NordVPN: What It’s Like to Use for Internet Privacy in 2020
Utility • Feb. 4th, 2020
The Data Privacy Day 2020 was on the 28th of January, and it brought us to wonder about how important online privacy is. Online privacy, like privacy in our daily lives, is something that we should all look at. By looking at what affects our privacy, we can assure that we have shut all the possibilities of a potential vulnerability or leak.
What is internet privacy, and why is it so important?
With hashtags in trend and much of personal information shared online, where does user privacy stand? We are sharing our lives more than ever on the internet. At a time like this, internet privacy could seem to be the least of concerns.
Privacy is essential because cybercriminals are on the lookout for your personal and financial information. It could be your ISP snooping over your, or it could even be someone at a coffee shop looking through a vulnerable WiFi network.
It’s not just about internet privacy. A lot of apps and services online only provide a pass to you if you are from a particular location or geography. Certain apps and services are banned in your location. By hiding your identity, you can ensure your access to the internet without any hassle.
How could a VPN service like NordVPN help?
A VPN service like NordVPN allows you to browse the internet on your computer’s internet connection, your tablet, or your smartphone. It establishes a connection with a server somewhere on the internet. So if the internet server happens to be in a different country, it appears as if you are using the internet from that country. This way, you can access things that you usually wouldn’t be able to.
So how does a VPN service like NordVPN exactly help you? Well, with NordVPN, you can:
- Bypass restrictions on geography for accessing specific websites.
- Stream content on Netflix and Hulu.
- Protect from being snooped on WiFi hotspots that you do not trust.
- Gain anonymity online by hiding your original location.
- Protect yourself while downloading torrent files.
What’s NordVPN, is it safe?
NordVPN is a popular VPN service that does the job of a good VPN well. Let’s look at it from the context of a tunnel. NordVPN provides you with an encrypted tunnel through which your online traffic can flow smoothly. Nobody can track you through the tunnel or get a hold of your internet data.
NodVPN gives you peace of mind every time you log into a public WiFi or access work accounts on the road. It works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and Android TV. It also comes with encrypted proxy extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox.
With NordVPN, you get access to more than 5,400 servers worldwide. There’s a no log policy, and you can connect to 6 devices at the same time. It also has support for P2P on a list of servers and comes with Onion privacy solution to further encrypt your web traffic.
With so many features at hand, the question pops up: is NordVPN safe to use?
VPNs have had a bad reputation. In 2015, a free VPN service named Hola was found to be selling the bandwidth of its users.
Besides, VPN services can also turn out to be vulnerable to security hacks, such as the case of the popular Hotspot Shield, which enabled hackers to find out when a user started using the VPN service.
NordVPN, with its security features, makes sure that your data is well managed. It uses the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN tunneling protocol by default to ensure that you are not being snooped upon. It works with many servers, and it’s much easier to find a fast one. It also operates under the jurisdiction of Panama, so there are no data retention laws as such.
How NordVPN works?
NordVPN has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but if you want to have a fully-fledged experience of the app, you must download its computer application. We downloaded nordVPN from the App Store for free, entered our login credentials, and tested the app to present a review.
One of the first things that we noticed about NordVPN was how easy it was to use the app. The app opened up in a window that highlighted a world map and a list of servers. That’s it! You click on a server, and NordVPN establishes a secure connection for you.
Other than that, the app’s primary interface is quite simple. There’s a button for full screen and another one open preferences. At the bottom of the window is a help icon that directs you to email support, knowledge base, and the activity log of the app.
Clicking on the Quick Connect option chooses the best server out there based on your location. It connects to a server that usually provides you with the fastest speed. Of course, you can also connect to a server manually.
Once the connection is established, the app sits in your menu bar, and you can access most of the app features right from there. It also asks you permission to show desktop notifications, and if you provide access to it, then you will be shown notifications every time NordVPN connects to a server.
Inside the app, the servers that you connect to show up under the Recent menu on the left column of the screen. You also have an option to report a server under the help option of the address-like bar. It lets you send a report if the internet is slow on the server, the website can’t be reached, or if you are facing streaming issues on the app.
If you feel that there’s more that you need to know about the app, then you can head over to NordVPN’s support section. The support section was something that we liked. It has FAQs, general information about the product, and more information on billing and connectivity.
The in-app features work well, and the Preferences options inside that app provides you with a few handy features such as the option to auto-launch when your system starts, blocking ads and malware through CyberSec, and switching between your VPN protocols.
There’s also an option to auto-connect to WiFi networks, and connecting through a specific country’s server while doing so. You also get to change the appearance of the app. You can select whether to display it in the menu bar, the dock, or both. Then, there’s an account tab that lets you sign out of the app if you have logged in.
The Preferences menu is simple, and it helped us further establish the point that NordVPN is easy to use, and you don’t need to be a tech geek to figure out its basic functionalities.
What it’s like to use NordVPN?
We wanted to test NordVPN on an internet connection which was not so fast. So, we got a hold of a public WiFi and decided to do the test there.
Speed and performance
Here’s our speed test result without being connected to a VPN.
Here’s our internet speed on NordVPN. We chose the Quick Connect option to let the NordVPN figure out the best server for us.
Since NordVPN’s best pick was a server near our location, we tried to test it further by connecting to a VPN in Chile. The results are below.
As you can see, the internet speed is fastest on the server NordVPN picks for us. It’s even faster than our vanilla internet connection. The speed was also decent in a Chilean server. This proves how fast the servers of NordVPN can be. You can enjoy decent speed from any corner of the world. Pick a server from the list, and you are good to go.
Servers and accessibility
At NordVPN, we were spoilt for server choices.
While this review in February 2020, NordVPN had over 5,400 servers across 58 countries. You can always check the updated server list here.
With so many server options out there, there’s no doubt that NordVPN has established itself quite prominently. Most of these servers are high-speed, and switching between them is easy.
However, most of the servers on NordVPN are US and EU based. There are not many servers in Asia, Africa, and the Middle east.
With thousands of server choices, you can sit back and enjoy your anonymity. You can even stream a Netflix movie (if your current location doesn’t allow for it) anytime and anywhere.
One of the other cool features of NordVPN is that it has support for multiple devices. With one NordVPN account, you can secure up to six devices across operating systems. The fun part here is that you can also connect NordVPN to your router, ensuring safety for all the devices that are connected to the internet through the router. This way, you will also be using only one of the six available spaces.
If you want to use it on you mobile phone, then you can do so by downloading NordVPN’s mobile app. Like their desktop counterparts, NordVPNs online apps are sleek and do the job of protecting your data and privacy in a few simple clicks.
Even though NordVPN is a great VPN service provider, there are a few areas where it could get even better.
The fact that it wouldn’t connect after getting disconnected was a turn-off. This is something that disappointed us a bit, even though it’s not the worst that can happen with a VPN app. On our version of NordVPN, which we downloaded from the App Store, we couldn’t reconnect to a VPN after disconnecting.
We tried switching servers as well, but the app won’t connect. We could only reconnect after restarting the app. This should be something that NordVPN should look at in its future releases.
One of the things that hit us with NordVPN was that it has a limited server option. Most of the servers that they have is centered in North America and Europe. You cannot be somewhere in south Asia and expect a lot of servers around.
Security and data protection with no logging policy
Internet service providers often track your data to sell it to the advertisers. Besides, the data that you share on the internet, including your identity, can often be summoned by the government. Your medical history, work emails, and banking information can be vulnerable if you are not protected.
Sounds unpleasant and intrusive? You can push these worries aside with NordVPN as it comes with 256-bit encryption, recommended by NSA for securing any information which is classified as top secret.
NordVPN also uses two different protocols. However, they choose it for you by default since the entire point of it is to make the entire process of securing your data easy. iOS and Mac OS apps use the IKEv2/IPsec protocol, while the OpenVPN protocol is used by default on Windows, Android, and macOS apps.
Yes, macOS users can choose between two protocols, and it is all recommended and managed well by NordVPN.
When you use NordVPN, you will realize that your logs and online activity are kept private. NordVPN promises that there will be no logs of your internet usage and connections. This means that you will be free of any connection timestamps, traffic details, and logging of IP addresses.
They even go a step further with the user privacy, letting you use cryptocurrencies to make your payment so that you can be assured that you have left no traces behind.
However, there are a few things that NordVPN does end up monitoring, such as:
- Email addresses
- Service performance data (for recommending the best servers)
- Payment data (not if you are using Bitcoins)
There are no firm reasons for you to be worried about NordVPN logging these, as their payment processor isn’t tied up to their company. You can read more about NordVPN’s logging policy to know how exactly use the data they collect from you.
- 1-month plan at $11.95 per month
- 1-year plan at $6.99 per month
- 2-year plan at $4.99 per month
- 3-year plan at $3.49 per month
You have the option to pay for NordVPN through different payment services, cards, and cryptocurrencies. So you can pick an option and continue. There’s no PayPal.
So who should buy NordVPN?
After spending quite some time with NordVPN, we found that it’s a great option if you go through many connectivity barriers while travelling. It’s centered around privacy, comes with great features, and has a robust reputation.
One of the significant highlights is the NordVPN is based out of Panama, which has some great laws around user privacy.
It’s great if you want to pass through those online censors and want to make sure that you’re not being spied upon while being on a public network.
So if you are looking for a user-friendly VPN service you can count on for internet privacy in 2020, NordVPN should be your go-to option.