One of the most well-known VPN service providers in our crosshairs is CyberGhost, so we had to give it the attention it deserved by writing, as we did for other services too, an honest review about its capabilities after we test the service thoroughly.
We mentioned on our website that we try to be fair whenever we handpick the VPN provider we’re going to focus on in our articles, but the order we pick them in should have little to no influence how high we place them in our ranks.
Read the following article to find out how well CyberGhost VPN did in our tests, what should you expect from it and how can it protect your data from the prying eyes of third-parties that want to seize it.
First thing first, CyberGhost was founded in the year of 2011 by a team that consisted of 55 members in Bucharest, Romania. It has a remarkable number of users; on their website, they claim an outstanding amount of more than twenty million users are relying on their privacy protection services as we speak.
Currently, we noticed that the number of team members that are currently involved in the well-being of the project and development as well is 69; two crew members are canine, but we’re not sure whether they fall into the 69 or not. They all have strong IT backgrounds and are based in Romania and Germany as well.
The German members are mostly responsible for software development. According to CyberGhost’s website, they strongly support civil rights and are fighting for a free society as well as an uncensored Internet culture. Also, they were the first ones in the industry to publish a transparency report.
It is of utmost importance to specify that CyberGhost is under Romanian jurisdiction. Romania is outside of 14 Eyes, therefore your data (if any of it were recorded in the first place) will not be shared with or sold to any intelligence agency from other countries that are part of the agreement.
“CyberGhost has an unequivocal company policy: the strongest observance of data protection and uncompromising protection of the user privacy. Therefore, when using the CyberGhost VPN, the user’s traffic data such as browsing history, traffic destination, data content and search preferences are not monitored, recorded, logged or stored by the Company. More than this, when using the CyberGhost VPN, we are not storing connection logs, meaning that we don’t have any logs tied to your IP address, connection timestamp or session duration.”
However, that shouldn’t bother you at all, since it’s the kind of data that’s mostly required for other paid services you might be using. For instance, they collect data that’s related to your account, such as a name, an address, an email address, a username as well as payment details.
Just to make things clear, when you subscribe to their services, you offer these data bits voluntarily to CyberGhost. This information is required for account administration, customer support and depending on your preferences, newsletter, and promos.
Your personal data (the bits we mentioned above) might be shared with trusted vendors and subsidiaries and possibly disclosed if it is required by law or if it is needed to prevent a crime or the violation of the Terms of Service.
We mentioned above that CyberGhost were the first ones in the industry to publish a transparency report that consisted of various information, meant to show everyone the requests that have been made to the company regarding certain privacy claims.
The requests are grouped in three major categories so that you can access them in a quicker, more intuitive way. The categories are DMCA, Malware Activity and Police requests.
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaints are usually related to law firms that represent companies such as Sony Pictures, Paramount and similar other ones. They indicate that some copyrighted materials have been shared via CyberGhost IP addresses.
The Malware Activity complaints are received from parties who detect attacks from CyberGhost IP addresses or receive spams from them. Such attacks or spam examples are automated emails, DDoS attacks, Botnets, scams, and even log-in attempts.
Last in this list is the police requests, which are quite self-explanatory. Law enforcement agencies send requests for IPs that are linked to various investigations. Such complaints are often received by data centers and sent to CyberGhost.
If you want to learn more about these reports and even perform a bit of research on your own, you can easily access and download them from here.
Intro to the CyberGhost VPN service
Unlike other similar services, CyberGhost doesn’t have VPN included in its name in order to make a statement. The name itself is quite catchy and pretty suggestive, so that including “VPN” in the description of the service is redundant, if not entirely pointless.
At a first look on their website, the features they encompass in this VPN service are an automatic killswitch (we’ll discuss it later), high speed (to be decided), unlimited bandwidth, over 3000 servers, DNS and IP leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption, as well as OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec and PPTP protocols.
The service can be used on various devices, including Windows computers (desktops and laptops alike), Android devices, MacOS, iPhones, iPads, but also Linux and other devices such as routers can be used with CyberGhost.
It is a popular trend that has caught up to a lot of privacy protection services to add various extra features to the application so that users can customize the way their connection acts whenever they use it.
In this scenario, CyberGhost is no exception, as it provides the end users with a bunch of additional features next to the ones that are absolutely vital to the VPN services it offers.
The first one we’re going to discuss is the “Block Ads” feature that can be activated from the “Connection features” section in the side menu of the app. As you probably already guessed, this tool is designed to filter intrusive ads from ruining your browsing experience. As a result, web pages might load faster, your connection can be more secure since malware is often distributed by ad services and, on mobile data connections, it might actually save you some money (less content to load = less data used).
The second and third ones fall in the same spectrum as the first, since they’re meant to help you block malicious websites and online tracking. There’s no need to get into details since they’re pretty self-explanatory.
The “Automated HTTPS Redirect” feature switches to HTTPS whenever you’re browsing if the target website supports it. This adds more security to your online activity, since using encrypted HTTPS is definitely more secure than the unencrypted HTTP alternative.
Last, but not least, “Data Compression” reduces traffic by compressing web content and images. The benefit of using such an option is strictly money-saving because, as mentioned above, less content to load equals to fewer data transferred.
Register first, get the app after
The title is speaking for itself, meaning that in order to download CyberGhost to your computer (assuming it’s a Windows computer you’re trying to install this application on) you have to register an account beforehand and purchase a subscription plan from here.
After you do that, you can simply scroll to the bottom of the page wherever you might be on their website and navigate to any of the links from the “Apps” category or use the “The Apps” combo menu at the top of the page, which lets you access the software components depending on the device you’re interested in.
After you select the device you want to deploy CyberGhost on, you’ll see two fairly large buttons on the page: one that redirects you to a buy page and another that lets you retrieve the application on your device. Some devices lack download links but there’s an App Store or Google Play link that you can use. For the moment, there’s a 7-day trial for iOS devices and a 1-day trial for Android devices.
For some devices such as the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV you won’t receive direct download links. Instead, you’re presented with instructions on how you can deploy the application on the devices specified above.
The power of the dashboard
Once you register a CyberGhost account, you can log into it and be redirected to your personal dashboard, which is a place where you can perform several account management operations.
Once you’re there, you’ll be able to access an overview of your account, which includes details about the plan type, the number of active devices and the amount of maximum devices that can be used from the same account.
On the left side of the window, you’ll see the various categories through which you can navigate by simply clicking them. The “My Devices” section enables you to see the number of devices you’ve associated CyberGhost with, along with some extra details about each, such as the platform you’re using it on and the date you added that specific device.
If you want to add, edit or remove any of the devices, simply click one of the icons at the bottom of the page, according to your needs.
Installing the app
In this review, we’re gonna talk about deploying this VPN service on a Windows computer (our trustworthy laptop), since installing it on other devices can be pretty specific and a broad range of VPN users have Windows as their operating system. However, you can install this service on any device you want, as long as you can find it among the supported ones on their website.
It is worth mentioning that CyberGhost provides you with support for up to seven devices that can use its VPN services at the same time, without any restrictions.
So here we go: the setup process is not complicated, can be accomplished by virtually any user that might attempt to do so, since the lack of advanced configuration steps and its built-in wizard make installing it a breeze.
After launching the setup file, you have to grant it Administrator rights to run as it should, then accept the Terms and Conditions, which consist of General Business Terms for CyberGhostVPN Service and the Service description and prices of CyberGhost VPN.
The setup then proceeds automatically, without requiring any additional assistance on your side. Even the TAP driver that needs to be available on your computer gets deployed automatically. In terms of setup intuitiveness and user-friendliness, CyberGhost ranks high. The version we’ve installed on our computer is 18.104.22.16848.
Using CyberGhost for the first time
Well, you’ve installed it, now it’s time to actually put this bad boy to work. After the setup process has completed, the app is launched automatically and displayed in the bottom-right corner of your screen, spawning its main window from the depths of the system tray.
It doesn’t feel intrusive at all since you can minimize its interface to tray, forget that it’s there and continue your work. I almost forgot; when you first launch the application, you’ll be asked to log in your account by typing the required username and password.
After taking all these steps, you’re finally free to start protecting your privacy. Here’s what you can do: either press the big power button in the center of the main screen (you’ll be connected to the best server location) or choose the server first and then press the button. Your choice.
An attempt at multiple usage modes
As you might’ve discovered with other similar applications, certain VPN service providers get very creative when it comes to new ways of making the VPNs more accessible and even more attractive.
One of these ways is tailoring the service according to the user profile or, more important, letting users customize their experience based on what activity they plan on having online at a certain moment.
CyberGhost also tries to provide users with this type of service, but the list of activities is quite short: you can adapt your online security to streaming and torrenting by choosing the servers from the designated categories.
Doing so can be accomplished easily by extending the main window (use the double-arrow button), selecting the “For torrenting” or “For streaming” categories and then picking a server from those list as you see fit. Although it’s a good thing they offer this service, a little more variety wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Keeping it simple is the key sometimes
Unlike other VPNs, CyberGhost doesn’t rely on complicated configuration sections and doesn’t give you the chance to break the app by making the wrong adjustments.
The app keeps it really simple. However, if you’re unsure about modifying some of the parameters, it would be better to either leaving them as they are or at least do some research before attempting to tamper with them.
In the side menu, you can access the connection features that we’ve talked about earlier. These can be easily used since all you have to do is toggle them on or off.
The next big thing you’ll notice is the “Smart rules” section that’s divided into three smaller categories: “Startup Rules,” “Wi-Fi Protection” and “Exceptions.” The first one lets you adjust startup behavior such as launching the app on system startup, automatically connect and also launch another app after CyberGhost establishes a connection.
The “Wi-Fi Protection” category lets you set actions for new encrypted and open Wi-Fi connections, as well as for known ones. Finally, the “Exceptions” tab enables you to exclude certain websites from the VPN tunnel. However, you should be aware that if you do that, CyberGhost will switch to OpenVPN as the default protocol.
The actual configuration section
Although the ones we talked about are still settings that can be configured, the real “Settings” menu can be accessed from the same side menu, only way lower than the other ones. Actually, it’s at the bottom of the menu.
You’ll probably be (pleasantly) surprised to notice that this menu is minimalistic, as in you’re not presented with a huge variety of options you can configure. It is only possible to adjust general settings and parameters that are tightly related to your connection.
In the first category, you can only change the default language, see the version of the app and reset all settings to their default value. It’s nice to see that you can always revert to the way things were in case something gets damaged somehow.
The “Connection” tab is where things get a bit more real, but not too real. Here it’s possible that you can choose your favorite VPN protocol, or just leave it on auto mode, use TCP instead of UDP, use a random port to connect, enable the DNS leak protection, disable the IPv6 connections when connected to the VPN and even repair the virtual network card.
Most of the settings can be used by simply enabling or disabling them as you see fit, but there are some cases where you need to use a combo menu to select your favorite value. Either way, things are heavily simplified so that you can enjoy your VPN protection without even acknowledging the clockworks.
The mighty list of servers you can use
Alright, maybe CyberGhost might not have the strongest game when it comes to servers, locations and the like, but, according to their website, they are constantly expanding their server park so that it includes more and more servers.
Unlike other services (most of them so far), CyberGhost doesn’t organize their servers by region but lets you see them all together on their “Servers Overview” section on the website. In this moment, they cover 59 countries with 3636 servers that are online.
Albania – 10
Argentina – 10
Austria – 69
Australia – 52
Bosnia and Herzegovina – 10
Belgium – 76
Bulgaria – 10
Brazil – 10
Belarus – 10
Canada – 160
Switzerland – 103
Chile – 10
Colombia – 4
Costa Rica – 10
Cyprus – 10
Czech Republic – 40
Germany – 598
Denmark – 42
Estonia – 10
Spain – 63
Finland – 22
France – 324
United Kingdom – 420
Greece – 12
Hong Kong – 24
Croatia – 10
Hungary – 20
Indonesia – 8
Ireland – 19
Israel – 8
India – 20
Iceland – 10
Italy – 92
Japan – 32
Kenya – 10
South Korea – 7
Lithuania – 19
Latvia – 12
Moldova – 10
Macedonia – 10
Mexico – 20
Malaysia – 10
Netherlands – 110
Norway – 30
New Zealand – 10
Pakistan – 10
Poland – 60
Portugal – 10
Romania – 70
Serbia – 11
Sweden – 74
Singapore – 36
Slovenia – 10
Slovakia – 10
Thailand – 9
Taiwan – 10
Ukraine – 64
United States – 686
South Africa – 10
While the list is not among the top players regarding the number or servers or locations covered, you are highly encouraged to send them feedback regarding missing countries and the reason why you think they should be added to that list. How they treat their feedback is a whole other part of the story.
Also, it is worth mentioning that on their website, they display the total number of users who are connected to their services at the same time. If you want to get more into detail, you can view a detailed list of servers for each country along with the number of users who are connected to each one of them.
Unlocking various services with CyberGhost
As stated before, CyberGhost offers a multi-usage mode that you can turn to in case you want to simplify the way you’re using this VPN service. What this mode does is letting you choose an action so that it can select the best server for that situation.
Numerous services can be unlocked by this VPN provider and all you have to do is simply select a server and connect to it. Depending on the country you chose, some services might suddenly become available for you or the other way around if you choose a location that’s subjected to censorship.
Furthermore, you can use CyberGhost to access a wide variety of streaming services. All you have to do is open the side menu from the main window of the app. On the left side of the screen, you’ll be able to see the list of usage modes that’s been mentioned above.
From there, all you have to do in order to access your favorite streaming service is to navigate to the “For Streaming” section, then choose a server from the extensive list. You can even add servers to your list of favorites so that you can access them much faster whenever needed.
You’ll notice that each server is, in fact, a location and under the location name you’ll see an “Optimized for x” description, where “x” can be a streaming service, including but not limited to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Crunchyroll, ZDF, Globo, YouTube Red, BBC Two, Fox Sport, Canal +, Comedy Central, Channel 4, NBC, Pandora, CBS, Spotify, Telegram, RTL, MTV, Amazon Prime, BBC One, SkyGo, ORF, and Player.pl.
The Privacy Hub
Recently, the team behind this project has released an extensive collection of security-related articles, a knowledge base if you want, called the CyberGhost Privacy Hub.
It’s more of an attempt to educate VPN users, rookies and professionals alike, but also let them keep in touch with the latest developments in cyber security and keep up-to-date with the most recent changes in the product they’re using (i.e. CyberGhost).
The categories that can be browsed include “Privacy & Security,” “Access Web Content,” “VPN & Freedom” and “Product Updates.” You can subscribe to their newsletter from the same page.
Preparing the tests and tools
Not one single VPN service ever will receive special treatment regarding our tests, because we value honesty and transparency, and we need to keep you informed of the potential risks you’re subjecting yourself to whenever you decide to use one VPN service over another one.
Whenever testing a VPN service, we’re taking two things into consideration: “Is it safe?” and “Is it fast?”, specifically in that order. We believe that no matter how fast a VPN service is, if it’s not secure and your data leaks, it is pointless to use it in the first place, since the main purpose of a VPN is to provide you with online privacy and security.
Therefore, we’re going to focus more on the security side of things a great deal, then see what can be done about the speed. It’s only fair that way.
It is worth mentioning that the tools we’re going to use for CyberGhost are the same as the ones we’re using for other services as well. Security-wise, we rely on the IPX website and regarding speed we decided that the fast.com service that Netflix has to offer has the most accurate results.
We highly encourage you to bring your own results into play. If you’re a CyberGhost user and want to see if our results are accurate, please check our results and compare them to yours. More so, leave us your feedback regarding the matter.
Freshly baked security test results
Alright, it hasn’t been long now, but the test results just got in! As we use to, we’re going to post our results so that you can analyze them and even compare them to yours. You can access them here.
Now to dissect them a bit: the IP address has been successfully spoofed and our location has been changed to Germany, as you can see on the results page. Our latitude and longitude values have been changed accordingly and even our ISP has been replaced to one within the Frankfurt region. Our domain name is now m247.com and the IP type has been modified to non-residential (data center).
This was unusual for us, but the IPv6 geolocation displayed spoofed information instead of showing nothing at all. However, that’s not a bad thing at all! Our DNS displayed two different values, one for a Germany server and one for a Belgium one.
The overall result of these security tests is a positive one: CyberGhost is capable of keeping your stuff private by preventing any solid leak from happening on their watch. Kudos for that.
Speed test results
We’ve covered security, now let’s see how high CyberGhost can rank in a speed test. As before, we’re going to choose a bunch of servers and run speed tests on each one, then compare them to one another.
Distance is a very important parameter when we’re talking about connection speed, so we will try to pick servers that are not exactly close to each other.
Therefore, we have these results:
Germany – Frankfurt – 6.1 Mbps;
United States – 858 Kbps;
Hong Kong – 1.2 Mbps;
Brazil – 473 Kbps;
Australia – 1.03 Mbps;
Canada – 2.97 Mbps;
South Africa – 398 Kbps.
We have encountered a bunch of issues with some of the servers whenever we attempted to switch. Some of them got fixed by themselves, some required us to use the “Repair virtual network card” feature in the “Settings” menu, while others didn’t work at all. Uh-oh.
The issues were that there was no Internet connectivity on certain servers, which is a huge issue for us and any user who might prefer using some server over another one. So, it turns out that not only speed but also connectivity is also of utmost importance whenever testing VPN services.
Free trial: a ray of light
A big plus for this VPN service provider is that, unlike its competitors, it offers you a trial to test its services before deciding to purchase a subscription plan that you can use long-term. For the moment, there’s a 7-day trial for iOS devices and a 1-day trial for Android devices.
More so, if you’re not entirely satisfied of what CyberGhost has to offer you after you’ve already paid for a subscription plan, it is possible to get your money back, since they offer you a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Most competitors offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and no trial. In this position, CyberGhost is clearly in a dominant position, as they offer a reasonable trial time and an extended money-back guarantee time period.
All about the money
Now that we’ve covered the trial and how can you get your money back in case you’re not convinced about their services, it is time to discuss the subscription plans we’ve so much mentioned earlier.
The most popular plan in the series is a three-year plan that gets 89.99$ billed every three years. Therefore, if you wanted to calculate the monthly costs of using CyberGhost, you would only pay 2.5$ per month.
The plans are as follows:
- A monthly plan that charges you 12.99$ per month;
- A yearly plan that charges you 71.88$ every 12 months or 5.99$ per month;
- A 2 years plan that charges you 88.56$ once every 2 years or 3.69$ per month;
- A 3 years plan that charges you 99$ once every 3 years or 2.75$ per month;
If you prefer to pay using EUR, then here are the plans:
- A monthly plan that charges you 11.99€ per month;
- A yearly plan that charges you 5.29€ per month or 63.48€ every 12 months;
- A 2 years plan that charges you 3.29€ per month or 78.96€ every 2 years;
- A 3 years plan that charges you 2.45€ per month or 88€ every 3 years;
The last plans come with 81% discounts. It is also worth mentioning that all the plans benefit from the 45-day money-back guarantee except the monthly plan. The monthly plan only comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, mainly because the standard 45-day guarantee would be greater than the duration of the plan you choose, so that makes sense.
The importance of using a paid VPN service
Some people believe that using a free service, regardless of what profile that service is, should be a common practice. In some fields, that might be a perfectly valid point. However, with VPN and other security-related solutions such as antivirus or firewalls, relying on a paid solution is of vital importance.
You may ask yourself why and we will briefly explain you. Being a VPN service provider involves that you have multiple servers in various locations that you need to administrate as efficiently as possible. Customer support is also necessary if you want to earn popularity and respect among other players in the industry.
Some VPNs offer their services freely but don’t be fooled into thinking that their revenue is zero: they just don’t charge you directly for using their services. Their revenues are mostly based on advertisements or selling your data to whoever bids the highest amount. And we all know that more often than not, advertisements come with malware.
So it’s pretty much your choice whether you want your data to reach unwanted hands or protect it as much as possible by sparing a modest amount of money every once in a while.
On an end note
To wrap things up, we found CyberGhost to be a VPN application that can be installed easily on your Windows computer (and probably other devices as well), configured without stressing yourself too much and used just as easily, thanks to its minimalistic interface and highly intuitive controls.
Regarding speed and reliability; the application didn’t score high among other VPN services since it yielded fairly slow speed values on various servers. Switching servers also gave us some headache, since some connections needed the “Repair virtual network card” feature, while some of them didn’t work at all.
Their subscription plans aren’t expensive at all, especially if you opt for a bigger one, which comes with a huge discount, and, on top of that, you also get a seven-day trial along with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
+ Can be easily installed on the target device; (5)
+ No leaks during our security tests; (5)
+ 45-day money-back guarantee; (5)
+ Trial period; (4)
+ Non-expensive subscription plans; (4)
+ Zero-logging policy reinforced by Romanian jurisdiction; (5)
– Some connections can be unstable; (2)
CyberGhost receives a 4.28/5 rating.