While relatively new to the VPN scene, NordVPN seems to be doing everything right. It is one the few truly no-log services, has a large number of fast servers with great global coverage, offers several advanced features, and it's all wrapped up in a friendly and intuitive client. This is one service you can't go wrong with.

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Pros
Cons
Truly anonymous Panama based provider with no logging whatsoever
Well over 1000 servers (and growing) in 61+ countries
Great server perfomance accross the board
Purpose optimized servers, including for video streaming, peer-to-peer and Tor
Clean, easy to use client
Industry leading six simultaneous connections
Can't pick specific cities to connect to
A few nice-to-haves missing from the macOS client

Speed Tests

When you browse NordVPN's website, you'll read statements like "Lightning Speed" and "Superfast Servers Everywhere." Clearly, NordVPN likes to believe they're on top of performance. And as it turns out, they're right.

Download speeds were top notch across the board. If found uploads a little bit slower, but the numbers were still very respectable and more than usable. That said, if uploads are super important for you, you may want to consider looking into PureVPN.

By default, the client software will pick what it thinks is the best server for your selected location. It does a reasonable job, but I found picking a low-load server by hand usually gave slightly better performance, though granted, probably not better enough to be worth it.

If you're curious how NordVPN does relative to some of the other VPN providers, please take a look at my fastest VPN comparison page. On that same page, I also go into detail on how my tests are run.

Closest Server
Speed test of closest NordVPN servers
Using VPN
Baseline NordVPN upload performance
No VPN
United States
NordVPN speed review
Using VPN
Baseline test of United States server
No VPN
United Kingdom
Download performance of NordVPN's United Kingdom servers
Using VPN
Baseline review of United Kingdom server speed
No VPN
Canada
Canadian test of NordVPN speed
Using VPN
Review of NordVPN server download speed
No VPN
Australia
NordVPN download speed
Using VPN
NordVPN server speeds
No VPN
Netherlands
NordVPN speed test
Using VPN
Baseline download performance for the Netherlands
No VPN
Germany
Speed test of German servers
Using VPN
Germany sever speed baseline test
No VPN
France
NordVPN speed test
Using VPN
Baseline test of French upload and download speeds
No VPN

About NordVPN

NordVPN is based out of Panama. The company was established in 2012, and while it's fairly new, don't let that fool you. NordVPN is doing everything right. They provide an excellent, feature rich service while avoiding many of the mistakes some of its competitors are making.

According to their about page, NordVPN is inspired by ideals of innovative technology and customer freedom, trust and confidence. And it shows. This is why, despite its young age, the service has been recommended by the likes of PCMag, Wired, Yahoo! Tech, CNet, Forbes, and TechRadar.

Privacy and Security

When it comes to privacy, no one does it better than NordVPN. For starters, they're based in Panama, a country with no data retention laws, zero government surveillance and an entirely uncensored internet. Panama is well outside the reach of the American NSA and British GCHQ organizations.

NordVPN is also one of just a handful of providers who truly does no logging, as clearly stated in their Terms of Service:

NordVPN does not monitor, store or record logs for any VPN user. We do not store connection time stamps, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses.

And that's the way it should be. Even though anonymous time stamps and used bandwidth seem like things that can't be used to uniquely identify you, that's unfortunately not the case. If you have the right resources (a la the government), you'd be surprised what you can do with that data.

By not keeping these stats, the best NordVPN can do when asked to turn them over is shrug their shoulders (ignoring the fact that getting to that point in Panama would be difficult, to begin with).

The only personal information NordVPN requires is an email address. Payment can be made completely anonymously using Bitcoin.

As far as security, NordVPN uses pretty much military grade encryption. The default with the Windows, macOS and Android clients is the OpenVPN protocol with AES-256-CBC encryption and a 2048-bit Diffie-Hellmann key. The iOS client uses IKEv2/IPsec with the AES-256-GCM encryption algorithm and 3072-bit Diffie-Hellmann keys. If these acronyms and numbers don't mean much to you, all you need to know is that your data is perfectly safe.

For those concerned, you'll also be glad to hear that my NordVPN testest revealed no IPv4, IPv6 or WebRTC leaks.

If the default levels of protection just won't cut it for you, NordVPN also offers two additional features in which you may be interested.

The first is called Double VPN. NordVPN is one of only two providers I know of that supports it. In a nutshell, Double VPN allows you to chain two VPN servers. Data leaves your device encrypted as per usual and travels to the first VPN server. Once there, instead of going to the internet, your data is encrypted a second time and forwarded to a second VPN server. Only once at the second server will it accesses the internet.

The second feature, Onion over VPN (also commonly called Tor over VPN), is similar, but instead of chaining on a second VPN server, it sends your data through the Tor network. All your communication ends up accessing the internet from a Tor relay.

Please note that using either Double VPN or Onion over VPN will slow down your connection. But, if security and privacy are of utmost importance, using either of these features may be worth it.

One last security feature worth mentioning supported by NordVPN is Kill Switch functionality. If for whatever reason, your VPN connection was to drop suddenly, the Kill Switch will shut down any site or software you pre-configure with it ahead of time. This way you can be sure no sensitive data will ever be accidentally exposed.

Features

NordVPN's is compatible with just about every platform under the sun. All the big names you expect like Windows, macOS, iOS and Android are there, but so is Windows Home, Chrome OS, Linux, RaspberryPi and a huge number of routers.

The client software is slick looking and intuitive to use. You can connect from either a map of the world or a list servers. Connecting from the map will pick the best available server in the country, presumably based on load and distance to your location.

Connecting from the server list gives you a lot more control. The list will give you current server loads and their distances to you. From this menu, you can also pick a purpose specific server for, say, peer-to-peer or Double VPN.

For those used to picking servers by city name, that is not something NordVPN's client supports. Ultimately, this doesn't matter at all since you can pick based on the true important metric, distance. I think it just stood out and I found it a little weird at first because I'm so used to being able to connect this way.

I did notice a few differences between the Windows and macOS versions. The latter didn't feel quite as complete, though still very much usable. For example, being able to sort servers in the server list by load or distance was missing. Not a show stopper by any means, but a feature that would be nice to have. I imagine since it's implemented in the Windows version, it will eventually make its way over to the other platforms as well.

Kill Switch functionality, Onion over VPN and Double VPN are all available with NordVPN. All three are talked about in greater detail in the Privacy and Security section of this page.

Smart DNS, called Smart Play by NordVPN, is also available. This feature works by resolving DNS requests at specific locations, making it possible to bypass geo-blocked content like Netflix or the BBC's iPlayer. It needs no configuration on your part. Smart DNS automatically detects when it's needed and routes your data accordingly.

Restrictions

The one restriction every VPN provider has is the number of simultaneous connections. For NordVPN, it's set at 6. That's an industry high no other provider can match. If you have a lot of devices (or many family members) that will be connected to the VPN at the same time, definitely keep NordVPN on your radar.

There are no other restrictions you need to worry about with NordVPN. Just play nice and don't commit bank fraud, hack, spam or do any other frowned upon activity. Those will get your service terminated.

Customer Support

24/7 Support at NordVPN comes in the form of live chat (my preferred method), a ticketing system or email. Facebook and Twitter are also viable options for less sensitive questions.

The response is fast and seems knowledgeable. The two times I contacted support over chat to test their quickness and knowledge, I was talking to someone in under two minutes. The people I spoke to seem to know what they were talking about and I didn't get the feeling I was being read to from a script.

For self-serve support, NordVPN's website also provides an extensive FAQ and setup tutorials for just about every operating system, device, and router imaginable.

Though not widely advertised on their site, NordVPN does offer a free 3-day trial. They also have a generous 30-day refund policy in case you're not fully satisfied with their service. The one caveat is that if request a refund due to a technical issue (not that I ran into any), NordVPN will try to troubleshoot it first.

Server Locations

NordVPN has quite an impressive network of servers. The count currently stands at 1105 machines in 61 countries. The sheer number of servers is second only to Private Internet Access. Though, with NordVPN, you can pick which server to connect to. You can't with PIA.

The number of countries isn't the highest either (that honor belongs to HideMyAss! and PureVPN), but I would be good money it will be more than enough for 99% of users. I couldn't think of a single country I may want to connect to that is not on NordVPN's server list.