Here’s a sobering thought — everything you do online is tracked by someone. Big businesses that want your browsing habits. Social networks that want to sell your information to advertisers. Even government agencies that want to keep an eye on you “just in case.”
Creepy, right? But that’s just the unfortunate reality of the internet we occupy. Unless, of course, you’re using a VPN.
Virtual Private Networks have been around for decades, but in recent years they’ve been growing in popularity1 — and not just among the hard-core privacy enthusiasts and super-tech nerds. Everyday folks are realizing that their data and privacy are jeopardized every time they connect to the internet, and they’re understanding just how dangerous that can be.
That’s why we’re going to take a look at one of the best all-around VPNs on the market today — CyberGhost. Despite sounding like a character from a ‘90s anime, we were quite happy with this service. In this hands-on review, we’re breaking down the good, the great, and the not-so-great aspects of CyberGhost to help you make an informed decision and take control of your digital privacy once and for all.
Did You Know: Virtual private networks first gained popularity as a way for companies to allow employees to securely work remotely.
The first thing we wanted to point out is how seriously CyberGhost takes your privacy. They’re a zero-logs service based in Romania, meaning they aren’t exactly tied down by international data-sharking agreements, and even if they were, they don’t collect data on their users to share. So dedicated are they to user privacy, they were one of the first VPN services to start releasing transparency reports, showing exactly who is requesting information of their users and how they’ve been able to deflect them.2
Right off the bat, this is encouraging news for anyone shopping around for a VPN service. Privacy is usually number one on everyone’s priority list, but before we start unpacking CyberGhost in detail, let’s take a quick look at what else they’re getting right — as well as where we think they came up a little short.
So now that we have an idea of CyberGhost’s capabilities and offerings, let’s talk briefly about purchasing the service.
CyberGhost offers three subscription plans. Each gives you full access to the entire suite of services — the only differences are how much you’re going to pay, how long your subscription will last, and how many days you’ll have to get your money back. Here’s a quick breakdown of how it all looks:
|CyberGhost VPN Plans||Monthly Cost||Money-Back Guarantee|
So as you can see, the more time you sign up for, the better deal you’re going to get. At $12.99, the month-to-month cost is a little on the pricey side, but once you move into the longer duration subscriptions, that price really evens out. We also like that each subscription plan gives you plenty of time to back out if you decide CyberGhost isn’t right for you — bonus points there. You can read more in our guide to CyberGhost’s service plans.
After some quick deliberation, we went ahead and selected our service package to get the ball rolling. There wasn’t anything too surprising here — we set up an account and provided our credit card information, but three things did stick out that are worth mentioning.
First, we were given the option to pay in bitcoin. This is a great feature for people particularly worried about their privacy. We’ve gotta admit, something feels a little off giving a service that’s supposed to protect our privacy access to our name and credit card information, but using cryptocurrency to pay makes things even more secure. Is this overkill? Maybe. But it’s nice to have the option.
Did You Know: Cryptocurrency is a digital exchange medium that is both encrypted and decentralized. In English, that means it can’t be manipulated by governments, and your spending can’t be traced back to you.3
Second and third, there are two optional add-ons we could purchase with our CyberGhost subscription — a dedicated, static IP address for an extra $5 per month and a password manager for $19.99 per year. We like the latter — that’s a neat add-on that fits with the overall privacy posture that we’re going for, but it’s unfortunate that you have to pay extra for the dedicated IP address. When we reviewed HMA VPN, the static IP address access was included. Regardless, we opted in for both to put them to the test.
One thing to note though, if you’re paying with bitcoin, you’re not going to be able to purchase these bonuses.
Since we picked a month-to-month subscription package, our total bill was $37.98 and would recur monthly at $17.99. Like we said, that’s a little steep in this industry, but we’ll also point out again that there are much more affordable CyberGhost subscription options — all with generous trial periods.
After we purchased our plan and created a password, we were redirected to a download screen where we were automatically prompted to install the CyberGhost VPN to our computer locally, but it’s also worth pointing out we had access to all of the supported platforms. As expected from higher-end VPNs, CyberGhost is supported on Windows, macOS, and select Linux distributions. They’re also available on iOS and Android devices and they can connect to your Android or Fire TV. Pretty well-rounded accessibility here. We’d have loved to see gaming platforms supported, but no biggie for us – we’re not huge gamers. If you are, though, you might want to check out our review of NordVPN. You can easily set up their service on a variety of consoles.
Once we downloaded the software and went through a relatively easy setup process, we were ready to browse in complete anonymity.
When we first logged into CyberGhost, we were impressed by the dashboard. It’s sleek, easy to navigate, and has all the information you’ll need exactly where you need it. It reminded us a little bit of when we analyzed ExpressVPN, to be honest. They both have a slick interface that clearly prioritize user-friendliness.
This is also just a personal thing, but we were overjoyed to find we could drag the corners to change the dimensions of the window. We don’t know what it is about VPNs, but for some reason that functionality is either always missing, or it’s really wonky. So thanks for that, CyberGhost!
On the left-hand side of the dashboard, you’ll find the various server categories. You’ve got your favorites list, all servers, dedicated IP — that add-on we purchased — and servers optimized for file sharing and streaming.
One quick thing about CyberGhost’s streaming dedication — they get super specific here. It’s not just a server dedicated to general streaming, they have servers dedicated for specific platforms in specific countries. They even have one for Crunchyroll (we knew they liked anime).
If there’s something to criticize here, it’s that there’s no “fastest connection” function like we saw in our Surfshark review. If you’re looking to get the best performance, it’s a bit of trial and error. It’s pretty easy to guess which might be fastest given your proximity and the percent server utilization, but we like it when a service takes that guesswork out of the equation. Oh well.
FYI: Want to see how Cyberghost stacks against one of the biggest names in the industry? Check out our NordVPN and Cyberghost comparison to get the full picture.
That said, one of the primary tests we perform — if you could even call it that — is to simply let a VPN function normally as we’re going about our day. We’re happy to report that CyberGhost just chugged along in the background and we barely even noticed it. There were no connection interruptions, no significant speed changes, and no need to open it up and fiddle around. That’s really good news when you’re talking about these services. With that in mind, though, we did want to make sure our speeds weren’t suffering while using CyberGhost.
While we never really noticed any meaningful latency while using CyberGhost, we still wanted to test it to make sure we weren’t suffering from slowdowns. In our speed tests, we found that even with the VPN engaged, we were still enjoying really fast speeds when using a server in close proximity.
While both our download and upload speeds took a bit of a ding, it wasn’t enough to be super noticeable in our day-to-day browsing.
So that’s that for what you may be concerned with most while using CyberGhost. However, we did want to pop the hood and poke around a little for the more advanced VPN-heads out there.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, we recommend watching our full video review of CyberGhost to get a feel of what it’s really like using this popular VPN.
One cool feature is that CyberGhost has recently added support for WireGuard — a new upcoming VPN protocol.4 While it has a few privacy drawbacks, it really is a speed demon and offers state-of-the-art cryptography that makes it a great alternative to OpenVPN.
WireGuard is available on both Windows and macOS platforms. If you’re running CyberGhost on a Windows machine, you can select between it and OpenVPN, or if you’re on a Mac, you can choose WireGuard or IKEv2.
Did You Know: Some highly restrictive governments can actually recognize VPN traffic in their networks and terminate their connectivity. If you live in or are traveling to a place like this, check out our full experience with IPVanish — they’ve got you covered.
We also wanted to mention that add-on we purchased here — access to our dedicated IP address. To set this up, we had to log into our account online and download our “token” by selecting the country in which we wanted our dedicated IP address to appear. Note: you’re only able to do this once, so make sure you’re making the right call.
Also, for the sake of privacy, your token code isn’t saved by CyberGhost, meaning there’s no way to recover it if it’s lost. We recommend saving it locally on your computer in a .txt file.
Once you have your code, you can copy and paste it into the CyberGhost dashboard, and — bingo — you’ve got a dedicated IP address that no one else will ever have access to.
Why would you want a dedicated IP address? Good question. A dedicated IP address is less likely to be blacklisted by certain websites, and you’ll be able to avoid having to mess with CAPTCHAs by websites suspicious of bot traffic. It just makes browsing with a VPN that much easier.
One thing you’re not going to notice while poking around is access to a kill switch. This doesn’t mean CyberGhost doesn’t have one; it just means it’s always on. At one point while switching between servers there was a bit of a hiccup on our end (we hadn’t given CyberGhost the proper back-end permissions on our machine), and it immediately let us know that the kill switch had engaged and terminated our internet connection since the VPN was interrupted.
FYI: Kill switches are extremely important for folks who want to use P2P file-sharing services like BitTorrent or Utorrent. If your service is disrupted for whatever reason, your true IP address won’t be exposed.
So we’re getting close to touching on pretty much everything there is to talk about CyberGhost’s desktop experience, but there are a few little bonus features here and there that we wanted to point out. The first is called My ID Guard; the second of the bonus features we added on when we signed up for our subscription.
This is a pretty cool functionality with a twofold purpose: a leak-checker that will alert you if your email address has been revealed in a data breach, and the second is a password checker where you can enter your password to see if it’s one of the 600-some-odd million that have been exposed in known data breaches.
Another interesting feature is CyberGhost’s cookie cleaner. This is an extension for either Chrome or Firefox that allows you to better control your online privacy by erasing your digital footprints. While this doesn’t really do anything super novel — you can always manually delete your cookies and erase your search histories — it’s still a cool add-on that helps round out CyberGhost’s overall privacy posture.
FYI: Cookies are small pieces of data that allow websites to perform all sorts of functions like remembering your usernames and passwords or keeping track of your shopping cart while you browse an online marketplace.5
And now a bit of bad news: CyberGhost does offer connection features they claim give you more privacy protections and help you get the most out of their service. These include an ad blocker, a malicious website blocker, data compression, a tracking blocker, and an automatic redirect for the most secure version of any website. These, unfortunately, don’t work all that well – if this is functionally you really need, check out our review of ProtonVPN. They really get this right.
Now first things first — it doesn’t really inspire confidence that each option is listed twice. Do we have to turn it on in both instances for it to work? Even when we tried that, we were still inundated with ads on most websites after we turned off our external ad-blocking extension. Because this feature wasn’t working, we didn’t really want to seek out any malicious or unsecured websites to test the functionality of the other options. Will that be your experience as well? Maybe, maybe not. We can only tell you ours.
Moving on, this brings us to the last thing we want to talk about — how CyberGhost performs on mobile platforms.
When you’re looking for a VPN, we recommend securing one with a strong mobile client — particularly if you’re worried about identity theft or hackers. You’re far more likely to come under attack while you’re out connecting to unfamiliar networks on your phone than you are sitting at your desk on your home’s LAN.
The good news is that CyberGhost has a great mobile presence. The UI is almost exactly the same as the desktop iteration, and the protections are just as robust. You have access to all the same servers, and you have the option of switching between protocols.
You’ll also see some bonus features here, too. Namely “Photo Vault” and “Private Browser.”
The latter is a little disappointing — it’s basically just a port of DuckDuckGo, a web browser that doesn’t log search inquiries or browsing habits. It’s a good service, but CyberGhost is pretty much a middleman here. The former is pretty neat — the Photo Vault syncs up with your phone’s photo library to locally store and password-protect specific photos.
That about wraps it up! So what’s the verdict here? Is CyberGhost all it’s cracked up to be?
There are certainly things to love about this spooky service. Their dedication to privacy is top-notch, their speeds are blazing, and the granular detail of their optimizations make it incredibly easy to stream exactly what you want and where you want.
We weren’t super in love with the month-to-month prices — they’re a little high — but we did like that their longer-duration subscriptions were a lot cheaper and risk-free for up to 45-days. We also didn’t like that some of the bonus functionality like the ad-blocker seemed faulty, but we were still impressed with the overall protections and performance of CyberGhost.
With all this in mind, we’d definitely recommend CyberGhost as a top-ten service, and one that’s going to serve the vast majority of our readers well no matter which corners of the internet they choose to haunt.
Without bonus features, a month-to-month subscription to CyberGhost costs $12.99. If you sign up for a year, it’ll cost $3.99, and if you sign up for 39 months, it’ll cost $2.25.
Yes, CyberGhost has an integrated kill switch that will terminate internet connectivity if the VPN service is disrupted.
CyberGhost users can choose between OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard protocols depending on the device they’re using.
Yes, CyberGhost has servers dedicated to particular streaming platforms.
Yes, there are dedicated servers for file sharing, and CyberGhost’s kill switch adds an additional layer of protection.
Coble, S. (2020, March 26). VPN Usage in US Quadruples. Info Security.
Toulas, B. (2020, October 6). ‘CyberGhost VPN’ Published the Q3 2020 Transparency Report. Tech Nadu. https://www.technadu.com/cyberghost-vpn-published-q3-2020-transparency-report/216360/
Ashford, K. and Schmidt, J. (2020, December 18). What Is Cryptocurrency? Forbes.
Constantin, L. (2020, April 2). What Is WireGuard? Secure, simple VPN now part of Linux. CSO.
Penland, J. (2020, February 27). Browser Cookies: What Are They & Why Should You Care? Who Is Hosting This?
Derek Prall is a VPN and cybersecurity expert with more than seven years of experience in the industry. He has spent thousands of hours researching identity theft protection, VPNs, and other ways to keep safe online. To date, Derek has written nearly 100 comprehensive resources for SafeHome.org. As a professional journalist, he has contributed to reputable publications such as TD Magazine, New Jersey Herald, and many others. Learn more about Derek here