What Is NordLynx? Learn From A to Z! (2021)

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I often find NordVPN is one of the most secure VPNs – and one of the fastest.

But, like many others, I had an eyebrow cocked when the provider first announced its new VPN protocol, NordLynx, with promises that it outperforms industry standards like OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec.

One of the reasons is that NordLynx is based on WireGuard.

While WireGuard is very secure, it forces VPN servers to keep logs of your original IP address.

This is because the protocol assigns users the same IP address every time you connect to help speed up the process.

But I’ve been recommending NordVPN clients use NordLynx for some time now – so I think it’s high time I explain why the proprietary fork is better than the original!

Let’s jump in.

What Is NordLynx?

NordLynx is NordVPN’s proprietary version of the open-source WireGuard VPN protocol – and it’s faster and more secure than OpenVPN.

It was first rolled out as part of NordVPN’s Linux terminal app back in July 2019.

Nearly a year later, the provider announced Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS users would also get to use the new protocol.

The idea behind NordLynx is to help you connect to a NordVPN server faster than ever while also speeding up your VPN speeds.

And, of course, it also takes advantage of WireGuard’s excellent security.

And while it would’ve been easy for NordVPN to offer WireGuard as-is instead of developing NordLynx, the Panama-based VPN provider has a reputation for being very privacy-friendly.

For example, NordVPN was the first to invite independent audits back in 2018 to prove its strict no-logs policy.

WireGuard, on the other hand, forces VPN servers to keep temporary logs of users’ real IP addresses.

These logs are only ever stored in the server’s RAM (Random-Access Memory), so they’re automatically deleted every time the server is rebooted.

However, for NordVPN, this wasn’t good enough.

And so, the VPN provider developed NordLynx to marry WireGuard’s strengths with its own.

How Does NordLynx Work?

NordLynx technology
Image via https://nordvpn.com/blog/nordlynx-protocol-wireguard/

To properly understand how NordLynx works, you need to understand a little of how the original WireGuard protocol works, too.

WireGuard In Brief

WireGuard was first programmed by Jason A. Donenfield and launched in Linux only, though it’s become cross-platform since.

One of WireGuard’s biggest advantages over other VPN protocols is how lightweight it is.

Take a look at how the length of its code compares to IPSec and OpenVPN:

Protocol

Code Length

IPSec

+/- 400,000

OpenVPN

+/- 600,000

WireGuard

+/- 4,000

Having only 0.67% to 1% of the amount of code, WireGuard is ideally programmed to boost connection speeds while also using less energy to run, which can help extend battery life.

It also means it has a significantly smaller attack surface, which is a huge plus for cybersecurity!

WireGuard’s encryption and decryption algorithms are also more straightforward, so it spends less time encrypting and decrypting your data in transit.

Together with a shorter tunneling route, the speed benefits are compounded.

But, as mentioned, WireGuard currently delivers its excellent speeds by assigning users a static IP address.

To do so, it needs to log your original (real) IP address in the VPN server’s RAM so that it can assign you a WireGuard key.

Some people might see this as totally okay, especially as providers like NordVPN use RAM-only servers anyway.

However, VPNs are vulnerable to WebRTC leaks.

And if you suffer a WebRTC leak, your static WireGuard-assigned IP address gets leaked.

Plus, theoretically, anyone snooping on your online activities (such as the government) can use that static IP to identify you based on the online accounts you log into while using it.

"WireGuard's simplicity and encryption speed significantly surpass OpenVPN and IPsec, the protocols that are now common in the VPN market. However, it doesn’t dynamically assign IP addresses to everyone connected to a server. Thus, it requires storing at least some user data on the server, compromising their privacy. That’s why we implemented the double NAT system and came up with the new NordLYnx technology."

- Daniel Markuson (digital privacy expert at NordVPN)

Introducing NordLynx

It’s worth mentioning that WireGuard is still under heavy development.

But until WireGuard as-is no longer uses the static IP approach with its related logs, workarounds and specialized forks like NordLynx remain a more inherently private solution.

To briefly discuss the workaround method, let’s talk about Mullvad (another of the best VPNs for online privacy), a VPN that automatically replaces your WireGuard key once a week.

It also gives you the option to manually regenerate the key more often if you prefer.

NordVPN, on the other hand, took a more dynamic approach in developing NordLynx.

developing an idea concept

Instead of implementing Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), which is used with OpenVPN, NordLynx sandwiches two Network Address Translation (NAT) implementations.

This means multiple users’ IP addresses can be hidden behind a single public IP address that WireGuard accesses.

In other words, you’ll get a new, randomized WireGuard IP address while using NordLynx – and NordVPN’s servers don’t log your original IP to begin with.

Will NordLynx Improve My Speed?

When using a VPN, one thing to bear in mind is that no matter the protocol, your data still has to travel through at least one extra server (belonging to the VPN provider) before reaching its destination.

Adding that extra step will almost always cause your connection speed to drop.

How much it drops depends on a few different things, including how far away you are from the VPN server’s physical location and the protocol you’re using.

So if you’re asking whether NordLynx will improve your speed compared to an unprotected connection with no VPN, the answer is almost always “no.”

But if you’re asking whether NordLynx will improve your speed compared to other VPN protocols like OpenVPN?

Well, if everything else – server location and server load – is the same, then yes.

Take a look:

OpenVPN UDP (Slovakia #43 Server, Windows PC, Base Speed: 194.14 Mbps)

opnenvpn udp speed test result

NordLynx (Slovakia #43 Server, Windows PC, Base Speed: 197.62 Mbps)

nordlynx speed test

NordLynx is faster than other protocols, even when adding an extra step (the double NAT system) to the mix!

Despite the name, CyberSec is not a complete cybersecurity solution.

But it does help block phishing sites and other websites (or webpages) that host malware, add an extra layer of protection against DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, and block ads.

enabled nordvpn cybersec ad block setting

By blocking ads (and, at least theoretically, any malicious JavaScript injected into an otherwise harmless website), there’s less for your browser to load.

And that can help speed your connection as well.

"Speed is the true reason why we are really excited to launch NordLynx”, says Markuson, further explaining that NordVPN took an academic approach on measuring the speeds, and used statistical methods to analyze the results."

NordLynx Pros vs. Cons

All tools and features have their pros and cons, including tunneling protocols.

The good news is, in my experience, NordLynx’s pros outweigh its cons:

Pros

1. Superior Speed

As you’ve seen, the most significant selling point for NordLynx is its superior speed.

And with all the different factors that affect VPN speed, it’s a massive pro to have a VPN protocol that offers refreshingly little speed reduction.

I’d even go so far as to say NordVPN’s “Quick Connect” feature truly earns its name thanks to NordLynx.

If there’s any pause while the app connects to a server, it’s so slight as to be practically nonexistent.

2. Improved Security

WireGuard as-is still lags behind OpenVPN in terms of security.

The vulnerability isn’t one that’s typically considered a cybersecurity issue.

It’s more directly a privacy concern, namely the possibility to identify individual users through correlation if they suffer a WebRTC leak.

But let’s face it: that’s not just a privacy issue because it also exposes users to potential DDoS attacks (especially if you’re a streamer).

NordVPN’s innovative use of a double NAT system takes care of these concerns, giving NordLynx improved security that matches OpenVPN.

And, of course, the much shorter code creating a smaller attack surface puts NordLynx ahead of OpenVPN in security!

On a related note, as already mentioned, its lightweight coding also means using NordLynx is less power-intensive than other VPN protocols.

And when you’re using mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, improved battery life is a pro as well.

3. It’s Free (Kind Of)

Just as easy as it would’ve been for NordVPN to offer WireGuard as-is instead of developing NordLynx, the provider could’ve made its proprietary protocol a premium add-on.

It wouldn’t have been alone.

NordVPN’s cloud-based password manager, NordPass, and its 10GB cloud storage feature, NordLocker, can both be added to your NordVPN subscription for an extra fee (each).

But instead, the provider offers NordLynx for free to all customers by default.

So the only payment necessary to start using NordLynx is your NordVPN subscription fee!

And, on a related note, this also means you get access to all of NordVPN’s other integrated features, including the CyberSec ad-blocker and the DoubleVPN and Onion Over VPN servers.

Plus, NordVPN’s subscription plans are already quite affordable and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

But if you want to save even more, sign-up with this link to enjoy a MASSIVE discount!

4. Device Compatibility

WireGuard was originally only available for Linux – and so was NordLynx.

But almost as soon as WireGuard became cross-platform, NordVPN made sure NordLynx was too!

This means whether you’re using a device running Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS, the NordVPN app lets you use NordLynx.

nordvpn nordlynx app and os compatibility

Cons

1. It’s Still New (and Not Open-Source)

Pretty much the only con I could find for NordLynx, at least for the time being, is the fact it’s still new.

This means it’s still relatively unproven compared to older protocols like OpenVPN.

And as with any new software, there might be vulnerabilities or bugs that haven’t had time to surface yet.

This is especially true for NordLynx for two reasons:

  1. It’s based on WireGuard, itself a new protocol that’s still being actively developed; and
  2. It isn’t open-source, unlike WireGuard, which means community members can’t independently review the NordLynx code to help identify vulnerabilities and submit (potential) patches. Though, to be fair, the fact NordLynx isn’t open-source isn’t a negative for everyone.

As for being relatively new, there have been some issues in the past:

customer service found a fix with the nordlynx internet issue
  • Linux users took to Reddit to highlight NordLynx connectivity issues in mid-2020. One was kind enough to share the solution offered by NordVPN for Debian-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu.
reddit comment on linux connectivity issue fix
reddit comment on nordvpn windows 10 and 11 issue

However, it seems NordVPN acts fast to patch these issues.

A new update will likely be launched to patch the issue from the third example once Windows 10 21h2 and Windows 11 are officially released.

NordLynx vs. Other Protocols

Not convinced NordLynx has what it takes to replace the other protocols you’re used to?

Take a look at these head-on comparisons!

NordLynx vs. OpenVPN

OpenVPN has the advantage of being a more mature protocol that’s completely open-source.

Its robust design earned it its place as the most highly recommended VPN protocol.

There are also two ports available for OpenVPN: UDP and TCP.

TCP is slower because it’s connection-oriented (establishes a connection between devices before sending any data).

At the same time, UDP is faster because it’s “connectionless” (it doesn’t establish a connection beforehand and doesn’t guarantee all data will be successfully sent).

NordLynx, on the other hand, is newer and proprietary.

But it’s also consistently faster than OpenVPN, far more lightweight, and just as (if not more) secure.

NordVPN continues to recommend using OpenVPN if you’re more security-conscious.

But thanks to its superior speed and high-security standard, NordLynx is already the default protocol in all of NordVPN’s apps.

And it seems the community agrees with that decision.

When a Redditor made a poll asking whether users prefer NordLynx or OpenVPN, 53 chose NordLynx vs. 13 who chose OpenVPN!

nordlynx vs openvpn poll on reddit

NordLynx vs. IKEv2/IPSec

IKEv2/IPSec is a combination of two VPN protocols.

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) was designed by Microsoft and is one of the most convenient options for mobile devices.

It’s also relatively fast, despite having similar encryption standards as OpenVPN.

Internet Protocol Security (IPSec), on the other hand, is slower and no longer used as a standalone VPN protocol.

You’ll almost always see it appear as the second-half of an IKEv2/IPSec setup, or – especially for macOS and iOS devices – L2TP/IPSec.

So how does IKEv2/IPSec work?

The way NordVPN has the protocol set up, data is first encrypted using Next Generation Encryption (NGE) and combined with PFS before being sent through an IPSec-secure tunnel.

This gives it a combination of speed, security, and stability.

In fact, IKEv2/IPSec can sometimes be nearly as fast as NordLynx.

But overall, NordLynx’s lightweight build and speed optimization give it a huge advantage!

NordLynx vs. WireGuard

Comparing NordLynx to WireGuard can get complicated.

This is especially true because it’s impossible to make an accurate speed comparison where all else is equal.

NordVPN doesn’t offer NordLynx and WireGuard, and no other provider can offer NordLynx.

So we can’t hit the same servers.

Theoretically, WireGuard will be ever so slightly faster than NordLynx, purely because NordLynx adds the double NAT system between your device and NordVPN’s NordLynx servers.

But I strongly suspect that the difference in speed would be so minuscule as to be negligible.

This means the only real differences are:

  • WireGuard is open-source, while NordVPN is proprietary (closed-source); and
  • WireGuard is more vulnerable to correlation attacks unmasking a user’s true identity following WebRTC leaks, whereas NordLynx’s double NAT system eliminates this threat.

All things considered, even though open-source is better than proprietary software in general, I have to give the win to NordLynx.

NordLynx Setup On All Devices

Ready to get started using NordLynx?

Just follow these easy step-by-step guides for each device type!

NordLynx Setup on Windows

  1. Create a NordVPN account and purchase a subscription.
  1. Download and install the NordVPN client for Windows.
nordvpn for windows
  1. Launch the app and sign in to your NordVPN account.
  2. NordLynx should be the default VPN protocol, but you can confirm this by:
  • Clicking the Settings icon (it looks like a cog) in the top-right;
nordvpn app
  • Click on Auto-connect on the left;
nordvpn auto connect
  • The VPN protocol should already show “NordLynx,” but if not, you can select it from the drop-down menu.
nordlynx vpn protocol
  • Exit the Settings tab and click Connect or choose a server location from the server list.

Enjoy a faster connection with NordLynx!

NordLynx Setup on macOS

  1. Create a NordVPN account and purchase a subscription.
  1. Download and install the NordVPN client for macOS.
nordvpn app for mac
  1. Launch the app and sign in to your NordVPN account.
  2. NordLynx should be the default VPN protocol, but you can confirm this by:
  • Clicking the Settings icon (it looks like a cog) in the top-right;
  • Click on General on the left;
  • The VPN protocol should already show “NordLynx,” but if not, you can select it from the drop-down menu.
  1. Exit the Settings tab and click Connect or choose a server location from the server list.

Enjoy a faster connection with NordLynx!

NordLynx Setup on Android

  1. Create a NordVPN account and purchase a subscription.
  1. Download and install the NordVPN client for Android from the Google Play Store or the APK off NordVPN’s website.
nordvpn app for android
  1. Launch the app and sign in to your NordVPN account.
  2. Change the VPN protocol settings by:
  • Tapping the Settings icon (it looks like a cog) in the top-left;
  • Tapping VPN connection;
  • Tapping Protocol and then NordLynx.
  1. Exit the Settings tab and tap Connect or choose a server location from the server list.
Enjoy a faster connection with NordLynx!

NordLynx Setup on iOS

  1. Create a NordVPN account and purchase a subscription.
  1. Download and install the NordVPN client for iOS from the App Store.
nordvpn app for ios
  1. Launch the app and sign in to your NordVPN account.
  2. Change the VPN protocol settings by:
  • Tapping the Settings icon (three lines) in the top-right;
  • Tapping VPN connection;
  • Tapping Protocol and then
  1. Exit the Settings tab and tap Connect or choose a server location from the server list.
Enjoy a faster connection with NordLynx!

NordLynx Setup on Linux

nordvpn app for linux

One area NordVPN lags behind some of its major competitors is in not having a GUI (Graphic User Interface) app for Linux.

Instead, it’s entirely terminal-based.

NordVPN has .deb and .rpm packages, which are compatible with different Debian- and RHEL-based Linux distributions (“distros”).

Depending on which distro you’re using, you might need to visit the provider’s Linux tutorials page.

The following setup steps are for Debian, Ubuntu, Raspberry Pi, Elementary OS, and Linux Mint:

  1. Create a NordVPN account and purchase a subscription.
  1. Download and install the NordVPN terminal client for Linux using the following terminal command:
				
					sh curl -sSf https://downloads.nordcdn.com/apps/linux/install.sh)
				
			

If you don’t have a curl package, the above command won’t work, and you should use the following instead:

				
					sh (wget -qO - https://downloads.nordcdn.com/apps/linux/install.sh)
				
			

If you get a “Whoops! Permission denied accessing /run/nordvpn/nordvpnd.sock” error message, use the following command before rebooting your device:

				
					sudo usermod -aG nordvpn $USER
				
			
  1. Sign in to your NordVPN account using the following command:
				
					nordvpn login
				
			
  1. NordLynx should be the default VPN protocol, but you should confirm this by using the following command:
				
					nordvpn set technology nordlynx
				
			
  1. Use NordVPN’s auto-connect feature with the following command:
				
					nordvpn c
				
			
  1. Alternatively, you can choose a server location by using the following commands:
				
					nordvpn countries [to find the country code and server number]
nordvpn connect <country_code server_number>
</country_code>
				
			

An example:

				
					nordvpn connect uk715
				
			

Enjoy a faster, more secure VPN connection on Linux with NordLynx!

How to Disable NordLynx?

Not happy with the NordLynx experience or need to switch to a different VPN protocol for other reasons?

For Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS users, doing so is as easy as choosing OpenVPN UDP or TCP in the Settings tab:

  • Windows: Settings > Auto-connect > Open the VPN Protocol drop-down menu
  • macOS: Settings > General > Open the VPN Protocol drop-down menu
  • Android: Settings > VPN Protocol > Tap on OpenVPN UDP or OpenVPN TCP
  • iOS: Settings > VPN Protocol > Tap on OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, or IKEv2

Linux users need to use either of the following terminal commands:

  • For OpenVPN UDP:
				
					nordvpn set protocol udp
				
			
  • For OpenVPN TCP:
				
					nordvpn set protocol tcp
				
			

You can then connect using either of the following:

				
					nordvpn c 
				
			
				
					nordvpn connect
				
			

NordLynx Troubleshooting

Having issues connecting with NordLynx?

No internet access?

Before you panic, run through these quick NordLynx troubleshooting steps!

  1. Close and Reopen the NordVPN App. You might think “switch it off and on again” is an IT joke (it is), but sometimes it’s all you need to do to fix an issue.
  2. Try a Different Server. Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the protocol but the server you’re trying to connect to. There might be maintenance or other technical difficulties, but connecting to a different server will help if that’s the case.
  3. Add NordVPN to your Firewall’s Whitelist. Too often, firewalls don’t want to play nicely with VPNs and will disable or block VPN connections. Adding NordVPN to your firewall’s whitelist (list of trusted apps) should do the trick.
  4. Try a Different VPN Protocol. If NordLynx is still not connecting after trying the previous three troubleshooting steps, try using a different VPN protocol like OpenVPN UDP or TCP.
  5. Contact NordVPN Support. Is NordLynx still not working for you? With the protocol being so new, there are likely some technical issues, especially if there’s been a recent NordVPN update. You’ll need to contact NordVPN’s customer support team, which is available 24/7 through the Live Chat feature on its website.

FAQ

Is NordLynx Secure?

NordLynx is secure, as NordVPN uses an innovative double NAT system that fills the gaps left behind by the WireGuard protocol.

This means users get a new, randomized WireGuard IP address while using NordLynx.

Furthermore, during my tests, NordLynx proved to be the most secure protocol – and the fastest.

Is NordLynx Good for Gaming?

NordLynx is an excellent choice for gaming, as it offers the fastest speeds out of all other protocols provided by NordVPN.

It also provides users with an impressive ping rate, competitive download speeds, and an overall stable connection.

Plus, the drop in speed from your base connection is so minimal that it’s only noticeable with a speed test.

NordLynx A to Z Conclusion

NordVPN certainly gains a one-up over many of its competitors thanks to the provider’s proprietary NordLynx protocol.

You get the superior speeds native to the open-source WireGuard protocol.

NordLynx is based on and improved security and privacy thanks to the double NAT system NordVPN added.

Considering NordLynx is 100% free for all NordVPN customers using Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, or iOS, there’s very little reason not to give it a try.

You might be surprised at just how much faster your connection is!

Sign up for NordVPN with this link to get a HUGE discount on your subscription fees and start using NordLynx today!

WireGuard® is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.

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