If you've been researching for a VPN for any length of time, chances are that you've at least seen the name “NordVPN” mentioned a few times. It gained some popularity in the torrent community because it supports P2P, and it offers features that make it easier and safer to download files.
During the past couple of years, NordVPN has been making a lot of changes and upgrades. They added a new look, more security features and plenty of new servers. Some tools seem to be designed with file-sharing in mind. Therefore, we tested the software, to see how torrent-friendly it really is.
Does NordVPN Allow P2P?
Unlike many VPNs, which have a written policy stating “no” but do effectively allow it, NordVPN is very upfront about its torrenting policy. The answer is a definitive “yes”, and users can note this within the application itself.
There is a space dedicated to servers meant for torrenting usage. They range from all over the world, but they're mostly in countries known for being more P2P friendly.
Is NordVPN Safe?
In order to be considered safe to download torrent files, a VPN provider needs to have a specific set of requirements that provide peace of mind for its users. The following are the reasons why we consider NordVPN to be secure:
The company does not keep logs other than rotating, fifteen-minute records for debugging purposes. This policy claim was upheld during NordVPN's most recent audit by one of the most famous audit companies.
The most significant advantage of not saving any data is that if any government or copyright agency asks NordVPN for their user's activity info, they have no logs to give them.
NordVPN's business license is in Panama. Outside the US and EU jurisdictions, it would be tough to legally coerce the company. Staying away from governments that are famous for snooping on their citizen's activity is a big plus.
This client operates on the OpenVPN protocol, with the possibility to choose between UDP and TCP. UDP is the best combination of speed and security.
There is a new protocol available, the NordLynx. NordVPN built this new protocol around WireGuard. It combines the fast speed of Wireguard and a double NAT, meaning it can achieve high speeds while keeping users safe.
Although other protocols were available in the past, such as L2TP and PPTP, NordVPN decided to exclude them. They are not as reliable and safe as OpenVPN and Nordlynx.
How to use
NordVPN for Torrenting?
Torrenting with NordVPN is quite simple. You just need to follow a few steps:
1. Choose a Subscription
The first step is to purchase one of the available plans. Right now, your highest discount will be to buy the two-year subscription, resulting in 89 dollars being billed at once, covering two years. Here is the full pricing scheme:
Regardless of the subscription you choose, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee. That means that if the service doesn't work out for you, there's always the possibility of requesting a refund within thirty days of purchasing the software.
2. Download NordVPN and Sign-in
You will receive a mail with all the info you need to download NordVPN. There will be a link there to install the software, along with your username and password. With those credentials, you will be able to sign-in.
3. Turn the Kill Switch feature on
Before getting any torrents, make sure you turn the kill switch on. This feature stops all Internet connectivity if the VPN connection drops for any reason. This is one of the most critical features for torrenting. In a nutshell, your torrent download will stop if the VPN disconnects, meaning that your real IP won't be visible during that time.
Besides the regular kill switch, NordVPN also has an Application kill switch. You can think of this feature as a more specialized version of the “Kill Switch”. This tool will only kill the programs you choose if the VPN connection drops, not the entire Internet connection.
You can add an unlimited number of applications to this whitelist, as seen above, where we've added uTorrent. The software will save these settings, so it's a “set it and forget it” operation.
4. Select a Server
Now it's time to connect to a server. Decide whether you want to pick a specific server manually, or if you'd like the software to assign a P2P server to you automatically.
4.1. The Automatic method
With this method, the VPN software selects a P2P server for you. You just have to click on the “P2P” section on the main window. It will pick the fastest server for you, which will likely be located from within your country. If you'd like to change this, you should try the “Manual” method, listed below.
4.2. Manual method
Once you've spotted the “P2P” option, you'll see that it has three periods (“…”) on the far-right of the selection. When you click these three dots, a mini pop-up menu should show up. This menu allows you to select the specific country you'd like and how the software should pick out your server.
We recommend selecting a country close to you, and then choosing “fastest”. Once you've decided which one you'd like to use, click “Connect” on the little pop-up menu, as shown in the picture.
5. Start Torrenting
Now you can look for your torrents online, launch your BitTorrent program and download your files.
NordVPN's P2P Servers
NordVPN has an ever-growing repertoire of servers. Over the years, it has 2,280 servers in the Americas, 2,200 in Europe, 680 in the Asian Pacific, and even 120 in Africa and the Middle East!
While some locations have no servers designed for P2P traffic, such as Costa Rica and Israel, most countries have various P2P servers available. Currently, these are the locations where torrent users can connect to:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
These servers are tagged with “P2P” within NordVPN's interface. These are meant for multiple upload and download connections. You'll be able to take advantage of a much larger segment of the bandwidth available to you than you would from a standard server, meant for simple browsing or gaming.
To avoid any confusion, we want to make it clear that you don't have to be in any of those countries to connect to NordVPN. Those are the countries you can connect to, so that you can have an IP from that place.
While NordVPN struggled with speed in its infancy, the company quickly grew past that issue. We ran a torrent test with a good number of seeds, and you can see the results below:
By rule of thumb, you should always allow about 10% bandwidth to be consumed by the VPN. After all, it's acting as a constant, encrypted intermediary between you and your ISP. Not to mention the seeds of the content you're downloading, as well as peers who are receiving data you're uploading.
In our tests, the download speed hit 7.4 Mbps with no VPN connection. When connected to one of NordVPN's P2P servers, it hit 7.1 Mbps. That is a very acceptable speed difference, making NordVPN much faster than many of the VPNs out there.
The User Interface
NordVPN provides a sleek software known for both ease of use and security. The user interface (UI) has evolved over the years. As you can see in the image below, NordVPN offers users an array of options, including Dedicated IP servers, P2P servers, and more.
There's also a straightforward “Quick Connect” tool that will automatically connect a user to an optimal server. But, depending on the user's country, it may not be “optimal” for privacy, as we will discuss in a bit.
NordVPN has plenty of features, more than the average VPN provider. Many of its configurations are directly related to security, helping you to have an even safer experience. In our opinion, these are the most important ones:
DNS Leak Protection
This safety measure addresses a problem that was more prevalent a few years ago than it is now. There was an exploit that utilized WebRTC that could grab a user's real IP, which this feature fixes. NordVPN uses its own DNS servers, making a DNS leak impossible unless the user takes action and changes the default settings.
It's good to see they offer this option. Some VPN services use your default DNS servers, leaving you open to snooping by whoever hosts them (hint: it's often your ISP!).
One of the newer features of NordVPN, “CyberSec,” is precisely what it sounds like. It helps to block known adware and malware-hosting websites. Used in combination with extensions like AdBlock, this virtually guarantees you won't see ads during your browsing experience.
Even though CyberSec is not directly connected to file-sharing, it may be more important than you think. Keep in mind that many torrent sites are full of intrusive pop-ups and suspicious scripts. This blocker will help to keep you on the safe side when choosing your torrent files on such websites.
Even though this tool is handy in some situations, it's not ideal for torrenting. That's because it selects the fastest server available for you, which usually means a server based in your country.
When it comes to file-sharing, selecting a server in a different country from yours will bring you peace of mind. The fact that it's based in another country spreads out the jurisdictions when you torrent. Anyone trying to track your activity would have to go through different jurisdictions.
NordVPN's core application is cross-platform. That means that it'll work with any modern Linux flavor, Windows 7 and up, and Mac OS.
There are even iOS and Android applications available for smart devices. What we found to be most impressive was that the Windows features are also present on those applications. That way, you don't compromise security for convenience!
Regardless of the platform, users are allowed to connect to the service six times at once. For example, you can protect your three laptops, smartphone, smart TV, and gaming console simultaneously. This also makes it possible to share your NordVPN subscription with your family members.
What we Like about NordVPN
- No logs are kept by any party down the chain.
- Company's located in Panama, where there aren't data retention requirements.
- Has one of the widest selections of server locations out of any provider.
- You can save quite a bit of money by purchasing in bulk.
- Reliable high-speed P2P server access.
- Cutting-edge security features like CyberSec and kill switches.
- Allows six connections from devices anywhere around the world.
- A 30-day money-back guarantee shows that NordVPN puts their money where their mouth is!
What Could be Improved
- The Quick-Connect should have the option of selecting a server from a different country.
- Very few options when it comes to Africa/Middle East (though this is very common).
NordVPN was the biggest surprise in our extensive VPN testing. The Internet has quite a lot of outdated information about this VPN. Even our review would be out of date in a couple of months if we didn’t update it on a regular basis. That's because they are always improving, adding new servers and features at a fast pace.
NordVPN's creators are clearly passionate about their work and keeping their users' activities online private at all costs. They've gone out of their way to demonstrate that they are, indeed, legitimate VPN providers.
Torrenting with NordVPN was a breeze. Their servers for P2P downloads are easy to identify and, most importantly, they are fast and secure. Placing NordVPN at the top of our list of VPN recommendations was an easy choice.