CyberGhost traces its origins to Bucharest, Romania, and was founded in 2011. CyberGhost claims to have over 30 million users, and the first in the industry to publish a transparency report. Today, its team is composed of over 70 IT professionals, who are based both in Romania and in Germany.
CyberGhost offers the shortest free trial we have seen from any VPN- a mere 24 hours. In addition, there is no offer of a free tier, nor a lifetime plan. There is a money-back guarantee of 14 days on the monthly plan, and a generous 45 days on the 2 and 3 year plans.
The pricing for CyberGhost is heavily weighted away from shorter plans, and towards longer term commitments. This trend is seen in their month-to-month plan that has one of the higher costs of $12.99 (about £10) for each month of service. Paying $63 (about £48) for the year of service upfront, and the costs drops precipitously to a more affordable $5.25 (about £4) per month. Going even longer, and the 2 year plan drops the monthly cost to an even lower $3.69 (about £2.82) per month, or even maxing it out further to 3 years lowers the average monthly cost to the lowest seen- $2.50 (about £1.91) per month. There is the option to add a dedicated IP address for an additional $5.00 (about £4) monthly.
Payment options for the plans are limited, and not the most anonymous. They include a handful of the major credit cards Amex, MasterCard and American Express, with the alternate payment methods just PayPal and Bitcoin. There is no option to pay with gift cards.
The company covers the basics well, with more than 3,500 servers spread across 60 countries, and there is speedy live chat support. Unlike some other VPN services, torrenting is supported, and CyberGhost claims “Hundreds of servers dedicated to torrenting with no bandwidth limit.” The latest version of their software is CyberGhost VPN 7.0. The privacy is also high with strong 256-AES encryption, including a choice of protocols- OpenVPN, L2TP and IKEv2.
The platform support for CyberGhost is better than some other VPN’s with apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There is only a single browser extension, and it is for Chrome, leaving users of other browsers without an available extension. Other random devices that CyberGhost has software for include the Amazon Fire Stick and Android TV. Linux and routers are not supported via apps, but there are OpenVPN, L2TP or IPSec code available to provide VPN service to those devices.
The task-based app interface is a major highlight. CyberGhost doesn't just leave you to guess which server to use to unblock a website, for instance, but rather it utilizes an automated process that connects to the best server.
In fact, this is a good service to choose for geo-restricted content, to “Watch whatever you want, wherever you are,” via CyberGhost’s anonymous IPs. Just choose a geo-blocked service from the list - Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, more - and the app automatically connects to the best server and opens a browser window at the target site. Now that's what we call helpful.
The software is simple to use, and boasts a ‘One-click connect.’ The service is customizable, with the ability to set ‘Smart Rules,’ that automates privacy. This also includes auto-connect on startup, and granular Wi-Fi rules including when to activate the VPN depending on which network it connects to. Also, rules can be created by the activity such as streaming or torrenting. Finally, there is the promise of further development, with more features coming soon.
There are plenty of extras, too. The service can block ads, trackers and malicious websites. Automated HTTPS redirection ensures you're always making the most secure connection. Optional data compression can save money on mobile devices. Also integrated into the software is a VPN kill switch, that will stop the connection in response to any inkling of an issue with the VPN tunnel.
Support is available 24/7 via chat and email, and in 4 languages. Unfortunately, there is no phone support.
CyberGhost claims to offer a ‘Strict no-logs policy,’ so complete that “Not even we have a clue about what you’re doing online.” This gets backed up by a quote from Robert Knapp, their Co-founder and Chairman to indicate that “The only way to secure your data is not to store it.” Their transparency report shows that they do receive multiple requests, including from the DMCA, malware reports from various websites, and law enforcement. However, CyberGhost states that they are “Bucharest-based and under no obligation from the Romanian law to store connections logs,” and therefore are completely unable to comply with any of these requests.
However, it's not all good news. The desktop interface can seem complicated, and the support site is poor.
Generally our US and European speeds are average, although a few of our long-distance connections barely reached 10Mb. Confounding the experience is the painfully slow, prolonged connection times to establish the encrypted connection, and unimpressive network latency that was among the slower of our tested VPN services.
Verdict and Conclusion
CyberGhost is a decent VPN, that stands above other services for its strict no logs policy, allowing 7 connected devices per account, and over 60 server locations. Holding the service back is the higher month-to-month cost pushing users into a multiyear plan, the less than comprehensive platform support, a really short trial period, and no completely anonymous payment options. Overall, CyberGhost offers you a lot of VPN functionality for a very fair price, and it's well worth a closer look.
Client software platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS; Chrome extension
Supported protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP/ IPSec, PPTP
Approximate number of servers: 3,500
Approximate number of countries with servers: 60
Country of registration: Romania
Payment options: Credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: AES-256
Data usage: Unlimited
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max number of simultaneously connected devices: 7
Customer support: Email, chat