CactusVPN is a new and very small VPN provider based out of Moldova. CactusVPN offers low prices, good security, fast speeds and enough plans to suit most entrepreneurs and small businesses. They offer excellent customer service and enough features to suit the needs of most that choose their services. They promise to keep no data-usage logs and offer fair prices with the most protocol options of all VPN service providers we have tested to date. Let’s see how they did overall.
The pricing is set to be $4.99 to $6.99 depending on the plan that is chosen. You can pay $4.99/month and pick one of 3 coutries, being US, UK and NL and only having access to the respective servers for that country, or for $6.99 you get all 3 countries and all 12 servers as well as Smart DNS for $6.99. The Smart DNS is also offered as a standalone service at $4.99. Not much choice, although not very expensive, we think they could have been more competitive on this end as many other tier-1 providers offer similar or lower prices. SmartDNS in our opinion is not needed.
One of the most unique notable options with CactusVPN, is the choice between 5 different connection protocols. While almost all other providers offer OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP at most, CatctusVPN takes the win by offering SSTP and they are the first and only VPN service to offer the SoftEther open-sourced VPN protocol. This allows for the most flexible setup on just about any type of device and operating system you utilize. Software is offered for Windows and Mac users for a quick easy one click setup. The inferace is well designed and easy to use.
CactusVPN offers a few different features. The first is the Proxy and Auto Proxy options. CactusVPN provides free proxies that you can connect to traditionally or an Auto Proxy service that will only use a Proxy when browsing to sites of your choice, such as BBC, Hulu or Netflix, but use your IP on all other websites. Unlimited bandwidth and speed is included on all offered packages and they allow P2P on Netherland servers. . CactusVPN is still very small and only have a total of 12 servers, being 3 in USA, 4 in UK and 5 servers in Netherlands. SmartDNS is included with the full package or as a standalone service, but we think it’s really not needed.
One of the neatest features is the “Application Killer”, a feature that will shut down apps that you choose quickly if the VPN connection is dropped. Plus, you can restart them immediately once the VPN connection is re-established. This gives you added flexibility that allows you to use uTorrent or other similar software devices with far more confidence. They allow up to 3 devices connected to the VPN simultaneously, however each device must be connected to a different server. That is not much of a problem as there are enough servers to pick from and utilize on 3 devices.
The CactusVPN system is updated frequently, and although they still do not offer software for Android or iOS, the website has very well made guides and video tutorials that anyone can easily follow. We found the software to work well on windows and mac and they have kept updating and fixing bugs since the release.
Security-wise, CactusVPN offers SSL, 256-bit AES encryption using 2048-bit key under OpenVPN, making their service ironclad in terms of security and protection of your data. SofEther can be used for those who prefer the new protocol.Privacy and security are arguably the biggest concerns for many when looking for a VPN provider, especially an online business that caters to the public. CactusVPN has a good log-free policy, they do keep connection logs to about 3 days for the purposes of troubleshooting and identifying particular issues. Overall it’s not a huge security concern but no logs is always better.
Currently, the country of Moldova is somewhat of a mystery to most Western eyes in that it lies on the western side of the Ukraine which is currently undergoing a great deal of duress at the moment. However, Moldova is a relatively stable country with little in the way of government interference when it comes to internet issues. Therefore, it seems for the foreseeable future, Moldova is a very good place for companies like CactusVPN to headquarter their operations.
Speed & Stability:
There is little doubt that the overall speed of CactusVPN is quite impressive. Testing on a 25Mbit lined, we consistently got 23-24Mbps on most servers with ping times ranging from 26ms to 65ms. This of course varied and some servers did not have as good of results, but when you only have a few servers and countries to pick from, speed and consistent performance becomes very important. In this test CactusVPN was impressive and did a good job. SmartDNS also seemed to work well but requires you to follow setup guide to get it working and we find that just using a VPN connection is sufficient.
Overall, CactusVPN delivered on performance and security features. For the small size they maintain, they have lots of happy and loyal customers and we suppose it must mean they have solid servers and constantly provide good speeds. They also offers a solid no-log policy, solid encryption and a variety of features from the Application Killer an AutoProxy tool. They are the only provider actively offering 5 different protocols, notably SoftEther and SSTP, giving the most options possible for configuring various devices. We hope to see software for iOS and Android in the near future.