One year with NordVPN

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A year ago NordVPN offered me the chance to review its product for Hypertext. Little did I know that this offer would include a year-long subscription to the service, as well as NordPass.

It has been one crazy year and each time I’ve sat down to write this review something has stolen my attention. So now with a bit of time on my side I can pen my thoughts as regards this VPN.

Before that I want to highlight that I have shopped VPN products for years. TunnelBear, Rocket, Express, I’ve tried them all and each has failed to impress.

As far as NordVPN is concerned, however, I am sticking with this solution for home use for the following reasons.

The apps are user friendly

Starting at the desktop app seems silly but given my experience with VPN apps, I would beg to differ.

Simplicity is key for most users and while being able to configure what DNS you use or configure a kill switch, this can get confusing for the layperson.

This is where NordVPN shines. Click a country name and you are automatically connected to a server with a good connection. When you want to disconnect, click disconnect. Simple.

There are of course more advanced configuration options such as setting a DNS server, setting a killswitch and running a diagnostics report.

A rather important feature we should mention is that NordVPN supports the OpenVPN protocol though you will need to configure that manually. To that end, NordVPN’s documentation is simple to follow and well explained.

NordVPN also has a no-log policy which is great for privacy.

Much like the desktop app, the mobile app is well designed and works very well.

Overall NordVPN is great from a UX perspective, so great you’ll be able to provide tech support to family members over the phone should they encounter issues.

Speed matters

Let’s get down to brass tax, what’s using NordVPN like for gaming?

As a baseline our ping with no traffic to 8.8.8.8 comes in at 9-10ms.

Connecting to a local NordVPN server that ping goes up to 12-15ms which is pretty good and should provide protection from DDoS attacks without sacrificing your latency.

In action, this increase is barely noticeable and there have been times where we simply forget we’re connected to the VPN.

For comparison when connecting to a US server our ping jumps to 242-243ms.

As far as speed is concerned we didn’t note a dip in download or upload speeds while using NordVPN though our connection takes a bit longer to get up to the maximum compared to when tests are run without a VPN active.

As for streaming we tested NordVPN out on the one international streaming platform we have access to locally.

In that regard NordVPN performs well. We have been able to watch series and movies that would otherwise be unavailable to us due to licensing restrictions. Pick a region and stream, it’s that simple.

Is it worth it?

At $11.95 (~R170) per month NordVPN is about as much as a top-tier Netflix subscription. One can purchase a one or two year plan which requires full payment up front but will cost you less than paying month to month.

Those packages were discounted for Christmas with a two-year plan going for $89 per year (~R1 320) and a year plan for $59(~R875).

That is a lot of money for what most people might be using this VPN for which is accessing otherwise inaccessible content on streaming platforms.

Let’s be frank, that is the reason many folks use a VPN for these days. The privacy factor, while important, is simply not what the layperson is using these services for.

With that in mind NordVPN is great, month to month. Even with a year long subscription to NordVPN I haven’t felt compelled to use it daily.

Granted, I live in a country where I can say anything (within reason) without fear of my government cracking down on me. This isn’t true in many parts of the world and suggesting NordVPN outright gives me pause.

This is mainly due to NordVPN being breached in 2019. The breach was tiny in the grand scheme of things but it’s impossible to mention the service without that note.

With all of that having been said, NordVPN works well and out of all the services I’ve tested it’s the one I will turn to should the fear of missing out on a series or movie become too much to stand.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.

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