Cactus VPN Review 2022

CactusVPN is a good example of a service that looks promising, but falls short. Based in Moldova, Cactus VPN does a lot of things right. It offers cheap and competitive pricing, including a free trial, as well as a wide range of protocols and reliable encryption.

While it certainly has great stuff, we dove into this Cactus VPN review and found more than a few flaws. As it turned out, this software had issues on our computer, and despite its strong protocols and encryption, there was a DNS leak. Moreover, some of its prominent features, such as “Smart DNS”, were marginally inadequate.

While all of these issues put Cactus VPN far below the list of best VPN providers, you have to give Cactus VPN credit for doing things differently. While it’s not the usual approach, the idea of “Smart DNS” as a standalone service could take off one day; but for now, VPNs are still the kings of unblocked content.

Features

  • 36 servers in 22 locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, PPTP and SoftEther protocols
  • Application Killer
  • Internet Switch
  • Protection against DNS leaks
  • Speed
  • Unlock BBC iPlayer
  • Anti-logging policy
  • 24/7 support
  • Shared static IP
  • Dedicated P2P server
  • Free proxy server
  • Intelligent DNS service
  • 24 hours free trial
  • 30 days money back guarantee

Speed and Stability Test

All tests were performed off-peak using beta.speedtest.net (html5) or the speedtest.net application. Connections were made over UDP with AES-128 encryption by default.

Speed Test – Cactus VPN – Desktop

Location Trial Latency Download Speed Upload Speed

NoVPN

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

17ms

10ms

10ms

97.14 Mbps

95.92 Mbps

95.03 Mbps

11.99 Mbps

12.32 Mbps

12.37 Mbps

Los Angeles

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

31ms

33ms

32ms

32ms

91.21 Mbps

91.68 Mbps

91.45 Mbps

91.45 Mbps

11.09 Mbps

11.70 Mbps

11.13 Mbps

11.31 Mbps

London

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

274ms

275ms

277ms

275ms

7.12 Mbps

7.04 Mbps

9.10 Mbps

7.75 Mbps

4.67 Mbps

3.13 Mbps

4.52 Mbps

4.11 Mbps

Bucharest

Trial 1

Trial 2

 Trial 3

Average

383ms

386ms

382ms

384ms

13.94 Mbps

13.93 Mbps

13.43 Mbps

13.77 Mbps

3.83 Mbps

1.90 Mbps

0.00 Mbps

1.91 Mbps

Amsterdam

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

295ms

292ms

291ms

293ms

18.07 Mbps

18.12 Mbps

18.21 Mbps

18.13 Mbps

4.03 Mbps

2.92 Mbps

2.78 Mbps

3.24 Mbps

Speed Test – Cactus VPN – Mobile

Location Trial Latency Download Speed Upload Speed

NoVPN

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

26ms

11ms

11ms

74.74 Mbps

74.76 Mbps

74.90 Mbps

14.49 Mbps

14.44 Mbps

14.23 Mbps

Los Angeles

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

35ms

35ms

36ms

35ms

23.01 Mbps

21.21 Mbps

32.45 Mbps

25.56 Mbps

13.62 Mbps

13.44 Mbps

13.69 Mbps

13.58 Mbps

London

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

277ms

276ms

274ms

276ms

2.69 Mbps

3.83 Mbps

3.94 Mbps

3.49 Mbps

6.86 Mbps

10.29 Mbps

10.65 Mbps

9.27 Mbps

Bucharest

Trial 1

Trial 2

 Trial 3

Average

382ms

388ms

407ms

392ms

2.30 Mbps

3.09 Mbps

2.65 Mbps

2.68 Mbps

5.97 Mbps

7.07 Mbps

4.41 Mbps

5.82 Mbps

Amsterdam

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3

Average

300ms

407ms

406ms

371ms

2.75 Mbps

2.90 Mbps

2.91 Mbps

2.85 Mbps

8.21 Mbps

10.26 Mbps

5.54 Mbps

8.00 Mbps

AES-128 is faster than AES-256, but not as strong as AES-256. It is considered sufficient for most purposes, although it is believed that resourceful and determined government actors could break it if they wanted to. Note that the upload test of desktop Bucharest Trial 3 failed, so the value 0.00 mbps is intended. Domestic speeds are pretty fast, international speeds are OK.

Pricing Plans

Cactus VPN offers the following subscription packages.

  • US VPN ($4.99 per month/$14.97 per quarter/$59.88 per year) – 4 servers available in the US.
  • VPN UK ($4.99 per month/$14.97 per quarter/$59.88 per year) – 5 servers available in the UK.
  • VPN + Smart DNS ($6.99 per month/$20.97 per quarter/$83.88 per year) – Full list of 20 servers.
  • Cactus VPN offers a 24-hour free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • If you can’t connect to any of the servers included in your package.
  • If you cannot connect to any of the services offered by the VPN that are listed in the Smart DNS Unblocked Sites list.

You can pay for your subscription using any major credit card, Bitcoin, PayPal, Qiwi, Webmoney, Boleto Bancario, Yandex Money or Paypal.

Server Locations

They have only 23 VPN servers spread across 14 different countries, which is a very small number compared to some of the well-known players in the field. A smaller number of servers can mean more traffic per server and therefore lower VPN performance.

Since the physical distance between the server and the user also affects speed, the fewer servers away from a random user (assuming servers are evenly distributed around the world), the better. This also reduces the average speed, functionality, and quality of the user experience. The fastest and closest server is 2138 miles from our geographic location. So, we assume that if the Cactus VPN server happens to be within 2000 miles of the user’s geographic location, we will get decent speeds after connecting to the Internet through the client.

They have four servers in the US, UK and Netherlands, with many more servers scattered across the continent. There is only one server in Australia, and there are three Cactus VPN servers in Asia. So if a user happens to be near these servers, they can still get high internet speeds after connecting to the VPN.

However, customers do not group the servers according to different uses, such as for gaming or secure torrent downloading. The provider seems to think that all of its users are geeks and can switch between servers as needed. The official website mentions using different servers, but the app would be more versatile if there was an option to sort the servers by something other than speed.

Security and Logging

Cactus VPN has a brief but fairly clear logging policy, which is summarized in this paragraph (which we won’t edit).

“CactusVPN guarantees that our service is not logged. This means that we do not store any of your activity data when you use our privacy solution, nor do we log, monitor, record, or store any of your data. Cactus VPN also guarantees that your data will not be shared with third parties. We do not store IP addresses, traffic logs, connection timestamps, bandwidth used, or session duration information that can be traced back to individuals.”

While only 82 words, it still manages to exclude most forms of traffic and session logging, something many of our competitors with 1,000 words or more struggle to achieve.

Of course, if the “no-login policy” is correct, then CactusVPN has no important data to share, so overall the somewhat ambiguous wording doesn’t matter.

However, unlike some of its leading competitors (NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TunnelBear), CactusVPN has not undergone any privacy or security audits, so its policies are not audited.

Customer Support

CactusVPN’s customer support team is anything but prickly. We found that all of our questions were answered quickly and helpfully. The online resources are also quite comprehensive, if sometimes difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, the live chat is not available 24/7 as CactusVPN’s team is small. But it’s close enough, as someone is available Monday through Friday from 7am to 4pm and from 6pm to 2am (UTC). The other side of the coin is that the small VPN team helps outperform the scripted responses of some of the larger enterprise providers.

30-day money-back guarantee

Most (if not all) VPN providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee in case the system does not meet your expectations. However, in the case of Cactus VPN, they only provide a money-back guarantee if the service fails. For example, when you sign up with Cactus VPN, you know if you can connect to their Smart DNS service or VPN servers. Only then can they refund your money.

Technically, unlike other providers, you cannot take advantage of Cactus VPN’s “trial period” before you actually buy. However, for those who are interested in subscribing to Cactus VPN, there is a 24-hour free trial period.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  1. 24-hour free trial
  2. Customized subscription plan
  3. Good internet speed and price
  4. 30 days money back guarantee
Cons
  1. Limited number of protocols
  2. Few options for premium users
  3. Relatively few servers

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Cactus VPN work well?

If you are looking for a high-quality VPN, Cactus VPN is not the best choice. It lacks in many areas, such as high speed and stable servers. However, if you are only interested in a budget VPN that can unblock geo-restricted websites and streaming services with high-quality security, Cactus VPN might be good enough for you.

If you want a better option, you can check out these VPNs that can easily bypass geoblocking on Netflix and other streaming services while keeping their speeds fast and reliable.

Will Cactus VPN work in China?

Cactus VPN will work in China. Although we haven’t tested it in China, it will work for some Chinese users due to the inherent firewall bypass feature of the SoftEther protocol. However, there is no guarantee that this will work given the increasing restrictions on the Internet in China.

What is Cactus VPN’s customer support like?

In terms of customer support, Cactus VPN offers 24/7 customer support via live chat and customer support tickets. Fortunately, the company has ensured that user requests are handled in a timely manner, which is something all VPN providers should keep in mind. Almost immediately after we initiated a message, we were able to chat with a customer support representative from the company. Moreover, the response to our support ticket was quite fast (it took only a couple of minutes). Despite the lack of phone support option, we are very happy with what Cactus VPN has done in terms of customer service.

Bottom Line

Overall, Cactus VPN offers a reliable service. It offers users a fast, reliable connection and the ability to unblock some popular streaming platforms like Netflix USA, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It allows P2P operations on a number of servers, has a strong privacy policy, no data restrictions and offers an application-specific kill switch, making it ideal for torrenters. All of this is backed by an easy-to-use application and fast and professional customer support.

The biggest drawback of Cactus VPN compared to its competitors, and the reason why we don’t give it a higher score, is its small server network. With servers in only 14 countries, this limits the options for many users, especially foreign users from different countries who want to unblock content in their country. It also offers no protection against IPv6 and WebRTC leaks, although there is a workaround if this is a serious issue.

Similar VPN Providers

SAFE VPN

9.5/10

4.5/5
FAST VPN

9.6/10

4.5/5
USER FRIENDLY

9.5/10

4.5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 63%

5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 49%

5/5

USER FRIENDLY

SAVE 82%

5/5