CyberGhost Premium review

A comprehensive and capable VPN, but it's not perfect

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Our Verdict

CyberGhost offers a veritable wealth of features and choice of servers, but it's lacking on the performance front.

For

  • Wide choice of servers and countries
  • Anti-tracking and many other extras
  • Clear privacy policy
  • Three-day trial

Against

  • Below average performance

CyberGhost is a Romanian-based company which has been providing comprehensive and capable VPN services for several years.

The current range starts with a baseline free account. This has relatively poor performance, and includes ads, but you don't have to register to use it, there are no specific bandwidth or data caps, and it also acts as a trial of the commercial product for the first three days.

The main Premium account (£3.99 billed monthly – that's $5.19, AU$6.99) drops the ads, accelerates speeds and allows connections to more than 700 servers in 30 countries.

CyberGhost's Premium Plus (£6.99 billed monthly – that's $9.20, AU$12.22) is essentially the same product, but the one device only limit is raised to five.

Sounds good to us, but it's just the start. All plans have plenty of extra features – ad/malware/tracking blocking, automatic HTTPS redirect, specific torrent and streaming support, automatic Wi-Fi protection – and the option to pay with Bitcoin means there's no credit card required.

Privacy

The good news about CyberGhost continues in its privacy policy, where the company explains in detail what it does (and doesn't) do with your data.

That means there's not just the usual "we don't log your traffic". The policy explains how they use resellers to ensure there's no link between the payment data and the user account, which also means they don't have to store your name, physical or email address, or anything else.

CyberGhost further states that they don't forward data to third parties, such as social networks or advertising companies.

You can even ask the company to immediately delete any communications with its customer services, something we've not seen explicitly advertised anywhere else (they're kept for six months otherwise).

There is the usual clause that "CyberGhost forwards data only to observe the applicable laws or to comply with a judicial order", but that's no great surprise, and overall CyberGhost provides far more privacy assurances than other services.

Performance

Unlike most of the competition, CyberGhost's client software isn't just about toggling an 'anonymous' switch on and off. It goes beyond that, offering multiple ways to help you perform various tasks.

Click Unblock Streaming, for instance, and you're presented with 40+ links to common streaming sites (BBC, Netflix, Hulu, more). Choose a service, select a country, and a browser window opens at the site, ready for viewing.

There are similar options for downloading torrents, general surfing or protecting wireless networks. With one click you're able to connect to a VPN, open your preferred browser or torrent client, even protect yourself automatically when you connect to a new Wi-Fi network.

There's also some intelligence under the hood. Turning on other VPNs blocked some of our email traffic as the server no longer recognised our IP address, but CyberGhost was smart enough to detect and add our servers to an exception list. These connections weren't passed through the VPN and so continued to work correctly.

CyberGhost passed all our leak tests, concealing our identity at all times.

In our performance tests*, the software was a little below average, though acceptable. Latency increased by 88%, download speeds were 57% of the normal speed we achieved, and uploads were reduced to 29% of our standard speeds. There were a few issues with connecting to website content, but these seemed more related to the ad and tracker-blocking than the VPN.

Final verdict

We liked CyberGhost's attitude to privacy, there are a lot of features here, and if you're interested the three-day trial is useful. But overall, if you're after a speedy, low-priced VPN there are much better options around.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.