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Betternet VPN Review

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Betternet VPN screenshot
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Ask Simon about Betternet VPN

Our Verdict

2.52.5/10
How is this calculated?

Our overall rating is reached by combining several subcategories. The subcategories are weighted as follows:

  • Logging & Jurisdiction: 30%
  • Speed & Reliability: 25%
  • Security & Features: 20%
  • Streaming: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Ease of Use: 5%
  • Support: 5%

See our full methodology in how we review VPNs.

Betternet's Free VPN isn't safe or reliable. It has throttled speeds, a weak privacy policy, and a lack of basic security features. It lacks customer support and does not work with popular streaming services. Overall, Betternet isn’t a private or functional VPN and we don't recommend using it.

Ranked #55 out of 68

Betternet VPN Category Ratings

  • 0.20.2/10
  • 00.0/10
  • 3.93.9/10
  • 0.90.9/10
  • 11.0/10
  • 44.0/10
  • 2.82.8/10
  • 55.0/10
  • 1.31.3/10

Betternet VPN Pros & Cons

Pros

  1. No need to register before using
  2. Custom VPN apps super easy to use

Cons

  1. Lacks basic security features like VPN kill switch
  2. Only one VPN server location (US)
  3. Unreliable speeds
  4. Unreliable for streaming
  5. DNS, WebRTC leaks & previous malware issues
  6. No customer support for free users

It may have a large user base, but Betternet isn’t a safe, reliable, or private VPN.

For this Betternet VPN review, we tested every key aspect of the VPN service to answer key questions like:

  • Is Betternet free VPN safe?
  • How fast is it?
  • Can you watch Netflix with Betternet?
  • Who’s behind Betternet VPN?
  • Does Betternet Free permit torrenting?

The results were underwhelming. Betternet VPN underperformed in many categories, to our disappointment.

The VPN logs too much web data, it throttles internet speeds, and it’s useless for streaming and torrenting. It also includes a 500MB data cap.

See our list of fast and safe free VPNs

Alternatively, try using Private Internet Access. It’s a fast, safe and cheap VPN that can access content platforms around the world.

Try PIA VPN risk-free for 30 days.

Keep reading this review to find out in more detail why we don’t recommend you use Betternet VPN.

Betternet VPN Key Data

Data Cap500MB
Speed7Mbps
Logging PolicySome User Logs
Data LeaksYes
JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
ServersNot disclosed
IP AddressesNot disclosed
Countries1
US NetflixNo
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaNo
SupportOnline Resources Only
Official WebsiteBetternet.co

Betternet logs too much data

Logging & Jurisdiction

3.93.9/10
How is this calculated?

We dissect the logging and privacy policies of every VPN. A VPN should never log:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

A base of operations outside of 14-Eyes or EU jurisdiction is preferable.

Betternet logs a huge amount of information including your true IP address, your location, connection timestamps and device information. It even logs (anonymized) usage information. This goes well beyond what is resonable and puts your privacy in jeopardy.

Betternet logs quite a lot of information about its users:

  • Originating IP address – encrypted and monitored only for the duration of the VPN session, then deleted.
  • Your approximate geographical location and ISP – derived from your IP address and shared with third-party advertisers.
  • VPN connection timestamps – to monitor, support and optimize VPN services, and stored for three years.
  • Bandwidth consumed per user, per session – to monitor, support, and optimize VPN services, and stored for three years.
  • Device-specific information – device ID, OS version, and hardware model. These are not linked to VPN browsing activity but allow Betternet to distinguish between different users as registration is not necessary.
  • Non-personal logs of domain names (not full URLs) that users visit – but not in combination with anything that identifies an individual. These are aggregated on a monthly basis.

Aura, the company behind Betternet, claims that despite the logs it can’t link any browsing activity to individual VPN users.

Aura’s logging policy also states that while the free products are supported by ads, they are not personalized based on the user’s VPN browsing activity.

The privacy policy concludes by saying:

“Even if a government agency physically seizes one of our VPN servers and succeeds in breaking disk encryption on those servers, they would not find any logs or information that would reveal what any individual user was browsing, viewing, or doing online via a VPN connection.”

Betternet’s logging policy is not the worst we’ve seen from a free VPN service, but there are far more private free VPNs options available.

Ownership and jurisdiction

Betternet is operated by Betternet LLC Inc., a part of the Aura group, which also owns a host of other VPN services, including:

  • Hexatech
  • Hotspot Shield
  • TouchVPN
  • VPN In Touch
  • VPN 360

Betternet LLC Inc. is incorporated in California, USA, which is part of the Five-Eyes international intelligence-sharing alliance. It’s also subject to intrusive surveillance laws.

All of Aura’s VPN products share the same privacy and logging policy, but the group hasn’t had the smoothest run during the past few years.

For example, Hotspot Shield was embroiled in various past controversies. One of them involved the VPN injecting advertising cookies in users’ web browsers. You can read more about this in our Hotspot Shield review.

While the allegations didn’t mention Betternet, it’s worth remembering Betternet uses the same privacy policy, proprietary VPN protocol technology, and infrastructure as Hotspot Shield.

These issues have since been resolved and the Aura privacy policy rewritten, but it certainly damaged trust in the company at the time.

One saving grace is that Betternet Free doesn’t require you to make an account before using it. This means you don’t have to hand them personal information like a phone number or email address.

Betternet Controversy

Betternet hasn’t escaped all controversy though.

A 2016 academic report on VPNs revealed that Betternet’s Android app was riddled with malware and embedded tracking libraries. Betternet never publicly addressed this.

Betternet lacks advanced security features

Security & Features

2.82.8/10
How is this calculated?

Top-rated VPNs offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a functional kill switch. We also consider additional security features and the global spread of VPN servers.

While they use industry standard AES-256 encryption, Betternet's apps lack a kill switch or other vital security features. They also sometimes leaks DNS information.

Protocols
  1. Proprietary
Encryption
  1. AES-128
  2. AES-256
Security
  1. None
Advanced features
  1. None

Betternet uses industry-standard AES-128 and AES-256 ciphers to encrypt traffic, but that’s where the positives end. Its privacy policy is questionable and there aren’t any security extras included – not even a kill switch to protect your identity in case of a sudden connection drop. In short, Betternet is not a safe or trustworthy VPN.

Our tests detected no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks when the “Prevent IP Leaks” setting was toggled on, but switching it off caused Betternet to expose DNS requests to our ISP.

Betternet leak test results

Betternet’s leak test results when “Prevent IP Leaks” is switched on. There are no leaks.

The ‘Prevent IP leaks’ feature is switched on by default, but considering the main point of a VPN is to protect your privacy and prevent personal data from being exposed – we don’t see why this option is present at all.

Betternet's settings menu

The Chrome extension is even worse: we found it suffered from both WebRTC and DNS leaks, regardless of how you configure the settings.

In terms of advanced features, there is a domain whitelister you can use to route select websites outside of the VPN tunnel, but this doesn’t make up for the lack of basic security tools.

Security researchers also found malware and tracking libraries embedded in the Android app.

Betternet uses the same proprietary connection protocol as the other VPN services in the Aura group: Hydra. Unfortunately, there’s no technical information about the protocol available.

However, the website’s FAQs go some way to reassure us that Catapult Hydra doesn’t affect security:

“It is important to note that our proprietary protocol is focused only on the performance of the VPN data transport, while using standard encryption with perfect forward secrecy.”

Overall, Betternet is not a particularly safe or secure VPN service. It uses standard encryption but fails to provide essential security features such as a VPN kill switch or effective leak protection.

Betternet throttles download speeds

Speed & Reliability

0.90.9/10
How is this calculated?

Speed ratings are calculated using upload speeds, download speeds, and ping (latency).

We test average speeds regularly using a dedicated 100Mbps connection in London, UK. Local download speed is considered the most important factor.

In our tests we've found that Betternet Free throttles speeds to 5Mbps on all connections. This is super slow and will prevent you streaming, torrenting or even browsing comfortably.

At first we were led to believe that Betternet was one of the fastest free VPNs around, but we were wrong.

During our initial speed tests, the VPN reached download speeds of almost 80Mbps – just a 20% drop from our normal internet speed.

That’s really fast considering the distance from us (in the UK) to the VPN server (in the US).

But after an hour or so of testing, the speeds dropped dramatically.

During our second round of speed tests Betternet failed to even reach 10Mbps down. That’s not good at all.

Local Speed Test results before using Betternet VPN:

  • Download Speed: 97.59Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 90.87Mbps
  • Ping: 3ms

Local Speed Test results with Betternet VPN:

  • Download Speed: 5Mbps
  • Upload Speed: 5Mbps
  • Ping: 153ms

Download speed loss when Betternet VPN is running: 95%

This leads us to believe that the VPN throttles (intentionally slows down) free users’ speeds.

In fact there’s a button on the app that says ‘Connect faster’, which brings up the premium subscription options.

Uploads and ping times were equally as bad the second time we tested, so this is neither a good VPN choice for streaming fans, torrenters, nor gamers.

Luckily, there are some free VPNs that deliver good speeds, such as the ones you can see in our Hide.me review.

But if you want the best speeds, you’ll have to use a paid VPN service. See our list of the fastest VPNs here.

No Netflix or iPlayer and slow, throttled speeds

Streaming

0.20.2/10
How is this calculated?

Streaming is rated by the number of different services unlocked, how many regional libraries are viewable, and how consistently the VPN can access them.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, DAZN, and Amazon Prime Video are all tested on a weekly basis.

Betternet Free doesn't work with any premium streaming services. In our tests it wasn't able to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer or other services like Disney+. It can only stream some geoblocked content on YouTube and Vimeo.

In addition to Betternet’s unreliable speeds, the free app doesn’t reliably work with popular streaming services.

We have been able to watch Netflix shows on occasion, but it’s almost always blocked, bringing up the familiar proxy error message:

Image that Netflix displays when it detects a VPN or proxy service

Netflix and other streaming sites actively block VPN traffic and most free VPNs don’t put resources into getting around the blocks.

There are no free UK servers so it’s impossible to watch BBC iPlayer, which requires a British IP address.

See our dedicated guide if you need a VPN for streaming. You’ll have to pay for the services, though.

P2P is blocked on all servers

Torrenting

00.0/10
How is this calculated?

We calculate the average download bitrate of every VPN using a bespoke torrenting setup.

Testing also factors in the percentage of servers which permit P2P, plus useful features like port forwarding.

While Betternet claims to allow torrenting, we found P2P torrenting is blocked during our tests. The service also lacks the minimal logging policy and kill switch required for torrenting.

Betternet’s FAQs state that it currently supports torrenting on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. Our tests have always found P2P traffic to be blocked, though.

Even if it allowed P2P, Betternet is not an ideal VPN for P2P users.

For a start, the unreliable speeds quickly become a hassle, particularly if you’re located far away from the free US VPN servers.

Secondly, Betternet’s logging policy and the lack of a VPN kill switch is a problem for safe torrenting.

If you want a free VPN for anonymous P2P activities, we recommend you use one of these free VPNs for torrenting.

Only one server option available: US

Server Locations

11.0/10
How is this calculated?

The global spread and coverage of the VPN server network is the most important factor here.

We also consider the number of city-level servers, plus how many IP addresses are maintained.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

Betternet's free service only offers free users the ability to connect to a server in the US, despite promising ten servers on its website. There is no city level selection, either.

Globe with a blue flag
1Countries
Image of a city landscape
1Cities
Image of a pink marker
Undisclosed number ofIP Addresses

Betternet’s free VPN limits users to just one country: the US.

The app is rather misleading about this, too. The Betternet website mentions 10 server countries, including the UK, Germany and Hong Kong. But, if you try connecting to these countries from the app, you’ll be asked to upgrade to a premium plan.

That may be fine if it’s only US content you need access to but, if not, you’ll need to try another VPN with more options.

Just be aware that Betternet doesn’t allow you to choose a particular state or city within the US.

If you upgrade to Betternet’s premium subscription you can access 72 countries and 26 US cities.

It costs $11.99 per month, or $2.99 a month if you subscribe to a yearly plan, and you can use the service on up to five devices at once.

No obfuscation technology and blocked in China

Bypassing Censorship

44.0/10
How is this calculated?

Our remote-access server in Shanghai, China routinely tests if a VPN can beat restrictions and access a free, open internet. Obfuscation technologies and nearby servers are also a contributing factor.

This rating does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Security & Features rating.

Betternet is blocked in China, and cannot beat the country's censorship. It could work in other censored regions, though.

If you need a VPN for bypassing censorship in China, Betternet definitely shouldn’t be your first choice (or even your 20th).

As a free user you can only connect to VPN servers in the US, which would bring your speeds down to halt.

Betternet doesn’t come with any additional obfuscation tools to overcome aggressive Chinese Firewall blocks, either, so you likely won’t even be able to connect. When we tried to connect from our Shanghai server, we found we couldn’t use Betternet to beat China’s censors.

Most free VPNs aren’t suited to working in China, or other high-censorship countries like Iran and the UAE.

You can find out which VPNs work in China right here.

Basic desktop and mobile apps only

Device Compatibility

How is device compatibility rated?

A quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

This does not directly contribute to the Overall Rating, but instead makes up a portion of the Ease of Use rating.

Betternet is offered on four platforms: Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. It also has a browser extension for Chrome. There isn’t a router app available, though.

Apps

  1. Windows Logo
    Windows
  2. Mac Logo
    Mac
  3. iOS Logo
    iOS
  4. Android Logo
    Android

Betternet comes with custom VPN apps for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS devices.

You can’t use it with Linux, routers, or any other devices like game consoles or streaming boxes (like Amazon Fire TV).

Betternet doesn’t allow for manual configuration, either, so the native VPN apps are all you get.

Browser Extensions

  1. Chrome Logo
    Chrome

Betternet does come with a browser extension for Google Chrome, but there are no add-ons available for Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Opera.

While the Chrome extension does encrypt browser traffic, you should take note that all other apps outside your web browser will be left unprotected.

Unlike the main desktop and mobile VPN apps, the browser extension comes allows you to connect to servers in multiple countries:

  • Canada
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Russia

But don’t rush to download the Chrome extension. In fact, it suffers from two different types of security flaws: WebRTC leaks and DNS leaks.

Betternet leak test results

We connected to a server in the Netherlands, but Betternet’s Chrome browser extension leaked both WebRTC and DNS requests.

WebRTC leaks expose your true IP address, and DNS leaks mean that your ISP (and anyone sniffing traffic between you and the DNS provider) can see all the websites that you’re visiting.

Simple apps that lack utility

Ease of Use

55.0/10
How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the intuitiveness of setup and everyday use.

Device or platform compatibility and customization options are also a factor.

Betternet's apps are easy to use and install on all platforms, but they lack utility, features and customization.

How to Install & Set Up Betternet VPN

Betternet’s custom VPN apps for desktop and mobile devices are really easy to install and use.

It’s a case of downloading the relevant file from the website, clicking through a couple of installation prompts, and hitting ‘Connect’.

There aren’t really any settings to play with.

The virtual locations list is a little misleading as free users can’t use any of them. If you click on one, the app will prompt you to upgrade to the paid plan.

Within the settings menu, you can choose to ‘reconnect automatically’ or just connect on ‘unsafe WiFi hotspots’.

There’s also the ‘Prevent IP leak’ setting, which we’d recommend you leave on for obvious reasons.

Browser Extensions

Screenshot of Betternet's browser extension

The Betternet browser extension for Google Chrome is easy to set up.

Click through to the Chrome Web Store from Betternet’s website, and select ‘Add to Chrome.’

You’ll need to accept the permissions before you can add the extension to your browser.

Betternet’s extension is just as easy to use as the desktop app. There’s a connect button and a list of server locations to choose from – that’s pretty much it.

All that said, we don’t recommend downloading the extension as it leaks WebRTC and DNS requests, putting your personal data at risk.

Some FAQs are available but no email support

Customer Support

1.31.3/10
How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of each VPN’s:

  • Email support
  • Live chat support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all of these, and they often vary in quality and response time.

Betternet doesn’t provide any customer support for free users outside of the Help Center, which includes some basic FAQs and troubleshooting tips. These aren't all up to date, though.

Online ResourcesYes

The FAQs are fairly well organized, with sections for each supported device, but some are out of date and display incorrect information.

If you do try to email support without a premium subscription you’ll receive a short reply saying: “Sorry but we can’t respond personally.”

If you’re struggling with any issues, you’re pretty much on your own.

We don't recommend using Betternet

The Bottom Line

We do not recommend installing and using Betternet VPN. It isn’t a particularly safe or private VPN service, let alone a reliable one.

Our speeds were throttled within an hour of use, and you can only connect to one server location (the US).

Betternet’s browser extension for Google Chrome is particularly bad, suffering from not only DNS leaks, but WebRTC leaks too. It’s definitely one to avoid.

Instead of using Betternet, use one of the safe free VPN alternatives listed below.

Additional research by Liam Mullally

Alternatives to Betternet VPN

ProtonVPN logo landscape

ProtonVPN Free

6.66.6/10

If you’re looking for another free VPN with unlimited data, ProtonVPN is a great choice. It’s safe, secure, and private. There are three locations to choose from and the speeds are pretty fast, too. Read ProtonVPN Free review

Windscribe

Windscribe

8.68.6/10

While Windscribe caps free user data to 10GB a month, it provides servers in 10 different countries, and allows you to drill down to city level in some of them, too. You can also use Windscribe Free to protect P2P traffic securely and safely. Read Windscribe review

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio


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