- Five thousand plus server locations that ensure a high speed in comparison to other VPN providers.
- A separate “Kill Switch” option for “applications” so that the programs which you want to remain connected with the Internet won’t stop working if the VPN unexpectedly stops functioning.
- Fastest servers can be chosen according to a different country which that provides you an option of connecting with the fastest server for a specific location whose content you wish to access.
- It offers P2P optimized servers which are beneficial for downloading.
They have their smart DNS that allows access to Netflix.
- Optimized servers that you can use with Tor which increase the anonymity along with the security.
- They do not provide an extension for Safari, but anyway, there are multiple options such as Chrome and Firefox. If you wish to use Safari, you can download NordVPN app, and establish a virtual private connection through it.
- Split Tunneling feature isn’t available, but through live chat, we are informed that they are working on making it available for different platforms, and it will be added soon.
- They do not support any protocol other than OpenVPN. However, they told us during a live chat that for other protocols, you would need to install third party application. This is done for security purpose as the other protocols are not as efficient as OpenVPN.
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Overview: Simple and Easy to Use Interface!
NordVPN, born in 2012, is now serving more than one million people who are concerned about their privacy. There are more than five thousand servers all over the world, and that means it has established one server for every two hundred people. This shows the sincerity towards the commitment of providing security as they are providing it without compromising with the speed. The company is located in Panama City, Panama, and holds the aim of providing free and open internet to everyone.
NordVPN claims to believe that the Internet practice must be free from censorship and surveillance, and that’s the reason they strive to develop their VPN clients with top notch-quality. There are a few features which aren’t present yet that could be because of security reasons or else that particular element is still in the development stage.
Five Thousand Plus Server Locations
Five thousand is a huge number when it comes to the server. There are approximately two hundred countries in this world so, even if you divide it evenly; it comes to twenty-five servers per country. However, NordVPN only has its servers in sixty-three countries covering every continent except Antarctica, and yes, they only have servers in South Africa when we talk about Africa. The reason is that their audience base lies mostly in Europe and America. In Europe, it has 2263 servers, and In America (North and South), it has 2356 server locations. Also, countries like Australia, Singapore, and Japan are provided with an immense number of servers.
Because of this, NordVPN can easily commit a high speed as the distribution of their users is done effectively. Also, the countries like the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, U.K., and Netherlands have the data which can’t be accessible from locations outside the country, so the number of users who use NordVPN for accessing the data of these countries is huge. To stabilize the colossal traffic, they have placed an immense number of servers, and that’s why no one will ever experience any kind of speed related issues.
Servers Optimized for Tor
Tor browser is often used by the users who wish to remain anonymous. However, if you use the VPN, your data gets shared with the VPN provider. VPN provider will know your true IP, and that’s how decreases the anonymity. Though, if your VPN provider doesn’t keep logs of your activities, then it’s a good idea for adding an extra layer of security. NordVPN has “No log Policy” which is visible under “Warrant Canary” title.
NordVPN’s No Log Policy
This ensures that you can use it with Tor even if it doesn’t make your presence completely invisible. However, there could complain about the speed, but it isn’t because of the VPN provider, but due to Tor. Tor has multiple nods to which data travels, and NordVPN can’t do anything about it.
But if one is going to use Tor anyway, it is recommended to use NordVPN along with it as due to the number of servers, the speed won’t decrease much in comparison of not using it.
There are particular servers dedicated to P2P connections. CyberGhost has the same feature but with the other name, “For Downloading.” As the total number of servers (3000+) that CyberGhost provides is less than what NordVPN (5100+) provides, NordVPN is capable of delivering the efficient speed of P2P connections. It is a feature which you should use for the torrenting purpose. There is also an option that shows that you can connect with a server of a specific country or else you can get connected with a server which is the fastest for your location all over the world.
Don’t forget that this must be only used for downloading purpose, and not for streaming or browsing purpose as speed would be less for these tasks. For streaming and browsing “Quick connect” option works perfectly that you can find on the main screen and connect to the VPN as soon as you click to it.
Two Servers for Extra Security
This feature is provided in “Double VPN” option in which if you get connected through NordVPN’s client then your data will pass through two different servers before heading towards the destination server. This provides an extra layer of security, but its drawback is comparatively lower speed than what you get if you are connected with the server of any other category.
This lower speed is due to the extra travel that data is going to face when it travels from the first server to the second server. Another limitation is that you can’t configure the path of the data. There are pre-defined server combinations provided by NordVPN such as Canada-United States, Netherlands-Russia, etc. However, if you notice, they have tried to keep a shorter distance between two servers by selecting combinations which are located at a lesser distance in comparison of other servers. For example, if they would have selected one server from Russia and another from South Africa, the speed would be too low, and the performance would decrease. Instead of that, the selection is done for Russia and the Netherlands so that data does not require much traveling.
The limitation is this that you can’t make any alterations in these predefined combinations. Adding a new combination is something that is not added yet as it can cause network related issues, and if the wrong combination gets selected speed could be decreased highly.
Dedicated IP Feature
The last option under specialty servers is “Dedicated IP” option.
So, how it works? Well, it acts as a standard server like any other server provided by NordVPN. But then, there is some special use of this option which is hidden from the users.
When someone connects with the dedicated IP, a static, fixed IP belongs to that person is provided, but to unlock that option you need to pay $5.83 per month. It will boost up your speed, and if you really want no compromise with Data Transfer performance than it’s a worthy purchase for you. On the other hand, if all you need is regular use of NordVPN, premium version would be sufficient.
CyberSec Provides Better Security and UX
Not all VPN providers offer this feature as it has nothing to do with privacy and security over the virtual private network, but it saves you from malware and also improves your user experience from ad blocking feature. CyberGhost provides this feature under the heading “Connection Features,” and you can configure it differently means you have the option of turning on and off for every feature, but here it is done with one click. Now, when it comes to efficiency, CyberGhost, ad-blocker only blocks pop up adds, but NordVPN, it saves you from every advert that is blocking your content and occupying any part of the screen. Obviously, it’s not possible to block YouTube ads, but you can rely on NordVPN that in future, this technology could be embedded with the system as efficiently as their ad-blocker.
The other features are of saving your PC from Malicious websites and saving you from unsafe connections which are not certified websites. When you wish to visit an unreliable website, CyberSec will not allow you to do that if it finds that the URL isn’t safe, and can infect your system. While using it, if you feel that any particular website is perfectly safe, and is not performing any illegal activity, you can directly report it through live chat or E-mail, and your issue will surely be taken into consideration.
Now there is one issue that NordVPN might face when it comes to the use of CyberSec. When you download NordVPN for Android Platform from Google’s Play store, then the ad-blocker won’t work because of Google’s Ad-blocking Policy. That was a disappointing news till we found that if someone downloads “.apk” from NordVPN’s website, ad-blocker works perfectly. We really appreciate that how NordVPN has made attempts to provide as many as features possible.
Now here comes the Auto-Connect feature which you would have seen in pretty much every VPN provider, but what’s different about NordVPN?
Four server categories that were already mentioned can be connected automatically. For example, if you have purchased a dedicated IP, and you always wish to get connected with it irrespective of other servers available, then you can directly select that server from the “Auto-Connect” option. If you use NordVPN mostly for torrenting, the auto-connect with P2P server is the best option.
As soon as you start the Windows, you will be connected to NordVPN automatically, and after this, it gets connected to the selected special server. In case, if you don’t select any server, then it will connect with the server chosen by “Quick Connect.”
Kill Switches for Internet and Applications
The Kill Switch destroys the bridge between the Internet and your system if any malfunction occurs in the application by which it gets disconnected. It is available for most of the VPNs, but here, it works in two different ways: For internet (through browsers) and For Applications. We would call it the Kill Switch splitting, and it is beneficial when you need internet to remain connected with some specific apps, but also want to kill the Internet traffic for the rest of the apps. You can directly select the apps, and a list would be generated. After this, if you turn on the “App Kill Switch,” then it will kill the Internet traffic going through that app, and the other apps work normally without any interruption.
Hide your Device from LAN
NordVPN provides a feature that let you hide your system’s identity when you are connected with Local Area Network by making you Invisible. It is useful when you are connected with Wi-Fi at the Airport or any coffee shop. Just hide your device from other users sharing the same network to avoid any potential risk of hackers.
Advanced Settings that must be altered with caution
Well, if you are a fan of PPTP or IKEv2 or IPSec protocol, then you may get disappointed. However, if you believe in a more secure network such as OpenVPN, then NordVPN is a go for you. It allows configuration for OpenVPN to some extent and provides the option to select between TCP and UDP OpenVPN Protocol. However, there is no option for port selection even for OpenVPN. This would not have been added to avoid providing the complete control to the user. This has been seen that more configurations could affect the functionality of the VPN provider. ZenMate allows the user to enjoy the complete control of their VPN, but because of it, we had faced problem for multiple times while establishing a VPN connection. On the other hand, NordVPN retains the simplicity, and at the same time offers all the required configurations.
NordVPN has their primary and secondary DNS with the addresses: 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168, but if you wish to add custom DNS, you are allowed. However, it is not required.
Enjoy NordVPN from Restricted Locations
NordVPN provides special servers known as Obfuscated servers which are beneficial for the users who are experiencing restricted networks. However, there is a limited number of Obfuscated servers in the list, and it is also recommended not to use them without NordVPN’s customer executive’s direction.
It also shows malfunctioning sometimes, and that’s why this feature requires more improvement and addition of more servers.
Connection Time Analysis
Connection Time Analysis for various servers’ categories: Quick Connect, P2P server, Onion over Tor and Double VPN has been performed. We have not performed any connection time analysis for Dedicated IP as it acts as a standard server when you haven’t purchased it. So, it’s similar to “Quick Connect” option, but obviously, the servers are different. The analysis shows that for both “Quick Connect” and “P2P Servers,” the time taken is nearly equal, and it is due to the availability of these servers all over the world. However, when it comes to Onion over Tor, there is a limited number of servers, and because of that, the distance between our location and the fastest server crossed one continent. Still, the average increased by approximately 1 second and that shows the efficiency of their connectivity.
For Double VPN, we have not experiencedd the same level of connectivity. It is again due to the limited number of servers. Now, when we tried to connect with the fastest server pair, it showed us “Connection Timed Out.” The fastest server pair for us was Taiwan-Hong Kong, but we were not able to connect with it even after trying for a minute. We scrolled the list to find out other servers and tried to connect with a few of them. European pairs were working fine, but again when we tried to connect with Canada-United States pair, the same error occurred, so one needs to find out manually that for their specific location which is the best suited Double VPN pair.
We reported this failure to NordVPN, and they asked us to use the “Diagnostics” option which sends reports the error and failures to the team. This is an efficient way to remove every possible bug, and we appreciate the sincerity of NordVPN towards improvement.
Speed test shows the different downloading and uploading speed when the system is not connected to NordVPN, and when we connect it with NordVPN.
There were four special types of servers available in NordVPN in addition to one Quick Connect option. We ran speed test for all the choices, and results were recorded showing capability of different types of servers of NordVPN. Results have not disappointed us, and one can’t expect more than what Nord provides.
“Quick Connect” provides a high speed, and it also performs better than other special servers as it finds the fastest server among all the servers.
For “Double VPN,” the speed is comparatively lower because the data passes through two servers at one time. Also, we tried to connect with the fastest server available, but then it is not possible to connect with it, so we manually found the closest one, and calculated speed for it.
The server of “Onion over VPN” will surely show a lower speed, not because of the VPN provider, but because of using Tor along with it. The fastest server for our location was in Germany which is 1000s of miles away. That makes sure a low speed. We were unable to calculate the speed for it as we were using a browser other than Tor.
For P2P connection, we faced hard times. We tried to connect it with the fastest server available without custom DNS, and the results were disappointing. However, from the customer support, we got the knowledge about the implementation of custom DNS which provided us the double speed of what we were getting without custom DNS.
We were already expecting that dedicated IP option won’t show optimum speed as we haven’t purchased it. It was acting as a standard server which was provided for Quick Connect. However, because there was a huge distance between our location and the dedicated IP server, we experienced low speed. For Europeans, this issue is minimized due to the presence of thousands of servers.
Security is what for which every individual uses VPN. Nord uses the highest level of encryption, AES-256-CBC with a 2048bit DH key. For maintaining the security, they only allow the user to connect with OpenVPN. However, it is configurable, and one can use TCP and UDP ports.
They provide their DNS’s to remove third-party involvement and also sticks to “No Log Policy.”
The features such as “Internet Kill Switch” and “Application Kill Switch” are very helpful in adding security by removing every possible data leakage.
To save your system from malicious websites, they have implemented CyberSec in their application. For security, while using public Wi-Fi networks, invisibility to LAN is there. Pretty much, a completely packed data transfer which can’t be leaked throughout the process.
If you are still not sure about using it, you can use it with Tor for anonymity along with security, but then it will cost you speed by a significant percentage.
User Interface and User Experience
The “easy to use” interface is developed so that its use could benefit more and more people. The Nord VPN’s calm color having a map aligned on the left side is an attribute that provides soothing effect to the users.
They have made it phone responsive, so this same functionality could be expected in Android and iOS also.
It is not highly configurable, and thus anyone could use it without getting much worried about changing any of its settings. The list of servers is key-mark of this application which helps to improve the user experience. Sorting out servers according to preference is much very helpful in fulfilling the user requirements perfectly.
There is one more feature with the name, CyberSec which blocks ads and malware and that’s an additional task that it VPN provider provides. It not only saves your data by encrypting it but also by saving it by defeating hackers trying to implement malware in your system.
It covers all the major platforms, but it’s not available for Safari extension. It’s the only platform where one can’t find it, but for that, one can download the application and then turn it on. All the data that passes through the browser will automatically get encrypted.
You can connect with Android, MacOS, Windows and iOS, simultaneously. You get provision for connecting with total of six devices at one time. However, to save the place of five devices which you could utilize during travel or at coffee shops, you can install the VPN client in the router and then connect every device through it.
While using NordVPN, we came across some doubts such as
- Availability of protocols
- Functionality of CyberSec
- Ad-blockers operation in Android devices
- DNS addresses
- And few more.
Before interacting with live chat, you can find out the solutions just by typing the keywords and finding related articles. If your issue remains unsolved as you don’t find any related content, you have the option of E-mail or the live chat. Live chat provides the elaborated solutions along with examples or else; if they find any suitable article, they will redirect it to you.
If you find any issue, you always have an option of reporting it through “Diagnosis” which is available in the advanced settings. It will send the error and failure report to the developers. It is only recommended if you find no available solution with the help of customer support.
The easiest way to define NordVPN is “Basic along with Classic.” It provides all the required features while keeping the user interface simple and easy to use. There is a top security feature, and some of them are not available in most of the VPNs such CyberSec and Application Kill Switch. The sorting of servers is remarkable, and a better can’t be expected. They provide top protocol with high-grade encryption to secure your data. The sincerity towards delivering the best customer satisfaction can be proven with speed, and we trained customer executives. The only issue we faced is for P2P server connection and Double VPN server connection. The speed is slightly lower, but that’s completely acceptable as it also depends on many of the other factors irrespective of VPN provider. Also, you can use quick connect which renders comparable speed that you may get without a VPN connection. All in all, we find NordVPN as the best VPN so far, and many improvements which are still in their way such as more platforms and split tunneling feature will surely put it above other VPN providers.