NordVPN Review 2024 (By Leading Security Expert)

NordVPN Review

If you’ve been shopping around for a VPN, you’ll have noticed that the name NordVPN is impossible to ignore. 

It’s the world’s most-used VPN service. But does it really live up to the hype—and is it worth your cash? 

For online VPN reviews, it’s definitely a case of buyer beware. Many such reviews are driven by affiliate marketing, which means you can never be certain that you’re getting a full and frank assessment of a particular VPN’s capabilities and safeguards. 

With your privacy and security at stake, it’s definitely worth doing some extra research before you make your choice.

StationX has conducted a full-service deep dive to bring you our NordVPN review. We’ve done more than simply testing their service and drilling into its features. We spent two days at the NordVPN offices, speaking with their tech team, reviewing their security measures, and performing our own audit.

So is NordVPN worth it? Read on for an opinion you can trust.  

Why Are VPNs Important? 

No one likes an eavesdropper, and we get pretty annoyed at businesses profiting from our data. 

We don’t want government censors—or anyone else—telling us what we can and can’t see, and VPNs are important precisely because they address these types of problems. 

What Are VPNs? 

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a program that provides a secure tunnel between your device and the Internet.

  • It’s virtual because it doesn’t require computers to be physically connected to each other. 
  • It’s private because you need to have the right password and other credentials to link to it. 
  • It’s a network because it links two or more devices, enabling them to access a shared system.

How Does a VPN Work?

Think about the standard way you connect to the Internet. Your device connects to a router, which is connected to a modem, and the modem connects to the Internet through your Internet service provider (ISP). 

Also, consider what happens when you access a specific website. 

Your device sends out clusters of information—data packets—and the website responds by sending its own data packets back to you.  

A VPN changes how you connect to the internet as follows: 

  • With a VPN service, your device is linked to a remote VPN server owned by the VPN provider. The remote server becomes a kind of “middleman” between your device and the internet.
  • Consider those data packets we mentioned above. The VPN software encrypts the packets you send out before they hit your ISP. 
  • Those packets are then decrypted by the server before reaching their destination. 
  • Packets flowing from the websites you visit follow the same path. They are encrypted by the remote server before hitting your ISP and then decrypted by your device. 

All of this has two important consequences.

First, your ISP cannot see which websites you visit. This is because your device encrypts the data packets you send before they reach your ISP. 

Second, your identity is masked. Instead of seeing your IP address, the websites you visit see the address of your VPN server. 

1. How A VPN WORKS

Why Use a VPN? 

VPNs were initially designed mostly as business networking tools. They can create an encrypted tunnel between a remote user’s device and a corporate network, making them handy, secure ways for scattered workers to access their work systems. 

For millions of regular users, security professionals, journalists, privacy advocates, and fans of region-locked content, the main draw of VPNs is the ability to change your location and IP address. 

Researchers can simulate connections from various regions, helping them understand how different network conditions may affect a system’s security posture. 

Those concerned about privacy and anonymity can hide who and where they are.

Individuals wishing to view content only available in specific countries can appear to be from that location.

It’s hardly surprising that VPNs quickly outgrew their original purpose as business tools and gained a much wider appeal. Right now, almost a third of global internet users use them. Here are some of the key reasons why. 

Privacy 

Ideally, it should be nobody’s business what sites you visit, and this includes your ISP. 

In some areas, ISPs will block some types of—perfectly legal—websites by default, forcing you to jump through hoops to remove the filters they put in place. A VPN can be a good way of bypassing this. 

Beyond that, many governments have privacy laws that leave much to be desired. From spying and data collection on their own citizens to a lack of oversight or limitations of law enforcement to view your browsing habits, privacy is in scarce supply on the internet.

Secure Connectivity 

We love free coffee shop WiFi. However, the fear with public networks is that you can never be certain just how secure the connection is. 

With a VPN, your data is encrypted at the device level. This stops hackers from seeing what you’re doing, including the ability to see sensitive information you enter into web forms, such as passwords and other credentials. 

Streaming 

You’ve paid for it, so why should you be prevented from accessing it? 

The trouble is that streaming services often have restrictions based on user location. To bypass these geo-blocks, good VPN services should allow you to select a connection to a remote server in your country of choice.

Transactions

Businesses often change their price lists for customers from different countries or even different areas within a country. If you try connecting to the website through a selection of different VPN servers, you can find the best deals.

What to Look for in a VPN Service 

Is it safe? Is it reliable? And will it allow me to do the things I want? 

You should ask these questions as you weigh the merits of VPN providers. More specifically, here are the features and characteristics you should look for. 

Reputation 

VPNs are legal in most countries—apart from a handful of nations that ban them, including China, Russia, North Korea, Belarus, Oman, and the U.A.E. 

Launching and rolling out a subscription VPN service is also relatively easy, and there are a lot of them around. 

When looking for a provider, your first priority should be to isolate the reputable ones from the fly-by-night operators. 

While not always the case, many review sites may have affiliations with the organizations whose products or services they review, which can lead to bias. Even customer feedback seen on Reddit or any number of consumer rating websites might be paid for or written by the product’s parent company.

There is certainly value in reading reviews from various tech websites and independent customer reviews, you must always take this information with a grain of salt. 

Security and Privacy Measures 

Private browsing is one of the big draws of any VPN, so it’s crucial to ensure that there are security measures in place to deliver it when checking out providers. 

Must-have features include: 

  • Encryption: The best providers use AES-256 encryption to ensure your data cannot be intercepted over a VPN connection. 
  • Kill switch: If your VPN drops, a kill switch automatically blocks your internet access until the VPN is restored. This ensures that your IP address and other sensitive information are not left exposed at any point. 
  • No-log policy: If a provider stores zero data about their customers’ activity (e.g., bandwidth data, IP addresses, or browsing information), then you know for sure that they cannot sell that data or hand it over to the authorities. 

Location    

It can be helpful to know that the provider's headquarters is in a privacy-friendly location (i.e., one where regulators are not likely to snoop on customer browsing and ID information). 

The location of servers is also important. The best providers have thousands of servers in play across multiple locations. You should be able to choose servers in various countries to connect to, which is especially useful for bypassing geographical barriers to content and services. 

Speed 

A VPN basically adds another layer between your device and the online locations you want to visit. It also adds an additional process (i.e., encryption/decryption of data packets). 

Technically, a VPN will slow down your internet-based activities. But the real question is, will you actually notice a difference? 

With a top-performing VPN service, you shouldn’t notice a difference in page load times or streaming or download performance.

Tip: When weighing up possible VPN providers to try, don’t just go by advertised download speed—check out performance reviews, too.

Ad Blockers 

A basic VPN will mask your IP address, but it doesn’t really stop you from being followed by online ads. This is because advertisers use a range of methods to track you (e.g., tracking cookies and browser fingerprinting) that don’t rely on knowing your IP address. 

So, if you want to protect your privacy and stop those annoying messages, consider getting a VPN alongside a dedicated ad-blocking tool. 

Tip: Several VPN providers offer ad-blocking capabilities as part of their service or as add-ons. 

Our NordVPN Review: Is NordVPN Good? 

The key to choosing a VPN lies in identifying what you’re trying to protect yourself against. 

Are you worried about censorship, passive surveillance, or targeted attacks? Do you do a lot of P2P file sharing? Are you most interested in accessing geo-blocked content? 

Apart from its popularity, one of the main reasons we wanted to check out NordVPN was its feature-richness. This product promises to solve all of those problems—and a whole lot more besides it. 

So, is NordVPN good? Here’s what we found. 

No-Logging Policies 

Plenty of VPN providers promise that they don’t keep activity and ID records. This is an easy claim to make, but who’s actually checking? 

It’s fair to say that NordVPN takes its zero-logging policy very seriously, to the point of getting Pricewaterhouse Coopers to audit them in 2018 and 2020 and Deloitte to give them a thorough going-over in 2022 and 2024. 

In all cases, it was independently confirmed that NordVPN stores ZERO data about customers’ online activities. To top it all off, NordVPN is legally based in Panama; one of the most privacy-friendly countries in the world. 

This is great news, but we wanted to check for ourselves. In our visit to the NordVPN offices, we did our own audit and can independently confirm the stand true to their zero-logging policy.

Security Features 

 Highlights of Nord VPN's threat protection package include the following: 

  • Malicious URL blocker: This feature automatically scans URLs and blocks access to malware-hosting or otherwise malicious websites. 
  • Webtracker blocker: This feature stops third parties from gathering data on your preferences. An ad blocker is also available.
  • Virus scanner: This feature automatically checks newly downloaded files for known malicious signatures.
  • App vulnerability scanner: This feature can be used on all of your apps to stay informed of new software vulnerabilities.   

Choice of Servers 

NordVPN offers over 6,000 servers in 61 countries, enabling you to choose your desired location from a list of countries with just a couple of clicks. 

If you’re not really worried about location, you can just click the “Quick Connect” button, and the software will determine which server is best for you. 

The product also offers multiple server types to suit different use cases, including the following: 

  • Double VPN: This changes your IT address twice, protecting your connection with double encryption, which is useful if you’re accessing or transferring especially sensitive information. 
  • Onion over VPN: This combines the use of a VPN with the Tor network, which is accessed through the Onion browser, making it even more difficult for moderators to trace the origin and destination of traffic. 
  • Obfuscated servers: This connects to increase the likelihood of getting around firewalls—which is useful in countries with restricted internet access. 
  • Dedicated IP: These dedicated IP addresses are offered by NordVPN through servers based in France, the Netherlands, the U.S., the U.K., and Germany. This is good for specific use cases (e.g., online banking and remote access to corporate networks). 
  • P2P servers: These servers are specifically configured for speed, which is essential for P2P downloads. NordVPN also offers Meshnet connectivity, which works like a secure local area network (LAN) by connecting devices directly. It’s a useful option for any activity requiring high speed and low latency (e.g., file sharing and gaming).
2. Choice of Servers

Speed and Performance 

As we’ve seen, any VPN will slow down your internet, and the question is whether it would make a noticeable difference.  

We see that CNET has just put NordVPN through its performance labs. Any speed reduction of 20% or lower is regarded as a very good score. 

NordVPN clocked up an average speed loss of 11%, earning it the accolade of CNET’s fastest VPN. For comparison, Surfshark scored 17%, and ExpressVPN scored 24.8%. 

Once again, it’s nice seeing the numbers from other sources, but we had to conduct our own tests to be sure. Having spent a lot of time with NordVPN, testing it’s different servers, and using it on different devices, we can verify this: it really is blazing fast. 

The platform is compatible across all operating systems and devices, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS - even AppleTV and Android TV. 

It’s also easy to use. Another point goes to its configurability. For instance, thanks to the product’s split tunneling feature, you can choose to use a VPN with some applications but not others. 

How Much Does NordVPN Cost? 

You’ll need to check the pricing for your region. The current US. prices are $13 a month, $60 for the first year, or $96 for the first two years—and then $100 per year afterward). 

If you prefer to maintain anonymity, NordVPN accepts payment in several cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. 

Conclusion: Is NordVPN Worth It? 

Having put it to the test, we’ve concluded that NordVPN really does live up to the hype. 

First, from a privacy perspective, you need a provider outside of jurisdictions known for invasive surveillance practices, such as the Five Eyes countries

They should not keep logs that can be traced back to you, offer robust security settings, and accept anonymous forms of payment. Having seen how NordVPN operates, we feel you’re in very safe hands here. 

There’s an extremely wide range of server and location options available to accommodate all kinds of usage. It’s easy to use and very quick. 

Most crucially for us, we did the check ourselves. We went in person, talked with their engineers, performed out own audit, and confirmed their claims.

So yes, we recommend Nord VPN, and we’ve even secured a special discount that is lower than anywhere else on the Internet, and it’s just for StationX readers. 

Click the image below to take advantage of it!

Is NordVPN Worth It 

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  • Nathan House

    Nathan House is the founder and CEO of StationX. He has over 25 years of experience in cyber security, where he has advised some of the largest companies in the world. Nathan is the author of the popular "The Complete Cyber Security Course", which has been taken by over half a million students in 195 countries. He is the winner of the AI "Cyber Security Educator of the Year 2020" award and finalist for Influencer of the year 2022.

  • Gary Smith

    Gary spends much of his working day thinking and writing about professional and personal development, as well as trends and best practice in IT recruitment from both an organizational and employee perspective. With a background in regulatory risk, he has a special interest in cyber threats, data protection, and strategies for reducing the global cyber skills gap.

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