Hotspot Shield Review

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By Tom Spark on

 

Hotspot Shield is one of the few VPNs out there to offer a free version for you to use. We don’t recommend using a free VPN if you’re serious about security, but it’s always good that you can test out the product for free, and then upgrade if you want to.

In this Hotspot Shield review, we will uncover the truth about this VPN–and decide if you should throw your money at their company, or clutch it to your chest.

Pricing 7.5/10

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Hotspot has exciting pricing plans with a 2-year option at only $49.95, and a “forever” license at $99.95. However, their standard option is a bit pricey at $11.95 per month.

Then again, at six months, it’s a good deal at only $19.99, and a year is only $29.95.Unfortunately, they don’t offer good anonymous payments options like BitCoin or gift card options. They only offer credit card and PayPal. If you want a VPN with anonymous options, check out TorGuard or ExpressVPN.

Overall, HotSpot has decent pricing for its elite model if you choose a longer commitment than one month. It also has a free model you can use with limited speeds and other privacy disadvantages (you might be used for targeted advertising).

Software 6.5/10

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Hotspot Shield has a decent Windows application that looks quite clean and modern with a bright blue interface and a tiled design that shows you which content you can access.

Regarding depth, Hotspot Shield lacks some, as it doesn’t have any form of kill-switch, cipher controls, or anything really regarding customization (like protocol changes). It does have DNS leak protection, which is nice to see.

Connecting in the app is very straightforward, and the application just starts automatically even after the first installation. While it’s nice that it’s automated, it’s also annoying that the app just automatically connects every time you launch it.

Another interesting tidbit about the application is that you can’t customize your server connection on your own. Instead, you pick a general country and then the application chooses an ideal location.

Automatic server connection takes some of the guesswork out, which is cool, and most servers I connected to on the elite version worked well for me regarding speed and connection times.

Finally, I also didn’t like how Hotspot Shield automatically installed an addon on my browser. It’s nice that they have an addon proxy, but please HotSpot, don’t just install things like that–as it makes the program feel like adware.

Mobile Software 7.5/10

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Hotspot’s mobile application works very well once you get past the setup and login details. Connecting and installing is easy, and so easy picking servers–however, Hotspot makes it a bit tricky to get past the initial launch since it keeps trying to get you to sign up for their service if you haven’t already.

Extra Services 6/10

Hotspot Shield offers a good amount of simultaneous connections (5). They also offer a proxy addon for your browser which is useful for those looking for a minimalist security option. However, we didn’t find any extra VPN services like Stealth VPN servers, dedicated IP address options, additional in-client proxies, encrypted email, or some other services we’ve seen from other VPNs like TorGuard.

Website 5/10

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Hotspot Shield’s website is very similar to other VPN sites. At first glance, it looked pretty good and laid out well. However, the website is surprisingly sparse with a majority of the copy serving to sell VPN as a product instead of Hotspot Shield.

When using the site. I couldn’t find barely any details/specifications about the service except minor ones. Even writing this review I had to use other websites to ascertain information about the service. The website is also clunky when you need to login to your account.

Overall, I didn’t find Hotspot’s website easy to use since it’s so simple. However, it’s also very cluttered with tons of VPN explanation bloat.

Servers 8/10

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I didn’t have any complaints when using Hotspot’s servers. They all seemed very quick and connection times were decent as well, even though the application makes you look like you are connected before you are (so it’s a bit hard to test).

Overall, Hotspot has a decent server selection, but as mentioned before, the applications don’t provide a good ability to customize exact locations within states within the general country picked, but it does pick decent servers nearby automatically.

Privacy 6.5/10

As we mentioned before, Hotspot doesn’t give too many details to its users on its security details. We couldn’t find which encryption they use, or their RSA key, but after doing research, it seems like they use a default 256-AES encryption rate.

Their privacy policy seems decent as well since they don’t collect personal information, and it’s quite easy to get setup within their service without providing too many details–although I would recommend that you be careful using their free version. Hotspot Shield also claims now that they don’t store connection and browsing history logging–but it’s widely believed by the VPN community that they do, which is not very private

Their privacy policy seems decent as well on papyer–since they don’t collect personal information, and it’s quite easy to get setup within their service without providing too many details–although I would recommend that you be careful using their free version. 

Speeds 6.5/10

With Hotspot Shield, we received two different benchmarks. With their free version, we received very high latency around 180 MS. However, with their elite version, we tested very impressive speeds.

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Hotspot Shield Elite speeds

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Free version

As far as torrenting performance, we received lackluster performance of only around 4 Mbps, when other VPNs have given us as fast as 20-21 Mbps download rates.

 

Support 8.5/10
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Hotspot Shield has a decent support section, as well as a standard ticket system powered through Zendesk. They don’t have live chat. Overall, we didn’t have many problems with this section, but nothing particularly wowed us either.

Verdict

Hotspot Shield is a decent VPN to try out if you need a free VPN. We tried out and tested their elite version as well, and we found plenty of things to like about the service like a clean app design, easy to use servers, and a mobile app that just works.

However, the VPN service is lacking a few security features and some customization in their main app, and we found their website a headache. Torrent speeds are also a bit slow, and anonymous payment options are sorely missing. Also, Hotspot Shield also tries to get you to sign up for their service a lot and install things you might not want.

Thanks for reading our Hotspot Shield Review! If you have any questions, let us know in the comments, or write your own review detailing why you love or hot Hotspot Shield!

Good

  • Decent applications
  • High tested speeds

Bad

  • Mediocre torrent download speeds
  • As a provider, feels a bit "schmoozy" with automatically installating add-ons and aggressive request to pay on mobile app
  • Website lacks technical information about specifications
  • Not anonymous payment options
6.9

Fair

Pricing - 7.5
Software - 6.5
Mobile Software - 7.5
Extra Services - 6
Website - 5
Servers - 8
Privacy - 6.5
Speeds - 6.5
Support - 8.5
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