NordVPN review and VPN test: low price, high security

You may know what a virtual private network (VPN) is, but the chances of using one are very slim. What is certain is that you really should equip your devices with a VPN. Because in the end, you might find it just as essential as your internet connection.

Today, we look at NordVPN, which offers excellent privacy protection and top-notch customer service. In this NordVPN review, we’ll take a closer look at this Panama-based VPN provider, which has been around since 2012 and provides VPN protection for many users thanks to fairly comprehensive compatibility (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, etc.).

If you use the Internet for business, personal finance, entertainment, or shopping, you are putting your personal information and that of your family and your business at risk. Internet users face a growing wave of criminals and untrustworthy government agencies seeking access to you. VPN (Virtual Private Network) applications come in, such as NordVPN.

NordVPN-introduction
© NordVPN

What is NordVPN?

Let’s start this NordVPN review with a brief overview of the service. This VPN provider offers online security and flexibility to all users by keeping their data and actual IP address away from prying eyes. The service offers an encrypted connection, which makes it almost impossible for cybercriminals and your internet service provider to see the data that your computer (or any other internet-connected device) sends and receives.

In addition to data encryption, NordVPN also allows you to access websites and services that might not usually be available in your region due to government content censorship or geo-restrictions imposed by the broadcaster.

Visit NordVPN

NordVPN is based and operates under the jurisdiction of the country of Panama. Panama has no mandatory data retention laws, so the service is not required to store connection logs, which is a great selling point for any VPN provider.

Additionally, the vendor claims that no matter how hard a court or government agency might pressure them to produce logs of a customer’s online activity, they couldn’t provide them, even if they did. Wanted. Simply because it does not collect any logs or registers. Nothing can be provided because they do not exist. Privacy is the primary benefit of a no-log VPN.

How NordVPN works
© NordVPN

The service offers apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Chrome OS, Windows Phone, Linux, and Raspberry Pi users can use the service through custom settings. Users of DD-WRT and Tomato compatible routers and some network-attached storage devices can also access the service.

NordVPN offers the OpenVPN protocol on most common devices, as well as PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) and L2TP/IPsec. Recently, users can also use NordLynx, NordVPN’s new in-house protocol. The technology of this protocol relies on WireGuard speed without the privacy issues that we know of. It is therefore optimal in most situations.

Note that NordVPN has 5448 servers stationed in 59 countries at the time of writing this NordVPN review (2022).

What does all this mean for you, a VPN user? This means that the NordVPN service offers excellent protection for your data and hassle-free browsing.

How does NordVPN work?

NordVPN allows users to hide their real IP address while using the internet. The service does this by routing a user’s internet traffic through its own NordVPN servers, making the user’s connection appear to originate from one of NordVPN’s many IP addresses.

By masking their real IP address, users can then connect to websites and other web-based services that are normally unavailable due to government or content provider restrictions.

In addition to concealing IP addresses, NordVPN also encrypts its users’ data, protecting them from prying eyes or nosy government agencies.

NordVPN website

NordVPN’s website is more comprehensive and ergonomic compared to other websites in the industry. Features, pricing, server information, tools, help, and account information are all available at the top of the homepage.

Applications-NordVPN
© Journal du Geek

The website is well laid out and most of the information is easy to find. The features section of the site gives a good overview of VPN technology, how the provider’s service works, and the benefits of a VPN . We also appreciate the fact that the content is written in French.

NordVPN often offers codes or promotions to test its service, if it is not directly registered on the site, a little research in our Good Deals section will allow you to find what you are looking for. Also think about promotions on the occasion of “Black Friday”.

Installing NordVPN

This NordVPN review wouldn’t be complete without talking about installing the software. The provider offers apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. It also makes tutorials available on how to set up the service on other devices, including Chrome OS, Windows Phone, Linux, and on Raspberry Pi devices. The service will also work with DD-WRT routers and various devices from network storage.

NordVPN can also be installed directly on Android Smart TV or Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, which is very convenient for big screen streaming. You won’t be disappointed since this is the best VPN for Smart TV .

Game consoles and streaming boxes work with the NordVPN service. However, they cannot be connected directly and must instead get their connection through a compatible router or shared internet connection from a computer connected to NordVPN.

Installation usually happens by downloading the file directly from its official website or from application stores. Indeed, while the Windows and macOS software are available directly on the NordVPN site, the iOS and Android applications are available respectively on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

Installing the app on a mobile device

Installing the NordVPN app on iPhone, for example, follows the usual rigid routine of visiting the iOS App Store to download and install the app. The download only takes about a minute, after which it automatically installs and is ready to launch by tapping the icon.

The application is used for the first time to connect to a VPN server, it will ask permission to install a certificate to allow the NordVPN service to be trusted. You will need to enter your device password or use your fingerprint via Touch ID to authorize the certificate installation. Setup takes seconds.

Installing the Android version is also quick and easy, with a visit to the Google Play store to download and install the app.

NordVPN is available on a huge number of platforms. By coupling its multi-platform compatibility with the 6 simultaneous connections included in each account, this allows you to have a 360° experience on many devices.

Characteristics and use

Once the installation is complete on your computer or smartphone, simply launch the NordVPN application and enter the login and password combination created when you registered for the service.

The app asked for permission to install a helper app, which makes using the VPN service a bit easier, as it allows the app to put a quick access icon in the menu bar desktop, providing quick and easy control over VPN connections.

The NordVPN app features a clean interface, displaying a rather cartoonish map of available server locations. Users can click on the locations depicted to immediately connect to a NordVPN server. Users can also quickly connect to a server by browsing the “List of Countries” at the top of the application window, which lists all covered territories.

NorthVPN-macOS
NordVPN interface on MacOS © Journal du Geek

Users can set any server as a “Favorite” by clicking on a heart next to the server name in the list. This is handy for backing up servers that prove to be particularly reliable, for quick access from the application’s “Favorite Servers” list.

Presets are a very useful new feature as they allow you to define precise connection parameters suitable for various situations. When you download, you will not necessarily opt for the same server or the same protocol as during your usual browsing sessions. These shortcuts are there to save you time by connecting not to a country, but directly to the preset determined according to your criteria.

The NordVPN service also comes with other additional connection options that are rare with other VPN providers that we will see next in this NordVPN review.

The service allows users to connect up to 6 devices under one account. However, if you connect multiple devices to the same server, you must choose different protocols for VPN connections. This means that 5 devices can be connected to a single server. The other device can connect to a different server. That said, with the more than 5,400 servers available, this situation is not likely to happen.

The company proposes to implement a router with their services, which would only count as one connection, but allow multiple connections.

Visit NordVPN

Double VPN

NordVPN has a “Double VPN” connection where user data is sent through 2 VPN servers before reaching its destination. The company claims that Double VPN offers improved encryption, security, and anonymity.

Double-VPN-NordVPN
© NordVPN

NordVPN provides its customers with more than 90 “Double VPN” servers. We tried the US/Canada and UK/France options and found it slowed our connection slightly – still usable, but noticeably slower. The results are of course variable according to your basic connection and the load of the servers.

In our opinion, this option is ideal for Internet users who need enhanced anonymity, especially those who live in countries where online surveillance is commonplace.

Onion Over VPN

NordVPN says their Onion Over VPN connection option takes privacy and security to the next level. When a client connects to an Onion Over VPN server, the server then routes all traffic through the Tor network. Traffic is first encrypted in the NordVPN layer and then sent to the Tor network.

This allows access to “.onion” websites, which are only available through the Tor network, with complete privacy. Since your data is encrypted before you even get there, no one will know that you are not on the public Internet. However, the service recommends caution when accessing using Onion Over VPN, due to the various dubious activities the darknet network is known for.

Obfuscated Servers

Any good VPN service gives you an encrypted connection. But the latter is recognizable by your Internet service provider. It won’t see your online activities but it will know that you are using a VPN. In some countries, the connection may be blocked when the operator detects that the traffic is coming from a VPN. It is to avoid this kind of situation that NordVPN offers obfuscated (or obfuscated) servers.

There are approximately 150 obfuscated servers. Thanks to them, data packets are modified and scrambled so that Internet service providers identify the traffic as normal. This feature is especially useful for those who need to bypass blockages or who live in highly restricted areas.

Dedicated IP servers

Dedicated IP servers provide users with a clean IP address. They will be the only ones to use. The company offers dedicated IP addresses in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and France. In either of these countries, a dedicated IP comes with an additional price of $70 per year.

NordVPN-IP-dediee
© NordVPN

Once a customer signs up for the NordVPN Dedicated IP option, they become the only customer using that particular IP address. It is therefore less likely to be blacklisted by sites. The dedicated IP thus avoids CAPTCHAs for example. This makes a Dedicated IP Server a great option for customers who need a constant, static IP address to access certain networks, databases, servers, and other online services.

P2P File Sharing (Torrenting)

NordVPN allows the use of P2P and BitTorrent connections on its network, but only on servers specifically reserved for this purpose (more than 4,700). Connecting to a server that is not marked as being for P2P use will cause traffic to be rerouted to P2P servers located in Canada and the Netherlands. In our opinion, dedicated servers are a real advantage to optimize your connection and benefit from the best possible speed.

Anti-threat protection

Threat Protection (formerly CyberSec) is another supported option on the NordVPN app. In concrete terms, it is a powerful all-in-one tool capable of blocking advertisements and preventing phishing attempts. Threat Protection also helps detect sites hosting malware and DDoS attacks. Even if this feature does not replace an antivirus, it is already very useful for increasing your protection on the net and it is a real plus in this opinion on NordVPN.

In short, NordVPN apps install easily and quickly. This VPN is suitable for everyone. Connecting to a VPN server takes just a few clicks, and you’re quickly connected. The application has minimal impact on system resources. The app offers a quick way to connect to “favorite” VPN servers and access the Tor network. With “Double VPN” protection, special servers, and even the ability to use dedicated IP addresses for an additional fee, NordVPN has great features.

Connection quality and speed

Let’s continue this NordVPN review by looking at its speed. When we test a VPN provider, we do the following to test the connection quality. We test ping times, as well as download and upload speeds via the Speedtest site. We do this so that our normal internet connection becomes a reference.

We then run the same tests using a US VPN connection and then a UK VPN connection. All connections are made by selecting the country name and allowing the VPN provider to make the server selection.

Tester l’application NordVPN

When it comes to internet connections, “faster is always better”. But it is also an undeniable fact that you will suffer speed loss when using a VPN connection.

When we look at the results of our speed tests, we find that in general, the further you are from a VPN server, the higher the ping and the lower the download and upload speeds measured. But, how does this affect your internet usage?

When it comes to pings, the lower they are, the better your internet experience. You won’t notice that your daily usage is greatly affected by higher pings, but if you’re playing resource-intensive shooters like Call of Duty, then you’ll be knocked out before you can turn around and shoot if your pings get too much. students.

The number of downloads and uploads on most VPN servers will be lower than what you will measure with a direct connection. The numbers shown in my tests for US and UK VPN connections via NordVPN do not show an unacceptable drop in either set of metrics.

The connection quality of a VPN server can be affected by a number of factors. Server loads can significantly affect connection quality. The more users connected to a VPN server, the less responsive it will be.

Many VPN providers can help you avoid this problem by giving you a “Best Connection” option, which connects you to the most efficient server in the service at the time. If security is all you need, this option is still the one you should, at least, try.

VPN protocols can also slow down a connection. Popular modern protocols, such as the 256-bit encrypted OpenVPN option, are very effective. However, as a general rule, the better the encryption, the slower the connection. But also keep in mind that the slight performance penalty for better encryption is a small price to pay for protecting your personal data.

Last but not least, remember that any internet connection is only as fast as the slowest point in the course. Any “sub-optimal” connection point anywhere between you and the VPN server will slow down operations.

When testing a new VPN provider, we try to include all the usual online activity that a user might experience on their VPN connection. This includes video streaming, gaming, regular web browsing, email, and document editing. So we do all these tasks through US, UK and France VPN connections.

YouTube

YouTube worked well, with no visible issues on US and UK connections. We were able to play full-screen HD videos, which were streamed on both connections.

Netflix

Impossible to form an opinion on NordVPN without testing its compatibility with the largest SVoD platform. So we visited the Netflix website while connected through an American NordVPN server on our computer and tried to watch a video. Not only did we succeed, but the quality was also there.

Video buffering was quite fast, and the video itself was unaffected by pixelation. This is a very good point since we sometimes find this general “fuzzy” aspect when trying to view videos via a slow connection.

When using a connection to the UK Netflix website, UK content was viewable with similar quality. When trying to watch ‘Designated Survivor’, an ABC network show available via Netflix UK, we were first told that we were using a proxy connection and were not allowed to view the selected episode.

However, when we tried again with another server, the episode loaded and we were able to watch it. The viewing experience with the UK connection was similar to the US connection. The VPN connection speed is more than acceptable, with no long video wait times or buffering issues.

NordVPN manages to deliver a crisp, HD viewing experience on Netflix. Its servers are also powerful enough to unlock several libraries. This is all the more remarkable knowing that VPN services and Netflix have engaged in a fierce battle over the past few years. VPNs are continually adding new IP addresses, while Netflix searches for new addresses to add to their blocklists. This means that Netflix will generally turn out to be hit or miss.

When Netflix declines the request through a VPN server, choose another one in the same country, it may enable streaming.

Hulu

Our Hulu experience was fine with the UK VPN connection, HD video playback was an issue. However, when we tried to connect to Hulu through the US VPN connection, the site had difficulty loading at first, but eventually we were able to watch full-screen HD video through the VPN connection.

Discover NordVPN

Skype and FaceTime

We ran the usual Skype call tests, both audio and video, on US, UK and French connections. All three types of calls answered, rang, and presented as if placed over an unrestricted Internet connection.

For FaceTime on Mac, it can be more complicated because Apple requires a particular connection. But recently, the app available on the App Store uses the IKEv2 protocol as the default connection to VPN servers, which no longer poses a problem.

Gaming

We have already mentioned earlier in this NordVPN review that online gaming via a VPN could suffer from some problems, particularly with regard to Ping, which is essential for playing. Finally, the connections with the United States and the United Kingdom were more than up to the task, but we suggest that you test for 1 month for example, to try the connections before taking out a long-term subscription. term.

General internet use

Using the NordVPN connection during our normal working day, we found the connections in France, the US, and the UK to be more than adequate for our needs. Despite many tasks, access to different sites and services, the connection was more than up to the challenge. We didn’t feel like our workday was slowed down.

Application mobile

The NordVPN app is a great way to protect your mobile device’s internet connection. It quickly establishes a connection and provides access to all types of connections that NordVPN offers to its customers.

While the US and UK connections offered much longer ping times and considerably slower download speeds, in both cases the connections more than met our expectations.

By testing NordVPN on a mobile device, we were able to perform the usual tasks without issue. Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. – all this without problems. Overall, NordVPN performed well on our smartphone.

Global Server Coverage

NordVPN offers 5,448 servers in 59 countries at the time of writing this NordVPN review. On its site, the provider even allows you to see more precisely the number of servers by country. Most of their VPN server centers are located in Europe. This could be seen as a plus for users located in other parts of the world, while Europeans might want to look elsewhere to access the other services.

Network servers-NordVPN
© NordVPN

Overall, NordVPN offers decent global server coverage, although their coverage is concentrated in the European area of ​​the world.

Privacy, Security and Legal Notices

Encryption levels vary by connection type and application used. These include IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx, OpenVPN – 256-bit, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SSTP encryption.

The last 3 levels of encryption above are not recommended by NordVPN for use with their service unless OpenVPN, NordLynx, or IKEv2/IPsec simply won’t work in your situation. NordVPN explains that L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and SSTP are older encryption protocols, and they simply don’t offer the best possible protection for your connection.

As mentioned at the start of our NordVPN review, the company is based in Panama City (in Panama), and as such it benefits from the absence of mandatory retention laws. NordVPN is not required to store logs, which is a great working environment for a VPN provider and their customers. On this subject, you should know that independent audits have been carried out to verify NordVPN’s statements regarding its security system. It turned out that the institutes confirmed the veracity of his words, especially regarding his no-log policy.

Tests NordVPN

As NordVPN says on its website:

“From the moment a NordVPN.com user activates the NordVPN software, their internet data is encrypted. It becomes invisible to governments, ISPs, third-party browsers, and even NordVPN.com. Additionally, we have a strict no-logs policy when it comes to seeing user activity online: being based in Panama, which does not require data storage or reporting, we are allowed to refuse any third party request. Period.”

NordVPN does not log any online activity of a user. The only information they keep about their users is their email address (used for connecting to the VPN, as well as for marketing and troubleshooting purposes) and billing information (used for refund procedures).

NordVPN apps do not “normally” work from restrictive countries like China, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. However, the provider explains that a manual VPN configuration of the L2TP protocol with certain specific parameters will allow a connection to services in these countries. NordVPN’s support team will help you set this up if needed. Note that it is best to do this BEFORE you travel to one of these “restricted” countries, at the risk of not having access to the supplier’s site or the registration page.

Finally, NordVPN accepts cryptocurrency as payment for VPN subscriptions. This is a must for any user who is genuinely interested in protecting their online privacy as the transaction will not appear on your bank account statement.

NordVPN Subscription Options and Pricing

Let’s now see in this NordVPN review the different formulas and prices of the provider. NordVPN offers a variety of subscription options. Options include a monthly, annual or two-year plan.

The subscription conditions and costs are as follows (2022):

As you can see above, it is only when you are ready to commit for a period of at least one year that you start to see a reasonable level of price. For example, the two-year offer currently saves 62% and enjoy an additional month of subscription for free. The fixed price of €10.49 per month for the service is a bit high compared to its competitors.

Prices-plans-NordVPN
© NordVPN

The entire subscription and payment procedure is done via a secure HTTPS connection. The company accepts MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover, PayPal, AliPay, Union Pay, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, as well as some cryptocurrencies.

iOS and Android users can sign up on their devices through in-app purchases, which are handled by Apple iTunes and Google Play respectively, and will be charged to the user’s payment method on file . However, we do not recommend it because the refund conditions are stricter and the warranty period is shorter. The subscription on the official website of the supplier is much simpler.

Note that the service accepts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It’s a truly anonymous payment option available on the web, and helps protect payment details from prying eyes.

Is the NordVPN plan cancellable?

Before subscribing to one of the NordVPN packages, it is important to note that you will have the right to withdraw for 30 days following your purchase. Indeed, thanks to the Satisfied or Reimbursed mention of its offers, users have the possibility of being fully reimbursed for their purchase. All you have to do is contact customer support to explain and respect the 30-day deadline.

After this period, the package will be cancellable (you will cancel the recurring payment) but not refundable.

Finally, the service offers a 30-day money-back guarantee “for accounts in good standing”. However, users who purchased the service through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store cannot get a refund.

Try NordVPN for 30 days risk-free

Client service

NordVPN is another VPN provider that seems to walk the proverbial tightrope between excellent customer service and cost containment. Thus, the only two means of customer support are live chat and an online form to contact support.

We have dealt with receptive people. We sent a request for information on how to get FaceTime working with the Mac app via the contact form on a Wednesday morning, and within minutes we received a response asking me for more information and offering me a list of steps to try to make this system work.

We also used the live chat option to ask a question about a feature that was on the website, but couldn’t find any other information. The friendly correspondent replied instantly that the specific functionality we had requested had been included on all their servers, and was no longer specific to certain servers.

The provider also offers an excellent knowledge base for getting started and troubleshooting, which is a great resource for the resourceful, especially since the pages are translated into French and illustrated with screenshots.

In short, NordVPN offers excellent customer support with quick responses, online chat, and an extensive knowledge base.

Conclusion of this NordVPN review

NordVPN is a quality provider that goes to great lengths to protect the privacy and anonymity of its users, including offering over 5,000 servers in 60 countries around the world. Dedicated double VPN or Onion Over VPN servers on the TOR network are also very valuable to meet all the needs of Internet users.

The application is very quick to install and use thanks to a pleasant interface, without frills and translated into French. NordVPN’s prices are slightly below average. The unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee is a real bonus for a risk-free purchase. Without a doubt, NordVPN is one of our favorite VPN providers because of its undeniable qualities and its many features.

The only elements that tarnish our NordVPN opinion concern the connection speed, which is a little disappointing for certain countries, as well as the streaming experience, which is not always reliable depending on the platform.

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