Hotspot Shield Full Review: All you Need to Know
Don’t let cybercriminals and online limitations get under your skin. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is your key to accessing what you want without any constraints. However, The wide range of options can leave you confused and uncertain. Here comes our part; we will be introducing you to Hotspot Shield VPN. Why? To help you find out whether or not it is the perfect fit for your privacy.
Hotspot Shield is one of the worldly used VPNs with services in over 80 countries and many features to offer. Is it your perfect fit? Let's find out.
Hotspot Shield from the Get-Go
Since 2008, Hotspot Shield has been providing its services in more than 80 countries worldwide. It provides a variety of options and plans to satisfy every single customer and hit the goals. From 3,200 servers, Hotspot Shield can automatically find the best server for you or let you pick the server location that you want. It is all up to you.
Hotspot Shield Speed
This section checks how Hotspot Shield fares against its competitors in terms of speed tests, number of servers, geographic distribution, and fastest available protocol.
1. Hotspot Shield in speed tests
Hotspot Shield showed fascinating speed results in different locations. The good news is that using Hotspot Shield won't affect your connection speed or performance; it even beefs them up.
In Hotspot Shield, they developed their own transport protocol named Hydra technology that delivers secure and fast online services, such as streaming, downloading, uploading, and sharing with zero compromises.
How does Hydra technology work exactly?
Most VPNs shuttle your data into packets across the connection, some of the packets get lost, and when that happens, your VPN slows down the bandwidth and affects the device’s performance.
Hydra protocol works differently; it distinguishes the data packet's nature and does not overreact to the packets that do not affect the connection. Hydra technology boosts bandwidth’s speed without risking your security.
2. Number of servers and geographic distribution
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield has 3,200 servers distributed over 80 countries around the globe.
Long explanation: The best VPN services always offer many server locations. The high number of servers (especially when they are quality servers) can relieve internet traffic congestion. When a server has too many users, the speed will drop. Having multiple servers in certain areas helps relieve that congestion pressure.
3. Fastest available protocol
Short Explanation: Hydra Catapult is the fastest available protocol by Hotspot Shield (recommended to use).
Long Explanation: In the VPN world, many protocols exist, with differences between protocols making the difference in how secure a VPN is, how fast, and whether it can bypass geo-censorship. The trade-off is between speed and security, with the PPTP protocol typically being the fastest but the least secure.
Hotspot Shield Security and Privacy
A fast, secure, and lightweight VPN is all that we need. Still, it is important to read more about a VPN's security before making up your mind.
1. Encryption and protocols
Hotspot Shield provides AES-256-bit encryption, which is the standard for the industry. It is so secure to the point that governments, militaries, and banks utilize this type of encryption to secure their data.
Pro mode: Hydra Catapult is the protocol available for Hotspot Shield. The company developed its own protocol to guarantee the fastest and most secure internet connection.
2. Hotspot Shield logs policy
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield has a no-activity log policy.
Long explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn't log your online activity, but it logs your email address, username, OS version, and network information.
3. Hotspot Shield kill switch
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield has a fully functioning kill switch feature.
Long explanation: A kill switch acts to sever your connection to the internet in the event your VPN connection fails, therefore protecting your real IP. Kill switch protection is further divided into IP leak protection and DNS leak protection.
4. Hotspot Shield RAM-based servers
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn’t have RAM-based servers.
Long explanation: A RAM-based server means that the data, instead of being saved to SSD drives, is saved on RAM (random-access memory). This is advantageous to security because RAM is wiped clean every time the servers reboot.
5. Based country
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield is based in the United States.
Long explanation: Hotspot Shield is based in the United States, which is inside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. VPN companies based inside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance are considered a possible security threat as these countries are known to spy on their citizens and share information internally.
6. Warrant Canary
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn’t have a Warrant Canary system.
Long explanation: A Warrant Canary is an indirect method to warn customers of governmental attempts to subpoena, where the warrant's presence on the company’s official website means the local government hasn’t tried anything yet. In the event the Warrant Canary is removed from the company’s page, it means they were asked.
Hotspot Shield in Practice
In terms of the application of VPNs in the real world, we dive further into how HotspotShield fares against the rest in the following categories:
Netflix blacklists many VPN IP addresses to impose restrictions on its content from certain places in the world. As a Netflix user, I found that really disturbing too. Still, we have a very cheerful fact to tell; some VPNs find a way to bypass restrictions and unblock Netflix content.
But can Hotspot Shield VPN bypass Netflix bans?
After testing it in different places worldwide, it appeared that Hotspot Shield Premium unblocks Netflix banned content in the US and UK only, but it couldn't do the same in other tested places. There is no need to worry, though, since we have other recommendations to let you watch Netflix with no boundaries, like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Give them a try, and you won't regret it.
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn't allow torrenting. Furthermore, Hotspot Shield doesn't have a specialized torrenting servers.
Long explanation: Torrenting goes hand in hand with VPN. Many individuals torrent illegal material and hence require a VPN to cover up both the data going over to their ISP via encryption and their location by masking their IP address. However, not all VPN companies allow for torrenting, and even fewer companies have specialized torrenting servers which provide a better experience and speed when torrenting.
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn’t have specialized gaming servers, but it supports gaming.
Long explanation: When it comes to gaming, the reason why you would want to use a VPN for games is variable, but one thing is clear, which is no one wants to lag at all. Companies with specialized gaming servers make sure your gaming experience will be smoother than with companies that don’t have specialized gaming servers.
4. Tor over VPN
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield supports Tor over VPN.
Long explanation: Torrent onion router (Tor) is a P2P program used to enter the dark web. Using a VPN adds an extra layer of anonymity, especially at the entry node, with the addition of data encryption.
5. Hotspot Shield dedicated IP
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn’t have a dedicated IP.
Long explanation: While mostly when using a VPN, you would want a dynamic IP (an IP that changes whenever you reconnect to a server), in certain situations, this is not the case. A dedicated server is recommended in the following situations:
- Business security.
- Secure online payment.
- Avoid getting blacklisted.
- Avoid CAPTCHAs.
6. Geo-censorship bypass (obfuscation)
Hotspot Shield bypasses geo-restricted content by masking your IP.
7. Split tunneling
Short explanation: Hotspot Shield doesn't have the split tunneling feature.
Long explanation: The split tunneling feature means you can selectively use your VPN on a certain type/source of data outgoing from your device.
Split tunneling in certain situations is favorable. For example, you're torrenting while playing a videogame or watching a YouTube video. In such a scenario, you would want only the torrenting to be encrypted. VPN encryption will slow down the connection speed relative to using a VPN since the encrypted data is larger than non-encrypted.
Extensions and Compatability
Hotspot Shield is compatible with:
Hotspot Shield is available as an extension on:
1. Google Chrome.
2. Microsoft Edge.
Hotspot Shield User Experience
Whether beginners or professionals, all users will need help at some point. Hotspot Shield offers its services in different languages and via multiple options.
1. Supported languages
Hotspot Shield supports the following languages:
2. Customer support
Hotspot Shield makes sure that all your problems will get solved by offering a bunch of assistance methods:
1. Live chat.
2. Knowledge base.
4. Articles and guides.
For VPNs that offer all you dream of, we recommend using our top picks NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Hotspot Shield Free VPN
Hotspot Shield Free VPN is one of the best out there. Both free and Premium VPNs provide (128-bit/256-bit AES) encryption. The free VPN doesn't offer the perfect amount of data to communicate, stream, download, and share files. However, it is good enough to browse the internet, check emails, use social media, and shop online.
It is also important not to judge Hotspot Shield's speed upon the free version, and that's because the free version does not offer the same level of speed as the premium plans. Probably a user will face latency, besides the ads that you might find really disturbing.
The good news is you can choose from the paid plans with a 45-day money-back guarantee. It allows you to test and find out whether it is or not what you are aiming for.
Pricing and Payments
Choose out of two plans, Premium and Premium Family, offered by Hotspot Shield VPN, and install it on most operating systems and browsers, such as macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux.
In case you're not satisfied with the service, you can have your money back due to their 45-day money-back guarantee.
Short on time? We have all you need to know right below:
|Plans||Hotspot Shield Free VPN||Hotspot Shield Premium VPN||Hotspot Shield Premium Family VPN|
|1 device||5 devices||5 devices for each Family account|
|Connection speed||Limited||Ultra-fast speeds, up to 1 Gbps||Ultra-fast speeds, up to 1 Gbps|
|Customer support||N/A||24/7 live chat support||24/7 live chat support|
|Anti-malware and Phishing||N/A||Included||Included|
|Identity theft protection||N/A||Included||N/A|
|Price per month||Free of charge||$7.99||$11.99|
Available payment methods include:
- American Express.
How to Download Hotspot Shield VPN?
Few steps and you are ready to get started:
1. Download Hotspot Shield VPN on your TV, phone, or computer.
2. Open the Hotspot Shield app and click the power button.
3. Select the VPN server location or the one you wish to connect to.
4. You are all set. Enjoy your favorite content.
After listing out all you need to know about Hotspot Shield VPN, it is your turn now to decide. Don't forget the 45-day money-back guarantee, which means you risk nothing by giving it a kick. Your security is important, but you don't have to compromise speed and performance; that is why Hotspot Shield has the perfect formula!