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BSN’s NordVPN Review: The Sleek One

Dominik

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Going by sheer infrastructural volume, NordVPN is within the shout for the largest provider of virtual private network services on the planet. Combined with nearly a decade-long tradition and competitive pricing, not to mention the massive sums it spends on advertising, it’s one of those names you’ll stumble upon almost immediately after commencing your VPN search. Does that make it one of the best, however?


NordVPN Review Summary
4.5 BSN Score
Pros
Vast server selection. Outstanding speeds. Extensive P2P sharing support. Excellent at handling video traffic. Mobile apps making great inroads.
Cons
Lack of no-nonsense free trial. Somehow doesn’t support port forwarding despite much more niche torrenting optimizations, which is way less than optimal for frequent P2P users. Had a concerning security blunder just recently.
Summary
NordVPN is an all-around excellent choice if you’re looking for a provider that can pretty much do it all; streaming, torrenting, circumventing censorship, unblocking Netflix - you name it, NordVPN can do it, and at a reasonable price, at that. The main downside to going with this company is that its track record with transparency has just recently been downgraded from “perfect” to “somewhat troubling” but that’s (rightly) not something most users will be concerned about.
Performance5
Privacy & Security4
Ease of Use4.5
Pricing4.5

NordVPN Performance

From a pure performance standpoint – it kind of does. While NordVPN’s automatic server selection isn’t perfect, the massive size of its network virtually guarantees you’ll at the very least be able to manually connect to a server that’s both close and not under heavy load, so long as you’re not living in an absolutely desolate rural area with no civilization in sight.

What’s more, NordVPN doesn’t make a fuss about tricking Netflix into thinking you’re hailing from whatever country you may need to circumvent its geographical content restrictions, and the same goes for every other popular on-demand video platform.

Finally, the service also does an excellent job at handling peer-to-peer traffic, offering not just native support for cutting-edge technologies and major P2P clients such as uTorrent (though its lack of port forwarding certainly hurts the overall torrenting experience), but also a vast online knowledge base covering a broad range of topics meant to help you make the most of its VPN network.

NordVPN Privacy & Security

From a technological standpoint, NordVPN is arguably second to none. It even supports double rerouting, Socks5 proxies, DD-WRT router configuration, CyberSec-enabled ad blocking, and a wide variety of other niche solutions that should satisfy the most hardcore users. What’s arguably equally important is that NordVPN’s knowledge base is regularly updated with crucial documentation on all of those features, making setups a breeze in virtually any scenario.

Now, the VPN industry is about trust as much as it is about technology itself. Trust that even if the worst comes to pass, your provider will do the right thing. Trust that even if it fails at doing that, it will at least have the decency to own up to its mistake and inform you some of your data might be at risk. Unfortunately, NordVPN failed that Litmus test rather recently and quite spectacularly. We covered it in our NordVPN Breach Explained article just a few months ago, be sure to take a look at it.

NordVPN Warrant Canary

NordVPN has a warrant canary as of 2017 and keeps it updated on a monthly basis. While that’s certainly not a bad thing, the very concept of warrant canaries makes this particular one moot. Being based out of Panama, there’s no real legal mechanism for any third party outside of Panama City itself to compel NordVPN into producing any kind of information on its users, and that’s without taking into account there’s usually not any info to produce in the first place. That may not make you immune to man-in-the-middle attacks (see the aforementioned Litmus test), but it’s still a pretty bulletproof setup for a VPN provider, particularly in light of the fact Panama doesn’t just lack meaningful data retention laws but also has no intention of making gag orders legal.

NordVPN Ease of Use

No piece of software can reach mainstream popularity while being difficult to use through nothing short of a miracle, so it’s unsurprising NordVPN’s sleek interface is straightforward to navigate. The solution’s Android and iOS apps are also quite capable, albeit functionally limited compared to the real thing, so to speak. Still, things are improving on this front quite rapidly, with NordVPN really doubling down on mobile growth in recent times.

Overall, perhaps the best thing we can say about NordVPN’s UI design is that it doesn’t get in the way; it’s neither Bitdefender level of convoluted nor distracting like PIA, which may not sound impressive, but only if you don’t understand how difficult software development is – especially in the context of something as advanced as large-scale virtual private networks.

NordVPN Pricing

While it starts off rather average, NordVPN’s pricing structure gets more commendable the further you delve into long-term commitments. A three-year plan hence comes down to a mere $3.49 (€3.10) a month, which is an extremely competitive price point. Doubly so when you consider this isn’t some budget option but a full-fledged VPN behemoth with all of the bells and whistles even the most demanding of power users would expect.

The only downside is that you can’t trial it for free. Namely, a 30-day money-back guarantee is technically part of the package but there’s a “good standing” clause that pretty much means NordVPN can refuse you on a whim. At least cryptocurrency payments are part of the package, so you can still ensure NordVPN doesn’t have any identifiable info of your humble self if you take advantage of that option and pair it with a throwaway email.

NordVPN Review Summary

NordVPN is an all-around excellent choice if you’re looking for a provider that can pretty much do it all; streaming, torrenting, circumventing censorship, unblocking Netflix – you name it, NordVPN can do it, and at a reasonable price, at that. The main downside to going with this company is that its track record with transparency has just recently been downgraded from “perfect” to “somewhat troubling” but that’s (rightly) not something most users will be concerned about.


Editor’s Note

BSN’s NordVPN Review has been written by Dominik Bosnjak, a long-time VPN-user-turned-advocate who spends more time scrutinizing VPN Providers on a daily basis than he’d like to admit. When he isn’t writing VPN Guides and covering general Tech News, he’s probably spending time with his dog, video games, or both. Fun fact: the Shih Tzu in question is the only remaining creature in Dominik’s life who hasn’t told him they’re sick of him talking about Best VPN practices and government-sponsored erosion of digital privacy which made using the Internet less convenient over the years. He occasionally dabbles in video editing, Wall Street memes, and demonstrating a remarkable lack of guitar-playing ability.

If you want more tidbit-sized rants about any of those things, you can find him on Twitter @dddominikk.

The overall score doesn’t represent an average of all individual ratings but a weighted average which values Performance as 33%, Privacy & Security as 33%, Ease of Use as 12%, and Pricing as 22% of the final figure. It’s meant to standardize our reviews by giving more weight to the attributes we value the most in VPNs (speed, privacy, and security) without completely disregarding the rest. Naturally, much like any other review out there, the starting points/ratings are still inherently subjective to a particular reviewer’s experience.

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