Sometimes we are so caught up in the numbers. When looking for a quality VPN service provider, we tend to look at the server, IP addresses or the country coverage, even though we only swap between few servers. Bearing this logic in mind, CactusVPN gives us what we actually need with the least amount of servers.
Yet, can only 14 countries meet our ultimate VPN expectation? We will evaluate and decide on it in this super detailed CactusVPN review.
Country, server coverage, and performance test
CactusVPN provides VPN service in 14 different countries along within 23 different locations. The coverage map extends from North America to Eastern Asia. While most of the English Speaking and the European countries are covered, CactusVPN coverage lacks in South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.
As of 2019, CactusVPN still idles around the same amount of server and coverage number. It is one of the reasons why we have some connection issues during the peak usage time. We will discuss it on the following topic.
For now, CactusVPN cannot meet our coverage expectation and is not recommended for African or Asian locales.
It is time to move forward and test the servers. Like any other tests, we connected to PPTP protocol and run a stress test with our fiber connection.
Speed test results
|Region||Download / MBps||Upload / MBps||Ping|
|Mobile - Wifi||43.63||9.47||67|
|Mobile - 4G||14.7||13.41||84|
|Canada - Montreal||6.86||4.56||298|
|UK - London||14.14||4.8||132|
|Korea - Seoul||0.82||1.92||683|
I was actually pleased with the speed performance. US servers performed well enough while some Europe P2P servers were super poor.
What took my attention here, Netherland and Romania servers were the slowest ones as they are some of the P2P allowed servers with CactusVPN. Other than this small problem, CactusVPN offers great speed performance both for USA and Europe users. Furthermore, mobile speed is so promising that you will not have any streaming, or lag issues when you are on your phone.
Lastly, taking the Netherland server performance as an example, I was actually expecting slow torrenting performance. Yet, CactusVPN proved me wrong.
I decided to switch from Amsterdam 2 to Amsterdam 3 server and started to download a torrent file. The file was 274MB.
Below you can see my torrenting experience.
Similar to Cyberghost and PrivateVPN, CactusVPN is one of the top choices for torrent lovers.
The download speed peaked up to 4.2 MB/sec and stabilized around 3.5 MB/sec. There were no ups and downs and downloading the torrent file took less than 1 minute.
Last but not least, CactusVPN does not limit you with fair usage. You are free to download as much as you want. Yet, UseNet and spamming are prohibited!
Popcorn time experience
We all do like free stuff, right? With Popcorn Time, you can watch any TV series or movie for free. However, while doing so, our IP addresses are exposed and we are not fully secure online. In this sense, using a VPN service would grant full coverage of our online identity.
Earlier we had a terrible experience with CactusVPN as it stuck around 400KB/sec download speed with Popcorn time. Later on, I got an email about the improved and well optimized P2P servers.
So, I gave them another shot in 2019.
It took around 5 seconds to collect necessary seeds and start downloading the file. I paused the video to give you more details about the download speed.
There were few ups and downs. However, the download reached up to 2.7MB/sec for a while. Then, drop back to 1.7 – 2.0 MB/sec.
Is that enough?
Yes, it is. The background download was pretty good and this will help you have an amazing streaming experience without any buffering problems.
CactusVPN passed torrent and popcorn time test with a good grade!
CactusVPN NetFlix and BBC iPlayer experience
Here comes the challenging part. NetFlix has been blocking the VPN provider and CactusVPN is one of them. Unfortunately, my first try with the USA server over CactusVPN (VPN) service failed and I was caught by the Netflix system.
Knowing this fact, CactusVPN development team has implemented Smart DNS service -something you have to pay extra bucks for normal VPN service.
By the Smart DNS service, you can simply make adjustments in the software choosing the website (you want to unblock) region as the USA and smart DNS server as Europe. This will give you an opportunity to watch any Netflix show you want. In Full HD quality!
As this is a VPN service review, sadly, CactusVPN has failed it. Yet, with an additional 2 bucks over VPN plan, CactusVPN with smart DNS will give you smooth and quality Netflix streaming experience.
Is CactusVPN working with BBC iPlayer?
Another platform to watch a quality show is BBC iPlayer. I am outside of the UK and I wanted to check a random TV series via CactusVPN DNS server.
I chose my website region as UK and DNS server as Europe. While browsing the website, I randomly pick a show called “Countryfile”
Below you can see the streaming quality
Again, I was able to watch the show with HD quality and had zero problems.
Besides unblocking Netflix and BBC iPlayer, CactusVPN DNS feature will help you bypass more than 200+ restriction streaming sites around the world.
Considering the service as a VPN provider, CactusVPN fails. If you are willing to buy the additional “Smart DNS” service, then you can enjoy Netflix USA and BBC iPlayer.
Pricing and refund policy
Here comes the weird part. On one hand, we have a minimalist VPN service provider along with one of the best performance available. On the other hand, we have the most confusing pricing in the market.
You can choose between 4 different plans. Each plan has either different location or purpose. In this sense, make your choice wisely.
While picking a plan -if you are a long time user, make sure to get %35 off the price by choosing an annual plan.
CactusVPN refund policy
The company offers 30-days money back guarantee with strict rules:
- There is a list provided by CactusVPN. If the website you want to unblock is not listed in this list, you cannot ask for a refund. The system works on certain devices for certain websites.
- If you violate any rules or share your account credentials and your account is terminated, you cannot ask for a refund.
- If the original set up was working fine and you changed your device or ISP, and service stopped working, you will not be refunded.
Like many other VPN services, CactusVPN accepts credit cards, Paypal, Crypto Currency as well as Yandex money and Ali Pay. Wherever you are located, you can easily complete the purchasing steps after selecting your location.
The payment gateway system will give you the desired options…
Desktop software and mobile apps
Seriously, CactusVPN had the worst VPN software till July 2017. The company finally updated the software and now it became easy to use, modern looking one.
The previous version had two big issues:
- In the Windows OS, after you disconnect from the server, the software gets the windows bar bugged and you cannot do anything for more than 2 minutes.
- After the company added more server, the way new servers were looking was terrible.
However, after the latest update (January 2019), the CactusVPN software is working like a charm along with new features.
Now the servers are lined up with a drop-down button. You can easily run a speed test to find the fastest performing server close to you.
After you decide on the server, you can either keep the protocol to have a faster experience or make the encryption stronger by choosing the other ones.
Once you click on the “Connect”, you are done.
In the settings menu, there is plenty of useful setting we can change as you can see above.
For greater privacy, please make sure to keep the “DNS leak protection” and the “reconnect if VPN connection is dropped” features on. Moreover, you can also add the apps to be shut down in case VPN connection is dropped.
Lastly, CactusVPN should definitely add a server status pollution sign next to the locations. During the peak times, most of the servers become unavailable and you have to try one by one to find the least crowded server.
Did you know that CactusVPN was the first VPN service provider implementing the one of the fastest and most secure protocols Softether to its services?
At the moment, there are 4 options in the software. These are OpenVPN, L2TP, SSTP, and PPTP.
In some cases, service providers do not allow you to use each server with any security protocol you want. However, with CactusVPN you are free to do so.
There is one important note to be considered. Contrary to other providers, CactusVPN prefers to use less secure 128bit encryption. This means less protection for you. On the other hand, you will get greater speed performance.
CactusVPN for mobile devices
In your smartphone, you will have the same features provided in the desktop software. I have been using this mobile app for more than a year and there was not any connection issue.
With the latest update, the mobile app has also a modern looking interface.
Connecting to the server on mobile is pretty fast. However, just like the peak time problem, during the evening period (GMT+2), CactusVPN connection speed slows down a lot and you get less performance.
Other supported devices
Besides mostly used PC and smartphones, CactusVPN also supports the following devices:
- Windows phones
- Boxee Box and finally
- Apple FireTV
- Android TV
Just in case, I thought I might have made a mistake and ask the customer support “Bogdan” that “If there was any way around to bypass Netflix restriction only with the VPN service.”
I got my answer within 10 seconds.
unfortunately, it’s not possible to unblock Netflix using our services.
However, we unblock more than 200 media websites from the USA, UK, Germany, Poland, Canada, and other countries. You can see the full list of unblocked websites here: https://www.cactusvpn.com/smart-dns/unblocked-websites/
My customer support experience was fairly fast.
The has passed and I wanted to test the customer support team again.
The company hired several other customer support representative. They are ready for you 7/24.
When I asked my question related to BBC iPlayer, Victor answered me within a few seconds. You can see our live chat below.
Because of the latest positive changes, we will add another point to CactusVPN “Customer Support” point.
Log policy! Does CactusVPN keep logs?
The company adopted zero log policy. That means you are safe. They are located in Moldova away from Europe, and USA jurisdictions.
Let’s mark the words from the first hand.
For sure, this does not mean you can do anything you want.
What you cannot do with CactusVPN:
- Intellectual Property Violations,
- Defamatory or Abusive Language,
- Illegal access to other computers or networks,
- Sharing your account details with someone else,
- Any other illegal activities…
CactusVPN is an inexpensive VPN service provider giving us an extreme speed performance and reliable connection with a brand new software. It has 5 different protocols specifically designed to give any kind of privacy level.
Currently, the company only operates only in 14 countries and has a limited number of servers. Moreover, users should keep this in mind that, CactusVPN is blocked by the Netflix and you have to buy an additional service “Smart DNS” over VPN in order to watch Netflix outside of the USA.
The company bear zero-log policy and does not limit us with any fair usage limits. However, they have a long way to improve their service to compete with top providers in the market.
You don't have to pay so much money on a regular VPN service, CactusVPN will give you anything you want with its reliable and well optimized servers.
- Great speed performance
- Stable servers and software
- Reasonable price
- No-log policy
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Frequent software updates
- Blocked by Netflix and BBC iPlayer. You must purchase "Smart DNS" service.
- Crowded servers during peak times.
- No sign of available servers when one is full.