NordVPN overview: Revamping safety practices, however nonetheless helpful


Once I began studying about NordVPN for this overview, one of many first issues I observed was that, though its branding appears Nordic, the corporate’s headquarters is definitely in Panama.

Editor’s be aware (Oct. 29, 2019): NordVPN revealed it turned conscious in March 2018 that certainly one of its knowledge facilities in Finland had been hacked, or accessed with out authorization. NordVPN additionally outlined remediation steps it’s taking (see: NordVPN introduces bug bounty program as a part of safety overhaul). 

It took NordVPN fairly some time to let customers know in regards to the breach. The outcomes of our overview have not modified, as a result of we evaluated the product on the person stage. However our concern about operating confidential knowledge by any third social gathering (and this ranges from VPN distributors to your native dwelling enchancment retailer) stays. Our bleak forecast is that just about each firm will likely be breached. Your protection, along with safe passwords, multi-factor authentication, and VPN utilization, must be checking your accounts religiously. Listed here are our finest observe suggestions which may simply preserve you secure.


The Greatest VPN companies for 2019

A digital non-public community permits customers to ship and obtain knowledge whereas remaining nameless and safe on-line. On this listing, we take a look at a couple of of the perfect business VPN service suppliers on the Web.

Learn Extra

Once I spoke to Marty P Kamden, the corporate’s CMO, he instructed me the identify “was impressed by Nordic beliefs of confidence, belief, and innovation. It displays how we worth our prospects’ freedom of selection, how we try to be modern with our expertise, and the way in which we work.”

There are positively jurisdictional privateness advantages to utilizing Panama because the nation of report for a VPN supplier. Particularly, the nation would not have necessary knowledge retention legal guidelines and would not take part in both the Quadripartite Pact (higher referred to as 5 Eyes or UKUSA) or SIGINT Seniors Europe (or SSEUR, higher referred to as Fourteen Eyes).

These are indicators intelligence sharing agreements between sure nations that enable for knowledge sharing. For VPN customers involved about safety and authorities entry to communications knowledge, the truth that a VPN non-public community supplier is not topic to both of those agreements is a plus.

NordVPN at a look

NordVPN is a product price contemplating should you’re involved about defending your Web connection from prying eyes. The corporate boasts 5,100 servers in 62 nations.

This metric is vital, as a result of one of many key causes to make use of a VPN service is that you simply join out of your machine to a server some place else, typically in a foreign country. The extra servers obtainable, the higher likelihood you’ll be able to anonymize your connection.

Past fundamental VPN

The corporate supplies a listing of server areas, and every location supplies totally different classes of service past fundamental VPN. There are a complete of 5 communications companies provided: P2P, Double VPN, Devoted IP, Onion Over VPN, and Obfuscated (which suggests “to render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible).

P2P: P2P stands for Peer-to-Peer. Again within the days of Napster, P2P was enormous. Whereas we positively do not condone sharing copyrighted supplies, P2P networks have nice worth in distributing giant recordsdata with out exacting an excessive amount of of a load on anybody machine. For instance, many Linux distributions are shared by way of P2P. NordVPN helps P2P sharing in lots of nations.

Double VPN: If you join out of your pc to a VPN server, your knowledge is encrypted as soon as alongside the trail. Double VPN routes you thru a second VPN server, which supplies a second layer of encryption and hides your originating IP tackle from the second VPN server.

Onion Over VPN: You could have heard of TOR (for The Onion Router). Whereas TOR routes knowledge by a number of servers and encrypts it, the largest profit is that, to anybody attempting to spy on packets, each TOR person seems the identical. It is a highly effective increase to anonymity. Onion Over VPN is Nord’s methodology of permitting you to make use of all the advantages of TOR, however throughout your personal VPN connection, as properly. If you need anonymity, that is massive.

Obfuscated: These are servers that Nord says “can bypass community restrictions comparable to community firewalls.” This solely works with OpenVPN, so that you’re restricted to their Home windows, Mac, and Android apps.

Devoted IP: That is simply in regards to the reverse of all the things else we have mentioned. Many customers need to mix in with all the opposite customers as a method to cover their id. Devoted IP assigns your account a particular IP that you simply and solely you utilize. Why would you need to do that? Some servers and techniques require sure IP addresses for entry or ease of login. It is a particular case. Don’t be concerned should you do not perceive this one. In case you want it, you will realize it.

Not all nations provide all 5 of those companies. In reality, solely the NordVPN servers in The Netherlands provide all 5. Some nations provide simply P2P, some provide simply Obfuscated, and a few solely enable connections with none enhanced VPN service.

Efficiency testing

I put in the NordVPN app on a recent, fully-updated Home windows 10 set up. To do this type of testing, I at all times use a recent set up so another firm’s VPN leftovers aren’t clogging up the system and presumably influencing outcomes. I’ve a 1,000Mbps fiber feed, so my baseline community velocity is rockin’ quick.

To supply a good US efficiency comparability, relatively than evaluating to my native fiber broadband supplier, I used speedtest.web and picked a Comcast server in Chicago to check obtain velocity.

I used to be slightly upset that I could not select a particular location within the US to hook up with, so I let NordVPN make what it thought of to be the most effective connection. UPDATE: Since I first checked out NordVPN, the corporate has added the power to hook up with particular cities.


Past the US, I examined connections to Sweden, Russia, Taiwan, Australia, and India. For every take a look at, I related to every server thrice. The quantity proven beneath is the common results of all three connections.

Whereas I used to be related, I additionally ran DNS and WebRTC leak assessments (to be sure that DNS and IP are safe) utilizing, ipleak.web, and These assessments are fundamental safety assessments and never far more. In case you’re planning on utilizing NordVPN (or any VPN service) to cover your id for all times and demise causes, make sure to do way more in depth testing.

And, with that caveat, listed below are the outcomes:

Velocity Check Server

Baseline obtain velocity with out VPN (greater is best)

Ping velocity with out VPN (decrease is best)

Time to hook up with VPN

Obtain velocity with VPN (greater is best)

Ping velocity with VPN (decrease is best)


Chicago – Comcast



19 sec


61 ms


Stockholm, Sweden – Datacom



15 sec




Moscow, Russia – Rostelecom



15 sec




Taipei, Taiwan – NCIC Telecom



18.99 sec




Perth, Australia – Telstra



16 sec




Hyderabad, India – Excitel



17 sec




In these numbers, it is attainable to get carried away by the distinction within the baseline velocity in comparison with the VPN velocity. That is not the most effective measurement, principally as a result of I’ve broadband over fiber, so my connection velocity is extraordinarily excessive.

If you use a VPN service, it is pure for efficiency to drop. In spite of everything, you are operating all of your packets by a completely synthetic infrastructure designed to cover your path. The actual numbers it’s best to take a look at are the obtain velocity and the ping velocity. Are they excessive sufficient to do the work it’s good to do?

Ping velocity is a sign of how shortly a response will get again after a community request is shipped out of your pc. A number of the limitations listed below are as a result of precise physics. In case you’re sending a packet throughout the planet, it’ll take longer to listen to again than should you’re sending a packet throughout city.

For all connections, apart from India, NordVPN obtain efficiency was fairly good. Since you do not really want greater than about 6Mbps to 8Mbps to stream HD video from websites like YouTube, the NordVPN connections have been actually quick sufficient. For years, most of us would have been thrilled to have the broadband obtain speeds reported after this VPN was enabled.

Then there’s India. My non-VPN efficiency was blazing quick. But, my VPN efficiency was horrible. I retried connecting to what NordVPN thought of the most effective India server a bunch of instances, after which tried deciding on random Indian servers (Nord labels them as India #1, India #2, and so forth). Efficiency was horrible with every. I additionally discovered that reported a leak, though I could not discover any proof of a DNS leak with some cursory checks of my very own.

I reached out to the corporate about this. Based on Daniel Markuson, Digital Privateness Knowledgeable at NordVPN, “This particular web site is configured in a wierd method. If it detects a distinction between the DNS server tackle and the IP tackle, it considers this to be a DNS leak. Nevertheless, if the DNS displayed isn’t your unique common DNS servers, then no leak has truly occurred. Merely put, it is a false constructive as a result of unusual interpretation of what DNS leak is.”

The underside line of my fundamental efficiency assessments is that you would be able to most likely get the job finished until it entails India. When you have a particular nation you need to connect with, it is a good suggestion to reap the benefits of the corporate’s full 30-day refund coverage and simply strive it out.

See newest NordVPN plans and offers

Double DNS efficiency

I used to be very intrigued by the Double VPN providing, however the outcomes have been combined. Once I tried to attach by way of Double VPN to the quickest US server, I waited two minutes, misplaced endurance, and received as much as get espresso and pet the canine. By the point I sat again down at my pc 5 minutes later, there was nonetheless no connection.

I finished the connection try, chosen Netherlands as my server location as an alternative of the US, and was related in about 30 seconds. I ran the identical velocity take a look at to Comcast in Chicago that netted 188.67Mbps natively, and received 1.49Mbps obtain. After all, that was from The Netherlands to Chicago. Once I related to Duocast in Groningen (a big metropolis within the north of The Netherlands), my velocity elevated to a still-meager 2.02Mbps.

Clearly, Double DNS speeds are sluggish, however they’re workable sufficient should you’re not transferring giant media. In case you’re connecting to mail servers, sending messages, shopping Fb, and so forth, it needs to be tolerably positive.

Privateness and security measures

Large on our listing of questions for any VPN vendor is what sort of knowledge they log. NordVPN does want an electronic mail tackle so you’ll be able to log into your account, they usually do seize anonymized efficiency metrics to tune their techniques, however the firm says it would not log any visitors or entry knowledge.

By way of platform help, NordVPN has apps for iOS and Android, Home windows, and Mac. On prime of that, NordVPN helps an enormous variety of platforms starting from all the way in which again to Home windows XP, ahead to Raspberry Pi, Synology, and Western Digital, together with QNAP NAS packing containers, Chromebook, an entire bunch of routers, and extra.

At its core, a VPN encrypts and decrypts your knowledge, so the tactic of encryption is essential. Sadly, it is actually not attainable to say which encryption protocol is finest, as a result of that is determined by what you want. We are able to say that sure protocols are confirmed to be now not secure, and whereas some VPN suppliers nonetheless encrypt utilizing these protocols, NordVPN doesn’t. NordVPN affords OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec, that are well-respected protocols.

As well as, NordVPN is now providing one thing it calls CyberSec, which shares lots of the traits of an antivirus program, however works very in another way. CyberSec screens community transmissions for malware, the place antivirus applications have a tendency to observe operating applications.

CyberSec additionally watches out for on-system botnet exercise and tries to dam any participation in a DDoS (distributed denial of service assault). It additionally blocks pop-ups, auto-play movies, and identified harmful web sites. It is a very good and welcome addition to its VPN providing and is offered at no further cost.

Lastly, they help Bitcoin fee, so if you wish to preserve your id utterly non-public, you do not even want to provide them a bank card quantity.

The underside line

Going again to our mantra that everybody’s wants are totally different, we will not inform you which VPN service to decide on. We like what we have seen of NordVPN, efficiency is usually good, and the corporate’s consideration to safety and privateness appears honest.

NordVPN isn’t a free VPN, however given the corporate’s honest 30-day refund coverage, we are able to positively say they’re price giving a strive. In case you’re interested by different VPN distributors, check out my complete best-of VPN listing over on CNET.

See newest NordVPN plans and offers

You’ll be able to observe my day-to-day venture updates on social media. Remember to observe me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at, on Instagram at, and on YouTube at

Disclosure: ZDNet could earn a fee on companies featured on this web page. Neither the writer nor ZDNet have been compensated by Nord for this unbiased, unbiased overview.