“Zero logs policy”, “military-grade encryption”, “anonymous browsing” … These are big words that are used by VPNs to attract potential customers.
However, do you always believe what VPN providers tell about themselves?
Do you take their words for granted?
Well… My mission is to help you to tell right from wrong.
In this review, I’m going to cover Hotspot Shield VPN. You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages in detail.
I’m going to provide you with the following information:
- Hotspot Shield VPN: Unique Benefits and Features
- Pros and Cons of Hotspot Shield VPN
- Hotspot Shield VPN: Speed and Security Tests
- Hotspot Shield VPN: Benefits and Features Tests
- Hotspot Shield VPN: Frequently Asked Questions
- User Reviews about Hotspot Shield VPN
Let’s start without more ado!
Hotspot Shield VPN is the most popular product of the American company, AnchorFree. The provider is widely used in countries where the Internet is censored. At the beginning of 2018, the company topped 600 million downloads throughout the world. Today it boasts more than 680 million users.
Considering this number, you would think that this service is undoubtedly trustworthy. Nothing of the sort!
While writing the review I came across some facts that cast doubt on the VPN’s reliability.
In the table below, you may see the main cons of the provider that worry me a lot:
|Hotspot Shield VPN pros||Hotspot Shield VPN cons|
|⊕ Easy to use software||⊗ US-based VPN|
|⊕ Useful customer support||⊗ Was accused of selling user’s data|
|⊕ Torrent friendly||⊗ Pricey|
|⊕ 45 days money back|
Without doubts, user-friendly software, fast speeds, and dedicated customer support are important features when speaking about VPN services. Though, reliability is the first thing a user should pay attention to while opting for the service.
In this regard, I recommend you to try these options:
+ Easy to use software
To its credit, Hotspot Shield has convenient software for various platforms. As of now, the VPN runs on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Hotspot Shield has an extension for Chrome as well.
I tried the VPN on my Windows, Android and Chrome browser. And I may now ensure you that the VPN is really beautifully designed and extremely easy to use. It is a perfect choice for those who just a newbie to VPN providers.
You will easily switch between Hotspot Shield servers and adjust settings. Everything is intuitive and simple. Just the way I like it.
+ Impressive Speeds
Let’s be honest, we like VPN providers not only for data encryption and IP hiding. Many Internet users all around the world buy VPNs in order to download free torrent files and unblock restricted streaming services. For these needs, speeds matter a lot.
There are several factors why a VPN slows down your internet connection:
- Encryption. Unfortunately, we have no other choice but to sacrifice speeds to secure internet connection. Actually, the more robust the encryption is, the more speed will be pulled away. For this reason, PPTP protocol, which is not recommended for safe browsing, is a good choice if you need high speeds. Meanwhile, OpenVPN is considered to be extremely reliable, though not so fast.
- Your ISP speeds. It goes without saying that if your ISP provides you with poor speeds, the VPN will make it even slower. Bear this in mind if you are going to use a VPN. Opt for an ISP with decent speeds.
- Servers physical location. A simple life hack for VPN users: choose the closest server to your home country. It will help you to get a faster connection.
- Servers overload. Bandwidth reduction appears when a lot of internet users are pulling at one server. To avoid such a problem, it is recommended use a VPN with a wide server park.
Some VPNs fail to provide customers with proper speeds, others are better in this respect. As for Hotspot Shield, I was surprised to know the speed test results for this provider. See them in the “Speed test for Hotspot Shield VPN” section.
+ Torrent friendly VPN
Good news for torrent lovers: Hotspot Shield not only allows torrenting, it even provides you with the information on how to do it anonymously.
The VPN uses robust 256-bit encryption to secure your connection and hide it from prying eyes. Fast speeds will allow you to download torrent files fast.
However, is Hotspot Shield really the best VPN for peer-to-peer file sharing? Keep reading and you will learn!
+ Customer support
I came across a lot of negative reviews on Hotspot Shield VPN customer support. That is why it was interesting for me to find out if the support team is really so irresponsible.
In fact, I cannot say anything bad about it. Really! Maybe I was lucky, who knows?
I liked their live chat a lot, it was extremely useful. I have no complaints about the quality of their answers. They were full and polite.
It took the Hotspot Shield customer support nearly an hour to answer to my questions that were sent via open tickets. In the email, I found complete and handy answers.
The only thing that I did not like is their intent to dissuade me to write them.
As soon as I wrote the topic of my problem, they offered me the articles on the topic that would hardly solve the issue. And even when I was ready to send a request, they suggested reading guides that were also unhelpful.
Can I say Hotspot Shield is bad in terms of support? In my experience, it is not true!
– Hotspot Shield VPN pricing
As all VPN providers, Hotspot Shield VPN offers various plans to the customers. Now it has four paid tariffs: for three years, one year, six months, and one month.
At first glance, the VPN prices seemed to be a little bit high. Therefore, I decided to compare Hotspot Shield tariffs with the prices of the leading VPN providers like NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
Let’s have a look at what I got:
As you can see, Hotspot Shield VPN is not wallet-friendly at all. Especially if buy the service for one month.
Its price for the one-year month is almost barely differed from ExpressVPN, which is considered one of the most expensive providers on the market. Besides, the one-year plan of ExpressVPN includes 3 months for free.
Here are the prices for other Hotspot Shield tariffs:
- $8.99 for the 6-month account;
- $3.49 for 3-year subscription.
– Logging policy
Now I am going to provide you with real facts and issues, which, I think, may discourage cautious Internet users to opt for Hotspot Shield VPN.
So, I had to cover a lot of ground to get to the truth.
- The VPN doesn’t store or log IP address beyond the duration of a VPN session.
- When connecting to the Hotspot Shield VPN, your IP is collected, though encrypted and stored only for the duration of a VPN session.
- When you launch the Hotspot Shield app, only the following data is collected: unique mobile device, hardware model, operating system version, language, and network information.
Sounds not bad. However, individuals who use Hotspot Shield for free should know some facts.
Hotspot Shield uses the advertising-supported version of the application to provide customers with free software. And I thought… What if the VPN shares personal data with those third-party advertising companies?
– Blamed for selling user’s data
I found out that in 2017 the company AnchorFree, which owns Hotspot Shield VPN, was accused of selling users’ data.
The Center for Democracy & Technology used special automated system to conduct an analysis of the Android application for the free version of the service. The analysis proved that the app was conducting data sharing with third parties advertising networks.
So, it goes without saying that after learning such accusations, it is difficult to trust the provider. Their claims about “anonymous browsing”, “secure Wi-Fi connection”, etc. are just a lie.
Moreover, taking into consideration, that only 3% of Hotspot customers use Hotspot Shield elite, it’s possible to imagine how many users were subjected to data leaks.
– Hotspot Shield on Reddit
Unfortunately, there is a bit of bad news for Hotspot Shield elite subscribers as well. The privacy group also noted that there were cases when consumers have reported instances of credit card frauds after purchasing the paid version of Hotspot Shield.
When reading forums, I came across the following complains about Hotspot Shield subscription:
So, AnchorFree is far from being a reliable and trustworthy company. It saves more data than normally needed to VPN providers. The awareness of the fact that Hotspot Shield misleads customers by giving false information about the service, makes me stay away from the VPN.
Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPN providers I have ever experienced. I was surprised to see the results. First, I connected to the server in America. Being in Europe, I was impressed to learn that my download speed is 36.14 Mbps with the VPN on. It means, I am able to watch high-quality movies using streaming services.
Speeds were even more remarkable with the server that is about 700 km away from my home country. Have a look:
Other results with the servers in Europe:
|1700 km||2400 km||3400 km|
|Ping||194 ms||81 ms||60 ms|
|Download||72.61 Mbps||70.86 Mbps||70.81 Mbps|
|Upload:||27.05 Mbps||23.61 Mbps||39.76 Mbps|
And finally the test for the server in Asia:
Speeds are splendid regardless of the destination. Probably, this is one of the reasons why the service is so widespread.
Security tests for Hotspot Shield VPN
I checked the VPN several times. I conducted tests on my Windows and Android. I also checked the Hotspot Shield Chrome extension on IP and DNS leaks.
Fortunately, all tests were successful. These are some examples:
IP leak test for Hotspot Shield VPN
Hot to create Hotspot Shield account
Actually, you can use Hotspot Shield without logging. It is not a necessary measure to create an account to use the VPN. Nevertheless, I will cover how to do this for you to see a step-by-step process of purchasing and getting Hotspot Shield on your operating system.
- First, go to account.hotspotshield.com/sign-up/
- Enter your email address and create a password. Click the button “Create an account”.
- That’s it. You are already in your account. Now you have to pay for the service. In the menu, find “Account” and click “Purchase”.
- You will see Hotspot Shield premium plans and pricing. As I am in the UK, I saw the prices in pounds. They vary according to your location.
- The only thing left to do is to choose a payment method and submit your order. Hotspot Shield accepts credit cards, PayPal, Google Play, iTunes, 3Pay, and even gift cards.
How to download Hotspot Shield on Windows
- Visit the official website of the VPN. Then, you have two options: click “Products” and choose the application for your operating system or click the button “Get Hotspot Shield”. In the second case, the system will identify your OS and the software start downloading automatically.
- Follow all necessary steps and wait until the app installs. I was waiting no more than a minute. Now you have to sign in to the application. Find “Sign in” in the bottom right corner and click it.
- Fill in the same credentials that you used when creating the Hotspot Shield VPN account.
How to get Hotspot Shield VPN for free
I do not recommend you to use free VPN for Windows or other platforms, as they raise a lot of questions in terms of security and reliability. Such services have to earn money somehow, that’s why many of them (if not all) sell customers’ data to third-parties.
If you really need a VPN for free, I recommend you to use an open source VPN. They, as a rule, do not have financial motivations. Try OpenVPN, SoftEther or Freelan.
You can also use a money-back guarantee of a reliable VPN service and then get your money back.
However, if you still wish to get Hotspot Shield free of charge, there is nothing complicated about this.
Go to the hotspotshield.com/vpn-free/ and download the software.
Remember that Hotspot Shield VPN free is a limited option. You will be restricted to the following features: 24/7 live support, 5 multi-logins, free choice of servers, unlimited bandwidth.
And, of course, be ready for the ads!
Hotspot Shield VPN for Netflix
I have already mentioned that Hotspot Shield is a torrent-friendly VPN. It not only supports P2P connection but also provides its users with information on how to do it anonymously. I was glad to know that the VPN works with Netflix.
Its speeds will undoubtedly allow customers from every country to enjoy their favourite TV shows with ease.
First, I connected to the server in Canada in order to unblock Netflix. Successful!
The server in the United States also unblocked the streaming service. This is, of course, perfect news for Netflix lovers and probably the second reason why Hotspot Shield is so well liked.
Today internet users realize how vulnerable their data is on the Internet. Especially when they use public Wi-Fi hotspots. For this reason, it is recommended not only use a VPN for PC but also download VPN software on mobile devices.
Want to get Hotspot Shield VPN on your Android. Here is a step-by-step guide.
The installation process on Android has always been easier than on Windows or Mac. It is dead easy to get the VPN on your mobile phone.
- First, go on Google Play and enter “Hotspot Shield Free VPN Proxy” in the search box. Click the “Install” button and wait until the app installs on your phone.
- Now you have to sign in. In the upper right corner find the “Sign in button” and click it.
- Fill in your credentials. If you have already used Hotspot Shield on other devices, use the same email and password. Hotspot Shield allows 5 multi-logins.
Click the ‘Connect” button to connect to one of the Hotspot Shield servers. To choose another server, click the name of the country you are connected to and the list with all Hotspot Shield will appear.
The app for Android is convenient as well. Here you may find the same settings as the Hotspot Shield VPN Windows software has. Everything is simple and easy to use.
- Go to the chrome.google.com/webstore/;
- Enter “Hotspot Shield VPN” in the search box;
- Choose “Add to Chrome”;
- In the top right corner, you will see the Hotspot shield VPN icon;
- Click it. That’s it. Now you are connected to the VPN server.
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