NordVPN Review – Australia Edition 2020

NordVPN is popular because it provides users with a feature-rich package complete with everything you need to protect your privacy and security online.

It offers great privacy with support of the latest WireGuard protocol, a large and diverse server network, great features like the kill switch, and support on all major platforms.

NordVPN has been working hard to improve the security of its service and provide a great experience to users.

This post will be tailored to readers in Australia. We’ll get into details about the benefits of using NordVPN in Australia, its price, its technological nuts and bolts, privacy, speed, user experience, and more.

the NordVPN homepage

Why Is NordVPN the Best for Australians?

As of October 2020, NordVPN has more than 200 servers distributed across five different regions in Australia. So, it is one of the most expansive VPNs in Australia.

Having a strong presence in the country helps reduce communication latency while also keeping privacy intact. If you’re looking for privacy while browsing or using other services online, having close proximity to the VPN server helps your connection be faster and more stable.

the NordVPN Australia homepage

Additionally, NordVPN is also an excellent choice for Australians because it is one of the most reliable services for unblocking geo-restricted streaming content. NordVPN will unlock content from U.S.-based Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and other streaming services.

Go to NordVPN

NordVPN Australian Price and Subscription

NordVPN is not the cheapest VPN service in the market, but the price is justified. NordVPN provides one of the best values for the price, especially for long-term deals.

NordVPN offers three deals with different pricing options. The prices are published in U.S. dollars (USD), so we’ll convert it into AUD dollars to give you an idea of the price. Bear in mind that prices may vary with occasional seasonal discounts.

PlanPrice per month (in AUD)
Upfront payment
One-month plan$16.63$16.63
Six-month plan$12.53$75.18
One-year plan$6.85$82.2
Two-Year plan$5.16$123.82

If you’re willing to commit longer-term, the two or three-year plans are great. These plans will reduce the monthly amount, but you’ll have to pay for everything in advance.

the NordVPN end of summer pricing

There are two important things to note when buying NordVPN services: The money-back guarantee policy and the allowed number of sessions. NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that applies to all plans. So if you are not happy with the VPN, they’ll give your money back.

Additionally, you don’t need to buy additional VPN subscriptions for different devices. With one account, you can connect up to six devices.

NordVPN also offers a wide variety of payment methods. It takes the most popular credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and a couple of different cryptocurrencies.

online security and privacy

However, NordVPN does not accept PayPal, which might be a turn-off for potential customers.

For more information on how to pay with PayPal via other mechanisms, see NordVPN’s solution on its customer support page.

Is NordVPN Private and Anonymous?

The word “Private” in the “Virtual Private Network” compound is often misused and treated within a security context.

But “private” within the VPN technology means the local—the private—network.

VPNs were created to extend local (physical) private networks over public networks such as the internet. Incidentally, to protect traffic traveling through public networks, encryption mechanisms had to be enforced. A byproduct of a VPN is the privacy it provides but, depending on how they are configured and what mechanisms they use, some are more private than others.

Let’s look at how NordVPN protects your privacy over the following parameters:

Encryption Mechanisms

Encryption encodes data by substituting it by characters, so anyone with access to the traffic will still be able to read encrypted messages. A man-in-the-middle attacker might intercept your traffic and try to decrypt these encrypted messages.

NordVPN’s AES-256 encryption mechanism is unbreakable. It is believed that AES methods would take billions of years to break using today’s computing technology.

Advanced Encryption Standard

AES-256-bit encryption is considered military-grade and is recommended by the U.S. National Security Agency for securing classified information.

Protection From Data Leaks

If a VPN protocol isn’t configured properly, some VPNs could leak data, especially from DNS, WebRTC and IPv6. One of the main reasons why VPNs could reveal data is that they are NOT configured to work on dual-stack networks (IPv4 and IPv6). They’ll automatically encrypt your IPv4 traffic but completely ignore IPv6.

NordVPN protects from data leaks. You can even test for DNS leaks using our free DNS leak test tool.

test VPN for leaks

Other methods to test data leaks (if you are tech-savvy) is to use a packet sniffer such as Wireshark. Open Wireshark, capture outgoing traffic, filter out packets, and browse through UDP packets or DNS requests. If you see gibberish and cannot find plain text information, that means (most likely) there is no data leak.

NordVPN Servers Targeted in Past Hacks

Unfortunately, NordVPN is one of the VPN service providers to be hacked in recent history. In March 2018, a NordVPN server hosted in a Finnish data center was breached. An unauthorized user gained access to the server by exploiting an open remote management tool left by an individual from the data center provider. At this time, NordVPN’s cryptographic keys were exposed.

The company took about a year and a half to acknowledge the event, finally making it public in October 2019. While the 2018 NordVPN hack affected the service’s reputation, the company openly disclosed the breach to the public and shared details on its website.

Also, NordVPN has passed independent security audits and penetration tests. One of the leading security research groups, Versprite, did an exhaustive vulnerability audit in 2019.

The Results?:

what they found

No-Logs Policy

Strong VPN policies guarantee a superior level of anonymity. NordVPN’s no-logs policy acknowledges that the service does not track, collect or share your personal information, including your email, phone number and other contact information, as well as crucial data on browsing traffic, history, websites visited and apps used.

NordVPN is not required by law to retain any data. NordVPN is based in Panama, a jurisdiction with consumer-friendly data laws.

where they operate

By law, Panama doesn’t require companies to track, store and share logs. With this type of jurisdiction, nobody from the government or law enforcement agencies like the FBI and CIA would have the authority to knock on NordVPN’s headquarters and request their customer’s logs. It also safeguards users’ data from outside groups such as copyright agencies.

Note:

Violation of your data privacy could happen if the VPN company was based on any countries within the 5-eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. Fortunately, NordVPN is outside the jurisdiction of those countries.

NordVPN also recently passed an independent no-logs audit conducted by PWC Switzerland.

Privacy Features

Privacy and anonymity can be improved, not only with the points mentioned above but also with some of the following state-of-the-art features.

  1. Automatic Kill Switch: If your VPN connection gets disconnected and you keep browsing or using specific applications like P2P, all your traffic will be exposed with your real IP address. When using the kill switch, if your VPN gets disconnected, the feature will automatically disable your internet connection. 
  2. Double Hop Protection/Double VPN: Also referred to as a double-encryption VPN (or double VPN), this feature uses a VPN server chaining concept to take your traffic through two VPN servers. Double VPN makes your connection a bit slower but double secured.
  3. WiFi Network Protection: WiFi networks, especially public ones, can be risky. Your traffic can be easily captured and monitored with a packet sniffer, and you could be subject to a man-in-the-middle attack. The auto-connect VPN feature automatically connects to your VPN once you connect to a WiFi network.
  4. Onion Over VPN. By itself, the Onion Router or TOR is a fantastic way to keep yourself anonymous. Using the Onion Router with a VPN (256-bit encryption) gives you a combination of technology impossible to break. The Onion over VPN is the most secure and private way to connect to the internet.Onion Over VPN

Using NordVPN To Access Netflix in Australia

Around 2014, close to 200,000 Australians were using VPNs to access Netflix without the streaming service even being available in Australia, according to the BBC. Netflix was quickly put under pressure from multiple film studios in the U.S. to block all traffic from people using a VPN to access the site. But Netflix also saw it as an opportunity to push on-demand content tailored to Australian audiences.

Today, many streaming services, including Netflix, tailor content to specific geographies, due to copyright laws, direct audience marketing or even mandatory government censorship.

Technically, Netflix aggressively tracks down and blacklists VPN server IPs. They would monitor the simultaneous connections coming from a single IP to their streaming servers. If the traffic from those connections within a single IP address is abnormal, Netflix will immediately block it and blacklist it.

But by using a VPN, Australia-based users can unblock U.S. Netflix (or other streaming services like Hulu, ESPN, UFC, BBC and HotStar) if you connect to a U.S.-based VPN server.

To give you more chances to unblock streaming content, NordVPN offers a feature called SmartPlay. The feature combines VPNs and SmartDNS technology to access “unavailable” content without any manual configuration. access favorite content

Overall, NordVPN has a good reputation for unblocking Netflix’s geo-restricted content. It unblocks the following regions (this is not an exhaustive list): U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, Spain, Japan, Australia, India and Italy. Additionally, NordVPN is also known to unblock iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Other NordVPN Features

Aside from the privacy and anonymity enhancing features described above, NordVPN also has other qualities that will improve your service.

Dedicated IPs give users more flexibility, comfortability and speed. Additionally, dedicated IPs can also help you stay away from being blacklisted. The only disadvantage of these IPs is that they can be easier to track.

NordVPN’s CyberSec is a proprietary tool to improve your security while connected to a VPN. The CyberSec feature is not designed to enhance your privacy, but to make your web browsing more secure. It blocks malware-hosting websites, phishing scams, unwanted ads or controlling bots.

These servers are often used to bypass internet restrictions. Obfuscated servers should only be used when connecting from heavily restricted countries and regions with heavy censorship (like China or Middle Eastern countries like Iran).

Obfuscation works differently than encryption. Instead of using public/private encryption keys, it uses various methods to “obscure” the data.

NordVPN has hundreds of servers optimized for P2P sharing. They are fast, secure, and guarantee that you won’t be traced back.

A SOCKS5 proxy is entirely different than a VPN. It is application-specific and does not encrypt traffic. SOCKS5 proxies are also known to drop connections more often, as compared to VPNs.

Still, there are many reasons to use SOCKS5 over a VPN, including faster download speeds and better performance. These proxies are widely used for P2P. Although NordVPN generally doesn’t advertise SOCKS5, their servers do support SOCKS5 connections.

Go to NordVPN

NordVPN Usability and Apps

One thing that sets NordVPN apart from its competition is its high compatibility. NordVPN is compatible with the most popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS/iPhone/iPad, and it also has web browsers extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

download the VPN

But it doesn’t end there: NordVPN is also compatible with Amazon Fire, Raspberry Pi, popular routers (DD-WRT, Netgear, Asus and more), and NAS (QNap, Synology, AsusTor, etc.). Additionally, you may also use NordVPN as a proxy in any of the following compatible applications: uTorrent, BitTorrent, qBitTorrent, Deluge, Vuze, Safari, Chrome, Opera and Firefox.

NordVPN’s Usability

Regardless of the platform, NordVPN has a good reputation for its user experience. The user interface is minimalistic, fun, easy to use and very straightforward. Below is a screenshot of the macOS interface.

You can go to the left-hand menu, scroll across the server locations and connect to a server based on that location. The country list and the map showing the location of the VPN servers are great for navigation.

selecting the server

If you are looking for a quick and private connection, the NordVPN app comes with an intelligent “Quick Connect” button. This button automatically finds the best “suitable” and less crowded nearby server for you. This button is only available for PC, smartphone and tablet applications.

quick connect NordVPN

As mentioned before, NordVPN is compatible with a myriad of mobile devices. So, if you look for the NordVPN mobile apps in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you’ll find it easily. The Android mobile interface is also similar to the desktop version, as shown below.

connecting through an Android device

Aside from aesthetics and functionality, NordVPN also gives you scalability. You can let your entire family (up to six simultaneous devices) connect to the same NordVPN account. But the advantage of installing NordVPN on your router is that automatically, all of your devices are protected, through a single device.

running on multiple devices

Extra Add-ons Available With NordVPN

NordVPN add-ons give you the power of NordVPN and its extensive network in a simple, easy to use web browser extension. The Chrome and Firefox addons allow you to quickly choose any VPN server location when web browsing. As mentioned before, you can also install NordVPN proxy extensions in any of your favorite torrent client apps.

NordVPN Speed

There are many aspects that can impact the download speed of a VPN. Let’s step back and look at the following picture.

how a VPN works

There is “You,” the “VPN,” and the “Internet.” So, if your VPN speed is slow, before blaming the VPN, check your resources. Check your computer resources, the speed of your WiFi and whether or not you’re getting the right bandwidth from your internet service provider. Always test your speed without a VPN first.

Then there’s the VPN. VPNs can also be slow due to the performance of the server itself, whether it’s crowded with shared IPs, its bandwidth, the VPN protocol, and other factors. For security reasons, NordVPN doesn’t disclose information on server specs. But, when it comes to VPN protocols (as we discussed above), the service only uses state-of-the-art protocols, such as NordLynx and OpenVPN.

Last but not least, consider the destination. Maybe P2P speed is slow because there aren’t many seeders in a torrent swarm, or a website is loading slowly because it’s a problem at the webserver. These factors are other things to consider when gauging the speed of your VPN connection.

NordVPN’s Take on Speed

NordVPN’s take on speed is as follows:  No buffering, no throttling and no bandwidth limits. We’ll give that a try in this section of the guide.

fastest VPN experience on the planet

First, let’s figure out what NordVPN means:

  • No ISP Throttling? Local ISPs want to maximize the usage of their infrastructure and bandwidth. ISPs have limited capacity and can’t cover everyone, so they have no option than to throttle (limit) speed to the “top talkers” (certain customers using top consuming services.) For example, they would limit P2P downloads or gaming ports. With a VPN, a local ISP is 100% blind of the traffic flowing through their pipes, so they can’t limit it.
  • No buffering? Buffering is annoying. It makes you wait for a video to load so that you can see it. While connected to a VPN and playing Netflix, you’ll likely experience buffering. NordVPN claims “no buffering” with their VPN when you play streaming. Since NordVPN uses a pretty fast protocol (NordLynx) and has a vast network, you likely won’t suffer from buffering.
  • No bandwidth limits? This is very important when it comes to speed, as many VPN providers are located in physical data centers with average speeds so they have to limit bandwidth to provide a fair share. If there is an overloaded server with many users, a VPN service provider, including NordVPN, can’t do anything other than start limiting speed. This is why NordVPN suggests using the QuickConnect feature because it looks for the server with the lowest load.

server load

NordVPN provides a fantastic speed mainly because they have a close to 5,400 “dedicated” servers distributed around the world. This large network gives them a competitive advantage when it comes to speed.

Now, let’s test the speed of NordVPN in Australia both with and without a VPN:

We’ll do three NordVPN Australian speed tests, all of them with a VPN client physically located in Melbourne. We’ll use the SpeedTest tool to test without and with a VPN.

Without NordVPN and straight through a Melbourne-based ISP, our average speed is 42.12 Mbps. 

speedtest

Now, we connected to a U.S.-based NordVPN server from a physical VPN client in Australia and tested the speed again. The average speed drops an insignificant 2%. The speed is 37.08 Mbps while connected to the VPN. This is quite impressive, considering the encryption overhead and the latency to a distant server (California, USA).

speedtest

We’ll do the third test, connecting to an Australian-based NordVPN server. Again, we’ll do the test from the same physical VPN client in Australia. Being connected to a server in the same country helps to improve speed. The rate improved to 38.74.

speedtest

Cities and Countries With NordVPN Servers Available

NordVPN is a well-established VPN provider in Australia. It has over 200 VPN servers available across five different locations in Australia. If you are only looking for online privacy (masking your IP) but want a fast response and high performance, having a server closeby will reduce communication latency, as proven in the previous section.

200+ servers in Australia

But if you want to expand your borders and virtually go outside of Australia, NordVPN has more than 5,400 servers in 59 countries distributed around the world. So, NordVPN has dedicated physical servers deployed in all 59 countries.

Having a wide network around the world helps with the following:

  1. A wide presence in regions or countries: By extending networks to a specific location, the user can browse or receive content as if they were located physically in the destination.
  2. Reduce communication latency: Shorter geographical distances reduce communication latency. The VPN packets don’t have to travel across the globe and come back for a single connection. If you only care about privacy but want to take care of your speed, connecting to a VPN server in Australia will definitely improve speed.

Which VPN Protocols Does NordVPN Use?

A VPN protocol provides the step-by-step guidelines to the client and server on how to create the tunnel. There are currently a variety of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, L2TP, WireGuard, IPsec, SSTP, and many more proprietary protocols.

Insecure VPN protocols can leak data. For example, PPTP is the weakest protocol with 128-bit encryption. The NSA is actively capable of decrypting and monitoring PPTP traffic.

NordVPN uses IKEv2/IPSec and OpenVPN, with 256-bit encryption. It also uses its own protocol, NordLynx, (based on the powerful WireGuard), a next-generation secure VPN protocol.

OpenVPN

NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN for Australia

ExpressVPN is another leader in the VPN market, and it is one of the most direct competitors of NordVPN.

Let’s talk about their key similarities:

  • NordVPN offers six simultaneous connections. ExpressVPN provides five simultaneous connections.
  • Express VPN and NordVPN both offer a kill switch, split tunneling, data leak protection and 256-encryption. Both providers also work with the same protocols, including WireGuard.
  • NordVPN has CyberSec protection for malware. ExpressVPN also uses internal mechanisms to filter risky traffic.
  • Both offer good customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

But Express VPN and NordVPN have some differences:

  • Price?: NordVPN is cheaper than ExpressVPN. If you are willing to sign on to a long-term deal, NordVPN’s year plan fees will be dramatically lower as you pay for more time.
  • Network size?: ExpressVPN’s network is far more geographically expansive than NordVPN. ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 VPN servers distributed across 160 VPN server locations in 94 countries. The network might put a competitive advantage in speed and server reliability. While NordVPN has over 5,400 servers, the network only spans 59 countries.
  • Privacy?: ExpressVPN has a strong security history. There are no major data breaches or server hacks known in their records. ExpressVPN has similar audits and penetration tests as NordVPN.
  • Compatibility?: ExpressVPN supports more devices, including smart TVs, game consoles, routers and the Edge browser extension.
For more information on ExpressVPN, check out our comprehensive review of the service.

FAQs

Is NordVPN free?
No, but you can “try” the NordVPN services without compromise using the 30-day money-back guarantee and ask for a full refund within that timeframe. Their money-back guarantee allows you to test their services for free for a full month.
Is NordVPN any good?
NordVPN provides exceptional value for the money. It is safe, fast and capable of unblocking popular streaming services.
Is NordVPN safe?
NordVPN uses its own protocol named NordLynx. The protocol was built based on WireGuard and is used with military-grade 256-bit encryption. NordVPN is very safe.
Is NordVPN down?
At some point, VPN servers will inevitably fail. Although a VPN service like NordVPN barely fails, you can check the status of NordVPN servers via the company’s Twitter profile. They will post whenever their service is down.
How do I know if NordVPN is working?
The simplest way to know whether your NordVPN is working is to verify your public IP address (or geographical location). Run a Google search with the term: “What’s my IP?”. With a VPN turned on, the result should show you an IP address and location that corresponds to the server you’ve connected to, rather than your actual IP address and location.
Which is better? NordVPN or ExpressVPN?
When it comes to price, NordVPN offers better pricing plans and deals. On the other hand, ExpressVPN has more server locations and is faster.

Go to NordVPN

Diego Asturias Meet Diego Asturias, the geek and passionate technology writer. As a kid, Diego discovered his curiosity in technology by breaking his parent’s cassette radios, going on to experiment in the areas of electronics, cybersecurity, and wireless hardware. Diego has worked as an engineer, researcher and journalist, traveling the globe to research wireless sensor networks in South Korea and aid in the installation of an African country’s first LTE mobile network.
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