Hotspot Shield VPN has been protecting internet traffic from prying eyes for over a decade. This VPN provider promises to help you stay private with its flagship Hydra protocol, gain access to worldwide content, and stream and download content at lightning-fast speeds. But is it as good as advertised? Our comprehensive Hotspot Shield review will answer that question.
While researching for our Hotspot Shield VPN review, we discovered the service has a lot of positive feedback, with users praising the VPN’s security and privacy features, as well as its speed and unlocking geo-blocked content capabilities. Unlike most Hotspot Shield alternatives, the VPN service also comes with a functional free version, allowing users to protect their privacy during their browsing sessions without a fee. Keep on reading to learn how Hotspot Shield can protect you and show you an entirely new side of the internet.
Let’s start with the most crucial part of our Hotspot Shield VPN review, the VPN service’s security and privacy features. Regardless of whether you choose the free version or one of the Hotspot Shield premium plans, you can have peace of mind that you will no longer leave a digital footprint behind you.
Hotspot Shield offers 128-bit AES and 256-bit AES encryption, inspired by the software-defined perimeter (SDP) model first introduced by the US Department of Defense. So, every time you run Hotspot Shield VPN on one of your devices, all your data will be encrypted the same way the military encrypts its data. That means that no one can access it, not even the most prominent hackers. Our Hotspot Shield security review confirms that thanks to regular updates, the VPN service is always several steps ahead of internet threats.
Some Hotspot Shield alternatives keep detailed activity logs of their users, such as browsing history, connection times, and the actual IP address. That is especially true for free VPN services. Unlike these services, Hotspot Shield doesn’t store any browsing activity logs. In other words, not even the company can see your online activity. While Hotspot Shield is based in the US, a member of the Five Eyes alliance, it can’t share any personal information about you.
We continue our Hotspot Shield review with the vendor’s proprietary Hydra protocol. It is special because it can tell different packet losses apart, leading to more consistent connection speeds. It further offers a built-in database that protects all Hotspot Shield VPN users from more than 50 million viruses, malware, and phishing scams happening every day.
The kill switch ensures that you will be protected even if you lose connection with your VPN server by completely shutting down your internet. Our Hotspot Shield VPN review shows that the VPN server has one of the best-built kill switch features in the industry. On the flip side, the Windows app is the only one currently supporting it.
We know that you are looking for complete control over your internet privacy, and it should be your choice which internet activities to mask. Hotspot Shield’s SmartVPN lets you choose which apps or domains bypass the VPN functionalities and which ones will stay under the protection of the service.
Next in our Hotspot Shield review is the torrenting support. We are happy to say that our tests showed that Hotspot Shield Premium is one of the best VPNs for torrenting. The VPN provider allows torrenting on all available servers and all device platforms. There is no data cap or bandwidth throttling either, so you can download as much as you like and at high speeds.
Our research also showed that the Hotspot Shield Free VPN does not support torrenting. Even if it did, with a limited connection of up to 2Mbps and a daily data limit of 500MB, you wouldn’t be able to download anything.
For this Hotspot Shield VPN review, not only did we test the speeds ourselves, but we also read many user reviews to confirm the results. Regardless of the country we chose when connecting to a VPN server, our average download speed was between 50 and 70—an impressive result considering our distances from the physical locations. The speed was also close to our starting speed without a VPN.
Our Hotspot Shield review showed that not many alternatives offer the same lightning-fast speeds. Our tests confirmed that Hotspot Shield VPN has some of the fastest connection speeds in the industry. If we compare Hotspot Shield vs SurfShark, for example, we recommend going with the former.
We, however, also compared Hotspot Shield vs NordVPN and have to report that the latter scored higher on all speed tests, courtesy of its extensive server network.
Hotspot Shield is among the best VPN services for streaming. We managed to unblock content from all major streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
If you are looking for a free streaming VPN, however, Hotspot Shield may not be the best choice. With all the limits in speed and data, you can’t watch even a single video during the day, at least not without constant buffering. Our Hotspot Shield free review also showed that the limited version couldn’t unlock any of the popular streaming services.
Compared to most Hotspot Shield competitors, the VPN service offers well-built apps for all major platforms and devices. Besides the popular Windows PC app, which is the only one with a kill switch, you can download Hotspot Shield VPN for Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, and Linux. You can even add it to your Wi-Fi routers and your TV. Since the installation is slightly different for routers and TV, Hotspot Shield offers a detailed step-to-step guide.
Previously in our Hotspot Shield review, we established that all the available apps are well-built and seamless, but none can surpass the Hotspot Shield Chrome extension. Not only is it the best one offered by the VPN service, but it is also among the top VPN services for Chrome.
There is one area where Hotspot Shield lags behind. The VPN service allows only up to five device connections. So, in the device battle between Hotspot Shield vs ProtonVPN, the second one has a clear lead with up to 10 devices and is a better choice for you if you’re looking for the best VPN for multiple devices.
The user support team is available 24/7 through live chat, and the research for our Hotspot Shield review showed that their response time is fast — just a few minutes. The team is friendly, polite, knowledgeable, and happy to answer all your questions. The website also offers its users an option to submit a support ticket. Hotspot Shield also has a Help Center with valuable information, tutorials, guides, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Hotspot Shield offers straightforward and transparent pricing. In this section of our Hotspot Shield review, we will take a closer look at all the plans, both free and premium.
It is pretty rare to find a functional free plan in the VPN industry. This is why Hotspot Shield VPN stands out from the rest. Because of its free plan, the VPN service is recommended to all cost-conscious users looking to add a privacy layer to their online presence. Here’s what you get with the free plan:
At the time of writing this Hotspot Shield Premium review, the Premium plan provides the best value since it offers four apps in one subscription. The plan is priced at $7.99/month, billed $95.88 yearly. Monthly payment is also available at $12.99/month.
Not only do you gain access to lightning-fast VPN, but you can also enjoy the benefits of the Hotspot Shield’s antivirus, password manager, and spam-cell blocker. The Premium plan is recommended to all users looking to browse, stream, and game with a VPN service. Here are the features that you can unlock with the Hotspot Shield VPN Premium plan:
Next in our Hotspot Shield VPN Premium review is the unique Family plan. Priced at $11.99/month, billed $143.88 yearly, the Family plan offers one account for up to five family members. The pricing is equivalent to $2.4/month/user. For those unable to afford annual pricing, the Premium Family plan comes with monthly pricing too, which will cost you $19.99/month, equivalent to $4/month/user.
Compared to the Premium Plan, the Hotspot Shield VPN Family Plan offers all VPN features without the security apps (antivirus, password manager, and spam-call blocker). For a more detailed comparison, take a look at the list below:
Last but not least in the pricing section is the Hotspot Shield Business review. The Business plan is priced at $19.99/month and is available on multiple devices for up to twenty employees. The plan also includes a company’s dedicated servers, ensuring the fastest and most reliable internet connection. Contact the vendor directly for more information and advice about creating the most effective VPN solution for your business.
We compared the VPN’s pricing to a couple of alternatives. In a Hotspot Shield vs ExpressVPN battle, ExpressVPN keeps a high price tag even with the higher tier plans, while Hotspot Shield's price drops to as low as $2.4/month with the family plan.
In a Hotspot Shield vs CyberGhost comparison, both have a monthly plan of $12.99. Yet, CyberGhost’s plans go for as long as three years. So, Hotspot Shield’s one-year plan costs $95.88 (equivalent to $7.99.month), while CyberGhost’s three-year plan is priced at $99 (equal to $2.75/month).
Our extensive Hotspot Shield VPN review proved that Hotspot Shield is among the most expensive VPN services, but is it worth the money? The answer is quite simple: yes. Hotspot Shield offers some of the fastest speeds in the industry, as well as some of the most advanced security and privacy features. While its plans are on the pricey side and its device connections are limited, we still believe it offers great value for money.