It’s been a long time since we last did a review of CyberGhost, and we’ve been missing out on a very good provider. Though the service had its issues before — mainly centered around a buggy interface, though the server network was mediocre, too — most of these have been fixed and we’re happy to say CyberGhost has earned third place among our VPN reviews, no mean feat.
Though it lacks the customizable security of NordVPN and the streamlined user experience of ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has plenty to recommend it in the areas of ease of use as well as a great server network, especially in Europe. It will also get you past the Netflix VPN ban and into several other streaming services as well, earning it a spot in our best VPN for streaming article.
Taken altogether, there’s little standing in the way of our recommending CyberGhost and its 30-day money-back guarantee. Though it may not hit everybody’s sweet spot, it’s definitely one of the best VPN providers out there and it’s pretty cheap, to boot. Let’s take a closer look at its features to see what your money buys you.
- Easy to use
- Dynamic tile interface
- No split tunneling
CyberGhost comes with plenty of features, though stands out less than our other two top-three VPNs, ExpressVPN and NordVPN. At the same time, however, its main strength lies not in bells and whistles, but in offering a pleasant user experience and solid speeds, which you can read more about in their respective sections, below.
CyberGhost gets decent speeds across the board, though European coverage is definitely its forte, and is a no-logs, secure service. It encrypts connections using 256-bit AES and mainly uses OpenVPN as a protocol.
CyberGhost also supports a built-in killswitch which can’t be turned off, which is useful for VPN newbies. The killswitch will engage after one minute of server unresponsiveness and kill your internet connection completely, ensuring that nobody can track you while you’re out in the proverbial open.
One interesting security feature is “app protection,” which will always start CyberGhost in a certain profile (more on those in “ease of use”) if certain apps are fired up, making it ideal for pirates and others looking for the best VPN for torrenting.
However, some useful features are also missing from CyberGhost, particularly split tunneling, the ability to pick which programs and apps use the VPN and which do not. Though few services support it (read our StrongVPN review for one that does), we’re always sad to see when an otherwise great service doesn’t have it.
CyberGhost and Streaming
During our testing, we got into Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video without any issues except some server switching after a proxy error or two. CyberGhost also has special profiles for streaming, which will make it easier for anyone looking to dodge geoblocks. All the above, plus its excellent speeds, is why CyberGhost is one of our best VPN for Netflix.
CyberGhost has four pricing plans, all of them offering the same functionality. There’s also a free seven-day trial (one of the longest in the business) as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can’t go wrong taking CyberGhost for a test drive. The plans are as follows.
|Plan||Premium||Premium Plus||Premium Plus 7|
$ 6 99monthly
$ 30 00yearly
$ 10 99monthly
$ 47 28yearly
$ 266 007 years
|Bandwidth||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB||Unlimited GB|
The month-to-month plan is, as with most VPN providers, a terrible deal and you’re best off avoiding it altogether and opting for a multi-year plan. The annual plan is okay, though that offered by Private Internet Access is better money-wise, if you want to compare the rest of the service, read our PIA review.
The two- and three-year plan are where the big savings are at, though if you’re going to spring for the biannual plan, you might as well spend that extra $10 and get three years, instead. At time of writing, CyberGhost is threatening to bundle the three-year plan with year-long subscription to a McAfee antivirus, but you don’t have to accept it if you don’t want to (and you shouldn’t).
If money is your main concern, the choice for you is probably between CyberGhost and NordVPN: both offer a triannual plan for $99, which is probably the best deal out there right now. Read our NordVPN review to weigh up the pros and cons of the two services yourself.
To get started with CyberGhost, first visit the site at Cyberghost and click on the “my account” button in the top right of the screen. You’ll be taken to the account creation page right then and there. Another option is to go to the downloads tab and download the client there: CyberGhost comes with a seven-day trial, so you can try it out at your leisure.
Signing up is a matter of entering your email address and choosing a payment method. You’ll then be told to wait for an email. The email takes a few minutes, probably because the information in it has to be generated. Once it arrives, it will have your password as well as a recovery token, which you should, under no circumstance, trash.
Once your account is set up, download the app from the CyberGhost page. This is a slightly roundabout process: in your account page on the CyberGhost webpage you go to “my devices,” where you click on an open slot, then pick the OS you’re rocking. The download will then start.
After the download and install (which takes about 5-10 minutes all in all), you’ll be presented with a trial screen. If you’ve already paid, you can login from here and it will take you to a sign-in screen. Enter the details you made earlier and you’ll be presented with a Windows-style dynamic tile screen.
This style of UI may not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly isn’t to your reviewer’s, but CyberGhost makes it easy to avoid it altogether by clicking on the “choose my server” option on the bottom row, to the right, which takes you directly to a more familiar style of server list from which you can choose the location you’d like to connect to.
There are also several buttons at the top of the menu that will help you more easily choose the type of server you want. The “most empty” and “most crowded” selections speak for themselves, but we were particularly impressed with the “fastest servers” list that runs a speed test (which takes about two minutes) and then ranks the tested servers, very handy for power users.
The “extra features” tab is much the same as the options on the other five tiles, which are more like quick buttons that will get you where you need to go. The “surf anonymously” tile brings you to a new menu with several toggles that will help you set the level of security and anonymity you want, as well as allow you to launch your browser in several different modes.
It’s a pretty handy screen and the incognito launch option makes CyberGhost perfect for, well, you know. The toggles themselves basically act like a malware filter and we recommend you keep them on; the “HTTPS redirect” function should be built in to your browser already, but there’s no harm leaving it as is.
Our favorite little detail is the data compression slider, which will make browsing pretty pleasant for mobile users as images and videos will be compressed to more manageable levels. The “extra speed” option feels a little redundant, though: you always want to minimize the speed decrease when using a VPN.
The “unblock streaming” tile will direct you to a page with over 20 shortcuts to different streaming services, each coupled to a different server. If you’re a big fan of streaming, you’ll probably spend a lot of time in this menu as it has everything you could want and then some, though for some reason BBC iPlayer isn’t present, despite the fact that CyberGhost is one of our best VPN for BBC iPlayer.
The “protect network” tile is pretty much the same as the “surf anonymously” one except that it has fewer features (and we like the color more). Continuing on the bottom row, we have the torrenting functionality, which will launch the client of your choice as well as pick only from the torrenting-enabled servers CyberGhost offers.
Last but not least is the “unblock basic websites” tile, which is aimed at people living in countries that censor the internet and should make it easier for them to use websites like everyone else does. As you can read in our piece on the best VPN for China, CyberGhost is mostly successful at this.
Once you’ve decided how to connect, actually doing so is as easy as single-clicking on the connection you want (either a tile in a submenu or from a server list) and Cyberghost goes off doing its thing. Connection times are very fast, usually it takes just a second or two to have the connected message pop up in the right-hand corner of your screen.
We really liked the visual presentation of the VPN connection process and it’s nice to see your new IP address right in front of you, as well as how long you’ve been connected.
All in all, using CyberGhost is a breeze: it took your reviewer a minute to get used to the dynamic tile system, but it definitely has its advantages for people that are as yet unused to VPNs and just want to get where they want to go.
Though at first this way of doing things may seem like a dumbing down compared to other providers, the “choose my server” tile shows that the team behind CyberGhost has the technical knowhow to pull off a customizable, yet friendly VPN.
CyberGhost has a large number of customizable settings, accessed through the navigation bar at the top of the app.
Under “general” you can choose whether to run CyberGhost at startup (always a good idea) and which profile to run. The “beta update” slider we’ll leave up to you, but your reviewer gets uncomfortable at the thought of bugs. CyberGhost supports a surprisingly large number of European languages and you can change the one CyberGhost displays in here.
The next four sections in the settings menu are all options we’ll talk about more in the “security” section below, but suffice it to say for now that you shouldn’t fiddle with them unless you know what you’re doing. That said, people who do know what they’re doing will be happy to have these setting so accessible, so points for CyberGhost.
CyberGhost Mobile App
We also tested the Android app for CyberGhost and came away impressed. In some ways it behaves a little smoother than the desktop client and we get the feeling the app was developed before the client was. Using it is pretty intuitive — much like Tinder, you slide right disinterestedly until you find what you really want — and there are very few “where is that” moments.
Besides the touch screen controls, you have the same options as you have on desktop and connection speeds are just as fast.
CyberGhost has desktop clients for Windows and Mac, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS. If you’re a LInux user you can configure CyberGhost to run through the OpenVPN protocol, but if you don’t fancy the hassle, check out our best VPN for Linux article instead.
You can run CyberGhost on up to five devices at the same time, but unlike, say, ExpressVPN or NordVPN, you can only hook up that many devices, period. Where NordVPN allows six simultaneous connections, yet allows you to install it on as many devices as you want, CyberGhost has set that cap at a hard five.
Though that’s still pretty generous, we’re subtracting some points here for flexibility. While five devices is still pretty decent for a small family or a decent group of friends, we feel the competition does a slightly better job here; check out our article on the best VPN for multiple connections for more suggestions.
CyberGhost operates around 1,300 servers (the number fluctuates) in 59 countries. As with most of our top providers, the network is weakest in Africa — with only South Africa and Kenya represented — and strongest in Europe, with just a ridiculous amount of servers in every country there. All servers are dedicated, so no virtual worries, here.
Russia is notably absent, as are swathes of South America. Tunneling under the Great Firewall, however, should be pretty easy with servers in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, though it should be noted no Asian countries have more than 10 servers active at any one time.
The last few months CyberGhost has been working hard on expanding its network in North America, and currently has over 100 servers in the U.S., though only 30 in Canada and none in Mexico. Overall, however, the network is decent and no service can beat it for European coverage, making it perfect for non-European Netflix fans and people that travel a lot around the Old World.
We ran some speed tests from a coworking space in Tirana, Albania using speedtest.net. Here are the results. We’ve put which server we connected to in any given location in parentheses.
|Ping (ms):||Download (Mbps):||Upload (Mbps):
|Tirana, AL (1)||5||29.25||27.96|
|Amsterdam, NL (8)||185||17.23||7.36|
|New York City (2)||236||9.45||1.64|
|Los Angeles, CA (1)||392||2.21||2.47|
|Tokyo, JP (4)||528||2.84||0.46|
As you can see, over the short range and even over a transatlantic connection, CyberGhost does a great job. Connecting to a server just up the road in Tirana even dropped our ping considerable (even after a server switch), a pretty interesting result we don’t see very often. This makes CyberGhost very interesting for online pwnage, which is why we put it in our article on the best VPN for gamers.
However, over long distances the drop-off is as bad as NordVPN’s: this is partly due to the distances involved, of course, but we have a sneaking suspicion that CyberGhost’s network just isn’t as well-developed outside Europe as that of our fastest VPN provider, ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review to see some truly stellar speeds).
For now, CyberGhost will probably remain the VPN of choice for Europe, until the service consolidates its expansion to other parts of the world.
If security is a major concern for you (and it should be, what with all the secret agents and marketeers running around), you’re in good hands with CyberGhost. The service encrypts its VPN tunnel with 256-bit AES straight out the gate, so nobody is cracking it unless they have a few billion years to spare.
If, however, you’re still worried about secret services tracking you (we seriously have no idea how good China is at tracking VPN connections), CyberGhost also offers specialized secure servers. These should offer specialized encryption that will keep you off the radar, though the Chinese and Russian police are known to stop people and physically remove VPNs from their phones, a cheery thought.
Doom scenarios aside, you’re surfing anonymously when using CyberGhost. While running our speed tests we also ran DNS leak tests, IP leak tests and webRTC detection tests and all the tunnels came out clean as a whistle (though apparently the connection to NYC was routed through … Wichita?).
CyberGhost offers users a limited set of VPN protocols to choose from: the always reliable OpenVPN, as well as L2TP and IKEv2. The default setting is “auto,” where the server you connect to determines the protocol used.
If, however, you’re the tinkering type, CyberGhost is a pretty good option (read our TorGuard review for another). You can configure OpenVPN connections right there in the client, unlike ExpressVPN where you’ll need to download configuration files and mess with those separately.
Other security features include the ability to connect through SOCKS5 proxies (which slows you down, sure, but it’s super secure) or HTTP ones (kind of in the middle between regular VPN and SOCKS5. You can also disable IPv6 connections (on by default), avoiding some nasty leaks, as well (to see what a leaky VPN looks like, check out our PureVPN review).
There is also an option to automatically switch on CyberGhost when connecting to wireless, pretty handy if you use a lot of public WiFi networks while working on that next great all-American novel from your local Starbucks.
As for privacy, that’s a pretty short story: CyberGhost keeps no logs and shares no data. The business is headquartered in privacy-friendly Romania and there is no force on Earth that can compel it to surrender user data. Even if there was, there’s nothing to hand over except your email address, so you’re safe there.
CyberGhost comes with an extensive knowledgebase and FAQs page that should help you answer most common questions. We like the attention to detail here, as even questions you’d imagine rarely come up are answered in detail (“what is P2P?” and “who’s responsible regarding a subscription?” are two examples).
We had some trouble installing CyberGhost at first (entirely our own fault; uninstall your TAP adapters, kids!) and emailed support from the handy link on the support webpage (we could also have used the support button in the client, but, yeah, that wasn’t working) and got a detailed and very helpful reply back in about two-and-a-half hours, a pretty decent response time.
If your enquiry is a bit simpler and you need a quicker reply, live chat is also there and open for business around the clock. We used for clarification twice and we we got a response within a minute each time. Though neither time our agent had the response ready, looking it up only took a minute or so, so nothing to complain about.
If you’re worried you’re going to need help while using a VPN, CyberGhost is definitely a solid option, though very occasionally making sense of the agents’ English may take a second. Support is also offered in German and French, so that’s an option as well if you speak either of those languages.
When you add it all up, CyberGhost is a solid service that caters to both newbies and VPN veterans alike. Its quality is even more impressive when you factor in that a few years ago it really wasn’t all that good: that kind of progress is rare among VPNs.
That said, though, there is a reason CyberGhost doesn’t get further than third place: it doesn’t quite get the ease-of-use and speeds of ExpressVPN or the customizability of NordVPN. However, we can definitely see some users preferring the look, feel and usability of CyberGhost over that of its main rivals.
That was our opinion, what do you think of CyberGhost? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.