CyberGhost is a name I’m sure you’ve come across if you’ve been doing any sort of article scans for VPN services. Based in Romania, the company is outside of Europe’s 14 Eyes jurisdiction and today administers over 3,000 servers in 60 countries around the world. If I’ve ever come across a VPN service provider that’s given me more mixed feelings it is this one. In short, skipping over critical flaws; good basic protection, decent speed but a bad idea for P2P fans. Learn more.
CyberGhost Review: 5 Pros and 3 Cons of Using CyberGhost!
August 15, 2019
CyberGhost is sort of in the middle of nowhere as far as recognition is concerned. It stands not on the well-known side, nor on the completely unrecognizable. It’s not a name that everyone would know, perhaps unless you’ve been doing some background research on VPNs specifically.
However, despite any perceptions that may be gained from that, the company has certainly grown since its inception in 2011 and today has as many servers as VPN giant Nord (who’s number of servers I certainly find impressive).
What We Like About CyberGhost
1. Massive Focus on Europe
With over 3,000 servers to choose from, one might think that would be enough to blanket the entire world in almost every country. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case as much of CyberGhost’s focus seems to be in the Europe area of operations. Although some of you might take that as being very limiting, I prefer to think of it as serving a specific (if large) market.
Unfortunately, this results in a bit of a conundrum where speeds are located. Later on, we’ll look at the variance in speed over different areas in more detail but suffice to say that depending on your location and the server you choose, you might get either awesome or -bleh- speeds.
1.1 Unique Security Features
There are, so many things that CyberGhost has here that I barely know where to start. For a VPN service provider, this company gives an impressive amount of ‘extras’ when it comes to security. Perhaps it lies in the roots of the company as a security provider which has led to this.
Let’s start with the one I had the most interest in, which is where the CyberGhost client can force HTTPS connections to websites. True, this might also be done via a browser plugin, but since you want to use a VPN service anyway, might was well have it all built into one, right?
To realise the usefulness of forced HTTPS, let’s assume you visit a banking website. A HTTPS connection will ensure that your data is secure all the way from your computer to your bank account.
Block Online Tracking
Next up is the fact that CyberGhost can remove web content that might be tracking your online activities. This prevents unknown sources from tracking you and is something all VPNs should be doing. Blocking online tracking is something that is very necessary today, since many companies are becoming more and more intrusive in their online data collection activities.
Take for example our friend Google, which decided it was ok to make its Android mobile operating system inform it of where users were all the time. Plus, Location tracking is not confined to Google alone, so why not have CyberGhost block as much of this data from going out as possible?
Ad Blocking and Virus Protection
CyberGhost is so well integrated that it even includes an Ad Blocker as well as Virus & Website protection. That keeps annoying ads from showing, as well as keeps you safe from potentially harmful content on some websites.
1.2 Strong Choice of Protocols and Encryption
For those who aren’t very much aware by now, VPNs main advantages are privacy and security. Privacy as in people not knowing who you are and what you’re doing. Security as in people can’t snoop on what you’re doing either. To establish security, what you need is two main components – the protocol itself and the encryption type.
CyberGhost has an advantage in that it supports almost all major protocols (even ones which I don’t really recommend using since they are so out of date, like L2TP). Likewise, they offer varying levels of encryption up to 256-bit, which is top-of-the-line. Think lots of stuff painted green that uses 256-bit encryption.
The point here is that the choice is in your hands. The protocols and encryption levels can be adjusted to your needs. Different protocols support different speeds and obviously the higher the encryption rate, the slower our VPN connection is likely to be (this is also to a big extent hardware dependant).
If all you want is for a VPN to spoof your IP and maintain minimal security, then you’re free to choose a low encryption level that will let you enjoy high speed connections. If you’re paranoid, well, CyberGhost can help you as well.
1.3 Optimized Profiled Servers for Various Usage
With as many as 3,000 servers clouding the CyberGhsot server pool, it’s quite obvious that there should be no problem choosing a connection, right? Well, not really. Imagine yourself sitting at a restaurant and a menu with 3,000 items comes to you.
Thankfully, the company profiles its servers carefully, meaning that there are pools of servers which are optimized for different purposes. How you choose from them is up to you. You can either have a list of your favourite locations or select from pre-sorted lists. This includes lists such as least crowded servers, NoSpy servers or even most crowded servers (although I have no idea why you’d want that).
Let’s say you’re a Torrent fan – this is a real pool of people who are in to P2P file sharing, so CyberGhost has set aside optimized servers just for them.
2. Multi-platform Support
For the home that has a Linux file server, a Windows PC, a Mac Computer as well as various smartphones and tablets, you’re in luck! CyberGhost supports up to 7 devices per account, which is by far one of the most generous I’ve seen so far. To be fair, I think that the average household today does indeed have these many devices at least, so it’s a reasonable number to support.
Many VPN service providers will cater for the usual spread – Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS and some routers. If you’ll notice form the list above, CyberGhost even is set for Raspberry Pi, some NAS devices and even on Virtual Machines!
It’s all about choice, and for the extent to which CyberGhost has gone to fill out this list, I was truly impressed.
Here I again must insert in a word of caution for those who think they can get over the X devices per account limit by throwing the VPN onto a router, since it’s supported.
Running a VPN service on your router will help you overcome the simultaneous device connection limit that most VPNs will impose. However, there IS a drawback. In almost all cases (especially for general home-use routers), doing so will slow your Internet traffic compared to if you were to run device-specific VPN apps. This is because routers are less capable of handling the data encryption needed in real-time, thus slowing your data transmission speeds.
3. Decent and Stable Speeds
While I am not able to say that CyberGhost offers blazing fast speeds, I must admit that some servers show a lot of potential. When going through the speed test results below, please note that my current broadband speed is limited to a theoretical 50Mbps. Most of the time I can get near or at least around 45Mbps, which is pretty good.
Any VPN is usually likely to shave off some bandwidth, so my expectation was that I could get an average 30-40 Mbps on average. This would of course be adjusted by the distance of the server to my physical location.
Testing CyberGhost with SpeedTest, which is very reliable, I found that speeds from across the globe varied greatly. What was even more surprising to me was that I got faster speeds from Singapore-based servers, rather than where I am in Malaysia. I can only assume that it is possibly due to infrastructure.
As a rule of thumb, expect to get higher ping rates and slower speeds the further away the server you select is from your actual location. This is usually true no matter what VPN service you choose.
At the time of testing, server loads (on those I ran tests on) were as follows;
- MY 23% load
- SG 50% load
- AU 50% load
- NL 37% load
- SA 27% load
- US 53% load
For video streaming, I find that usually UHD videos over YouTube are a good indicator since their servers are generally very stable. The video sample in UHD I ran was smooth and very, very nice. If you’d like to try it yourself, you can watch that same video anytime.
3.1 Good Flatline Speed on Torrents
The closest Torrent server that CyberGhost has to me is India, but I preferred Japan over that, which was next in line anyway. The speeds offered on this server were nothing to should about, but I managed very stable download rates throughout my torrent sessions.
To me, stability usually ranks above blazing fast speed when it comes to torrents. I am sure many of you have experienced the frustration of torrent speeds running up and down while you’re just trying to get THAT file!
At time of testing, the Japan server I connected to was operating on a 33% load.
Remember that I connected to this server specifically to torrent. A few VPN providers I’ve tried so far will allow this on where ever you connect to, but CyberGhost is quite strict about the matter. I tried torrenting on the Singapore server and it gave me a big, fat zero in download speed for torrents.
4. Priced Ideally for Those Seeking Long-term Plans
When I first saw their prices, I was a little shocked because I looked at the monthly price without contract first. At $12.99 per month on a one-month deal, that is priced against and even above some of what I consider top-tier VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
However, their 2-year plan cuts the price down dramatically. At $3.50 per month over two years, the pricing is simply awesome and hard to beat. I’ve also seen instances of special deals where that goes down to even lower rates, so make sure to look out for special discounts on CyberGhost.
45-day Money-back Guarantee!
If you’re one of those who likes to make sure to try before you buy, then you can relax, and rest assured with a 45-day money-back guarantee from CyberGhost. This isn’t in small print, it isn’t hidden in legalese, it’s right there on their FAQ page;
CyberGhost has a 45 days, no questions asked, refund policy for our 6 months or greater subscriptions. This ensures that no mistake purchases are made and aims to help with situations like customers not being able to use our services (for example when your ISP is blocking VPN connections).
*Monthly subscriptions have a 14 days money-back guarantee.
In fact, you can even try them out for free with a 7-day free trial, no strings attached.
5. Good for Streaming including Netflix
Again, this goes back to CyberGhost having very nicely profiled servers. They have finetuned those for video streaming as well, and Netflix is just one of the video streaming services they have thought of that you might like to access. Anyway, to access Netflix US, all you need to do is connect to one of their streaming-optimized US servers.
Let’s be honest here, Netflix doesn’t like geolocation spoofing. It does its best to kill services like this off, but CyberGhost isn’t having any of that and does in fact state that they guarantee Netflix US streaming.
For Windows users, the app actually includes an option to unblock streaming, which allows you to go wild with multiple streaming service providers. No manual trial and error, just click and go. The unlock is based on a list that is updated internally every single day by CyberGhost.
What We Didn’t Like About CyberGhost
1. Didn’t Work Out of the Box
While this may not be a deal breaker and certainly may not happen to everyone, I have to share my experience. I’m a big fan of plug and play, and the CyberGhost Windows Client was a bit of an oddity to me. Sure, it installed and started the application fine, but when I click go, it should … GO, right?
Mine didn’t, much to my despair and I had to figure out why. It didn’t take me long, but I realised that the default settings weren’t really a good match for me. I had to manually select my protocol and server before the CyberGhost Windows application decided to play nice.
As I said, not a deal breaker, but if your technical experience is limited, it might come across as a shock to you.
2. Dodgy Data Jurisdiction and Anonymity
This, well this is pretty much a biggie to me and it should be to everyone of you as well. During the course of my review, background research and so on, I found rather muddied water when it comes to the idea of whether I’m anonymous with CyberGhost or not.
While the company has an official no-logging policy, it at the same time was noted by some users to make use of scripts such as Hotjar (which is a session recording script). In fact, CyberGhost openly admits this on their own site, although it claims the information is used to serve its customers better.
Further, when I originally saw that CyberGhost was based in Romania, that was good. After all, that country is out of Europe’s 14 Eyes jurisdiction which is great. However, it was later on that I had found out that the owner in 2017 sold CyberGhost to an digital advertising firm called CrossRider.
Now, what would a digital advertising firm do with a VPN service provider that it needs to make use of session recording scripts for? The plot thickens and I for one feel a little wary about the matter.
3. Limited Payment Options
This again boils back to anonymity, because CyberGhost only accepts Credit Card, PayPal or BitPay. True, BitPay is used for BitCoin, but there are literally hundreds of cryptos out there and there is also always the option of cash in the form of gift cards, etc.
Why is a company that specialized in privacy, security and anonymity offering such limited payment options – options which will possibly expose the user’s details? I have no answer, although to me this isn’t as big an issue as the one I mentioned above.
The Bottomline: Will I Pay for CyberGhost?
Before I start my roundup, let me just state my personal position here. If I’m paying for and using a VPN, I expect a certain performance in terms of speed. I’m not too fussy about payment options and stuff like that and as far as anonymity goes, just borderline will do for me.
I have stated many good things about CyberGhost and yes, it is true that they offer many built-in extras that you probably won’t find elsewhere. As an even better hook, you can sign on for a long-term plan at which are practically rock bottom prices. Where the service really excels though, in my opinion, is how well they have optimized their servers.
Take as a case example the video streaming and torrent servers which I discussed earlier. If any of these niches is what you’re after, then I would say that CyberGhost is an absolutely great choice. For Torrent fans, video streamers, the geolocation hoppers…you should say yes.
However, there is a very big BUT, in my mind. That’s possibly what may put a nail in the coffin for CyberGhost for many people. Based on privacy and anonymity, there simply remains too much doubt and controversy around the information available for me to feel safe using CyberGhost.
While the claims by CyberGhost may seem legitimate enough for a normal company, I say that for a VPN service provider to be making use of these tactics is simply indefensible. So, take what you may for this – value and performance with the sacrifice of anonymity is your choice.
I find it hard to say either yes or no, so the decision must be made by your needs.
- ✓ Supports MANY Platforms
- ✓ Ad and Malware Blocking
- ✓ 256-bit Encryption
- ✓ Profiled Servers
- ✓ OpenVPN/SSTP/L2TP/IPsec
- ✓ Excellent Long Term Price Plans
- • Video Streaming Hogs
- • Those Not Fussy about Anonymity
- • P2P Fans
- • Niche Platform Device Owners