Hotspot Shield VPN Review
Hotspot Shield ranks among the top-popular and top-reliable services in the VPN industry. The platform has been in service since 2008, a year when it was founded in California, US. Now, it has a million-member audience worldwide.
The platform offers handy features for unblocking various destinations, websites, and networks. It provides an extended set of security tools to hide your identity and activities online. Will the service fit your needs? Let’s check its capacities in our Hotspot Shield review.
Pros and Cons
Like any top VPN, Hotspot Shield has a variety of benefits. Yet, there’s no ideal VPN, and drawbacks are always present with any service. Let’s view both the strong and weak points of the platform.
✔ A truly speedy VPN.
✔ Most streaming & torrenting networks unblocked.
✔ A free version on offer.
✔ Numerous security features.
✔ Up to 10 devices per account.
✔ Apps & extensions for all OS and browsers.
✔ A 45-day money-back for prepaid plans.
✘ The US headquarters, which is not the best location for privacy.
✘ Does not work in China.
So, if 100% private online surfing is your priority, opt for VPN solutions like NordVPN or ProtonVPN. In most other cases, Hotspot Shield can become the optimal choice for you.
Hotspot Shield Specifications
The VPN’s possibilities are based on 3,200 servers in over eighty locations. This is a pretty average number when compared with other competitors. However, our tests of Hotspot Shield have shown excellent speed and effectiveness.
Streaming & Torrenting
The VPN service perfectly unlocks major streaming networks, thanks to its streaming optimizers available for every server. Netflix, Spotify, ESPN, Youtube, HBO Max, and many other networks will be accessible to you from a range of locations. The VPN is a workable solution for torrenting as well.
On prepaid plans, users experience no buffering issues and can enjoy a fast loading speed when watching their preferred streams via Hotspot Shield.
Hotspot Shield won’t only give you access to top games, but it will also provide a seamless gaming experience to you. The VPN key options here are as follows:
- Access to all gaming servers and geo-blocked games.
- Location changes to unlock purchases from restricted regions.
- Traffic rerouting to avoid latency.
- Anti-throttling tools to disable ISPs from baffling your connection.
- Advanced encryption to protect you against hacking.
If you are searching for a reliable VPN for online gaming, pay thorough attention to Hotspot Shield. The service has everything to ensure fast and trouble-safe gaming sessions for you.
Many top-rank VPN platforms offer the so-called Split Tunneling function. Hotspot Shield has it in the form of SmartVPN, too. The main idea of the feature is to let a user split their traffic so that they can access certain networks or sites through the VPN while visiting all the other sites without it.
Thus, you can connect the Hotspot Shield VPN to a definite app or a number of them on your PC or mobile gadget. In all the other cases, you’ll enter the Internet in the usual way. A single click is enough to tune up the function.
Supported Devices & Extensions
Hotspot Shield supports a variety of operating systems and devices. The company offers an advanced app for everyone regardless of their way of going online:
- Smart TV;
- Windows (10, 8, 7, XP, and Vista);
Moreover, Hotspot Shield is available in the form of a downloadable extension for Chrome and Mozilla. It goes with unlimited bandwidth and can be used in free and paid modes.
When you choose to pay for a premium version of the VPN, you’ll be able to connect up to ten devices simultaneously (the actual number depends on the chosen plan). Such an option isn’t anything incredible among today’s VPN providers. For example, some platforms may support up to 12 devices per account, while others allow for unlimited connections.
You won’t find a lot of VPN services with a free plan these days. So, the one offered by Hotspot Shield may be a fine option for certain users. Yet, you should bear in mind that it is very limited. For instance, you’ll be capped to a small number of US-located servers with no streaming/gaming modes, no Kill Switch, and other no’s. The drawbacks also include ads and collected logs. Finally, the connection will be available on one device only.
Is Hotspot Shield Safe?
Surely, the VPN has powerful instruments to hide your IP, location, and other personal details when surfing the Internet. One of the main features is advanced encryption.
Be aware that AES-256 cipher encryption is regarded by most experts as the most reliable, but Hotspot Shield does not employ it, in fact. Its major encryption method is AES-128-CBC. But you don’t need to worry. The method complies with military standards and is also considered uncrackable.
The use of this encryption method is natural in the case of Hotspot Shield. While being ultra-secure, it allows for higher speeds, and speed is the first priority of the Hotspot Shield VPN.
A vital advantage of Hotspot Shield is the equally high speed of its servers, no matter how distant your chosen locations are from you. Interestingly, a renowned testing company, Ookla, examined forwarding VPN services for their speed in 2019. Guess who won the palm of the fastest VPN in the world? Yes, it was Hotspot Shield.
The closest competitor in the short-distant test was 1.4 times slower than Hotspot Shield. The long-distance comparison proved that the VPN worked 2.2 times faster than the next rival.
Further tests showed that the company remains at least one of the industry leaders in terms of speed. So, regardless of your purpose for using a VPN, Hotspot Shield can be your most reliable option from a speed perspective.
Hotspot Shield has a zero-cost version available across all gadgets and OS. Its functional capacities are limited, and its user should be ready for ads and logs collected. Yet, even this variant may be useful in certain situations. A big plus of the VPN’s free version is that it works equally fast.
Actual prepaid plans at Hotspot Shield include Premium and Premium Family, both available for monthly and yearly billing. The key features of the plans are shown below.
When you prefer a month-to-month payment model, you’ll have to pay $12.99/mo for the Premium package and $19.99/mo for the Premium Family one. A 1-year subscription will let you save about 40% and pay only $7.99 and $11.99 a month for these plans, respectively.
Privacy and Security
Many users seeking 100% privacy online tend to avoid VPN companies headquartered in the USA, a forming country in the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances. Hotspot Shield is a US company, too. However, the platform works under a transparent no-logs policy.
That is, the company can receive a data request about a user from the US government for criminal investigation purposes. Yet, Hotspot Shield collects no logs, so it won’t be able to disclose any sensitive data.
The Hotspot Shield VPN goes with a set of powerful security tools. The most important features are gathered in the following list:
- Military-level encryption;
- Kill Switch to block sites when your VPN connection is unstable or temporarily unavailable;
- Anti-phishing Protection tools;
- IP & DNS Leak Protection tools;
- PKI Security Check;
- DNS Filters needed to block malware, malicious websites, and harmful content;
- Traffic Obfuscation;
- Tor Over VPN.
Most of these functions are offered in the free version of Hotspot Shield, too. This makes the VPN service one of the most secure VPNs in the world.
Hotspot Shield Technical Parameters
What are the technical capacities of Hotspot Shield? Let’s observe if the VPN is well-equipped from a technical point of view.
The Hotspot Shield platform supports three protocol types across its plans:
Although there’s no WireGuard protocol among these options, the VPN service provides truly fast servers. This is mainly due to its proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN. Yet, servers on the other two protocols have also shown excellent speed results.
Hotspot Shield has 3,200+ servers in 115+ locations (80+ countries). This is an average rate for the industry. However, what makes the VPN the top service is the quality of these servers.
Verdict: Is Hotspot Shield Safe?
Hotspot Shield is a powerful VPN service with excellent security tools and very fast servers. The platform collects no logs, so its US location should not scare away those for whom privacy is the first priority.
The Hotspot Shield VPN plans are not the cheapest. However, they guarantee the top-secure and lightning-fast VPN for your online activities. The Hotspot Shield free version is also at your disposal.