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CyberGhost VPN Vs. Private Internet Access - Face-off

Marc DahanCyberGhost VPN Vs. Private Internet Access - Face-off

VPNs today are being used by more users than ever before. People turn to VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions, to get through restrictive firewalls, and to block ads, for example.

So VPN providers’ feature lists are getting bigger and bigger. This can make it harder to compare VPN providers and get an accurate picture.

So in this post, we put Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN head to head to see which one we can recommend over the other.

CyberGhost VPN vs Private Internet Access - Side By Side

[vpn vpn_1="CyberGhost" vpn_2="PIA"]

Can't choose between PIA or CyberGhost VPN?

This one has a bit of irony to it. Both Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN share the same parent company. And that company’s history isn’t rosy.

PIA and CyberGhost VPN are owned by parent company, Kape Technologies (formerly known as Crossrider). And that company has a history in the AdTech industry and was previously caught spreading malware over the Internet.

They both provide a strong feature set, on paper. Though PIA has a few more features on offer than CyberGhost VPN. The main difference here, beyond the feature set, will be company history. 

PIA has a long history of proven privacy-preserving practices. Their no-logging policy was put to the test and was validated.  They also passed an independent security audit in 2018. 

CyberGhost VPN, on the other hand, has no such history and was not audited. So while it remains unfortunate that PIA now belongs to Kape Technologies, I feel they should still be trusted - for now. 

So we definitely recommend Private Internet Access over CyberGhost VPN but remain cautious for the future. There is no cause for alarm… for now.

If both these providers make you uncomfortable, you might want to look at other providers, such as Windscribe.

1. Speed

Using a VPN will inevitably create some overhead and latency (i.e. slowdowns). But the slowdown should be as small as possible.

Let’s see how PIA and CyberGhost VPN compare on speed.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access Speed Test

Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 94.35Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 25.05Mbps

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN Speed Test

Tested on a 100Mbps (Download) and 30Mbps (Upload) network

Server: U.S.A., New York

Average Download Speed: 95.19Mbps

Average Upload Speed: 8.56Mbps

We’re looking at the difference between my ISP bandwidth and the speed test results. And we can see that on download, bot providers do essentially equally well.

This is good download performance on both providers’ networks.

On upload, however, Private Internet Access is the clear winner. Upload speeds are typically faster than download speeds because ISPs provide many more download channels than upload channels on their networks.

The upload speed over CyberGhost VPN gets slowed down significantly. This could even be an issue for some resource-intensive online games.

Winner: Private Internet Access

PIA takes the point here. There was nothing to distinguish them on download. But the upload numbers are quite clear. PIA does much better.


2. User-Friendliness

As VPN use keeps growing, user-friendliness will remain a high priority for commercial VPN providers.

Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN both supply native client applications on all major platforms. And they both provide unlimited bandwidth.

Private Internet Access' native macOS client app.
Private Internet Access' native macOS client app.
CyberGhost VPN's native macOS client app.
CyberGhost VPN's native macOS client app.

PIA and CyberGhost support:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android
  • FireTV

And they both provide Chrome/Firefox browser extensions - with PIA also providing an Opera browser extension.

In terms of app design, I think CyberGhost’s app does a better job. It is easier to navigate without getting lost in a sea of menus and switches. Though PIA’s app is still perfectly useable.

For simultaneous connections, Private Internet Access allows up to 10 connections, while CyberGhost VPN allows up to 6.

As far as customer support is concerned, I didn't need to contact them for either provider while writing my CyberGhost vs. Private Internet Access post. Everything just worked as expected.

Winner: Private Internet Access

I’m giving PIA the point here as well. Their app may not be as well designed, but support for 10 simultaneous connections puts them over the top in my book.


3. Streaming

Streaming over a secure VPN connection gives you the following benefits:

  • The security benefit of a fully encrypted connection
  • Mitigating ISP bandwidth throttling
  • Bypassing geo-restrictions

And since the Netflix VPN ban which started in 2018, unblocking Netflix access has become a priority for some (though not all) VPN providers.

Private Internet Access brands itself as streaming-friendly, but they are unable to unblock Netflix. They’re not actually trying - they define themselves as a privacy company more than a media unblocking service. 

CyberGhost, on the other hand, states that it’s streaming-friendly while also unblocking Netflix easily. They also have a dedicated page on their website explaining how to access Netflix. 

CyberGhost Netflix US
Streaming Netflix over CyberGhost VPN.

You can read more about this in my Netflix reviews of PIA and CyberGhost VPN.

Winner: CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost obviously takes the point here. They can unblock Netflix while PIA cannot.


4. Security & Encryption

Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN both support secure VPN protocols.

Private Internet Access supports: 

  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • OpenVPN
  • WireGuard
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • PPTP

CyberGhost VPN supports:

  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • OpenVPN
  • WireGuard
  • L2TP/IPSec** CyberGhost has dropped support for L2TP/IPSec in the latest version of their app.

Both providers also support the industry-standard cipher: AES-256.

However, WireGuard uses more modern and perhaps more secure ciphers:

  • ChaCha20
  • Curve25519
  • BLAKE2s
  • SipHash24
  • HKDF

While both providers support secure VPN protocols, including the new WireGuard protocol, until recently, they both also supported weak and obsolete protocols, like L2TP/IPSec and, in PIA’s case also PPTP.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: weak protocols should not be supported by commercial VPN providers. That practice puts less technical users at risk. These protocols should be phased out.

And, I just learned that in the latest version of their client apps, CyberGhost VPN has dropped L2TP/IPSec support. This is a very good move on their part.

CyberGhost offers only secure VPN protocols to their users.And I hope to see more VPN providers go down that path.

Winner: CyberGhost VPN

We’re giving the point to CyberGhost here. They no longer support weak protocols. Excellent stuff.


5. Logs & Privacy​

Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN both commit to a strong no-logging policy. Let’s take a look at how do they communicate this in their privacy policies.

While we know that Private Internet Access doesn’t log (they’ve proved it), they don’t make a big deal about their no-logging policy on their website.

If we turn to TorrentFreak’s Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously in 2020? guide, we find the following statement from PIA:

"We do not store any logs relating to traffic, session, DNS or metadata. There are no logs for any person or entity to match an IP address and a timestamp to a current or former user of our service. In summary, we do not log, period. Privacy is our policy”.

Their actual privacy policy is rather bland and generic - it feels like a legal template. And that's disappointing. Still, they’ve proven their trustworthiness.

Here’s an excerpt from CyberGhost VPN’s privacy policy:

“CyberGhost has an unequivocal company policy: the strongest observance of data protection and uncompromising protection of user privacy. When using the CyberGhost VPN, we have no idea about your traffic data such as browsing history, traffic destination, data content, and search preferences. These are NOT monitored, recorded, logged or stored by us. More than this, when using the CyberGhost VPN, we are NOT storing connection logs, meaning that we DON'T have any logs tied to your IP address, connection timestamp or session duration. We do NOT have any access to the credit card information you submitted to our payment processor and we DO NOT connect your payment or information with any kind of online activity done by you inside the CyberGhost VPN tunnel. We provide a service that protects privacy. We take your data very seriously and we put a lot of effort to ensure safe storage and protection of your data. We believe you should always know what data we collect and how we use it. This document (Privacy Policy) defines and informs you of any and all of the instances in which your data and information is collected and used”.

This does seem better than PIA’s privacy policy. However, that quote really is the highlight of the whole policy. The rest of it is just as bland and generic as PIA’s privacy policy.

Winner: Private Internet Access

It may seem strange to give PIA the point here given what’s written above. But they get the point because their logging practices and known and they’ve been proven. That’s worth more than any written policy.


6. Pricing​

Let’s focus our attention on price now. Here’s a list of the different packages, prices, and accepted payment methods for Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN:

Private Internet Access

Visit Private Internet Access (SAVE 73%)
Private Internet Access Subscription Plans

Private Internet Access offers three subscription terms:

  • 9.95 USD for one month of service
  • 39.95 USD for one year of service (works out to 3.33 USD per month)
  • 69.95 USD for two years of service (works out to 2.69 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Amazon pay
  • Mint
  • Interac
  • Many cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin

CyberGhost VPN

Visit CyberGhost VPN (SAVE 77%)
CyberGhost VPN Subscription Plans

CyberGhost VPN also offers three subscription terms:

  • 12.99 USD for one month of service
  • 47.94 USD for six months of service (works out to 7.99 USD per month)
  • 49.50 USD for 18 months of service (works out to 2.75 USD per month)

Payment Methods

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Bitcoin

Private Internet Access is less expensive than CyberGhost VPN across the board. And they support many more payment options than CyberGhost as well.

I think this one is just a no-brainer

Winner: Private Internet Access

They’re more trustworthy. They’re cheaper. They accept more payment methods. Private Internet Access wins the point here.


7. Torrenting​

Both PIA and CyberGhost VPN support torrenting extremely well. 

Private Internet Access, as it does with streaming, doesn’t really mention torrenting on their website, but torrenting it just works on all PIA servers.

CyberGhost VPN, for its part, offers a subset of dedicated P2P VPN servers on their network. These servers are grouped under the “For downloading” header within the CyberGhost app.

And torrenting over CyberGhost VPN’s network worked extremely well too.

Torrenting over Private Internet Access.
Torrenting over Private Internet Access.
Torrenting over CyberGhost VPN
Torrenting over CyberGhost VPN.

Winner: Tie

This one has to be a tie. Torrenting works equally well over both networks. There just isn’t anything significant to set them apart over torrenting.


8. Other Features​

  • Private Internet Access provides an ads & tracker blocker (MACE)
  • Private Internet Access supports split tunnelling
  • CyberGhost VPN has a trust deficit.

Outstanding Features​

Private Internet Access

  • Split Tunnelling: PIA supports split tunneling or selective routing. Using selective routing you can, for example, route your Internet traffic through the VPN tunnel without blocking access to your LAN network in order to access internal resources you may have on your network, such as a file server. Or, you could select certain applications’ traffic through the VPN, while sending other application’s traffic through your ISP network. It is very flexible and can be set up to accommodate almost any scenario.
  • MACE: Private Internet Access also provides an ads & tracker blocker, accessible from within its apps. Turning on the feature activates what is called DNS blackholing. What DNS blackholing does is check your DNS requests against a blocklist. If any of your requests match the blocklist, the connection is dropped (blackholed). This way, you won’t be assaulted with all the annoying adverts that pop up all over the Web and your privacy will be enhanced.

CyberGhost VPN

  • The bottom line is that CyberGhost doesn’t have any distinguishing features over Private Internet Access. There are no features offered by CyberGhost VPN which aren’t matched by PIA. While PIA has a few features (like the ones mentioned here) that CyberGhost simply does not offer. And while both companies may be owned by the same parent company, PIA has a trustworthy history, they’ve been audited and their policies have been proven “in the wild”. So while we’re not enthusiastic about their ownership, until they breach user trust, I consider PIA to remain a trustworthy VPN provider and would recommend them over CyberGhost.

Winner: Private Internet Access

More features. More trustworthy. Private Internet Access take it here too.


Conclusion: PIA vs CyberGhost VPN

So who wins

We had eight categories

We give the winner in each category one point. And both providers get a point in the event of a tie.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Speed - (PIA)
  • User-friendliness - (PIA)
  • Streaming - (CyberGhost VPN)
  • Security & Encryption- (CyberGhost VPN)
  • Logs & Privacy -  (PIA)
  • Pricing - (PIA)
  • Torrenting - (Tie)
  • Other Features - (PIA)

So that’s 6 points for Private Internet Access and 3 points for CyberGhost VPN.

The results reflect what I already knew: Private Internet Access is the better provider. They fare better on features, on price, and on trust.

So we can confidently (though with more caution than before their acquisition) recommend Private Internet Access over CyberGhost VPN.

CyberGhost VPN

Go With CyberGhost VPN if:

  • You can live with a questionable VPN provider.
  • You don’t mind paying more for less.
  • Your main reason for using a VPN is for streaming or torrenting.
Visit CyberGhost VPN (SAVE 77%)

Private Internet Access

Go With PIA if:

  • You want to save a few bucks while still getting a high-quality VPN service.
  • You want an easy way to block ads & trackers.
  • You don’t need to use a VPN with Netflix.
Visit Private Internet Access (SAVE 73%)

For more information on these two VPN providers, take a look at our CyberGhost VPN and our Private Internet Access reviews.

Thanks for reading!

Further Reading

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