Hotspot Shield has packages: a free VPN and a paid one. The service has more than 650 million users around the world.
Free Hotspot Shield comes with ads and has a daily data cap of 500MB. When you buy the paid version, you don't have to see ads. You also get unlimited bandwidth, access to servers in 80 countries, and a lot of security features.
The free and paid versions of the VPN have the fastest connection speeds, thanks to the unique Hydra protocol.
Also, all of the apps are easy to use and allow P2P and torrenting traffic on all of the servers that they work with.
The company has had a bad reputation when it comes to user privacy. There is also no VPN kill switch for macOS, Android, or iOS, which is a big security flaw for a popular VPN service like this one.
The Help Center section of the website has various helpful information, including device-specific troubleshooting instructions, frequently asked questions, and a searchable Help database.
The simplest way to contact customer service is via live chat, available 24 hours a day. Additionally, you can submit a ticket inquiry via the website.
We found the customer support at Hotspot Shield to be friendly, helpful, and timely. Within minutes, we were able to connect with a live chat agent.
Connecting to a VPN enables you to bypass various online limitations, ranging from streaming services that restrict access to content in specific countries to countries such as China that block plenty of online sites.
Testing a VPN's unblocking capabilities is challenging due to the many variables. Still, we evaluated its effectiveness by checking how the service performs with BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus.
Hotspot Shield offers this simple by providing dedicated streaming servers. Unfortunately, Netflix is often tough to unblock with a VPN. However, Hotspot Shield unblocked US videos.
BBC iPlayer is capable of detecting and blocking many VPNs. However, Hotspot Shield avoided this for all of our tests, allowing us to view whatever content we desired.
Additionally, Hotspot Shield enabled us to access Disney Plus and Prime Video.
Because China is constantly increasing its ability to detect and block VPNs, it's difficult to declare definitively whether or not a VPN works in China.
Users have reported mixed outcomes with Hotspot Shield. Some customers are able to use Hotspot Shield without incidents in China, while others are unable to connect to the VPN at all.
If you're looking for a VPN to use in China specifically, we advise getting a more reputable provider, such as ExpressVPN.
AnchorFree, the company behind Hotspot Shield, is in California, raising some concerns. The United States is a member of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, has tight data retention rules, and is home to the National Security Agency (NSA).
Your online activities are not recorded in the VPN's activity logs. However, it collects enough other information.
Being on a free plan has its downsides. If you are using Hotspot Shield VPN, they could share the following data with third-party advertisers:
Hotspot Shield collects more than enough information about you, which is not the ideal option if you want to remain anonymous.
Hotspot Shield secures your traffic with industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption.
Additionally, it employs perfect forward secrecy. This ensures that even if the encryption key for your current session is compromised, the remainder of your data remains secure.
The vendor's unique Catapult Hydra protocol is used in all Hotspot Shield's native apps. Although the protocol is analogous to OpenSSL, it has been improved to provide the fastest speeds, particularly for connections over long distances.
Hotspot Shield is compatible with most popular devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and smart TVs.
Additionally, there are manual installation instructions for Linux and routers. Installing the VPN on a router makes it possible to use Hotspot Shield with additional WiFi-enabled devices that do not support VPNs by default, such as gaming consoles.
Additionally, the VPN provides a Chrome browser extension.
Only the Windows application includes an automatic kill-switch feature. The macOS, iOS, and Android applications are all missing it.
Hotspot Shield supports simultaneous connections of up to five devices.
With Hotspot Shield Premium, you can pick from four different subscription lengths. However, each plan includes the same standard features.
A lengthier subscription plan provides the best value for money. Three-year subscriptions are highly affordable. However, month-to-month subscriptions are more expensive.
There are some limitations to the free version.
Hotspot Shield Free is ad-supported and only lets you connect to a virtual location in the United States. You won't be able to watch any streaming content because there is a paywall in the way. A daily allowance of 500 MB of bandwidth is provided. Also, there is no dedicated customer support, and only one device at a time is allowed.
All premium subscriptions provide a hefty 45-day money-back guarantee — one of the most generous in the market.