Is Betternet VPN as good as it sounds? Obviously, having a free-to-use VPN is a major saving down the line. But is there any catch for this relatively-new VPN? Keep reading this Betternet VPN review and find out if you’re getting a good deal from the money saved.
What Is Betternet VPN?
Betternet was launched in 2015, offering zero-cost, no-strings-attached VPN services. It was advertised as a free, unlimited, VPN proxy that matched other premium VPNs in the market. The offering caught the attention of the public, and soon, the number of downloads grew as a free and functional VPN proved to be irresistible.
You can download Betternet VPN for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. It’s also downloadable as a VPN extension for Chrome.
However, because it offers free VPN services, it resorts to advertising revenue to sustain its operational costs. Users of this free VPN will have to deal with ads that can, at times, be annoying. But that’s not all, there have also been concerns of malware intrusion via Betternet VPN, according to a detailed study.
Recent upgrades on Betternet have seen the introduction of a premium plan that can be subscribed to from the app. By paying for premium access, users are no longer bothered by the ads and enjoy unlimited data limits, more servers, and faster connection speed.
The premium accounts allow 6 devices connection and access to 17 virtual locations in the app. It is also the only way to unblock access to streaming content, which is blocked in the free version.
Downloads of Betternet VPN on any of the supported platforms can be done without submitting your email address or payment details. Upgrades to premium plans are done within the free Betternet VPN app.
Betternet VPN for Chrome
Getting Betternet VPN for Chrome is incredibly easy.
1. Use this link to access Betternet VPN for the Chrome download page. Click the Get The App button.
2. At the Chrome Web Store, click Add To Chrome.
3. Click Add Extension when prompted.
4. A shield-like icon will appear at the top of the Chrome browser.
5. Click on the Betternet Icon to launch the VPN app.
6. Click Connect to establish secure connections to the Betternet VPN server.
7. You can also manually select the virtual location from 4 countries.
Betternet VPN for Android
The popularity of Betternet is signified by the huge numbers of downloads from Android users. Here’s how to get Betternet VPN on Android.
1. Launch the Google Play Store and search for “Betternet free VPN.” Click Install.
2. Upon installation, launch the Betternet VPN app. You’ll be greeted by a Premium Paywall. Click the “X” icon on the top right to proceed with the free version.
3. Click Connect at the Betternet VPN app.
4. Click Lets Do It when prompted on Boost Betternet’s Performance.
5. At the list of “Apps with usage access,” toggle the Betternet app. Choose Allow when prompted. You’ll only need to do this once.
6. Back at the App, click Connect again to establish a secure VPN connection on an optimal Betternet VPN server.
7. When prompted for permission, choose Always Allow.
8. You’ll then be connected to Betternet VPN.
Can I use Betternet for torrenting?
To support torrenting, a VPN needs to be secure, fast, and allow access to P2P software. Despite being a free VPN, Betternet is reasonably secure. It uses the Catapult Hydra protocol, which is a communication protocol designed to operate in a secure SSL connection.
Betternet does not block torrenting software, but it’s not an ideal VPN for P2P file-sharing. One of the factors is the 500 MB daily cap for free users. Even if you’ve upgraded to the premium account, you’ll find that connection speed on Betternet is moderate at best.
Therefore, we wouldn’t suggest using it for torrenting. Instead, check out this guide for the best VPNs that support torrenting.
Is Betternet a good VPN?
Betternet has undergone a few changes since its launch. However, does that make it a decent VPN to have? Is getting rid of the ads by paying a premium fee a good excuse to use this VPN?
Let’s take an in-depth look into the finer details.
There are good reasons that Betternet managed to build a good following on Android platforms, apart from being a free VPN. Here are some plus points that are worth mentioning.
1. Secure Protocol
When Betternet was launched, it used OpenVPN and IPSec to enable secure VPN connection for users. Both OpenVPN and IPSec are standard protocols in the VPN industry. They are highly reliable and optimized for speed.
A recent update has seen the VPN migrated to its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. AnchorFree, the current owner, claims that the Catapult Hydra offers a higher bandwidth in VPN connection compared to conventional protocols.
Catapult Hydra operates on secure SSL connections. In other words, the connections to VPN servers are secured with the OpenSLL library that leverages encryption like AES-128 and AES-256.
As such, we have reasons to believe that Betternet is placing security as a top priority for its users.
2. No-Logging Policy
However, like any other VPNs, Betternet will store minimal information to facilitate payment if you opted for the premium plan. These data will not expose your online activities nor your identity.
The fact that Betternet doesn’t store information like IP addresses and browsing histories means it can’t turn over such data even when requested to.
3. Easy to use
The Betternet app could easily top the list in terms of simplicity. It shares an almost similar interface with the identifiable shield icon and the connect button on every platform. A single click is all it takes to connect to a secure server.
4. 24/7 Premium Support
If you run into trouble with Betternet, you can access to email support from the app. Clicking the “Contact Us” button will allow you to send an email to their support team. You’ll usually get a response within 24 hours.
However, premium Betternet users enjoy priority 24/7 support where their requests are escalated. It’s an incentive to be a paying subscriber.
Alternatively, you can make use of the knowledge base on their website.
5. No DNS/IP Leak
Technical flaws in VPN technologies can result in DNS or IP leak. Such circumstances inadvertently exposed the IP address and location of the users to the public while they are connected to the VPN.
Thankfully, Betternet showed no signs of DNS/IP leakage during our test.
As much as we’re impressed by Betternet’s security in spite of being a free VPN, the same can’t be said about other areas.
1. Moderate Connection Speed
If you’ve checked out older Betternet VPN reviews, you’ll find that it was notorious for having awfully slow connection speed.
We wanted to be fair, and we did a quick test after connecting to a Betternet server.
And here’s what we’ve got after connecting to Betternet.
It’s safe to say that Betternet has improved its connection speed in recent updates, but it’s still a far cry from being in the league of the fastest VPNs.
Perhaps the switch from OpenVPN and IPSec to the proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol has done the trick. But it’ll take more than that to impress us.
2. No Netflix Support
If you're hoping to watch your favorite TV shows on Netflix, you’re bound to be disappointed by Betternet. Netflix has aggressively blocked VPN providers from streaming its content, and Betternet is one that is in the bad books of the streaming giant.
Even if Betternet managed to wiggle its way through Netflix’s blockage, the moderate connection speed might affect Netflix’s streaming quality.
If you wish for a VPN that unblocks Netflix, check out these Netflix-friendly VPNs.
3. Bad Jurisdiction
Both AnchorFree Inc. and Betternet LLC. are registered in the US, which doesn’t bode well for VPN users. The fact that the US belongs to the Five Eyes alliance, an intelligence-sharing group of countries, means that Betternet is subjected to data retention laws.
Government agencies in the US have the right to request access to the data stored by Betternet. While the company states that it does not keep incriminating user information, being a US-registered company can strike a nerve in some VPN users.
4. Ads Display
Betternet has toned down on its advertising model, at least on the desktop version of VPN. There aren’t any ads or paywalls when we’re using the desktop version.
However, you’ll still find ads on the Betternet app. While these ads are placed in a non-intrusive manner, some users may still find them annoying.
5. No Kill Switch
A kill switch is notably absent from Betternet VPN. It’s an oversight that can cause potential security risks to Betternet users.
It’s a fact that VPN connections may occasionally fail. Having a kill switch terminates the internet connection when the VPN connection is dropped. This prevents your IP address and session information from being exposed to the public.
Is Betternet Premium VPN worth it?
It’s undeniable that the free version of Betternet is fundamentally secure and guarantees your privacy. But having ads on the app can at times be annoying. Also, the daily cap of 500 MB, sleep, and server limitations can be restrictive for heavy VPN users.
The only way to remove these limitations is to subscribe to the premium plan. At the moment of writing, Betternet offers paid subscriptions starting from $2.99 per month for the 12-month plan.
You can also try out Betternet premium for 7 days for free before deciding if it’s the right VPN for you.
But if our opinions matter, we wouldn’t suggest upgrading to Betternet Premium. While their premium option get rids of the ads, improves the connection speed, and allows the choice of 17 virtual locations, it is still a far cry offered by leading VPNs at the same or lower price.
The absence of a kill switch means an increased risk of exposure when you’re hoping for absolute privacy using a VPN. Also, the fact that Betternet is not Netflix-friendly means you’ll be deprived of your favorite TV shows when connected to the VPN.
No, we don’t think that you’ll need to hit that upgrade button for Betternet Premium. If you don’t mind the ads or limitations in features, staying with the free version is a decent choice.
It’s commendable that Betternet has taken its users seriously since it was launched in 2015. The aggressive advertising model to generate revenue for the free VPN brought the risk of malware intrusion, and it’s a fact recognized by the company.
Since taken over by AnchorFree, this VPN has undergone massive improvements in various aspects. The adoption of the Catapult Hydra protocol has lead to better security and speed. As tested in Betternet review, the VPN service has moved away from its notorious slow-speed reputation.
In a move to offer ads-free browsing, Betternet provides premium subscription plans, which also unblock limitations that are enforced on its free-version. These plans are reasonably priced, and the 7-day trial period makes Betternet enticing.