A VPN (Virtual and Private Network) is what keeps us safe on the internet if data privacy and security is our leading concern. Although it was a technology invented to promote remote working in a corporation, VPN network owners have since proliferated the individual market. Hence, multiple vendors offer a VPN service that claims to protect your digital rights. However, these vendors are not to be trusted easily. Some of these services are genuine for sure, but most focus on profit and do not hesitate to jeopardize the customer’s safety. Our article today is a review of one of these vendors. Thus, the Betternet VPN review can help us know if the service is worth investing in.
Disclaimer — The following review is subjective and a product of the author’s thoughts. We are not biased against/for a particular service. For more information on the topic, kindly visit the official Betternet VPN website.
Overview of Betternet VPN
Before we talk about Betternet VPN, we must introduce Aura, the company that owns Betternet VPN, among other similar services. The Betternet VPN is a part of Betternet LLC Inc., a subsidiary of Aura group. The group is well known for operating several VPNs, including Hotspot Shield we reviewed, Touch VPN from our review, VPN 360, and so on. Although these services might differ in which platforms to support/run on or how their VPN client user interfaces operate, they almost follow a central logging policy and VPN infrastructure. Hence, even if Betternet VPN claims to be a no-logs VPN, we can’t believe it as the data will be sent to Aura and subjected to the logging policies there.
Similarly, if we claim that Betternet has an undisclosed amount of VPN servers in, say, ten countries, we will be correct, as per the official website. However, the same will be true if we claim that the service can work with around 5000+servers, the same number in the Aura VPN infrastructure.
Coming back to the VPN itself, it is a free VPN that doesn’t appear reliable. At first, we thought that the speed would be its redeeming point, but that turned out to be wrong, all cause of throttling. Furthermore, there are no features available, advanced or basic. It can’t offer other services like streaming. If someone wants to give the premium version a try, well, it is too costly and not a value-for-money deal.
Betternet VPN specs
|Logs data with Aura
|IP and DNS data leaks
|Yes but infrequent
|IP addresses available
|Only online materials for free
Features of Betternet VPN
Let us continue with our review as we take a closer look at the numerous Betternet VPN features that benefit users.
Privacy and logging policy
Privacy is a core component of any VPN. Although Betternet VPN claims to provide a highly private service, it is untrue. The VPN is a free product and clearly states that it can use the data for advertisement purposes. Moreover, it regularly shares data with Aura, a digital security company. Doing so also subjects your data to another set of terms and conditions and how they can use it. Hence, it is no understatement that Betternet VPN jeopardizes privacy. Not only the logging but the US jurisdiction is also detrimental to the VPN service. Here is the data that Betternet VPN collects and shares with Aura:
- The originating IP address of a connection
- Device’s approximate geolocation
- Details on the ISP (Internet Service Provider)
- Timestamps of every VPN connection
- Bandwidth intake per session
- Detailed information on your device
- Partial user history
Security and other features
We do not think Betternet VPN is a service that emphasizes data security. That is apparent in the lack of necessary features like the VPN kill switch. If it is unsuitable for beginners, it is more likely that it won’t impress any advanced users. The VPN is more like a glorified proxy, and supposedly the only decent feature is the protocol, which we suspect to be Hydra Catapult, owing to the involvement of Aura. Furthermore, the service is prone to data leaks.
At first glance, the VPN seems to be remarkably fast. However, after prolonged usage, we found out that the VPN is susceptible to throttling. The free version of the Betternet VPN limits the connection to around 7 Mbps, which isn’t enough for streaming, torrenting, or any other VPN-related activity.
VPN servers and their locations
The official website doesn’t disclose the number of VPN servers in its network. However, it states that the premium version has servers in ten different countries, while the free one operates only within the US. But the association with Aura raises significant questions. If it is like other VPNs that work with Aura, then chances are it shares the same VPN infrastructure.
Obfuscation and torrenting
Since the VPN has no features, advanced or otherwise, one should forget about bypassing censorship as there is no exclusive obfuscation tech available. Although the VPN servers (unknown how many) allow P2P traffic, we do not advise torrenting. The VPN lacks a decent no-logs policy and the necessary tool to prevent any potential threat such as a kill switch.
Similarly, the VPN isn’t big enough on the streaming front. It lacks the necessary infrastructure to bypass geo-blocks. It lacks the necessary speed to stream the content, given it somehow bypasses said blocks. Also, there is no exclusive tech to support the activity, for example, a Smart DNS.
The customer service is poor. Forget 24/7 live chats, there isn’t even an email option. The only recourse is the online materials. However, support is available on the premium version.
Platform support for Betternet VPN
At this point in our review of Betternet VPN, we must state it supports platforms like Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, alongside a Chrome extension. There is no support for manual installation or any other IoT (Internet of Things) devices, including VPN routers.
Betternet VPN pricing and subscription plans
When it comes to pricing, most users don’t even know that the service offers a premium version. That is understandable given the cost-to-value ratio. However, despite being a free VPN service, Betternet VPN has subscription plans that range accordingly:
- Monthly — $13
- Annually — $8 with a 38% discount
It also offers a free trial of up to a week to help users ascertain whether they want to buy the premium version. It accepts the typical payment methods—credit and debit cards.
- Free to use
- Proprietary VPN protocol
- Owned by Aura, a large VPN company
- Anonymous registration (no account)
- Very costly subscription plans
- Undisclosed yet small VPN network
- Logs data
- No advanced features
- Lacks necessary features
- Customer Service only on paid version
- Throttles speed
- Can’t bypass censorship and geo-blocks
- Unsafe for torrents
- No manual installation
- Leaks data to parent company
In the end, we do not recommend using Betternet VPN after our review. Although the service is free, it doesn’t have anything of value to offer, except being a proxy. It fails at obfuscation, torrenting, streaming, server network availability, and logs a lot of data. The connection speed is subject to throttling, and the logging policies make it unsuitable for privacy-centric users.
Betternet VPN Review
Betternet VPN is a US-based provider that prides itself on its free service. However, that one lacks all the necessary features besides military-grade encryption. The paid version is no better, and the service logs user data. We suggest you stay away unless backed into a corner.