NordPass Review 2020: Is NordVPN's Password Manager OK?

Robert Bateman
Published on: 09/07/2020

Detailed Expert Review

I see new cybersecurity brands making big promises all the time. After all, they have to say something to stand out. And as a relatively new product to the field of password managers, NordPass is a small fish in a big pond.

NordPass is a password manager from the cybersecurity team behind NordVPN — one of the most popular and well-respected VPN services in the world. But can the company bring any innovative technology to the crowded password manager market? Well, actually yes. NordPass’s focus is on security, simplicity, and effectiveness — rather than lots of free stuff. And as we’ve seen with NordVPN, this company has the potential to create absolutely incredible cybersecurity products.

Personally, I find that pretty exciting.

Password management is a very competitive industry. The best password managers all deliver highly secure and effective password management, but now they’re competing to provide large numbers of bonus features.

For example, my top-recommended password manager — Dashlane — has a free VPN. Keeper has a secure messaging system. 1Password has incredible family password management controls.

So, what bonus feature makes NordPass special?

  • Well… NordPass doesn’t really have any standout bonus features at all.

But — a password manager’s job is, above all, to keep your passwords safe. Bonus features are great, but they are a bonus.

After spending a long time researching and testing this product, I can confirm that NordPass offers something a little different to most password managers, particularly in terms of security and user experience.

I’ve tested around 30 password managers. Not all of them are great products. Some are actually unsafe. But some password managers are so good that they’ve gained millions of trusting users.

Can NordPass compete? Is NordPass worth trying? Here’s what I found out.

NordPass Security Features

Before we discuss the features NordPass offers, I want to discuss NordPass’s main selling point — security.

All password managers use encryption to store your passwords securely, and I don’t normally focus on the technical specifics between different methods. The best password managers are all very secure and use very similar security technology.

However, NordPass is a little different in this respect. Whereas most password managers use the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) specification, NordPass proudly uses the XChaCha20 encryption algorithm.

So, what’s special about NordPass’s XChaCha20?

NordPass states that even with a supercomputer capable of guessing a billion keys per second, it would still take billions of years to break the algorithm”. Well, that’s true — but that’s also true of many modern encryption algorithms.

So, is this all just clever marketing? Not quite.

XChaCha20 is supposedly less vulnerable to certain types of cyberattacks (known as “cache timing” attacks). Some of the smartest people in tech think it could be the future of encryption. Also, Google’s adopting it — which is quite an endorsement.

But although this is interesting for tech geeks like me, the average user is not likely to notice that NordPass “feels” any more secure than most other password managers.

While there have been security issues with major password managers before (LastPass has had a couple of high-profile issues), these weren’t because of weak encryption protocols, so it’s hard to say if XChaCha20 is actually making things more secure.

Encryption method aside, what else comes with NordPass?

  • Desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux (ignore the out-of-date reviews that call NordPass a “web only” password manager).
  • Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge Beta.
  • Password storage.
  • Password generator.
  • Two-factor authentication.
  • Secure notes storage.
  • Credit card details storage.
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • Sync between up to 6 devices (Premium only).
  • Secure sharing of passwords and other items in your vault (Premium only).

That’s it? Yes — that’s it.

But actually — to keep passwords my secure and conveniently log into my accounts — that’s all I need.

Visit NordPass

Browser Extension

Browser extensions are a core feature among password managers (although KeePass — a free, open-source password manager with millions of users — doesn’t have one as standard).

NordPass comes with browser extensions for:

  • Chrome.
  • Firefox.
  • Opera.
  • Edge Beta (not the standard version of Edge included with Windows).

Unfortunately, NordPass doesn’t yet have a Safari extension, but they’re working on one, and I’ll update this review when it becomes available.

I tested NordPass’s Chrome, Firefox, and Edge Beta browsers. When I’m testing a password manager browser extension, I’m assessing a few different factors:

  • Whether or not it provides access to the password manager’s main features.
  • How well it detects username and password fields on various websites.
  • How well it autofills my login credentials and other personal information.
  • Whether or not it saves new login details that aren’t already in my vault.
  • Whether or not it causes any slowdown.

NordPass worked extremely well in all of these areas.

Once I’d installed the browser extension, the NordPass logo appeared in every username and password field whenever I visited a login page. I clicked the logo, selected my account, and NordPass autofilled my username and password.

NordPass Security Features

When I tried setting up a new Google account, NordPass automatically noticed that I was on an account setup screen, and offered to generate a randomized secure password for my new account. When I agreed, NordPass also autofilled the “Confirm password” box.

NordPass Security Features

I clicked Next to set up my new account, and NordPass offered to save my login details to my password vault.

NordPass Security Features

Overall, I found using NordPass’s browser extensions to be a smooth and efficient experience.

I do have one complaint, however:

NordPass will only autofill usernames and passwords. Other password managers, such as Dashlane, LastPass, and 1Password, offer browser extensions that can autofill other personal details, including addresses and credit card details.

However, NordPass’s browser extension does save you from typing out your credit card details manually. You can still easily copy and paste card details whenever you need to make a payment.

NordPass Security Features

Copying and pasting your credit card number in this way is actually still pretty convenient. It also protects you from keyloggers — a type of spyware that can record your keystrokes when you’re typing out credit card information.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is an optional way to add an extra layer of security to your NordPass account. All good password managers offer some form of two-factor or multi-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication requires you to prove you know something (like your Master Password), and prove you have something (like your smartphone) before you can log in. This means that even if someone has your NordPass Master Password, they’d also need access to your (unlocked) smartphone in order to log into your NordPass account.

NordPass’s two-factor authentication works well. You can use a range of authenticator apps on another device (most likely your phone) and biometric information like a fingerprint or voice recognition.

Setting up two-factor authentication with NordPass was easy. I went to the Settings menu and clicked “Enable”.

NordPass Security Features

NordPass then displayed a barcode and secret key that any mobile authenticator app will recognize — NordPass suggests using Authy, Duo Mobile, or Google Authenticator.

NordPass Security Features

I tested out NordPass’s two-factor authentication with Google Authenticator.

Here’s how Google Authenticator looks when you add a new account:

NordPass Security Features

Once I’d scanned the barcode in NordPass, Google Authenticator generated my first verification code. Now, each time I want to log into NordPass, NordPass will ask me to check Google Authenticator for a new verification code.

NordPass Security Features

That’s it. I’d set up two-factor authentication within 2 minutes.

NordPass also lets you set up biometric authentication. This means that you can log into your NordPass account with your fingerprint or with your voice. This is a pretty neat feature that I haven’t seen on many other password managers.

Credit Card Storage

NordPass lets you store credit card information in your encrypted vault. You can access your card details on any device running NordPass.

There are several benefits to this:

  • You’ll always have secure access to your credit card numbers and security codes.
  • You can securely share your credit card details (see Shared Items section).
  • You can use the NordPass browser extension to copy and paste your payment details when making online payments.

When I entered my credit card numbers into NordPass, it automatically detected that I was adding a Visa based on the card number, which was a nice touch.

The ability to securely store payment card information is a common feature of password managers. NordPass has a great interface, and so it makes the process very easy.

But again, there’s a limitation — unfortunately, you can’t add your billing address. This means you’ll have to type it out when making payments (or copy it from one of your Secure Notes).

I don’t understand why NordPass would leave out the ability to add a billing address when it would be pretty simple to add it. I’ll keep you updated if this changes.

Secure Notes

NordPass’s Secure Notes section lets you securely store unlimited text-based notes. This is helpful for things like application passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, insurance policy numbers, etc.

NordPass Security Features

NordPass’s Secure Notes feature is weak compared to other password managers. For example, Dashlane lets you organize your Secure Notes by category (e.g. legal document, database, software licenses, etc.) and attach files totaling up to 1 GB (on the Premium plan).

The company behind NordPass has another product called “NordLocker” — an ultra-secure cloud storage service. I predict that we’ll see a discount package allowing NordPass users to link their NordPass secure notes to NordLocker in the future.

For now, NordPass’s “Secure Notes” feature is useful… but very basic. In my opinion, Dashlane and 1Password do this best by allowing better organization and the ability to attach files.

Shared Items

NordPass lets you securely share any items you’ve stored in your vault — login details, credit card details, or Secure Notes. Only NordPass Premium users can share items, but NordPass Free users can receive them.

NordPass Security Features

This is a very simple process. Simply select the “Shared Items” option from NordPass’s side menu and click Share Item.

I chose to share some credit card details. NordPass lets you send items to multiple people easily.

The person receiving your Shared Item will receive an email like this:

NordPass Security Features

The recipient then has to set up a NordPass Free account to receive the Shared Item. Every password manager I know of requires the recipient of a shared password or item to set up an account, so this isn’t a limitation specific to NordPass.

This is a very convenient way to securely share private information. For example, I use a feature like this to send my wife the password for our Netflix account whenever she resets our smart TV. 

Overall, NordPass’s Shared Items feature works perfectly.

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Other Features

Folders

Other Features

NordPass lets you organize passwords into folders so you can categorize them however you want.

I really like this feature because it means that I can separate my work passwords from my social media passwords, and I can introduce a little bit of order into the hundreds of random passwords synced up across my devices.

Trusted Contacts

Other Features

This is NordPass’s password sharing feature, where you’re able to send passwords between yourself and another NordPass user via an encrypted connection.

But NordPass takes it a step further — to eliminate the possibility of a “man-in-the-middle attack”, both you and your contact need to exchange an encrypted message to guarantee that this connection is trustworthy. This may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it’s nice that there’s an added layer of security to help guarantee a safe exchange of highly sensitive information.

Visit NordPass

NordPass Free vs. Premium

NordPass only offers two types of accounts — NordPass Free and NordPass Premium. However, there are three ways of paying for NordPass Premium.

NordPass Free

NordPass Free vs. Premium

NordPass offers almost all of its core features to free users, except for Shared Items. I’ve outlined these in the Security Features section above.

This sounds pretty generous, right?

But there’s a big problem with NordPass Free. You can only use it on 1 device.

NordPass is doing a similar thing to Dashlane with its free plan. And I really don’t like this type of free plan. 

Practically everybody needs access to their passwords on more than 1 device. Dashlane Free is arguably even worse, as it limits users to 50 passwords. NordPass Free users can at least store as many passwords and Secure Notes as they want.

However, unlike NordPass Premium, NordPass Free isn’t that great. You won’t truly know whether you like NordPass until you can use your password vault across multiple devices at the same time. But if you only have one device, NordPass Free might be good for you.

Try NordPass Free

NordPass Premium

NordPass Free vs. Premium

NordPass Premium offers all NordPass features including Shared Items. You can sync your data across up to 6 devices.

There are 3 ways of paying:

  • 1-month plan — renews once per month, leave at any time.
  • 1-year plan — pay for a whole year at once, with a huge discount.
  • 2-year plan — pay for 2 years at once, with an even bigger discount.

There’s also a 10% discount for students on the two-year plan.

I really like NordPass’s approach. Some password managers, like Keeper, offer a huge variety of plans and add-ons. This can get pretty confusing and you might end up paying more than you think.

Also, most password managers don’t offer monthly plans. This makes NordPass a good option if you don’t have a lot of spare cash. But if you can afford to pay for 1 or 2 years up-front, you’ll get a huge discount.

Best of all — like with most password managers —  each NordPass Premium plan is secured by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it and see if you like it with no risk. If you like it, great! If not, get your money back!  

NordPass Free vs. Premium

The only risk is if you forget to cancel within the time limit. And because there’s such a small up-front cost on the 1-month plan, even this wouldn’t be a big problem for a lot of people.

In terms of value, the 1-year and 2-year NordPass plans are relatively cheap. However, the 1-month plan makes NordPass a relatively expensive option over a whole year.

But the 1-month plan also means that you can try all of NordPass’s features with no risk and a tiny up-front cost. Don’t like it? Export your passwords, delete your data, and get a full refund within the first 30 days. I personally tested the refund process and got my subscription fee 100% refunded — exactly as advertised.

Free NordPass Premium for 30 Days

NordPass Ease of Use and Setup

When I first tried NordPass, it worked fine, but it didn’t have any desktop apps — it was totally browser-based. This was a big problem for me, as it felt half-finished. NordPass now has desktop apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Setting up NordPass is a quick and simple process.

Before downloading NordPass, I had to enter my email and create a password to set up my NordPass account.

Note that your “account password” is not the same as the “Master Password” that unlocks your NordPass vault. Well, technically, these passwords could be the same — NordPass uses a “zero-knowledge” model, so it doesn’t know your Master Password. But I advise against reusing passwords.

Once I created an account, NordPass emailed me a download link for its desktop app:

NordPass uses two-factor authentication once you’ve installed the desktop app to ensure setup is as secure as possible.

NordPass Ease of Use and Setup

Once I’d verified my identity, NordPass asked me to set up my Master Password.

I was disappointed to see that NordPass didn’t tell me how strong my Master Password was. NordPass does test the strength of new account passwords, so I’m not sure why it didn’t test the strength of my Master Password — my most important password of all.

Like 1Password, NordPass offers a Recovery Code in case you forget your Master Password.

Not all password managers do this. If you forget your Dashlane Master Password, you’re in trouble — you might have to delete all the data in your account. I actually prefer NordPass’s approach. It also beats LastPass’s method of using a “password hint”.

Next, NordPass invited me to install its browser extensions.

I clicked Add to Edge. NordPass then opened Firefox and directed me to the Chrome store. That’s not quite what I expected…

NordPass Ease of Use and Setup

Next, NordPass invited me to import my passwords. NordPass can automatically import your passwords from over a huge range of password managers and every major browser.

I keep my testing passwords in a CSV file. Like most password managers, NordPass provides a CSV template so you can organize your passwords into a format that it can read.

Once I’d copied my passwords into NordPass’s CSV template, it only took a couple of seconds to import them into NordPass.

Once you’ve set it up, NordPass is very easy to use. Part of the reason it’s so simple is that there aren’t many features. But also — NordPass is a very well-designed product. It’s clean, lightweight, and intuitive.

In fact — except when I tried to install the Edge browser extension (I’ll return to that later) — I didn’t experience any bugs at all when testing NordPass.

Overall, for what it is, NordPass provides an excellent user experience. It’s one of the smoothest and most lightweight password managers I’ve tested. I’m a big fan of clean, simple software, so this is a strong selling point for me.

Visit NordPass

NordPass Mobile App

NordPass has mobile apps for Android and iOS. I tested the Android app on a Samsung Galaxy S10e running Android 10.

The NordPass mobile app is very simple and easy to use —  just like the desktop app. The main screen provides access to all of NordPass’s (few) features.

NordPass Mobile App

You can view, copy, and securely share your credit card details and Secure Notes.

NordPass Mobile App

The NordPass mobile app also includes a password strength tester.

NordPass Mobile App

NordPass was able to autofill my login details on every mobile browser I tested — Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Firefox Focus, Opera, and even Brave (a browser which Dashlane struggles with).

Here’s how NordPass looks on the Chrome mobile app. When it recognizes a login field, the “Autofill with NordPass” button pops up.

NordPass Mobile App

NordPass also autofills login details on mobile apps — and it worked on pretty much every mobile app I tried.

NordPass Mobile App

NordPass autofill didn’t work on high-security mobile apps like PayPal, but this is normal with password manager mobile apps.

I was really impressed by NordPass’s mobile app.

Update: An older version of the app didn’t include the ability to generate passwords. But NordPass can now generate secure passwords right from the app. I said when they introduce this feature, the mobile app with be pretty much perfect. So now, I think the mobile app is pretty much perfect.

Visit NordPass

NordPass Customer Support

NordPass provides 2 types of customer support:

  • FAQs (online help documents)
  • Email

Compared to other major brands, this is quite a limited range of support options. Password managers typically don’t offer phone support. Some (like Keeper and Dashlane) offer live chat. Others (like 1Password and LastPass) have an active support forum.

That said, I like the option of email support. Dashlane doesn’t offer it. And NordPass’s support team was extremely helpful and responsive.

I had a couple of exchanges with NordPass support. For example, I sent an email about my issues installing the Edge browser extension:

NordPass Customer Support

Just 4 hours later, NordPass staff responded. The response was very clear and helpful. It included an explanation — with diagrams — that enabled me to solve my problem within 1 minute.

NordPass Customer Support

You might have noticed a theme here. In almost every area, NordPass provides something simple and basic, but really effective. The same applies to their customer support.

NordPass has a small user-base right now. As it grows, perhaps NordPass will add more support options. Or perhaps their response times will get slower. Either way, I was satisfied with my customer support experience.

Is NordPass Worth It?

When NordPass entered the market, I was surprised to see a password manager with so few features. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed.

But after using it for a while, I actually started to like NordPass’s simplicity. NordPass doesn’t suffer from the same bugs I’ve experienced with other password managers — perhaps because NordPass isn’t trying to do a hundred different things at once.

NordPass does what it’s designed to do, and it does it well.

It’s good to see a company that only releases features when they’re ready, and I’m excited to see how NordPass develops. For now, it’s a near-perfect version of what a basic password manager should be.

NordPass’s desktop apps work well, its browser extensions work well, and its mobile apps work well. It’s highly secure, and its support team is quick and helpful. I’m confident it will earn a loyal user-base.

If you want a clean, simple password manager, with great password security and absolutely no gimmicks, NordPass is definitely worth trying.

What I Like:

  • Works pretty much perfectly — virtually no bugs.
  • Flexible payment options and 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Clean and attractive design.
  • Uses some exciting new encryption technology.
  • Helpful and responsive customer support team.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Not many bonus features.
  • Limited two-factor authentication options.
  • No password generator on mobile app.

NordPass Products & Pricing

Bottom Line

NordPass has many limitations, but very few flaws. It will keep your passwords safe and automatically log you into online accounts — and it does these basic tasks extremely well. If you’re expecting a lot of extra features, you might be disappointed with NordPass’s lack of “free stuff”. But if you’re looking for a strong and simple password manager with flexible payment options, NordPass is a very good option.

Visit NordPass

About the Author

About the Author

Robert is an expert in privacy, data protection, and cyber-security. He specializes in helping people and businesses keep their devices safe and their personal information private.

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