Betternet VPN is a free VPN that also offers paid versions to its customers on request. It is a well-known brand and has been around since around 2015.
Although Betternet is well known, this isn’t because of a good performance or strong safety standards. Unfortunately, Betternet is known for its troubling history, including tracking their customers and embedding malware into client software.
Today, we are going to explain precisely what you can expect from Betternet so you can weigh up the risks.
What Do You Want From A VPN?
The whole point of a VPN (or virtual private network) is to protect you from hackers no matter which network you are using. They are designed to hide your IP address (or computer hardware code) and give extra protection while browsing the web.
When shopping for a VPN, you should be looking at their security protocols, encryption abilities, unblocking features, and connection speed.
Their security features should be able to hold off any hackers by stopping your data from leaking into the internet. When it comes to encryptions, the best VPNs will automatically encrypt your data, so if anyone does manage to get your information, they cannot unlock it.
Talking about unlocking, most VPNs can unblock location-based features on Intranets (like schools and work), as well as on websites (like Netflix). This means you can access content that would otherwise be blocked from you. They do this by hiding your IP address, therefore hiding your location.
Lastly, all of these safety features often take up a lot of your computer’s data and speed. Ideally, you want the VPN to handle all of your requests without slowing you down too much.
Now that you know what you should be looking for, we can see if Betternet can fulfill expectations.
What Does Betternet Offer?
Betternet offers a free VPN which you do not need to register for. You simply download it to make the VPN work. They suggest they can hide your data with military-grade encryption, which will stop hackers, malware, and phishing attempts.
At the same time, Betternet says that it can unblock popular sites like Hulu and Netflix, allowing you to watch your favorite shows no matter your location. Betternet thinks they can do all of this at an ultra-fast speed.
On paper, Betternet looks like they can do it all, and for free.
Throughout this article, we will test these claims so you have realistic information about their performance.
How Does Betternet Affect Internet Speeds?
The first thing we want to look at is their “ultra-fast speed” claim. This statement is a buzzword that so many companies use, which means that it holds no actual information about the speeds you can expect. So instead, we wanted to test the speeds ourselves.
We ran Betternet on a 160 Mbps connection on a Western Europe server. Instantly we saw that the connection speed was slow, and the download speed was slow. When we eventually became connected, error pages kept popping up saying “Latency Test Error.”
This happened to all of the pages we tested on. This error page means that the speed was so slow that our testing page couldn’t function. This is an extremely bad sign.
We wanted to get some results to share with you, so we kept trying different servers and eventually made a stable enough connection through their UK server option. Although the connection was made, the results were not good.
Remember that our connection speed was originally 160 Mbps; when we used the UK server, that number dropped down to 17 Mbps. We tried again with another popular country, the US, and received even worse results – 16 Mbps.
In our fast-paced living environment, these super slow speeds are not considered acceptable by most people. However, we have to remember that this service is free. A free VPN will never be as fast as the priced versions, let alone expensive ones.
If you do not plan to download, watch videos or play games while the VPN is on, 17 Mbps will give you an okay internet speed. If you’re only browsing the internet, then you would want 11 Mbps at least, so 17 will do the job.
Is Betternet Good For Torrenting?
Most people use a VPN to watch movies and TV shows that are blocked from their location. Torrenting is when you download or upload files to a network. In this case, it means downloading TV shows, movies, and games.
The biggest factor for good torrenting is speed, which should tell you the answer before we say it. Betternet does not have good speeds.
Ideally, you should have speeds of 25 Mbps or higher to have a good download speed. Because the highest number we found for Betternet was 17 Mbps, we wouldn’t recommend this VPN for torrenting.
Remember that 17 Mbps was the highest we could find too. The majority of servers we tried to connect to wouldn’t even let us land. This means that if you tried to torrent with this VPN, the connection will either constantly cut out or it simply will not work.
We should also make you aware that although Betternet says they can unblock big companies like Netflix and Hulu, we tested the statement and found that this was not true.
Netflix and Hulu put millions of dollars into stopping VPNs from unblocking their location-based structures, and although some VPNs can break down this barrier, Betternet is not one of them. You might get access once in a while, but the majority of the time, you will be unsuccessful.
Short answer? No, Betternet is not suitable for torrenting.
Who Is Betternet Connected To?
Betternet first popped onto the VPN scene in 2015, and the company quickly became one of the popular brands under the “free” category. It did so well that AnchorFree decided to buy the company.
The name AnchorFree might not ring any bells, but the company also bought another VPN brand which has created a terrible stir in the VPN industry. That company is Hotspot Shield.
Both Hotspot Shield and AnchorFree have been called out, put under investigation, and fined because of their snooping techniques. VPNs are meant to stop people from knowing how you use the internet, but Hotspot Shield had been snooping on their own clients and selling that data to the highest bidder.
The scandal was discovered in 2017 and showed the world how Hotspot Shield monitored their customer’s data and applied what is known as “zero-knowledge” hacking to sell information to create targeted advertisements.
“Zero-knowledge” hacking means that the victim has no idea that the hacking is taking place and so will not do anything to stop it. If your protection service is the one attacking you, how would you know?
Because Betternet is connected to a company that allows this type of practice to take place, we have to assume that they also use “zero-knowledge” techniques to sell your data.
Does Betternet Leak?
A leaking VPN is when the service leaves traces of your IP or data while trying to hide you. It is an accidental byproduct of a service that is meant to protect you.
A couple of years ago, Betternet had terrible leaking problems. Many people found that IPv4 had leaks, as did the IPv6 and the DNS. We didn’t want to rely on old reviews, so we tested the leaks ourselves.
It seems as though these malfunctions had been fixed, as our VPN leak tests showed that the connection was stable (if you managed to connect at all).
However, in our search, we did notice that Betternet doesn’t have a kill switch. A kill switch is designed to block your internet usage if the VPN’s connection drops. The idea is to push you away from danger when the VPN cannot actively protect you, so you are still safe.
Without a kill switch, you will not know if your VPN has stopped working, and so you could be browsing the internet and leaving traces of your IP address, without realizing it.
It seems as though Betternet has some functioning (but basic) leak protection systems in place, but the lack of a kill switch is dangerous.
Is Betternet Safe?
The short answer? No. Betternet is not a safe VPN.
Lots of research has been put into studying VPNs, and they have found that Betternet is the 4th most infested app from Google Play Store. This company had 19 different malware infections riddling through its system.
This same study also found that there were a lot of third-party tracking systems in place through Betternet’s programming. In total, there were 14 tracking algorithms embedded into the code. This means that not only do Betternet track their customers, but they also have 14 different ways in which to track them, and they are an intrinsic part of the company’s coding.
We recommend not using Betternet.
As soon as you download this VPN, you will receive 19 different malware viruses in your home network, and all of your movements will be tracked by the 14 tracking libraries. This means your information will be sold to third parties, and you will receive more targeted advertisements.
Once your computer is filled with bugs and spyware, you will then receive a massively slow internet connection.
The one saving grace is the patched-up leak, but without a kill switch, the dodgy connection isn’t worth it.