NordVPN is a popular virtual private network that promises great streaming capabilities and is one of the best VPNs out there. However, if you’re new to VPNs and not sure how to sign up or what your first steps should be, let us help you learn about and set up your brand new VPN.
Sign up for NordVPN
Signing up for NordVPN is easy: just go to the NordVPN website, click one of the many “Get NordVPN” buttons, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose between the service’s three plans.
For the best savings, go with the two-year plan. If you’re worried you don’t like it, you can take advantage of a 30-day money-back guarantee. it acts like a kind of free trial. However, after the first year or two has passed, we recommend that you look around for a new VPN, as NordVPN will default to its “real” price of around $99 per year after that.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll need to enter your email address and a payment option; NordVPN does not allow you to log in anonymously. Enter all your details and then download the client you want. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re using Windows 10. However, NordVPN works similarly on all desktop and mobile operating systems, with the exception of Linux, where it uses the command line (here are Linux instructions).
Download the package of your choice and the installation wizard will start. Follow the instructions and NordVPN will install its client on your system, all in all it shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Once that is done, launch NordVPN either from the wizard or from the icon on your desktop.
The NordVPN interface
If you’re on the same system you signed in to, you’ll be signed in automatically. If it’s a new system, you’ll need to re-authenticate. Anyway, once NordVPN knows who you are, you’ll be greeted by NordVPN’s interface, which is a map of the world.
While it’s a bit of a gimmick, we like how NordVPN’s interface lets you easily estimate how far away a given location is from you. Since distance is the main factor in VPN speed loss, this is pretty handy.
Connect to servers
There are several ways to connect to a server. The easiest way is to use the “Quick Connect” bar at the bottom of the screen, which connects you to the best available server in your area. Just click the button and you will be connected within a few seconds.
This option is great if you just want to surf more safely and keep your speed high. However, if you want to connect to a specific location because you need a website in that country or want to access the Netflix library, there are a few ways to do it.
The easiest way is to just use the map. It’s fully interactive, so click anywhere in the world and you’ll connect to it instantly. If you can’t find a place on the map or aren’t sure where it is, you can use the list on the left to find a specific country instead.
If you want a specific city in that country, you can click the three dots next to the country name and a small menu will appear. The buttons are tiny, which is annoying, but it’s the only way to see all the locations NordVPN servers have in a given country.
The menu below allows you to select a specific server, but since NordVPN has their servers well into the thousands, finding a specific server this way is just a hassle.
As you can probably see we’re not big fans of this little sub-menu, the buttons are just too small and the drop-down menus are a bit difficult to read. It’s likely to just type the location you want into the search bar: just type in the country or city name and NordVPN will tell you if it has a server there. You can also enter the server number.
NordVPN special server
Along with regular servers, NordVPN also offers three types of so-called “specialty servers,” each tailored for a specific purpose. Duplicate VPN servers purport to make your connection twice as secure — something we’re not sure is exactly true, although it makes excellent marketing copy.
The next option is Onion over VPN, which claims to make your Tor connection extra secure – again, we’re not entirely sure what that adds, but it looks cool we think.
More interesting are NordVPN’s P2P or torrent servers, which are the best way to torrent files when using the service. Why you can’t use regular servers is beyond us, but we gave up trying to get an answer from NordVPN for a long time. If you are a NordVPN customer and you use torrents, your best bet is to use them.
With the basics out of the way, let’s take a look at some of NordVPN’s settings. The menu is accessed via the gear icon at the bottom left of the screen.
Note: if you are not sure what a setting does, we recommend not changing it. While some of the options are completely harmless, messing around with anything under the Advanced tab can ruin your day.
However, one thing you should change once you install the client is the kill switch, which will “terminate” your internet connection if the VPN server goes down for any reason. Any VPN user will benefit from this feature, but torrenters and people escaping censorship in particular need to turn on the switch. We honestly have no idea why NordVPN decided why it should be disabled by default.
Other handy settings include turning NordVPN on automatically under certain circumstances. This includes when the computer is on or only when connected to WiFi. The latter is a pretty good idea if you work a lot on public WiFi connections.
The last of the basic options is the ability to configure split tunneling, which lets you decide which apps should and shouldn’t use the VPN connection. Again, we don’t recommend messing around with this unless you know what you’re doing, but torrenters should particularly like this setting.
Getting started with NordVPN
That should be all you need to get started with NordVPN. If you need more guidance or help with a specific issue, visit the service’s support page. Good luck with NordVPN and stay safe out there!