NordVPN review: Consistent speed and performance

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Pros

  • Reliable and speedy connection
  • User-friendly interface
  • No activity logs
  • Available on most platforms
  • A large number of servers
  • Variety of useful features

Cons

  • Not the cheapest
  • Only six simultaneous connections
  • Some features not available for Apple products

NordVPN is one of the most popular and highly rated VPNs, with millions of downloads and a 4.5+ rating on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

But does it live up to the hype?

It’s one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. And it has everything most users will want from a VPN service, with all the bells and whistles you’ll need for protecting your data while doomscrolling Facebook or Twitter. 

In addition to a speedy and reliable connection, its feature-rich interface is available on all the major mobile and desktop operating systems. Although NordVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN, it stacks up well against the competition in other areas and has earned a spot on ZDNET’s best VPN guide as the best VPN for travel.

NordVPN Specifications

Servers 5,500+
Server locations 59 countries
Price From $3.99 per month with a 2-year plan
Free trial No, but has a 30-day money-back guarantee
Platforms Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, AndroidTV
Simultaneous connections 6
Speed 28% reduction
Logs No logs (only billing information)
DNS leak No leaks
Features Kill switch, split tunneling, ad and tracker blocking, malware protection, dark web monitor

NordVPN has three subscription lengths to choose from: Monthly, 1-year, and 2-year plans. You pay upfront for the one-year and two-year plans, but the larger one-time payment reduces your average monthly cost by up to 63% for the most expensive plan.

SeeHow to set up and use NordVPN

In addition to three different subscription plans, there are three packages available. If you’re just looking for a good VPN, then the Standard package is all you need. But it could be cost-effective to bundle the password manager or cloud storage with your VPN service if you normally would pay for those services separately.

Here’s what each subscription includes:

  • Standard: VPN service, malware protection, tracker, and ad blocking
  • Plus: Password manager, and all of the Standard package features
  • Complete: 1TB of encrypted cloud storage and all of the Plus and Standard package features

Monthly*

$11.99 per month

$12.69 per month

$13.99 per month

One-year*

$4.99 per month ($59.88 for first year)

$5.69 per month ($68.28 for first year)

$6.99 per month ($83.88 for first year)

Two-year*

$3.99 per month($95.76 for first 2 years)

$4.69 per month ($112.56 for first two years)

$5.99 per month ($143.76 for first two years)

*Taxes may apply

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans, so you can try out the service risk-free, and get a full refund if it’s not a good fit for you. There is no free trial advertised on NordVPN’s site, but I found a couple of different offers for a 7-day free trial when you subscribe through mobile.

NordVPN mobile free trial offer

(Image: Jason Stauffer)

The free seven-day trial offer through mobile wasn’t available every time, and if you are subscribing through the Apple or Android app, pay attention to the pricing because it may be more expensive for certain plans. The seven-day free trial was only available for the one-year plan. When subscribing through the mobile apps, there was no option for a two-year plan and the monthly subscription price was inflated to $14.99  per month. You’ll want to compare the pricing offered through NordVPN’s site and its mobile apps to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

NordVPN accepts credit cards, debit cards, cryptocurrencies, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and ACH transfer. If you purchase NordVPN through the Apple App Store, you’ll need to contact Apple in order to get a refund. You should also be able to pay with PayPal through Google Pay.

NordVPN has consistent speeds and ranks as one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. I ran multiple tests over three days comparing NordVPNs download speeds on mobile, and desktop with connections through Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and mobile data. The average speed reduction across all the tests I ran was just under 28%, and each time I was able to connect quickly and reliably. I also had a clear and consistent connection streaming Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max.

NordVPN has over 5,500 servers located in 59 countries, and your performance will vary depending on the server you’re connecting to. At times, I only had a single-digit percentage decrease in download speeds when connecting to US-based servers. But when connecting to Australia my download speeds were cut by 28% to 66%. 

You can use NordVPN on all of the most popular platforms, including:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Android
  • iOS
  • AndroidTV

There are also browser extensions available for Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. NordVPN is available for Linux, but there is no graphical user interface for that operating system.

You are limited to six simultaneous connections with any NordVPN subscription. If you need to connect more than six devices, you may be able to install NordVPN directly onto your router, then every device connecting through the router will have the protection of the VPN. 

NordVPN has a number of meaningful privacy policies and security tools that should provide most users with the options they need to stay safe online. For starters, the company has a strict no-logs policy — no user activity or information is stored by NordVPN other than your email and billing information (for processing refunds). It also effectively masks your location. I ran several DNS (Domain Name System) leak tests which showed that my IP address wasn’t exposed. (However, when your VPN is a matter of life or death, don’t rely on reviews.)

With NordVPN you’ll have access to a built-in ad and 3rd-party tracking blocker, as well as protection against malware. To use these safeguards, you’ll need to activate the Threat Protection feature through the NordVPN app (desktop or mobile). You can also enable its Dark Web Monitor, which alerts you if your email address is included in any data leaks.

kill-switch-final

Image by Jason Stauffer

There is a customizable kill switch to protect you if your connection to NordVPN is disrupted. When it’s turned on, your internet connection will be disabled when you’re not connected to the VPN. This will keep you from accidentally exposing your information without realizing it. You can enable a universal kill switch to completely cut off your connection if you’re disconnected from the VPN, or create a custom list of which programs you want cut off if your VPN connection is disrupted.

Further reading: Meet NordSec: The company behind NordVPN wants to be your one-stop privacy suite

You can further personalize your online security with split tunneling, which allows you to enable or disable the VPN for specific apps. One thing to keep in mind is some of NordVPN’s features aren’t available on all platforms. I had the kill switch and split tunneling options for the Android and Windows apps, but they weren’t available on the iOS app.

NordVPN is a good fit for anyone looking for a secure, fast, and reputable VPN. It has a variety of features that will meet the needs of most users and is compatible with every major operating system.

The most affordable subscription averages out to $3.99/mo for a 2-year commitment, which is roughly double the cost of the cheapest VPNs. Even though we’ve ranked it as one of the best VPNs, it may not be the right choice for the budget-conscious person.

Here are a few other comparable VPN services:

Atlas VPN is a good alternative if you’re looking for a more affordable VPN service. We’ve ranked it as our best cheap VPN, and you can subscribe for as little as $2.05 per month with a two-year subscription.

Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN we tested. We actually had faster download speeds when connected to the VPN compared to an unsecured non-VPN connection. Read more about why Hotspot Shield is so fast in ZDNET’s Hotspot Shield review.

ExpressVPN is ranked as our best VPN of 2022, it’s a solid choice with fast and consistent connection speeds. Check out our ExpressVPN review to learn more.




Original Article

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