Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Our rating
Security Read more toggle icon
75%
Features Read more toggle icon
70%
See other VPN services no deal avatar We do not recommend this VPN service!
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Hotspot Shield VPN is an easy to use VPN that offers extremely fast server connection speeds. It boasts an extensive network of servers in a wide range of countries around the world, military-grade encryption, and is a great option for streaming geo-restricted content. However, it is not without its limitations.

This provider is one of the best VPN services on the market. Its server connection speeds are unrivaled and it offers server locations in an impressive number of over 90 countries. When you sign-up you will gain use of three extra apps: Hotspot Shield Identity Guard, Hotspot Shield 1Password, and Hotspot Shield Robo Shield. This makes Hotspot Shield VPN one of the most cost-effective options if you are looking for a range of internet privacy and security solutions.

When it comes to pricing, Hotspot Shield VPN's monthly plan is not the most affordable option on the market. However, its 3-year plan comes in at just $2.99 a month, which is great value if you are happy to commit to a longer-term plan.

  • pro icon Free version
  • pro icon Fast server speeds
  • pro icon Unblocks Netflix
  • con icon Expensive paid plan
  • con icon Based in USA (5 Eyes)
  • con icon Only 5 simultaneous connections
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: 5 Eyes Member
OS support: Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, ChromeOS, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows
Router support: Asus, DD-WRT, Linksys, Netgear, Tomato, TP-Link
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
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Kazakhstan
  • 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 Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

Hotspot Shield VPN Security

75%

Unlike many other VPNs, HotspotShield operates on its own protocol, Catapult Hydra for the fastest VPN connection. There is now also support for IKEv2, however, OpenVPN is not available, which may be disappointing for some users.

Despite the fact that Hotspot Shield VPN's proprietary Catapult, Hydra protocol offers high levels of performance, some users may prefer the option to use an open-source protocol like OpenVPN.

The VPN is owned and managed by Aura, a company that has headquarters in the United States and Switzerland. The provider does not own all of its VPN servers some of which are virtual locations, but, this is not unusual for a VPN provider. The servers are, however, managed by Hotspot Shield. The provider also utilizes multiple layers of security to secure its Public Key Infrastructure.

Hotspot Shield VPN offers a range of additional security features too. There is an automatic kill-switch that performs consistently when tested. This feature cuts the internet connection if your VPN server fails for any reason to ensure no unencrypted data or your real IP address becomes exposed.

However, Hotspot Shield VPN does not offer the same level of reassurance when it comes to its logging policy. Its privacy policy states that the VPN service does not store IP addresses, devices used, or any other identifier in conjunction with your online activity. This means that data may be logged, just not in conjunction with your usage. The company states that it does not have the ability to link internet activity on a particular server with a specific user using that server, which is reassuring.

The company does log some amount of session data and the privacy policy details the data that may be stored. This includes your unique device hash, your approximate geographical location, your IP address, VPN session timeframe, bandwidth used, and domains accessed. While the provider claims that this data is anonymous and it couldn't be used to connect you to your online activity, Hotspot Shield VPN has not completed an independent security audit to back up this claim.

Many VPN providers have started to release external third-party audits of their software and servers to provide evidence for their security claims. However, Hotspot Shield has not released the results of such an audit. Nor does it offer a transparency report, which would typically detail the requests made by the government and whether or not the provider complied. Although Hotspot Shield is relatively transparent about its software and processes, we would like to see an independent audit released in the near future.

When it comes to Hotspot Shield VPN's free version, it is necessary that the provider pays for it with ad revenue on the Android app. This is done with Google Ads and the ad network SDKs, both of which store user data to target advertisements. Even though the company is transparent about this process, it may be a cause of concern for privacy-conscious users.

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Hotspot Shield VPN Features

70%

Hotspot Shield offers a free version and premium versions of its VPN product. The provider's popular free version is sponsored by ad-revenue. However, upgrading to the Premium version will remove the ads and give you unlimited data usage and complete usage of the provider's features and server network.

The Hotspot Shield Free VPN is one of the best free VPNs on the market. It comes with a 2Mbps speed limit, one US server location, and a 500MB data limit per day. The free version is a great way to test the VPN product before you commit to a paid subscription.

Upgrading to Hotspot Shield Premium will set you back $12.99 a month, but it does include a password manager, call blocker, and identity theft protection. As with most VPNs, opting for a longer-term plan will cut the price. Hotspot Shield VPN's annual plan comes in at $7.99 a month, which is relatively expensive when compared to other VPN products but good value considering everything on offer.

No matter what subscription plan you choose, you will be covered by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, enabling you to test the product risk-free and cancel the subscription if you are not completely satisfied. This is much more than most other VPN providers offer.

The premium VPN offers an extensive server network in more than 80 countries across 122 cities. All of Hotspot Shield VPN's servers support P2P sharing and torrenting and offer integrated malware protection to ensure completely safe internet activities. Also, its proprietary Catapult Hydra technology makes it one of the world's fastest VPN providers.

Hotspot Shield VPN offers simultaneous connections for up to 5 devices, which is likely enough for most users and is average among its competitors. If you need to get Hotspot Shield on more devices, there is also the option to set it up on your router, to protect all of the devices that use your Wi-Fi connection. However, some providers do offer support for more devices as standard. For example, NordVPN enables 6 simultaneous device connections, and Surfshark places no limits at all.

When you sign up for Hotspot Shield VPN Premium, you will also gain use of three additional security products, depending on your geographical location. These products include 1Password (password manager), Robo Shield (robocall and spam blocker), and Identity Guard (identity theft protection which is only available in the US). If you make use of these extra products, Hotspot Shield is an extremely cost-effective option.

Hotspot Shield user

How Much Does Hotspot Shield Cost?

Hotspot Shield offers a powerful VPN free of charge. However, users of the free version are restricted to 500MB of data a day, and limited connection speeds of 2Mbps. Also, Hotspot Shield free is not capable of overcoming geo-restrictions on streaming sites. So, if you are a streaming fan, it will be necessary to upgrade to the paid version.

A premium restriction is required if you want access to dedicated customer support or to use Hotspot Shield VPN on your router, Smart TV or Linux. Despite its limitations, Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a surprisingly powerful free option and is arguably the best free VPN on the market.

If you do need a more robust VPN, Hotspot’s monthly plan will set you back $12.99 a month. This option is more expensive when compared to other VPN options on the app store but it does come with 3 additional security products.

If you are happy to commit to a longer-term plan, you can get Hotspot Shield for $7.99 when billed annually. However, the most cost-effective option is its 3-year plan, which comes in at just $2.99 a month. This may not be the absolute cheapest VPN option on the market, but it is relatively good value.

All of Hotspot’s plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, which means you can request a full refund if you are not happy with the service.

There is also a Premium Family plan, that provides separate VPN accounts for up to 5 family members. This costs $19.99 a month but doesn’t come with any of the additional applications.

Is Hotspot Shield Private?

Unlike many other VPNs Hotspot Shield uses its own protocol, Catapult Hydra. It does also support IKEv2, however, OpenVPN is unavailable, which may be disappointing for some users. Since the Catapult Hydra protocol is used by Bitdefender, McAfee, and Telefonica, this may help to dispel some security concerns.

Alongside the VPN’s secure protocols that offer private internet access and serve to mask your IP address, Hotspot Shield provides a range of additional privacy features to ensure completely safe internet access. The VPN operates on military-grade encryption, and there is an automatic kill-switch that will cut your internet connection if the VPN fails for any reason to ensure no unencrypted information or your real IP address becomes exposed. During testing, the kill-switch performed consistently which is especially important if you utilize unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots.

There is room for improvement when it comes to Hotspot Shield VPN’s privacy and logging policy. The privacy policy states that the service does not store IP addresses, device identifiers, or any other information in conjunction with your VPN activity. However, this does mean that some data may be stored, just not in combination with your individual activity.

Hotspot Shield may store information including your device’s unique hash, your IP address, VPN session timeframes, bandwidth used, your approximate geographical location, and domains accessed while using the VPN. Although Hotspot Shield claims that this information is anonymous and cannot be traced back to you, this has not been proved by an external security audit and may cause security concerns for some users.

Is Hotspot Shield Good for Streaming?

In recent years, streaming services have begun to adopt strong VPN-blocking technology. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly difficult to find a VPN service that will offer access to geo-restricted streaming content across the world. However, if you get Hotspot Shield, you can expect reliable access to a host of content that would not typically be available in your region.

A VPN serves to mask your IP address and make it appear as if your web traffic is coming from an entirely alternate location. This means that you can often trick a streaming service into believing you are located in the same country as the content you are trying to access, even if it is on the other side of the world.

It is not surprising that Hotspot Shield enables access to overseas YouTube libraries, as most other VPN services can do so. Many VPNs struggle to access other sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, however, Hotspot Shield has no issue gaining access to any of these popular streaming services. Also, its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol makes it one of the world’s fastest VPN providers.

Therefore, if you are looking for a streaming VPN and want to gain access to a host of streaming content from around the world, Hotspot Shield is a great option. Few VPNs offer a more reliable service when it comes to accessing geo-restricted sites.

Is Hotspot Shield Good for Torrenting?

The Hotspot Shield website may not say a lot about torrenting, nevertheless, all of its servers support P2P sharing and torrenting. Its secure encryption standards serve to mask your IP address and ensure completely safe torrenting. This applies no matter what Hotspot Shield app you are using, on an Android, iOS, Mac, or Windows device. Also, it is one of the world’s fastest VPN providers, making it an excellent choice for torrenters.

If you are a torrenting fan, the Hotspot Shield help page offers a range of useful information on the benefits of utilizing a VPN when torrenting, as well as offering a few tips to help you ensure a safe server connection. Hotspot Shield has no data limits or restrictions, so you can torrent as much as you like without the need to worry about how much data you are consuming.

As well as offering access to torrenting files, the Hotspot Shield app offers a Smart VPN feature that makes split tunneling easy. This means that you can select which types of internet traffic run through your server connection. However, for users looking to maintain complete privacy and security online, Hotspot Shield may not be the best option as it does not offer anonymous payment methods such as Bitcoin.

Is Hotspot Shield Compatible with Desktop?

The Hotspot Shield Windows and macOS versions offer a clean, well-designed interface. The apps are significantly easier to use than many other VPNs on the market. Simply click the “On” button and enjoy a secure server connection within a few seconds. This is one of the shortest VPN server connection times of any Virtual Private Network service.

Once you are connected, the client highlights your VPN server’s location, IP address, latency, load times, data usage, local network, and speeds. It also allows you to easily check your connection status.

The Settings page offers a range of security and privacy features that will satisfy even VPN experts. However, the client displays these features in a non-complicated way that is simple enough for a beginner VPN user. There is the option to configure Hotspot Shield on your device to automatically activate if you connect to unsecured or unknown public Wi-Fi networks. You can also use the split tunneling feature to choose which types of web traffic run through your VPN and those that don’t.

On a desktop device, there is also the option to use a range of keyboard shortcuts for quick access to a range of tools. For example, clicking Control-Shift-C will connect or disconnect the VPN. Also, you can easily access the Hotspot Shield help or tech support pages in a few clicks if you run into any issues while using the client.

Is Hotspot Shield Compatible with Mobile?

Hotspot Shield is compatible with almost every device and offers excellent, user-friendly mobile apps. If you need assistance while installing the app on your mobile device, visit the provider’s tech support page for helpful setup guides.

The Android app offers an extensive range of features for secure VPN browsing activity. However, the iOS app is somewhat limited. The Android app includes an integrated kill-switch to maintain an encrypted connection even if your VPN protection fails for any reason. However, this feature is missing in the iOS version, which means your security and privacy may become compromised if the VPN connection drops.

Also, neither app offers support for the IKEv2 protocol and only operate on Hotspot’s proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. The iOS app does not feature automatic VPN connections or startup when you switch on your device. There isn’t even a simple, user-friendly option to connect to the best available server for your location. Therefore, if an iPhone is your main device, we would be inclined to recommend an alternative provider.

However, despite the limitations Hotspot Shield does offer apps for every device to ensure you can access Wi-Fi safely. Also, many customers that are new to using a VPN will likely not even notice the lack of more sophisticated settings on the iOS version.

Does Hotspot Shield Offer Browser Extensions?

Many VPN providers offer simple VPN proxy browser extensions that offer little more than a simple virtual locations list and a VPN Connect button. However, Hotspot Shield is different, its Chrome extension is just as powerful as its desktop and mobile version and offers a host of advanced features.

The browser interface looks similar to Hotspot Shield’s other clients. It features a dark panel with a Connect button for quick and easy access to an encrypted connection to one of the provider’s secure servers. Simply click for instant VPN access.

The connection to Hotspot Shield’s servers is almost instant too as the browser extension operates as a proxy system to ensure the privacy of your browser traffic. While it may not always be successful, it is a great option to enable access to geo-blocked websites.

The extension also features a Configuration button that allows you to set a default VPN access server. The browser extension does only offer access to a limited number of servers in countries including Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

There is a range of additional features too including an ad, tracker, malware, cookie, and WebRTC blocker, as well as Auto-Protect and Bypass lists. If you add websites to the Auto-Protect list, the VPN will automatically activate whenever you visit them. Websites added to the Bypass list will run through your normal ISP connection, rather than that of the VPN, which is useful for sites that are not compatible with a VPN.

Even though there is little mention of it on Hotspot Shield’s website, the provider does also offer a Firefox browser extension. This works in a similar way to the Chrome version and its interface is extremely similar too.

How Do I Get Hotspot Shield?

Setting up Hotspot Shield on your devices is easy. Simply sign up for Hotspot Shield by choosing your subscription plan and entering your payment details. Once you have signed up you will be redirected to a web page that offers download links for Windows, macOS, Android, Android TV, iOS, and Linux. You can also have the download link sent to your phone.

Does Hotspot Shield Offer 24/7 Live Chat Customer Support?

Hotspot Shield’s website offers a range of helpful guides to set up the VPN on almost every device. The support articles are also integrated into Hotspot Shields apps and clients for easy access. The articles and resources about Hotspot Shield are well-written and comprehensive. There is an email address and 24/7 live chat support too in case you want to speak directly to a Hotspot Shield agent.

Author Cliff Durward

Hi, I'm Cliff. I'm based in Cleveland, Ohio, with my wife and two kids. I have a keen interest in cybersecurity and have been writing about it for around a decade now. Due to my background in computer science, I am familiar ...
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