Getting Started with NordVPN: How to Set Up and Use NordVPN

nordvpn getting started

NordVPN is a leading service that is trusted by millions of people around the world to protect them online (and offline too with NordLocker).

There are lots and lots of reasons why this is the case and if you would like to learn more about NordVPN as a service, read our comprehensive review where we dive deep into their claims, the service’s features, and decide whether NordVPN is worth using.

In this guide, we are going to cover the creation of a NordVPN account and how you can start using it yourself.

We are using Windows 10 to do this, however, the instructions are transferable to other desktop devices and NordVPN’s range of native apps, e.g. for smartphones, make set-up and installation a breeze.

Why Should I Use NordVPN? What Does It Do?

With privacy concerns taking center-stage on the internet today, everybody should be using a VPN, especially if you are a regular user of public networks that are inherently insecure.

In short, a VPN works by hiding your real IP address and encrypting your internet traffic so that your ISP, hackers, and other third-parties such as snoopers and government agencies cannot see what you are doing.

Using a VPN, you can also benefit from—

  • Spoofing your location by connecting to other countries;
  • Protecting your entire home network with router installation;
  • Bypassing region-locked content on streaming services like Netflix;
  • Accessing websites that may be blocked or censored by your home country; and
  • Safely browsing the deep web,

amongst other things.

To ensure your privacy is never compromised, however, you need to use a VPN that’s tried, tested, and proven to be a good one.

That’s where NordVPN comes in.

Creating a NordVPN Account

Unlike some other VPN services, you need to create an account to use NordVPN. Registering is simple and takes a few minutes. You need to have an email address and payment method handy. You’re covered by a 30-day refund in case you’re wondering.

1. Choose a NordVPN subscription

There are four different plans available with NordVPN. Unfortunately, they no longer offer a lifetime subscription.

We recommend choosing their 3-year plan for maximum savings. $2.99 per month (billed as a single payment of $107.55) is an absolute steal for a level of service as high as NordVPN’s.

Again, all payments are backed by their 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you are dissatisfied with NordVPN for whatever reason, simply contact customer support and request a refund within 30 days.

There are no strings or usage limits attached to the NordVPN money-back guarantee.

2. Enter your email address

We recommend using an email address that you have full and routine access to. This is the email address that will be associated with your account for both customer support and password recovery purposes.

If you do not want to use your real, personal email address then create a throwaway that you can access as and when needed.

3. Enter your billing information

Using a throwaway email address is encouraged to protect your identity. You can even pay for your NordVPN subscription with cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin.)

NordVPN does not process payments via PayPal. You have a choice between credit/debit card, cryptocurrencies, Alipay, and a few other international payment methods.

Once you have entered your details and pressed ‘Continue’, you will be billed straight away, and your account will be created.

4. Activate your account via email

You will receive an email requiring you to activate your account before you can log in to NordVPN using your details. This is why it is important to use an email address to which you have access.

Simply click the link in the email—your account will be activated and you will automatically be redirected to NordVPN’s download page.

How to Set Up NordVPN

Once you have created and activated your account, it is time to install the software. We recommend installing on a desktop computer before any other device so you can get a feeling for how everything works.

Of course, setting up NordVPN on your smartphone is probably easier.

1. From the NordVPN download page, select your device

Since we are installing NordVPN onto a Windows machine, we’ll select the Windows option.

There are also options available for other supported devices such as macOS, Linux, and iOS.

Once you have selected your device’s download file, the download will begin. The download file is only 18 MB in size so it shouldn’t take a long time to download. This, of course, depends on your internet speeds.

When it has finished downloading, launch the installation wizard by clicking the .exe file from within your browser.

2. Wait for NordVPN to install

Again, this shouldn’t take too long. As if by magic, the NordVPN installation wizard will do all the work for you.

3. When NordVPN has finished installing, the main interface will load

It looks exactly like this—

You are now ready to start using NordVPN. Have an explore of all the different servers, locations, and features in ‘Settings’. We are going to go over these in detail below.

4. First of all, connect to a server

You can do this by either

  • clicking the ‘balloon’ icon above each country or
  • selecting one from the left-hand menu.

By clicking a ‘balloon’ icon, NordVPN will connect you to the most optimum server within that country and we recommend letting NordVPN do this for you.

If, however, you want to choose your own server within a specific country, you can easily do this by hovering over a country in the left-hand menu and click the three dots (. . .) to open the server selector.

The percentage value refers to how much of the server’s resources are currently being used.

Setting and Picking the Right Features

NordVPN isn’t a leading VPN just because it is fast, secure, and easy to use, it is their range of additional features that make the service what it is. Just look at all your options in the ‘Settings’ area of the app—

Let’s look at some of these in more detail!


CyberSec is NordVPN’s anti-malware and ad-blocking feature that steps in automatically when a malicious website is detected. NordVPN will block your connection to said malicious website that may be hiding malware, adware, or other nasty surprises. It blocks annoying ads, too!

CyberSec is kept constantly updated with the latest threats and is constantly scanning the internet for new, dangerous websites.


Want to automatically connect to NordVPN when your computer starts (or re-connect if your connection drops)? Enable this setting to ensure you are always connected to NordVPN and don’t accidentally browse unconnected. You can choose where you want to connect to, too.

You may not want to auto-connect all the time, but most people do leave it on.

Internet Kill Switch

You absolutely must have this one enabled. A kill switch steps in and ‘kills’ your internet connection when your connection to NordVPN drops. Connection drops can and will happen no matter how good the VPN that you are using is, and it is important to have something to protect you if this happens.

Without a kill switch, your internet connection will remain active even if your VPN connection drops. This can expose your real IP address, location, and browsing activity to anyone or anything that is watching.

App Kill Switch

This works in the same way as the Internet Kill Switch, however, it applies to apps of your choosing (e.g. Skype, Google Chrome) rather than your internet connection as a whole.

If you want total control of your VPN, this is the feature to use.


You can choose whether to use the OpenVPN tunneling protocol either over UDP or TCP.

UDP provides faster speeds and is better for activities such as streaming, however, UDP does not guarantee packet delivery so it can sometimes be less reliable. On the other hand, TCP is more reliable as it guarantees the delivery of packets, but this can result in slower speeds.

Personally, we recommend UDP.

NordVPN Server Types

NordVPN has 6 different server types that you can choose from within the app.

1. Dedicated IP Servers

With NordVPN, you can purchase your own dedicated IP for the Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS versions of NordVPN. Read more about NordVPN Dedicated IP Servers.

2. Double VPN Servers

Want ultimate privacy? Double VPN Servers route your traffic through two different servers on Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS for double the privacy and encryption. Read more about NordVPN Double VPN Servers.

3. Obfuscated Servers

Designed for users in censorship-heavy countries such as China, Obfuscated Servers can bypass government-operated firewalls. Read more about NordVPN Obfuscated Servers.

4. Onion Over VPN Servers

These servers route your traffic through the NordVPN server network first and then through the Tor Onion network. Read more about Onion Over VPN Servers.

5. P2P Servers

Torrent a lot or participate in P2P activities? Read more about NordVPN P2P Servers that are specially optimized to deliver the very best speeds, safety, and stability for data-heavy torrenting activities.

6. Standard VPN Servers

Your regular day-to-day VPN server—strong encryption, fast speeds, and lots of choice around the world.

You may be able to bypass geo-blocks without obfuscation, meaning services like Netflix may simply work without any further configuration.

Try Out NordVPN Risk-Free

You can try out NordVPN risk-free by taking advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee. It applies to all NordVPN’s plans and if you are unsatisfied, simply ask for your money back within 30 days for a full refund, no strings attached.

Sign Up Here

Published by

David Schultz

Internet and Privacy Law | David Schultz is a Cyber Security Attorney based in Europe.

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