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CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield continue to stand among the best VPNs in 2021. There are more than a few arguments for and against each one, so the winner will depend more on your personal preferences, really. With that said, I’m here to make an in-depth CyberGhost vs Hotspot Shield comparison to help you make the right decision.
Both contestants were tested in a number of categories. These include privacy, security, performance, and compatibility. I also checked how good are they for streaming and torrenting. Last but not least comes the price, a factor that usually decides towards which VPN the user is leaning.
By taking a quick look, I can see that CyberGhost VPN is faster than Hotspot Shield and has a much longer server list. It’s also clearly cheaper. So, are there any areas where Hotspot Shield has an edge? Let’s dig in to find out!
|“Best for” nominee||Best overall||Kodi, Netflix, torrenting|
|Price starts from||$2.25/month||$7.99/month|
|Review||CyberGhost review||Hotspot Shield review|
Speed and servers
Hotspot Shield is known for its proprietary Hydra protocol and incredibly fast speeds, except for connections dealing with torrenting. That also has to do with the quality of their servers and the fact that there are no bandwidth limitations.
In the meantime, CyberGhost has implemented the next-gen WireGuard protocol that offers breakneck speeds. Thanks to it, Hotspot Shield and its in-house Hydra protocol are left behind.
Hotspot Shield vs CyberGhost: 14-Day Speed Average
|Download Speed||211 Mbps||93 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||443 Mbps||159 Mbps|
|Download Speed||112 Mbps||59 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||326 Mbps||214 Mbps|
|Download Speed||190 Mbps||81 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||431 Mbps||191 Mbps|
The numbers that you see above are a bit misleading because here, we’re using OpenVPN protocol. In this case, Hotspot Shield is considerably faster, but the situation should change once we implement both Hydra and WireGuard to our testing tool.
|Physical servers||Not all||Not all|
|Owns all servers||No||No|
|P2P servers||Not all||All|
As you can see from the table’s data, CyberGhost’s server fleet is more than two times bigger. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean lower server load or better speeds. As I’ve seen numerous times, quality wins over quantity nearly every time.
Other than that, both VPNs are pretty identical, offering great worldwide coverage with 90+ countries. And even though Hotspot Shield allows P2P on all servers, CyberGhost compensates with a longer server list. So since I don’t know how many of their servers are virtual, I have to call this one a tie.
Pricing and plans
|Money-back guarantee||45 days||45 days|
While Hotspost Shield has a free version, CyberGhost has much better prices and plans (up to three years). The latter also has a Family plan that costs more but lets you connect 25 devices at the same time.
Both providers also offer free trials, but Hotspot Shield asks you to enter payment details first before giving you 7 days of Premium. In the meantime, CyberGhost’s free trial is for one day only but comes with no strings attached.
Security: Hotspot Shield vs CyberGhost VPN
|Protocols||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||Hydra|
|Kill switch||Yes, Always-on||Yes|
|DNS and IP leaks||No leaks||No leaks|
|Security features||Split tunneling, Ad & malware blocker, Tor over VPN, SOCKS5 proxy, App Protection, NoSpy servers||Malware scanner (Android & iOS) and other features for the Chrome extension|
As expected, Cyberghost and Hotspot Shield use military-grade encryption that prevents third-parties from snooping over your traffic. However, the former has multiple tunneling protocols, including WireGuard. In the meantime, its opponent uses proprietary Hydra protocol, which is both safe and fast.
Both VPNs have a kill switch, but their approach is totally different. CyberGhost has it turned on all the time while Hotspot Shield keeps it off by default. Therefore, novice users might remain vulnerable if they choose the latter service.
Finally, CyberGhost has way more security features. Those include split tunneling, Tor over VPN, and a SOCKS5 proxy. Unfortunately, all that Hotspot Shield offers is Malware Scanner for mobile apps. At least its Chrome extension has a range of security and privacy features.
Privacy: CyberGhost VPN vs Hotspot Shield
|Jurisdiction||United Kingdom||United States|
|Logging||No-logs policy||No-logs policy|
CyberGhost VPN is based in Romania, but its owner, Kape Technologies, falls under the UK jurisdiction. To make matters worse, this company is notorious for creating questionable software akin to malware.
Sadly, Hotspot Shield, based in the US, has its own issues with maintaining users’ confidentiality. They have been accused of “logging connections and using third-party tracking to serve targeted advertising,” an allegation that they have, of course, denied. In the best-case scenario, this applies to their free version only.
Does offering anonymous payments in Bitcoin make CyberGhost the winner of this round? Hardly. I would recommend neither of them for political activists, journalists, and alike.
|Major dedicated apps||All||All|
|Other dedicated apps||Android TV, Fire TV & Fire Stick||Android TV, Fire TV & Fire Stick|
|Browser extensions||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome|
|Manual setup||Routers, NAS||Routers|
Getting started with either of these services is a simple process. Both have a variety of easy-to-use apps and extensions that make connecting a breeze. However, Hotspot Shield has an add-on for Chrome only, so Firefox users might think twice before committing.
Another advantage that CyberGhost has is the simultaneous connections limit. This VPN allows seven while its competitor offers five. On the other hand, if you’re planning to use the VPN on multiple devices, it’s best to install it on a router anyway.
Finally, CyberGhost has a Smart DNS feature that’s great for streaming geo-blocked content on various devices. In this case, your traffic stays unencrypted, but the speeds are much faster and good enough for HD or even 4K video quality. You can use SmartDNS with smart TVs, game consoles, and Roku.
Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost for streaming
|Other Netflix libraries||Yes||Yes|
Both VPNs unblock multiple Netflix libraries and other streaming platforms. However, users will probably appreciate that CyberGhost has specialized streaming servers for over twenty video sites.
Another advantage is that CyberGhost has Smart DNS. This allows you to access geo-blocked content on various multimedia devices, such as smart TVs or game consoles. Since Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your traffic, the speeds will also be noticeably higher.
Torrenting with CyberGhost VPN and Hotspot Shield
|Allowed on||Dedicated servers||All servers|
|Free SOCKS5 proxy||Yes||No|
|Split tunneling||Windows and Android||No|
Hotspot Shield allows P2P, but they are quick to tell you to download at your own risk. If your VPN is telling you that they are not protecting you, it is better to avoid doing it at all. Let’s also not forget that this provider is based in the US (Five Eyes)
On the other hand, CyberGhost has dedicated torrenting servers and speeds to match. It also offers a free SOCKS5 proxy and split tunneling feature.
Neither has port forwarding, though. This means that if you’re behind a router and need to upload, peers may have trouble connecting to you.
Both Hotspot Shield and CyberGhost offer quality 24/7 customer support. Neither has a phone line, but this never was a popular option among VPNs. Instead of that, users have live chats with knowledgeable and responsive agents.
Each contestant has a solid self-help section with FAQs, how-to guides, and troubleshooting sections. And even though the Hotspot Shield support page is easier to navigate, CyberGhost has more useful self-help information.
The biggest drawback of Hotspot Shield’s support is restricted access to their 24/7 live chat, which is available to existing users only. Most of the time, potential customers have some questions before making a decision, so I believe they’re shooting themselves in the leg with this one. On the other hand, when you have an option to try the free version first, you’ll be creating an account anyway.
Hotspot Shield vs CyberGhost VPN: a side-by-side comparison
|Speed and servers||Tie||Tie|
|Total wins||5 out of 8||0 out of 8|
CyberGhost VPN vs Hotspot Shield: the verdict
CyberGhost wins this comparison by a considerable margin. To my surprise, Hotspot Shield couldn’t win in any of our eight categories. But does that mean it’s a bad VPN? Not at all.
The right question to ask is which one of these capable VPNs is best for you? Well, it all comes down to how you use the internet and which features are “a must” for you. If you have another opinion, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
If you’re not spending that much time online, Hotspot Shield is the better option. It has a free version, which might just be enough for your needs. And when the time comes, you can simply upgrade instead of looking for a brand new service that you may not like at all.
Having said that, CyberGhost is better for experienced users who know exactly what they want from a VPN. It has more features and settings to toggle, meaning you can create your customized setup. What’s more, CyberGhost is moving towards becoming a cybersecurity suite – you can already get one for Windows.
But putting personal preferences aside, Hotspot Shield fails to offer similar security and privacy while also losing in streaming and P2P categories. And when it costs more than CyberGhost, the choice is obvious.
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Jan is a cybersecurity and consumer protection specialist focused on investigations that help readers navigate the complex infosecurity sphere. His research and commentary has been featured in Forbes, ComputerWeekly, PC Mag, TechRadar, ZDNet, The Mirror, Entrepreneur, and many other leading publications around the world.