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CyberGhost vs NordVPN: VPN speed, security and price compared

The ghosties zoom past Nord when it comes to speed but aren't as private as the long-standing popular VPN.

The industry-wide dominance of NordVPN as a brand isn't enough to make it the fastest virtual private network for everyday users, nor has it made it the most price-conscious VPN option. Likewise, CyberGhost's devoted fan base and reputation for torrent-friendliness isn't enough to make it the most secure. 

The trade-off becomes clear when you stand the two services up beside each other. NordVPN is going to get the job done there with a bit more privacy than CyberGhost, thanks to its obfuscation prowess, while CyberGhost is going to get you torrenting faster at a lower cost overall. 

Here's how the two stack up against each other. 

Read more: Best VPN services for 2020

CyberGhost

In CNET's previous coverage of virtual private networks, we've praised CyberGhost for its roster of competitive features. Our in-depth review of CyberGhost last year included speed testing, security verification and an analysis of its full suite of privacy tools -- though we also found that it exposed your VPN use to your internet service provider. Since then, CyberGhost has increased its number of servers and is prepared to roll out a new suite of privacy tools, all while remaining one of the cheapest VPNs we've reviewed -- at $2.75 per month for a three-year plan

But as we've bolstered our approach to VPN reviews in recent months, CyberGhost has raised some red flags. Its parent company's history warrants skepticism, its website and app trackers are more numerous than necessary and its ad-blocker uses an untrustworthy method of traffic manipulation no VPN should even think about. Not to mention its previous issue of letting your internet service provider see that you were using it, which could land you in trouble in countries where VPNs are outlawed. While its low price previously made it worth considering if you needed to change the appearance of your location online, it won't provide you best-in-class security. 

With nearly 49% of average internet speed lost, CyberGhost struggled to catch up to NordVPN's 32% speed loss, though it did outperform competitor Norton Secure VPN's speed loss of 57%. Catching up to speed-intensive VPNs like Surfshark and ExpressVPN, which lost just 27% and 2% speed in our tests, respectively, would be a problem for both CyberGhost and NordVPN. However, performance improvements following the addition of more than 2,000 servers to CyberGhost's fleet over the past year suggest it may be in the midst of a continued upswing in speed. 

No IP address, DNS or other potentially user-identifying data leaks were detected during our testing, but CyberGhost didn't hide the fact that I was using a VPN, so I recommend some caution here. In March 2019, a CNET reviewer likewise found that CyberGhost failed one of our data leak tests, which allowed internet traffic to be seen by an internet service provider. 

While CyberGhost's speeds and security appear to be improving, I don't currently recommend using CyberGhost if you are in a country where VPNs are illegal. I also recommend that anyone in the US review CyberGhost's parent company, Kape Technologies, before deciding whether to pay for a subscription.

CyberGhost's best offer right now is $2.75 per month, or $99, for a 3-year plan with seven simultaneous connections, which is a great deal for the budget-minded. The price also beats NordVPN's usual best deal of a three-year contract at $3.49 per month. And while NordVPN offers only a 30-day trial period, CyberGhost's period is 45 days. 

Read more: CyberGhost VPN review: Promising improvements but its parent company concerns me

CyberGhost.

 

NordVPN

Faster speed and more privacy

NordVPN

This heavy hitter stays on our list of the best 2020 mobile VPNs for many reasons, including its status as the reigning champion of the bang-for-buck ratio. Hands-down, you aren't going to get a VPN anywhere else that can do more than NordVPN does, as cheap as NordVPN does it. Despite a security breach reported last year, you'll be hard pressed to find another VPN that can do what NordVPN does at all. 

Sure, NordVPN could offer a little more privacy if it boosted the number of servers it owns, but I'm talking about 5,000-plus servers in 62 countries, a strict zero-log policy and a jurisdiction in Panama. It's an encryption powerhouse that recently switched to RAM-disk mode, and has a feature that allows you to VPN into Tor. It's available for not only iOS and Android, but also Windows Phone and even BlackBerry. 

With all that security, NordVPN has no business being as fast as it is. In my speed tests, NordVPN performed admirably, cutting our internet speed by about 32% on average (compared to about 49% speed loss with CyberGhost). Most VPNs can reduce speeds by half or more. I found NordVPN's speeds were reliably fast; There were never any sudden dips or service interruptions, and where I expected the VPN to underperform, it proved itself up to the task. 

For all that, how much are you paying? The company's one-year subscription plan costs $7 a month ($84 billed at once). While that yearly price is lower than most other contenders, it's higher than CyberGhost's three-year plan, and Nord's month-to-month price of $12 is at the high end of its spectrum. The company's other pricing tiers have crept up a bit: When there's not a sale running, it's more than $3.49 a month for a three-year plan (or $126 total), up from $3 and $108 total. Nord's two-year plan is now $5 per month ($120 total), up from $4 a month and $96 total. And yes, NordVPN also has a full 30-day refund policy if you aren't happy with the service. 

Read more: NordVPN review: Still the best value for security and speed

NordVPN.

 

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