NordVPN Editor’s Score: 95/100
Why NordVPN Is Best for Reliability
Evaluating the reliability of a VPN requires more than just considering whether the connection is maintained. Instead, it’s a holistic assessment of the many details in a provider’s ability to consistently provide the highest level of performance and privacy anywhere in the world. NordVPN’s extensive network of more than 5,000 servers is bolstered by advanced features, including double VPN, a kill switch, Onion over VPN and specialty obfuscated servers. These features come together to make NordVPN our pick for the most reliable VPN service. The company also offers several VPN protocols, so you can choose the one that best suits your requirements.
This view shows NordVPN’s main dashboard on macOS
- NordVPN includes many advanced features.
- Specialty obfuscated servers can bypass VPN blocks.
- The company’s headquarters is in privacy-friendly Panama.
- NordVPN is more expensive than many of the other VPNs we reviewed.
- The interface can be vague for some server locations.
- There are limited torrenting servers.
This map view, seen here on Windows, highlights a NordVPN connection in Germany.
Most VPN services are easy to use, and NordVPN is no exception. The interface is simple and clear, with a Preferences menu full of on-off features ready to deploy. When setting up the VPN, you can connect up to six devices simultaneously, and there are easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, routers and smart TVs. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, all you have to do is “quick connect” to automatically find the best server for performance based on your location. You may also select a server in a specific region within the United States or choose from a server in another country by selecting its name from the list or clicking the pin on the map.
The recently added CyberSec feature protects against ads and malicious websites.
The available CyberSec feature is a great addition to block ads and malicious websites, and it’s a tool that most other providers don’t offer. Once you enable it from the General Preferences menu, you’ll be better protected against phishing scams and other cyberthreats. The advanced system automatically compares the address of each website you visit in real time against an enormous database of blacklists. NordVPN also prevents your computer from joining a botnet army, so you’ll be safe from DDoS attacks. This feature is available for Windows, iOS, macOS and Linux.
Did you know? Phishing scams took off during COVID-19. Protecting your small business’s network is more important than ever, and a VPN can help.
|Massive server network||Choose from more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries for high-speed access through a private network.|
|Dedicated IP||Avoid the hassles of using a VPN with a dedicated IP to access IP-restricted networks.|
|Obfuscated servers||Easily hide that you’re routing your traffic through a secure VPN tunnel.|
Massive Server Network with Double Encryption
NordVPN has more than 5,500 servers in 59 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, India and the Middle East, including in major cities and business centers. “Specialty servers” offer double VPN protection, meaning your traffic is sent through two VPN servers mixed between UDP and TCP protocols for complete privacy across the web. This is an invaluable feature for journalists and business travelers who often work from areas of the world with especially heavy censorship, tracking and surveillance.
This view shows the available servers and types across the Americas
Dedicated IP Options
One of the major inconveniences of using a VPN is proving you’re a human (and not a bot) through the use of CAPTCHAs. For an additional $70 per year, you can bypass this requirement and add dedicated IP addresses permanently located in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany to your regular VPN subscription to access your email or secure business servers without any blacklistings or interruptions. This IP is unique to your account and well suited for online banking and other payment-related transactions.
Although internet service providers can’t track the data being transmitted through a VPN or see which sites you visit, they can often see if you’re using a VPN to reroute your data. Obfuscated servers effectively change the way your data packets look, meaning that any tools designed to block VPN traffic will not recognize that you’re using a VPN unless someone goes through the unlikely task of inspecting your data packets manually. One way NordVPN accomplishes this is through additional SSL/SSH encryption to keep all of your VPN’s metadata hidden. Want to learn more about encryption? Check out our small business encryption guide for details on how to secure your data.
NordVPN offers a two-year plan for $3.30 per month (billed at one time). Other options include a one-year plan for $4.92 per month (billed annually) or a monthly subscription for $11.95 per month. All plans include unlimited VPN data. We really like the 30-day money-back guarantee; there aren’t any questions or hoops to jump through for a refund. Advanced features, such as a dedicated IP, are available for an additional $70 per year. VPN subscribers can also find discounts for NordPass Premium to store and monitor passwords across the web.
Pricing for the separate cloud-based NordLayer (formerly NordVPN Teams) service starts at $9 per user per month for the basic plan and $11 per user per month for the advanced plan; the biggest difference is the ability to purchase a dedicated server with a fixed IP address for an additional cost. Servers for the “teams” edition are currently limited to 33 countries. Enterprise plan pricing for fully customized network security systems is also available upon request.
The setup for NordVPN’s assortment of apps is very straightforward: You just download them, install them and enter your login credentials. Setting up a router is slightly more complicated but certainly not something that requires IT support. If your router is supported, you’ll need to log in to your router with your IP address and configure it accordingly.
NordVPN offers 24/7 customer service through email and live chat. For email support or technical issues, you can expect a quick response, within 24 hours. NordVPN also offers a robust help center with a vast array of articles covering every VPN topic imaginable. The help center also includes answers to frequently asked questions, general info, billing, and the ability to search by keywords and browse through the available resources.
One main drawback of NordVPN is its relatively high cost. NordVPN is one of the more feature-rich VPN services we reviewed, which is reflected in the higher price. However, the average VPN user probably will not benefit substantially from some of the more advanced features and may end up overpaying for basic privacy services. If you’re not looking for a provider that also offers Onion over VPN, double VPNs, split tunneling or obfuscated servers, NordVPN may be overkill. If you’re looking for a cost-effective VPN that gets the job done, consider reading our review of IPVanish.
Another downside is that the selection of international servers is limited, and most international servers are listed numerically, not according to the city where they’re located. This could be an issue for some gated content. The map function has similar limitations; it places pins in a central location inside each country instead of showing you the city or region of the server you’ve selected.
NordVPN lists servers numerically, rather than by city.
We reviewed several of the industry’s best VPN services. Over the course of two weeks, we switched between VPN services regularly during our normal web activity across multiple computers, smartphones and other devices. We conducted speed tests on multiple devices to determine how much the VPN impacted our ability to navigate webpages. For testing purposes, we most frequently utilized the free trial accounts that many VPN providers offer. In some instances, we paid for a one-month subscription and ensured the money-back guarantee worked as promised where applicable. We also tested the customer service of each company by contacting them to ask questions about the products. When selecting the best VPN for reliability, we looked for consistent uptime and robust security features. NordVPN’s extensive network of servers and advanced features make it our best pick for reliability.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, routes your web traffic through an encrypted virtual tunnel, keeping everything you do online anonymous. VPNs can hide your identity and allow you to project your location from physical and virtual servers around the world. A growing number of businesses utilize VPNs to provide their remote employees with secure access to company networks. Most VPNs work on computers, smartphones, web browsers, routers and other internet-connected devices.
Is there a free version of NordVPN?
No, NordVPN does not have a free version. However, the company does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that serves as a risk-free trial option, giving you plenty of time to explore all of this tool’s capabilities.
Is NordVPN a good VPN?
Yes, NordVPN is widely considered one of the best VPN options. The company’s location in Panama is privacy-friendly, with no data retention laws, and multiple audits conducted by PwC have confirmed the company’s no-log privacy claims.
We recommend NordVPN for …
- Large businesses with employees or contractors in parts of the world with significant online censorship, tracking and surveillance policies.
- Businesses that work with sensitive data and want to add layers of anonymity with Onion over VPN’s network of volunteer-operated servers.
We don’t recommend NordVPN for …
- Businesses that need to use servers in specific international cities.
- Cost-conscious businesses that have basic privacy needs.