Software Title: CactusVPN / SmartDNS
Download Link: https://billing.cactusvpn.com/free-vpn-trial/
Contact Them: firstname.lastname@example.org
License: 24hr VPN Trial / 7 Days FREE SmartDNS Trial / Premium @ $4.89 USD a Month For Both (AIO)!!!
This review is going to be long, and very in depth. So if you’re looking for something quick to read.
CactusVPN, and their Smart DNS service, is actually one of the best services you will find online!.
Their prices are set so low, that you feel you’re actually getting their services for free!
If you’re looking for a great service to watch USA / Canada TV Services, like Netflix US/Hulu Plus/Pandora etc.
Below is just a small sample out of the 121 services you could use CactusVPN / Smart DNS With.
OK, so now we will start with our review.
Just to point out, this review will just be for people who’s using Windows OS only. Since we don’t use a Mac or linux.
(For more information about all the different OS’s / Devices they support (As shown below) then please click here.
We moved our family from the USA, to the UK, due to a death in the family. Since we are now stuck here in this god awful country. We needed someway to bring our American culture with us. CactusVPN/SmartDNS, is by far the quickest and simplest way, to continue watching all our favourite US TV Shows.
As you know, or don’t know, UK TV is complete trash. It’s nothing only boring cooking shows and talking shows. The people who live here actually need to pay a yearly license to watch this complete rubbish! (I feel sooo sorry for all the people who live in this police state, they call England.)
We have kids who are used to watching all their US shows. And as you know, people who are in the UK, cannot watch overseas TV services. Even if you’re paying for them. Like Hulu Plus, Netflix, Or any of the free to air US Network Station Channels, that we was so used to watching. First thing we needed to do was setup a VPN connection back to our homeland. This is when we come across CactusVPN/Smart DNS.
Just look at the picture to the left, this is their own client Software! This is quite rare to actually find a company that has their own DNS/VPN Software for Windows, as most of them expect you to download and install OpenVPN then connect via that to their services.
Most company’s don’t even have that option! Most just expect you to setup a PPTP Connection inside of you’re OS with different instructions for different OS’s.
I’m sorry but it’s 2014! I don’t expect to pay someone for a service, then be expected to setup everything myself, without them providing me the tools to instantly do the job!
So as you guessed the main reason we decided to try out their services, is simply because they had their own neat looking software interface.
In this review, we will go through each and every feature this service has to offer you. There’s quite a lot you’re actually getting for your money’s worth.
Don’t forget this isn’t just a Standard VPN client, this also sets up you’re Smart DNS too. All simply done within a few clicks of the mouse. In other words, they don’t expect you to navigate to you’re network connection, open the connection, edit the properties, setup the IPV4/6 DNS Settings to point to their DNS IP Address. Nope!
This client does everything in a single click! So simple my wife can use it!
Since we are only reviewing the Windows OS Client Software, first thing you will need to do is download their client.
Their client is only 2.5mb in size. So on a slow 1mb connection, it will take you less than 60 seconds to download it.
It’s setup installer is a standard type of windows installer, once it’s finished you will be presented with the login screen.
(Before logging in, the client gives you the option to setup the Smart DNS system now) If you have a subscription with them.
You simply enter into the correct fields, the username/password you’ve been provided with.
Before clicking Sign In. Notice the Smart DNS tab? This tab is only available to you, before you actually login.
After you login you CANNOT access this tab. So make sure if you’re looking to setup the smart DNS you do it now.
Why they have not made this Smart DNS tab available to you, after login is anyone’s guess to be honest.
But if you already have a CactusVPN package that’s included smart dns you can now configure it here.
See the screen shot above? Well in you’re client Area on their website you will find this key.
(It’s going to be located under you’re account when you applied for the subscription)
Once the Smart DNS Key is entered into the field above, you simply click Sign In.
That’s it! The smart DNS part of the package is now configured and setup ready!
This has just saved you an agonizing 9 Steps trying to do this manually!
So now you’ve setup the smart DNS what else can we expect from CactusVPN?
CactusVPN is the only service out there that currently supports SSTP/SoftEther Protocols.
For the people who’s reading this and saying eh what? What’s SSTP PPTP etc etc..
Lets just say for simplicity there different way’s you actually connect to their services.
IF all the protocol talks puts you off, don’t let it! Again their client takes care of everything.
You just need to simply select a Country (US/UK/NL/RO) Select a city in that country.
And click one of the protocols (PPTP/L2TP/OpenVPN/SSTP) Then click Connect!
For the majority of users this is easy as 1 2 3 .. And will be easy enough to understand.
But for the people who like complete control over what connection type they are using.
Then CactusVPN really comes into it’s own league! As shown in the diagram below.
PPTP/L2TP/IPSec connections can be used on so many devices these days! From Android phones, to ipad tablets, PC’s Laptops, Net books, And even some Ebook Readers, Not forgetting the most popular consoles like the Wii/PS3/4 and the ever popular Xbox systems.
So if you’re looking to setup CactusVPN on any other device other than windows, using these protocols you can!
So for now lets get back to using windows OS. So PPTP is the most used connection type coming in second is OpenVPN.
As you can see from the screen shot above, this client takes care of setting all protocols up in just a single simple click.
Gone is the day’s of trying to setup and configure you’re own VPN using the built in Windows VPN Client Wizards.
So Lets move into the Settings Tab
This is where their own client starts to become really useful! You can set the VPN to connect at windows boot up. This is a great feature since many people simply forget to connect to their VPN after their PC reboots. And start surfing and downloading… while thinking their protected when they aren’t
Sign in at app start.. Lets imagine you’re using utorrent to download torrents, but you forget before loading up that .torrent file to fire up you’re VPN well if you’re downloading something you shouldn’t you’re IP address could simply now be monitored since you’re un-protected and in the swarm with the rest of the people/downloaders/leachers/seeders etc. So this allows you to instantly sign into you’re account bypassing the login/password screen.
Finally Start minimized! Well this feature speaks for itself. On the app start up, it will not show the big GUI configuration screen.
It will either be sent straight to the task bar or placed inside your system tray.
Connect VPN on Sign in, this setting will connect automatically to the last location you selected. Remember though it’s very easy to forget what servers you’re connected too, so if you do download torrents, you can only do this if you’re connected to NL servers. Not the USA/UK.
Personally i have this setting to connect to NL servers on all the time, so i don’t forget to swap out servers if i do use any torrent software. There’s been so many times I’ve wanted to download something, started the download.. and then realized Opps! I’m connected to Florida! So now with this setting always on, i can be assured if i do make a mistake, at least I’m connected to the correct servers.
Reconnect if connection dropped. This is a life saver! So many times you can be connected to a VPN service via PPTP Windows Wizard. Decide to pop into another room, come back and find out you’re connection has been dropped. Which means you’re real IP is back visible to the world!
With this software, you can be assured that if you’re connection drops out, this will re-activate the connection instantly.
Yes within that second you’re real IP Address is visible, but would you rather have a few seconds of visibility or hours at a time?
These small features even though sound so simple in theory, are what makes using this service so appealing day after day.
And below is the 1 setting that made me decide to stick with this company over all the rest of the services offered out there.
Every VPN service should offer a client or software with their services that does this. It basically speaks for itself, you can select apps to add to the manager to instantly close down If and when the connection drops or closes. So for example we are going to use “UTorrent.exe”
It’s a Monday morning you’re late for work… You grab your bag/keys head out the door. Only to get a call from someone, “Hey” did you download that new movie/TV show last night? You head back into the house, fire up utorrent download the show. And head off to work.
While at work, you’re now worried that you’re connection could drop and down goes the vpn!
Oh the world will now see my real IP Address… Well you’re stuck now.. you’re in work. Praying when you return home, you’re still connected to you’re VPN…
Well with App Killer, worry no more.. If you’re at work and your VPN drops out. Instantly the programs you’ve added to the kill list will also close down too!
Which means no more 6 strikes letters from you’re ISP claiming you was downloading. Simply you cannot get caught when using features that shut down processes if the VPN dies.
OK So that’s the Client covered! But what about the actual service? What can we do with CactusVPN?
Their services works not only on the PC or the Mac. But with so many different devices you have in your homes. For example we have a Smart TV which is a 52inch box of joy! Because it’s a Smart TV it comes pre-loaded with apps. These apps include Hulu/Netflix/Pandora… Because you can change the DNS settings on this TV.
We can simply enter the Smart DNS key cactus gives us, and within seconds we are watching US Netflix/Hulu Plus! Yes! Other VPN providers offers you a VPN connection to do this too. But that’s normally for the PC/Laptop only. You cannot use other providers VPN settings normally, in conjunction with your Smart Devices/TV etc.
You need a separate package as these technology’s are all completely different! Well CactusVPN does offer both! There’s only 7 VPN company’s that currently offer Smart DNS with their regular VPN Services as a bundled deal. Which makes cactusVPN one of the very best services we have ever used.
At the start of this review, i mentioned about how we are using this service to access US TV Stations, and Services. Well with Smart DNS now activated via our TV we can simply head over to our Netflix/Hulu Plus account within a few clicks of the remote, and start watching all the show’s we are still PAYING FOR but cannot access without a VPN service.
Well here’s where things start to get worse!
In the news, you can see hulu/netflix are being told to block people accessing their own PAID Accounts.
Using anonymity tools like VPN/Smart DNS. Well a LOT of VPN providers have been blocked up to now.
Somehow, CactusVPN/SmartDNS has evaded this block aid. Both their VPN/Smart DNS still works with both services. Can i confirm this? Well my kids are sat watching Sponge bob on Hulu Plus right now.. And we are in England / London in the UK. So yes i can indeed confirm their services still work with Netflix/Hulu Plus & Pandora.
So that’s over 121 Websites we can now gain access too because of CactusVPN. That’s now over 87 blocked/censored websites we can now re-access due to our ISP blocking any websites that the media industry tells them too. If it wasn’t for CactusVPN and Smart DNS services my kids would be so upset and crying all the time. Me and my wife, would be completely miserable watching boring UK trash like cooking, talking shows…
They have currently over 15 different servers setup in over 4 countries to choose from. Remember if you’re even in Canada for example, you’re Netflix account will only show content that’s for Canada.. That’s over 56% less content for the same money from the same company, as someone who’s watching the same service in the USA.
IF you’re in the UK it’s even worse, you’re getting 67% less content than people using the same service paying the same price.
Thanks to CactusVPN and their Smart DNS we can now simply choose what version of netflix to watch (Since were paying the EXACT same for it!)
Because of their Smart DNS Services we can use this on our Smart TV/BluRay Players. Which then lets us access these services via our own TV!
By now you’re either sat there reading this, tempted to sign up for an account, OR sat there wondering, just what makes this service any different than the other 3,200 + providers all offering VPN’s in all kinds of shapes and sizes?. Well most other services have been blocked from accessing Netflix/Hulu Plus.
It’s not just they have their own client, and the cost of their services is reasonable. It’s the fact they have so many great deals. For example Halloween, they had a special 53% off their products, And now a whopping %80 off with their thanks giving promotions. And they regular offer completely free accounts to people who press the “like” button on their facebook page, or send a quick tweet to a friend from their website.
Also every time you re-new with this company, they value your custom, and give you great deals and money off. For example we have been with them over 2 years now, and when we re-subscribed we got 80% off the price! It’s just little things like this that help to make this company number 1.
Their sales / support departments are great, their ticket system on their website simply works, and they are very fast at responding to queries or questions. When you have a service that is so cheap per month/year, that simply works within a single click of a mouse button, that also has such great support and sales people.. It’s a no brainer what company to choose as a provider when it comes to wanting to access out of country websites and services.
CactusVPN gets 10/10 from us. They are plastered all over our website, simply because we support them, and want everyone to enjoy their services. So what are you waiting for? Dump you’re service provider right now and get signed up to CactusVPN. You will not be sorry!