We have completed an In Depth VPN Review and Full Speed Test of CactusVPN! CactusVPN provides unlimited VPN plans that include PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols. CactusVPN, as with any VPN, offers the ability to hide your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic. You can connect to servers in various countries to hide your IP address and make yourself anonymous while online. The countries offered by CactusVPN include the US, UK, and Netherlands. The plans from CactusVPN are very inexpensive on a per month basis, and they also offer a great 24hour free trial. The free trial is immediately available after signup, and does not require a credit card. In addition to offering the free trial, CactusVPN is known for their weekly free account giveaways via twitter, facebook, or google+. Every week, 25 free accounts are offered on their P2P/BT NL servers! CactusVPN is a relative newcomer, but as you can already tell, they are focused on winning customers over. They are confident enough to offer a 24hour free trial no questions asked, and give accounts away freely via social networking. So let’s take a look at why CactusVPN is so confident in their VPN service!
The CactusVPN review will review the CactusVPN software and review the CactusVPN service for all countries and all protocols.
First up, let’s take a look at the CactusVPN client software for Windows. The install is straight forward and pretty standard. For Mac or Linux users, CactusVPN offers setup instructions on their website. CactusVPN service is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS (iPhone/iPad/iTouch).
Once you have the software installed, you will need to provide your login credentials to access CactusVPN services.
The CactusVPN software client allows you to select both the country and protocol for the VPN connection very easily.
All CactusVPN plans offer PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols. The protocols are available for each country that CactusVPN offers.
Once you have selected the country and protocol simply click connect to start the VPN. CactusVPN will initialize the connection and take care of the rest.
When CactusVPN connects, the yellow cactus will turn green. The icon in the taskbar will also indicate that you are connected to the VPN service.
In case you are disconnected, the CactusVPN icon in the taskbar will popup a warning. The settings page also has a number of options to help maintain connection and alert you if the connection is dropped.
In addition to the settings page offering a number of options to help with the connection, it also has options to autorun the CactusVPN service and autoupdate the CactusVPN software. If you were to set these options, you could have CactusVPN run everytime Windows starts and maintain the connection for you.
The PPTP VPN service from CactusVPN is secured using standard encryption settings. As a forewarning, our editors have always felt that PPTP, although often the fastest VPN connection, is the least secure. Still, the implementation here by CactusVPN is pretty good. They have implemented the 128bit Microsoft Point to Point Encryption, which is basically as secure as you can get on PPTP.
The L2TP security implemented is stronger than what is available with PPTP, and would be preferred for customers seeking a higher level of security.
The OpenVPN service from CactusVPN offers the highest level of security. Customers looking for the best security from a VPN connection would be best served by selecting OpenVPN. CactusVPN utilizes 128bit Blowfish on the data channel, 2048bit RSA on the control channel, and 160bit SHA1 HMAC. If you’re interested in learning more about security and OpenVPN, check out our learn article. If you’re not, don’t worry, the CactusVPN security is good enough that you won’t need to worry about it. About the only minor nit we can pick is that they are using SHA1, when we would prefer they use SHA2. But that’s a minor concern, and not worth getting worked up over. Overall, the security for PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN at CactusVPN is good and seems to be using encryption levels fairly standard in the VPN service industry.
So that’s basically everything for the CactusVPN windows client software. It’s a nice piece of software and functions well as a VPN client. It makes connecting/disconnecting easy and offers all the basics you need to stay protected. For our speed tests, we made sure to test every CactusVPN country and protocol multiple times. We surfed around on the web, watched Youtube videos, and streamed high def to really get a good feel for how the various VPN servers were performing. Our testers machine is a relatively high end computer with a standard Comcast cable modem connection at 3750KB/s (30mbps) download and 125KB/s (1mbps) upload. Located on the east coast, the speed tests were run in the evening during what should be peak hours in the US. All speed tests were conducted using speedtest.net. To learn more about the speed test methodology we use here, read our learn article on the subject.
All results are shown in KiloBytes/second! (125KB/s=1mbps)
Ok, so first up lets take a look at the speed test results for CactusVPN L2TP service:
Selected SpeedTest.net Results for CactusVPN L2TP:
All servers worked flawlessly for multiple tests. Connecting the first time, each time without a problem. Since our tester is based in the US east, it’s no surprise that the US server is the fastest with an average of over 14mbps (1770KB/s during test). Speeds from the UK server are pretty good. High enough to stream HD from Youtube. The Netherlands were a tad slower, but speeds are still pretty high at around 5mbps average (620KB/s during test). CactusVPN allows P2P/BT on their NL server so this means you can get some fairly high speed connections for file transfer. When you combine that with the solid level of protection offered with 128bit AES, the L2TP package from CactusVPN looks pretty darn good!
Next the speed test results for CactusVPN OpenVPN service:
Selected SpeedTest.net Results for CactusVPN OpenVPN:
OpenVPN should report in a little slower than L2TP, and it does in the test results. All servers were connecting on the first attempt and functioning as they should. At over 1000KB/s (8mbps), the US OpenVPN service from CactusVPN is pretty quick. Speeds from the UK are pretty good. The NL is obviously slower, but either UK or NL would still plenty for web browsing, sending email, listening to audio, and watching standard video. The speeds they are offering, at about 3.5mbps to 4.5mbps, are plenty quick for normal tasks, and offer the highest level of security.
And finally, the speed test results for CactusVPN PPTP service:
Selected SpeedTest.net Results for CactusVPN PPTP:
PPTP, being the least secure VPN protocol, offers the most opportunity for high speeds. This is the same for any VPN service, and we see that CactusVPN is no exception. Speeds were extremely high from the US server, due to the testers proximity. In two test runs the VPN connection was essentially maxing our testers download speeds! In that instance, the download speed was over 3200KB/s (over 25mbps)! This kind of thing would be great for running on our mobile device that supports PPTP encryption (Android/iOS/etc). It was interesting to note that the PPTP connections and L2TP connections for UK and NL are very comparable on speed. Typically PPTP is faster than L2TP, but in this case the results don’t show it. In any case, speeds are pretty good. A bit of advice though, connect to NL via L2TP connection since it’s just as fast and better security.
After a few days of high use we were pretty impressed with the service from CactusVPN. The prices are very low per month, and the service itself is still pretty good. The windows VPN client software from CactusVPN lets you change your IP to various countries, and select from the three major protocols: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN. Speed test results showed solid performance on the servers for P2P/Torrent, and in general were pretty good. In one instance(PPTP US), our testers download speeds were basically maxed out! Customer support people were friendly and prompt when we contacted them via email. Basically, CactusVPN offers solid VPN service at a very low price, period!
Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out our Editors Review of CactusVPN and see what other users are saying!