Betternet VPN Review 2020
|Price||$2.99/mo on a 1-Year Plan|
|Servers||10 Servers in 10 Countries|
|Logs||Logs User Data|
|Encryption||AES-256 (Paid) | AES-CBC-128 bit (Free)|
|Works in China||No|
|Compatibility||Windows, Android, Apple|
Betternet was once a highly reputed VPN service, at least among the “free” audience. However, recent years and several legislations have hit the service hard and left it a shadow of its former self.
A CSIRO study revealed the provider sells adverts to users, which permit the installing of cookies onto devices. This makes it susceptible to featuring many ads, not being fully secure, and not offering any data protection.
The service also fails at unblocking streaming platforms like Netflix. Not to mention, it does not offer any incentives to users in China, nor does it utilize obfuscation for delivering maximum privacy/anonymity.
I would instead advise users to opt for a safe service, like PureVPN, which keep users anonymous and safe online at extremely affordable rates, and does not sell adverts to users!
- Jurisdiction: Where is Betternet from?
- Security: Can Betternet Keep Me Safe Online?
- Leaks: Does Betternet Leak Your IP, DNS & WebRTC?
- Servers: How Many Servers Does Betternet Have?
- Streaming: Can I Unblock Netflix US and Other VoDs?
- Speed: How Fast are Betternet Servers?
- Compatibility: Can I Use Betternet on All My Devices?
- Pricing: How Much Does Betternet Cost Exactly?
- Trustworthiness: Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit & Customer Support
Jurisdiction: Where is Betternet from?
Betternet LLC operates out of Canada. This would make Betternet an extremely unsafe option to use due to multiple reasons. The foremost reason is that Canada is a founding member of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance.
This alone means that the VPN has to follow Data Retention Laws, meaning it is not a safe option. Local authorities and other 14 eyes alliance countries can gain access to user logs, diminishing any claims of digital anonymity by VPNs based out of the US.
Security: Can Betternet Keep Me Safe Online?
No, Betternet is far from being anywhere near a safe VPN option. It leaves users’ IP and DNS addresses exposed in addition to its lethargic logs policy.
The partnerships Betternet has made for its FREE service gives advertisers the ability to place cookies in your browser, which again allows unknown people to collect information about the websites you visit, the ads you click on, and access to your browser history!
Does Betternet Keep Logs?
Betternet keeps regular logs of all its users’ activities. The provider makes no mention of any usage logs in their privacy statement but is clear about maintaining regular connection logs.
Connection logs include information about timestamps, bandwidth used, pages visited, etc (all of which can be considered jeopardizing). In addition to this, Betternet even stores:
Identity verification info: Emails and contact numbers
Billing and Payment info: Billing name, payment instrument details, billing contact details
Account info: Name, username, email address, and password
Betternet Encryption and Protocols Information
Betternet offers users two different protocols to choose from. Users can either use OpenVPN with AES 256-bit encryption or IPSec with AES 128-CBC encryption.However, it does not offer a kill switch meaning users cannot expect to be safe 100% of the time.
The most surprising part is that Betternet’s own website does not mention these protocols at all. This ambiguity about its protocols and encryptions on its own part does not inspire confidence about its security at all.
Betternet VirusTotal Test
In order to be certain that the download file for the VPN service was not riddled with potential viruses, we scanned it using an online virus detection tool. Here is a screenshot of the results:
Leaks: Does Betternet Leak Your IP, DNS & WebRTC?
As users can see, my IPv4 and IPv6 were both leaking and the service was unable to properly shield my IP address, location, in addition to my DNS info making it a highly unreliable VPN option.
Servers: How Many Servers Does Betternet Have?
Surprisingly, Betternet is extremely vague about its servers. Unlike some other competitors, Betternet does not list down the servers that users get access to for free.
Similarly, there is no clear information about what servers become accessible through the paid plan or whether these are virtual or bare-metal servers. After lengthy diligence, I found the following servers available to use on the paid plans:
Does Betternet Support P2P/File Sharing?
Betternet cannot be labeled a friendly service for P2P sharing because of its inconsistencies in speed and connections. These abrupt lapses in performances will be a hindrance to anyone downloading torrents.
Not to mention, none of the 10 servers make an ideal option for users as far as torrenting is concerned. Moreover, most of these servers are located in countries with fierce anti-piracy laws, making it an even more unattractive option for users.
Does Betternet Work in China?
In recent years, the Chinese government has amped up its efforts to regulate the internet for its citizens. This has had a crippling effect on VPN services in particular. Betternet is one of those services that used to work in China but no longer do.
Users claim that the service has stopped working in the country since 2017. Similarly, expats trying to access Chinese content from outside the country are also unable to use Betternet to get in.
Streaming: Can I Unblock Netflix US and Other VoDs?
In a major disappointment, Betternet fails miserably when it comes to unblocking Netflix. Users will be greeted with the following screen if they try to unblock Netflix via Betternet VPN.
Speed: How Fast are Betternet Servers?
While Betternet does not offer users an extreme wealth of options in terms of servers, I did not want to appear biased against it. To judge whether these servers can provide optimum speeds to make up for the lapse in numbers, I put them through a standard speed test.
Compatibility: Can I Use Betternet on All My Devices?
This is one category where Betternet seems more than up to the mark. It offers complete support for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS while also being compatible for Firefox and Chrome. The dedicated apps make it easier for users to continue using the apps on different platforms.
The user-friendly GUI allows users to instantly connect and secure themselves without much hassle making up for an incredibly smooth user experience.
Betternet for Windows
The Betternet app for Windows is quite intuitive and user-friendly. It boasts quite a simplistic design and appearance with a rectangle shape app, similar to how most browser extensions look.
Nevertheless, users have quick access to servers available for connectivity. To get started with using the VPN, simply hit the connect button, and enjoy unblocking your favorite websites. You can download the app from here.
Betternet for Mac
Previously, Betternet did not offer a native app for Mac devices and required users to configure the VPN manually on the OS. However, a few years down the road, and the provider now even provides a Mac application.
Now, the app is completely similar to its Windows counterpart in terms of design and appearance, but sadly it does not offer many incentives for unblocking or leveraging privacy!
Betternet for Android
If you want to use Betternet VPN on Android devices, you will need to get their Android app from the Google Play store. The app offers two different versions, the free and the premium service.
Betternet VPN’s free version on Android doesn’t offer all features or servers, while the premium service subscription unblocks all features by the provider.
Betternet for iOS
The Betternet app for iPhone and iPad devices offer a simple way to go anonymous online. However, just like the Android counterpart, there are two versions of the Betternet app available on the iTunes store.
Regardless, both are entirely capable of unblocking websites or shifting servers to gain access to restricted content. So it is not really an issue, especially if you want to go for the FREE plan.
Betternet for Chrome
The Chrome Extension from Betternet is quite remarkable and way better than the Firefox version. Though there are a few bugs that hinder the overall performance of the VPN extension, it is still quite reliable to use.
Also, the Chrome app is quite recent, boasting the same interface as the desktop versions of the app. The Firefox one is probably still in the upgrading phase.
Pricing: How Much Does Betternet Cost Exactly?
When most people consider signing up with Betternet, they usually fall for the “Free” offering from the provider. However, there is also a paid version with more premium features offered by Betternet and mostly, its affordably priced:
- Monthy ($11.99 per month)
- 6-month ($3.99 per month)
- Yearly ($2.99 per month)
Users have the option to use a free version for up to 7 days, before subscribing to any of these plans in order to continue using the service. The free version comes with a list of limitations such as:
- Lack of email support
- US servers only
- 500MB daily data limit
- Use on 1 device only
- Frequent advertisements
Betternet has a 45-day money-back guarantee in place for premium users. However, the refund procedure is far from simplistic, as users have to buy the service via the Apple and Android stores rather than from the provider itself.
Astonishingly, there is a bizarre caveat that if users have used more than 50 MB than the refund policy cannot be used at all. This precondition is not only foolish, it does not reflect well on Betternet’s claims about being an assuring VPN service.
Rather surprisingly, Betternet only accepts payments in the form of Visa/Mastercard credit cards, iTunes, and Play Store. Unlike most other VPN services, Betternet does not offer payments through PayPal.
Additionally, it does not support Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Users may feel uneasy in making payments as the service has made it clear that it keeps a detailed log of these payment details.
Trustworthiness: Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit & Customer Support
In order to gauge the overall trustworthiness of Betternet, I analyze the service across different ratings and reviews platforms to see how trustworthy is the service.
Betternet Trustpilot Rating
Betternet has a meagre 9 reviews on Trustpilot. This gives off the impression that the service fails at delivering consistent services. Additionally, the reviews don’t seem to be overtly positive either.
More than 60% of the reviews labeling it as “Bad” and a further 25% as “Poor”. The service does not come across as a reliable option based off of these ratings.
Betternet Reddit Review
Users on Reddit were much more descriptive regarding their reservations about Betternet. The fact that Betternet offers a “free” version of the software does not sit well with users. Some labeled it a honeypot for its curious similarity to another VPN that turned out to be a honeypot.
Others were less enthusiastic about the free service when there are more well-reputed VPN providers available at just $3 per month. Finally, these reservations were not completely unfounded as a notable study has also backed up claims that Betternet may not be the most secure service on the VPN market.
Betternet has a flawed customer support. Unlike some of the well-regarded VPN services, there is no 24/7 dedicated live chat option. Furthermore, the support differs based on the payment plan the customer is on. Most users gain access to a blog as well as a help center.
The help center is like an FAQ section with answers regarding questions related to Extensions, compatibility and other generic questions. The dedicated app itself is unstable when it comes to customer support and frequently freezes. All in all, it cannot be labeled “user-friendly”.
Betternet does not provide any service that users cannot find elsewhere. Additionally, there are highly visible flaws in the service as well as its highly susceptible base of operations i.e. the United States.
Is Betternet Recommended?
No! Betternet has massive flaws; the free version shows unnecessary ads, it cannot unblock Netflix, speeds are pathetically low, its Android app was found to be intrusive, server count is way too less, there is lack of information on security policies.
Not to mention, its headquarters is in Canada, meaning that users can never be fully at peace about their digital activity being safe from prying eyes. There is no logical reason why any users should be opting for this service instead of reliable alternatives, such as Surfshark and PureVPN.