How good is the Nord VPN

NordVPN 2021 test & rating

advantages: NordVPN does not monitor or record your online activities. You are 100% anonymous. In addition, it uses the best VPN protocol (OpenVPN), the best encryption (AES-256), its own DNS server and a kill switch to protect your data. With its headquarters in Panama, it is also out of the reach of data retention laws and US and EU intelligence agencies.

disadvantage: AV-Test, an anti-virus testing organization, discovered a WebRTC leak (which reveals your local IP address) on some NordVPN servers. You can fix this by installing NordVPN's browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. Make sure you install it and use it in conjunction with the main VPN app.

1. Logging Policy

What is a logging policy and why is it important?

Since you use a VPN to ensure your privacy online, you probably won't expect your VPN provider to store information about your activity. Most of them do, however. This information is stored in online records commonly known as logs.

VPN providers collect user data for a variety of reasons. Most of them do this in order to improve the performance of their servers, to optimize their service and to prevent their illegal use.

The type and scope of the information collected vary from provider to provider. All of the information that can be collected is divided into the following four categories:

  • VPN-specific information: This is the basic data that shows your VPN provider who is using their service without revealing any important information. This includes the address of the VPN server you are using, the version of the installed app and your operating system.
  • Usage-specific information: This data shows providers how you use their service. It includes the exact times and dates that you log in and out of the service, the volume of inbound and outbound traffic, and the duration of each session.
  • IP address information: Some VPN providers also collect the IP address that you use to log into their service. This can help them determine your location as well as your internet service provider.
  • Browser-specific information: This information gives your provider insight into your entire browser history. You can view the addresses of the websites you have visited, access your entire search history, and see what online services you may have used.

As already explained, this information enables your provider to see who is using their service and how it is being used. For the most part, this information is completely anonymous and is collected in bundles, so it is usually harmless. Providers use these to monitor the performance of their service and to respond to any problems they encounter.

If you use a VPN to surf anonymously, you do not want your provider to save your actual IP address. This would allow them to access your real location and possibly also trace your online activities back to you. While this is not ideal, it is not uncommon for users' IP addresses to be collected. However, monitoring your browser activity is far from common.

None of our top rated VPN providers track your browsing activity. As a rule, this is usually collected from free providers who then sell it to data collectors or advertisers. This is one of the main reasons we don't recommend free VPN services.

While most VPN providers claim they do not store any personal information about their users at all, they all have different ideas about what constitutes "personal information". For this reason, it is important to carefully read a provider's privacy policy or a user review of the service before making a purchase.

What is NordVPN's logging policy?

NordVPN is very clear about its logging policy: it doesn't collect any records. In fact, NordVPN probably has the best zero-logs policy of any VPN we've read about to date.

  • Your online activities are not tracked: the websites you visit, the searches you perform, the files you download and the services you use are all anonymous.
  • Your connection data will not be saved: the times and the length of time you use the service will never be tracked. And your original IP address will not be shown either.

All of your web tracks are anonymous through NordVPN. The only statistical information NordVPN collects is used to maintain its server. This includes:

  • How many times a user has connected per month. Not what servers were used or what time the user connected.
  • The total number of connected users per server and the server load (traffic, CPU, memory, and disk usage).

NordVPN even got a world-class accounting firm (PwC) to independently review their no-log policy. You can access this review here, but only after you have signed up for the VPN service.

In short, with NordVPN you are truly anonymous.

2. Area of ​​affiliation

What is an area of ​​responsibility and why is it important?

Simply put, a jurisdiction is where a VPN provider is registered. The provider must comply with local laws and regulations regarding data protection and security in the online area, which is why this is important information.

Countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and many EU member states have strict data retention policies that require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to keep records of users' personal information. This information can include online activity, the search history, and email correspondence.

When you use a VPN, all of your personal information is encrypted so that not even your ISP can see it. This will prevent your ISP from storing potentially sensitive information so you can browse the internet freely. This is one of the main reasons people use VPNs in the first place.

Despite what you may have heard by now, VPNs don't have the same data retention laws that apply to ISPs. This is because VPNs are private network providers while the latter are public network providers. As a result, VPNs don't necessarily have to collect all of your personal information.

These VPNs that keep data logs may claim that they will never reveal them to anyone. But government agencies may still get access to them without you knowing. For example, US federal agencies are authorized to issue classified subpoenas (e.g., national security letters). This allows you to take control of data protocols and VPN servers.

Attempts by government agencies to collect user data are more common than you might think. An example of this is when Lavabit, an encrypted email provider, was forced to reveal information about Edward Snowden. Instead of lavabit forwarding this information to the NSA, it decided to shut down its operations without further ado. Private Internet Access also closed its Russian servers in 2016 in order not to have to adhere to the strict data retention rules.

To avoid problems like these, you can do one of the following:

  • Opt for a VPN provider who has a strict zero log policy and does not store any sensitive information (e.g. browsing history).
  • Choose a VPN provider that is registered in a country that does not have strict data retention regulations.

What is NordVPN's remit?

NordVPN is incorporated in Panama. This means that US and EU data retention laws and nondisclosure treaties are out of reach.

3. Protocol

What is a log and why is it important?

A VPN protocol is a series of processes that determine how the data you send and receive is formatted and transmitted over the Internet or a local area network (LAN). Different services use different protocols with different speeds, compatibility and security. These include L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, PPTP, and OpenVPN, which are generally considered to be the most secure.

What protocols does NordVPN use?

NordVPN supports IKEv2 / IPSec and OpenVPN (TCP / UDP). The latter is particularly important, as OpenVPN is considered the most secure VPN protocol.

4. Encryption

What is encryption and why is it important?

Encryption is the technology that makes transmitted private data over the Internet unreadable for users. In order to decrypt and read encrypted data, both the sender and the recipient must have access to the encryption key.

Most VPNs use one of the two versions of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which differ in the key length. These are the AES-128, which is 128 characters long and already almost impossible to crack, and the AES-256, which is twice as long and therefore even more secure.

What encryption standard does NordVPN use?

NordVPN uses the most secure encryption standard (AES-256).

5. DNS servers

What are DNS servers and why is it important?

Every website on the Internet has an IP address, a long series of numbers that identifies that page. If you want to visit a website, you have to enter the domain name (eg ”Google.com”) without having to remember all these numbers and you will be redirected to the corresponding IP address.

This is made possible by a DNS server. DNS (Domain Name System) is a physical server that stores a large number of IP addresses along with their corresponding domain names. Entering a domain name will ensure that you get the correct IP address. In this sense, a DNS server in the Internet age is very similar to a phone book.

If your VPN provider has its own DNS server, the redirection process takes place in the same encrypted VPN tunnel that protects all your other data from unauthorized access. This in turn prevents third parties - be it a government agency or your ISP - from logging, intercepting, or censoring your activities.

Does NordVPN use its own DNS servers?

Yes. NordVPN operates its own DNS server.

6. Kill switch switch

What is a kill switch and why is it important?

Your VPN connection can fail for a variety of reasons. In this case, a kill switch automatically disconnects you from the Internet and resumes the connection as soon as the connection to the server of your choice is safely re-established. This ensures that your online activities remain hidden from prying eyes.

Does NordVPN use a kill switch?

Yes. NordVPN uses a kill switch switch.

7. Leak test

What is a "leak" and why is it important?

Leaks occur when a VPN client does not encrypt all of your data. This will make parts of it (e.g. your actual IP address) visible to your ISP or the websites you visit. The most common leaks include IP leaks, DNS leaks, Windows login loss, and WebRTC leaks.

Will your data be lost on NordVPN?

AV-Test discovered a WebRTC leak on some VPN servers. If you install NordVPN's browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, you will be able to fix this problem.