Get the most out of NordVPN's VPN client
One of the VPN providers that I use on a regular basis is NordVPN. Is is popular provider that is offering an excellent service for a reasonable price if you pay annually.
While there are certainly cheaper providers out there, I found NordVPN to be one of the best choices when it comes to VPN networks.
Obviously, you may have different priorities than I have, but the service offers all the features that I require. The servers are fast -- I get full throughput on my 50 Mbit connection, there are not any limitations or quotas in regards to the connection, DNS leak protection, a no logging policy, kill switch, and what NordVPN calls double data encryption.
Double-encryption makes use of VPN server pairs that your traffic gets routed through. So, instead of just one VPN server that your device connects directly to, the connection would flow through a second VPN server.
You can download and run the company's VPN client which I do. While it works fine out of the box, you can get more out of the client if you modify its settings. This guide looks at those settings, and offers recommendations.
NordVNP's VPN client settings
You open the settings with a click on the settings link in the client's main interface after start. It loads the screen that you see above (which changed in recent versions to the one you see).
The following items there are of special interest:
- CyberSec -- A relatively new feature that blocks certain threats -- think malware or phishing automatically. Think of it as an extension of resident security software that you run.
- Custom DNS -- You may add your own custom DNS servers so that these are used instead of NordVPN's DNS servers.
- Auto connect to -- If you have a favorite server that you connect to at all times, you may select it from the list to have the client auto-connect to that server on start. Works well together with the "Start NordVPN on startup" setting.
- App Kill Switch -- All programs that you add to the kill list are terminated when the VPN connection drops. Add P2P clients, or chat or messaging software to the list for instance.
- Internet Kill Switch -- Internet access is disabled when there is no VPN connection. In other words: you can only use Internet services when you are connected to the VPN.
- Invisibility on LAN -- Hides the computer on the local area network.
- Obfuscated Servers -- To use NordVPN from restricted locations.
- Notifications -- To get connect and disconnect notifications.
DNS Leak protection is baked into the client and no longer an option that you need to enable manually. You can use custom DNS providers if you want or need but need to realize that any request you make on your device is sent to the provider.
App kill list may be useful if you want to make sure that programs don't leak information about your "real" IP if the VPN connection drops.
The Windows client provides country-specific server lists and options to add any server to the favorites. It does list specialty servers as well which come in four different types:
- Dedicated IP address -- Servers with dedicated IP addresses that don't change.
- Double VPN -- To chain the VPN connection so that traffic flows through two VPN servers all the time.
- Onion over VPN -- To use TOR while connected to the VPN.
- P2P -- Servers that support P2P traffic (not all do).
It is recommended that you run tests using various online privacy test tools to make sure that personal information is not leaked while connected to the VPN.