- Servers in 10+ Locations
- Zero Logs
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Intuitive App
- Offers Free Trial
- Compatible with Android, Mac OS X, iOS, Windows
Established in 2015, Betternet is a newcomer in the marketplace of Best VPN, famed worldwide for its FREE service. The provider has its headquarters in Canada, part of the Five Eyes alliance, yet it manages 38 million users worldwide. Initially, the VPN was quite famous, touted as one of the best in the free industry. However, over the last year, Betternet has been in the crosshair of several review websites – after a CSIRO study revealed the provider sells adverts to users, which permit the installing of cookies onto devices.
This comprehensive Betternet Review though will focus on the PREMIUM offerings of the provider. So, without further ado, let’s get started with an in-depth analysis on the VPN!
Note: Both premium packages offer similar features. However, no protocol selection option is offered in both the packages.
When most people consider signing up with Betternet, they usually fall for the “Free” offering from the provider, since that is where most of their marketing efforts are focused. Even some review websites miss out on a very important aspect of the provider: it operates on a FREEMIUM model. This means users have the ability to use the VPN service, without paying a single penny. At the same time, they have the ability to subscribe to a premium plan, which adds more features/security to the offering.
Let me also clarify that the Betternet FREE service was criticized (and rightly so) by the CSIRO study, not the premium, hence why I am taking the leap of analyzing its PAID offering. So, what plans does Betternet provide users? More importantly, WHERE ARE THEY (Batman’s voice)? Initially, Betternet did not provide any information about its premium service on the website. Hence, why most do not even know about a paid offering. Now, you can see the pricing on their dedicated website.
Users can also gain access to their premium subscriptions was to first download the VPN app for their relevant platform/device, and then click on the “Upgrade” button. After doing so, you will be able to see that the provider offers three different payment plans for its customers, which differ in pricing for the duration of the subscription. For instance, if you opt for the monthly plan, the starting price is $11.99. I was a little indecisive over this pricing, as the VPN is still quite new.
If I were Betternet, I would consider reducing the monthly pricing below $10, until I was able to sustain a solid reputation in the marketplace of PREMIUM VPNs. Nevertheless, things do get better as the duration of plans increases. There is a 6-months plan available, which reduces the monthly pricing to $3.99 per month. This means you receive a discount of 67% on the starting price, totaling to $23 only! Now, this is quite a commendable deal from the provider, which may urge newbies to test out the service.
My personal favorite though, and the one I subscribed to (since I am a VPN-analyst, duh) is the 1-year plan. It provides the best value out of all, allowing users to leverage an amazing discount of 75% on the monthly pricing. This reduces the costs to only $2.99 per month, which totals to $35 ONLY for 12-months! By far, this is one of the most budget-friendly packages, I have ever observed in the marketplace. However, to learn whether you are not compromising your safety over the low price, continue reading!
As mentioned earlier, Betternet initially did not offer a pricing page on their website. This led to many customers believing that they were primarily a FREE service. However, recently they have created a new page, where you can see the pricing available. The tricky part though is that the pricing you see above is only consistent in the Windows app and on the website. Now, Betternet is also offering different plans to customers on varied devices. Take a look at this support page.
If you sign up directly from their website or Windows app, you will have to pay $11.99 monthly, $23.99 for 6-months, and $35.99 for 12-months. However, if you purchase a subscription from the iOS or Android apps, you will have to pay way more. While the monthly costs are the same i.e. $11.99, you will have to pay $47.99 for 6-months ($24 increase in the cost), and $71.99 for the 1-year plan ($36 increase in the cost). Where you choose to buy the plan from, is entirely up to you!
I think it is time to address the elephant in the room. Betternet, though you have got quite the solid system in place to provide an unblocking and anonymity tool for FREE, it is imperative that you be honest to your customers. I generally advise users to stay away from providers that claim to be free, due to the very same reasoning found in the CSIRO study. USERS beware that VPNs need money to pay for servers, support, app development/maintenance, and more.
Nothing in this world is free, and VPNs certainly are not. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and you do end up paying for it in the end. In the industry of online privacy, this means compromising on your digital anonymity and security. Betternet works with numerous advertising companies that offer suggestions to install certain apps or watch videos to use the FREE VPN service. Now, this you have already mentioned on your website, and I respect that.
However, if you want to develop trust among your customers, do also let them know that these advertising companies you work with, have the ability to install extra cookies onto the devices of users. This allows them to keep tabs on user activity, and if you visit one of the sites they advertise, they know that Betternet succeeded. Probably if the user makes a sale, Betternet may earn money, and be able to pay for the overhead costs of managing a VPN.
All in all, if the usage of such practices that require downloading of apps or watching a few promotional videos do not bother Betternet users, the free VPN is not bad at all for unblocking content. Go crazy shifting servers and getting your job done without paying a single penny. For users who are seeking privacy and security though, I would strictly recommend checking out other premium providers.
If you decide to go with the premium version of Betternet, you should have a good number of options available for payment. Lucky for you, the provider supports VISA, MasterCard, and PayPal, which are the usual choices for most buyers. However, this selection is quite limited and may stop several users from purchasing their favorite plan. Betternet needs to work on adding more diversity to the payment methods. They should also add cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, as they provide unmatched anonymity!
I simply hate providers that do not offer any kind of free trials or money back guarantees. However, Betternet does not fail to impress its users. You have a 30-day refund guarantee available, which allows you to test the premium service conveniently, and decide whether you want to continue using the VPN provider or not. However, the only problem with this plan is that you have to use less than 50 MB of data to avail the refund, which is quite unfair, to say the least.
I would have preferred something over 500 MB. This way, at least users could test and see if the service is good enough for streaming and online gaming. Otherwise, what is the use of a refund guarantee, if the requirements are so tough? It is pretty much useless, as not many would be able to qualify for a refund. Nevertheless, it is the availability that matters, so Betternet can still work on improving the policy.
There is no information about a free trial on the website, as even the premium plans are left out from a discussion. However, users do have the ability to leverage a seven-day free trial on any premium package. To use this feature, you will have to enter your credit card details. If you fail to cancel within the seven-day period, Betternet will charge you for the monthly traffic, which is the most expensive plan. These clever tactics of getting a user to pay up for a service are quite silly, to say the least.
As mentioned earlier, Betternet uses a unique medium for providing its service. It typically uses two platforms for making money. The first is by offering free sponsored advertisements. All mobile applications have “install an app” button. Upon clicking on this button, you are offered with a few choices. If you install the application, Betternet earns money. The other is “watch a video and connect” platform. For each video you watch, the VPN gets cash.
While Betternet does seem to oversell its service in some areas, one thing is for sure they are pretty transparent in most places too. In all my years spent reviewing different VPN services, Betternet is the first one I have come across that actually talks about its earning model. Most free VPNs do not state their practices for keeping up with the costs of managing a VPN service.
Nothing can work for free after all! A VPN service has to pay for a lot of things, which include server maintenance, app development and upgrades, staff salaries, and technical support costs. Betternet uses the “sponsored apps” and “watch a video” to pay for its cost and maintenance of servers. However, this obviously does not cover for other costs of managing a VPN.
This is why they offer a premium version to cover for their HR expenses, dedicated servers, and newly added locations. So, if a reputed service like Betternet needs to rely on two different models for managing the costs of managing a VPN, what do other free services do? They sell your information to third parties, who thrive on user data!
When it comes to selecting a VPN, one of the many aspects that urge users to buy a plan is the ability to establish simultaneous connections on a number of devices. Fortunately, Betternet users do have native apps available for all hit platforms. These include apps for iOS and Android that are available on the iTunes and Google Play store respectively. You even have software available for desktop PCs and laptops that use Windows, Mac, and Linux, along with browser extensions for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
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.
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. The app is completely similar to its Windows counterpart and provides easy access to geo-blocked sites like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Vimeo, Netflix and more.
I was a little confused when checking out the Betternet app for Android. When you search for the app on Google Play Store, you get two suggestions: VPN Free – Betternet and Hexagon Free VPN. Both are developed by Betternet, so we decided to test them out. The two were actually quite similar with just differences in the overall design and appearance. However, the premium option was only available on the VPN Free – Betternet app.
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.
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.
If I am completely unbiased with the VPN provider, I was actually disappointed with the Firefox extension of Betternet. The add-on requires a lot of work and following the guide to make the extension connect to a server is highly irritating. Do not expect any kind of solid security or anonymity from the browser extension, as it is found to have DNS and IP leaks.
Betternet does not offer any support whatsoever for Smart TV/Routers/Gaming Consoles. In fact, the service claims that it is incompatible with all the devices mentioned above. This means you can only use the VPN on your smartphones, tablets, laptops, or computers. However, if you want to gain additional compatibility, you can always get support from services like PureVPN, ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.
When it comes to selecting a VPN, you need to have a multitude of options for server availability. This way, it is easier for you to unblock websites and VoD services around the world. Since you have a larger number of servers, the load is distributed among users located in different counties, allowing you to leverage faster speeds too. Betternet fails to improve its server count and location availability. You only have the ability to connect in ten countries. These include:
To gain a better understanding of the reliability and bandwidth of the VPN provider, we performed a speed test on our 50Mbps connection:
For testing the reliability and security of the service, I performed two tests for IPv4 and IPv6 leaks on Ipleak.net and Perfect Privacy IP Check. Both tests revealed that the service is leaking the IPV4 and IPV6 data. The VPN fails miserably to hide the IP address, location, and DNS information, which makes it an unsafe option for most users.
Not every VPN works in China, as the government takes copyright laws and data retention very serious. As a result, it regularly blocks a list of VPNs to deny internet users the right to encrypted and anonymous browsing. Betternet in China is just one of those very few providers that offer support to users in the country. Although sometimes it may be difficult to get a secure and stable connection at times, you can feel relieved to use Betternet for bypassing geo-restrictions and content limitations in China. I would advise users to sign up to their premium service though for maximum unblocking efficiency!
This Betternet Review also reveals that you can use the best VPN for kodi service for unblocking certain geo-restricted add-ons on Kodi. Thanks to its good security and encryption features, it is very difficult to trace your IP address. Therefore, if you connect to a server in another country, you can easily access the located-restricted content, be it music, video, or any other format. This means users can enjoy watching their favorite movies/TV shows easily and with good anonymity online.
Upon conducting the Betternet Review, I came to know that the VPN has more than 38 million users from all over the world. Though this does not mean the provider is completely reliable, especially after reading the CSIRO study, the VPN is a good choice for most FREE users. Among these numbers, 60% of the users belong from the outside USA. The servers at Betternet receive more than 1 Petabyte of daily traffic, which is equal to watching 500,000 HD movies.
Betternet uses a unique model for providing its VPN service to customers. It uses ads for attracting customers and bring is commissions on sales. Every user becomes a booster when joining the service. To get rid of the ads, go to the settings of the application. Tap on the top right side and you will see a menu. Hit the “I don’t want to help anymore button”. This will free you from seeing ads but may reduce the quality of your service.
Most VPN providers in the market offer a traditional set of encryption protocols (PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, and OpenVPN), but Betternet distinguishes itself by providing a unique set of tunneling protocols. I conducted the in-depth analysis of Betternet services for my review and discovered the following secured protocols with respective encryption keys:
After studying the offered encryption protocols of service in my Betternet review, I suggest users to only use Betternet for unblocking sites. The VPN does not provide an adequate protection for torrenting and P2P file sharing. There is also no option for users to change the encryption protocol on the desktop or mobile apps, indicating that you will have no clue, when/which apps use L2TP/IPSec or OpenVPN.
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! However, all this only applies to the FREE version of the app. If you opt for the premium version, you can feel assured to receive better security and privacy online. The FREE plan of Betternet takes no responsibility for what its partners do with retained data!
According to my Betternet review, the service supports P2P/Torrenting. You can easily download/share as many torrents as you want, as the VPN will encrypt all traffic to a secure network. This ensures nobody can trace back your torrenting activity. I would appreciate more features for boosting security though, as there is no going back from paying hefty DMCA fines! Any VPN provider that provides the ability to torrent should offer Split Tunneling, SOCKS5 Proxy, and Anti-DPI protection.
When you connect to a Betternet server, you can feel assured that your connection remains secure and private. It does not matter if you are connecting to a public or private Wi-Fi network, as the provider boasts plenty of security protocols and a high level of encryption to protect your identity. Since VPNs mask your IP address, it is impossible to trace your internet activity back to you. You can freely explore the web anytime, anywhere.
One of the main reasons for anyone to start using a VPN is to enjoy seamless streaming, especially in this era, where every VoD service imposes geo-restrictions. It is almost as if the true purpose of the internet is falling apart every day. Back to the Betternet Review though, I tried to access the Netflix US version from the VPN but immediately were blocked by the VoD site. This could probably be due to the dynamic IP being utilized by hundreds of users around the world.
Upon further testing the VPNs unblocking/streaming capabilities, I tried accessing BBC iPlayer and the ABC website. Both worked smoothly and allowed me to watch content without any hassles. I would say not bad for a FREE provider. Bear in mind though that most of the tests I performed on the provider in this review was for the premium version of the app.
When it comes to receiving customer support from Betternet, you have three options. There is a blog where you can get the latest updates about the provider and any new changes you should be aware of. You have a help center, divided into 9 categories: Windows, Hexatech, Extensions, Premium, Android, iOS, About Betternet, Need Help, and General. Premium users have the ability to access support directly from their apps. Click on the hamburger menu, and then “Contact Us”.
You will be asked to specify the nature of your help request. Enter the relevant information and wait till you receive a response. Sadly, there is no 24/7 live chat support available. Even the app is a little buggy and Betternet has not catered it accordingly to customer needs. If I were to rate the support alone, I’d give the service a 5 from 10.
Before I go on talking about that, let us clear the air a bit. VPNs nowadays tend to go overboard with their marketing. From the oldest to the newest in the industry, every one claims they are the first and best choice. However, if EVERY single one is so special, then none really are! For instance, Betternet states in its stats report that it ranks #1 out of 3.3 million apps.
This is farther from the truth. In fact, when you search for a “VPN” on either stores, Betternet will not be visible in the top suggestions. Apart from that, Betternet does still have a good reputation. They claim to have over 38 million users around the world, out of which 60% are based outside the United States. That sum alone is more than the population of Canada.
Apart from this, they state having over 1 Petabyte of daily traffic, and claim they are mentioned 100,000 times a day on social media channels. I am yet to verify these claims, but to the most of my understanding, these stats seem to be fake – unless Betternet can give valid proof.
Reddit is one of the most useful communities online, where you can receive updated information regarding various topics/products/SaaS. As such, you can always feel assured to find detailed perspectives from different users regarding VPNs too. I conducted an analysis on Reddit for Betternet, and majority responses indicated, users were not safe in trusting a FREE provider. Below is a comment from a Redditor that explains Betternet is free because they make money from your DATA:
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||AES-256-CBC Encryption|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||No|
|Added Features||None||GhostBear, Vigilant Mode, Closest Tunnel|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||AES-256-CBC|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Added Features||None||VPN Kill Switch, Tor over VPN, Streaming VPN|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||AES-256-CBC|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Based In||Canada||British Virgin Islands|
|Proxy Servers||Yes||Yes (SOCKS5 Proxy also included)|
|Added Features||None||NAT Firewall, Split Tunneling, Live Chat, Private DNS|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||IKEv2, PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP, DoubleVPN and SSTP|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||AES-256-CBC with a 2048-bit DH key|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Added Features||None||SmartPlay, Onion over VPN, CyberSec, and Automatic Kill Switch|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec, and PPTP|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||Military Grade 256-Bit Encryption|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Added Features||None||Split Tunneling, Secure DNS, IPv6 Leak Protection|
|Protocols||OpenVPN and IPSec||OpenVPN and PPTP|
|Encryption||AES-256 Bit and CBC-128bit||AES-256 Bit|
|Torrents & P2P Allowed||Yes||Yes|
|Added Features||None||Tracker Blocker and One Click IP Masking|
Is Betternet Safe and Trustworthy?
If I be completely honest with the audience, Betternet is a good choice only for unblocking websites. This goes true for both: its premium and FREE service. The VPN still has a lot of improvements to make in its encryption and security/privacy features, along with server availability. Live chat support is also missing. The only thing attractive about the VPN is its low annual pricing!
What Does Betternet Premium Do?
The premium version of the Betternet is only accessible from the VPN app. You will receive an “upgrade” option, which transforms your free plan into a paid one, hence offering the complete list of servers. The premium is also free from adverts that plant cookies into your browser for assessing what websites/services you visit.
How Does Betternet Work
Betternet unveils that the service works with a one-click encryption model. As soon as users’ install and launch Betternet on their supported devices, the VPN service routes his entire network traffic through a secured encrypted tunnel (as with all VPN services). This ensures top-notch identity & data protection of users’ against ISPs, hackers, snooper, phishers, identity thieves, surveillance agencies and every eavesdropper monitoring network activities. Once anonymous Betternet allows them to bypass geo-restrictions(BBC iPlayer, NBC, Spotify, HBO Now etc.), safely access banking services.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN in the USA?
If you are using a VPN for purposes like streaming or engaging in P2P/Torrenting to access pirated content, then it is illegal and you may have to pay hefty DMCA fines. However, the act of surfing through another IP is still legal, and used by enterprises from all over the world. So, you can feel safe knowing that simply using a VPN will not get you into any trouble in the US.
Is Betternet Unlimited?
Yes, Betternet ensures that all users receive unlimited bandwidth and data for streaming/browsing on the internet. The free plan can last you forever. However, if you opt for the premium version, you will have to renew your plan in order to avoid those irritating ads.
Is Betternet Legal?
To answer this question: users must first understand about the legality of VPN services collectively. Many countries around the world impose no restrictions on using VPN services, as long as the activity is LEGAL. This means, the act of surfing through another IP via Betternet is legal. However, if you are engaged in P2P/torrenting, you could enter into copyright infringement issues. This is why it is necessary to select a completely secure service, you can trust!
Does Betternet Use Cellular Data?
This depends if you are using the VPN while connecting to a 3G/4G network or Wi-Fi. If it is the former, Betternet or any other VPN service will use cellular data. The main goal of a VPN is privatizing and cloaking your online behavior. As a result, it will add a layer of encryption to every data packet transmitted on a 3G/4G connection. You can, of course, choose to use a Wi-Fi connection to avoid wasting too much money on cellular data.
After conducting this Betternet Review, it is safe to say that the VPN provider has a lot to on. Their basic VPN software lacks many features that you get from other competitors. The server availability needs massive improvement, as the choices are too limited. Speeds were quite good, but oftentimes the connection would terminate, due to massive user load. The free service even serves ads to earn money by providing your information to other advertisers. If I am completely honest, the VPN is only good for unblocking, and not from a privacy/security perspective!