For those who in search of a service which makes it possible to browse the web privately and access content in other regions, CactusVPN offers a number of flexible packages. CactusVPN started out as a small company in Moldova in 2011 and has grown rapidly since. On their About page, they state, “Our core philosophy … revolves around an individual’s privacy and security.” Let’s see if they deliver.
Quick Facts About CactusVPN:
- 16 servers in four countries
- 5 VPN protocols
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Use up to three devices simultaneously on different servers
- Shared static IP
- Free proxy servers
- Apps.Killer, DNS leak protection and more
- 24/7 customer support
CactusVPN Pricing Structure
CactusVPN’s pricing structure is a bit unusual, in that the amount you pay depends on how many servers you want to have access to.
For $4.99 per month, you can access:
- 4 servers in the USA, or …
- 6 servers in the UK, or …
- 4 servers in the Netherlands and 2 servers in Romania.
For $6.99 per month, you get the VPN + Smart DNS package, which includes access to 16 servers in the USA, UK, Romania, and the Netherlands. As the name indicates, Smart DNS is included in your purchase.
You also have the option of simply buying Smart DNS on its own, for $4.99 per month.
If you wish to cut back on these prices, you can pay quarterly or annually. If you pay once every quarter, you get 14% off, and if you pay annually, you get 35% off. That makes the lowest cost package $3.25 per month.
What is Smart DNS?
If you are tired of your ISP throttling your speeds online, Smart DNS can provide you with the chance to surf the web at the original provider’s speed. You also will be able to access sites in multiple regions (for example the USA and UK) simultaneously without adjusting your settings. As an added benefit, you can use as many devices as you want (rather than just three), so long as all of them have the same external IP and are on the same network. You also get to use servers in additional countries.
Core Features of CactusVPN
Now let’s explore the key features of CactusVPN in detail.
Security and Privacy Features
On CactusVPN, you can choose from any of the following security protocols:
- PPTP: 128-bit encryption. This is the lowest level of encryption, but it offers the highest speeds.
- L2TP: 168-bit encryption along with 3 DES encryption algorithms and two authentication levels. This is mid-level security.
- SSTP: This is the highest level of security available for CactusVPN. 256-bit encryption and 2048-bit key certificates. Speed takes a hit with higher levels of security, but you can surf the web assured that you have the maximum protection. Unfortunately you can only use SSTP on Windows-based machines.
- OpenVPN: Security similar to SSTP, but available on a range of operating systems.
- SoftEther: Based on OpenSSL, this is one of the newer forms of encryption available for VPN services. SoftEther on CactusVPN features AES256.
CactusVPN states the following about logs:
“We have adopted Zero Logs policy. That means we keep no logs at all.”
Taking that at face value, that is excellent for anyone concerned about snooping authorities.
CactusVPN Servers and Their Locations
Probably the biggest single drawback with CactusVPN is the lack of server diversity. At the basic level, you only get access to a handful of servers, and you have to choose between all of those servers being in the USA, UK, or Romania/Netherlands.
Even if you purchase one of the Smart DNS packages, you still only get access to a total of 16 servers in those four countries—at least according to the pricing page. The Smart DNS features page does list servers in Germany, Poland, Canada, and Switzerland. Regardless, this is not a huge variety, and this service is quite Euro-centric. So if you need servers in Asia and other continents, you are out of luck.
Only shared static IP addresses are available; there are no dedicated IP addresses.
Supported Operating Systems and Devices
You can use CactusVPN on any of the following operating systems:
- Mac OS X
- Chrome OS
This means you can use the VPN on your desktop, laptop, mobile device or TV. It also will work on your DD-WRT router or Boxee Box.
CactusVPN Speed, Bandwidth, and Stability
One of the best things about CactusVPN is the totally unlimited bandwidth. Speeds are excellent as well; download speeds range between 15 and 20 Mbps, with upload speeds ranging between two and four Mbps. Customers who use CactusVPN report that stability is also fantastic. You can expect fast service with few or no disconnects, which makes CactusVPN ideal for streaming, gaming, P2P, and other demanding applications.
While there is a free trial for CactusVPN, it isn’t much of one—just 24 hours. A much better way to evaluate the product is simply to purchase a month of service. There is a 30-day money back guarantee if you have any connection issues, so you can get a full refund if you need it. Judging by CactusVPN’s excellent features and strong reputation, chances are good you will be more than happy with your purchase.
Customer Service on CactusVPN
CactusVPN unfortunately has no live chat and no telephone number; the only way to contact support is by opening a ticket. You can also check the Learning Center, FAQ, Setup Tutorials and How to Start sections to get answers to your questions.
- Bandwidth is unrestricted, and speed and stability are excellent. For those who want a fast, uninterrupted experience browsing, streaming, or gaming online, CactusVPN’s reputation for providing such is pretty hard to beat. Many other VPN providers are notorious for disconnects, slow upload and download speeds, and other inconveniences. We find very few of these reports with CactusVPN. Most reviews emphasize that CactusVPN’s reliability is superb.
- Numerous devices and operating systems are supported. Not only that, but you can use up to three devices simultaneously if you want—and if you order one of the more expensive packages which include Smart DNS, you can use CactusVPN on unlimited devices.
- A variety of security protocols are available. Whether you want to emphasize speed or security, you can adjust the protocols provided by CactusVPN to fit your needs.
- CactusVPN is very affordable. If you pay for services annually, you can pay just $3.25 per month for basic services.
- There is no way to get a hold of a live customer service agent. One of the bigger drawbacks with CactusVPN is the fact that there is no way to get an immediate answer to a question. Instead, you have to rely on the ticketing system, which may experience delays. Still, this is an all-too-common woe with VPN providers, and is hardly unique to CactusVPN.
- There is not a huge pool of servers to choose from. If you are looking for dozens of servers located in countries all around the world, CactusVPN is not the best option. There are many other VPNs which provide you with a great deal more diversity in servers. CacusVPN is suitable for users who only need to access the web through US, UK, or other European servers.
CactusVPN is a Fantastic Choice if Speed, P2P – Torrenting and Stability Are Your Top Priorities in Shopping for a VPN.
While there are not a lot of servers to choose from with CactusVPN, the speed, bandwidth, and stability are unparalleled. So imagine for example that your primary reason to use a VPN is to watch UK premier league online from America. CactusVPN would be an ideal choice, because you can access six servers in the UK for only a few dollars a month, and the speed and bandwidth are high enough that you can reliably stream content without worrying about disconnects or slow performance.
So despite a couple of significant drawbacks, CactusVPN appears to be among the best VPNs. You just need to ask yourself what is important to you in a VPN, and how you plan to use it. Depending on your needs, CactusVPN’s small server pool may be an insignificant downside.
If you do need access to servers in a wider variety of countries, check out some of our other recommended VPNs.