Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Hotspot Shield offers both an internet kill switch that activates instantly and device encryption to protect all aspects of device security, but does not offer 24/7 customer service from an actual human being.

iOS’ app takes after its Android and Windows counterparts in its sleek appearance and simple location list; both can be reached quickly via one tap.

Features

Hotspot Shield is a virtual private network service designed to protect users from hackers and snoopers by encrypting all data sent between their computer or mobile device and the internet. Among its many features are an extensive server network, fast download speeds, multiple device compatibility, as well as streaming and gaming servers designed specifically to improve performance. Established by AnchorFree in April 2008 and located in Redwood City, California USA.

This company provides an intuitive website with simple navigation features. Users can create accounts, download VPN software client and access their personal dashboard directly from the homepage – this dashboard also enables them to manage apps downloaded as well as contact customer support directly. Installation was quick and smooth across all the devices we tested it with.

All plans come with a 45-day money back guarantee – longer than most competitors! There are different subscription plans to choose from, including a Basic plan which shares users’ location data with advertisers, limits connections to 1 device and caps speeds at 2Mbps; no unused data rolls over; while the Premium plan allows unlimited connections and faster speeds while providing ad blocking and malware detection features.

Android and iOS applications from our provider are lightweight and modern, providing access to our network of over 1,800 servers located in more than 80 countries. They’re easy to use too – each features a home page which displays recent selections as well as shortcuts leading to popular destinations.

Windows app features include a kill switch and speed test, plus Split Tunneling and Prevent IP Leak to protect against WebRTC/IPv6 leakage. In contrast, Mac app is more of an abridged version than its counterpart and lacks some key features.

The Chrome extension works seamlessly and is available both for Premium and Free plans. It adds an icon to the browser toolbar that can be used to start or stop VPN connectivity; additionally, there are options to set a specific IP address or country as well as disable WebRTC and tracker blocking.

Pricing

Hotspot Shield offers a free plan, but due to limited data storage space and speed limitations it cannot compete with premium VPN services. In addition, advertisements appear and usage data from users is collected. If you prefer VPNs that don’t keep logs instead, take a look at one of our top China VPNs instead!

Even with its limitations, the free version provides an exceptional level of security. It utilizes Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bits (AES-256) encryption technology as well as Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2). Furthermore, Windows platforms support an automatic kill switch; for other platforms it is advisable to implement separate kill switches since your original identity could potentially leak if your VPN disconnects unexpectedly.

Hotspot Shield is available on all major operating systems and mobile devices, such as iOS, Android, macOS and even some routers and smart TVs. The interfaces are user-friendly with simple navigation features yet lack advanced settings or customization options – nonetheless this app remains highly portable with very minimal memory footprint requirements.

Premium plans feature unlimited data, ad-free browsing, fast download speeds and access to many servers in various locations; however, the app’s upload speeds weren’t among the fastest we tested.

Hotspot Shield offers two paid subscription plans in addition to its free plan: Premium and Premium Family. For businesses, Premium Family offers three products bundled together: 1Password, Hiya and Aura antivirus – each of which proved effective against malware during our tests.

Premium Hotspot Shield apps feature various other features, including auto-connect and kill switches. In addition, there’s also a ping test which can help identify network problems as well as dynamic IPs which help enhance gaming performance by decreasing server delays.

Choose a plan with dedicated IP addresses and multiple device connections for maximum value, as this will help ensure an uninterrupted experience across devices – especially important when playing multiplayer games. Furthermore, dedicated IPs can prevent CAPTCHA popups and facilitate online payments.

Reliability

Hotspot Shield is a reliable security option, thanks to its comprehensive set of security features. These include an antivirus protection that helps block malicious websites, such as malware downloads and spam websites, while its layer of encryption makes it nearly impossible for hackers to read your information unless they possess your VPN login password.

Hotspot’s Hydra tunneling protocol utilizes TLS 1.2 for data encryption, 2048-bit RSA certificates for server authentication, and Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman key exchange to achieve perfect forward secrecy (keys are only ever used once and then destroyed). Although they claim not to collect usage or personal information when you use their service, in reality device information, timestamps and settings as well as IP addresses and Mobile-ID numbers may still be collected and authorities could potentially use that data against you even if the data itself cannot be read readable.

The mobile apps and desktop software from Sofri offer a clean and straightforward design, which makes navigation effortless; however, some rivals provide more configuration. In comparison to its peers, for instance, Sofri’s Mac client lacks features like auto location selection or tooltips to explain its interface; nonetheless it still supports keyboard shortcuts for connecting/disconnecting; similarly its iOS client may not offer as many features but still performs well.

Speeds were not particularly impressive, but were adequate enough for most users to surf the web without issue and stream movies and TV shows seamlessly. Furthermore, this provider offers shared dynamic IP addresses which help mask your digital footprint among hundreds or thousands of other Hotspot users and make P2P throttling more manageable.

Hotspot Shield’s parent company, AnchorFree, was embroiled in a privacy scandal several years ago that saw the FTC demand it update its data collection policies. Since then, Hotspot Shield has made changes to both its privacy policies and encryption options, and since becoming owned by cybersecurity firm Aura with an excellent track record within the industry; their newly revised privacy policies offer greater clarity regarding what information it collects from users as well as offering no-logging guarantees and generous refund policies for each subscription plan purchased from Aura.

Apps

Hotspot Shield offers apps for Android, iOS and Windows platforms. Their Windows app boasts the most robust feature set with kill switch protection, split tunnelling capability and built-in speed test capability as well as IPv6/WebRTC leak protection – but all apps feature lightweight modern designs with simple navigation features that make use easy – with Android’s fast responsiveness providing users new to VPNs with a comprehensive tutorial section for learning about VPNs.

These apps are simple to set up and configure, with options such as auto-connect on startup. Plus, they come equipped with a built-in speed test to quickly find the ideal server for your location and internet connection. All three apps also provide security measures like protecting Wi-Fi passwords, blocking unwanted websites, as well as secure mobile payments or banking transactions, though only with premium versions of software.

HSS provides an impressive variety of servers located across different countries, but doesn’t offer dedicated gaming or streaming servers (unlike competitors like NordVPN and Surfshark). However, its desktop client features a simple design featuring an on/off button with shortcuts to popular sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video; data consumption details as well as your subscription type are displayed clearly on-screen.

All plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee that makes this company particularly unique among other providers. Furthermore, periodic transparency reports outline how many warrants and subpeonas were served on them.

As with other paid VPNs, Hotspot Shield does collect some information on your online traffic that may then be shared with advertisers; however, you have the ability to opt-out through Digital Advertising Alliance’s AppChoice tool.

Overall, Hotspot Shield is an outstanding VPN solution with plenty of features and an attractive price. Unfortunately, its only downfall may be its lack of a dedicated streaming or gaming server; however, its privacy policy and customer support section provide helpful FAQs, setup tutorials, and troubleshooting guides which may make up for it.

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