Updated on January 12, 2019.
What we liked:
What we didn't like:
What we didn't liked:
CyberGhost is a Romanian VPN provider that also offers premium version of its service. The company operates servers in "53 countries", more or less decent speeds and plenty of servers to pick from.
Unfortunately there is no Bitcoin or any other anonymous type of payment, which kind of makes it useless for those users who care about their privacy, although the company (like almost every other) claims to keep very little amount of logs.
There is also no killswitch for Mac and no instant approval of sign ups, we had to wait 1 hour to start using the service.
CyberGhost offers a cheaper 2 year plan, but we advise to take this promise with a grain of salt, since a company which values its services so low is not in it for the long haul, at least that's the general experience with companies that oversell their product. The 1 year plan however is still 30% more expensive than VPNArea for example.
CyberGhost scored 4th in our speed tests which is more than enough for most people.
There is money back guarantee and their service works with Netflix. So despite some shortcomings CyberGhost is not too bad of a choice if for some reason you don't want to sign up with some of the other companies in the list like VPNArea which we recommend instead.
Once we fought our way to the pricing plans were shocked to see a "7 Year deal". This is an immediate red flag in our opinion because there has seldom been any online business that lasts 7 years, not because of the company itself but because technology changes in that time.
Also a VPN provider that doesn't care if they'll get more revenue from the customer after 1 year could be eyeing a future company sale in the near future. 2 Years is also worrisome but 7 years just doesn't make any sense. Personally we'd like to know that the company will be working hard during our first year in order to win our loyalty for a second year. From a business point of view, since this is "Services" industry it makes sense for the company to want to charge us more next year, otherwise it doesn't look very sustainable.
Anywho, we picked the 12$/mo membership option to test the service.
Yet another pop-up bombardment to pick a different plan.
Alright, we fought our way to the Payment stage only to be further disappointed. Bitcoin was no longer accepted "Due to Maintenance". We checked with BitPay and there was no maintenance at the moment. Not a good sign.
The answer from the support team was: "Unfortunately we cannot estimate or provide with a definite timeline."
"How long it has been offline?" we asked.
"It hasn't work from the beginning. Because the payment processor has noticed the low use of this payment method" " - Answered the support team member.
Call us paranoid but an anonymous VPN provider who only accepts Paypal and credit/debit cards leaves much to be desired.
Problems did not end here. We tried paying by Paypal and it seems Cyberghost does not automatically approve accounts. They delayed our payment for manual review. With 300 companies on the market one would think it would be easier to spend your money buying a VPN account :-)
Finally after 1 hour we received the approval to pay for our order.
As soon as we paid we were taken to the Thank you page and a download began immediately. An annoying third party survey also imposed itself on us to ask what convinced us to buy.
Client Area - Attempt after attempt continued to be made to make us pay more despite the fact we've just paid.
Cyberghost has 256-bit AES encryption cipher with 2048bit RSA keyand uses HMAC MD5 for hash authentication. The OSTIF OpenVPN audit suggests that HMAC SHA-2 is a better option. CyberGhost does have plans to upgrade to HMAC SHA-2.
We tested cyberghost for leaks and discovered none which was a good news.
Once downloaded the software does not start in full-mode, it instead starts in free trial mode and offers you to Upgrade. If you go back to "Menu" you'll be able to log-in with your account and then you'll be in "full" mode.
Once that we're logged in and ready to give it a try, the main window offers you 6 options, Ad-Blocker, Prevent online tracking, Force HTTPS, Data Compression, Extra Speed.
The problem with that is that most of those would not mean much to a beginner. Also the "VPN" option, which is what Cyberghost is supposed to be about is advertised as "Extra Speed" which is misleading. While a VPN could sometimes increase your speed that happens really rarely, at least for us it has NEVER happened and it did not happen with Cyberghost too.
The "Ad-Blocker" is a nice option that many VPN companies now have. Good to see that Ad-Blocking is available with Cyberghost, but it did not make sense that "Prevent malicious web sites" and "Prevent online tracking" were separate options, as normally the former goes with Ad-Blocker by default and the latter goes with using VPN.
There was a general feeling of bulking up the software from page 1 to make us feel like we're getting a lot of stuff, which I guess would be good for our mental state if we did indeed pay 168$ for the too-long 7 year membership.
Overall we would have liked to have a simple "VPN" option or at least the mention of the "VPN" word anywhere on the main screen of the App since it is the VPN servers we want to connect to.
With the Mac App review completed we focused on their Windows App. The moment we opened their software we faced the same issue with trial/premium account, even though we do have a premium account.
After logging in unfortunately we had the same confusing choice of action: "Surf Anonymously", "Unblock Streaming", "Protect Network", "Torrent Anonymously", "Unblock Basic Sites". It sounds more like Search Engine optimisation than actual server categories. We did finally choose Netflix Unblocking server and it took forever. After few minutes we cancelled the connection and gave another server a try.
Once connected we couldn't reach any better speed through their Windows software than we achieved through the Mac, so unfortunately there speed rating remains mediocre to low during our tests.
In differ to the Mac software the Windows one does have a Killswitch but it's .exe based. Meaning that the Internet of a particular executable will be stopped. However we can argue that this is not very efficient, since some programs use "Services" and you may need to know the exact path and names of all executable files. Many people are not that advanced in their knowledge of the programs they run, they just know that those programs shouldn't have Internet once the VPN is disconnected.
Other than that there are good sorting options once you reach the "Choose my server" page.
There is also latency test available, however the test goes through all servers before displaying results, meaning you may have to wait few minutes. other providers like VPNArea do the test in steps and as soon as a result is available it shows you which server has what latency, so the wait is less.
We counted servers in a total of 51 countries. It is important to mention that Cyberghost does not allow P2P/Torrenting - on USA servers.
We perform our speed testing based on direct download test from 4 worldwide locations, 2 in Europe, 2 in USA, then we also perform a secondary testing via the most popular Ookla test (speedtest.net).
Please note that the results from the download tests are in Megabytes, not Megabits like Ookla's so they should be multiplied by 8 for reference. More details of our speed tests below:
2019-01-07 20:24:39 (4.93 MB/s) - ‘100MB.test.4’ saved [100000000/100000000]
2019-01-07 20:29:29 (4.21 MB/s) - ‘100MB.test.7’ saved [100000000/100000000]
USA - Baltimore server
2019-01-07 20:39:44 (2.10 MB/s) - ‘100MB-dallas.bin.5’ saved [104857600/104857600]
2019-01-07 20:41:09 (2.06 MB/s) - ‘100MB-atlanta.bin.2’ saved [104857600/104857600]
9.59 mbps 2.99mbps
USA - Los Angeles server
2019-01-07 20:46:38 (899 KB/s) - ‘100MB-atlanta.bin.3’ saved [104857600/104857600]
2019-01-07 20:48:46 (1001 KB/s) - ‘100MB-dallas.bin.6’ saved [104857600/104857600]
Mandatory to enter First/Last name, Country and Zip Code
Third party survey.
Cyberghost is based in Romania which puts it out of grasp by NSA and other spying agencies.
There have been some security concerns about Cyberghost and their ways in regards to their Ad Blocking feature. At some point they used a root certificate to facilitate the ad-blocking feature which is not a good practice because this way CyberGhost would have complete control over all your web traffic, they would be able to simply decipher it and see all that you do.
However they have changed the way they do ad-blocking once this came to light, but it is troubling that it happened in the first place. They have assured the VPN community that they no longer use that method unless a user is on an older CyberGhost version.
Cyberghost does keep some connection logs but of no big consequence: “CyberGhost VPN records exclusively for statistical purposes non-personal data (such as for example, data regarding the utilization degree of the servers), which do not represent in any moment a danger for your anonymity.“
CyberGhost offers support via LiveChat or Ticket system. However we were not happy with the dubious answers from our chat experience when we asked about Bitcoin. It seemed like the agent was making it up without any moral consciousness of the Bitcoin issue that they were trying to conceal as a temporary mishap which then the agent admitted to have never worked form the beggining.