TLDR: NordVPN is one of the best virtual private networks (VPNs) we’ve tested, with fast connection speeds, top-notch security and an abundance of killer apps and features. It’s on the pricier side, but in our opinion, NordVPN’s reliability, customer service, reputation and number of servers make the price worthwhile.

Pros

Cons

✅  Fastest speeds among the top VPNs we tested

❌  Fewer streaming devices supported than competitors

✅  Multiple protocols, including WireGuard technology

❌  More expensive than rivals

✅  Onion over VPN, multihop and split tunneling

❌  Only six simultaneous VPN connections allowed

NordVPN Specs

Available servers: 5,100+
Number of countries: 60
Platforms supported: Android, Chromebook, iOS, Linux,
macOS, Windows, browsers, routers, smart TVs, more
Maximum devices: 6

Money-back guarantee: Yes
Free plan
: No
Free trial: Google Play users only
Lowest monthly cost: $3.67
Highest monthly cost: $11.95

In This Review:

    Methodology: How We Tested NordVPN

    During our testing, we installed NordVPN on a desktop and tested the service’s security and privacy features by connecting to multiple servers in various countries. We compared the service’s VPN protocols with those of rivals and conducted several speed tests to evaluate:

    • Connection speeds
    • Streaming quality
    • Upload and download speeds

    We found Nord Security’s NordLynx protocol (using WireGuard technology) enhanced performance over that of other VPNs. We also liked:

    • CyberSec, NordVPN’s ad and malware blocker
    • Double VPN, also known as VPN server chaining or multihop, which sends your online traffic through multiple VPN servers instead of just one
    • Onion over VPN, which sends traffic to The onion router (Tor) without the need to download a special browser

    Other VPNs like Surfshark offer multihop technology, and CyberGhost has built-in blockers for ads and malware, too, but it’s rare to find a VPN with those capabilities plus the ability to provide a direct Tor connection. All of these features add another layer of privacy and anonymity to your web browsing. Here’s a closer look at how we evaluate VPNs:

    Factor

    Score

    Description

    Privacy and Stability

    30%

    Nothing is more important in a virtual private network than your privacy and security. What encryption does the VPN use? How many servers does it provide? How does it perform in data leak tests?

    Features and Functionality

    30%

    The best VPNs offer top-tier features while keeping their products simple and easy to use. Can you access servers in a wide variety of locations? Are streaming, torrenting and split tunneling available?

    Reputation and Credibility

    20%

    We evaluate such factors as time in business and changes in service (good and bad). We read community forums and reviews to look for patterns of where a company stands out or is lacking.

    Customer Experience

    10%

    VPN services should answer customer questions in a timely manner. Is there a 24/7 customer support team? How easy (or difficult) is it to contact them? Are their websites helpful and easy to navigate?

    Plans and Pricing/Value

    10%

    There’s a VPN for every budget, so we look at the number of pricing options and whether the cost is proportional to the value customers receive in features, privacy, customer experience and trust.

    How Does NordVPN Work?

    NordVPN has extensions for the Chrome and Firefox browsers plus desktop and mobile apps for:

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Android TV
    • Amazon Fire TV

    Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate app(s) for your devices, you’ll choose from the list of nearly 5,200 VPN server locations scattered across 60 countries. By comparison, chief rival ExpressVPN offers more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries. That means fewer overall servers than NordVPN but a greater variety of streaming opportunities for content from overseas.

    NordVPN servers

    NordVPN

    You may simultaneously connect six devices to NordVPN, more if you download the VPN onto a compatible router. A router also makes it possible to secure streaming activity on devices that don’t have their own NordVPN app, such as a PlayStation or Xbox.

    You could also use SmartDNS to stream on a smart TV using Apple TV, but it doesn’t protect your device the same way a VPN would.

    NordVPN Privacy and Security

    Privacy is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a VPN, and it’s the No. 1 factor we tested for when reviewing NordVPN. The service uses Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bit keys, or AES-256 for short, which is considered unbreakable, according to Eric McGee, senior network engineer for Houston-based TRG Datacenters.

    In addition to AES-256 encryption, McGee said NordVPN uses what’s known as “Pretty Good Privacy” encryption. “PGP is an encryption method that entails a combination of different techniques. These techniques include hashing, symmetric and asymmetric cryptography as well as data compression. This encryption method, too, is unbreakable.”

    NordVPN Protocols

    NordVPN offers several VPN protocols including NordLynx, a protocol built around WireGuard technology that is designed to increase speed while maintaining high security standards.

    In our tests, we were able to achieve download speeds of about 330 megabits per second (Mbps) and we had little trouble accessing Netflix.

    You could also choose from these protocols in addition to NordLynx:

    • IPsec/IKEv2
    • OpenVPN

    Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is part of the Internet Protocol Secure (IPsec) suite. Together, they form a single secure VPN protocol: IPsec/IKEv2. OpenVPN runs on either a User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

    NordVPN connections

    NordVPN

    Like other VPNs, NordVPN offers a “kill switch” which immediately disconnects you from the internet should your VPN’s location-blocking features be compromised. The kill switch boosts peace of mind that your data won’t be accidentally leaked online. NordVPN gives users the ability to specify certain applications that should be cut off from the internet should your VPN connection fail — that way, you can keep browsing or streaming on other, less security-sensitive applications if you wish. We found no data leaks while using NordVPN. For example, in a domain name system (DNS) test, it showed the IP address of the server we selected, not our original IP address.

    NordVPN leak test

    No-Logs Policy

    NordVPN is based in Panama, a country without mandatory data retention laws, which allows the company to offer a no-logging policy. Its privacy policy says NordVPN does not store timestamps, session information, bandwidth usage, traffic data or Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, but the company will store your email address, payment information and customer service communication.

    NordVPN Features and Extras

    In addition to features such as CyberSec, Double VPN and Onion over VPN, NordVPN offers split tunneling and torrenting.

    Split tunneling allows you to divide your internet traffic between a VPN and your local internet connection. Split tunneling can be particularly useful if you frequently access online banking or credit card sites that block VPNs.

    Torrenting makes it possible to share large files using platforms such as uTorrent, qBittorrent, BitTorrent, Deluge and Vuze. If you want to torrent with NordVPN, search in the speciality servers tab.

    NordVPN Extras

    A nice perk of using NordVPN is that you’ll have access to a free password manager and encrypted file storage under the parent company umbrella. By logging into your Nord Account, you could see all three services in one place: NordVPN, NordPass and NordLocker.

    NordPass

    Unlike some other free password managers that restrict the number of passwords you may store, NordPass offers an unlimited number and syncs them across your phone, laptop and other devices. But there’s a catch: You’ll have to log back in each time you switch, which could be a nuisance. Starting at $2.49 per month (with a two-year plan), a Premium plan keeps you logged in and offers the ability to share passwords with trusted contacts and monitor the web for data leaks and weak or overused passwords.

    NordLocker

    Store and share important documents, photos, videos and more for free with NordLocker. You’ll get 3GB of storage in a private cloud, but that’s likely not enough for most users. A Premium plan upgrades users to 500GB.

    Add NordSecurity's Encrypted File Storage and Password Protection

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    How Much Does NordVPN Cost?

    NordVPN offers three pricing plans. The longer the plan, the lower your cost will be. We recommend that new users start out with a one-month plan and upgrade to a long-term plan once they know whether it’s a good fit.

    NordVPN Pricing

    One-Month Plan

    Annual Plan

    Biennial Plan

    Promotional Deal

    $11.95

    $59 for the first year

    $99 for the first 2 years,
    plus three free months

    $89 for 28 months
    (biennial plan plus
    four free months)

    Even though NordVPN advertises that its plans start as low as $3.67 per month, you’ll pay for annual or biennial plans upfront. NordVPN does not advertise its renewal prices. A customer service representative told us that it will most likely be the same as the promotional pricing, but prices could change, according to the Nord Account website. You’ll be renewed automatically and charged anywhere from five days to two weeks before your next period begins unless you decide to cancel.

    NordVPN doesn’t offer a free trial, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans. Android users can access a seven-day free trial by downloading the NordVPN app through Google Play. Students and apprentices get 15% off.

    Payment Methods

    You can pay for NordVPN using a credit card, Amazon Pay, PayPal or Sofort, as well as through Google Pay and iTunes. The company offers an alternative payment option through select cryptocurrencies and even in person at retail stores such as Best Buy and Target. Prices may vary, however, for physical products purchased from retail stores.

    NordVPN Bundles

    If you know you want NordVPN plus the premium versions of NordPass and NordLocker, you’ll save by bundling all three services together. Like purchasing NordVPN by itself, the greatest savings is reserved for the longest plan — Nord Security is offering three months free when you opt for the two-year bundles, for a total of 27 months of protection. A dedicated IP address assigned solely for your use costs an additional $70 a year.

    NordVPN + NordPass Premium

    NordVPN + NordLocker Premium

    NordVPN + NordPass Premium + NordLocker Premium

    $16.94 for one month
    $94.88 for one year
    $158.76 for 27 months

    $16.94 for one month
    $76.88 for one year
    $134.76 for 27 months

    $21.93 for one month
    $112.76 for one year
    $194.52 for 27 months

    NordVPN for Businesses

    In addition to personal VPN plans, NordVPN offers a business VPN option for secure remote access to your company’s network. NordLayer, formerly known as NordVPN Teams, has its own price structure. NordLayer can also design a custom, enterprise plan for your company.

    NordLayer Pricing

    Basic

    Advanced

    $84 a year or
    $9/month
    per user

    $108 a year or
    $11/month
    per user

    NordLayer pricing for the Basic and Advanced plans are promotional prices. Ask if the renewal pricing will be higher to avoid any surprises.

    NordVPN Review: Is It Worth the Cost?

    NordVPN is a reliable provider across all use cases that’s worth the subscription fee, but we like it best for business users. It’s one of the few VPN services we’ve reviewed to offer plans exclusively for companies of all sizes in addition to its personal plans. As a result, personal and business users will benefit from a VPN with all of the features you could need. It’s not the cheapest VPN, but you’ll get top security and speed, plus easy access to a password manager and encrypted storage.

    Customer Reputation

    According to more than 6,000 Trustpilot reviews of NordVPN, customers awarded the service an average 4 out of 5 stars. It received “excellent” marks from 70% of users with 14% giving it a “bad” rating. Google Play users give it an average 4.3 stars (464,592 reviews) while App Store users give it an average 4.6 stars (226,500 ratings).

    This is despite the fact that NordVPN’s trust took a hit in 2019 when the company disclosed a data breach that happened in 2018 at a third party’s data center in Finland. NordVPN says no user credentials were affected and the company took steps to increase security. It implemented a bug bounty program to reward developers who find and report problems. The company announced a successful audit of its no-logs policy by accounting firm PwC in 2020 and a penetration test to gauge any security vulnerabilities by cybersecurity firm VerSprite in 2021.

    NordVPN Customer Service

    NordVPN offers 24/7 customer service through email or live chat (no phone). When we reached out with questions by chat, a bot quickly put us through to a live person when requested. There are tutorials to help you set up your VPN along with FAQ help.

    NordVPN Alternatives

    Although NordVPN ranked as one of the top-scoring VPNs in our testing, it’s always a good idea to shop around before you buy, particularly if you plan to purchase a long-term plan. Here’s a look at NordVPN compared to its biggest competitors.

    NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN

    We did a in-depth look at ExpressVPN versus NordVPN here, but ExpressVPN might be a better fit for those looking for a VPN primarily for streaming. In addition to servers in a greater number of countries, ExpressVPN supports more streaming devices, including unique technology that makes it easier to connect a VPN to a router. However, overall, NordVPN won out against its rival because of its speed and the fact that ExpressVPN lacks WireGuard technology and features such as multihop.

    NordVPN vs. Surfshark

    Surfshark performed well in our testing for its many features, third-party audits, mobile app functionality and lightning-quick speeds. We recommend Surfshark over NordVPN if you need to connect more than six devices at a time — Surfshark offers unlimited simultaneous connections to its VPN. Where NordVPN beats Surfshark is in its number of worldwide servers. NordVPN has nearly 5,200 while Surfshark has 3,200 though both companies are in roughly the same number of countries. More servers increase reliability and connection speeds and offer the likelihood of more unblocked content.

    NordVPN vs. ProtonVPN

    In our ProtonVPN review, we said the service is easy to recommend as a free VPN or cheap VPN. ProtonVPN’s many plans and pricing options offer greater flexibility and lower prices than NordVPN. The level of features, reliability, customer service and server locations, however, don’t come close to NordVPN. While ProtonVPN will work well enough for anyone on a tight budget, we recommend NordVPN over ProtonVPN in any other case.

    Pricing is accurate as of Oct. 3, 2021.

    Frequently Asked Questions about NordVPN

    • What is a VPN?

      A VPN creates an encrypted “tunnel” between your device(s) and the internet. It allows you to use public Wi-Fi without exposing your personal information to hackers using the same network, but it also has benefits while you’re at home or in the office. You can use a VPN to mask your location from internet service providers, unblock restricted content, and avoid online tracking and surveillance.

    • Is NordVPN trustworthy?

      Yes. Our tests showed NordVPN’s security is on the same level as other top VPNs in 2021. The service’s protocols, domain name service (DNS) leak protection, AES-256 encryption and RAM-only server fleet mean you can trust NordVPN with your data.

    • Is NordVPN illegal?

      No. NordVPN is a legitimate service that protects your online browsing from prying eyes. However, all VPNs should never be used for illegal behavior.

    • How much does NordVPN cost?

      NordVPN costs $11.95 for one month, $59 for one year or $99 for two years. Keep in mind the renewal pricing for the annual and biennial plans may be different.