CyberGhost 7 Review: A better app and same good service
- 08 March, 2019 02:08
CyberGhost 7 in brief:
- P2P allowed: Yes
- Business location: Romania
- Number of servers: 3,500
- Number of country locations: 58
- Cost: $63 per year
- VPN protocol: IKEv2 (default)
- Data encryption: AES-256
- Data authentication: SSL/TLS
- Handshake encryption: TLS v1.2 – Certificate signed with SHA256
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
CyberGhost dumped its tile-based interface for a more uniform approach across its desktop and mobile apps. When you first open CyberGhost 7 on Windows you get a panel in the shape of a smartphone in the lower-right corner of the display. When I first saw this I was worried CyberGhost had locked the app to that spot since it was above the system tray—a practice we’ve seen before.
Luckily, that wasn’t the case, and you can move the window to any part of your display, but it has the annoying habit of snapping back to the lower-right corner. Not a deal breaker by any means, just an annoyance.
In the center of the window is a power button. Tap that and the app starts connecting to the fastest server closest to you. Once your connection is running, it displays the location and IP address you’re using as well as how long the connection has been active.
If you’d like to use a specific country connection, or one of CyberGhost’s service-specific streaming servers—that now includes Netflix—the app expands to show you a more desktop-like menu.
This is something I really like. Services going for a uniform approach will often use a single-panel display on Windows, which doesn’t make any sense. Screen space is not restricted on a PC, so why not use it?
The menu is again really easy to use and much nicer looking than CyberGhost 6. You have options to view all servers, which shows CyberGhost’s 58 country locations. Alternatively, you can drill down into torrent or streaming servers, as well as adjust the app’s settings.
Next to each server location is the distance you are from that country, and the current server load expressed in a percentage. If you click on the arrow on the far right, you can drill down into every server for that country location with the same data mentioned above, as well as the ping time for each server.
This is all really helpful information if you’re looking for the best possible server in a specific location or for a specific service.
Beyond unblocking streaming for a multitude of international services and allowing torrents, CyberGhost can also block ads, online trackers, and malicious websites; force HTTPS sites (similar to what the browser extension HTTPS Everywhere does); and compress data (similar to the Opera browser’s Turbo feature). All of these features are turned off by default, but you can find them under the Connection features option.
You’ll also find a number of customizable startup rules, such as the ability to start CyberGhost on boot, and to automatically launch an app when the VPN connection activates. If you’d prefer to use your browser’s incognito mode, for example, this could be a helpful feature. It’s also a convenience if you want your torrent program to start as soon as CyberGhost is active.
CyberGhost 7 also allows you to choose between various protocols including OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP. The default is IKEv2.
One odd thing about CyberGhost 7’s menu is that the highlighting feature is off. When you click on the streaming server section, for example, the menu highlights Connection features. And when you click on Smart rules (the last option in the left rail) CyberGhost 7 highlights an empty space below it. It’s odd and a little confusing and just shows a lack of polish.
Overall, CyberGhost was pretty zippy, retaining nearly 40 percent of the base speed. That doesn’t put it in the top tier of the VPNs we’ve tested, and it’s a little slower than the last time we tested this server. Nevertheless, it is still very good. In our tests, the U.S., UK, and continental Europe servers were all very fast, retaining 50 percent of the base speed or close to it.
Privacy, anonymity, and trust
CyberGhost’s no-logging promise hasn’t changed. The company says it doesn’t log any of your data, nor does it maintain connection logs. It does, however, collect some data including connections attempt times that include the country of origin and the version of CyberGhost being used. It also collects data about successful connections using similar data from above. CyberGhost says it needs this data in order to maintain its service.
To sign up for CyberGhost you used to need only a username and password. This appears to have changed a bit, as now CyberGhost asks for your email address as well. That’s quite common and not terrible, though it doesn’t rise to the privacy gold standard of Mullvad, our current favorite VPN.
CyberGhost accepts payment via PayPal, Credit Card, and BitPay. You can also buy a license via Amazon. The company is based in Romania. Its CEO is Robert Knapp, the CTO is Timo Beyel, and the head of software development is Partrick Arns. More information about the CyberGhost team is on its website.
CyberGhost is a very good VPN. It has a wide variety of servers for streaming and P2P, it has a number of extra security features, and the price is right at $63 per year. CyberGhost continues to build on its strengths, and while it still doesn’t beat our top pick, Mullvad, it will continue to be our runner-up for the best VPN you can get.
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.