CactusVPN is a cybersecurity and internet privacy tool in one. It has been in existence since 2011. It combines a VPN, proxy, and smart DNS (Domain Name Server) service.
The operator of this software is based in Montreal, Quebec. As a result, it is subject to Canadian laws. The regime in the Great White North is not oppressive. But don’t put too much faith in it.
We’ll return to this point later to explain why Canada may be bad news for VPN users.
Despite the software’s 10-year existence, there aren’t many user-generated CactusVPN reviews. Nonetheless, at least 31 testimonials about the software can be found on popular websites.
It has received 4.5 stars from 17 Trustpilot users. The app has received an average rating of 4.7 from G2 users. According to all four Capterra CactusVPN reviews, the software is a perfect five.
Is it really as good as these reviews claim? Let’s see if it can live up to its previous performance.
CactusVPN can do the following:
This software is compatible with all major operating systems.
VPN clients are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It also works with popular smart TVs, digital media players, and game consoles.
You can get the CactusVPN extension if you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to browse the web.
CactusVPN Linux setup tutorials aren’t as widely advertised as those for other platforms, but they do exist. This software can be installed on Linux-powered devices using either a Softether client or an OpenVPN client.
You can also secure your router with an active CactusVPN account. The software’s installation necessitates manual configuration.
Unlimited Simultaneously Connections
Unlike most VPN providers, you can connect as many devices as you want with a single subscription. Yes, even if you’re only trying out CactusVPN for free.
There are no restrictions on the number of slots available for concurrent connections. You are also not required to sign up for a family plan.
However, if you subscribe for commercial purposes, you can only connect one device per plan.
CactusVPN has no data usage cap.
Even if your private network is considered secure, encrypting your traffic data at home can help you avoid internet throttling.
Your internet service provider (ISP) will be unable to track and monitor your online activity. As a result, it cannot intentionally reduce your connection speed.
By all means, CactusVPN encryption can assist you in achieving more stable speeds.
Even if you don’t have to worry about data consumption, you should still use it wisely.
Excessive resource consumption may degrade the experience of other users. CactusVPN will permanently terminate your account if this occurs.
CactusVPN includes two kill switches: one for the entire system and one for pre-selected programs (also called Apps Killer).
If you want the software to force your entire device to go offline if your VPN service goes down, enable the system-level kill switch. However, if you only want to disconnect the internet connection when the VPN fails, you can disable specific apps without affecting the others.
However, neither kill switch is enabled by default. You’ll have to do it by hand.
During your CactusVPN streaming sessions, you may not require the Apps Killer. It can, however, be useful when torrenting.
Shared Static IP Address
You can share a static IP (Internet Protocol) address with many other users when using CactusVPN. As a result, the vendor makes it difficult for others to track your movements online.
Shared IP addresses may be an issue only for businesses that need to send emails and protect their brands. Personal use, on the other hand, should be fine.
DNS Leak Protection
CactusVPN for Windows, one of the four products we tested, can expose your original DNS addresses, unlike other VPN clients.
To conceal your web browsing activity, go to VPN settings and enable DNS Leak Protection.
We can perform DNS lookups using our CactusVPN free trial by using the following services:
- CactusVPN DNS (default)
- Google Public DNS
- Cloudflare DNS
Preventing WebRTC Leaks
When using any of CactusVPN’s free proxy servers, this feature can prevent snoopers from learning your true IP address.
The leakage of WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a serious browser-based vulnerability. WebRTC is used by web browsers to communicate with websites and establish audio and video communication channels.
As a result, your local and public IP addresses may be exposed. Even if your data is transmitted through an encrypted tunnel, it can blow your cover.
CactusVPN’s VPN service includes WebRTC leak protection. It’s also available as an option in the CactusVPN Chrome and Firefox extensions.
You can bookmark your favorite CactusVPN servers to gain faster access to them.
CactusVPN Advanced Functions
What distinguishes CactusVPN from other comparable apps is as follows:
It can spoof your location and circumvent geo-restrictions as a smart DNS service. All of this is without slowing down the connection because there is no traffic data encryption.
Furthermore, you can circumvent blocked content in different regions without having to switch servers every time.
Free Proxy Servers
CactusVPN provides proxy filtering at no additional cost.
Every VPN server to which you can connect also serves as a proxy server. You can use any of them for free.
You can surf the web more privately with a masked IP address by using either CactusVPN browser extension. A proxy can help you avoid geo-restrictions and get the most out of your streaming subscriptions, but it will not obscure your traffic data.
You cannot access CactusVPN for Chrome or Firefox using your VPN credentials. Instead, use the username and password provided by the company. The correct credentials can be found in the Settings section of your cactusvpn.com account.
Once logged in, you can configure the proxy by selecting one of three ports (3129, 8080, or 81).
In contrast to CactusVPN for Chrome, the CactusVPN Firefox extension allows you to choose between HTTP(S) and SOCKS5 protocols.
It’s just a bonus as a free service. CactusVPN reserves the right to discontinue offering it at any time without affecting the price of its subscriptions.
You can use Obfsproxy to hide OpenVPN traffic from the prying eyes of intelligence agencies as well as your ISP.
It will be difficult to install for an inexperienced internet user. However, when properly configured, your online communications will appear to third parties as normal web traffic.
Sort by Speed
When enabled, this feature moves the fastest servers to the top of the list.
You can also choose to do this manually. Above the server selection is a Sort by Speed button. It can be useful when you just want to minimize speed loss and don’t have a specific location in mind to connect to.
You can program the app’s VPN and/or smart DNS functionality to activate upon signing in, in addition to having it run at startup.
You can also configure this software to automatically reconnect after losing a VPN connection.
If you prefer, you can configure the software to simply run in the background after launch or when turned on.
CactusVPN Servers and Locations
The CactusVPN app does not have the most extensive global coverage.
At the time of writing, CactusVPN had 39 servers spread across 22 jurisdictions. Its accessible network can even be reduced to four if you choose a specific plan.
The majority of CactusVPN servers are located in Europe. In Asia-Pacific and the Americas, the vendor has a presence in only six and three jurisdictions, respectively.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure of CactusVPN does not reach the Middle East and Africa.
We used Ookla’s Speedtest to see how our CactusVPN trial for Android affected our internet connection.
Our base speed was:
But how much did these figures change after we sent our traffic data to servers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia? Here are the results of using CactusVPN encryption:
The greatest drop in download speed we experienced was 58.50 percent. The upload speed appeared to be unaffected. Naturally, the farther away from the server we connected to, the higher the ping.
CactusVPN Privacy and Jurisdiction
Every CactusVPN app is kept up to date in Canada. But it’s not exactly a good thing.
Unfortunately, Canada is a member of the original Five Eyes Alliance. It’s like an inner circle within the Fourteen Eyes alliance. This is an intergovernmental network of snoopers that conducts internet surveillance on their citizens and agrees to share intelligence.
Half of CactusVPN’s server network is made up of either Fourteen Eyes Alliance members or unofficial collaborators.
Furthermore, this VPN provider has hardware in Russia. The country is notorious for geo-restrictions and intimidating VPN service providers who refuse to dance to the tune of the state censor.
CactusVPN does not have any servers on China’s mainland, but it does have one in Hong Kong.
Historically, this autonomous region has been exempt from China’s Great Firewall. However, the Chinese Communist Party is on the verge of gaining legal authority to censor the internet of the former British colony. The new security law in Hong Kong has put internet users’ privacy at risk.
CactusVPN, on the other hand, has not joined the exodus of VPN vendors following the legislation’s passage. However, its continued presence on the territory gives the police the authority to seize its hardware or interfere with its databases.
Is CactusVPN safe?
Because it cannot, this VPN service will not leak your online activity to any third party.
CactusVPN requires some personal information when creating an account, but it promises not to track its users’ browsing habits.
Its logging policy states that it does not store IP addresses, traffic logs, connection timestamps, or other information that could be used to identify users.
CactusVPN Security and Protocols
End-to-end encryption is used by CactusVPN. The majority of the tunneling protocols it supports use 256-bit AES encryption. CactusVPN encryption can obscure your DNS requests when using DNS-over-HTTPS.
The tunneling protocols available to you are as follows:
- CactusVPN OpenVPN
- CactusVPN WireGuard
- IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange v2)
- SSTP (Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol)
- L2TP/IPSec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol over Internet Protocol Security)
- PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)
Except for SoftEther, all are easily accessible via the Windows client. The default protocol is IKEv2.
When it comes to the Android app, you only have two options: OpenVPN or WireGuard. It is configured by default to use OpenVPN in UDP (User Datagram Protocol) mode and the 443 port.
CactusVPN Leak Test Results
We tested CactusVPN’s Windows client and Smart DNS service for leakage using ipleak.net.
Before our IP and DNS leak tests:
After our IP and DNS leak tests:
These results confirmed that CactusVPN could prevent IP and DNS address leakage.
Don’t forget to enable DNS Leak Protection when using this VPN service. You can avoid inadvertently broadcasting your browsing activity to third parties this way.
In addition, we ran a separate WebRTC test to ensure that CactusVPN’s Windows client and browser extensions function properly. We used a PureVPN tool.
Our VPN and proxy filtering tests yielded comparable results. Take a look at these before-and-after images:
A tool from a direct competitor confirmed that the browser extensions could prevent WebRTC leakage.
Streaming Services and CactusVPN
The vendor provides several methods for circumventing major streaming platforms’ content restrictions.
The CactusVPN Netflix unblocker worked flawlessly. Using the Smart DNS service, we were able to access the Netflix US library from outside the United States. Take a look at this:
How Effective Is CactusVPN for Torrenting?
CactusVPN has VPN servers dedicated to P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing. We concealed our true IP address by connecting to a server in Sydney, Australia.
It worked. Our BitTorrent client detected our CactusVPN-provided IP address.
Can CactusVPN Bypass Geoblocks?
With CactusVPN, you’ll never run out of options for circumventing geo-restrictions. CactusVPN Netflix unblocker is just the beginning.
It claims to be able to instantly unblock no less than 350 websites that are blocked in many countries using its smart DNS functionality or browser extensions.
We discovered firsthand that CactusVPN walks the walk. Its smart DNS service allows you to stream TV shows, movies, documentaries, music, and sporting events that are otherwise unavailable in your area.
Here is the Funimation homepage before and after we enabled the CactusVPN Chrome extension or smart DNS.
Ease of Use
The user interface of every CactusVPN extension and app we tested differed slightly from the standard design of VPNs and proxies. They are, however, intuitive.
Although there is no search function in CactusVPN’s server list, it does support categorization. VPN servers and proxies can be sorted by speed. All P2P-optimized servers can be found in one location. You can also group your favorites together.
Any CactusVPN app is simple to use for inexperienced users. However, it is clear that the product was designed with tech-savvy in mind.
The Windows client is, admittedly, occasionally buggy. It has the potential to freeze at any time. This is how it looked after it stopped responding:
Furthermore, CactusVPN for Windows does not always save the previous settings. For example, it kept disabling DNS Leak Protection after we enabled it in our previous session.
With vigilance, you can eliminate this problem. However, having to redo your preferred settings before starting a new session can be inconvenient.
CactusVPN provides a plethora of self-service options. There are three knowledge bases: How to Begin, Learning Center, and Setup Tutorials. It also has a FAQ page.
If you prefer to communicate with a customer service representative, you can do so via email.
We contacted the company’s customer support team several times during our testing for this CactusVPN review to clarify some basic questions. We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of assistance we received.
They were able to provide useful responses in as little as five minutes. We had to wait for an hour at the most. However, if you have an urgent need, this may be bad news. Other VPN providers, on the other hand, may take several days to respond. So it’s no surprise that the majority of positive CactusVPN reviews credit the company’s representatives.
Their responses were succinct and to the point. They also suggested useful resources if necessary.
We never had to repeat ourselves despite speaking with two different people in one of our tickets. CactusVPN deserves credit for investing in a high-quality helpdesk software.
CactusVPN has five plans available, three of which are VPN-only subscriptions.
Only a dedicated Smart DNS package is available for purchase. However, you can also purchase the VPN and Smart DNS bundle to get the most out of CactusVPN’s streaming, torrenting, gaming, and web browsing capabilities.
All plans have four billing cycles: monthly, quarterly, annual, and biennial. Their prices are as follows.
- US VPN, UK VPN, Liberty VPN, and Smart DNS
- 1 Month: $6.99
- 3 Months: $5.99/month ($17.99 upfront)
- 1 Year: $4.16/month ($49.99 upfront)
- 2 Years: $2.79/month ($66.99 upfront)
- VPN + Smart DNS
- 1 Month: $9.99
- 3 Months: $7.99/month ($23.99 upfront)
- 1 Year: $5.83/month ($69.99 upfront)
- 2 Years: $3.95/month ($94.99 upfront)
Below are the notable features of each plan:
- VPN US
- Nine US servers
- No P2P support
- No Smart DNS
- VPN UK
- Four UK servers
- No P2P support
- No Smart DNS
- Liberty VPN
- Nine VPN servers in six countries (Germany, Latvia, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands)
- No P2P support
- No Smart DNS
- Smart DNS
- Smart DNS available
- No VPN servers
- VPN + Smart DNS
- 39 servers in 22 jurisdictions
- P2P support on 12 servers
- Smart DNS available
You’re in luck if you want to try out the software before paying. CactusVPN offers a free trial for the Smart DNS plan and the bundle.
Either option is valid for three days and requires no payment information. The trial version of CactusVPN is identical to the premium version. With the trial plan, you will have access to all features.
If you’re ready to subscribe to CactusVPN, you have several payment options to choose from.
The company accepts:
- Payment cards
- Boleto Bancario
Furthermore, even after using a CactusVPN trial, you can enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee on any subscription you purchase.
You have the option of requesting a full refund. The company should not reject your request if you cancel within 30 days of the purchase date.
Requests for Refund
Having said that, CactusVPN will reject your refund request if you:
- Violate its terms of service
- Want to use its smart DNS service to access a site excluded from its list
- Use any of its products on a platform or device it doesn’t explicitly support
- Pay with crypto
Finally, CactusVPN provides numerous ways to save money. If you want to buy a second subscription, you can get a 50% discount.
Join its referral program to receive one month of free services. If you have a blog with a decent amount of traffic, you can promote CactusVPN in exchange for some perks.
In addition, the company frequently offers giveaways. To stay up to date, follow CactusVPN on Facebook and Twitter.
CactusVPN Review – Conclusion
CactusVPN is an excellent privacy solution for a variety of reasons.
Among all VPN vendors, it has one of the best (if not the best) customer support teams. Its decision not to impose limits on the number of concurrent connections is, to put it mildly, generous. Its flexible pricing and free proxy servers can also help you get more bang for your buck.
However, as mentioned in this CactusVPN review, its Windows client contains minor bugs that occasionally impair usability. We hoped to test it for a longer period of time and in more locations.
Nonetheless, its flaws are forgiven. It can and will protect your privacy while also assisting you in consistently overcoming internet censorship.