Amidst a crowded marketplace, two VPNs have emerged as two of the best options: IPVanish and CyberGhost. However, these are very different services aimed at different types of users, which is why we compare them in today’s head-to-head review. You’ll learn about their unique features, and hopefully get a better idea which provider best suits your needs.
CyberGhost and IPVanish are two top VPNs that frequently come up in our top VPN lists. That being said, the two are very different. CyberGhost focuses on ease of use and powerful features: a rare combination few other services offer. IPVanish focuses on P2P users and streamers, and has an outstanding reputation with Kodi users in particular. In this article, we’ll compare the two services and see how they measure up against each other through a variety of tests and criteria.
We’ll start our comparison review by going over the main features and technologies each provider advertises and uses.
CyberGhost is an easy-to-use VPN that’s as powerful (if not more so) than the best services in the industry. It comes with a wide array of apps for different devices. Unlike many competitors, which ask users to choose their own settings before opening a connection, CyberGhost has 6 straightforward configuration profiles tailored for specific use cases. From “Surf Anonymously” to “Unblock Basic Websites”, these make it easy for users to get the specific settings they need. Moreover, there’s a number of easy toggles – like “Block Ads” and “Extra Speed” – that make it easy to get useful additional features. Between these features and the ability to connect up to 5 devices, including video game consoles and routers, CyberGhost is convenient for users of all skill levels.
In addition to this, CyberGhost is remarkably strong on security. The service comes with 5 encryption protocols, from OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP to censorship-busting PPTP. The encryption keys used are 256-bit, meaning it’d take a supercomputer millions of years to crack just one. The logging policy is strong and thorough, to the point that CyberGhost doesn’t even log your e-mails when you’re using it. Rounded out with a truly massive network spanning over 5,500 servers in 80 countries, and you have a top-tier VPN choice in CyberGhost.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Works with Netflix
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting allowed
- 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication
- Zero logs
- 45-day money-back guarantee.
- IPv6 WebRTC leak in macOS
- Doesn’t work well in China.
IPVanish is a different kind of VPN. It’s strongly focused on ease of use and two specific use scenarios: streaming and P2P browsing. To that end, IPVanish has a range of dedicated apps that make it easy to install the service on a large number of devices. For users who use non-supported devices, there are manual instructions that make it easy to get set up with video game consoles, routers, etc in just minutes. Moreover, IPVanish has two advantages going for it. First, it has an extremely high number of servers in the US, UK, Canada and other countries with large content libraries. Second, it has no restrictions on Kodi, torrenting, streaming or P2P networks. This makes it excellent for watching videos and downloading files online.
In addition to the above, IPVanish is no slouch on security. Users get a number of encryption options, including OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP: the two most popular (and most powerful) cryptographic standards on the web. Users can choose between 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit keys to make connections faster or more secure, depending on personal needs. All of this, combined with a no-logging policy that protects your traffic logs, offers two layers of protection for your data, identity and devices.
Read our full IPVanish review.
IPVanish vs. ExpressVPN
Now that we’ve looked at each VPN provider separately, let’s compare them on a number of criteria, starting with speed.
When you’re using a VPN, there’s going to be some speed loss no matter what you do. That’s because your data gets routed through remote servers, usually ones located in a different country. By the time it gets from you, to a VPN server, to wherever it’s meant to go, a little speed is lost – both in terms of latency and download times. The question is, how lossy are CyberGhost and IPVanish?
CyberGhost claims to have very high speeds. We tested this claim in our CyberGhost review by running two tests with the service. In one, we measured latency and download speed using speedtest.net. With CyberGhost deactivated, the results were 14ms and 10.54 Mbps. With the VPN on, the readings changed to 46 ms and 10.80 Mbps. This indicates that although CyberGhost reduces ping times, it can actually increase download speed – perhaps by overcoming ISP throttling, like the kind Verizon and Time Warner use. In our second test, where we used testmy.net, average speeds went from 11.2 Mbps with a direct connection to 7 Mbps when the service is on. This is a rather large reduction in speed for sure. Having said, when you factor both tests, CyberGhost averages out to 82% of your regular Internet speed – not bad at all.
In our IPVanish review, we used four tests to measure speed:
- In the first, we downloaded files of different sizes – 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 MB – from a content delivery network with distributed servers.
- In the second, we downloaded ten 100MB files from the same server over a period of 10 minutes.
- For the third, we connected to a single server to measure maximum upload and download speeds.
- Last but not least, we streamed three 4K-resolution videos and screened for buffer times, dropped frames and overall speed.
For the test as a whole, IPVanish went up to as much as 88% of our ISP’s speed, which is significantly more than CyberGhost’s average. However, IPVanish sometimes also dropped to 40-50% of our regular speed, which was a lot worse. One area where the service performed a lot better was video streaming, where it decreased buffer times and dropped frames by nearly 50%.
All in all, both VPNs have above-average speed, but there’s no clear victor. CyberGhost may be superior for most applications, but IPVanish is clearly better for streaming videos. The winner here depends on your individual needs.
The size of a VPN server’s network is one of its most important qualities. First, it defines how many IPs you can get from a single provider. Second, it contributes to the speed and latency you get. The more servers a provider has in your area, the less data has to travel – and the faster it reaches you. The same applies to the servers you’re downloading data from. Third, a large number of VPN servers means that you have more encryption options to choose from, because a single server is usually set to a single protocol like L2TP or OpenVPN’s TCP.
IPVanish has a very large network, with over 1,300 servers in over 60 countries. Moreover, the network is constantly growing with over 250 servers added in 2018 alone. Nodes on all continents (except Antarctica) are easy to find, and especially popular locations – like the East and West Coast of the US – have dozens. All of this means that finding a server and IP you want is easy and fast. As an added bonus, IPVanish chooses the server that’s best for you automatically. For example, if you choose Hong Kong as your proxy server location, you’re going to get the server closest to you for optimal performance. The downside to IPVanish’s server network is that it’s very concentrated. Virtually all the servers are in the EU, North America, and Oceania. Popular locations like India, South Korea and Israel only have 2 servers each – while places like China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have none at all.
In comparison, CyberGhost’s network covers more geographical regions. There are servers in countries like Thailand, Argentina, Kenya and Belarus. The total number of countries covered is 80, which quite a bit larger than IPVanish – add some 5,500 servers supporting multiple types of encryption, and CyberGhost has a clear edge.
The one caveat is that IPVanish does have a lot more servers in popular locations like the Los Angeles area and the US East Coast. If you want to use P2P applications, play video games and share files with people in North America (or another popular location), IPVanish may be more helpful.
Go for CyberGhost if sheer worldwide variety is your priority, go for IPVanish if you want more options in highly desirable locations for streaming, like the US or UK.
When it comes to using VPNs, encryption is important for several reasons. First, all internet data is initially unprotected, meaning anyone can watch everything you’re doing, saying or sending. To stop this from happening, we need to take steps to cover our data – which is what encryption does. Second, one of the main reasons to get a VPN is to hide one’s online identity and activities. With poor (or no) encryption, this is impossible. Last but not least, using a VPN means you’re routing your data through a remote server. Since this server is owned by a third party, it’s best to take steps to stop other people from seeing what you send there.
CyberGhost offers a large selection of encryption protocols. You can use keys up to 2048 bits in size. These have more possible combinations for criminals to try than there are atoms in the known universe, making CyberGhost connections virtually impossible to crack. There are also simpler key options, like 256-bit and 128-bit, for low-risk activities like gaming and streaming. Encryption protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, which blend speed and security. There’s also L2TP, which is highly compatible with smartphones and tablets, and PPTP which is excellent at helping beat censorship.
IPVanish is a little weaker here. Their key options include 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit codes, which are a little easier to break. Having said that, 256-bit codes would still take a supercomputer quadrillions of years to crack – so that’s neither here nor there. What’s unfortunate is that the service only offers a small number of protocols: OpenVPN (including UDP and TCP), L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2 (for Apple devices). There’s no SSTP or PPTP, so if you want to beat tough censorship blocks, you’re out of luck.
All told, the difference is rather small, in that both services offer the most popular encryption protocols: OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec. However, with CyberGhost’s longer maximum key length and extra encoding options, they win this round.
Restricted sites and Netflix
Certain countries block websites from their residents. For example, if you try to access Facebook while in China, you’re going to get a black screen or an error message. In addition to this, many websites filter the content users get depending on their IP. For example, services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and CBC are different depending on which country you’re in. US visitors might see thousands of shows and films – while someone logging in from, say, Russia, will only see hundreds of (mostly older) options. This is a major reason people get VPNs: with a foreign IP, you can get a foreign IP and access a lot more websites content than otherwise.
CyberGhost makes it easy to unlock both websites and streaming services. It has an Unblock Streaming setting which unblocks the 10 most popular streaming hubs on the web, including Netflix, ESPN, Comedy Central and others. In our experience, this feature works well. It can take several tries to find a specific server because streaming companies are always trying to block VPN IPs – but other than that, the process is quick and easy. The same is true of unblocking websites. CyberGhost has an Unblock Basic Websites feature that lets you view the web’s 20 most popular websites, including Facebook and Wikipedia. This means that even basic users can view the free, unrestricted Internet with just one click of a button.
Unfortunately, IPVanish is a little worse in this department. In our tests, we found that using their servers did unblock all regular websites, including social networks like Facebook and news sites like the Huffington Post. It sometimes took a few tries to find an IP that worked, but problems were only temporarily. The problem is that when we tried streaming websites, we found that IPVanish worked a small percentage of the time. Finding a server that unblocked Netflix, for example, took a lot longer than with CyberGhost. The same thing was true for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.
If you’re looking for a service that just unblocks regular websites, then both IPVanish and CyberGhost can help. But if what you want is to watch videos with no restrictions, then you have to use CyberGhost: the service with a proven ability to give access to streaming sites.
There are two main ways to install a VPN. The first is to apply new network settings manually, configuring your devices to route data through remote servers. The second is to get apps that install the new service automatically. Fortunately, both IPVanish and CyberGhost have numerous apps that come with them – but how easy are these to install?
In IPVanish’s case, all the apps they have are available for download from your account page. Getting them is as simple as using IPVanish’s website to find the download page. Supported devices run the gamut from all common desktop and mobile operating systems – Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android – to routers and the Fire TV. Moreover, IPVanish helpfully suggests the specific app you need by recognizing your device, as in the screenshot below. Once you’ve downloaded the IPVanish apps you need, you can connect to the service immediately.
CyberGhost’s installation is very similar. You first need to open an account or log in with an existing one. Then, you need to choose your device – and follow the on-screen instructions to download the file you need or visit a relevant app store. Once you’ve done that, you can install the app quickly and easily. Supported devices include all desktop and mobile devices, routers, and even some video game consoles. Once installation is complete, you can open a CyberGhost connection to the server of your choice quickly and easily.
To summarize, the services are roughly equivalent in terms of software installation. The only difference is that IPVanish identifies and suggests the app type you need, giving it a slight edge in this round.
Ease of use is as important, if not more important, than ease of installation. It determines whether beginner users feel comfortable with a VPN, and can make a difference for advanced users too. An intuitive, helpful interface makes actions like server selection a breeze. Conversely, hard-to-understand apps can make it difficult to use even the most basic functions.
IPVanish’s desktop software comes with two layouts: simple and standard. The default is standard, but you can quickly switch over to the simple layout that just lets you connect to the fastest servers available. Servers are easy to choose from a long list, or by using filters to find a convenient server – e.g. the fastest node in the US or Canada. Alternatively, you can use a visual map to choose nodes depending on where they’re located. All in all, the app is a solid, if relatively simple, piece of software. The mobile app versions are similar, and feature helpful visuals – like countries’ flags next to their names. One notable difference is larger buttons and fewer choices, both of which help navigate the app.
In comparison, CyberGhost’s desktop and mobile apps are very similar at first glance. The desktop versions do have more options, but the general design and feature set is virtually identical. This can be a positive or a negative, depending on your personal preferences and whether you like the app to begin with or not. Personally, we enjoyed the layout and appreciated the fact that the mobile version wasn’t compressed or simplified. The simple, attractive layout and a pull-out server list are convenient for users of all levels.
At the end of the day, the design you prefer is up to you. In terms of feature and usability, both services’ apps are more than solid. We’ll give the nod to CyberGhost for their clear focus on simplicity, however.
Some VPNs, especially free ones, keep logs of everything you do – and later pass them on to governments, corporations and even cyber criminals (depending on the scenario). Conversely, VPNs that don’t keep track of your information have nothing to pass on, even when pressured by federal organs. As you can imagine, these providers – who usually advertise no-logging or zero-logging – are considered to be the best kind.
IPVanish’s no-logging policy is simultaneously comprehensive and weak. The reason it’s weak is that it’s unknown whether the service keeps track of DNS request logs, IP addresses, timestamps and bandwidth data. All this data may get recorded each time you use the service, leaving you vulnerable. The silver lining, and the reason IPVanish is still a strong recommendation, is that there are no traffic logs. Without these, any other information is quite incidental – which means that connecting your device, data or identity to anything specific is virtually impossible. This may be small comfort if you’re a journalist in a high-risk country, but it does, technically, mean that IPVanish is secure.
CyberGhost’s no-logging policy is a lot more comprehensive. The service doesn’t log IP addresses, assigned servers, login or logout times, traffic data – not even your e-mail. This means that CyberGhost has one of the toughest no-logging standards in the industry, period. If you absolutely must know that everything you do and send online is protected well, this is a huge deal.
In this round, CyberGhost is the clear winner. IPVanish’s zero-logging policy is not bad, but CyberGhost’s is one of the best in the business.
In this match-up, CyberGhost has won four rounds and IPVanish has won just one. Three rounds were essentially tied. This means that, for the vast majority of users, CyberGhost is the clear winner. The difference is small, but the apps are a little better; the server network is a little broader; the logging policy is a little more thorough. There’s just one notable exception.
IPVanish is definitely better for streaming, especially when you’re using services like Kodi. CyberGhost may be our overall winner, but if your main device is a multimedia box, if you stream and torrent a lot, or if you want access to a large number of US, Canadian and UK servers for other reasons, like gaming, IPVanish is absolutely worth your attention.
Do you have experience with either of these top-tier services? What do you think about our assessment? Let us know in the comments below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.