CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Bernie Sanders ends presidential bid PS5 controller reveal Coronavirus updates Jack Dorsey: $1B for coronavirus Grocery shopping in quarantine Final Fantasy VII
CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Norton Secure VPN vs. NordVPN: Speed, security and price compared

It's a battle of the VPN brands.

When you put two well-known virtual private network brands in a head-to-head battle, you expect a competitive showing out of both. That just wasn't the case with Norton Secure VPN and NordVPN. Despite a lengthy company history and worldwide brand recognition, NortonLifeLock just hasn't put its best foot forward with Norton Secure VPN. It's got a long way to go before it can best a heavyweight VPN like NordVPN. The two are still worth comparing, however, due to their dominance in the market. 

Here's how these two VPNs stack up when it comes to speed, security and price.

Read more: How we evaluate and review VPNs

Norton

There are few more familiar names in information security than Norton and LifeLock. But with limited server options and a few dealbreaker security issues, it's clear that the Norton Secure VPN from NortonLifeLock still has some work to do before it can meet the high standards set by its sibling security products. 

In terms of speed, Norton's are on par with other midtier VPNs: During my testing, it achieved only about 43% of the average 187 megabit-per-second speed achieved on a 1 gigabit-per-second-capable fiber connection during testing, while still maintaining an average of around 81Mbps globally. But unlike many other VPNs, Norton doesn't allow you to choose the city you connect to -- only the country. Norton's Hong Kong servers dragged down overall speed scores, averaging just 6Mbps. So if you're looking for a VPN to use while traveling in China, you may want to consider a different option.

Norton offers what it calls bank-grade encryption -- standard AES-256 -- but offers no kill switch, which would prevent network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. I'd generally consider a lack of kill switch a deal breaker. Norton also didn't mask my IPv6 address, and I experienced DNS leaks during testing -- major security red flags from a product that's supposed to mask your browsing activity. 

This also led to difficulties accessing Netflix. So if you're looking for a VPN that will allow you to access your normal media subscriptions while traveling, we recommend seeking a different VPN for now. We likewise recommend looking elsewhere if you want a VPN that allows torrenting, can be used on a wide variety of devices, or can be paid for in Bitcoin.

Norton Secure VPN is only available on the four main platforms -- Windows, Android, Mac and iOS. Depending on your subscription, you can opt for one, five or 10 simultaneous connections. The least expensive plan is the $5 monthly plan, which allows only one device at a time. The most expensive is the 10-device annual plan for $60. That's more than you should be paying for something that doesn't disguise your location, doesn't support Netflix and drags on speed. 

On the plus side, the application comes with a built-in ad-tracking blocker. Read our Norton Secure VPN review.

NordVPN

This heavy-hitter stays on our list of the best 2020 mobile VPNs for many reasons, including its status as the reigning champion of the value-for-money ratio. Hands-down, you aren't going to get a VPN anywhere else that can do more than NordVPN does, as cheap as NordVPN does it. Despite a security breach reported last year, you'll be hard-pressed to find another VPN that can do what NordVPN does at all. 

Sure, NordVPN could offer a little more privacy if it boosted the number of servers it owns, but I'm talking about 5,000-plus servers in 62 countries, a strict zero-log policy and a jurisdiction in Panama (compared to Norton Secure VPN's 1,500 servers in 29 countries). It's an encryption powerhouse that recently switched to RAM-disk mode, and has a feature that allows you to VPN into Tor. It's available for not only iOS and Android, but also Windows Phone and even BlackBerry. 

With all that security, NordVPN has no business being as fast as it is. In my speed tests, NordVPN performed admirably, cutting our internet speed by about 32% on average (compared to about 57% speed loss with Norton Secure VPN), where most VPNs can reduce speeds by half or more. I found NordVPN's speeds were reliably fast: There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where I expected the VPN to underperform, it proved itself up to the task. 

For all that, how much are you paying? The company's one-year subscription plan costs $7 a month ($84 billed at once). While that yearly price is lower than most other contenders, it's higher than Norton's single-year plan (which, again, is $60), and Nord's month-to-month price of $12 is at the high end of its spectrum. As of September 2019, the company's other pricing tiers have crept up a bit: It's now $3.49 a month for a three-year plan (or $126 total), up from $3 and $108 total. Nord's two-year plan is now $5 per month ($120 total), up from $4 a month and $96 total. And yes, NordVPN also has a full 30-day refund policy if you aren't happy with the service. 

While a three-year plan is a big commitment to make to any service provider in the privacy field, NordVPN has developed a reputation for offering fair refunds, and it's currently running a buy-one-get-one deal. Read our NordVPN review.

Now playing: Watch this: Top 5 reasons to use a VPN
2:42