Betternet’s unique selling proposition is its open free plan that offers unlimited bandwidth, no registering or providing your email address to use the free services. To start using Betternet VPN services, simply download the client Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Firefox, or Chrome extension, and you are ready to go!
So, does the no strings attached, unlimited bandwidth VPN service seem too good to be true? Sadly, that might be the case due to the limited access to US servers only, no standout features, and minimal user support that is insufficient if you run into trouble.
Betternet Free earns money by inserts ads into websites, which raises suspicions about user privacy, which violates a VPN service’s purpose. This Betternet VPN review focuses on the Betternet’s Premium plan, which doesn’t have the ads of the free version, gives users access to servers in 70 countries, including 27 US cities, and advanced performance.
The monthly Betternet Premium plan is expensive, especially if you compare it to other, more popular VPN services, but the annual subscription offers significant savings. Nonetheless, we will be discussing a catch later on in the Betternet review.
The policy clearly states that Betternet does not keep records of users’ VPN browsing activities in any way that can be linked back to them. Specifically, when using a Betternet VPN connection, their policy is not to store any data that will identify their activities, including what they view, browse, or use via or through the link.
The system only temporarily records the user’s IP address, which is hashed and cleared immediately at the end of a session.
Another VPN service – Touch VPN, from the same parent company, is known to maintain logs of domains accessed by users. However, they only keep data of domains and not complete the full URLs. Furthermore, the data anonymized so that it cannot be associated with a specific user or session. This raises some concerns.
Moreover, we are also worried about device identification of Betternet and then associating it with other data collected to measure bandwidth use, user interaction with the service, and customer support. The policy states that this data is used for analytics and marketing.
We also found some other policies too intrusive such as the logging of the user’s ‘approximate geographic location’ that may be used by the company to know the duration of sessions, the time and location, the amount of data transferred, and more.
Although keeping this information won’t associate a device to particular internet activity, it can still be seen as an invasion of privacy.
Betternet’s apps, for the most part, are stripped down and simple. To connect to a server near you, click the big connect button. If you want to a desired server, you’ll have to find it on the server list.
If you expect a feature-rich version in the Betternet premium, you will be disappointed because there isn’t much to offer. Even the server location list is basic without ping times, search tool, sorting, or favorites system.
The apps don’t notify users when they are active and connected to the server or when the connection drops. You must simply track the app window to make sure you are protected.
You will get a limited number of settings, too. To avoid leaving your information unprotected, the ‘Prevent IP Leak’ and ‘Reconnect Automatically’ are turned on by default. It is best to leave them like that if the connection to the VPN is severed for any reason. There is a convenient option of connecting automatically on an insecure network.
The premium service provides a substitute for the popular and useful split-tunneling feature with the “Exclude Domains” feature that allows users to define specific domains that will not pass through the VPN tunnel. An example of domains to add to this list is local streaming sites that ban foreign IPs.
There are no other stand out features to change privacy protocol. You will have to stick with Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra for a secure connection. Although Catapult Hydra does an ok job and is known for its speed, the premium version doesn’t give it’s users the control or flexibility to make another choice.
Betternet Premium does not have a Kill Switch option, either. However, manually closing the VPN, the interface promptly showed the loss of connection and initiated automatic reconnection. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t notify users about the changes. Without a proper kill switch or firewall, we were left dissatisfied.
The pricing for Betternet Premium monthly package is on the higher side at $11.99. However, if you plan on using the service for the long-term, then you can save a lot by paying upfront for a year, which brings down the monthly cost to $2.99. The service also offers a free seven-day trial, but you will have to provide payment details, and only cards are accepted. If you forget to cancel the subscription at the end of the free trial, you will be charged the most expensive monthly rate – $11.99/month.
There is also another catch! If you pay for the subscription with your credit card, you cannot unsubscribe. Instead, you will have to contact support and wait for up to 24 hours to get the subscription canceled adequately. Therefore, it is best not to leave this task for the last minute because of the cumbersome poor service.
One way to avoid this issue is to pay for the subscription through Google Play or App Store, from which you can instantly stop paying for the plans.
If you check the website for performance claims made for Betternet, then you will notice that there is nothing there about unblocking every single site, including streaming platforms. Unfortunately, this is true because we could not access US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ during our tests, which left us severely disappointed.
Although YouTube US and other smaller streaming sites were accessible, it wasn’t impressive because most VPN services can do that. The service was able to impress us with its speed, which was thanks to Hotspot Shield servers and Catapult Hydra protocol, which are known to be quick and efficient.
The speeds differed across different server locations. More on that later. Still, it was able to provide above-average quickness across the board, which goes to show that there were no compromises made in that department, although most other areas were lackluster.
Another strong performance point of Betternet Premium VPN services is that they aced our privacy tests. During our search on IPLeak, DoILeak, and other sites, there were no DNS, WebRTC, and leak problems.
Speed – Betternet’s biggest claim is “super-fast VPN,” which is ensured by their “Optimal Location” feature designed to connect users to the closest server for the quickest speeds. Unfortunately, we did not have much luck with this feature, and the performance was spotty. Often, we were unable to connect to a server using the features and were disconnected only after a few seconds.
After establishing a connection manually, things improved, and we connected to a server in the US. Among all the server locations tested during our trial, US servers gave the lowest speeds. However, their UK and Europe servers performed better.
Torrenting – Thankfully, P2P activity is supported on this VPN on all of its servers, available for free and premium users with free users having a per day cap of 500 MB bandwidth. Premium users, on the other hand, enjoy unlimited bandwidth for torrenting.
Netflix – Betternet claims on its App Store page that Netflix is accessible through the service. However, that is not the case because, during our testing, premium and free versions were unable to access US Netflix along with several other popular US streaming platforms, including Disney+, Hulu, and more.
The same issue occurred when testing the Betternet UK server. We could not access Netflix UK or the popular BBC iPlayer through the VPN service.
Security And Privacy
We thoroughly tested and researched before concluding that Betternet is not safe to use for the following three reasons:
- Evidence proves that Betternet apps contain malware and tracking libraries.
- In 2017 Betternet was hacked, and Chrome extensions were used to infect devices with malware.
- Betternet has dodgy security features; for example, it claims to offer 256-bit, but 128-bit in actuality. It also doesn’t have a Kill switch and leak protection.
Our biggest concern is the fact that even with all the privacy and security promises, Betternet was caught embedding tracking libraries and malware into their VPN apps.
A study conducted by a team of academic researchers found Betternet to be amongst the most malware-infested VPNs in the Google Play Store. Betternet has an AV-rank of 13, which means that it tested positive for malware by 13 best antivirus programs.
What is more alarming is that Betternet holds an impressive 4.3-star rating on the Google Play Store even though it has a proven very high malware presence. Therefore, you should never trust Google Play Store ratings when choosing a trustable VPN.
The same study also identified that Betternet VPN has a high presence of third-party tracking libraries, including 14 tracking libraries in Betternet’s Android app. The data collected with these tracking libraries are sold to government agencies and companies to make money. The data is then used for analytics, tracking, or advertising purposes.
Most free VPNs make money either by selling your data or with free sponsored apps’ ads. If you install the sponsored apps, Betternet makes money, and you end up compromising your privacy and security.
When using any free VPN service, you are the product! This means that free VPNs, including Betternet, sell your data to real clients and allow the advertisers to use your data to their benefit. In this way, the primary focus of the VPN service is not to provide reliable security and privacy but to use your sensitive data as a commodity to sell and make good money.
They clearly claim that they “collect, use, and share” the data of their users. For that reason, you cannot trust Betternet with your sensitive data.
We honestly do not recommend Betternet for receiving and sharing your sensitive data. If you want a free VPN with average security for daily use, then you can use Betternet. However, there are several free VPN services with reliable privacy and security features.
Thanks to the stripped-down, simplistic interface of Betternet’s clients, it is unlikely that new users will have any difficulty with navigation and functionality. Click the large ‘Connect’ button on the main page will link you to the nearest server location. The premium users have some flexibility of switching and choosing their server location from a list accessible from the bottom of the screen.
While connecting to a server, there is an adorable loading screen. The three-line icon in the top left corner of the client contains the various settings and customer support options.
Betternet VPN Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, you have two options to contact Betternet. You can either submit request tickets on Betternet’s website or, you can gain access to Betternet’s 24/7 email support team. However, the request ticket service is for both free and premium users, but only premium users can access the 24/7 email support team.
Betternet does not offer live chat or call support, one of Betternet VPN’s biggest cons. If you expect a response within minutes on the 24/7 email support, you will be disappointed because the email support takes at least an hour or more to reply. Therefore in urgent matters, you have no other option but to wait for their response or find a solution yourself.
Betternet website does provide some resources, including blogs and other searchable content, that may help you resolve your Betternet issues. All-in-all we are not impressed with Betternet VPN’s customer support, and several VPN services offer a far better customer support service as compared to Betternet.
- Does Betternet hide your IP?
Yes! Betternet successfully hides your real IP, so you can visit websites anonymously and keep your data well protected. Similar to other reliable VPN services, Betternet creates an encrypted tunnel, and all of your data is securely sent through it. With Betternet, you can change your real IP with any other IP server available and protect your data from any security threats.
- Is Betternet a Chinese app?
No! Betternet is not a Chinese app. However, it is one of the best VPN for China as it allows you to browse through unlimited Chinese content without any significant data restrictions.
- How can I use Betternet for free?
You can download the free Betternet version from their website. You can use the free version on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Although there is no registration required, download the free version. However, you can only access it with one device, and there is a 500 MB per day data usage limit.
- Is Betternet safe and legit?
Betternet offers average safety. As compared to other VPN services, data encryption and anonymity are not equally strong. If you talk about keeping data logs or leaking users’ data, Betternet openly accepts that they keep data logs. Still, there are no such complaints about Betternet selling/leaking the data or misusing it.
Betternet provides average to below-average data security. If you are concerned severe about your data security and usually deal with sensitive data, then Betternet wouldn’t be the best option for you.
On the other hand, Betternet is a fast and easy to use a VPN service. However, the lack of privacy, poor unblocking results, and unsatisfactory customer support makes it not worth its high price.
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