Decided to learn more about Hotspot Shield VPN before you buy a VPN? No surprise there, there are hundreds of VPN providers on the market. Even worse for users, each claims to be the fastest and most secure. So, how do you decide? Compare it with VPN services we reviewed so far. When you find one that fits your needs and budget, take a glance at how a VPN works. After that, you’re ready to hide your IP with a VPN and your identity and location will be hidden from the government, ISP (Internet Service Provider), websites you visit, and services you use. Sounds appealing? Let’s get into the Hotspot Shield VPN review.
Hotspot Shield VPN Features
These are some of the key features of Hotspot Shield VPN:
Hotspot Shield VPN is based in Silicon Valley, California, and is under United States jurisdiction. This isn’t ideal, since the country is a founding member of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. It is also no secret that the NSA is doing unauthorized mass surveillance too. Luckily, Hotspot Shield VPN cannot aid them so your online activities remain a secret.
Hotspot Shield VPN has over 1800 servers in over 80 countries, which allows you to change a VPN server easily. However, providers of that caliber usually offer between two and four times more servers worldwide.
Hotspot Shield VPN deletes all activity and connection history logs of your usage after you disconnect. For that reason, they have nothing to turn over to the authorities even if forced to. However, they do collect data about your hardware, operating system, language, and anonymous data about your network. The question that has concerned cybersecurity experts is whether, when combined, this data could identify a user.
The VPN provider offers unlimited bandwidth usage and unrestricted VPN speed on their paid subscription plans.
Hotspot Shield VPN claims it’s the fastest VPN on the market, so let’s put that to test. We begin with a base test in London, England, United Kingdom, and connect to a server in the UK. Our download speed was reduced by about 5% while the change in upload speed and latency were negligible.
When we connected to a VPN server in Germany, the download speed went down by 10%. A connection to a Hotspot Shield VPN server in the United States reduced our download speed by about 25%. To test another country on a different continent, we connected to Australia and only saw a download speed reduction of 10%. As you can see, there are no significant differences in download speed, nor did ping rise unreasonably.
Hotspot Shield VPN uses the AES encryption algorithm with 256-bit keys which is industry-standard military-grade encryption.
Unblocking Streaming Services
Hotspot Shield VPN can bypass VPN blocks by streaming services such as:
- Amazon Prime Video
- BBC iPlayer
No IP/DNS Leaks
In our testing, the IP and DNS remained secure while browsing the Internet using all VPN apps. However, when we tested their VPN extension for Chrome, IP remained hidden but DNS leaked. Our privacy wasn’t threatened but websites we visited could detect we were using a VPN.
Hotspot Shield VPN supports IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, and a proprietary one named Catapult Hydra. Catapult Hydra is based on SSL and promises to be faster than any other protocols, have faster connection time, and be more reliable over great distances.
Works in China (Sometimes)
Users report mixed results when using Hotspot Shield VPN in China to access services such as Facebook, Google, or YouTube. Read more about it in our article on whether VPN is illegal in China. On the other hand, accessing Chinese services from outside the country works without fail.
Here are some of the additional Hotspot Shield VPN features:
Support for P2P Transfer
Hotspot Shield VPN is great for torrenting and supports it across all compatible devices. It will mask your IP address and hide your identity from your ISP, helping you avoid hefty copyright bills.
The provider allows for up to 5 simultaneous connections to the VPN on one account.
Although the provider has a kill switch feature that will terminate your Internet traffic when the VPN disconnects, it is currently only available on Windows.
Smart VPN (Split Tunneling)
Hotspot Shield VPN offers split tunneling, a feature that allows you to keep a VPN always ON. It allows you to take apps of your choice outside of the VPN tunnel while maintaining an active connection.
By signing up for a paid plan, you get automatic Dark Web monitoring and alerts with high-risk transactions. Also, you get a 1 million insurance on stolen funds.
Robo Shield will flag suspicious calls to your mobile devices and automatically block robocalling.
Great Customer Support
The Hotspot Shield VPN Customer Support service is available to you 24/7 via live chat on their website. You can also visit their Help Center or submit a support ticket after you log in.
Hotspot Shield VPN Installation and User Interface
You don’t need to create an account for Hotspot Shield VPN before downloading the app. And, although it’s not a 1-click installation like CyberGhost, the installation process is very straightforward. The user interface of Hotspot Shield VPN apps is simple, eye-pleasing (resembles Dark Mode), and easy to navigate, without any unnecessary settings. This makes it beginner-friendly and will do all the work for you, but might be too plain for advanced users.
All it takes is one click to the Connect button in the middle and you’re protected. Although you can’t pick a specific VPN server, you can choose a country when connecting, and see it on the map of the world. Additionally, you can track the amount of downloaded and uploaded data and time spent during an active connection.
Hotspot Shield VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. Additionally, it is compatible with Smart TVs, routers, and has a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.
Hotspot Shield VPN Pricing
The provider has 3 different VPN plans:
- Basic: Free plan, limited to 1 device per account and one VPN location in the United States. Supports 500 MB of data per day and a connection speed of up to 2 Mbps. You might also see ads.
- Premium: $7.99/month if paid yearly or $12.99/month if paid monthly
- Premium Family: $11.99/month if paid yearly or $19.99/month if paid monthly.
Identical benefits to Premium, except an increase of concurrent connections to 25 (5 per family member).
How does Hotspot Shield VPN compare to other providers?
If you read any of our reviews, you know that the long-term plans are almost double the price of affordable VPNs such as CyberGhost or NordVPN. Also, there’s a lack of 2-year and 3-year plans, at which point other VPN providers usually gift between 1 and 6 months free of charge.
Hotspot Shield VPN is almost identically priced as ExpressVPN, which is known as a much higher-quality VPN and is considered expensive. The two even offer the same 7-day free trial, although Hotspot Shield offers a 45-days money-back guarantee while ExpressVPN offers only 30. Also, Hotspot Shield VPN lacks the option to pay with gift cards or cryptocurrency.
- Has 1800+ servers in 80+ countries
- Strict zero-log policy
- All servers support P2P transfer
- Unblock major streaming services
- Has a 7-day free trial
- Among the fastest VPNs in the industry
- Uses an in-house developed security protocol
- Supports between 5 and 25 connections at the same time
- Longer-than-usual 45-day money-refund policy
- More expensive than the competition
- Potential privacy risk with their anonymous logging method
- You can’t choose a specific VPN server
- Inconsistent results from China
- Doesn’t support paying with cryptocurrencies
- Kill switch doesn’t work outside of Windows
- The proprietary VPN protocol isn’t open-source
Hotspot Shield VPN is a VPN provider with lightning-fast VPN speeds, support for torrenting, and impeccable security thanks to its proprietary VPN protocol. It also stays up to date with features and offers beginner-friendly apps for all major operating systems. On the other hand, it doesn’t unblock all streaming services, isn’t reliable for users from China, and doesn’t support anonymous payment methods others do. Its biggest obstacle is the high price, honestly. If it were cheaper, more people could look over some of its shortcomings.
Hotspot Shield VPN Review
Hotspot Shield VPN is a powerful VPN service with excellent features and super-fast connection speeds.