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Reviews and expert opinion NordLocker

Dawn Prevete Dawn Prevete Expert

NordLocker makes it easy to encrypt important data and back it up to the cloud. Simple setup, a drag-and-drop interface, and seamless file sharing are just some of the features that make this service an attractive option for anyone interested in data privacy. Its cybersecurity protections are also first rate. NordLocker does lack some features offered by other online backup services, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy contender. This is a high-performing, affordable, and very user-friendly option for securing your data.

Overview

Secure Your Data on PC, Mac, or in the Cloud

NordLocker combines state-of-the-art encryption and some of the best online backup service features in one easy-to-use application.

With NordLocker, you have full control of your data. You encrypt your files using advanced algorithmic keys and store them in secure folders (called lockers) on your PC or Mac – or back them up to NordLocker’s cloud.

NordLocker doesn’t automatically scan and back up all the data on your computer. It also doesn’t let you schedule recurring backups. However, it does let you back up any file of any size or type, and it also automatically syncs data you’ve already backed up to the cloud.

There are plans for both individuals and businesses. NordLocker even has a generous free plan with unlimited encryption and 3GB of cloud storage.

But NordLocker is not for everyone – at least not right now. If you just want a straightforward and automatic online backup service, it may not be the best choice. With NordLocker you have to manually select the files you want to back up, though this process is incredibly easy and does give you the flexibility of choosing exactly what you do and don’t store.

And while you can access your data from any computer running NordLocker, there is no mobile app yet. (Customer support confirmed to me that a mobile app is on the way, however.)

NordLocker is a new and expanding service that continues to upgrade and add features. While testing the service for this review, I learned that there’s a lot to like about NordLocker – including impressive cybersecurity tools, solid performance, and, most of all, ease of use.

Keep reading to learn more about NordLocker, and find out if it’s right for you.

Features

4.4

Data Security and Online Backup Made Easy

Data Server Locations US
Backup Options Manual, backup reports available, no offline backup/restore, no backup from external drive, no mirror image backups
Limits and Restrictions None
Applications and Operating Systems Windows 10 (64-bit) iOS 10.13 and later
Encryption Keys 256-bit AES, Argon 2, XChaCha20, and ECC, private encryption key
File Access Web app, desktop app
File Sharing Yes, via app

NordLocker has impressive cybersecurity tools that make it easy to protect your data and securely back up important files.

It gives you complete control of how you protect and store your data. You choose which folders, documents, photos, or videos you want to encrypt, store, and manage in lockers. You decide which lockers and data to keep on your PC or Mac. And you choose what you want to securely back up to the cloud.

NordLocker drag and drop interface
NordLocker’s drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to back up your files

You can install the software for your NordLocker account on multiple computers at no additional charge.

You can also install more than one NordLocker account on a single device; since each account has its own master password, it cannot be accessed by other users.

Back Up Files with Drag-and-Drop or One Click

NordLocker makes it easy to encrypt important or sensitive data and securely back it up to the cloud. Simply click on Add files and then drag and drop a file, or an entire folder, to an existing or new desktop or cloud locker.

Alternatively, right-click a file or folder and select Convert to Locker. With either approach you can select multiple items, making it easier to encrypt and back up lots of data quickly.

NordLocker adding lockers
Simply drag and drop a file or folder to add it to an existing locker, or right-click and select Convert to Locker

NordLocker doesn’t allow you to schedule your backups or back up data from external hard drives or network-attached storage. It also doesn’t back up system or application files, or create a disk image so you can reboot your computer if it crashes. These aspects of your backup will need to be handled manually.

You might miss the convenience of having a backup service that just does it all, like iDrive or Acronis. But NordLocker’s flexible approach does have its advantages.

Some files stay on your desktop, encrypted and instantly available to be edited or shared. Others are securely stored in the cloud and organized in searchable lockers, where they can also be edited, shared, or recovered.

What’s more, each time you launch the NordLocker application, it automatically syncs all the files you’ve stored in the cloud.

Restore Data from Any Computer

Restoring an individual file from your cloud lockers is simple. Select a file from one of your lockers and choose Export decrypted. Then decide if you want to download a copy or remove the file from cloud storage.

NordLocker restore options
You can easily restore individual files or entire lockers from NordLocker’s cloud

If your computer is stolen, damaged, or lost, you can log into your NordLocker account and recover and download all the data you had stored in cloud lockers onto a new computer.

NordLocker is missing some disaster recovery options, however:

  • It won’t download your backed-up data to a hard drive and mail it or send it by courier, as some other online backup services do. Data recovery is strictly digital.
  • You can’t restore your data from your phone or tablet.
  • You also can’t recover files that were stored in desktop lockers.

A Zero-Knowledge Process Secures Your Data

When you open a NordLocker account, you immediately realize this is a company that takes privacy and data security seriously.

After you download the software, you can either log in to an existing Nord account or create a new one. If you’re setting up a new Nord account, the service will send a six-digit verification code to your email.

Note: Billing and payment for NordLocker is handled through a centralized Nord Account (which also includes services like NordVPN) rather than your specific NordLocker account.

Then it’s time to choose a master password for your NordLocker account, which is a private encryption key (PEK) known only to you that NordLocker doesn’t store and can’t retrieve. This also means NordLocker can’t decrypt your data without your permission. (This is an important privacy and security feature that I’ll cover again later in this review.)

Each time you launch the application, you have to enter your master password to access your lockers, whether they’re stored on your computer or in the cloud.

NordLocker uses a master password
Your NordLocker master password secures your data from prying eyes

Fortunately, recognizing that we all forget passwords – including the important ones! – NordLocker creates a 25-digit recovery key that can be used to reset your master password. Store this safely. If you forget your password and misplace the recovery key, there’s no way to access your files.

Advanced End-to-End Encryption

NordLocker protects your files with impressive state-of-the-art encryption. It uses 256-bit AES encryption supported by additional cryptographic hashing algorithms – Argon2, xChaCha20, and elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC) – to keep your data private, whether it’s on your computer, in transmission, or at rest in the cloud.

Simply drag and drop a file to a desktop locker and it’s instantly encrypted.

It’s just as easy to encrypt and back up a file or folder to the cloud with a drag-and-drop or right-click. You’ll see the encrypted file pop up on your NordLocker dashboard before it’s transmitted over a secure connection to NordLocker’s cloud servers.

End-to-end encryption ensures no one – not even law enforcement – can view your files.

See full list of features

Ease of use

4.8

Simple Setup with Drag-and-Drop Features

NordLocker is incredibly easy to set up and use. The sophisticated web app is straightforward and easy to understand, even for the most tech-shy novice.

With NordLocker you get great data security features, including one of the best free encryption software tools, and private and secure online backup.

Edit Any File in Your Desktop or Cloud Lockers

When you log in to either a desktop or cloud locker, you can work with your encrypted files just as you would in any application. You can edit, change, or create a new document, photo, or video from an existing one without needing to decrypt or download the original file.

NordLocker editing in desktop app
Edit photos, documents, and videos in your NordLocker desktop and cloud lockers

NordLocker will automatically update the file and store the latest version in your locker. Rename the edited file if you want to back up both versions.

NordLocker saving different file versions
You can back up earlier versions of files with NordLocker

Flexible and Secure File Sharing

NordLocker gives you different options for safely sharing encrypted files. All maintain the privacy and security of your data, since your private encryption key is never shared. You can either:

  • Select an encrypted locker, click the Share locker button, and enter the email address of the person you want to share your locker with. NordLocker then sets up a secure key exchange.
  • Upload a locker from your PC or Mac to a third-party cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, and share it with family or colleagues. NordLocker then creates a secure link to share the file.
  • Right-click on a locker and select Show in File Explorer (Windows) or Show in Finder (iOS). Then copy the locker to a removable drive, and share it or send it as an attachment.

Note, however, that you can only share local lockers stored on your PC or Mac, and the person you’re sharing with will need a NordLocker account in order to access them.

NordLocker file sharing options
NordLocker enables you to easily and safely share your protected files with others

If you are a health professional, educator, lawyer, or anyone handling sensitive data, NordLocker’s options for private file sharing are a real plus.

Cloud Lockers Automatically Sync Across All Your Devices

NordLocker’s cross-platform, multi-device syncing allows you to access your cloud lockers on any computer that has NordLocker installed, whether you’re at home, at work, or traveling. 

NordLocker automatic synchronization
NordLocker automatically syncs all your cloud lockers

To open a cloud locker and access a specific file, simply log in to your NordLocker account, go to your lockers, and select a file. You can then view, edit, or share any of the spreadsheets, documents, photos, and videos that you’ve backed up.

Cloud lockers you created on one computer can also be exported to another.

Setting Up an Account

After you download the software and select the master password for your NordLocker account, the web app launches. Click on the tutorial and set-up-guide icons on your dashboard and follow the step-by-step instructions for using the service.

There are just a few basic settings to configure. The most important thing to do is choose how the files you store in a desktop or cloud locker will be treated. There are three options. You can:

  • Move files and folders to a locker, which automatically deletes them from their original location on your computer.
  • Copy files and folders to a locker, and securely delete the decrypted versions from their original location yourself, after you confirm that they’re safely stored.
  • Have NordLocker ask whether you want to copy (and retain) or move (and delete) the original version each time you add a file or folder to a locker.
NordLocker settings
Configure four simple settings and NordLocker is ready to use

The remaining settings allow you to choose how quickly you want the app to lock after use, if you want the service to launch as soon as you start your computer, and whether you want to send anonymous usage data to NordLocker. And that’s about it.

Now you’re ready to choose the files or folders you want to encrypt, store, and manage in lockers on your PC, Mac, and/or the cloud.

See if NordLocker is Right for You

Performance

4.5

Encrypt Files in a Flash and Back Up and Sync Data

NordLocker encrypts data instantly and syncs backed-up data quickly. It was slower at backing up large files (photos and text) but still delivered a solid performance.

When I tested NordLocker’s back-up speed on a weekday at 6 p.m. with multiple connected devices – two computers, a smart speaker, a mobile phone, and a TV – it took two hours and 10 minutes to back up 1GB of data.

My backup was not quite seamless (the TV buffered), but it was still much quicker than expected.

I’m based in Atlanta and my connection can be spotty; my upload speed had just tested at 1 Mbps and my download speed at 12.7–13 Mbps. If you have a faster connection and fewer connected devices, your backups will likely be quicker.

Nordlocker cloud backup monitoring
You can monitor the status of your backups on the NordLocker dashboard

NordLocker outperformed my average upload speed in other tests, backing up files at 1 p.m. on a weekday at 4 MBps.

Factors affecting back-up speed include your distance from the data centers, the service’s infrastructure, file compression, and even the type of encryption.

To get an idea of how fast I could recover data in the event of a disaster, I installed NordLocker on a second computer. Restoring data was faster; it took 30 minutes to recover a 1GB file.

NordLocker restoring files
NordLocker recovered data more quickly than it backed it up

See if NordLocker is Right for You

Privacy

4.8

Robust Privacy Policies Ensure a Zero-Knowledge Process

NordLocker is based in Panama, which is considered a privacy-friendly country that does not have surveillance-sharing agreements with other nations. It is both HIPAA and GDPR compliant.

Its data centers are located in the US – NordLocker says it doesn’t store data in the EU. But with its end-to-end encryption, even law enforcement and national security operatives can’t compel the company to decrypt and share your data. NordLocker promises – and delivers – a zero-knowledge process.

The cookie policy is pretty standard for the industry. NordLocker uses four types of cookies – essential cookies, functionality cookies, analytics cookies, and advertising cookies. You can both block advertising cookies and turn off the collection of diagnostics and usage data in the app, as I did.

Unlike other cloud backup services, NordLocker doesn’t know or store the names of your files and folders.

Your master password is a private encryption key (PEK). You and only you have the key that will unlock your account and decrypt your data. NordLocker doesn’t know your password and can’t retrieve it. You’ll need to use your recovery key to change your password if you misplace it.

NordLocker recovery key warning
NordLocker creates a 25-digit recovery key for safe master-password reset

See NordLocker Privacy Features

Support

4.0

Limited Support Options

NordLocker is a relatively new service, which may partially explain its limited customer support. But even so, I was surprised by the lack of options.

You can submit a support ticket or email customer support, and that’s about it. There’s no phone support or live chat – not even a chat bot.

I did try the central Nord Account chat bot, but it isn’t able to help with specific NordLocker questions. It just directs you back to the NordLocker Help Center and troubleshooting guides.

NordLocker chat bot for support
The general Nord chat bot can’t answer questions about NordLocker

That said, I found the NordLocker email support representatives to be professional and prompt. Whenever I submitted a support ticket or replied with a follow-up question, I got a response within 24 hours.

NordLocker email support was helpful
NordLocker’s customer support is helpful and responsive

NordLocker’s searchable knowledge base includes detailed guides with set-up instructions for PCs and Macs and a few other troubleshooting articles. Click on the website FAQ or the help link in the desktop app, and you’re sent directly to the knowledge base.

There’s also a blog where you may find answers to some questions, though I found that the blog posts were mostly focused on general cybersecurity issues.

But NordLocker is so easy to set up and use – even for novices – that the lack of support options isn’t likely to be an issue for most users.

Pricing

4.7

Uncomplicated Plans with Unlimited Encryption

Choosing a NordLocker plan is simple. There are two personal plans – the free plan and the premium plan. Both include:

  • Unlimited zero-knowledge encryption
  • Cloud storage (3GB for the free plan; 500GB for the premium plan)
  • Unlimited devices (only PC and Mac computers at this time)

NordLocker says the premium plan offers upgraded customer support. It also includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can pay by the month or for a full year.

[Editing] NordLocker Review
Choosing a plan with NordLocker is easy

The NordLocker app will let you know if you’re about to run out of cloud storage space. If you do, you can continue to encrypt files and store them in desktop lockers, but your cloud lockers will no longer sync, and you won’t be able to back up new files.

Similarly, if your paid plan ends, you’re still entitled to unlimited encryption.

This service is regularly adding new features. NordLocker says a new personal plan with more cloud storage is on the way. Meanwhile, if 500GB is not enough for your needs, you can contact customer support to discuss options for additional space.

NordLocker also has a business plan, which it promotes as a particularly good choice for the education, healthcare, financial, and legal sectors. Although really, any business with sensitive data is likely to benefit from it.

NordLocker accepts all major credit cards, debit cards, and online payment services like PayPal. It recommends using cryptocurrency for anonymous payments.

Comparison

How does NordLocker match up to the competition?

AcronisCompare4.6Compare
IDriveCompare4.6Compare
NordLockerCompare4.5Compare
Compare3.5Compare

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NordLocker REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

There are lots of things to like about NordLocker, beginning with its generous free plan that delivers impressive data security and free backups to the cloud. State-of-the-art encryption and easy client-side backup make it a good choice if you’re looking for an online backup service that will secure your most sensitive or important data.

NordLocker lets you protect your files and store them wherever is most convenient for you – on your computer, an external hard drive, a flash drive, or backed up securely in its cloud lockers.

If you’re looking for a service that automatically scans and backs up all your data, this may not be the best option. I’d recommend you check out another service like iDrive or Acronis. However, NordLocker’s manual functionality does have its benefits, such as increased flexibility.

If you’re a health professional, educator, lawyer, or anyone handling sensitive files that must be stored or shared, I would definitely recommend NordLocker.

FAQ

Is NordLocker good for beginners?Yes; NordLocker is incredibly easy to use, whether you’re just encrypting files and storing them on your desktop or using its online backup and file-sharing capabilities. Even novice users will find its drag-and-drop interface and well-designed apps easy to understand.Is it smart to keep all your data in the cloud?Deciding to use an online backup service and safely storing all your important files in the cloud is definitely a good move. Cloud storage services are subject to security measures that are much more robust and powerful than those protecting your hard drive. In addition, there’s no risk of loss or damage to files stored in the cloud, as there is with local storage devices. While you can use services like Google Drive and iCloud, some high-end cloud storage providers have free plans that you can try out – iDrive gives you 5GB of storage for free (and won’t ask for your credit card, either!)What is the most secure way to back up files?End-to-end encryption provides the best data security. Your files are encrypted on your computer or mobile device and then transmitted over a secure connection to a service’s data center, where they are stored and encrypted. In the best-case scenario, the user has a private encryption key, as is the case with NordLocker. Other cloud backup providers like iDrive and Acronis offer strong encryption for your files, too. Ideally, data transmission should be direct, with no intermediary stop as your data moves from your device to a backup company or cloud storage provider’s server. The type of encryption used to make your files unreadable is also important. The industry standard is 256-bit AES encryption. Some services, including NordLocker, use additional hashing algorithmic keys.Does NordLocker have iOS and Android apps?Not yet. They are in development, but NordLocker does not have an estimated launch date for them at this time. If you want a cloud backup service that does have iOS and Android apps, check out our full list of the best cloud backup and storage providers in 2021 to find the best one for your needs.

Dawn Prevete Dawn Prevete
Dawn is a freelance writer and editor specializing in developing strategic content for businesses. A lover of philosophy and the arts, she brainstorms with cultural educators to ensure all students have access to enriching learning opportunities.

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