Hotspot Shield review

August 2017
quote
Hotspot Shield is a decent provider that is good for basic usage, but has its flaws.
quote
Overall score
6.6
Highlights
  • Strong encryption
  • Unlimited server switches
  • 5 simultaneous connections
Best for:
privacy
Gaming
privacy
Sports
privacy
Pandora
privacy
Hiding IP
Supports:
privacy
Roku
privacy
Kodi
privacy
Hulu
privacy
HBO

Hotspot Shield Ratings

6.9
privacy
Privacy
7.1
speed-performance
Speed & Performance
7.8
apps
Apps
5.8
server
Servers
6.4
support
Support
6.1
Value for Money
Overall score

6.6

General overview

Hotspot Shield is a VPN service created by the US-based company named AnchorFree. AnchorFree is one of the world’s biggest privacy platforms and its mission is to provide secure access to information. While the sentiment is nice, being based in the US has its own concerns regarding privacy and safety. Nevertheless, Hotspot Shield VPN offers some good features and relatively low pricing.

Hotspot Shield general highlights:

Overall Rank
#11
Money-back guarantee
-
Setup time
9 min.
Device count per license
5
Mobile apps
iOS & Android
Best price
$7.84/month
Overview - conclusion
Hotspot Shield is a US based VPN service that wants to provide safe access to data.
Privacy
6.9

Hotspot Shield VPN keeps your connection logs and some of the personal information, but it’s mostly for quality assurance reasons. Hotspot Shield does not keep any user activity logs. However, being based in the US, the company is tied to the laws that might ask the company to provide information about their users. Also, the company might be subjected to intelligence gathering, analyzing and sharing (the NSA, the Five Eyes group and other).

Only one protocol is available and it’s OpenVPN. While OpenVPN is a great protocol, being one of the most secure ones out there, more protocol options would be nice. Hotspot Shield’s encryption is strong, as it uses OpenVPN protocol with AES 256-bit encryption. This type of encryption is considered to have the highest level of security.

Privacy - highlights
  • Strong encryption
  • Connection logs
  • Is based in the US
Privacy - Conclusions
While Hotspot Shield offers OpenVPN protocol with strong encryption, this VPN service provider keeps connection logs as well as some personal information.
Features
7.1

HotSpot Shield VPN has about 20 server locations that include the US, Mexico, Turkey, India and others. However, an Elite account will be needed to be able to switch servers. The free version by default is connected to the US server, but it cannot be changed. The speed is good and consistent. Hotspot Shield offers up to five simultaneous connections, which is a lot when compared to some other VPN providers. Five of your devices can be covered, including computers and mobile devices. Moreover, all of the paid plans have unlimited bandwidth, so there is no data cap. However, the free plan is limited: 256MB on Android devices and 750MB on desktop. The data cap resets every 24 hours.

Other features include compressing your data for faster upload and download speeds. Also, the application warns users whenever they visit a malicious or harmful websites and blocks the site right away. Hotspot Shield allows P2P and torrenting activity, though users need to be careful about copyright infringement as violating copyright law might come with its own results.

Features - highlights
  • Data compression for faster speed
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • No unlimited server swithing on basic account
Features - Conclusions
Hotspot Shield includes 5 simultaneous connections, unlimited bandwidth, data compression and more.
Apps
7.8

HotSpot Shield VPN is compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Chrome and Firefox extensions are available as well. However, it does not work with Linux.

Troubleshooting guidelines and installation topics are available, as well as setup guides for every supported platform.

Apps - highlights
  • Offers browser extensions
  • No Linux support
Apps - Conclusions
While it covers all of the major platforms, it does not support Linux.
Support
6.4

HotSpot Shield has ticket-based support. Their help center has a knowledge base filled with articles related to issues, troubleshooting and others, while the FAQ page has most of the basic questions answered.

Sadly, there is no live chat, which is a good addition to any online services. If you want help with any kind of problem you might be having, you’d have to reach out through the contact form. Also, the knowledge base or the FAQ page might be a good place to find the needed information as well.

Support - highlights
  • No live chat
Support - Conclusions
Unfortunately, there is no live chat, but users can contact support through a ticket. In addition, there is a knowledgebase as well as a FAQ page.
Value for money
6.1

HotSpot Shield VPN offers a free plan, an Elite plan and a Business plan. The free plan only allows the default connection to the US. You cannot change the server location and it is heavily subjected to ads. Even though the US server is the default one, Netflix and some other websites cannot be accessed. The Elite membership has several subscription plans available: 1 month ($11.95), 6 months ($3.33/month), 1 year ($2.50/month), 2 years ($2.08/month) and a forever plan ($99.95). Hotspot Shield VPN also has a business plan. It offers one month of protection for 20 devices ($19.95), 60 devices ($54.95) or 100 devices ($84.95). The business plan might be a good idea for small or medium businesses that want to keep their information secure.

Payment methods include all major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express) as well as PayPal. Unfortunately, there is no money-back guarantee. You can ask for a refund, but the request for it can be denied for any or no reason. Thus, it only depends on the company whether you’ll be granted a refund or not. No information about the number of days concerning the issue of refund is given, so it is unknown when you can ask for it.

Value for money - highlights
  • Offers a free plan
  • Offers a business plan
  • No refund policy
Value for money - Conclusions
There is no refund policy, though Hotspot Shield offers a business plan for small or medium businesses.