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VPNs are starting to pop up all over the place. They are an invaluable part of a more secure and more open ended internet experience. As they give more and more access to content from other regions or even provide well secured anonymity from ISPs, it’s no surprise that people want in.
The problem? Well, it’s the usual problem: VPNs cost money. Nearly every VPN on the internet requires a monthly subscription fee. But Betternet is one of those few exceptions.
Is there a catch?
Skeptics are smart to ask this question. There’s a reason why the saying “nothing in life is free” is a saying, after all. Worst case scenarios of free software like Betternet can include all kinds of doomsday situations that predict the dystopian nature of the digital age we all find ourselves in. Selling and outsourcing your private data and browsing records is a typical complaint and fear.
While these kinds of qualms are often hard to suppress, we cannot in good conscience say that there is evidence that suggests that Betternet is the Skynet of VPNs. But as with many services that are free, there are still catches nonetheless.
Betternet does come with ads that are played upon initial installation and every time you boot up the app. While this may seem like an annoying feature it is simply the only way the company can sustain their product. You may not pay in dollars but you will pay in time.
Another con with this VPN is that you won’t find reasonably fast speeds using this VPN, though many could see this coming. If a free app had speeds that were comparable with the most popular paid apps then everybody would already be using Betternet’s free option instead of others.
We cannot speak for your internet connection but download and upload tests consistently provide a mere minuscule fraction of what top speeds can do. If you were looking for Betternet as a way to get you into torrenting then you may want to reconsider.
Betternet also doesn’t work well with Netflix, it seems. If you were looking for a free VPN to bypass Netflix’s region locks and access content available in other countries then sorry but you’re out of luck. Betternet’s servers appear to be blocked. Unfortunately the same goes for Hulu’s streaming as well.
Betternet does have redeeming qualities
It may seem all doom and gloom but in the end Betternet is not so bad of an option. Obviously the biggest draw is that it is free, or rather it has a freemium option. But it’s probably at least an adequate VPN choice for many people.
For one thing, the fears about Betternet releasing information out to other companies are very likely to be false. Betternet actually has solid security protocols. A blog post of theirs from 2015 states that their services use both 256 bit AES encryption (Advanced Encryption Standard) and 128 bit encryption. They did not specify how or when either method is used. But we believe it’s safe to assume that the 128 bit is used for the free option while the AES is used for the premium one.
Still not convinced?
So it seems that while Betternet doesn’t have the most mind blowing security available, it does have solid encryption levels that are as good as some more expensive VPNs. Considering the fact that this version is totally free, it is a pretty good option, but if security is your number one priority, you will probably want to consider a different VPN altogether.
You will want to note that as of now Betternet does not accept cryptocurrency payments such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. If you want to pay for the premium option you will have to give them your credit card or debit card information. We consider this a bad thing because it compromises your anonymity, but you might not matter to you depending on what sort of downloading or browser you will be doing.
Speaking of payments
Pricing Plans for Premium Upgrade
As we already know, Betternet can be used for free. While the company has never released any numbers confirming this assumption, we can only assume that the vast majority of its users are using the free option. In spite of this it is still worth looking at their pricing plans because depending on how you look at it, Betternet has both some of the cheapest and most expensive options out there. How can this be, even after including the fact that their service is free if you so choose?
One single monthly payment currently costs $11.99. That’s much more than other VPNs. Many only ask for about half that much for a single payment. But as you might expect, the payment plans get more affordable the more months you purchase at once. A six month plan only costs $3.99 per month, and a yearly subscription costs only $2.99. Both of these payments are great deals. So Betternet is still one of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
We have to be honest: if Betternet wasn’t free then there wouldn’t be much of a chance that we would recommend it over other VPNs out there. The freemium option is a wonderful convenience to many people who are on a strict budget, no doubt about it. But that’s virtually the best way to own this application, if you couldn’t afford another VPN regardless.
Using VPNs for simple tasks like bypassing region locks is one thing, and if all you’re trying to do is access content that is otherwise inaccessible where you are located, then Betternet can get the job done. But if you are much more serious about stability, privacy, security and anonymity then you’ll be better off spending the little extra cash on something else. Again, it’s also not the best choice for big downloads like torrents. VPNs always need to be on in order for them to work otherwise your download or browsing history could leak out to your ISP even if only for a second. And with these download speeds it is hard to recommend it if you do have the money to spare.
We think the idea of a free VPN is a step in the right direction and since you literally don’t have anything to lose from giving it a go, you may as well try it and see for yourself how Betternet works in action. But if it weren’t for payment plans being optional, Betternet wouldn’t even be considered an option.