Best VPN Service / Hotspotshield Review

Hotspot Shield Review 2024: How Safe & Good is the VPN?

Read Our complete Hotspot Shield Test - Server, Speed, Pricing & More

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VPN
Hotspotshield
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Rating follows
Works with
Torrents
Hulu
Amazon Prime Video
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Data Logging
Yes
P2P/Torrenting
Yes
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T&Cs apply, 18+
Details
User Reviews

Hotspot Shield VPN claims to be the world's fastest VPN, offering military-grade encryption with servers across 80+ countries. But does this VPN live up to its hype? This Hotspot Shield VPN review has the answer.

Besides exploring the VPN’s privacy and security features, you’ll also discover what makes Hotspot Shield receive praise from major publications such as Forbes and authority tech sites such as PC Magazine. Let’s see what it’s all about, shall we?

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Hotspot Shield VPN main
Hotspotshield: Pros & Cons
  • It's one of the fastest VPNs in the market.
  • Most servers are optimized for streaming and online gaming.
  • It offers a free version and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
  • Its proprietary protocol, Catapult Hydra, provides some of the best security features.
Payment Methods
Visa
Mastercard
American Express
+
Company
Intersections LLC
Founded
2022
Website
hotspotshield.com
Available Languages
EN
ES
+
Customer Support
Email Support
Email
support@hotspotshield.com
Overall Rating
Rating follows
  • Usability, Look & Feel
    4.3/5
  • Mobile App
    4.4/5
  • Payment Methods
    4.4/5
  • Customer Service
    4.5/5
No review posted yet.
User Rating
0/5
5 Stars
0%
4 Stars
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3 Stars
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2 Stars
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1 Star
0%
Last Updated on 23/05/2024

Overview of Hotspot Shield VPN: A quick look into the features

Before taking your time to review Hotspot Shield VPN in-depth, there are some crucial features and facts you should know about this VPN. First, it's essential to acknowledge that Hotspot Shield is a legit VPN service provider. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs, giving some popular names like ExpressVPN a run for their money. Below are the other facts and features to keep in mind:

  • Hotspot Shield uses a proprietary protocol called Catapult Hydra, a revolutionary encryption and data transfer technique that outshines popular protocols such as WireGuard and OpenVPN.
  • Unlike most VPNs, Hotspot Shield has a free version that offers unlimited bandwidth and speeds up to 1 Gbps. This free version offers one member account and allows one device connection. However, the premium version allows connections of up to 10 or 25 devices for the family plan.
  • Hotspot Shield offers AES 128 or 256-bit encryption, depending on the device you use. It supports HD streaming and is well-optimized for Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Disney. There's also a 24/7 live chat feature for premium users and 800+ fast servers ideal for online activities that require large bandwidth transmission, e.g., online gaming.
  • Hotspot Shield VPN supports Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS, and Android devices. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available for users who prefer lightweight and flexible installations.

The only letdown for this VPN is its low score regarding user privacy. As you'll notice in this Hotspot Shield VPN review, there have been several controversies surrounding their no-logs policy. And while a different company now owns Hotspot Shield, most users are still skeptical about the VPN's privacy policies.

How to setup Hotspot Shield VPN: A step-by-step guide 

Hotspot Shield VPN offers intuitive software available for most devices, including TVs and routers. Whether you choose the free plan or the premium version, installing and setting up this VPN is easy. Here's how:

  • Download the Hotspot Shield VPN on your phone, TV, or computer.
  • Run the Hotspot Shield VPN program to install it on your device.
  • Open the Hotspot Shield app and click the power button to connect to the VPN.
  • Choose the VPN server location you wish to connect to. Hotspot Shield will automatically connect you to the best-performing server within your region.
  • Securely switch between servers and enjoy your browsing.

To use the Firefox or Chrome extension version, you must download the extension and add it to the relevant browser. You then need to turn protection on from your browser's Hotspot Shield VPN icon.

The only disadvantage with the browser extension versions is that the VPN only encrypts and secures your browser's traffic. You are not protected if you use a different browser to access the internet.

Hotspot Shield VPN: Quick summary

Jurisdiction/Country United States
Server location 125+
Countries 80+
Number of servers 3200+
Fast VPN servers 800+
Speed Super-fast ( average of 10% speed drop)
Security AES 128 and 256-Bit encryption.
Devices Supported 10 for premium and 25 for premium family
Protocols Catapult Hydra, IPsec (IKEv2)
Torrenting Yes
Streaming Yes
Data limits Unlimited
Customer support 24/7 live chat for premium users
Lowest price $7.99 per month for yearly subscriptions

Hotspot Shield VPN test: An in-depth review of the VPN features

If it's your first time checking out Hotspot Shield VPN, you're probably already impressed by the many unique features this VPN offers. But you'll notice some changes if you've used this VPN before. For instance, the streaming and Torrenting functionalities have improved drastically, with more server locations added and performance enhanced. Another noteworthy change is the pricing, which has also increased. Learn more about Hotspot Shield VPN in the sections below.

1. Speed: How good is Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield VPN is undoubtedly one of the best VPN service providers offering lightning-fast speeds and enhanced performance on nearly all servers. While testing the connection speeds for servers across different continents, most countries registered a speed drop of between 6% and 25%, which is impressive.

U.S., Canadian, Indian, and Australian servers were the best performing, each registering a speed drop of around 8-12%. Servers in China, Japan, and Singapore were the slowest, cutting the speed by about 25%. And while the average speed drop for more than half of the 15 server locations tested was a bit consistent, the ping time drastically increased or decreased from one server to the next, meaning you're likely to experience some delays in the server response time even though the connection is fast. It's worth noting that the user-to-server ratio and the physical distance from the server largely determine the connection speeds and latency; hence these results can vary greatly.

One of the critical features that largely influences the fast connection speeds is the Catapult Hydra Protocol used by Hotspot Shield VPN. This protocol uses a data transfer mechanism that enhances your download speed and is roughly two and a half times faster than protocols like OpenVPN. In other words, if your ISP internet connection is slow, the Hydra protocol doesn't slow the connection further, like with other VPNs.

2. Security: Is your sensitive data protected?  

Based on the many Hotspot Shield VPN tests and after conducting a thorough analysis of the Hydra protocol, it's fair to note that this VPN is secure and safe. The Catapult Hydra is a hybrid of the open SSL commercial grade and the transport layer security 1.2 protocols, which are robust and highly reputable. Some big names in the security industry, such as Bitdefender and MacAfee, also use this Hydra protocol.

Technically, Hydra's fast speeds and high levels of security eliminate the need for the WireGuard tunneling protocol. So Hotspot Shield does not offer it, but the only concern is that no third parties have audited the Hydra protocol's source code, so it's hard to tell how this protocol's security and privacy technologies compare to its competition. Here are the other security features offered by Hotspot Shield VPN:

Kill Switch

This feature reduces the chances of your IP leaking when your connection drops or when you switch from one server location to another. Hotspot Shield VPN's kill switch functions automatically and is available on Windows, Mac OS, and Android.

Auto-protect feature

This feature scans your network and temporarily stops connections to unsecured WI-FI networks that hackers can use to steal your information. It then tunnels your internet traffic through the VPN to secure your data.

Prevent IP leak

This added security feature makes your IP undetectable while connected to the VPN.

ExpressVPN
4.6/5
from $8,32 / Month
T&Cs apply, 18+
Go to ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN Highlights
  • Wide server coverage and continuous expansion
  • Lightning-fast VPN speeds
  • Flexible pricing plans with a money-back guarantee

3. Server locations: A wider coverage for enhanced performance 

Hotspot Shield VPN offers 3200 + server locations in over 80 countries across 35 + cities. Due to the large number of servers, you aren't likely to experience overcrowding and sluggish speeds.

One great feature that Hotspot Shield VPN offers is the Quick Access feature, which saves the kind of servers you frequently use. This will save you a lot of time and trouble searching for a specific server whenever you need to connect to the internet or switch servers. That said, some server locations are exclusive to particular devices and may not appear on yours. This will limit you to using a single device, i.e. if you must connect to that specific server location. Similarly, Hotspot Shield claims on their website that the number of fast VPN servers is 800+, meaning all the other servers may not be fast enough.

And while 80 countries is a good number, some server locations are crowded in specific countries and cities, leaving some with little to no server locations. This can be limiting, especially for users looking to access certain sites or services from specific cities or jurisdictions.

4. Privacy: Is Hotspot Shield VPN safe? 

Hotspot Shield VPN claims to be trusted by millions for privacy and security, but that trust has been questioned in the past. And while a lot has changed since then, it's still crucial to evaluate the factors contributing to this trust and assess whether it's well-founded.

While researching for this Hotspot Shield VPN review, one thing stood out regarding user privacy. And that is, the new parent company, Aura, has gone the extra mile to enhance the VPN's privacy policies. For instance, on the official website, Hotspot Shield promises not to store any logs and instead to mask your IP address for total anonymity.

It also offers a Smart VPN (split tunneling) feature that helps you select the apps and websites you don't want to route through the VPN. This allows for flexibility and convenience.

Now the big question – is Hotspot Shield VPN safe? As noted earlier, Hotspot Shield has had a shaky reputation regarding data logs and privacy policy. Here's a quick breakdown of past events:

  • In 2016, a CSIRO report found that Hotspot Shield VPN had a JavaScript tracking code that collected user information.
  • In 2017, the Center for Democracy and Technology complained to the Federal Trade Commission about Hotspot Shield VPN, citing that the VPN's free version was involved in "deceptive and unfair practices."
  • In 2018, a researcher found a bug with Hotspot Shield that exposed the users' Wi-FI name and location. Hotspot Shield acknowledged the accuracy of the research.

And while these events are worrisome, Hotspot Shield was acquired by Aura in 2020, and there have been no incidents since the new ownership came into place. Still, many users who prioritize privacy find this VPN's privacy policies questionable.

5. Streaming: Is Hotspot Shield VPN good enough?

Over the years, Hotspot Shield VPN has worked on revamping its services to cater to the unique needs of different users. Streaming services is one of the recently enhanced features that now allow access to geo-blocked content from across the globe.

Some streaming channels you can enjoy with Hotspot Shield VPN include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Twitch, and Hulu. A rule of thumb when streaming is to always connect to a server close to your physical location, i.e., unless you want to access geo-blocked content.

To ensure better speeds and performance, leave the VPN protocol at the default setting (Hydra) and ensure your ISP internet speeds are reasonably good. If you are blocked while browsing, you want to try out a different server and ensure the "Prevent IP Leak" feature is on.

6. Torrenting: Share P2P files conveniently 

Hotspot Shield VPN offers fast and secure data transfer for users sharing peer-to-peer files across the web. With its optimized protocols and extensive server network, this VPN ensures an efficient and smooth file-sharing experience. The Auto-protect security feature ensures that you only download a secure file or access a legitimate site.

7. Pricing: Best prices for premier services

Hotspot Shield VPN is one of the few high-end VPN service providers offering both a free plan and premium or paid VPN service. The company recently revamped its free plan to offer unlimited bandwidth and better connection speeds. This free plan allows you to connect to the VPN using only one device and doesn’t support video gaming and streaming. So how good is the Hotspot Shield VPN premium plan?

If you want to subscribe to the premium plan, you have two options to choose from: a default premium subscription plan and a premium-family plan. Take a look at these two below:

VPN Features Premium Plan Premium Family Plan
Member accounts 1 $7.99 per month (annual subscription.)
Device connections 10 25 (each member account supports 5 devices)
Fastest VPN Connections 800+ 800+
Platforms Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Routers, Chrome, and Smart TV. Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Routers, Chrome, and Smart TV.
Customer support 24/7 support 24/7 support
Cost $7.99 per month (annual subscription.) $11.99 per month (yearly plan).

Overall, Hotspot Shield VPN offers fair pricing within the range of other decent VPNs. The improvement in bandwidth and connection speeds for the free version is worthwhile, and since this is free, you don't have to complain about the limited device connections.

If you choose the 7-day free trial for the premium plan, you'll be required to enter your credit card information and email address. Failing to cancel this free trial before the seven days will see $12.99 debited from your account. This VPN also offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, which works great according to several Hotspot Shield VPN reviews. The only concern is the lack of anonymous ways to pay, like using Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

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8. Customer support: 24/7 live chat 

Hotspot Shield VPN offers an online resource page where you can browse various topics and find solutions to your problems. Additionally, there's a 24/7 email and live chat feature for premium users. The friendly customer agents are very responsive, typically responding within minutes.

Key takeaways: Is Hotspot Shield VPN right for you?

Now that you have explored the many features and the VPN's pros and cons, one question remains – is Hotspot Shield VPN good for you? The answer lies in what you want to accomplish with Hotspot Shield VPN and your unique preferences and expectations.

Hotspot Shield VPN could be an ideal pick if you're looking for a VPN that offers fast speeds, secure browsing, and reliable streaming and gaming. This VPN is also great when it comes to value for money. However, the big letdown is with its privacy policy. If you'd rather go for something clean without previous controversies, Hotspot Shield may not work for you.

ExpressVPN
4.6/5
from $8,32 / Month
T&Cs apply, 18+
Go to ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN Highlights
  • Wide server coverage and continuous expansion
  • Lightning-fast VPN speeds
  • Flexible pricing plans with a money-back guarantee

Hotspot Shield VPN FAQs

⚓Is Hotspot Shield VPN strong?

A strong VPN offers the best security and privacy features. It also guarantees reliable access to geo-blocked content and faster connection for peer-to-peer file transfer. Check out this Hotspot Shield VPN review to see if this VPN is ideal for your browsing needs.

📍 Is Hotspot Shield VPN fast?

Most VPNs tend to decrease internet connection speeds due to overhead caused by data encryption and traffic routing. But some VPN protocols actually boost transmission speeds. Refer to this Hotspot Shield VPN guide to discover the default protocol used by this VPN and how it affects the connection speeds.

📌How many devices does Hotspot Shield VPN allow?

A great VPN should allow a reasonable number of devices to share one subscription or license. This ensures more flexibility and convenience, especially when using the VPN for streaming. Read this Hotspot Shield VPN review for more details about the number of devices that can connect to this VPN.

User Reviews for Hotspotshield

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  • Blazing-fast speeds and performance
  • Wide device compatibility
  • Free version with unlimited bandwidth
Hotspotshield Costs Offer
from $8,00 / Month
-
T&Cs apply, 18+
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