HOTSPOT SHIELD REVIEW

Summary

Hotspot Shield: Powerful VPN functionality with malware protection

Hotspot Shield is one of those VPNs that truly anonymize the user without storing their IP address. 650 million users across the globe trust this VPN. It will lend you a virtual IP to safely browse the web, encrypt all data, and unblock geo-restricted content all while ensuring top speeds.

It’s easy to use and features intuitive native apps for the popular OS platforms. The app allows you to securely connect to 2500+ serves in 25 countries around the world. You decide!

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Quick Stats

12

Money Back Guarantee

45 Days

Best Price

$3.49 / Month (3 Year Plan)

Concurrent Connections

5

Supported Streaming Services

BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and more

Special Features

Malware protection, Does not store logs of user activity, Kill Switch, Smart routing to specialized servers, No bandwidth restrictions, Easy to use, Unblocks geo-restricted streaming content, Censorship-resistant

Server Locations

25 Countries

Amount of servers

2500+

Logging Policy

Does not store user session logs

Protection

Hotspot Shield has quite a following. The VPN is known for its powerful IP cloaking capabilities which ensure you can safely browse the internet without ever revealing your real IP address.

IP Cloaking

Web pages, apps, and services we visit can all potentially track our activity and IP address, which is often an encroachment into the user’s privacy. Using an app such as Hotspot Shield will anonymize your identity online. The web services you use will then only see the temporary IP you hold, not your real IP address and location.

Hotspot Shield does this by capturing all your transmissions and routing them through the chosen VPN server instead of allowing your requests to reach the intended remote server directly. What this means is that the remote server will not see the real IP address the requests are coming from but only the virtual IP address allocated to the user by the VPN server.

256-Bit Encryption

Hotspot Shield provides AES-256 encryption which is considered military grade. Apart from cloaking your identity online, the tool will also route your data through a secure encryption tunnel to ensure no prying eyes can ever decipher what’s underneath.

There are essential differences between web proxies and a VPN. While a web proxy too will anonymize the user, making their IPs invisible, they will not encrypt the user data the way a VPN would, making it undecipherable to agents, if any, spying on the transmitted information.

Smart Routing Technology with Specialized Servers

Hotspot Shield offers HydraVPN, this technology is smart routing through specialized servers. Each time you use Hotspot Shield to access streaming services, games, or social media, your data is routed through a specialized VPN server optimized for these very services.

For instance, if you’ve been using the Hotspot Shield VPN server to access a gaming portal, the VPN will automatically connect you to the best server optimized for a smooth gaming experience. Since the server already has configurations in place for great gaming, you can focus on the game leaving everything else to the VPN tool.

The connections are all established in parallel with automatic routing which means that the user need not manually connect to specific servers. This is a very welcome step compared to other VPN which require the user to choose dedicated servers specialized for streaming, for instance, when streaming on Netflix. Hotspot Shield takes a different approach and rids the user of all technical nuances.
This ensures you get a secure browsing experience that also scores up in terms of performance and speed every time. This is an innovative feature indeed that will leave you surprised with its utilities!

IP Leak Protection

Hotspot Shield also protects against DNS and IPv6 leaks. These are common among VPN tools and can result in critical user information being inadvertently revealed. You can check how Hotspot Shield protects against IP leaks by visiting any of the DNS leak test sites and checking if they can trace out your real geolocation when using this VPN. You’ll find that the software does a commendable job by preventing DNS leaks.

Kill Switch

When it comes to user privacy, it is essential to have a VPN that features a network kill switch. What this function does is that it ensures your internet connectivity is completely shut off if the VPN protection drops out. With many other VPNs, your system will continue to transmit and receive information over the internet even with the VPN in place if the VPN shield drops out for a second or two. This means that in that single second or more, your location information and IP address are out there in the open for everyone to see, which defies the purpose of a VPN in the first place.

Hotspot Shield provides you with a kill switch that will automatically detect when VPN protection drops out and will then kill all internet connectivity instantly to ensure you stay safe always.

Logging Policy

Another aspect to consider when purchasing a VPN service is its logging policy. It’s surprising how many users ignore this aspect when making a decision. It’s critically important for you to know how your VPN logs your activity data. While many VPN capture and store detailed logs of user activity and IP address, Hotspot Shield does capture logs of the online session but does not save them.

The privacy policy of the tool specifies that Hotspot Shield does store your IP address for the duration of your session but will always delete it subsequently. The VPN will not associate any app or website you visit while using the VPN with your device or IP address.
What this means is that your online activity stays secure and is never traceable back to you.

Malware Protection

Hotspot Shield also features built-in malware protection. When you visit websites that are likely to infect your device, Hotspot Shield will alert and warn you of the possible dangers. What’s more, it will block the site, so you do not accidentally end up installing malicious code on your computer. The tool has a repository of millions of spam and malicious websites in its database.

Malware protection is a great feature that makes Hotspot Shield stand apart from the other peers in this space.

Stability

Frequently, you will come across VPNs with shiny specs and features that will not perform well in real life. Worst, they might not perform at all! Well, you need not to fear this when you purchase Hotspot Shield, which is a very reliable and stable VPN service that will have you up and running with a secure browsing experience online in no time.

As always, it is essential to ensure you have a sturdy base internet connection that performs well. No VPN can magically enhance a super-slow connection! However, as you’ll discover later in the section on speed and performance, VPNs can help you get over your ISP’s speed throttling.
The connections with Hotspot Shield are pretty solid and will prove to be great for those who’d like to indulge in gaming and torrenting, for, the tool offers rock-solid upload speeds.

Hotspot Shield also offers you unlimited bandwidth to browse the internet without any limits on the data usage so you can stream as many movies as you want without being let down by your VPN.

Since Hotspot Shield cloaks your real IP address, providing you with a virtual IP instead, you can use it to bypass censorship in your region. If you have been unable to access a website or your favorite streaming services including Netflix, for instance, you can use the appropriate VPN server to anonymize your identity and unlock content.

Interestingly, Hotspot Shield even offers a free VPN service that is fairly usable. It has restrictions on bandwidth and features ads though, which can be removed on opting for a paid subscription. Like the paid version, though, the free software also features military-grade encryption.

Ease of use

Hotspot Shield is one of the most intuitive VPNs out there. It is very clearly laid out and is easily navigable, even for first-time users. The menu buttons and options are all easily accessible which means you need not find the software manual before being able to use this simple app!

Hotspot Shield delights you with its simple native apps for the popular OS platforms that work right after installation without you having to configure anything. Just open the app, choose the server you wish to connect to and connect to a secure online experience. That’s all!

The app quickly connects to the chosen server without long waiting times that are common with many VPNs. Furthermore, Hotspot Shield also provides you with useful information at a glance in that you’ll be able to see the new IP address and location you’ve been allocated to through the chosen VPN server.

However, this simplicity can also be a bit limiting at times. You’ll find that the manual controls are severely limited. There are only basic controls for you to play around with. While this is ideal for beginners who need not be troubled with strange sounding settings, it might be a bit disappointing to experts who want complete control over every possible setting.

If you face any problems with usage or installation on your device, you can head to the “support” section on the Hotspot Shield website. We were also delighted to find the live chat option on the site which allows users to quickly get in touch with support executives to resolve issues quickly.

Speed

Speed test results are among the most sought-after parameters when it comes to reviewing and comparing VPNs. While speed and performance are the supreme measures of a VPN’s abilities, it is important to note that speed test results can be far from accurate since they rely on many variables including the state of the network and the choice of the server.

While VPNs always reduce the speed of the base connection somewhat, many VPNs will make this difference so small as to be negligible for all practical purposes. This is, in fact, the benchmark. If you cannot feel the presence of a VPN server when using a VPN, your VPN app is outstanding indeed.

Since all data is routed through a VPN server, there is an inevitable reduction in speed. However, there are exceptions in that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) might often throttle the speed of your connection. Using a VPN is a great way to bypass this and enjoy the internet at full speed! So, in a way, your VPN can also increase the rate of your (throttled) connection!

In our speed tests, Hotspot Shield performed exceptionally well. It’s lightning fast, and you will enjoy great speeds that will make your streaming sessions amazingly good. We also noticed low latency levels in general, down to 3ms.

Of course, the speed when using this VPN will fall a bit short of your baseline connection speed, but depending on the state of the network and the choice of the server, it will still perform amazingly well. We recommend carefully choosing the server in this regard since the decision of the server has an essential bearing on the quality of the connection. In general, for optimal performance, it is best to choose the server nearest to your real geolocation for the best possible speeds.

The tool also supports torrenting and other P2P functions on all servers, supporting great upload speeds. It’s time to enjoy file sharing and backing up all your data to the cloud in a secure manner without having to struggle with congested networks and slow uploads.

Available Locations

When it comes to server locations, Hotspot Shield allows you to choose from servers in 25 countries around the world. A network of over 2500 servers supports the app. However, you will find that you cannot select servers down to the level of the city of your choice as is possible with some other VPNs.

Furthermore, the choice of locations appears to be limiting somewhat since lesser-known nations and regions are not found. While one might argue whether it’s indeed essential to have servers in every corner of the world, judging by the numbers alone, the VPN might prove limiting to some.

However, it must be remembered that when it comes to VPN servers, quality is paramount and assumes greater importance over the number of servers. A VPN service with a small amount of well-optimized servers that perform will always be better than another which has thousands of poorly configured servers.

Furthermore, Hotspot Shield features what it calls the Hydra technology which will automatically route connections through the optimal servers without the user having to select specialized servers found in other VPN software manually. This is a great way to allow the user to focus only on their browsing while leaving everything VPN and security related to the tool itself.

A great choice of servers is always good to have though, especially for those who travel a lot or live in regions with government censorship over the internet. Such individuals might want a VPN with plenty of opportunities to connect to servers around the world in a bid to bypass censorship and access content beyond government firewalls.

As indicated earlier, the server you choose to connect to has far-reaching consequences. This is especially true when it comes to unblocking streaming content on Netflix and iPlayer. Further, this is a highly sensitive space, and you might find that a VPN server that successfully unblocks content one day might suddenly stop working tomorrow for no reason at all.

Platforms and devices

Hotspot Shield supports the popular OS platforms including Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You’ll be able to easily download and use native apps for all these systems. There is also a version for the Chrome platform. This is an extension that is easily installed with one click — a great way to secure your online transactions and purchases or when accessing the internet over a potentially insecure public WiFi hotspot.

We couldn’t find any version for Linux, though, which might be a setback for users of this popular OS. Furthermore, it is not possible for a user to configure the tool to work on other devices and platforms such as routers, which can prove limiting for some users.

You’ll be able to enjoy the VPN connections on up to 5 devices at a time. You have to install the VPN separately on each of your devices since it is not possible to install the app on a router to secure the entire home network.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the VPN company has a significant bearing on user privacy. This is because the VPN company needs to abide by the local laws for data retention. Consider our subject, Hotspot Shield for instance, which is located in the United States. The company must thus adhere to the regulations that can often come off as invading into the user’s privacy thanks to the intelligence sharing agreements with other nations.

However, Hotspot Shield reduces the intensity of the situation for it does not store user activity beyond the duration of the session and does not link IP addresses with online activities which makes you, the user, virtually untraceable.

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Bottom Line

ProsCons
Easy to useLacks full manual controls
Performs well in speed testsLacks support for Linux
Unlocks Netflix US and BBC iPlayerOnline support guides are not very comprehensive
Additional features like malware protection and Hydra technology for smart routing
Does not store user logs beyond the session duration

Hotspot Shield is a unique VPN in every sense of the word. While it will perform every function you’ve come to expect from a VPN including cloaking your IP address and encrypting data, it also features a host of other functionalities which will not be found in its peers. Take malware protection for instance. The VPN protects you from millions of spam and phishing websites in addition to anonymizing your identity. What’s more, it even has ad blockers to block those intrusive ads that appear ubiquitously all across the internet.

As far as pricing is concerned, it is very reasonable and affordable, especially the long-term plans. For a great price, you get military grade 256-bit encryption and access to more than 2500 servers. The pool of servers might come off as a bit limiting though, in comparison to other VPN apps.
Hotspot Shield will also enable access to streaming services including Netflix and BBC iPlayer. You get a superior level of performance, for, Hotspot Shield is lightning fast.

It would have been great to have support for all of the popular OS platforms such as Linux along with a version for routers to secure the whole network without resorting to installation on individual devices.

Talk about the logging policy and Hotspot Shield takes a different stand from most VPN apps. It neither completely abstains from logging user data nor stores captured logs for an indefinite period of time. It will log data and store the same only for the duration of the session.

The software is straightforward to use and features the powerful Hydra smart routing technology which automatically selects the optimal server based on the nature of the content transmitted and received. Accessing Netflix? Let the intelligent routing technology choose the best streaming server for you all by itself. Torrenting? Wait for Hydra to pick the best server for you. We believe that smart routing technology is one of the most powerful features of the Hotspot Shield VPN. It takes every technical decision onto itself freeing you from all security concerns.

Disclosure
The VPN Guru is an independent review site. In order to pay fund ourselves, we do receive affiliate compensation for clicking on our links. Note that this does not affect our reviews. It may, however, impact the location and/or prominence of the placement of location on where the VPN’s appear on the site.