CyberGhost VPN review: An easy-to-use VPN for content streamers

CyberGhost continues to be one of our favorite VPNs that caters to overseas streamers, offers a good amount of countries for a good price.

Credit: CyberGhost

CyberGhost in brief:

  • P2P allowed: Yes
  • Business location: Romania
  • Number of servers: 7,000
  • Number of country locations: 90
  • Cost: $47.88 per year
  • VPN protocol: IKEv2 (default)
  • Data encryption: AES-256
  • Data authentication: SHA-256
  • Handshake: 4096-bit RSA

CyberGhost is back with a new update, and we really liked what the company has done with its desktop app. Version 8 of CyberGhost improves the interface, expands the number of servers, and adds WireGuard as a VPN protocol option—making for marked differences from version 7, which we reviewed two years ago.

Note: This review is part of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Features and services

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CyberGhost 8 with an active connection.

The CyberGhost app starts as a single-panel mobile-style interface. This time around, however, the power button is front and center on the dashboard, whereas before it was below the location panel. Now it’s much larger and basically impossible to miss.

Below that is the location selector where you select the location you’d like, and that is basically the major components of the single-panel view. If all you want is a VPN to connect to a remote location while you’re on public Wi-Fi then this interface is all you may ever need.

To see more features, click the left-facing arrow, which opens a full-screen view. This larger app now has a left rail featuring five menu items Favorites, All servers, Gaming-servers, For torrenting, and For streaming.

Many of these menu options come from CyberGhost’s legacy as a VPN that offers servers based on use rather than location. The options are all pretty self-explanatory, though I would call attention to the For streaming section. CyberGhost supports unblocking for more than 35 services. In the U.S. this includes Amazon Prime, Fox, HBO Max, HBO Now, Hulu, NBC, Netflix, and others. When you’re going overseas, or you’d like to access an overseas service from the U.S., CyberGhost offers an excellent selection.

At the bottom of the left rail there are two other features: Privacy settings and Smart rules. The first has some basic features such as preventing DNS leaks, an automatic kill switch, and an optional blocker for domains that are known to serve ads, trackers, and malware.

cyberghostsmartrules IDG

CyberGhost 8’s Smart Rules.

The Smart rules section is a good section for power users. Here you can set launch rules such as starting a VPN connection automatically, or choosing an app that launches automatically when CyberGhost establishes a VPN connection. There are also options to automatically launch a VPN connection when it detects a new network. Finally, you can make website whitelists that bypass the VPN for specific sites, and you can also make similar exceptions for desktop apps. 

Dipping into the settings area, the most notable feature is that you can select from three different VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.

The extended version of CyberGhost for Windows has a nice mix of useful and power-user features. You don’t have anything like a double VPN, but you do have some nice customization options, as well as access to a wide range of streaming services around the world.

Privacy, anonymity, and trust

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CyberGhost 8’s streaming section.

CyberGhost is based in Romania, and it maintains a list of key personnel on the company’s website. Its CEO and co-founder is Robert Knapp, the CTO is Timo Beyel, and the head of software development is Patrick Arns.

The privacy policy is pretty straightforward. Right at the top the company says it does not track browsing history or traffic. It also says it does not store connection logs, your IP address, connection timestamps, or session durations.

It does, however, collect data on connection attempts including the time they happened, country of origin, and CyberGhost software version. It also tracks successful connections. CyberGhost says this information is sent to a third-party who collects the information in aggregate. The company uses this information to maintain its service and none of the data collected contains personally identifying features.

CyberGhost charges around $50 per year for a single-year subscription. There are also options for a two-year subscription at $83.76, three years at $87.75, and a month-to-month plan of $13 per. It also offers add-ons such as dedicated IP addresses and a security suite. The latter includes a built-in antivirus using Intego’s scanning engine, a privacy guard to adjust data sent back to Microsoft from your PC, and an automated updater for installed apps. The security suite cost ranges from $6 on the month-to-month plan to $1.39 per month on the three-year subscription.

To sign up for CyberGhost you need to supply an email address and password, and payment is accepted via credit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin via BitPay.

Performance

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CyberGhost 8’s gaming servers section.

In our tests, CyberGhost’s speeds were very good though not as good as our previous review. After three days of testing using multiple locations and multiple trials, the VPN retained 31 percent of the base speed. We found there were particularly good speeds in Europe, the UK, the U.S., and Australia, though speeds in Japan were consistently weak.

Conclusion

CyberGhost is, as always, an excellent VPN. The speeds are good, the interface can suit novices and power users alike, and it makes the right privacy promises. It also supports a wide range of streaming services all over the world, and has some interesting add-ons for that could be tempting for some people.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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