Betternet Review

Batternet VPN is rated 74 out of 78 VPNs on TheBestVPN.com

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I almost never recommend free VPNs over paid ones.

Free VPNs, such as Betternet can have a tendency to sell your data, show you lots of ads, not be as secure, and not perform as well.

Betternet says that it does things a bit differently and protects your privacy and security better than the other free VPNs out there.

But is Betternet VPN a good choice for protecting your security and privacy?

Is it safe for torrenting?

I took a deeper look to see if this free VPN can stack up to its paid brethren.

What Is Betternet? How It’s FREE?

If you’ve never heard of Betternet, it’s probably because they’re a newcomer to the VPN scene; they’ve only been around since 2015.

Since then, though, they’ve been growing rapidly and gaining a lot of users (especially on Android).

The main draw to this VPN is, of course, the fact that it’s totally free.

You can use their iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac apps, as well as Chrome and Firefox extensions, without paying a single cent. You don’t even need to register, so they don’t get your name or email address.

It definitely sounds good. But as we’ve seen in the past, VPN providers need to make money somehow, and they don’t always do it scrupulously.

Betternet relies on affiliate apps and videos, served through their apps, to make money.

Whenever you tap the “Install an App” or “Watch a Video and Connect” button, Betternet gets a small payment.

So far, it’s been enough to keep the servers running and the lights on.

Rising costs, however, pushed Betternet to release a Premium version of the mobile app in late 2017. The premium version offers access to dedicated servers, more location and IP selection choices, and 24/7 support. Fortunately, there’s a free seven-day trial of the premium plan that lets you try out these features without paying.

With the premium version, you get access to 11 servers in 10 countries (only).

But you don’t get to choose which server you connect to on the free plan; Betternet picks one for you. You can also choose from seven different cities in the US if you’re a premium member.

Betternet VPN Overview

OVERALL RANK:#74 out of 78 VPNs
USABILITY:Average
LOG FILES:Some Logging Policy
LOCATIONS:10 countries, 11 servers
SUPPORT:24/7 support for premium members
TORRENTING:Discouraged
NETFLIX:Blocks Netflix USA
ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:256-bit AES encryption, 128-bit encryption; OpenVPN, IPSec
COST:Free or $35.99/yr
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:www.Betternet.co

Betternet VPN Pros :-

1. Solid Privacy and Security Options

It’s not easy to find information on the technology that Betternet VPN uses to protect its users. I like to see that kind of information presented upfront, where it’s easy to see. After a bit of digging, though, I was able to find some information.

For example, a blog post from 2015 states that Betternet VPN offers both 256-bit AES encryption over the OpenVPN protocol and 128-bit encryption over IPSec:

That’s industry-standard encryption, but there’s no indication of when either of them are used. (And their privacy policy makes no mention of 256-bit encryption, which is a bit worrying.)

Other, more fully featured VPNs offer more protocol options, but in general, you won’t need them. OpenVPN is one of the most secure out there, and when you can’t use it, IPSec is a strong second choice.

Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot to Betternet security. Because it doesn’t have as many features as other VPNs, everything is pretty straightforward.

If you’re concerned about government surveillance, you may want to know that Betternet is based in Canada, one of the countries that does a great deal of intelligence-gathering and collaboration with other members of the Five Eyes agreement. Their servers are all over the world, but the company headquarters is under Canadian jurisdiction.

That’s not necessarily a drawback, but I know that some people are nervous about working with companies in the Five Eyes countries.

Unfortunately, there are some other issues that might negate their use of solid security tech. We’ll get to those in a moment.

2. Totally Free

If I haven’t mentioned this enough times, this should make it stick.

Betternet is 100% free.

Of course, there are a couple catches: you’ll see ads, and you won’t unlock all of the features without signing up for the premium plan. But if you want to make your browsing more secure and can’t afford even the cheapest premium VPNs, this could be an important factor.

3. No Log Files

Beyond the price tag, Betternet’s no-logging policy is probably its biggest draw. The help file says it simply: “Betternet does not collect, log, store, share any data log of users.”

If you dig into their privacy policy, you can find a bit more information:

That’s a pretty straightforward no-logging policy, and I like to see that.

This policy also means that they can’t share your IP address if they get a DMCA takedown notice, which is how some VPNs have revealed their customers’ identities in the past. They do their best to comply with the DMCA notice, but they won’t give out your data. They also say that they’ve never received a valid court order to turn over data that they don’t have.

So Betternet is doing this right.

4. OpenVPN Encryption

This is industry standard tech, and it will keep miscreants from spying on your connection. It also helps prevent throttling from your ISP, site blocking from a coffee shop or school campus, and all of the other great things that you get from a VPN.

Again, we’re not sure when Betternet uses OpenVPN and when it uses IPSec (it’s possible that IPSec is used on older devices), but even IPSec isn’t too bad when it comes to security. They are compatible with Tor browser.

Also, while one of their blog posts says that they offer AES256 encryption, their privacy policy says that they use 128-bit. So it’s unclear as to how much security you’re actually getting.

There is also no router support at this time. So they will only provide access for Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Android users.

That also means smart TVs and game consoles are off the table, too.

5. Customer Support

While you won’t get 24/7 support unless you’re a premium member, I do like to see that it’s available.

There’s no live chat option, which would be nice, but isn’t always 100% necessary.

The site’s FAQs don’t offer a whole lot of information, though, so if you need something, you’ll probably have to go through the customer service system.

As you can see, there are still FAQs posted from their help software that should have been deleted.

The Betternet team is pretty active on Twitter, though customer support questions are usually redirected to the standard system.

You might see this level of customer service as either a pro or a con—but we’ve definitely seen worse, so I think it’s pretty good.

6. App Simplicity

While the lack of features makes for a VPN with less functionality, it also makes for an app that’s very easy to use. Especially if you’re not trying to connect to a server in a specific place.

All you need to do is download the app and hit the Connect button. That’s really all there is to it.

That’s all there is to it. Betternet will let you know that you’re connected, and there’s nothing else you need to do.

The mobile apps are a little more complicated, as you need to start a free trial (and then figure out how to cancel it), but in general, Betternet is very user-friendly.

Betternet Cons :-

1. Potentially a Security Threat

It’s undoubtedly popular, but Betternet might not be as secure as it seems. In 2017, several outlets reported the result of an academic study on VPN apps and whether they might be injecting malware or adware—or just not providing the security they advertised.

Betternet was ranked among the ten worst.

Many of the other apps in that list were removed from the app store, but Betternet is still around.

So far, I haven’t been able to find any evidence of Betternet injecting malware or doing anything else nefarious. But the fact that an academic study identified them as suspect is very worrying.

As you can see, Betternet has more downloads than all of the other free VPN apps combined, which does lend it a bit of credibility. However, we’d much prefer that its AV-rank be significantly better than 13.

2. Ads

No one likes seeing ads in their apps. They’re a necessary evil when you want to offer a free product or service, but it’s still unpleasant. And unless you’re using the premium version of Betternet, you’ll be seeing ads.

It’s great that Betternet is very transparent about how they make money and where that money is going (if you’re curious, the affiliate downloads pay for server space, and premium subscriptions pay for everything else).

But there’s no way around the fact that the VPN is selling access to its customers. That sucks. It might not be a big deal breaker for you, but when there are so many cheap VPNs out there that don’t show any ads, it’s tough to justify it in a free app.

3. Unclear Documentation

In one place, they say that Betternet uses 256-bit encryption. In another, they say 128-bit. And it was tough to dig up that information in the first place.

If you want to find anything more than the absolute basics about the app, you’ll have to do some investigating. And you might get some strange answers.

The user experience with the Betternet website isn’t great. The app is straightforward, but if you want anything more than that, you might have some trouble.

4. VERY Slow Speeds

You can’t expect a whole lot from a free VPN. But on my 100 Mbps connection, I got a download speed of 3 Mbps.

That’s just crazy.

To be fair, the upload speed was 12 Mbps (seeing a higher upload speed than download is weird, but that’s what happened). You could see better speeds than this, especially if you pay for a premium plan, but don’t count on blazing fast downloads when you’re using Betternet.

This makes it a poor VPN for torrenting. In general, Betternet users are able to use P2P file-sharing apps, which is nice. But if you’re trying to download anything other than a very small file, you could be waiting a long time.

5. Too Slow for Torrenting and No Netflix

If you are a heavy torrenter like me, Betternet isn’t the right option for you. Betternet does allow torrenting on their servers, but warns they will comply if they receive a warrant or other valid court order. And also…

It’s just too slow. I tried to download different files through uTorrent and I never managed to achieve a download speed that was worth waiting for it.

Another huge problem in my book is that they don’t work with Netflix. Till date, Netflix has managed to block all Betternet servers and IP’s, so there’s no way for you to stream Netflix (or Hulu) using their software. If you need a VPN that works with Netflix, click here.

Pricing, Plans & Facts

The main draw to Betternet is that it’s free. And you can use it as much as you want without paying. That’s all most people will want to know about the pricing.

But the premium pricing is fairly competitive if you skip up to the annual membership:

  • One month for $11.99
  • Six months for $23.99 ($3.99 per month)
  • Twelve months for $35.99 ($2.99 per month)

It’s not the cheapest VPN out there, but if you prepay for a year, the cost is very reasonable.

You’ll also get a free 7-day trial to test out the premium version (in fact, you have to sign up for a trial to use the mobile apps).

Here’s what’s included and what’s not:

  • No Kill-Switch
  • No Netflix
  • 5 simultaneous connections (only for premium accounts)
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec

There are a few bodies buried in the Terms of Service, though.

First and foremost, you agree that Betternet can terminate you at any time, without notice, without refund, and they won’t be liable. In some cases, they’ll pro-rate your refund. But if you breach the rest of their agreement, you won’t get squat.

You can terminate the agreement at any time. IF you “certify in writing to Betternet.” That’s the only way to get your data destroyed, anyway.

Do I Recommend Betternet?

No.

Unfortunately, Betternet doesn’t live up to its name. I love that it’s free. And if you absolutely need a free VPN, you could do worse than Betternet.

But the amazingly slow connection speed combined with the alarming results from the academic study showing that Betternet could be a security threat is just too much.

You get what you pay for, and free VPNs just don’t cut it.

You’d be better off with either NordVPN – $3.49/mo (Read NordVPN Review) or Surfshark – $1.99/mo (Read Surfshark review)- both are safe, fast and secure.

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