There was a time when the internet used to be a free playing field.
There were very little restrictions on accessing content back then (actually, there was very little content).
Speeds weren’t as fast as today, but there were greater freedom and less censorship.
Cut to 2020, and things have changed considerably.
Today, we have geo-blocked and gated content that can’t be accessed from all locations. Servers and network providers have put firewalls and regional restrictions in place.
And every step you take is dogged and logged by someone somewhere.
Naturally, for people who value their privacy above all else (for example me) these aren’t very enticing times. After all, who wants to go around with multiple eyes on you at all times?
That’s why a VPN service acts as a godsend in these times.
Not only do VPNs work to protect my privacy, but they also ensure that I am not restricted by geographic or location-based constraints.
Trouble is, with a large number of VPN providers available on the market, it can become tough to settle on the right one. After all, the underlying technologies of all VPNs are similar, and most make claims to be the best.
So, whom do you trust?
That’s why, when I needed to get a VPN subscription, I decided to try things out for myself before making the leap.
The 28 inspect elements are designed and makeup on my own, mostly skew towards privacy and security features with their own point weight for each element in which I deemed important.
And after some serious research, NordVPN would be one of my recommended choices of VPN.
I’d already heard that it claims to be the best there is.
But I tested things out for myself, and today I’m here to lay it all bare in front of you.
I tested the service on multiple fronts, and I’m pleased to say that I found it to be a force to reckon with. In my searching, I tried to answer questions such as:
- How does it perform on the speed front?
- Are its security measures up to date?
- What’s the status of streaming?
- Can it handle geoblocks?
As you’re about to find out, NordVPN performs admirably on all these fronts, and more.
Psst, a word before we begin: NordVPN has some of the most interesting features around. If you are into torrenting and streaming, make sure you read-on.
With a host of useful capabilities, this is an app that deserves a top spot.
Nevertheless, there are a few areas where even this one falls short. But all in good time.
Let’s dive in.
NordVPN Speeds: The Truth Of The Matter
When it comes to speed, the first thing that I must mention is the app’s Quick Connect Feature, which makes getting online a cinch.
A single tap and you’re automatically connected to the fastest server closest to your location.
While this feature doesn’t allow you to choose the server location, it does give consistent speeds that rarely fluctuate.
I used the connection for regular browsing, streaming (more on that later) and online gaming, and I am pleased to say I didn’t face any hitches whatsoever.
If, however, you want to unblock targeted geo-restricted content, then I suggest you make the server choice manually.
I connected to servers near and far (not taking any names) and got consistent speeds of close to 30Mbps for most of the time.
For most streaming and light gaming purposes, that’s more than enough.
Of course, the speeds drop a bit if you connect to faraway servers, but still, it isn’t significant enough to affect performance.
I steamed HD video and made a few video calls, and I’m pleased to say they all went well without buffering.
Here I’d like to mention that when you’re using the Quick Connect Feature, you’ll most likely be directed to a server in your resident country or the nearest they can find.
After all, the purpose is to connect you to the fastest server.
All things considered, I think it can be safely said that when it comes to speed, NordVPN is right up there with the top contenders.
Netflix And NordVPN: A Killer Combo
I think it goes without saying that with such excellent speed capabilities, it’s a given that NordVPN would work really well when streaming.
But the real question is: can it bypass Netflix’s notoriously tough geo-restrictions?
Yes! Even though Netflix has a reputation for being the toughest service to bypass, still it can’t stop NordVPN from getting past its security blocks.
NordVPN comes with a SmartPlay feature that is specially designed to bypass geoblocks and protect your privacy at the same time.
How does it achieve this seemingly marvelous feat?
Without going much into the technicalities, suffice to say that NordVPN uses a combination of VPN and DNS technologies to balance the bypassing of blocks and maintenance of security.
I personally tested over a tenth of US servers, and NordVPN was able to bypass Netflix’s restrictions every time.
And as for the streaming quality, you’ll get nothing short of ultra-HD, so that’s that. I also made the effort and tried out servers in other countries for accessing foreign libraries, and I am glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
I also tried the service with other streaming providers such as Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and NordVPN performed impeccably.
It also unblocked social media sites across borders, so that’s an added advantage.
NordVPN And Torrenting
When it comes to Torrenting, NordVPN is one of the undisputed leaders.
NordVPN has over 5000 servers that are specifically optimized for peer-to-peer sharing.
You can even pick the P2P servers that are especially for that particular purpose (Total 65 of them. Yes, I’d actually counted every single one of them).
These are easily accessible under the Specialty servers selection.
One of the features that I really liked about NordVPN is that its Torrenting servers offer unlimited bandwidth and data.
This essentially means you can send and receive as many large files as you like, without worrying about any data limits.
Plus, NordVPN has a no-logs policy, which means none of your Torrenting activity is recorded.
And don’t think you’re only restricted to one Torrenting client with NordVPN.
I found the service to be fully compatible with most popular Torrenting platforms, including BitTorrent and uTorrent.
Using NordVPN, I was able to achieve stable speeds and even get past my ISP’s data-squeezing tactics.
I also dig NordVPN’s Server Recommendation Tool, which is available on its website.
This tool can help to quickly find the best server suited for you. I just had to put in my location and server protocol of choice, and NordVPN did the rest.
Another neat feature that I found with the service is that it has options for SOCKS5 proxies.
This allows me to connect to a torrent client using the proxy and achieve greater speeds.
However, it must be kept in mind that SOCKS5 isn’t fully encrypted, so it’s best you use it wisely.
NordVPN Security: The Best Among The Rest
When I test a VPN service, I take care to lay special emphasis on safety.
And I feel everyone should, as the primary reason anyone would use a VPN is to protect their privacy.
I’m glad to say that NordVPN scores were pretty high when it comes to security features.
First, let’s talk about encryption levels. NordVPN incorporates 256-bit AES algorithms for data protection.
AES is perhaps the toughest encryption standard available, and it’s used by governments to protect sensitive data.
The 256-bit encryption level ensures that there’s virtually an unlimited number of encodings available.
This would simply translate to saying that this level of encryption can’t be broken with available computing resources.
On top of that, NordVPN also uses a 2048-bit DH key, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and SHA-2 384 Authentication mechanisms.
Don’t get too confused about this; just know that these are the encryption technologies that NordVPN incorporates.
Among these, the authentication mechanism is of prime importance as it ensures that your data communication is not intercepted and rerouted to an illicit destination.
Now let’s talk a bit about Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS). PFS technically assigns you a new key each time you log into the service.
Thus, by treating you as essentially a new user every time, it ensures that none of your previous activities are recorded and linked to future uses. This also ensures that in case your connection is breached, there’s no data to expose your network activity.
When it comes to security protocols, NordVPN uses OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2/IPSec, which are both top choices in my opinion.
The former is arguably the best security protocol in the market, and NordVPN uses its capabilities to the fullest.
What’s more, NordVPN even allows you to choose other protocols as per your preference.
Note that your device type also plays a role in this choice.
For example, when I tried out the service on Apple devices, I found IKEv2/IPSec to be the default option.
On Android and Windows, however, OpenVPN is the only choice available.
If you’re wondering why, well I guess that’s the way they made it.
Coming to the other security features, NordVPN incorporates a kill switch, which works on both mobile and desktop.
As for split tunneling, NordVPN has the feature on mobile but not in its desktop app.
However, you can use available browser extensions on Chrome and Firefox to get the same functionality.
Apart from the above, NordVPN also has DNS and IP Leak protection enabled to prevent data exposure.
Add to that Double Encryption, complete TOR compatibility, and NordLocker for secure uploads and you’ve really got nothing to worry about security-wise.
NordVPN Privacy: Exactly What You Need
NordVPN is registered in Panama, which is not a part of any spy network such as the Fourteen Eyes Surveillance.
Plus, the country doesn’t have stringent data retention laws, which means your personal data is safe from prying eyes.
I took the time to look into NordVPN’s ownership and discovered that it was owned by Tesonet, a Lithuania-based business with impeccable data privacy records.
The service doesn’t have a log keeping policy, and also incorporates adblockers and malware protection with its CyberSec Suite.
When it comes to the number of servers that NordVPN uses, I found the results to be pretty impressive.
NordVPN has close to 6000 servers in 59 countries and counting.
Although a majority of the servers are in the US, NordVPN has multiple servers in pretty far-flung locations.
I even found a few servers close to China, and this makes NordVPN a perfect choice for getting past the Great China Wall.
Now, however, I’d like to talk about a point of concern.
Deep digging turned up that NordVPN servers use hard drive storage, which means the access data is stored till manually wiped. This can be a privacy concern for some.
I can only say that not many VPN servers run only on volatile memory (RAM), like ExpressVPN.
However, considering that the company has a no-logs policy, I guess there’s really nothing to worry about.
Also, NordVPN is taking steps to move towards RAM storage, which is a piece of welcome news. But nothing concrete is happening yet.
Compatibility And Pricing
I tried out the service on a number of devices, and I’m pleased to report that NordVPN is compatible with all major platforms and devices.
It even offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox (already mentioned before).
As for simultaneous connections, NordVPN allows up to six devices to connect at a time.
This might be viewed as a restriction, but it can be easily bypassed.
Just install the VPN on your router, and you enjoy unlimited connections through it.
Now, finally, we have come to the pricing part.
NordVPN has a competitive pricing structure that’s staggered over one, twelve- and thirty-six-month plans.
Of course, the longer you subscribe for, the more you save.
Regardless of the plan you choose, you get access to the same feature set; only the time duration differs.
Still, I find that Surfshark’s offer (check out the bonus round) is one of the most attractive if not the best deal.
So, should you go with NordVPN?
I’d say absolutely!
It’s safe, affordable and offers a wide range of features that allow you to access anything across the globe.
Plus, if you’re not satisfied, you can always opt for the thirty days money-back guarantee.
Add to that the 24/7 reliability and customer support, and you’ve got a VPN service that truly takes the cake.
So, if you’re at all serious about your online security and privacy, you won’t think twice before giving NordVPN a shot.
After all, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain with NordVPN for sure.