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Finding the right VPN shouldn’t require getting a degree in cybersecurity, should it? I don’t think so either. As concerns about security and privacy continue to rise, more and more people are turning to VPNs, so it’s about time that somebody made it possible for each and every one of us to find a VPN that is perfect for us. In this review of CyberGhost, I’m going to take it for a spin, answer all of your security questions, and see whether CyberGhost is really worth your time and money. For the next few minutes, you can call me the “CyberGhostbuster.”
I was excited about reviewing this one. I had used CyberGhost many years ago, and I was curious to see just how much had changed. I created an account, downloaded the app, and was ready to give the free trial a chance – or so I thought. It seems that I missed the fact that the free trial only works if you create your account in the app rather than on the website. This didn’t ruin my entire CyberGhost experience, but it’s something that you should keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for a free trial.
This little free trial incident was, as it so happens, the worst part of my CyberGhost experience. If you are still with me after that tale, prepare for some happier news. The default settings for CyberGhost were good enough to get me up and running in just a few minutes. I didn’t feel like I needed to dig into any forums or phone a friend in IT — I had everything I needed right at my fingertips. Clearly, this is by design: Cyberghost tries to be as simple and user-friendly as possible, and it generally succeeds. It reminded me a bit of TunnelBear and ExpressVPN, two other services we've reviewed that put simplicity high on their list of priorities.
That was all on my macOS laptop. Just to be sure, I installed CyberGhost on an iPhone, a Windows laptop, and — the ultimate challenge — an Amazon Fire TV stick. I was able to use all of these devices at once because I had a paid CyberGhost account; if you choose to use the free trial instead, you’ll be able to use just one device at a time. I’m pleased to report that the installation process was just as easy on each of those devices. The apps differ slightly, but they are all very easy to use. The macOS and iPhone apps required setting up a VPN profile, but that just meant a couple of extra clicks.
CyberGhost had passed my initial tests. Aside from the free trial confusion, CyberGhost was somewhere between harmless and pleasant thus far. But none of that would matter if I couldn’t get anything done with CyberGhost — which brings us to our next test.
As a cord cutter, I love to stream movies and TV shows. I’m also a big fan of VPNs, so I know from experience that VPNs and streaming services don’t always get along. Some of the best streaming services routinely block VPNs to prevent streamers from getting access to content not available in their home region. This means that those of us who want to be both entertained and secure are caught in the middle of an ever-evolving arms race.
I tried out CyberGhost with Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. Finding a suitable server was made surprisingly simple by the “for streaming” section of CyberGhost’s server selection list. The default Netflix options worked and quickly gave me access to content from several different countries, including the UK, Germany, and the Philippines. Most importantly to me, I gained the ability to watch Modern Family. After I watched a few episodes of Phil Dunphy’s shenanigans, I made a similar attempt with Amazon Prime Video.
While I was able to watch U.S. content on Amazon Prime Video while on the VPN, I was not able to access anything from outside of my region. While this was disappointing, at least my connection was secure and I could connect through any number of servers while streaming. DIsney+ was slightly more disappointing. I tried over a dozen different servers in 4 countries, but Disney+ only worked while connecting through a server in my home country.
Since I already started namedropping countries, I should point out that CyberGhost has over 6,000 servers spread across 88 countries. This may not be the largest number of any VPN provider, but it’s substantial. When one of your UK servers is blocked on Netflix, it’s good to know that there are a few hundred others to choose from. This includes, as I mentioned previously, servers optimized specifically for several streaming services.
If you are more interested in torrenting or P2P file sharing, CyberGhost is also a great option. Right above the list of servers optimized for streaming, you’ll find servers optimized for downloading, including via torrent and P2P file sharing.
CyberGhost will never win an award for the most customizable VPN — it’s more focused on being straightforward and user-friendly. However, the service does have a few extra features that are worth mentioning. CyberGhost has options to block ads, malicious websites, and online tracking. They also let you automatically redirect to secure versions of websites. These are all nice to have if you care about privacy and security as much as I do — and I’m willing to bet that you do, since you are reading a VPN review! Lastly, CyberGhost has an option to compress images and other content to save on data usage. You could certainly get each of these from other apps or browser plugins, but isn’t it nice to have them all in one spot?
CyberGhost does give you some options on security protocols, but it does not include any that aren’t highly secure. On most devices they only let you choose between IKEv2 and WireGuard. OpenVPN is also available on some devices, particularly those running Windows. Don’t worry if these names mean nothing to you — just know that they are all high-quality options that you should feel safe with. If for whatever reason you need to switch between these options, it’s good to know that they have not included any lower-quality protocols.
When it comes to privacy, one of the most important questions you should ask is where your VPN company is headquartered. Being in Romania, CyberGhost is in a prime position to offer a privacy-first product. If you’ve been digging around privacy forums, you’ve probably seen the terms 5-eyes, 9-eyes, or 14-eyes. Sadly, that is not a point system for video game monsters. Rather, these are alliances of countries that can force companies to share certain user data upon request. Romania is not in any of these alliances, so there is no one forcing Romanian companies to share your user data.
I did raise an eyebrow when I saw the identity of CyberGhost’s parent company: Kape Technologies. They have a bit of a shady past, having been involved in adware scandals several years ago when operating under a different name. However, experts generally agree that the company has improved dramatically in recent years. CyberGhost limits the user data that they store, and they don’t keep any IP addresses, session durations, or other particularly egregious information. The data they do store is mostly anonymized or aggregated.
From a privacy and security standpoint, the only other concerning factor is that CyberGhost does not seem to have undergone a third-party audit since 2012. Unfortunately, this is fairly common in the VPN world. TunnelBear is one of the few companies that submit to an annual third-party audit.
Have you ever used a VPN that was so slow that it felt like being back with your 56k modem? Hopefully, I didn’t lose too many of the younger readers with that reference. What I’m trying to say is that VPNs can be slow due to the way that they re-route your internet traffic. I tested out CyberGhost with Ookla’s Speedtest to see what kind of speeds I was getting. I tried a few different servers, including the fastest option and some of the download- and streaming-optimized servers.
I was getting download and upload speeds of around 40 Mbps and 50 Mbps without the VPN. When I connected to the fastest server option these speeds didn’t change to any noticeable extent. As I tried servers in other countries, I found that the upload speed was very consistent, but the download speeds would sometimes drop as low as 15 Mbps. The slowest servers were bad enough to keep me from streaming content without buffering problems. Fortunately, I never had to deal with those: I found plenty of servers in most countries that offered virtually no slowdown at all.
CyberGhost supports all the common mobile devices (iOS, Android) as well as PC, Mac, and Linux desktop and laptops. They are available on a wide range of streaming platforms, smart TVs, video game systems, and even on Raspberry Pi. I don’t imagine you’ll have any problem finding a way to use CyberGhost on all of your devices.
CyberGhost’s monthly plan has you paying $12.99 per month. That puts them at the high end of the typical price range for a consumer VPN, but things change when you pay in advance. If you opt for their annual plan, you’ll instead be paying $47.88 ($3.99 per month). Paying for 2 years in advance will run you $83.76 ($3.49 per month). Finally, if you purchase 3 years and 3 months in advance it costs $87.75 ($2.25 per month). That’s a lot of money to shell out at once, but it drops the equivalent monthly price down to one of the lowest I’ve ever seen for a VPN.
Regardless of which CyberGhost pricing plan you choose, it will work on up to seven devices at once, which is at the upper range of the device limit most VPN services offer.
CyberGhost is all about balance. In particular, its balance of speed, customizability, and ease of use makes it a compelling option for beginner and intermediate VPN users alike. The ability to power seven devices at once doesn’t hurt either. If you are the type of person that mostly just wants your VPN to work, but likes having a few switches to toggle when it doesn’t, CyberGhost is probably for you.
I’d particularly recommend CyberGhost to anyone that is willing to make a commitment and buy one of their multi-year plans. CyberGhost has been one of the best VPNs in the world for over a decade, so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you want to pay month-to-month, be prepared to spend a bit extra.
If you are ready to take CyberGhost for a spin, go for it. Their free trial may vary from device to device, but all of their plans have an impressively long money-back guarantee: 14 days for the monthly plan and 45 days for all other plans. That should give you plenty of time to figure out whether you want a CyberGhost in your machine.