BetternetVPN found itself under fire in 2016 when an academic study discovered it put its users at risk of third-party tracking software. Since then, it says it has made a lot of changes, improving its overall features and security. I wanted to find out if this is true or not.
I tested the premium plan to find out what BetternetVPN has to offer, including its speeds, server network, and security. It had great speeds, but for a VPN with security that’s been called under scrutiny, I found some areas still pretty lacking.
For a great VPN with high speeds, a vast server network, and top-notch security, I recommend you try one of my favorite reliable VPNs instead.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
- Great unblocking capabilities. I couldn’t get access to Netflix with any of the servers I tested, but I had good results watching Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
- Fast speeds. There was only a small drop in speeds when I tested servers in the UK and the US, but its performance was impressive overall.
- 113 servers in 81 countries. That’s still a very small server network, and the free plan only gives you 1 country.
- Adequate security features. Standard SSL encryption comes with both paid and free plans, and it didn't block IPv6 traffic during my tests.
- Simple, user-friendly apps. It has intuitive graphics and clear instructions and safety features.
- Allows torrenting. Torrenting and P2P file sharing is allowed, but since it doesn’t include an automatic kill switch, it’s risky.
- 5 simultaneous device connections. It’s apps are available for iOS, Windows, Android and MacOS, but not on routers or games consoles.
- Limited payment options. I was disappointed to see that I can only pay using my credit card. It doesn’t accept Bitcoin or Paypal payments, so there’s no anonymity.
- Fast customer support responses. The customer service team emailed me back quickly, although their answer was a little vague. There’s also an extensive FAQ section.
- 45-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for free with its money-back guarantee, but the process is a little complicated.
Betternet Features — Updated in February 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Streaming — Unblocked Most Platforms, but Not Netflix
BetternetVPN successfully unblocked Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer, so I was impressed with its performance. This was particularly evident on its US servers, which let me access Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+ within seconds.
Even more, since I only experienced a 16% drop on its US servers, I could stream in HD and without interruptions.
Unblocked: Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer
I had a nice experience unblocking Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer with BetternetVPN. These platforms have some of the strongest geoblocks due to their popularity, so this is a great achievement.
Its US server got immediate access to Disney+ so I could watch The Madalorian.
After just a few seconds, I was connected to a US server
It was a surprise to me that I could log in to Disney+ right away. Ever since Disney+ launched, it has used the toughest technologies to fight against VPN use, so it can be difficult to access.
Streaming movies on Hulu was quick and easy
Since it couldn’t let me watch It: Chapter 2 on Netflix, it was a good thing BetternetVPN unblocked Hulu. The first server I tried got me straight past the login page, and I had the movie up and running on my laptop in a couple of minutes.
I watched movies on APV in HD
Amazon Prime Video was a breeze to access on its US and UK servers. I managed to watch a whole movie without any connectivity issues.
BetternetVPN beat HBO’s blocks within a few seconds
Connecting to a server in the US took no time at all, and I instantly got access to HBO Max in every test.
The second UK server I tried let me watch BBC iPlayer
The first UK server I tried didn’t bypass BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks. However, it didn’t take long to find another location within the country and this time it worked flawlessly.
Blocked by: Netflix
If you rely on Netflix to watch the latest trending shows and movies, you won’t be happy with BetternetVPN. None of the servers I tested managed to get past its blocks.
No matter which server I tried, Netflix knew I was using a VPN
It’s important to note that Netflix improved its VPN detection systems, and a lot of VPNs can’t unblock it anymore. Because of this, I’m not very disappointed that BetternetVPN couldn’t access it.
Overall, BetternetVPN gave me fantastic results when I tested its ability to unblock streaming services. It easily accessed some of the toughest platforms out there, particularly HBO Max and Disney+, both of which are notoriously difficult to watch using a VPN.
If like me, you prefer Netflix over other film and movie platforms, BetternetVPN may not be enough for you. For a reliable VPN(like ExpressVPN) that lets you into Netflix, try one of these VPNs which are proven to unblock it every time.
Speeds — Good Overall
BetternetVPN gave me pretty good speeds on the servers I tried. This allowed me to stream in HD and download large files in no time.
My base speed was 45.84 Mbps download, 38.90 Mbps upload, and I had a ping of 14 ms.
I had fast speeds while connected to BetternetVPN’s servers
The first UK server I tested dropped my download speed to 32 Mbps — a 30% decrease. Although your VPN shouldn’t drop by more than 20% as a general rule, I still had enough to watch in HD. My upload speed showed a 13% increase, which wasn’t too impactful, and my ping shot to 53 ms. Although this might seem like a huge leap, 50 ms is a great ping reading, and I would easily be able to game and download large files with this result.
When I switched to a US server, there was hardly any drop in download speed at all - just 16%. I was impressed with this outcome, as I am located far from the US and often speeds drop the further you are from the server. The ping also stayed at a reasonable 53 ms.
||32 Mbps (30% decrease)
||44.18 Mbps (13% increase)
||38.24 Mbps (16% decrease)
||25.84 Mbps (33% decrease)
||25.74 Mbps (43% decrease)
||40.56 Mbps (4% increase)
France is a lot closer to me than the US, so I wasn’t expecting to get a 43% drop in download speed. You can expect your speeds to drop a little when you use a VPN, but 43% is way more than I’d like to see. One positive was that the ping was only 50 ms, the same as the US server, which was a solid result and let me play online games with no issues.
Overall, its speeds were good and allowed me to watch shows and movies in HD. Since my ping remained low, I could play online games without any lag.
Server Network — Extremely Limited, Especially the Free Plan
BetternetVPN’s premium plan has quite a small network of servers, offering users just 81 countries. Premium users are lucky though — subscribers to the free service can only choose one country (the US). A small bank of servers not only means you’re less likely to find the country you need, but the available servers can get overcrowded, causing slow connection speeds.
It lists 22 US state locations, and has servers in Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and multiple European countries including Italy, the UK, Spain, Finland, and Germany, etc.
Although its network is small in comparison to other VPNs, such as CyberGhost, in most of my tests I found it to be reliable. I’d still recommend choosing a provider with a larger network of servers to avoid the risk of not finding the right server you need, or congestion.
Security — Unusual Protocols and No Kill Switch
BetternetVPN uses a protocol named Catapult Hydra. The VPN claims to have chosen this protocol because it decreases issues with latency. Although it’s unusual to see a VPN using Catapult Hydra, it is growing in popularity due to its lack of impact on overall speeds.
It uses 256-bit SSL encryption with perfect forward secrecy, meaning that each online session you begin is assigned a unique key. This makes the chances of a hacker being able to decode the key and look over your data pretty much impossible.
The launch in startup feature means that every time you turn on your PC, the VPN kicks in. This is handy if you’re constantly on the move, as every time you open your laptop or use your phone, you’ll be connected to one of Betternet’s VPNs and protected from shaky public WiFi.
I wanted to see if my connection was secure while connected to its servers, so I ran an IP and DNS leak test on its servers. IP leaks can expose your real IP and location to the websites you visit, while DNS leaks expose your browsing history to your ISP — which beats the purpose of having a VPN in the first place. Happily, BetternetVPN covered my IP address and DNS requests.
However, it didn’t block IPv6 traffic. This means that my real IP could still be exposed to the websites I visit.
BetternetVPN fails to disable IPv6, so the websites I accessed could see some data about me
Another concerning aspect is that BetternetVPN doesn’t have a kill switch. A kill switch automatically shuts off your internet in the event that the VPN’s connection drops. This is an important feature — if BetternetVPN disconnects while you’re connected to a public WiFi network, your personal data will be out there for skilled hackers to take.
Overall, I’m not impressed with BetternetVPN’s security features and I think it has a lot to improve. I recommend you take a look at these VPNs with strong security features that will keep your data safe.
Privacy — No Logs, But With a Catch
BetternetVPN keeps your data private, as long as you’re paying for its premium plans. Free users are not protected at all, and may find their information is sold to third parties.
While it lists the different types of data it may collect, it does reassure its users that it doesn’t keep logs, which is good to know since it is in the 5 Eyes Alliance. BetternetVPN has 2 offices in the world, in Switzerland and the UK. In the event that the government requests information about you from the company, they will have to hand it over.
BetternetVPN came under scrutiny in 2016 when an academic study found that they were amongst the top 5 VPNs that exposed its customers to tracking software. Although the VPN claims to have improved since then, this statement makes me concerned that free service users remain at risk.
This is a concern as the company has been known to expose users to tracking software
Additionally, there is some contradictory information - on one side it claims that it does store your IP address as long as the session is open (and deletes it once you disconnect), but then it says it will use the IP addresses to “prevent against fraud”. It is this vague terminology that makes me nervous about a company’s true activities when it comes to user privacy. Because of this, and its location, I recommend you use a VPN provider that has its offices outside of the 5 Eyes Alliance.
Torrenting — Allowed, But Not Recommended
You can use BetternetVPN for torrenting, but I don’t recommend it. Since it doesn’t have a kill switch and I experienced some IPv6 leaks on its servers, other peers on the network (and authorities) may be able to identify you.
I don’t condone torrenting copyrighted content, but even in the event you accidentally clicked on something you shouldn’t, you are putting yourself at risk if you don’t use a fully secure VPN.
If you do wish to torrent, I suggest you choose a VPN that allows P2P file sharing and has full data protection, such as the VPN’s in this list. Before you torrent, always check with your country’s laws and make sure you don’t accidentally download copyrighted content.
Does BetternetVPN Work in China? Yes, In Theory
You can use BetternetVPN in China, however in all of its platform FAQs it explicitly states you may have issues connecting if you’re in China, Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
It says it works in China, but I am not fully convinced
The support team will be on hand to assist you if you do struggle to use the VPN, but the fact that you’re expected to have issues isn’t very reassuring. I also contacted them via email to confirm if I could use it in China, and they advised that I could, although the wording was a little vague.
If you want to use a VPN in China, I suggest you pick one of the following VPNs which have been tried and tested and definitely work.
Simultaneous Device Connections — Up to 5
You get 5 simultaneous device connections with this VPN with its premium plan. Bear in mind that you can’t use it on your router, games console, or streaming sticks, so if you only need to use it on your phone and laptop the device allowance may be a little redundant.
Device Compatibility — Limited
Betternet’s device compatibility is pretty limited since it only works with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Google Chrome. Unlike other top services(such as PIA), there’s no way to set it up on routers, gaming consoles such as Xbox, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch, smart TVs (AppleTV, Android TV, Roku), or Amazon Fire Stick.
Additionally, there is no Edge or Firefox extension, which annoyed me since I prefer the security that comes with Firefox.
Instead of a limited compatibility VPN, I recommend trying a VPN that lets you watch on games consoles and smart TVs, particularly if you want to use it to stream movies and TV.