- Free version: Yes
- Jurisdiction: US
- OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Mobile apps: Android, iOS
Last Updated: June 17, 2021
- Free version: Yes
- Jurisdiction: US
- OS: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Mobile apps: Android, iOS
- Zero-log policy: Yes
- Protocols: Catapult Hydra, OpenVPN, IPSec
- Killswitch: Yes
- DNS Leak protection: Yes
- Torrenting: Yes
- Streaming: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, BBC iPlayer
- Key features: Cross-platform, fast, no logs, DNS leak protection, torrenting, streaming, etc.
THE FASTEST VPN
- Free version
- Easy to use
- Excellent speed
- Great for streaming and torrenting
- Common negative support reviews
- Could be safer
What Is Hotspot Shield
The reasons to use a VPN are countless. Perhaps you want to avoid the increasing site censorship or the pesky geolocation blocker of a streaming service, or you just want to increase your cybersecurity a notch.
Hotspot Shield is a popular virtual private network provider aimed to help casual users browse safely without risking their privacy.
Hotspot Shield Features
In the first part of the Hotspot Shield VPN review, we will dive deeper into some of the most important features the service has to offer.
Hotspot Shield is a fast VPN that has been around for quite some time, so it supports various devices. Other than Windows, there are versions of Hotspot Shield for Mac, Android, and iPhone. But the list doesn’t end there. Editions for Linux, TV, and routers are also available, but they only come with paid plans.
Although it may not be the best free VPN for Firestick, there is a quality Hotspot Shield extension for this device too.
Those who take their cybersecurity seriously, as we all should, can use the desktop and browser versions simultaneously. There isn’t a Firefox extension, but you can install the Hotspot Shield Chrome extension for free.
The browser version can protect you from malicious websites and ensure your privacy. It’s perfect if you need a VPN for these purposes, but you’ll have to opt for the paid plan if you want to get past geo-blocking.
Points of Access
There are almost 2,000 Hotspot Shield servers available in more than 80 countries. With the premium plan, you get unrestricted access to all of them. The provider chooses the best server for you automatically, but you can also switch locations manually and select a concrete country or even city with a few clicks.
Hydra tunnel provider is the tunneling protocol that Hotspot Shield developed. It allows users to connect to a public network while still using the VPN to increase network speed.
Hydra makes partial split tunneling possible not just on Windows and Mac but also with Hotspot Shield for iPhone. It lets users search the web through a home connection and access important data through a VPN.
Surfing in China
The Great Firewall of China blocks access not just to VPNs but also sites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Luckily, this VPN can bypass the restrictions. This means that you can browse foreign websites with Hotspot Shield in China. This not only proves the great capability of the software but makes the service invaluable for some people.
Hotspot Shield Security
Even a quick review of Hotspot Shield VPN reveals it has plenty of useful functions. But is online privacy one of them? That’s what we’re about to find out in this section.
This VPN service is under US jurisdiction, which is usually bad news in terms of security. Still, Hotspot Shield avoids logging your online activity. However, it does keep track of some information for the duration of the browsing session, like your IP address, operating system version, username, and email address.
In spite of the DNS leak protection, some users of the Chrome Hotspot Shield version might be concerned. This browser extension used to be notorious because of earlier issues with leaks. Fortunately, this is not the case anymore.
Every other Hotspot Shield review mentions Catapult Hydra and for a good reason. This security protocol is what gives the VPN great speed without sacrificing security. It shies away from the idea of a point-to-point connection, as it is known to be insecure.
If you are searching for a more conventional protocol, IPSec and OpenVPN are also an option.
There is an automatic killswitch, but only for the Windows version. Keep in mind that it isn’t even enabled by default, so you’ll have to activate it manually.
Sure enough, the lack of a killswitch is mentioned as a downside in almost every Hotspot Shield Mac review.
Advanced Security Features
The Premium and Family plans enable malware and phishing protection, as well as SmartVPN. The latter lets you choose which parts of your system or the Web can bypass the VPN.
Security Suite Features
This feature protects you from identity theft and offers Dark web monitoring.
Other than being a strong password generator and protector, it uses AES 256-bit encryption. This tool keeps your data secure at all times through constant encryption key changes.
Automatically blocks robocalls, reports spam calls, and flags suspicious ones.
Our Hotspot Shield free VPN speed review shows its capabilities are satisfactory. There was an average drop in speed we at HostingTribunal noticed during the test, but it should still be enough to surf the Web.
The bottom line is that the speed of the free Hotspot Shield VPN is better than that of most of its counterparts.
With an upgrade, you could easily reach 60 Mbps on all servers. This makes the premium plan of the provider, formerly known as Hotspot Shield VPN Elite, one of the top 10 fastest VPN services on the market.
Ease of Use
The platform is heavily geared towards beginners and can be installed with a single click. Virtually any Hotspot Shield review praises its ease of use and rightfully so.
The menus are as simple as it gets which makes the platform extremely easy to navigate. This simplicity may disappoint users looking for an abundance of advanced options, but it’s ideal for most people.
The free edition of this VPN is not suitable for streaming, but an upgrade can turn this around. The Hotspot Shield VPN Premium version is among the best-paid plans for streaming due to its exceptionally high speed. It also supports a large number of streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
Netflix has a notorious blocker, but Hotspot Shield manages to get past it. Since it supports multiple Netflix libraries, it is a particularly good VPN service for this platform.
Streaming is not the only strong suit of this VPN. Hotspot Shield is great for torrenting too. Although this was not the case earlier, the provider now allows torrenting on various servers and platforms and the service works perfectly.
Plans & Pricing
Basic—This could easily be the subject of a separate Hotspot Shield review because it greatly differs from the paid plans. Still, we’ll do our best to summarize what it offers here.
The free version has a satisfactory speed, but it allows a daily bandwidth of just 500 megabytes and is filled with ads. As we mentioned, the speed is respectable for a free VPN, but you can use only one device at a time and access just the New York server.
In other words, while there is a free version, it is not that desirable.
Plus—This plan will set you back only $9.99/month (or $6.99/month with the yearly subscription.) For this price, you can use Hotspot Shield online on up to five devices simultaneously. It also removes the limitations for data consumption and streaming and increases the speed and the number of available services.
Premium—This version gives all the perks of the Plus plan, but you also get access to all advanced security features and 24/7 live chat support. All this will set you back only $12.99 per month (or $7.99/month with the annual subscription.)
Premium Family—Offers the same benefits as the Plus version but enables the use on up to 25 devices or five devices on five family accounts. This Hotspot Shield pricing plan costs $19.99 per month, but that falls to $11.99 with the yearly subscription.
All of these plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee. In case you find the service a bit pricey but are satisfied with the features it provides, you can subscribe for three years right away for $107.64. This might sound like a lot, but it’s just $2.99 a month!
Hotspot Shield Support
The only means of support in the Basic plan is the official website’s FAQ section. On the flip side, its paid plans let you use both a ticketing system and 24/7 live chat support.
Users generally found both helpful but rather slow, which is a common subject in support reviews. That’s not to say that every Hotspot VPN app review is negative. On the contrary, the majority of users are satisfied with the service.
But since there are quite a few complaints about the support team following a script or straight up ignoring users, we recommend that you tread lightly. You could always subscribe for a month or so before deciding if you want to stick with this VPN.
Hotspot Shield User Reviews
The majority of user reviews are positive, mostly because of the service’s speed and ease of use. But not all customers are satisfied with its security. We’re looking at you, Reddit.
Claims of low-level security of the free version are at the core of a typical Reddit Hotspot Shield VPN review. Some users also experienced technical issues that the support team could not handle.
Due to the long money-back guarantee period, we will still end on a happy note and remind you that you can try this VPN risk-free. Hotspot Shield is excellent for business and personal use and most of the reported issues shouldn’t be a problem with the paid versions.
Is Hotspot Shield Worth It?
Hotspot Shield is mostly known for its great speed and ease of use. If you are looking for a VPN service that you will primarily use for streaming and torrenting, you should definitely consider this provider.
Hotspot Shield Alternatives
So far in our Hotspot VPN review, we’ve portrayed the service in a good light. But before we give our final ruling, we’ll see how it performs compared to its biggest competitors.
NordVPN vs Hotspot Shield
NordVPN is one of the best VPN service providers on the market and it shows. Besides being more secure, it is faster than Hotspot Shield, which is also well known for its high speed.
That said, NordVPN is also harder to use, it’s more expensive, and it does not have a free version. We are not going to try and sugarcoat this unbiased Hotspot Shield VPN review, though, as NordVPN is the clear winner if you can afford it.
Hotspot Shield vs ExpressVPN
This is a tough call since these VPNs are similar in terms of speed. But while Hotspot Shield for Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux does not come with an automatic killswitch, ExpressVPN runs the feature on all devices and systems.
ExpressVPN has an advantage because of its superior security. But if you’re looking for a cheap, reliable option, Hotspot Shield is the right choice for you.
Hotspot Shield vs Windscribe
These two VPNs have many things in common. Both have free versions and are easy to use, so how do we decide who wins?
With the US and Canada being Five-Eyes (FVEY) countries, both providers are under problematic jurisdictions. Still, Windscribe is significantly safer. But if you value download and upload speeds higher than online privacy, Hotspot Shield is the right choice for you.
Is Hotspot Shield a good VPN?
While it certainly has its issues, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. If you’re looking to download a free VPN for casual use, look no further. The paid plans are an excellent choice for streaming and torrenting.
The access to numerous security features further complements this.
This VPN masks your IP address by creating an encrypted connection with a public server of your choice. That way, your online footprint is harder to track.
It is legit, great for streaming and torrenting. It’s the perfect choice if you want to use Hotspot Shield to stream on Netflix or hide your IP address while surfing the Web (for free!).
No, Hotspot Shield is a VPN server and it’s safe. One of this platform’s features, Hydra, shares a name with a popular virus, hence the confusion.
Yes. There are more secure VPN service providers, but it is generally safe.
No, it avoids logging. Some concerns about its privacy were raised in the past, but they were generally sorted. However, the provider still collects other types of data. See the security section of our Hotspot Shield VPN review for additional details.