Hotspot Shield Review

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

September 23, 2020

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Features

4/5

Speed & Performance

4.2/5

Ease of Use

4.5/5

Mobile App

4.5/5

Customer Support

4.3/5

Pricing

4/5
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Hotspot Shield Pros:

Hotspot Shield Cons:

If you’re looking for the best VPN for you, Hotspot Shield is one to consider. You can choose from both free and paid plans. I’ve used both options, and you can find out my thoughts below.

Overview

Hotspot Shield is definitely considered one of the premier options on the market today, as it has more than 650 million customers around the world. However, large numbers don’t always mean that a VPN is going to be the right choice for you, which is why it is important to assess all of your options carefully. 

There are both paid and free options available with Hotspot Shield. The paid version is known as Hotspot Shield Elite. I will explain more about both in this review.

I’ll give you a brief overview of the main differences between both versions before we continue. The main difference is that the free version has a 500MB limit per day. Moreover, by upgrading to the paid version, you get a whole host of security features, access to servers in 82 countries, and ads are removed.

So, let me give you a bit of background information about the company before we move on. Pango is the company that owns Hotspot Shield. They used to be known as AnchorFree.

The location is a bit concerning when it comes to Hotspot Shield, as Pango is based in the United States. Not only is the US a founding member of the intelligence alliance known as Five Eyes, but the country has extremely intrusive privacy laws in place. 

It is worth pointing out that Pango group owns a number of other VPN services, including TouchVPN, Hexatech, and Betternet.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Speeds

This VPN uses the proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol, which has led Hotspot Shield to claim that it is the fastest VPN in the world.

What is Catapult Hydra? Well, it is meant to rectify any latency problems that are associated with other encryption protocols. Hotspot Shield has stated that, when compared with other VPN providers, this will enhance connection speeds considerably. 

So, Hotspot Shield set the bar high for itself in terms of speed, yet I am pleased to report that it is very fast! In fact, I would agree that it is one of the quickest VPNs on the market at the moment, both in terms of international and local server use. You won’t really notice a difference in terms of speed when you turn your VPN on, which is great news.

Security

In terms of security and strength, Hotspot Shield impresses. The secure AES-123 encryption and leak protection are used by both the free and premium applications, ensuring that your Internet traffic is protected while travelling through the network. 

One thing you do need to know is that Hotspot Shield uses Catapult Hydra, which is its own unique protocol. This means that basic VPN protocols like L2TP, IKEv2, or OpenVPN are not used. 

I was pleased to see that Hotspot Shield offers a VPN kill switch. However, my happiness was squashed a bit when I realised that this was only for the Windows app. At the moment, you do not get a VPN kill switch on iOS, Android, or macOS platforms, which is disappointing. I am not sure whether this is something Hotspot Shield is planning to add in the future. Nevertheless, for a VPN that has been around for quite some time now, it is disappointing to see that they only cater to Windows users in this regard. I do not recommend using a VPN without a kill switch because this means that your details could be exposed if your connection drops out, which we all know can happen from time-to-time. 

There are also a number of advanced features that I feel are missing with Hotspot Shield. You won’t get an ad-blocker, for example. Other features that I would have hoped to see include manual configuration, double-hop, and split-tunnelling. None of these options are available. If you would prefer a VPN with more comprehensive security options, I would advise reading my review on NordVPN.

Does Hotspot Shield collect logs? 

Unfortunately, they do! This is an area that the company has been criticised for. The good news is that they do not collect logs regarding your online activity or your browsing history. However, the privacy policy is pretty vague and the company does collect a wealth of other details.

Some of the other information collected by Hotspot Shield includes:

  • Non-personal logs of sites
  • Device-specific details
  • Bandwidth per session and per user
  • Connection timestamps
  • Your approximate geographical location 
  • Your IP address 

The amount of data that the company collects and potentially shares increases if you use the free version. They may share the following data with third-party companies:

  • City-level location
  • Unique advertising ID
  • MAC address
  • IMEI number, which is your unique mobile ID

In my opinion, this sort of privacy policy is a bit too close for comfort. Yes, it is good that the company does not extract any data that can be linked to your account specifically. However, I would certainly feel more comfortable if Hotspot Shield did not collect as much information as it does.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Ease of use

Ease of use is not a problem with Hotspot Shield! All you need to do is head to the downloads section of the site, and then select the device you wish to utilise the VPN on. 

The app is very easy to use, intuitive, and straightforward. This is great news, yet it probably does have a lot to do with the fact that there is not much in terms of customisation or advanced settings.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Torrenting

If you have been searching for a VPN for torrenting purposes, Hotspot Shield is an option to consider. P2P traffic and torrenting are unrestricted and fully permitted on Hotspot Shield. 

There are some good features that make Hotspot Shield a good candidate for torrenting, in my opinion. This includes the effective DNS leak protection and fast upload speeds. Personally, though, I would only recommend using this VPN for torrenting if you are using the Windows app so that you can benefit from the kill switch. 

The logging policy for Hotspot Shield is not the friendliest out there either, which can be a little bit of a concern when it comes to torrenting. Plus, it is worth pointing out that Hotspot Shield cannot be used with Kodi.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Unblock streaming services

If you want to use Hotspot Shield to connect to any of the popular streaming services, you are going to need to go for their paid solution. You are prevented from accessing Netflix with the free version. 

Instead, you will be met with a paywall, which will prompt you to sign-up for the premium subscription. 

In terms of the paid version, I was able to connect to the Netflix library in the United States without a problem. While there are not any dedicated Netflix servers, you should find that most of the US servers enable you to connect to Netflix with ease. It can take a little bit of trial and error, though. If one server in the US does not work with Netflix, you may need to try a couple until you find one that does. However, you should always be able to find one, as there are around 20 city-level locations in the US.

Hotspot Shield is getting better in terms of streaming. The platform was not able to unblock BBC iPlayer previously, but it seems that they have now mastered this, which is good news. You should also have no problem unblocking the new streaming service from Disney; Disney+.

Does Hotspot Shield unblock the Great Firewall of China?

Yes, Hotspot Shield is effective at unblocking websites in high censorship countries, such as China, Russia, and Iran. However, I would be a bit mindful of going for this option, as there is no kill switch.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

Compatibility

Compatibility should not be an issue with any of the major devices or platforms, including Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. 

As is the case with most VPNs out there, this VPN can be used on five simultaneous devices.

Games consoles and streaming devices

There is a long list of streaming devices and games consoles that are unsupported with Hotspot Shield, and so it is not the best VPN to use for this purpose.

You cannot use it on any games consoles. You also cannot use the VPN with Linux OS, jailbroken or rooted devices, Blackberry phones, kindle devices, Windows phones, Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV.

However, a custom VPN app has recently been brought out for both Android TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Browser extensions

There are browser extensions available for both Firefox and Chrome. You can read my reviews on both if you would like to discover more about the best VPNs for these browsers. 

Customer support

I must admit that I have been delighted with my experience with customer support so far. Around-the-clock live chat support is provided, and it is ideal for anyone who wants to get their queries and problems solved as quickly as possible. 

The only thing I don’t like about the customer support is that this exceptional service is only reserved for premium customers. Live chat is not an option for free customers. You need to communicate with the customer services team via email. Even still, the support is quite limited and some queries are only for premium subscribers.

There is a FAQ section and knowledge base available via the Hotspot Shield website, which should provide you with some assistance.

Pricing

As I have touched upon, there are both free and paid plans available when you decide to choose Hotspot Shield. 

With the free plan, you are only going to be able to connect one device. There is only one virtual location you can connect to as well, which is in the United States.

Aside from this, streaming access is limited and you have a 500MB daily data limit, as well as a connection speed of up to 2 Mbps. 

With the paid version, you can connect as many as five devices. You have more than 115 locations to select from, which includes over 80 countries and more than 35 cities. There is no data limit, the VPN has been optimised for streaming, and you get much faster speeds, up to 1 Gpbs. 

If you decide to go for the paid plan, you have the option of signing up on a monthly or yearly basis. If you go down the monthly route, you will be charged $12.99 per month. If you pay yearly, you will save 38%, with the price reduced to $7.99 per month. However, do note that you will need to pay for one year upfront if you do select this option.

There is a money-back guarantee available, and it is a generous one. You can try this VPN, risk-free for 45 days.

Summary

So there you have it: everything you need to know about Hotspot Shield and the features associated with this VPN. There are a lot of great benefits associated with this VPN, yet the U.S. jurisdiction is a bit of a concern! I’d recommend checking out ExpressVPN before making your mind up.

Does Hotspot Shield sound right for you?

Join and get access to exclusive content, tips and more!

you may also like...

ibVPN Review

TurboVPN offers a free service, but is it worth your time? Read my thoughts in…
Read more

PureVPN Review

Based in Hong Kong, PureVPN has been running for over 13 years now and has…
Read more

VPN.ac Review

One name that is usually overlooked is VPN.ac. Should you be paying attention to this…
Read more

VPNArea Review

Is VPNArea a good choice? Discover more about this vPN provider, which is based in…
Read more

Secure VPN Review

SecureVPN boasts a kill switch and supports torrenting. Discover more about this VPN solution.
Read more

Hide My IP Review

Hide My IP has servers in 123 different countries around the world. Discover whether this…
Read more

FrootVPN Review

If you are looking for a low-cost, basic VPN, FrootVPN is certainly worth considering. Find…
Read more

BTGuard Review

Boasting high levels of security, BTGuard is a VPN well worth considering, but is it…
Read more

Browsec Review

From security to speed; discover everything you need to know about Browsec VPN.
Read more

Avira Review

Known for their antivirus product, Avira brought a VPN out in 2016. Read my full…
Read more

vpn.ht Review

Vpn.ht was created back in 2014 by the company known as Wicked Technology. is it…
Read more

VPN.S Review

VPN.S, also known as VPNSecure, is a solution worth considering if you are looking for…
Read more

SaferVPN Review

SaferVPN describes itself as the fastest and simplest VPN on the market. Bold claims! Does…
Read more

IVPN Review

Incorporated in Gibraltar, IVPN has a small server network. However, it comes with some great…
Read more

Proton VPN Review

ProtonVPN is based in the friendly jurisdiction of Switzerland. A great start, but does the…
Read more

PrivateVPN Review

PrivateVPN is a user-friendly VPN that is good for streaming purposes and combines effective encryption…
Read more

Tiger VPN Review

Based in Slovakia, TigerVPN has more than 300 servers across 42 countries. Is it right…
Read more

Ivacy Review

Ivacy has been around for quite some time now, and it certainly offers some great…
Read more

OpenVPN Review

OpenVPN is an open-source software application that many VPN providers use today. Discover more.
Read more

TorGuard Review

TorGuard is based in the United States, but can we get passed this poor jurisdiction?…
Read more

Buffered Review

Buffered VPN was recently absorbed into encrypt.me. From speeds to security, I assess this VPN…
Read more

HIDE me Review

Hide.me is a VPN that ticks a lot of boxes, especially in terms of streaming.…
Read more

AVG Review

AVG is a brand that is known around the world for its antivirus product, and…
Read more

AirVPN Review

KeepSolid offers robust VPN services for both the business and also the individual user. Delivering…
Read more

AceVPN Review

Acevpn has servers across more than 50 locations worldwide, but is it worth downloading?
Read more

ZenMate Review

ZenMate is a German VPN provider that will allow you to safely browse the internet…
Read more

IPVanish Review

IPVanish boasts an impressive line up of over 1000 servers across 60 countries. They’re by…
Read more

VyprVPN Review

A solid VPN that offers insanely good security and anonymity. From only £3.63 per month,…
Read more

NordVPN Review

NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN allowing you to connect to 4,952 servers worldwide. It’s well…
Read more