A virtual private network, or VPN, is an enormously powerful tool for securing your life online, but these products tend to fall into two very different categories. Some trade usability for powerful tools, while others emphasize ease of use over arcane options. CyberGhost is one of the best VPNs, one that threads a path between these two extremes, mixing usability with unique tools and powerful features, as well as a privacy policy that protects customers. You won’t go awry with CyberGhost, but on iOS we still recommend Editors’ Choice winners NordVPN and KeepSolid VPN Unlimited for iPhone VPN apps.

What Is a VPN?

When you switch on a VPN, all your web traffic goes through an encrypted tunnel to a server operated by the VPN company. This prevents anyone, even those on the same network as you, from intercepting your data. It also helps hide your identity, by having your network traffic exit from a location other than your computer. You need a VPN because it’s an incredibly powerful privacy and encryption technology, and one that has been used for years by journalists and political dissidents operating in countries with restrictive internet policies.

Using a VPN also prevents your not-so-friendly neighborhood ISP from intercepting your data and selling anonymized versions of it. That’s legal, thanks to a decision from Congress, so be sure to complain to your senators and representatives when you get a chance.

Because your traffic appears to come from the VPN server, anyone monitoring it will see the IP address of the VPN server, not your actual IP address. That helps hide your identity, but it also hides where you are, since IP addresses correspond to geographic locations.

This same ability can also be used to spoof your location by connecting to a VPN server that’s a long way from where you are. That’s handy for a number of reasons, but especially for accessing region-locked streaming content. For instance, the BBC streams content for UK citizens, but any red-blooded American can also watch by connecting to a VPN server in London.

According to our survey on VPN usage, there’s a good chance that you’ve never laid hands on a VPN before. If that’s the case, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.

Pricing and Features

Like most VPN services, CyberGhost offers the same slate of features billed at different intervals. You pay more up front for a longer interval, but save more overall for doing so. A one-month plan with CyberGhost costs $11.99, while a quarterly plan costs $29.97, and an annual plan nets the biggest savings: $33.00 for the first year and $66.00 per year for every year afterward. That’s a bit higher than the current industry average of $10.48 per month, but is the exact same monthly fee as NordVPN (for iPhone).

Of course, many VPN services come in well below the average price. TunnelBear VPN (for iPhone), for instance, costs just $9.99 a month, while Private Internet Access offers a robust but spartan experience for $6.95 per month. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is notable for having a wide variety of pricing plans, starting with an ultra-low-cost weekly plan, and going all the way up to a lifetime plan.

You can easily purchase a CyberGhost plan with traditional payment methods such as credit card or PayPal, but you can also pay anonymously with BitCoin. Other VPN services also offer the option to use prepaid gift cards, such as those from BestBuy or Starbucks, as anonymous options.

Cost doesn’t have to be a hurdle when it comes to security, as there are many serviceable free VPNs available. TunnelBear has a free offering that restricts the amount of data to 500MB per month, although you can boost this cap. ProtonVPN also has a free offering, but it limits the speeds available to free customers.

A subscription to CyberGhost lets you use seven devices simultaneously, making it a good value for a household with lots of devices. The industry average for VPN companies is five devices; NordVPN offers six connections for the same price. Golden Frog VyprVPN (for iPhone) and ProtonVPN do not provide even five connections at their respective base-level offerings; you have to pay a bit more in order to get that many devices.

If you’re a fan of BitTorrent, you’ll be glad to know that CyberGhost allows BitTorrent and P2P file sharing via VPN. Some companies require that you limit this activity to certain servers, while others disallow such activities altogether in their terms of service. Of course, torrenting is more a desktop activity than a mobile pastime.

In addition to BitTorrent-friendly servers, CyberGhost also has servers specially made for streaming. That’s great, and we’d like to see more VPN companies work to ensure that users can access their favorite video streaming services without having to switch off VPN protection.

VPN Protocols

There are many ways to create a VPN connection. Our preferred method is OpenVPN, which is known for its speed and reliability. It’s also open-source software, meaning that experts have picked over its code for any potential vulnerabilities.

CyberGhost supports OpenVPN on its Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows clients. On an iOS device, it uses IKEv2, a modern protocol that’s also acceptable. Note that because Apple places additional requirements on apps that use OpenVPN, VPN companies tend to not include it in their iOS apps.

Servers and Server Locations

We look at the number of servers a VPN service offers as an important differentiator. VPNs with more servers tend to be more robust. Plus, you’re more likely to get a server that’s not overburdened with other users when there are simply more to choose from.

CyberGhost has about 1,200 servers (1,205 at the time of writing), a number that varies from time to time. That’s a robust offering, putting it on par with some of the best VPN services out there. NordVPN, however, costs the same as CyberGhost and offers 3,400 servers. Private Internet Access VPN (for iPhone), on the other hand, costs about half as much per month and has 3,275 servers.

CyberGhost Server Choices

The geographic distribution of servers is also important. The more varied the distribution, the more choices you have when looking to spoof your location. A strong geographic diversity also means that you’re more likely to find a nearby server when traveling, which is important because you tend to get better performance with a nearby server than a distant one.

CyberGhost has 90 server locations available, across approximately 60 countries. It’s a good mix, with a better-than-average showing for Africa, a continent ignored by many VPN companies. Hide My Ass VPN (for iPhone), however, has the largest network of servers, covering 286 locations in 220 countries. CyberGhost does offer servers in Hong Kong, but it does not have servers in Turkey or Russia, all of which are regions with repressive internet policies.

Your Privacy With CyberGhost

Using any security or privacy software requires trust in the developer—trust that their product does what it says on the tin, and trust that using the product will not expose you to other dangers. This is particularly important for VPNs, because when a VPN is in use the company could have as much insight as your ISP into your online activities, and protecting those activities is one of the key reasons to use a VPN in the first place. That’s why when we test VPNs, we read the entire privacy policy and speak directly to the developer about its privacy practices.

The CyberGhost privacy policy is not our favorite such document. While it is thorough and extremely detailed, it’s lengthy and at times difficult to parse. TunnelBear deserves credit for crafting a statement that’s easy to read and self-explanatory, while TorGuard VPN (for iPhone) has what is likely the shortest and most direct policy we have yet seen. We’d like to see CyberGhost work on this, so that its customers can better understand the service.

Briefly, this policy has no hidden traps, and expresses a clear commitment to gathering only the information necessary for billing and maintaining the network. It even underwent an audit by a third party to confirm its information management practices. For more details regarding the privacy policy, please refer to our review of the full CyberGhost VPN

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