Extensive Betternet review: Offers an awful cost-efficiency

Abeerah Hashim Last updated: September 20, 2022 Read time: 15 minutes Disclosure
Facts checked by Abeerah Hashim

Betternet is a very popular VPN service throughout the world. We tested it to find out what the rage is all about, only to find that this is one of the worst VPNs you can find on the internet.

Betternet is a free VPN network that boasts 38 million users worldwide. If it were a country, it’d be as big as Canada in terms of population. So there is no doubt about this VPN’s popularity. But is it any good? Can those millions of people be wrong about their VPN choice? This article provides an extensive review of the Betternet VPN service.

If you’ve been around the digital world for a while, then the chances are that you know that popularity doesn’t equate to quality or reliability. For example, the Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser had more than a billion users in 2010, and it was the worse option in the market. On the other hand, it was the most popular option because most of the world’s web users lacked the expertise to try something better — which, in this case, was anything else at all.

So we asked our VPN testing team to have a go at Betternet to find out what makes it so popular — assuming that there could be any reason other than the lack of fees. This article will tell you what we found about Betternet and why you should stay away from it at all costs.

Betternet presents itself to the world and its users as a VPN service. Yet, we found that it fails regarding safety, reliability, privacy, or online anonymity. In other words, it does nothing of the things that a VPN worthy of the name is supposed to do.

We’ll elaborate on every vital issue throughout the rest of this text. We tested Betternet for safety, speeds, Netflix friendliness, background, and torrenting.

The results left us thinking that Worsenet is a better brand name for this VPN –Except we can see how it would be a wrong marketing choice.

So let us share with you what we found.

Betternet VPN key features at a glance

Server 50+ servers in ten countries
No-log policy Yes
Kill switch No
Torrenting Yes
Country-based United States
Price (per month) $12.99
Simultaneous devices 5
Customer Support Via Email
Money-back guarantee 45 days

Privacy, jurisdiction, and user logs in Betternet

Privacy is a key feature we want on any VPN we can recommend. It has nothing to do with technology as with security and encryption.

Instead, user privacy involves human and corporate decisions determining how the VPN handles your data. Does it collect any information about its users? Once the data is collected, is it kept in logs? Are the records then sold to any third parties? Unfortunately, an affirmative answer to those three questions tends to be the rule among free VPNs on the internet. And it has profound (and harmful) implications for user privacy.

It turns out that Betternet logs a lot of information about its users. Where a privacy-friendly VPN should not be logging anything, Betternet keeps records of all the following pieces of information:

  • Originating IP address. It’s supposed to be deleted when your session is over.
  • ISP and physical location. The VPN identifies these things from your IP address and then shares them with third parties.
  • VPN connection timestamps.
  • Bandwidth. How much do you use at every session? They keep this information stored for three years.
  • Device-specific data: Betternet logs your device ID, OS, and hardware model. This is how the network gives you an identity since no accounts or registrations are involved with this provider.

According to Aura, Betternet’s parent company, no browsing activity can be linked to any individual user. Furthermore, the logging policy says that a user’s VPN browsing activity is not a factor in personalizing the ads that the user sees as a user — the VPN is supposedly supported by ads.

The privacy policy assures users that even if a third party (like a governmental agency) seizes a Betternet server network and breaks the encryption, no information would lead to identifying any individual user. This isn’t the worse privacy policy we’ve read in the VPN industry. However, if the server kept no logs, such assurances would be redundant. So while this is not the worse privacy policy out there, it’s certainly not one we like.

Betternet LLC Incorporated belongs to the Aura group, which owns several other VPNs such as Hotspot Shield, TouchVPN, VPN in Touch, VPN 360, and Hexatech. 

The company’s headquarters sits in California, USA. The country is well-known for citizen surveillance and is part of the Five-Eyes alliance. However, the jurisdiction’s surveillance and data retention laws are very unfriendly towards user privacy and intrusive.

Every product in the Aura VPN family has the same privacy and logging policy. So it makes sense from the corporate point of view. The additional problem is that Aura hasn’t had the best track record over the last few years.

Take Hotspot Shield. Several past controversies include this name. One alleged problem with Hotspot Shield was the injection of cookies in the user’s web browsers.