NordVPN review: The 'world's most advanced VPN' is quick & easy to use

NordVPN review: The 'world's most advanced VPN' is quick and easy to use

NordVPN, the 'world's most advanced VPN', is quick and easy to use. Read our NordVPN review. (Also see: Best free VPN services 2015.)

NordVPN bills itself as the world’s most advanced VPN, a claim founded on its offer of additional and optional techniques that should help obfuscate your true IP even better than a standard VPN connection.

The company has been in business since 2012, and despite the Scandinavian-sounding name is actually based and registered in the Republic of Panama. This is useful for VPN purposes as the country does not include legislation to spy on internet users through enforcing communications providers to maintain logs of their customers’ internet use.

The company name, we were told, was inspired by Nordic ideals like freedom and trust, an approach that NordVPN values and wanted to bring to its service, making its own input in liberating the internet.

Prices start at $8 for 1 month, with 6 months costing $25, or $36 for 12 months. Native software is provided for Windows and iOS, and applications for OS X and Android are said to be coming soon.

One unusual feature that NordVPN offers is two-stage data encryption through its DoubleVPN service. This uses the AES-256 CBC cipher twice over using different keys, with the first connection made from user to its Austrian server, which is then relayed to the Nederlands server to give the user a Dutch indicated IP address.

Another option is TOR over VPN, where the user is first connected to the NordVPN server in Sweden, before being passed through the TOR network with an exit node that could be anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately both these advanced features only work with the OpenVPN protocol, so you won’t get native support on Windows, OS X or iOS for example without additional OpenVPN client software.

As with several other VPN services, the service is P2P friendly, and you can pay through Bitcoin for more discretion.

Also see: How to use a free VPN: A step-by-step guide.

Also see: How to watch US Netflix in the UK.

NordVPN review: Software

The NordVPN application for Windows is a square-cornered Windows 8 interface set in portrait mode, and has the essential controls to route your VPN connection how you like. It also includes those handy features we’ve not seen elsewhere yet.

Only OpenVPN is supported with the Windows program, but you can choose between the integrity of TCP and the relative speed of UDP connections from this protocol. Using a manual setup you can use L2TP/IPsec or even the troubled PPTP protocol on any platform.

We counted a choice of 45 servers typically available at any time – for example, 4 US servers, 4 UK, 2 Swiss, 3 Sweden, 1 each Spain and South Africa, and 4 Nederlands. The interface shows indicated latency time and server capacity, indicated by a horizontal green bar and a percentage figure. For servers currently under higher load, the green turns to orange.

Besides a standard VPN connection, you can choose from a smaller selection of servers labelled Ultra Fast TV. These use the fastest net connections that NordVPN has purchased, intended for video streaming. We found three here – in Canada, the UK and US; and testing the UK option we saw impressively low 6 ms latency and decent 25 MB/s down and 8 MB/s upload speeds.

Another option is the Anti DDoS server, based in Canada, which is suggested for encountering less network interruptions. This server is equipped with four times more safety tools against distributed denial of service attacks, to make it more stable and secure.

From the program’s Settings you can opt to start the VPN session at PC boot, select your choice of default TCP or UDP protocol, and add a proxy server. A handy process kill list lets you select applications that will be closed automatically if the VPN connection is suddenly dropped, to ensure you do not unexpectedly leak through the public internet.

In our tests using the Windows client on one of NordVPN’s regular London servers we saw 25 Mb/s down and 13 Mb/s up. Switching to the DoubleVPN mode gave us 5 Mb/s and 1.75 Mb/s with 56 ms latency, using the two servers sited in Austria and Netherlands.

Also see: Why you need a VPN.

Also see: How to watch US Netflix on an Android phone or tablet.

NordVPN: Specs

  • 1-month account
  • based in Republic of Panama
  • no logs
  • VPN protocols: L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP
  • 2 concurrent devices
  • client software for Windows, OS X
  • platform support: Linux/OS X/Windows/iOS/Chrome OS/Android/DD-WRT/Raspberry Pi
  • manual configuration option
  • P2P policy allowed
  • 1-month account
  • based in Republic of Panama
  • no logs
  • VPN protocols: L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP
  • 2 concurrent devices
  • client software for Windows, OS X
  • platform support: Linux/OS X/Windows/iOS/Chrome OS/Android/DD-WRT/Raspberry Pi
  • manual configuration option
  • P2P policy allowed

OUR VERDICT

NordVPN servers are operated under the jurisdiction of Panama, a country that does not require internet providers to monitor user traffic, and the company tells us it does not keep any logs at all. Combined with the competitive pricing and unique privacy and security options, NordVPN has one of the most attractive offerings for internet users looking for some needed privacy. Its Windows client is easy to set up and use, and the service was quick enough in our tests for most user applications.

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