ExpressVPN or Betternet? If you’re struggling to choose between the duo of premium providers, we’ve put together a detailed head-to head comparison looking at exactly what each VPN has to offer.
Does Betternet have what it takes to surpass one of the bigger providers on the market in the form of ExpressVPN? The services differ in a number of key areas, and there’s a clear winner when all is said and done. Read on to find out which VPN we’d recommend.
ExpressVPN vs Betternet - Which is best?
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that there are free and paid versions of Betternet’s VPN. As we’re comparing the service to ExpressVPN, we’ll be focusing on the premium version of Betternet’s software in the interest of fairness.
If you’d prefer a quick answer, ExpressVPN is likely to be the best service for most users, no matter which version of Betternet is in use. Express is clearly superior in terms of everything from connection speeds to streaming capabilities, and performs a clean sweep as it wins every head-to head category below.
Does the VPN offer good value for money, and what should you expect in terms of pricing? (It might be tempting to go with the cheapest option, but that’s not necessarily a good idea if a provider lacks key features.)
Betternet comes with a duo of plans to choose from, alongside a 7-day free trial. The one-year plan is billed at $7.99 per month ($95.88), while it’s $12.99 if you’d prefer to pay monthly. ExpressVPN is similarly priced, whether it’s one-month ($12.95 per month), six months ($9.99), or 12 months ($8.32).
Both services offer a simple money back guarantee, issuing refunds with no hassle. ExpressVPN gives the user 30 days to make a decision, while Betternet has a generous 45-day refund policy. (It’s much improved compared to Betternet’s old policy in which a refund was only given if you’d used less than 50 MB of data within a 30-day period.)
One drawback with Betternet is that you’ll only be able to pay for the service with a credit or debit card. In comparison, ExpressVPN allows for PayPal payments, and also accepts Bitcoin, which is great for anyone who would prefer to pay anonymously.
It’s a tight race, but ExpressVPN edges out Betternet when it comes to pricing. The difference for a yearly deal works out to 33 cents per month, and that’s a small price to pay considering Express is superior in many respects.
Which has better features
Many VPNs cover similar ground, offering the same basic service on the surface. (For example, it should allow you to connect to various servers worldwide, assigning the user with a new IP address in the process.) Therefore, features are a great way to differentiate between providers.
ExpressVPN allows for five simultaneous connections with a single account, while Betternet’s premium plan allows subscribers to install and use the VPN on up to six devices at the same time. It’s not a major difference, but it’s still worth mentioning.
With servers dotted across 80+ countries, Betternet has worked to improve the size of its network in recent years. However, it’s dwarfed in scale by ExpressVPN, who have over 3,000 servers in 94 countries around the world.
The same is true for server locations, as Express leads the way with 160 compared to Betternet’s total of 100+. (The free version of Betternet will only allow users to connect to a limited selection of locations within the United States.)
Each service offers split tunneling, although it’s only available on Windows with Betternet. In terms of notable features, Express has TrustedServer technology, which ensures no user data is ever written to a hard drive, along with a Threat Manager, and their custom Lightway protocol for faster speeds.
There’s a free version of Betternet, but it’s light when it comes to additional features. It comes with lots of ads, and you can only connect to servers located in the US. Content that is accessible via these servers is limited, you can only use one device, and there’s a 500 MB/day data limit.
Router support will enable you to protect every device in your Wi-Fi network. This is ideal for connecting the VPN to technology with no traditional app support, including games consoles, or any other internet-connected device in your home.
Unfortunately, Betternet only works with core mobile and desktop devices, with no router support to speak of. In comparison, ExpressVPN has guides for a number of router models and brands, including Asus, Linksys, and Netgear. DD-WRT and Tomato firmware are both covered, and you’ll also be able to buy a pre-flashed router with ExpressVPN already installed.
Once again, there’s a clear frontrunner in this comparison if you’re hoping for router support.
What services do they Unblock?
One of the greatest benefits of a VPN is that it can be used to unblock a range of online services worldwide. This can include banking apps while you’re abroad, or popular international streaming platforms like Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
As you can see from the list above, ExpressVPN has proven time and again that it’s one of the most reliable providers when it comes to accessing blocked services. Unfortunately, Betternet isn’t a great choice for streaming, or accessing the most stubborn blocked sites.
What Netflix libraries
What about Netflix? The streaming giant offers content that varies drastically depending on your location, typically due to international streaming restrictions. (A quality VPN will be able to unblock various international Netflix catalogs, despite the streaming platform’s best efforts to stop this from happening.
ExpressVPN is one of our top picks for Netflix, and users will be able to unblock 24 catalogs in total. Betternet can’t compare in this respect, struggling to access even the US version of the streaming platform at the best of times. If streaming and unblocking services is your main aim, we’d stick with ExpressVPN.
The ability to download and share torrents is crucial for many users. However, some ISPs and governments blocktorrenting websites at the source. A VPN is a great way to bypass these blocks to download content anonymously, as long as torrenting is permitted by the provider in the first place.
Betternet and ExpressVPN users will be able to download torrents safely, although you’ll see improved speeds with the latter. (A faster connection means you’ll be able to download files at a much quicker rate.) If you’re planning to torrent regularly, we’d stick with the speedier option for the best results.
Setup & Usability
How easy is the VPN to use, and is the setup process painless? Will you be able to find apps for every device, and do these apps offer good functionality? Thankfully, getting started is simple with ExpressVPN and Betternet.
Both providers have native app support for popular devices, such as iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. Only ExpressVPN is able to offer Linux support, so there’s an obvious choice if you’re using that specific OS. Otherwise, Betternet has a Chrome browser extension, while ExpressVPN is also compatible with Firefox and Edge, along with Google’s browser.
ExpressVPN gives the user access to .ovpn files on their website, ensuring that the VPN will work with almost any device or platform imaginable. Each service has a range of guides and articles to help users on its website, although Express has a more robust selection overall.
Both VPNs have apps that are user-friendly, but there’s a clear frontrunner when looking at the setup process and the various options on offer.
ExpressVPN has a duo of capable native apps for mobile devices, although there is one important caveat. It does not have a kill-switch on iOS, which could be an issue if the connection drops out unexpectedly. As for Betternet, it’s easy to click and connect, but there aren’t any notable mobile features to speak of.
Performance & Speed
Connection speeds will always be important when judging the quality of a provider. As your traffic is routed to and from a VPN’s server, there’s a possibility of slowdown as a consequence. Quicker server speeds will be able to mitigate this, so you’ll be able to avoid any buffering or slowdown whatsoever.
Each provider has a custom protocol which can be used for the fastest connection speeds possible. Lightway is arguably more impressive, as a customized version of WireGuard. Betternet uses the homegrown Catapult Hydra protocol, which is a modified version of OpenVPN.
As you can see from the results, ExpressVPN works out to be one of the nippier providers when all is said and done. Betternet can’t match up in terms of pure performance, even if it has improved considerably in recent years.
How does the VPN perform when it comes to security? What features are available to users, and are they implemented correctly?
|IPv6 leak protection|
|WebRTC leak protection|
Betternet uses Catapult Hydra, which is a proprietary protocol developed by AnchorFree. (This is shared with other providers owned by Aura such as Hotspot Shield, and offers obfuscation to disguise VPN traffic and bypass blocks.)
It’s a capable protocol, but it’s disappointing not to have some flexibility. For example, ExpressVPN has also introduced their own super-fast encryption protocol (Lightway), which is a customized version of WireGuard. It also gives access to additional protocols such as OpenVPN and IKEv2.
In terms of DNS and WebRTC leak protection, ExpressVPN performs well, even if it does require that users install a browser extension to block WebRTC if they have an IPv6 connection. The Betternet desktop app showed no IP leaks or DNS leaks during testing, although the same can’t be said for its Chrome proxy browser extension.
|Jurisdiction||British Virgin Islands|
|User details required for sign up?|
|Anonymous payment options?|
Where is the VPN headquartered, and what should you expect from its logging policy? ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is ideal from a privacy perspective due to strong data laws within the region.
Betternet is headquartered in the United States, which isn’t great if you’re looking for the best option to increase online privacy. The US is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, and the government has the right to ask for logs from any providers based in the country.
Of course, a strict logging policy will ensure that a provider has no data to hand over in the first place.
The Betternet logging policy leaves a lot to be desired. For example, it logs domain names that users visit, your device IP address, the duration of sessions, the bandwidth consumed, and device hashes. That’s with the premium version of the software.
Users of the ‘free’ Betternet VPN tier will be served personalized ads, and the service will log lots of information such as device or mobile advertising identifiers,and your IP address. It also logs further device info such as the make, model, OS, and language, for the purpose of personalized advertising. In other words, you’ll be giving up a lot of your information in exchange for accessing its US servers for free.
According to a 2016 paper by the CSIRO, Betternet’s free app came with 14 tracking libraries, which was the highest of any free VPN service researchers looked at.
In comparison, ExpressVPN has a strong no-logs VPN policy. It ensures that they will never have any invasive usage logs or connection logs to hand over in the first place. Furthermore, your data won’t be used for marketing purposes, and the service is independently audited regularly. Betternet’s logging policy should be seen as a deal-breaker if privacy is your main aim.
|Money-back guarantee length||30 days|
Customer service is important, especially for new users who may not have tried a VPN in the past. You might want to ask about a specific feature, or find out which server is best with a specific blocked service.
ExpressVPN deserves top marks for its support options. It has a website that is full of resources such as guides, FAQs, and videos. This is further complimented by 24/7 live chat support, so you’ll be sure to get an answer to any question quickly.
Betternet support is only available for premium users, and it’s left wanting in many respects. For example, they promise technical support ‘24 hours a day 7 days a week’, but you’ll only be able to get in contact via email. There’s no live chat to speak of, and there aren’t many support articles available on its website.
One advantage is that Betternet offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, while Express offers an industry standard refund that is available for 30 days.
Betternet is a decent budget provider with various drawbacks to consider. The website is barebones, while support is also limited. It has fewer servers to choose from, a sole protocol, and speeds aren’t up to par.
Even with the addition of a free tier, It was never going to match up to the juggernaut that is ExpressVPN, especially in terms of additional features and overall performance. However, Betternet is far from the worst provider that we’ve tested over the years, and it has made various improvements that make the competition closer than expected.
Outright Winner: ExpressVPN
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