 24/7 live support.
IP, DNS and Speed Test
Our tests of NordVPN’s speed were good. However, like all VPNs, keep in mind that speeds can vary for your setup, different times of day and from server-to-server. All in all, NordVPN remains a good choice even for such bandwidth intensive activities as online streaming.
DNS leak protection worked fine. After activating it, don’t forget to restart the app.
NordVPN’s Website is detailed, well designed and user friendly. It contains easy to understand set-up instructions followed by other detailed documentation whether for security junkies or beginners. They are also quite responsive online so users can interact with them in real-time.
Our Wish List Items
It’s difficult to find fault with NordVPN, but if pressed we would express a wish for the following:
- more private payment methods such as gift card payment for true anonymous payments (though BitCoin is fine for all but the most paranoid user)
- faster speeds at times (but that’s pretty picky as it’s impossible for features such asDouble VPN and Tor Over VPN not to have an impact on speed. Anonymity always comes at a price and that price must either be speed or cost
- No logs of any kind
- Based outside US and EU
- High Levels of Security
- Allows Torrent (P2P) File-sharing
- Accepts Bitcoin payments
Things that can be improved:
- Better speeds for the Double VPN and VPN Over Tor features (but that’s picky)
- Cheaper month-to-month plans
- Apps for Android, Mac O/S and iOS (coming soon)
Bottom Line of this NordVPN Review: If your top priority is online anonymity and privacy then NordVPN should be near or at the top of your list as few VPN services provide as high a level of security to their users.