NordVPN has added a brand new feature that is available to (almost) all subscribers, and is included in your subscription, so you don’t have to pay extra for it and you can start using it right away.
It’s called Meshnet and it’s a bit like a remote access app that lets you easily connect two devices anywhere in the world.
Except it’s not just a remote connection: it uses NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol and effectively lets you create your own NordVPN server. Instead of connecting to the internet through a NordVPN server as you normally would, Meshnet allows you to directly connect two devices through an encrypted VPN tunnel.
Why would you want to do that? For starters, it’s an easy way to securely access files on a home PC from an Android phone or iPhone (or even another PC).
You could also use it to access other things running on a home PC, such as a web server, without having to look at that server to the internet.
Alternatively, you can use Meshnet to host online games without fiddling with port forwarding and all the hassle that usually entails.
Meshnet also allows you to route traffic through another device, for situations where you need to use the IP address of another device to access the internet. NordVPN offers the example of routing traffic from your phone (while on vacation abroad) through a home laptop, so you can access the internet as if you were at home.
However, if NordVPN has servers in your country, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t connect more easily through those servers instead.
Admittedly, Meshnet is a niche feature aimed primarily at power users rather than those who primarily use NordVPN for unblocking streaming services.
As you’ve probably guessed, the NordVPN app must be installed on all devices that will be using Meshnet and, if you connect to devices that don’t belong to you, your friends (or whoever owns those devices) will have to too. have a subscription.
You can pair up to 10 own devices and 50 external devices.
When enabled, Meshnet gives you a unique IP address (not the same as the one you would get when connecting to a NordVPN server) and a special URL, so you can more easily connect to remote devices without having to change the IP. address.
Meshnet is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, but at the time of writing, it was only possible to route traffic through Windows and Linux machines. NordVPN plans to add Macs to that list in the future.
How to enable NordVPN Meshnet
We’ll cover Windows and iOS here: it’s a similar process on other platforms.
Follow these steps for Windows.
Make sure you are using the latest version of the app.
It’s not shy to nag you when an update is available, and you’ll know if it’s up to date or not, because if it’s old, you won’t see the new Meshnet icon in the left menu (with arrows) .
Click on the icon.
Click through the information screens
You will see a number of screens explaining Meshnet, so just click Continue to view them.
Understand the risks
The final information screen outlines the risks of connecting through other people’s devices, as well as letting them connect to yours as well. Only use Meshnet with devices owned by people you trust.
If you’re comfortable with this, click Enable Meshnet.
Pair a new device
Now that Meshnet is enabled, you will see a screen similar to the one above, with your personal URL specific to the device you are using. There’s also the IP address if you need to use that instead.
You now need to enable Meshnet on at least one other device and then link them together to actually use the feature.
Enable Meshnet on an iPhone
Again, make sure your NordVPN app is up to date and you’ll see the new Meshnet icon at the bottom (second from the left). Tap it.
Just tap the blue button to enable Meshnet.
Now you will see a toggle that allows you to toggle Meshnet on and off. It’s turned off by default, so tap the switch to turn it on.
Switch to NordLynx
On iPhones, the default protocol for NordVPN is IKEv2 and Meshnet uses NordLynx, so you’ll likely see a prompt to reconnect and continue.
Write down your Meshnet name
You should now see a message confirming that Meshnet is enabled, along with your device’s unique name and IP address.
Tap GOT IT once you’ve noted those details down.
Pair it with another device
You should now see a screen like the one above. Under Your Devices, the first thing you should see is the computer you set up with Meshnet – if you followed all the steps in this guide.
You don’t need to link this to your phone as all devices under your NordVPN account are automatically linked.
Invite someone else to connect on Meshnet
Regardless of the device you are using, there is a button or option “Pair a new device” on the Meshnet tab. Click or tap it and you’ll see a field where you can enter an email address. This should be the one associated with the person’s NordVPN account.
They will then see this invitation in their NordVPN app.
Before hitting the Send Invitation button, make sure to uncheck “Allow incoming connections” if you don’t want their device to connect to yours. You can change this option later.
If you’re using Windows or Linux, you’ll also see an Allow traffic routing check box. Turn this off again if you don’t want the other device to route the connection through yours.
How to use Meshnet
Now that the devices are linked, it’s really up to you how you use that link.
To host a game server, all you need to do is give others your Meshnet name (such as jimmartin-everest.nord) or your Meshnet IP address so they can enter that into their game and connect to your server.
We cannot provide precise instructions for this, as each game differs in the way multiplayer options are displayed.
Likewise, specific instructions for accessing files remotely are beyond the scope of this article, but if you want to access files (or photos) from a Windows PC or laptop using your Android phone or iPhone, you’ll need to use Windows Explorer to select the file or files you want to make available and use the Share option to configure it.
On your phone, you need a file explorer app that can connect to remote devices, and you need to enter that Meshnet name or IP address into that app to see the shared files.
While enabling Meshnet is quite easy, setting up file sharing and game hosting can be quite difficult.
Meshnet isn’t for everyone, and you need a good reason to use it.
For many people, it is easy to use a cloud storage service to access files and photos from anywhere.