The greater connectivity of the virtual world has caused a massive increase in the vulnerability regarding cybersecurity.
According to the latest research, there were a total of 1001 data breaches reported in the United States, in the year 2020. Meanwhile, over 155.8 million people were affected by data exposures in the same year, which are defined as the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information owing to inadequate information security.
Thus, all of us need to take precautionary measures to prevent cyberattacks. One such precautionary measure is the use of a virtual private network or VPN, whose principal aim is to conceal your online activity.
VPNs are frequently used to protect against hackers and snoopers on public networks, but they may also be used to hide your IP address, browsing activities, and personal data on any Wi-Fi network, even your own.
- Availability of free version
- Excellent speed of VPN
- Outstanding security features
- User-friendly VPN apps for various platforms
- Expensive cost relative to other competitors
- Limited customer support for the free version
Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows
Number of devices
Amount of servers
Hotspot Shield Review
What is a Hotspot Shield VPN?
Hotspot Shield is a US-based VPN service that offers about 1,800+ servers in 80+ countries. This public VPN service was founded and operated by AnchorFree, Inc. until 2019 and is now operated by Aura.
When it comes to choosing VPNs, the number of servers, as well as their locations, are now crucial factors. Because there are more servers, there is less traffic, which usually corresponds to faster speeds.
Users of Hotspot Shield may connect to VPN server locations in 27 distinct US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, which is fantastic news for North Americans and clients who want to browse or stream from specific US areas.
Hotspot Shield is subject to US laws as a corporation based in the US, including laws requiring the company to share user data with the government when appropriate. Hence, its location is a slight disadvantage.
Keep reading to become aware of the pros and cons of the Hotspot shield and everything else you need to know to make a meaningful purchase of this VPN.
Hotspot shield Pricing and plans
Hotspot Shield VPN is among the few VPN services that offer a free version that has certain limitations. Its free Basic subscription limits you to only US VPN servers, one simultaneous connection, and 500MB of bandwidth per day.
When compared to TunnelBear’s free version, which limits users to 500MB per month, this is a considerable offer. However, the free version of Proton VPN is better in this regard since it imposes no limits on bandwidth for free users.
Moreover, the Hotspot shield also limits free accounts to 2Mbps download speeds. Even for mobile devices, that is incredibly slow. On Android, Hotspot Shield’s free version is also monetized.
The Premium subscription permits users five simultaneous connections, complete access to Hotspot Shield’s servers, and unlimited data. This subscription tier costs $12.99 per month. Premium Family, the highest plan, costs $19.99 per month and boosts the number of simultaneous connections to 25 among five-member accounts.
A major credit card or PayPal can be used to pay for a Hotspot Shield membership. Other companies provide more private alternatives like IVPN, Proton VPN, and Mullvad accept funds mailed to its corporate headquarters. Cryptocurrency support is also quite widespread among VPNs, although Hotspot Shield does not offer it.
Is Hotspot Shield good for streaming?
Yes, the premium service of Hotspot Shield provides access to BBC iPlayer, DAZN, HBO Max, and Hulu. We have tested various Hotspot shield apps to see how well they perform with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.
Hotspot Shield used to be a good VPN for US Netflix, but it no longer works in the US or most other Netflix locations. The only Netflix content it can currently see is from India. It’s the same with Hotspot Shield Free, which blocks you from watching Netflix and forces you to upgrade to a paid subscription.
However, one of the finest VPNs for unblocking Disney+ is Hotspot Shield Premium. Also, after months of refusing to work with BBC iPlayer, the VPN has finally beaten the BBC’s VPN bans. Through the UK server, you can now view all of your favorite British TV series without any problem.
In addition to this, Hotspot shield Premium can unblock many other streaming platforms including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max.
Is Hotspot Shield VPN secure?
Yes, Hotspot Shield is a secure VPN that encrypts and protects your internet traffic as it passes through the network with AES-128 encryption and leak protection.
When using the desktop and mobile applications, we found no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks, but the browser extensions were less secure. They exposed DNS requests as well as WebRTC information, allowing your ISP to monitor your browsing habits.
Some of the outstanding security features of the Hotspot shield are discussed below.
Standard VPN protocols such as Open VPN are not used by Hotspot Shield. Instead, it offers IKEv2 and Hydra VPN, its proprietary protocol (which was formerly called Catapult Hydra).
Hydra VPN is based on TLS 1.2, according to Hotspot Shield. It features perfect forward secrecy and uses 128-bit AES encryption and 2048-bit RSA certificates for server authentication.
However, one problem with proprietary technology is that there is no easy way to view what’s going on behind the scenes. Independent security specialists are unable to peer-review most closed-source protocols.
Hotspot Shield states that the code for Hydra VPN has been reviewed by professionals from some of the world’s leading security firms, including BitDefender and McAfee. To provide VPN services within their apps, these companies use Hotspot Shield’s Software Development Kit (SDK).
Thus, while the code isn’t publicly published, it has been tested for functionality and security. If you believe these companies, you can trust Hotspot Shield as well; if you don’t, it’s probably best to look for an alternative.
Hotspot Shield kill switch
The VPN kill switch in the Windows app protects your IP address if your internet connection goes off unexpectedly.
However, this kill switch is disabled by default, and it isn’t available for Mac OS, Android, or iOS at the moment, which is a huge flaw for a VPN with such a large user base.
Moreover, the kill switch doesn’t activate when you switch servers, exposing your genuine IP address for a short time. Although this defect only exposes your personal information for a few seconds, it nevertheless poses a privacy risk.
Hotspot Shield past controversies
In February 2018, Hotspot Shield’s code had a severe security issue. Hackers were able to see users’ true location by looking at their WiFi network name.
However, after several demands, the Hotspot Shield firm provided a lengthy and detailed transparency report for 2016 through 2018, indicating that it has never released user information. But, this report is difficult to locate (here’s a link to a PDF version), and the corporation should commit to producing updated reports every year.
Hotspot Shield Premium Security Features
Along with the security features mentioned above, the Premium version of the Hotspot shield includes three other products including 1Password, Spam-call blocker, and Aura antivirus. As a result, it considerably broadens the range of possible applications beyond VPN use.
- 1Password: Since it is one of the best password managers on the market, adding it to your subscription is an excellent deal. 😊
It contains a scanner to see if your data ends up on the dark web, as well as encrypting your vault with military-grade cryptography to keep your passwords private. 😀
- Spam-call blocker: Spam-call blocker is a feature of Hotspot Shield that automatically monitors scam calls and blocks questionable numbers. It is available for iOS and Android users to help you avoid unwanted telemarketers and potentially harmful calls from hackers. 😌
Spam-call blockers look upon crowdsourced data to see if the caller is on any blacklists. While the phone is still ringing, you may check if the number has been tagged as spam on the screen.
This feature, however, demands access to your contacts. Users who are concerned about their privacy should keep this in mind. 😟
- Aura Antivirus: Personal data monitoring, Wi-Fi protection, and malware detection are all included in this antivirus. As a result, you’ll be able to delete collected trash files or malware with a tap of a button. 🤩
However, because Aura is a newcomer to the antiviral industry, there are few reviews or comments on how it works. Thus we recommend you wait for independent malware labs to evaluate it before installing it on your device. 😕
Is Hotspot Shield suitable for torrenting?
Yes, Hotspot Shield Premium is a good VPN for torrenting since it has fast upload speeds, a VPN kill switch (for Windows users only), and efficient DNS leak protection. The VPN hides your P2P activity from your ISP by masking your IP address.
However, we cannot recommend Hotspot Shield as the safest P2P alternative because of its proprietary VPN protocol’s lack of transparency. The company’s logging policy isn’t exactly the most private.
While Hotspot Shield Premium is likely to be a safe choice for P2P users, there are significantly more secure VPNs for torrenting that have superior privacy rules.
Hotspot Shield Speed
If you want to stream video from another state, Hotspot Shield’s connection speeds will enable you to do so easily, thanks to Hydra VPN.
Hydra VPN is designed to provide lightning-fast performance. This is due to its emphasis on the data transport part of VPN performance, which is said to make long-distance connections 2.4 times faster than OpenVPN connections.
Unlike many other VPNs, Hotspot Shield does not connect you to the nearest or fastest VPN server when you first install it; instead, it always chooses a US server.
Hence we recommend you try testing a few nearby servers which are closer to your real location for the best speeds.
Hotspot Shield logging
According to the terms and conditions mentioned on their website, the data that Hotspot shield collects from its premium users includes the IP address, location, connection timestamps, bandwidth, and device-specific information.
The users of the free version are at a risk of sharing even more sensitive information with third-party advertisers. This information might include one’s unique mobile ID, MAC address, advertising ID as well as city-level location.
This degree of data collection is still too much intrusive for anyone whose main priority is privacy. Hence, we can’t recommend the service to consumers seeking high-level anonymity online because of its troubling history with user privacy.
Hotspot Shield app
Hotspot Shield supports a wide range of devices, but some of them have fewer functionalities. On the premium subscription, you can use the VPN on up to five devices at once.
Apps for Android and iOS resemble a copy-paste version of their desktop client, with modifications for smaller screens. Thus it is quite simple to use, especially for newcomers. The identity check, password manager, and spam-call filter are all available on iOS. You’d have to install them separately, though.
The same is valid for Android, which receives the standard enhancements such as split tunneling. Other features, such as “Disconnect while sleeping” and “Show tailored advertising,” were disabled by default. While it’s a useful tool, it’s not the same as the desktop version.
The Google Play Store gives the Android app a 4.1 rating. On the iOS App Store, the iPhone app has a 4.5 rating. These are great ratings, indicating that Hotspot Shield is well-liked by consumers
FAQ - Hotspot Shield
- To get the free Windows version of Hotspot Shield, go to:
Go to the Hotspot Shield website.
In the upper right-hand corner, click the blue Get Hotspot Shield icon.
Under the Basic plan, select Try Now.
Install the software on your computer after downloading it.
- To download Hotspot’s free Android app, go to:
Go to the Google Play store and download the app.
In the search field, type Hotspot Shield free.
Install should be selected.
- To download Hotspot’s free iOS app, go to:
Go to the App Store and download it.
In the navigation bar at the top of the screen, select the search symbol.
In the search field, type Hotspot Shield free.
Wifi Proxy and Hotspot VPN are two options.
Install should be selected.
Yes, you can reach out to a representative via email or live chat. In less than a minute, we were connected to a Hotspot Shield agent via live chat. They can assist you with any problems you couldn’t solve in the support center.
Support articles are included in the apps and clients themselves, and the online support center provides helpful solutions to a variety of issues about Hotspot Shield. However, the articles aren’t as comprehensive or informative as other support resources we’ve seen, and they’re not as well structured as they could be. For example, the process for referring other users to Hotspot Shield is covered in the first article for getting started with the Windows client.
Split tunneling is not available in the free version of Hotspot Shield, which is unfortunate because split tunneling could reduce your VPN bandwidth usage. When you use the free VPN, all of your device’s traffic, including traffic from bandwidth-hungry apps, is routed through the VPN server. Split tunneling is available for premium accounts under the name Smart VPN.
Hotspot Shield is compatible with Mac OS, iOS, Linux, Windows, Android phones, Android TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire TVs. Hotspot Shield currently supports routers, allowing users to utilize the VPN with Apple TV, Roku, and gaming consoles. Linux support was also added recently, which is rare. Some of the best VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, still don’t have a dedicated graphical user interface for this platform.
There is no doubt that the Hotspot shield has multiple valuable features which justify its premium subscription costs. These features include excellent speed, a user-friendly interface, and top-notch security features.
However, the past reports of IP leaks and the lack of transparency regarding the VPN’s close-sourced protocols are major concerns for users who look for high-level anonymity.
Hence, if you’re looking for a fast VPN then the Hotspot shield might be the smartest choice, but if privacy is your priority then you should look for other options available.
Head of content