Review: NordVPN | UK Review
Quick Review: Overall NordVPN works well and is reasonably priced for long-term subscriptions. Has lots of extra features for the more technically mindeed. No major complaints, just a few minor niggles around performance and the subscription auto-renew.
I’ve been using HideMyAss VPN for donkey’s years and have found it to work well. However, there is one thing HideMyAss VPN can’t do that I would really like. Which is to access US Netflix from the UK on my (non Android) smart TV. So, When my HideMyAss subscription finished I did some research on VPN providers and NordVPN appeared to do everything I wanted and generally got good reviews.
What Is NordVPN
NordVPN provides a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, enabling computers and mobile devices to access the internet anonymously. The VPN ensures that your online location, activities, and the data sent and received are hidden from everyone, including your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
When using NordVPN, internet enabled devices establish a secure connection to one of the NordVPN servers. The server then accesses the internet on your behalf, a process known as proxying.
Should anyone attempt to trace your identity or location, they would only detect the NordVPN proxy server, not your actual details.
What Are the Reasons For Using A VPN To Access The Internet
While a VPN isn’t a must have, it does provide a number of benefits.
Here are some of the most common uses for VPNs:
Online Privacy and Security: A VPN conceals your IP address (the internet address of your computer) and encrypts all your internet traffic. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone to track your online actions or discover your physical location.
Anonymous Browsing for Sensitive Content (aka Porn sites 🙂 ): Using a VPN allows you to visit websites, such as porn sites, without your Internet Service Provider (ISP) logging your activity. In the UK, ISPs are legally required to record all visited websites.
Accessing Geo-restricted Streaming Services: In the UK, you’re limited to UK-specific streaming services (like Netflix UK). However, with a VPN, you can connect to a US NordVPN proxy server, fooling services into believing you’re in the US, and enabling access to US streaming services (like Netflix US).
Accessing Home Country Services While Abroad: You can also use NordVPN in a foreign country to access UK streaming services. This is particularly useful for Brits abroad who wish to access platforms like the BBC iPlayer.
Secure Public WiFi Connections: Using a VPN on public WiFi networks, such as those in airports and hotels protects against the baddies who set up WiFi networks to try and steal information
- Safe Torrent Downloads: When downloading films, music, and software from torrent sites, a VPN is essential. Without it, your ISP might restrict your internet connection upon detecting downloads from questionable sources and could potentially report you for copyright violations. A VPN like NordVPN obscures your activities from your ISP, showing only your connection to the NordVPN server, not the specific sites you visit or files you download.
Reasons For Not Using A VPN
I’ve only come across one reason as to why you might not want to use a VPN.
General Internet Access – I’ve found that if i access the internet for gernal everyday surfing with my NordVPN on, I will randomly get captcha prompts and sometimes get blocked from accessing websites.
There are two main reasons this happens:
- Some websites and online services, don’t like users to access their services using a VPN because they can’t identify the user (which is the point of a VPN). For example, Netflix will block known VPN IP addresses because they known that people use VPNs to stream services from outside the country that the service is intended
- The person who previously had the VPN IP address that you’ve been assigned was in some way abusing a website \ online service which caused the IP address to be blocked
To resolve this issue, you can simply renew your IP address through the NordVPN software or simply don’t use the VPN if you don’t need to.
Pros and Cons Of NordVPN
- Fast – I’ve found my internet connection to be only slightly slower with NordVPN turned on. There have been a few occasions where the internet speed has been really slow with the VPN enabled. On each occasion, just selecting a different NordVPN server has resolved the issue.
- No Logs – NordVPN doesn’t keep any logs of user activity, so there’s no way for anyone to track your activity.
- Bells and Whistles – NordVPN comes with lots of additional features. I’ve been using NordVPN for a few months and never felt the need to use any of the additional features, so they’re wasted on me. But, I’m sure they’re useful for someone.
- NordVPN On Router – I’ve set up a cheap little router to access the internet using NordVPN. This allows me to connect any device to the internet using NordVPN. This is useful for accessing streaming services in other countries on a Smart TV.
- Established – NordVPN has been around for a long time and is generally well-regarded in the industry. Which should give comfort in the service and security that they offer.
- Confusing Client Software – Unlike my previous VPN provider’s software, which basically just had an On \ Off button, the NordVPN software has a lot more confusing options.
I work with technology daily and have no idea of what some of the NordVPN features and settings are. What is ‘Onion over VPN’? Should I be using ‘Double VPN’?…….I don’t know.
- Poor Chat Support – When I purchased NordVPN, it showed in PayPal that I had paid a company called ‘Moonflash Limited’ (which seemed a bit suspicious). I also didn’t receive a password for my new NordVPN account (yes, I checked my junk folder).
I asked the AI chat support on the NordVPN website about my two issues, it was unable to answer. It asked me to rephrase the question, but it was still unable to answer. Eventually, I got an answer to the Moonflash question, which is a legitimate NordVPN payment processor. For the password I ended up going through the ‘Forgot my password’ process.
- Slow To Connect – Sometimes the NordVPN software struggles to connect to a server and when it does, it disconnects a few seconds later. I’ve found this problem rarely happens when connecting to UK servers, it’s usually when connecting to US servers.
- Not Complete Security – NordVPN can be a little misleading in their sales guff, giving the impression that a VPN is a complete security solution, its not. It can play a part in online protection, but you should still use antivirus, firewalls and always be vigilent when online.
Tips Using NordVPN
- Auto-renew – Once you’ve signed up for a NordVPN subscription, go to the NordVPN website and turn off the auto-renewal. If you forget to update your subscription before it ends you will be auto-renewed onto an expensive plan
When I turned off the auto-renew I got an email about an hour later from NordVPN with a really good offer, which I took up.
- Slow Performance – I’ve never experienced slow performance when connecting to a UK server. But, sometimes hit poor performance on NordVPN servers in the US. This can be fixed by diconnececting and reconnecting to a different US server.
- 30 Day Trial – Test out NordVPN before signing up for a subscription. Annoyingly the 30 trial requires you to sign up for a subscription and then cancel before 30 days, which means you have to pay first and get the money refunded, which requires sending an email. Make sure to cancel the ‘auto-renew’ as soon as you’ve signed up.
- Long-Term Deals – NordVPN always has deals for long-term subscriptions of 1 or 2 years. The monthly subscriptions are expensive.
- VAT – The prices listed for the subscriptions do not include VAT. So, if you live in the UK add 20% VAT to the price.
Conclusion: Review of NordVPN
There’s not much about a VPN to get excited about. NordVPN does what a VPN is meant to do. Since using NordVPN I’ve not experienced any major issues, just a few niggles.
NordVPN certainly has more settings and features than my previous VPN provider, which I’m sure the nerds love. But, for your average British bloke, I think a lot of those features are wasted. The only thing I use on the NordVPN software is to the the VPN on and off. I don’t use any of the other features and haven’t adjusted any of the settings.