New VPN service providers are popping up at an alarming rate, which makes it nearly impossible to know if you’re getting the best deal when signing up with a new provider. Read our CyberGhost VPN review so you can find out more.
There’s so much competition in the industry it’s likely impossible to find the best service, though it is certainly feasible to sort them out into different tiers based on their quality.
Today we’re going to look at a VPN provider named CyberGhost VPN to see if it’s worth your time, or if you should steer clear and look for a better alternative. To get things rolling, start by taking a closer look at its pricing model.
Right now CyberGhost is offering one of the cheapest prices for a VPN subscription that I’ve ever seen. New subscribers can take advantage of a three-year subscription, which only costs $99.
Cyberghost VPN review
When the price is divided by 36 months, the monthly cost comes out to be a mere $2.75. That’s cheaper than the cost of a low-quality fast food meal per month, making CyberGhost affordable to all but the most price-sensitive consumers.
It’s actually pretty rare to see a provider offer such a long subscription length too. The general rule of thumb is the longer the subscription, the greater the savings.
I have seen two or three other services have special three-year pricing, but the offer is usually only a marketing promotion that will vanish after a certain period. It’s much more common for competitors to only offer subscription terms on a monthly, six-month and annual basis.
CyberGhost does follow that model as well, as follows:
- Monthly subscription – $11.99 per month
- Six-month subscription – $5.99 per month
- Annual subscription – $3.50 per month
Quite honestly, I think the monthly subscription plan is a bit of a joke. Paying $11.99 a month for a VPN is really impractical, especially when the average price of a service lies within the $5.00 – $6.00 range.
There certainly are some other services with more expensive pricing, such as ExpressVPN’s monthly plan, which costs $12.95 per month.
My advice is to stay away from the monthly plan because it doesn’t deliver great value or savings. The total cost of six months with the monthly subscription is $71.94, whereas the total cost of six months with the six-month subscription is $35.94.
So if you plan on using the service for any significant amount of time, it only makes sense to save a significant amount of money by taking advantage of the six-month or annual subscriptions.
That said, you may feel hesitant to commit to a long-term subscription to a service you’ve never used before. Don’t worry – CyberGhost has a solution to help remove the risk of signing up for a service you dislike: simply take advantage of the free trial!
Unfortunately, the free trial can’t be used indefinitely and only lasts for seven days. But I think a week is more than enough time to test out the client and see what you think.
If you really did want a truly free VPN, then I’d advise looking at competing services like WindScribe VPN, TunnelBear VPN, and other similar services, but I tend to dislike free services because they’re severely watered down lack advanced features.
CyberGhost VPN, on the other hand, is full-featured and doesn’t include annoying encumbrances like data or bandwidth caps.
But the free trial may not be necessary. Paid subscribers also have a 30-day money back guarantee as well, which serves as another layer of risk removal. Between the free trial and the 30-day money back guarantee, I think CyberGhost is doing everything in its power, to be honest, forthcoming, and risk-free for new subscribers.
The last thing I wanted to cover in the payment section was payment methods. I think to two most frequently sought after payment methods with digital services are PayPal and Bitcoin.
Fortunately, CyberGhost VPN accepts both, as well as some less popular payment options like GiroPay, DirectDebit, and Sofort Banking. And naturally, it also accepts all the mainstream payment options as well, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and JCB, among others.
CyberGhostVPN Key Features
Now it’s time to dig through CyberGhost VPN’s features, though I was neither extremely impressed or disappointed with this service’s capabilities. More or less, it has every feature I would demand from a VPN service, without any extra flashy features.
For starters, the software comes with an automatic kill-switch. If a VPN tunnel lacks a kill-switch, it’s possible to create your own with firewall rules, but it’s one heck of a lot more convenient when the kill-switch is already included in the VPN client.
Even as recent as a few years ago, kill-switches were not a mainstream feature included in competitors’ services.
These days, however, due to healthy competition, more and more services include a kill-switch by default. In addition, CyberGhost VPN claims one of its features is “the highest possible speed.”
I dislike it when companies make these types of claims because it really doesn’t mean anything at all, and every other provider makes a similar claim. Fortunately, CyberGhost did quantify that its average connection speed is at least 6Mbps, which is acceptable given the latency, bandwidth, and encryption overhead.
Next, CyberGhost VPN provides unlimited bandwidth and traffic, meaning CyberGhost VPN doesn’t impose bandwidth throttling or monthly data cap limitations.
Yet again, this feature isn’t all that special since it is offered by every other quality provider. Also, I’ll go into much greater detail regarding the size of the network and global locations in the following section, but for now just know that CyberGhost VPN hosts servers in over 56 countries, and is continually adding new servers to its profile as dictated by demand.
Additionally, CyberGhost VPN permits up to five simultaneous connections per account. Like the kill-switch feature, allowing up to five simultaneous connections per account is becoming more common.
There were many services years ago that would set encumbering limitations on users, and only allow two or three simultaneous connections. A handful of the mainstream quality providers today allow fewer than five simultaneous connections, such as ExpressVPN, which only currently allows up to three.
And the software client comes with DNS and IP leak protection mechanisms too. DNS and IP leak protection should be a part of every client, but every now and then I see a service that doesn’t offer this feature.
DNS leaks essentially negate the privacy of your VPN tunnel by sending DNS queries to an external server (usually a server owned by your ISP), instead of sending DNS queries through the secure tunnel to a zero-knowledge DNS service.
When a DNS leak occurs, the websites you visit will be logged in your ISP’s DNS server. If you’re anything like me, allowing strangers at an ISP to see each and every DNS query you’re computer resolves sends unpleasant shivers down your spine.
At any rate, the software client has a built-in mechanism to prevent DNS leaks from occurring in the first place.
Speaking of logging, I did want to mention that CyberGhost VPN does have a no-logging policy, and I’m fairly impressed with it, but I’ll dig deeper into the logging policy in the following section.
Next, CyberGhost VPN proudly boasts that it offers 256-bit encryption, but again, this is something I have come to expect from a service. If a VPN provider lacks 256-bit encryption, I would advise opting for a different provider.
And any service using OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec connections is going to offer 256-bit encryption as well. I would have really liked to see some encryption and security features that set CyberGhost VPN apart from the competition, such as double data encryption, double VPN tunnels, or anti-DPS features, but overall, I do think CyberGhost VPN is well rounded and ticks every box regarding the features I need.
Last but not least, be aware that CyberGhost VPN is available on all the major platforms, including Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android. In fact, it can even be used with VPN-capable routers.
If your router isn’t capable of connecting to a VPN server, it may be worth considering upgrading the router firmware to DD-WRT to attain VPN functionality.
In summary, the following outlines CyberGhost’s list of features:
- Automatic kill-switch
- “Highest possible” speed
- Unlimited bandwidth and traffic
- Over 1,200 servers scattered across the globe in over 56 countries
- Minimum of four servers per country, with the exception of Brazil, which only has three servers
- Five simultaneous connections
- DNS and IP leak protection
- Strict no-logging policy (discussed in greater detail later)
- 256-bit encryption
- Software clients compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers
Relative Network Size and Country Locations
I also wanted to mention that I was relatively impressed with CyberGhost VPN’s global network of servers. Currently, the service offers connections to over 1,200 servers hosted in over 56 countries, which is a little bit more than the average provider. I typically see average competing services with servers in 30-50 countries, so CyberGhost is doing well with regards to the global connection options it offers its customers.
I was, however, displeased to see that the website lacks real-time server bandwidth data. Some competing services show real-time server data detailing the load and available bandwidth of each server. Usage data helps subscribers connect to a location that it isn’t overburdened, so it’s a shame CyberGhost doesn’t provide such information.
Conversely, I was pleased to see a breakdown of the number of servers hosted in each country. It seems that with exception to Brazil (which only has three servers), the minimum server count in any other country is four servers. The following countries were particularly interesting because they contain far more servers than the average country:
- Canada – 22
- Switzerland – 30
- Czech Republic – 32
- Germany – 204
- Spain – 31
- France – 109
- UK – 152
- Italy – 36
- Netherlands – 64
- Norway – 24
- Poland – 32
- Romania – 73
- Sweden – 20
- Ukraine – 32
- USA – 222
Although the website won’t show bandwidth statistics, it does show how many users are connected to each individual server in a given country.
I’m not really sure how useful this information is because we have no way of knowing how much bandwidth each user is hogging. For instance, consider a scenario whereby I connected to a server hosting 10 users with an average download rate of 20Mbps (200 Mbps in total).
That connection may look more appealing than a server hosting 20 users with an average connection speed of 5Mbps (only 100Mbps total throughput) because the total capacity information isn’t made public.
Nevertheless, I was pleased to see that the server naming standards describe where any given server is hosted within a country. For example, instead of only knowing you're connected to a server hosted in Germany, the server name details the fact that you’re connected to Frankfurt, DE.
Also, I did want to point out that CyberGhost VPN has the most potent concentration of servers in Europe. Not only does CyberGhost host server in more countries throughout Europe than other regions of the world, but it also hosts more servers per country (on average) in Europe than anywhere else in the world.
Even though CyberGhost appeals to international users all over the globe, I think it wanted to appeal strongly to a market segment of European users.
To be fair, some European locations are simply among the ideal places to host servers due to data privacy laws. For instance, Switzerland has long been BitTorrent user’s favorite server location owing to the lack of repercussions when downloading torrents in Switzerland for personal use and favorable data laws without data retention and logging mandates.
Another important factor that cannot be ignored when selecting a VPN provider is the location of company headquarters. The country in which the service’s headquarters operates has a heavy bearing on the trust and privacy associated with the service due to potential governmental coercion.
Sometimes the powers that be force domestic businesses into sharing highly detailed and sensitive information for legal reasons.
For instance, if a government suspected a user or organization was using a digital service to further illegal endeavors (black market and illegal trade, terrorist initiatives, human trafficking, etc.), they might issue a warrant or coerce the business into cooperation.
For this reason, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure your VPN service provider doesn’t log your data (most don’t with the exception of some inconsequential metadata, which I talk about in depth later) and to know in which country its headquarters operates.
Fortunately for users who care about strong privacy, CyberGhost VPN is based out of Romania, which is a much more favorable location to headquarter digital services than the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, or Australia due to the FiveEyes intelligence sharing program and past wiretapping and surveillance data scandals.
Romania has very lax data retention laws compared with the rest of the world, and a lower amount of governmental involvement in the Internet and digital services than most other countries. Furthermore, Reporters Without Borders ranked Romania as 46th out of 180 countries in its 2017 index.
CyberGhost VPN Connections: OpenVPN
Like the vast majority of other services, CyberGhost VPN offers OpenVPN connections. OpenVPN is undoubtedly my favorite connection type offered by CyberGhost VPN because it’s the most secure. And because the code is open source, it has been audited by third-party security organizations to ensure the code is secure, functional, and that it hasn’t been tampered with (backdoors, intentional security flaws, etc.).
My advice is to always use OpenVPN in lieu of L2TP or PPTP tunnels. Also, I’d highly recommend sticking with AES-256 encryption, since AES-256 is so strong it’s commonly used in extremely high-security environments, such as banking and military applications.
CyberGhost VPN Connections: L2TP/IPsec
Next up, CyberGhost VPN also offers L2TP/IPsec connections. L2TP/IPsec is a decent alternative to OpenVPN, but I wouldn’t use it unless I had to. I don’t really have any qualms about using L2TP/IPsec, but it does offer a little less security than OpenVPN. So, I’d recommend using L2TP/IPsec as a backup if OpenVPN becomes unavailable due to a bad connection, malfunctioning OpenVPN software, operating system issues, or other similar causes.
CyberGhost VPN Connections: PPTP
I was pleased to see that CyberGhost VPN offers both OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec connections. But I was disappointed to see that CyberGhost VPN still offers PPTP connections. To be fair, it’s rather common for the vast majority of providers to typically provide connections via OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.
Regardless, I think PPTP should be thrown away and deleted from the annals of the Internet or blocked by every Internet firewall for the sake of the end users’ security.
To be perfectly clear, I would advise against using PPTP unless there was no other option, and I can’t imagine a scenario where there’s no solution or workaround for using a more secure protocol. Even though I think CyberGhost VPN has commendable security and a solid no-logging policy, PPTP is an atrociously weak encryption standard.
It was first released near the turn of the century after a Microsoft consortium finished developing it. PPTP has, unfortunately, become outdated and unusable. The ugly truth is that some rather clever nerds have found a way to break the protocol’s algorithm to decode information sent through a PPTP tunnel. As such, PPTP only offers weak encryption and should be avoided at all costs.
You might be wondering now why CyberGhost VPN and other providers include PPTP if it has been broken. PPTP does have a few uses, especially on older systems and slower connections that can’t encrypt process, and send/receive data at a fast enough speed for smooth streaming.
You see, PPTP has less encryption overhead than other protocols. If you do decide to test it out for an insignificantly faster connection and reduced overhead, be my guest; but remember not to send any sensitive data through the tunnel.
Logging Policy and Privacy Considerations
The good news, for the most part, is that CyberGhost VPN doesn’t log your user activities. Yet even though it claims to have a no-logging policy (just like any other VPN service), the truth of the matter is that some data must be inherently collected. Let’s examine what data is collected, how it is gathered, and why it is stored to alleviate any qualms you may be having. In my opinion, the data CyberGhost stores is a necessary evil, but also inconsequential since it doesn’t invade my privacy.
First off, note that CyberGhost VPN collects the following information regarding its users:
- E-mail address
- Payment method
- Site usage data
- Transaction data, but only transactions conducted on the CyberGhost site
- An IP address (to display the correct currency and prices in your location)
- Chargeback requests and canceled order data
- Browser version and related metadata, OS version, and preferred language
That may seem like a lot of data, but basically what it all boils down to is that the only data collected from users takes place when they visit the site. I was surprised the site understands which operating system and browser version you’re using, but with those exceptions, every other piece of data collected is simply a necessity to conduct electronic transactions and to set you up with an account.
The service does not log any data regarding user activity through the VPN tunnel though. I did find it interesting that CyberGhost reserved the right to hand over the data it has collected on you (listed above) to the authorities as follows:
We also reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Web site.
CyberGhost Speed Test
Before digging into the results of the speed test, I wanted to bring one of CyberGhost VPN’s claims to light, one which I thought was unusual. Many (but not all) providers don’t make any claims regarding the speeds of their servers and connections, despite oodles of data and statistics that could be used to generate an anonymous sample to accurately gauge each server’s average connection speed.
CyberGhost VPN, however, made a precise and quantifiable claim on the website, claiming that the average speed of a connection is approximately 6Mbps. CyberGhost claims the following on the website:
The minimum bandwidth for connections using a regular subscription usually won't fall back behind an average speed of 6 Mbps, while the maximum could reach at best (given ideal preconditions are in charge) 600 Mbps (the usual server speed).
Personally, I think it’s highly commendable to quantify average connection speeds. One thing that often irritates me in the VPN market is providers who claim they have the “fastest VPN speeds in the world.” In reality, these providers are using the same technology and the same protocols, with the only real difference being varying network infrastructure and upstream bandwidth via the ISP.
It’s a bit like a pizza joint in New York City claiming it has the city’s “best slice of pizza.” So kudos to CyberGhost VPN for making a clear and measurable claim instead of trying to trick new users with meaningless marketing ploys.
But there’s still one problem – how fast are the connections really? To answer that question, I ran a speed test.
Regarding the latency, there weren’t any problems. Latency is partially affected by physical distance as well as routing decisions out of my control, but these latency results are consistent with other routes I’ve measure without using a tunnel. The raw upload and download speed, however, was a little mediocre.
It seems the claim of 6Mbps didn’t hold up as well as I would have liked. However, please remember the theoretical maximum of my Google Fiber connection is 5Mbps. Still, I couldn’t believe London was a scant 2.86Mbps. For my personal use, that’s not low enough to impact my web browsing or streaming.
But is a poor result for someone who uploads large amounts of data the cloud or someone who uses a backup or storage service. Overall, I was a little disappointed with the speed, and think it’s one of CyberGhost VPN’s lesser qualities. Still, the Hong Kong connection was fair, though the upload rate was a bit poor, even for my connection.
Customer support is easy to contact and readily available 24/7. Users can send an email through a web form directly from the website to open a ticket. Alternatively, users can start a live chat for quick answers to questions, which is my favorite option.
However, if you don’t want to bother with the support department because you think you can troubleshoot the issue yourself, there is a fully equipped knowledgebase on the website complete with FAQs and over 70 high-quality guides.
The guides include high-quality images detailing every step of the process with every button and field highlighted for your convenience.
Overall, I was reasonably impressed with the quality of the support department. I pestered the live chat representative with some questions regarding protocol usage, and I got knowledgeable answers, which was refreshing.
I also got a response in under 15 seconds, which was awesome. CyberGhost VPN certainly has a competent support department capable of helping users fix, troubleshoot and install the software to use the VPN servers.
Final Thoughts on CyberGhost VPN as a Service
All in all, I think CyberGhost VPN offers a great value and meets every requirement I have. It offers strong security, DNS-leak protection, five simultaneous connections, and all of its other features are up to standard. What this service really lacks is that ‘something extra,’ such as a proprietary DPI prevention feature or a 10GB Ethernet backbone. And I do wish the server speeds were a bit faster.
Even so, I wouldn’t recommend the monthly subscription since it’s so costly. The six-month and annual subscription plans offer far better value. For as much as they cost, I suppose it’s acceptable that they lack any truly amazing or unique features.
For a mere $3.50 a month, you can gain access to servers in over 56 countries around the world and secure up to five devices. What’s not to love? I hope you found our CyberGhost VPN review useful and hope we hear from you.