NordVPN Review | What are the benefits of using a VPN?

NordVPN

Review Summary

Product Name: NordVPN

Product Description: NordVPN will secure your internet connection on all your devices including your PC, smartphone and even your Android smart TV. NordVPN uses next-generation encryption to keep your data and privacy safe.

Brand: NordVPN

  • NordVPN Review
4.5

See full review below

Bottom Line: NordVPN is one of the best VPN providers currently available. It’s loaded with useful features including the brand’s own Threat Protection which will provide protection against malware and tracking cookies as well as ad-blocking which works exceptionally well at blocking ads.

NordVPN was also compatible with all of my streaming services and I was able to access content that is not available in the US market. I highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking to keep their online privacy and activities safe and secure.

Pros

  • AES 256-bit encryption keeps you safe and secure
  • Ranked fastest VPN – 6730+ Mbps
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • No data leaks
  • Threat Protection blocks malware, blocks tracking cookies, blocks ads
  • 5400+ servers in 60 countries
  • Great for streaming – provides fast connections, unblocks content from other regions
  • Dark Web monitoring
  • Muli-factor authentication
  • 24/7 customer support – live chat
  • Easy to use
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Only six simultaneous device connections (this may be an issue for users who desire more connection capability).
  • Price will increase upon renewal

What is a VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that protects your internet connection and privacy while online. This is accomplished by encrypting your internet traffic and data and protecting your online identity by hiding your IP address and allowing you to use public Wi-Fi hotspots safely.

When connected to a VPN, third parties will not be able to spy on your online activity; even your ISP provider cannot see what you’re doing online.

VPNs allow you to overcome internet censorship by routing all traffic through a remote server. This will allow you to access websites that are restricted in your country.

Key reasons you should consider using a VPN:

  • Securing your online data – Not all websites provide HTTPS, which is a secure online connection that protects your info/data from being leaked.
  • A VPN allows you to access blocked websites that aren’t available in your country. On the flip side, while traveling, you can access websites you would otherwise only have access to within your country.
  • A VPN will keep your web browsing activity safe and secure when using public Wi-Fi, which is an unsure connection. 54% of internet users use public Wi-Fi, so using a VPN is a great option to protect your online privacy and security.
  • Avoid unlawful government surveillance and prevent governments from tracking your online activity. This feature can be very beneficial since governments have direct or indirect access to ISP’ operating in their jurisdiction.
  • Some VPNs are good for streaming video content and will allow you to unblock and watch content from other regions/countries throughout the world while providing speed and security.
  • Access lower prices by getting products and services from another location.

Compatible interfaces:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • Mobile – Android and iOS

What does NordVPN offer?

NordVPN is considered one of the best VPNs available. And for good reason; it offers a host of excellent and very useful features. The following is a rundown of NordVPN’s key features.

Be prepared, this list is quite long, nevertheless, you don’t become one of the world’s top VPN providers by skimping on features.

  • Secure Internet – NordVPN keeps all of your data safe behind a wall of next-generation AES 256-bit encryption.
  • NordVPN’s Threat Protection – This feature protects users from malware from malicious websites. Tracker blocker blocks tracking cookies. Adblocker stops pop-up ads, and you also get protection against malicious files.
NordVPN Threat Protection

Image – NordVPN

 

  Note: The mobile app has Threat Protection Lite which only protects against malware.

  • Watch and download with the fastest VPN – The independent IT security institute AV-TEST compared the speeds of the top VPNs in the industry. And the results concluded that NordVPN is the fastest VPN out there. Read the full report here.
  • Uninterrupted streaming – Use NordVPN to enjoy your favorite content without interruption while traveling and staying secure at all times.
  • Verified Strick no-logs Policy – NordVPN does not track, collect, or share your private data. NordVPN had an independent audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Zurich, Switzerland to perform an industry-first audit of their no-log claims in 2018. They were invited back again in 2020. Both reports found that NordVPN’s policy description was fair and accurate. NordVPN RAM servers don’t allow them to store data.
  • NordVPN is not part of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes alliance countries. The 5/9/14 Eyes alliance is essentially a global surveillance alliance, which has far-reaching implications for personal privacy. For more info click here. Fortunately, NordVPN is based in Panama which has no data retention laws; therefore NordVPN doesn’t have to keep any data on its users.
  •  Privacy on the go – with NordVPN’s mobile app you can stay protected on your mobile devices.
  • Use on multiple devices – One account lets you connect up to six devices.

VPN server location screen

  • VPN servers throughout the world – NordVPN has over 5,400 servers located in 60 countries.
  • NordVPN’s Quick Connect button will connect you to the best VPN server for you at the moment.
  • Obfuscated servers – When you connect to a regular VPN server, your ISP can’t see where you go online. But it knows that you’re using a VPN from the way your data looks. However, if you connect to an obfuscated server, it changes your data packets. Therefore, tools that are meant to block VPN traffic let it pass.
  • P2P (Peer to Peer) servers – optimized for P2P traffic and best used when downloading files using torrents.
  • Onion Over VPN – These servers combine the Tor network with the VPN to create a VPN-Tor connection. Your traffic passes through the VPN server and then goes through (at least) 3 Tor nodes. This adds a layer of misdirection, making it harder to trace any online activity back to you.
  • Multi-factor authentication secures your NordVPN account.
  • VPN Kill switch – Prevents your data from being leaked to the web in the event your VPN connection is lost and will shut down your internet connection. It’s a good practice to always keep the kill switch feature turned on to keep your location and IP address concealed.
  • Split Tunneling – The NordVPN split tunneling feature lets you choose which apps to use the VPN connection for, and which ones can connect without it.
  • Double VPN – Double VPN is an advanced VPN security feature that routes your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one, encrypting your data twice. With Double VPN, your online activity hides behind two servers instead of one for maximum security and privacy.
  • Dedicated IP (additional cost for this feature) – A dedicated IP will always remain the same and can only be used by you and not shared over the VPN network.
  • NordVPN SmartPlay – SmartPlay is a NordVPN feature that helps you securely access all kinds of content.  NordVPN SmartPlay combines with Smart DNS. A smart DNS works by switching your DNS servers when you try to access unavailable content, but this only bypasses DNS blocking. Smart DNS services are unable to get past IP blocks, nor do they shield your online activities while you use them.
  • Enter Nord’s SmartPlay feature. In addition to changing DNS servers, NordVPN also cloaks your IP and encrypts your internet connection, letting you visit your favorite streaming sites from home in privacy and security – on your laptop,  phone, tablet, or Smart TV.
  • No data leaks – NordVPN sends all your DNS queries through a secure VPN tunnel to keep them private at all times. Nord VPN prevents DNS leaks by only using DNS servers operated by NordVPN. All your DNS queries travel over the encrypted tunnel and are resolved on the same VPN server you are connected to. Do a NordVPN leak test here.
  • Sports from the source – Stream sports live from official channels. Watch a game from anywhere anytime.
  • Dark Web Monitor – Dark Web Monitor will immediately notify you if someone leaks your credentials to the dark web.
  • VPN extensions for Chrome, Edge and Firefox – VPN extensions hide your IP and encrypts your browser’s traffic so that no one can snoop on your browsing data and learn your digital habits, even on unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Works with a compatible router
  • NordVPN 24/7 customer support

My Experience Using NordVPN

For many years I’ve heard of VPNs but never really paid much attention to them and what they were used for. I did, however, recently tinker around with Norton’s VPN which is part of my Norton antivirus protection. That being said, Norton’s VPN can’t compete with the top-ranked VPN providers on the market, in my opinion.

Enter NordVPN. Before writing this review I signed up for NordVPN’s 1-year plan with the reassurance that I could cancel my service within 30 days for a full refund. So, I said, “what do I have to lose”. At the end of this review, I will tell you if I decided to keep my NordVPN subscription.

NordVPN Plans

As I mentioned earlier, I subscribed to the 1-year plan which is a very good value at $4.99 per month. They also offer a 2-year plan at $3.99 per month which is the best overall value. In addition, if you only what to use their service for 30 days, their 1-month plan will cost you $11.99, which is quite expensive in my opinion. NordVPN also offers a 7-day free trial which is available for new users and only if you create the account using an Android device.

Note: The current 2-year offer is 51% off. These offers can change without notice.

I installed NordVPN on my desktop and laptop computers, my Samsung Galaxy S9+ smartphone, and my Sony 4K Android Smart TV.

Note: The NordVPN app is only available on the Android Smart TV platform. However, there are other options to set up a VPN on other smart TV platforms. Click here to learn how.

Streaming with NordVPN

I didn’t have any issues installing and getting NordVPN up and running on any of my devices. But when it came down to actual use, the Android TV app version had the least VPN user options and user functionality when compared to the PC and mobile apps.

However, I must make this absolutely clear, this was not the fault of NordVPN, it all had to do with how Android TV interacted with the VPN and the restrictions I encountered with certain apps such as Hulu which would not let me access live TV outside of my physical home location due to streaming rights.

This is not the first time I experienced this issue with Hulu. In the past when I tried watching Hulu live TV from a friend’s home via their TVs app, I had the same issue I mentioned above. Note: This occurred while not using a VPN.

All was not lost however, I was still able to access Hulu with the VPN connection active on my TV by using the Split Tunneling feature which allowed Hulu to pass through the VPN unprotected without any processing.

Additionally, I also had trouble playing the “Peacock” app via the Android TV app. I received a message stating  “ Accessing Peacock through a VPN is restricted”. However, as with the Hulu app, Split Tunneling also allowed Peacock to pass through the VPN connection.

All of the other apps streaming apps I typically use on my TV worked fine through the NordVPN app. These apps included Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Tubi, Vudu, BET+, ESPN & ESPN+, Crackle and Spotify.

For the record, this is excellent performance for streaming app performance through a TV VPN app.

I didn’t have any issues playing streaming apps through NordVPN while connected to my desktop, laptop and mobile applications, including Hulu and Peacock.

One of the things I was eager to try with NordVPN was if I would be able to access Disney+’ Star content which isn’t available in the US market. I connected to a server outside of the US and sure enough, I was able to access Disney+ Star.

That being said, I rate NordVPN’s performance with streaming apps as excellent. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention the video quality was awesome, even with 4K HDR content including Dolby Vision while connected to NordVPN.

NordVPN on Laptop

NordVPN Threat Protection

Nord offers protection from malware which operates seamlessly in the background to keep me protected from harmful threats. Nord also blocks tracking cookies that gather info about your browsing history and creates a digital profile that is used to target you with ads.

NordVPN’s ad-blocking feature did an excellent job blocking ads; in fact, I didn’t receive any ads when connected to NordVPN. I do a lot of work online and I’m constantly being bombarded with ads. This can be extremely annoying and I often find myself leaving a website just to get away from all the ads. This feature alone is enough for me to give NordVPN a strong recommendation!

With all the censorship and surveillance in our society, a good VPN will provide that extra layer of privacy and security during your online activities.

Note: You don’t have to be connected to the VPN for Threat Protection to work.

Website Connection Issues

When using a VPN you may experience times when you won’t be able to connect to a particular website. This is a normal occurrence due to technical reasons and commonly happens with certain banking sites that have measures in place to stop a VPN from connecting to their websites. I did encounter this with one of my banking apps/sites that is known to have issues connecting to VPNs

However, don’t fret…this can usually be resolved with a good VPN by manually switching servers until you find one that allows you to connect to your VPN, as was the case in my situation.

Speed Performance Test through NordVPN

My ISP baseline speed is 200 Mbps. Testing was done on my laptop using an Ethernet connection.

A VPN connection will typically slow down your internet speed due to the extra encryption. This will vary depending on VPN providers. NordVPN is known for having the fastest speeds in the industry. I did my own speed test using speedtest.net and found minimal drops in speed when connected to NordVPN.

See photos below that confirm my speed test results.

Speed test for my VPN

Speed Test with VPN

My VPN speed test

Speed Test without VPN

Final thoughts…

During the duration of only one week, I have decided to keep my NordVPN subscription. I think the overall value it provides is that good. Furthermore, Nords’ online security, privacy and threat protection are well worth the price of admission.

Generally speaking, I found that NordVPN’s performance remained smooth and consistent throughout my evaluation and I didn’t experience any software glitches.

There are a lot of VPN providers on the market for you to choose from. Nevertheless, if you desire a top-notch VPN that offers all the features you need including state or the art security and privacy that will keep you protected, and will allow your online browsing to go undetected, then I strongly recommend NordVPN.

Click here to visit the official NordVPN website for more info and all pricing options.   

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