NordVPN Review (2020)
- Country: Panama
- Logging: No (Traffic), No (IP address), Yes (Connection)
- Bypass VPN Block (DPI): Obfuscated Servers
- Pricing: $6.99 (per month, in yearly subscription)
- Allows P2P/ Torrent: Yes
- Simultaneous connections: 6
- Live Chat Support: Yes
- Custom clients/apps: Yes
- Alternative website: N/A
- Trustpilot rating: 9/10 (4579 ratings).
My First Impressions
Does NordVPN keep logs?
NordVPN does not store connection stamps, session info, bandwidth usage, traffic logs and IP addresses. To maintain 6 simultaneous connections, username and timestamp of the latest session is stored for 15 minutes.
To sum up, NordVPN does not store:
- traffic logs (i.e. user activity)
- IP address
- connection logs (timestamps are deleted after 15 minutes)
Does NordVPN bypass Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) or similar VPN blocking firewalls?
Countries like China, Iran, Turkey and Russia implement firewalls that block access to VPN services. As an example, China uses the Great Wall of China (GFW) system to block most VPNs and proxies. Some VPN providers offer extra protocols, often called StealthVPN or anti-DPI protocols, that help users to bypass VPN blocks and access free internet.
NordVPN offers Obfuscated Servers, which use OpenVPN Scramble to bypass deep packet inspection. OpenVPN Scramble is a way to hide (obfuscate) OpenVPN traffic so that it doesn’t look like OpenVPN traffic. It is highly effective against many deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques and is good at bypassing even sophisticated VPN blocks.
OpenVPN Scramble uses the XOR encryption algorithm. It is very easy to apply and also very lightweight. Many VPN services are turning to OpenVPN Scramble in order to defeat advanced VPN blocks of the kind used by China and Egypt.
Here is how Obfuscated servers explained by NordVPN:
Obfuscated servers – servers that can bypass internet restrictions such as network firewalls. They are recommended for countries with restricted access. This category is available only on our OpenVPN apps: Windows, Android, Linux and the OpenVPN version for macOS.
As usual, I test NordVPN on a Windows 7 PC, and an Android phone running Android 6.0.1. I am testing on an ADSL internet provided by the local telecom company, and cellular internet provided by our local mobile operator.
Lately, our government has bought new advanced technologies for internet surveillance and VPN blocking. They have partly succeeded because it is almost impossible to use a VPN software on a Windows PC. As soon as I connect to a VPN some kind of VPN detection software blocks the internet. Even the most popular VPNs like ExpressVPN fail to work on Windows platform.
The same happened with NordVPN, I could even not log in to my account. What is even worse, as long as I had NordVPN and NordVPN TAP installed on my computer, I could not connect to internet at all, even when I was not using NordVPN. Surely, if NordVPN is not working on my computer, it does not mean that it will not work on yours, because NordVPN’s Obfuscated Servers are effective in bypassing DPI. Also, I should mention that Obfuscated Servers are not available on iOS devices.
The results of the Android test were much more positive than the Windows test. In addition to OpenVPN+XOR, NordVPN offers Specialty servers such as, DoubleVPN, Onion Over VPN, Dedicated IP and P2P. As the result of test none of the Specialty servers and normal OpenVPN could not evade DPI. Only Obfuscated Servers were working, but not on all servers. So, I had to test servers one by one, until I found working servers. At the end, I found several servers that connect both on mobile network and Wi-Fi.
To sum up, in the tests NordVPN managed to bypass the deep packet inspection in my country on Android platform (Obfuscated Servers).
NordVPN is mostly blocked in countries with aggressive blocking systems, and right now cannot evade the DPI in my country
Is NordVPN affordable? (NordVPN’s pricing)
NordVPN has one subscription plan offered for 1 month, 1 year, 2 years and 3 years. The longer subscription period, the cheaper subscription becomes. To do the math for annual plan, you will be paying $5.75 per month or $1.15 per device per month. The pricing is not bad, just a bit above $1 threshold.
NordVPN accepts major credit/debit cards, several cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, AliPay, WebMoney, Yandex Money, GiroPay, and Sofort Banking. Recently, NordVPN discontinued accepting PayPal payments.
If you want to test NordVPN, you can sign up for a 7-day trial, but keep in mind you need a credit/debit card.
NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back-guarantee, if you are not happy with their service.
What features are offered by NordVPN?
– Supported Platforms
NordVPN supports Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Browsers, Android TV, etc. Also, NordVPN has native apps for most platforms. Additionally, NordVPN can be configured on some routers. NordVPN offers extra features like kill switch, dedicated IP, obfuscated servers, Onion over VPN, P2P servers and Double VPN servers.
– Supported Protocols
NordVPN supports offers IPSec/IKEv2 and OpenVPN (also OpenVPN+XOR) protocols. From December 1st 2018, they stopped supporting L2TP/IPSec and PPTP.
Obfuscated servers which I used to bypass DPI is available on Windows, macOS and Android, whereas iOS users cannot access to Obfuscated servers.
– Number of Servers
NordVPN stands out with number of servers offered. They have more than 5250 servers in about 60 countries.
Lastly, NordVPN got an average rating on the Simple VPN Comparison Table. Scores are good on most of the categories except for Protocol Types, since NordVPN offers only obfuscated servers, as an anti-DPI protocol.
Wanna check other VPNs? Head over to the VPN Comparison Table, and find the best VPN that fits you.
What I liked:
What I didn’t like: