In this NordVPN review I put their service through extensive testing and let the results stand on their own. I wanted to find out once and for all:
- Is NordVPN too slow?
- Is NordVPN secure (no leaks)?
- Do all of the features work correctly?
- Is it actually worth the price?
As you can see with all of the screenshots below, I put NordVPN through lots of tests to answer these questions.
The latest tests show huge improvements in the area of performance. Many of the servers I tested in my vicinity could get near full internet provider speeds. While there was still some variability with servers I tested in the US/Canada region, I found it to be relatively easy to find a fast server with NordVPN’s giant network.
The reason for the improved performance is that NordVPN has added hundreds of new servers to their VPN network. This provides more bandwidth and better speeds for all the users by distributing loads efficiently across the network.
In terms of security, NordVPN also does very well. In the past year they have updated their apps with a better firewall-based kill switch. This blocks all traffic in the event that the VPN connection drops. They also offer a rule-based kill switch to force-quit applications if the network is interrupted (the legacy kill switch). In testing out the Windows, Mac OS, and Android apps, I did not find any issues with leaks, bugs, or problems – everything worked well.
And lastly, in terms of price and value, NordVPN is one of the best you will find. They are currently offering a huge 66% discount for two-year plans, but they also have good savings for the two-year and one-year plan. With all the improvements over the past year, NordVPN appears to be going in the right direction. It remains a great VPN service, especially for those looking to save money.
- User-friendly apps
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Double-hop VPN servers
- Tor-over-VPN servers
- Live chat support
- No logs
- Works with Netflix
- Ad blocking feature
- Speeds somewhat variable (but still good)
- 66% discount only available for 2-year plans
NordVPN speed test results
Before running the NordVPN speed tests I verified my internet provider baseline speed without a VPN. My baseline speed was about 95 to 110 Mbps (varied throughout the day). My physical testing location for all speed tests was Germany. Now on to the results…
NordVPN servers in Europe (near my location)
As you can see in the test results below, NordVPN speed tests in Europe were all exceptionally fast.
With servers in Germany I could basically max out my ISP (baseline) speed.
Download speed: 104.88 Mbps:
Here is another nearby server in Denmark that gave me speeds very close to my baseline test.
Download speed: 94.63 Mbps:
And the last speed test for Europe was with a server in the United Kingdom.
Once again, you can see that I am nearly maxing out my ISP baseline speed with a NordVPN server at 95 Mbps!
As you can see, these are very impressive speed test results with all of the nearby servers in my region.
I’ve been personally using and testing NordVPN over the past three years and have never had speeds that were this consistently fast. It seems that NordVPN’s efforts to add hundreds of new servers to balance the bandwidth load are really helping to improve performance.
Long distance speed tests (North America)
For this NordVPN review I also tested a few servers in the United States and Canada (from my location in Germany).
The first test I ran with a US server located near New York was rather slow.
Download speed: 3.87 Mbps
Due to the slower result, I decided to manually select a different VPN server in the US, rather than letting the app select the best server. I chose a server with slightly more load, but the results were much better.
Download speed: 65 Mbps
I also tested a few servers in Canada. Just like with US servers, I found that the speeds could be somewhat variable. However, by manually selecting different servers from the last, it was easy to get good speeds (30-60 Mbps for Canadian servers).
Conclusion on NordVPN speeds – These are the best speed test results I have recorded for NordVPN in the past three years (as both a personal user and also for reviews). While the speeds can be a bit variable with some locations, it is very easy to find a fast server that will give you excellent speeds.
How much does NordVPN cost?
NordVPN is one of the cheapest VPN services you will find (that is still good quality). Right now NordVPN extending a discounted two-year subscription price for Restore Privacy readers. While the duration is certainly long, the savings are indeed significant, at only $3.99 per month for the two-year plan.
Below are the discounted NordVPN subscription prices:
Also note, NordVPN provides a 30 day refund window, which is actually quite generous for VPN standards. This is one of the best VPN trial windows you will find – see the free trial VPN guide for comparison.
I put their refund policy to the test and they were quick to issue me a refund, within a few hours of my request (explained further below).
If you are hesitant about the two-year subscription, NordVPN also offers one-year plans and also monthly subscriptions, but they are more expensive. You can see all their discounted prices here.
NordVPN boasts a huge server network, which currently includes about 4,400 servers in 62 countries. (And this number is still growing.)
In the past year NordVPN has expanded and updated their server network to improve performance. This has resulted in less congestion and better speed for all users. You can see real-time bandwidth stats for every server on the NordVPN website (see Servers in the navigation menu at the top).
With such a large selection of servers, you can easily find one with enough bandwidth for the region you are seeking. The NordVPN app will also automatically connect to the least-congested server in a given country, which improves performance.
NordVPN continues to work well with Netflix, while most VPNs are getting blocked by the service.
With NordVPN you can get full access to American Netflix, UK Netflix, and other regions as well. It is definitely a solid Netflix VPN considering the server selection and generally good performance.
In the NordVPN Netflix guide I ran NordVPN through a number of real-world tests to see how well it unblocks Netflix. Overall NordVPN did very well in these tests – both unblocking the service and also giving me great speeds.
You can check Netflix availability for the region you want to use on the NordVPN website.
Does NordVPN use virtual server locations?
For this review I also checked a number of different servers to verify the true server location. Some VPNs use what they refer to as “virtual server locations“. One example of this would be a server in Singapore spoofing a location of Sri Lanka. This is easy for VPNs to do because they can declare any location they want for a range of IP addresses they purchase.
To check for virtual server locations, you can ping the server from different worldwide locations – see the steps outlined in this guide.
I tested various NordVPN server locations all around the world. You can get the server URL from the NordVPN website (see Servers from the navigation menu). Everything checked out.
After testing numerous servers, it does not appear that NordVPN is using virtual server locations.
Note: Just to clarify, I was not testing for physical (dedicated) servers vs. virtual (VPS) servers – I was only checking the actual server location. The virtual vs dedicated server issue is a different topic entirely.
NordVPN privacy test results
Once again, NordVPN has made some excellent improvements in the areas of privacy and security in the past year. Unlike in previous reviews, extensive testing did not find any leaks with the Windows or Mac OS apps.
I tested the Windows and Mac OS clients using the basic VPN tests and checks with the site ipleak.net.
Overall the test results were good for the Windows and Mac OS clients:
- No IPv4 leaks
- No IPv6 leaks
- No DNS leaks
No leaks – here is a test result showing everything working correctly with the NordVPN client (no leaks).
You can see in the image above that the NordVPN Netherlands server is providing me with an IPv4 address, blocking IPv6, and handling DNS requests. The WebRTC results above are local IP addresses (not leaks).
With the latest update to this review, it is clear that NordVPN has made some great improvements with its applications on both Windows and Mac OS.
NordVPN offers some solid features to enhance user privacy and security. Let’s take a look at a few of these features.
NordVPN CyberSec is a new security feature that includes a malicious sites filter and an advertisement and tracking blocker. I found it to work well in testing, effectively blocking all advertising domains on different sites that I visited.
Two other VPN services that also offer a similar feature include:
- Perfect Privacy – Perfect Privacy offers a TrackStop feature to block ads, tracking, and malicious domains at the VPN server level. They also offer a parental filter and a new NeuroRouting feature, which is a dynamic multi-hop configuration.
- VyprVPN – VyprVPN offers a malicious sites filter that will block dangerous domains, but they do not yet provide ad blocking.
NordVPN’s CyberSec feature seemed to do well with blocking ads.
NordVPN kill switch
NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that is now offering two different kinds of kill switches. A kill switch is important because it blocks traffic if the VPN connection drops, which protects you from de-anonymization and your regular traffic being exposed.
In the screenshot below you can see the two different kill switches:
- Internet Kill Switch – This will block all traffic if the VPN connection drops (recommended).
- App Kill Switch – This will close applications if the VPN connection drops, but will not block any traffic.
The addition of NordVPN’s Internet Kill Switch was a recent development.
If you are concerned about IP address leaks it would probably be best to use the “Internet Kill Switch” as this will offer the most protection.
I tested the Internet Kill Switch and found it to effectively block traffic when there was not an active connection to a VPN server.
Tor (Onion) Over VPN
Despite the drawbacks of the Tor network (namely slow speeds and the potential for IP address leaks), it can still be combined with a VPN for more privacy. I also tested this setup with ZorroVPN for the ZorroVPN review. Additionally, Perfect Privacy also allows for direct Tor connectivity with any server in their network (Tor over VPN).
NordVPN offers three servers that exit onto the Tor (onion) network:
Unfortunately, I found the Onion over VPN servers to be unusually slow. However, this is a problem with the Tor Network and has nothing to do with NordVPN.
Double VPN (multi-hop)
Using a multi-hop VPN chain offers many advantages over a standard VPN setup (single server). If a server were to be targeted (monitored), a multi-hop VPN configuration would add further protection by helping to conceal incoming and/or outgoing traffic.
NordVPN currently offers 16 double-hop VPN configurations, which they list on their website. The drawback here is that these are not self-configurable. In other words, you can’t create your own custom multi-hop configuration.
You can learn more about the different features offered by NordVPN on their website here.
NordVPN dedicated IP address
NordVPN also gives you the option to get a dedicated IP address. They offer dedicated IP addresses in the following locations:
- United States (Buffalo, Los Angeles, Dallas) – $70
- Germany (Frankfurt) – $70
- United Kingdom (London) – $70
- Netherlands (Amsterdam) – $70
The cost is for one year access to the dedicated/static IP. Despite the higher cost, NordVPN is among the best VPNs for a static IP. You can purchase a dedicated IP address by contacting NordVPN’s support to arrange the IP location and have them add it to your account.
In previous NordVPN reviews I found the support to be quite poor (email tickets with delayed responses). Fortunately, they now have full chat support and the representatives are very helpful.
Live chat is available 24/7 to answer any random questions you may have. Chat support is accessible directly on the NordVPN website in the bottom right corner.
I initiated a few different chats to bring up various issues. It didn’t take long to connect with a representative (under a minute) and the support team was helpful in answering all my questions.
NordVPN has significantly improved in the support category in the past year, which is great to see.
As we discussed above, NordVPN offers a 30 day refund window, which is quite good for the VPN industry.
If you read the exact refund policy from NordVPN, however, it contains some interesting points (in bold below):
If you wish to claim a refund, you can do so within 30 days following your purchase of NordVPN service. We want you to be fully satisfied with our services. However, we will troubleshoot an issue you experience first. There are several nuances to a VPN service configuration and we solve 99% of issues encountered. NordVPN reserves the right to suspend, terminate, or refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason. No refunds will be considered for accounts deleted for violation of our Terms of Service.
There’s nothing too surprising here – every VPN reserves the right to suspend accounts for violations of their terms.
Fast refund – NordVPN was very fast to refund my money (within one hour of my request). This is excellent customer service. Although I have heard about NordVPN wanting to troubleshoot issues before processing a refund, I did not experience that myself and I have never heard of a refund being denied.
Is NordVPN recommended?
NordVPN earns a strong recommendation because it has made huge improvements over the last year. These improvements include:
- Hundreds of new servers added around the world.
- Much faster speeds throughout the server network.
- Great new features (CyberSec and ad blocking).
- Better apps with more security (improved kill switch functionality).
NordVPN may just be one of the best values in the VPN industry with the current discount prices that drop the rate down to only $3.99 per month. And with the money-back guarantee, you can try the VPN risk-free for 30 days.
Alternatives to NordVPN:
If you have used NordVPN, feel free to share your honest review (good or bad) below.