In a Nutshell
- VPN kill switch
- Specialized servers for torrenting, gaming, and more
- Apps for iOS and Android devices
- No Linux client
- Single month is pricey
Hotspot Shield VPN at a Glance
Money-back guarantee: 45 days
Allowed concurrent connections: 20 devices
Supported streaming services: Netflix, BBC iPlayer
No logs policy: Yes
P2P allowed: Yes
SmartDNS: Not available
VPN Protocols: Lacks OpenVPN
Special features: Kill switch, IP leak protection, Auto-protection
Customer support: 24/7 service
Server locations: 60+ countries
Number of servers: 2,500+ servers
Supported devices: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome
VPN legal jurisdiction: California, US
Price Range: $3.49-$12.99/month
Best for: Browsing the internet from anywhere
Hotspot Shield is big on security. It's considered one of the most robust online security protections out there to date. For one thing, Hotspot Shield uses TLS 1.2 encryption with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE) and 128/256-bit AES data encryption.
Additionally, Hotspot Shield assigns the same IP address to multiple users and different IP addresses to you randomly to keep anonymity at its highest. This VPN also adds online protection in the form of malware and phishing protection. Hotspot Shield claims to protect you against 3+ million malware sites, phishing sites, and spam sites or content farms.
The logging policy is a little unclear, but still pretty solid. For example, Hotspot Shield temporarily logs your IP address (at the onset of your session), but its servers are set up to automatically delete any IP information at the end of each session. Hotspot Shield doesn’t log any other information either such as browsing history.
However, Hotspot Shield received controversial criticism following a study by CSIRO, which blamed the VPN for injecting advert cookies and possible collaborations with third-parties. And while Hotspot Shield might have engaged in the allegations, we were delighted to see they have updated their privacy policies. Precisely, the VPN states that they no longer partake in such actions.
Hotspot Shield has a lot to offer both the casual streamer and those more serious about their online security and anonymity. It has excellent security features like an automatic kill switch that shuts down your connection if your service ever goes down (even for a moment), DNS leak protection, and uses TLS 1.2 with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE) and 128-bit/256-bit AES GCM data encryption technology to keep your information secure. Here are a few more features you’re going to love:
Hotspot Shield offers users a free VPN service. Full disclosure, this is not a great service. It's got ads, and it isn't as fast as the Premium version. If you're just looking for an easy, basic VPN and don't feel like shelling out any cash for it, this is a good option.
Another thing most users will love is the speed. In fact, Hotspot Shield was voted the fastest VPN service by PC World, so you know it’s going to be really fast. And we’re talking Lightning McQueen fast. Hotspot Shield has its own proprietary protocol (called Hydra) that is based on TLS and OpenSSL, so it’s not surprising that Hotspot Shield streaming is so great. This protocol is said to actually double the download speeds and increase ping times. What this means is that Hotspot Shield is super fast for smoother, easier streaming from any site.
Hotspot Shield supports torrenting, so you can share all your files with ease.
Up to 5 connections
Sadly, Hotspot Shield doesn’t dedicate clients for distinct devices like routers, Smart TVs, or gaming consoles. However, the VPN allows you to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously using a single package. So, you can have your tablet, phone, computer, gaming console, and smart TV all hooked up simultaneously to your Hotspot Shield account and get uninterrupted protection.
The Speed Test
As we said, one of the concerns people have when considering a VPN, is how it will affect the speed of their computer. We decided to put this to the test, using 2 different sites (speedtest.net and fast.com)
Checked on Speedtest.net, without VPN:
With VPN (using server based in Germany)
With VPN (set to a server in the United States)
We then did speed tests (from the US server) on Fast.com, where it was shown as 55 Mbps.
Pricing and Deals
Hotspot Shield VPN has several plans you can choose from, and each one gets more affordable as you increase the time you sign up for. Here’s a breakdown:
As mentioned above, Hotspot Shield supports torrenting. It even tells you how to get the job done with articles in its FAQ section on the website.
Hotspot Shield works well with streaming sites, and particularly with Netflix. This makes sense with the proprietary Hydra technology that it uses. Hydra makes all connections much faster than usual, so you’re streaming will be smooth, clear, and not choppy.
Hotspot Shield software is available for Windows and MacOS. One drawback is there is no Linux client software, so Linux-users will have to find another VPN option.
Hotspot Shield has an app for iOS and Android devices, so anybody can use this VPN with ease.
How Does Hotspot Shield Compare?
A bit on the downside, Hotspot Shield lacks a reliable 24/7 customer support system. Our judgment was significantly influenced by their lack of a live chat service on their website. And while they still offer an email ticketing system, a vast knowledge base, and an updated FAQ page; Hotspot Shield only offers direct support to users on paid plans. Otherwise, the VPN has shown over the years that the make constant improvements to better their service.
Ease of Use
Hotspot Shield definitely wins points for ease of use. The entire user interface is literally the click of a button. A single button. The design is clean and uncomplicated, and the fact that you simply have to click a button to start or stop your VPN puts Hotspot Shield at the top of the easy-to-use charts.
The VPN will automatically connect to the last country you connected from (or the US, as default), but you can change this by clicking on a drop-down menu. The only other settings you can choose from are whether or not the VPN runs on launch, whether or not you have IP leak prevention, and whether or not Hotspot Shield runs automatically when unsafe hotspots are joined.
Q: Does Hotspot Shield have malware protection?
A: Free accounts with Hotspot Shield have basic malware protection. When you pay for Hotspot Shield, you get upgraded malware, phishing, and spam protection.
Q: Does Hotspot Shield have bandwidth limits?
A: Paid subscriptions can enjoy unlimited bandwidth and data usage.
Hotspot Shield is an excellent VPN option. The single month plan is pricey, but you won’t find too many services that can beat the 3-year plan’s pricing. What’s more, Hotspot Shield offers some of the fastest connections anywhere. And if security is your end-game, Hotspot Shield has the features to keep you happy.