Hotspot Shield Review

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Are you searching for a secure, private internet access? If yes, then Hotspot Shield VPN is the right choice for you and so is its website.

But does Hotspot Shield really worth trusting? Or is it just one more VPN that promises a lot and delivers nothing?

If you’re also the one who inquires a lot before making a choice – you’re in great luck here since our unbiased Hotspot Shield VPN review will help you get answers of all your questions.

Though Hotspot Shield has a free version but this review is totally dedicated to its premium version.

Pros

  1. Super fast downloading: 89Mbps (same-country connections)
    1. Actual time malware protection & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
    1. Performs with Netflix, iPlayer, & torrenting
    1. Average VPN server network: 75 countries
    1. User-friendly VPN apps for popular devices

Cons

  1. Situated in US, quite a privacy-unfriendly country & VPN protocol transparency
  2. The free VPN app has a debatable past
  3. Compatible to only a handful of devices
  4. Not trustable for China

It had some privacy glitches in the past, but it is a fact that Hotspot Shield is famous for its speed. Yes, you read that right; Hotspot Shield is fast, really, really fast as compared to other popular VPNs. Let’s examine it:

Speed & Reliability

One of the incredibly fast VPN providers we’ve ever tested. Surprisingly, the software downloads with lightning fast speed on all the VPN servers we checked.

The software is splendid, particularly for HD streaming which means you get huge liberty to do almost anything online via this software.

In most cases, Open VPN is used for speed test – unfortunately, Open VPN doesn’t use this protocol instead uses some proprietary VPN protocol for which there is a little technical information is exists.

Indeed Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPN, but it’s tough to assure this software as a secure and strong VPN like the other top-tier VPN services.

Before using Hotspot Shield:

When connected to Hotspot Shield:

Download speed without Hotspot Shield: 96Mbps

Download speed with Hotspot Shield: 89Mbps

Download speed loss when Hotspot Shield is running: 7%

Hotspot Shield’s uploads is also remarkable for torrenting, but ping times are a bit high, so there are better alternatives for uninterrupted gaming.

 

Server Locations

Huge spread of VPN server network covering 75 countries

You’ll experience Hotspot Shield’s speed while getting connected to the VPN server nearby, and you don’t find yourself far from one as there are now 101 locations available worldwide.

Hotspot Shield doesn’t mention the number of individual VPN servers it handles, nor if these are physical or virtual servers, but it surely covers 101 cities located in 75 countries across the globe.

Well, it doesn’t provide a vast selection of VPN locations as we’ve seen more significant numbers, but Hotspot Shield’s VPN servers have covered almost every possible area, but there are few loopholes in the coverage.

You can have an IP address linked with popular countries like the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia, along with some less popular destinations like Ecuador, Egypt, and Thailand.

Users of Hotspot Shield get the option between 26 city-level VPN servers in the US, which is likely to improve performance for North Americans and is ideal for those looking for particular US locations from abroad.

Streaming & Torrenting

Works effortlessly with streaming and torrenting services

Hotspot Shield performs smoothly with US Netflix as well as BBC iPlayer.

We didn’t face even a single issue with this VPN even despite the streaming services’ are combating with VPNs. This proves the reliability of Hotspot Shield as a VPN option for streaming maniacs.

Hail to Hotspot Shield’s lightning fast download speeds; streaming video content in HD is quite convenient and buffer-free.

Torrenting

Torrenting via Hotspot Shield performs very impressive. Torrenting and P2P traffic is fully allowed without any limitation on any of Hotspot Shield’s servers.

Efficient DNS leak protection, fast upload speeds, a VPN kill switch will tempt the enthusiastic torrenters.

Though, Hotspot Shield’s downside is its lack of transparency over its proprietary VPN protocol which means there is no guarantee if it’s the safest option for P2P. We can’t even say about the user-friendliness of its logging policy either.

But Kodi users mightn’t find it attractive as Hotspot Shield can only be installed on Windows, MacOS, Android (smartphone), and iOS.

Bypassing Censorship

Inadvisable for China or other high-censorship countries

Hotspot Shield isn’t an ideal alternative for users located in highly censored countries – You can find the same fact on its website too.

We can appreciate the honesty, but that doesn’t mean you can use it in countries like China, Pakistan, UAE, or in any other country where the government has implemented web blocks.

Though some users happened to connect with China successfully, it’s safer to go for a VPN that provides an obfuscation tool (stealth protocol) for bypassing censorship like Astrill.

Platforms & Devices

Coverage limited to most popular platforms, no router support

Apps

Windows

Mac

iOS

Android

Hotspot Shield’s VPN performs well on your smartphone and desktop or laptop computers. It also has app for:

Though its long list of device coverage ends here, Hotspot Shield doesn’t support manual configuration which means you can use it only on highly popular operating systems such as Linux.

You can use Hotspot Shield at any one time on up to five devices.

Games Consoles & Streaming Devices

Because of Hotspot Shield’s platform support limitation, you can’t install it on any streaming or gaming consoles like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, Xbox, or Play Station.

Browser Extensions

Chrome

Firefox

Hotspot Shield does offer browser extensions, though, which is an excellent benefit for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox users. These extensions can set-up your location, block ads, and trackers, along with protection from malware.

Not only this, but Hotspot Shield’s browser add-ons are just proxies and not full VPNs, so make sure that you’re using the extension along with the primary VPN app for total security.

Hotspot Shield doesn’t include browser extensions for Safari or Opera at present.

Encryption & Security

Strong encryption but less transparency about the proprietary VPN protocol

Hotspot Shield applies Catapult Hydra VPN as its only VPN protocol – it’s a unique protocol, and not much is known about it or how it works. It seems to be a secure proprietary security protocol, but how safe – is questionable!

The VPN app provides choices to switch protocols to more familiar ones like Open VPN or IKEv2.

There was a significant security issue found in February 2018 that made hackers track your exact location through your WiFi network name, but the problem got caught and fixed on time.

Hotspot Shield makes the rest right, though, with AES-256 encryption, a VPN kill switch and protection against IPv6 and DNS leaks. Here are the outcomes of our leak analyses (we test from London, so you can see that it’s successfully hiding our IP address):

On top of it, Hotspot Shield also provides real-time malware protection which ran well in recent tests by AV-TEST.

Logging Policy

Logs IP addresses while connected, and based in Five Eyes jurisdiction

Hotspot Shield logs more than you’d like:

•    Your IP address – Encrypted, only till the period of your session, and not connected with your activity while using the VPN.

•    Device-specific information, like the unique mobile ID, hardware model, operating system version, language, and network information – on opening the app but before linking to the VPN, to update the service and perform analytics

•    Combined (non-personal) logs of websites visit through Hotspot Shield’s VPN servers.

Though, you can rest assure that Hotspot Shield doesn’t record anything which could lead activity to your identity.

In 2017, Hotspot Shield was accused of ‘unfair and deceptive trade practices’ – these creepy practices only include the free version of the app, but still it was a grave breach of trust. Those practices have since been kept on hold, but be on the safe side choose with Hotspot Shield’s paid version.

Jurisdiction

Hotspot Shield, first appeared in 2008, is owned by AncorFreeGmbH. AnchorFreeGmbH is located in the US, which disturbing privacy laws and is also the part of the Five Eyes data-sharing membership.

Anchor Free GmbH also owns some other VPN apps, to name a few: Betternet, Hexatech, and Touch VPN.

In January 2019, Hotspot Shield launched its annual Transparency Report. The report mentions the number of data requests Hotspot Shield received from authorities across the world since 2016, and importantly that Hotspot Shield never delivered any data.

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