Hotspot Shield review

Last updated on 22/08/2019 by Melvyn and co.

Snapshot

Hotspot Shield is a super-fast VPN provider offering both a free or premium service. Their app is slick, easy to use, comes with a VPN kill switch and is accompanied with plenty of robust security features keeping its users safe online. It’s also perfect for unblocking content such as Netflix and is priced really competitively.
Compatible with
Apple(Logo)(2)
Windows(Logo)(3)
Android(Logo)(2)
Rating

Our score:

4.7

4.7/5
Pricing

Price from:

$2.99

per month

Pros
  • Fast, reliable servers with up to 90Mbps download speeds
  • Great, user-friendly applications on all devices
  • Kill switch, 256-bit AES encryption & Ad Blocker
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting permitted
  • Unlimited bandwidth and traffic usage
  • Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer and all other popular streaming sites
  • 45-day money back guarantee
Cons
  • Limited server locations compared to its rivals
  • Based in the privacy-unfriendly USA

Introduction

‘The fastest most secure virtual private network’. It’s certainly a bold claim! And considering 600+ million users have downloaded Hotspot Shield, they are clearly doing something right.

They offer users two ways to use their service in the form of either a free version of their VPN (for as long as you like) or a premium paid service. The free version is supported by in-app adverts which subsidise the running costs and allows access to just the 1 server. The premium service on the other hand gives you full access to their network of servers plus a whole host of security benefits.

When it comes to geo-restricted content, Hotspot unblocks it all. And if you’re a user who likes P2P torrenting, there are no restrictions! Throw in very generous no hassle 45-day money back guarantee and superb customer support via online chat and it’s a great option for those looking to buy or change VPN provider!

Pricing

Hotspot Shield is very competitively priced given the fantastic speeds and features on offer. Plans are available monthly or yearly (1 & 3 year). 3-year plans represent exceptional value for money and are currently on special offer of 77% when purchased through our website. You’re also looked after by their very generous 45-day money back guarantee.

For payment, Hotspot 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.

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

For this review we focus on Hotspot Shields premium service which contains several great features we think are well worth taking note of. We have mentioned earlier and do go on to discuss speed below in more detail, but it’s fair to say this is one of their most stand-out features. Quick and reliable, it’s a great choice for streaming, torrenting and gaming.

When it comes to security, it uses its own patented proprietary VPN protocol 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.

For network coverage, user have access to a vast quantity of servers (2,500+) across 29 cities in 29 countries. Despite location choice being on the low side compared to other providers, they are strategically spread across the globe meaning there isn’t many areas that will struggle to get strong coverage.

Finally, it’s worth noting the app works flawlessly across all devices and is really user friendly. A big plus for us when testing VPN providers.

Platforms and devices

Hotspot Shield lets you protect up to 5 devices with any premium account ensuring all your internet connected devices can be protected. Whether you’re at home, in work, on public wi-fi or travelling abroad, Hotspot Shield have you covered.

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

If you’re wanting to stream the best HD/4K content available, Hotspot Shield is a standout pick. Their exceptionally fast servers deliver consistent speeds meaning you can enjoy the best content without any lag or buffering.

Whilst they currently have no dedicated servers for streaming, we can confirm having tested with a wide range of popular streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, HULU and ESPN, we were always successful in unblocking geo-restricted content which we know is a key feature for our readers. All you need to do is select a server from the country’s content you want to view (e.g. US for the US Netflix store and the UK for BBC iPlayer) and you’re all set!

Streaming is certainly one of Hotspot Shield’s key weapons in their sales armoury!

Torrenting​

Torrenting is permitted on all 2,500+ of their servers and they deliver some really fantastic upload/download speeds. Additionally, you get the reassurances of a kill switch with Hotshot Shield, ensuring you aren’t left unprotected in the event your VPN connection drops whilst file sharing.

It’s vital you remember to use a VPN to shield your activity from your internet service providers (ISP) prying eyes, as not only are you likely to be tracked by P2P file sharing, your ISP will often cut or drastically reduce your bandwidth (known as ‘throttling’).

Speed

Hotspot Shield delivers simply some of the best speeds on offer from a VPN provider. Both download and upload speeds are seriously strong, as well as being consistent across a wide range of servers. Download speeds of up 90Mbps were achieved locally, and when looking further afield, global average speeds were in the region of 75Mbps. This is far superior to many other premium VPN providers.

Latency is almost non-existent too making this a major contender for speed hungry users.

If you enjoy HD streaming, P2P file sharing, gaming and general internet browsing, Hotspot Shield will take care of all your requirements without breaking a sweat.

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.

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 is a high-ranking VPN offering a good all-round option and value for money. Its super-fast speeds mean it simply can’t be overlooked if you enjoy streaming, gaming or P2P file sharing.

It has some pretty robust security features (fundamental to any VPN we review) giving us confidence that users are thoroughly protected. Offering minimal logging, strong encryption, DNS leak protection as well as a the must have kill switch, giving our privacy concerned readers total reassurance. We are also totally confident than any historical security issues and now well and truly behind them.

Their geographical server locations could be larger but most areas aren’t going to be too distant to benefit from the high speeds available, and their app is really user friendly working well across numerous devices.

The free version is also pretty solid for those testing the VPN waters; however, you won’t get the full benefits compared to their premium service. For this reason, we would maybe advise signing up for an initial year of the premium product accompanied with the generous 45-day money back guarantee should you change your mind.

Melvyn and the team at comparemyvpn.com happily recommend Hotspot Shield to our readers and we hope that we have given more than enough reassurances about security and logs in our in-depth review to convince you to consider them when making your purchase!

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