NovaVPN gets a lot right, but the overall package is frustrating, offers poor value for money, and sub-par customer support.
NovaVPN claims to offer a solution to all of the key VPN challenges: beating censorship, allowing users to surf on public wifi safely, opening up Netflix and other streaming services, and allowing gamers to play with reduced lags by connecting a user to a faster server. Nova offers high speeds, up to 6 simultaneous devices, over 100 global server locations, DNS leak protection, and “zero logs.” So where’s the catch here? Well, as we see it, NovaVPN is not too bad, but it’s not perfect by any stretch. This NovaVPN review, prepared by cybersecurity experts at VPNpro, will explain exactly why that is.
Security and privacy
NovaVPN offers a suite of security features that provides plenty of reassurance on the privacy front. For starters, the tool uses AES-256 encryption. private DNS servers, a kill switch, and even offers Double VPN, which many providers do not. Here’s a full list of what the VPN has to offer:
- OpenVPN using 256-bit SSL encryption
- IPSec using AES-256 with RSA-4096
- Private, encrypted DNS servers
- DoubleVPN (chaining VPN servers)
- Kill switch to minimize IP leaks
This goes beyond what the majority of providers offers. For example, Double VPN isn’t offered very often and can be a real advantage in sensitive situations. Neither are private DNS servers universal. So that’s another feather in NovaVPN’s cap.
Does NovaVPN VPN keep logs?
On its homepage, NovaVPN states very clearly that it doesn’t keep logs – at least logs concerning the activities of users via NovaVPN servers. The company does record each user’s sign-up email address and card details, but this is not unusual among VPNs so it’s no cause for concern.
Nova has even published a blog arguing “Why NovaVPN is an ideal choice for your internet privacy” without linking to or mentioning any policy documents. Users shouldn’t have to take VPNs at face value, especially when privacy is concerned.
After digging around on Google, we did find a Terms and Conditions document, which repeated Nova’s marketing claims and included a very brief comment about privacy. The T&Cs extensively mention Nova’s policy of banning users who commit crimes via the VPN, while also maintaining a watertight zero logs policy. Users will have to judge for themselves whether this policy can be trusted, but we had our doubts.
These doubts were magnified by a lack of clarity about NovaVPN’s location. The homepage provides no information about who is behind the company, or where it is based. Given well-founded worries about surveillance in 5 or 14-Eyes countries, Russia, or China, hiding this information is a huge red flag.
Speed and performance
NovaVPN promises “high speed” coverage, and it doesn’t do too badly all things considered. When we fired up the client for a speed test the results were encouraging.
Our download speed took a hit – but that’s normal. The markdown wasn’t crippling, and somewhere around 20-30% was common on nearby servers. The upload speed was consistently solid as well, making it relatively easy to browse the web and stream content without serious lag issues.
Don’t expect a stellar connection speed. After all, NovaVPN only promises “high speed,” not “industry-leading” or “unbeatable” speeds, and that’s what you’ll get.
NovaVPN offers over 100 server locations, which is quite amazing by budget VPN standards. And the company is open about where their servers are.
Servers range widely across the globe. There are 10 in the USA and Germany, 6 in the UK, 8 in the Netherlands, and 6 in Russia. However, Asian coverage is very weak, with no Indian, Chinese, Japanese, or Malaysian options, and nothing in the Middle East. If you’re planning to use a Virtual Private Network in those jurisdictions, Nova probably won’t be fast or reliable enough to work with.
Nova also offers 8 specialist P2P servers, which is a welcome addition. These are located in Russia and the Netherlands, so there should be a secure connection for torrents.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
Customers who want to try NovaVPN can download the client for the following platforms:
- Windows 7. 8. and 10
- macOS 10.12 (Sierra) or 10.13 (High Sierra)
- Android 4.4 and above
- iOS 10.0 and above
So there’s no client for Linux, but there is a dependable service for Mac, and the service for PC includes legacy versions of Windows that other VPNs don’t cater to. Android compatibility also goes back a few years, which may help users of older phones.
As for ease of use, this is one of Nova’s big selling points. Users can instantly download the desktop app via the Nova website, or get the mobile app via Google Play or the iTunes Store. When you load it up, everything is well laid-out and familiar, and Nova makes it easy to switch between servers and find P2P-friendly connections. There’s even a “Help me Choose” button to lead users towards the best-performing servers, which can help to neutralize any speed issues. And even novices will find the Double VPN feature simple to get to grips with.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
These days, VPNs rise or fall based on their ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming services. Nova makes the usual promises regarding blocking, assuring users that they will be able to “access any website,” presumably including Netflix.
We don’t take VPNs at face value where geo-blocking is concerned, as many fail to deliver. However, that’s not the case here. NovaVPN worked pretty well for unblocking Netflix and we were able to beat geo-restrictions fairly easily, accessing US, German and Dutch content without any problems at all.
The same applied to Hulu, making Nova ideal for movie fans. There’s no special client for Amazon Fire, and nothing on the Nova website suggests that installation onto Firestick devices is a possibility, so that may be a step too far. Still, in the world of mass-market VPNs, Nova’s unblocking performance was very strong.
If you’re planning a trip abroad and want to access your favourite TV show, it’s likely to be a good tool to pack in your digital suitcase.
P2P and torrenting
As we noted earlier in this NovaVPN review, torrenting is an area where the provider tries hard and scores well. For one thing, there are numerous P2P-optimized servers for customers to use for secure torrenting (the other NovaVPN servers won’t tolerate torrent downloads).
Moreover, NovaVPN has put together some quick guides for using its software with P2P- based streaming services like Popcorn Time and Yify, which is unusual and welcome for those who rely on a P2P connection for their entertainment.
A kill switch is also included as part of the package. That’s a huge plus when carrying out bulky torrent downloads. But on the downside, there’s no SOCKS5 proxy for P2P downloads – something that could make torrenting more efficient.
Online censorship in China and elsewhere
Beating censorship is one of the major marketing points featured on the NovaVPN website, and with its strong encryption and solid record on DNS and IP leaks, the provider doesn’t seem like a terrible choice for scaling the Great Firewall of China.
Unfortunately, however, the service has no stealth mode or protocol, therefore we don’t think this is the best tool for the job. Simply put, there’s a heightened risk that NovaVPN will get blocked in China.
All good VPNs are accessible and helpful for new and veteran users alike. Sadly, NovaVPN doesn’t excel here, and customer support can’t be regarded as one of its standout features.
The only reliable way to get in touch with the company is via a support email address, which doesn’t always return prompt, informative responses. The company’s social media accounts are mainly inactive and don’t seem to provide a useful way to request assistance, and there’s no option for phone support or live chat.
The FAQ section isn’t the worst we’ve seen, but it’s also not brilliant. There are some empty entries and less than thorough answers. And the Terms of Service suffer from the same issues. There’s no forum either, which is always a positive addition, so you won’t be able to contact fellow NovaVPN customers to discuss user experiences.
Given the many positive aspects of this provider, support seems like a missed opportunity and something that suggests Nova wouldn’t necessarily have your back in a crisis.
There’s no free trial with and no free version either. That’s another big failing that’s hard to understand. Almost all mainstream VPNs offer customers the opportunity to try before they buy. Providers understand that users want reassurance about IP leaks and speed, but Nova seems happy to go without those reassurances.
If you do want to sign up for a paid subscription, here are the payment options:
- 1-month for 6 devices: $9.99
- 6-month plan for 6 devices: $42 ($7/month)
- 1-year plan for 6 devices: $59.04 ($4.92/month)
Those prices aren’t ridiculously expensive, but they aren’t the cheapest around, either. The 1-month tariff is especially high for what the tool offers.
If you don’t enjoy the NovaVPN experience, the company operates a refund policy, giving customers 30 days to request their money back. This is no money-back guarantee, however. The refund policy states that it is “an opportunity” not a commitment. And no refunds are available for Google Play or iTunes customers. Basically, don’t count on receiving your money back if things go wrong.
NovaVPN is a frustrating product. It offers strong encryption, prevents IP leaks, can unblock Netflix, caters for 6 devices at one time, and allows P2P traffic. That should add up to an appealing VPN package. But there are issues here, too. The high price, mediocrespeeds, fuzzy logging policy, lack of information about who is behind the product, and low-quality support all made us think twice before recommending it. By all means, use it, but be aware that it’s not the best around.
Pros and Cons:
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Kill switch
- Suitable for P2P downloads
- Unblocks Netflix
- 100+ servers
- Easy to use and download
- Includes Double VPN
- Expensive for what it offers
- Poor support
- No free trial
- No stealth mode
NovaVPN Scored 3.5/5
UPDATE 03/04/2020: This month, NovaVPN have updated their pricing list. You can now get NovaVPN for just $1 per month, and you don’t even have to purchase a full 12 months to get that price, you can just pay monthly, so it’s a great time to try out the software for yourself.
Following this, we’ve upgraded the above score to 3.5/5, from the original 3/5.
For more software reviews check out our website right HERE.