NordVPN Review 2021: Is It Truly The Holy Grail of VPNs?

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 26 Oct 2021
Frederik is a serial entrepreneur that jumped into entrepreneurship after earning his doctorate in physics. Founding and running an analytics company got him into the online privacy and security space he's now contributing to with vpncheck. Read full bio

Expert Contributions

Michael Abiola Senior Network Professional
Michael Abiola Network Engineer
Barbara Niveyro
Barbara Niveyro User Interface Designer
Kenneth Vignali
Kenneth Vignali Threat Intelligence Analyst
Gillian Carrington Lawyer
Gillian Carrington Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer
Leandro Marcarian
Leandro Marcarian Business Consultant
Tamara Milacic
Tamara Milacic Pricing Expert
This review is based on the exclusive research, analyses, and tests our experts have conducted of NordVPN.

We tested NordVPN to create an extensive review in 2021 exploring what the VPN has to offer in terms of privacy & security, usability, general performance, and value, among others. 

With a revamped no-log policy and Panamanian jurisdiction, NordVPN offers users privacy when they cloak their IP addresses with the service. However, the VPN has more going for it than just privacy and security. While being one of the best VPNs for torrenting, NordVPN also grants access to geo-blocked content on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

NordVPN is also known for its huge server network that consists of 5,200+ servers in 60 countries, and it’s also one of the few fully-featured VPNs. On its website, the VPN claims to be “the no.1 VPN for online privacy and security.” So, how does it perform, and does it stay true to its word?

To help you decide whether it’s the best VPN for your needs, we interviewed several industry experts to get their professional opinions of NordVPN and to confirm that our review is factually correct (see their answers and reviews in the conclusion).

But, before we get started, here’s a summary of our review.

NordVPN Features: A Summary

If you’re looking for a high-quality VPN service, here’s what NordVPN offers its customers:

  • Super speeds: NordVPN offers some of the best speeds around, thanks to its proprietary VPN protocol and huge server network.
  • Huge Server Network: The VPN runs a network that consists of 5,200+ servers spread across 60 countries.
  • Excellent Privacy & Security: NordVPN doesn’t keep any connection logs and uses military-grade encryption standards to ensure that your data is always secure.
  • Works with multiple streaming services: NordVPN can unblock 14+ Netflix catalogs and provide access to other services such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime.
  • Advanced features: The VPN provides CyberSec, split-tunneling, a kill switch, a custom DNS, and SmartDNS. 

However, we also noticed that this service does come with some small disadvantages:

  • Lacks in accessibility features: NordVPN doesn’t give any option to change the style, and it is not responsive to the operating System settings.

Potential issues with the free trial: Limited free trial and refund policies are also a potential deterrent as customers cannot test the service before buying.

NordVPN Performance: A Superb Choice for Streaming and More

While NordVPN claims to be the best VPN for your privacy (and more!), we just had to know how well it performs in other crucial areas, for example, streaming, torrenting, or how many locations it allows the users to choose from.

If there’s one part where NordVPN truly stands out, it’s that it has more than 5200+ servers in 60 countries all around the world. Whether you need to connect to a server in South America or Europe, you have more than plenty of servers to choose from. This is great both for security and having more streaming options than you ever imagined.

P.S. NordVPN once even joked about opening servers in Antarctica, so you know they have some big plans! Joking, sort of.

Are we spoiled for choice with the variety and distribution of NordVPN’s servers? And are they really that fast? Before we answer these questions, let’s take a look at what a Network Performance expert had to say about NordVPN:

Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Network Performance

Michael Abiola Senior Network Professional
Michael Abiola
Network Engineer

NordVPN has a lot of features that make for a complete package when it comes to VPNs. It offers split tunneling that works well for users who want certain applications and URLs not to go through the VPN. This feature was also confirmed to work (by sending certain traffic through the ISP) and was verified using Wireshark. The split tunneling coupled with the decent upload speeds (on some servers) indicates that this VPN could be suitable for both commercial and casual usage.

NordVPN does offer double-hop VPNs and obfuscations for that added layer of protection. The double-hop VPNs do come at the expense of speed, however. The Onion over VPN shows a significant reduction in speed which is to be expected. The several available options for extra security do make the VPN provider seem like they care very much for the user’s privacy and have made it a high priority.

NordVPN exhibited an impressive performance in terms of download/upload rates, as compared to the baseline speed. For any VPN to exhibit a drop of less than 10 percent is often deemed exceptional.

Of the 23 servers that were speed tested, 12 of them saw a drop of less than 5% in the download speed. Only 3 servers exhibited a large drop of between 30-40% regarding download speed. Those remaining were somewhere in between.

The upload speeds had a more diverse range and were not proportional to their download counterpart. Some were as high as 87Mbps while others reached lows of 5Mbps. The majority of the servers showed latencies under 200ms when tested using optimal servers. This is great news for users that intend to game using the VPN. However, this value will obviously vary depending on the user’s location. That being said, as long as the latency is better with the VPN compared to the ISP then NordVPN is an improvement on the system.

The provider also has 3 different protocols with NordLynx consistently providing the best rates out of the options. NordLynx uses Wireguard as its base with a few alterations to add complete privacy.

NordVPN claims that they do not use any virtual servers and that all of their VPN servers are based in the exact locations as per the server list they provide. This is a rarity for any VPN and if true, can give the user peace of mind regarding the laws around logging in each country the server exists in. Adding to the security is the fact that they also use a completely diskless server network. 

The VPN did not intercept any DNS traffic nor ever disclose the user IP. No DNS leaks were detected and the fact that a VPN was being used was never detected. This satisfies most user needs in terms of security. NordVPN has excellent streaming capabilities and seamlessly unlocked geo-restricted streaming platforms. NordVPN performed extremely well when streaming 8K videos on YouTube and 4K videos on Netflix. This VPN can thus be used for several purposes while maintaining security/privacy and providing excellent rates.

    8
    8

    If you’re interested in how the expert came to this conclusion and what influenced his opinion, read more at the end of this review about the types of tests that were conducted.

    As promised, we still tested the VPN ourselves to give you an overview of how it performed for the typical use cases. Keep reading to see what we were able to access and whether there are any pitfalls you may want to avoid.

    Streaming with NordVPN: Unblock All The Content You Need

    NordVPN is a great VPN for streaming, as it uses a DNS rerouting technology known as SmartPlay. This technology ensures that you can access streaming services such as Netflix by connecting to any server on their network.

    Netflix: 14 Catalogs to Choose From

    NordVPN provides 14 Netflix catalogs that include the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Brazil, Spain, and South Korea. We tested these libraries, and they all worked without a hitch.

    Apart from the many libraries, the best part about SmartPlay is that you’ll be redirected to Netflix US when you connect to a server in any other country.

    NordVPN Catalogs to Choose From

    However, we were disappointed to encounter an issue where Netflix US didn’t always work when using the Microsoft Edge browser. This is most likely due to Edge’s DNS over HTTPS settings, but other browsers and streaming services worked smoothly. 

    BBC iPlayer: Unblocked Without Any Issues

    When we tested BBC iPlayer, we could bypass the streaming service’s VPN blocking mechanism without an issue.

    NordVPN BBC iPlayer

    If you’re looking for some great content that’s only available to UK-based subscribers of BBC iPlayer, then NordVPN’s UK server could be exactly what you need! Just don’t forget to change your online location to a suitable server and you’ll be watching anything on BBC iPlayer without any delays.

    Using NordVPN for Other Streaming Sites

    The VPN can also unblock Hulu, HBO Now, Disney+, DAZN, SkyGo, Crackle, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime, among others.

    Apart from SmartPlay, NordVPN also offers a SmartDNS service that you can use to unblock Netflix (US version), ABC Go (US), Amazon Prime (US), Disney+ (German), Fox Now / Sports Go / News / Showtime (US version), HBO Now (US), and BBC iPlayer. You can set it up on devices that don’t support VPNs and stream without losing speed.

    As you can see, NordVPN comes out as one of the best VPNs for streaming. You can use a server near you to access Netflix US, meaning you can stream at high speeds. The SmartDNS service also helps make unblocking content fast and effortless.

    Torrenting with NordVPN: Safe and Fast?

    NordVPN also makes it to our list of the best VPNs for torrenting as it provides hundreds of P2P servers. These servers are listed on the app under “Specialty servers,” simply clicking on the P2P option connects you to the nearest torrent-friendly server.

    Apart from that, NordVPN also provides a Socks5 proxy for torrenting fans. This proxy helps users circumvent blocks, get faster connections, and enhance privacy on the internet. You can configure NordVPN proxies on BitTorrent, Vuze, qBittorrent, uTorrent, and Deluge.

    NordVPN’s special torrenting servers combined with the VPN’s superb privacy and security make it a great option for torrenting. When you throw Socks5 into the mix, NordVPN becomes a go-to service for torrent fans.

    NordVPN’s Compatibility And Servers

    So, how great are the NordVPN Servers?

    The good thing is that all mainstream platforms (such as Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, and iOS) are supported by NordVPN, so you can use this VPN on any device you own. If you’re ever unsure about whether NordVPN can secure a particular device you own, this service actually has a pretty useful guide for using a VPN on different devices.

    Server Number And Locations

    NordVPN has over 5200+ servers spread across 81 locations in 60 countries, making it one of the largest VPN service providers. The United States has the most servers, with over 1,600 servers.

    There are servers in places with heavy restrictions, especially in Asia and the Middle East, like Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

    China has arguably the most pronounced limits on internet usage. However, it does have some servers close to it in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Indonesia, making NordVPN a good choice for users in the far eastern region.

    We connected to Hong Kong servers instantly. The service offered several servers after recommending the fastest one in the region.

    NordVPN connected to Hong Kong servers

    Using NordVPN From High-Censorship Countries

    NordVPN often promotes the need to fight internet censorship (for example, they have blog posts about how it is a big issue in various authoritarian regimes). That’s just one of the reasons why you won’t find any NordVPN servers in Russia, China, or North Korea.

    One thing where NordVPN definitely stands out is in providing emergency VPN assistance. Meaning, if a person lives in a country with heavy censorship, they can request to have a free VPN service for their own safety. As of now, the Emergency VPN feature can be free for up to 6 months, and it’s a great option if someone is not able to bypass geo-restrictions.

    NordVPN UI/UX: Simple and Familiar (Unless You’re a First-Time VPN User)

    If you’re looking for an app that is relatively straightforward to use, then you’re in the right place! Whether you want to use this VPN service on your iOS or Android device, or any other supported platform, you should always have a great experience due to how simple everything is.

    If there’s one thing that NordVPN can be proud of, it’s the number of various platforms you can use it on. In all fairness, you can set it up on pretty much every phone or laptop you have at home, as it allows up to 6 devices to be connected to your account.

    When it comes to choosing a VPN, its design is definitely a major factor to consider before purchasing a subscription. If the app is not user-friendly, you might not want to come back to it! In this case, however, we interviewed an experience designer who evaluated NordVPN and provided us with the following opinion:

    Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Design

    Barbara Niveyro
    Barbara Niveyro
    User Interface Designer

    When analyzing NordVPN’s UI and UX design, and keeping in mind that NordVPN is a tool that a user does not expect to interact with for long periods of time since its goal is to set it up once on the phone or computer, make sure that it works, forget about it, and move on using professional software and entertainment platforms, the Nord VPN app is successful at being simple, clear, intuitive, and easy to use for someone that is accustomed to interacting with MacOS, PC, Android and iOS. If the client knows what to do, the service is straightforward and it emulates an esthetic that most users would be familiar with.

    But for subscribers using a VPN service for the first time and is not familiar with the setting options and vocabulary – and NordVPN targets the “average user” as their consumer – it can get confusing because the app does not offer a short introduction, it doesn’t include a “walk through” to teach the function or purpose of each setting. Instead of including a short guide in the app, the company provides many video tutorials. As an alternative to resolving this issue, it would be beneficial if the app included a glossary where users could understand concepts like “P2P”, “Kill Switch”, “VPN Protocol”, “IKEv2”, so that they don’t have to rely on YouTube or Google to customize these settings. 

    In regards to the accessibility features, NordVPN doesn’t offer many alternatives. There is not an “accessibility” option in their settings, and the app does not use an equivalent word either. Likewise, one cannot change the style because it is not responsive to the operating system settings, and the option to create shortcuts with Siri, which could be considered an accessibility feature, is not available on the MacOS app – not to mention that Siri is not necessarily the most reliable tool since it is poor at recognizing different accents and speech rhythms. A first step to improve its accessibility features would be if the application was responsive to the OS, this is important considering that according to NordVPN’s marketing strategy, the company is not only looking to attract specialized users, but also regular consumers.

      7
      7

      Do you agree with the comments of our expert? You can find out more about the basis of her feedback at the end of our review.

      Devices and Browsers: Everything from Windows to Firefox

      NordVPN is quite compatible, and it can be installed on multiple platforms and devices:

      • Windows (Windows 7 and higher)
      • macOS (macOS 10.0 Yosemite and higher)
      • Linux (All major Linux Versions – Debian, Ubuntu, Elementary OS, etc.)
      • Android (Android 5.0 and higher)
      • iOS (iOS 11 and higher)
      • Fire TV
      • Android TV
      • Chrome & Edge Chromium
      • Firefox

      The VPN service provides multiple app versions for macOS, one which runs on IKEv2/ IPSec and another that runs on OpenVPN. The former is the version available on the official store, and all other apps are also available on their respective stores.

      If you’d like to connect the VPN on unsupported devices, such as game consoles and Smart TVs, you can set up the VPN manually on a VPN-capable router. You can also use the VPN’s SmartDNS service to change your streaming location on any device (including gaming consoles).

      Upgrading Safety With 6 Connected Devices

      NordVPN allows you to connect up to six devices on a single account. This comes in handy as you probably have multiple smartphones, laptops, and desktops in your household.

      If you have more than six items, you can learn how to set up a VPN on your router. In such a case, all devices that connect to the encrypted network will be secured. Also, if you set up a VPN on your router, it will only count as one device.

      Usability

      How to set up NordVPN?

      You can find the mobile app on both the Play Store and the App Store. In this review, we show you how to get started on the desktop app for Windows.

      1. Google NordVPN or enter nordvpn.com in your browser address bar.

      NordVPN Website

      1. Click “Get NordVPN” and choose your payment plan.

      NordVPN Choose the Plan

      1. You’ll be asked to enter your details, and then you can download the app.

      NordVPN Plan Checkout

      1. Install the desktop app and open it. You can choose Quick Connect to send you to the fastest server. It connected us to a server in South Africa.

      NordVPN Install Test

      We then tested out the internet speeds with a cable connection of 20 Mbps. As you can see in the speed test screenshot below, you can use NordVPN to stream in HD without any problems.

      NordVPN speed test

      Note that the speeds you get depend on the protocol you’ve chosen.

      Apps and Extensions

      To give you an idea of how easy-to-use the VPN is, we installed it on Windows, Android, and iOS.

      NordVPN for Windows

      The NordVPN site detected the device had a Windows operating system and redirected to the Windows download link. Download and installation were pretty straightforward.

      NordVPN for Windows

      On opening the Windows app, it displays the entire globe with all the NordVPN servers. The interface shows the servers that are best suited for your particular location and connection. You can then hit the Quick Connect option at the bottom. The VPN service will connect you to the fastest possible server.

      From our location, the service recommended more servers in Europe than North America. Nevertheless, you can still pan left or right to look for the country of choice.

      NordVPN Country Choice

      Additionally, you can choose from a left-hand sidebar that displays a more standard alphabetically sorted list of countries. It shows the countries in which the servers are, in alphabetic order, and lets you pick from your country of choice.

      You can easily switch servers if the speed drops in one. You don’t have to end the particular connection. Instead, look for the server you want to change to and connect. The NordVPN client will automatically disconnect from one and connect to the new server.

      To customize your connection, click the settings button on the top-right menu. There, you can activate features such as the kill switch, split tunneling, obfuscation, and private DNS. You can also select a protocol, which also determines the specialized servers available to you.

      NordVPN for Android

      Just like the Windows version, NordVPN offers similar features to its Android app. However, it does offer some nifty features that lend themselves well to mobile phone use.

      For instance, the app provides both a split tunneling and a kill switch (through Android’s Always-on functionality). The former allows you to select apps you don’t want to run through the service’s encrypted VPN connection.

      NordVPN for Android 

      On top of that, the VPN service offers tap jacking protection. This feature alerts you if a malicious app adds a screen overlay to trick you into an unintended action.

      tap jacking protection

      Also, the NordVPN app allows you to save money on your mobile data plan by enabling you to set the VPN connection as metered.

      NordVPN iOS App

      The NordVPN iOS app looks quite similar to the Android app for familiarity. The app beats most iOS VPNs in that it comes with several advanced functionalities. These include dark web monitoring, auto-connect (with Always-On), dark mode, and multiple protocols.

      NordVPN iOS App

      The app also lets users access specialty servers such as dedicated IP, double VPN, obfuscated servers, Onion over VPN, and P2P servers.

      NordVPN Specialty Server

      You can also choose to use a custom DNS and set Siri shortcuts for connecting and disconnecting.

      NordVPN Browser Extensions

      If you are looking at only protecting your browser rather than tunneling your whole device, NordVPN has got you covered as it offers extensions for both Chrome and Firefox.  

      Check out the Chrome Web Store to install the Chrome extension. This adds an icon in the address bar, which you can tap for a direct connection.

      NordVPN Chrome Extensions

      One of the great features of the app is that it lets you block WebRTC leaks in your browser.  It also goes ahead to ensure protection by reducing privacy risks and allowing you to enable the CyberSec ad, malware, and phishing protection. You can also let the proxy bypass various websites (split tunneling).

      NordVPN CyberSec ad Protection

      However, it’d be remiss of us to overlook that this extension is riddled with glitches. Sometimes, the extension won’t let you log in. It seems this is a common occurrence. Several reviewers on the web store point it out as well.

      Nevertheless, when it does work, it does so effortlessly, hiding your IP address with no problem whatsoever.

      NordVPN Security: No Compromises.

      When choosing a VPN, of course, such features as streaming or torrenting are important, but nothing beats that great feeling of security and privacy. 

      In all honesty, NordVPN has a lot of features that its users will appreciate. For example, this service uses military-grade encryption, so it ensures that hackers aren’t able to intercept your data. This is especially useful when you have no other choice than to use risky public Wi-Fi. 

      This is one of those VPNs that don’t ask you to compromise your online safety for faster streaming or more servers to choose from.

      Obviously, if you’re using a VPN, you’re looking for high-quality security. Is NordVPN the right choice for you? It claims to properly secure your internet connection thanks to its military-grade encryption, but what do cybersecurity experts think about this service?

      Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Security

      Kenneth Vignali
      Kenneth Vignali
      Threat Intelligence Analyst

      Since NordVPN allows the user to choose Wireguard and other VPN protocols to secure their network traffic, that indicates that the company truly cares about their customers and client base, whether business or personal users. 

      There are always debates among security professionals as to whether open source or closed source is more secure. What places NordVPN on the top of the list for trustworthy companies, is their adoption of open-source protocols. In the world of cybersecurity, this means that open source provides more transparency and forces the hand of those who adopt open source to patch vulnerabilities faster due to visibility.

      As long as the end-user implements their service as described by NordVPN and puts in place proper controls such as a strong username and password as well as multi-factor authentication, this should provide more than adequate security and privacy.

      With any VPN provider, one key aspect to look at during testing is if your DNS traffic leaks and if split tunneling is occurring or not, and if so, can it be configured at the user level to ensure the right traffic is encrypted. Leveraging additional 3rd party tools to perform “DNS Leak tests”, I was satisfied that my traffic was encrypted from start to finish. Also, after reviewing audit reports from 3rd party firms such as PWC, performing my own hands-on review of the VPN solution, offered by Nord, I would give this solution a rating of 9 out of 10 based on the available information on their operations, embracing of proven open-source protocols such as WireGuard and their transparency with their user base. This product is one I always recommend to those wishing to protect their own online privacy and security with high success.

      Something to keep in mind for all users regardless of if they are business or private consumers is that security is a layered effort. If you consider using a secure email service such as Proton Email coupled with a burner card from Privacy.com for example, even if NordVPN suffered a breach, your true personal information would not be at risk at all by taking these simple, yet highly effective extra precautions.

        9
        9

        As privacy is one of the most crucial aspects of any high-quality VPN, feel free to read more about how our experts decide on such a rating. Whether it’s about NordVPN’s protocols or encryption, even the smallest security features can add up to give you a better experience.

        Privacy

        NordVPN is based in Panama. This is a huge plus in terms of privacy as the VPN is under no obligation to keep any logs, and the region is beyond the reach of the NSA.

        Apart from the privacy policy, we tested NordVPN using several servers to see whether the VPN leaks any DNS or IP addresses. We were glad to see that the VPN doesn’t have any leaks. This was also confirmed during the VPN’s 2018 and 2020 audits.

        NordVPN Privacy Policy

        NordVPN does its best to provide one of the industry’s best privacy policies. This is boosted further by the fact that the VPN servers run on RAM (not hard disk), which ensures that no information is stored permanently.

        Military-Grade Encryption

        Security is one of NordVPN’s strong points. The VPN uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to secure data. RSA 4096-bit keys are used for authentication, and HMAC SHA2 is used for control authorizations. The VPN implements Perfect Forward Secrecy through the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (DHE).

        Apart from the security standards, NordVPN allows users to choose the protocols they’d like to use, which is a key factor in determining the level of security a user gets. OpenVPN (both UDP & TCP) is one of these protocols, and it’s highly recommended as it provides a great balance of speed and security.

        NordVPN has also developed its protocol known as NordLynx, and it’s the default protocol on most of the VPN’s apps. The protocol is based on the Wireguard protocol, which is super-fast, but they have altered it by introducing double NAT (Network Address Translation) to ensure privacy.

        Other security features provided by NordVPN are double-hop technology, a kill switch, and an ad/phishing blocker. We will discuss these three further in the features section.

        Server Security

        NordVPN upgrades privacy and security by providing RAM-based servers. These servers do not write any data to the hard disk, meaning information is only stored temporarily. This server technology comes in handy whenever authorities decide to seize a server as a simple power down erases all data.

        Shared & Dedicated IP Servers

        NordVPN provides both shared and dedicated IP addresses. Shared IP addresses are great for privacy as they make it hard for sites to track you, and they also make it difficult to know who did what. 

        Dedicated IPs, on the other hand, are suitable if you want to access IP-sensitive services or avoid annoying captchas. These IP addresses are provided for free through specialized servers, and you can also buy a personal one as an addon. NordVPN dedicated IPs go for $70.00/year.

        Obfuscated servers

        Due to an increase in VPN blocking, NordVPN provides obfuscated servers. These servers help users avoid deep packet inspection (dpi) blocking in China, Russia, UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.

        To use the VPN’s obfuscated servers, switch the selected protocol to OpenVPN (TCP). However, it’s advisable to install the VPN before visiting such countries as governments usually block VPN websites.

        Onion over Tor Servers

        Tor is a popular tool that enhances privacy and is also crucial in bypassing government censorship. Normally, you need to install a Tor browser to access the Tor network or the dark web. NordVPN helps users bypass that process through their specialized Onion over Tor servers. These servers exist on the Tor network, so you gain the privacy of a VPN and the privacy of Tor with a single connection.

        NordVPN Reliability: Relatively Transparent (For a VPN Company)

        While NordVPN claims to be the best VPN service in pretty much every arena, there are many aspects that could and should contribute to that claim. What do they do with your data? Can the customers trust this company? What is their customer support like? Such questions can end up finding their place in the mind of any VPN user.

        NordVPN No-Logs Policy

        The VPN states that:

        Being based in Panama allows us to keep no logs of users’ online activity (no IP addresses, browsing data, traffic information, etc.). This means that we are unable to link an individual user to a specific IP address, connection timestamp, or other information that we do not collect.

        This is quite impressive as, even in a legal request for data, the VPN can’t provide information regarding any specific user. NordVPN sought to prove this in 2018, and it became the first major VPN to have an independent party (PwC) NordVPN no-logs policy claim. We therefore interviewed a lawyer to get an idea of the effectiveness of NordVPN’s no-logs policy and how the company legally protects itself with the fine print.

        Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Data Privacy Protection and Reliability

        Gillian Carrington Lawyer
        Gillian Carrington
        Privacy & Data Protection Lawyer

        NordVPN offers a well-drafted privacy policy that mainly follows the international data protection standards pertaining to such policies.  

        The positive aspects of the privacy policy include (i) complying with the data minimization and purpose limitation principles, with minimal data retention (ii) communicating in a clear, intelligible, and transparent manner, (iii) providing detailed information about the types and purposes of personal data collected, (iv) ensuring organizational and technical security measures, and (v) providing users with an opportunity to access and manage their personal data. 

        NordVPN also commits to safeguarding users’ privacy by not logging and storing users’ connection or behavioral data. 

        Nevertheless, our review has discovered some shortcomings that need to be addressed, the main ones being (i) a lack of information about the controller (none of the legal documents contains NordVPN’s registered address), (ii) absence of details regarding international transfers of personal data and safeguards taken to secure such transfers which are of particular concern given the company’s presence in 59 countries, (iii) the company only responds to data subject access requests submitted in accordance with an “appropriate official legal process to be recognized by the laws of the Republic of Panama (e.g. mutual legal assistance treaty, letters rogatory)” which represents an extra hurdle for anyone submitting a data subject access request and (iv) it is necessary to read across both the Privacy Policy and the Terms of Service to understand data retention policies and (v) cookie and tracking technology consent is neither explained nor requested.

        As a Regulatory Lawyer and Legal Expert, I rate NordVPN's privacy 7 / 10.

          7
          7

          You can find the interview and the various aspects that had the biggest impact on our expert’s score at the end of this review.

          In legal terms, that all sounds good. But what about their history? How transparent are they as a VPN company? Let’s take a look at what this service is truly all about when it comes to its reliability and business structure and whether our expert would recommend using it:

          Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Business Structure

          Leandro Marcarian
          Leandro Marcarian
          Business Consultant

          NordVPN is a new but well-established firm in the VPN business. It has been less than 10 years in this business. It was founded by four friends in 2012, and since then it has not stopped growing. From 1000 users in 2013, it grew exponentially to over 10.000 the following year. From just one server, and mostly friends and family as users, to 14 servers in different locations around the world, and serving 14 million+ users in 2020, NordVPN is now recognized by influential tech sites and IT security specialists.

          The company holds Nordic ideals such as trust, confidence, and innovation. That is why it has a very interesting program where it rewards users who find bugs in the system. This makes users into somewhat of partners in the progress of the company and develops a partnership between supplier and customer. 

          The growth and success of NordVPN can be seen in one simple fact. At the moment the company has 123 open positions in its careers section. That is, when those positions are filled, the number of people working at NordVPN worldwide will practically double. That´s success in the making.

          Based on my opinion as a business consultant, I rate NordVPN business 9/10.

            9
            9

            As a business’s structure and background can show a lot about how everything and everyone operates and whether the customers should trust the company, this is a crucial part of our review. Learn more about what led to Leandro’s verdict in our conclusion.

            Support: Communicating with NordVPN

            Some people aren’t really tech-savvy enough to do more than “Quick Connect” on the VPN service. Consequently, they need a helping hand when they encounter some problems with the VPN.

            Using a Chatbot

            For quick help, you can consult the chatbot in the bottom right of the desktop app.

            NordVPN Chatbot

            This chatbot has plenty of options to choose from, so most issues will definitely be covered. Also, you can even choose to get help in German or French.

            If the bot doesn’t have the solution you’re looking for, you can talk to a live agent to walk you through your issue.

            Contacting NordVPN Through Email

            Are you not a big fan of using those bots? Well, then you can contact them through email at support@nordvpn.com. They answer quite quickly, so there is no need to wait in a long line of customers.

            NordVPN’s Support Page

            If your issue doesn’t need immediate intervention from an agent, you can also visit the support page. It has articles that provide solutions to common problems users encounter when working with the service.

             NordVPN Support Page

            NordVPN Pricing and Value: Fair, Yet Complicated

            Of course, no matter how great some service is, the price of it is extremely important. Some might say that you can’t put a price on safety, but that doesn’t seem so when you see that bill on your card!

            So, what is the current situation with this VPN service? It seems that NordVPN often advertises that its monthly services cost less than a cup of coffee, but let’s take a deeper dive into the whole pricing situation and see what a pricing strategist thinks about NordVPN.

            Our Expert Review and Rating of NordVPN’s Pricing

            Tamara Milacic
            Tamara Milacic
            Pricing Expert

            When analyzing NordVPN’s personal plan pricing structure, the three-tiered subscription pricing works well and is a familiar pricing structure for personal consumers. Enterprise pricing also employs pricing tiers while still allowing for bespoke solutions for large corporations. The pricing strategy utilized appears to be a mix of market pricing and a high low (promotional) strategy. The pricing structure uses good psychological pricing concepts. An international pricing strategy is lacking and the free trial and refund policies are limiting.

            From a strategy standpoint, NordVPN does not call out any pricing proposition that would indicate that they are aiming to be the cheapest deal in the market. They are not looking to be the price leaders. Their main value proposition centers around claiming the fastest speeds, multi-device, and a large number of servers. Additionally, they use promotions above and beyond the discounts offered for longer plan commitment – the current summer sale offers 3 months free. Depending on the frequency of promotions, they could be using a high-low pricing strategy whereby they price slightly above what they expect customers will pay and make space for promotions to incentivize purchase. Looking at ExpressVPN as their main competitor, the monthly plan for NordVPN is only $1 cheaper. This indicates that they have a view on the market but are not looking to lead with a pricing-first proposition.

            The first psychological pricing concept used is lowest common denominator pricing. This is achieved by showing monthly prices for the 1- and 2-year plans even though the payment is processed for the full plan length upfront. The use of the good-better-best principle is particularly strong. Specifically, the price gap between the monthly and the yearly plan is big which incentivizes users to purchase the yearly plan ($4.92/month) instead of paying more than double for a monthly plan ($11.95/month). If that decision is made by the consumer, the commitment barrier is broken and the 2-year plan is intelligently priced with an additional offer of 3 months for free to continue the upsell. 

            The placement of the plans from longest to the shortest commitment from left to right is another psychological principle used where customer expectations are anchored by what they see first as they read left to right. Positioning the 2-year plan with the cheapest monthly rate anchors anything seen after that and makes the monthly plan, in particular, seem expensive. The plans have yearly prices that utilize charm pricing, which is pricing that ends in 99/95 etc., and is associated with a deal. Additionally, the monthly prices are exact (not rounded) numbers that convert better when people are making rational, not emotional, purchases. The use of the color red in pricing has also been proven to be associated with deals and they use that intelligently to indicate the discounts that longer commitment subscriptions offer.

            In terms of international pricing, NordVPN falls short due to a lack of localized pricing. USD seems to be their base pricing currency where they take advantage of the psychological concepts mentioned above but their direct currency rate conversions could have one questioning the lack of analyses in their international markets. Additionally, the lack of any sort of conversion in Australia and Canada means that they are underpricing in those markets.

            Their limited free trial and refund policies are also a potential deterrent as customers cannot test the service before buying. In comparison to their competitor CyberGhost which does offer a 1-day free trial without any payment information, NordVPNs’ barriers to first-time customers are higher. Just like the 30-day free trial, the 30-day refund policy leaves the onus entirely on the customer to remember to cancel or request a refund. This is also likely to decrease first-time customer conversion. Lastly, the disparity between the pricing on desktop and the app and the differences in plans available may cause confusion for customers if they are looking across multiple devices.

            Based on my opinion as a pricing consultant, I rate NordVPN’s pricing 7/10.

              7
              7

              There are many aspects that contributed to our expert’s feedback regarding NordVPN’s pricing, and you can find more information about these factors in our conclusion to learn more about her review.

              NordVPN Pricing Structure

              NordVPN provides three plans that range from one month to two years (no lifetime subscription). All these plans offer the same functionalities, but the longer plans offer a significant discount on the monthly plan.

              Here’s a breakdown of the three:

              • 1-month plan: Costs $11.95 a month, billed monthly.
              • 1-year plan: Costs $4.92 a month, billed $59 for the first year.
              • 2-year plan: Costs $3.71 a month, billed $89 for the first two years.

              The 1-year and 2-year plan prices displayed above only apply to the first subscription. During renewal, the two plans convert to a 1-year plan that costs $119 a year, an equivalent of $9.92 a month. This makes NordVPN one of the most expensive VPNs.

              However, it’s still one of the best VPNs out there, and the 2-year plan lets you enjoy it for a very fair price of $3.71 a month. All subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

              Is there a free trial?

              Yes, NordVPN provides a 7-day free trial. However, this free trial is only available via mobile devices and on apps downloaded from either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. The free trial doesn’t have any data caps, and it provides all NordVPN features and functionalities. After creating your account, you can then use it to log in to other devices.

              Extra Features For Your Safety

              What extra features come with NordVPN? When you’re using a paid service, you definitely want to get as many additional features as possible! Luckily, NordVPN doesn’t disappoint.

              Split Tunneling

              Normally, a VPN encrypts all your internet data. However, this NordVPN feature enables you to choose which apps you want to tunnel through the VPN service and which ones can go through your usual internet connection.

              NordVPN Split tunneling

              The NordVPN Windows app also allows you to use inverse split-tunneling, where only selected apps will use the VPN.

              Ad blocker

              NordVPN allows you to do away with pesky ads that ruin your internet browsing experience. The service’s CyberSec feature efficiently blocks ads. We watched the extended mic’d up Super Bowl highlights without any ad interruptions.

              Static IP addresses

              Whenever you turn on your VPN, if you click Quick Connect, it randomly assigns a fast server through which you can run your online traffic. However, this can become a problem if you’re using the VPN to access geo-blocked content on streaming services like Netflix.

              These services are continually devising mechanisms to stop people who are using VPNs from accessing their content. One way to identify such individuals is by checking if a single account accesses content through separate IP addresses each time they log onto the streaming service.

              NordVPN has a solution for this. You can buy a static IP address – a singular virtual location in the region you want. So, whenever you log onto your VPN, you’re connected to that IP address.

              NordVPN Pros and Cons

              Pros
              Excellent speeds
              Audited zero logs service
              Works with multiple streaming services
              Solid privacy & security
              RAM-disk servers
              Feature-rich software
              SmartDNS service
              30-day money-back guarantee
              Renewal price relatively high
              Windows client may be a bit cumbersome
              Confusing tutorials

              Here’s What the Experts Are Saying About NordVPN:

              We sat with each of our experts and asked for details of their processes in reviewing aspects of NordVPN’s service: what specific tools they used, what criteria and/or checklists served as their basis, screenshots of their findings, etc.

              Network Performance - Michael Abiola

              Overall Network Performance

              Q: What testing tools did you use in conducting your review of NordVPN’s network performance?

              A: First, it’s important to consider that my device had Windows 10 as its operating system and was running on Intel Xeon 2.67Ghz / 16GB RAM. Now, for my testing tools, I used the following to conduct a proper review: 

              • NordVPN client ver 6.37.5.0
              • Wireshark
              • curl, dig, nslookup, nmap
              • speedtest.net

               

              Q: What was the result of your speed test? 

              A: With my testing location set in the UK, I conducted speed tests with the NordVPN client installed and without it. In both cases, my direct internet speed yielded the same results: close to 100Mbps (download) / 100Mbps (upload).

              NordVPN Result of Speedtest
              Q: Using NordVPN, were DNS queries intercepted and changed?

              A: No. Results from Dig and Nslookup show that no DNS queries were intercepted either through the VPN tunnel or the local ISP. This indicates that neither the local ISP nor NordVPN are using DNS proxies.

               

              Q: Were HTTPS queries presenting the correct certificates?

              A: Yes. Using curl, all HTTPS queries presented correct SSL certificates with NordVPN and direct internet connection (i.e., without NordVPN).  These results were verified by comparing the Certificate Authority (CA), common name (CN) as well as the Issuer presented on the SSL certificates. 

               

              Q: By using different VPNs, were you able to check if running HTTPS queries against a collection of websites yielded different HTTP responses?

              A: Queries against several HTTPS websites yielded the same HTTP responses regardless of the NordVPN exit node used. Based on the results of the HTTPS queries and the responses from each test, there are no indications of any SSL interception or Proxies using the NordVPN.

              Comparison of data from inside and outside the VPN from the same DNS server

              Q: How would you compare the information from inside and outside the VPN from the same DNS server?

              A: Information obtained from inside and outside the NordVPN was consistent across tests carried out. NordVPN does allow the use of any external DNS servers while connected to the NordVPN however a DNS server is assigned to the client upon connecting to any NordVPN VPN nodes. The overall outcome of the test indicates NordVPN does not intercept or modify the internet traffic.

              Infrastructure

              Q: How many servers does NordVPN have?

              A: At the time of my review, NordVPN has 5200+ VPN servers from 60 countries as reported on the NordVPN website. Of course, we have to consider that the exact number of available servers constantly changes due to a number of factors.

               

              Q: Can you specify the number of servers NordVPN has in which geography (country and continent)?

              A: NordVPN servers with various types of services and features can be found on 4 continents and 60 countries, including the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The number of servers available in each location or country varies depending on the VPN service type or feature. 

              • North & South America

              o US (~1,600), Canada (~ 400), Brazil (9), Argentina (21), Mexico (14), Costa Rica (12), Chile (12)

              • Europe

              o 34 countries with the most servers in the UK (more than 600), Netherlands (~ 300), France (> 200), Sweden (~ 200), Switzerland (> 100), plus many more countries with less than 100 servers each.

              • Asia / Pacific

              o Australia (<300) Singapore (<200), Japan (77), Hong Kong (70), New Zealand (40), Taiwan (16), Vietnam (14), Indonesia (10), South Korea (10), Malaysia (9), Thailand (7)

              • Africa, the Middle East, India

              o South Africa (43), India (27), United Arab Emirates (20), Israel (19), Turkey (15)

               

              Q: What type of servers does NordVPN use (e.g., Tech Specs, Operating System, etc.)?

              A: Whilst NordVPN does not appear to document publicly the specification or the operating system running on their VPN server nodes, a simple nmap test indicates they most likely use Linux servers (FreeBSD).

               

              Q: What technology stack (e.g., programming languages and technologies) are used in running the NordVPN infrastructure?

              A: NordVPN supports popular VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, and the new Wireguard (NordLynx), which is the recommended and default protocol by NordVPN.

               

              Q: Which data centers are NordVPN’s servers hosted at and how is the distribution of server hosting spread throughout specific countries?

              A: NordVPN has kept most of the details around its core infrastructure and connectivity a secret. However, a breach in 2018 has forced NordVPN to now move towards collocated servers, but no information is publicly available on the location of the data center or the providers. As a VPN service provider, it does make sense to keep this information secret but a few scans on NordVPN IP addresses suggest they have a combination of several data centers as well as colocation services across the globe.

              Speed & Connectivity

              Q: How did you go about testing NordVPN’s speed performance?

              A: I ran speed tests using speedtest.net for 23 different VPN exit nodes while connecting to the best & fastest Speedtest server. For multi-connection and single-connection tests, I took screenshots of each test result.

               

              NordVPN Speed Test Results On 23 Countries

              NordVPN Speed Test Results On 23 Countries

              Screenshots of NordVPN Speed Test per country:

              USA

              NordVPN Speed Test USA
              Germany

              NordVPN Speed Test Germany
              Japan

              NordVPN Speed Test Japan

              UK

              NordVPN Speed Test UK
              France

              NordVPN Speed Test France

              Brazil

              NordVPN Speed Test Brazil

              Canada

              NordVPN Speed Test Canada

              Portugal

              NordVPN Speed Test Portugal

              Italy

              NordVPN Speed Test Italy

              South Korea

              NordVPN Speed Test South Korea

              Spain

              NordVPN Speed Test Spain

              Australia

              NordVPN Speed Test Australia

              Indonesia

              NordVPN Speed Test Indonesia

              Turkey

              NordVPN Speed Test Turkey

              Mexico

              NordVPN Speed Test Mexico

              Finland

              NordVPN Speed Test Finland

              India

              NordVPN Speed Test India

              Malaysia

              NordVPN Speed Test Malaysia

              South Africa

              NordVPN Speed Test South Africa

              Latvia

              NordVPN Speed Test Latvia

              I also ran speed tests for 5 different servers: 1 close to the VPN server, 1 in the next big city, 1 at the other side of the country, 1 in another major city on another continent, and 1 random location. I looked at the ping, download, and upload results, as well as watch out for any surprises. My tests indicated that the further away from the VPN server, the higher the latency/ping response. The download speed across the 5 servers was relatively the same while the upload speed was significantly reduced.

               

              Q: What happened when you checked the traceroutes for these tested servers?

              A: With the NordVPN connected to various VPN exit nodes, all connected to the tested servers were routed via the VPN servers. The number of hops varied according to the distance between the tested servers and the NordVPN exit nodes. The closer the tested servers, the lesser the hops and the lower the latency, which consequently resulted in better download and upload speed.

               

              Q: Does NordVPN have any miscellaneous features or special setups like a double hop that you tested? If so, how did they perform?

              A: NordVPN has additional features like P2P, Double VPN, Dedicated IP, and Onion over VPN. These additional features are designed to increase privacy or security by routing traffic through additional routers or VPN nodes on the internet before reaching the intended target. I observed that the more secure the VPN option selected, the lesser the download and upload speed. A quick test on the Onion over VPN shows a significant reduction in speed which should be expected due to the additional hops along the path.

              Experience Impact

              Q: How was your streaming experience on YouTube and Netflix using NordVPN?

              A: I tested for buffering issues in 720p, 1080p, 4K, and 8K resolutions for both YouTube and Netflix. On both platforms, I wasn’t able to watch in 8K but had no problem with the other video resolutions.

              YouTube Streaming Results Using NordVPN:

              YouTube Streaming Results Using NordVPN

              Netflix Streaming Results Using NordVPN:

              Netflix Streaming Results Using NordVPN

              Wire-Level Privacy Performance

              We asked our expert, Michael Abiola, to run WireShark and perform a packet capture on his physical internet facing network interface.

               

              Q: What VPN protocol is in use?

              A: NordVPN uses a new protocol called Wireguard / NordLynx. NordVPN also supports OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec. All tests carried out show NordVPN using Wireguard / NordLynx as a preferred protocol of choice.

               

              Q: Can you see any traffic that isn’t being transmitted via the VPN tunnel?

              A: No. All traffic is transmitted via the VPN tunnel. NordVPN has a built-in feature called split-tunnel which allows the user to split some traffic via the VPN tunnel and other traffic via the local internet. However, this is turned off by default ensuring all traffic from the client is routed through the VPN tunnel.

               

              Q: Can you see any DNS traffic in the packet capture?

              A: No. No DNS traffic is seen from the Wireshark capture which indicates there are no DNS leaks.

               

              NordVPN Network Traffic Results Ran Via Wireshark:

              NordVPN Network Traffic Results Ran Via Wireshark

              Q: What additional tests did you run in your review of NordVPN’s network performance?

              A: I also tested for browser leaks at  browserleaks.com to look for any out-of-the-ordinary results. So far, my IP location information matched the requested VPN location. My connection type appeared as residential. I didn’t find any IPv6 leaks, DNS leaks nor any WebRTC leaks.

              tested for browser leaks

              Security Protocols & Authentication - Kenneth Vignali

              Protocol & Authentication

              Q: How does NordVPN protect authentication credentials, and what is the default authentication protocol?

              A: NordVPN uses AES-256-GCM with a 4096-bit DH key.

               

              Q:  What kind of authentication is supported, and what’s the default authentication method?

              A: The default is username and password.

               

              Q: What network protocols are supported?

              A:  Both UDP and TCP are supported.

               

              Q:  What VPN protocols are supported, and what is NordVPN’s default protocol?

              A:  OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, and WireGuard are supported. In most of NordVPN’s apps, the default protocol is WireGuard.

               

              Q:  Is NordVPN’s protocol open source or closed source?

              A:  It is open source.

               

              Q: Has an RFC been published for the protocol and if so, what is the RFC number?

              A:  Yes. You can access the document via RFC number 8922

               

              Q:  Is the VPN protocol using the latest protocol version?

              A:  Yes, it is using the latest version.

               

              Q:  What is the release date of the protocol in use?

              A:  March 29, 2020

               

              Q:  Is there an IEEE implementation standard for the protocol?

              A:  Yes. A document was published on IEEE’s website on 22 August 2019: 

              B.Lipp, B. Blanchet and K. Bhargavan, “A Mechanised Cryptographic Proof of the WireGuard Virtual Private Network Protocol,” 2019 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy (EuroS&P), 2019, pp. 231-246, doi: 10.1109/EuroSP.2019.00026.

               

              Q:  Is the protocol listed on the iana.org website?

              A:  No information was available.

               

              Q:  Does this protocol have any known vulnerabilities or active CVEs?

              A:  Yes. There is a CVE-2019-14899

               

              Q:  Does NordVPN support multi-hop?

              A:  Yes, it does.

              Analysis

              Q: What method or tool did you use to check for DNS traffic?

              A: I downloaded and ran WireShark. I then performed a packet capture on my physical internet facing network interface.

               

              Q: Did you see any traffic that was not transmitted via the VPN tunnel (if not Split-Tunneling)? 

              A: No. In my testing, I could not see any traffic transmitted while using VPN, if split tunneling, I was able to decide which traffic I wanted encrypted and the rest in clear text.

               

              Q: Did you see any DNS traffic in the packet capture? 

              A: The data leak protection worked as designed in my testing.

               

              Q: Where was your DNS traffic going? 

              A: It was going to NordVPN-owned DNS servers.

              Additional Questions

              Q: Has NordVPN been exploited in the past? 

              A: They have had a data breach previously, but the report published by The Verge about NordVPN’s server breach in March 2018 indicates it was a data center administrator account that was used. 

               

              Q: Does NordVPN have a no-logging policy? Have they been audited by a third party confirming this? If they do log, what’s the retention policy? 

              A: NordvPN has a no-logging policy. They have been audited by PWC twice since 2019 and they confirmed this is true. Since NordVPN does not log, they do not retain data.

               

              Q: Does NordVPN have a canary on the website? 

              A: Yes, they do have a canary on the web.

               

              Q: Is NordVPN based in one of the following locations: UK, USA, or EU? If so, are they GDPR/CCPA compliant? 

              A: They are located in Panama.

               

              Q: Can you purchase a NordVPN subscription anonymously?

              A: Not directly. You need to sign up using an email address and yes, a payment method. But you can maintain privacy by using Proton email to sign up and a burner card from privacy.com or pay with bitcoin.

               

              Q: What personal information is required for a free trial or to purchase a subscription? 

              A: You need to provide an email address and payment information. If you use a regular credit card, you will need to provide a name on the card.

               

              Q: Can multi-factor authentication be implemented? 

              A: Yes it can, and NordVPN supports key-based and app-based MFA.

               

              Q: What encryption cypher and level of encryption does NordVPN use? 

              A: The ciphers used to generate Phase1 keys are AES-256-GCM for encryption, coupled with SHA2-384 to ensure integrity, and combined with PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy) using 3072-bit Diffie-Hellman keys. IPsec then secures the tunnel between the client and server, using the strong AES-256.

               

              Q: Do NordVPN’s apps have kill switches in case of a connection drop? 

              A: Yes. NordVPN has a kill switch built in for this scenario.

               

              Q: In what country is NordVPN located? 

              A: They are based in Panama.

               

              Q: What is the likelihood of NordVPN sharing data with governments? 

              A: The likelihood is very low and if they were mandated to, they could not comply by design as they do not retain requested data log types.

               

              Q: What data does NordVPN collect from their users? 

              A: They only collect username and registration information including payment information.

               

              Q: Does NordVPN share any customer data with third parties?

              A: Yes. They do share data with third parties they partner with as part of the services provided.

              Design & Usability - Barbara Niveyro

              Overall Design And Impression

              Q: What is NordVPN’s Design Style? 

              A: FlatStyle.

               

              Q: What feeling does the design convey (e.g., playful, serious, etc.)? 

              A: Trustworthy, cold, and soft. The design is friendly and not overwhelming. The mountain peak of the logo is similar to the brand “REI” (Recreational Equipment, Inc), which in the USA is subconsciously associated with traveling. It is reminiscent of Macintosh’s operating systems from 2014 (OS X Yosemite) to 2019 (macOS Catalina) where the styles and themes are presented through the names of different natural elevations.

               

              Q: What is their color scheme? 

              A: The colors are predominantly blue and grey, with some green. The menu is #f4f3f4 (Selago). The map uses the colors #f4f3f4 (Selago) for the continents and #b2d0db (lightblue) for the water. The map’s location icons are #57a14b (seagreen) and #5c8aac (bcadetblue). The icon of the app is #26569c (darkslateblue) and #f0f6fb (aliceblue). The logo on their website is #4687ff (cornflowerblue).

              NordVPN color scheme

              Q: When did NordVPN introduce the current design of their software? 

              A: I checked the Wayback machine to find out how long ago or how recent the overall design was updated. So far, the overall design has been consistent, and it has been the same for the last two years, 2019 to 2021. 

              In 2019 they made slight changes to their logo. The mountain peak remained, but they modified the typography – same style but bolder. The color used to be darker (darkslategray); now it is vivid blue (cornflowerblue). 

               

              NordVPN’s Logo Pre-2019 and Post-2019:

              NordVPN’s Logo Pre-2019 NordVPN’s Logo Post-2019

              The color scheme is the same, only that before 2019, they used more details in deep pink and forest green. These have been minimized for the current version.

              Native Interface Components And User Actions

              Q: Does the current design use native interface components or is it some hybrid cross-platform software with unique interface components? 

              A: In going over NordVPN’s buttons, navbars, tab bars, navigation, among others for each operating system – that is, iOS14, Android 11, MacOS Big Sur, Windows 10, it is my observation that they do not use native interface components. However, the design introduces consistency throughout the different OSs.

               

              Q: Are there any other design observations you have with regards to NordVPN’s user interface? 

              A: NordVPN’s transitions from screen to screen are quick and smooth, the interaction with the map is organic and the UI is easy to follow. Its design is similar to Apple’s digital products. One can observe this in the color scheme, themes, and layout. Both brands use a design system that is simple, soft, and cold, uniform, and easy to read, without the distractions of colors or images.  

              Our expert reviewer provided us with the following copies of her testings and findings on her user experience with NordVPN.

               

              User Actions Based On Operating Systems:

              Criteria
              How long does the app take to load?
              Is there an auto-connect option?
              Is there a button to connect to the fastest VPN server?
              Is there a button to connect to the nearest VPN server?
              Is there a one-click quick connect option?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a recent server?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a server in another country?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a gaming server?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a p2p (torrent) server?
              iOS
              2 - 3 secs
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              Yes
              1
              2
              2
              3
              MacOS
              2 - 3 secs
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              Yes
              1
              2
              2
              2
              Android
              2 - 3 secs
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              1
              2
              2
              2
              Windows
              2 - 3 secs
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              1
              2
              2
              2
              Linux
              2 - 3 secs
              No
              No
              N/A
              N/A
              N/A
              N/A
              N/A

              User Actions Based on Browsers:

              Criteria
              How long does the app take to load?
              Is there an auto-connect option?
              Is there a button to connect to the fastest VPN server?
              Is there a button to connect to the nearest VPN server?
              Is there a one-click quick connect option?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a recent server?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a server in another country?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a gaming server?
              How many clicks/taps to connect to a p2p (torrent) server?
              Chrome
              It starts working with the browser, so 2 to 4 secs.
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              2
              3
              3
              N/A
              Firefox
              It starts working with the browser, so 2 to 4 secs.
              Yes
              Yes, "quick connect"
              No. But you can search from the map.
              2
              3
              3
              N/A

              User Experience Based on Operating Systems

              Question iOS Android MacOS Windows Linux
              What are the steps to installing the software and connecting to the VPN for the first time? 1. Search Apple’s App Store 

              2. Download

              3. Login with User and PW.

              4. Select “quick connect” or choose desired location from the map or from the list.

              1. With Google Play App, search NordVPN.

              2. Make sure it is the correct one with the blue icon and 10M+ downloads. 

              3. Install.

              4. Open the app.

              5. You will see a map in the app with NordVPN locations.

              6. Connect Request > OK

              7. Select “quick connect” or choose desired location from the map or from the list.

              1. Using your browser, login to nordvpn.com  

              2. From the “Downloads” page and under “Desktop apps” download the macOs app or search Apple’s App Store app and find the correct file (Make sure it is the correct one with the blue icon and 10M+ downloads).

              3. Download

              4. Login with User and PW.

              5. Select “quick connect” or choose desired location from the map or from the list.

              1. Using your browser login to nordvpn.com 

              2. From the “Downloads” page and under “Desktop apps” download the “Windows” app.

              3. Click the pink “download” button. 

              4. Open the file that was downloaded from your browser or from the downloads folder.

              5. Answer “yes” to the question “Do you want to allow this app to make changes in your device.”

              6. Press the green “install” button. 

              7. Sign in with User and PW.

              8. Click the green button that says “turn cybersec on”.

              4. Select “quick connect” or choose desired location from the map or from the list.

              1. Using your browser login to nordvpn.com 

              2. From the “Downloads” page and under “Desktop apps” download the “Linux” app.

              3. Click the pink “download” button. 

              4. Open the file.

              5. Install.

              6. Open terminal and execute the installation command. 

              7. Open the downloads folder. 

              8. The text should be: /Downloads$ add: sudo dpkl -i nordvpn-release_1.0.0_all.deb (make sure this matches with the file that you downloaded).

              9. Hit enter.

              10. Type the password.

              11. After the installation, clean the terminal. 

              12. In the terminal write: sudo apt – get update (this is to update repository).

              13. Type: sudo apt – get install nordvpn.

              14. Hit enter to install the updates.

              15. Clear terminal.

              16. Type: nordvpn login

              17. Complete login details. 

              18. nordvpn connect.

              19. You will see a message confirming that it is connected.

              1. Get the NordVPN repo setup .deb package

              You can download the file here or at the top of this page.

              — 

              These are the steps provided by NordVPN:

              1. Get the NordVPN repo setup .deb package

              You can download the file here or at the top of this page.

              2. Install the NordVPN repository

              Open the terminal and run the following:

              sudo apt-get install {/path/to/}nordvpn-release_1.0.0_all.deb

              3. Update the apt-get package list

              Type this command:

              sudo apt-get update

              4. Install NordVPN

              Almost there! Enter the last command to install NordVPN:

              sudo apt-get install nordvpn

              How many minutes to connect the first time? It is fast, it only asks for a fingerprint and the service password. After installation, it is very fast. It depends on your security settings, but the app will take 2-3 seconds. It is fast but confusing because it asks for a personal PW, an iCloud PW, and the service PWD. But this is only once and it depends on the security setting in your Mac. After it is installed, it is very fast, about 2 – 5 seconds. Once the installation is done, it depends on how fast you type in the terminal.
              What’s the start-up time of the software? (In seconds) 2-3 secs 2-3 secs 2-3 secs 2-3 secs 2-3 secs
              What’s the least amount of clicks/taps that’s necessary to connect to a VPN server? When using the app for the first time, 5 clicks. Then it is 2. When using the app for the first time, 5 clicks. Then it is 2 or you can choose in the settings to “Auto-connect”. 1 to 2 –

              If the app is not open, open the app, and quick-connect.

              If the app starts automatically just “quick-connect”

              (or you can configure it for auto-launch/auto-connect).

              1 to 2 –

              If the app is not open, open the app, and quick-connect.

              If the app starts automatically just “quick-connect”

              (or you can configure it for auto-launch/auto-connect).

              No clicks. Text only, and hit enter.
              Do I need a subscription to connect or is there a trial or free version? Subscription is needed to connect. Subscription is needed to connect. Subscription is needed to connect. Subscription is needed to connect. Subscription is needed to connect.
              Is there a free version? No. They currently offer a 2-year plan with a 72% discount + 3 months for free.

              But you need to purchase the package in order to get the 3 months for free, so you do pay.

              What’s necessary to sign up for a subscription? What are the steps? How long does the overall process take? 1. Select a plan: 1-year, 3-year, or 1-month.

              2. Select plan between NordPass Premium (recommended) or NordLocker Premium.

              3. Select payment method: CC/ Google Pay/ Amazon Pay / ACH Transfer / UnionPay / Crypto

              4. Register.

              5. Verify your email address.

              What types of notifications are there? Are they obtrusive/too much? Once the user keeps the PWs in the key-chain, it is not obtrusive. Not obtrusive at all, just one message. Once the user keeps the PWs in the key-chain, it is not obtrusive. Once the user keeps the PWs in the key-chain, it is not obtrusive. Once the user keeps the PWs in the key-chain (or in the text), it is not obtrusive.
              Are there automatic software updates? Yes. Yes. N/A Yes. N/A

               

              User Experience Based on Browser

              Question Chrome Firefox
              What are the steps to installing the software and connecting to the VPN for the first time? 1. Using the Chrome browser log in to https://nordvpn.com/.

              2. From the “Downloads” page and under “browser extensions” download the Chrome extension.

              3. A new page will open. In that page click “add to firefox”.

              4. Find the NordVPN extension icon on the top right section of your browser and open it.

              5. Log in to NordVPN using the extension.

              6. Click “quick-connect” or choose or “search for a specific country”.

              1. Using the Chrome browser log in to https://nordvpn.com/.

              2. From the “Downloads” page and under “browser extensions” download the Chrome extension.

              3. A new page will open. In that page click “add to firefox”.

              4. Find the NordVPN extension icon on the top right section of your browser and open it.

              5. Manage Extension: Right-click on the extension’s icon and select “Manage Extension” > Scroll down to

              “Run in Private Windows” > choose “Allow”.

              6. Log in with Nord Account.

              7. Click the icon in the browser and click “quick-connect” or select the desired location.

              How many minutes to connect the first time? After it is installed, it is very fast, like 2 seconds. After it is installed, it is very fast, like 2 seconds.
              What’s the start-up time of the software? (In seconds) Zero – it depends on Chrome’s speed. 0 – 5 seconds. Zero – it depends on the Firefox’s speed, so in that case, 5 seconds max.
              What’s the least amount of clicks/taps that’s necessary to connect to a VPN server? It can start automatically with Chrome or just 2 clicks to “quick connect.” It can start automatically with Firefox or just 2 clicks to “quick-connect.”
              Do I need a subscription to connect or is there a trial or free version? Subscription is needed to connect. Subscription is needed to connect.
              Is there a free version? No. They currently offer a 2-year plan with a 72% discount + 3 months for free. But you need to purchase the package in order to get the 3 months for free, so you do pay.
              What’s necessary to sign up for a subscription? What are the steps? How long does the overall process take? 1. Select a plan: 1-year, 3-year, or 1-month.

              2. Select plan between NordPass Premium (recommended) or NordLocker Premium.

              3. Select payment method: CC/ Google Pay/ Amazon Pay / ACH Transfer / UnionPay / Crypto

              4. Register.

              5. Verify your email address.

              What types of notifications are there? Are they obtrusive/too much? Once the user keeps the PWs in the key-chain, it is not obtrusive.
              Are there automatic software updates? N/A N/A

               

              Accessibility

              Q: Does NordVPN’s app offer support for the vision impaired, with accessibility features like the ability to increase the font size or invert colors, etc.? And does it support screen-reading for the blind?

              A: No. The app isn’t responsive to system settings. It does have an option to change the appearance from light to dark, and the mobile app provides the option of creating “Siri shortcuts” in order to set phrases for connecting and disconnecting. However, this option is difficult to find because it is under Tools and not under Accessibility. Also, the “Siri shortcuts” option is only available for the mobile application, it is not available for the MacOs application.

              Data Privacy Protection - Gillian Carrington

              Jurisdiction

              Q: Where is NordVPN headquartered?

              A: NordVPN is headquartered in the Republic of Panama.

               

              Q: How does the company’s location influence the privacy of its customers?

              A: NordVPN claims that having its base in Panama allows it to keep no logs of  users’ online activity (no IP addresses, browsing data, traffic information, etc.). This means that it is unable to link an individual user to a specific IP address, connection timestamp or other information that it does not collect. It has been suggested in industry circles that NordVPN’s choice of Panama as its base was influenced by the fact that Panama is not party to the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance and that the lack of a data retention law in Panama was a factor in the decision. 

               

              Q: Is Panama (where NordVPN is based) known for working with/not working with law enforcement?

              A: Panama is involved in international law enforcement cooperation by providing mutual legal assistance (mostly criminal matters like organized crime and drug trafficking). Interpol has a branch in Panama. However, a large number of companies chooses incorporation and headquartering in Panama because of the relative opacity of the corporate structures available there and the lack of any real residence requirements, so the sharing of information regarding these companies and their trading practices are very challenging. The company makes no mention of data-sharing incidents with law enforcement agencies.

               

              Q: Are there international laws in place to provide data outside of Panama?

              A: Yes, there are international treaties like the UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988); the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999); the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000); and the UN Convention Against Corruption, 2003.

              Privacy Policy

              Q: How current is NordVPN’s privacy policy?

              A: I accessed NordVPN’s Privacy Policy web page on June 29 2021 at 16:00 CET. It indicates to have been last updated on June 2 2021.

               

              Q: How frequently is NordVPN’s privacy policy updated?

              A: Their policy states it can be changed “at any time”. The changes are unilateral, at the company’s sole discretion. Users may be notified by email or publication on NordVPN’s website.

               

              Q: Does NordVPN inform its customers — by email or any other means — when their privacy policy is updated?

              A: As I’ve mentioned, the company has the discretion but no obligation to do so.

               

              Q: According to its privacy policy, what personal, identifiable information does NordVPN collect?

              A: The company has different data collection points for different products. Regardless of data collected, though, the company has a strict no-logs policy, which means that while data may be collected briefly, it is not retained. Data collected across all products are:

              • Email address
              • Payment information
              • Country data (registered, permanent address, usual place of residence)
              • Cookie-related data (website only)
              • Access logs (IP address, browser type, operating system, website only).
              • Communication optimization data (tracking data, possibly the user’s operating system).
              • Data collected via the company’s chatbot when communicating with the company.

               

              The following are additionally collected from NordVPN users:

              • Statistical server load information.
              • Username and a timestamp of the last session status.
              • Connectivity information (the personal data collected is confined to whether or not the service was used within a specified time period)
              • Application diagnostics, claimed to be aggregated and anonymized (app only).
              • Telemetry data, claimed to be anonymized (app only) 
              • Device information, claimed to be “non-identifying” (app only).
              • Device identifiers.
              • There is a threat protection feature which offers URL scanning, initial file scanning and an optional deep-file scanning.

               

              The following are additionally collected from NordPass users:

              • Social media platforms and widgets. The website may contain features such as the Facebook Like button. These features may collect information such as IP addresses and pages visited. They may also create cookies.
              • Application diagnostics, claimed to be anonymous (app only).
              • Anonymized app usage statistics (app only).
              • Device information such as IP address, browser, operating system (app only).
              • Premium users have access to a data breach scanner functionality to check emails and credit card numbers and identify which data are vulnerable.

               

              The following are additionally collected from NordLocker users:

              • Social media platforms and widgets. The website may contain features such as the Facebook Like button. These features may collect information such as IP addresses and pages visited. They may also create cookies.
              • Application diagnostics, claimed to be anonymous (app only).
              • Anonymized app usage statistics (app only).
              • Device information such as IP address, browser, operating system (app only).
              • File change history information such as the status of a file, when it was last modified and by whom (app only).

               

              Q: Is any personal, identifiable information shared with any of NordVPN’s partners, data processors, or others?

              A: Information shared relates to payment processing, email automation, website and app diagnostics, analytics and “other. Identified third parties are: Zendesk, Iterable, Sendgrid, Google Analytics, Firebase Analytics, Appsflyer, Bugsnag and Hasoffers. 

               

              Q: Is any personal, identifiable information mandatory for the purchase and use of a NordVPN subscription?

              A: Yes. An email address is required for account creation purposes and payment data for payment processing purposes. 

               

              Q: Is NordVPN’s privacy policy GDPR compliant? If not, and in accordance with GDPR, what justification are they offering for the collection of personal,  identifiable information?

              A: Not entirely. The justification given is that data collection is necessary to provide NordVPN services to the user and the functioning of its website and apps (GDPR Article 6(1)(b), (c)). Personal data is used to establish a NordVPN account, email the user, send marketing information, collect payments, and respond to support queries that the user initiates. 

              Cookie-related data is used to save language preference, attribute marketing channels, and show account-specific information. 

               

              Q: Is NordVPN’s privacy policy CCPA compliant?

              A: Not entirely

               

              Q: Does NordVPN’s privacy policy address logging of personal, identifiable information? And do they keep access logs? 

              A: Yes, they do address logging, and yes, they do keep access logs.

              Terms of Service

              Q: When was the most recent update made on NordVPN’s terms of service?

              A: I accessed NordVPN’s Terms of Service on their website on June 30, 2021, at 19:00 CET. It indicated that the last update was made on October 27, 2020.

               

              Q: Does NordVPN prohibit any use cases or types of traffic?

              A: Yes. NordVPN prohibits  the following uses:

              • “use, assist, encourage, or enable others to use the Services for any unlawful, illicit, illegal, criminal or fraudulent activities, including but not limited to port scanning, sending spam, sending opt-in email, scanning for open relays or open proxies, sending unsolicited email or any version or type of email sent in vast quantities even if the email is routed through third-party servers, any pop-up launching, use of stolen credit cards, credit card fraud, financial fraud, cryptocurrency fraud, cloaking, extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, rape, murder, sale of stolen credit cards, sale of stolen goods, offer or sale of prohibited and dual-use goods, offer or sale of controlled substances, identity theft, hacking, pharming, phishing, scraping in any form or scale, digital piracy and other similar activities;
              • assault, interfere, gain unauthorized access, deny service in any way or form to any other network, computer or node through our Services;
              • exploit children in any way, including audio, video, photography, digital content, etc.;
              • violate, infringe, or misappropriate other people’s intellectual property, privacy or other legal rights;
              • share anything that is illegal, abusive, harassing, or otherwise objectionable;
              • transmit any viruses or other computer instructions or technological means that disrupt, damage, or interfere with the use of computers or related systems;
              • attempt to circumvent any technological measure implemented by Nord;
              • interfere with or disrupt the integrity or performance of the Service;
              • take any action that imposes or may impose an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure;
              • sublicense, sell, resell, transfer, assign, distribute or otherwise commercially exploit or make available to any third party the Services in any way;
              • use any robot, spider, scraper, or other automated means to access our website or Services for any purpose without our prior written permission;
              • build a product using similar ideas, features, functions or graphics of the Service or copy any ideas, features, functions or graphics of the Services;
              • claim that you are the representative or agent of any of the Services, including any of its functionality;
              • threaten, stalk, harm, or harass others, or promote bigotry or discrimination;
              • attempt to gain unauthorized access to the Services, user accounts, computer systems or networks connected to the Services through hacking, password mining, brute force or any other means;
              • violate general ethic or moral norms, good customs and fair conduct norms;
              • use the Services for anything other than lawful purposes;
              • to use the Services for any military purpose, including cyber warfare, weapons development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons;
              • to otherwise infringe or circumvent these Terms”

               

              Leaks

              Q:  Are there any known instances where NordVPN has provided a government agency with customer information or data?

              A: None identified,  although the company provides contact details for government agencies.

               

              Q: Has NordVPN had any leaks of customer information or data?

              A: The NordVPN server in Finland was hacked in March 2018 via an insecure remote management account.

              Business Structure - Leandro Marcarian

              Company Background

              Q: What is the trading name behind the VPN? 

              A: Tesonet – Nord VPN

               

              Q: When was NordVPN founded?

              A: In 2012.

               

              Q: Where was NordVPN founded?

              A: In Lithuania.

               

              Q: Where are the company headquarters of NordVPN today?

              A: The legal branches are located in Panama and Cyprus while the operating headquarters remain in Lithuania.

               

              Q: Do any of NordVPN’s employees work remotely? And if so, what percentage of the workforce is distributed?

              A: This isn’t clear, but probably most of its employees are still working remotely due to the pandemic based on a message from NordVPN’s Internet security expert.

               

              Q: Who founded NordVPN and what are their current functions within the company?

              A: The website says it was founded by 4 friends. However, I found information on only 3 of them. They are both mentioned as co-founders, although according to several articles, they still run the company making them active CEOs.

              Tom Okman, Co-Founder – Tom Okman’s LinkedIn Profile  

              Eimantas Sabaliauskas, Co-Founder – Eimantas Sabaliauskas on LinkedIn 

              Jonas Karklys, Co-founder

              All 3 are active members of the management team as of this interview.

               

              Q: What is the business and educational background of NordVPN’s founders? Did they have the relevant expertise to start the company?

              A: There is information on their education, but there doesn’t appear to be any information on prior, relevant expertise.

              Tom Okman has a Master’s degree in E-Business Management from Mykolo Romerio Universitetas. 

              Eimantas Sabaliauskas earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science at Vilniaus Universitetas.

              Jonas Karklys has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration & Management from Vilniaus Universitetas.

               

              Q: Do the owners of NordVPN own more than one VPN business?

              A: No. While they have different business areas, they all belong to the same holding company Tesonet, the legal name of NordVPN.

              Trademarks

              Q: Does NordVPN own any trademarks? What are the trademarks? What are the registration numbers? In which categories are the trademarks registered?

              A: NordVPN has 4 products — NordVPN, NordPass, NordPass Business, and NordLocker. But I searched through Justia and Trademarkia, both reputable trademarks databases based in the US, and I only found NordVPN to be trademarked with registration number 5299477 under the 038 – Telecommunications category, Class 038.

              Financing

              Q: How was NordVPN originally funded?

              A: I checked with Crunchbase and similar sources to find information about NordVPN’s financing, but no data was available.

               

              Q: Who owns NordVPN now?

              A: The company is still owned by the original founders.

              Status

              Q: How many people does NordVPN currently employ?

              A: To get this information, I checked the company’s LinkedIn profile and did thorough web research on their published company data. NordVPN has approximately 100 employees.

              Business Model

              Q: What is NordVPN’s business model?

              A: Subscription-based

               

              Q: Who are NordVPN’s target customers?

              A:  Private individuals and businesses.

               

              Q:  Is there public information about how NordVPN is performing financially?  

              A: I couldn’t find any available information, unfortunately.

               

              Q: Is NordVPN profitable?

              A: The company’s profits are estimated to be between 5 to 25 million USD.

              History

              Q: Was there ever an exit event for NordVPN such as a company sale or IPO? 

              A: I couldn’t find any information on this, so I would say no.

               

              Q: How has NordVPN grown since its inception?

              A: It went from 1000 users in 2013 to 10.000 users in 2014. A user growth of 165% was reported in March 2020, serving 14 million users worldwide.

              Company Structure

              Q: What does the company structure look like?

              A: 

               

              Q:  Are there multiple companies operating under NordVPN or its parent company?

              A: 

               

              Q: Where are these company’s headquarters located?

              A: NordVPN is registered in Panama, but its operating HQ is in Lithuania.

               

              Q: Who are the beneficial owners of these companies and what percentage of them do they own?

              A: I didn’t find any information other than that the original founders are still working and managing the company.

               

              Q: Could you provide a diagram that will help us visualize NordVPN’s company structure?

              NordVPN company structure

              Pricing - Tamara Milacic

              Personal/Professional/Family Plans

              Q:  What subscription plans does NordVPN offer? 

              A: NordVPN subscriptions come in three plans: 1 month, 1 year, and 2 years. Their pricing is based on the length of the subscription, not features. All plans include these 23 features:

              1. Access to over 5,200 servers in 59 countries
              2. No-logs policy
              3. Connect 6 devices at the same time
              4. Secure connection behind next-gen encryption
              5. Fastest VPN
              6. Uninterrupted streaming
              7. Multi-device privacy
              8. Obfuscated servers that hide your traffic
              9. Multi-factor authentication
              10. Kill switch to ensure data is not exposed
              11. Split tunnelling support
              12. Dedicated IP
              13. Mask your IP
              14. Double protection (change IP twice)
              15. Use of ease (1 click)
              16. The onion router
              17. Malware and ads blocker
              18. Browser extension
              19. No data leaks 
              20. Worldwide access
              21. 24/7 support
              22. Safe to use
              23. Sports from the source

               

              Q: How expensive are their pricing plans? Do they offer discounts, and what savings come with a long-term subscription?  

              A: NordVPN pricing plans start with a monthly billing of $11.95. Longer subscriptions allow for more savings. Their base currency is USD.

              Plan Duration/Contract Monthly Price or Equivalent Discount Bonuses Savings (total)
              1 month 

              (billed monthly)

              $11.95 0% n/a 0
              1 year $4.92 58% n/a $84.40

              (over 12 months)

              2 years $3.67 69% 3 months free $223.56 

              (over 27 months)

               

              Q:  Does NordVPN offer any premium or family plans?

              A:  They do not offer any premium or family plans, but their individual plans do allow for the use of 6 devices at a time as standard. They also have add-ons/bundles available.

               

              Q:  What do their bundles include? What are the available plans?

              A:  NordVPN offers add-ons for a password manager (NordPass) and a cloud service (CloudVPN) when purchasing a VPN subscription.

              Add-On Description Regular Monthly Price (Reference) Discount Final Monthly Price
              Nordpass Premium Securely store, organize, and access passwords anywhere $4.99 55% $2.21
              Nordlocker Premium (10GB) Secure cloud for your files, encrypt data and keep it handy $4.99 73% $1.32

               

              Pricing and Payment

              Q: Where can a NordVPN subscription be purchased?

              A: Subscriptions can be purchased via the NordVPN website, their iOS app, and Android app. They can also be purchased through resellers. The list varies by country, but here they are:

              •     Amazon
              •     Staples
              •     Best Buy
              •     Walmart
              •     Newegg
              •     Tiger Direct
              •     Frys.com
              •     Micro Center
              •     Office Depot
              •     Cyberport
              •     Target
              •     Sam’s Club
              •     Quill.com
              •     London Drugs
              •     Giant Tiger
              •     The Source
              •     Euronics – DE
              •     Harvey Norman

               

              Q: You mentioned that NordVPN is available on both Android and iOS. Are subscriptions that are purchased in-app more expensive due to the 30% cut taken by Google and Apple?

              A: Yes, NordVPN has both Android and iOS apps and yes, in-app subscriptions are priced higher than desktop purchases. 

              In the US Play Store (Android), NordVPN offers a 6-month plan that isn’t available on the desktop while the 1-year plan available on the desktop isn’t available via the Play Store.

              In the UK, they only offer a 2-year subscription plan in the Apple App Store (iOS), and it is 87% more expensive than a desktop subscription.

              NordVPN Pricing Plans: Desktop vs Android vs iOS

              Plan
              2-year plan
              1-year plan
              6-month plan
              Desktop
              $99 (UK - £73.26)
              $59
              n/a
              Android
              $128
              n/a
              $54
              iOS
              UK - £137
              n/a
              n/a

              Q: Would you say that NordVPN prices are relatively the same in all the countries it’s available in or does the price depend on the country and currency?

              A: I checked using a VPN. It is a mix. For some countries, the price varies whereas, for others, it does not. 

              Pricing in the UK and Europe is converted from the USD price and stated in local currency (GBP, EUR). It is not priced specifically but via currency conversion. (USD/EUR 1.25, USD/GBP 1.35)

              Pricing in Canada and Australia has no conversion and is the same as USD but in Canadian/Australian Dollars. This means that the service is comparatively cheaper in these countries because both CAD and AUD are weaker currencies than USD. 

              The rest of the world, including countries like the United Arab Emirates and India, is charged the original USD price in USD.

               

              Q: What payment methods does NordVPN accept?

              A: It varies by country but the overall payment methods are Credit Cards, Google Pay, PayPal, Direct Debit, AmazonPay, UnionPay, Cryptocurrencies, Sofort, and ACH Transfer.

               

              Q: Is there an option to pay for a NordVPN subscription anonymously?

              A:  Yes, but the only way to do it is by paying cash via a physical reseller. They state that directly on the website. The cryptocurrency payment provider CoinPayments requires an account with personal data and is therefore not anonymous.

               

              Q: Under what circumstances would NordVPN release billing information and ID to third parties?

              A: Data request. NordVPN is governed by the laws of Panama which allows them to keep no logs of users’ online activity (no IP addresses, browsing data, information etc.) that is likely to make them identifiable in case of a data request.

              In cases where they can track and retain individual information, they will have to provide limited data that they process – that is, email addresses, full names, the last few digits of credit cards.

              It must be noted, though, that payment providers will also store user data such as the date of purchase, IP address, zip code, full name, credit card information, and country.

              The third-party service providers that NordVPN use will also have access to personal data and each of them is governed by their own privacy policies. These include:

              1. Zendesk – live chat and support platform
              2. Iterable – email service provider
              3. Google Analytics and Firebase Analytics – analytics and diagnostics
              4. Appsflyer – mobile marketing attribution
              5. Bugsnap – app stability management
              6. Hasoffers – conversion attribution system

               

              Q: Does NordVPN offer a free trial period and if so, for how long?

              A: On desktop, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means that users are required to purchase a plan and then cancel within 30 days.

              On the other hand, the mobile apps offer a 7-day free trial.

               

              Q:  Does the NordVPN free trial require users to input personal and/or payment details?

              A:  Yes. In order to take advantage of the trial period, you need to purchase a plan. But remember to cancel within 30 days!

               

              Q:  Are there any limits or constraints to NordVPN’s trial period?

              A:  No.

               

              Q:  Does NordVPN offer a money-back guarantee?

              A:  Yes. You have 30 days to cancel and get your money back.

               

              Q: How does NordVPN’s cancellation policy work?

              A: If you cancel within the first 30 days of purchase, NordVPN will give you a refund. After the first 30 days, no refund is offered. No refunds are offered for recurring payments after a renewal period starts. They do not issue refunds for purchases through Apple’s App Store. Those refunds have to go directly through Apple.

               

              Q:  Can a user cancel a NordVPN subscription online, or do they need to make a phone call?

              A: It is possible to cancel a recurring subscription directly online through the billing section. This is only valid for future payments. It is not possible to get a refund on a past payment directly online without speaking to customer service.

              Enterprise Plans

              Q: Does NordVPN have any team or enterprise plans? Do they offer additional features over the standard plans?

              A: Yes. They have a NordVPN Teams plan, which does offer additional features. These plans are distinguished by both features and length of subscription. 

              There are 3 plan tiers, each with different features. The pricing for the plans is differentiated by the length of subscription, with a 1-year commitment offering a discount.

               

              NordVPN Team Plan Features:

              Plan
              Cloud VPN
              Control Panel
              Centralized billing
              License transferability
              Kill switch
              Two-factor authentication
              SSO with Google, Azure, Okta
              Auto-connect
              Shared access to 33 server locations
              24/7 customer service
              Dedicated service purchase option
              Choose between 20 dedicated server locations
              Dedicated account management available
              Priority support 24/7
              Next gen-to-gen-site capabilities
              Centralized configuration and management
              LDAP Active Directory
              API Access
              24/7 phone support
              On-premise dedicated servers
              Premium custom features
              Custom logo and app colors
              Basic
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              Advanced
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              Enterprise
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x
              x

              Q:  What does NordVPN charge for each plan, and what are the payment options?

              A: They have a monthly and a yearly pricing plan. These are computed per user per month and vary in basic and advanced plans. Enterprise plans are tailored.

               

              NordVPN Teams Pricing Plan in USD:

              Plan
              Monthly plan price (per user/per month)
              Yearly plan price (per user/per month)
              Discount for a yearly commitment
              Dedicated server for fixed IP
              Basic
              $9
              $7
              22%
              Advanced
              $11.00
              $9
              18%
              +50/month on monthly plan +40/month on yearly plan
              Enterprise
              Bespoke
              Bespoke
              Bespoke

              Q: What are the limits of the NordVPN Teams plans? Is there a minimum number of users or seats required?

              A: No minimum number of users or seats. Their plan tiers are priced based on features and length of commitment. Even the bespoke quote enterprise plan does not indicate a minimum number of employees for the bespoke solution. However, they do ask that question when you request a quote.

               

              Q:  What permissions and admin settings are available for remote users?

              A: The advanced plan provides dedicated servers, which allow employees to access resources remotely, with the admin user controlling their access. This is priced as an add-on of +$50/month for a monthly plan and +$40 for a yearly plan.

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