Hotspot Shield Free VPN Review (Updated 2021)
Owned by AnchorFree, Hotspot Shield is an American base VPN service that promises ultimate privacy to the Netizens.
Moreover, you can use an eye-catching 7 days free trial that allows you to check the performance of the service of its premium plans in detail.
However, the service has fallen short on other areas quite considerably like speed, compatibility, and logging as well. Therefore, I don’t recommend the service to netizens across the world. You can head over to our VPN reviews guide if you want to check out the key features of other Best VPN Services. You can also check out other VPNs that are free in our best free VPN services blog.
My Rating Criteria
I examined Hotspot Shield through my own created 8 step criteria that comprise of:
- Pricing – How much is Hotspot Shield?
- Security – Protocols & Encryption
- Jurisdiction – Belongs to Five Eye Country
- Speed – Quite Slow
- Streaming – Does it Support Netflix & Torrenting?
- Leaks – IP, DNS, WebRTC & Virus Tests
- Trustworthiness – Logging Policy & Customer Support
- Compatibility – Assists Numerous Platforms & Devices
Pricing – How much is Hotspot Shield?
This VPN service has two versions: free and paid. Unsurprisingly, the features associated with the free version are limited as compared to paid versions.
Furthermore, the free version is often used as a platform for different promotional campaigns, which means you are bombarded with advertisements.
Now, as for the paid version, the Hotspot Shield presents 3 basic package plans:
You can buy Hotspot Shield Elite through:
- Master Card
- American Express
As always, the lack of Bitcoin is disappointing and there are no other anonymous paying methods as well.
With five simultaneous connections, subscribers can connect multiple devices with just a single account. This means you do not have to pay extra for securing your entire household through this VPN.
Usually, the VPNs with freemium service do not offer an extensive refund window. Some do not offer a refund at all… *cough* TunnelBear.
This makes Hotspot’s 45 days refund policy all the more impressive. With this policy in place, users should be well assured that the provider is not duping them for money. It is also one of the best VPN for Firestick free of any hidden costs.
You can also make a free Hotspot Shield account to test out the paid service of this VPN. For this, you have to sign up for a 7 days trial after launching the app.
However, you will need to enter the credentials of your credit card to access the trial. Remember, if you do not cancel the trial before 7 days, you will be charged automatically for 12.99€/month.
Also, if you want to get your hands on awesome discounts, we have some amazing deals on VPN for you to check out.
Security – Protocols & Encryption
Hotspot shield only relies on its own created Catapult Hydra protocol to secure its users’ privacy. I was expecting to see some other protocols like OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, and others in its armory.
Sadly, it was not the case though. Therefore, I would recommend people in charge of Hotspot Shield VPN open their doors to these and new tunneling protocols.
On the other hand, the service is committed to offering AES industry-standard 256-bit military-grade encryption. This method is designed to be more secure than the DES.
It offers a larger key size while ensuring that the only known approach to decrypt a message is for an intruder to try every possible key.
Jurisdiction – Belong to Five Eye Country
Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield is a brainchild of AnchorFree, a US-based company. Thus, the service has to abide by mandatory data retention rules because the country is a founding member of the 5 eyes alliance.
In terms of servers network premium version of Hotspot Shield provides 1800+ servers including both physical and virtual from 115+ locations.
In contrast, the Hotspot free version chooses a server for you. This means this software doesn’t allow you to switch between the servers to your liking.
Speed – Quite Slow
Hotspot Shield does not have impressive connection speeds. When I connected to its Italian server while using 30 Mbps internet connection, I attained the following result:
As you see, speed is perhaps not the forte of this VPN.
Streaming – Does it Support Netflix & Torrenting?
Hotspot Shield is somewhat unpredictable when it comes to Netflix. As of now, the VPN service is unblocking Netflix through its US connection.
Still, I recommend that you keep yourself updated regarding Hotspot Shield’s Netflix compatibility. You can do this by being a frequent visitor on the provider’s website.
In addition, you can opt the provider for achieving your media streaming mission through torrenting. By doing so, you can download your desired torrent files securely.
Leaks – IP, DNS, WebRTC & Virus Tests
Hotspot Shield is safe to use because you will not expose your original IP address, DNS, or WebRTC information while using the VPN online. Here are the screenshots:
I tested its Android app link available on Google Play Store through VirusTotal and received no malware at all.
Trustworthiness – Logging Policy & Customer Support
Hotspot Shield’s logging policy is a mixed bag. The company states that it does not keep logs. Nevertheless, there are lots of areas where they mention using customer data for a variety of purposes.
The service also teams up with few third parties as their free version is supported by advertisement. According to the provider, they only provide anonymized IP addresses to the advertisers, not the actual ones.
In my opinion, the VPN’s strategy of handling customer logs merits a certain amount of skepticism.
On the support front, the service offers the following options:
- Live Chat
- Help Center
The help center is highly resourceful as it provides a comprehensive tutorial section that allows you to install the apps on your preferred devices instantly.
Compatibility – Assists Numerous Platforms & Devices
Hotspot Shield is compatible with devices like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Usually, I do not like apps popping up as soon I log into my computer. However, the attractive interface of this VPN makes for it.
It gets even better.
The sleek blue design of this software and one-click connectivity makes it one of a kind.
There is nothing more to the client. It is a solid software that provides a top-notch user experience. When you use their apps, you may turn on other exclusive privacy features like IP leak and internet kill switch hassle-free.
Similarly, the service also provides dedicated browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox as well. However, you can use Hotspot Shield on your Linux devices through the Chrome extension.
To my surprise, the provider does not support Routers at the moment.
Comparison between ExpressVPN & Hotspot Shield
I have explained the salient features of both these VPNs. This is how you can decide regarding your digital anonymity appropriately.
|Servers||3000+ in 94 Countries||1,800+ virtual servers in 115+ locations|
|Compatibility||All Devices||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android,|
|Jurisdiction||The British Virgin Islands||US|
|Logging Policy||Zero Logs||Keep Logs|
|Customer Support||Live Chat & Email Support||Live Chat, FAQs & Email|
|Trust Pilot Score||4.6||4.2|
Let’s look at some of the alternatives for Hotspot Shield that work extremely well and have fast speeds:
- NordVPN review
- Avast VPN Review
- ExpressVPN Review
- Hola VPN Review
- PureVPN Review
- Windscribe VPN Review
- AVG VPN Review
- Surfshark Review
- Turbo VPN Review
- ProtonVPN Review
Do I Recommend Hotspot Shield?
No, I don’t recommend Hotspot Shield.
The VPN has a staggering 600 million users worldwide. It is one of the most commonly known VPN services thanks mostly to its free client.
On the other hand, the paid version of this software does not have the features to turn many heads. Similarly, it’s a bit on the expensive side when compared to some of the other players in the market.
This Hotspot Shield review has highlighted the good and bad of this service. And as you may guess, the bad outweighs the good.
Based on the above review, I would give Hotspot Shield a 2.8/5.0 star rating.