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In an increasingly digital world, online security has never been more important. As we all access everything from bank statements to family photos, our information is passing over primarily unsecured networks, leaving our data open, exposed, and easily stolen. With identity thefts rates continuing to rise, now is the time to start taking our online security more seriously.
With so many options on the market and technical jargon to sort through, it can be mind-numbing trying to find one that is going to actually have a fast connection, and not cost you an arm and a leg. Here I’ll go through each selling point of a VPN, and give you an idea of what you should expect when you sign up for a service plan. Many people have turned to NordVPN as a simple way of keeping their information secure and their connection private.
This guide will tell you all about NordVPN and give pointers on how to install the service and use it. If you’ve never used a VPN before, you’ll be able to start with NordVPN like a seasoned pro, thanks to our guide. If you’ve already used a VPN, you’ll have the background experience with which to compare our assessment of NordVPN.
Installation of NordVPN Software
One of the most daunting parts of getting a VPN is actually using the VPN. A perfect VPN that you never use is worse than an imperfect VPN that you always use. NordVPN does very well at this point. The company makes the entire sign up, set up, and installation process as easy as possible. All that’s required is a valid email address. To get started with your NordVPN usage on your Windows, just follow the following easy steps:
- Register in this link: https://join.nordvpn.com/order/
After signing up is complete, you’ll receive a confirmation email from NordVPN. Click the activation link, and you’re good to go.
- Go to this download link: https://nordvpn.com/download/. The software could be downloaded in a matter of seconds.
- Browse the downloaded file in the location that you have saved it after its download.
- Hover “Run as administrator” from its download directory to initiate the installation of NordVPN’s software.
- The UAC or User Account Control of Windows will pop up to ask for administrator password. Input the correct password and click “Yes” to proceed.
- After the completion of the installation process, input your login details which you have received in your email. Lastly, click “Login now” and do your activities with animosity and security.
Activation of NordVPN
When you first fire up NordVPN, you’re confronted with a world map and a marker for each country where it has servers. The map is zoomed-in by default otherwise it would be too difficult to choose from the many servers located in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
As you can tell from the map, the country selection is impressive, with nearly 60 state-level locations to choose from. If you just want a connection inside the United States or the United Kingdom without thought to a specific server, just click the place marker for that country; NordVPN will then automatically connect you.
If you just need a solid VPN server regardless of location, hit the Connection wizard button, and NordVPN will connect you to the closest server.
But for those interested in getting into the minutia of the NordVPN network, select Servers from the desktop program’s top menu. There, you will find the list of all their servers. And it’s very easy to browse their servers. Indeed, at the top, you’ll find their “special” servers and after that, all servers sorted by country.
What are these special servers? Well, NordVPN offers 5 of servers: Double VPN, Ultra Fast TV and Dedicated IP (some of which are located in the UK), Onion over VPN, Anti DDOS and P2P servers, (but none located in the UK). Furthermore, for each server you can see the load of the server and the distance. Also, you have the download and upload speed available when you connect.
You can also add a server to your favorites by clicking the heart symbol next to it in the list, or, if you are connected to the server, in the sidebar.
Your favorite servers will appear in their own category, called Favourites. You can connect to them like any other server.
If you want to verify that you really have changed server and IP successfully, there are various websites that you can visit. These websites tell you accurately your current IP. Examples of these websites are IFCONFIG.ME, http://www.getip.com, WhatisMyIPAddress.com, and much more.
As with many VPNs, there are a lot of options available. But at least there are the essential ones for any user, among them:
- CyberSec can best be described as a mechanism to control traffic. It is their new feature which resembles a content blocker but with the difference that it runs on the system level, and not as a browser extension.
- Launch on Windows startup
- Selective Kill-Switch List (it’s possible to tell the kill switch which applications to shut down in the event of a VPN problem).
Superb Advanced Settings
At the bottom of the Settings tab, you can click on Show advanced settings to get more options (you’ll have to confirm you know what you’re doing). And the most interesting are:
- Using Proprietary DNS Servers
- Protocol selection: OpenVPN/UDP or OpenVPN TCP. UDP is mainly used for online streaming and downloading. TCP is more reliable but a little slower than UDP and usually used for web browsing. UDP by default.
Main Usage of NordVPN
- Enhanced security. When you connect to the network through a VPN, the data is kept secured and encrypted. In this way, the information is away from hackers’ eyes.
- Remote control. In case of a company, the great advantage of having a VPN is that the information can be accessed remotely even from home or from any other place. That’s why a VPN can increase productivity within a company.
- Share files. A VPN service can be used if you have a group that needs to share files for a long period of time.
- Online anonymity. Through a VPN you can browse the web in complete anonymity. Compared to hide IP software or web proxies, the advantage of a VPN service is that it allows you to access both web applications and websites in complete anonymity.
- Unblock websites & bypass filters. VPNs are great for accessing blocked websites or for bypassing Internet filters. This is why there is an increased number of VPN services used in countries where Internet censorship is applied.
- Change IP address. If you need an IP address from another country, then a VPN can provide you this.
- Better performance. Bandwidth and efficiency of the network can be generally increased once a VPN solution is implemented.
- Reduce costs. Once a VPN network is created, the maintenance cost is very low. More than that, if you opt for a service provider, the network setup and surveillance is no more a concern.
NordVPN uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with keys of 256 bits. In fact, before it became the most frequently used algorithm in symmetric key cryptography, it was used by the U.S. government to protect classified information, as well as by the NSA to protect national security data. Now it is an ideal option for software applications, hardware, and firmware that require either high throughput or low latency.
Furthermore, NordVPN recommends two different security protocols to provide strong VPN encryption between your device and the server you have connected to. Usually, when you connect to one of the NordVPN apps, it automatically selects the encryption settings most suitable for your speed and security circumstances.
The most exciting addition to the NordVPN security protocol family is IKEv2/IPsec. It encrypts and secures users’ traffic by employing high-level cryptographic algorithms and keys. In addition to this, NordVPN utilizes NGE (Next Generation Encryption) in IKEv2/IPsec. It is the protocol that not only provides military-grade encryption standards, stability, and high-performance speed but at least for the moment cannot be cracked even by the strongest computers. For these reasons, it is highly recommended by NordVPN and has been adopted as a default in the NordVPN apps for iOS and macOS.
OpenVPN is a mature and robust piece of open-source software, which enables us to provide a reliable, secure and fast VPN service. It is a versatile protocol and can be used for both TCP and UDP ports. While TCP is known for being a more reliable option for accessing the web, UDP is faster and works better for online gaming and live streaming.
OpenVPN supports a high number of strong encryption algorithms and ciphers – to guarantee the protection of your sensitive data we use AES-256-CBC with a 2048-bit DH key. It is currently used by default for Windows, macOS, and Android.
On the final note, both security protocols have their advantages and disadvantages in the certain situations. However, both of them are recommended by NordVPN and are safe options to use, if you are concerned about your online privacy and security.
We invite you to take a look at our NordVPN Review page for a complete and detailed review of NordVPN service.