Q. I’ve been reading some about Chrome’s VPN Betternet browsing. If I can believe the poor-grammar hype/sales pitch, it sounds wonderful: worry-free anonymous browsing!
I'd like your input on the subject.
A. Betternet is one of the larger and more reputable free VPN providers.
But the Betternet VPN is not part of Chrome, and it’s not from Google; it’s a third-party product that’s offered as a standalone app for Windows, iOS, and Android plus as an add-on extension for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
Betternet VPN is indeed free; it gets its revenue by displaying ads and videos to its users.
Like all VPN’s, Betternet’s privacy benefits do cost you some speed. Routing of your data through the Betternet servers adds some time to the process of uploading and downloading data.
Fee-based VPNs — and there are many to choose from — might offer less congestion, better throughputs, and no ads.
I use a paid VPN when doing anything sensitive on public Wi-Fi; in coffee shops, hotels, airports, and the like. On the other hand, I find VPNs too slow for routine use over a private connection, such as at my office or home.
If I want a bit of extra Web anonymity while at home or the office, I use built-in browser tools like Incognito Mode or Private Browsing. If I want a lot of anonymity, I’ll use the free, standalone Tor Browser.
Bottom line: Betternet VPN is fine, if you don’t mind the ads and the speed penalty. But other options/services can help you avoid those drawbacks.
(Originally published on Windows Secrets on Monday, March 7, 2016.)
Editor's note: We feature an abridged Q&A from Fred Langa's LANGALIST, a column available exclusively to paid subscribers of the Windows Secrets newsletter,. What you see here is just a small sampling of what Langa's writing for the newsletter — go here for more information on how to subscribe.