If you’re in the market for a secure, reliable, stable, and fast VPN, the first thing you probably noticed is there are hundreds of options at your disposal. Some services claim high streaming speeds as their top feature, while others promote the fact that their VPN is completely free. No matter the hype surrounding the service, your job is to cut through the marketing to find out which VPN really is the best.
Two of the top VPNs in the mainstream market today are NordVPN and PrivateVPN. Both offer incredibly fast speeds, strong privacy policies, and apps for a huge variety of modern devices. You can’t go wrong with either one, but how can you decide between them? To find out, we compared NordVPN vs PrivateVPN on a feature-by-feature basis. Check out our complete guide below!
Overview of NordVPN and PrivateVPN
What makes both PrivateVPN and NordVPN stand out from the rest of the VPNs on the market? Here’s a quick look at each service so you can find out at a glance.
There’s a lot to love about NordVPN. As always, its biggest stand-out feature is the size of its server network. The list is constantly growing as the company adds new nodes, but right now users have access to over 5,000 servers in 62 different countries. You’ll always be able to connect to a lightning fast server with NordVPN, no matter where you live. There are also several unique services only offered by NordVPN, including protection against DDoS attacks, double encryption, and onion over VPN routing for added security.
NordVPN provides a great zero-logging policy that covers everything from bandwidth to time stamps, traffic to IP addresses, one of the most extensive in the business. Your activity is never recorded or shared with third parties. Backing these features is 256-bit AES encryption on all data, an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a host of customizable encryption features.
- Very fast speeds make this a strong choice for 4K streaming
- Extensive server park of over 5,400 different servers
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Retains no metadata of your browsing
- Great customer service via chat.
- Automatic server selection can be unreliable
- Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
Learn more about the NordVPN experience in our full NordVPN review.
PrivateVPN is a fast and secure VPN, and it’s perfectly balance to keep you safe on any device, anywhere in the world. With it you can surf, stream, and shop in complete privacy, all without sacrificing speed or accessibility. Want to run a VPN to protect data on your iPad or Android smartphone? How about watching live sports with full online anonymity? Not a problem! PrivateVPN runs on every device imaginable, and it’s easy to set up, too. Just download and install the software and you’re ready to enjoy a private online experience.
PrivateVPN operates a small but stable network filled with over 100 of servers located in 52 different countries, delivering all the speed and security you need to stay safe online. The service locks down data with 256-bit AES encryption, keeps your connection safe with an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection, and features a zero logging policy on all traffic, as well.
Read more about PrivateVPN’s incredible features in our thorough PrivateVPN review.
Why VPNs are necessary
VPNs used to be tools for paranoid travelers and journalists whose anonymity could make or break their career. These days, with cyber criminals and invasive government agencies around every corner, VPNs are a necessary addition to everyone’s daily browsing habits. To understand why VPNs are so vital to online security, we’ve outlined some of the most important features and uses below.
Important VPN features
It can take some time to understand what makes a good VPN. Should you put a higher priority on download speeds, for example, or privacy practices? We’ve streamlined the selection process down to a handful of the most important VPN features. Keep these in the front of your mind as you research your VPN to ensure you get the best experience possible.
- Big server network – The more servers a VPN operates, the better your chances of getting a fast, reliable connection.
- Fast speeds – Slow VPNs can just about destroy your internet experience.
- Good app compatibility – VPN software needs to run on all of your devices, including smartphones.
- No traffic restrictions – Some VPNs block or restrict certain types of traffic, such as torrents and P2P networks.
- Zero-logging policy – Before sending a single byte of data through, make sure your VPN service has a strict zero-logging policy.
Best uses for a VPN
VPNs are incredibly useful. They make your data safer and more secure, and they keep your identity hidden each time you go online. There are some other benefits you’ll enjoy by using a VPN, including our favorites below.
- Access censored websites – With a good VPN you can break through censorship firewalls and access the free and open internet with ease.
- Encrypt data for privacy – Encryption is the backbone of internet privacy, as it makes standard data impossible to read.
- Hide your IP address – VPNs hide your local IP address and exchange it with one from their anonymous servers, allowing you to disappear when you connect to the internet.
- Stop mass surveillance – It’s not uncommon for governments to track users on the internet. If you want to remain anonymous and secure, the only way is to hide your activity with a VPN.
- Watch videos from other countries – Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and other streaming services restrict content based on location. With a VPN you can change your virtual location and watch content from anywhere in the world.
NordVPN vs PrivateVPN compared
Both NordVPN and PrivateVPN put a premium on your digital identity. The services go to great lengths to ensure all of your data is encrypted and secure, allowing you to use the web without worrying over basic privacy concerns.
What both VPNs offer
NordVPN and PrivateVPN are both well-regarded and extremely reliable VPNs. Some of the core features they offer are identical to other top-tier VPNs, which is why we won’t be comparing them in the sections below. These are a few of the basic features you’ll get from both NordVPN and PrivateVPN:
- Custom software for desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets
- 256-bit AES encryption on all data for all devices
- DNS leak protection for all VPN software
- Automatic kill switch feature
- OpenVPN protocol support
When most people are looking for a VPN, the first thing on their mind is server network size. The number of nodes in a VPN’s network can make a massive difference in how useful a service is. More servers means more connection options, faster download speeds, greater location variety, and so on. Bigger numbers are almost always better.
PrivateVPN keeps its network small but manageable. The company has over 100 servers in 57 countries, including nodes in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
NordVPN consistently tops the market in terms of server size. The list of nodes is always growing, but at the time of writing users have access to well over 5,000 servers in 62 different countries. This massive number of nodes covers every continent except Antarctica, and it means you’ll never have any problems finding the right connection to suit your needs.
Such a huge network means NordVPN can also deliver unique features to users. This includes protection against DDoS attacks, double encryption, dedicated IP addresses, and onion over VPN routing. Using these features is as simple as connecting to one of the servers. That’s all you have to do to bump up your security or stay safe from external attacks.
There’s a very clear winner in the server network distribution comparison. If you need numbers, NordVPN is the way to go. Both services deliver reliable connections regardless of location, however, so you can’t go wrong with PrivateVPN or NordVPN.
Speed is fairly easy to measure and compare. By running a series of different tests while connected to different VPNs, anyone can come up with reliable results, chart them, and figure out which service offers the fastest downloads. These can vary from day to day and person to person, but overall, it’s a great category to compare, especially if high speed servers are at the top of your priority list.
We previously ran multiple download tests using multiple file sizes, large files, and quick burst downloads. We charted the results and listed them in detail on our NordVPN speed review and PrivateVPN speed review. Be sure to check those out for a detailed look at how these VPNs performed.
What’s the verdict with overall download speeds? Both VPNs maintained good numbers across all of our tests, but NordVPN edged out a few percentage points higher in every category, possibly thanks to its expansive server network. Neither service was slower than average, however, so you won’t be disappointed if you choose PrivateVPN or NordVPN.
One of the advantages VPNs have when used with Netflix is the ability to access foreign movie catalogues by changing virtual locations. If Netflix doesn’t have the show you want to watch, just switch to another server, reload, and see what you can find. The catch is Netflix constantly tries to prevent access from VPN servers by blocking their IP addresses. VPNs fight back by deploying new IPs on a regular basis, which means some services can more reliably access Netflix than others.
NordVPN’s large server network means the company has a massive supply of IP addresses to fool the Netflix firewalls. New ones are added on an almost daily basis, which means NordVPN is perfect for watching Netflix from around the world. Servers located in Canada, the U.S., Brazil, and Japan seem especially prone to bypassing this block, though you may find access from other locations if you give them a shot. For more details about connecting to Netflix through NordVPN, check out our NordVPN Netflix guide.
PrivateVPN doesn’t have the network size to compete with NordVPN, but the company manages to pull off some amazing results when it comes to accessing Netflix. Right from the PrivateVPN app you’ll see tags denoting servers that can connect to different streaming services. Want to check out Netflix in the UK? Scroll through the list, look for a label, then connect. PrivateVPN makes it extremely easy to watch foreign movies and TV shows on just about any device, and there are usually a dozen or so locations available at any given time.
It’s more difficult to choose a winner in the NordVPN vs PrivateVPN battle for Netflix supremacy. The former offers more varied access, but the latter is far, far easier to use. If you’re like us, you’ll probably take usability over variety most days of the week, in which case, PrivateVPN is the way to go.
Software and apps
You can have the most secure VPN in the world and it won’t make a bit of a difference if you can’t run the software on your favorite device. Most modern VPNs support a huge variety of platforms, everything from Windows to Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and more. Some companies differentiate themselves by offering software for non-standard platforms, too, including Fire TV and browsers via extensions. If you don’t own any of these “unusual” devices, app availability might not be an issue. But if you do, you’ll want to high five the VPN in question.
NordVPN has custom made apps for a huge variety of devices. It currently runs on Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, chromeOS, Windows Phone, Raspberry Pi, and multiple routers and NAS hardware. Some of these are through custom software, while others are with manual configurations using alternative encryption methods such as L2TP or PPTP.
PrivateVPN supports the four big operating systems, covering the vast majority of users in the world: Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. It can be used with certain other devices as well, including Fire TV and Android TV box sets, but this requires a manual sideloading procedure, which can time to set up.
Both NordVPN and PrivateVPN have good platform availability. Neither goes above and beyond to support non-standard devices, but you won’t have any trouble setting them up on modern devices.
Zero-logging policies are massively important for choosing a VPN. For many services it simply means they do not keep logs of user traffic, generally regarded as the most damaging form of data that can be stored. There are several other areas that VPN companies can log, however, including your own IP address and timestamps of when you connect to the service. While they aren’t necessarily deal breakers when it comes to your online privacy, the less information about you a VPN keeps, the better.
NordVPN is famous for its all-encompassing zero-logging policy. The company states outright that it refuses to keep traffic logs, timestamp logs, bandwidth logs, and IP address logs, offering an unprecedented amount of privacy to its users. There’s no word on whether or not NordVPN keeps DNS request logs, but honestly, when the team is this forward about its zero-logging policies in every other area, DNS requests don’t matter all that much.
PrivateVPN has been a little cagey about its zero-logging practices. The company has stated it does not store traffic logs, which is the minimum amount required to be considered “zero-logging”. As for DNS requests, timestamps, bandwidth, and IP addresses, PrivateVPN hasn’t been clear about its company policies.
Any VPN on the market would have to work hard to match NordVPN’s thorough zero-logging policy. As far as we know, it’s the best in the business, and it should make you extremely confident about .
The country in which your VPN is registered can have a huge impact on your privacy. If they’re located in an area with strict anti-privacy laws, for example, the VPN company may be forced to keep activity logs on users without anyone’s consent. If the government or law enforcement agencies request access to these logs, the VPN must comply, and they don’t have to notify users, either. Obviously, this isn’t ideal for anyone seeking improved privacy on the web.
PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, a country with excellent human-friendly privacy practices. There are no laws in this area that would force the company to keep hidden logs of user activity. Sweden is one of the Fourteen Eyes surveillance countries, though, which isn’t as ideal as you might like, even though it could be much, much worse.
NordVPN is based in Panama, a country with no ties to Fourteen Eyes or any other worldwide surveillance efforts. This gives Nord complete control over what it logs and who it has to share its logs with. When combined with the company’s thorough zero-logging policy, it’s practically the best privacy you can get from any mainstream company.
NordVPN handily beats out most VPN services in terms of jurisdiction, making this versus match no competition.
A lot of potential VPN customers forget about one of the weakest links in their online privacy: payments. Signing up for a VPN means spending money, and that involves things like bank accounts, credit cards, and PayPal. All of these forms of payment are tied to your identity, meaning you aren’t as anonymous as you think. One way around this is to offer payments through cryptocurrencies, most of which put a premium on keeping human identities out of each transaction.
Both PrivateVPN and NordVPN accept a wide variety of payment options, including cryptocurrencies. PrivateVPN only supports Bitcoin, however, while NordVPN accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. This may not seem like a big deal to many users, but having three unique payment options can be extremely convenient for online anonymous transactions, especially when you consider that Ripple has some of the lowest fees of any digital currency.
NordVPN edges out PrivateVPN in terms of anonymous payment options. You can sign up for both services using Bitcoin, however, which should keep you safe and secure nonetheless.
Conclusion – Which is better, NordVPN or PrivateVPN?
When choosing between NordVPN and PrivateVPN, the answer isn’t necessarily in the numbers. You need to consider your own needs and prioritize the VPN service that best matches that. You might be better off going with a VPN that doesn’t look as powerful on paper if it gives you the best online experience.
- NordVPN is great for anyone who needs server variety, speed, and added privacy. Its zero-logging policy and jurisdiction in Panama make it an extremely safe choice for protecting both your data and identity.
- PrivateVPN has a smaller server network, but it’s no slouch in terms of speed or location variety. If simplicity, ease of use, and Netflix access are important to you, put PrivateVPN at the top of your list.
No matter which way you look at it, both NordVPN and PrivateVPN are incredible services. You honestly can’t go wrong with either one, and if you’re in doubt, be sure to take advantage of those risk-free trials linked above to try things out before you buy!
So, which VPN do you think is better? Share your thoughts in the comments below!