Hotspot Shield is one of the biggest names in the VPN industry. Boasting more than 679 million user downloads, it claims to be the leader when it comes to web protection. So in this Hotspot Shield review, we will look into the VPN’s features and if it’s exactly what it claims to be.
Overall, Hotspot Shield’s performance is much better than most VPN providers. The good thing is it comes in a free version which some of its competitors doesn’t have the guts to offer.
So is this is trustworthy? Here’s what we found out:
What is Hotspot Shield?
This is a VPN service of AnchorFree that’s been in operation since 2005. Over the years, Hotspot Shield has increased its user base from a few million to hundreds of millions around the world.
AnchorFree has two main products namely the free VPN service (which is more of a proxy) and a premium VPN known as the Hotspot Shield Elite.
- Large data capping
- Easy to set up
- Decent speed
- Torrenting and streaming is also decent
- Comes in a free version
- Great user experience
- Privacy issues among some users
- Poor customer service
Presence: 25 countries, 2,000+ servers
Location: United States
Maximum connections: 5 devices per license
Log policy: Some logs present
Encryption & protocols: AES-256, Catapult Hydra (proprietary protocol of Hotspot Shield)
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome
Is Hotspot Shield safe? To get the answer to this, take your time to read the following features.
Performance and reliability
Speed-wise, Hotspot Shield has promising results. It seems to perform faster than other VPNs when connected to European servers.
In a 100 Mbps connection, Hotspot Shield recorded a download speed of around 92 Mbps on a European server.
But here’s the catch: it performs poorly on U.S. servers. This is somewhat shocking since the VPN is based in San Francisco.
Even Asian servers performed better. Overall, the VPN’s performance is stellar but you have to choose the right servers to make it work. If you are going to connect more on European servers, Hotspot Shield is unbeatable. We can say that this is the top choice, except for those who want to geo-unblock U.S. sites.
Let’s start with the installation process. Upon downloading the app, Hotspot Shield only took two minutes to install on our device.
And you know what the best part is? Hotspot Shield has one of the most beautiful VPN interfaces we’ve ever seen.
Aside from the chic look, you can easily manage the location of your servers in a few clicks. Still, don’t expect a lot of customization settings. Everything is made simple but highly functional.
If you just want a basic VPN to get you connected to the web safely, there’s nothing to dislike about Hotspot Shield.
However, if you’re meticulous about modes of payments, this platform can be a bit of a downer. Hotspot Shield only accepts PayPal and credit card payments. Unlike its major competitors, there’s no availability for cryptocurrency and other digital payment methods.
Protection and security level
There’s so much to discuss about Hotspot Shield’s level of security. First, it uses the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption which most VPN services and government agencies use. Overall, this is satisfactory.
Next, they also have to use their proprietary protocol called Catapult Hydra. This is also the same protocols that the likes of Bitdefender, McAfee, and other carriers offer in their platforms. Considering the reputation of these brands, we can say that Hotspot Shield is truly a champ in terms of security.
When it comes to user privacy, we have some gripes to discuss. Hotspot Shield will ask for an email address which is pretty normal among VPN services. Also, they claim not to store your IP addresses.
But here’s where it gets dirty: Hotspot Shield collects “aggregate data about which websites you visit and which apps you use”. In short, your browsing behavior is still being watched by Hotspot Shield and possibly third parties too.
When you use the free version, expect that advertisers will get to analyze your data for targeting.
Torrenting and streaming
Hotspot Shield fully supports torrenting and P2P file transfers. The platform even gives instructions on how to use their VPN for safe torrenting.
As of date, Hotspot Shield has never divulged the identities of any of their users who are deep into torrenting.
On the other hand, Hotspot Shield works in geo-unblocking restricted locations. However, you should know that Netflix’s compatibility can change anytime as the company has a continuous crackdown toward VPN IP addresses.
Also, torrenting and streaming speed will vary depending on the server location that you’re using.
Free vs. premium
Regardless of the name, we usually don’t recommend free VPNs for a variety of reasons. First, the fact that you’re not paying anything means it uses substandard encryption and tunneling protocols. For those who are handling sensitive information, it might expose them to the risk of hacking and data theft.
When it comes to Hotspot Shield’s free VPN, it’s actually more like a proxy service than a full-fledged VPN. Also, most free VPNs aren’t fast or good enough to unblock geo-restricted sites.
If you can, invest in a Hotspot Shield Premium VPN. Besides, their initial pricing is very affordable even for casual users.
Hotspot Shield price
Hotspot Shield’s one-month cost is slated at €15.99 which is around $18.10. It’s quite more expensive than its competitors, but you can save big if you opt for a longer contract. In fact, a two-year plan will only cost you around $5 a month.
Here’s the pricing table of Hotspot Shield:
All of these plans are covered with a 45-day money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.
In this Hotspot Shield review, we looked into the performance and security level of the VPN. As much as there are some ugly parts, there’s no denying that Hotspot Shield is ahead of its competitors.
If you’re not yet convinced of Hotspot Shield’s performance, you can opt for its free version first.