Betternet Review 2019: Does It Track Users’ Behavior?

Betternet
Betternet
Overall Rating

Best For

  • Privacy
  • Cheap
  • Torrenting
  • NetflixNetflix
  • BBC iPlayerBBC iPlayer
  • Hide IP

Supports

  • Streaming
  • Torrenting
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac
$11.99
$2.99 Per Month

Betternet is a VPN provider that has 38 million users around the world.

Despite its raging popularity, the VPN service has come under severe criticism due to some recent scandals.

According to a CSIRO study, Betternet is guilty of selling adware to the users.

Now, to be fair, this study is in relation to the VPN’s freemium service. Still, this revelation does not bode well for the overall integrity of the service.

Features PureVPN Betternet
Price $2.99/mo $2.99/mo
Servers 2000+ in 140 countries

Limited servers in 10 Locations

Money Back Guarantee 31 Days 30 Days
Customer Support 24/7 live chat support 24/7 live chat, FAQ
Logging Policy Zero log Doesn’t keep Logs
App Support Apps for all Major OS Apps for all major OS

Anyhow, this Betternet review will provide you an in-depth analysis of both free and paid service of the VPN.

Also, we bring you the top VPN reviews after analyzing various VPNs in the market from multiple aspects.

Betternet does not have a huge list of intimidating features but still grabs the attention of millions of users worldwide.

But, it has some decisive cons that you must contemplate before opting this VPN service. These are:

Betternet-Infographic

 What I liked about Betternet?

Despite advertising its adware to school kids, Betternet has some striking features that can grab the attention of VPN users.

Here is the list of different features Betternet offers:

Logging & Privacy Policy

Betternet is not obliged to follow any strict data retention regimes.

Interestingly, provider apparently claims that it doesn’t collect, log or store users’ data on any of its servers or elsewhere.

However, Betternet only keeps subscribers’ data, which is mandatory for service delivery.

The privacy policy of the VPN is straightforward.

Betternet-Logging-Policy

Is It GDPR Compliant?

When I reviewed Betternet in detail, I explored that Betternet follows the notion of GDPR in the right way.

For more details, you can check out an exclusive GDPR compliant VPNs guide.

Betternet Interest by Region

There is no denying Betternet has become one of the most searched VPNs lately.

During my review, I was surprised to know that users from Sudan have inquired about Betternet VPN service.

Furthermore, users from different countries have also searched about the above-mentioned provider. Here is the list of countries that includes:

  • Sudan
  • Cuba
  • Kosovo
  • Zimbabwe
  • Afghanistan

Betternet-Interest-Region-Wise

Freemium Version

Betternet provides its freemium version but you can avail such package for seven (7) days only.

In case you do not want to spend a single penny to secure your privacy, Betternet becomes a good option.

5 Simultaneous Connections

Simultaneous connection is an incredible benefit offered with premium version. It gives subscribers an option to use a single account on up to five devices at a time.

The ability to connect with multiple devices is often an overlooked feature of a VPN. However, this feature can be beneficial for users seeking online privacy for their entire household or small business.

Easy to Use Apps

To be honest, I liked Betternet app a lot.

It does not offer a comprehensive list of features but at the same time, it makes an app quite user-friendly.

Once you have downloaded the app, you have to press the Connect button and that is all.

Betternet-Windows-App

IP, DNS & WebRTC Leak Tests

In ‘setting’ section of the VPN, there is an option to prevent IP leaks. Admittedly, the providers have not done a great job in advertising this feature.

You will not find any information related to this option on the VPN’s website.

Regardless, Betternet cleared my IP leak test, which means that this tool definitely works.

Betternet-IP-Leak-Test

I also went through DNS leak test to check whether if it leaked my DNS information or not.

Luckily, the provider passed DNS fitness test appropriately.

Betternet-DNS-Leak-Test

As far as WebRTC leak test is concerned, I ran Betternet through ip8.com.

Here is the result of WebRTC leak test:

Betternet-WebRTC-Leak-Test

Cross-Platform Availability

Multi-platform availability is an unusual aspect of a VPN service. Provider takes an edge over competitors by offering excellent in-house apps for Windows, Mac OS, Chrome, iOS, Firefox and Android.

Betternet for Windows

With the Windows client of this VPN, you can access to almost all geo-blocked websites and services. Moreover, you can make yourself anonymous and protected against a range of cybercrimes. Just download the VPN from its official website, connect to the fastest servers and surf the web like never before.

Betternet-for-Windows

The app is rather simplistic and allows absolutely zero customization. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Some users prefer simplicity over choice.

In any case, the overall client is user-friendly and intuitive.

Betternet for Mac OS X

The Mac client of this VPN offers super-fast connection, location spoofing, and anonymity to Mac users. Accessing any geo-blocked sites (YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more) on Mac is just a click away with this VPN.

Betternet-for-Mac

The in-house VPN app for Apple offers a simple and sleek design with one-touch connection feature.

The VPN app for Mac can be downloaded from iTunes.

Betternet for Android

This VPN Android offers free-of-cost service with zero data or bandwidth limits. When installed on an Android device, VPN instantly unblocks tons of sites and services (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Line, WhatsApp and more).

Betternet-for-Android

In Betternet VPN review, I regard the VPN’s Android app to be the safest and highly economical solution for top-grade privacy. To download Betternet’s app, you need to visit the Google Play Store.

Betternet for iPhone

The exclusive iPhone VPN offers superior online freedom to users. Once installed on an iPhone, it allows users to access all geo-blocked sites from school, workplace or anywhere else in the world.

Betternet-for-iPhone

Also, the service allows users to evade ISP bandwidth throttling and state censorship while ensuring 100% online freedom. The iOS VPN app of provider can be downloaded from iTunes.

Betternet Chrome Extension

Betternet Chrome allows users to enjoy unrestricted access to unlimited blocked sites and services. Once installed on Chrome browser, its extension gives one-touch anonymity to users. With Chrome extension, users can spoof their location to 10+ locations of the world.

Betternet for Firefox

The Firefox VPN extension is the most suitable solution to access internet with zero restrictions. With the add-on installed on Firefox, top-notch privacy, and 100% identity protection is guaranteed. Moreover, single tap connectivity gives subscribers with simple, easy and fast connection to the nearest available server.

Betternet VPN Router

Betterspot-VPN-Router

While researching for this review, I discovered that this service offers an exclusive VPN router called “Betterspot”.

Through this device, users can switch to Tor anonymity with just a single click.

What is Betterspot VPN Router?

The Betterspot router aims to enhance users’ security and privacy with state-of-the-art technology.

Moreover, when Betterspot is turned off, it works as a normal router. In times of query, users can get instant assistance from Betterspot’s 24/7 customer support.

With Betterspot, a user can choose from wide range of servers including dedicated premium servers as well.

In this Betternet review, I consider Betterspot as an additional and worth trying service.

Netflix Support (Does it unblock other streaming services?)

Netflix unblocking is a rare trait and to my surprise Betternet allows you to access Netflix US library accordingly.

When I tried to unblock US Netflix show “Grey’s Anatomy” after connecting to US server, I received the following message on my screen.

Betternet-Netflix-Incognito-Mode-Error

After a bit of digging, I accessed my favorite TV show on the normal browser.

Betternet-Grey-Anatomy

Let me tell you one thing, I did not encounter any kind of buffering issue whatsoever during the whole process.

Moreover, you can unblock other streaming services like BBC iPlayer, and others to fulfill your media desires.

What about Torrenting? (Is Betternet Safe for Torrenting)

Betternet supports torrenting needs of its subscribers.

But, you should remain cautious while torrenting as it belongs to one of 14 eyes countries.

Likewise, their slow downloading speeds may spoil your media streaming fun a great deal.

There is no harm in exploring best VPN for torrenting guide to achieve your mission eventually.

Pricing & Plans (How much does Betternet cost?)

The main attraction of this VPN is its free service, which has no bandwidth limitation whatsoever.

Putting that aside, the pricing plan of this VPN are also fairly enticing. In particular, the annual package makes the overall cost $2.99 a month. This puts this VPN right among cheap VPN services.

Moreover, the premium users get an edge over the free subscribers with five simultaneous connections, more servers, better speed and zero ads policy.

Currently, the provider offers three premium plans.

Pricing-of-Betternet

Note: All the premium packages offer similar features. But ,at the time of creating Betternet review, it was discovered that no protocol selection option was offered in any of the packages.

Payment Methods

The providers of this VPN have not went all out with the payment methods. Instead, they have taken a more conservative approach.

Betternet only accepts payment via Play Store, iTunes and Credit Cards. There is no PayPal or Bitcoin option available.

As an ardent advocate of anonymous paying methods, I strongly hope the providers make room for cryptocurrencies in the near future.

Money Back Guarantee

The money back guarantee of this service extends to 30 days. However, it has a surprising precondition according to which, a subscriber should not consume more than 50 MB of data.

Yes, only 50 MB data to test out the service.

Without any doubt, the refund policy of Betternet is in need of urgent reforms.

 What I did not like about Betternet?

Every VPN has some strong links and weak links too. Similarly, Betternet is not an exception at all.

Here is the list of different disadvantages I found during the review:

Where is Betternet based? (Part of 14 Eyes)

Betternet is a VPN service based in Canada, a country that is part of the intelligence sharing alliance; Fourteen Eyes. This is something that definitely goes against this VPN.

Moving on, the premium subscribers of this service get access to servers from 10 locations. Meanwhile, the free users can only connect with the servers from the United States.

Third Party Advertisements

The providers cover the cost of free VPN service through third party advertisements. This means that you have to pay the providers for an ad-free experience.

Speed Test

Without performing speed test, every VPN review looks incomplete. Therefore, I went through speed test particularly.

Upon using 30 Mmpbs internet connection, I was able to get the below mentioned connection speed:

Speed-before-using-Betternet

When I connected to its US server, my connection speed dropped significantly.

Here is the screenshot of the speed test below:

US-Server-Betternet-Speed

Based on above testing, Betternet has a long way to go to become one of the fastest VPN services.

Server Locations

Like many other aspects of this VPN, the proper servers count remains a mystery. What we do know is that premium subscribers can access servers from 10 locations.

Betternet-Server-Options

The VPN has servers in the US, Australia, the UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, France, Hong Kong and Singapore. Compared to this, NordVPN covers 60+ countries but then again, it doesn’t have a free version either.

Hence, in this Betternet review, I commend the providers for including this option.

Does Betternet work in China?

Sadly, it does not work in China.

Therefore, you should explore our guide about some of the best China VPNs.

Customer Support (Can Betternet be trusted?)

At present, Betternet does not offer a 24/7 live tech support feature.

Regardless, the provider offers an informative knowledge base area, FAQs section, and e-mail ticketing system.

Users can get an instant solution for common queries through FAQs section.

The email query system aims to provide a detailed solution for complex issues faced by subscribers.

You can also contact the providers through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

For this review, I decided to evaluate their customer support and dropped off a query enquiring about the offered protocols.

Unfortunately, I received no response from them until the next day. This shows that providers have much room for improvement in their customer service.

No Kill Switch

You should use Betternet at your own risk because it can expose your original IP address at times when your connection suddenly drops.

You can find out different VPNs with a kill switch feature in this blog.

A Possible Security Threat

So far, there has been no reported incident of the VPN handing over customer data. However, as I mentioned before in this Betternet review, there is some bad press surrounding this VPN.

Betternet-CSIRO-Study

A recent study on VPN services, ranked this service among the ten VPNs that are not as secured as they claim to be.

Betternet is the most downloaded VPN in this list and leads by a humongous margin. This makes its inclusion all the more curious.

Interestingly, the other apps pointed out in the study have all been removed from Android and Apple’s store. Betternet, in contrast, is still available on these platforms.

Make whatever you may of this study; the onus is on the providers to come clean.

Use of Cookies

Betternet may record users’ data through third party service that place cookies at times to perform such function.

When they send emails to users, they can place cookies to store users’ information.

However, you can decline cookies request to store your information.

Betternet-use-Cookies

Protocols & Encryption

According to the providers, the VPN offers the following protocols:

  • OpenVPN with AES 256 bit encryption
  • IPsec with AES 128 bit encryption

Both OpenVPN and IPsec are solid options for anyone looking to secure their online privacy.

OpenVPN is a reliable tunneling protocol that has the means to secure you in the most hostile digital environments. IPsec, on the other hand, has its own set of strengths.

However, there is absolutely no way of confirming if the VPN even utilizes these tools.

The Betternet clients do not allow you to customize protocols and the VPN’s website rarely makes a mention of OpenVPN and IPsec.

Third Party Tracking Libraries

When you read the same case study in detail, you will witness numerous third party tracking libraries in its Android app.

This way, you can identify 14 kinds of tracking libraries in the app.

The provider can use these libraries for various purposes like tracking, advertising and others.

Uncertain Explanation

Betternet needs to be clear when it comes to providing information about its encryption.

This is because they have mentioned both levels encryption like 128-bit and 256-bit.

This tactic creates enough confusion in the minds of existing as well as potential users to certain degree.

Betternet Stance over Privacy

Betternet has cleared the air by delivering a comprehensive transparency report that you can find in its privacy policy section.

Betternet is a brainchild of AnchorFree that has proudly produced another VPN by the name of Hotspot Sheild.

They have categorically stated in their reports that law enforcement agencies contact them on a regular basis.

Similarly, legal authorities based in other countries have also approached AnchorFree to access users’ data on number of occasions.

In the year 2018, AnchorFree received 56 users’ data request.

Furthermore, they attained 92 users’ data request in 2017 and 79 users’ data request in 2016 respectively.

Total Request by Months 2018 2017 2016
January 6 9 1
February 7 8 8
March 6 16 9
April 6 11 3
May 5 9 13
June 5 9 6
July 0 6 6
August 5 7 6
September 4 3 6
October 2 3 10
November 5 5 5
December 5 6 6

 

Country Requests (2018)

Country Number of Requests Amount of User Data Released
US 50 None
France 1 None
Germany 1 None
Russia 1 None
Spain 1 None
Switzerland 1 None
Turkey 1 None
Total 56 None

 

Types of Request

Process Types Number Received User Data Released %
Search Warrant 3 None
Court Order 2 None
Subpoena 35 None
Government 15 None
Non-Government 1 None

 

The concerned authorities have used other sources of information like emails, demands, requests forms, and so on to get the required data about users.

Based on the above information, AnchorFree has respected its users’ privacy to another level.

Does Betternet Comply with CDT (Center for Democracy and Technology)?

Surprisingly, CDT (Center for Democracy and Technology) a non-profit organization officially contacted the Federal Trade Commission to probe AnchorFree and HotSpot Shield operations.

The former accused the latter for sending their users to specific sites and sharing users’ data.

AnchorFree did not provide any official response on such claims. However, they changed their terms of service to secure themselves from legal actions.

Moreover, they started releasing transparency reports after this incident.

Betternet vs. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield stands among top alternatives of provider. But difference among the offerings exist. Following is a head-to-head comparison of Betternet vs. Hotspot Shield service:

Offerings Betternet Hotspot Shield
Locations Offered 10 20+
Security Protocols OpenVPN with AES256 bit, IPSec with AES-CBC 128 OpenVPN with 256-bit AES
Available Platforms Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Windows, Chrome, Firefox Android, iOS, Mac OS X, Windows, Amazon Kindle
Plan (12 Months) $2.99/month $8.13/month

 

Betternet Trustpilot Reviews

Trustpilot is one of the famous customer review sites that offer unbiased and relevant information about different products and services.

Conversely, Betternet does not have a strong presence on Trustpilot. In fact, numerous users have shown their reservations about the product.

Betternet-Review-on-Trustpilot

Betternet Twitter Reviews

Twitter is another famous social media platform like Reddit where users provide relevant feedback about various VPNs services.

Different users have liked Betternet app due to its attractive user interface.

In addition, numerous users have recommended Betternet mobile app to other users.

Betternet Reddit Reviews

Reddit is a forum where Netizens share their personal experiences regarding a VPN service. It can help you understand a true worth of online privacy provider.

Hence, I believe that this Betternet review would have been incomplete without giving a quick look to reddit.

On Reddit, many users are confused about the privacy policy of the service.

Whats the deal with betternet? from Piracy

In contrast, some users do not mind VPNs selling their personal data.

Nevertheless, free VPNs remains controversial to online privacy seekers.

Betternet – FAQs

A VPN requires a massive amount of hardware and monetary resources. To acquire these resources, a free VPN needs assistance from third parties.

Now, if you’re already wondering about what does provider do? Then VPN service works with one-click encryption model. As soon as a user installs and starts VPN on one of the supported device, the VPN service routes his entire network traffic through a secured encrypted tunnel.

This ensures a top-notch protection to confidential information of a user against hackers, snooper, phishers, identity thieves, spy agencies and every person on earth who wishes to eaves drop on user data privacy.

Once a user becomes anonymous on internet, VPN allows him to bypass the geo-restriction and gives him access to geo-blocked services (BBC iPlayer, NBC, CBC, Pandora, Spotify, HBO Now, Fox Go, 4oD, Netflix and more) from anywhere in the world.

In this review, I discovered three main sources that keep the free service of this VPN running:

  • Video ads
  • Sponsored apps
  • Products

The provider usually shows video ads of 10 to 15 seconds before connecting to VPN server. Moreover, “app suggestions” are displayed at the bottom of connecting window, consisting of sponsored apps.

A raging question in mind of subscribers is that does this VPN use cellular data? Is Betternet VPN consuming more data? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, and the reason lies on encryption mechanism of VPN.

In essence, whenever you perform an online activity, the VPN transmits a couple of more packets to encrypt data. As a result, overall data usage is increased and if you’re using 3/4G internet plan, you will face unwanted data consumption.

Final Verdict

After completing Betternet review, I have concluded that the service has its share of problems but it does have some merits. The service quality is decent and is preferred for subscribers who only want to access geo-restricted sites.

Lack of reliability, loopholes in the privacy policy and fewer servers are the cons of provider.

However, free of cost service, fast connectivity and ease of access are the benefits that make this service.

In my opinion, free VPN services should only be used for geo-dodging and nothing else. Personally, I do not recommend this VPN for users who are seeking digital privacy.

Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat

Author
Posts by Usman Hayat

Usman Hayat's Biography :


A business school grad specializing in marketing, Usman found his love for writing during studies. Salmi now pursues a career as a digital privacy & security advocate for VPNRanks working as a blogger. Salmi loves reading about sci-fi & technology while cricket is his game of choice. When the world cries ‘online freedom’ Salmi stands resolute raising his voice for the rights of netizens everywhere.


2 Responses to Betternet Review 2019: Does It Track Users’ Behavior?

  1. Beep says:

    Rule of thumb never use a VPN based in your own country.

  2. Ali says:

    Good review of Betternet, however Saudi telcos no longer allow FaceTime (on FT enabled devices).

    I have tried Betternet and the likes, but they don’t seem to overcome this hurdle. Any suggestions?

    iMessage works even without VPN, What is so different about FT that it won’t even go through a VPN?

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