Betternet Review

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

September 23, 2020

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Features

2.7/5

Speed & Performance

2.5/5

Ease of Use

4/5

Mobile App

3.7/5

Customer Support

3.75/5

Pricing

4.5/5
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Betternet Pros:

Betternet Cons:

Usually, I don’t recommend opting for a free VPN, as they tend to be lacking in the feature and security department. However, I recognise that sometimes there are situations whereby you don’t need a VPN enough to justify paying for one. So, if a free VPN is a must, is Betternet the one you should opt for? If not, should you even consider the premium version, or is it better to skip Betternet altogether?

I have conducted extensive testing of Betternet so that I can provide you with a thorough review of the service provided. So, let’s take a look at my thoughts.

Overview

There are lots of VPN providers on the market, some of which are free to use, and Betternet falls into this category. The official name of this company is Betternet LLC Inc., and it is part of the Pango Group, which used to be known as AnchorFree.  

The group owns a number of other VPNs, including VPN360, VPN In Touch, TouchVPN, Hotspot Shield, and Hextech.

As you can imagine, I found some clear similarities between these products, especially with regard to logging and privacy. 

As Betternet LLC Inc. is incorporated in the United States (in California specifically), the company is subject to intrusive surveillance laws, as well as being part of the Five-Eyes international intelligence-sharing group, which is always a bit of a drawback. 

On the plus side, though, you don’t even need to make an account to sign-up, which means you don’t need to hand over information like your email address or phone number.

In terms of servers, you’re only going to get access to servers in one country with the free plan: the United States. To make matters worse, you can’t choose a specific city or state in the United States either. This is extremely limiting, and I am sure a lot of you will end up ruling out Betternet as a consequence. After all, you may want to connect to a server outside of the United States. If so, there are servers in 22 countries to choose from with the TunnelBear free plan. 

The premium version enables you to access 26 cities in the United States and 72 countries in total. 

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Speeds

As you may expect from a free VPN, the speeds are rather unreliable. At first, I was hopeful, as the speeds only dropped by around 20 percent. However, with further testing, I soon realized that the speeds were very erratic, with much higher drops throughout my use time.

If you are looking for a free VPN with decent speeds, I would recommend Hide.me. Nevertheless, for the best speeds, you’re going to need to go for a paid product.

What about the paid version? The VPN slowed download speed substantially. The best part is the fact that upload speeds remained very comparable whether or not the VPN was engaged. 

Even though I encountered fairly large drops, they are not the worst I have observed. Streaming in HD should still be possible.

Security

Betternet promises to keep your online connection protected with safe AES 256 bit encryption.

The VPN utilizes the Catapult Hydra protocol on all platforms. While this is not the industry standard (that would be OpenVPN), it is a protected protocol growing in popularity due to its performance and speed. I would still prefer if it was on OpenVPN, though!

Betternet gives an additional level of protection by frequently switching your encryption keys. This means that even if your encryption had been somehow compromised, the vast majority of the data would still be safe.

The best part is that we detected no DNS leaking.

The downside, though, is the fact that Betternet does not provide a kill switch, therefore, data might be leaked if your Internet connection were to drop out, which I am sure has happened to most people reading this before. This is an issue in my eyes, particularly since I did not come across servers on the network that were very reliable.

Logging policy

I need to tell you a bit about the logging policy that Betternet has in place, as it is quite extensive. The company logs a considerable amount of information about its users. This includes all of the following:

  • Originating IP address
  • Device-specific information
  • Bandwidth consumed per user, per session
  • VPN connection timestamps
  • Your ISP and approximate geographical location
  • Non-personal logs of domain names that users visit 

This does seem like quite a long list, doesn’t it? However, Pango has assured users that they cannot link any browsing activity to individual VPN users. 

The company has also stated that, despite offering a free service that is supported by ads, these ads are not personalized based on the browsing activity of the user.

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Ease of use

The app is very easy-to-use. As is the case with a lot of simple apps that don’t have a huge number of features, it is hard to make something like this a challenge to operate. 

All you need to do is download the app, and then hit the connect button. It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that, does it? 

If it is your very first time to make use of the Betternet VPN, I recommend you try out its free trial choice. Although it results in a costlier monthly payment program, you are able to cancel this free trial and subscribe for a cheaper annual plan if you decide this is the VPN for you.

Making use of the free trial provides you with a good understanding of what the VPN is actually like to use. It enables you to determine whether it makes sense to invest in the service or not.

In order to get the free trial on Betternet, click on the green button. A page is going to open up in the Internet browser you are using, and you will have to enter all of your payment details. After it’s authorized the credit card you have entered, the shield on the website turns happy and green. 

Don’t panic when you see that Betternet has sent you an invoice, as it will indicate that the current balance of your account is actually zero dollars. 

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Torrenting

I would not recommend this VPN for torrenting purposes. This is purely because of the fact that the speeds are so erratic and can be slow at times. 

While Betternet does allow torrenting, I think you’re going to have much more success with a different server if you’re searching for a VPN for torrenting purposes. Some good options include Windscribe, CyberGhost, and ExpressVPN.  

If you do try to download something via Betternet, I am sure you will find that the speeds simply aren’t worth waiting for.

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Unblock streaming services

I found Betternet to be a bit hit-and-miss in this department.

I attempted to access US streaming services from the UK by connecting to a US server and getting the VPN to mask my true location. 

Unfortunately, I was not able to view US Netflix while making use of the premium VPN hooked up to a US server. 

The ABC site, nonetheless, enabled me to view a program without any problems. Betternet likewise successfully unblocked NBC.com. 

I tried one of the UK servers to find out if I might be able to enjoy BBC iPlayer. I was pleased to see that this worked.

If you are looking for a VPN that will successfully unblock Netflix, consider PureVPN, CyberGhost, or ExpressVPN.

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Compatibility

Betternet has an Android VPN and iOS VPN app for mobile users. They support Windows users and, in addition, have a good Mac VPN. Sadly, they don’t provide a Linux VPN, therefore, if this is your primary OS, you might have to think about different options. I would recommend checking out Surfshark or NordVPN.

You can check out my “reviews by device” if you would like more information on the best VPN for a specific device.

Games consoles and streaming devices

If you are looking for a VPN for gaming purposes, I am afraid I would not recommend Betternet as an option.

This is because there is no router option, which means that games consoles and smart televisions are pretty much off the table.

If you are interested in a VPN for gaming purposes, I have reviewed VyprVPN and IPVanish, both of which are good options.

Browser extensions

In terms of browser extensions, there are options for Firefox and Chrome.

Unfortunately, the Internet browser extensions aren’t properly designed and have bugs. On the whole, I suggest not using these extensions. I’ll give you my insight on both, though. 

Firefox Extension

The Firefox proxy extension is a nightmare, to be frank! Why? Well, the extension fails to conceal the true IP address, which is the whole point!

Chrome Extension

The Chrome extension is a lot better than the Firefox version. Nevertheless, it does have an odd bug. Connecting to the UK server does not usually work. This is frustrating for those abroad who want to make use of British services so they are able to enjoy BBC iPlayer abroad!

Customer support

The customer support on offer is decent for Betternet. If you are a premium member, you will get 24/7 support. This is not available for free members, but that’s pretty standard. It’s to be expected that paying customers will get priority support.

There is no live chat, which is a bit disappointing, but it is not the end of the world.

I didn’t find the FAQ section to be particularly helpful. It’s lacking, so you will probably need to get in touch with a customer service agent if you need assistance with anything.  

Pricing

As mentioned throughout, Betternet is free to use. However, they do have a paid product available as well, which is advertised as their premium plan.

The good news is that this comes with a free trial option, so you can try before you buy!

If you do want to opt for the paid version, there are three packages to choose from. The packages have the same features. They simply differ in terms of contract length.

The monthly VPN package will set you back $11.99 per month. If you decide to go for a six-month contract, you will save 67 percent, reducing the cost to $3.99, although this needs to be paid in one payment upfront. The yearly plan is even cheaper, costing $2.99 per month. This is 75 percent off! Again, this needs to be paid in one go, so you will need to pay $35.99 upfront and this will be rebilled every 12 months unless you cancel your agreement. 

Summary

All in all, Betternet has some good qualities, but I don’t think it is worth using. There are some improvements that need to be made before I could consider this one of the better VPNs on the market

You know what they say; you get what you pay for, and I think that this saying is definitely true when it comes to the free version of Betternet.

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