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NordVPN review: Fast, friendly and secure – an excellent VPN for almost anyone

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
per month

There are cheaper options, but NordVPN is a superb all-round VPN, whether you’re focused on streaming or security

Excellent speeds
Impressive security
Works with most streaming services
Not quite bargain-priced

NordVPN is a virtual private networking service, which routes all your internet traffic through a secure pipeline. This ensures that no one can spy on your internet usage – not even your ISP – and it can also allow you to access content that would normally be blocked on your network, or from your geographical location.

You can subscribe to NordVPN on a monthly basis, but that’s quite pricey at £8.84 a month. It’s cheaper if you commit for a year – that costs £43.66, equivalent to £3.64 a month. But the cheapest option is if you avail of our exclusive NordVPN reader offer. This costs £65.86 for the two-year plan, but you get an additional three months for free, bringing the total to - a very reasonable - £2.44 per month. Regardless of which plan you choose, you can avail of NordVPN's 30-day moneyback guarantee.

Those are reasonable prices, and they let you connect from up to six devices at once. Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Linux are all officially supported, and the publisher also provides instructions for setting up the service on an Amazon Fire TV Stick or a games console. Alternatively, if you have a router that supports outbound VPN configurations, you can route all your traffic via NordVPN’s servers, and protect every device on your home network with just one connection.

Once connected you’re free to do what you want: NordVPN offers servers specifically dedicated to BitTorrenting, and you can stream video from services all around the world. The company operates more than 5,500 servers in 59 different countries and you also get 24/7 customer support in case you need a hand with installing the app, or connecting to a specific server.

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NordVPN review: What’s it like to use?

We tested the NordVPN software on both Windows and Android. In both cases, the app opens with a stylised map of the world, allowing you to pick a server by clicking and dragging around.

It gives a nice visual sense of where your traffic’s going, but it’s normally quicker to type a location into the accompanying search box, or scroll down and browse the alphabetical list. On Windows, you can alternatively set the app to launch in windowless mode and use the system tray icon to open quick connections or bring up the full interface as needed.

Aside from finding and connecting to servers, all the client’s controls are found in the Settings view. Nice clear switches let you enable or disable auto-connect, and configure features like the kill switch and split tunnelling options. There’s also an option to block ads and malicious websites, to speed up and streamline your browsing experience.

There are no built-in performance or testing tools, as with ExpressVPN, but it’s a clean interface that’s largely consistent across platforms and makes it easy to find and configure the VPN to suit your needs.

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NordVPN review: How fast is it?

We tried out NordVPN on a Windows 10 laptop connected to a 200Mbits/sec Virgin fibre line, and were impressed with its speed. Using a server situated in London, the Google speed test tool reported a download rate of 170.3Mbits/sec – well above average for this type of service, and more than enough speed for any sort of personal use.

Remarkably, when we switched to a location in the US, speeds actually went up: the New York server gave us a download speed of 182.4Mbits/sec, which is the best we’ve seen from any VPN over this broadband connection. NordVPN’s Brazilian servers rocketed along at 120.5Mbits/sec, and even when we routed our traffic via Australia speeds stayed strong at 112.5Mbits/sec.

Mobile performance proved just as strong. Our Android tablet recorded a download speed of 61.9Mbits/sec with the VPN disabled; this dropped only to 54.5Mbits/sec when browsing through a UK VPN server, and kept up a creditable 35Mbits/sec via the US.

It’s also worth noting that the NordVPN software supports split tunnelling on both desktop and mobile platforms, so you can set specific apps to run over the VPN, while the rest go at full speed through your local ISP.

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NordVPN review: Is it good for video streaming?

For smooth streaming of 4K and HDR content, most providers recommend a connection speed of at least 25Mbits/sec. As we’ve seen, NordVPN can comfortably provide that, even when using the mobile app to access servers on the other side of the Atlantic, making it a strong choice for streaming.

It’s mostly effective at location spoofing too. When we connected to a US-based VPN server, Netflix happily served up its US video library, which includes some items not normally available to us Brits. We were also able to access US content from Disney+, though this only worked via the web: the Android app stubbornly insisted on showing us the UK library, regardless of our VPN settings.

When we connected through a UK server, BBC iPlayer, Now TV and BritBox all worked too, on both desktop and mobile, making NordVPN a great choice for Brits on holiday wanting to keep up with UK shows. As usual, the odd service out is Amazon Prime, which detects when you’re outside of your home country (or using a VPN to simulate travelling) and offers only a reduced range of internationally licensed content.

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NordVPN review: Is it secure?

If you want your private activities to stay private, NordVPN has you covered. Its corporate HQ is located in Panama, which means it’s not subject to UK or EU data-retention rules, and the company proudly affirms that it doesn’t keep any records whatsoever of your activity. Indeed, in the past few years, it’s put itself through two extensive investigations at the hands of independent auditor PwC, which confirm that its privacy claims are as good as they sound.

To further protect your privacy and security, you can set the software client to automatically activate the VPN whenever you connect to a network – excluding those you’ve explicitly marked as trusted. Double-VPN options make it even harder to trace your location by forwarding your traffic through two servers in different locations.

The software includes an unusually clever “kill-switch” too. This shuts off internet access if you get accidentally disconnected from the VPN, and can also automatically close nominated apps entirely, to make absolutely certain that no ongoing activity is inadvertently exposed to your ISP.

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NordVPN review: Should you buy it?

NordVPN is reasonably priced, but it’s not your cheapest option. For example, Private Internet Access costs only £32.52 a year, and allows ten simultaneous connections rather than NordVPN’s six – while SurfShark gives you a generous two years of service for £42.24, and covers unlimited devices.

Even so, we’re happy to recommend NordVPN to anyone. With its neutral location and independently audited privacy policy, it’s as secure as you could possibly ask for, the software has all the features you’re likely to want, and performance is superb whether you’re connecting via Sunderland or Sydney.

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NordVPN review: Quick facts

Based in:Panama (safe)
Cheapest price:£2.44 per month
Money-back guarantee:Yes, 30-days
Devices; SimultaneousUnlimited; 6 simultaneous
Servers:5,500+ in 58+ countires
24/7 customer support:Yes
Netflix and Disney+:Yes
BBC iPlayer:Yes
Torrenting allowed:Yes
DNS leaks:No
Activity logging:No

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