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Hands On: NordVPN
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MacNN Staff
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Dec 16, 2015, 03:14 PM
You know you shouldn't, but you do: when you're at an airport or in a hotel and there's that tempting free Wi-Fi option, you take it. We're not saying that airports or hotels do anything dodgy with Wi-Fi, but when you're at Gate 53, you can't know if it's really an airport service, or the fella sitting behind you with his laptop open. With NordVPN 1.10, it's doesn't matter: your Internet connection is private. Plus, you can pretend to be anywhere you like in the world, and we're sure there must be legitimate reasons to want to do that.

The man with the laptop creating a Wi-Fi hotspot area with some official-looking name is looking for a good return on his investment on the equipment, and the cost of the ticket to get him through to the departure lounge. He's hoping you will log on through him, and do something that will get him valuable information. This sounds all like a very boring episode of CSI: Cyber but they wouldn't do it if it didn't work, and if you're reading this at an airport, don't make that big credit card purchase until you're on a network of your own.

Unless you have a Virtual Private Network, a VPN, of which NordVPN is easy enough to use that for us it scores over more powerful but more complex software. Simple or complex, they all do the same job of encrypting your Internet connection. Anything you send out, like login details and passwords you type, plus any data that comes back the other way from your corporate office's databases is safe. If you Google the letters VPN you'll routinely come across the analogy that it's like using the web through your own personal, secured tunnel to the Internet.

That's meant to convey that there's a direct route from you to where you want to go, and that nobody else can get in to peek at what you're doing (barring just looking over your shoulder, of course). What it perhaps also conveys is that tunnels are long, and you need to know where they start if you want to get in. VPN always slows down your Internet connection, and it is usually complicated to begin.

NordVPN doesn't magically fix the slowness problem, but in our usage we didn't even notice the difference. It's there, but we had no reason to notice. NordVPN also doesn't magically fix the complications, but it does rather magically reduce them. In everyday use, it's just on, and you use the Internet as you like, knowing that it's protecting you.

It gets more complicated when you want to pretend you're in another country. The Internet is a worldwide thing, of course, but companies are not so when you want something online; it may not be available in your location. The most common example is TV: here in the UK, for instance, we'll read something about The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but when we tap on the video, we're told nope. Forget it. The content provider has not made this video available in your territory.

Usually if it's that good, the content provider has also chucked a copy on YouTube, but quite often we cannot see something that Americans watch for free -- and vice versa, US viewers can't watch UK material. That is where this article should stop: companies don't do this for the hell of it, they are tied to myriad contracts limiting sale of their videos, and if we had to wait an extra day for Community to reach UK television, that's the way it has to be.

Except it doesn't. We're serious about the rights issue -- we don't like it, but it's there for a reason -- but say you're an American citizen who pays a subscription to an online streaming TV service, but it happens that tonight you're in France. It's surely a grey area whether you should be allowed to watch the material you are paying for, and we're not lawyers, we're looking to move on with something like the words "yes, but" or "anyway."

Anyway, with NordVPN or any other such Virtual Private Network, when you connect to the Internet you can have it say that you're connecting via a server in any country you fancy. With NordVPN, it's a matter of clicking on a country name and waiting for the little while it takes to do its doings. After that, videos you couldn't watch, you can watch. Leaving you to your grey areas, the feature is quick and easy to use.

Everything about NordVPN seems designed to be as quick as possible and as easy as can be, though there is of course a cost. NordVPN is a service, so the price is a subscription. You buy direct from the maker, and can buy a month's worth of use for $8. Pay six months at a time, and the rate drops to $5 per month -- and if you take out a year's subscription, you get it for $4 a month.

NordVPN 1.10 requires OS X 10.4 or later, and the Mac version is available from the official site. The iPhone and iPad one requires iOS 7.0, and is free on the App Store.

Who is NordVPN 1.10 for:
If you travel or work anywhere that you don't know or own the Wi-Fi network you're on, you need a VPN service -- and NordVPN works well.

Who is NordVPN 1.10 not for:
It's not for anyone who doesn't travel, and equally it's not for anyone who does travel but with a lot of devices, as it's limited to two per user.

UPDATED 12/17/15: A previous version of this article stated that NordVPN supports two devices and the company has corrected us: one user can run NordVPN over up to six different machines.

-- William Gallagher (@WGallagher)

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( Last edited by NewsPoster; Dec 17, 2015 at 05:00 AM. )
Mac Enthusiast
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Dec 17, 2015, 01:55 PM
NordVPN may be a worthy VPN service but the company's website appears to be deceptive in order to entice potential customers to sign up for its service.

When you visit the NordVPN website there is a section near the top of the page that displays your current IP address, the name of your ISP and then the word "unprotected" bordered in bright red. It's probably effective at scaring some people into signing up for NordVPN. But the information it displays is not correct.

I initially visited NordVPN while using my commercial ISP servers which it correctly identified as Charter along with my dedicated IP address and that I was "unprotected." But the next time I visited the NordVPN website I was logged in to my VPN server. The host name and IP address were for my VPN server but NordVPN still claimed that I was unprotected.

I consider this to be deceptive advertising. I cannot trust a company for something as important as VPN that is apparently dishonest when trying to attract potential customers to use its services.
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