Betternet is a fairly popular free VPN choice for millions of users today. Nonetheless, we believe that this is one of those privacy tools that may look all secure and reliable on the surface, but beneath, you can find some worrisome issues. So, ...
Number of servers: No. of servers: 17
Price from: $2.99
#180 out of 215 VPN providersRead our Betternet review
Totally free forever version
Very easy to use
No registration required (free version)
Owns VPN server network
What is Betternet VPN
Regarding the number of users, Betternet VPN could be amongst the top 10 VPN providers with its 38+ million users on-board. This VPN solution only appeared on the global scene 3 years ago but managed to become the “#1 VPN app in the Google Play Store” in less than a year.
Betternet VPN has a free version, or, as they like to promote it, a “totally free forever” version as well as a premium version, which is quite fairly priced. This VPN is mostly known and popular for its free version; no wonder why the huge interest of tens of millions of internet users.
This service is provided by BetterNet Technologies Inc. based out of Vancouver, Canada, which seems to be a close partner of AnchorFree Inc. headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley, California. AnchorFree is, by the way, also the father of Hotspot Shield VPN, another player in the VPN field.
Betternet VPN is far from the only product this company boasts. They seem to be behind Hexatech VPN as well as Betterspot, which is a VPN router using Betternet Premium by default.
Betternet has probably one of the smallest VPN server fleets by offering 17 server locations in 10 countries, including the United States (only option in the free version), the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. This may seriously influence the download and upload speeds if we take the number of free and premium users also into account. Yet, you can probably use the free version for accessing geo-blocked websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But it is also possible that you will be able to play online or watch video streams, too, depending on your geolocation and base internet speed as well as a number of other factors.
Where Betternet VPN is based and why it is important
Since the number of countries censoring available internet content and blocking VPN services is growing, online privacy and data protection is also becoming ever more important. Certain countries like the Five Eyes alliance members want more and more surveillance imposed on their citizens. Therefore, there are locations where VPNs can be under rather strict jurisdictions with regard to data retention, for example.
While this may not concern the general user who simply wants to bypass geo-blocking, for many users complete privacy and security is vital. This is why we find it important to see the legal backgrounds of a VPN provider like Betternet.
Betternet VPN Location: Canada
As a matter of fact, finding the real location of the company behind this VPN solution is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, quite tricky. Based on its other product (Betterspot) and the address given on that official website, we can only assume that this Vancouver, Canada location may be the base of operations.
In any case, Canada is one of the eager members of the Five Eyes global surveillance alliance, which makes Betternet a potential target for data retention and sharing with the authorities by law whenever justified.
Unfortunately, both the legal documents and the official website are a bit vague about the background of this VPN service and how your personal information is handled. For now, we can only assume that Betternet is under Canadian jurisdiction, with which you may not be better off anyway.
What does a Betternet location say?
Global surveillance alliance member
Tough anti-piracy laws
Used to be the biggest file-sharing nation
Available plans and pricing
It is probably obvious that the majority of the millions of Betternet users decided on this VPN software because basically it is free and it is also promoted to be free “forever.” This can be very tempting for the general user. However, there is also a premium or paid version that may provide you with somewhat better speeds, more stable connections, 5 multiple devices with one license, and no annoying third-party advertisements.
Although the main website does not directly share the premium pricing plans or a link to buy Betternet VPN, you can find some older posts in the Help Center about it. One of the posts called Premium Service Pricing actually presents a link to the premium purchase page.
Therefore, the main way for you to learn about the pricing plans or subscribe to the premium version is to install the VPN software on your device and click the Go Premium link in the top right corner or in the menu of the app, or the Connect faster link on the main screen.
These are the pricing plans you will find when using the Windows app, for example:
- 1-month plan: $11.99 per month
- 6-month plan: $3.99 per month
- 1-year plan: $2.99 per month
Interestingly, Betternet VPN offers different pricing plans when you purchase a subscription from the iOS app or the Android app. These plans are basically sold for the double price in the case of the 6-month and 1-year subscriptions.
Yet another strange thing about buying the premium version is that when you are using the Chrome extension and click the Go Premium link, you get redirected to the Hotspot Shield VPN premium pricing page.
These prices are way higher than the Betternet ones:
- 1-month plan: $12.99 per month
- 6-month plan: $8.99 per month
- 1-year plan: $5.99 per month
- 3-year plan: $3.49 per month
This could be a simple bug in the extension code so don’t get too excited about the alternative payment options offered there, such as Gift Cards.
The real Betternet premium plans can only be purchased with a Credit or Debit Card. There are no anonymous methods like cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin) available.
Apart from these plans, it is also possible to opt for a 7-day free trial; however, be wary of the fact that you have to enter your credit card details for a reason. Forgetting about this could cost you money and some headache, too, as you will be automatically charged for the first premium month ($11.99) until you unsubscribe.
There is supposed to be a 30-day money-back guarantee, but you should read the refund policy very carefully to understand how you can or why you cannot apply for it.
Want more insights about Betternet?
Check out our Betternet review to see if you are making the right choice.Read our Betternet Review
Platforms Betternet VPN supports
Similarly to most basic VPN solutions, Betternet also supports the main platforms, such as Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Chrome. There is, however, no Firefox, Safari, or, what is more important, router support, which can come in handy when you want to protect IoT devices, game consoles, Smart TVs, and so on. This VPN also doesn’t support Smart TVs, consoles, Linux, and other internet-enabled devices.
All Betternet VPN apps are very basic and easy to use. There are only very few options for setting customization. In fact, there are practically no privacy and security features apart from the IP leak prevention and the automatic connection to Betternet when unsafe/safe/other hotspots are detected. Plain and simple, which may be useful for a total beginner in the VPN arena.
Betternet VPN and entertainment
With a fleet of 17 servers for 38 million bandwidth-hungry users, you can easily do the math what your chances are to stream HD quality videos with Betternet. Yet, surprisingly, you can reach quite good speeds. However, the latency time could disturb the smooth streaming experience with constant momentary freezes when the video quality is set to 1080p or higher.
Unfortunately, you can forget about Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and all other decent media centers and not just because of possible speed issues on certain clients. Even if you get lucky with your connection speed, Netflix has already blocked all possible Betternet IP addresses so there is no way for you to enjoy your favorite TV shows this way.
We also must mention another factor that can seriously ruin your entertainment while trying to stream videos with Betternet: it may drop a connection relatively frequently if, for example, you are using the browser extension.
Torrenting and P2P
Although it is theoretically possible to share large files or even use BitTorrent, uTorrent, or Vuze with Betternet VPN for torrenting, once again, with the occasional dropping connections and connecting difficulties torrenting and P2P could be rather painstaking with this VPN software. The improved speeds may help you with all this, though.
However, you also should consider your online privacy and security options Betternet offers.
What do you think is most important for you to be able to play online games with a VPN service? Well, dedicated servers would be nice, but let’s say there is no such bonus option. In our experience, you need relatively good speeds, low latency, and reliable connections, which means no drops whatsoever.
While you may actually get lucky with your Betternet VPN server connection speeds nowadays, depending on your physical location and the time you choose to access it, connection drops can kill the whole experience.
But since VPN speeds are quite relative, we do advise you to check and see for yourself before making a decision based on reviews or comparisons.
China? Try… and try again
China, being one of the strictest countries about censorship and geo-restrictions, makes it very difficult for VPN providers to survive on the other side of the Great Firewall of China. As a matter of fact, since February 2018, all VPN services are blocked in China except the lucky ones approved by the government.
It is not advisable to use any free VPNs in China in general; the main reason being their lack of privacy features, possible IP and DNS leaks, data logging, and connection issues. Therefore, even if you are very lucky and manage to bypass the Great Firewall using the Betternet free VPN version, you may get frustrated by constant server connection drops or by being unable to connect at all.
Although you will find users who claim to use Betternet VPN in China without any issues, you may want to consider the level of privacy and security you may get even from the premium version. If your anonymity is of utmost importance to you, we advise you to look elsewhere, to be quite frank.
Betternet VPN History
At the beginning of the year, Betternet Technologies Inc. was founded by Ramin Behzadi in Vancouver, Canada and the free VPN was launched. In November, the company already introduced the paid or premium version for Android. The rest of the premium clients followed shortly afterward.
Within a year, Betternet became the #1 VPN app in the Google Play Store and AppStore.
An academic study found Betternet Android app #4 out of the 10 worst VPNs regarding security.
The number of users has impressively grown to reach 38+ million.
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