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Security and Privacy
Nearly every possible device or piece of equipment that has some sort of electrical component is connected these days. What's more, most of us store, view and transfer immense amounts of important information and data online, via these devices.
More and more people practically live on the internet, which lets us conduct financial, official and leisure businesses all in one convenient place. This also means that our connection to the internet is a massive security risk if not suitably protected. NordVPN is a great way to eliminate that risk.
A key method of securing yourself online is through the use of a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. Like so many other forms of technology, consumer VPN software has been simplified when compared to the original or professional grade protocols, often too much, so that many of the benefits of using a VPN are lost. However, a couple of paid-for VPN products available still manage to retain all those protections and make it easy to use for everyday consumers. NordVPN is one of the most popular.
What Does a VPN Do?
The basic idea of a VPN is that it hides your online activity from various trackers that are built into applications and websites.
You probably aren't even aware of these trackers, but they are definitely aware of you, and will, if you allow them, follow your activity around the internet and build a sort of anonymous profile of you that can then be sold to advertisers who will use the data to target you with ads. There are other implications too of course, and your IP address is always recorded. This directly links any site or application you've used back to you, via your ISP.
Through the use of a VPN, at least as far as consumers are concerned, it will make it look like you're actually browsing whatever website you're on from a different country than the one you're in. It hides your location.
NordVPN is ideal for both experienced users and those who are considering a VPN for the first time. The GUI is designed in a way to be immediately understandable for beginners, giving you a world map where you can choose the country of the VPN that will be bouncing you through.
Many paid VPNs provide the option to manually select your preferred country - a feature typically missing from free software - but NordVPN boasts some of the most comprehensive options. Country selection also lets you access just about all geo-locked online content. This is done by hiding your Internet Protocol (IP) address.
An IP address is a number assigned to your device by your ISP and it can be used to determine the location from where you're accessing the internet. This may not be a threat to your private internet connection, but when you're in public, it can pose a serious privacy threat. With a VPN though, all your traffic will routed through the VPN provider's network, where you'll be assigned a different IP address.
The more servers there are, the more IP addresses that will be available for you. As a result, no outsider will know from what area you're accessing the internet. Country selection also lets you access just about all geo-locked online content.
NordVPN operates a total of 5,987 servers spread across 59 countries. The majority of these are located in the Americas and Europe, though there are plenty of servers and locations that you can make use of in the rest of the world. A few alternative VPN providers boast larger numbers of servers in African and Asian countries, so if that is your specific need then it is possible that NordVPN won't be ideal.
If you already know a thing or two about VPNs, you can also get more detailed information about the servers available. Server load, distance and type is shown within the app (whatever platform you are on) allowing you to select the right one to maximise speed and performance for a given activity, like peer-to-peer downloads and uploads.
Whatever you are doing online, NordVPN will not keep a record of it. This feature is critical in this day and age when privacy breaches are all too common, and corporations are greedy to learn as much about you as possible. With NordVPN that is literally impossible - there will be no records or logs of what you did - whether it was browse Facebook, play games or search for pet food for your cat.
Another common feature of most VPNs have is an ad blocker. Many websites have popup ads, and occasionally these ads can download harmful malware on your device without your knowledge. Even if no harm is done to your device, random advertisements can be annoying. VPNs can solve the problem by not allowing malware or ads to even load up, not to mention harm your computer. NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that comes preloaded with an adblocker.
Country of Operations
When picking your VPN, something few people consider is checking where the company is based, even though it can make the biggest difference. Due to laws and regulations, VPN providers in some countries like the USA and United Kingdom still have to keep all sorts of records about you and your activities. The government having potential access to that data defeats the whole "privacy" purpose of VPNs.
NordVPN is based in Panama, a country where laws protect your data privacy rights very strictly, making it one of the most secure options out there, and significantly more secure than any USA or UK based VPN provider.
Potential Disadvantages Of A VPN
While VPNs are great, they can come with flaws. While neither of the two we mention below apply to Nord, if you decide to go with another provider, be aware of them.
A VPN connects you to the internet through a gateway, which is the VPN provider's own server. Since your data has to go to another location before being sent to the receiver, it takes a bit more time, and as a result, the speed of your internet might seem slow.
To better understand this, imagine having to make many turns to reach a location on a vehicle, which could otherwise be achieved by following a straight line. If you already have slow internet or use a VPN that doesn't provide great coverage, the effect can multiply and as a result, your internet speeds would seem noticeably slower. Luckily, NordVPN offers fast speeds that are practically indistinguishable from the regular speeds.
VPNs Being Blocked
VPNs provide users with several useful features. However, in some countries like Russia or China, the government may not want its residents to be able to access all content available on the internet. VPNs are therefore an issue for them, since VPNs can access geographically locked content. To counteract this, many such countries have made it completely illegal to use a VPN - except for government-approved VPNs.
Even if you don't live in such an area, you might be using a service that blocks VPN users. Services such as Netflix and Hulu retain customer IP addresses and compare them to the ones used by known VPN providers. If these two match, then they block the customer. To combat this, many VPN companies make sure to routinely change their stored IP addresses, NordVPN is one of those companies which follows this protocol.
Platforms - Including Linux
Another benefit of NordVPN is the wide platform support it boasts. The software is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS, allowing you to hide your IP address on your mobile device as well. NordVPN supports a wide array of Linux platforms including Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, QubesOS, RHEL, CentOS and openSUSE.
Price and Value
One of the most important factors when deciding which VPN to commit to is ultimately value. Using NordVPN requires an active plan (much like Netflix, for example) and the company offers several pricing schemes. Monthly plans are as cheap as $3.49 per month if you join a 3-year plan. If you want more flexibility though, pricing from $4.99 through to $11.95 per month is available. Having a 30-day money-back guarantee on any plan also provides reassurance.
Considering this subscription gets you one of the best VPN services out there, with one account letting you secure six devices at once, we'd argue it offers the best value on the market right now. The VPN industry is a highly competitive one due to the ever increasing importance of online security, but we think that right now NordVPN offers the best service too.