Hotspot Shield VPN review (launched by AnchorFree) has over 650 million users and is split into two products: a free VPN service that is more of a bandwidth capped proxy and a premium paying VPN dubbed “HotSpot Shield Elite.”
In this review, we will compare the network encryption, security measures, and speed of the HotSpot Shield Elite to other VPN services.
They have been in business since 2005 and have grown their user base at a high rate.
However, as is the case with many popular VPN companies, having the biggest customers doesn’t necessarily mean you have the simplest product.
So the question remains, “Is Hotspot Shield’s huge user base the result of stellar VPN or stellar marketing?”
That’s the question I’m hoping to answer throughout this review.
Hotspot Shield VPN Overview
Hotspot shield works on Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
|OVERALL RANK:||#32 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Easy to use|
|LOG FILES:||Some Logging|
|LOCATIONS:||24 countries, 500 servers|
|SUPPORT:||No live chat, support ticket with slow response|
|COST:||$3.49/mo & limited free plan – 45 days money back|
Hotspot Shield Pros
Fastest Speed (Except in the U.S.)
Hotspot Shield is quick on the right servers.
In fact, once I tried Hotspot Shield on an EU server in Estonia, it worked faster than the other VPNs I’ve tried.
I connected to many other servers and ran a couple of tests using the third-party website, speedtest.net, to ensure the accuracy of this review.
These are the performance benchmarks that I recorded while using the Hotspot Shield VPN client on a 100 Mbps internet connection.
US Server (New York)
- Ping: 183ms
- Download: 28.66 Mbps
- Upload: 13.74 Mbps
EU Server (Amsterdam)
- Ping: 54ms
- Download: 92.28 Mbps
- Upload: 45.09 Mbps
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
- Ping: 141ms
- Download: 80.00 Mbps
- Upload: 19.60 Mbps
UK Server (London)
- Ping: 53ms
- Download: 95.55 Mbps
- Upload: 46.45 Mbps
If you’ve read any of the opposing VPN reviews I’ve done on this site, then you acknowledge that these results are impressive, truly impressive.
On all European and Asian servers, Hotspot Shield was consistently 10 Mbps faster than its rivals.
Oddly enough, their American servers were inexplicably running at speeds that were almost twice as slow as their competitors, even though the company is based in San Francisco!
If you propose to use servers located primarily within the European Union or Asia, Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN currently available.
Incredible User Experience
Hotspot Shield might be the most beautifully designed VPN you have ever used.
After a 2-minute installation process, you are taken to an interface that looks like something out of a replacement Bond movie where you will adjust your VPN settings and location in just a couple of clicks.
While they don’t offer much in terms of advanced settings or customization (which I’ll mention in the “cons” section), what they are doing is incredibly simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use VPN software.
Torrenting is Fully Supported
One of the great things about Hotspot Shield is that, unlike many of its competitors, they fully and fully support anonymous torrents.
Your network uses excellent secure AES-256 encryption to make sure every single piece of information transmitted to and from your device is completely secure … Everyone’s (except AnchorFree).
Governments, ISPs, nosy neighbors, goodbye as Hotspot Shield maintains its logging policy, none of them can access your browsing history or network activity.
Since AnchorFree openly endorses and even gives instructions on anonymous torrents, it’s safe to mention that Hotspot Shield Elite is a great option for the most avid torrent users for a secure P2P experience.
Netflix Compatible (1/4)
The Canadian streaming service worked perfectly for us. But we strike out the three opposites we tested.
Actually, that’s not an unpleasant result of late, as Netflix has become excellent at detecting (and shutting down) the majority of VPN users trying to access geo-restricted content.
HotSpot Shield server unblocking Netflix:
HotSpot Shield servers blocked by Netflix:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Hotspot Shield Cons
CDT Privacy Accusations & the FTC Investigation
Hotspot Shield has always been a pretty shady company.
Considering that it is a US-based VPN provider that was launched using $ 52 million of Series C funds from investment giant Goldman Sachs, and whose parent company is associated with several-advertising and marketing companies … Irreproachable “.
However, after a recent CDT filing and an ongoing FTC investigation, I have begun to understand that the term “ethically ambiguous” is perhaps a more accurate description.
Here is an excerpt from the brochure issued by the Center for Democracy & Technology about the formal complaint they filed against Hotspot Shield.
Considering the more than 650 million users who believe in Hotspot Shield for their online safety, the 14-page presentation of the CDT has serious implications.
Although David Gorodyansky has called these claims “unfounded” and has stated that he “disagrees” with the presentation, the facts do not appear to be in his favor.
Until the FTC concludes its formal investigation, I cannot confirm or deny these allegations, however, I will be able to say that I would be surprised if Hotspot Shield leaves this battle without a couple of scars.
Questionable Privacy and Logging Policies
AnchorFree is openly related to a variety of third-party advertising companies that make free Hotspot Shield possible.
Even if you ignore the fact that the term “personal information” is intentionally ambiguous throughout your policy and apparently does not include your personal IP address, this is often a reasonably worrisome statement.
According to a CSIRO study, Hotspot Shield uses tracking codes to collect information about its customers, which it then sells to advertisers.
They also found that Hotspot Shield regularly redirected user traffic through one of its affiliated networks to take advantage of purchases its customers made while using the VPN.
Despite the fact that its registration policy offers some peace of mind by stating that:
“…when your VPN” session is closed, all browsing information or other similar information related to your online activities sent by you to our servers is removed.
It’s hard for me to mention that I trust Hotspot Shield with my personal data.
Ticketed Customer Support
It is very clear to me that each of the Hotspot Shield resources is channeled into only three things.
- Building a stellar list of servers running at blazing speeds
- Designing a beautiful interface
As you will notice, excellent customer service is not on the list.
While Hotspot Shield offers an exhaustive list of troubleshooting guides and resources, their customer support team is almost non-existent.
If you have a problem, the only thanks for contacting their support team is via the dreaded support ticket.
What about once you’ve submitted your ticket?
She probably should go get herself another cup of coffee and sit down with an honest book because she’ll be waiting a long, long, long time.
Tried submitting a tech support inquiry for this hotfix three days before I started writing this post.
To my dismay… I’m still waiting for a response!
After reading other reviews, I found this experience to be pretty ubiquitous.
In fact, I read several customer complaints that it took quite a week for Hotspot Shield to respond to a simple troubleshooting error.
Considering the strong etiquette associated with their Elite VPN service, this is often a really hefty offense.
Catapult Hydra and No TOR Compatibility
With a user base as large and diverse as Hotspot Shield boasts, you would imagine that they could create a product that is equally diverse and adaptable to needs or circumstances.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
Not only does Hotspot Shield not offer support for The Orion Router or other third-party proxies (an incredibly useful feature in draconian countries like China and North Korea); Hotspot Shield performs relatively well in China as well, but they ranked in our top 7 VPNs for Porcelain. They require all users to use the Catapult Hydra protocol. They used to support the OpenVPN protocol, but that changed when they released the Catapult Hydra protocol.
Considering they need about 650 million users, I’d think Hotspot Shield would offer a minimum of a couple of other VPN tunnel protocols for those rare (but unavoidable) instances during which your own protocol just isn’t enough.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
DNS Leak Through Chrome Extension
To make matters worse, its Chrome extension filters your DNS.
We did extensive testing on multiple VPNs and Hotspot Shield was one of the many VPN providers that filter your DNS through its extension.
It’s nothing major and will certainly be fixed soon, except that they now have a leak … However, here is some information on how to fix that leak.
Hotspot Shield Pricing, Plans & Facts
When it comes to paid VPN providers, Hotspot Shield prices tend to be on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
The only difference between each plan is the amount of time you will be using Hotspot Shield’s VPN services. Here’s how your different pricing plans break down.
In addition, if you live in the EU, you can pay more (6.99 euros per month for a one-year plan, for example). I’m not sure why they do it…
Although their plans are a bit pricey, they’re all backed by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, which is the best guarantee I’ve seen in the VPN industry.
From what I’ve ever read on the web, this rebate is pretty straightforward to collect, which means if you do, try Hotspot Sheld’s premium VPN services and choose which isn’t for you, you’ll quickly get your money back and keep looking. for the right VPN provider.
When it comes to payment, you will use all major credit cards, PayPal, and even bank transfers. However, they do not provide any anonymous payment method, such as Bitcoin.
- Ease of VPN software – easy to use VPN app
- Hidden fees and clauses: None found.
- Upsells: no upsells.
- Instant access after payment: it took ~ 5 minutes to prompt access to download files (after purchasing the software)
Do We Recommend Hotspot Shield?
The answer to this question is complicated.
As a service, Hotspot Shield is excellent.
They offer fast lightning speeds, a great user experience, and plenty of great features to keep any VPN enthusiast happy.
The company behind the service has been involved in numerous shady deals and ethically gray activities that it is difficult for me to offer my stamp of approval, especially considering the current CDT allegations.
Until now, Hotspot tends to hide your IP address, but it is not the simplest option for total privacy.
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