Hotspot Shield VPN Review
Discover Why Hotspot Shield is One of the Most Popular VPNs in the World
Review by Summer Hirst
A company that boasts having over 650 million users all over the world must truly have a lot to offer. With apps for all major platforms, along with compatibility with several others, you can use this VPN on whatever phones, computers, or tablets you prefer.
- Apps for all major platforms
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Free trial VPN service available
- Supports 5 devices on a single license
- Over 1800 servers in 80 countries
- Offers the Catapult Hydra protocol
- AES 128/256 bit encryption
- Kill switch available
Hotspot Shield offers unlimited bandwidth that can be used to stream movies and shows. However, since Hotspot Shield doesn’t unblock Netflix (for those times it might be blocked to you), movie lovers might be a bit disappointed.
However, the unlimited bandwidth is still good for gaming and other internet activity that you want to protect with a VPN.
Hotspot Shield offers both free and paid options. They also offer a 45-day money-back guarantee on their paid package, which makes it rather risk free for you to try out.
Their prices are slightly over the industry average, but you can lower the monthly cost (which is how they’re all priced. on their 3-year package. And since they let you connect 5 devices on one license, it comes as a pretty affordable deal.
They offer what’s called AES 128/256-bit encryption—with their proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol—to offer significantly higher speeds than other VPN protocols, even OpenVPN.
Installing and using this VPN is very easy, and once you sign up and pay the subscription fees, you’ll be given access to an online control panel, from which you can customize the Hotspot Shield’s VPN settings.
Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer a live chat option, which means you’ll have to wait a bit before getting a reply. But they do have other ways you can communicate with them.
If you want quick answers, you can visit their FAQ page. It contains a lot of information about possible issues. Or, you can contact their support staff by opening a “service ticket.” They are very active on tickets and try to reply within a few hours.
They are also active on social media. They reply to Facebook messages within a few hours…although they might simply redirect you to their ticketing system. In other words, maybe the best way to contact them is through tickets only. Their customer support is excellent and gives accurate replies.
Hotspot Shield has both free and premium versions. While you might be tempted to try the free version first, keep in mind that it doesn’t offer the same services as the premium one. The free one is ad-supported and gives access to only some U.S. servers.
The speeds are reportedly slow and there is no customer support on the free package.
Basically, the free version is just good enough to bypass the online restrictions of your school or college.
The premium version, on the other hand, comes in four plan options: month-to-month, 6-month, one-year and 3-years. The month-to-month price is slightly on the higher side, but you can get the 3-year package and save money in the long run. And there is no risk in it since they offer a 45-day money back guarantee.
You can use the VPN and just ask for a refund before 45 days. Their refund process is simple and they’ll refund you without any questions.
Hotspot Shield offers several payment methods, including credit cards, PayPal and Yandex. They don’t accept cryptocurrencies, which might be a sore point for privacy enthusiasts who prefer paying through Bitcoin.
Installation and Use
Hotspot Shield offers software for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. They have a browser extension for Chrome as well. The desktop applications run smoothly.
However, a major problem with their Android apps is of screen overlays.
That app comes with a lock screen that shows ads, even with the premium version. Apart from that, the app throws notifications if the VPN isn’t connected. If you’re not planning to use the VPN all the time, you probably won’t like all those notifications.
Aside from the apps, Hotspot Shield can be configured on routers too.
When you install Hotspot Shield VPN on a router, it can secure all devices in your home, and you’re not limited to how many devices can connect to it.
Installation on a router is very easy and takes about a couple of minutes, whether it’s the free version or the premium one, because the app is the same for both.
There is one key difference, however: Once you sign up for the premium version, you get access to the Hotspot Shield control panel and you have the option to make changes to settings.
The control panel will give you access to your:
- Account settings
- Device settings
- Software upgrades
- Payment history
Open the Hotspot Shield website and you’ll be greeted by the text that says, “We don’t store or share your IP address.”
Translation? They DO store your IP address.
Even though they promise that they delete the address when the VPN is disconnected, what’s the point of logging them in the first place? It doesn’t make sense.
They also share your information with third parties/outsiders, and this isn’t just for the free VPN either, which is usually the case. Your details are logged even if you pay for the premium package. So, whether you pay them or not, they will log your information and share it with advertisers.
There is a category of VPN user who especially don’t want the authorities to keep a track of their online activities. If a VPN company does that, for them, there’s no point in getting its services.
If you’re a privacy-conscious user, this might not be the best VPN for you. However, if you’re okay with being tracked, you can subscribe to it and use its services.
In a nutshell
A VPN product of Anchor Free, Hotspot Shield is used by hundreds of millions of users. While the company gained popularity mainly because of their free offering, they have been providing Premium services for years now.
They have apps for all major platforms, including desktops and smartphones. And their VPN can also be configured on routers.
They offer a 45-day money-back guarantee on their paid plans, which is better than most VPN providers offer. They offer military-grade AES encryption with their own proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol, which offers great security and faster connections.)
Their speeds are fast, however, which is great for gaming and streaming videos. The app is simple to use and comes with a kill switch to protect you from IP leaks if the VPN connection drops.
Hotspot Shield supports 5 simultaneous connections on a single subscription, which means you can secure a mix of five computers, phones or tablets with one account.
They don’t have a live chat support, but their customer care staff is efficient and they generally reply to service “tickets” in a few hours. This makes Hotspot Shield very easy and simple to use.
While they do have several attractive features, they have a major limitation regarding privacy. They track your IP address and this is something most VPN users don’t want to hear. Since VPNs are gaining popularity mainly because they help people stay somewhat anonymous, logging of IP addresses is often a deal-breaker.
If you’re planning to get Hotspot Shield, make sure you read all the small print, and then purchase a subscription-only if not concerned about what they track.