NordVPN Review: Pricing, Security & Performance

NordVPN Review: Pricing, Security & Performance

NordVPN Review: Pricing, Security & Performance

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs out today — and for good reason. It has a robust server network, a unique encrypted file-sharing system and built-in protection against malware, intrusive ads and unwanted trackers.

While we do wish it had a free version, Nord’s strong set of security features and top-tier performance make it one of the best VPN options available this year.

Is NordVPN free?

NordVPN does not have a free version. However, it does offer two ways you can access the service for free, albeit for a limited amount of time. If you use an Android smartphone, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial with any of their existing plans.

Once you get it set up on your phone, you can login on any device with the account and have access to all of Nord’s features for 7 days.

You can also technically use NordVPN for free by utilizing their 30-day money-back guarantee. This does require you to pay for a subscription upfront, but getting a refund through their 24/7 live chat or support email is relatively easy.

NordVPN Pricing

NordVPN StandardNordVPN PlusNordVPN Complete
1 year$4.99/mo$5.79/mo$6.99/mo
2 years$3.79/mo$4.59/mo$5.79/mo
1 month$12.99$13.79$14.99
Main Features:Full VPN serviceThreat Protection against malware, trackers and adsFull VPN serviceThreat Protection against malware, trackers and adsNordPass password managerData breach scannerFull VPN serviceThreat Protection against malware, trackers and adsNordPass password managerData breach scanner1 TB of encrypted NordLocker cloud storage

You can get NordVPN through one of three plans: Standard, Plus and Complete. If you only want to pay for a VPN service, NordVPN’s Standard Plan should be your number one choice. You’ll get access to most of Nord’s highlight security features at the lowest possible cost.

If you have the budget, I would recommend spending a bit more on Nord’s Plus Plan. While NordVPN is solid on its own, you get another level of protection with Nord’s password manager (NordPass) and the added benefit of a data breach scanner. This provides you with all-around protection for use-cases outside of what a VPN usually provides.

I would only advise spending on the Complete Plan if you really need an encrypted vault as a cloud storage solution. Otherwise, the Plus Plan still has the best value among Nord’s subscriptions.

Is NordVPN safe?

Nord is one of the most secure and well-tested VPNs on the market today. In terms of security, it carries industry standard protocols OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec, as well as Nord’s newer, proprietary NordLynx protocol (based on WireGuard).

Must-read security coverage

I like that Nord’s security procedures don’t leave consumers wanting more. OpenVPN offers traditional, dependable, and historically secure solutions; NordLynx offers more recent, cutting-edge technologies. In addition, it features a kill switch and DNS leak protection.

Similar to many other top VPNs, Nord guarantees that no user data or activity is stored through a stringent no-logs policy. But what distinguishes Nord is their dedication to having independent, third-party audits validate their no-logs policy. Three no-logs audits have already been completed by NordVPN as of the time of writing, the most recent of which was carried out late last year.

NordVPN is a good option if you’re searching for a VPN service that has just passed an audit and has demonstrated a dedication to ongoing independent testing.

Key Features of NordVPN

NordVPN comes with a mix of security and usability features designed to keep your data protected against malware and bad actors. Let’s take a look at some of Nord’s top features and see which ones suit your needs best.

Meshnet file-sharing feature

Figure A

Meshnet within NordVPN.
Image: Meshnet within NordVPN

Meshnet is Nord’s encrypted file-sharing solution that enables customers to transfer files securely across several devices. For individuals or companies that frequently transfer crucial files from one computer to another, this is a useful tool.

During my testing, I had no trouble using Meshnet in NordVPN to move data from my Windows computer to my Android smartphone. It was quick, painless, and not too difficult to set up. File sharing is possible with many cloud storage systems, but Meshnet will be especially helpful for individuals handling private or sensitive data.

Anti-malware Threat Protection

Figure B

NordVPN’s built-in Threat Protection.
Image: NordVPN’s built-in Threat Protection

Threat Protection is the anti-malware program that Nord has integrated into its VPN service. It examines downloaded files and removes any malware that might be connected to them. Additionally, it prevents harmful websites, trackers, and invasive advertisements from damaging your system.

I consider NordVPN to be a true all-around security platform because of its Threat Protection feature. Essentially, your VPN comes with antivirus software, something that other VPN services don’t typically offer.

Dark Web Monitor

Figure C

The Dark Web Monitor in NordVPN.
Image: The Dark Web Monitor in NordVPN

Nord also offers a Dark Web Monitor that continuously scans the dark web for any credentials related to your NordVPN email, alerting you of any possible leaks or vulnerabilities with that account.

As bad actors, criminals and hackers utilize more creative ways to steal user data, the Dark Web Monitor will give peace of mind to those worried about their info being stolen and shipped off to the dark web.

Performance and Speed: How fast is NordVPN?

Among the fastest VPNs on the market right now is NordVPN. I continued to test at high speeds without ever experiencing a loss of stability or connection. I used it for word editing in Google Docs, watching YouTube videos in 1080p, listening to music on Spotify, and perusing social media in general.

Among the VPNs I have tested and used thus far, NordVPN has some of the quickest upload and download speeds. The rapid connect function of NordVPN, which constantly linked me to the fastest server based on my location, also pleased me. There were no issues when switching servers, investigating the Windows app, or experimenting with the various security features.

For DNS leak protection, I ran NordVPN through a DNS leak tool and tested it multiple times. Even as I switched from one location to another, the tool detected no leaks whatsoever.

NordVPN Servers and Locations

Figure D

Servers within NordVPN.
Image: Servers within NordVPN

You may access more than 5,800 servers across almost 60 countries with NordVPN. The business offers 5,826 servers as of this writing. Even though some VPNs have more servers and more options for countries, Nord’s server suite is still among the best VPNs on the market right now.

Nord has a few dedicated servers designed for security aficionados among its server kinds. In addition to their standard encrypted servers, you may access Double VPN servers, which let you to change your IP address twice; Obfuscated servers, which let you bypass content restrictions and network firewalls; and P2P servers, which enable rapid downloads and torrenting.

Additionally, Nord provides Dedicated IP servers that get around IP-restricted networks and CAPTCHAs, as well as Onion Over VPN servers that direct your traffic to the secure Onion Network.

NordVPN’s network of specialized servers can provide you with protection. It offers steady performance and choices for even the most specialized security or privacy requirements.

NordVPN Pros

  • Meshnet secure file-sharing system.
  • Threat protection against malware, ads and trackers.
  • Offers around 5800 servers in 60+ countries.
  • Independently audited no-logs policy.
  • Consistently fast and stable VPN speed.
  • Supports up to six simultaneous connections.
  • 7-day trial via the Android version.

NordVPN Cons

  • Priced relatively high.
  • No free version.

NordVPN alternatives

Even with NordVPN’s solid value proposition, it may not be the best VPN for your needs. We’ve listed similar VPNs below that offer different features and overall packages.

CyberGhost VPN icon.
Image: CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN

If you find the NordVPN server suite lacking, CyberGhost might be a better option. It offers an extensive server suite with around 9,200 servers in 91 countries. This nets you more access to geo-restricted content and theoretically faster speeds via more locations.


Surfshark icon.
Image: Surfshark


If you need a VPN service for multiple devices, Surfshark is best. It offers an unlimited number of simultaneous device connections at reliable speeds. Like NordVPN, it has garnered popularity for being one of the better VPN services available today.


ExpressVPN icon.
Image: ExpressVPN


For an easy to use VPN solution, ExpressVPN is one of the best. It has a user-friendly interface and comes with a full set of security features as well. For servers, it offers servers from around 94 countries — which gives it one of the most geologically rich server fleets in the market.


Is NordVPN worth it?

If you’ve ever wondered whether NordVPN lives up to its mainstream popularity, I am happy to share that it does so in spades. It has fast performance, strong third-party testing, and a healthy server network with a variety of server types. On top of that, it has valuable security-focused features like its Meshnet file-sharing system and anti-malware Threat Protection that make it one of the best VPN services available today.

While it is on the more expensive side, I have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a solid VPN. You definitely get your money’s worth.

Review Methodology

My review of NordVPN involved a detailed assessment of its security features, real-world performance and cost. I had hands-on time with NordVPN through a Standard plan on my Windows machine.

For speed, I tested NordVPN using Ookla’s public Speedtest. I also used DNSleaktest to test Nord’s DNS leak protection.

Finally, I rated NordVPN on everything from its protocols to its pricing based on an internal algorithm to get a final rating out of 5 stars. The scoring was based both on NordVPN on its own and in relation to other VPN services in the market.