Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Our rating
Security Read more toggle icon
80%
Features Read more toggle icon
65%
Check out the new VPN porivders! no deal avatar We do not recommend this VPN provider!
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Hotspot Shield is well-known in the VPN industry for a couple of reasons. Firstly it has one of the most top-rated free VPNs alongside its paid plans, providing people with the opportunity to enjoy premium VPN protection at no cost. Secondly, it is a super-fast VPN, thanks to its Catapult Hydra protocol.

Not only this, Hotspot Shield operates a decent-sized network of 1,800+ servers in 80+ countries, including 35+ cities. There is a good number of servers in Europe and Asia and a few choices in the Middle East and Africa. It's great to see these locations receiving some attention from a VPN provider, as they are often ignored.

Security is important, and Hotspot Shield VPN doesn't disappoint in this area either. It uses advanced encryption to protect its users' internet traffic and is DNS and IP leakproof.

If you're a streaming fan, you'll also be pleased to know that Hotspot Shield can get past most streaming sites' VPN firewalls. All in all, with Hotspot Shield, you'll get a fantastic service if you're willing to pay a high price point.

  • pro icon Lightning fast VPN
  • pro icon Optimized for streaming
  • pro icon PayPal payment option
  • con icon Poor support
  • con icon 14-eyes VPN
  • con icon Only 5 devices
Price Starting At: 7.99 $ / monthly 95.88 $ / annually
For New Users: 45 -day money-back guarantee
Number of servers: 3200+
General information
Max Speed: Unlimited
Type of IP offered: Dynamic
Simultaneous connections / Users: 5
Number of Netflix Libraries: 13
Information sharing: 14 Eyes Member
OS support: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, ChromeOS, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows
Router support: Asus, D-Link, Tomato
VPN Promotion: Get VPN from Hotspot Shield VPN for 7.99$ per month
Capabilities
Unlimited Bandwidthcross iconKill Switchcross iconSplit Tunnelingcross iconZero Data Loggingcross iconFree Version / Trialcross iconMobile Appcross iconBrowser Extentioncross iconNetflix Approvedcross iconFirestick Compatiblecross icon
Payment options
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB
  • Mastercard
  • Mastercard Debit
  • Paypal
  • Visa
  • Visa Debit
  • Visa Electron
Geolocations available
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Macedonia [FYROM]
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Myanmar [Burma]
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

Hotspot Shield VPN Security

80%

Hotspot Shield's efforts to secure users' security and privacy are decent. Firstly, the provider provides customers with an encrypted connection. It uses AES-256 and AES-128 encryption, 2048-bit RSA certificates for server authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy to change encryption keys.

Hotspot Shield can also successfully mask your IP address and protect you on public wi-fi networks. If you often connect to wi-fi hotspots, then Hotspot Shield will guarantee you have advanced privacy and security when connected to these networks.

Unlike other popular VPN providers, Hotspot Shield offers a limited choice of protocols. Its main protocol is its own proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol, but users can also use IKEv2. Unfortunately, there is only support for OpenVPN on routers, which is a shame. However, the fact that Hydra is the main protocol shouldn't cause any security issues since it uses the same standards of security as other secure VPN protocols.

A good VPN service should have a secure privacy policy. Hotspot Shield's privacy policy states that it doesn't log users' VPN browsing activity, which is good to see. However, the provider does log some information, which may cause security concerns for some users. The information that Hotspot Shield VPN logs includes: the session duration and the amount of data transferred in each session, domains, and timestamps of when sites were accessed.

Moreover, Hotspot Shield stores your real IP address at the start of each session to connect you to the best server and deletes it when your session ends. Device hashes, which identify users' devices, are also stored but never linked to activity on the VPN servers. While Hotspot isn't selling this data, it is still storing a lot more information than other VPN providers.

If you're interested in the Hotspot Shield free VPN, then it's important to be aware that the sale of monetized ads powers the free VPN. This means that user information is shared, and ads are inserted into the VPN. California consumers can opt-out of the sale of their personal information or upgrade to the premium subscription to avoid this from happening.

Since Hotspot Shield's privacy policy raises a few eyebrows, it would be great to see the provider carry out a transparency report or third party audit, as other providers do. Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield has done neither of these things yet, so we hope to see them in the future.

Security concerns aside about Hotspot Shield and how it handles user privacy, there are some other great features. A kill switch is available on the Windows client to kill your internet connection should your VPN server or connection go down.

There is also built-in malware, virus, and phishing protection, which will ensure you have a safer web surfing experience. Hotspot Shield will prevent you from accessing websites that could pose a threat to your device. This is one of its more appealing security features and definitely something that not every VPN service offers.

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Hotspot Shield VPN Features

65%

There are some good VPN features available with Hotspot Shield. Firstly, users get access to what Hotspot proclaims is the 'Fastest VPN' on the current market. This is due to the Catapult Hydra protocols, which create a super-speedy connection.

Since Hotspot is one of the fastest VPN services, it is the perfect choice for downloading or streaming content online. If you want to access foreign streaming service libraries, you should use Hotspot Shield to successfully bypass many of the VPN firewalls set by popular sites such as Netflix. You can get unlimited VPN access to all of your favorite streaming services in 80 countries.

Moreover, Hotspot Shield is a fantastic VPN for torrenting. Although the provider doesn't advertise its torrenting support on its website, P2P networking is permitted on all of its servers, and Hotspot Shield allows customers to use torrenting platforms such as BitTorrent. Combined with unlimited bandwidth and fast speeds on the Premium plan, Hotspot Shield is great for torrenters.

There are many VPN server choices, with Hotspot Shield offering 1,800+ servers across the world. This enables you to mask your IP address and change it to one in a location of your choice.

The Smart VPN feature is Hotspot Shield's split tunneling offering, allowing users to select certain websites and apps to bypass the VPN encrypted connection. This feature is currently only available on the Windows and Android apps and can be customized in both apps' settings section.

On the paid Premium plan, customers get 5 simultaneous device connections. While this is the industry average, many VPN providers have started to increase their device connection limits, and many even offer unlimited connections now (such as Surfshark and IPVanish). We'd like to see Hotspot Shield increase this cap on the number of devices you can use at one time.

There are other fantastic services that users can enjoy with the Hotspot Shield Premium plan. They can enjoy extra features such as 1Password, a password manager app, Robo Shield, a robocall and spam blocker, and Identity Guard, an identity theft protection service.

It's really impressive that three extra security services are offered on the premium plan and a great incentive for people who may be on the fence as to whether they want to get Hotspot Shield VPN or not.

Is Hotspot Shield VPN Free?

While Hotspot Shield has two paid plans, there is also the Hotspot Shield free VPN service. Hotspot Shield’s free VPN is one of the best on the market since it protects users’ VPN browsing activity with military-grade encryption. However, there are some drawbacks to the service.

Firstly, speeds are slower on the free plan, with a speed limit of 2MBs. Moreover, there is a 500MB daily data limit. This means that you will only be able to use the VPN for a short amount of time each day to carry out small tasks that don’t consume a lot of bandwidth, such as sending a few emails.

There is access to only one server location in the US on the free plan, making it pretty useless if you want a VPN to access restricted content or streaming services in different countries.

Customer service is also limited on the free plan, as the only support free users get access to FAQs on the website’s support center. There is no 24/7 live support like on the paid plan.

Finally, it’s important to remember that Hotspot Shield’s free service is monetized through personalized ads. This means that user information is shared to create ads in the apps. This is a big no-no for privacy-conscious individuals. If you’re looking for a free service that doesn’t misuse customer information, check out ProtonVPN.

How Much Does Hotspot Shield Cost?

There are two paid plan options for Hotspot Shield, the Premium subscription or the Premium Family subscription. Both plans come with an impressive 45-day money-back guarantee.

On the Premium subscription, customers get 5 simultaneous connections and access to all of Hotspot Shield’s features.

On the Premium family plan, customers can enjoy the VPN on 25 devices (5 per person).

Hotspot Shield’s VPN plans are expensive. For comparison, NordVPN’s monthly plan costs $11.95, and its yearly plan is just $4.92 per month. NordVPN offers more device connections and has a wider range of features than Hotspot Shield.

However, one area in which Hotspot Shield beats its competitors is the refund policy length. The average length of a money-back guarantee is 30 days, so we’re impressed by Hotspot Shield’s 45-day money-back guarantee. It gives customers the chance to test out the services and decide whether they want to commit to them or not.

What Payment Methods Does Hotspot Shield Accept?

You can get Hotspot Shield with either a credit card or PayPal. There are currently no options to pay with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Many other VPN providers have started to offer customers the opportunity to pay with Bitcoin since it anonymizes your payments and is a better choice for people with privacy and security concerns.

What Devices Can You Use Hotspot Shield on?

On a paid Hotspot Shield plan, you get VPN access across 5 devices simultaneously. Hotspot Shield has dedicated apps for both desktop computer and mobile phones, including:

It doesn’t stop there. You can also enjoy the VPN services on other platforms, including your Android TV or Amazon Fire Stick, to get more streaming freedom than ever before on your Smart TVs. There is also a Google Chrome browser extension available and the option to configure Hotspot Shield VPN to your router.

Unfortunately, there is no option to manually set up Hotspot Shield VPN on your devices.

How Do I Download Hotspot Shield VPN?

To download Hotspot Shield VPN onto a supported device, you first need to create an account with the provider. Once you have done so, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can select an app to download.

Since there is no manual set-up option available and no configuration in terms of choosing the protocol you want to run the VPN over, you can log into the app once it has downloaded and start using the VPN.

Download from the App Store

If you have an iOS device, then you can easily download the Hotspot Shield VPN app from the App Store, regardless of whether you have already used it on another device.

Download from Google Play Store

For Android users, you can find the app available in the Google Play Store.

Is Hotspot Shield Easy to Use?

Hotspot Shield provides extreme ease of use in its user-friendly apps on the most popular platforms. There is no manual set-up option available, so all customers need to do is log into the client or app and start using the VPN product.

When you open up the desktop client, you’re met with a dark panel with a large on/off button, a location at the bottom of the screen, and a data counter (if you’re on the free plan). There is a sidebar with many other areas, including the settings.

In the settings, you can choose between the Catapult Hydra or IKEv2 protocols. You can also activate the kill switch, an auto-protect feature that automatically switches on the VPN when you connect to a new server, and IP leak protection. You can also enable the Smart VPN, which is Hotspot Shield’s version of split tunneling.

There is also a shortcuts tab that provides keyboard shortcuts for quick connection and disconnection. The mobile apps are similarly user friendly like the desktop client, although there are a few differences. On the Android app, there is no support for IKEv2, and on the iOS app, there isn’t an internet kill switch available.

Is Hotspot Shield’s Customer Service Good?

Customer support on the Premium plan is outstanding. If you need tech support of any kind, then there are several ways to get it. Firstly, a tech support center on the website features tutorials and guides on how to make the most out of the VPN.

There is also a 24/7 live chat on the website, with responsive agents who are knowledgeable about all things to do with the Hotspot Shield VPN. If you prefer to communicate with a customer support representative by email, you can send a support ticket.

Does Hotspot Shield Work on Netflix?

Hotspot Shield provides users with a way to unblock content from all around the world. It has multiple VPN server locations, enabling users to change their IP address and bypass restrictions imposed by streaming websites like Netflix.

We tested Hotspot Shield with several streaming platforms to see if it could bypass the VPN firewalls set up by popular sites like Netflix and were pleasantly surprised. We managed to access Netflix in the US, the UK, France, Japan, and more popular countries.

Netflix wasn’t the only streaming service we unblocked. Hotspot Shield works with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and can even provide access to blocked YouTube clips. We enjoyed a stable connection speed, even when connecting to servers far away from our physical location.

So, if you want a way to access content online, get Hotspot Shield. It’s a great choice for people who want to enjoy restricted websites.

Is Hotspot Shield Good for Torrenting?

Just as Hotspot Shield is effective with streaming sites and accessing restricted content, it is also a good VPN for torrenting users. All servers on Hotspot Shield’s network support P2P networking, and all of Hotspot’s other features make it a great choice for torrenting.

Firstly, Hotspot Shield can effectively mask your IP address during torrenting so that your privacy and real location and identity are protected. There is also a kill switch that will cut off your internet access should your VPN connection go down. This ensures you never torrent without an encrypted connection and that your browser traffic is never exposed.

There is also a wide choice of servers, which is great for torrenting. Moreover, Hotspot Shield provides a decent connection speed, which is essential for fast downloads. Overall, we recommend Hotspot Shield if you torrent and want a VPN to improve your torrenting experience.

Is Hotspot Shield Fast?

If you’re looking for a VPN with speed, look no further. Hotspot Shield is very fast, mostly thanks to its Catapult Hydra protocol, and has been lauded as the ‘fastest VPN’ by several publications. To judge whether or not Hotspot is really the world’s fastest VPN, we ran some speed tests. During these tests, Hotspot Shield performed well, even over long distances.

Our baseline download speed was 19.7Mbps, and when we connected to a US Hotspot Shield server, it only decreased very slightly to 19.4Mbps. We tested the speeds on long-distance connections to servers in the UK and Germany and were really impressed. Our speeds never dropped below 18Mbps.

We tested the speed by accessing sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and enjoyed a buffer-free connection with HD quality streaming. So, it seems that Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPN services out there.

Can I Trust Hotspot Shield VPN?

Understandably, more and more people are concerned about their digital privacy since Internet Service Providers log people’s internet data, and websites track activity online. When you use a VPN, the provider encrypts your browsing activity, which means that the provider hides your internet data. However, this gives VPNs access to your information, which means that it can do with it what it pleases.

So, can you trust Hotspot Shield not to misuse your internet data? Firstly, Hotspot Shield is owned by Aura, who acquired the company in July 2020. The company priorities user privacy, which it makes extremely clear in its transparent privacy policy.

Hotspot Shield doesn’t log browsing activity. However, it does store certain information, such as your IP address at the start of every session and your device hash. If you use the free VPN, you will see targeted ads in the VPN app and have more of your data logged. This is not ideal, and a reason why we would suggest purchasing the Premium plan.

The provider maintains that all of the information it does store relating to users’ use of the VPN service is not retained permanently and cannot link them to activity on the VPN. However, since Hotspot Shield’s policy hasn’t been independently audited, we don’t have that reassurance.

Finally, Hotspot Shield doesn’t own all of the servers on its network. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary and doesn’t suggest that you cannot trust Hotspot Shield. Indeed, the provider states that while it doesn’t own all of its servers, it manages them, making it easier for the provider to notice any security breaches that may occur.

So, overall, we believe that you can trust Hotspot Shield. It would be great to see regular transparency reports released and see the company undergo an independent audit, but overall, Hotspot seems to take user privacy seriously.

Can a VPN Be Used as a Hotspot?

If you want to share your VPN connection with another device, then you can use your desktop computer as a hotspot and share the VPN over a wi-fi connection. You can set up a virtual router on your Windows PC and then share the VPN connection with your Smart TV or gaming console.

There is another way to share your VPN with other devices by configuring the VPN to your router. This is a complicated process, but all devices on your network will receive VPN protection if you do it.

So, while you can’t easily open the VPN app on your phone and share the VPN as a hotspot like you would with internet data, there are a couple of ways in which you can share your VPN with other devices.

Author Madeleine Hodson

I’m Madeleine and I'm a writer that specializes in cybersecurity, tech products, and all things related to the internet. I have a keen interest in VPNs and believe that everyone deserves internet freedom and security. I wri...
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