This is the first in a series of VPN reviews on Trusted Reviews. Check back soon for another, and next week for a full round-up of the best on the market.
CyberGhost is unusual among mainstream VPN providers in that it has a free tier alongside its paid-for subscriptions.
A free account allows you to use the CyberGhost client and servers without a registered account. However, you're not given access to the company's fastest servers, BitTorrent ports are blocked, you're shown ads every two hours and have to reconnect every three.
There are no data limits, though, making CyberGhost's free tier one of the most useful – particularly if you have only modest needs for a VPN. However, for a quick and reliable connection for transferring larger amounts of data, a single-device Premium subscription costs £3.99 a month or £44.88 a year, while a five-device Premium Plus account costs £6.99 a month or £69.96 per year. If required, you can make your registration more anonymous by paying in bitcoins or buying a boxed copy.
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CyberGhost's desktop clients use OpenVPN, our preferred protocol, and the company's website provides clear instructions on generating log-in credentials that you can use with any compatible VPN client on any operating system, whether that's a Linux PC or a router.
You can enable a number of extra features, including protection against online tracking and malicious websites, an ad-blocker, forced HTTPS where available, and server-side compression to reduce data use on limited data plans – such as those from most mobile broadband providers.
For platforms that CyberGhost doesn't support with a native app, you can configure these settings in your account options in the CyberGhost website's client area.
CyberGhost lets you choose which country you want to connect to and which of its servers within that country you want to be your VPN endpoint. I had no trouble connecting to BBC iPlayer or various region-locked YouTube accounts, but our attempts to find a US server that could access Netflix were unsuccessful. CyberGhost has a fairly broad selection of countries, mostly in Europe, but also including the USA, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Ukraine, Israel and Hong Kong.
CyberGhost itself is headquartered in Romania, where EU data retention laws have been declared unconstitutional, and doesn't log or store identifying data such as your IP address. If you're need of an extra layer of anonymity, you can pay for your CyberGhost subscription in bitcoins or track down a boxed edition – these are can be found in the UK, but most appear to be intended for sale in Germany.
CyberGhost's performance at the time of review was acceptable, although its speeds in my FTP data transfer speed test were slower than most of its rivals. In addition, I experienced occasionally jerky video streaming on some servers. I couldn't get a comparable speed measurement for its US servers as we were unable to connect to any FTP server when using CyberGhost's USA end points.
CyberGhost's free service is definitely useful, it has a clear no-logging policy and its paid-for tiers are capable. However, the software doesn't stand out among its rivals, with fewer countries on its roster than Hide My Ass! and fewer servers than Private Internet Access.