CyberGhost vs ExpressVPN: which VPN is best for you?
If you’re reading this, that probably means you can’t make up your mind between two worthy competitors: CyberGhost and ExpressVPN. That’s understandable - both of these VPN services are extremely popular and get featured on many lists of top VPNs.
Similarities don't end here: both CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are now owned by the same company, as CyberGhost owners, Kape Technologies purchased ExpressVPN for $936 million.
So, is there a difference between these two in the first place? Well, there is – and I’ll help you make the right decision. In this article, I compared CyberGhost vs ExpressVPN in terms of speed, features, functionality, and pricing. After reading it, you’ll have a clear understanding of which VPN you truly want.
Editor's disclosure: We are aware of and concerned about the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) recently released by the US Department of Justice. It names Express VPN’s CIO Daniel Gericke among the persons who received monetary penalties and agreed to “full cooperation with the relevant Department and FBI components” due to their past misuse of covert surveillance tools, targeting US citizens, as well as journalists and political parties.
At the moment, there are no direct connections established between the misuse of such tools and ExpressVPN. To stay informed on the issue, we suggest reading our full story about the agreement here.
CyberGhost vs. ExpressVPN
|Pricing:||From $8.32/month||From $2.25/month|
|Current deal:||12 Months + 3 Months FREE!||Get CyberGhost VPN, now 83% OFF!|
|Country:||British Virgin Islands||Romania|
|VPN protocols:||Lightway, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), L2TP/IPsec||WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)|
|Logging:||No logs||No logs|
|Support:||Live chat, email, knowledge base||Live chat, email, knowledge base|
|Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
Speed comparison: CyberGhost vs ExpressVPN
If you’ve ever used a VPN, you most probably know that it makes your internet speed decrease at least a little. Luckily, both CyberGhost and ExpressVPN have lots of servers and offer cutting-edge tunneling protocols: WireGuard and Lighway (an in-house protocol of ExpressVPN). Let’s compare their performance.
- Baseline: 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Download average||103 Mbps||96 Mbps|
|Upload average||97 Mbps||112 Mbps|
To make the competition as fair as possible, I tested each tunneling protocol with 10 different countries and calculated the average. As you can see from the table above, ExpressVPN’s Lightway beats CyberGhost’s WireGuard when it comes to the download speed. However, CyberGhost performs a bit better when it comes to upload speed.
|OpenVPN UDP||ExpressVPN||CyberGhost VPN|
|Download average||165 Mbps||43 Mbps|
|Upload average||110 Mbps||132 Mbps|
Another fast tunneling protocol available on both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost is OpenVPN UDP. Once again, ExpressVPN beats CyberGhost in terms of the download speed - but falls behind a bit in the upload speed department. However in this case, the download speed difference is quite significant.
Taking my experience as a whole, I found ExpressVPN more stable when it comes to performance. When using this service, I didn’t experience any significant drops in speed (except with the Indian server), while CyberGhost’s speed fluctuated a lot more.
Netflix and streaming performance
Many people (myself included) use VPNs for watching geo-blocked movies and shows. Why limit yourself to your own country’s Netflix library when you can access multiple?
To help you pick the VPN you need the most, we tested both services on multiple streaming platforms. And here are the results: ExpressVPN successfully unblocked Netflix US, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and, of course, Youtube. Also, there was no significant decline in speed.
The situation with CyberGhost was slightly different. It managed to load the US Netflix, but the speed was really slow. And, even though the VPN unblocked BBC iPlayer and Youtube, it didn’t let us access DAZN.
It’s important to mention that CyberGhost has specialized servers for streaming - for example, a UK server for BBC iPlayer and a US server for Netflix. Also, both VPN services offer the SmartDNS feature that allows you to watch geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPN connections.
Torrenting and P2P
If you happen to look for a good VPN for torrenting, you’ll be pleased with ExpressVPN and CyberGhost alike.
For example, it’s convenient that ExpressVPN allows torrenting on all of its servers. I did a few tests and noticed that at first, the download speed was a bit lacking. However, after a short while, the speed finally took off, fluctuating between 6 and 15 MB/s (48-120 mbps).
When it comes to CyberGhost, you should know that it doesn’t allow torrenting on all of its servers. Instead, the VPN has specialized servers optimized for torrenting that work with various torrenting clients. When I tested one of these servers, the download speed never exceeded 5 MB/s (40 mbps).
With that said, torrenting speeds depend on a number of factors, many of which are unrelated to the VPN. Therefore, this round is a draw.
If your definition of using a VPN doesn’t end with watching Netflix, you will like both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, as these two are seriously crammed with useful features.
That’s why it’s difficult to determine which VPN is better feature-wise. For example, only ExpressVPN supports port forwarding, while CyberGhost has specialized servers and an ad-blocker. Thus, I declare no winner in this category.
If you want to watch geo-restricted movies on a device that isn’t compatible with a VPN (like a smart TV or a gaming console), you’ll need the Smart DNS feature. ExpressVPN calls it MediaStreamer, while CyberGhost simply refers to it as My Smart DNS.
Both VPN services offer step-by-step guides on how to implement SmartDNS on a myriad of devices including routers, PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV, etc.
For more advanced users, the port forwarding feature can be a real life-saver. For example, it allows you to access your computer when you’re far away from home, host a small website, or set up a gaming server.
So, ExpressVPN will help you do all that - and more. That’s because its proprietary router app supports port forwarding, letting you access your devices remotely. In contrast, CyberGhost VPN doesn’t support this feature.
CyberGhost VPN has a whole tab called Smart rules, which offers a lot of configuration options. Here, you can set up automatic connections, tweak the wifi protection options, and mark the websites you want to exclude from the VPN connections.
ExpressVPN has something slightly different called Shortcuts. Here, you can make a certain app or a website open automatically as soon as you connect to the VPN.
If you need a server for a specific task (like torrenting), CyberGhost will help you pick the right one instantly. That’s because it offers a list of specialized servers for downloading (or torrenting), streaming, and gaming. It’s worth mentioning that the servers for torrenting show the approximate distance to the server, as well as its user count and the server load.
In addition, CyberGhost offers NoSPY servers for less than a dollar a month. Located in a private data center in Romania, they give you extra bandwidth and more privacy.
This a feature that only CyberGhost users will get. It promises to block ads, malicious websites, online tracking, etc. However, our tests didn’t show stellar results - it didn’t manage to block all of the ads on some pages we visited. Still, CyberGhost’s ad-blocker is much better than nothing.
After using a VPN for a while, you might notice that it would be convenient to use the VPN connection only on certain applications. For example, if you want to listen to a geo-blocked podcast while working, it’s a good idea to set up the VPN connection only with the streaming service to conserve bandwidth.
And this is where split tunneling comes in. It allows you to pick certain applications or websites that go through the VPN tunnel. ExpressVPN offers this feature on its Windows, Mac, and Android applications.
But what about CyberGhost? Well, even though it doesn’t offer split tunneling as a separate feature, you can exclude particular websites under the Smart Rules tab on the Windows and macOS apps. However, there's a full-fledged split tunneling feature on the Android app that will allow you to include/exclude applications.
CyberGhost vs ExpressVPN: which is more secure?
I’m glad to say that, security-wise, I’d recommend both ExpressVPN and CyberGhost without hesitation. However, we do need a winner, and ExpressVPN simply surpasses CyberGhost in multiple areas.
For example, it has been independently audited and its servers run on volatile memory (RAM), which makes it a safer choice for those who truly need a foolproof VPN
And while there are some raised eyebrows due to the report connecting ExpressVPN's Chief Information Officer Daniel Gericke to Project Raven. This project was responsible for the UAE government hacking and tracking political opponents, journalists, and opposing parties.
But considering they are both owned by the same company and there's no direct connection between Project Raven and ExpressVPN, it's not enough to influence the overall decision.
Encryption and protocols
In addition to AES-256, ExpressVPN also lets you choose the ChaCha20/Poly1305 cipher when you use the Lightway protocol. This encryption is a bit lighter and works seamlessly with weaker devices.
In terms of tunneling protocols, ExpressVPN has more choices than CyberGhost. Here they are:
- Lightway. A lightweight in-house protocol that offers really fast connection speeds
- OpenVPN (UDP/TCP). A staple in the VPN industry, OpenVPN has two versions: UDP (the faster one) and TCP (the more stable variant). No matter which you choose, you’ll have top-level security
- IKEv2. A pretty fast protocol best suited for mobile users
- L2TP/IPsec. This is the poorest choice out of all the protocols offered by ExpressVPN. However, it’s still a good back-up option if the other protocols don’t work on your device
Even though CyberGhost gives you fewer protocols to choose from, they are all the good ones you’ll actually need:
- WireGuard. Considered one of the best (if not the best) tunneling protocols available today, WireGuard excels at both speed and security
- OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)
Keep in mind that if you leave the protocol toggle on Automatic, CyberGhost will choose a protocol that works best with your current connection.
The logging policy of ExpressVPN is pretty straightforward. The company claims to not collect any activity logs like browsing history and DNS queries. However, it does collect some info about the general use of the VPN, such as data on successful VPN connections. Luckily, this is completely optional and you can opt-out anytime.
It’s also worth mentioning that ExpressVPN’s no-logs policy was independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, proving its legitimacy.
Now, CyberGhost is also a no-log VPN. It has stated that it doesn’t collect your connection logs or info about your online activity. Unfortunately, unlike ExpressVPN, CyberGhost hasn’t been independently audited yet.
When it comes to jurisdiction, both VPNs seem to have chosen a good location. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, a privacy-friendly territory, while CyberGhost is based in Romania, which doesn’t belong to the 14-Eyes Alliance and has good privacy protection laws.
There are many situations when a good kill switch is the only thing that saves you from exposing your real IP address. That’s because it disconnects you from the internet when the VPN connection is compromised, successfully protecting your identity.
Luckily, both VPN services have one. The kill switch of ExpressVPN (which is called Network Lock) is highly configurable and works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android devices.
Meanwhile, the kill switch of CyberGhost is available only on its desktop clients and doesn’t have any configuration options.
When it comes to privacy, ExpressVPN takes a step further by introducing its TrustedServer technology. Basically, it means that all the VPN’s servers are run on RAM, getting completely wiped out every time they are powered off and on. In other words, there’s no way to store user logs.
When choosing a VPN, the selection of countries is a pretty big deal - especially if you need servers from countries other than the US and the UK. And once again, neither of our competitors will disappoint you.
Let’s start with ExpressVPN. This service offers 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, covering most of the areas of the world including South America, Asia, and Africa. In comparison to CyberGhost, ExpressVPN gives you a wider choice in Europe and Asia Pacific.
|Middle East & Africa||5||12|
Now, CyberGhost VPN has twice as many servers as ExpressVPN (6,100+) but its country selection is a bit lower, as it lets you pick between 89 countries. Nevertheless, CyberGhost has better coverage in the Middle East and Africa.
It's a draw, mainly because the country selection is similar, whereas CyberGhost's huge server list doesn't result in superior connection speeds.
Platforms, interface, and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software/devices||Android TV, Fire devices, routers||Only manual setup|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox|
Even though both VPN services offer great applications, I prefer ExpressVPN in this category. It’s much more versatile, as it offers native apps for routers, smart TVs, and other devices. Also, CyberGhost’s Linux app is far from a good one.
The Windows and Mac applications of ExpressVPN are nearly identical. The design is a bit simplistic but there are a lot of features and configuration options. Even though there’s no map, it’s not difficult to choose the desired location.
ExpressVPN also has a Linux application, which supports the Lighway protocol and shares a lot of functionality with the Windows app. We weren’t able to find any bugs in any of the ExpressVPN applications during our testing.
When it comes to CyberGhost, it took a totally different approach design-wise. Its desktop apps look much more modern, intuitive, and inviting thanks to the colors and layout. Interestingly, the macOS version of CyberGhost is a bit more feature-rich.
Unfortunately, CyberGhost’s Linux application could use some more time in development. It is difficult to install and even more difficult to use because of constant crashing.
If you’ve seen one ExpressVPN application, you’ve seen them all: aside from being a bit taller, the Android and iOS apps look just like their desktop counterparts. However, keep in mind that there are some differences in functionality: the iOS application lacks a few features like split tunneling and a kill switch.
Now, both mobile apps of CyberGhost are great. They are a bit more simple than the desktop applications, but they perform a bit better, as we found no bugs during testing. The main difference is the choice of tunneling protocols: the Android version supports OpenVPN and WireGuard, while the iOS application uses WireGuard and IKEv2.
Plans and pricing
It seems that no matter which service ExpressVPN is competing against, it always loses in the category of pricing. And it comes as no surprise: its lowest possible price (for a yearly subscription) has stayed at $8.32/month for quite some time.
In contrast, the same yearly plan of CyberGhost costs $3.99 a month. It can go even lower to a mere $2.25 a month if you consider a three-year commitment. In addition, CyberGhost offers 7 simultaneous connections while ExpressVPN gives you five.
|1-year||$8.32/month + 3 months||$3.99/month|
|Check pricing||Check pricing|
When it comes to getting back what you paid, ExpressVPN gives you the standard 30-day money-back guarantee. The situation is a bit different with CyberGhost: its monthly subscription has a 14-day money-back guarantee, while all the other plans give you 45 days to make up your mind about the service.
Also, let’s not forget that CyberGhost has a one-day trial version, for which you don’t even need to provide your credit card details. All of this makes CyberGhost a true winner in this category.
In my eyes, rude or incompetent customer support can ruin even the best VPN service. Luckily, that’s not the case with ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. I’ve contacted the support of both VPNs (via live chat) and got really helpful and polite responses.
In addition to a live chat, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN offer extensive knowledge bases with FAQs, troubleshooting, and instructions for configuration. You can also write an email to the support team of ExpressVPN.
Which is better: CyberGhost or ExpressVPN?
|Ease of use||✔️||❌|
CyberGhost vs. ExpressVPN matchup is a clash of priorities. If money is the least of your concerns, it's quite obvious that ExpressVPN is the one you should get. It offers better speeds and more tunneling protocols, unblocks more streaming sites, and has an independently-audited no-logs policy. CyberGhost has a weaker suite, but it's cheaper.
Even though it doesn’t keep up with ExpressVPN in certain areas, CyberGhost s actually a really strong VPN service that deserves a lot of recognition. This can be a good pick if you're on a tight budget, too.
Is CyberGhost better than ExpressVPN?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Even though ExpressVPN is objectively better than CyberGhost in quite a few areas, you might see the latter as the better choice if you need such features as an ad-blocker and specialized servers.
Is CyberGhost VPN good for gaming?
Yes. In fact, it offers specialized servers for gaming that will provide you with great speeds.
Is ExpressVPN worth the money?
Yes. It’s a great all-round VPN that will satisfy both beginners and advanced users alike. It’s easy to use, offers lots of features, has a ton of applications for different devices, and unblocks the majority of streaming platforms.
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