Is NordVPN Safe for Torrenting?

If you've been researching for a VPN to download torrents for any length of time, chances are that you've at least seen the name “NordVPN” mentioned a few times. NordVPN went from a small startup to a world-famous VPN service. After becoming the first VPN service to be successfully audited by one of the “big four” auditing companies, it gained even more popularity.

In this review, we'll take a look at NordVPN's policy on file-sharing. We will see how safe it is to use torrents comparatively to other VPN services and how fast one can expect download speeds to be. Finally, we will discuss other notable features that the application provides.

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, such as the Netherlands.

Security and Privacy

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.

NordVPN provides a sleek software known for both ease of use and security. 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 great speeds of Wireguard and a double NAT, meaning it can achieve very fast download speeds while keeping users safe.

Although there were other protocols 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.

Logging Policy

The company does not keep logs other than rotating, fifteen-minute logs for debugging purposes. This policy claim was upheld during NordVPN's most recent audit by one of the most famous audit companies.

The biggest 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.

The User Interface

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.

The user interface and options of NordVPN

There's also a straightforward “Quick Connect” tool that will automatically connect a user to an optimal server. Depending on the user's country, this feature may not be “optimal” when it comes to privacy, as we will discuss in a bit.

How to use NordVPN for Torrenting?

Downloading torrents with NordVPN is quite simple. The only choice to make is whether you want to pick a specific server manually, or you'd like the software to assign a P2P server to you.

1. The Automatic method

Using this method, the VPN software selects a P2P server for you. You just have to click on the “P2P” section on the UI. 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.

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.

Selecting the country and P2P server

By default, NordVPN will determine the fastest server for you, regardless of location. We recommend selecting a country close to you, and then choosing “fastest”. These settings will be saved, so it's a “set it and forget it” operation. Once you've selected what you'd like to use, click “Connect” on the little pop-up menu, as shown in the picture.

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.

The best servers for torrents

When you torrent, using “Quick Connect” to select a server isn't the best option. Though this doesn't get people banned from the service, it prevents NordVPN from reaching its full potential.

There are also possible privacy concerns when using “Quick Connect”. That's because this feature selects a server based in your country. Even if you live in a torrent-friendly country, connecting to a server located outside of your country 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. Also, if there's a misunderstanding regarding an item you may have uploaded or downloaded, you'll have far less to worry about, legally speaking.

How to select NordVPN's best P2P servers?

Ensure that you've selected a server specifically tagged with “P2P” within NordVPN's UI. 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.

And when using the manual method, remember that it's best to choose a server located in another country!

Speed Test

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:

Torrent test with normal connection
Without VPN

BitTorrent test with NordVPN
Connected to NordVPN (OpenVPN protocol)

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, your ISP, and seeds of the content you're downloading, as well as peers who are receiving data you're uploading.

In our tests, the torrent download speed hit 7.4 Mbps with no VPN connection. Our download when connected to one of NordVPN's P2P servers hit 7.1 Mbps. That is a very acceptable speed difference, which makes NordVPN much faster than many of the VPNs out there.

In-App Features

NordVPN has plenty of features, more than the average VPN provider. Many of its configurations are directly related with security, helping you to have an even safer experience. There are measures to disconnect programs, your entire Internet connection, and some of them even protect your browsing experience. In our opinion, these are the most important features:

Internet Kill Switch

NordVPN is a “full-tunnel” service, meaning that it encrypts all traffic coming in or out, regardless of source or application. The “Kill Switch” feature stops all Internet connectivity should the VPN connection drop for any reason. It guarantees that your identity doesn't leak while the VPN was down.

Don't forget that this option blocks Internet connections when the VPN is not working. Therefore, if you don't turn your VPN on, you won't be able to access the Internet.

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 in case the VPN connection drops. You can add an unlimited number of applications to this whitelist, as seen below, where we've added uTorrent.

The app kill switch

If you decide to use this function, you should add every application where you have traffic going back and forth that you wouldn't want just anyone to be able to see. This includes torrent clients, perhaps web browsers, and other tools.

It's important to remember that sometimes torrent programs use underlying software to perform some functions. So, ensure that you've put every tool used by the BitTorrent client on this list! In most cases, just adding the program itself to the list will iron out this issue.

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 not possible unless the user takes action and change 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!).

CyberSec

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 this feature 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 feature will help to keep you on the safe side when choosing your torrent files on such websites.

Compatibility

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 quite easily.

Pricing

NordVPN's pricing has a wide range. On the one hand, there are the more expensive monthly subscriptions, which will run you about twelve dollars or so a month. On the other hand, NordVPN regularly runs a two or three-year special promotion.

Right now, your highest discount will be to purchase the two-year plan, resulting in 89 dollars being billed at once, covering two years. That subscription is less than the cost of a single year if you'd been paying monthly. Here is the full pricing scheme:

The different subscriptions

Finally, regardless of how you choose to purchase the service, 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.

Some of NordVPN's Best Features

  • 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
  • Excellent, cutting-edge security features like CyberSec and kill switches
  • Allows six connection 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 new interface is beautiful and efficient, but it can be laggy at times
  • Very few options when it comes to Africa/Middle East (though this is very common)

Conclusion

This was the biggest surprise in our extensive 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.

They really got better in the last couple of years. Now they offer a great service with a combination of features that we didn’t see in the majority of VPNs. Considering the quality they offer, it was very easy to put NordVPN at the top of our favorite VPNs for torrenting.