Hotspot shield VPN could be a product of AnchorFree, a Switzerland-based company. Its website boasts the popular free version of its software package has been downloaded 600 million times. However, its paid Elite version has some claims of its own. It’s renown for some fast speeds, but has recently run into some bad press around its data policies, and has even been reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) . As such, potential users are no doubt eager to learn how it compares to other providers.
We gave Hotspot shield a whirl to check however it stacks up against our prime rated suppliers like Nord VPN and Express VPN. In this review we’ll explain what you can expect when you sign up for an account, including pricing, features, privacy, and performance. Let’s get started!
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Hotspot Shield Full Review Read Below
=> Speed and Performance
Make no mistake – Hotspot Shield is fast. Really fast!. The speed tests for this review were undertaken using Hotspot shield Elite. The speed tests were performed from the uk, using a London server on beta.speedtest.net. Connection speeds were checked without the VPN connected first, to get base level results (for the UK and US). I tested the us server using a new york test server on beta.speedtest.net.
I tested both the Netherlands and UK from the UK test server in London. In each case, I amassed the results from five tests. Each colored block in the graphs represents the range of speeds encountered, from highest to lowest. Please examine our full speed check clarification for a lot of details.
Hotspot shield Elite performed at insanely quick speeds, that came very near to my connection speeds while not a VPN. Hotspot Shield achieves these mind blowing speeds by using its own proprietary protocol called ‘Catapult Hydra’. AnchorFree says the protocol optimizes the VPN data transport, giving it a large performance advantage in terms of how the payload is delivered inside the secured tunnels between the client and the server.
While the speed gains are undeniable, the closed nature of this protocol raises some privacy concerns as it can’t be fully audited.
=> Pricing and Plans
The free version doesn’t require registration, and you can use it on an unlimited number of devices – it’s cross-platform, available from the website and mobile app stores. It’s very basic and ad-supported.
The paid Elite plan kicks in at $13 a month, $54 per six months, $72 a year, and $120 per life. It will away with the restrictions and helps you to stream, and access a modest network of 20 server locations.
The monthly subscription isn’t the foremost reasonable possibility out there, but the annual plan is priced reasonably. As for the lifetime subscription, commitments of this magnitude require a leap of faith, which isn’t an option in the world of the VPNs.
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=> User Interface
It took us only two minutes and 15 seconds to urge and install the 19MB Hotspot shield Windows consumer. The first screen you’ll see tempts you to start a free trial of the paid plan by clicking a big, bright-blue button, and there won’t seem to be any other option.
But squint, and you’ll see a dark-gray “back” arrow barely visible against the dark-blue background, in the upper left. Click that, and you will be within the HotSpot shield free interface. It’s very similar to the paid interface: deep blue and small, but with “Upgrade to Hotspot Shield Premium” in a banner below.
Click the big button in the middle to connect. Once you do, a small world map appears, along with the IP address Hotspot Shield assigns you and your current session’s data usage. The interface warns you when you’re at 250MB, halfway through your daily allowance.
Don’t be fooled by the drop-down menu of countries to connect to; you’ll have to pay to use any but the United States, and you’re automatically assigned a server. In the upper left is a hamburger (three horizontal lines) menu to things like Upgrade to Premium, Settings (turn on VPN at startup, stop IP leakage, Kill switch and others), Help and Quit.
=> HS Features
The software for the free and Elite packs is identical. It has an choice to take the paid set up right from the app. Note: if you take Elite through the desktop app the money-back guarantee is 45 days, not 30 as in the browser extension. And once you submit your payment details, you get a 7-day free trial.
Usability is sleek, as the desktop app, mobile client and the browser extension are sleek but stripped down to the few very basic toggles and a connect button.
Hotspot shield is accessible for Win, Mac, iOS, Android, and major browsers.
The free desktop app-based VPN from Hotspot defend permits you to attach to the us server only. Other than that, you can configure the auto-start and language options and toggle the IP leak protection.
The browser extension is available for all major browsers, but it brings very little to the table. You can’t connect with the U.S. or United Kingdom servers at all. Instead, the app mechanically detects the “optimal connection” and grants you twelve server locations like Chile and Singapore, but will you need them? You decide.?
Also, Hotspot shield is evasive regarding the quantity of servers, ip addresses, and cryptography choices it provides. Either it’s a usability flaw, or they intentionally avoid giving out the most relevant information to the prospects.
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Once you’ve downloaded and run the iOS app, you’ll be presented with a popup for a seven-day trial offer for the Premium (Elite) version. Note that accepting this will prompt you to enter your Apple password (for iOS users) to approve payment. You won’t pay anything upfront, but once the seven-day trial is over, payments will automatically kick-in.
If you want to test the free version, or have already paid for an account, you can simply close the popup by clicking x in the top right corner. However, you’re then greeted with a sales pitch for the same 7-day trial of the Premium version. This feels like slight overkill, especially when some people accessing the app will have already paid online. What’s more, figuring out how to get off this screen actually took a couple of minutes, as the x is located at the bottom of the page, which is several screen-lengths long.
Nevertheless, once you’re out of that, you’ll arrive at the main screen which is similar to that of the desktop version. You can log in via the My Account tab in the menu. Now you’re greeted with an FAQ section, explaining a number of the privacy aspects of using Hotspot shield.
Once you click out of this, you’ll be prompted to agree to allow the provider to add VPN configurations. Then, you’ll finally arrive back at the main screen where you can view your connection duration and location.
Again, by default you’ll be connected to a US server and can change the server location using the country drop-down. Click on the menu icon to access account details, privacy policies, and the help center.
=> Customer service
Hotspot Shield’s client support is not one of the service’s strong points. Nowadays, premium VPNs are superb at addressing customers in real time. The very best services provide 24/7 live chat to help customers use the service and deal with problems.
However, client support appears to be below strain thanks to the large variety of users that the VPN has. Considering the cost of the elite service – which is very similar to other services that provide exceptional support – this is a disappointment.
Consumers experiencing issues would be wise 1st plan to solve them using the mental object within the Hotspot shield help Center. This resource may well be helpful, however it does not have that several guides and is pretty limited.
In order to submit a request for help, you’ll need to click on the “Contact Support” button and open a support ticket. This ticket are handled via the email address that you simply signed to Hotspot shield with.
When you type in the form’s Subject field, it supplies a list of knowledge base articles that it thinks might help. When I filled out the form, the suggestions were no good. Thus, I had to continue filling in the rather invasive questions (it wanted to know details such as my operating system).
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=> Hotspot Shield Privacy
In mortal terms, they sell your data while the app description states the opposite – no logs, complete confidentiality, and anonymity, no sharing your personal information with others. It’s misleading at best. If you question me, ads embedded in the desktop app, aka adware, are enough of a turnoff, but I’d rather you decide for yourself.
The bottom line is you don’t ought to worry regarding information retention laws in sweden as a result of Mullvad has nothing at hand over to enforcement if they receive a court request.
AnchorFree installs its own certificate as a sure Publisher and will update and install such certificates rapidly, which is intrusive for a VPN that claims to protect you.
The Elite version uses Open VPN, however the technicalities under the hood of the free version area unit unclear. There’s a kill switch known as informatics leak protection, but that’s about it.
Let’s not forget the US-based VPNs ar black-listed by most privacy advocates thanks to information retention laws and surveillance. So there’s a laundry list of reasons why Hotspot shield (especially in its free iteration) isn’t the go-to choice if privacy is on your must-have options list.
=> Bottom Line
If you are fine with Hotspot Shield free service tier showing you additional ads, and the privacy allegations don’t concern you, then go right ahead and use this VPN service. Better yet, use each Hotspot Shield’s free giving and Windscribe’s equally generous counterpart, and you will have 25GB per month of free VPN information to play with.