CactusVPN Review 2021: Before You Buy, Is It Worth It?

What do we look at?

CactusVPN Overview February 2021

CactusVPN is a secure VPN based in Moldova, but it doesn’t quite measure up when compared to larger providers.

For the price you pay, CactusVPN has some useful features — it’s a good choice for unblocking global streaming services with its smart DNS feature. With an easy to follow download process, it provides a straightforward user experience. It’s also one of the few VPNs that allows you to pay for your subscription with cryptocurrencies.

However, its lack of credibility on privacy, unstable servers, and slow internet speeds are too limiting. If you want to test it yourself, you can try it for free for 30 days.

Don’t Have Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary

CactusVPN Can Unblock Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and HBO NOW

One of the most appealing features of any VPN is its ability to unblock region-locked content on major streaming platforms. CactusVPN is also capable of bypassing location restrictions, but there’s a catch — you have to use its smart DNS feature to unblock popular streaming services. This is essentially a streaming-only mode, but has slightly weaker security features than CactusVPN’s regular servers. The biggest concern is that the smart DNS uses your IP address to connect to its servers rather than changing to a new IP location. Also, smart DNS only has 4 servers: America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Netflix: Unblocked

I ran 5 rounds of tests from CactusVPN servers with Netflix libraries in the US, the UK, and Australia. There were some slight connection issues which resolved once I cleared the cookies from my browser. Then I was able to bypass the geoblock to watch shows like Modern Family from anywhere.

Screenshot of Modern Family successfully streaming on Netflix with CactusVPN connected

You can watch shows from foreign Netflix libraries anytime with CactusVPN

Hulu: Unblocked

By connecting to CactusVPN’s smart DNS server located in the US, I could bypass Hulu’s geoblock from abroad. After a few connection tests to ensure server stability, I was able to watch Rick and Morty without any buffering or delays.

Screenshot of Rick and Morty successfully streaming on Hulu with CactusVPN connected

Slip past Hulu’s region-lock to watch hit shows with CactusVPN

Disney +: Unblocked

Disney+ is only available in limited regions, mostly in Europe, Oceania, and the US. By connecting to smart DNS servers in Europe and America, the region-block was no longer an issue. I tested this several times and was able to watch Disney movies like Hamilton without problems.

Screenshot of Hamilton successfully streaming on Disney+ with CactusVPN connected

Get access to Disney’s collection of timeless films

BBC iPlayer: Unblocked

I bypassed the UK location block by connecting to the smart DNS server in Europe. After repeatedly testing to ensure the server was stable, I seamlessly watched shows from the BBC iPlayer’s library like The Graham Norton Show.

Screenshot of The Graham Norton Show successfully streaming on BBC iPlayer with CactusVPN connected

CactusVPN can access BBC iPlayer’s entire library

HBO NOW: Unblocked

HBO NOW is only available in the US, but I could get past that region-lock by connecting to the smart DNS server in the Americas. After a few connection tests, I was able to watch HBO NOW shows such as Game of Thrones without any interruptions.

Screenshot of Game of Thrones successfully streaming on HBO NOW with CactusVPN connected

You can get full access to HBO NOW’s US-only collection and watch popular series with CactusVPN

Important to know

Moldova
2011
No
3
30 days guaranteed

Contact Details

[email protected]
www.CactusVPN.com

Speed6.0

Does CactusVPN Have Good Speeds? (Could be Better)

CactusVPN is one of the slower VPNs I’ve tested — when playing popular games like Among Us, I kept getting disconnected due to high ping and low speeds. Reading online articles while watching YouTube wasn’t seamless either, with delays varying from 5 seconds to 30 seconds.

Speed Test Results

I tested all servers on my home WiFi network that averages 30Mbps. While speeds were lower in the US and the Netherlands (17Mbps for the US and 10Mbps for the Netherlands), they were still good enough for basic browsing.

Servers in Hong Kong and India also had speeds that weren’t capable of much outside of web browsing, with an average of 7Mbps and 4Mbps, respectively. Even YouTube videos — the least intense streaming platform — buffered throughout the video.

Screenshot of slow speeds on CactusVPN's normal servers

CactusVPN’s slow speeds is only fast enough for basic browsing

When I tested CactusVPN’s smart DNS servers to see how good the speeds were while streaming, I wasn’t disappointed since I could watch shows in HD without buffering. Unlike its standard servers, the smart DNS servers had high and stable speeds across all locations.

Screenshot of 4 speed tests while connected to CactusVPN's smart DNS servers

CactusVPN’s smart DNS feature helps you get buffer-free streaming with no delays

Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.

Servers4.0

Server Network — 30+ Servers Across 20+ Countries

With its limited number of servers, CactusVPN can’t quite keep up with the steady connections that premium VPNs offer. During my tests, I frequently had to spend 5 minutes trying to connect to a working server on multiple occasions. The delays were caused by server strain — since there are few servers available, they have increased latency and slower speeds.

Another issue I came across was that CactusVPN disconnected from the server at random moments. Follow up attempts to reconnect resulted in unavailable servers. I restarted the application multiple times to fix this, but this was only a temporary solution as I could never get a stable long-term connection.

Security — Military-Grade Encryption

When it comes to its security, CactusVPN is keeping up with premium providers. It comes with 7 different VPN protocols: OpenVPN (TCP & UDP), Wireguard, SSTP, SoftEther, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP. You’ll feel secure surfing the web as it protects your data with industry-standard protection.

While its smart DNS feature doesn’t come protected by default, you can activate DNS leak protection to encrypt your data.

Screenshot showing how to enable DNS leak protection

With smart DNS enabled, you can stream videos without fear of data breaches

One other warning is regarding CactusVPN’s kill switch: it doesn’t come pre-activated. You have to go to the settings configurations and toggle the switch. The setup for this takes a few seconds, making it very simple and easy.

Screenshot showing how to manually activate CactusVPN's kill switch

Enable the kill switch to prevent data from being sent through an unsecured connection

As the flaws have solutions, I’d recommend CactusVPN as a decent VPN for security.

Privacy — No Logs Guaranteed (Kind of)

CactusVPN boasts a no-logs guaranteed policy, putting them on par with big-name VPN providers. At least it would — after reaching out to customer support, I learned that CactusVPN never had an official audit of its no-logs guarantee. Without an official audit, there isn’t a guarantee that CactusVPN is upholding its no-logs policy.

Another flaw I noted is in a specific clause on its privacy policy. CactusVPN reserves the right to hand over your data to any government if requested by a court order.

Screenshot of CactusVPN's privacy policy that shows they will hand over your data

Your data isn’t 100% safe since CactusVPN might share your information for legal reasons

Torrenting — Limited

Torrenting is possible on limited servers indicated as P2P on the server drop-down menu. These servers are located in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Latvia, and Romania.

Screenshot showing which servers are capable of torrenting

Connect to one of CactusVPN’s P2P servers to start torrenting

You have torrenting options with servers in Europe, but this isn’t ideal if you live anywhere else in the world. The further you get from a server’s location, the harder it is to maintain a fast and steady connection.

Server Locations

Australia
Brazil
Canada
France
Germany
Hong Kong
India
Italy
Japan
Latvia
Malaysia
Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
See all supported locations...

User Experience7.0

Simultaneous Device Connections — Unlimited

While other VPNs are limited in their device connections, CactusVPN allows you to use its services on any number of devices simultaneously!

Device Compatibility — Works on Multiple Platforms

CactusVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and more. With a wide array of device compatibility, CactusVPN offers you flexibility in using its features.

Ease of Set-Up & Installation — Easy and User Friendly

Both the installation and uninstallation processes are straightforward and user friendly.

  1. Make your way to the CactusVPN webpage and go to its installation page. Download the version that’s compatible with your device.
    Screenshot showing where to download the version of CactusVPN you want from its website
  2. Once you’ve chosen your download version, start the download process by opening the file and press the next button until installation is complete.
    Screenshot showing how to install CactusVPN using its installation wizard
  3. After your purchase or free trial, an email is sent to your inbox to create a new password.
    Screenshot showing confirmation email from CactusVPN to create a password for your account
  4. Click on the CactusVPN desktop icon and enter in your username and password.
    Screenshot showing login screen on the CactusVPN client
  5. Click on the drop-down menu to connect to any of the servers CactusVPN has listed. Once you’ve selected a server, press the “Connect” button. It will turn blue when it’s connected.
    Screenshot of CactusVPN interface showing server selection drop-down menu
  6. If you wish to use the smart DNS, navigate to the DNS tab, and click enable. Once the button turns blue, you’re connected.
    Screenshot of CactusVPN interface showing how to enable the smart DNS
  7. If you wish to uninstall after testing CactusVPN’s features, go to your search bar (for Windows users) and type in “Apps & features.” Your final step is navigating down to CactusVPN and clicking uninstall.
    Screenshot showing how to start the process of uninstalling CactusVPN from the Apps & features menu
  8. Click all of the “agree” and “finish” buttons until CactusVPN is no longer on your device.
    Screenshot showing how to finish uninstalling CactusVPN from the uninstallation wizard

Support8.5

CactusVPN is ready to help you in a variety of ways:

  • 24/7 live chat with a customer support representative
  • Email support
  • FAQ forms
  • Troubleshoot guides

I’ve been using the customer support live chat at all hours of the day to ask questions while testing the service. The support team was able to help me within seconds and provide useful responses.

Screenshot showing customer support being quick and helpful

Customer support was patient and helpful as they assisted me with questions I had throughout the day

How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Pricing8.0

Warning! If you want a refund, CactusVPN requires an explanation about how its services don’t work and have the right to refuse your request if they think your reason is invalid.

CactusVPN has various price plans for cheaper options, but the standard plan is the best choice. While cheaper plans save you money, they limit the number of servers you can access by region and don’t include the smart DNS feature. CactusVPN’s standard plan grants access to all servers around the world and comes equipped with the smart DNS feature, and it’s even sold at a discounted rate.

You can purchase CactusVPN with major credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Etherium, Alipay, and more. The 30-day money-back guarantee covers all payment options and plans.

Compared to other VPN providers, CactusVPN is reasonably priced. If you’re worried about risking your money on a service you’re not sure about, you can try CactusVPN for free for 3 days — no credit card required!

CactusVPN offers the following plans

Final Verdict

After extensive tests, CactusVPN is neither the best nor the worst VPN. The streaming capabilities and encryption are prime selling points, but it has weaknesses in privacy and reliability. It also claims to work in China through the obfsproxy method, though I wasn’t able to test and confirm this.

While there are plenty of VPNs with more global servers and trusted privacy practices, you can test CactusVPN’s 3-day free trial to try it yourself risk-free.

Common FAQs

🤔 Is CactusVPN any good?

If you’re looking for an all-around quality VPN, CactusVPN isn’t the best choice. It misses the mark in many areas like high speeds and stable servers. However, if you’re only interested in a reasonably priced VPN that can unblock geo-restricted websites and streaming services with high-quality security, CactusVPN might be good enough for you.

For a better alternative, you can check out these VPNs that can easily bypass geoblocks on Netflix and other streaming services, while still maintaining fast and reliable speeds.

🤑 How can I get CactusVPN for free?

Signing up for free is a bit tricky — it isn’t on its landing page, so a Google search for the free trial would be necessary.

Screenshot showing how to find the CactusVPN free trial on Google
Screenshot showing how to sign up for the CactusVPN free trial

The 3-day free-trial comes with all the full application features — nothing is restricted so that you can get a feel for this VPN. All you need is a working email to sign up for free for 3 days.

If you decide to purchase CactusVPN, just remember that you need to prove how its service doesn’t work to get your money back. While it’s common for providers to ask why you wish to cancel their services and help troubleshoot problems, not many would potentially refuse your request for a refund like CactusVPN will.

If you’d rather not deal with this inconvenience, I suggest that you try a free VPN that has an easier cancellation policy.

🤓 Am I going to be safe online while using CactusVPN?

Yes, CactusVPN will keep your data secure with its military-grade encryption. As far as streaming and web browsing go, you’ll be as safe as you can get. However, CactusVPN may hand over your data for legal requests.

One of the main reasons to get a VPN is to ensure secure and anonymous internet activity. CactusVPN can neither guarantee its no-logs policy nor say your data will 100% remain private. While you won’t be guaranteed anonymity and privacy, it will provide a safe enough internet connection to protect you from hackers and other third-parties.

If you’re worried about your personal details getting leaked online, you can try these secure VPNs that actually are proven to protect your devices and sensitive information.

Try CactusVPN for yourself today!

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