NordVPN launched Meshnet in July 2022. It is essentially a way to use NordVPN’s tech to create your own encrypted communications between devices you own and those of your friends.
In other words, it sort of allows you to create your own personal VPN servers.
The uses for Meshnet are – admittedly – fairly geeky, such as being able to easily host an online game server without the hassle of port forwarding: you just tell your friends the unique server name and they can connect to your computer.
The problem, however, was that everyone needed to be a NordVPN subscriber. Fortunately, NordVPN realised this was a bit restrictive and has now made it possible to create an account and sign in to the NordVPN app without having a subscription.
This means Meshnet is completely free for anyone to use, with no requirement that at least one person is a subscriber.
One of the other uses for Meshnet is sending files from one device to another. You could use a cloud storage service instead, but Meshnet means you can send files directly between devices with no limit on size – and with speedy connections.
Whether you need to transfer a large video, or simply want to send screenshots from your phone to a computer (but don’t have AirDrop because you don’t own both an iPhone and a ), you can now, even if you don’t pay for NordVPN.
To do that, you simply use your phone’s sharing menu, choose the NordVPN app and then choose the device you want to send screenshots to. The only additional thing to do is to install NordVPN on both devices and enable Meshnet.
Meshnet is available on Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux as well as Android TV. You can link up to 10 personal and 50 external (i.e. other people’s) devices and use them on Meshnet.
Of course, it is still worth subscribing to NordVPN if you want a VPN, as you can then get all the benefits of unblocking video and other content in just about any country and all the other reasons you might need a VPN.
Alongside this change, the company is also making several things open source. One is Libtelio — a networking library used across NordVPN apps on all operating systems, and Libdrop — a library that’s used to share files over Meshnet. This means that the source code of these products is now publicly available, allowing developers to review, audit, and contribute to the code.
It is also making its Linux app open source, which could mean that enthusiastic NordVPN fans could build a GUI for it – something that the company has so far decided not to build itself.