Hotspot Shield ReviewDecember 2022 Hotspot Shield Review & Deals
Hotspot Shield Overview
Free to use both as an app and browser, Hotspot Shield is a limited version VPN with a paid-for alternative: Hotspot Shield Elite. With some exciting features, you don’t need a Hotspot Shield download to access it. It offers fast connections, versatility across devices and an up to 500MB data allowance per day. Read on for our HotSpot Shield review.
It’s free to use!
On the paid subscription, users can try out a paid Hotspot Shield trial free for seven days, and after purchase have the option of a 45 day money-back guarantee
There’s no Hotspot Shield login required
Cookie, ad, and tracker blockers are included
There’s a kill switch included in the software
The 500MB daily allowance
Only 25 server locations available
One thing we really liked about Hotspot Shield is that, via the paid Elite account, it straight up offers you an easy way to connect and stream your favorite sites: the streaming toolbar has buttons to connect you directly to Netflix, YouTube, HBO and Facebook, among others. We experimented with streaming various Netflix series, and everything worked like a charm, connecting and streaming instantly. In fact, we didn’t notice any lags or latency, even when gaming online, nothing interrupted us or slowed us down. In fact, when connected to the VPN, our upload speeds increased by 30%, and our download speeds increased by a still worthy 4%.
But if you’re looking for how to unblock Netflix on the free version – you’re out of luck. For free users, there’s no way to connect to Hotspot Shield Netflix directly. Some servers are inaccessible from the free account, and are therefore unlikely to unblock Netflix.
We tested Hotspot Shield using several testing sites – among them WebRTC and IPLeak.com, some of which showed our IP address was hidden, and one of which showed our IP belonged to an anonymous proxy, belonging to parent site AnchorFree. This is no reason for alarm however, this leads us to think that other sites may also be able to detect our VPN use and still potentially block us from viewing them.
First things first, there’s no Hotspot Shield login or signup required. Hotspot Shield (and for the sake of our HotSpot Shield review, the paid version, Hotspot Shield Elite) uses TLS for session establishment, using 2048-bit RSA public-key encryption. This may be a tad weaker than other VPN’s 4096-bit key RSA. The data channel uses an OpenVPN system with a 256-bit key AES encryption, which is pretty standard.
Otherwise, Hotspot Shield does have a kill switch, should your connection cut, as well as malware detection, ad blockers, cookie blockers and tracker blockers.
Hotspot Shield servers are available in 25 countries. However – users of app’s free version can only access the US servers – which isn’t terrible, as far as limited server access goes.
While there’s no Hotspot Shield download required, for users of the free version using the Chrome browser extension, access is granted to 11 countries:
- Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
You’ll notice that there’s not much choice there. The Firefox browser extension is even more limiting – users can’t select their server location, instead being connected to an ‘optimized location.’ So, if you’re looking to connect to BBC iPlayer and Netflix – you’ll only be able to do this if you upgrade to the Elite paid account. Long story short, Hotspot Shield servers are a tad limited for free users.
Hotspot Shield has its own support center, accessible directly from the site, browser extension and app. There’s a very detailed FAQ section, although they don’t have all of the answers to some of the questions you might want to ask.
To speak to a human, you need to click on the ‘Contact Support’ button – which takes you to a detailed form to fill out. After clicking ‘submit’, you’ll see a notice that your request has been successfully submitted…but no word of how long it will take someone to get back in touch with you. We received a reply after four working days, which isn’t too bad – it seems that you get what you pay for, and that includes customer service.
As we mentioned above, Hotspot Shield is free to use – but with some seriously limited access.
If you’re looking to upgrade to the Elite plan, then pricing is as follows:
- $12.99 per month for 1 month
- $8.99 per month for 6 months (31% off)
- $5.99 per month for a one year plan (53% off)
- $119.99 one-time payment for a lifetime plan
There are reduced costs for longer subscription periods. You’ll be charged upfront for the full amount, and expect to be automatically rebilled at the end of the service period, unless you cancel it beforehand. There’s a Hotspot Shield trial 45 day money-back guarantee for subscriptions over a month long, and you can try the full service free for seven days – just remember to cancel the charge after your seven days are up
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: you definitely get what you pay for with Hotspot Shield VPN. On the one hand, it’s a free VPN which you don’t need an account to use. You get FREE access to a private, secure VPN, and can unblock content to stream worldwide – but the locations you can access to do this is available only on certain devices.
What’s included is good – free malware protection, ad blocking and yes, a VPN – but if you’re looking for more browsing and streaming choices, it’s probably better to upgrade to the Elite package.