Last update: 04.03.2018
A lot of bold claims but not a lot to back it up with. The low amount of servers means you get below-average security and speed, not to mention no Netflix or live chat support. But at least it has a low price (sort of).
The first thing we were eager to investigate was the Betternet’s claims that it’s the “fastest, most secure VPN experience on the web.” That’s a pretty bold claim to make for a company only started in 2015, but unfortunately, based on our analysis, we can say with great certainty that this is not the case.
Not at all.
Betternet fails both on the basics and the stricter requirements of more demanding VPN users:
- There’s a noticeable lack of privacy and security features
- There’s no Netflix support
- There’s no live chat support
- Betternet’s limited number of servers leads to a rather bad torrenting experience
As you can see, there’s a lot of room here for improvement here.
For an in-depth look at how Betternet fares in all the important areas, continue to read our full review below.
Security and privacy
Let’s see how well Betternet is doing as a VPN security-wise. The most worrisome missing features we’ve found are the following:
- No kill switch
- Zero DNS leak protection
- No cloaking features
The lack of these major true IP address protection features can result in disasters : using Betternet for privacy could be like walking on a minefield.
Specifically, your physical location can be traced by retrieving your real IP address due to leaks.
But that’s not all.
Third party advertisers can install cookies onto your devices to track your clicks and preferences.
This, again, can provide a base for major privacy and security breaches.
Betternet is also not too clear on its VPN protocols and encryption. There’s only a blog post back from 2015 where we found information about this:
- OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec protocol pair
- AES-256 encryption
In an academic study in 2017, Betternet finished #4 on the list of the 10 worst VPNs regarding security, with a shocking VirusTotal rank of 13.
So, let’s recap quickly: is Betternet safe to use? No. That pretty much sums up what we think.
Does Betternet log your data?
Short answer: probably.
Well, if Betternet doesn’t want to leave a bitter taste in more privacy-conscious users’ mouth, they will have to work on the legal documents to be clear on the most important parts.
Speed and performance
Most major VPN players claim the same things nowadays: “the fastest VPN” and “the most secure VPN.”
When we look at VPN speed test results, we’re not convinced what these labels mean anymore. Our tests indicate that there are major drops when accessing servers further away from your physical locations.
This is true for the premium version of Betternet as well, not to mention the limited free Betternet VPN.
However, uploading speeds seem to do a lot better. In other words, it’s possible that you can actually stream HD videos with both the Betternet free VPN and the paid version, but we wouldn’t get our hopes too high when using the free app.
Betternet is still good for browsing content relatively safely or unblocking websites that are not available in your location.
This service provider has a very underwhelming VPN server coverage of 10 countries (17 server locations), including the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan, all of which are members of surveillance alliances.
With merely 17 server locations altogether, you can’t really expect mind-blowing speeds. Not when there are over 38 million users to stream the hell out of these few servers.
It’s quite possible that you can’t even connect to certain servers because they’re just overloaded.
Ease of use and multiplatform support
All the basic platforms are available for download:
With that said, you shouldn’t rush downloading any of these just yet. Based on the testing we did for this Betternet review, we’ve noticed there are some major differences between these versions.
Let’s start with the Google Chrome browser extension. It’s a plain disaster. It really seems that this provider only included this extension to be able to boast having this section covered.
Unfortunately, it may have DNS and WebRTC leaks as well.
The installation is pretty straightforward unless you want the mobile versions, which are only available as a 7-day trial version.
Similarly to our Avast SecureLine VPN review, we can state that Betternet is one of the easiest-to-use VPN clients. If you’re using the free Betternet VPN client, you simply click the Connect button and you will be connected to a US VPN server automatically.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to customize in the free version. You either connect to or disconnect an automatically assigned VPN server. It can’t get any simpler.
If you’re using the Premium version, you can click the Select Virtual Location button and choose from the 10 available countries. There are also 7 server locations in the US to select from.
From a certain angle, this is a real plus for Betternet. This VPN app is really easy to use.
On the other hand, let’s not forget about the more tech-savvy users who would definitely like more control over their privacy. For them, we advise finding a more serious premium VPN service provider.
Unblocking Netflix and other streaming platforms
There’s no long story to cut short here:
You can’t use Betternet for Netflix.
In fact, you can’t really use a lot of VPN services as their IP addresses and servers keep getting detected and banned by Netflix.
Obviously, this major media streaming service has its own agenda to keep copyright laws and uphold their end of the deal. This is why they are so tough on geo-restricted content and try to shut out all possible VPN users from their networks.
There are, of course, a number of real premium VPN services that can avert detection by Netflix. You can comfortably and reliably use, for example, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VyprVPN for Netflix with a great level of online security as well.
P2P and torrenting
We can’t really recommend either the free or the “premium” Betternet version for torrenting.
We believe that the low number of servers and their speeds are just not enough to use Betternet VPN for torrenting or any other large P2P file sharing.
Another major issue to consider here is your security and privacy when downloading or uploading files using BitTorrent. Without the use of a proper and secure VPN service activated on your device, your ISP as well as third parties, including government agencies, may also peep into your internet traffic and even trace it all back to you.
This is just a practical limitation of this VPN service, and one that keeps popping up.
Betternet leaves a lot to be desired in terms of support as well. This is what they have to offer:
- Ticket support (Premium version only)
- No live chat support
Actually, you need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to find two tiny links there: Help Center and FAQ. The Help Center itself is quite poor:
It’s more than likely that you won’t find any solution to your issues there.
If you give up reading FAQs and help pages, you can still try to Submit a request by clicking the related link in the top right corner of the Help Center page.
All in all, we must say that this is an area that needs some serious attention from Betternet. Or, sooner or later, it will be a bit hard to keep 38 million users happy.
Apart from the rather high monthly plan, Betternet offers one of the cheapest VPN services:
- 1-month plan: $11.99/month
- 6-month plan: $3.99/month
- 1-year plan: $2.99/month
The available free version is somewhat limited (to only one country and automatically assigned servers): you can’t change servers manually, and the speeds are rather slow.
How can Betternet be free? Well, it has quite a transparent model, in fact.
There are two options within the Betternet client: “Install an App” and “Watch a video and connect.” Whenever you click these buttons and the related ads, Betternet gets a commission. But, this also comes at a very steep price because these third-party advertisers may use tracking techniques and record information connected to you.
This is obviously a security and privacy risk you may not want to take if you want anonymity in the virtual world.
If you would like to try the Premium version without the annoying ads and with more servers, you still have an opportunity to not invest at all. Betternet Premium has a 7-day free trial option. However, we must warn you about this 7-day version.
There have been plenty of issues reported by customers that they couldn’t opt out in time, so they got automatically charged for the first month.
And, all of this with a 30-day money-back guarantee. BUT, again, you need to be very careful if you want a full refund.
This is possibly the most ridiculous money-back guarantee we’ve ever read or heard of. Why? Because there is a 50MB traffic limit. In other words, if you use more than 50MB for downloading or uploading, you won’t get your money back.
The best way to describe how the conclusion of our Betternet review makes us feel is to quote Jackie Chan in Rush Hour when he was trying to sing Edwin Starr’s hit song, “War”:
“What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”
Well, we believe there’s not much to add here if you take your online security and privacy seriously. We became more noticeably irritated as we analyzed this VPN service and we can only imagine how frustrating it would be if we actually had to depend on Betternet for all our VPN needs.
If you simply want to gain access to geo-blocked web content, the free version of Betternet might be good enough for you. Say, for example, you travel to or live in China and want to enjoy content that is not available in your location.
But, if you wouldn’t like the Chinese government or any other VPN-unfriendly organizations to pry on you and figure out who you really are based on your true IP and physical location, well, you’d be better off using an actually trustworthy VPN service provider.
What you can do for us all
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