You can download the NordVPN Windows app from the client download page of their website. This can be accessed from clicking on “Tools & Information” and then “Download” as shown below.
Once the download page opens, hover click on the “Download” button that appears in the Windows section. This will download the appropriate NordVPN client installer to your machine.
This will bring up a dialog window that will let you save the Windows client installation file to your computer. The client requires Windows XP or above. The client setup page also has manual setup guides to configure Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista with OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP. Windows XP has manual setup guides for OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.
Once the client is downloaded to your computer, right-click on the file and choose “Run as Administrator”. This will complete the installation of the Windows client and it will open for the first time. It will create a desktop shortcut for subsequent launches.
The first time that the client launches, it will require that you enter your NordVPN credentials to verify that you are authorized to use it. Enter your NordVPN “Username” and “Password” that you obtained from your welcoming email. Also remember to check the box beside “Remember me” so that you will not have to reenter your credentials every time you launch the client software.
There is a link here to create an account if you do not already have one. Also, there is a link to recover a “Lost password”. If you have forgotten your password, you can click this option to start the process to reset it. Before we log into the Windows client itself, let us take a look at the “Settings” and “Help” screens that can also be accessed from the “Login” screen.
The first of these, “Settings” is shown in the screenshot below-left. Clicking on “Settings” in the upper right of the login window will open this screen. It starts with a couple of checkboxes that will let you set the startup behavior of the software. The options you can set are as follows:
- Start with Windows – This will launch the client software when Windows starts up.
- Start minimized – This will start the client minimized to the system tray.
- DNS leak protection – When set, this will ensure that all DNS request are processed through the VPN to the DNS servers input below it.
- DNS Servers – IP addresses for the primary and secondary DNS servers when DNS leak protection is active. These were pre-filled by the software.
- Smart Play – This activates the SmartDNS over VPN feature that NordVPN says is better than VPN alone because it provides the benefits of unrestricted streaming while still encrypting all of your transmitted data.
- Show news – This permits news popups by NordVPN and special offers.
- Auto connect to – This will let you choose any VPN server on the NordVPN network to automatically connect to once the Windows client is launched.
- Default protocol -This will let you choose the default protocol that OpenvPN uses for its connections while using the Windows client.
- UDP – This is the faster of the two protocols but provides little or no error-checking and no correction. This is the client default for most connections.
- TCP – This is slower than UDP but provides error checking and correction for dropped or out of order packets. This makes it good for areas with weak signals or over longer distance connections where packet loss is more likely.
- Check for updates – Checking this box ensures that your Windows software will always be up to date.
The lower part of the settings screen shows the processes that have been added to the app VPN Kill switch. It will let you select from currently running processes or browse for executables to add to the list of applications to stop if the VPN connection drops. Pressing the “Running process” button will open a window containing a list of the current running processes, clicking on the “+” to the right of it will add that process to the VPN app kill list.
The second screen we want to take a look at is the help screen. It can be accessed by clicking on “Help” at the top right of the login screen.
The above screenshot shows links to the different ways you can get help with any issues you may have regarding the NordVPN service. These links and where they will redirect you to are as follows:
- Frequently asked questions – Clicking on the “You may find your answer here” link will redirect you to the FAQ page on the NordVPN website so that you can see if your issue has been previously solved.
- Live Support – Clicking on the “Start the conversation with an experienced CS specialist” will open a chat window where you can discuss any problems or questions you may have about the NordVPN service with the appropriate staff in real-time.
- Email NordVPN – Email email@example.com to open a support ticket.
- Log file – This has two different links.
- Clicking on “Click here to open log file” will open the log file for the last few VPN connections so that you can examine it.
- Clicking on “Submit log file” will open a dialog window to send the log file to the NordVPN support staff to help them diagnose your connection problems.
Now that we have examined the Settings and Help screens for the, let us login to the client and see how to use the NordVPN service. Recall from above that you must enter your credentials and click on the “Log in” button. Once you do, you will see a screenshot similar to the one shown below-left.
This is the client main screen with the “Country” tab selected. From here all you have to do to connect to a VPN server on the NordVPN network is select the country that you want to connect to and then click on the green “Connect” button. Let us try a connection now. Scroll down until you see Mexico and then click on it to select it. This will highlight it in pale blue as shown in the second screenshot below. Next, click on the green “Connect” button.
This will cause a connecting screen like that shown in the third screenshot to appear. This screen shows that you are connecting to your chosen server and has a large yellow “Cancel” button to stop the process if you change your mind.
The last screenshot in the image above shows the completed connection to a VPN server in Mexico. The top of the screen shows some account information. This is followed by the new virtual public IP address assigned by the Mexican VPN server and your virtual location, Mexico. These are the location and IP addess that the open Internet sees you at. This is followed by the a horizontal gauge showing the server load percentage. Under this is a green “Change server” button with a red “Disconnect” button to the right of it.
Clicking on the “Change server” button will stop your current VPN connection and return you to the “Country/Server” selection screen where you can choose another location to connect to. Clicking on the “Disconnect” button will do the same. Click on the Disconnect button now.
This will return you to the Country selection screen with Mexico still selected as is shown in the first image below. Now scroll down and double-click on the United Kingdom as is shown in the second screenshot below. Double-clicking on the country/server is another way to connect to a VPN server so after the connection process is complete, you will see a screen like that shown in the last screenshot. Whenever you connect to a server by selecting a country, the software will automatically connect you to the fastest server in that country.
Now click on the “Change server” button which will return you to the country selection screen. Notice that the United Kingdom is now highlighted as the selected server. Suppose you want more control over the server you connect to in a country, then you can click on the “Server” tab above the list.
This will open a list of all the VPN servers in the NordVPN network and allow you to choose the one you want to connect to. To help you with this decision, the software will generate a real-time “server load %” and “ping value in ms” for each server. Clicking on the “Refresh server status” button will give you the latest real-time results and takes only about 30 seconds. This is illustrated in the screenshots in the image below. The first thing you will notice about these screenshots is that if you hover the mouse over the server name a popup will appear indicating the potential use for that server or what it has been optimized to do. The servers are organized first by the following purposes as is shown in the first two screenshots:
- Anti DDoS – This is a group of four servers that have been optimized to protect against DDoS attacks which gamers can appreciate.
- Ultra Fast TV – This is a group of servers specifically set up to create a fast streaming experience from four of the most popular countries for streaming media. Moving the mouse over each country will display its most popular streaming providers.
- Double VPN – Connecting to these servers is all you need to do to take advantage of their double encrypted VPN.
- Tor over VPN – Connecting to a server in this group will ensure that your Tor connection is private and securely encrypted.
- Dedicated IP servers – These are in the United Sates and hovering the mouse over one gives you some idea as to their primary purpose. You can get a static dedicated IP from one of the servers.
- Standard VPN servers – These are by country name in alphabetical order.
Similarly to the countries, all that is necessary to connect to a specific VPN server is to double-click on its name or select it and then click on the “Connect” button. Click on the “Singapore #3” server in the first image below to see how easy this is. You will first see the connecting screen followed by the completed connection one as is shown below.
You can see that whether you chose to connect by country or by server, The NordVPN Windows client makes it easy for you to connect to one of their VPN servers. Just a couple of clicks will have your privacy protected and all of your Internet traffic encrypted. Clicking on Smart Play will have you watching all of your favorite streaming media shows from all over the world while still protecting your Internet traffic. Their software client has DNS leak protection and an application VPN kill switch as well. It uses OpenVPN UDP by default which is regarded as one of the best VPN protocols with the option to change it to OpenVPN TCP if you need to.
They also have manual setups here to configure their VPN using a variety of protocols including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP. They even have a special tutorial for VPN access in China via Obfsproxy. These can be found on the tutorial page of their website. Links to this page are also found on their download page.
Once you sign up for an account, they will send you a welcoming email with your username and password. You can use these to connect to their VPN network of servers using your chosen client software. This will allow you to immediately enjoy the peace of mind offered by their service. Alternately, you can also use this information and their tutorials to manually setup their service for other devices that you may have.