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CyberGhost VPN review

Can the Romanian VPN still stand up to the competition?

CyberGhost review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Well-known and hugely popular, CyberGhost delivers excellent performance alongside some powerful desktop software. With useful dedicated streaming features – albeit no iPlayer support – it’s great for TV fans, and the relatively recent upgrade to the CyberGhost 8 suite of apps has remedied a few of our previous interface concerns.

For

  • Excellent support
  • Feature-packed Windows client
  • Great for US Netflix, Prime, and Disney+
  • Good speeds

Against

  • Failed to unblock iPlayer in our testing
  • Mobile apps still aren't elite
  • Minor kill switch problem on Windows

As one of the most popular VPNs on the market, if you’ve even taken a cursory look at your options, you’re bound to have come across CyberGhost. The Romanian provider has been around for over a decade and has amassed over 10 million users in that time.

None of that means anything, though, if the product they provide doesn’t come up to scratch – and that’s when we’re here to test out. In this full review, we’ll test everything about CyberGhost from the apps and its privacy credential to how well it can unblock Netflix. We’ll then make a decision on whether it’s fit to be considered one of the best VPN services on the market today.

CyberGhost review - homepage

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

CyberGhost 1-minute review

Starting at a bargain-basement $2.25 a month, CyberGhost is easily one of the cheapest VPNs if you’re happy to commit to a longer plan, and you’ll get an industry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee. Monthly plans are, however, on the pricey side, and only come with a 14-day guarantee. For your money you’ll get access to over 6,700 VPN servers in 110+ locations worldwide – one of the most comprehensive server selections available.

Although not independently audited, CyberGhost makes some strong statements about whether it logs user activity (it doesn’t), and its apps appear to be thoroughly secure. The transparency report is also a nice touch.

Tested on out UK and US connections, CyberGhost delivered speeds of up to 500Mbps and 450Mbps respectively. That’s excellent performance, and a big improvement on our last tests. It’s also enough to stream and torrent to your heart’s content. However, our testing uncovered that you won’t get access to BBC iPlayer, and only US Netflix is reliable.

If you’re looking to torrent you’re also in luck, because although not every server is P2P-enabled, there’s a huge number that are to choose from. There are also some really neat features like automatic connection when using a particular app that can help provide ultimate torrenting safety.

On desktop, especially Windows, CyberGhost’s client is seriously powerful and offers tons of extra features not usually found in any VPN, let alone one this affordable. However, while the mobile apps are certainly usable, they do lag behind some of the competition in functionality.

Finally, if anything does happen to go wrong, CyberGhost’s support is up there with the very best, and the live-chat operators have always been helpful and knowledgeable – but be aware that some of the written guides can be tricky to understand. Overall, CyberGhost is a really capable VPN, and only few niggles like the mobile interface and lack of iPlayer support keep it from being truly elite.

Latest updates

We’ve seen a couple of notable changes in recent months, the most exciting of which is the introduction of WireGuard on all operating systems.

We’ve noticed server fluctuations, with numbers peaking at over 7,000 in October, but you can usually expect around 6,500.

For $5 extra a month, you can now purchase yourself a dedicated IP address. This is great for business users, and also means there’s no chance of you using an IP address that’s been blacklisted thanks to someone else’s naughtiness.

Finally, you now also sign up to the CyberGhost Security Suite for Windows. This includes an Intego-powered antivirus, a Privacy Guard, and a software updater. This service is separate from the VPN so we’ll be reviewing it separately, but it’s an excellent show of willing from the provider that demonstrates it’s not just a CyberSec one-trick pony.

CyberGhost on paper

Number of servers: 6,500+
Number of countries:
90
Platforms supported:
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
Simultaneous connections: 7
Split tunneling: Yes
Kill switch: Yes
Supported protocols:
OpenVPN UDP & TCP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, PPTP, WireGuard
Country of registration:
Romania
Support: Articles, live chat, email

CyberGhost review - pricing

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

CyberGhost price: how much is it and is there a CyberGhost free trial?

Price is an important factor for most, so it’s only sensible to start here.

As usual, signing up to a rolling monthly plan might sound nice in terms of freedom, but you’ll be paying absolutely top dollar for – $12.99 to be exact. However, with its current pricing structure (liable to change at a moment’s notice), even committing for just one year will drop the monthly price to just $3.99.

Sign up for two years, and it’ll be $3.49 a month, but the biggest savings are found with the longest plans. Right now, you’ll get three years for just $2.25 a month – and that includes three additional months on top. That pricing makes CyberGhost one of the best cheap VPN services. 

As you might see in the above image, there's a timer on this deal (and the Hallowe'en imagery could date it slightly...). However, CyberGhost is well known for these slightly disingenuous price countdowns, and we don't always trust them. All we can say is that we've got our eye on the price, and when it changes, we'll adjust this review to match.

If you fancy trialling CyberGhost, there is a VPN free trial available, but it’s all rather complicated. On desktop you can sign up and use the app for a measly 24 hours for free, during which you’ll only have limited features. On iOS, you can get a seven-day trial, but you’ll have to sign up, whereas on Android you can get seven days without signing up – probably your best option if you’ve got an Android device.

However, on all pain plans except the one-month option, you’ll get a class-leading 45-day money-back guarantee. So, if you really want to test the service to make sure it’s best for you, we’d recommend signing up to a longer plan and then claiming back your money if it doesn’t impress.

CyberGhost review - no logging policy

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

How private is CyberGhost and does it keep logs?

As we’ve come to expect from all the big providers, CyberGhost uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is the gold standard. However, something we very much appreciate is the fact its apps are transparent when it comes to what data they collect about your usage – you can be a good Samaritan and allow CyberGhost to collect some anonymous data to improve its apps, or easily opt out of this. That’s more than some providers can say.

In terms of logging, CyberGhost is insistent about its strict no-logs policy, and this is an important part of its online messaging. It claims that browsing history, the sites you visit, the data you transmit and what you search for are not monitored or recorded by the company. It also promises not to log your IP address, connection timestamps or how long you use the service for.

However, unlike rivals such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, CyberGhost has not undergone a comprehensive independent audit of its servers and other infrastructure.

While we don’t necessarily distrust the provider’s claims on-site, they are essentially just that – claims. And while CyberGhost’s Transparency Report gives us a little more reassurance, we’d love to see a full audit to back up any and all claims on-site.

How fast is CyberGhost?

Seeing as CyberGhost is apparently designed for those who want to access tons of streaming media and expand their viewing wherever they are, we’d hope that connection speeds are up to scratch.

Tested on our UK and US connections (both of which top out at about 1Gbps), we took average times from a number of tests to judge the reliability and speed of the service.

In the UK, when using OpenVPN we saw speeds of 250-400Mbps – in other words, pretty speedy for the old classic protocol. When we used WireGuard we topped out at an impressive 500Mbps, but also saw lows of around 120Mbps. We’d like to see a little more consistency with WireGuard, if we’re honest, but there are definitely good speeds on offer.

In the US we saw decent, if not searing speeds – OpenVPN delivered 90-150Mbps, while with WireGuard we saw 350-450Mbps.

And, of course, remember that if your base internet connection is below these figures, using CyberGhost (or any other fast VPN, for that matter) will have a negligible effect on your speeds.

When connecting to farther-flung servers, we saw some inevitable slow-down, but even the New Zealand server (over 11,000 miles away from the UK) delivered usable speeds of 60Mbps.

So, CyberGhost might not be the very fastest we’ve tested, but it’s by no means a slouch and should provide speeds which are more than useful for the vast majority of users.

CyberGhost review - streaming options

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

How good is CyberGhost for streaming?

One of the most common reasons for signing up to CyberGhost will be to use it as a Netflix VPN – and CyberGhost caters for these users by providing a neat filtering system to find the best servers to unblock exactly what they want to watch.

When looking at the server filters, you’ll see recommended locations for Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube TV. BBC iPlayer and even more, including other global streaming services.

We tested US Netflix first, and had no problems there – we could watch content with no issue. However, it turns out that CyberGhost does struggle to unblock content from the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan, so if you’re a streaming globetrotter, it might not be the best option for you.

BBC iPlayer was somewhat problematic, and in our testing we simply couldn’t get access. While this sort of thing is liable to change as IP addresses get updated, the support team did say there was no fix readily available. We did find this odd, as in-app there’s an iPlayer-specialized filter readily available for UK connections – but neither this nor other UK servers had any luck with the BBC

However, Disney+ and Amazon Prime were unblocked without a hitch, so apart from iPlayer and a number of more ‘niche’ Netflix libraries, CyberGhost is a very capable streaming VPN.

How good is CyberGhost for torrenting?

Much like CyberGhost’s filters for specific streaming services, it can also help you pick a good torrenting VPN server – and that’s good news, because in truth, not every server is optimized for P2P thanks to some regional restrictions.

Once connected, speeds are great, and a feature that we really appreciated was the ability to choose a CyberGhost location to automatically connect to when you launch your client. This is great for the forgetful or lazy (read: almost all of us), and is a sure-fire way of making sure that whenever you torrent, you’re adequately protected.

We’d love to see full P2P support on every single server, but as it stands, CyberGhost does a great job despite its limitations.

CyberGhost VPN review - desktop client

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

How good are CyberGhost's desktop apps?

CyberGhost’s desktop apps are much the same on Windows and Mac, with simple, useful interfaces. You’ll get a list of servers, a nice big Connect button, and your options for server filtering on the far left.

Seeing the current capacity/load of each individual server is really useful – something omitted from lots of rivals – and can give you a quick indication of which server will provide the best speeds. You’ll also get a favorites system, plus a system tray icon that gives you quick access to all the essentials.

Extras include ad and tracker blockers, plus protection from dangerous websites. 'Smart Rules', however, is our favorite element. It allows you to configure which server to automatically connect to on start-up, and whether to connect when you open a particular app (likely a torrent client). Plus, you can also set up split tunnelling by whitelisting certain sites.

CyberGhost’s system tray icon also allows you to access these in submenus, and it’s a very neat way of saving you time and screen space – every little usability feature matters at this level.

Importantly, CyberGhost’s kill switch is excellent, and never revealed our true IP address no matter how we tried to trick it. However, we did find one issue with the kill switch – if we failed to connect to a server in the first place, CyberGhost would say that the kill switch had been enabled when in truth it hadn’t. This is quite misleading, but in practice it’s pretty unlikely to happen.

With the upgrade of CyberGhost 8, we’ve seen the interface clear up a little, but it’s worth noting that a couple of small features have been lost – namely HTTP to HTTPS redirection and data compressions for slow connections. This is probably the case thanks to the fact very few people actually used them – in our experience data compressions did very little in practice, and a dedicated add-on like HTTPS Everywhere is free and more effective.

Overall, though, there’s really very little to complain about. CyberGhost’s desktop clients are powerful, and deliver some genuinely useful unique features not often found anywhere else.

How good are CyberGhost's mobile apps?

Both the iOS and Android apps now offer OpenVPN and WireGuard support, which is a very promising development.

On iOS devices, VPN apps are held back by Apple’s security design, and are rarely as fully features as their Android and desktop counterparts. However, you’ll get a favorites list, smart server selection, and auto-connect on specific or unsecured networks, plus the choice between WireGuard and IKEv2, and a connection checker.

However, the Android app does all this and plenty more, rivalling the desktop apps in power. You can specify if you want it to use a random port when connecting, which is useful for getting around VPN-blocking tech – found in Netflix and other streaming services.

You’ll also get split tunneling, which is unusual and super useful if you just want to make sure one app is protected while all your others use your regular connection, plus ad and tracker blockers. 

A final interesting addition is domain fronting, which bypasses certain VPN blocking tech through a CDN (content deliver system). While we didn’t test this, it’s certainly welcome – and if anything, we do wonder why it’s not available in the desktop app.

So, while the iOS app is pretty bare-bones, CyberGhost’s mobile VPN apps are pretty useful, and WireGuard support plus the powerful Android option will be a big selling point.

What customer support does CyberGhost offer?

CyberGhost review - support articles

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

If you want help setting up or you’ve having some issues with the CyberGhost, there are a few options. First, you could head to the knowledgebase. There, you’ll find plenty of guides for different operating systems, and lots of common issues people have.

However, the way many are written is a little difficult (and you’ll notice overall that things are worded slightly strangely on the site).

For example, in a simple article that proclaims the benefits of WireGuard over OpenVPN, it states that OpenVPN ‘works at the user level using TLS', while 'WireGuard-based VPN servers under Linux run inside the kernel networking stack’. Do you find that useful? We thought not. We don’t want to be patronized, but also these articles need to be accessible for the majority of users for them to be worthwhile.

Like all the big hitters, CyberGhost does offer a live chat function, though. The operators are knowledgeable and have also been able to help us, and the slower email support is also available.

So, while the support articles could certainly be improved, if you’re having trouble you should be able to get some help swiftly from the live chat.

CyberGhost: Final verdict

As a desktop VPN, CyberGhost really impresses, and apart from the iPlayer disappointment, there’s not a huge amount we can complain about. However, if you’re a big mobile user – especially on iOS – you might find CyberGhost a little limiting. But, at this price, it’s an excellent option that we have no problem recommending.

Mo is eCommerce Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees privacy and security content, and his product guides help his readers find the best software and products for their needs. When he's not testing VPNs, you'll find him working on his classic car or plugged into a guitar amp.