CyberGhost is one of the biggest VPN service providers on the market. Despite fierce competition, they’re not showing any signs of capitulation. On the contrary, they’re trying to keep up with by regularly refreshing their service.
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CyberGhost pros & cons
- Global server coverage
- Unblocks most streaming platforms
- Intuitive app design
- WireGuard tunneling protocol
- Specialized servers
- Free browser addon
- 1-day free trial
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Accepts cryptocurrencies
- Fast customer support
- No third-party audits
- Broken Linux clients
- Some connection drops
- Apps have some bugs
Is CyberGhost secure?
CyberGhost doesn’t get much recognition in conversations about the safest VPN options. Let’s see if they deserve credit there.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
Like many VPN providers, CyberGhost uses encryption to make sure that your connection remains private. Their choice is AES-256-CBC, which is by far the most popular cipher among VPN services. Currently, such encryption is uncrackable even to the most powerful computers, so your data will stay safe.
Authentication is processed with the SHA-256 cryptographic function. It’s worth mentioning that there are other providers that use even more advanced functions like SHA-512. That is not to say that CyberGhost has picked an outdated version. SHA-256 works just as well and is also very safe.
CyberGhost offers strong tunneling protocols. The service supports these:
WireGuard – is a new tunneling protocol known for being extremely fast but also very safe. Most service providers are already phasing out older options to add support for this one. It’s nice to see that CyberGhost isn’t late to the party.
IKEv2 – one of the older protocols, provides good compatibility with most devices. Especially good on mobile.
OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) – still the most popular VPN protocol. CyberGhost allows you to force TCP instead of UDP mode, which is the default. The benefit is that TCP is much slower but safer.
Automatic Kill switch
Just like most premium VPN services, CyberGhost has a kill switch. You can turn it on from the Privacy settings screen.
I encountered some server issues during tests. The connections were a bit unstable, so this was an opportunity to test their kill switch in action. I can confirm that it successfully triggered whenever the link to the server was lost.
The major drawback is that it’s only available for desktop clients. If you’re on mobile, you’ll find no kill switch. It’s also a bit annoying that you can’t customize the kill switch on a per-app basis, so there’s definitely room for improvement.
Privacy and logging
Yet there are passages in the privacy document that may raise some eyebrows, such as the statement that: “We may disclose your Personal Data to any member of our group of companies.” However, if you’ve paid for the service using Bitcoin, the only data on you CyberGhost has is the email address (which can be a throwaway one).
CyberGhost is based in Romania, which, although a member of the European Union, is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. Data retention laws pushed from the EU were declared unconstitutional in Romania.
All things considered, CyberGhost promises absolute anonymity, and this seems close to the truth.
CyberGhost has a selection of different server types that are useful for particular tasks. This isn’t something that every provider implements, so it’s a welcome addition. Plus, the feature is intuitive enough even for the less tech-savvy VPN users.
There are special servers for downloading, streaming, and gaming.
Downloading servers are optimized for torrenting. They work with P2P clients like uTorrent, and are located in countries where torrenting isn’t met with harsh sanctions. The servers provide the best possible download speeds. When you open the server list, you’re given the approximate distance from your location to the server, the current user count, and server load. You can easily filter out the servers with higher loads because their speeds won’t be as fast.
Streaming servers are intended for accessing geo-blocked streaming platforms. When you go into the list, you’ll quickly see which service the server is intended for. So, you get a particular server to unblock Netflix or Disney+. Although this means switching VPN server if you decide to stream from a different platform, it does make finding the right server easier.
Gaming servers are the ones with the lowest latency. Roughly speaking, this is the reaction speed of your internet connection. If response times are long, this will result in lag, which can ruin your online match. When connected to these servers, my latency increased by 10ms when compared to ping without a VPN, which is decent. Also, the connection was stable.
This feature is mostly useful for people that need to whitelist specific IPs to allow connection to your website or server. When you purchase a dedicated IP option from CyberGhost, you get assigned a unique IP address just for you. That way, you can be sure that no one else is using it.
Generally, dedicated IP isn’t considered a privacy feature, and it won’t bolster your anonymity. However, it’s a perfect solution for those needing a consistent IP address for seeding torrent files or other connections.
It costs an additional $5 a month on top of your subscription and is an optional feature. If you decide to get it, you will receive a special token, which you need to activate in the special Dedicated IP section of your app. It’s worth noting that they won’t keep track of which accounts were associated with which tokens, so if you lose it, you won’t recover it.
CyberGhost claims their ad-block feature will protect you from annoying ads that are following you through the web. So, in theory, this should make your load times faster, and help you avoid malware distributed through ad networks. Plus, it should save data on mobile devices by stopping the ads from loading.
However, in practice, the ad-block feature is implemented amateurishly. First of all, on some apps, you’ll see that they somehow added two ad-block toggles.
Regardless of whether you turn on one of them or both, it will work the same way. It does block some ads, but some free tools like uBlock Origin work a bit better. With CyberGhost, many ads got through, while the same pages were completely clean with uBlock.
As a feature, the ad blocker is a nice addition. Still, the implementation could be better.
If you’re now wondering why we didn’t cover NoSPY servers in the specialized servers section, there’s a good reason for that. NoSPY servers are in a category of their own. Their premise is somewhat similar to the Secure Core servers of ProtonVPN.
CyberGhost’s NoSPY servers are located in a private data center in Romania, where their team fully manages them. They come with extended bandwidth, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the fastest possible speeds. Some of the no-spy servers are P2P-compatible, so you’ll be able to torrent to your heart’s content.
However, if you want access to NoSPY servers, you’ll have to pay extra and it’s not easy to find how. Basically, you’ll have to go into the features page on the CyberGhost website, select NoSPY servers, scroll down to the bottom and locate a button for the yearly plan that adds them.
However, this only applies to you if you don’t have a subscription. Current users can’t upgrade their plan to include NoSPY servers. So, if you’re already using CyberGhost, you’ll have to create a new account.
Smart rules is a feature that helps to automate CyberGhost. Once configured, the app will do some tasks itself, saving you clicking time.
Some rules can be as simple as starting CyberGhost when the system reboots. It’s also possible to specify a particular country or server to which CyberGhost should automatically connect.
You can also take it to the next level by automating which programs automatically start when CyberGhost initiates a connection. That way, you don’t even need to wait around for a connection confirmation. The app that you’re using will automatically start after your VPN app starts.
You can configure the Smart rule further by indicating to trigger your smart rules on unsafe Wi-Fi networks. Plus, there are options to allow particular websites, which effectively works as a split tunneling.
This is an awesome quality-of-life feature many other top VPNs lack. For some, this alone will be enough to warrant a subscription.
Plans & pricing
CyberGhost prices changed based on the duration of the subscription (they all offer the same features). Shorter plans are more expensive and vice versa. You also get 7 simultaneous connections with every option.
Their 1-month plan will cost $12.99, which is not unheard of for a plan of such duration. This is the only plan with a shorter money-back guarantee policy – 14 days. All other plans have it for 45 days.
The annual plan costs $47.88 or $3.99 a month if you split the bill over the year. A two-year plan isn’t wildly different and costs $83.76 or $3.49 a month. There’s also the longest, 39-month option for $87.75 or $2.25 a month.
It would seem that the best value would be their longest plan, as the difference between the two and three-year option is only $3.99. So, you should skip the two-year option entirely. You might as well just opt-in for a three-year option as it will cost you virtually the same amount. The difference between the yearly and two-year option is $12, so it’s more of a headscratcher whether it’s worth it.
However, there are additional options not included on the pricing page. If you go through the NoSPY servers article, the yearly plan with no-spy servers will cost you $59.99 a year or $4.99 a month. If you need a dedicated IP, you can add $5/month to whichever option you decide to pick.
It’s a nice touch that you can choose anonymous payment options to pay for your subscription. Aside from credit cards and PayPal, it’s also possible to pay with cryptocurrencies.
All plans are set to renew by default, so if you buy a subscription for a year and forget that you had it, your subscription will auto-renew next year. Keep this in mind if you’re looking to get this service.
Is there a free version of CyberGhost?
CyberGhost doesn’t have a free version, but it has a 1-day free trial. You don’t need to provide any payment information to use it. This is unexpected because most premium VPN service providers only offer trials in the form of a money-back guarantee.
Of course, there’s the money-back guarantee as well, which depending on the plan’s length, may be for 14 or 45 days. This should be plenty of time to try CyberGhost to make an informed decision whether you want to commit to the service.
How fast is CyberGhost?
Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Location||WireGuard||IKEv2||OpenVPN UDP||OpenVPN TCP|
CyberGhost’s performance could certainly be better and there are some surprises when comparing different tunneling protocols.
WireGuard, the tunneling protocol that most VPN service providers rushed to implement due to its speed, performs worse than IKEv2. When connected to Japan using WireGuard, download speeds drop by approximately 90%. Connecting to the same server using IKEv2 sees a speed drop of only 67%. The worst speed reduction with WireGuard was in India, which reduced our baseline download speed by 99%. The lowest recorded reduction was about 16% in Switzerland (we’re based in mainland Europe).
IKEv2 was the fastest protocol with the lowest recorded reduction to the baseline download speed of 5%. The most significant drop was 99% in Argentina and 92% in India. The protocol performs similarly to competitors, and there’s nothing much CyberGhost could improve there. This suggests that CyberGhost’s WireGuard implementation is currently lacking.
OpenVPN was a mixed bag. First of all, it required a separate toggle to enable TCP instead of the default UDP. And even with it toggled on, the servers refused to connect. OpenVPN UDP version is excruciatingly slow at the worst times, reducing speeds by 99%, and at the best times only by 45%.
Upload speeds tell a similar story. WireGuard is slightly better in this regard than IKEv2, which is noticeably worse (with a reduction ranging from 98% to 99%). Under such circumstances, OpenVPN comes as an unlikely victor having only an 8% drop as the best result and 99% as its worst.
So, in terms of speeds, it’s a bit hit or miss, but the WireGuard speeds should improve with time.
Overall, CyberGhost has approximately 6,100 servers in 89 countries. So, it’s one of the providers with the biggest fleets. In that regard, the service sits in the same ballpark as NordVPN or PureVPN.
In terms of continent coverage, CyberGhost isn’t that different from most VPN service providers:
Europe: 42 countries
Asia and Oceanic region: 22 countries
Americas: 13 countries
Africa: 12 countries
The best coverage is in Europe, although the Americas do catch up with the number of servers. The takeaway is that their huge fleet allows them to provide coverage even in areas less-favored by VPNs, like Africa. However, keep in mind that some of their servers are virtual, meaning they aren’t physically located in the country. This is the case with China, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Morocco, and Turkey, for example.
All things considered, CyberGhost’s server fleet is definitely their stronger sides. This can be extremely useful if you’re located further from Europe, the Americas, or the Far East.
Is CyberGhost good for streaming Netflix?
Since CyberGhost has specialized servers for streaming, it’s really easy to find one that unblocks any given media platform.
The specialized server for Netflix unblocked the US library on the first try. However, Netflix was very slow, and I had to wait around for a couple of minutes while the search results loaded. However, once the show started, there were no issues, so it may also be the fault of Netflix.
BBC iPlayer also worked without a hitch and was a lot faster than Netflix. There were no errors, but I had to switch to a streaming server optimized for BBC iPlayer. The same can be said about geo-blocked YouTube videos.
There were several issues when unblocking DAZN. Most servers showed the “Not available in your country” page. While other servers stated that DAZN was down. In any case, DAZN remained blocked.
To sum up, streaming is one of the key areas where CyberGhost does great.
Interface and ease of use
The Windows client looks and feels great. It’s inobtrusive and doesn’t have lots to confused by, making it just the thing for less tech-savvy users.
With that said, it could use some polish. For example, sometimes there were issues when the app ignored my VPN protocol selection. The only solution that worked was resetting the app’s settings. At some points, the app was unable to connect to the selected server. The connection status indicator didn’t help much. There were no indicators of whether the connection is initiating, failed, or time outed. There are also no buttons to cancel the connection attempt.
The search bar displays only countries and not the cities, which can leave you wondering where you’re actually connecting. While in other cases, only the city names are shown, so there could be more consistency.
All in all though, the app looks nice, intuitive and rather feature rich. As a matter of fact, it feels like one of the best apps for new VPN users.
The Mac version of CyberGhost is similar to Windows, but has some improvements. For example, you can block malicious websites, extending the protection that ad block gives you. Then, there are options to turn on data compression to reduce download data, which is useful if you have data caps as part of your Internet contract.
Automated HTTPS redirect forces websites to load in a more secure version (provided that such version even exists).
However, the app isn’t issue-free. For example, the kill switch on macOS could work better. When you wake the system from a sleep state, the client successfully establishes a VPN connection, but there’s still no Internet access.
CyberGhost’s experience on Linux feels like walking barefoot through a pile of burning Legos. Everything from the setup to use is done in such a way that is either inconvenient, strange, or doesn’t work.
To install the app on Fedora 33, you have to log in to the website and select your distribution’s exact version. However, you’re still given the Fedora 32 version, no matter which option you pick. To run it, you have to run an install script, which doesn’t work because it finds that your OS version is invalid. You have to manually enter the commands that the script should have performed automatically to install it.
After switching to Ubuntu Unity, I learned that the app’s latest available version is only compatible with 20.04. So, CyberGhost doesn’t really support newer versions. I was able to set it up for PopOS, but the app kept crashing when running most commands.
Needless to say, if you’re a Linux user, you should consider a different VPN.
CyberGhost mobile apps
CyberGhost on iOS and Android are mirror images of each other. They both have a pretty minimal design and offer similar features.
On Android, in terms of tunneling protocols, you’re given a choice between OpenVPN and WireGuard. On iOS, it’s a choice between WireGuard and IKEv2. This means, that on average iOS users will enjoy better speeds, at least until CyberGhost developers fix WireGuard.
On Android, the app asks for location permission, which is somewhat unusual, but it’s used for reading the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot that you’re connected to. You shouldn’t read into it too much.
Overall, CyberGhost mobile clients work a bit better than their desktop counterparts, and the app design works great on mobile in general.
CyberGhost also has a browser extension, but you’ll hardly need an account to use it. You cannot log in to it, so if you’re a subscriber, there’s not much to gain from it that you wouldn’t get from the app.
You’re only getting four countries to choose from, but your location is successfully spoofed once you connect. It will bypass some simpler blocks, but don’t expect this to work with streaming websites. There are no other features, and your traffic isn’t encrypted.
CyberGhost has a lot of customer support options. When I contacted their customer support agent about Linux issues via the live chat, I quickly got to an agent. The responses were quick, professional and related to the issues at hand. If they prove to be too difficult for an agent to solve, they will create a ticket and get back to you with a solution.
On their customer support portal, you can find guides and FAQs to solve your issues. The problem is that they’re keeping many outdated guides for features that are no longer present on the service. So, when you’re trying to narrow down your issue, you have to sift through those old pages.
Aside from the irrelevant guides in the knowledge base, CyberGhost has great customer support.
Is CyberGhost worth getting?
CyberGhost is a solid VPN choice, with sleek and intuitive apps that will especially benefit newer users. It’s especially great for those looking to unblock Netflix or other streaming services.
The prices are decent, the customer support is great, and you can benefit from a huge server list. In terms of security, it’s a decent choice that has a no-logs service and strong encryption. However, there are no powerful bonus features if you’re using the service for sensitive activities.
All in all, despite a lack of polish here and there, CyberGhost is a competitive choice to consider.
Does CyberGhost allow torrenting?
Yes. CyberGhost allows torrenting and has special servers for P2P connections.
How do I speed up CyberGhost?
If you’re experiencing slowdowns, you should switch the tunneling protocol to IKEv2, which proved to be the fastest in our tests. It’s also a good idea to connect to a server that is near you.
How many devices can use CyberGhost?
On one account, you can use CyberGhost for 7 devices at a time. This is on the higher side, as many providers will give you only about 5 simultaneous connections.
Can CyberGhost be trusted?
Yes. CyberGhost is generally a trustworthy VPN service. However, they could improve their reputation by submitting their logging policy and apps for an independent audit.