CyberGhost is the Romanian and Germany-based German giant that provides comprehensive VPN services to more than 15 million users.
CyberGhost VPN has 6700+ servers in 110+ locations in 90 countries. That’s a lot more than most of the competition.
Torrents are allowed on many, though not all, servers, and the company offers custom clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.
CyberGhost VPN supports connecting up to seven devices simultaneously. That’s a little better than some (even premium ExpressVPN only supports five), but keep in mind that these have to be specific devices. Connect from a phone, game console or smart TV just once and that’s one of your used slots. If you run out of slots later, you can log out of individual devices, but this quickly becomes tedious. (Though not as annoying as KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, where you can only free up one device slot per week.)
Elsewhere, a web knowledge base is available if needed, while chat and email support are on hand to help you with any particularly tricky bits.
Additional goodies include dedicated IP addresses. Sign up for it for an extra $5 a month and you’ll get the same IP address, unique to you, every time you log into the service.
Dedicated IP addresses allow you to access IP-restricted networks, handy if you need to access a business system while connected to a VPN. They also reduce the chance of you getting banned from streaming and other platforms because their reputation hasn’t been ruined by other people’s bad behavior.
The catch? Dedicated IP addresses allow other sites to recognize you because you will have the same IP address every time you visit. Fortunately, CyberGhost allows you to switch between dedicated and dynamic IPs as needed, so you can easily use dedicated IPs where needed and dynamic for everything else (more on that later).
The big CyberGhost news since our last review is that WireGuard is out of beta and available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
CyberGhost now offers its own CyberGhost Security Suite for Windows, also a combination of Intego-powered antivirus, update software, and Privacy Guard to optimize your Windows and app privacy settings. It’s an interesting idea, but we don’t have space to cover it here – keep an eye out for our upcoming review.
You can pay for your CyberGhost plan using PayPal, Bitcoin or credit card.
CyberGhost: plans and prices
Signing up for CyberGhost VPN’s monthly account costs $12.99 per month, on top of the industry standard $10-$13.
As usual, extending your subscription saves you money. Prices drop to $3.99 on the annual plan, $3.49 for two years, or just $2.25 if you sign up for three years, with three free months included.
It’s a bit of an odd pricing structure, as the two-year plan costs $83.76 up front, while the three-year offering is only fractionally more expensive at $87.75 (seems obvious what they’re hoping you’ll buy).
It’s also better value than most, although there are a handful of providers with deals in the same range. HideMyAss! asks $2.99 per month for its three-year plan, for example; Private Internet Access charges $2.69 for the first term of its two-year plan, $2.91 upon renewal; and Ivasi still outbids everyone with five years of service for only $80, or $1.33 per month.
Upgrading to CyberGhost Security Suite adds from $5.99 per month billed monthly to $1.39 for the three-year plan.
Whichever deal you choose, you can pay via Bitcoin as well as PayPal and credit card.
While CyberGhost’s free trial is useful, waiting in a long queue to test the service is less than ideal
There’s even a free trial. It’s short though, just 24 hours for a desktop build (7 days on mobile), so only run it when you’re pretty sure you’ll have free time to run whatever tests you need.
If you sign up and then find the service isn’t working for you, there’s more good news: The company has a long 45-day money-back guarantee (14 days for monthly billed plans), one of the most generous deals around.
Registration and Privacy
Like many VPNs, CyberGhost’s website proudly boasts a “strict no-logs policy” on its front page.
“Furthermore, when we use CyberGhost VPN, we do NOT keep connection logs, which means I DO NOT have any logs related to your IP address, timestamp, or session duration.”
For customers who are unsure of the technical details, the policy goes on to state the implications.
“We do NOT know at any time which user has ever accessed a particular website or service.”
“We do NOT know which user was connected to our CyberGhost VPN service at any time or which CyberGhost VPN server IP address they used.”
“We do NOT know the original IP address set of the user’s computer.”
If you need more, will CyberGhost save you? No!’ support document adds some additional details.
The company backs this up to some extent with a Transparency Report where it lists the DMCA, police and other requests it receives, and goes on to say: “As we are based in Bucharest and have no obligation under Romanian law to retain data, we can comply with our strict no logs policy. This means that we are unable to comply with requests, even if they are legally binding. “
While this is welcome, the reality is that these are just words on a website and there is no way for an individual user to know how the service actually works. Some VPN providers (NordVPN, VyprVPN) deal with this by conducting independent audits of their systems, and hopefully CyberGhost and the rest of the industry will soon follow suit.
In the meantime, we can run at least some basic privacy checks by using sites like IPLeak.net and DNS Leak Test to look for DNS and other privacy leaks.
None of the tests revealed any problems, and an issue we found during a recent review – connecting from the UK to New York and being given a US IP but a UK DNS address – has been fixed. Wherever we connected, we now got a DNS IP address from that country, just as we expected.
CyberGhost deserves some privacy for its app design as well. Like many providers, its apps can capture anonymous data to understand how it’s used. But unlike some competitors (hello, NordVPN), CyberGhost doesn’t just leave this on by default: the Windows app installer clearly explains what it’s doing during setup, and you can opt out of the scheme with one click.
We measured CyberGhost speeds from locations in the US and UK using several performance testing sites and services (SpeedTest website and command-line app, TestMy.net, Netflix’ Fast.com, etc.) We check download speeds at least five times from each site, then check again using another protocol before doing it all over again in an evening session.
UK OpenVPN downloads reach a fast 250-400Mbps. This is a very solid result and comparable to recent results from providers such as Hotspot Shield (360-380Mbps), Ivacy (330-390Mbps), TorGuard (350-375Mbps) and TunnelBear (290-370Mbps).
Turning to WireGuard gave us higher peak speeds but less consistency, with a range of 120-500Mbps.
Performance in the US was slightly lower, ranging from 90-150Mbps for OpenVPN and 90-160Mbps, to 350-450Mbps for WireGuard connections.
Those aren’t bad numbers, but we’ve seen better results elsewhere. Our top US OpenVPN performers include ExpressVPN (270-280Mbps), HideMyAss! (300-330Mbps), ProtonVPN (280-290Mbps) and TorGuard (270-300Mbps). The best US WireGuard speeds come from StrongVPN (590-600Mbps) and TorGuard (410-480Mbps), although ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol can beat them, at least in some cases, with 490-630Mbps.
Sometimes it’s interesting to look at the worst case download speed as well, so we also ran checks on our farthest server and the one CyberGhost determined to be the fastest.
The CyberGhost client identified New Zealand as the further location from the UK, with the distance to the server being around 11,400 miles. We connected from a UK connection with normal non-VPN speeds of around 70Mbps and saw a small drop to around 60Mbps.
The most congested server during the review was Mexico at 91%. International and busy? We’d expect this to be slower, but average download speeds actually hit 55Mbps.
CyberGhost managed to unblock US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ in our tests.
Netflix and streaming
Unblocking Netflix with VPNs and similar sites can be a challenge, even with the best services. So it’s good to see CyberGhost trying to address this by providing specialized locations that support certain streaming platforms.
When we selected the streaming filter in our Windows client, for example, we saw recommended locations for US Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube TV, and more, along with other dedicated streaming service servers in Canada, France, Germany, Finland , Poland, Brazil and others.
We started our tests by connecting to the BBC iPlayer location, but then found that we couldn’t access any other internet resource. Similar issues in our last review suggest this is a long-term problem. We tried the regular UK connection and could access the iPlayer site, but it wouldn’t let us stream content.
There was more weirdness with the US Netflix site, which prompted us to sign in, then complained that our password was incorrect. Netflix or account problem? Apparently not: it disappeared when we disconnected, and it didn’t appear when we tried to unblock Netflix with ExpressVPN immediately afterwards.
We switched from our browser to the Netflix app and this time we streamed US content without difficulty. There’s clearly a problem here, but since it doesn’t appear to be location-related, we’re treating this test as passed.
There were no headaches with Amazon Prime, where CyberGhost got us access right away. And it was the same story with Disney+ where we had no streaming issues at all.
CyberGhost’s ongoing problems with iPlayer are annoying, but otherwise the service did well in unblocking our test sites, and note that it also supports many other platforms from around the world.
CyberGhost hides your IP to protect you while torrenting.
CyberGhost does not support P2P in all locations, as a website page explains:
“We have to block P2P protocols on certain servers, either for strategic reasons (this is traffic that unnecessarily slows down the traffic of other users) or for legal reasons in countries where we are forced by providers to block torrent traffic, including the US, Russia, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. “
Fortunately, you don’t have to try to remember which places support P2P. CyberGhost’s apps include a “To Torrent” list with your options. And there seems to be a lot; our Windows app lists 59 P2P friendly countries; more than most VPN providers support in total.
We tested this by connecting to three P2P-friendly locations and successfully torrented from each without any connection or other issues.
Handy bonus features in the Windows app’s settings box include the ability to automatically connect your preferred CyberGhost connection when you launch your torrent client (more on that later).
Sourcing torrents from more questionable sites can sometimes leave you vulnerable to attack, but CyberGhost’s malicious URL filter, another welcome addition, can help you avoid a lot of trouble.
CyberGhost goes out of its way to make sure the setup process is as easy as possible, and for the most part, it’s very successful.
Clicking on the trial link on the website quickly downloaded the small Windows installer. We accepted the terms and conditions, entered our email address and password, and after clicking the usual “please verify your address” link in a follow-up email, that was it. We were ready to go with no payment or other details required.
It’s almost the same story with mobile apps. The CyberGhost site connects you to each app store and you download and install the apps as usual
CyberGhost provides explanations of its various features to help you get started
If you need the OpenVPN configuration files to set up a router or other device, your life becomes significantly more complicated. While other VPN providers usually give you a bunch of standard .OVPN files to download, CyberGhost asks you to go through the following lengthy process: Sign in to your account; add a device profile; choose the features you need (ad blocking, data compression, malware protection, more); choose OpenVPN TCP or UDP; select the destination country; record server name, username and password; and download the .OVPN file, certificates and key files in a ZIP file.
If you want to set up multiple locations, you should also rename each .OVPN file to something appropriate.
This approach has some advantages – it’s secure and gives you a high level of control over how each connection works – but if you’re just hoping to download the 89 standard OpenVPN configuration files, prepare for disappointment. There is a lot of setup work.
The CyberGhost client for Windows opens with a clean, lightweight interface: a simple console with connection status, a list of locations, and a Connect button.
Don’t be fooled – there are many functions in the right panel that you can open when you need. Select location lists all servers, along with their distance and current load. You can filter this to show servers optimized for streaming or torrenting, and the Favorites system makes it easy to build your own user list.
Right-clicking on CyberGhost’s system tray icon also shows all available servers, with sub-menus for torrenting, streaming and your favourites. You can choose to select, toggle, and close connections without ever having to deal with the main client interface.
Connections are generally fast and work as expected, with one problem: there are no notifications to let you know when you’re connecting or disconnecting.
We noticed some missing settings. In particular, data compression and HTTP-to-HTTPS redirection have been dropped in the latest CyberGhost 8 apps. This will be bad news if you’ve been using them, but otherwise it’s not a big loss. In our experience, data compression hasn’t made a measurable difference in performance, and you’ll get better HTTPS redirection than something like HTTPS Everywhere.
CyberGhost still includes a filter to block ads, trackers, and malicious websites, but we’re not sure what value it really brings.
When we turned on the ad blocker and accessed an advertised British newspaper site, for example, our browser made 671 requests, downloaded 5MB of content, and took 43 seconds to fully load.
When we disabled CyberGhost’s ad blocker and switched to uBlock Origin, the same page made 156 requests, transferred 469KB of data, and loaded in 3 seconds.
CyberGhost’s smart panel gives you a lot of control over how its Windows client functions.
The Smart Rules panel is much more useful and gives you an unusual level of control over the client’s performance. Most VPNs have an option to launch, for example, when Windows starts, but CyberGhost also allows you to connect to your preferred server and automatically launch a specific application, such as your default incognito browser.
There’s even more flexibility in the Wi-Fi Protection panel, where CyberGhost lets you decide exactly what happens when you connect to new networks. You can have the client automatically connect to the VPN if the network is insecure for example; never connect if encrypted; perform custom actions for specific networks (always protect at home, never protect at work) or simply ask you what to do.
The surprises continue everywhere you look. App Protection can automatically connect you to a specific VPN location when you open an app, for example. There’s no need to remember to enable a VPN before using your torrent client – just let CyberGhost do it for you.
There’s another nice touch in the exclusions feature, where you can create a list of websites that won’t be tunneled through. If a streaming site is only available to users in your country, add it to CyberGhost’s exclusions and it will never be blocked, no matter which VPN location you use.
If that sounds too complicated and maybe you’re just after the VPN basics, no problem; all of which can be safely ignored. You’ll never even see it unless you go looking. But if you want to refine the service, optimize it according to your needs, CyberGhost gives you a combination of options and capabilities that you will rarely see elsewhere.
Elsewhere, the Settings box lets you choose your preferred protocol (OpenVPN, IKEv2, and now WireGuard), use random ports to connect (which can bypass some VPN blocks), and enable or disable a kill switch, IPV6 connections, and DNS leakage protection.
CyberGhost now displays a warning when you try to turn off the kill switch or DNS leak protection.
Some of them don’t quite work as expected. Try to turn off the kill switch or DNS leak protection, and the app warns that you’re unable to do so “to protect your privacy and security.” We’re not sure about that. Yes, it’s good that VPN newbies can’t accidentally weaken their security by playing around in Settings. But kill switches can cause weird network issues and conflicts, and we don’t like the idea that even if you know exactly what you’re doing and why, no you are able to turn this off.
Enabling and disabling issues aside, our tests have shown that the kill switch works very well. Whether we force closed an OpenVPN or IKEv2 connection, or even killed the openvpn.exe process entirely, the client noticed this, raised the alarm (albeit only in its own interface – still no notification) and automatically reconnected without ever we expose our real IPs. It’s a tough test, but CyberGhost passes it without difficulty.
Mobile VPN apps are often underpowered compared to their desktop cousins, but CyberGhost’s offering is surprisingly capable.
The interface opens with the usual very simple portrait interface, for example little more than a Connect button and the name of your chosen location. But switch to tablet-friendly landscape mode and you get the list of locations and the Connect button on the same screen, making it easy to find the server you need and get online.
You can have the app connect automatically when accessing unsecured wifi, and protocol support includes OpenVPN and WireGuard.
The app includes the ability for a desktop client to use a random port when connecting to a VPN, a simple trick that can help bypass VPN blocking.
Split tunneling is probably the most important, allowing you to decide which apps use a VPN and which don’t, with just a few clicks.
There’s also support for domain forwarding, a clever technique that bypasses some VPN blocks by routing key CyberGhost traffic through a content delivery network (CDN.) We haven’t tested this, but we’re happy to know it’s available (and curious why not included in the Windows client.)
You don’t get a kill switch, but that’s not a critical issue – you’ll just need to set up the kill switch at the Android system level.
The iOS app shares the same look and feel as the Windows and Android editions, and getting started is as easy as logging in, then tapping Connect to access your nearest location.
iOS VPN apps never match Android VPN apps for features, just because Apple’s security model doesn’t allow them the same control, but there are plenty of useful features here. For example, you can set the app to connect automatically when you access unsecured or specific networks; set your protocol to IKEv2 or WireGuard or run a connection tester to analyze your internet connectivity, see if CyberGhost’s VPN servers are reachable, and generally troubleshoot.
Overall, these aren’t the best mobile apps we’ve ever seen, for the most part they’re a likable and well-judged mix of power and ease of use. They also come with a 7-day trial, so it’s easy to check them out if you’re intrigued.
Dedicated IP system
CyberGhost now offers dedicated IP addresses for an additional $5 per month, dropping to $2.25 per month for the three-year plan. Hand over the money and you’ll get a unique IP address for your use only, reducing the chance of being blocked by other people’s bad behavior sites and allowing you to access IP-restricted business networks while using a VPN.
Sign up for the scheme and you can choose your preferred location from a short list: Montreal, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Manchester, Chicago and New York.
We selected New York and the website presented us with a token, a long text string (“DIP26mZCWKAQP3oKceFu8YLRaqlW6LrR”) that represented our IP. We put this in the Windows app and our dedicated IP became available from the location picker.
While this may sound like a hassle, there is a good reason for the scheme. CyberGhost does not associate an IP with our account, which ensures that it remains anonymous like a regular VPN IP address; the company has no way of linking any web action to a specific account.
This really leaves little room for problems. In particular, if you lose your IP token, there’s no way to get it back because CyberGhost doesn’t know what it was. But that’s no surprise, and the company does everything it can to help, such as automatically generating and downloading a plain text file containing your tag as soon as it’s distributed.
Once your new address is activated, it immediately appears in the Dedicated IP tab of CyberGhost’s location picker. You can select it when needed or browse the usual location lists when you need a dynamic IP.
It all worked smoothly and as advertised for us. Our shiny new IP was allocated quickly; it appears to be located in New York as we requested, and Cyren, BrightCloud, Talos and other IP reputation checks found it clean and blacklisted.
It’s a simple and straightforward system and very cheap for the three-year plan, but other VPNs also have decent dedicated IP schemes. Check out Private Internet Access ($5 billed monthly), NordVPN ($5.83 per month on annual plan), and PureVPN ($2.99 per month billed annually) for more options.
CyberGhost’s support starts with its web guides, where you’ll find tips for setting up the service on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Android, Linux, and more.
They do a good job of explaining key tasks, like installing the Windows app, with screenshots and helpful extra tips (like how to choose a strong password.)
However, it doesn’t have the depth or detail to match ExpressVPN, and we noticed that some of the documentation is out of date. For example, when we couldn’t find data compression in the latest apps, we checked the support site and found a page explaining how to set it up. This applied to the previous application, but was not clear from the text, which could easily confuse users.
You’ll need to choose the right keywords to find what you’re looking for in CyberGhost’s knowledge base The knowledge base search engine is also basic. It relies on you carefully choosing the best possible keyword (you’ll get very different search results for eg ‘speed’ and ‘performance’), and even if you do, the results don’t appear to be sorted by usefulness.
We were briefly impressed with a “Streaming Status” panel that tells us which streaming platforms are currently unavailable. Knowing that the information is available on the website can save you hours of manual trial and error. But clicking on the alert shows a generic “we’re aware of the situation” message and we’re actively working to resolve it. It wasn’t even dated, so there’s no way to know if it’s a brand new issue and you should wait, or if it’s been dragging on for two months and you should probably give up.
Still, there’s just about enough useful content here to help you with the basics. And failing that, you can also talk to a real, live human being, thankfully via email and live chat support.
We opened a live chat session and just a few minutes later a support agent was answering our question. Although we chose a slightly technical topic for generating OpenVPN configuration files, he immediately understood what we needed and clearly explained everything we needed to know.
CyberGhost’s support site may be questionable then, but that’s not the end of the story. If you’re having trouble, there’s a good chance live chat support will quickly point you in the right direction.
CyberGhost Review: Final Verdict
CyberGhost is a capable VPN service with a highly configurable Windows client, full of features but still easy to use. Mobile clients are a little more basic, but there’s still a lot to like here, from unblocking Netflix and iPlayer to low three-year prices and helpful live chat support.
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