With online privacy at the forefront of most internet users’ minds, the use of VPNs has skyrocketed in recent years. This is reflected by both the rapid increase in VPN providers (many of whom—especially the newer ones—being total garbage) and growth of established VPN services such as NordVPN.
As internet users do more to protect themselves online, the trend of VPN usage keeps increasing—it is no longer a piece of software only used by people up to no good online and peoples’ attitudes towards them are changing.
If you don’t have a VPN yet or want to learn how they work, carry on reading.
What is NordVPN?
NordVPN is a VPN service provider headquartered in Panama and owned by Tefinkom & Co., S.A. With over 5,000 servers located across 61 locations (at the time of writing), it is the world’s largest VPN network.
Supporting Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Android, Kodi, and a whole host of other devices, including routers for complete private network protection, millions of people trust in NordVPN worldwide for their day-to-day VPN usage.
How Does NordVPN Work?
NordVPN works by creating an end-to-end connection between you and one of their VPN servers.
This connection is secured by AES 256-bit encryption, the same used by militaries and government agencies around the world to protect your information, data, and online activity from hackers, prying eyes, surveillance agencies, and your ISP.
When you are connected to NordVPN, all your traffic is routed through this tunnel to their server before it goes on to reach its destination.
By doing this, NordVPN hides your information and identity through a system that is reliable and cannot be broken.
NordVPN is More Than This, Though…
… It is packed full of features and extras that you won’t find with most other VPN providers. This is why they have managed to establish themselves as an industry-leading VPN service and dominate the market.
Let’s take a look at the app itself (on Windows) and what it includes.
1. NordVPN is a Breeze to Use
The user interface is very newbie-friendly. There are two screens—’Servers’ and ‘Settings—that control everything.
Connecting securely to one of NordVPN’s servers is as simple as either clicking one of the blue bubbles on the map or selecting a country from the left-hand side.
You can also select specific servers within a country by clicking the three dots (. . .) next to each country’s name.
There are lots of settings you can tinker with, too.
We recommend consulting the NordVPN website (or reading our informative articles) and learning about each individual setting before changing anything. Briefly, though, the ones you need to know about are—
- CyberSec—NordVPN’s anti-malware and ad-blocking feature.
- Auto-Connect: NordVPN will automatically boot up and connect to the network.
- Internet Kill Switch: Blocks all traffic when your NordVPN connection drops.
- App Kill Switch: Blocks data transfer to apps specified by you when NordVPN drops.
- Protocol: Choose between UDP (fastest, less reliable) and TCP (slower, most reliable).
- Obfuscated Servers: Enable/disable Obfuscated Servers (more on this later).
You can also change your password and view your subscription by clicking on ‘My Account’.
2. There are Plenty of Special Features
You can learn more about these in detail by reading our Everything About NordVPN Servers guide, however, we will cover them briefly here, too.
- Dedicated IP Servers
Costing $69.99 per year, you can pay for your very own NordVPN dedicated IP server. When you use the regular network, you share a server and IP with everybody else using the same server as you, however, with a dedicated IP server, you are the sole user. This is ideal for anybody who needs to access secure applications such as admin control panels that require whitelisted IP addresses.
- Double VPN Servers
These route your traffic through two different VPN servers to provide double the security. So, for example, your traffic may go from your location in the US to Canada and then to its final destination. The result of this is data that has been encrypted twice for double the security for people who require the highest levels of privacy.
- Obfuscated Servers
These can be enabled in ‘Settings’ and are designed solely for people who live in censorship-heavy countries such as China or Saudi Arabia. Some regimes go to extreme lengths to prevent their citizens from accessing ‘Western’ websites and will block VPNs with a firewall. NordVPN’s Obfuscated Servers get past these by looking for alternative ways to connect to the VPN network.
- Onion Over VPN (OOVPN) Servers
If you regularly use the Tor browser to access the ‘dark web’, NordVPN has you covered.OOVPN Servers create a seamless connection between their OOVPN servers (what you connect to) and the Tor Network (where your traffic goes) to provide you with additional security. By using OOVPN servers, you hide your IP address from the Tor Network and your point of entry because NordVPN’s OOVPN Server IP will be displayed instead. This not only prevents your IP from entering the Tor Network, but it prevents your ISP and any snoopers or government agencies from knowing you are using Tor.
- P2P Servers
If you participate in torrenting or other heavy P2P activity, NordVPN’s P2P Servers are ideal for you. These are optimized for P2P usage which means you get the fastest possible download speeds, faster than any other VPN provider. You should always use a VPN when participating in P2P activity, especially if you are pirating content, because they hide your IP and prevent malicious ‘peers’ who are linked to you from stealing your data, incriminating you, or harming your computer.
All these special servers (aside from Dedicated IP Servers which need to be purchased separately) can be accessed from within the NordVPN app in the left-hand menu.
Remember, Obfuscated Servers are enabled in ‘Settings’.
3. Your Privacy is 100 Percent Safe
NordVPN doesn’t just protect your privacy by providing a secure and reliable VPN network backed by strong encryption, their policies surrounding data collection and disclosure do too.
When you use NordVPN, none of your personal information—who you are, where you are connecting from, what servers you are using, and what you are using NordVPN for, among other things—is collected or logged.
This is known as a ‘zero-logs policy’ and it is something that NordVPN is passionate about. There are no activity logs of any kind.
This is something so important to NordVPN, in fact, that it was the first VPN service to undergo an external audit by “Big Four” professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)..
Finally, they are headquartered in Panama. This means that they cannot be influenced or forced by external governments, agencies, or law enforcement bodies to disclose any personal information about their users.
Even if they could be forced to hand information over, their zero-logs policy means that there would be no useful information anyway.
Together, all this means that you can use NordVPN safe in the knowledge that—
- It is completely legal; NordVPN is a legitimate and lawful business
- Your privacy is protected by military-grade encryption
- None of your data is collected or logged
- NordVPN is registered in a location outside the scope of Western governments
This is why NordVPN is so, so successful.
Try NordVPN Out for Yourself
You really should be using a VPN, even for regular day-to-day browsing.
If you have yet to subscribe to one, why not try out NordVPN risk-free? Although you do need to purchase a NordVPN subscription to use the service, they operate a 30-day money-back guarantee on all their plans.
This means that you can buy, download, and try out NordVPN for ‘free’.
If you are dissatisfied with NordVPN for whatever reason, just contact customer support and ask for a refund—there are no strings attached.