Hotspot Shield Free review

Last updated on 16/09/2019 by Melvyn and co.

Snapshot

Hotspot Shield is one of the most popular free VPN apps currently being downloaded and is packed with the same robust security features found in its premium package. Users get a fair 500Mb per day data allowance but can only connect securely to a US server. Despite this, their proprietary technology delivers some fantastic speeds that compete with most premium services so readers shouldn’t be overly concerned about this.

Compatible with
Apple(Logo)(2)
Windows(Logo)(3)
Android(Logo)(2)
Rating

Our score:

4.3

4.3/5
Pricing

Price from:

$0.00

per month

Pros
  • Super-fast download speeds of 79Mbps
  • Kill switch, DNS leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption
  • User friendly apps with Chrome and Firefox browser extensions
  • No card or payment details required to sign up
Cons
  • Privacy policy could be stronger
  • Servers located in USA only
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting not permitted
  • Doesn’t work with Netflix of BBC iPlayer
  • 500Mb per day isn’t going to go very far

Introduction

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN is one of the world’s most popular VPN apps which is no surprise given its packed with some great features, is really user-friendly and produces super-fast speeds.

When it comes to security, it uses its own patented proprietary VPN protocol ‘Catapult Hydra’ as well as being backed up by military grade encryption ensuring your IP address is firmly behind the shield. It also has a VPN kill switch, ad blocker software and malware protection ensuring malicious phishing and spam sites won’t infect your device.

With an allowance of only 500Mb per day, most users will fly through this, but is a great way to test out the Hotspot Shield service before potentially committing to a premium package. You can be safe in the knowledge that 65 million+ users have benefited from using their service before you too so it’s certainly worth a try!

Slightly annoyingly for the free users, you may see some 3rd party adverts whilst using… but we think that’s only a minor flaw and we can quickly get over that. You can check out our full review here where you can learn about the many additional features and benefits you can get by using a paid for Hotspot Shield service.

Pricing

It’s totally free and doesn’t cost a thing! No catches or cons. You don’t even have to add any payment or card details on sign-up either which we’re a big fan of, but you may see some 3rd party adverts whilst using.

We’ve shown pricing for their paid plans below just in case you were undecided or curious about how much their paid services would cost, and for payment, Hotspot Shield currently accepts all major debit and credit cards (including America Express), Apple Pay, PayPal, Neosurf, Mint as well as Alipay for users in China. They currently have no option to pay via cryptocurrency like many other providers.

Free plan

$ 0
00
per month
  • Billed $0.00 every month
Free

1 month plan

$ 12
99
per month
  • Billed $12.99 every month

1 year plan

$ 5
99
per month
  • Billed $71.88 every year

3 year plan

$ 2
99
per month
  • Billed $107.64 every 3 years
SAVE 77%

Features

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN allows users to protect one device per account and comes with many of the great features found on its premium service. With an allowance of only 500Mb per day, most users will fly through this, but is a great way to test out the Hotspot Shield service before potentially committing to a premium package.

It’s lightning quick performance is backed up with super secure AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection, their proprietary VPN protocol known as ‘Catapult Hydra’, and a zero logs policy… all of which make this a really great free offering. Further security features include the must have VPN kill switch with means should you lose your VPN connection, you are automatically reconnected without leaking data.

Platforms and devices

The free version of Hotspot Shield allows users to protect once device per account which is fair enough seeing as its free!

Their user-friendly app works with macOS and Windows operating systems as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. If using a Fire TV (Amazon Firestick) or Kodi is your thing… they’ve got you covered too, as well as Chrome and Firefox browser users.

Linux users and those wanting to configure their router will need to look at an alternative provider unfortunately as these features aren’t currently available with Hotspot Shield.

Streaming

When it comes to streaming, Hotspot Shield is a great choice… but you will need to upgrade to a premium plan! The free version simply won’t unblock the likes of US Netflix and with Hotspot Shield’s free plan only allowing users to connect to US servers, BBC iPlayer can’t be accessed either. The likes of YouTube and other popular channels will work fine, but we know most of you will be trying to unlock US Netflix etc, and with only 500mb of data allowance… that will disappear very quickly!

If you’re in the market purely for a VPN for streaming, we recommend you either purchase a full plan from Hotspot Shield where you can effortlessly stream HD content from Netflix, Hulu and other popular sites, or take a look at some of our other recommended providers and try one of those. It’s also worth visiting our best VPN for Netflix page here which lists the most popular VPNs for streaming.

Torrenting​

The free version of the Hotspot Shield service doesn’t permit any P2P torrenting activity so it’s a no go for those looking to do so! Their premium plans do however allow torrenting on all 2,500+ of their servers. You should always have the protection of a VPN when torrenting and we recommend viewing our full guide here.

Speed

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN delivers incredible speeds and is lightyears ahead of many of its competition. The free version enables you to connect to US servers which is perfect… if you live in America! Others like us here at the CompareMyVPN HQ (UK) will have to make a more distant connection which in theory reduces speed significantly. However, thanks to their incredible proprietary technology, we were still able to benefit from awesome speeds during testing, achieving 79Mbps which is hugely impressive! Users the other side of the pond will benefit from even greater results!

Security

Hotspot Shield uses its own proprietary VPN protocol called ‘Catapult Hydra’ instead of the more familiar OpenVPN or IKEv2. According to Hotspot Shield, this has been independently audited and is used by major firms offering significant reassurance. They state that their unique protocol is a key reason to help achieve superior speeds.

Military grade encryption is delivered via industry standard AES-256 ensuring your activity is kept concealed from hackers and prying eyes and they also promise not to log any of your online activity giving you complete online privacy.

Users also benefit from DNS leak protection alongside a kill switch (a must have in our eyes, ensuring your activities and sensitive data aren’t unencrypted and exposed should your VPN lose connection.

Applications

Hotspot Shield’s well-designed app is really user-friendly offering an enjoyable yet uncomplicated experience. If you are stepping into the VPN world for the first time, they certainly are a good choice based on app usability alone.

The app can be downloaded on a whole host of popular devices such as iOS and android and work perfectly on the Amazon Firestick or Android TV.

Customer service

Hotspot Shield has live agents available 24/7 meaning you can receive great customer service and technical support in the unlikely event you should need it any time of day. They also have plenty of handy tips and guides on their website too ensuring you’re never waiting too long without an answer to your questions.  

Log policy

Hotspot Shield do not log IP addresses or any browsing activity meaning your activity is hidden from your ISP or any government agencies who may request it. They do however log some minor information such as your device make and model, language and network information before you switch their VPN on for which they state is to help improve their service.

This information in no way suggests that your identity can be linked to your activity and we are happy to recommend Hotspot Shield with confidence to our readers.

If you’re looking for a strict no logs VPN then you should check out our best VPNs for privacy page here.

Jurisdiction

Hotspot Shield is owned by AnchorFree, located in California USA, which isn’t an ideal hideaway for privacy. Not only are the US government intrusive and strict in terms of privacy law, they are also members of the Five Eyes network meaning your activity can be shared with other countries. Despite this, your actual browsing activity isn’t logged by Hotspot Shield so they don’t in theory have any information to hand over if requested.

Hotspot Shield publish a transparency report annually which shows data requests received by the authorities worldwide and whilst there have been a number of these according to their report, they have never actually handed over any data.

The verdict

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN is both extremely fast and super secure, but like hide.me’s free offering (2GB per month), it’s slightly let down by its 500Mb per day data allowance.

Users in the USA may be slightly more suited to the Hotspot Shield free service due to server locations limited to the US, but users outside of that territory can still benefit from incredible performance.

Those looking for a VPN for streaming, torrenting or unblocking geo-restricted content such as US Netflix or BBC iPlayer should upgrade to a paid for plan as it fails terribly in all of these areas. However, if every-day browsing is all you’re looking to cover, or if you utilise public wi-fi fairly frequently, the free service will certainly be more than adequate!

Another major positive we like with the Hotspot Shield free app (along with 65 million+ users!) is that you can simply download the app and use the VPN without having to hand over any personal or payment details.

Melvyn and the team at comparemyvpn.com rate this free VPN product pretty highly and like millions of other users you don’t have anything to lose by giving it a try. It’s not perfect, but if protecting your data is your only concern, you really can’t go wrong!

If you enjoyed reading our Hotspot Shield free review and would like to learn more about their paid for offerings, please read our review found here.

Have your say...

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email