Betternet Review

3.8/10
Not recommended
Last updated: December 2, 2020

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 Betternet has a low price (sort of).

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

Betternet VPN has free and premium versions. This should be a sustainable business model if you have a larger user base and you can deliver good service on two fronts. Seeing how their free user base exceeds their premium subscribers it begs some investigation of whether you can trust Betternet.

If you want to find out whether Betternet is safe, you’ve come to the right place because that’s exactly what I’ll be trying to find out here. It’s incredibly relevant here because VPNs that heavily rely on their free versions are notorious for selling your data.

In this Betternet VPN review, I’ll test whether the service is safe to use and whether it brings any additional benefits. I’ll also cover the speeds, pricing, and everything else that you should know before clicking the download button.

Speed and performance

The first I was eager to investigate was Betternet’s claim that it’s the “fastest, most secure VPN experience on the web.” Most major VPN players claim the same things nowadays.

betternet speed test results

However, when I looked at Betternet VPN speed test results, I saw major drops when accessing premium version servers further away from your physical locations. Naturally, the speeds of the free version were even worse. Betternet VPN is nowhere near our fastest providers which we monitor daily with our Speed Test tool.

In other words, it’s possible that you can actually stream HD videos with the paid version, but I wouldn’t get our hopes too high when using the free app.

Betternet VPN is only good for browsing content relatively safely or unblocking geo-restriction for content that are not available in your location.

Server coverage

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. What’s more, all of Betternet’s servers are virtual.

With merely 17 server locations altogether, you can’t really expect mind-blowing speeds. Not when there are over 38 million users trying to stream the hell out of these few servers.

It’s quite possible that you can’t even connect to Betternet servers because they’re just overloaded.

Pricing

Despite it’s poor quality, Betternet is one of the priciest VPN services:

  • 1-month plan: $12.99/month
  • 1-year plan: $7.99/month

Betternet VPN pricing plans

There are only a few providers that ask more for the annual plan. And those who do offer way more than Betternet ever could.

It might seem that this VPN is offering a “free 7-day trial” but in reality, it’s a money-back guarantee – you have to enter your payment details first. Speaking of payments, Betternet accepts credit cards only.

Another option is to request a refund within 45 days but there’s no guarantee it will be honored. 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. What’s more, you’ll have to contact Microsoft Store, iTunes, or Google Play, depending on from whom you bought Betternet.

Betternet free version

The free version is what made Betternet so popular. However, it has some serious limitations that will probably make you think twice before installing it. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to register – you download the app and start using it right away.

Free versionPremium version
Bandwidth
500 MB/dayUnlimited
Server locations1 (US)17
AdsYesNo
Devices16
Dedicated supportNoYes, 24/7 email
SpeedSlowFaster

As you can see from the table below, using the free version for streaming or P2P is difficult. Of course, when the speeds are slow, it will be harder to reach the daily bandwidth limit. Also, not being able to change the server means that if you’re far away from the US, Betternet might reduce the speed to a crawl.

Finally, the free version poses more security concerns. 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.

Security and privacy

Let’s see how well Betternet is doing as a VPN security-wise. The most worrisome missing features I’ve found are the following:

  • Privacy-unfriendly jurisdiction
  • Unclear encryption
  • Poor privacy policy
  • No kill switch
  • Zero DNS leak protection
  • No cloaking features

As you can see, Betternet lacks the basic features that each VPN should have.

To start with, this provider is located in Canada, which is a Five Eyes intelligence alliance member. What’s more, it’s owned by Pago (ex-AnchorFree) that’s located in the US. Therefore you can be sure that both countries will know about you if you seem interesting enough.

Furthermore, Betternet fails to mention the exact encryption method. On one page it’s SSL, on the other it’s AES 256-bit, which is an industry-standard. At least I know that the tunneling protocol is Catapult Hydra, the same that Hotspot Shield, another asset of Pago, uses.

And now comes a major blow to Betternet’s security – the lack of a kill switch. This feature disables your internet connection in case the VPN fails. This way your personal data, such as IP address and location, remain safe. And while Betternet seems to have no IP or DNS leaks while running, you can be sure that the world will know about you when it stops.

External threats

But that’s not all. If you’re using the free version, 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.

As it turns out, this extends far more than just cookies. In 2020, it was discovered that Betternet allowed hackers to intercept its communication and force the VPN to download a fake update. This way, the hacker can install any sort of malware to your system and steal your data. The issue is now fixed, but the fact that it existed doesn’t present Betternet in the best light. It’s just a sloppy app’s backend infrastructure.

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 I think.

Does Betternet log your data?

Betternet’s privacy policy used to be much worse. However, now their website redirects to Aura.com, which now is the all-encompassing legal entity that bought Pango in July 2020. So it’s the same privacy policy that Hotspot Shield uses and I don’t have much to say about it.

Still, there are some bits of information that will be collected. Those are your device identifiers, device and browser types, ISP name. Then there are usage, diagnostic, and approximate location information. The latter is used to offer the best available server.

The situation changes when I move to Betternet’s free version. Here Google Ads and other partners might use software development kits (SDKs) to get your IP and display particular advertisements. Finally, I should point out that in 2018 a security researched claimed that Hotspot Shield was leaking user location data and sometimes even IPs.

Ease of use and multiplatform support

All the basic platforms are available for download:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome

How to download Betternet

With that said, you shouldn’t rush downloading any of these just yet. Based on the testing I did for this Betternet review, I’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, I can state that Betternet is one of the easiest-to-use VPN clientsIf 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, I 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.

Torrenting with Betternet VPN

I can’t really recommend either the free or the “premium” Betternet version for torrenting.

I 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. 

Customer support

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)
  • FAQ
  • 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:

Betternet VPN help center

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, I 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.

Betternet VPN alternatives

Even when you’re looking for a free VPN, Betternet VPN is a poor choice. I recommend to check this VPN providers who also have a free version with fewer gimmicks and better performance.

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a Swiss quality VPN service. It uses the same security measures that you would find in their premium version. Also, it has no data or speed limits. You can use the free version forever and never pay a dime. It’s made possible with the paying users and the revenue that comes from their other privacy products.

Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN has free and paid versions. It uses AES-256 encryption, the same that you would find on all premium VPNs. It has a kill switch on mobile apps, and the feature is coming for desktop versions. The company doesn’t collect your data and isn’t forcing you to watch any ads. They are supported entirely by their paying customers. There are some restrictions on the free version, but there are no data caps. This means you can use it as much as you want.

Bottom line

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

If you simply want to gain access to geo-blocked web content, the free version of Betternet might be good enough for you. However, you’d be better off using an actually trustworthy VPN service provider.

Betternet FAQ

Is Betternet VPN safe?

Betternet is located in a Five Eyes country. It lacks such features as a kill switch, so it’s not the safest VPN you could pick from a technical standpoint.

Does Betternet give you a virus?

Our antivirus scan didn’t return anything suspicious. However, that does not mean safe that Betternet is safe in other regards.

Does Betternet hide your IP?

Yes, Betternet hides your IP address. However, the lack of a dedicated kill switch means that the service can accidentally reveal your IP if a connection to a VPN server is interrupted.

Is Betternet VPN free?

Yes, Betternet has a free version. However, it comes with strict limitations. For example, you can only use 500 MB of data per day.

Good

  • Free “forever” (free version)
  • No registration required (free version)
  • Own VPN server network
  • Transparency about how they make money
  • Easy to use

Bad

  • Based in a Five Eyes country (Canada)
  • Third-party ads for the free version (VPN has tracking libraries)
  • Keeps connections logs
  • No P2P support
  • Poor VPN protocol variety
  • No multi-hops
  • No kill switch
  • Only US servers for free version
  • Only 17 server locations
  • Very limited 30-day money-back guarantee (max. 50MB traffic)
  • Useless browser extensions
 3.8 / 10
Total score
$7.99 / month
Minimum Price
Top VPN options:
1. NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
Very fast speeds
2. Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

8 comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Slingshot23

    The 7-Day free trial makes it a desirable VPN. I used it for 3 months; it was very easy to use the only thing I didn’t like was its privacy policy. It’s not transparent.


  2. Babylon5

    It’s free and it might look nice from the outside but a far better option would be Proton VPN. FAR BETTER. Try them both and you’ll see for yourself. So few server locations, no kill switch, keeps logs. Not good enough even for a free service.


  3. Alisha Ross

    I’ve used StrongVPN for 2 years. If there’s an issue, I can contact them (even without the vpn running) and they fix it immediately. I’m not tech savvy but I can use this one with no problem.
    Regards
    Ross Alisha


  4. Eve Hunt

    Very interesting subject , appreciate it for putting up. “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been
    Regards: Eve Hunt


  5. Holly King

    After reading your Betternet review, I can’t imagine anyone trying out their service. The only thing it has going for it is that it’s completely free, but are you willing to risk that it might be malicious as some have claimed? Also, who wants all the irritating ads? Not me, I’ll keep looking for a better VPN.


  6. Soord M

    There were some issues before but now everything is working perfectly as expected. Thanks, the free version rocks


  7. Ursula00

    Betternet is a perfect example that it’s better to pay a little more and get a far better service. And also, that you shouldn’t trust VPN that claim to be free. They’re all awful.


    1. Ethan Payne Author

      Couldn’t agree with you more, Ursula. Although Betternet is a great example of an inferior “free” service, there actually are some decent free VPNs out there for those that can’t afford a premium app – check them out in our best free VPN list.

Table of Contents:
Close
Check top VPNs
Share
Share
Thanks for your opinion!
Your comment will be checked for spam and approved as soon as possible.