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NordLocker cloud storage review

A simple yet sophisticated cloud storage option for businesses

NordLocker website screenshot
(Image: © NordLocker )

TechRadar Verdict

NordLocker is a highly secure cloud storage platform, with an exceptional user interface. However, it is only available on desktop operating systems, and doesn’t offer high-capacity plans.

Pros

  • +

    Impressive drag-and-drop interface

  • +

    Best-in-class security

  • +

    Free version available

Cons

  • -

    No support for iOS or Android

  • -

    Files can only be shared with other NordLocker users

  • -

    Basic support for free customers

From the creators of NordVPN (opens in new tab) and NordPass (opens in new tab) comes NordLocker (opens in new tab), a reliable, secure, and feature-rich cloud storage platform. If you’re self-employed or running a small business, NordLocker is a platform you should consider. Although it’s one of the, if not the, youngest players in the game, having launched right at the end of 2019 just before the pandemic, we think it might compete with the  best cloud storage (opens in new tab)services. 

In this deep-dive, we explore every facet of the platform, including pricing, support options, security features, and functionality. 

NordLocker: Plans and pricing

NordLocker is available through a freemium pricing model. All users can download the app and encrypt files locally for free on the free plan, meaning files are encrypted and stored on the specific device in use. The benefits of local vs. cloud storage are explored in the next section. 

Users wanting cloud storage will need to upgrade to a premium plan, unless the free 3GB is sufficient. Previously, only the 500GB plan was available, however a larger 2TB plan is now an option, too.

Pricing for these is £2.39 ($3.19) or £5.89 ($7.99) per month respectively, however these are both subject to promotion, and according to our calculations should run at approximately £6.80 and £12.80 per month respectively.

NordLocker browser

(Image credit: NordLocker)

NordLocker: Features

NordLocker strikes a great balance between simplicity and breadth of features. The platform is straightforward and easy to use, and it isn’t overwhelmed by features you’ll never use. 

Although NordLocker is primarily a cloud storage platform, local storage of encrypted files is possible and may appeal to some individuals or businesses. Local encryption means files are encrypted but remain stored on your device’s hard drive. So if a hacker were able to access your computer or mobile device, they would not be able to decrypt or access data encrypted with NordLocker. However, this data cannot be accessed from any other device. 

NordLocker’s premium plans enable files to be uploaded to Nord Security's cloud servers, meaning files are both encrypted and available from any device that has NordLocker installed on it. 

This flexibility is likely to appeal to business leaders who want to encrypt data but keep it close at hand (on a local server). This reduces the data’s exposure to data security breaches elsewhere (such as on Nord Security’s servers).

This feature enables users to grant file or folder access to friends, family, or colleagues while maintaining end-to-end encryption. From directly within the NordLocker app, users can invite users to access a folder via their email address. The only downside is that the invitee will need a free NordLocker account before accessing the files. 

However, if your entire office is using NordLocker, file sharing is seamless and instant, making it easy to work effectively in total security.

Given the company’s range of other tools, we would like to see a deeper integration between its products. NordVPN, for example, costs at least £8.79 ($11.99) per month in its most basic form - bundling these together would draw in more income for the company and offer users access to more powerful tools. 

NordLocker iPad

(Image credit: NordLocker)

NordLocker: Interface and in use

This category is one in which NordLocker really shines. We’ve reviewed more than 20 cloud storage platforms in the past few months, and NordLocker is up there with some of the easiest and slickest to use. 

On both Windows 10 and macOS, drag-and-drop functionality made it easy to upload, download, and organize files. Heavy use of the macOS app revealed no glitches, and the app was always responsive. 

In terms of interface, we’re confident in labeling it one of the top cloud storage platforms. 

We previously expressed our disappointment that there was no mobile support for NordLocker on Android or iOS, but given how young the product was when we first reviewed it, we couldn’t be too critical. Fortunately, there are now mobile apps for the cloud storage solution, and they’re just as easy to use as the browser portal.

It’s a bit of a funny one, though. Rather than a dedicated mobile app, the app houses a Safari-based browser (on our iPad test device) which redirects to the NordLocker browser portal. That said, it’s easy enough to navigate and has worked fine for us. It’s a shame that it doesn’t integrate with the native file management system (Files for iPadOS), which most of its rivals do, including Dropbox and Google Drive.

For macOS users with an Apple Silicon chip (M1 or newer), the setup process for the desktop client involves some fiddling around with the security setup of your computer. To the most humble user, this can feel particularly daunting, and while there are plenty of other similar tools that require the same setup process, there are others that don’t. We feel this is too large of a hurdle for many users.

In our testing, we found that the process of encrypting files was extremely quick. Time and time again, our 1GB test file was encrypted comfortably under 30 seconds. The upload process was a little harder to track - we would have liked some sort of progress bar to indicate progress here, but all we found was a circle that filled up as the upload progressed, no detailed information on percentages, bytes transferred or speeds sustained. Other cloud storage solutions also have better control to throttle things like bandwidth and CPU usage - nothing like that here, but features we previously wanted have been added so it’s possible that something like this may come eventually.

That said, an average upload speed of just over eight minutes for 1GB seems reasonable compared with other services we’ve used.

NordLocker: Support

 The NordLocker Help Center provides answers to many FAQs, but doesn’t offer much technical or advanced support. If users need tailored support, they can submit an online help request. Users can also send an email directly to the support team (we received a reply within 24 hours). Phone support options don’t appear to be available. 

NordLocker: Security

NordLocker uses a zero-knowledge encryption system, also referred to as end-to-end encryption. This means no one, not even Nord Security employees, can decrypt your stored files. Among the best cloud storage providers, this is not a widely available feature, thereby earning NordLocker a significant boost in our rating of the service. 

Such is Nord Security’s confidence in its encryption protocols that it has offered $10,000 to anyone who can steal and decrypt data stored on its servers. To date, no one has succeeded, despite the best efforts of world-leading cybersecurity experts and hackers.

We had previously mentioned the lack of multi-factor authentication, but given that the product was in its infancy, that wasn’t to say it would never arrive. Indeed, it has, which is a great step that users can take to add an extra layer of protection against people trying to gain access to your account.

NordLocker: The competition

NordLocker is competing against many top-quality cloud storage platforms, many with decades of experience and extensive market share. These platforms, such as Microsoft’s OneDrive (opens in new tab), Dropbox (opens in new tab), and Apple’s iCloud (opens in new tab), will be hard to displace. However, NordLocker’s zero-knowledge encryption framework surpasses that of both Dropbox and iCloud, and arguably even OneDrive, where end-to-end encryption is limited to the Vault sub-folder. 

When it comes to storage capacity, however, NordLocker struggles. Competitors such as IDrive (opens in new tab) and pCloud (opens in new tab) both provide end-to-end encryption as well as high-capacity plans that far surpass the 500 GB offered in NordLocker’s premium plan.

NordLocker: Final verdict

 NordLocker, despite its release just a few years ago, is on its way to becoming one of our favorite cloud storage platforms. It is highly secure and affordable, and provides a user experience that is close to best-in-class. With the backing of its already successful VPN and password management tools, we think NordLocker has huge potential to solidify its position in the cloud storage market. If the creators were to add proper support for iOS and Android devices, we think it could appeal to even more users. 

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Mike Williams
Lead security reviewer

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.

With contributions from