Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Our Take: Where Hotspot Shield outclasses the rest is speed. Whether users are streaming media or they just want lightning fast connectivity, Hotspot excels. The availability of Hotspot is also attractive, as there are servers in over 80 countries, and it's compatible with most mainstream devices. However, the privacy protection, especially with the free version, leaves something to be desired.

Hotspot Shield is a VPN founded by AnchorFree, Inc., which is now operated by Pango. The VPN service rose to fame after its use to bypass censorship during the Arab Spring protests. Hotspot Shield has recently received kudos from Ookla’s as the “world’s fastest VPN for 2020.” Speed is essential for torrenting and streaming videos with a VPN, but does the speed of Hotspot make it the best? We’re providing an overview of Hotspot Shield VPN, including pros and cons, pricing, customer service and who this Virtual Privacy Network is best suited for.

Pros & Cons of Hotspot Shield

What We Like and What We Don’t Like
Pros Cons
  • Fast speeds — close to your ISP connectivity speeds without a VPN
  • Easy to use
  • Available in many countries
  • Compatible with most devices
  • Free version may sell data to third parties
  • May not be available in China
  • No manual installation guides — must use a dedicated app
  • Only Windows has a dedicated kill switch

Key Features of Hotspot Shield

We looked at the four most important features of any VPN, including security and privacy, server coverage, performance and price. Below is a breakdown of Hotspot Shield’s key features.

Security & Privacy

Protecting your privacy, including your personal and financial data, location, IP address and browsing history are the primary reasons to use a VPN. The difference between the security levels of HotSpot Shield’s plans and the types of operating systems that subscribers use can result in varying degrees of security and privacy. While the company uses 256-bit encryption and states it has a “no log” policy, some of the data collection policy stipulations by Hotspot are concerning to users.

Both free and paid premium versions of Hotspot Shield come with some caveats. While the company doesn’t save logs of your internet activity, it does collect other data, including your email address and username, personal mobile ID and real IP address — although this is deleted after logging off of each session. The program also collects information about the device you’re using to access the VPN, including the hardware model and the operating system and language. In addition to these logs, the free version of Hotspot Shield also collects data about the user’s location, MAC address and wireless carrier.

Server Coverage

There’s lots of coverage for users of Hotspot Shield VPN. It has more than 3,200 servers located in over 80 countries. Thousands of servers help improve overall performance, as there are plenty of servers to use, which makes it easier to connect without bottlenecks and gives users plenty of options for an IP address.

For users who especially enjoy the full catalog of media from streaming services, Hotspot is ideal, as there are servers in many European countries, Canada and Australia. The VPN’s spread-out server coverage also provides consistent speed and connection services to travelers.

Performance

As far as speed is concerned, Hotspot Shield has some of the fastest connectivity on the market. This makes it good for torrenting, and the service allows torrenting on all devices and across all servers. Up to five devices can use the service simultaneously, and there are no monthly data limits for Hotspot’s premium subscriptions. User reviews also indicate that speeds aren’t compromised when multiple users are logged in.

It’s important to note that while Hotspot has the fastest speeds of any VPN on the market, it can’t run faster than your original internet connection. So, if you have a slower connection without a VPN, using Hotspot isn’t going to make it any faster. The best the service can do is to get almost as close as your regular internet speed.

Downloading and installing Hotspot Shield is fast, as well, and the VPN itself is rather uncomplicated and easy to use. The native apps of the system are intuitive and work well with what the VPN provides. Free users may appreciate the thoroughness of the website support documents, as their choices for support are limited. The fast performance, even of the free version, is one of the best aspects of Hotspot VPN.

Price

It’s important to note that the features and bandwidth available to free users is less than that available to premium subscribers. The free service limits use to certain VPN servers and 500MB of bandwidth per day. However, other free plans go as low as 500MB of bandwidth per month, so for a free VPN, that’s fairly generous in the industry.

The Premium Family plan allows up to five user accounts, with up to five devices allowed per user. Doing the math, that’s 25 devices total for the plan. This is handy for those who want VPN service on the go, and Hotspot Shield is compatible with both Android and iOS mobile systems. The free version limits which types of devices users can connect through the VPN, but it supports Windows and Apple and their respective mobile devices. However, premium users can enjoy VPN access through smart TVs, routers and Linux OS computers.

Hotspot Shield Plans & Pricing
Basic Free
Premium $7.99/month
Premium Family $11.99/month

Hotspot Shield Company Overview

Hotspot Shield Overview
Free Trial 45 days
Customer Support Email
Platform/Browser Compatibility Chrome, Firefox
Server Coverage 3,200+ servers in 70+ countries
Number of Devices 5
No-log Policy Yes
Torrenting Yes
Streaming Services Netflix, Hulu, the BBC, YouTube, Prime Video, Kodi, HBO, Disney, Showtime
Security Encryption Not provided
Kill Switch Yes
Website Learn more at Hotspot Shield

What Customers Are Saying

Users appreciate the features of Hotspot Shield VPN, including its speed and the fact that it doesn’t affect their laptop speeds. One user said, “Always dependable. I like how user friendly it is, and how it works silently in the background, without slowing down my laptop.” The speed and convenience benefits of Hotspot Shield are echoed by another reviewer, who said, “Total security doesn’t have to sacrifice speed. Hotspot Shield is a perfect example, with super-fast speeds during our upload and download speed tests.”