Tech

NordLocker review: Obsessively secure, affordable online storage

NordLocker online storageImage: Jon L. Jacobi

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Hyper focused on securityEasily navigable interfaceSuper affordable yearly plansEncrypts data locally if you wish

Cons

Currently no versioning, undo, or trash to protect from accidental deletion with synced folders

Our Verdict

NordLocker is by far the most security-conscious online storage service we’re aware of — exactly what we’d expect from the purveyors of NordVPN. It’s also very affordable by the year.

Price When Reviewed

$36 per year for 500GB

Best Prices Today: NordLocker Online Storage

RetailerPriceNordLocker$2.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

NordLocker impressed me from the get-go with its hardline attitude towards securing your data. Non-optional encryption, strong password rules… You name it, it’s there — exactly what you’d expect from the purveyors of NordVPN.

Throw in clean and efficient client/web software, some very affordable yearly plans, and the ability to also encrypt local data and you have a short-lister. It’s not for working online, but for securely storing and sharing data, it’s the bee’s knees.

Further reading: The best online backup services

What are NordLocker’s features?

Unlike other services that also offer secondary or two-key security, NordLocker requires it. You must define both a password and a secondary encryption key when you first access NordLocker.

NordLocker provides a downloadable recovery key that you can employ should you lose or forget the encryption key. Nice. That’s a first for me with consumer-oriented services.

Further, you can automatically lock the apps after a definable period of time so that you must enter the security key whenever you run the client or visit the website.

I thought I might be wincing in security pain from all this, but I acclimated to it quickly and grew to appreciate it. Note that I’m generally not a fan of the modern two-factor security that bad people have forced us into.

There are clients for both Windows and macOS, as well as Android and iOS, all of which are attractive, quick, and stable. Unusually, NordLocker uses your browser to connect the clients to your account. I’m not sure exactly how this is more secure, but…

I did have one issue with the Android app (I didn’t test iOS), which is that you can’t simply upload all your photos and videos — you must select them one at a time. And it’s not readily apparent how to do that after the initial “What do you want to upload?”.

I’d love to be able to show you screenshots of said Android client, but NordLocker is so security-conscious that they disable the ability to share screen caps. That was a giant pain in terms of this review, but I began to grudgingly admire Nord Security’s dog-with-a-bone attitude towards data safety when the screen caps came up blank.

The service offers only a few amenities. Sharing is of course available, but it’s also more secure than most — generating a security code to accompany a link. This allows you to send the link and code separately via different forms of communication, if you wish. You could of course send both in the same email or text if you find it a bit overbearing. Again, grudging admiration. There’s also a straight email share, but it’s only for use with others on NordLocker.

Online file viewing is available for static file types such as Word and Excel documents as well as PDFs and images, but double-clicking on MP4 and MP3 files did nothing. Note that audio and video file viewing is quite often buggy, or painfully slow even with services that provide the capability.

There is no online editing, but you can define other NordLocker users as “Editors” so they can download and edit files. There are also file requests so you can create links for others to upload files to your lockers.

Another hint at the Nord sercure-at-all-costs attitude is that to delete a locker from the client, there’s a second step for confirmation: The first time I tried to delete, I was prompted to type “Yes,” and in a subsequent effort, I was asked to type the first three letters of the locker’s name.

That’s system-level, command-line stuff right there, instead of a confirmation dialog you could accidentally click through. Sweet. Except that this wasn’t required on the website when I deleted a folder. I’d like to see consistent behavior across platforms.

Also, this was a one-off in protecting users from themselves. More on that…

NordLocker caveats

While NordLocker does a magnificent job of protecting your data from bad guys, it’s not nearly as adept at protecting you from yourself. The biggest issue currently (the company informed me a fix is on the way) is that there’s no versioning, no trash, and no undo. If you happen to delete a file on the web or in the client in a two-way sync folder, you’re outta luck getting it back. And with the confirmation being inconsistent, well…

As long as you’re aware of this, no problem, but I’d recommend using NordLocker’s copy function, which simply creates backups online, rather than opting to move the data online or create a sync between a local version and online. For the nonce, discrete local and online copies are safer.

A couple other minor gripes. I found no real user’s guide for NordLocker. There are some help topics, but they didn’t seem 100 percent up to date. There’s also no real-time support such as a chat window to get you up to speed.

Put another way, NordLocker expects quite a bit of savvy on the part of the users, as the conceptual language isn’t quite the norm.

How much does NordLocker cost?

As of the writing of this article, NordLocker was offering a steep discount on its yearly plans: $3 a month for 500GB, and $7 a month for 2TB. That latter is what I’m paying for OneDrive for only 1TB.

Of course, OneDrive also includes Office, which is a hard deal to pass up if you need it. As mentioned, NordLocker offers file viewing, but no online file editing. Monthly rates are $8 for 500GB, and $20 for 2TB if you only need space for a short period of time. Not bad at all.

How does NordLocker perform?

I was impressed with how fast files and folders uploaded and became available on all my devices. Usually, there’s a few minute lag on the clients. This may have something to do with the infrastructure between the server and my residence in San Francisco, but it was way quicker than most — encryption or no.

Should you buy NordLocker?

NordLocker is affordable, super secure by default, and easy to use. As long as you’re aware of the dangers of pure two-way sync, I highly recommend it. More secure you can’t get.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

Best Prices Today: NordLocker Online Storage

RetailerPriceNordLocker$2.99View DealPrice comparison from over 24,000 stores worldwideProductPricePrice comparison from Backmarket

Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.

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