NORD VPN – CIA Level Security (Test/Speed Results)
If online security is your top priority, then you’re bound to be pleased with the reliable services offered by NordVPN. With OpenVPN protocol, AES-256 bit encryption and double data protection, it’s hard to go wrong.
NordVPN claims to be “The World’s Most Advanced VPN.” This may be true since their features include IP hiding, a built-in kill switch and access to Netflix. Moreover, the company boasts in excess of 5,000 servers located around the world. Those are numbers that are hard to beat.
Users can have up to six connections going simultaneously, and they have apps for iOS, Mac, Windows and Android devices. Online tutorials are available. These include instructions for using NordVPN with routers, RaspberryPi and a variety of mobile operating systems. NordVPN further is compatible with The Onion Router so that you can get even more identity protection for your browsing.
Advanced Security + Advanced Features
Additionally, NordVPN includes the SmartPlay feature. This technology makes it possible to access nearly 500 streaming services that are geo-restricted. Amazon Prime, Netflix, BBC, Pandora and more are at your fingertips when you use NordVPN.
Another of NordVPN’s chief selling points is that it is based in Panama. Founded in 2008, the service was launched by a company called Tefincom S.A. Some people may initially be doubtful about an online company that is located in Central America.
However, this is a desirable trait. Independent countries like Panama, the British Virgin Islands, Singapore and the Caymans are known for not sharing intelligence with other countries. That is in direct contrast to countries like the US, UK, Australia and Canada that share the data that they gather in espionage actions.
Having a VPN provider headquartered in a country like Panama means that there is less likely to be laws requiring online companies to keep comprehensive records. The records that they do have are less likely to be turned over to law enforcement. If protecting yourself is paramount, this is desirable.
One of the main advantages of working with NordVPN is their outstanding customer support. If you have questions or issues, they are there to help with live chat on a 24/7 basis. This service seems to be responsive even though the representatives do tend to come through with copy and paste answers. Support also is available via email if more detailed assistance is needed.
Additionally, NordVPN’s website features a broad knowledge base that is complete with hundreds of articles, guides and tutorials. They have clearly worked hard to make it easy to get questions answered, and that is a definite plus.
Security and Encryption
This is the area in which NordVPN truly excels. They have gone above and beyond to protect the anonymity and privacy of their users, and they have done so while keeping their programs at a highly reasonable price.
User protection begins with using the right tunneling protocol. NordVPN gives users choices, but the best tunneling protocol available today is OpenVPN. Its AES-256 encryption is impossible to crack at this point. In fact, this is the protocol that is used by federal governments and the military all over the world. NordVPN’s version of AES-256 encryption is equipped with the 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman key rather than the RSA key because it features Perfect Forward Secrecy.
Users running MacOS or iOS will benefit from IKEv2/IPsec protocol with AES-256 encryption. This comes with a 3072-bit Diffie-Hellman key. Both the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols used by NordVPN go well beyond the industry standard to ensure your complete online security.
Of course, this is NordVPN, so they’ve taken things a step farther. You can get double the data protection by turning on the double encryption feature. For many people, this step is overkill, but users who are dealing with draconian laws and censorship may find it necessary.
With double encryption, web traffic is routed through two servers, with the second server being completely unaware of the user’s actual IP address. A combination of TCP and UDP protocols also is used. Using the double encryption feature will result in much slower data transfer rates, so it is not recommended unless absolutely necessary. You guys can probably see why we choose Nord as one of the best VPNs for Australians.
NordVPN’s Server Locations
Currently, NordVPN users have access to 5,083 servers around the world. This is an astounding number, and it appears to be one that grows with gratifying speed. Accordingly, customers should expect solid, and even improving, performance over the next several years.
In the Asia Pacific region, NordVPN boasts more than 450 servers. Australia hosts 226 servers alone, with others being located in Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
A Whole LOT of Servers
Europe is home to an astounding 2,275 of NordVPN’s servers. They range in location from the U.K., Germany and France to Poland, Iceland, Romania and Latvia. The company even has servers in Russia, a relative rarity among VPN providers. Often overlooked European nations such as Azerbaijan, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia and Serbia also make the list.
In the Americas, users will find a similar number of servers. With a total of 2,373 servers, 1,967 servers are found in the US with an additional 355 in Canada. Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil and Mexico also are home to several servers each.
NordVPN further offers fairly good coverage of Africa and the Middle East. Server locations include South Africa and Egypt in addition to India, Turkey, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Each server in the network is identified with any specialty services that it offers such as additional obfuscation, P2P or double VPN so that users can choose the server that is best for their purposes.
A China Friendly VPN Solution
NordVPN has announced that their servers are accessible to people in China. Since China is a country that exercises considerable control over what its citizens can view online, this is an enormous advantage. At this time, NordVPN is only available to Windows users in China, but this may change.
NordVPN also says that they do not use virtual servers. This means that all of their servers are physical, dedicated servers, so when you connect to a particular server, you know that it is actually located where NordVPN says it is. This is vital to some users who are concerned about which countries their data may be traveling through.
Overall, the company’s excellent array of servers means that users get a bigger piece of bandwidth, which should ensure faster and more predictable service.
Using BitTorrent or P2P with NordVPN
NordVPN’s extraordinary number and variety of servers mean that torrenting works like a dream with this service. In fact, several servers are dedicated to P2P file sharing. The NordVPN app lists “specialty” servers that can be used to facilitate the P2P process. This is in stark contrast to the practices and policies of many other VPN providers that are inclined to throttle bandwidth and speed when users dip into the P2P realm. Having literally hundreds of servers that are designed to handle torrent and P2P traffic makes the process much easier.
NordVPN’s thousands of servers also make viewing Netflix pretty reliable. Although the service may be blocked on some servers, it is available on hundreds of others. Chances are good that you’ll be able to find one that works for you so that you can view any region-specific version of Netflix that you prefer.
NordVPN Speed Test Results
Not so long ago, NordVPN had a reputation for providing excellent security but at fairly slow data transfer rates. While their speed does not yet match the industry leader for that metric, they have certainly improved their game.
Benchmark numbers for speed testing without a VPN delivered download speeds of 98.71 Mbps and upload speeds of 53.00 Mbps. Connecting to a NordVPN server in the US yielded a download rate of 74.15 Mbps and an upload rate of 48.18. Not too shabby.
Testing on an EU server showed a download transfer rate of 74 Mbps and an upload transfer rate of 48 Mbps.
The numbers from an Asian server were noticeably slower, clocking in at 12 Mbps for downloading and five Mbps for uploading.
NordVPN’s Logging Policy
Potentially, a company that provides VPN services could track as much data about your time online as your ISP does. If they were inclined to do so, they could keep records of every website you visited, how much time you spent there and what you did. This practice is frequently called “logging,” and it’s something that most VPN providers will tell you that they don’t do because it would be invading your privacy, which would undermine your reasons for using a VPN.
Another place in which NordVPN excels is with their strict “no logging” policy. It states that from the moment a user signs on to the service, all of their web traffic is encrypted so that no one, not even their ISP, can spy on it. The policy goes on to point out that Panama has no laws regarding the reporting or storage of data. If law enforcement officials or another third party comes knocking, NordVPN is in no way obligated to share anything.
The policy is just as upfront about the information that they do track. This includes the email addresses of users and data regarding the performance of their service. They state that this performance data is used to recommend the most beneficial servers to each individual user. NordVPN further holds on to some payment information, but they also accept Bitcoin as payment if you’re really serious about remaining anonymous. A separate processor is used to facilitate payments because the company realized early on that many transactions from other banks are disallowed when the payment is going to Panama. The payment processor is located in the US, but they are merely a service provider and not a direct affiliate of Tefincom.
Pricing Options for NordVPN
In an industry that is rife with complicated pricing and packages, the approach taken by NordVPN is refreshingly straightforward and simple. Each plan includes all of the same features, security and protection. The only real difference is in how the customer chooses to pay.
On a month-by-month basis, NordVPN will cost customers $11.95 per month. Paying for six months in advance brings the price down to $9.00 month, representing a 24 percent savings. Customers who opt to pay for a full, one-year plan will pay just $6.99 per month for a total savings of 41 percent.
It really doesn’t get any simpler than this. There is no upselling and no add-on options. What customers get is the same great service no matter which package they choose. Critics might complain about there not being a free option, but with great performance and data transfer rates, NordVPN knows that their product is worth the asking price.
Is NordVPN Recommended?
NordVPN is highly recommended based on numerous factors. Although it may not be the fastest VPN service out there, it is certainly the most secure. They use the most trustworthy VPN protocols with unbeatable AES-256 bit encryption to protect their customers. What’s more, there also is the option of choosing double VPN if such protection is considered desirable. NordVPN further is compatible with TOR to guarantee your absolute anonymity.
NordVPN also is recommended based on its excellent number of servers. Leading the industry with nearly 5,100 servers, it is almost certain that regardless of where you are, you will be able to find a server that is close to you. NordVPN is not the fastest VPN in the market, but the company is improving this metric all the time. It would not be surprising if it became possible someday to say that NordVPN not only offers the best security but also the fastest data transfer rates.