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CyberGhost is one of the original and best-known VPN services for consumers. It has changed hands and currently owned by Kape Technologies which also owns other VPN services including ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access and Zenmate as well as VPN comparison website VPNmentor.
It’s a particularly good choice for unblocking streaming services because, not only is it good at doing so, but because of its inexpensive multi-year subscription plans.
And if that’s why you really want a VPN – to unblock Netflix, Disney+ and other services – it won’t really matter about the less-great aspects of the service, such as the lack of an independent audit for its no-logs policy, which becomes basically irrelevant.
So, rather than diving in and talking about the desktop and mobile apps as we tend to do, let’s talk about streaming and performance.
Works with Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime and more
When we tested in May 2022, we had no issues watching US-exclusive titles such as Ink Master from our UK location. We also tested that iPlayer was accessible from France and found that, initially, it wasn’t.
That’s because, on the day of testing, the server marked as being optimised for iPlayer wasn’t working properly and even the BBC website wouldn’t load when connected. However, trying a server optimised for ITV – another UK-based streaming service – iPlayer worked just fine, as did ITV Hub.
CyberGhost is unusual in that it doesn’t just provide a list of servers or countries but the Windows app lets you see filtered lists for streaming, gaming, torrenting and NoSpy (we’ll get to those later).
In the Streaming list, you’ll find a wide choice of services, but also servers dedicated to specific streaming devices, such as a US server optimised for US Netflix on an Amazon Fire TV, or another for Hulu on Android TV.
Other servers promise to unblock ESPN+, NBC, HBO Max while in the UK, there are servers for iPlayer, ITV, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Note that Prime is slightly different from other services as you can’t unblock a different region, because the library available to you is dictated by your Amazon account. Using CyberGhost (or any VPN) allows you to watch Prime when abroad as if you were at home, otherwise you’ll be faced with a much reduced selection.
Overall, unblocking is one of CyberGhost’s strengths.
22 owned & operated NoSpy servers
Since we last reviewed CyberGhost in 2020, it has added around 600 extra servers and 24 locations to its network. That brings the total to 7,100 servers in 114 locations (in 91 countries), which is a lot.
The apps no longer let you see details about each server: its current load, ping or anything else, but you can at least pick specific locations for any country that offers more than one. CyberGhost says it took the decision to remove the details to streamline the apps and offer a better user experience.
In the Windows app, however, you can see the ping for servers in the For Gaming list as well as for each of the NoSpy servers. And (for all locations) you can see how far they are from your real location in kilometres.
On mobile, you don’t have separate lists for downloads or NoSpy, but you can choose Romania from the list of countries to connect to a NoSpy server. There’s no dedicated tab simply because of space contraints.
There’s a kill switch built into the Windows, Mac, iOS and Android apps, but you won’t find any settings for it on your iPhone or Android device: it runs in the background and can’t be disabled.
The kill switch is turned on by default in the Windows app, and will pop up a message telling you to close any ‘sensitive’ apps before clicking the Unblock Connection button, which is useful as it means you’re protected from an unexpected disconnection from the VPN server. DNS leak protection is also on by default.
CyberGhost’s Windows app used to have a section titled Connection Features which included an ad blocker, a malicious website blocker, forced HTTPS for all sites and data compression. These have been combined into a single Block Connect feature in version 8, found under the Privacy Settings menu.
For some reason, CyberGhost likes to split up the settings into three different places in the Windows app instead of keeping everything together. It says that it is going to redesign the Settings menu in future to address this.
But for now, if you click the settings cog, you find options to launch the app when Windows starts, choose a dark or light them and choose what happens when you close the app.
The VPN settings you might be looking for are actually under Privacy Settings (or Settings > VPN), including selecting which protocol to use, and a few advanced options that most users won’t ever need. What’s missing is split tunnelling, the ability to choose which apps use the VPN connection and which don’t.
There is a Smart Rules section, which is useful for auto-connecting the VPN to your chosen server when you launch it, and then launching a specific app. There is also a separate option to auto-connect the VPN when you manually launch a specific app, which is really handy so you never forget to connect it when, for example, you’re downloading torrent files.
Under Exceptions, you can only enter websites that shouldn’t pass through the VPN tunnel. This is useful for any sites that don’t work properly (such as online banking which already use encryption).
Split tunnelling is also missing on iOS and Mac (below) but is present on Android.
The Mac app is almost identical to the mobile apps, making the Windows app seem like a supercharged version – great if you mainly want a VPN for Windows.
Another main feature of the mobile apps is the option to choose whether or not to let the VPN protect Wi-Fi connections, a prompt which appears when your phone connects to a new Wi-Fi network.
In addition to these four apps, you can also install CyberGhost on Android TV and Amazon Fire TV devices. There are also browser extensions available for Chrome and Firefox, but these use proxy servers, not VPN servers, so aren’t good if you’re after privacy – only unblocking.
There’s Linux support, too, but no GUI, just a command line interface.
Although support for Apple TV and games consoles is listed alongside the other operating systems, it’s great to see that CyberGhost is completely honest that it isn’t possible to use a VPN on these devices. It suggests changing DNS settings to unblock streaming services, and is clear that your web traffic won’t be encrypted.
Available as part of 1, 2 and 3-year subscriptions
Like most VPN services, CyberGhost rents the vast majority of its servers. But at its HQ in Romania it has its own data centre which it owns and operates. It calls the servers here ‘NoSpy’ and says they offer better speeds, better security and have ‘super high premium hardware’.
You can access these servers as long as you’re on at least a 1-year subscription (or you can pay extra on a rolling 1-month plan).
It’s certainly nice to have the option, but at the same time it highlights the drawbacks of using any of CyberGhost’s other servers.
The implication is that they’re not as secure and, in CyberGhost’s own words, are not “isolated from third-party meddling”. Using NoSpy servers “drastically reduces the risk of exposure and interference from external actors”. Not particularly reassuring, then.
However, the company does says that it runs its own custom operating system for a “fully secure environment” and has “extra security measures” in place for all rented servers.
When we queried CyberGhost about this, a spokesperson explained that all servers – included rented ones – run in RAM only, are fully encrypted and have no ties to databases or management infratructure. “CyberGhost VPN is built in a container-like style, ensuring there’s always safe isolation between the nodes in our fleet.A compromised node can’t be used to access other servers or core resources. Furthermore, we have additional server authenticity tests in place to eliminate the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. We also use self-managed DNS servers to ensure complete end-to-end protection.”
That last part is important, as not all VPN services run their own DNS servers. Sometimes, using third-party DNS servers means those lookups aren’t encrypted and can mean your activity isn’t hidden.
The server setup, though, is quite typical among reputable VPNs so it’s no riskier to use CyberGhost’s rented servers than any of NordVPN or ExpressVPN’s servers.
No-logs policy (currently being audited)
Theoretically, this means that your activity is completely anonymous: neither your ISP nor CyberGhost has any idea what you do, or when you do it when connected to the VPN.
If you dig deeper, you will find that CyberGhost does, in fact, do some logging. However, this is anonymous data that it claims is used to understand the demand for servers in particular countries and whether connection attempts were successful or not.
Plus, you’re now presented with the ability to opt out of this collection when you first launch the apps: it’s no longer enabled by default.
CyberGhost tells us that it is currently (as of June 2022) undergoing an independent audit by Deloitte. The results will be published “soon”. Assuming no issues are found, it will means you won’t have to take the company’s word for it that it doesn’t keep any of your data.
However, you don’t have to provide any of that (except an email address, which you could set up just for your VPN account) if you pay by Bitcoin.
CyberGhost hasn’t exactly been too speedy about implementing
WireGuard, but the protocol is now available across all of its apps.
This is a major boon, especially if you have a fast internet connection. We tested the service from San Francisco using gigabit broadband with that speed available for both downloads and uploads:
Oddly, WireGuard isn’t set as the default protocol, so unless you’re clever enough to change it manually, you’ll end up getting much slower speeds over OpenVPN. We’re told that WireGuard will be the default protocol once work on optimising it for the Windows app is complete.
This table shows the speeds we saw using both OpenVPN and WireGuard in May 2022. Of course, this is just a snapshot: performance varies all the time, but it’s a good indication nevertheless, and we were pretty impressed overall with the speeds on WireGuard.
Auto-pick (Best Server Location)
In our testing we had no issues with the VPN disconnecting unexpectedly and, upon running our usual DNS and IP leak tests, we saw nothing untoward: CyberGhost passed with no issues.
CyberGhost offers a 45-day money back guarantee, which is one of the longest among its rivals. If you pick the one month subscription, it’s £9.99 / $12.99 but this drops sharply for longer subscriptions.
The best deal is the three-year option which, at the time of review, was just £1.90 / $2.48 per month, with three months added at the end for free. CyberGhost is naughty (like most of its rivals) and counts those ‘free’ months as paid when it calculates the monthly price in order to make it look even lower.
But while we despise this practice, there is good news: the company doesn’t hike renewal prices when your subscription ends. This means you’ll get the same great deal at the end of 39 months – assuming that deal is still available when you read this.
You can also add CyberGhost’s Security Suite for £1 / $1.29 per month, which gives you Intego Antivirus and an automatic software updater for Windows devices. Intego is another brand owned by Kape, so this is a way for it to sell you another of its products, albeit at a discounted rate.
Even if you don’t go for that, you’re allowed to use your CyberGhost account on up to seven specific devices simultaneously, so it’s good value if you have that many on which you need a VPN.
Note that VPN subscriptions aren’t paid per month. It’s a one-off payment every three years (or however long you subscribe for). As well as PayPal, Google Pay and cards, which aren’t anonymous, you can pay with BitPay, which is.
If you do go for bitcoin, just note you cannot currently purchase any add-ons such as antivirus, dedicated IP or password manager.
CyberGhost is better than ever thanks to support for WireGuard and the fact it still does a great job at unblocking streaming services.
Assuming you can get the three-year deal mentioned, it really is great value, especially if you’ll use all seven devices. Performance using WireGuard is very good, too, though if you have a gigabit internet connection, you’ll see a noticeable drop in speed on some servers if you can’t use a local one.
As we’ve said, it is not the best choice for those needing a VPN for online privacy simply because you have to trust that the company isn’t logging your data. It can say it’s a zero-logs VPN all it wants, but until there’s an independent audit to confirm this, it will remain much harder to recommend than NordVPN and others which have been audited.