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Everything you ever wanted to know about NordVPN: brand, features, and values

The internet was created to be available to everyone. Unfortunately, governments, corporations, and even internet service providers try to limit some people's access to it. That's why we here at NordVPN made it our mission to provide internet access without censorship or surveillance to anyone who needs it.

We started small but quickly grew to have an extensive network of servers in all corners of the world, numerous features, and millions of clients worldwide. 

To an everyday internet user, all of this might be a bit confusing. So before we dive deep into NordVPN's features, let's go over the basics. What is a VPN? How does it work? And why do you need it?

Everything you ever wanted to know about NordVPN: brand, features, and values

The internet was created to be available to everyone. Unfortunately, governments, corporations, and even internet service providers try to limit some people's access to it. That's why we here at NordVPN made it our mission to provide internet access without censorship or surveillance to anyone who needs it.

We started small but quickly grew to have an extensive network of servers in all corners of the world, numerous features, and millions of clients worldwide. 

To an everyday internet user, all of this might be a bit confusing. So before we dive deep into NordVPN's features, let's go over the basics. What is a VPN? How does it work? And why do you need it?

NordVPN – who are we?

NordVPN was established in 2012. During its seven years, it grew massively, from four friends working together to free the internet, to a company with 12 million users worldwide, thousands of servers in almost 60 countries, and no plans to stop anytime soon.

Perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about NordVPN is that we operate under the jurisdiction of Panama. Panama is not part of the 14 eyes alliance, and we do not have to comply with US or EU data retention laws.

This means that we don't keep any of our users' data – neither connection nor usage logs. We don't know what our users do online, what files they download, which servers they connect to, when, and for how long. Your information stays safe because if it doesn't exist, it can't be stolen or given to the authorities – even if they demand it.

NordVPN is one of the very few VPN providers whose no-logs claim was verified. In 2018 we performed an independent audit, which confirmed that we don't log any user information.

PricewaterhouseCoopers performed the audit, and their report is available to all NordVPN users.

NordVPN Cloud
man-sitting-on-cloud

NordVPN – who are we?

NordVPN was established in 2012. During its seven years, it grew massively, from four friends working together to free the internet, to a company with 12 million users worldwide, thousands of servers in almost 60 countries, and no plans to stop anytime soon.

Perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about NordVPN is that we operate under the jurisdiction of Panama. Panama is not part of the 14 eyes alliance, and we do not have to comply with US or EU data retention laws.

This means that we don't keep any of our users' data – neither connection nor usage logs. We don't know what our users do online, what files they download, which servers they connect to, when, and for how long. Your information stays safe because if it doesn't exist, it can't be stolen or given to the authorities – even if they demand it.

NordVPN is one of the very few VPN providers whose no-logs claim was verified. In 2018 we performed an independent audit, which confirmed that we don't log any user information.

PricewaterhouseCoopers performed the audit, and their report is available to all NordVPN users.

Features, features, features

Encryption

We use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys to encrypt your data. It's the same encryption algorithm that the NSA uses to secure its information. 

AES-256 is virtually uncrackable. Why? 256 refers to the key size, which means that it has 2^256 possible combinations. And as every company that offers encryption services likes to point out, it would take all computers currently on Earth billions of years to guess this key. 

We use two different VPN protocols to create a secure VPN tunnel: IKEV2/IPsec and OpenVPN. 

Without getting into too many technical details, we can say that OpenVPN is an open-source code, so it's constantly reviewed and improved by everyone. Its transparency is its greatest strength.

IKEV2/IPsec, on the other hand, is one of the fastest and most secure protocols currently on the market. Users can select which protocol they want to use on most NordVPN apps. 

end-to-end encryption

Encryption

We use Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys to encrypt your data. It's the same encryption algorithm that the NSA uses to secure its information. 

AES-256 is virtually uncrackable. Why? 256 refers to the key size, which means that it has 2^256 possible combinations. And as every company that offers encryption services likes to point out, it would take all computers currently on Earth billions of years to guess this key. 

We use two different VPN protocols to create a secure VPN tunnel: IKEV2/IPsec and OpenVPN. 

Without getting into too many technical details, we can say that OpenVPN is an open-source code, so it's constantly reviewed and improved by everyone. Its transparency is its greatest strength.

IKEV2/IPsec, on the other hand, is one of the fastest and most secure protocols currently on the market. Users can select which protocol they want to use on most NordVPN apps. 

NordVPN Recommended Server

Servers

NordVPN has a lot of them – 5225, to be exact. They are spread over 59 countries, covering even the most exotic locations. 

We offer 1574 servers in the United States alone. Twenty server locations throughout the country ensure fast and stable connections in every region. You can click "Quick connect," and the app will connect you to the best performing server automatically. Or, if you prefer Phoenix over Los Angeles, you can manually select a server there. You can also add particular servers to your favorites list by clicking the little heart icon. That way, you'll be able to find them fast without scrolling through the endless list of NordVPN servers.

NordVPN Recommended Server

Servers

NordVPN has a lot of them – 5225, to be exact. They are spread over 59 countries, covering even the most exotic locations. 

We offer 1574 servers in the United States alone. Twenty server locations throughout the country ensure fast and stable connections in every region. You can click "Quick connect," and the app will connect you to the best performing server automatically. Or, if you prefer Phoenix over Los Angeles, you can manually select a server there. You can also add particular servers to your favorites list by clicking the little heart icon. That way, you'll be able to find them fast without scrolling through the endless list of NordVPN servers.

Specialty servers

A significant part of these 5225 servers is dedicated to special features. You can use them if you work or travel to countries with strict internet censorship and regulations and need additional security. Specialty servers are there to ensure that the internet is available to you with no restrictions.

Double VPN

If you have reasons to believe that your actions online are being monitored by the government or other third parties, you can use this feature for an extra layer of security. The name is rather self-explanatory. When you connect to a VPN server, it encrypts your traffic and gives you a new IP address. Then, instead of connecting to the internet, it connects to a second VPN server. Your already encrypted traffic is encrypted once again, and the IP address is also changed. Your connections are mixed between TCP and UDP protocols, so it increases the security even further. 

Double encryption means that even if an intruder intercepts your connection, they will only get to the first VPN server. And since your IP was already changed when it arrived at the server, it knows absolutely nothing about you. 

It all sounds great, but should you use it every day? Most likely, no. If your connection is traveling through two servers, you inevitably lose speed, and depending on where you live, using the internet this way might get frustrating. However, if you are a political activist or a journalist working in a country with heavy government surveillance, trading your internet speed for safety will likely sound like a good idea. 

A simple VPN connection is enough for everyday browsing.

P2P servers

Peer-to-peer networking is very useful if you want to share large files with a lot of people. However, many people think that P2P is only used for distributing illegal pirated content. But it has a lot of perfectly legal uses.

P2P is especially popular with large corporations. They not only use it to share large files within the company. It also comes in handy when dealing with customers. Companies like Microsoft use P2P networks to distribute software updates. Government agencies use it to share large amounts of data, both internally and externally. Universities and libraries use it for distributing scientific data, public domain videos, etc. 

So, as you can see, P2P has a lot of legitimate uses. But it’s not perfect when it comes to safeguarding your privacy. When you are downloading or uploading your files, everyone who’s also downloading that file will see your IP address.

And that’s not the only problem. Since so many people use P2P to share pirated content, your ISP might even block your access to some sites if it detects you are using P2P. It can also limit your bandwidth altogether, which is even more annoying. 

Luckily, we have a perfect solution to these problems. When you use a VPN for P2P, it conceals your real IP address, and no one on the network can track you. It will also hide the fact you are using it from your ISP, so you won’t experience any bandwidth limits. 

NordVPN has special P2P servers that you can find in the “Specialty servers” section of your app. There are hundreds of dedicated servers, all optimized for fast and secure file sharing. And if you are using P2P at work to share especially sensitive data, our AES-256 encryption will ensure that your files are safe.

Obfuscated servers

If you are traveling and suddenly find out that you can’t access Twitter, for example, you might use a regular VPN to unblock it. And it would usually work. However, in some places, it could get you into some trouble. China, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and other countries prohibit the use of VPNs. Consequences? You can get fined, or your device could get blocked, and you’d be left with no mobile or internet access. 

Because of the heavy surveillance, ISPs immediately see when you are accessing the internet through a VPN (even if they don’t know what you are doing online). And since the government generally controls ISPs, you are immediately reported to the authorities. 

The situation might seem hopeless, but we have one more trick up our sleeve – obfuscated servers. 

What is obfuscation? To put it simply, it is a technique used to make things difficult or even impossible to understand. When you use an obfuscated server, it camouflages your traffic, and it looks like you are using a regular internet connection. 

We offer obfuscated servers in 13 locations. So if you find yourself in a country that censors the internet and has laws prohibiting the use of VPNs, connect to obfuscated servers. You can toggle this feature in the advanced settings of your app.

Specialty servers

A significant part of these 5225 servers is dedicated to special features. You can use them if you work or travel to countries with strict internet censorship and regulations and need additional security. Specialty servers are there to ensure that the internet is available to you with no restrictions.

Double VPN

If you have reasons to believe that your actions online are being monitored by the government or other third parties, you can use this feature for an extra layer of security. The name is rather self-explanatory. When you connect to a VPN server, it encrypts your traffic and gives you a new IP address. Then, instead of connecting to the internet, it connects to a second VPN server. Your already encrypted traffic is encrypted once again, and the IP address is also changed. Your connections are mixed between TCP and UDP protocols, so it increases the security even further. 

Double encryption means that even if an intruder intercepts your connection, they will only get to the first VPN server. And since your IP was already changed when it arrived at the server, it knows absolutely nothing about you. 

It all sounds great, but should you use it every day? Most likely, no. If your connection is traveling through two servers, you inevitably lose speed, and depending on where you live, using the internet this way might get frustrating. However, if you are a political activist or a journalist working in a country with heavy government surveillance, trading your internet speed for safety will likely sound like a good idea. 

A simple VPN connection is enough for everyday browsing.

P2P servers

Peer-to-peer networking is very useful if you want to share large files with a lot of people. However, many people think that P2P is only used for distributing illegal pirated content. But it has a lot of perfectly legal uses.

P2P is especially popular with large corporations. They not only use it to share large files within the company. It also comes in handy when dealing with customers. Companies like Microsoft use P2P networks to distribute software updates. Government agencies use it to share large amounts of data, both internally and externally. Universities and libraries use it for distributing scientific data, public domain videos, etc. 

So, as you can see, P2P has a lot of legitimate uses. But it’s not perfect when it comes to safeguarding your privacy. When you are downloading or uploading your files, everyone who’s also downloading that file will see your IP address.

And that’s not the only problem. Since so many people use P2P to share pirated content, your ISP might even block your access to some sites if it detects you are using P2P. It can also limit your bandwidth altogether, which is even more annoying. 

Luckily, we have a perfect solution to these problems. When you use a VPN for P2P, it conceals your real IP address, and no one on the network can track you. It will also hide the fact you are using it from your ISP, so you won’t experience any bandwidth limits. 

NordVPN has special P2P servers that you can find in the “Specialty servers” section of your app. There are hundreds of dedicated servers, all optimized for fast and secure file sharing. And if you are using P2P at work to share especially sensitive data, our AES-256 encryption will ensure that your files are safe.

Obfuscated servers

If you are traveling and suddenly find out that you can’t access Twitter, for example, you might use a regular VPN to unblock it. And it would usually work. However, in some places, it could get you into some trouble. China, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and other countries prohibit the use of VPNs. Consequences? You can get fined, or your device could get blocked, and you’d be left with no mobile or internet access. 

Because of the heavy surveillance, ISPs immediately see when you are accessing the internet through a VPN (even if they don’t know what you are doing online). And since the government generally controls ISPs, you are immediately reported to the authorities. 

The situation might seem hopeless, but we have one more trick up our sleeve – obfuscated servers. 

What is obfuscation? To put it simply, it is a technique used to make things difficult or even impossible to understand. When you use an obfuscated server, it camouflages your traffic, and it looks like you are using a regular internet connection. 

We offer obfuscated servers in 13 locations. So if you find yourself in a country that censors the internet and has laws prohibiting the use of VPNs, connect to obfuscated servers. You can toggle this feature in the advanced settings of your app.

NordVPN CyberSec

Our CyberSec is a feature you might not expect to find in a VPN. Nevertheless, it is quite useful, especially for very security-minded people. It has two main functions: blocking ads and protecting your device from various cyberthreats. 

You might wonder how a VPN can protect you from malware, for example. It simply blocks your access to dangerous websites. It's very useful, for example, if you receive a lot of scam and phishing emails. Vigilance is key, but even the most observant people slip up sometimes. So if you happen to click on a malicious link accidentally, CyberSec will block the website before any infection can enter your device.

Here's how it works: every time you go online, your traffic goes through a NordVPN server first. It then connects to a DNS server to get the IP address of the website you want to visit. When the server has the address, it will compare it against a database of blacklists. If the address is in there, your access will be blocked.

And that's not it. In case your device gets infected with botnet malware, CyberSec will immediately cut off any attempts to use it in botnet-powered DDoS attacks. 

When it comes to ad blocking, CyberSec does not work like your regular ad-blocking browser extension. It will, however, automatically block any ads and popups that are known to lead to malicious websites. 

But this ad-blocking feature is the reason why CyberSec is not available on our Android app. That's because Google's policies won't allow it. But you can download the .apk file for your Android from our website, and ad-blocking works perfectly on the rest of the NordVPN apps.

NordVPN CyberSec
NordVPN CyberSec

NordVPN CyberSec

Our CyberSec is a feature you might not expect to find in a VPN. Nevertheless, it is quite useful, especially for very security-minded people. It has two main functions: blocking ads and protecting your device from various cyberthreats. 

You might wonder how a VPN can protect you from malware, for example. It simply blocks your access to dangerous websites. It's very useful, for example, if you receive a lot of scam and phishing emails. Vigilance is key, but even the most observant people slip up sometimes. So if you happen to click on a malicious link accidentally, CyberSec will block the website before any infection can enter your device.

Here's how it works: every time you go online, your traffic goes through a NordVPN server first. It then connects to a DNS server to get the IP address of the website you want to visit. When the server has the address, it will compare it against a database of blacklists. If the address is in there, your access will be blocked.

And that's not it. In case your device gets infected with botnet malware, CyberSec will immediately cut off any attempts to use it in botnet-powered DDoS attacks. 

When it comes to ad blocking, CyberSec does not work like your regular ad-blocking browser extension. It will, however, automatically block any ads and popups that are known to lead to malicious websites. 

But this ad-blocking feature is the reason why CyberSec is not available on our Android app. That's because Google's policies won't allow it. But you can download the .apk file for your Android from our website, and ad-blocking works perfectly on the rest of the NordVPN apps.

Kill Switch

Most people use a VPN to establish a safe internet connection and hide their IP address. Unfortunately, if something were to happen to that connection, their real identity might get exposed. NordVPN users can rely on a kill switch to stop that from happening. 

Keeping their identity secret might be a question of life and death to people working or living in authoritarian countries. A Kill Switch will automatically shut down selected apps or disable your device's internet access altogether. 

killswitch

Kill Switch

Most people use a VPN to establish a safe internet connection and hide their IP address. Unfortunately, if something were to happen to that connection, their real identity might get exposed. NordVPN users can rely on a kill switch to stop that from happening. 

Keeping their identity secret might be a question of life and death to people working or living in authoritarian countries. A Kill Switch will automatically shut down selected apps or disable your device's internet access altogether. 

DNS leak protection

First of all – what is a DNS? Think of it as the internet's address book. Every site has a unique IP address, but it would be impossible for users to remember all their favorites. Not to mention the time it would take to enter them manually every time. Instead, we enter domain names, and our computers do the rest of the work. They contact a Domain Name System (DNS) server and request the IP address of a particular site. Only then the browser can connect the user to the website. 

Why is this important to VPN users? Usually, your browser contacts the DNS servers that belong to your ISP. But if you want to keep your online activities private, you connect to a VPN, and it uses its own DNS servers. If something happens to your system, your ISP will be able to see what websites you visit from your browser's contact with the DNS server. This process is called a DNS leak. 

It might happen because you have manually set up your VPN, and some configurations are not what they should be. It could also occur if you use Windows. This OS is known to ignore the VPN and contact the ISP's DNS servers directly. 

NordVPN uses advanced DNS leak protection technology to ensure that our user's traffic is 100% encrypted. However, we encourage users to check for DNS leaks and contact our support team if your real IP address is displayed.

NordVPN Privacy
NordVPN Privacy

DNS leak protection

First of all – what is a DNS? Think of it as the internet's address book. Every site has a unique IP address, but it would be impossible for users to remember all their favorites. Not to mention the time it would take to enter them manually every time. Instead, we enter domain names, and our computers do the rest of the work. They contact a Domain Name System (DNS) server and request the IP address of a particular site. Only then the browser can connect the user to the website. 

Why is this important to VPN users? Usually, your browser contacts the DNS servers that belong to your ISP. But if you want to keep your online activities private, you connect to a VPN, and it uses its own DNS servers. If something happens to your system, your ISP will be able to see what websites you visit from your browser's contact with the DNS server. This process is called a DNS leak. 

It might happen because you have manually set up your VPN, and some configurations are not what they should be. It could also occur if you use Windows. This OS is known to ignore the VPN and contact the ISP's DNS servers directly. 

NordVPN uses advanced DNS leak protection technology to ensure that our user's traffic is 100% encrypted. However, we encourage users to check for DNS leaks and contact our support team if your real IP address is displayed.

SmartPlay

Not being able to watch your favorite series when you're on vacation could be quite annoying. A lot of popular streaming services limit what content users outside of the US can see. Unfortunately, that sometimes also includes you if you are traveling. 

Using a VPN is a great way to make sure that you won't miss a dramatic season finale or your team scoring that crucial point. By selecting a server in the US, you can browse the internet and stream your TV like you never left. 

What makes it so easy and seamless? It's our special SmartPlay feature. SmartPlay is activated automatically in all our apps, so you don't need to set anything up. We combined the Smart DNS technology with a VPN, so you can access your favorite content without compromising your security.

And in case you face any problems, we have a dedicated Help Center for SmartPlay. Alternatively, you can contact our customer support, and they'll be more than happy to help. 

smartplay

SmartPlay

Not being able to watch your favorite series when you're on vacation could be quite annoying. A lot of popular streaming services limit what content users outside of the US can see. Unfortunately, that sometimes also includes you if you are traveling. 

Using a VPN is a great way to make sure that you won't miss a dramatic season finale or your team scoring that crucial point. By selecting a server in the US, you can browse the internet and stream your TV like you never left. 

What makes it so easy and seamless? It's our special SmartPlay feature. SmartPlay is activated automatically in all our apps, so you don't need to set anything up. We combined the Smart DNS technology with a VPN, so you can access your favorite content without compromising your security.

And in case you face any problems, we have a dedicated Help Center for SmartPlay. Alternatively, you can contact our customer support, and they'll be more than happy to help. 

Apps for every taste

NordVPN has dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, and Linux. They are very intuitive and easy to use, so even people without any technical know-how can find their way around. Once you open the app, you will see a world map. From there, users can click on the "Quick Connect" button, which will connect them to the nearest and fastest server currently available. They can also choose a specific country by tapping on one of the country pins on the map or scrolling through the list of servers. 

However, if you're a more advanced user, we offer a lot of options for manual configuration. You can have a VPN on a Raspberry PI, your BlackBerry, or if you need to protect more than six devices, your router. Our tutorials page has loads of detailed instructions on how to use our apps, how to set up different VPN protocols, and how to install a VPN on different routers.

If you ever face any problems, our customer support is available 24/7 via live chat. Or head over to the Help Center, where you can browse various topics, troubleshoot issues, and follow helpful tutorials. 

Aside from the apps, users can also add a NordVPN extension to their Chrome or Firefox browser. However, these are not the same as using a VPN app – they are proxies, which is excellent if you just want to change your IP address quickly. It will only secure the HTTP traffic, not all of the connections your device makes, so make sure to keep that in mind. Unfortunately, you can't pick a server you want to connect to when using the extensions. But it is very fast, so you can change your virtual location in seconds. 

Bottom line

Here at NordVPN, we believe in a free and open internet, and keeping it that way is our primary mission. 

Every online service you use collects and stores data on you – Google, Facebook, Twitter, even your browser. With net neutrality gone, your ISP can limit your internet access however they want, or store and sell your data to third parties.

By using a VPN, you can take back control, reduce your digital footprint, and browse the internet freely. 

And we made sure that you could do it with one click.

NordVPN Secured Devices
man-room-devices-secured

Bottom line

Here at NordVPN, we believe in a free and open internet, and keeping it that way is our primary mission. 

Every online service you use collects and stores data on you – Google, Facebook, Twitter, even your browser. With net neutrality gone, your ISP can limit your internet access however they want, or store and sell your data to third parties.

By using a VPN, you can take back control, reduce your digital footprint, and browse the internet freely. 

And we made sure that you could do it with one click.

We care about your privacy.
Copyright © 2012-2020 NordVPN.com support@nordvpn.com
image image image image
We care about your privacy.
Copyright © 2012-2020 NordVPN.com support@nordvpn.com
image image image image