NordVPN Review (January 2021 Updated) – An Honest Analysis!
In this NordVPN review, we’ll be discussing everything related to NordVPN to judge its overall performance. We’ll be looking at speed, IP/DNS leaks, Netflix tests, and more to see if it’s good in Australia. So, without any further ado, let’s dive straight into the action.
What Country is NordVPN Based In?
NordVPN is based in the jurisdiction of Panama. There are no mandatory data retention laws in the country so there’s no need to store logs.
If there’s any request by a country, let’s say the United States, to share users’ data, it would only have to follow the data retention laws in Panama. The law clearly states that there will be no data retention.
However, as I said, the United States does have the authority to check the logs that are stored in the US server under national security claims. But since NordVPN doesn’t store logs, you’re safe in that regards too.
It doesn’t fall under 14-eyes country as well, so technically there’s no liability in revealing the information.
How Many Servers Does NordVPN Have?
NordVPN has one of the largest server networks with 5,201 servers located in 59 countries. You can also press Quick Connect on its app that connects you to the fastest server nearby.
Apart from the regular servers to connect to, you will also P2P servers, Obfuscated servers, and Double VPN servers.
P2P Servers: Whenever you wish to safely download torrents or sending P2P files, you will need to connect its P2P torrenting servers. You will find this option at the left-side menu of the NordVPN app.
Obfuscated Servers: These servers help bypass network firewall restrictions. These are recommended to access content in countries where there are strict internet regulations. These countries include China, Russia, UAE, and others. You can turn ON obfuscated servers option from the settings.
Double VPN Servers: By connecting to these servers, you will be encrypting your internet traffic not once but twice. To be completely safe that your IP is not being tracked, you should use these servers. However, you will experience average speed since it has strong encryption.
Is It Safe to Use NordVPN?
NordVPN is absolutely safe to use, no questions about that. What makes NordVPN the best VPN service is the fact that it was the first VPN to introduce Double VPN encryption that makes it the strongest encrypted network.
NordVPN uses protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and new NordLynx. This new protocol is the WireGuard protocol which is a combination of faster speed and advanced security.
These protocols are used for Desktop and Mobile users while TLS v1.2 protocol is used for browser extensions.
NordLynx is actually a backbone of the WireGuard protocol that uses a double Network Address Translation system which creates a secure connection but does not store any data on the server.
For encryption, the OpenVPN protocol uses the AES-256-GCM encryption algorithm with the 2048-bit DH key. As for IKEv2/IPSec, it uses the same AES-256-GCM encryption with SHA2-384 to ensure integrity.
NordVPN Additional Security Features
Have a look at some of the best security features offered by NordVPN:
Automatic Kill Switch: This feature automatically disconnects your internet whenever a VPN connection drops. It prevents your original IP address from being seen by ISP if you don’t want it to be seen. But you have to manually switch ON the feature from settings.
Onion Over VPN: It is a special feature that gives you the advantage of The Onion Router (Tor) but combined with the security of a VPN tunnel. Once you connect to this server, you will be routed through the Onion network. Either you do that, or you can connect to a regular NordVPN server and then use the Tor browser.
Dedicated IP: If you do not want an IP address that is shared by millions of NordVPN users, you better get yourself a Dedicated IP that only belongs to you. Each personal dedicated IP costs $70/year in addition to the NordVPN pricing plan.
CyberSec: This feature is the first that pops up when you set up NordVPN on your device. CyberSec keeps you protected from unwanted ads, malware, phishing, and other threats. You can manually turn ON this feature from settings.
NordVPN SmartPlay: This feature makes your streaming faster and safer. It combines the features of VPN and Smart DNS technologies. To activate Smart Play,
Does NordVPN Hide IP Address?
With NordVPN, you can completely hide your IP address and DNS request. But I found Malware inside its Windows Installation file and I reported it to their customer support.
I performed 3 tests i.e. IP test, DNS leak test, and Virus test. Here are the screenshot:
IP Leak Test
Once connected to the NordVPN Australia server using this website and I did not find any leaks.
DNS Leak Test
Using the same website, I ran the DNS leak test. I did not find the DNS leak as well.
While scanning the NordVPNs Windows installation file for viruses via Virus Total, I found 1 engine detected and that happened to be a malware.
Does NordVPN Keep Logs?
No, NordVPN does not keep any kind of logs. They do not collect connection logs nor do they collect activity logs.
Information NordVPN collects:
- Email address
- Card owner’s full name
- Last digits of the credit card number
- Permanent address
- IP address
Even though NordVPN is able to collect your IP address but is unable to link an individual user to a specific IP address, connection timestamps, or other information.
However, if you contact them via a chatbot on their website, they will be able to see your original IP address. This information is required to know if a user is connected to their server or not.
Similarly, the email address is used to create an account with NordVPN so it’s necessary.
If there’s a request by any country to share users’ data, it would have to follow an appropriate legal process to be recognized by the laws of the Republic of Panama.
After all those claims, NordVPN does indeed mention that there’s no absolute guarantee of your security due to internet communication. They put the entire responsibility on NordVPN users’ for the data provided.
Does NordVPN Work with Netflix?
The only drawback that I found was, NordVPN doesn’t unblock Netflix on Amazon FireStick and NVIDIA Shield box. Apart from that, you can access Netflix from any device.
I randomly connected to the Los Angeles #2,722 server to watch ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story‘ that is strictly available for US Netflix users and I was able to stream it in the first go. You will also find NordVPN in our list of best VPNs for Netflix in Australia.
I was successful in unblocking BBC iPlayer as well. Here is the screenshot of me streaming ‘The Young Offenders’:
How Many Devices NordVPN Support?
If you have a device that isn’t one of the above options, then you can install NordVPN Firefox and Chrome extension. If that’s not possible too, you can create your own secure Wi-Fi when connecting NordVPN to a VPN-enabled router.
With a single account, you can use NordVPN on 6 simultaneous devices.
NordVPN Windows App
NordVPN Windows app may look a bit difficult to use with so many options, but it is really quite simple. You will find three main options in its Windows app i.e. Recent, Specialty Servers, and All Countries.
If you click on the Recent option, it will tell you what recent server you connected. Specialty servers will show you options like P2P, Onion Over VPN, Double VPN, and Dedicated IP.
All Countries option will show you all of its 5,000+ servers that are ready to connect. For more advanced settings, you can click on the gear icon on the top-right corner.
Sometimes, when you’re connected to a server but Nord VPN disconnects frequently or doesn’t make a connection at all, it means you need to install a pending update.
NordVPN Android App
Its Android app is not that hard to understand. At the bottom of the screen, you will find a Quick Connect option that instantly connects to a faster server.
If you scroll down further, you will find the list of all country servers that you wish to connect. You can click on the Settings icon located at the top-left corner for advanced settings.
How Do I Download NordVPN?
Follow these steps to download NordVPN on any device. I have used an example of a Windows app:
Step 1: Subscribe to NordVPN
Step 2: Download and Install NordVPN app on your device
Step 3: Open NordVPN app and enter Login details
Step 4: Connect to any server (e.g. Japan)
Step 5: Once connected, unblock websites and apps of your choice
How to Use NordVPN
Once you have downloaded NordVPN, here are the simple steps on how to use it.
Step 1: Launch NordVPN app that you have downloaded on your device
Step 2: NordVPN will prompt you to enable CyberSec, so turn ON this feature. You can also turn it on from Settings
Step 3: Now, you need to go to the Settings menu
Step 4: Enable Kill Switch and CyberSec before connecting to any server
Step 5: Click on the Advanced tab at the left-side menu and choose UDP if you want strong encryption OR use TCP for faster speed but average security.
Step 6: If you’re present in a country with strict internet regulations, then Turn ON Obfuscated Servers
Step 7: Go back to the NordVPN interface. If you need to connect to a regular server, click on All Countries menu and connect any server you like
Step 8: If you need to connect to use its double VPN encryption, or P2P servers, Dedicated IP, or Onion Over VPN, just select NordVPN Specialty Servers like this
Step 9: Once you connect any of the servers, NordVPN will prompt you on the screen that it is now connected.
Is NordVPN Fast? (January 2021 Updated Speed test)
Yes, NordVPN is fast enough to stream any content in HD without buffering, but it isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN or Surfshark.
To test its speed, I connected NordVPN to 3 different servers i.e. US, Turkey, and Poland. My original internet speed without connected to the VPN was recorded 20 Mbps.
US Server (Los Angeles)
This server speed was fast. My internet speed was only decreased by 24%.
|Speed Test Type||Speed Test Results|
|US Server Ping||114 (ms)|
|US Server Upload||3.77 (Mbps)|
|US Server Download||15.21 (Mbps)|
|Speed Decreased by||24%|
Turkey Server (Istanbul)
This server speed was above average. My internet speed was only decreased by 34%.
|Speed Test Type||Speed Test Results|
|US Server Ping||170 (ms)|
|US Server Upload||2.84 (Mbps)|
|US Server Download||13.23 (Mbps)|
|Speed Decreased by||34%|
Poland Server (Warsaw)
This server speed was good but not fast. My internet speed was only decreased by 30%.
|Speed Test Type||Speed Test Results|
|US Server Ping||132 (ms)|
|US Server Upload||2.80 (Mbps)|
|US Server Download||14.32 (Mbps)|
|Speed Decreased by||30%|
How Much Does NordVPN Cost?
NordVPN is not so cheap at all. The recent price increase has made the service a touch expensive.
Have a look at its pricing plans:
It offers a 7-day free trial for Android and iOS users as well but it will require your credit card information. It won’t deduct any payment until after 7 days.
Apart from that, you get to use the service for 30-days risk-free. Change your mind, and a full refund is yours. Find out more about how to claim NordVPN 30-day money-back trial.
If you want to ask for a refund, you will have to email them at email@example.com.
Good thing is, you can also buy NordVPN from a retail store such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other stores but these prices vary depending on your physical location.
It’s payment options include Credit Cards (i.e. VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express) and Cryptocurrencies (i.e. Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum).
Is NordVPN Customer Support Responsive?
NordVPN has a very responsive customer service. Other than the live chat support it offers, you can contact them or resolve your problems by any of these following:
- Email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- General Info
- VPN Setups
A chatbot is a new feature they have introduced. However, this feature will know your real IP address in order to know whether you are using their service or not.
If you don’t want to reveal your true identity, you can always prefer using different customer support options as listed above.
Do I Recommend NordVPN?
Yes, I totally recommend using NordVPN.
It is the most strongly encrypted VPN that is based in such a country that doesn’t have data retention laws. It manages to unblock 14 different Netflix library and doesn’t have speed issues as well.
Not to mention, it doesn’t keep any kind of logs that might threaten your online privacy.
It has one of the largest server networks as well with over 5,000 servers. With all the tests I performed, I did not find any IP or DNS leaks. There wasn’t any virus and that is why I say NordVPN is completely safe to use.
There’s nothing that we didn’t discuss in this NordVPN review, and all of those findings indicate that NordVPN truly deserves to be one of the top VPNs to use. You can also check the comprehensive list of VPN reviews here.
Plus, if you want to know more about best VPNs, here is a list of best Australian VPNs that you might like.