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NordVPN vs CyberGhost in 2023

When choosing a premium VPN service, the choice often comes down to NordVPN vs CyberGhost. We’ve weighed both VPNs against each other in nine categories to pick out an ultimate winner.

Samuel Chapman
By Samuel Chapman (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2023-03-13T17:07:17+00:00 Facts checked by Vildana Bratic

If you’ve narrowed your VPN search down to NordVPN vs CyberGhost, you’ve got a problem — but the kind that’s good to have. Both of these VPN providers are in the top tier, with excellent performance, polished features and affordable plans. Choosing between them isn’t easy, but we’re here to help.

Key Takeaways:

  • NordVPN is one of the top two VPNs in the world. CyberGhost is a strong product, but it can’t quite keep up.
  • NordVPN’s best qualities are its consistently fast speeds and its ability to unblock streaming networks. CyberGhost’s smart rules are a standout feature and its interface is friendlier than NordVPN’s. 
  • NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, while CyberGhost offers 45 days on longer plans and 14 days on the monthly plan.

As we wrote in our NordVPN review, the service works hard to earn its top-tier reputation, delivering fast download speeds and unblocking all major streaming services. It also comes in second on our list of the best VPNs. On the other hand, our CyberGhost review portrays a worthy challenger, with advanced control features and a user-friendly app.

We put these two VPN services head-to-head to help you make your final decision, comparing them using nine criteria. At the end of the CyberGhost vs NordVPN comparison, we’ll reach a verdict on which one we think is ultimately superior.

  • 09/05/2022

    Updated this review to include the latest VPN speed results.

  • 12/05/2022 Facts checked

    This CyberGhost vs NordVPN comparison has been rewritten with new pricing tables, speed tests and feature sets.

  • Not in our opinion. NordVPN is a stronger VPN than CyberGhost in most areas, including speed, security, pricing and streaming performance.

  • The only VPNs currently capable of competing with NordVPN are ExpressVPN (our favorite) and — arguably — Surfshark.

  • Not for us. CyberGhost is a great VPN, but it has some issues, including wobbly speeds, inconsistency with accessing streaming services and its connection to Kape Technologies.

  • Proton VPN loses the head-to-head matchup, but it has other things to recommend it — namely, it’s the only totally free VPN without bandwidth limits.

NordVPN vs CyberGhost: Criteria for a Good VPN Service

We’ll be pitting CyberGhost and NordVPN against each other in nine areas: features, pricing, user-friendliness, speed, security, privacy, streaming, VPN server locations and customer support. The winner of each round will earn a point.

If NordVPN and CyberGhost tie any rounds, each service will get a point. The service with the most points at the end wins.

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1. Features

Both VPNs have the basic suite of features we expect, including a kill switch, split tunneling (though NordVPN lacks this on macOS) and multiple simultaneous connections (six on NordVPN, seven on CyberGhost).

NordVPN pulls ahead early, as its kill switch is slightly more flexible. Advanced NordVPN users can opt for an “app kill” setup instead, whereby the kill switch only shuts down specified apps. CyberGhost’s kill switch is all or nothing.

nordvpn specialized servers
NordVPN offers servers optimized for use cases like file sharing or masking your connection with Tor.

They also both have specialty servers optimized for specific online tasks. This is where the two VPNs begin to diverge a little.

Specialty Servers

Both have global servers for torrenting and servers that offer a dedicated IP address, but only NordVPN has Onion over VPN servers for using a VPN with Tor Browser, which led us to proclaim it the best VPN for Tor. It also has obfuscated servers for greater secrecy in repressive territories like China.

The CyberGhost servers don’t offer obfuscation. Instead, it has NoSpy servers, which are located in Romania and under CyberGhost’s full ownership and control. It’s nice to know your VPN provider owns its servers, but NoSpy won’t do you any good if you need to break China’s Great Firewall or access the internet in another surveillance state.

Before we move on, it’s also worth noting that CyberGhost does not offer a double VPN or multi-hop connection like the NordVPN servers do. It claims to do so in one blog post on its website, but we couldn’t find any corroboration in the app itself.

Smart Rules & Presets

CyberGhost pulls ahead of NordVPN in the area of automations. Its “smart rules” feature lets you program how the VPN will react on certain types of networks, from when it connects to what server it chooses. Almost everything about CyberGhost can be set up to happen automatically.

cyberghost smart rules
CyberGhost’s “smart rules” feature gives you unrivaled control over what your VPN does automatically.

CyberGhost folds split tunneling into smart rules under the “exceptions” tab. Here you can designate which apps send their traffic through the VPN tunnel; if you’re using the desktop client, you can also split which websites use the tunnel. This beats out NordVPN, which only lets users split tunnel by app.

NordVPN isn’t totally without customization potential, though. Its “presets” feature lets users save a combination of settings, including shortcuts to the websites that need those settings to work. For example, if you’re an American who wants to watch BBC iPlayer, you might create a preset that connects to a U.K. server and links you directly to the BBC iPlayer homepage.

Anti-Malware Features

Both VPNs also come with anti-malware features, though NordVPN’s is more robust. CyberGhost has a content blocker, which blocks any domain associated with malware, intrusive adware or malicious trackers.

NordVPN’s CyberSec does the same thing, but it also includes threat protection, which scans downloaded files for malware and deletes them before they can cause harm. Neither is a substitute for a full antivirus program, but it makes Nord a bit more secure than CyberGhost — and the best VPN with antivirus to boot.

Available Apps

NordVPN and CyberGhost are both available on a wide range of apps, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android. They both offer browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, though NordVPN also has one for Edge. They can both be installed on routers to protect any device that connects through your home WiFi, including smart TVs and game consoles.

Both VPNs have run neck and neck throughout this category, but we’re giving the photo finish to NordVPN. Its split tunneling may not be as versatile as CyberGhost’s, but it has better malware protection, more useful specialized servers and a more advanced kill switch. NordVPN’s presets also offer a chance to personalize the VPN service, making up for the lack of smart rules.

NordVPN takes an early lead in the features category, putting it at 1-0.

Round: Features
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN1
Visit Cyberghost0

2. Pricing

If you only look at the best deals available on each website, CyberGhost appears to be the cheaper option. However, the fine print reveals that you’ll actually save more with NordVPN in almost every case. Let’s compare their pricing tables to find out why.

CyberGhost Pricing

CyberGhost uses the traditional VPN pricing structure. All its plans offer the same features, but signing up for a longer duration will save you money every month. It offers a monthly plan, a six-month plan and a two-year plan. 

The $12.99 monthly price is one of the most expensive around — tied with ExpressVPN — but $2.37 per month on the two-year plan looks a lot more attractive.

NordVPN Pricing

NordVPN is a bit more complicated. In addition to three different durations (one month, one year and two years) it has three tiers, with the higher ones adding extra features. These features come from the other apps in the Nord family, including the NordPass password manager and NordLocker secure cloud storage.

Since all plans get access to the entire VPN service — and since there are better password managers and better encrypted cloud storage services — you won’t miss much by sticking with NordVPN’s Standard plan. That plan is cheaper than CyberGhost at the monthly level, at $11.99 — not exactly cheap, but friendlier if you’re not ready for a long-term commitment. 

CyberGhost has a six-month plan instead of the typical one-year plan, like NordVPN has. However, you can resubscribe to the deal for the same $41.94 price.

Meanwhile, CyberGhost’s two-year plan appears cheaper than NordVPN’s, at $2.37 vs NordVPN’s $3.49. However, after the first two-year sign-up period ends, the $56.94 price will be billed annually, doubling the cost.

In comparison, at the end of NordVPN’s annual and two-year plans, the subscription will be automatically renewed at the current price of the service, which means it’s the cheaper deal in the long run.

Free Trials & Money-Back Guarantees

Although neither of these VPNs has a “forever free” plan, CyberGhost is easier to try out without paying. Both offer a seven-day free trial on mobile, but CyberGhost adds a 24-hour trial on desktop. 

CyberGhost offers two no-questions-asked refund periods. The six-month and two-year plans come with 45 days, while the monthly plan comes with 14 days. NordVPN’s money-back guarantee is 30-days across the board, which means you can use the monthly plan like a free trial. Learn more in our guide on how to get a NordVPN refund.

Overall, the CyberGhost and NordVPN price options are different enough to make this one too close to call. Both NordVPN and CyberGhost score a point for pricing, bringing the score to 2-1.

Round: Pricing
No clear winner, points for both
Visit NordVPN2
Visit Cyberghost1

3. User-Friendliness

This is another close-run category, but CyberGhost gets a very slight edge for its app design. We want to make it clear, though, that both VPN clients are free of hiccups and mostly a joy to use.

NordVPN falls behind because it makes the most basic step of using a VPN — connecting to a VPN server — a little harder than it needs to be.

nordvpn user interface
NordVPN’s map is pretty, but it’s almost never the best way to select a server.

To connect to a NordVPN server, either click the small “quick connect” button to automatically connect to the fastest option, or scroll through the server list. You can also click and drag the map to find your desired location and connect to the fastest server in the country. The map is fun, but it’s simply not convenient for getting online fast.

Compare that to CyberGhost, which goes with the time-tested “one giant button” UI. It’s a classic for a reason: You can boot up the VPN and connect to a server without having to think.

cyberghost user interface
CyberGhost understands that most of its users just want to connect and get online.

CyberGhost notches another point in the user-friendliness category, tying the score at 2-2.

Round: User-Friendliness
Point for Cyberghost
Visit NordVPN2
Visit Cyberghost2

4. Speed

We tested NordVPN and CyberGhost for our VPN speed comparison. Our conclusion, after a full month of daily automated tests: NordVPN ranks among the fastest VPNs on the market, while CyberGhost simply isn’t consistent enough to match it.

That’s not to say CyberGhost can’t be fast, but it isn’t nearly as dependably speedy as NordVPN. Let’s break down the speed test results.

CyberGhost vs NordVPN US Speeds

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 02/26/23 to 03/28/23
Data for region:

NordVPN had better download speed than CyberGhost on all but one of the 30 days we tested — sometimes significantly better. From an unprotected speed of 100 Mbps down, NordVPN rarely gave us less than 90 Mbps, and only once dropped below 80 Mbps. By contrast, CyberGhost wavered from the low 90s on its best day to near the 40s on its worst.

The upload speed results were both closer and steadier. We started with 10 Mbps up. NordVPN stayed between just below 9 Mbps for the whole month, and CyberGhost closer to 8.5 Mbps. The difference here is negligible.

NordVPN also wins in the area of latency, though again, it’s closer. NordVPN’s ping remained below 10 ms almost every day, though it showed a few alarming spikes. CyberGhost never spiked as sharply, but its average latency was a lot higher throughout the month.

NordVPN vs CyberGhost Global Speeds

Download Speed (Higher is better)
Upload Speed (Higher is better)
Latency (Lower is better)
Source: Cloudwards VPN Speed Test. We test daily. Data from 02/26/23 to 03/28/23
Data for region:

When we took the tests worldwide, NordVPN still runs all three categories. NordVPN’s worldwide download speed average remained above 90 Mbps every day but one — a stellar performance. CyberGhost mostly hung around the 30s.

NordVPN’s average global upload speeds were also faster for the majority of the month. Latency was closer, as NordVPN’s ping (in ms) remained around mostly in the 140s, while CyberGhost occasionally plunged as far as 120.

However, CyberGhost’s latency drops weren’t frequent enough to count on. Once again, NordVPN won on consistency and reliability. So far, NordVPN has won on features and speed, they tied for pricing, and CyberGhost’s got a point from user-friendliness. NordVPN takes the lead again, with the score now 3-2.

Round: Speed
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN3
Visit Cyberghost2

5. Security

CyberGhost and NordVPN both guarantee user security in extremely similar ways, down to sharing the same selection of VPN protocols — NordVPN has NordLynx instead of WireGuard, but NordLynx is just an implementation of WireGuard anyway. They also both passed our tests for DNS leaks, offering theoretically airtight services.

nordvpn protocols
Both NordVPN and CyberGhost offer IKEv2, OpenVPN over TCP and UDP, and their own versions of WireGuard.

In fact, the two are so close in this area that we considered labeling this section a tie. However, two things pushed us over the edge toward NordVPN.

First, there’s the 2018 security breach. After hackers breached one of NordVPN’s data centers in Finland, NordVPN announced the breach and implemented a series of reforms to prevent a similar leak from reoccurring. Although it got hacked, its response to the breach makes us a lot more confident in its dedication to security.

There’s also the relative performance of both VPNs in China. NordVPN makes our list of the best VPN services for China thanks to its obfuscated servers and double VPN servers, neither of which CyberGhost offers.

One thing you don’t need to worry about with CyberGhost is the fact that it has servers in mainland China. These servers are virtual, which is a problem for performance reasons (see our section on server locations) but means CyberGhost doesn’t have to follow China’s VPN laws.

Thanks to its obfuscation and evidence of its dedication to security, NordVPN gains the point for security, putting it at 4-2.

Round: Security
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN4
Visit Cyberghost2

6. Privacy

This is another section that almost came down to a tiebreaker. Both NordVPN and CyberGhost have strong privacy policies guaranteed by independent audits. These policies state that the VPN providers will never save your browsing history or use it for profit. They make money from subscriptions, not from selling user data to advertisers.

CyberGhost’s parent company is the only reason this isn’t a tie. It was one of the first VPNs acquired by Kape Technologies, which also owns ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access and ZenMate

cyberghost vpn privacy policy
CyberGhost’s privacy policy contains some concerning language about its parent company, Kape Technologies.

To be fair, NordVPN is owned by Nord Security, which merged with Surfshark under one umbrella called Cyberspace — but Cyberspace doesn’t have any dodgy history.

We’ll explain: we’re already a little suspicious of Kape for consolidating so many VPNs and publications under one umbrella, a practice that’s bad for customers in any industry. Making matters worse, Kape was previously Crossrider, a company that made ad-injection software. At least one virus rode the Crossrider injection onto customer systems.

It’s not quite as simple as “Kape used to make malware,” since there’s no evidence the company knew its software was serving as a malware vector. Still, it’s concerning — more so because CyberGhost’s privacy policy gives it the right to share user information with its parent company. 

This makes us just uncertain enough to give the point to NordVPN by default. With its victory in the privacy category, NordVPN now leads 5-2.

Round: Privacy
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN5
Visit Cyberghost2

7. Streaming Performance

Which VPN is the best at unblocking streaming services and streaming video in high definition without buffering? NordVPN beats out CyberGhost here (though for streaming, we prefer ExpressVPN to either one).

CyberGhost has one thing NordVPN lacks: dedicated streaming servers. However, they don’t always work better than the normal servers. Several times, we unblocked a certain platform faster with a generic server than the one optimized for that site.

cyberghost vpn streaming servers
CyberGhost has a host of streaming-optimized servers, but the regular locations frequently do the job better.

CyberGhost also had trouble unblocking streaming services on the first servers we tried. It’s one of the best VPNs for Netflix, but couldn’t open Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ until we switched servers and protocols several times.

Amazon Prime VideoYesYes
HBO MaxYesYes
BBC iPlayerYesYes

Unfortunately, CyberGhost can’t hold up to NordVPN here — either in its ability to quickly unblock streaming services or to play high-quality video once you’re in. NordVPN unblocked six streaming platforms on the first try, including Hulu and HBO Max.

Even without streaming-focused servers, it’s just an easier experience. Though both VPNs eventually unblocked all six platforms we tested, NordVPN got them all on the first try, earning it the point and a 6-2 lead.

Round: Streaming Performance
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN6
Visit Cyberghost2

8. Server Locations

This category seems like an ideal place for CyberGhost to pick up a win, but due to its extensive use of virtual servers, NordVPN gets the point once again.

On paper, CyberGhost should be the leader. It has servers in 117 locations across 91 countries — not quite as broad a network as ExpressVPN, but better than both NordVPN and long-time network champion Private Internet Access. CyberGhost’s servers are also well distributed. It’s got 17 locations in Asia, five in Africa and six in South America.

nordvpn server locations
NordVPN has a lot of servers in Europe, but a disappointing spread in the Southern Hemisphere.

NordVPN suffers from a common problem: Most of its servers are bunched up in Europe and the United States. Outside those two regions, pickings are slim. You’ll find only three locations in South America, one in Africa and nine in all of Asia.

Region:NordVPN CountriesNordVPN LocationsCyberGhost CountriesCyberGhost Locations
North America420719
South America3965
Middle East3366

Virtual Servers

Given all that, we are awarding NordVPN yet another point because of virtual servers. These servers are configured so they appear to be in one country, while being physically located in another. They let users spoof a certain location (for its streaming library, say) but don’t provide them the performance boost of having a nearby VPN.

Think about it this way: If you’re in Tanzania, and you subscribed to a VPN because it advertises a location in Kenya, you’d be pretty annoyed to learn that the server is actually in Australia. 

Virtual servers can have their uses and purposes — especially for getting IP addresses for countries where it’s not safe to have physical servers, like Russia or China. However, CyberGhost’s use of virtual servers is a pretty obvious padding technique. 

In its defense, the website has a page that shows which servers are physical and which are virtual, but it’s hard to find — while the total number of servers is prominently displayed in several places. VPN users deserve better. NordVPN now leads 7-2.

Round: Server Locations
Point for NordVPN
Visit NordVPN7
Visit Cyberghost2

9. Customer Service

This section is our second draw. Since both CyberGhost and NordVPN are user-friendly VPNs, they’ve both placed a high priority on customer service. Each has a knowledgebase full of clearly written articles that help you work through the kinks of VPN ownership.

cyberghost vpn help center
This typical article from the CyberGhost knowledgebase shows users how to change their server location on macOS.

If you can’t find what you want in either knowledgebase, you can make use of responsive chat functions or in-depth help via email. Both support teams are staffed with conscientious experts. We really can’t distinguish here, so both get the point.

This section is another tie. Both VPNs gain a point, putting the final score of this CyberGhost vs NordVPN comparison at 8-3.

Round: Customer Service
No clear winner, points for both
Visit NordVPN8
Visit Cyberghost3

The Verdict: CyberGhost vs NordVPN

With a final score of eight points to three, NordVPN is the clear winner of our matchup. It edges out CyberGhost, thanks to its stable internet speed, a brick-and-mortar server network, clear attention to privacy, better streaming performance and more applicable feature set.

However, the quality of these two services is a lot closer than the score indicates. CyberGhost remains a top-tier VPN service that’s capable of winning almost any other matchup, and it offers more simultaneous connections than almost anyone else. NordVPN is just too good, with ExpressVPN as its only real competition.

Which of these two VPNs is your favorite? Do you prefer NordVPN’s faster internet speed or the control offered by CyberGhost’s smart rules? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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