WHAT’S IN THIS REVIEW?
CyberGhost is a popular VPN service that leans heavily on a strong Trustpilot rating, as well as a massive array of server locations to get the job done. Based in Romania, they seem to be a great choice if you’re looking for a quality provider that will allow access to the majority of large streaming platforms around the world.
That’s a surface-level analysis, so we’ve done a deep dive to find out everything there is to know about the VPN, from it’s abilities to unblock streaming platforms, to how they came to be such a dominant force in the online security sector in the first place.
We’ve got the lowdown on the service, so here’s everything you could possibly need to know about CyberGhost in our exhaustive CyberGhost VPN review.
A virtual private network (VPN) will allow people to bypass geo-restrictions, while it’s a great tool for enhancing online privacy. With over 10 million users and the respect of many industry experts, CyberGhost is a true heavyweight provider.
You’ll see it topping lists regularly if you’re looking at VPN reviews, while they just keep on growing, as evidenced by the sheer number of server locations (6,234) they currently have on offer.
As one of the bigger providers, you’d expect a stellar service, and they do come up with the goods in a number of respects. However, there are a few minor issues that hold it back from achieving a higher score, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
CyberGhost VPN has been around since 2004, and it was originally owned by German tech entrepreneur Robert Knapp.
In 2017, the company was sold to Crossrider Limited, who are a London-based online distribution and digital product company from Israel. They rebranded to Kape Technologies PLC in March 2018, perhaps because of a number of stories that made headlines at the time. Crossrider was founded by an ex-Israeli surveillance agent and a billionaire who was previously convicted of insider trading, who was also named in the Panama Papers.
The company focused on developing software which worked to allow third-party developers to hijack users’ browsers via malware injection, redirecting traffic to advertisers while collecting as much personal data as possible. (It’s pretty unethical, especially from a user standpoint.)
CEO Ido Ehrlichman cited the rise of GDPR regulations in 2016, as well as mounting criticism of the ways in which companies like Facebook and Google use the data they gather on their platforms, and other websites as the reason for the switch in tack.
In a recent interview, he clarified: “We noticed that most large web security companies were based on a freeware model that forced them to monetize on user data and targeted ads to create revenue.”
Kape Technologies saw an opening for a strong premium VPN on the market that could use what they had learned as an online advertising company in the past. Thus, we have the current iteration of CyberGhost as we know it today.
It’s also a reason for the name change, as they actively try to get away from the idea that they’re in the advertising business, as opposed to online privacy. Knapp still remains in his role as CEO of CyberGhost.
Those aren’t really the best starting blocks for a company that will have access to a lot of your personal data, but there’s no evidence to suggest that they’re doing anything other than what they say they are.
Pros & Cons
Of course, no two VPNs are created equally, so we’ve identified some of the main pros and cons we found while using CyberGhost over the past week or so.
We haven’t mentioned everything you’ll find in the full review, but it’ll give you a better idea of exactly what the provider has to offer, as well as typical drawbacks you can expect.
CyberGhost has a range of additional features that help it to stand out in a crowded market, as well as a stellar reputation as a quality VPN provider. Here are some of the main perks you’ll find with the service.
- CyberGhost will unblock a variety of streaming platforms from all over the world, making it great for entertainment purposes
- Lots of additional features, such as ad blocking and data compression
- Native support for a number of online devices, and heaps of server locations in different continents
- A simple money-back guarantee, and it’s available at an affordable price for longer subscriptions
- Responsive on social media platforms, and they also have live chat facilities and email support
- NoSpy server location allows users to benefit from Romanian jurisdiction
- Intuitive apps, and it’s easy to set up and install
- CyberGhost also has dedicated servers for torrenting and downloading
Despite the many pros, there were a few issues that popped up along the way. Here’s a rundown of some of the main flaws we found during the testing phase.
- CyberGhost supports P2P sharing, and even have servers specifically to do so, but they state that; “downloading copyrighted content is illegal and an abuse of our service”
- Speeds are decent, but not especially fast compared to the very best on the market
- Is CyberGhost VPN free? We could only find a free trial version for one day, and it didn’t work when we attempted to redeem it
- Murky ownership, which is also UK-based (Five Eyes)
CyberGhost has a range of additional features which make it one of the better VPN providers if you’re hoping to get the best value for money. For example, they have a number of extra privacy layers, which are found by clicking the tab in the lower left corner of the desktop app.
You’ll be able to block ads, online tracking, and malicious websites from spamming your computer, while data compression (to minimise data usage) is another great feature that you won’t find with many other VPN providers.
I tested this out by heading over to a local news website, which fills their pages with every ad imaginable. CyberGhost wasn’t able to eliminate all of them, but it’s not bad for an extra feature that comes with no additional cost.
Another good feature is an automatic redirection to the most secure version of any website you visit, so you won’t have to worry about their security being compromised due to old certificates or outdated code.
Many VPNs have a ‘try it and see’ approach to unblocking streaming services. Instead, CyberGhost has servers which are specifically designed to bypass some of the bigger platforms, (such as U.S. Netflix and BBC iPlayer) and they’re updated regularly.
It has an automatic killswitch, which always comes in handy, and they have 24/7 customer support, via email or live chat. If you’re having network issues, you can use the app to analyse the connection, hopefully using it to troubleshoot any problems without having to get anyone else involved.
Our CyberGhost review scores highly when it comes to their feature-laden software, which helps to keep you safe and secure while you’re online. The same goes for their mobile apps, which offer similar protections on the go.
Their VPN is solid as it is, but the features do make it tempting if you’re looking for an all-in-one online security software package.
- 1 Month: $12.99 per month
- 12 Months: $3.99 per month
- 3 Years + 3 Months: $2.25 per month
CyberGhost has simplified subscription plans, and they’re aiming to hook you onto one of their longer offers with some great savings. The 12-month deal is fairly cheap, while their newest 3 years + 3 months plan works out to just $2.25 per month.
If you’re planning to use the VPN extensively, it does make sense to look at one of the longer offers, as the savings are substantial. As you can see, they offer deals fairly regularly, whether it be for a cheaper price, or giving away additional months for free. (Coming in at just under $50 for a year, it’s definitely a tempting offer.)
I grabbed a month for testing purposes, although they did try to push me towards the longer deal with a warning message before I could proceed; “The 3 Years + 3 Months plan includes the biggest savings and is fully refundable for 45 days.”
This brings me onto the next point. CyberGhost also has risk-free plans with a 45-day money-back guarantee for the longer plans, which is halved to 14 days for the monthly sub. It’s longer than most 30-day trials offered by other VPN providers, and it gives you ample time to test it out for yourself before committing. I’ve never heard of any issues in terms of getting money back for a sub, and you don’t have to give a reason why if you decide to leave.
Overall, it’s one of the cheapest premium VPNs on the market if you’re looking at the longer deal, and it seems like a bargain considering what’s offered.
CyberGhost also has a couple of extra online security options, of varying usefulness. The password manager could probably be replaced with a free version, such as the one provided by Google.
A dedicated IP address is a step up from a normal VPN connection, although you will have to pay $3.75 per month, which works out to more than the VPN itself with the longer plans.
Again, pricing is fair, although you will have to pay a premium if you only want the VPN for a month.
It would have been great if there was a trial version of some description, and I did manage to find one eventually after a bit of light Googling. It was only supposed to work for one day, but at least it gives users a chance to try before they buy.
I didn’t have to hand over any payment info, but I did have to make an account, and verify my email address before I was allowed to get started. However, I couldn’t actually test it, as I kept getting the following error message when I tried to confirm my email address:
“The confirmation link is not valid or already expired.”
I had left it for a day, but it was a shame that I wasn’t able to get the trial edition working. I’ve also heard about seven-day trials offered from time to time, but they’re given sparingly. At worst, you can use the money-back guarantee to give the VPN a test run, although it would be better if you didn’t have to hand over any payment information to do so.
Overall, CyberGhost’s new pricing does make it more competitive. It also offers a nice array of payment methods, from cryptocurrency to PayPal. Not all VPN services can say that.
CyberGhost has one of the stronger logging policies you’ll find, that is listed in plain English on their website. The important bit is as follows;
“When using the CyberGhost VPN, we have no idea about your traffic data such as browsing history, traffic destination, data content, and search preferences. These are NOT monitored, recorded, logged or stored by us.
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. We do NOT have any access to the credit card information you submitted to our payment processor and we DO NOT connect your payment or information with any kind of online activity done by you inside the CyberGhost VPN tunnel.”
OKAY. It’s pretty unequivocal, and it’s laid out in simple terms. They have no logs, and don’t keep any important data that can be used to identify their users.
They do record log-ins of accounts for statistical purposes, with the daily log-in data deleted after 24 hours. The reason they do so is to more accurately record the number of people they have using the service, although they have no idea about how they use it.
Being based in Romania is a bonus, but they also have ties to Israel, Germany, and the UK. It’s not ideal to be linked to the latter, especially as the UK is a member of the ‘five eyes’ intelligence alliance alongside Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
However, the jurisdiction is Romanian, which does make it stronger than many others overall.
Connection speeds are always important for any VPN user. As your connection is being routed through their servers, it’ll have a direct impact on the overall speeds you can achieve, so the faster the better!
Slower speeds will have an impact in terms of lag and buffering, and pages will take longer to load up. It’s not ideal if you’re planning to use the VPN for Zoom meetings, or you want to watch content while it works in the background. You’ll also have to deal with a higher ping, which isn’t great if you’re planning to use the VPN for tasks like online gaming.
In the first image, you’ll see average speeds with no VPN connected, for parity.
The second is with the VPN connected to CyberGhost’s U.S. servers, located in Maryland;
As you can see, speeds took a significant hit, coming in at under 50% compared to the norm. Meanwhile, ping was incredibly high, and was sure to see a laggy experience if used for gaming or anything particularly intensive. It’s quick enough to stream content, but it’s not impressive. (At least the VPN was working properly, showing my location as being somewhere in Elkridge.)
Finally, I decided to try out their optimised UK server, which should see good results in theory. After all, it’s only a few miles away from where I’m located, and it’s a physical server, rather than the virtual variety.
It’s not exactly optimal when compared to the speeds seen with no VPN, but it’s way above what is recommended for tasks like watching 4K videos. (For example, Netflix advises to have a consistent minimum download speed of at least 25 megabits per second, so it’s more than adequate.)
If you don’t have the fastest connection to begin with, you could see more of an impact than I did personally, which is why the money-back guarantee is so important.
The connection itself is fairly consistent, with no unexpected drop outs or major lag to be reported on. I left it on overnight to be sure, and it ended with 17 uninterrupted hours of usage. As long as your connection is stable, it’ll work without activating the killswitch for any unnecessary reasons.
I’m happy to report that CyberGhost has decent speeds, although they’re not exactly amazing in comparison to the very best you’ll find on the market.
However, they do make up for it with a long list of server locations, as we’ll discuss in detail below.
Server Locations & Network
CyberGhost has a massive server network, encompassing 90 countries worldwide. At the current time of writing, they have 111 different locations on offer, with 6,234 servers altogether.
That’s a ridiculous number compared to the average provider, and as you can see, they cover lots of smaller countries and regions too. (Some VPNs have just 20-100 server locations, so 6000+ is a massive amount.)
Of course, popular countries do receive more attention, but it’s a service that has a footprint in almost every region, including Africa, China, the Middle East, and South America. This is great for users who would prefer to connect to a location that isn’t as far away, to improve either speed or ping.
None of the servers were particularly overloaded during testing, although it will depend on the time of day, as well as other external factors.
You’ll be able to set up favourites to connect quickly, while you can see different tabs for downloading and streaming located on the top left corner of the image above.
You can also see how many users are on a server at any time, as well as the exact distance to the server from your current location. It’s a decent amount of info, and it all helps when selecting the right server.
Locations are much the same, with enough variety to suit the needs of most users.
It’s worth noting that some are of the virtual variety rather than being physically located in the region, such as their servers in China, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia. However, that’s understandable, and they can still be used to access local websites and services in the respective territories.
It’s hard to fault CyberGhost in this regard. Their server network is massive, and they’ve helpfully split them so you won’t have to start searching if you’re looking for a location to unblock a specific service.
Streaming & Torrenting
When it comes to streaming, CyberGhost is definitely one of the better providers on the market. Yes, they can unblock various versions of Netflix, which is pretty much always the first question people ask.
As well as Netflix, they have an extensive list of streaming websites they can access, which are as follows:
US streaming platforms:
- Amazon Prime US
- Netflix US (Android TV and Firestick)
- HBO Now
- YouTube Red
- Comedy Central
- Sling TV
- Youtube TV
UK streaming platforms:
- Netflix UK (Android TV and Firestick)
- BBC iPlayer
- Channel 4
International streaming platforms:
- Netflix FR
- Netflix DE
- Fox Sport
- Globo Sportv Brazil
- Radio France
- Netflix DE
- Zattoo DE
- Rai Play
- Disney+ IT
- Netflix Japan
So, what’s the secret behind their success? It’s the sheer number of server options, as well as the time and effort dedicated to bypassing geo-restrictions. Streaming services like Netflix will directly block an IP if it’s used too many times, which is why many VPN servers are useless after a while.
CyberGhost continually adds new locations to their ever-expanding network, so you can always reconnect to a new location if you do have any issues. It’s clear that CyberGhost is one of the better providers in terms of unblocking content, especially in smaller markets such as Germany, which aren’t shown enough love by most VPNs.
If they run into any issues, they just get more servers, as they engage in an endless game of cat and mouse with streaming services who are desperate to protect their IP rights.
Of course, the average user doesn’t care about international broadcasting agreements, while content can be region-locked, or might not be made available in different markets altogether.
CyberGhost goes above and beyond in this regard, although it’s unrealistic to expect the service to work flawlessly 100% of the time. We saw no issues with the various streaming platforms we tried during testing, although that probably won’t always be the case. However, CyberGhost will continue to get new servers for streaming, starting the process over again.
The bottom line is, if you just want to watch stuff, look no further than CyberGhost for your streaming needs.
Torrents and P2P
In terms of torrenting, only some CyberGhost servers are compatible. They explain that they have to block P2P protocols for certain servers either due to strategic or legal reasons. That doesn’t seem like a great start, but they do go on to explain their position in more detail.
For example, they might not want to slow down other users’ who are on the server, or they may have to comply with complex legalese in regions such as the U.S., Russia, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong, which sometimes forces CyberGhost to block torrent traffic.
You’ll be able to find a check mark next to a list of compatible P2P servers, or you can just check the ‘For downloading’ tab to be sure.
However, it’s worth mentioning that they state that “using CyberGhost for downloading copyrighted content is illegal and an abuse of our service”, so I’d bear that in mind before setting out to get the latest box sets or cracked releases.
It’s clear that they’re open to torrenting, as long as you’re not downloading outrageous amounts of copyrighted material. Again, it gets fairly high marks, and they’ve improved over recent years, as they continue to add more compatible server locations to the list.
A key aspect for many users is how a VPN deals with online censorship. It’s a great way to judge how they’ll react if they’re asked to hand over data, while it’s important if you live in a region that is affected by more invasive measures. If CyberGhost is the only thing that is stopping you from getting in serious trouble, you’ll need it to work perfectly 100% of the time.
First and foremost, any VPN should work to mask your location and your IP address for the duration of the time that you’re online, keeping you away from trackers, and other invasive measures.
Heavily marketed as a method to bypass online censorship, CyberGhost does have many of the tools you’ll need to stay safe while you’re online. The no-logs policy will come in handy here, as they only keep basic information that isn’t identifiable.
After all, according to their logging policy, they should have “no idea about your traffic data such as browsing history, traffic destination, data content, and search preferences”.
As their servers are based in Romania, you won’t have to worry about falling under a jurisdiction that could lead to further issues with relevant authorities. Of course, that’s only when using their special ‘NoSpy’ servers, which are based in a crowdfunded data center owned by CyberGhost. It was built with the clear objective of keeping users data safe from mass surveillance and third-party meddling.
They go on to clarify that; “Only the CyberGhost team can access, control and operate the NoSpy servers. This drastically reduces the risk of exposure and interference from external actors.”
Meanwhile, they also have a killswitch which definitely works as intended, giving me a couple of notifications that the connection had dropped, but only when I had restarted my computer each morning.
More recently, the Chinese government passed a controversial national security law for the region of Hong Kong, which caused a number of VPN providers to leave the market instantly. CyberGhost released a blog post at the time, reiterating that their Hong Kong servers will stay in place for the foreseeable future;
“Here at CyberGhost VPN, we’re keeping a close eye on the situation in Hong Kong. We’re worried about the effects this vexed national security law might have, and it’s more important than ever to make sure the people of Hong Kong have a VPN they can rely on.”
They take a strong stance in terms of online censorship, as evidenced by the service they continue to provide for users based in affected regions. They seem to be following through with their promises as a privacy advocate for the time being.
Platforms & Devices
CyberGhost is available on a range of different platforms and devices, with the regular subscription plan allowing for seven altogether. That’s reasonably generous, and you should be able to share it with a few family members if you’re aiming to get the best value for money.
They have typical desktop clients for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as native iOS and Android apps. CyberGhost will also work with selected Android TV’s and Amazon Fire TV, as well as on later iterations of Apple TV (3 and above) and Roku.
If you’d prefer to cut out the middleman, the following smart TV’s are compatible:
- LG SmartTV with webOS
- Samsung SmartTV with Tizen OS
You can install it on most game consoles, with support expected for upcoming releases later this year.
- PlayStation 3
- PlayStation 4
- Xbox One
- Xbox 360
- Nintendo Switch
- Nintendo Wii U
- Nintendo Wii
They have a web browser extension for both Chrome and Firefox, and they also offer a ‘Cookie Cleaner’ service for both of the browsers. This is a plugin that is designed to give you control of your online preferences, personal data, and private details. It’s another good feature, adding another small layer of privacy.
I had no problems whatsoever to report with either the Mac/iPhone versions of their software, with the apps running in the background with little to no input needed on my behalf.
Once again, CyberGhost has gone above and beyond compared to many other VPN providers, and it’s hard to fault them in terms of compatibility. Their device list is extensive, and the apps I tested were properly developed and worked as intended.
From smart TVs to routers, CyberGhost deserves plaudits for the way they’ve embraced a large number of devices. Most users will stick to either the desktop or mobile version, but it’s nice to have a choice.
Encryption & Security
Encryption is key in terms of security while you’re using a VPN. After all, what use is a strong logging policy if they can’t keep your data safe in the first place?
Is CyberGhost safe? The clue is in the name, and CyberGhost will work to obfuscate your connection as advertised. Their ‘military grade’ encryption is the same found with any other serious provider, using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys. It’s good enough for the likes of the NSA, and it’s near impossible to crack with currently known means.
It works regardless of the application you use and keeps you safe from tasks like Deep Packet Inspection. They note that “CyberGhost VPN allows the usage of nearly all Internet programs, regardless of its purposes and keeps your IP address reliable (sic) hidden while you surf, download or stream.”
They go on to state that the only exception is the sending of emails ‘to keep spammers out of the service’. That’s fair enough, although it is worth remembering if you need to send multiple personal messages via email.
In terms of the protocol, CyberGhost supports the following on Mac OS X, iOS, Windows, Linux and Android;
Most people will stick with the recommended settings, but once more, it’s better to have the choice just in case, and it will make a difference for some advanced users.
It’s a decent selection, and encryption is easily handled in the background. It’s another aspect that earns the VPN high scores, while they release a Transparency Report every three months to detail the number of requests for data they get from various authorities around the globe.
The December 2019 report shows they had 46,420 requests overall in Q4, with 22,352 relating to DMCA requests as copyrighted material has been shared illegally using a CyberGhost VPN IP address. Only 21 were requests that came from the police, although they had nothing to hand over as they keep no user data.
On the surface, CyberGhost has it all. Features galore, and you could connect to a different server every day for 10 years, if you wanted to do so. However, it’s when you begin to look a little closer that the VPN begins to disappoint ever so slightly, even if they do tick most of the important boxes along the way.
It’s great if you’re looking for a new VPN for streaming, and their logging policy is watertight. They have apps for every device imaginable, and it’s useful if you want additional privacy features, such as their NoSpy servers or their ad blocking.
On the other hand, connection speeds aren’t the greatest ever, although they manage to get the job done to a decent standard. That’s as long as you don’t have a terrible connection in the first place, as being bumped down to 60-70% of your normal speeds could have a drastic difference on load times.
Then there’s the owners’ history, which is hard to look past, despite positive steps in recent years. They’ve rebranded, but have they followed through with their promises?
Furthermore, Is it really a good idea to trust Kape Technologies considering their history in the advertising sector? They now position themselves as a strong privacy advocate, and their software does seem to do the job effectively. They’ve taken on the likes of China in the past, and it’s also priced competitively, which always helps.
CyberGhost isn’t just a VPN, it’s more like an all-in-one solution for your online security needs, and that’s not a bad thing by any means. You’ll have to buy into their ecosystem to see the best results, and that means trusting them with a lot of personal data.
The speeds stop CyberGhost from achieving the highest score possible, but the provider does deserve to be commended for their dedication to providing a strong service that promotes online privacy and security.