Comparison: Hotspot Shield with Best VPN Providers
|VPN Providers||Hotspot Shield|
|Servers||10+ in 9 Countries||450+ in 100+ Countries||160+ in 60 Countries|
|Money Back Guarantee||None||3-Day||7-Day|
|Protocols||PPTP, L2TP & OpenVPN||PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN||PPTP, L2TP & OpenVPN|
|Visit Provider||Visit Provider||Visit Provider|
- Price starts from $5.00 per month
- Hotspot Shield is very user friendly and great for new VPN users
- Compatibility with a variety of devices and operating systems
- Repeated advertisements and superfluous promotions
- No clear information about server network, protocols or IPs
- Only supports OpenVPN
- Not compatible with Linux, DD-WRT, Tomato Router, etc.
- Only two pricing plans available for Elite users
Hotspot Shield is one of the most frequently downloaded products that promote online liberty. You may be wondering why people love Hotspot Shield so much.
After thorough examination and testing of Hotspot Shield along with analysis of user feedback, I deduced that irrespective of sluggishness of the software and its substantial impact on Internet speed, Hotspot Shield was considerably a feasible option for uses as long as it was for free.
There is also another version of Hotspot Shield known as Hotspot Shield Elite. This is a paid version actually and considered to be more secure and competent as compared to the free version. People had been downloading and using Hotspot Shield; because, it’s something offered for Free. It might significantly influence acceptance of Hotspot Shield Elite.
Packages Offered by Hotspot Shield VPN
Free Hotspot Shield
This is a Hotspot Shield version we’re all familiar with. There’s no or minimal difference between the application used for Hotspot Shield (Free) and Hotspot Shield (Elite).
Nevertheless, AnchorFree claims that despite the striking similarity, the free vpn version won’t let you access certain features of the Hotspot Shield. The installation process followed by the application is the same; however, expect the Hotspot Shield login system to block certain functions.
Limitations of Free Hotspot Shield
The moment you connect Hotspot Shield (Free), your browser will be attacked by assorted advert parasites. This will automatically open multiple tabs containing different promotions. This is a really annoying experience for the user.
- The free version of Hotspot Shield doesn’t require you to login.
- You cannot switch your VPN to another country/server.
- You can bypass most geo-restrictions, but not all of them.
- Annoying promotions and advertisements keep popping up all the time.
Hence, if you wish to unblock your favorite streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, BBC One, UK TV, BBC iPlayer and Pandora etc – dream on – Hotspot Shield (Free) won’t help you with this one. You may be able to bypass a few geo-restrictions, but you will have to go a step farther for a broader access to online content.
Hotspot Shield Elite
With Hotspot Shield Elite, you can unlock the full potential of the VPN. There are many functions and features users can’t access with the free version, but with the Elite version, you can enjoy all the benefits to the fullest.
- The most significant benefits associated with the Elite version is server swapping.
- You can mask your real IP with random IPs from US, UK, Japan and Australia.
- You can bypass all the geo-restrictions implemented by aforementioned countries.
- With Hotspot Shield Elite, users have liberty to switch servers. This is a liberty not offered by the free version.
- Hotspot Shield Elite is compatible with different devices.
- Hotspot Shield Elite is an ad-free service.
With Hotspot Shield Elite installed on your PC, Android and iOS device, you can breakthrough all restrictions. Say goodbye to all annoying promotions and advertisements you encountered while using the free version. With the Elite version, no promotions will invade your browser the moment you connect Hotspot Shield.
Packages and Pricing
As discussed earlier, Hotspot Shield has two versions: free and paid. There is no cost associated with the free Hotspot Shield version. As a result, the features associated with free version are limited. Furthermore, the free version is often used as a platform for different promotional campaigns because of which users encounter unnecessary and repeated advertisements.
Hotspot Shield Elite presents 2 basic package plans:
- 16 per month for 12 months, coming to $49.99
- $5 per month for 6 months, coming to $29.99
With a price as low as $4.59 per month, Hotspot Shield Elite seems a feasible option.
But, in the end, you may still think: why pay for it when you can have it for free. Let’s face it. Those who are concerned about their privacy and security won’t probably go for Hotspot Shield Elite. Need a reason? There are too many to prescribe.
VPN Server Spread
There is no clear information about the number of servers offered by Hotspot Shield Elite. This means the user won’t have any idea about the server network of the VPN he will use. Furthermore, there’s no clear information about the protocols supported by Hotspot Shield Elite or the level of encryption. These are the characteristics to look for if you are going to purchase a VPN to strengthen your privacy and security.
Since Hotspot Shield Elite fails to provide any clear information about aforesaid characteristics, it can hardly be considered a viable option for those who seek privacy and security. These users will naturally seek other reliable VPN alternatives. Users who are willing to compromise on privacy and security often seek out cheap alternatives. Hence, the free version of the Hotspot Shield might fascinate them more than the Elite.
Compatibility is one of the core characteristics to look for while purchasing a VPN. Since Hotspot Shield Elite claims to allow users all the benefits associated with a VPN, we will review compatibility of the Elite version in this section.
Hotspot Shield Elite is compatible with devices like PC and Mac. This means that you can enjoy it using different versions of Windows such as XP, Win 7 and Win 8. Moreover, it is also one of the best VPN for Mac OS X.
Hotspot Shield Elite is also compatible with iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad, as well as with Android powered Smartphones.
Hotspot Shield Elite isn’t compatible with Linux, DD-WRT, Tomato Router and many other operating systems and gaming devices. Hence, Hotspot Shield Elite might not be able to serve the needs of diverse market segments with divergent preferences.
Protocols & Encryption
Hotspot Shield Elite only supports OpenVPN. This means that the security provided by this VPN is shallow and vulnerable. Users who choose a VPN to fulfill their needs of privacy and security won’t see Hotspot Shield Elite as a viable option. Those who are concerned about their security demand at least L2TP/IPSec support along with 256bit encryption. Since, Hotspot Shield Elite only supports OpenVPN, considering it as a secure VPN alternative can be a mistake you might regret in the future.
Hotspot Shield Elite doesn’t provide much information about the security protocols supported or encryption levels used for security. Hotspot Shield Elite claims that the VPN not only allows users to bypass geo-restrictions but also prevents hacking, spamming and phishing assaults.
Hotspot Shield Elite provides a variety of payment options to choose from. You can buy Hotspot Shield Elite by transacting through Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discouver and PayPal.
In order to examine the performance of Hotspot Shield Elite, we conducted some tests. Every VPN service provider loves to brag about its features and performance. Everyone highlights the benefits and none lists its flaws. Hence, it was mandatory to evaluate Hotspot Shield Elite’s performance via thorough examination.
The criteria set for VPN’s performance in this test represents three distinct yet closely aligned elements: ping, download speed and upload speed. This test will gauge performance of Hotspot Shield Elite on the basis of its influence on the aforementioned elements.
The snapshot given below refers to the statistics obtained before connecting Hotspot Shield Elite where ping is 4ms. In addition, download speed is 84.70Mbps along with 4.79Mbps upload speed.
Now we will connect Hotspot Shield Elite to gauge its impact on the aforesaid elements. As discussed earlier, the VPN that has a minimal effect on upload and download speed triumphs the speed test. Furthermore, if a VPN by any chance improves latency, it is like a cherry on top.
The results obtained after connecting Hotspot Shield Elite are prescribed below. It was an utter disappointment if you ask me. Hotspot Shield not only boosted the ping drastically but it deteriorated download speed as well. After connecting Hotspot Shield Elite, the ping boosted up from 4ms to 148ms. Hence, I am not going to recommend Hotspot Shield Elite to any gamer – EVER.
Furthermore, after connecting Hotspot Shield Elite, the download speed dropped significantly. Hotspot Shield Elite caused approximately 85% decline in the download speed. The upload speed improved though. But, what’s the use of a good upload speed if you can’t enjoy download supremacy.
Final Verdict & Recommendations
Hotspot Shield Elite doesn’t have much to offer to those who actually use a VPN to fulfill their privacy and security needs. Hotspot Shield Elite doesn’t clearly prescribe supported protocols, encryption levels used to safeguard data or server network for that matter. It can be said that Hotspot Shield can be considered as a bearable option to unblock some websites maybe; but, it can’t be labeled as a technology that ensures users’ privacy and security.
Hotspot Shield is one of the frequently adopted VPNs by Netizens around the globe. However, most of the individuals preferring this VPN aren’t quite concerned about their privacy or security for that matter.
As per their claim, user can unlock all the features that are inaccessible with a free version. However, I couldn’t see any additional feature that justifies my decision to keep using Hotspot Shield Elite. Hence, I leave you all with this bizarre thought – why would you pay for something that you can get for free?