Being one of the fastest VPNs on the market, supporting all major platforms, and working great for Netflix makes Hotspot Shield a great choice to enhance your privacy online.
Being one of the fastest VPNs on the market, supporting all major platforms, and working great for Netflix makes Hotspot Shield a great choice to enhance your privacy online.
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In my Hotspot Shield review, I’ll look at the main features of this popular VPN service, which has already gathered millions of users worldwide across different platforms. While the free Hotspot Shield version certainly has impacted these numbers, there’s no denying that this provider offers a secure and fast connection.
Hotspot Shield VPN also claims to be the fastest service, all thanks to its in-house Hydra tunneling protocol and a solid server list that spans over 90+ countries.
But is it truly the case? I’ll try to find how good this VPN really is by answering this and some other key questions:
Continue reading my Hotspot Shield review to get the answers you seek. Below you’ll also find a quick overview that sheds some light on this VPN’s price, customer support, logging policy, and streaming capabilities.
|Rank||#21 out of 215 providers|
|Company location||United States|
|Number of countries covered||90|
|Number of servers||3200|
|Unblocks Netflix||Yes, with Premium|
|Safe for Torrenting||Yes|
|Customer Support||24/7 live chat|
|Logging policy||Minimal data collection|
|Free version or trial||Yes|
Hotspot Shield claims to be the world’s fastest VPN. Well, at least that’s what Ookla’s Speedtest.net told about them after their independent study.
However, I must mention that it dates back to 2019, and many things have changed in the VPN industry since then. The most noticeable thing was a quick adoption of the next-gen WireGuard protocol.
To see if the Speedtest.net study still holds, we started to regularly test this VPN’s performance with our in-house speed test tool.
|Download Speed||208 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||437 Mbps|
|Download Speed||113 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||318 Mbps|
|Download Speed||194 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||455 Mbps|
Based on our results, I can say that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN that doesn’t have the WireGuard tunneling protocol.
To be fair, our speed test uses OpenVPN, but this provider is known for its high-performing in-house Hydra protocol. It’s supposed to double the download speeds for large files (compared to OpenVPN), and that’s probably why they’re not in a hurry to implement WireGuard.
All in all, the results show that this VPN truly is among the fastest ones on the market. With it, you’ll be able to stream 4K videos, play online and place VOIP calls without lag, torrent large files in minutes, or simply browse without annoying loading times. However, you shouldn’t forget that a lot of that depends on your internet connection quality as well.
Hotspot Shield VPN has 3200+ servers in 90+ countries. That’s a solid list, which is also well-spread across the globe, including four countries in Africa. The free version users get to connect to the US only, though.
|The Middle East and Africa||5+|
This VPN doesn’t own all of its servers, but the same can be said about the most. This doesn’t have much impact on performance, anyway – there’s simply less chance that someone might tamper with the servers on your premises. However, not all servers are physical, so the performance might worsen with the virtual ones.
One strange thing about Hotspot Shield is that your server options vary depending on your platform. This means that you may not be able to use a server that worked for you on PC after switching to iPhone.
As I write this Hotspot Shield review, it offers three premium plans:
VPN providers like to change their prices often. Most of the time, they go up.
Secure the best Hotspot Shield deal in 2021.
Premium plans allow you to use 5 simultaneous connections.
The supported payment methods include credit cards and PayPal.
There is a 7-day “free trial,” but you have to provide your credit card details, and AnchorFree automatically puts you into the most expensive monthly plan unless you cancel in time. Other than that, there’s no such thing as a free premium Hotspot Shield account. Unfortunately, many people have fallen into the hands of scammers, thinking otherwise.
This VPN offers one of the most extended refund periods, which is a 45-day money-back guarantee. At the end of the day, the Hotspot Shield price may be a bit high for what it has to offer compared to others, especially its monthly subscriptions.
Naturally, it comes with some serious limitations:
Furthermore, this version collects logs and shares them with third-parties.
When answering whether Hotspot Shield is safe, the first place to look is in the VPN’s list of specifications. In short, this service may not be Edward Snowden’s first choice for a VPN, but it certainly provides solid basics. Let’s look at those in more detail.
Hotspot Shield uses AES-256 military-grade encryption. Today, this is considered the best choice on the market for a combination of security and speed.
One great thing about this virtual private network is that it uses a perfect forward secrecy feature. With it, your data is kept safe even if the key of your current encryption gets compromised.
Hotspot Shield VPN also uses its own patented VPN protocol, called Hydra. This protocol is a proprietary modification or enhancement of TLS and OpenSSL.
Hydra is secure and seems to have some performance benefits over other protocols, such as OpenVPN and IKEv2. That means that with the Hydra protocol, you get the best speeds without sacrificing your security.
Unfortunately, this service is late in introducing WireGuard, which is by far the fastest and safest tunneling protocol in the industry.
One of the good things about this VPN is its powerful kill switch. A kill switch turns your Internet connection off once your VPN connection fails. This prevents your IP address from leaking.
Unlike some providers out there, Hotspot Shield doesn’t have the kill switch on by default. Hence, you’ll need to enable it yourself.
To do that, simply go to Settings -> Advanced and press on Kill Switch:
One thing to know is that the Mac client doesn’t have a kill switch. However, Mac users can choose the Mac OpenVPN app Tunnelblick, which has a kill switch and can be manually configured.
Hotspot Shield doesn’t just encrypt data, it also prevents DNS and IP address leaks of various types, including WebRTC.
The best way to check for IP or DNS leaks is to run a few online tests. To do so, I connected to Belgium and was assigned the IP address 22.214.171.124.
Then I checked whether my IP address or DNS queries were leaking:
As you can see, this is my Hotspot Shield-given IP address, meaning there are no IP or DNS leaks. Hence, you can stay calm using this provider, knowing that your true IP address is well hidden.
Hotspot Shield is based in the US. The country well-known for its privacy-unfriendly climate, as well as being a founding member of the Five Eyes global surveillance alliance.
Knowledge of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities may put off those who are hunting the highest privacy standards. Additionally, The United States has tough copyright laws like the DMCA, making torrenters think twice before giving this VPN a try.
It’s also important to mention that at the beginning of July 2020, Pango (the company behind Hotspot Shield) was acquired by a digital security company Aura. The company aims to expand its security offerings and protect its users with data-driven products.
“We may collect device identifiers, browser types, device types and settings, operating system versions, mobile, wireless, and other network information (such as internet service provider name, carrier name and signal strength), and application version numbers”
The provider clearly states that any IP data is erased immediately after VPN sessions, and it keeps zero logs of online activity. The provider admits it must collect some personal information when computers or mobile phones connect to the VPN, but this is limited to information such as the type of device and OS being used or the unique Mobile-ID.
The free version of Hotspot Shield is logging extensively, though. The provider admits that personal data is shared routinely with advertisers, as is expected in such cases.
In 2017 Hotspot Shield faced some serious data privacy issues. The Center for Democracy & Technology filed a report accusing the company of “logging connections and using third-party tracking to serve targeted advertising.”
The company denied the allegations claiming they are unfounded.
Still, it seems that this VPN provider does log connection data (so-called aggregate data), including which websites you visit and the apps you use for online communications.
Recently, security researcher Paulos Yibelo claimed to have found a significant security bug that could leak generic information like the user’s country. He was able to find out the physical locations of users based on the data he retrieved.
He also said that he could occasionally retrieve true IP addresses, which AnchorFree claimed was impossible since their programmers also investigated the security bug and patched it.
Apps and support for different devices were always one of the weak sides of this service. However, the situation has recently improved, and now it has apps for the following platforms:
It also supports a bunch of routers (Asus-WRT, Merlin, GL.iNet, DD-WRT, FreshTomato). Finally, you can download a Chrome browser extension as well.
The interface of Windows and Mac clients is similar. However, the macOS app looks more like the mobile versions. You’ll find the main differences between the two desktop apps in the Settings menu.
Hotspot Shield for Mac is one of the clients that allows less customization than the Windows version.
In the Settings menu, you can see the IP leak prevention option that is on by default, but you can decide to turn it off. You can also turn the Kill Switch on or off here if you want to.
In contrast, the Hotspot Shield Mac app has to offer Unsafe WiFi notifications and auto-start.
The Windows app’s interface is excellent for any VPN newbie who wants to access blocked content quickly. But, it could be less impressive for an advanced user who would prefer more freedom to tinker with the settings.
Hotspot Shield for mobile devices has a similar interface to the desktop app. Again, it’s very clean and easy to follow.
To tell the truth, Hotspot Shield for Android and iOS is not the best regarding security tweaking. However, these apps offer some extra features like:
Basically, apart from a few general behaviors (e.g., Start on boot) and securing WiFi connections, there’s not much to tweak in the Hotspot Shield mobile apps.
You can use Hotspot Shield with Chrome.
Using the Chrome extension is great for:
Adding the VPN’s extension is no different than any other browser extension. You can download it from the Chrome Store or provider’s website.
It’s also important to mention that apart from the paid subscription, you have two other choices. First, you may want to test the 7-day free trial version. Second, you can use this VPN for free. Of course, there will be limitations, such as only a few foreign servers to use (see below).
It’s clear from the Configuration menu that only the Germany, Netherlands, Canada, and Russia servers are available with the free account, and you’re able to connect to 9 countries with the paid plan.
Of course, if you choose the free version, you’ll frequently see popups and browser redirections to buy the full version.
With the extension, you’ll be able to use the following features:
When it comes to streaming, it matters whether you have a paid plan. If you don’t, the stakes of accessing streaming platforms are low. If you do, you can enjoy streaming to your liking.
Here’s the good news: you can use the paid version of Hotspot Shield for Netflix.
I managed to stream Netflix US, UK, and Australian libraries without any issues. But, I couldn’t bypass the detection measures with servers in Canada and Japan. If you fail to access Netflix, you can find information on the Hotspot Shield website to help you out.
And now the bad news: you can’t unblock Netflix without paid Hotspot Shield version. Here’s what you’ll see if you try to access the platform:
If you want to find an alternative, you may try one of our best VPNs for Netflix in 2021.
I was a bit surprised to see Hotspot Shield unblock Amazon Prime Video for me. With Hydra protocol, the speeds were more than enough for 4K (UHD), and the loading times were short. Of course, a lot depends on your internet connection and the distance to the US server.
Even though BBC iPlayer is infamous for its strict geo-blocking, the Hotspot Shield manager give me the access. If it didn’t work from the first try, consider switching to another UK server. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if BBC managed to blacklist all of them in the future.
Although 30% of VPN users target Netflix shows, there are other popular media centers too. One of them is Hulu, and Hotspot Shield has no trouble unblocking it. I was more than happy with the available quality and loading times.
While not the most popular streaming platform, YouTube TV is available from anywhere with the Hotspot Shield purchased version. It offers more than 80 different channels and is especially great for NBA, NFL, and MLB fans.
Hotspot Shield is absolutely safe for torrenting. What’s more, the Hydra protocol is excellent for those with slower or more unstable connections. There are plenty of servers and countries to choose from, but I missed SOCKS5 proxy and port-forwarding.
In contrast, the free Hotspot Shield isn’t the best choice for torrenting and other P2P file-sharing activities due to the daily 500 MB bandwidth limit. If that wasn’t enough, this version collects your personal data.
Hotspot Shield support options include:
When writing this Hotspot Shield review, I had to use the live chat support to figure out several issues. I found the support not only friendly and helpful but also quite fast. Of course, a few of the replies were templates, but, on the whole, I was satisfied with the answers.
One thing to mention – to access 24/7 live chat support, you’ll need to get the Hotspot Shield account. I found that to be quite frustrating as, more often than not, you want to get the answers before committing to a particular product.
You can also try to use the Support menu to open the FAQ section or send a direct question to the support team.
Learning how to use this VPN is easy. If you have any practice with VPNs, you shouldn’t have any issues switching to this one.
Hotspot Shield VPN has over 3200+ servers in more than 90+ countries. However, you can only choose by country – there’s no way to select the server or server location
After you log into your account, you will see a big Power button.
Click the Power button and get connected to the last-used or default optimal server.
Surprisingly, you can use Hotspot Shield to access Netflix US and Netflix UK. This is great news for TV show fans. We experienced pretty good speeds with the paid version. It’s possible to stream HD and even 4K (depending on your connection and device).
This VPN is also not bad for online gaming, general geo-unblocking, public wifi protection, and more. You can also try the Premium version for 7 days without paying.
If after reading this far you’re starting to have doubts whether Hotspot Shield is the VPN for you, consider checking out how it fares against some of the competitors. Below are three links to comparison articles that should give you a better idea where this provider stands.
Hotspot Shield vs NordVPN. It’s only natural that Hotspot Shield loses against our #1 service. However, you might be surprised to find both stand toe-to-toe in certain categories.
CyberGhost vs Hotspot Shield. Now these fall into the same weight-class. Unless you’re really into torrenting and lowest possible price, you may find both services evenly matched.
Hotspot Shield vs TunnelBear. The latter is known as the most fun VPN and is the best choice bear fans. However, if you’re not one of them, you may still like TunnelBear’s free version better.
One of the main advantages of Hotspot Shield is the free version, even if it’s limited. But should you get the premium option?
If you call yourself an average internet user, I’d say that you should upgrade to the paid version. It offers fast connections, thanks to its proprietary Hydra protocol, and has a solid server fleet. Furthermore, it unblocks not only Netflix but other streaming services as well.
Torrenting fans should also like Hotspot Shield, even though it’s not among the best P2P VPNs. Finally, there’s a 24/7 live chat ready to solve your issues.
What this service still lacks is the WireGuard tunneling protocol and some better pricing. I personally believe they’re asking a bit too much.
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend this VPN for political activists, hackers, and other users for whom privacy is an essential factor. While the premium version is not collecting logs, the ownership (US) and privacy scandals in the past shouldn’t be overlooked.
What about you? Would you recommend this VPN? Let us know in the comments below!
The reviews online show that Hotspot Shield VPN is a great product to use in China. With the VPN connection enabled, you’ll be sure to stay secure and private while browsing in China.
No, it’s not. Hotspot Shield is meant to protect and not harm you while browsing. With this product, you increase your security and privacy online.
To remove Hotspot Shield from your device, follow these steps:
Hotspot Shield is good for Netflix. It unblocks multiple libraries (UK, US, Australia) and gives you access to other streaming platforms as well.
Hotspot Shield is a good VPN that you should definitely try. It’s secure, fast, and easy to use. Furthermore, it unblocks Netflix, allows torrenting, and has 24/7 live chat.