Betternet Review

Betternet Review

Betternet Logo

What We Liked

  • Simple setup process
  • Easy to use app
  • Free plan available
  • Ridiculously fast speed scores

What We Didn’t

  • No extra features at all
  • No setup/configuration options
  • Stupidly high price for what you get
  • Windows client was frustratingly broken
  • Connection issues right out of the gate
  • Only credit card payments accepted
  • Abysmal customer service

Summary: While Betternet scored some serious speed on our tests, it’s missing so many other fundamental features that the price of a premium subscription simply isn’t worth it.

Verdict: Don’t Buy

Stars: 2.5/5

Ease of Use Review

Installation and Signup

Getting Betternet up and running was definitely one of the more simple setups we’ve ever been through, and employs a unique login method that makes it easy for even the most novice users to get hooked up to the right server in seconds.

First there’s the download and setup, which on our Windows testing PC took less than 30 seconds front to back. Once the client is installed, you don’t need to restart your computer to get connected. Once you try to connect, the native Betternet client will automatically open up a separate signup page where you can register using your email and a credit card for a 7-day free trial.

Once you sign up, using an applet the browser page will automatically log you into your account in the native client - no typing necessary. Unfortunately, once we were logged in and had the app running, we were completely unable to connect using the Windows 10 version of the app.

User Interface and Design

Betternet User Interface

The user interface of Betternet runs entirely from a small app in the corner of your taskbar, and is extremely limited both in the way it works and the number of options that you can configure once you’ve got it installed.

By “extremely limited”, we mean there are literally zero options to configure how Betternet behaves, with the only changeable setting available being the server you connect to. Oddly enough, this option itself was severely more limited on our Windows client than it was on the mobile app (a first for us). On Windows you could only connect to a blanket “United States” server, while the mobile app let you choose from seven different cities including Atlanta, Seattle, and New York.

The app itself is designed well and has a nice aesthetic, but that’s where the niceties ended. The app was frustrating to use not only because we were unable to choose how/where to connect directly from the taskbar, but also because even after we tried to close the app using the right-click menu, it wouldn’t respond.

Right now the only way to get out of the Betternet app on Windows is to use the Task Manager and disable it manually, a huge red flag for the rest of our experience with Betternet overall.

Mobile App

Betternet Ios

Unlike the desktop app, our experience with the mobile version of Betternet on iOS was significantly better than the average. This is likely due to the fact that Betternet does the majority of their business on the mobile side of things, and needs to make sure that they are servicing their mobile customers first and foremost before tending to any problems their desktop users might be experiencing.

That said, like the desktop application there are zero extra features or customizable configuration options to choose from. As we mention below, paying such an exorbitant subscription fee for a VPN that gives you next to no control over how your connection behaves or any of the security protocols protecting it, you’d be much better going with a similarly priced competitor like NordVPN instead.

Supported Platforms

Betternet offers its services on a number of platforms and browsers, including:

  • Windows XP and above
  • macOS
  • iOS (8.0 or newer)
  • Android
  • Chrome

But, despite advertising the ability to connect over the Firefox browser (an option we would have liked to try after being stonewalled via Windows), we weren’t able to find the add-on anywhere in the Firefox Extension library. According to the page it used to be on, the extension was intentionally removed by the publisher (Betternet), which makes it odd that even though the company was willing to go through the process of delisting the extension in the Firefox Store, they didn’t remove their own page which points back to a blank URL.

Security and Privacy Review

Privacy Record

As a primarily free service, we’re always immediately cautious of any VPN app which claims to be able to support itself with a full “no-log” policy, but is also able to keep the lights on somehow.

In this regard Betternet actually takes a relatively innovative step in the right direction. According to the company’s Privacy Policy:

“At Betternet, we stand behind our commitment to user privacy and security. When you use our best-in-class VPN products and services, you’ll share some information with us, which we use to provide and improve those products and services, send notifications and updates, troubleshoot, and to support our free product through advertising. Our goal is to be upfront about what we collect, how we use it, and whom we share it with, and that’s why we’ve written this Privacy Policy. Below is a snapshot of some of our important privacy practices, but please read the full Policy for more detail. If you have any questions about anything in this Policy, please feel free to reach out to us at support@betternet.co

   Anonymity:

  • Our product will never store, log, or share your true IP address, and we always delete your true IP address after your VPN session is closed.
  • We never associate your email, true IP address, username, or unique mobile ID with your browsing information or online activities when you are using Betternet.
  • Creating an account is always optional – we never require you to register or otherwise provide us any personal information to download or use our products.
  • We never share your personal information with unaffiliated third parties other than service providers that we use for internal technology and business operations (such as website hosting, payment processing, data analysis, information technology, customer service, and email delivery).
  • The ads you may see on the free, advertising-supported version of Betternet are generic – never based on your personal information.
  • We only use your information to provide you with amazing products and services that we are constantly working to improve.

While we always anonymize your true IP address while using the Services, remember that no VPN provider can control what other apps collect from your device or what cookies other websites or third parties place in your browser. For more information about how to exercise choices with respect to certain third party cookies, please see the Third Party Advertising  section below.

   Security:

  • We encrypt all of the traffic between your device and our servers using TLS 1.2 with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE), 128-bit AES data encryption, and HMAC message authentication.    
  • Your web traffic on unsecured networks such as public Wi-Fi at cafés, airports, etc. is always securely encrypted by Betternet.”

To break it all down, this means that the lion’s share of the company’s revenue comes from displaying ads only on the iOS and Android versions of their apps - which means no ads at all for users of their Windows, macOS, and Chrome clients.

The company also offers a premium subscription which we’ll get into more later, and Betternet says that all of the company’s actual profit only comes from users who sign up via the subscription option.

Security Review

Betternet only supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 configurations on their network. With DNS protection and IP Leak protection both enabled, we went on to find out how VPN.me handled link security tests on DNSLeakTest.com, DNSLeak.com and IPLeak.net.

Betternet had middling results on most of these tests, not great but also not the worst we’ve seen either.

Support Review

Customer Support

As one of the most expensive VPNs currently operating in the space today, you would expect that Betternet’s support team would have the skills and the technical knowledge to live up to that big punch your wallet would be taking every month.

Unfortunately this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Despite having a solid response time (most messages didn’t go more than a few hours without a representative chiming in), the answers we got back were just downright nonsensical. As we mentioned we were having trouble getting the Betternet Windows client to connect out of the box, which was the first issue we raised with their customer support team.

But, whether it was asking for the operating system we were using (a value which was already entered on their own customer support ticketing page from the outset) or simply not reading the messages we sent and responding with canned FAQ page links, the customer support staff at Betternet seemed woefully under equipped to handle even the most minor technical issues with their own product.

Plus, once we actually got through all the muck and finally started drilling down on the issue with our Windows client, almost all their responses started taking days to come back rather than the standard hour or so. This is all to say that if you have an actual, real problem with your Betternet client, you’re probably better off just trying to troubleshoot it on your own than from anything the customer support team will get back to you in the same amount of time it would take to diagnose personally.

Extra Features

As we mentioned above, there are no extra settings, configurable options, or features to speak of in the Betternet suite of products. If you’re looking for extra frills or a little something more with your subscription, you definitely aren’t going to find it here.

Cancel and Uninstall Process

Getting Betternet canceled was not a simple process, requiring us to email the company directly, wait for a response after three days, and then only after all that was done did our account finally get de-activated.

Uninstalling was thankfully much easier, requiring just a few clicks from start to finish.

Pricing Review

Pricing Tiers

As mentioned above, Betternet is one of the few truly free VPN services on the web today that doesn’t make a profit via selling your personal information to third-party advertisers. Instead, they operate off two models: the free option which is fully ad-supported (and only displays ads on the mobile versions of their applications), and by offering a premium subscription plan which is priced as follows:

If you purchase your subscription directly from our website:

  • 1 Month at $11.99 per month
  • 6 Months for $23.99 ($3.99 per month - Save 50%)
  • 12 Months for $35.99 ($2.99 per month - Save 66%)

If you purchase your subscription from the iOS app:

  • 1 Month at $11.99
  • 6 Months for $47.99
  • 12 Months for $71.99

If you purchase your subscription directly from the Android app:

  • 1 Month at $11.99
  • 6 Months for $47.94
  • 12 Months for $71.88

The premium plan will get you access to a greater number of servers to choose from, as well as increased speeds in those specific regions. You also get priority service from their customer support team, which we definitely needed when we discovered that the Windows app was essentially dead on arrival out of the box.

All that said, paying $11.99 per month for a service that offers literally zero extra features, and extremely low number of servers to choose from, and barely any speed boosts over the free version seems like a major stretch to us. There are dozens of other VPN providers in this same price bracket (NordVPN being the prime example) that offer more settings, more configurations, hundreds (sometimes even thousands) more servers to choose from, all at speeds that blow Betternet clean out of the water.

If you absolutely hate the idea of paying for a VPN then as far as free VPN services go Betternet is definitely in the top tier, but as a paid service there’s almost no reason why you should choose them over their similarly priced competition.

Payment Options

As if the total lack of reasons to sign up for a premium Betternet subscription weren’t enough, how’s this for the kicker -- they only accept credit cards, that’s it. No PayPal, no Bitcoin, no cryptocurrency of any kind for that matter.

If you want to sign up for Betternet you better be prepared to tie your real name and all your actual financial information to your account, and even though the company’s Privacy Policy is clear on how that information is stored and used, we still don’t like to be so limited in this department if we can avoid it.

Wrap Up

When it comes to Betternet, consider us at VPN.com downright confused on how this product has seen the level of success it has in such a short amount of time. The company claims to have a roster of 38 million customers reporting in from around the globe, which by our accounts would make it the single most successful digital privacy product of all time.

Almost none of that success is rightfully deserved though. The Windows app doesn’t work, there’s barely any servers to choose from, the price is insane for what you get, and you can’t configure any extra options that might give you even the slightest shred of greater control over how your VPN behaves on a daily basis. It boggles the mind how such a terrible VPN has made as much of an impact as Betternet has, and as though we hadn’t made it obvious enough already -- if you want a VPN for the same price that will blow Betternet clean out of the water, go with an option like NordVPN instead.

But...we did say “almost”. The one area where we simply can’t deny Betternet’s superiority in the space is on speed. Betternet completely dominated our speed tests on servers we could connect to locally (this meant a server bank in St. Paul, Minnesota for the United States...but I digress), and simply put was the single fastest VPN we’ve ever tested in almost every region they offer connections in.

Which is a shame, considering how many other aspects of the service fall flat on their face. We wish Betternet was -- for lack of a better term -- better, because then it would easily earn our recommendation as a must have VPN. If you’re looking for raw bandwidth output and happen to live close to one of the server locations that Betternet offers, then by all means pick up a premium subscription and go nuts.

Free users on the other hand should steer very clear of this service, as well as anyone who doesn’t live right next to St. Paul, Minnesota.

12 Mo Price
35.88
14 Eyes Jurisdiction
No
1 Mo Price
11.99
3 Mo Price
6 Mo Price
23.94
Access to Website - China
No
Ad Track Blocker
Checked
Alexa Website Rank
46836
Amazon Store
Android Devices
Oreo - 8Nougat - 7Marshmallow - 6Lollipop - 5KitKat - 4.4Jelly Bean - 4.3
Apple App Store
App Screenshots
Automatic Multihop or Double Encryption
Unchecked
Browser Extensions
ChromeFirefoxSafari
Business VPN
Yes
Chrome Web Store
Claims "100% No Logs"
No
Claims to Work - China
No
Claims to Work - Netflix
No
DNS Leak Protection
Checked
Easy to Find Owners?
No
Enemy of the Internet Jurisdiction
No
Facebook Likes
51152
Firefox Add Ons
Founding Year
-
Free Trial
Yes
Free Trial - Days
7
Free Version
Yes
Gaming Devices
Google Play Store
Google Play Store 2
Headquarters Location - Country
iOS Devices
iOS 11
IPv6 Leak Protection
Unchecked
Kill Switch
Unchecked
Languages
EnglishArabicFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseRussianSpanish
Lifetime
Linux Devices
Logo
Logs
Bandwidth UsedConnection Timestamps
Mac Devices
macOS High Sierra - 10.13
Max # of Connections
5
No of Total Locations
7
# of Countries
10
# of Languages
8
# of Platforms Supported
15
# of Protocols Offered
2
# of Servers
-
# of Setup Documents on Website
23
# of Troubleshooting Documents on Website
8
Other Devices
Blackberry
Payment Methods
PaypalAliPayGift CardsVisaJCBDiscoverWeChat PayUnion PayAmerican ExpressMastercard
Payment Methods - Cryptocurrency
Private DNS
Unchecked
Promo Codes
Protocols
OpenVPNP2P Torrents
Quick Links
Refund Period Days
Router Devices
SMTP Allowed
Unchecked
Support Offered
Email
Torrenting
Yes
TrustPilot Rating
6 / 10
TV Devices
Twitter Followers
9393
Unlimited Bandwidth
No
Upgrades Available
Visit Home Page
https://www.betternet.co/
VPN Locations
VPN Service
Betternet
WebRTC Leak Protection
Unchecked
Website QualSys SSL Rating
A
Website Screenshots
Windows Devices
Windows 10Windows 8.1Windows 8Windows 7
Windows Store