Audited no-logging policy; excellent for international video streaming; reliably quick throughput; ample security features; good range of endpoints
Monthly subscriptions are relatively expensive
NordVPN has a long-standing and well-founded reputation as a fast, reliable and privacy-conscious virtual private network service. Following a poorly communicated security breach in 2018, the company has dialled back on the kind of advertising that got it in trouble with the ASA and has made good on its commitment to improve its security, communication and transparency since Autumn 2019.
NordVPN has never had its no-logging claims proven through a documented request to provide them by a court or law-enforcement agency. This is in contrast to rivals such as Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN – both of which have since come under new ownership. However, parent company Tefincom has had independent audits carried out to to back up both its no-logging claims and overall security, the latest in June 2021.
Read our WIRED Recommends guide to the best VPN services to see how Nord VPN compares.
The company says that RAM disk servers, which can retain no data, are currently deployed across 90% of its network, and the bottom of the company’s Security page includes a Warrant Canary, updated daily to indicate whether it has received or complied with any gag orders or government warrants – none are reported to date.
Tefincom is legally registered and headquartered in Panama, which has no data retention laws and is safely outside the legal influence and control of members and allies of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance. While that won’t matter to most users, those with major geopolitical security concerns may find this reassuring.
In our latest speed tests, using a high-speed connection with un-VPN’d reference speeds of up to 567Mbit/s, NordVPN has consistently been among the best performers. Currently, we’re seeing speeds of over 400Mbit/s from all our endpoint test locations – the UK, Netherlands and New York in the USA – making it faster than any of its rivals, although ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, and Mullvad are all similarly quick.
NordVPN is one of the best choices for international TV and movie fans. We’re consistently able to watch content from US and UK Netflix, as well as iPlayer, Disney+ and a host of niche video services. Even if you don’t have any interest in watching overseas TV, its support for UK streaming services means that you’ll never have to disable the security of your VPN just so you can watch something, making NordVPN a reliable choice for installation on a router.
NordVPN’s browser plugins are particularly useful for anyone who likes to stream from a wide range of locations, and because they can be left active to automatically reconnect every time you open your browser, you can have a specific browser profile set up to view streaming media in a particular country. Plugins are available for Firefox and Google Chrome, as well as compatible Chromium-based browsers including Opera and Edge.
Browser proxies are useful, but only provide an encrypted route for HTTP and HTTPS traffic, while other ports continue to be routed via your normal net connection. For full privacy, you’ll want to use the full NordVPN desktop client, which is available for Windows and macOS, or the command-line client for Linux.
Features include auto-connection on startup and an optional internet kill switch to ensure that no traffic is sent across your unencrypted internet connection if the VPN connection drops for any reason. An app kill switch closes designated applications under the same circumstances, and there’s optional CyberSec advert and malware blocking – note that this can prevent some websites from displaying correctly.
There are also mobile apps are available for iOS and Android, including Kindle and AndroidTV devices. The Android app isn’t quite as configurable as its desktop counterparts, but it’s easy to use options such as CyberSec blocking and specialist servers are present. Kill-switch settings have to be configured via your phone’s system menus after you’ve connected to one of NordVPN’s endpoints for the first time. The iOS version automatically disables all internet access by default if it disconnects suddenly.