CactusVPN Review In 2021: Features, Pricing & More!

CactusVPN (review) may be a Moldovan-based VPN service from CactusVPN Ltd.

It claims to provide its users with anonymous browsing, hides IP addresses to avoid geo-restrictions and maximum data protection: OpenVPN tunneling protocol with AES 128-bit encryption.

CactusVPN review
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

Moldova may be a small country in Eastern Europe, located next to Romania and Ukraine.

On the positive side, it is a place that respects privacy.

CactusVPN, on the other hand, offers a relatively limited server network, with only 23 servers in 14 countries.

This brings us to the age-old question:

Does size matter?

That’s exactly what we started looking for during this CactusVPN review.

We signed up, put them through a series of tests, and compiled this data-driven review to reveal the solution once and for all.

CactusVPN Overview

OVERALL RANK:#42 out of 78 VPNs
USABILITY:Simple and easy to use
LOG FILES:No Logging Policy
LOCATIONS:14 countries, 23 servers
SUPPORT:Good customer support
NETFLIX:Blocks Netflix USA
ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP, SoftEther, PPTP; 128-bit AES encryption
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

CactusVPN Pros

CactusVPN starts off strong with a no-laughing-cause sign-up policy. Follow up with an area jurisdiction outside of any pesky security deals.

And they have doubled down by supporting up to 6 protocols and operating on a variety of platforms, including the Tor browser, smart TVs, routers, and game consoles.

They even sweeten the effect of a kill switch and DNS leak protection. Take a look for yourself.

Collects Zero Logs

CactusVPN does not collect logs of anything.

And once we say “anything”, we don’t mean ANYTHING.

This is surprisingly rare in a world full of shady VPNs. They won’t hesitate to declare “Do not sign in” on their site, just to hide the shady details somewhere during a Privacy Policy or Terms of Service.

But during this case, CactusVPN means it.

They won’t track your browsing history, connection logs, DNS records, or other traffic logs.

Of course, they will need to keep payment records. However, if they don’t need connection records to match them, you should be fine.

Outside Of Any Security Agreement

Moldova is outside of any data-sharing intelligence agreement.

Here’s the thing:

VPNs can mask all kinds of legally questionable behavior online. But the companies behind each can’t always protect their users when local authorities call.

Most will not hesitate to use the data when pressured by governments. And if your home country is within one of the Eyes’ alliances, that data will also be delivered to the most civilized countries in the world.

However, Moldova does not play that game. the government’s other request for your records is going to be politely denied – or rudely.

This, in addition to a legitimate “no logs” policy, implies that CactusVPN stands behind it.

Six VPN Protocols Are Supported, As Well As AES-128 Encryption And A Kill Switch

OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, SSTP, SoftEther, and PPTP are all supported by CactusVPN.

Usually, OpenVPN will be your preferred option. But the opposite protocol options are available for specific devices (like IKEv2 on iOS) or outdated and slow connections.

Most of the VPNs we’ve reviewed offer a combination of these six. However, a slight difference from the rest is that CactusVPN has chosen to offer only AES-128 encryption.

Technically speaking, this is often less secure than the more robust AES-256 option.

Their logic is that the difference is minimal. and that they have some length, practically speaking. Most hacks will not be done using encryption. First, they will try to follow simple mistakes or user negligence.

If you are on an older device, this lower encryption will also be available because AES-256 puts extra pressure on the computer’s CPU).

encryption types

CactusVPN‘s VPN clients also provide a built-in kill switch. However, you must first turn it on.

It’s not enabled by default, so you’ll have to go into the app’s settings and turn it on manually to protect yourself from accidental leaks when your internet connection goes down.

CactusVPN app settings
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

Simple Setup With No Delays or Complaints

There isn’t much to mention about the CactusVPN client. And that’s an honest thing, believe it or not.

There are no major delays, crashes, or other complaints while using it.

You will need to start on the Services page and then look for a link that says “Set up CactusVPN“.

CactusVPN services
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

You will then be directed to a page with the one-click download option for your device and operating system.

one click download
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

Download the installation file and in a couple of seconds, the client appears:

CactusVPN sign in
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

Log in along with your customer account details and customize your server location preferences.

server location preferences
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

By default, they are sorted by country. But you will also sort them by speed.

Then, on the green “Connect” button, select your server. That’s all.

The only annoying thing about the whole process is that, to vary the servers, you would like to disconnect from the current one. So please confirm you have that kill switch enabled, first, before unplugging to modify.

Interestingly, they also need to offer a related service called SmartDNS. Cactus provides a test for you to find out which is the best option for you. More on this additional feature below.

Works On Many Platforms

CactusVPN platforms
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

It’s pretty standard that many VPNs are compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.

However, those aren’t the only ways to access the internet nowadays.

And the problem is, if your VPN provider doesn’t create a ready client for every single platform, it will require technical expertise or lots of troubleshooting to find a workaround.

Fortunately, CactusVPN has mercy.

Their service is compatible with everything from Amazon Fire TV to Ubuntu Linux, Chromebooks, Boxee Box, routers, game consoles, and other Apple or Samsung Smart TVs. Wow, that’s a lot!

After that long list, it should come as no surprise that CactusVPN also works with the Tor browser.

You may even connect five devices at the same time. (Or, with the aid of a router, an endless amount of data.)

The pros are piling up!

Customer Support Is Incredibly Fast, Friendly, And Professional

A flawless product is often derailed by a bad customer service experience.

A bitter taste will linger in your mouth if the company can’t step up and help when it matters most.

This is exactly why we test each and every VPN for quality of customer service, reaction time, and overall friendliness.

CactusVPN also offers live chat. However, I made the decision to carry out their email support – I sent an email with a couple of general questions.

Right now, most businesses will be delayed every day to urge us to come back. The fastest times we’ve seen occur around a couple of hours.

Unbelievably, it only took CactusVPN four minutes to provide a personalized response. You know, like a real person.

support ticket response

I even tried to fool them with a couple of follow-up email responses. But whenever it was, it only took them a couple of minutes to respond.

No DNS Leaks Or Viruses Detected

Anonymity is the name of the sport for a VPN.

And thankfully, the CactusVPN connection delivered on its promise.

We put them through a series of DNS leak tests to determine if they were accidentally exposing their real location.

But all six passed with great success:

  • (none found)
  • (none found)
  • (none found)
  • (none found)
  • (none found)
  • (none found)

No leaks found:

Cactus VPN perfect DNS leaktest

WebRTC leak test:

CactusVPN webrtc


Before escaping from the champagne and celebrating, there was something else to see.

You would think that the installation files of a VPN would be legitimate. But we’ve seen enough murky things in recent years to take nothing without regard.

So we uploaded the CactusVPN installation files to the VirusTotal scan for any late-breaking viruses or malware. We initially received a worrying warning. But I tried again and they passed cleanly on the second lap.

CactusVPN VirusTotal
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

The first was presumably a false positive. So you are good to go!

CactusVPN Cons

I’ll be honest:

He didn’t know what to expect with the little-known CactusVPN. I had never really heard of them before trying the service. But the initial experience was quite encouraging.

Unfortunately, there have been a couple of issues along the way. Each one showed up once we started putting them through a couple of tests.

These are the most important problems we encountered.

Slow Server Speeds, Despite Lower Encryption

Remember the protocols and encryption section above?

CactusVPN opts for AES-128, rather than the bigger version because they claim that it should help performance across the board.

In other words, they’re OK with sacrificing a little security for a lot of speed.

But here’s the problem:

CactusVPN’s speed was only able to come in 39th place out of the 78 VPNs we’ve reviewed.

Not terrible. But not good considering a bunch of ‘bloated’ AES-256 encryptions bested them.

And we feel comfortable saying that because each VPN gets the same test treatment.

Our normal connection speeds clocked in at 97.00 Mbps download and 53.00 Mbps upload. Then, we connect to a few different VPN servers and retest to measure the difference.

Here’s what we saw on the CactusVPN U.S. servers:

server speeds
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

U.S. Server:

  • Ping: 147
  • Download: 44.99 Mbps (53.6% slower)
  • Upload: 10.21 Mbps (80.7% slower)

Download speed is fine I guess. But the loading speed is incredibly slow. More than 80% slower, at 10.21 Mbps, it is practically unusable.

The EU server was only ready to run a little better.

EU server speeds
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

EU Server (Netherlands):

  • Ping: 84
  • Download: 44.28 Mbps (54.4% slower)
  • Upload: 18.54 Mbps (65% slower)

There really wasn’t much of a difference between the US server and therefore the EU server, to be honest.

They were both just … slow.


Typically, it will point to several factors, such as the location of the server, as the underlying reason for the poor performance.

The further you are from the server you are trying to connect to, the lower the connection speed you will expect.

Except, once you have servers on two different continents with roughly equivalent speed (slow), that’s not a distance issue.

That is a problem that affects the entire company. And it is worrying.

Do You Want Access To Foreign Netflix Titles? Don’t Bother With CactusVPN

CactusVPN promises to unblock the following
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

The CactusVPN website claims to be ready to unblock dozens and dozens of services. The first on your list, as shown above, is Netflix US.

Except for one tiny problem.

Tried accessing Netflix on their four US servers and none of them worked.

When I asked customer support about this, they told me that their VPN doesn’t unblock geo-blocked content (that was a mouthful). So if you want that, you would like to buy a separate service called SmartDNS. Boo.

Many VPNs offer these things for free, without selling you another product. Changing your theoretical location is something like the goal of employing a VPN.

Instead, I would recommend these other VPNs for Netflix if you are trying to stream foreign content.

Torrenting Limited to a Couple of Servers

On the one hand, CactusVPN allows you to download torrents.

Awesome, right?

Except, they only allow it on a select pair of servers.

Support ticket response

Why is it so bad?

Because, as we already mentioned, the further you are physically from a VPN server, the slower your connection will be.

Currently, the only torrent-friendly servers are in Europe.

Great if you are in Europe. It’s not cool if you’re not.

But that’s just the main potential performance issue that will affect your CactusVPN torrenting experience.

There are only a couple of torrent servers available, suggesting that they are likely urging crowded people with an equivalent end goal in mind.

Overcrowding often means that your server resources are spread out too much.

And furthermore, these torrent servers are banned in two of their three packages. which means that you will have to distribute for the more expensive decision of accessing servers that are probably not very fast.

CactusVPN Cost, Plans & Payment Methods

CactusVPN pricing
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

Month-to-month agreements with CactusVPN start at roughly $ 3.49-$ 4.89. (an automatic 30 percent savings).

From there, you will save about 40% by prepaying quarterly ($ 3.03- $ 4.19 per month). otherwise, you can even cut around 54% by paying annually ($ 2.27- $ 3.20 a month).

Your additional SmartDNS product costs $ 4.89 per month, $ 4.19 per month quarterly, and $ 3.20 per month per year.

You can buy these products with your favorite credit or unlimited credit. You will also use a couple of different third-party payment gateways, such as PayPal. otherwise, you can even use Bitcoin and Altcoins. Great for people interested in anonymous payments!

payment methods
Article: CactusVPN Review In 2021

The payment of cash is not permitted. Waxing the CEO’s automobile for account credit isn’t one of them.

They offer a 24-hour free trial period, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Therefore, you will test both VPN and SmartDNS software before spending any cash. Cute!

Do We Recommend CactusVPN?

Not really.

CactusVPN was ranked 42nd out of 78 VPNs overall. They were solidly in the middle of the group in most areas.

Initially, we were encouraged by its plethora of protocol options and device compatibility. The client worked even as advertised.

And their customer service was really excellent. Their email responses of less than five minutes were very quick compared to some competitors who have taken days (if not weeks) to respond to us.

But things started to slide quickly once we started the speed tests. Neither of which was quick, unfortunately. And that even takes into account the lower-than-normal encryption standard that supposedly improves this attribute.

Netflix didn’t work at all. And torrent / P2P support has more rules than … well, let’s just say there are tons.

Overall, it’s decent. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not wonderful.

I would recommend a more comprehensive option like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

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