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CyberGhost was founded in 2011 in Bucharest, Romania and specializes in providing users with the necessary security and anonymization options that current day internet behavior requires. More than 20 million people across the world use CyberGhost, a number that grows every day since the company counts as one of the leading VPN providers today.
CyberGhost is more than just a VPN service; the company is a protagonist for internet anonymity and a ‘major supporter and promoter of civil rights, a free society and an uncensored internet culture’, which is reflected in their perception of privacy: as a basic human right. CyberGhost’s employee base consists of more than 45 professionals divided over teams in Romania and Germany. CyberGhost 7, the newest and most advanced version of the VPN service – was just released: perfect timing for a CyberGhost VPN review.
Although more and more people begin to understand the need for online privacy protection and a high level of internet security, CyberGhost goes the extra mile and explains on the homepage of their website in simple terminology why you need a VPN. It protects your personal info, it frees the internet of restricted services and blocked sites, it safeguards you when you make use of public WiFi connections, and it saves you money by hiding your IP address.
Obviously, there is more to it, but these arguments are irrefutable and will actually make sense to a large number of people – especially the point about saving money. People will be people, and where there’s a penny to be earned, they suddenly pay close attention. Smart move by CyberGhost.
During our research on VPN services, we’ve identified five key criteria for you to consider when choosing a VPN service: 1. Main security features 2. Resource consumption 3. Connection stability 4. Platforms/Devices accessibility 5. Value for money. Our reviews will examine each VPN service in accordance with how well it delivers on these five criteria.
How CyberGhost meets the 5 criteria?
1. Main Security Features
CyberGhost takes the concept of internet security very seriously, that much is clear when we read the info presented on the corporate website. This certainly builds confidence with potential users, but how is this attitude reflected in the product itself?
The 256-bit AES encryption CyberGhost offers its users is one of the most secure encryption methods available, used in most modern encryption algorithms, protocols and technologies. AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption uses symmetric cryptography (the same key is used for data encryption and decryption) and offers a level of security high enough for the American NSA (National Security Agency) to approve its use for the encryption of top secret information.
For most users, it will be convenient to let CyberGhost decide which type of connection to use. If you set the VPN protocol option to ‘Automatic selection’, CyberGhost will automatically detect and select the most fitting protocol for your network connection. If you prefer making your own choice, you can. CyberGhost offers three protocols to choose from: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP – each with their own advantages and disadvantages, although OpenVPN is generally considered to be the best available option. The OpenVPN type connection comes with the extra option of choosing between a UDP or TCP protocol. By default, the faster UDP option is active, but you can change this for the sake of the TCP protocol, which provides a more reliable connection but can result in a decrease of bandwidth and speed.
The OpenVPN protocol comes with an extra advantage: it automatically tests a wide range of ports to connect to, which opens up the option to use CyberGhost in airports and hotels, where internet traffic is usually limited to HTTP(S) connections. This feature is activated by default.
DNS Leak Protection
The same setting applies to the DNS Leak Protection feature, which increases privacy protection and reliability to a maximum while the VPN is connected by making use of CyberGhost’s own nameservers, of which there is 3,000 spread over 60 countries all over the world. The number is growing rapidly as CyberGhost continues to add more servers to further improve its service and connection options.
Additional CyberGhost features
Based on the OpenVPN protocol (Windows, Mac OS, and Android), CyberGhost offers a variety of additional features that add value to the product:
- One Click profiles: CyberGhost offers users VPN access through any of its 3,000 available servers, but part of their server park is specially allocated to specific purposes. Besides the general use, they offer special servers to connect to when using torrent sites and the same for when using streaming services. For each of these purposes, connecting to the VPN is just one click away.
- Fast server change: changing from one server to another is easy, you just click on the new server you want to connect to and that’s it – the system will move you straight from one to the other connection.
- SecureConnect: prevents others to hitchhike on your secure connection by establishing routes parallel to the encrypted tunnel.
- SecureDisconnect (Kill-switch): the automatically engaged Kill-switch option will immediately disconnect you from the internet to prevents data leaks when the VPN connection fails.
- Ad blocker: no more ads, banners, pop-ups, and video ads.
- Site blocker: filter and block malicious, harmful content.
- Tracker blocker: prevents tracking and storing your online behavior.
- HTTPS redirect: CyberGhost can force your connection to HTTPS to browse with the highest level of security.
- Data compression: images and other elements are automatically compressed to reduce internet usage and costs.
CyberGhost offers you the option to dictate default actions for a few VPN settings:
- Auto-connect on startup: instantly connects you when turning on the VPN
- You can set the default behavior for when a new WiFi network (open or encrypted) comes available.
- Add a list of trusted WiFi networks that you would like CyberGhost to secure when you connect.
CyberGhost employs a strict ‘No Logs’ policy. Although log-files do serve a valuable purpose and can be of help in debugging processes, CyberGhost ranks its users’ safety and security higher in importance than other variables and therefore do not track anyone’s Internet activity. When connected to a CyberGhost VPN Server, your internet behavior is completely invisible to anyone else, and cannot be tracked even after you cut the VPN connection.
2. Resource Consumption
CyberGhost, when running and connected, does not need a big chunk of your PC’s resources to perform its service. CPU load stays basically the same, regardless of the VPN status (on or off).
Up- and download speeds are on average (based on the results of three different testing platforms (speedtest.net, meter.net, and fast.com) a bit lower with an active VPN connection: 32.9 Mbps vs. 28.0 Mbps for the download speed and 33.55 Mbps vs. 31.55 Mbps for the upload speed. Not a huge difference, hardly noticeable – if at all – when browsing the internet, but running the VPN does affect the up- and download speed. The registered PING value with an active VPN connection is low at approx. 6 ms, which indicates a fast connection, and the related jitter value of 0.1 ms hints at an extremely stable connection.
3. Connection Stability
The stability of a VPN connection depends on a variety of potentially relevant factors: device influence, mobile network influence, wireless network influence, the distance between VPN server & device, distance (server) + extra distance (content). Obviously, some of those factors (device influence, wireless network, mobile network), can influence the performance of the VPN service, but don’t say anything about the performance itself; they provide the necessary framework for the VPN to provide its service.
CyberGhost VPN has a very extensive network of servers available for its users: a total of close to 3,000 servers, divided over currently 60 countries, is available for users to benefit from. With such a large network of servers, it is almost always possible to find a server close to your physical location. Not just that, you will have plenty of different servers to choose from so you can connect to one that is furthest from being overloaded with users.
Connecting to a server close by will keep latency low and the connection stable. This doesn’t mean your VPN connection to a server far away cannot be stable, but in general, it is preferential for the connection stability to choose a server in close proximity.
The jitter score we noted during the speed test already indicated a very high level of connection stability, and after testing different server locations located in different parts of the world we can safely that CyberGhost offers users a network that excels in stability. The Kill-switch was never activated and performance never dropped to a questionable level, regardless of the server we connected to.
4. Platforms/Devices Accessibility
CyberGhost is available for all the main platforms & devices: Windows and Mac OS for PCs and laptops, and for Android and iOS on mobile devices. With those, the majority of users will be adequately served, but CyberGhost also offers dedicated clients for less widely used platforms such as Linux, Raspberry Pi/ Raspbian, and Chrome OS. Additionally, you can also run CyberGhost on Android TV (an Android version designed for digital media players), Amazon Fire TV (a digital media player developed by Amazon) and Fire TV Stick (a stripped down version in the shape of an HDMI plug-in stick).
The apps are free for download, but can only be used for free for a trial period of 1 day before you need to upgrade to a paid plan. For the desktop version of the software, the trial period covers 7 days, after which you need to purchase a subscription to continue using the product.
You can install CyberGhost VPN on as much as 7 different devices.
5. Value for Money?
CyberGhost offers a very extensive set of features that people can use to safeguard their identity, and a formidable network of servers to help accommodate this. However, and this is very important, CyberGhost focuses first and foremost on the core features of its product and never falls back on the many extras to cover up flaws in the main areas. Even for inexperienced users, the tool is very easy to use. The only thing they really need to do is to connect to a server to activate the VPN. Specific settings can be changed, turned on or off and returned to default values, but that is of secondary importance. Your protection starts with activating the VPN with the main on/ off button. That is what keeps you safe.
The connections CyberGhost offers are very stable, and failures don’t happen often. It is good to know that, in case a failure should occur, the service offers the Kill-switch option, activated by default, to make sure your personal info is never compromised. If you set CyberGhost VPN to start when you start your PC and set it to automatically connect upon startup, you will always be connected to the VPN when online.
Dedicated servers for specific purposes
As a rule, you can connect to any server you want, all 3,000 of them are at your service if needed. However, some of CyberGhost’s servers are set up for very specific purposes. If you’re mostly using the VPN to download content from torrent sites, you can connect to any of the servers that are dedicated to this goal.
Streaming series and other visual content are one of the people’s favorite pass times nowadays, it seems. Aside from the fact that using a VPN service will make content available to you, even if it is originally not available to you due to your location, CyberGhost has part of its enormous server park set up to accommodate streaming content from various sources (Netflix, YouTube, et cetera).
CyberGhost makes it easy for people that use a VPN service mainly to protect their online safety and not to disclose specific content restricted to certain geographic areas to connect to the “Best server location”. Seeing the amount of available CyberGhost servers, this is a very convenient option that will save you the time of going through long lists of servers to connect to.
CyberGhost provides a very high-quality service, consisting of the highest available encryption, a set of versatile and useful features, a large network of servers and locations and a high level of connection stability – without a doubt great value for money.
A VPN service is a fairly basic product, even when it comes with a lot of features and extras, as is the case with CyberGhost. Users don’t have to know all the ins & outs of the product, they need to know what it does in essence, which is providing online safety at the click of a button. CyberGhost understand this perfectly, and makes sure to cater to the common user. The most basic act, turning on the VPN, is at the core of the service. Users can push the button and never have to look at the console again if they want.
The group of users that really want to dig into a product and what it has to offer, are not at all sidelined with CyberGhost VPN. On the contrary, they will have very little trouble finding all the options and settings they can adjust and optimize for their specific needs.
In case they do run into problems or have trouble finding the settings they want to adjust, CyberGhost offers a large base of guides (divided into categories based on the different platforms they service) on their website, an easy to navigate FAQ section and a troubleshooting option. Any problem a user might run into will surely be covered by (one of) these supporting channels.
Plans & Pricing
CyberGhost discontinued its free plan in 2017 due to “overall service improvements”, and instead offers a 7-day free trial period for anyone interested in trying the service (and a 1-day trial period for the CyberGhost mobile apps). If you’re inclined to purchase the product after the trial period ends, you can choose from several plans. The product features don’t change, they are as extensive in any capacity.
The difference lies in the length of the subscription you choose. The longer you sign up for, the lower the monthly costs. On its website, CyberGhost offers three plans:
- A one month plan, priced at $11.99 (includes a 14-day money-back guarantee).
- A 6 months plan, priced at $29.94 – or $4.99 per month (includes a 45-day money-back guarantee)
- An 18 months plan, priced at $49.50 – or $2.75 per month (includes a 45-day money-back guarantee).
If you’re in need of assistance when you encounter problems with CyberGhost’s VPN service, you have plenty of options. First of all, the Help function is always accessible in the right lower corner of the site. The Help section in the main menu at the top opens the dedicated support channel of the site, which offers a large variety of Guides, an extensive FAQ section, a Troubleshooting option and a section for special service related Announcements.
The bottom menu contains a whole “Support & Help” section offering the already mentioned FAQ & Help sections, but additionally also ways to reach the support team directly, either by opening a support ticket or by using the chat functionality.