It’s not the fastest VPN around, but CyberGhost has an innovative interface, strong security features and cheap long-term pricing
- Cheap long-term plan
- Great security features
- Easy to pick the right server
- Didn’t unblock all streaming services
CyberGhost is a user-friendly VPN that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a secure server. This ensures that no one can track or spy on your online activity; it also lets you disguise your location, with over 9,000 servers in 91 different countries to choose from.
For short-term use, CyberGhost VPN is a little pricey, costing £11 on a monthly basis. However, six months of service costs a much more reasonable £37, which works out to £6.19/mth, and the two-year service costs just £50, which gets you two months free so you’re paying the equivalent of just £1.92/mth. That’s one of the lowest prices we’ve ever seen for a VPN.
Of course, if you’re dubious about such a long commitment, CyberGhost VPN offers an unusually generous 45-day cooling-off period, during which you can cancel at any time for a full refund.
After signing up, you can connect up to seven devices at once. Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS are all supported, with plugins for Chrome and Firefox to easily control the VPN, and there’s even an app for Amazon Fire TV devices. CyberGhost’s Smart DNS service lets you use the service with devices that don’t natively support VPNs too, such as games consoles or set-top boxes.
One thing to note is that CyberGhost is unusually picky about the device limit. Most VPNs don’t care how many devices are on your account, as long as you’re not using too many at once, but with CyberGhost you can only have seven clients registered – if you want to connect from an eighth, you’ll have to deregister an old one first. Alternatively, you can set up your router to use CyberGhost, providing blanket protection for everything on your home network.
CyberGhost VPN review: What’s it like to use?
Most VPNs confront you with a long list of server locations to choose from, but CyberGhost takes a more helpful approach. It divides its servers into various categories: click “For gaming” and you’ll immediately see a list of servers optimised for online games, with a ping time next to each one; under “For torrenting” you can browse servers that allow peer-to-peer file sharing; the “For streaming” list shows servers dedicated to unlocking a wide range of streaming services across 13 countries.
This arrangement takes a lot of the complexity and trial-and-error out of using a VPN. If you prefer a geographical list, you can click “All servers” to select from a full list of countries and cities. There’s also the unusual option to lease an exclusive static IP address located in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the UK or the US for an extra £2.25/mth.
The Windows app provides a decent set of configuration options. On the Settings page, you’ll find a choice of three VPN protocols – IKEv2, OpenVPN and WireGuard – while the Server page gives you the option to use the VPN to filter out malicious or untrusted content and to enable the kill switch, which cuts off all internet access when the VPN detects a problem with your connection.
Lastly, the Smart Rules page lets you set up automatic behaviours. For example, you can tell CyberGhost to start a VPN connection whenever you connect to a particular network, or to an unknown one, and we also really like the option to engage the VPN automatically whenever you launch a nominated application. If you need help then 24/7 support is available via live chat or email – though there’s no phone service.
We also tested the CyberGhost Android app. This presents the same handy list of streaming-optimised servers as on Windows, although the gaming and torrenting categories aren’t offered (which makes sense for mobile devices).
Most of the same features are here, including the ability to route individual apps through the VPN. However, the Smart Rules are less smart: you can’t allow specific websites to bypass the VPN, and the client won’t remember your preferences for individual networks. The best you can do is set default behaviours for whenever you connect to secured or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
READ NEXT: Best VPNs
CyberGhost VPN review: How fast is it?
Using a VPN inevitably slows down your internet speed. To see how CyberGhost affected performance, we used a Windows 11 laptop connected to a domestic Virgin Media fibre line.
With the VPN disabled, the Google Speed Test tool reported an average download speed of 370Mbits/sec. Connecting through a CyberGhost server in London caused this to drop quite significantly, to 112Mbits/sec – a 70% reduction in browsing speed.
We saw similar results when we switched to a server in New York: this time we measured an average download speed of 98Mbits/sec, representing a 74% drop in bandwidth. This isn’t necessarily a disaster as these speeds are more than fast enough for high-definition video – hell, there’s enough performance here to handle multiple 4K HDR streams at once – but if you need a faster connection, we’ve tested several VPNs that provided much better transatlantic speeds, including ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN and Surfshark.
Surprisingly, performance on our Android tablet was more variable. Here, using the CyberGhost app to connect to a UK-based server gave us an excellent download speed of 337Mbits/sec – representing only a very modest 11% performance hit.
However, things went much more slowly when we selected the New York server, with the download speed tumbling to just 56Mbits/sec. That’s still fine for watching videos, but it’s only half as fast as the likes of ExpressVPN.
The good news is, since split tunnelling is supported on both mobile and desktop platforms, you can let most of your applications use the open internet at full speed, while only your chosen programs go through the VPN.
CyberGhost VPN review: Is it good for video streaming?
If you want to stream 4K HDR video, the major streaming sites recommend a download speed of at least 25Mbits/sec. CyberGhost has no problem there and, on our Windows laptop, we were able to enjoy a full range of video-on-demand services: BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4 and Now TV all played perfectly via a UK server, and switching to CyberGhost’s recommended US server allowed us to enjoy US-only content from Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.
Things didn’t go quite so smoothly on Android. While most UK services were accessible, Channel 4 refused to play video while the VPN was connected – even when we chose a server specifically labelled as “Optimised for Channel 4”. Disney+ meanwhile continued to offer the regular British library when we were supposedly surfing via a server in the US.
Still, overall this is a pretty good showing – you should be able to watch pretty much any streaming service you like, as long as you don’t mind firing up a browser from time to time. And since CyberGhost’s dedicated streaming servers are a key selling point, we’re sure the developers are working on getting access to the few that didn’t work for us. It’s a reminder, though, that there are no guarantees when it comes to geo-unblocking.
CyberGhost VPN review: Is it secure?
CyberGhost is based in Romania. That’s not part of the “Five Eyes” or any other formal data-sharing alliance, but it is inside the EU, so there’s a possibility that information about your membership could be shared internationally.
If you want to minimise that risk, you can pay for the service in Bitcoin, which means the company knows almost nothing about you beyond your IP address. And although CyberGhost keeps records of when you log onto the service, it promises that your actual online activity is not monitored or logged.
While the company hasn’t been independently audited, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, it does publish its own quarterly transparency reports, covering requests for data. The latest one, for Q4 of 2020, states that the company received 33,377 data requests from various authorities and didn’t comply with a single one.
As we’ve noted, the software includes various features to help you stay safe too, including the kill switch, the flexible auto-connect options and optional DNS filtering to block domains that are known to host malware. There’s no double-VPN option though – something other VPNs offer to provide an extra layer of concealment to your location and identity.
CyberGhost VPN review: Should you buy it?
CyberGhost isn’t the fastest VPN around, but it’s speedy enough for most purposes. In particular, it has more than enough performance to stream 4K video from US-based services and, in our tests, it did a good job of unblocking these sites. Just a few services weren’t available on Android – if that’s a problem, take a look at ExpressVPN, which managed to unblock them all. Overall though, the CyberGhost streaming experience is very satisfactory.
CyberGhost VPN is also a smart choice if your focus is on privacy protection. Its goal-oriented interface helps you get the protection you want in a few clicks, and the automatic connection rules help ensure you don’t accidentally expose your private data. Not bad for a service that, if you’re willing to make a long-term commitment, also happens to be one of the cheapest VPNs around.