CactusVPN is a VPN service provider that I recently came across and decided to take a look at their services. They have a fair amount of servers which I think they will be expanding. As with most new VPN providers, they have two main modules. The VPN and the Smart DNS.
A VPN changes your IP and re-routes your entire traffic through their encrypted tunnel. This is to be used when privacy and security if of utmost importance. Eg: When browsing your bank account from a Public WiFi hotspot.
The Smart DNS service doesn’t change your IP nor does it encrypt your traffic. It simply changes your DNS to make websites look like you are browsing from a different location. This is used to unblock websites in your region like Netflix, Hulu and more. Smart DNS doesn’t slow down your connection hence it is suitable for Video/Audio streaming.
1. Does CactusVPN keep Logs?
According to their website FAQ, they only keep the connection logs for troubleshooting purposes, for a period of 3 days. This log doesn’t have your visited websites or downloads/uploads.
2. Dedicated IP or Shared IP?
They offer a Shared IP.
3. Can you download Torrents (P2P)? Can you Port Forward?
They offer P2P downloads only on their NL Servers. No.
4. How many devices can I use?
Simultaneously you can connect to 3 different Servers on 3 different devices.
5. Is there a Free package?
No. But there is Free Trial which lets you experience the highest package for free.
6. Which platforms can use the VPN & Smart DNS?
You can use the service on Windows, Mac, Linux. Which includes the mobile platforms as well.
Now that you are clear with most of your questions. Lets take a deeper look into the service.
Plans and Pricing
CactusVPN is one of the cheapest VPN out there with features that compete with many existing providers. They have 5 packages to offer and it is distributed among 3 server locations and Smart DNS feature.
You can subscribe to any one of those 4 packages at $4.99 or get all the packages at $6.99 (per month). They also offer a bundle discount where in you already have an existing package and you wish to add another one to your account, they offer you 50% discount which I think is great when you want to buy an account for your friend or family.
Since the VPN login details and the account login details are separate, you won’t have issues sharing the second account with anyone.
The only drawback I found with the payment system is that they don’t offer an anonymous payment method. Which has become an increasingly requested method since the arrival of Bitcoins and Dogecoins or any other crypto currency.
But all the conventional Payment methods exist such as Paypal and Credit/Debit card.
If you would like to try out their service before you buy, you can order their 24 hour free trial which gives you access to the $6.99 priced plan. Without any limitations in speed or privacy (except for the 24 hour time limit).
Also they offer an Affiliate program to those who would refer new customers to them. They can earn a 25% commission on what the customer pays.
On the security front CactusVPN looks very though with what they offer. They have in total 12 Servers across 3 countries (3 in USA, 4 in UK, 5 in Netherlands)
They offer 5 connection protocols to their customers. Choosing a protocol for connection can be difficult when you are new to it. But this chart should help you choose one according to your needs.
All these protocols are encrypted with different standards.
1. OpenVPN, SSTP and SoftEther VPN protocols : SSL with AES 2048 bit key certificate and 256-bit AES encryption.
2. L2TP/IPSec VPN protocol : AES 128 bit to 256
3. PPTP VPN protocol : 128 bit MPPE
Since they say they only keep the connection logs and that too for only a period of 3 days. I think the privacy front is pretty good too.
After testing the VPN Speed on a limited broadband connection, I could not find any major drops in the speed. You can see for yourselves the speedtest.net results before and after the connection.
After CactusVPN UK Server Connection
They have the usual Ticket Support system where you create a ticket with your problem and submit it. Later a Support staff will assist you via Email.
I have created a support ticket at the moment and will update with the response time and quality.
A Live Chat support would have been awesome but the pricing covers for it.
App Killer Feature.
App Killer feature is a unique feature I have seen in this client. With this feature, you can keep your browsing private even if your VPN connection drops.
How this works is, you can add some apps to the client like Firefox, Chrome, BitTorrent etc. Then if your VPN connection drops, the client will automatically shut down these apps preventing any of your information from going through your unencrypted connection.
You can also configure it to restart these apps when the VPN reconnects.
Step 1. Download your CactusVPN client from here : CactusVPN Downloads
Step 2. Install the client, you will be asked to install VPN Adapter. Just allow it.
Step 3. Login with your VPN credentials. These are available after you login to the website.
Step 4. Select the Location and Server then click on Connect.
CactusVPN provides Smart DNS feature as a separate package or along with the $6.99 package. The feature as I said before is used for unlocking location specific websites like Spotify, Hulu, Netflix etc.
The best part about Smart DNS is that it doesn’t slow down your connection speed, checkout the speedtest.net results below. Hence this is the perfect option if you just want to unlock streaming websites.
You can find the list of Unblocked websites here : Unblocked Websites
Step 1. Download and install the VPN Client as before.
Step 2. Click on the Smart DNS tab on the client.
Step 3. You will be asked to enter your Smart DNS Key, you can find this from your account.
Step 4. After you login with the key, just select the US or UK version and click on Enable Smart DNS.
Before Smart DNS
After Smart DNS
Pros and Cons
2. No Usage Logs.
3. P2P Downloads.
5. App Killer.
1. No Anonymous payment method.
2. Connection Logs are kept for 3 days.
3. No port forwarding.
My suggestions to improve the service.
1. Add more server locations.
2. Smart DNS should have been provided for free with each plan instead of offering it as a separate product.
3. Dedicated Android & iOS App.
4. Add Bitcoin payment support.
You can checkout CactusVPN Free Trial.
This would conclude my review of CactusVPN. If you liked the review, you can share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.