CyberGhost VPN Review – Great Budget VPN and Easy-To-Use
CyberGhost VPN Review
Can even a total beginner use this VPN with ease?
- Allows access to the most widely used streaming services. While CyberGhost isn’t perfect in this category, using the dedicated streaming servers will easily access geo-blocked content. It can unlock Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Max. It does have some trouble with Amazon Prime; however, it is possible after a few tries.
- Speed tests yielded mixed results. For the most part, this VPN operates at decent speeds. The servers that are nearby work well, while the international ones tend to be slower.
- Serious security measures. This VPN comes with all of the standard security protocols, including a no-logs policy, a kill switch, and 256-bit encryption.
- Ability to bypass geoblocks and firewalls. This feature is excellent for those looking for a workaround; however, there are reported issues in China.
- Great apps for all platforms. This VPN comes with apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, browser plugins, game consoles, and routers. The simple apps make it an excellent VPN for a beginner.
- Try risk-free with the 45-day money-back policy. If you are unhappy with the service for any reason, the refund policy is quick and easy, no questions asked.
CyberGhost Features and Pricing
Longer pricing plans have great value, but if you are looking to subscribe to CyberGhost for just one month, they have a plan that starts at $12.99. This is a bit higher than most other VPNs. In fact, the industry standard is currently $10.21 per month. So why the steep price? Does CyberGhost offer features that other VPNs lack?
Similar to other VPN services, CyberGhost offers a variety of features that are priced in intervals. This means you will pay more upfront if you choose a longer interval, but you will save more money over time by selecting this option.
Unfortunately, they do not offer an annual plan, although there is a rumor that they may in the near future. They do have a six-month plan, which will run $47.94, and the 18-month plan costs $49.50. The second plan is noteworthy as it runs under the industry average of $71.87 per year. These prices are very tempting. However, when using a new VPN, you should always use just one month to see if it is the right choice for you.
Suppose you are looking for a cheaper plan. In that case, there are many affordable and even free alternatives on the market, but they will all put a data cap on how much you can use. That being said, CyberGhost VPN is one of the more affordable paid VPNs on the market today.
There are also a few different payment options to choose from when you set up your billing. CyberGhost allows for the more traditional payment methods of PayPal and credit card. Still, they also offer anonymous payment through Bitcoin.
CyberGhost VPN is a decent option if you have a family or use a large number of devices. They allow connections of up to seven devices at the same time, which is above the industry standard.
It is also a great choice if you aren’t exactly tech-savvy. They have detailed instructions and walkthroughs on their site, which has information about how to correctly configure your router and set up the VPN on a number of devices. Setting up the VPN on your router is an excellent choice since it handles all of the devices in your house. That way, you won’t have to worry about setting up each device individually.
There are also several services, such as TorGuard, that are pre-configured to be compatible with CyberGhost. If you are interested in skipping a DIY project, this might be a good option for you.
If you are a torrenter, have no fear. CyberGhost VPN allows both P2P and BitTorrent file sharing via their VPN network. That being said, you will not be able to use these services on any server. Still, they have plenty of dedicated servers to handle the traffic.
CyberGhost VPN was also created with streaming services in mind. In fact, they also have dedicated servers for all of the primary streaming services so you can stream freely. This is also handy when you are trying to change regions to access your favorite shows.
CyberGhost uses what is known as “double encryption,” which means that the authentication connection is encrypted in addition to the VPN connection itself. This added security feature is a default setting for all versions.
One of the best features of the CyberGhost VPN is their No-Spy servers. These servers are located on-site at the company headquarters. They are made for those users who are incredibly concerned about their anonymity. In essence, these are multihop servers. They sell access to these servers for $59.88 annually, in addition to the monthly fee, but are free to those who have a long-term subscription. This price point is also lower than other similar services on the market.
When it comes to VPN protocols, there are several ways to secure your connection. One of these methods is known as OpenVPN. OpenVPN is open-source software whose code is scrutinized for any vulnerabilities
CyberGhost has the ability to support OpenVPN connections through its Windows, Mac, and Linux apps. Most interestingly, the Windows app also uses the secure IKEv2 protocol by default. L2TP is the older protocol, and the Windows app also uses it, but it is best to use IKEv2 for most purposes. The macOS and iOS apps also utilize the IKEv2 protocol as well.
The newest and most secure protocol is called WireGuard; however, it is still in the experimental and testing phases. This protocol is only available in the Linux version of the app. Nevertheless, you can expect to see this protocol used much more widely in the future.
Servers and Server Locations
The best VPNs offer a variety of server locations. The more choices available to you when you need to spoof your location, the better off you will be. Also, this betters the chances of finding a server located close to where you are.
The CyberGhost VPN has servers that are located in around 90 countries. They have a pretty solid mix of locations and, most notably, more servers than average in places such as South America and South Africa. These two continents are generally not taken seriously by many VPN companies.
CyberGhost also boasts servers in Vietnam, Russia, and Hong Kong but lacks any servers in Turkey. These regions all maintain stringent internet usage policies.
CyberGhost is only outdone by ExpressVPN, which offers servers in an impressive 94 separate countries.
Many users are also concerned about the usage of virtual servers by many VPN companies. These servers are software-defined servers. That means that a single server can also become the host of many other virtual servers. They can be configured to appear that they are located in a different country than their actual host. Virtual servers are not bad, but many users demand to know where their data is actually being routed.
CyberGhost states that their company actually rents physical servers in every location that they are offering their services in. However, they also have around 340 virtual servers. Still, they claim that these servers are also located in the same place as the actual servers.
When it comes to the sheer number of servers available, CyberGhost doesn’t mess around. They offer stunning 5,900 servers across all of their locations. The only other service that comes close is NordVPN with 5,000. All other services such as ExpressVPN and Hotspot Shield just break 3,000.
Of course, the amount of servers does not mean that the service is better; however, it can be quite beneficial. Suppose you require a connection in a specific geographic location. In that case, you will want a service that has many reliable options to connect to. This also means that it is easier to find a server that is not crowded by other users.
Your Privacy With CyberGhost
Using any privacy or security software requires that the user have a certain amount of trust that the service they are using is actually following the guidelines and claims that the company is making. This is especially true when trying to choose a trustworthy VPN service. VPN companies handle lots of data and easily have access to the same information that your ISP could potentially see. When you are using a VPN, the whole idea is protecting that information in the first place.
Within their documentation, CyberGhost claims that they never store any user data or IP addresses. Additionally, they do not keep browsing history, timestamps, session information, bandwidth, DNS queries, or information about which servers you make a connection with.
It does seem that CyberGhost collects information about which attempts failed and which succeeded. Still, it appears that it is only an aggregate of this data. In fact, CyberGhost claims that it does not even log user activity. Yet, it does have the ability to know which customer is making a connection with any specific server. They monitor their CPU load, server bandwidth, metadata, and available memory as well.
A representative for CyberGhost made the claim that the VPN strictly generates revenue from their subscription plans and does not sell their data to any third parties. That is important when you are looking for a VPN since the whole idea is to protect your information from third parties.
As many VPN users are aware, there are many issues between VPN companies and law enforcement agencies. One of the most important things to note when searching for a new VPN is which country their headquarters is located in. This will determine which legal jurisdiction they are accountable to and what could happen to their data if these agencies come knocking.
CyberGhost has offices scattered all across Europe, but its main headquarters is in Bucharest, Romania, which means it operates by Romania’s laws. The company’s full and proper name is CyberGhost SA, which is owned by Kape Technologies PLC. Kape was formally known as Crossrider and received significant criticism for its shady software policies in the past. When speaking to a representative, they stated that since they do not store any user data, there is no data to turn over should an agency request it. Their annual transparency report also backs up this claim.
That representative also stated that even though the company utilized third party data centers, it uses a contained system. That means any node that is compromised won’t be able to access the servers or the server resources.
They are also running servers on RAM, which is useful in preventing tampering. These claims sound great, but they are yet to undergo a proper third party evaluation of their privacy. CyberGhost seems trustworthy, but you may want to look elsewhere if you are looking for a verified and audited company.
Hands-On With CyberGhost
When downloading and installing the CyberGhost app on a desktop computer, the process seemed simple and straightforward. Running the latest version of Windows 10, the app was installed with ease. Even the process of recovering a password was easy. If you ever need to retrieve this information, you will be sent a unique code via your registered email. If you don’t have access to your e-mail, you can get your information from the payment processor, CleverBridge.
The older version of CyberGhost might seem familiar to any users of HideMyAss. They used several different preset for a series of scenarios that could arise. While that was an exciting concept, many users rarely used these scenarios. They were dropped in the updated version of the app.
The app now looks sleek and straightforward. It is also quite responsive and loads up quickly with a click of the “quick connect” button. However, while elegant, the app seems rather generic. It lacks the distinct qualities of other VPN apps such as NordVPN. One thing that this app does well, though, is its ease of use.
You can quickly toggle the VPN location from the dropdown menu that is located right beneath the connection button. When you click on the nearby graph icon, you can promptly view some real-time connection analytics.
When you click on the lower left’s yellow tab, this window will expand to reveal the settings options. From there, you can scroll down and view a list of each specific server and their locations. You are even given the option of storing your favorite servers for later use. The app will tell you how many users are currently connected to each server. They even provide servers that specialize in torrenting or streaming services.
In the app you will also find the options for blocking trackers, ad blocking, and monitoring malicious websites and connections. You can enable the option to compress your data or exempt specific websites from entering the VPN tunnel. These settings are great for Netflix users or users who need to access the site without a VPN. This option is different from split tunneling, allowing users to route traffic to certain apps outside of the VPN.
If you look at the advanced settings menu, you will find an in-depth listing of all the advanced security features. For example, you can have thr VPN to make a connection using a random port. Or you can change the specific protocol used or block IPv6 connections. Many of these are unnecessary for the average user. Still, many users with particular needs will be happy to learn about these options.
It is essential that VPNs do not leak any information about the user’s DNS or IP address. Using a DNS leak test, it seems that the CyberGhost VPN had a few cracks and was actually leaking some DNS information. When customer service was contacted, they were assured that the problem is already known. They stated that it was a Windows issue with regards to resolving the DNS. After a few tries at later dates, the problem appears to be solved. This is good news for CyberGhost and shows that the company takes customer relations and security seriously.
In addition to the Windows app tested above, CyberGhost also offers macOS, iOS, and Android apps, with additional support for Linux. For other devices, CyberGhost offers apps for Android TV as well as FireTV. They also offer a Chrome extension that will hide your IP and your location but uses a different protocol than the standalone app to secure your browser traffic.
CyberGhost and Netflix
One of the most essential features for many VPN customers is whether or not their service will allow them to access Netflix libraries.
Netflix is by far the most aggressive and proactive company when it comes to blocking VPNs, and they seem to have CyberGhost figured out partially. When using an available server from the US, Netflix was able to detect the VPN right away. However, when switching to a specially designed server for streaming services, Netflix worked like a charm.
When it comes to VPNs and Netflix, it is a bit like a cat and mouse game. Something may get past detection once, only to be blocked the next day. That being said, it appears that CyberGhost is dedicated to getting past these blocks and focuses a lot of energy on their specialty streaming servers. For the time being, Netflix is accessible when using CyberGhost.
Other Streaming Services
As mentioned previously, streaming services are entirely aware of VPNs and attempt to block them to prevent users from accessing libraries outside of their actual location. This is quite a shame for most streamers, as specific content might not be available in your particular region. Streaming service providers are actively working to shut down access from VPN servers so that it could be blocked at any given time.
That being said, in addition to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, The BBC iPlayer were all available using either the normal VPN function or the specialized streaming server. However, there are a few services that continue to give CyberGhost VPN a run for their money.
Amazon Prime and Sky TV Blocked
While there is an optimized server for the US region and one that claims to work for Amazon Prime, we could only get error messages each time we tried. The error message specifically called out the fact that we were using a VPN and told us to turn it off and try again.
We even tried to switch the server location to specific US cities in case it was only that one server. Every US server that we tried was met with the same error message.
Unfortunately, the same holds true to the Sky TV app and the UK region. No combination of servers was able to unlock either of these apps.
The good news is, CyberGhost VPN is well aware of these issues and is looking into creating a server that will adequately unblock these apps. Perhaps in the future, users will also be able to use these popular streaming apps. Still, as it stands, they are unavailable with the CyberGhost VPN.
Without a doubt, VPN users are looking for a service that will maximize their protection. While protection is essential, many VPN companies will also include add-ons and additional tools that will only serve to sweeten the deal. For example, TorGuard comes with a slew of options that allow you to add simultaneous connection, create a dedicated IP address, and add a 10GB network for a small monthly fee.
The same holds true with CyberGhost, and their extras are one reason they have become so popular with VPN users. CyberGhost offers a dedicated IP address service and also allows for adblocking directly through the VPN. These services are fantastic for users looking for a little more bang for their buck, to speak.
In September 2020, the company created a new tokenized system to generate and dispense these dedicated IP addresses. This system allows them the issue their dedicated IP addressed without ever storing your original IP address in the first place.
These dedicated IP addressed are available in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Canada and cost just $5 per month. This extra fee is in addition to the monthly subscription fee. Other VPNs offer this service, but CyberGhost does not require a standalone browser plugin in order to use this feature.
Speed and Performance
Anyone who is familiar with using a VPN will be able to tell you that using a VPN will certainly have some negative impact on the speed of your internet. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable. How does the CyberGhost VPN stack up to the competition?
In order to get a better idea of how it impacts internet speed, we ran a series of tests using the Ookla Internet Speed Test tool.
Before CyberGhost VPN:
Connected to the “Best Location” server:
CyberGhost VPN offered a mixed bag of results. When we ran the initial test, compared to the VPN test, the score went down by 12.27 MBps, which is a bit below the median score. It also reduced the upload speed by 21.95 MBps.
When connected to the US server, the speed decreases drastically:
As you can see, the speed by connecting to the nearest VPN was affected, however, the speed was reduced greatly by connecting to the US only server.
While CyberGhost might not be one of the fastest VPNs around, it would be a mistake to choose your VPN solely based on speed tests. You should also consider the cost of the product in addition to the overall quality of the features. CyberGhost is below average with it comes to upload and download speed. Still, they also offer excellent value for their product, in addition to several worthwhile extra features.
CyberGhost VPN isn’t going to break any speed records. Still, it does seem to be fast enough for fair gaming and most daily downloading tasks. Most users seem to be happy with the speeds offered by this VPN, but if you need high bandwidth speeds, you might need to consider a different option.
The most widely used version of this VPN is the Windows client. That is for a good reason as well. The CyberGhost Windows client offers a sleek and clean interface with an easy to operate the console. The console itself features a list of connections and a connect button for quick navigation.
Don’t be fooled by the sleek and straightforward design. This console packs a great deal of functionality in a small package. It sits conveniently in a right-hand panel that is ready to be used at any time. The location menu will allow you to choose from a long list of servers that will prominently display their current load and their location. The interface makes it easy to select the server that will be best for you. You can also filter the servers through a preference for optimized servers or servers that are specifically for streaming or torrenting. The favorites options make it simple to locate and add your favorite servers to a customized list for later use.
When you right-click the system tray icon, it will also bring up a list of all the available servers. There are also several submenus for streaming, torrenting, or your favorite servers. From here, you can choose, change, or close the current connections without ever interacting with the main application interface.
From the connections features panel, you can make adjustments to your privacy settings and enable the ad blocker. You can also choose to block trackers, ads, and other malicious sites. One great feature of the CyberGhost VPN is the ability to redirect any HTTP connection to HTTPS for added security. Here is also where you can access the data compression function. This will compress many elements of your traffic to reduce your bandwidth and increase the VPN’s performance.
Without a doubt, the CyberGhost VPN Windows clients are one of the easiest to use and intuitive clients available and make this VPN accessible to experts and beginners alike.
A Solid Choice
While CyberGhost VPN might not be the most robust VPN on the market, there is enough to like about this service that makes it a quality choice.
The biggest draw to this service is the large number of diverse server options to choose from. They have a significant number of servers in a lot of popular locations. Chances are you will be able to locate and connect to a nearby server for faster speeds. However, they do not function well in regional locked places such as China. Additionally, several streaming services do not function, even on the streaming optimized servers.
CyberGhost does offer some great extras such as adblocking and custom IP options. They have a generous simultaneous connection policy, and they value and protect privacy.
While they do not have an excellent month-to-month option, their extended period options are more than affordable. When considering the affordability, included features, ease of use, and server options, CyberGhost is a good choice for those looking for a budget VPN that does the trick.