It’s no secret that you’ll find a number of free-of-charge VPN services. However, the truth is that all free VPNs come with rigorous limitations, preventing you from doing pretty much anything on the Web. Furthermore, these free plans are marketing schemes for many VPNs that are trying to persuade you into getting a premium subscription. And among those VPNs, Betternet is one of the most recognizable ones. So, how good is this VPN really? Is it worth paying for its subscription? Does it log your data, and does it let you unblock websites? We’re going to answer all of those questions and plenty more. Welcome to our hands-on review of Betternet VPN!
First things first, we’ll introduce you to this VPN through a series of tables. The first one, found just below this paragraph, lists the most prominent features of Betternet, allowing you to easily compare it to its competitors. So, make sure to take a quick look.
|Jurisdiction||Canada (5-Eyes Alliance).|
|Logs||Logs (anonymized) data.|
|Number of Servers||73 countries; Unknown server count.|
|Encryption Standards||AES-128, AES-256; OpenVPN, IPSec.|
|Speed Reduction||10% on average.|
|Live Chat Support||NO|
|Supported Platforms||Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Chrome.|
Next, here’s what you need to know about this VPN’s media streaming capabilities. We’ve tested Betternet with some of the world’s most popular streaming platforms, and here are the results.
|Media Streaming Support|
|Amazon Prime Video||NO|
And finally, we’d also like to present our post-review findings. If you don’t have the time to read this entire review, check out the following table.
|The Bottom Line|
|Pros||Simple UI; Plenty of server locations; Fast speeds.|
|Cons||Complicated to set up; Limited functionality; Collects data; Problematic past; Overpriced; Limited customer support.|
|The Final Verdict||You want a VPN that protects your private data, unblocks websites and keeps malicious actors at bay – which is something that Betternet fails to deliver. We recommend you to search for an alternative.|
Finally, we’re ready to dive deep into everything that Betternet offers. So, join us as we explore and test different aspects of this VPN service.
Betternet VPN – TechNadu’s Hands-On Review
We will follow our usual structure of VPN reviews, by going over the most important aspects of this VPN. To learn more about this process, here’s how we review VPN applications.
Background, Jurisdiction & Reputation
Betternet comes from Canada (5-Eyes Alliance) and it was often connected to malware in the past. Be very careful if you plan on using this VPN. Our Score: 1/10.
Let’s see where does Betternet come from, and what this means for its subscribers. Checking under which jurisdiction your chosen VPN falls under is a crucial piece of information, so make sure to know which country’s laws apply to your use of the VPN in question.
Jurisdiction & Applicable Laws
Betternet comes from Canada – and this is the first piece of information about this VPN that worries us. This county is a member of the 5-Eyes Intelligence Alliance, and there were numerous problematic events happening in Canada during the last year. Among the most notable events, Canadian ISPs can now charge money to expose digital pirates, there’s the question whether this country will ban ‘copyright infringing’ VPN services, and we have the first case of prosecuting an IPTV provider. Needless to say, you can conclude that Canadian ISPs are doing their best to collect any kind of data they can and they’re not afraid to analyze your personal data.
So, what does this mean for Betternet users? This means that Betternet can freely collect different types of data (as it does, actually) and can be easily pushed by the Canadian authorities to hand over personally identifiable information. That’s precisely why top-rated VPNs come from ‘exotic’ countries.
Finally, you should also know that Betternet is owned by AnchorFree, which also owns Hotspot Shield. This VPN comes from the USA and has a long history of being accused of logging private data and selling it to advertisers. With this said, we can’t imagine Betternet being much different.
Previous Data Leaks
There are numerous reports surfacing in the past regarding Betternet. Perhaps the most shocking one was a report identifying Betternet as a malware-infected app. According to the report in question, Betternet tested positive by 13 different antivirus programs. Then, it was reported that the Chrome extension served by this VPN had been hijacked by a hacker. During that time, Betternet served malicious ads affecting millions of users worldwide.
All in all, we conclude that Betternet is not one of the trustworthy VPN providers. Numerous reports from the past give us red flags about this VPN, and we strongly recommend you to be careful about how you use it – if you decide to become a subscriber.
Supported Platforms & Devices
Betternet covers the most popular platforms. However, please note that can’t use it on Linux, routers, or media streaming devices. Our Score: 5/10.
Now, let’s see how many devices you can use with this VPN. We’ll also check the list of supported platforms by Betternet.
|Desktop Platforms||Windows, MacOS.|
|Mobile Platforms||Android, iOS.|
|Web Browsers||Google Chrome.|
In terms of desktop platforms, Betternet offers a native application for Windows and MacOS (with Linux missing, obviously). On mobile platforms, this VPN is present on Android and iOS. And finally, there’s a less-secure extension for Chrome – which means that you can use it on Chromebooks as well.
Unfortunately, you can use Betternet on routers, media streaming platforms, or any other device. This is a major drawback since you’re forced to install and run software made by this VPN on every device you want to protect. And also, you’ll get to use Betternet on 6 devices at the same time.
Installation & Initial Configuration
It’s easy to install Betternet – but becoming a paying customer and logging into your account in unnecessarily complicated. Our Score: 3/10.
To use Betternet, you need to get a subscription. However, this VPN comes with a complicated installation method that pushes the free version in a very aggressive manner. Unless you know that there’s a premium version, you would think that Betternet if available free-of-charge only.
So, the first step is to subscribe to Betternet. However, this can also be done at a later stage. No matter if you decide to subscribe now or later, you’ll need to download this application to your device. We’ve tested this VPN on a Windows 10 PC, where the installation comes with no distractions. Simply go through the installation process and you’ll get to use Betternet in under one minute. Strangely enough, you won’t be greeted by this VPN’s log-in screen after the installation. Instead, you’ll be asked to take a 7-day trial. Even if you’re a paying customer, you need to accept this trial and sign-in at a later stage.
Now, here’s how to sign-in to the application as a paying customer. Open Betternet, click on the hamburger button, and this is where you’ll get to sign-in (among other available options). This is done by using your email address (there’s no password). Check your inbox, click on the supplied link – and you’ll activate your access token.
The bottom line is this – Better looks really sketchy. It really pushes its free plan quite aggressively, and we’re 100% certain that premium customers will have a hard time accessing their account. It’s like Betternet doesn’t want you to become a paying customer.
Betternet is quite barebones in terms of its features. It protects you against active leaks, but you won’t find any advanced features here. Our Score: 3/10.
Now, here’s what kinds of features you can expect from Betternet. We’ll check its basic and advanced features, and whether it offers anything unique.
|VPN Features Checklist|
|DNS Leak Protection||YES|
|IPv6 Leak Protection||N/A|
|Unlimited Server Switches||YES|
As you can see, Betternet offers DNS leak protection aside from protecting your IPv4 traffic. When it comes to IPv6, we were able to verify whether this VPN works as our ISP doesn’t support this protocol just yet – and there’s polarizing information on the Web whether this protocol is supported or simply disabled by this VPN’s servers.
It’s safe to say that Betternet comes with the basic set of features. You won’t find a kill-switch here, split-tunneling, ad-blocking, or anti-malware – or any other more advanced features. You can’t even set Betternet to run at start-up and connect you to a secure server automatically. With this said, we’re sure that you can easily find a much better alternative out there (which will probably cost less than this VPN).
Betternet comes with an unknown server count, spread across 78 countries. We believe many of these to be virtual servers, which questions their usability. Our Score: 4/10.
Here’s how many servers this VPN offers, in how many locations and countries. We’ve also checked whether you can connect to individual servers as well.
|Server Count Info|
|Number of Servers||N/A|
|Number of Locations||98|
|Number of Countries||73|
|Specific Cities Selection||YES (US-based locations only).|
Finding out how many servers this VPN offers is pretty much impossible. Even its official documentation says that you’ll get 10+ countries to choose from. Once we logged-in using our premium subscription, we saw a list of 78 countries. Perhaps all those countries have been recently added? Well, this is difficult to tell, and Betternet’s website and documentation are to blame.
So, you’ll get to connect to 73 countries to get their IP addresses, in close to 100 locations. However, you’ll get to pick a specific location only for servers in the USA. And also, we have to say that we believe these to be virtual servers, instead of being bare-metal servers owned and operated by this company. All in all, this is yet another reason not to trust Betternet.
Ease of Use
Betternet comes with a simple UI that often looks unfinished. It doesn’t allow you to fine-tune your user experience and severely lacks in transparency. Our Score: 3/10.
Betternet is a basic application, in terms of its user interface. The home screen gives you the ability to select a server and connect/disconnect from servers. Finding a server is done by clicking just below the ‘Connect’ button, where you’ll be taken to a new panel. Unfortunately, you can’t search for a specific server or make a list of your favorites. Instead, you select a country (or a city for US-based servers) and you’ll be taken back to Betternet’s home screen. Hit the ‘Connect’ button and that’s pretty much it.
To dive somewhat deeper into this VPN, click on the hamburger button in the top-left corner. This is where you’ll find the following options:
- Contact Us: To contact the company, you can use the ‘Contact Us’ button which opens three additional categories. Clicking on any of these will open your email client with a new email message draft containing your logs.
- Settings: Betternet doesn’t allow you to fine-tune anything. You can choose to prevent IP leaks and to automatically enable Betternet on safe or unsafe Wi-Fi networks, and ‘other’ types of Wi-Fi (we’re not exactly sure what the ‘other’ category entails).
- Why Betternet is Free: Finally, even the paying customers will see this button which opens a link. Betternet explains that it comes free of charge thanks to sponsored apps and videos (in contrast to collecting and selling your private data).
Media Streaming & Torrenting Support
Betternet doesn’t work with Netflix, Hulu, or Prime Video. However, it supports BBC iPlayer and P2P file transfer. Our Score: 4/10.
Looking for a way to stream Netflix from anywhere in the world? Or maybe you want to stream videos from Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or Amazon Prime? We’ve tried using Betternet with all those platforms, and here are the results.
|Media Streaming & Torrenting Support|
|Amazon Prime Video||NO|
As per our tests, Betternet only managed to unblock BBC iPlayer (and it managed to stream the content in HD). No other streaming platforms allow us to access them – and this also means that Betternet doesn’t work with Netflix (at least not right now).
It’s interesting to note that Betternet supports P2P file exchange (torrenting). For this purpose (and to get the best possible speeds), you need a server nearby your physical location. To check what kinds of speeds you can expect, make sure to read the rest of this Betternet review.
Security & Privacy
Even though it doesn’t actively leak your data, Betternet collects plenty of anonymized information and comes with security-related accusations from the past. Our Score: 3/10.
Let’s not forget that the primary mission of any VPN is to keep you 100% protected online. This is done by using high-level encryption and via VPN protocols. To see how well Betternet is doing this job, keep on reading.
Supported Encryption Protocols
Just like with other features offered by this VPN, Betternet doesn’t provide plenty of information about what kind of encryption and VPN protocols it offers. However, according to earlier reports, Betternet uses AES-256 encryption – which is the strongest type of commercially available encryption. When it comes to the available protocols, these are OpenVPN and IPSec (depending on what platform you’re using).
Still, it’s important to be highlighted that you can only trust Betternet to rely on those secure technologies. We can’t really know whether it uses AES-256, OpenVPN, and IPSec – and there’s no way to change your protocol within the application itself.
Betternet is doing its best to reassure you that your private data isn’t collected. However, this isn’t exactly true, and Betternet does log plenty of data. This includes your IP address (which is apparently deleted once your session is done), hardware model, unique mobile ID, OS version, language, network information.
We’d also like to remind you of the study we talked about earlier. Aside from bringing malware via its Android app, Betternet also uses third-party tracking libraries. It was discovered that 14 tracking libraries were used for ‘analytics, tracking, or advertising purposes.’ So, are we talking about data mining here? We can’t say for sure – but Betternet comes with an already tarnished reputation, making it hard for us to recommend it to anyone who cares about their online privacy.
DNS Leak Test
You’ll see plenty of information online that Betternet leaks your IP address. However, we have to say that this is no longer the case. We’ve tested several servers offered by this company and none of those leaked any data. Instead, third-parties on the Web will only see your virtual IP, hostname, ISP, and other information that can’t be associated with your physical location.
Speed & Performance
Betternet slowed by down by around 10% on average. This is an excellent result – even though you can’t take advantage of that peed for video streaming. Our Score: 9/10.
Now, it’s time to check how well this VPN performs. We’ve tested both nearby and remote servers offered by Betternet, and here are the results.
First, we’ve tested the speed of our ‘naked’ Web connection (without this VPN enabled). We managed to get 148.66 Mbps for downloads and 9.79 Mbps for uploads. Next, it’s time to check the speed of a nearby server.
We’re located in Europe, and we managed to find a server in one of our neighboring countries. This time around, we got 147.46 Mbps for downloads and 9.07 Mbps for uploads. Finally, all there’s left is to check remote servers.
After connecting to servers in the USA, we managed to get 120.59 Mbps for downloads and 5.57 Mbps for uploads. We have to say that these are much better results than we hoped to see, especially when it comes to remote connections.
|Download Speed||Upload Speed||Speed Reduction|
|Baseline Speed||148.66 Mbps||9.79 Mbps||0%|
|Nearby Server||147.46 Mbps||9.07 Mbps||0.8%|
|Remote Server||120.59 Mbps||5.57 Mbps||18.8%|
According to the results we got, Betternet slowed us down by 10%, on average. This is an excellent result – but there’s the question of its usability. You can’t stream media, but this is good for those wanting to download torrents.
Betternet offers a range of FAQs and support via email. There’s no live chat, and you’ll have to wait for some time to receive a response. Our Score: 4/10.
Betternet provider two customer support channels, including frequently asked questions and email support. When it comes to FAQs, you’ll find them categorized by different platforms. There are around 15 to 20 questions answered per each platform, so it isn’t much. Also, you’ll find a range of questions regarding the general use of Betternet.
Your best bet is to send an email directly to Betternet and explain the problem you’re having. However, you’ll need to wait 48 to 72 hours to receive a response, with premium customers having the highest priority. What’s missing is a live chat option, in addition to helpful tips and guides on how to use this application. Even the company’s blog is updated every few months.
Simply said – Betternet is overpriced. The only affordable way to get this VPN is by getting its annual plan, which comes with plenty of risks. Our Score: 1/10.
We bet you won’t be able to find the pricing info about Betternet – even after searching for quite some time on its website (here’s the link to Betternet’s pricing plans, by the way). For some reason, this VPN is promoting its free plan instead of prioritizing paid plans. Speaking of paid plans, here’s the pricing structure.
|Total Price||Per Month||Savings|
When it comes to its monthly plan, Betternet is definitely overpriced. The situation is better in terms of its long-term plans. You can subscribe to Betternet for only $2.99 per month via its annual plan, letting you save 75%. However, we’re not sure if that’s such a good idea, as Betternet makes no promises on how its VPN service will develop in the future.
Among other important information, you can pay via credit cards and that’s pretty much it. There’s no PayPal or cryptocurrencies here. Refunds are issued within 45 days of purchasing the service.
Differentiating Free vs. Paid
Betternet also comes with a free plan – which is being heavily advertised. So, let’s take a look at what you’ll be getting with this plan and how it compares to the company’s premium subscriptions.
|Free Plan||Paid Plan|
|Number of Connections||1||6|
|Number of Servers||1||Fully unlocked.|
It’s also important to note that the free plan doesn’t encrypt your Web connection. Also, only those with premium subscriptions get a dedicated support team. And most importantly, the free plan is sponsored by videos and ads – unlike the paid plan.
Do We Recommend Betternet?
You want a VPN that’s able to protect your private data. And you also want a VPN with powerful privacy- and security-related tools that might also be able to unblock Netflix and other similar services. Well, Betternet doesn’t bring any of those things – and there are numerous concerns about whether it collects private data. Therefore, we can’t recommend this VPN to any group of potential users.
- PROS: Easy to use; Fast performance.
- CONS: Limited set of features; Comes from Canada; Highly problematic past; Collects plenty of data; Half-baked customer support; Overpriced.
- OUR SCORE: 3.6 out of 10!
In case you’d like additional information on Betternet, you can use the provided link to visit its website. To check out other options, make sure to read our article on the best VPNs today. We’re sure you’ll find the perfect solution.