CactusVPN Review

Features

  • 28 VPN servers in 16 countries
  • P2P allowed on 9 servers
  • Free Proxy
  • Connect 5 devices at the same time
7.1
(23 User Reviews)

Price from

$4.58/ mo

Available on

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • iOS

Have you ever thought about using a lesser-known VPN, just because you want to save some money while making sure that you’re protected? CactusVPN is a relatively unknown VPN service that’s based in Moldova. It was founded in 2011. The About Us page reveals that it’s a family business and that they’ve refused to sell it in the past. With less than 30 servers, CactusVPN may not be that attractive on paper. But with the user-friendly and cross-platform software, water-tight security measures, impressive speeds, and decent pricing plans, this VPN service is commendable. So if you’re working on a shoe-string budget yet you want to bypass a myriad of geo-restricted media streaming platforms, this should certainly be your go-to VPN.

Quick Facts:

  • Jurisdiction: Moldova
  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, routers
  • Number of servers: 26
  • Encryption:IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, PPTP, OpenVPN, SoftEther
  • P2P/Torrenting support: Yes
  • Live chat support: No
  • Speeds and bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Logs: No logs
  • Simultaneous connections: 5
  • Price: Starts at $4.58 per month

These are just a few specs about CactusVPN. But to ensure that this is the thing you want, you need to thorough research, especially for such a site that has not been highly publicized in the past. How does this virtual private network compare to its competitors, what should you expect, is the VPN secure and worth buying. We’ve prepared comprehensive information on all the features you might want to learn about CactusVPN.

Jurisdiction and Applicable Laws

CactcusVPN is owned by CactusVPN Ltd. and is based in a relatively unknown country, Moldova. Moldova is found in Eastern Europe but is not a member of the European Union. Plus, it’s far from 5-Eyes Alliance. And this should give you the confidence you need when concealing identity. The country’s National Center for Personal Data Protection advocates for the protection of personal information. On top of that, CactusVPN keeps no logs to make sure that none of your information lands into unwanted hands. What you need to know is that CactusVPN has never been reported as having leaked data. Such a reputation for a site that has been on the market for almost a decade is commendable.

Compatibility

One other important you always consider when purchasing a VPN is if it is supported across multi-platforms. CactusVPN works perfectly on all major devices and platforms. On top of that, you can connect up to five devices simultaneously. However, you can’t have simultaneous connections to the same server. Here are the devices that CactusVPN supports:

CactusVPN has native apps for the above-listed platforms. But you should note that the VPN can work on other devices if it’s manually configured. This means that the network can work on Linux, Boxee Box, Chromebook, among others. However, it’s important to install any VPN you’re using on your router to ensure that you’re fully protected.

Performance and Speed

The speed of a VPN is one of the critical factors you look at before deciding whether you’ll go for a VPN or not. We review the speed tests and average connection times in this section.

Average Connection Time

It takes relatively less time to start up the client an connect to the internet. Our shortest time to establish a connection was 2.47 seconds. The longest period waited to establish a connection was 5.09 seconds. After 10 trials, our average connection time stood at 4.36 seconds. Some of the most popular VPN’stake even longer to get you online. And this supports CactusVPN’s claim of having high speed 1 Gbps servers.

Speed

As mentioned above, CactusVPN allows you to choose servers according to their locations and speeds. A virtual private network will certainly slow down your connection. We used speedtest.net to measure speed when using and not using CactusVPN.

Speed before VPN connection:
Ping: 12 ms
Download: 42.71 Mbs
Upload: 48.46 Mbs

Speed after VPN connection for the fastest server in our client area:
Ping: 118 ms
Download: 37.06 Mbs
Upload: 41.34 Mbs

Speed after VPN connection for a random server in our client area:
Ping: 142 ms
Download: 24.04 Mbs
Upload: 29.66 Mbs

These are high speeds by all standards but may differ depending on your distance to the nearest servers, ISP, and type of device. However, the huge increase in ping may concern you, especially if you’re a gamer. As seen above, the speeds don’t plunge. A minor lag when disconnecting the VPN is barely hard to notice. The overall performance of the CactusVPN is excellent.

Servers

By comparison to its peers, CactusVPN has fairly fewer servers. The service operates VPN servers in 16 countries in three major regions, namely Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. The good news is that these are high-speed VPN servers configured to run a staggering 1 Gbps. Plus, the app shows you which server is the fastest from your region and at a specific time. Just like speed, your bandwidth is unlimited. But the connections may vary depending on the number of users per server at the same time.
Did you know that you can also switch from one server to the other? CactcusVPN allows you to change servers from one country or city to the other. Thinking why this matters? Different websites have different versions in different countries, so CactusVPN allows you to choose the website you want.

Security and Privacy

Whether you’re playing games, streaming Netflix, or just bypassing random websites, a VPN helps conceal your identity to ensure that no one traces you or steals your data. This implies that security is paramount when it comes to choosing a VPN. But how do you know that a VPN is secure?

Available Protocols

The CactusVPN website shows the various protocols they use. CactusVPN uses 128-bit encrypted tunnel. You may have known that 256-bit encryption is the best when it comes to privacy and security. But it’s important to note that the encryption affects speed and the general performance of a VPN. 128-bit encryption is still very secure and makes the connection simpler and faster. Even if someone accesses your data, it will take incredibly long for them to decrypt and read the data. CactusVPN lets you choose from six protocols, namely PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN TDP/TCP, IKEv2/IPSec, Softether, and SSTP. Ultimately, OpenVPN is one of the best protocols ever made, and as of now, it is impossible to break into data that is encrypted with OpenVPN.

DNS Leak Test

This is a test we ran several times. We found out that CactusVPN doesn’t leak any of your personally identifiable information. Results showed that the VPN creates a new virtual IP address for us. However, you should note that the DNS leak protection is disabled. So, when you open the client area, go to settings, and enable it to ensure that you’re always safe.

Killer Switch

The killer switch disconnects you from the internet when the connection drops to ensure. You can’t use the internet without the VPN unless you uninstall or disable the CactusVPN app. This is a feature that even top hackers have been unable to counter.

App Killer

At the top of the CactusVPN’s client area, you will see a tab titled App Killer. It works the same as the killer switch. But the only difference is that with the App Killer, you choose which app should be disconnected when the VPN disconnects.

No Logs Policy

CactusVPN has a no-logs policy and promises to never leak your real location and online activities to any unwanted users. What data does CatctusVPN collect? CactusVPN collects some of your data when registering with them. The operator collects your email address, country, and state when you pay with PayPal or PayPro. Your zip code and partial credit cards would be collected if you’re paying for the service with a credit card. This is one reason why you should consider using Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency to pay for their services.

Other than the transaction details, the service will also record your IP address and the host you use to help run the system efficiently and detect any fraud. But this has got nothing with what occurs in the client’s tunnel. Although CactusVPN maintains that they’ll do anything to maintain your anonymity, they may use Google Analytics and other third parties to gauge traffic to their website. But the operator will only share non-personal data that doesn’t belong or relate to you in any particular way. The VPN only does this for traffic and to improve its website.

Also, this may not be your go-to service if you’re crazily privacy-paranoid. Apart from the transaction details and third party analytics, CactusVPN may present your registration and payment details in response to court orders. There’s a likelihood that you’ll be disconnected from the service if there’s fraud or you abuse the service. But the good thing is that they’re based in Moldova and it doesn’t happen that often.

Payment and Pricing Options

CacctusVPN offers three major subscription plans.

  • 1 Month Plan: $4.89 per month, billed 4.89 every month.
  • 3 Months Plan: $4.19 and billed $12.59 for the first three months.
  • 1 Year Plan: $3.20 per month and is billed $38.49 per year.

All plans come with free proxy and free Smart DNS. Consider going for a cheaper plan; Smart DNS Plan, which costs $2.27 per month. But this plan has no VPN servers.

Payment Methods

CactcusVPN allows its customer to pay through a range of options:

  • Major credit cards; Visa, MasterCard, and American Express
  • PayPal
  • Alipay
  • Qiwi
  • Webmoney
  • Yandex Money
  • Boleto Bancario
  • Bitcoins and Altcoins

 

Does CactusVPN Offer a Free Trial?

Be sure to always try out a VPN before making any purchasing decisions. And CactusVPN gives you the chance to test their services before buying. You have up to 24 hours to determine if you will pay the app and continue using the service. The features you get for the free trial are the same as those you’re given when you subscribe. Plus, no credit card is required. You just need an email to get started. Lastly, no ads pop up now and then because of using the free service. Another meritorious factor about CactusVPN is that it offers a 30-days money-back guarantee. So, if the service doesn’t satisfy your needs within the first month, contact them to initiate the refund process.

Support

You may have read somewhere that CactusVPN has a 24/7 live chat option. But this is not true. We checked the site several times from different browsers and devices. The website version is the same, and admittedly, there’s no live chat, which is a turn-off. Most of the premium services have live chat areas where you can submit a query and get a response right away.

Despite not having the live chat support, CactusVPN has a contact form on its website where you can ask different questions or comment on anything and get a reply within minutes. Such a response can be compared to a 24/7 live chat support system. We sent them a ticket and this is the response we got:

Subject: Payment
Message: I can’t pay via Skrill?
Do you have servers in Malaysia?

Response: Hi,
unfortunately, we do not support the Skrill payment method.
Malaysia server is the next in line server that will be added to our server list.
Best regards,
Pavel B.

There’s a support page where you can find information about various aspects. CactusVPN is also very active on social media. They have accounts with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We noticed that social media might be the best platforms to contact them. They get back to you in no time. Having an active phone number would have been a plus and this is something the CactusVPN operator should work on.

Ease of Use

CactusVPN is one of the best sites you’ll come across. The VPN’s website features a simple design which makes it easy to find information. When you open the site, there’s a button titled START NOW, which leads you to three major pricing plans. If you want the free version, simply scroll down and click TRY VPN FOR FREE or TRY SMART DNS FOR FREE. The CactusVPN website also has a Learning Center where you are taught the basics of using the site. And just in case you experience difficulty, contact the support team for help.
We tried out the free version where we keyed in our email to a form. A confirmation link is sent to your email, which you use to set the password and everything else up. To set up the network, download and install the client, and then log in. The interface may be plain, but it leaves out any potential clutter to make it user-friendly. The operator used dark colors and visible fonts for readability. These colors reduce eye strain and make the client stand out from the background and other windows.

Media Streaming

You’re reading this guide probably because you want to use CactusVPN for media streaming. Among the VPNs we’ve reviewed, CactusVPN stands out when it comes to streaming capabilities. You will bypass and unblock major platforms, such as Netflix and Hulu, due to the Smart DNS feature. Find out below the popular streaming platforms that this VPN can unblock.

It’s important to note that we did not use review the VPN service when it comes to streaming. Instead, we used the Smart DNS to find out how the network works on various streaming platforms. Stream hundreds of media streaming platforms that even the best VPNs in the market cannot unblock.

Smart DNS Feature

One of the most advertised features of CactusVPN if the smart DNS. You can buy the VPN with or without the Smart DNS. But what’s a smart DNS? With this feature, you can stream or unlock censored sites with interfering with internet speed. Find more information about the pricing plans in the section below. CactusVPN might be using Google Public DNS, but it still uses DNS leak protection to ensure no data is lost.

Torrenting Support

If you want to download or share files online and escape from the shackles that are synonymous with exclusive content and overpriced streaming sites, then CactusVPN is the solution. Engaging with torrents is illegal in many countries and may land you in trouble. You may be charged huge fines in the USA if you’re found torrenting. The situation is even worse in Canada in that you may face jail when you download torrents. Apart from the legal issues and copyright trolls, torrenting without concealing your identity may result in ISP penalties and loss of privacy. With that said, CactusVPN has torrent anonymity (works by encrypting your internet traffic) that to ensure that nobody finds out that you engage with torrents.

Pros and Cons of CactusVPN

As seen above, CactusVPN is not indifferent to other services when it comes to strengths and limitations. Here is a summary of the pros and cons of this VPN.

Pros
  • Excellent customer support
  • 24 hours free trial
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Embedded and customizable (kill app) kill switch
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2
  • Up to five parallel connections
  • Smart DNS unblocks almost every censored site
  • Remarkable speeds
  • No bandwidth limitations
  • No logs
  • P2P (torrenting) is allowed
Cons
  • Fewer servers
  • The operator may share your information under court orders

Final Thoughts for CactusVPN

Now that you have read almost everything you could possibly want to know about CactusVPN, you may find yourself in a dilemma of whether to purchase the VPN or not. Simply put, do we recommend CactusVPN? The obvious answer is YES! To truth, CactusVPN may not win on all parameters. Like any other VPN, not to mention the best services in the market, it has certain limitations. For example, the shortlist of servers and lack of 24/7 live chat may be a turn-off for people looking forward to using the VPN for fairly long periods. But these limitations don’t compromise the performance of the service and your security in any way.

In fact, the response via a ticket on their support page compares to a live chat. They take five to 20 minutes to respond to all your queries. Plus, there are various ways you can reach out to them. Being able to bypass hundreds of major streaming platforms is an added advantage. The Smart DNS feature is laudable, because even the premium services lack it. Security-wise, CactusVPN had a default and customizable kill switch and robust encryption. When you to top it off with the friendly user interface, the ability to connect up to five devices simultaneously, and a plethora of affordable plans, CactusVPN is certainly a bargain. CactusVPN scores an incredibly 8 out 10.