CactusVPN Review

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CactusVPN Review

UPDATED: February 23, 2016

Overall Score:

Price

4
out of 5

Features

4.5
out of 5

Speed

5
out of 5

Customer Service

4.5
out of 5

This is the most comprehensive CactusVPN review conducted online. Everything you need to know about CactusVPN is included in this review from speed and encryption performance, to pricing, to device compatibility and support. Also included in this guide is a setup guide to help you get CactusVPN setup quickly.

Company Summary

CactusVPN is a VPN service provider based out of Moldova, in Eastern Europe. Incepted in 2012, they have been very quick to rise to the level of more long-term established VPN providers. Even though technically a "young" VPN provider, CactusVPN's competitive prices coupled with offering also SmartDNS have given them a fast-growing user base. 

Homepage Snapshot

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Operating System Compatibility

Pricing Summary

$3.49 for one month account

$9.09 for three month account

$27.80 for one year

VPN Protocols Offered

L2TP

Soft Ether

PPTP

SSTP

OPEN VPN

Pros

  • 30 Day Money back guarantee
  • Very, very fast
  • App. killer feature is great
  • High-level encryption
  • Sleek site and interface design
  • Dedicated Android and iOS apps

Cons

  • No zero-logging

The Verdict

CactusVPN is a top-level VPN service provider. We definitely recommend them. Although not flawless, their level of encryption, security and in particular speed are brilliant. For the hardcore users searching for absolute anonymity, it might be an issue that CactusVPN does not accept Bitcoin, but otherwise, CactusVPN satisfies more than enough of the most important considerations for a VPN service.

Full CactusVPN Review


Pricing, Plans, & Payment Options

PRICING

CactusVPN have very competitive pricing. They offer prices that are uniquely offered, as shown below, giving users very little to pay each month regardless of the plan they choose. At the time of this review, you can use CactusVPN from as little as $1.

PLANS

A very unique subscription plan approach has been taken by CactusVPN. They offer five different plans across three lengths: monthly, quarterly and yearly. Here they are, respectively:

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PAYMENT OPTIONS

Customers are able to make payment via credit card or PayPal. I have come to expect BitCoin as a payment method as standard from VPN service providers nowadays, so it was a little disappointing not seeing this option. However, CactusVPN do offer a myriad of other privacy-maintaining payment methods:

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Money back Guarantee 

It is great to see that CactusVPN offer a full 30 day money back guarantee. This is what I have come to expect from any top-level VPN provider nowadays, yet so many only offer 3 or 7 day day versions. Offering 30 days certainly makes a statement of how confident CactusVPN are in their VPN service. 

Feautures

Multiple international servers
- At present, 16 servers spread over 4 countries in Across North America and Europe. 

Protocols
- CactusVPN offer five protocols: L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSTP, SoftEther and PPTP. 

Limitless
- Unlimited bandwidth and speed offered on all server connections.

Multi-device option
- Ability to have multiple devices using one CactusVPN account.

Shared IP
- Shared IP addresses between users makes tracing personal behaviour near-impossible.

Customer support
- 24/7 top level customer support offered to every user.

Torrenting permitted
- Netherland and Romania server VPNs allow torrenting.

The Software

The CactusVPN software is incredibly user-friendly, super fast and very easy to install and setup. 

I went ahead and purchased an account and setup the VPN software on my Macbook Pro. Here is a walkthrough of the process I went through from purchase to connection:

PAYMENT PROCESS

Making payment was as simple as it could be. You just create an account and select your payment method:

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Then after a few steps with the payment option you chose, you are directed to the confirmation page:

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With this confirmation page you also receive a few emails confirming payment and account confirmation. Within one of these emails is the login information for your "client area" of the website:

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Using these details, you can then log into your client area. In there you can check your account details, your subscription settings and check in with support etc. 

DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION 

Another email you receive once payment is processed is one that contains your actual VPN login username and password (auto-generated) and a link to the CactusVPN website page that has the direct download links to all the operating systems and devices they are compatible with:

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​Seeing as I am on a Macbook, I went ahead and downloaded the OS X software. This took just a few seconds, and then I went through the install which was also just a few short steps:

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CONNECTING

Opening the software, I was very impressed immediately by both the aesthetic design of the interface and the intuitive layout. You are first prompted to enter your Username and Password, which as mentioned earlier are given to you in an initial email received upon payment:

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Once you're logged into the software, the interface presents you with simple few options, the main ones being which server location and protocol you want to connect to. Connecting is incredibly straight forward, especially when compared to other VPN service providers that require you to physically retrieve the .ovpn OpenVPN file from their specific library, download it and then import and connect to it that way. 

CactusVPN make this entire process require just one action: clicking the "Connect" button. Lovely:

Disconnected...

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Connected!

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As you can see in the above screenshots, there are some helpful and very handy tabs you can easily navigate through. These include a Settings tab, that allows you to set custom preferences regarding the software:

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As well as a great additional feature, called the "Apps. Killer", which let's you not only kill applications on your device when the VPN fails - but actually state specific applications in advance and save these settings:

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That's really all there is to know about the OS X software. It is a great, lightweight piece of software that was super simple to download, install and setup. Most importantly, the actual interface is designed and laid out so intuitively for the user that navigating it is a breeze. 

MOBILE SOFTWARE

I figured that since I have an Android device, I would also give a walkthrough of the download, install and connecting process that CactusVPN has setup for it. So here's this process laid out now:

DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION

CactusVPN have developed a dedicated Android app for their VPN software, which is great as this makes the setup process incredibly simple. Just head to the Google Play store and search for "CactusVPN":

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Once you have the app downloaded and installed, open up the app and you will next be prompted to enter your account login information. Pop this info in and you will be quickly logged into the app:

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As you will see once logged in -- CactusVPN make it very simple and straight forward to use the app, with the interface presenting you with the main essentially information you need, i.e. selecting which region and then the server/city therein you wantto connect through:

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With your server region and city selected, you can go ahead and connect right away. Should you want to five a bit deeper into the technical connection settings, then you can easily do this by navigating to the 3-dots in the top right of the app, then selecting "Settings". 

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In settings you have the additional option to specify the port you want to connect via, which is a great preference option to include in the app without over-complicating things for non-tech savvy users:

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All in all the CactusVPN Android app is great. It downloads and installs onto your Android device in seconds so is clearly a very "lightly" developed app, which is always helpful. The design of the app, aesthetically speaking, is consistent with the CactusVPN website and desk/laptop software, which is a touch that I always appreciate and definitely see as a sign of a VPN provider that clearly cares about instilling a trusting brand image. 

The iOS app also lives up to the same level of aesthetic and navigational clarity, so overall I really tip my hat to CactusVPN for putting in the work to develop very user-friendly and performance-steady apps, since this really sets them apart from many VPN providers around today that have not put in the effort to build dedicated apps -- thus relying on using, most commonly, OpenVPN backend setup that takes a lot more time and effort to setup. 

Compatibility

CactusVPN is compatible with practically every operating system and device you would want to use their service on, which is fantastic. A comprehensive list is displayed showing this on their website, which you can see below:

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As you can see, Windows/OS X/Android/iOS/Linux/Ubuntu operating systems are all compatible with CactusVPN, as well as a comprehensive array of devices. No issues here. 


Speed & Performance

I ran a standard speed test to check both the download and upload speed of my network connection without the CactusVPN connected then with it connected. 

As you can see from the results, there was quite a dip in the download speeds when I connected to the VPN, however - being located in the UK, and connecting to a server based in Los Angeles, the drop is not too severe. It is definitely worth mentioning that most users have no such speed issues (check other reviews and you'll see unanimous praise of CactusVPN's server speeds), so this may have been an anomaly with my connection, seeing as I was on a very slow public wifi network at the time of testing. 

Without VPN:

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With VPN:

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This speed test also clearly showed that my IP and thus digital location changed accordingly when I connected to the VPN, which was good. 


Support

CactusVPN offer users a committed 24/7 customer support that they can interact with via a ticketing system within their client area on the website, or via email. They also offer live chat support on the website, however during my many hours on the site, I saw that their live chat support was quite sporadic -- and there is no way to summon a conversation box for this. Users simply have to wait and if they are lucky, they will be presented with a pop-up chat box that offers live support. 

Aside from these useful channels for interactive support, CactusVPN have built a great library of support documentation, tutorials and FAQs that enables users to attempt to find their own solutions to issues without the need for interacting with a support staff:

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The Website

The CactusVPN website has clearly had a lot of thought and effort put into it, both design and development-wise. 

It aesthetically looks fantastic. Modern, minimal, clean and pleasing to the eye. Functionally, it is a delight to navigate, with the user-experience being nothing short of enjoyable. Here's a snapshot of what you are greeted on when arriving on the site:

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Users can navigate easily to find the most important information on what CactusVPN can offer with the provider holding no information back. Pricing, features and support, as well as company information are all readily available on the site. It's definitely one of the best VPN service provider websites I have interacted with to date.

Security & Privacy

CactusVPN give users a promise of zero-logs when it comes to user activity. This is great. However, although they do not keep activity logs; they do keep connection logs for up to 72 hours. CactusVPN reassure that this is just for the purpose of troubleshooting and improving their service, so that lessens this negative. There are VPN services that provide a total zero-logs policy though, which does put CactusVPN at a disadvantage is that respect. 

Being a Moldova-based company, CactusVPN are not under the stringent jurisdiction or laws of more oppressive countries like the US when it comes to dealing with DMCA takedown notices and legal obligations to handing over user information to governing bodies that may also be knowingly conducting surveillance on CactusVPN user activity. With that being said though, I was not able to find any concrete information regarding just what laws, jurisdictions and legal obligations CactusVPN do fall under by being located in Moldova. So if you really care about knowing what legal obligations or laws your VPN provider is under, then this could be an issue. 

Regarding CactusVPNs protocols and connection encryptions, they do a great job. With 256 AES bit encryption on OpenVPN and 128-to-256 bit encryption on L2TP connections, they offer the same top level of technical security and protection as their competing VPN providers do. 

Conclusion 

Overall I really liked CactusVPN and the service they provide. The entire process of setting up a connection on my Macbook was one of the easiest and quickest I have experienced in the many VPN service I have reviewed. Although it was quite a lengthy process to get an OpenVPN connection through CactusVPN setup on my Android smartphone, I was all the same thankful that they were able to provide this at all, along with giving me clear and detailed walkthrough guides on how to do this as painlessly as possible. 

The entire design and development of CactusVPN from their website to their OS X app is a real delight to interact with. Especially for the price you pay to use the service. 

I will say that having to select a subscription plan that confined me to only one country's selection of servers was a little annoying, as I quite regularly like to flick between different server locations around the world -- but for only costing as little as $1 per account, I can't complain. 

All in all I highly recommend trying out CactusVPN for your VPN needs. They are stable, secure, and their customer support is really on point. With the 30 day money back guarantee, I see no reason not to give them a shot and see if they are the VPN service provider for you.

Summary
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