NordVPN review – is this banana republic VPN provider any good?

We’ve just posted the following review: NordVPN review – is this banana republic VPN provider any good?[newsimage][/newsimage]

In this review we’re going to look at the service provided by VPN provider NordVPN. We’re going to look at its privacy protection features, region unblocking functionality, usability and the speed you can expect when browsing and downloading through the VPN.

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I’ve just been browsing NordVPN’s website, to see what kind of software is used to connect one’s computer to the VPN server. It seems NordVPN is capable of using several protocols, including OpenVPN, which just happens to be my favorite (it’s free (as in freedom) and supports many platforms). If you use OpenVPN, the config files seem to be set up to use AES-256 encryption, so that’s good (although I only skimmed through one config file).

So, it seems like this might be a good VPN provider. Zero-logging policy, lots of servers, DNS leakage protection, free (as in freedom) software, good encryption (if you use OpenVPN). All in all, I’d probably sign up myself if I had money (unemployment sucks).

PS: like many OpenVPN servers, this one supports the PPTP protocol. I don’t recommend using PPTP, since the encryption is obsolete. Of course, if you care more about circumventing geoblocks than keeping Big Brother out, PPTP is probably the simplest to use, since it usually doesn’t require installing software. Still, I would recommend not using old, crappy encryption. Ever.

I’ve been testing this since July 14th and so indeed took the offer from the article.
I had been using another VPN, but due to doubt about their logging policy, I cancelled it and signed up for NordVPN after a similar trip to their site as you outline.

The OpenVPN support is a must for me and indeed, it works as you describe. However, I wanted to check out their client as well and so this VM runs that for testing and so this will be a first impression about that and the service as a whole…

First off, here is the interface for you:

Since this is a Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSB install, I was unable to get the client to work by simply installing it. It installs just fine, but from what I understand, it was the TAPv9 interface failed to install as part of it. Now installing the TAPv9 interface manually and then installing the NordVPN client fixed that.
Another thing I am struggling with is that when the client is set to start with windows I initially find all servers with a status of down. A restart of the application fixes that though and so I disabled the autostart and start it manually after Windows is up and running

I can imagine that many will fancy the approach as you can see, switching from country to server view you can hoover your mouse over an entry and see what the VPN works for.

The provider has dedicated servers for P2P, Anti-DDos, Double-VPN and even VPNs exiting to enter the TOR network directly as its next hop.
They write that they accept P2P through some servers, but of course I had to try and it seems to work through other servers as well, but if I am not mistaken, according to terms of use, you should use only the dedicated servers for this purpose and then you have less than 10 servers to choose from (I could have misread it though).

The speed has so far been great from my end, but you should of course generally choose servers with lower load percentage and quickest response time.

Still, since I am an old fart even in VPN and my installation using OpenVPN is rock steady without dropping the connection even once, I can do without the convenience of the client and stick with the tested and proven open source alternative instead.

Two further tests I would be interested in seeing in the VPN reviews:

[B]1. Does the VPN allow incoming connections, i.e. Public IP address or port forwarding?[/B]

This can be useful for certain software such as with BitTorrent to allow connections from users behind a carrier grade NAT. This also allows one to temporarily put a web server online, etc. such as for testing without exposing their ISP’s public IP address or opening ports on their router.

HMA is the only one I know that supports this, but obviously not a VPN for anyone concerned about privacy due to its logging policy.

Going by NordVPN’s FAQ, they plan implementing port forwarding later this year.

[B]2. Can you connect to the VPN server over port 8080?[/B]

While most web traffic is carried over ports 80 and 443 (OpenVPN mainly uses ports 443 and 1194), port 8080 is what uses for running its tests. Unsurprisingly I’ve seen a few ISPs prioritise traffic over port 8080, giving test results that cannot be achieved with most real world traffic. So if the VPN connects over port 8080, the user can potentially get what reports if their ISP is prioritising port 8080.

HMA and Private Internet Access both support connecting over port 8080. I know someone who used the PIA to exploit port 8080 prioritisation.

Going by NordVPN’s FAQ they mention they use ports 1723 (for PPTP), 443 (TCP) and 1194 (UDP), but they don’t mention if their servers accept connections on other port numbers.