CactusVPN Review 2023: 5 Cons and 5 Pros
CactusVPN Supports Crypto; The Rating Was Ruined by a Non-functional Kill Switch
- Faced problems connecting to the server
- Kill switch did not work properly
- Only 36 servers in 22 countries
- The service has not undergone a security audit
- Application is only available in English
- VPN can be used on 999 devices simultaneously
- Subscriptions can be paid with cryptocurrencies
- Almost zero computer load
- Unblocked all streaming services
- OpenVPN protocol supports camouflage mode
CactusVPN is a paid service operated by a company of the same name based in Chisinau, Moldova. A small team of people is behind the development of the VPN, launched in 2011.
In our review, CactusVPN earned a 6.2/10, which places it among the worse private networks on the market. One of the biggest problems with VPNs is unreliable apps. During our testing, we repeatedly encountered connection issues, which in some cases were only resolved on the third attempt.
CactusVPN also lost points due to the kill switch feature, which is a security risk. When switching from one server to another, the kill switch fails to activate and reveals the user’s real IP address for a certain period of time. Therefore, although the kill switch is present in the application, we evaluated it as non-functional.
Compared to competitors, the offering of 36 servers in 22 countries is significantly below average. The application is only available in English and has not been independently audited to confirm its security.
The advantages of CactusVPN include the ability to use it on 999 devices simultaneously. In the test, we managed to unblock all streaming platforms, and some users may appreciate support for cryptocurrency payments.
The most affordable subscription option costs $3.96 per month, so we recommend CactusVPN comparing with competing services that often offer more features for a comparable price. For example, NordVPN, with a price of $4.07 per month, achieved a grade of 9.4/10 in our review. The Surfshark, at $2.14 per month, has an overall grade of 9.0/10.
CactusVPN Subscription: Discount Code, Free Trial, Money Back Guarantee…
- Your Price:
$9.9960% off $3.96 /mo (999 devices)
- Money Back Guarantee: Yes (30 days)
- Free Trial: Yes (3 days)
- Cryptocurrency payments: YesBitcoin :Yes
CactusVPN offers subscription options with regular monthly payment, or for 3 months, 1 year, and 2 years with full payment upfront. While the monthly subscription costs $9.99, the price of the most affordable 2-year plan is only $3.96 per month.
The CactusVPN range is rounded out by cheaper subscription plans where some features are limited or include servers only in the US or UK.
All subscription orders are covered by a money-back guarantee with no reason required within 30 days. Before purchase, a trial version of 3 days is available for CactusVPN. To get it, simply create an account, with no need to enter a credit card number.
Subscriptions can be paid by debit and credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
- Your Price:
CactusVPN and Supported Devices: Android, iOS, macOS…
- Device limit: Unlimited
- Android: YesAndroid is supported by 98 % of reviewed VPNs
- Android TV:YesAndroid TV is supported by 37 % of reviewed VPNs
- Apple TV:YesApple TV is supported by 18 % of reviewed VPNs
- Fire TV:YesFire TV is supported by 44 % of reviewed VPNs
- Chromebook:NoChromebook is supported by 21 % of reviewed VPNs
- Chromecast:NoChromecast is supported by 16 % of reviewed VPNs
- iOS:YesiOS is supported by 99 % of reviewed VPNs
- Kodi:NoKodi is supported by 22 % of reviewed VPNs
- Linux:NoLinux is supported by 60 % of reviewed VPNs
- Mac:YesMac is supported by 98 % of reviewed VPNs
- NAS:NoNAS is supported by 25 % of reviewed VPNs
- nVidia Shield:NonVidia Shield is supported by 15 % of reviewed VPNs
- Playstation:YesPlaystation is supported by 20 % of reviewed VPNs
- Raspberry Pi:NoRaspberry Pi is supported by 18 % of reviewed VPNs
- Roku:YesRoku is supported by 16 % of reviewed VPNs
- Router:NoRouter is supported by 54 % of reviewed VPNs
- Windows:YesWindows is supported by 100 % of reviewed VPNs
- xBox:YesxBox is supported by 20 % of reviewed VPNs
- Brave : YesThe Brave browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Chrome :YesThe Chrome browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Edge :NoThe Edge browser add-on is offered by 19 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Firefox :YesThe Firefox browser add-on is offered by 35 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Opera :YesThe Opera browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Safari :NoThe Safari browser add-on is offered by 0 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Vivaldi :YesThe Vivaldi browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
With one subscription, CactusVPN can be used on 999 devices simultaneously. This is a very good value, as most VPN providers limit the number of connectable devices.
The CactusVPN app is available for Windows and macOS computers, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices.
CactusVPN also supports Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku TV, along with multimedia systems, and PlayStation and Xbox game consoles. Unfortunately, among the supported platforms, there is no router that can easily protect all devices connected to the same network.
You can also protect yourself with CactusVPN via browser extensions for Chrome, Brave, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi.
CactusVPN App: User-friendliness, whitelist, server selection…
- App Languages: 🇺🇸 English
- Whitelisting: NoWhitelisting is supported by 52 % of reviewed VPNs
The desktop app CactusVPN is available only in a dark theme; no light theme is available. There is a button on the home screen to connect or disconnect from the VPN, along with the option to change the location. The current IP address and location of the user are also displayed.
The list of servers can be sorted by speed from the fastest to the slowest location. Notifications inform the user of changes in connection status. The application CactusVPN is only available in English.
During the testing of CactusVPN, we encountered major stability issues with the application. Connecting to the server repeatedly failed and had to be retried; in some cases, only the third attempt was successful.
Missing features of CactusVPN include a whitelist, which would allow you to select apps and websites that will connect directly to the Internet even when the VPN is activated. A similar split tunneling feature is only available on mobile devices. It allows you to select apps that will connect directly, while for others, traffic will always be routed through the VPN.
An interesting feature of CactusVPN is Smart DNS, which is used to unblock unavailable foreign content. However, Smart DNS does not provide the same level of protection as DNS, as it does not mask the user’s IP address. The technology is only used to gain access to streaming video, for example, and in our testing, we were able to unblock Netflix, Disney Plus, and other platforms.
CactusVPN supports automatic launch of the app when the device boots, as well as automatic connection to the VPN.
Additionally, the App Killer feature is available in the desktop version of CactusVPN. It works on a similar principle to the kill switch, as it allows you to select programs installed on your computer that CactusVPN will automatically terminate in the event of a VPN connection failure. Once the connection to the VPN servers is restored, the closed programs will start again.
CactusVPN Connection Speed: Upload, Download & Latency
- Traffic limit: Unlimited
CactusVPN does not limit the user with a limit on the amount of data transferred; this is standard among paid VPNs.
Connecting to the CactusVPN servers was slow compared to other reviewed VPNs. Several times during our testing, we were unable to establish a connection at all, only receiving an error message prompting us to try again.
The actual transfer speed itself was affected by the chosen protocol (WireGuard was the fastest) and the location of the server.
In the retest, we achieved an average download speed of 170 Mb/s. Such a value is above average in the context of other VPNs and is sufficient for both watching 4K video and downloading bulky files.
The average measured upload speed of 68 Mb/s is sufficient for sharing larger files, although it ranks roughly in the middle compared to other services like CactusVPN.
The server response time of 31 ms is still adequate for gaming or video chatting. However, the best VPNs we measured had significantly better values; for example, Surfshark achieved 10 ms and Private Internet Access had 11 ms. For response speeds as opposed to transfer rates, lower is better.
CactusVPN Server Locations
- Number of servers: 36The average number of servers for the reviewed VPNs is 1670.
- Number of countries: 22The average number of countries available for the reviewed VPNs is 41.
Europe 🇫🇷 France 🇮🇹 Italy 🇱🇹 Lithuania 🇩🇪 Germany 🇳🇱 Netherlands 🇵🇱 Poland 🇵🇹 Portugal 🇷🇴 Romania 🇬🇧 United Kingdom 🇪🇸 Spain 🇸🇪 Sweden 🇨🇭 Switzerland North America 🇨🇦 Canada 🇺🇸 USA South America 🇧🇷 Brazil Asia 🇭🇰 Hong Kong 🇮🇳 India 🇯🇵 Japan 🇲🇾 Malaysia 🇷🇺 Russia 🇸🇬 Singapore Africa Oceania 🇦🇺 Australia
The CactusVPN network consists of 36 servers in 22 countries. Both values are below average in the context of the other VPNs reviewed.
Most CactusVPN servers are located in Europe, with the exception of Africa, every continent is represented. There is no shortage of servers in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia, while India, Hong Kong, and Portugal are among the less common countries. Of the countries with strong government censorship, Russia is represented.
Some of the servers in CactusVPN are specifically optimized for P2P connections, located in Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Romania, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.
All CactusVPN servers support all the features offered, and none of them are virtual.
CactusVPN Security Features: DNS Leak Protection, Kill Switch…
- DNS leak protection : YesDNS leak protection is offered by 92% of the reviewed VPNs.
- Kill Switch: NoKill Switch is supported by 85% of the reviewed VPNs.
- Multi-Hop: NoMulti-Hop connection is offered by 20 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Tor: NoTor support is offered by 18 % of the reviewed VPNs.
The basic security feature of CactusVPN is DNS leak protection, which worked fine during our testing.
However, we encountered a serious problem with the kill switch feature that CactusVPN offers in the application. The kill switch is supposed to disconnect the device from the Internet if the connection to the VPN server is lost. This prevents the user’s real IP address, location, or compromised data from being revealed. However, when switching between servers, the kill switch in CactusVPN failed to activate in time, leading to the discovery of our real IP address. This significantly reduces the security of using CactusVPN.
The protocols available in the CactusVPN desktop application are WireGuard, OpenVPN, SSTP, IKEv2, L2TP, and PPTP. In the mobile app, only WireGuard and OpenVPN are available. You can choose your preferred protocol in the settings; especially modern WireGuard stands out for its speed and simple code.
With OpenVPN, one can additionally choose between UDP and TCP protocols, and the port used can be selected. CactusVPN for OpenVPN supports a camouflage mode that can mask the use of VPNs. The UDP protocol does not provide reliability as it does not check for data delivery, but has a faster response time. TCP protocol is more reliable. It checks data delivery and resends data if lost, and thus has a slower response time.
CactusVPN uses the AES-128, AES-256, CAMELLIA128, and CAMELLIA256 standards to encrypt the transmitted data.
The use of CactusVPN is not supported on the Tor network. Multi-hop connections (also known as Double VPN), where all traffic is routed through two different VPN servers at the same time, cannot be used either. This increases the level of privacy.
For account security, CactusVPN can use two-factor password verification with a code from the app.
CactusVPN & Streaming: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime…
- Amazon Prime: YesAmazon Prime streaming is supported by 53 % of reviewed VPNs
- Disney+: YesDisney+ streaming is supported by 55 % of reviewed VPNs
- HBO: YesHBO streaming is supported by 58 % of reviewed VPNs
- Hulu: YesHulu streaming is supported by 51 % of reviewed VPNs
- Netflix: YesNetflix streaming is supported by 65 % of reviewed VPNs
- YouTube: YesYouTube streaming is supported by 96 % of reviewed VPNs
To unblock content from streaming platforms, CactusVPN uses the Smart DNS feature. While this does not ensure the security of the data transfer, it can unblock the content.
Our measured download speed of 170 Mb/s is suitable for watching 4K video. For this, a threshold of at least 50 Mbps is generally stated as necessary.
Features of CactusVPN: AdBlock, Static IP…
- Blocks Ads: NoAd blocking is offered by 43 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Blocks Malware: NoMalware blocking is offered by 34 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Blocks Trackers: NoTrackers blocking is offered by 36 % of the VPNs reviewed.
The CactusVPN application does not support ad-blocking, malware, or trackers.
When OpenVPN is selected, a camouflage mode is available in the settings that can mask active VPN protection. This is particularly useful in situations where VPN use is countered or blocked. Connections appear as normal traffic on the outside; the Internet provider cannot detect the VPN.
A static IP address is not available with CactusVPN, even at an additional cost. However, it is possible to set a time interval in the application settings after which the IP address will change. The minimum time is 5 minutes; the maximum is 24 hours.
CactusVPN‘s CPU usage and App Performance
The desktop app CactusVPN puts a minimal load on the device, even compared to other VPNs.
The app is always minimized and must be opened via the icon on the taskbar. This behavior is a bit annoying, as you can’t leave it open – clicking outside will always close it by itself.
CactusVPN Torrenting Servers
- Torrenting servers: YesTorrenting support is offered by 88 % of the reviewed VPNs.
CactusVPN supports torrenting on all servers. Some of them are specially optimized for P2P file sharing; you can find them in a special category when you select a server in the app.
Servers dedicated to torrent downloads are located in the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, and Malaysia. Only servers with dynamic IP addresses are available. Servers with a static address are not available, but it is possible to adjust the time after which the assigned IP will automatically change in the settings. The maximum time that the IP address will remain the same is 24 hours.
The measured download speed of 170 Mb/s and upload speed of 68 Mb/s are sufficient for torrenting. The bigger problem is the poorly functioning kill switch, which failed to switch when connecting to another server and briefly revealed our real IP address.
What is the country of origin of CactusVPN?
- VPN Provider: CactusVPN
- Country of origin: 🇲🇩 Moldova
The operator of CactusVPN is a company of the same name based in Chisinau, Moldova. Its founder is Sergiu Candja, who launched CactusVPN in 2011.
Although the founder of CactusVPN has received several buyout offers for the company, he has deliberately kept the company smaller with an emphasis on the community. He has rejected all buyout offers. The company is not very transparent externally; it does not list its registered office or contact address on its website, and we have not been able to trace it through the Moldovan company register.
Moldova is not one of the countries that track and store data on its citizens and users on a massive scale.
CactusVPN and Privacy: Logging Policy, Security Issues…
- No-Logs Policy: PartiallyThe No-Logs Policy is followed by 78% of reviewed VPNs.
CactusVPN declares that it does not store logs from VPN usage and does not sell any data to third parties.
However, according to the terms of the contract, CactusVPN may share any information obtained in the event of a court order or police request. If CactusVPN does not store any data, it cannot transfer anything.
Servers of CactusVPN are equipped with hard drives that can store data for long periods of time. The Surfshark, Oeck VPN, and some other VPNs use servers with RAM memory only. They have the advantage that data cannot be stored on them for long periods of time, which increases the security of the service.
Greater confidence in CactusVPN would also benefit from an independent audit, which the VPN does not appear to have passed.
CactusVPN Support: Chat, e-mail…
Customer support is provided via tickets. On the CactusVPN website in the Support section, just create a custom ticket and describe the problem. Our test questions were answered by support staff within a couple of hours.
Technical support can also be contacted via email at email@example.com; in this case, we also waited a few hours for a response.
If you can help yourself, you can also visit the FAQ section. Tutorials on how to download the CactusVPN app on various platforms, how to use it properly, and general questions about the Smart DNS feature are also answered here. Another section of the site is the so-called Learning Center, designed for users who are not experienced in using VPNs.
Is CactusVPN a good VPN?In our test, CactusVPN received a 6.2/10 rating, with the best-reviewed VPNs scoring significantly higher. For example, NordVPN scored 9.4/10, Surfshark 9.0/10, and Proton VPN Plus reached 8.6/10.
CactusVPN lost points for a broken kill switch, low server and country counts, and repeated problems connecting to the server.
Where does the operator CactusVPN reside?Since 2011, CactusVPN has been based in Chisinau, Moldova.
Who owns CactusVPN?The operator CactusVPN is not very transparent about its ownership structure; we could not trace the company in the Moldovan commercial register. According to the available information, the founder and current owner of CactusVPN is Sergiu Candja, with a small team of people involved in the development.
CactusVPN 💵 VPN Price: $3.96/mo 📱 Device limit: Unlimited 🎞️Unblocks Netflix: Yes 🔌 Router Support: No 📄 No-Logs Policy: Partially 🛡 Kill Switch: No 🖥️Number of servers: 36 🗺️Country of origin: Moldova
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