Every time I review CyberGhost, it has a newly designed app with different features. This year, I was keen to see whether the revamped service addressed previous issues I had with the service…
Furthermore, a change in ownership raised serious questions about CyberGhost’s parent company and its sordid history.
More on this later…
In my 2021 CyberGhost review, I test out the service on both desktop and mobile to find out:
- Can CyberGhost unblock streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, etc.)?
- Is CyberGhost fast enough to stream video?
- How good is CyberGhost’s security?
- Should the company’s background concern you?
- Are there any better options for the same price?
And many more aspects of this versatile service.
Before we get into the detail here’s an overview of the key data on CyberGhost’s performance including speeds, streaming capabilities and security.
CyberGhost key data
|OVERALL RANK: #4 of 45 VPNs|
|Average Speed *:||58 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K UHD|
|Other Streaming Services:||Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, BBC iPlayer, Crunchyroll|
|Encryption Type:||256-bit AES|
|Log Policy:||No identifying logs|
|Protocols:||Wireguard, OpenVPN, IKEv2|
|Value for Money||
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$2.25|
|Money Back Guarantee:||45 days|
During my most recent experience with CyberGhost, I used it to unblock video streams, secure open wifi connections, and prevent my ISP from monitoring my web surfing and downloads.
CyberGhost is a strong all-round VPN, but I recommend it most highly to people who want to stream video from abroad. Fast speeds and airtight security also make it a good candidate for torrenting, and the apps are easy enough for pretty much anyone to use.
|Average speed *||58 Mbps||115 Mbps||135 Mbps|
|Encryption Type||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||256-bit AES|
|Kill Switch||desktop only|
|Records Identifying Logs|
|Unblocks Netflix US|
|Unblocks Amazon Prime|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Lowest monthly cost||$2.25 per month||$3.71 per month||$6.67 per month|
|Money-back guarantee||45 days||30 days||30 days|
While there is a lot to like about CyberGhost it won’t be right for everyone. Let’s dive in and find out where it excels and where it struggles.
CyberGhost Pros and Cons
Here’s a summary of what I liked and what I didn’t from my time reviewing CyberGhost.
I’ll get in to the detail on each of these points and more later in the review.
- Fast connections
- Earned a perfect score in our rigorous privacy and security assessment
- Allows seven simultaneous connections
- Makes it easy to unblock streaming sites from abroad, including US Netflix
- Live chat support
- Zero logs
- Doesn’t work reliably from China or the UAE
- No apps for routers
- Parent company has a poor reputation
- No option to allow local networking
Speed: Is CyberGhost fast?
CyberGhost has earned the top spot in previous speed test comparisons, but it’s since been surpassed by rivals like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. In our speed tests, the average download speed was 58 Mbps across all locations and times, a slight increase on previous years.
I ran speed tests at various times of day on CyberGhost servers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Here are the results broken down by region:
- North America (nearest): 79 Mbps
- Europe: 55 Mbps
- Asia: 39 Mbps
If you’re on a 100 Mbps or higher connection, you might notice a slowdown, but the bandwidth available is more than enough for the average user.
As is trendy among VPNs right now, CyberGhost recently added the Wireguard protocol to its service. It offers faster speeds and comparable security to older protocols like OpenVPN, but certain app features are not available when using Wireguard.
You can also choose from the OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, or let CyberGhost choose for you. IKEv2 establishes connections the quickest and is best for mobile devices that tend to temporarily lose connection or frequently switch between wifi and mobile data. OpenVPN is required if you plan on using the Exceptions feature.
I was able to stream 4K UHD video when using nearby servers in the US. In the latest version of its app, CyberGhost has added gaming servers specifically for those who want to game online. I was also able to play fast-paced online games like Rocket League and Brawlhalla without much added input lag, so long as I chose a server located near either myself or the game’s server. Connections were reliable and never dropped during the test period. However, the ping time readout in the app was often broken, maxed out at 9999 ms.
Servers for each country are displayed alongside their distance from the user and the current server load. This can help give you an idea of how much latency and bandwidth to expect. You can choose a server location or a specific server within that location.
Note that these tests can only serve as a general indication of the performance you might see and cannot be considered definitive. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness. Users with faster connections will likely see larger discrepancies in speed.
Apps: What devices work with CyberGhost?
I found CyberGhost works on most major operating systems and is generous in its connection allowance.
CyberGhost allows subscribers to connect up to seven devices at once on a single plan. Apps are available for
- Linux (command line)
- Amazon Fire TV
A free browser extension is available, but it’s not great for unblocking streaming sites, isn’t as secure, and only connects to four locations.
There are no apps for routers, though CyberGhost does let me manually configure a client on some open-source router firmware, such as TomatoUSB.
A paid plan grants access to over 6,400 servers in 90+ countries.
The CyberGhost apps have gone through a major redesign for the latest version. I encountered a few bugs:
- In one case, the app’s panels wouldn’t expand, preventing me from accessing the settings and server list. I had to reinstall the app to fix the problem.
- In some instances, the kill switch would kick in after I intentionally disconnected the VPN, preventing access to the internet.
- When I hit my connection limit, the app prompted me to disconnect all other devices. I did so, but upon trying to connect another device, I received the same notification. I could only remotely log out of devices through the website dashboard.
In the grand scheme, these were minor drawbacks that can easily be remedied in future updates.
CyberGhost doesn’t use the most novice-friendly design, but it won’t take more than a few minutes to familiarize yourself with all the ins and outs.
One drawback is the lack of an option to allow local network traffic through the VPN. That means I can’t access shared files, printers, or smart home devices while connected to the VPN. Other VPNs give the option to enable or disable LAN connections.
One feature that might be attractive to some users is the dedicated IP address option. This is a paid add-on, but is handy for some use cases, for example, accessing IP-restricted networks. CyberGhost uses a token-based system for its dedicated IP addresses which means the IP address itself isn’t tied to your VPN account.
Streaming, Netflix, and Kodi
Does CyberGhost work with Netflix?
After a hiatus following Netflix’s global rollout, CyberGhost now reliably unblocks US Netflix. It can also unblock the French and German libraries of Netflix, which have slightly different catalogs of shows including some not available on the American version.
I’ve rounded up a list of other VPNs that work with Netflix here, which includes an analysis of 59 VPNs in 30 countries.
Most VPN apps simply give a list of server locations to connect to, but CyberGhost works a bit differently. It lets me choose a server based on how I want to use the VPN. In addition to a list of locations, I can specify that I want to torrent or stream. The streaming option allows me to search for servers by the streaming channel that they unblock, including:
- Netflix US, France, and Germany
- Amazon Prime Video
- BBC iPlayer
… and many more. Simply choose one of these to connect to an appropriate server. This novel approach is extremely convenient compared to other VPNs that require either contacting customer service or simply guessing at which servers unblock what.
I tested CyberGhost with multiple Kodi addons and it worked flawlessly with all of them. The Firestick and Android TV apps work great with remote controls if you’re not using a mouse or touchscreen.
Thanks to CyberGhost’s excellent speeds, I can stream in 1080p HD and quite possibly 4K UHD.
Does CyberGhost allow torrenting?
CyberGhost allows unlimited torrenting and operates plenty of servers optimized for safe and fast downloads. These are clearly labelled in the “For torrenting” section of the app.
App protection allows me to specify what apps should only be allowed to connect to the internet when the VPN is connected. If I torrent, for example, I can add my torrent client to this list so that it is never used without the VPN. Whenever I launch my torrent manager, CyberGhost will automatically connect.
Kill switches are available on both the desktop and mobile apps, which is rare–most VPNs don’t have them on their iOS and Android versions. A kill switch cuts off the internet to my device if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops, preventing unencrypted data leaks. The kill switch cannot be disabled on desktop, which some users might find annoying.
Security, privacy, and logging
Many VPNs claim to offer superior security when they in fact suffer from data leaks and outdated encryption standards. I was intrigued as to whether CyberGhost lives up to its claims.
While CyberGhost was originally developed in Germany, the company later moved to Romania, a country in which there are no mandatory data retention laws. This is good news for users seeking privacy, as personal data can only be retained if unequivocal consent is given.
CyberGhost doesn’t log user behavior, web targets, or communication. It keeps some connection logs but none that can be tied to an individual user.
Payment and registration details aren’t tied to the VPN service, and users are given an anonymous ID. Although the CyberGhost website collects a fair amount of information about visitors, none of this is connected to your use of the VPN service.
The apps collect some non-personal data for analytics and send it to MixPanel. This includes things like connection attempts, but not your IP address, connection timestamps, user ID, or VPN server.
Here are the encryption details:
- 256-bit AES encryption
- 2,048-bit RSA keys
- SHA256 authentication
- Perfect forward secrecy ensures that even if my encryption key is compromised, it cannot be used to decrypt past sessions.
CyberGhost uses its own private DNS servers by default, although I can alter these in the settings. The apps prevent all DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. IPv6 is actually disabled when connected to any CyberGhost server, therefore it cannot leak IPv6 traffic.
I can set CyberGhost to automatically protect me on unfamiliar wifi networks, which is handy while traveling. As mentioned in the torrenting section, the kill switch and app protection are useful security features.
The “Exceptions” feature works akin to split tunneling found in a few other VPNs. Here you can specify which websites will not use the VPN, even while it is connected. If there are specific websites I don’t want to visit through the VPN, or my email server is blocked by CyberGhost’s spam prevention, I can add them to this list. You must be using the OpenVPN protocol to take advantage of Exceptions.
As with most commercial VPNs, CyberGhost uses shared IP addresses. This means that when I connect to a server, I share that server’s IP address with other concurrent VPN users. This adds a layer of anonymity to your connection, making it more difficult to trace online activity back to a single person or device.
The Privacy settings tab lets you block DNS domains used for ads, trackers, and malware; prevent DNS leaks; and look at the kill switch toggle that can never be turned off “to protect your privacy and security.”
One more neat feature is the NoSpy server option. NoSpy servers are extra-secure, extra-private servers housed in a CyberGhost-owned data center.
Is CyberGhost’s background a concern?
A few years back, CyberGhost was acquired by Israeli company Crossrider (now Kape), which is registered in the UK, a country that is subject to data retention laws.
Far from ideal for a privacy-focused company.
Crossrider changed its name to Kape in an attempt to shake off its bad reputation. CyberGhost insists that it will continue to run as a standalone company based in Romania, and will therefore only be subject to Romanian law. However, some users might be put off by the change in ownership.
Does CyberGhost work in China?
Taking a trip to China?
Although you might be able to bypass China’s Great Firewall using CyberGhost, I wouldn’t recommend it to people visiting or living in China. Unfortunately, CyberGhost struggles to evade censorship in countries like China and the United Arab Emirates.
Specifically looking for a VPN for China? We reveal the best VPNs for China in our dedicated post.
Is CyberGhost’s customer service any good?
Customer support is available in English, German, and French. Live chat representatives are available on CyberGhost’s website 24/7. German and French support is available every day from 9am–6pm Romania time.
I got a hold of a representative within a couple of minutes of asking a question on the live chat. And I received a reply to a help ticket after about a 10-hour wait. If privacy is a concern, send a ticket through the app’s built-in support ticket system and avoid the website, which contains a lot of trackers.
The website has a fairly extensive FAQ and blog that covers common issues and how to use various features.
On a budget? No problem.
CyberGhost is an affordable provider, especially if you sign up for a year or more of service. The fact that you can connect up to seven devices at once makes CyberGhost a good budget option for a family or housemates. While it’s not the absolute cheapest VPN, the below-average price, money-back guarantee, and great quality service make it a bargain.
There are several different pricing plans to choose from:
- Monthly subscription: $12.99/month
- Annual subscription: $3.99/month (billed $47.88 annually)
- 2-year subscription: $3.49/month (billed $83.76 every 2 years)
- 3-year subscription (+3 months free): $2.25/month (billed $87.75 every 3 years)
You can find the latest and best CyberGhost Coupon here.
Should I buy CyberGhost?
After a few weeks of using CyberGhost for myself, would I recommend others buy it?
If you can see past its chequered history you won’t find better speed, security, and streaming options for a lower price. In fact, most pricier VPN providers can’t compete with CyberGhost, either. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to unblock region-locked content from abroad or torrent anonymously. Whether you’re new to VPNs or have been using them for years, CyberGhost is a reliable and well-rounded service.
The only real exception is if you’re living or traveling in countries that actively censor VPN usage, such as the United Arab Emirates or China.
I really like CyberGhost, but it’s not the only VPN worth considering.
NordVPN is competitively priced and is faster than CyberGhost. You get strong encryption, a no-logs policy, and the ability to unblock a wide range of streaming services. It also works in China and runs on a wider range of devices.
ExpressVPN is another VPN with a bigger price tag that will serve you better in countries like China and the UAE, where authorities actively block people from connecting to known VPN servers. It offers faster speeds, robust security, and comparable unblocking capabilities. It works on a wider range of devices and includes 24/7 live support.