Hotspot Shield Review
|3.0 / 5.0 User Ratings||6 |
|United States |
Hotspot Shield Expert Review 2016
HotSpot is one of the most prominent browser based VPN services also offer free over Androdi and iOS apps. We compared the complete HotSpot Sheild VPN package with industry pioneer PureVPN to see which provider wins head to head.
|No ads||Comes with adware|
|No free trial||Free limited plan|
|150+ Countries||6 Countries|
After reviewing Hotspot Shield’ pricing plans, the prices for yearly subscription are more feasible for the value against the services offered in our opinion. The overall average cost per month is also low and each purchase comes with 30 days money back guarantee.
That is sufficient time to fully test out the service, core features, performance, and to know whether the product lives up to your expectations or not.
Hotspot Shield, developed by AnchorFree, is a VPN service that provides online security, privacy, online freedom, and carefree web browsing. AnchorFree ponders upon providing the best internet security to everyone.
The company’s mission is to drive the global online security, accessibility to content, and to protect online privacy of everyone.
Located in Silicon Valley and led by their CEO and cofounder, David Gorodyansky, AnchorFree allows users to be in control of the web. AnchorFree developed Hotspot Shield with one thing in mind; users should be able to secure their networks for free.
Hotspot Shield Review: Unique Selling Point
This is an important section and one that I always like to explore in every VPN service that I review. It allows me to highlight that one factor that singles out the specific VPN from others.
The unique selling point for Hotspot Shield is that it is available for free and paid versions for mass public. A free version will provide you the basic features of a VPN like unblocking the websites. It is not as good as the paid version.
The free version provides maximum security, privacy and accessibility and if you are looking for a quick solution for online security, Hotspot Shield is the best fix.
Hotspot Shield Pricing and Plans Review
Hotspot Shield is available for general consumers and also for corporate users. In this review, we will first discuss Hotspot Shield Elite package and then move onto the corporate package.
(Subscription Plans for US)
Hotspot Shield Business Package Review
Hotspot Shield offers business, small and large, the facility to secure themselves from all kinds of cyber attacks through its VPN service. Using Hotspot Shield, organizations can encrypt their communication channels, secure their Wi-Fi points, unblock restricted websites, and enable private browsing and email.
The price packages are offered based on the number of devices you wish to configure. You can choose yearly package for 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 devices. Following are the prices for each:
- 20 devices will cost $99.95 per year.
- 40 devices will cost $199.95 per year.
- 60 devices will cost $274.95 per year.
- 80 devices will cost $349.95 per year.
- 100 devices will cost $399.95 per year.
All these packages come with 14 days free trial so that you can try out all the features of the VPN.
Hotspot Shield accepts different formats as payment methods. The options include purchasing the Elite package with your credit card or through PayPal.
The process of purchasing the elite package (6 month or yearly plan) is easy and consists of three basic steps; cart àreview à confirm.
In the cart phase, you need to fill out all the details about your credit card or PayPal account, personal information (name, email, zip code, country), and coupon code. After filling out the details, hit submit order and next process will be to review. Go over the order details and confirm.
Hotspot Shield Free vs. Elite
Now that you know the different pricing plans, here are the differences between free version and the elite version of Hotspot Shield.
The difference between both the versions is the number of features and add-ons available in Elite package and the free version.
The security, privacy and accessibility features are almost same in the both the versions, showing that Hotspot Shield doesn’t take your online protection for granted. But the paid subscription will always benefit you more in terms of protecting your data than the free version.
The Hotspot Shield Elite allows you to choose the different virtual location from a range of servers while in the free version you do not have the liberty to do so. The paid version blocks ads while the free to download is ad supported.
In addition to this, the Elite version has additional features that would increase your browsing and streaming speeds, malware protection plus, and dedicated customer support (elaborated below).
Hotspot Shield Elite Review
The elite version of Hotspot Shield is available on all compatible platforms. You can subscribe through dedicated Android, Mac, Windows and iOS apps or directly on the website. Hotspot Shield Elite is available in six different pricing plans which are:
- 1 week plan (only available in the UK) @ £75
- 1 month plan @ $11.95/month
- 6 months plan @ $3.33/month (one-time $19.99 payment)
- 12 months plan @ $2.50/month (one-time $29.95 payment)
- 24 months plan @ $2.08/month (one-time $49.95 payment)
- Lifetime plan @ $99.95
Hotspot Shield Elite also offers different pricing plans for different regions. So, a user from the US will be shown different subscription prices compared to an Indian user.
Hotspot Shield Elite Crack is Malware
Readers who are hoping to find a Hotspot Shield Elite crack will be disappointed to know that it is a malware & adware hoax. You may be able to find a cracked version but there is no guarantee that it will be a stable & malware free version.
Always ask yourself why the app is paid for in the first place and why would someone think of cracking the premium app in the first place. The crack version offers backdoor for hackers to infiltrate user devices while they are using Hotspot Shield Elite.
Hotspot Shield Servers
Hotspot Shield offers different servers located across various countries. The exact list and number of servers is not known on the company’s website. However it does state the following locations: USA, Australia, UK, Japan, Germany, and Canada.
These servers allow you to unblock all the blocked contents, protect against different threats online, and mask your identity by hiding your IP address.
Do note that if you are using the free version, you will not be able to select the server location of your choice. This option is only available in the Elite version of Hotspot Shield.
The new VPN software now allows you to choose the server of your choice, even if you are using the free version. Previously, in the free version you could not select the server location of your choice. This option was only available in the Elite version of Hotspot Shield. However, with the new version and improvements made by Hotspot Shield, you can easily select the server of your choice.
Hotspot Shield Speed Tests Review August 2016 Servers
Whilst reviewing Hotspot Shield, we checked out the speeds against the speeds achieved without any VPN service using speedtest.net.
Although there are numerous factors to consider during the speed test: the ISP, certain time of the day, your physical location to the location of the server, etc; the speeds observed by you might differ from the ones observed by us.
Following was the speed achieved without VPN switched on:
When we switched Hotspot Shield on and connected to the US server, following speeds were achieved:
The speed tests show that there isn’t much difference in the download speeds but there is a significant drop in the upload speeds.
There was another issue, as some of the websites we tested in this review did not open up upon clicking. A second or third attempt was needed to open the websites. This was, frankly, a bit disappointing as you need the VPN to be quick to let you access the websites in an instant.
Testing out the free service showed quick connectivity as well but slower speeds when compared with the elite version. There was a significant reduction in the download and upload speeds, making it a parable problem when accessing streaming websites. In addition to this, same problem existed where certain websites required reloading /refreshing to load.
The customer support center is often the most important element that allows you to retain users and avoid losing them. In times of dire need for technical support, the customer support service always steps up to save your day.
Hotspot Shield showed that in the customer support center, you can choose from setup guides (based on the operating system), frequently asked questions, forums, or submitting requests. The setup guides allow you to resolve basic issues and how to setup the VPN service on your device.
In the help center of the company’s website, you can view tutorials about various topics for Hotspot Shield, depending upon the platform. The tutorials can be viewed on topics ranging from setup of the software, login issues, changing the settings, problems with speed and connection, and how to uninstall the VPN from your operating system.
Frequently Asked Questions
The FAQ section also provides answers to basic questions. The questions are divided into different sections like getting started or account management. However, this section could have been more detailed in our opinion.
If the FAQ and setup guides do not provide you the solution, you can submit a request and state the problem you are facing. The process starts by selecting the request type, providing your email address, and filling out the details of your problem.
We also found some videos located at the bottom of the support page, which can be helpful as well. Hotspot Shield has its own YouTube channel where all the videos are archived.
Dedicated Live Chat
The users with Hotspot Shield’s elite package have the facility of dedicated elite support which offers live chat. You can chat with the support staff and get hands on assistance to resolve your issue.
Hotspot Shield is compatible with different platforms and operating systems. The operating systems include Mac, Android, Windows, and iOS.
However there are variations in VPN service across these operating systems. In the review of Hotspot Shield, we observed the official notice displayed by Hotspot that not all the features are available on all platforms.
The mobile application for iOS differs from the ones used on Mac PC. There are variations in the setup of the software and also there are limitations on the features available on iPhone.
If you have purchased the elite version of Hotspot Shield and you plan to use it on your iOS device, be careful as there is no option for selecting your virtual location. The VPN service works completely fine on Windows and Mac; however, there is no app for Windows phone but you can manually configure the software onto your device.
Hotspot Shield Android App APK
Hotspot Shield is available for Android devices and can be downloaded either directly from the provider’s website or from the Google Play Store.
Hotspot Shield Android app prospects can also choose to test the service using the free app also available on the Google Play Store. Hotspot Shield’s Android app is really easy to use and one feature that we loved was the apps ability to add phone apps that the service is securing. Browsing speed was really good and files were downloading really fast, impressing us even more during our Hotspot Shield review.
Two poor aspects of the free app are that you have no idea what server you are connected to by default and it delivers advertising. This automatic server selection also raises questions over the data & activity logging of free users connected to the app, considering the free version of Hotspot Shield Android app has had well over 5 million downloads.
Get the Hotspot Shield Android apk today to trial the service with the free app, or visit Hotspot Shield to sign up for a premium account with added security features & functionality. The Hotspot Shield Elite apk is also available separately on Google Play.
Hotspot Shield for PC
Hotspot Shield also offers both an Elite version and a free version of the service for PC users. The Hotspot Shield PC software can be downloaded from the website.
The Hotspot Shield app for PC is also brilliantly designed with no extra buttons and features difficult to understand. Once click connectivity, lite on system resources and an attractive interface has really impressed us while penning down our Hotspot Shield PC app review.
The free version of Hotspot Shield PC is offered with advertising which means your data is being shared. The free app also offers limited bandwidth and does not allow you to choose desired servers.
Hotspot Shield VPN Client for Windows Review
In our review of Hotspot Shield, we tested the VPN software for Windows. Hotspot Shield have revamped their software client and updated it from the previous 3.x version. The new 4.x version is much slicker and easier to use than the previous software.
While testing the new client for this review, we were pleased with its overall performance. The installation was easy as the setup wizard took care of all the steps and with minimal input you can easily configure Hotspot Shield on your Windows device.
Once you have installed the software, it will automatically connect you to the VPN service. The new Hotspot Shield VPN client also offers some impressive new features. You can switch from ‘Smart Protection’ to ‘Full Protection’ where all your internet traffic is tunneled through the VPN network.
Under the Smart Protection setting, Hotspot Shield automatically detects the networks as safe or unsafe, and sets the optimum security settings. You can also choose ‘Select Site’ which acts as split tunneling feature. You can select particular websites that should be tunneled through Hotspot Shield VPN connection.
Although new and improved version of Hotspot Shield VPN client allows you many new features to play with and has a much easier user interface, it still does not allow you to select the protocol or encryption level of your choice. This was one of the disappointing factors as we hoped that the software would provide information regarding encryption and protocols as the website and the support center were of no help to us.
Hotspot Shield Extension for Chrome
Hotspot Shield for Chrome is available through the Chrome Web store that you can access from Google Chrome’s settings menu. To add Hotspot Shield Chrome extension, go to the extensions Store and search for the app.
Once you have the result simply click the “Add to Chrome” button and wait for the browser to install the extension. Once installed just click and start securing your privacy while browsing the internet free as a bird.
Protocols and Encryption
Hotspot Shield protects your data with secure protocols and encryption levels. We went through Hotspot Shield’s website over and over again to learn about how the company protects your data and other information using the encryption levels and protocols.
After much deliberation and extensive scanning of the company’s website, we were able to find that Hotspot Shield runs on OpenVPN protocol. The one clear element listed on the website is that Hotspot Shield encrypts your online browsing data using HTTPS protocol.
Apart from that, we were unable to find any other information on the encryption level that the company offers. Even the support center was of no help in this regard and the live chat assistance also didn’t reveal anything except for the information that we already conjured about protocols and encryption.
Hotspot Shield for Torrenting
Hotspot shield offers high speed connectivity on all its servers to use with torrents. The provider enhances its servers to ensure torrenting subscribers do not get infected with malware. Highly secure servers with leading edge tunneling & encryption allow users to download their favorite torrents behind shared IP addresses. This ensures that copyright trolls cannot trace downloader’s back to their original IP address, if they can ever crack Hotspot Shield’s encryption, that is.
Therefore, the review of Hotspot Shield shows that there are no usage logs maintained by the company and the data that is collected pertains to the different advertisements and promotional purposes.
There are no free trials when the software can be downloaded for free. However if you purchase the Elite package, you get 30 day money back guarantee. This is sufficient time for you to evaluate the overall software.
There is a 14 free trial for the business package if you purchase the yearly plan. The corporate package offers certain number of devices to be configured with Hotspot Shield and your yearly package starts after 14 days of free trial.
There are certain areas that the company needs to work on. The free version was bombarded with advertisements upon connection. The speeds achieved were also unpredictable as certain websites did not open on the first attempt.
Hotspot Shield can also improve its website and provide more information about the number of servers, the protocols it uses, and the encryption levels it supports.
- Free VPN software (paid package is also cheap)
- Unblocks geo restricted content
- Masks your identity
- Provides basic online protection
- Does not store or share usage logs
- Excessive & disturbing advertisements in free version
- Lack of information on website about server, protocol & encryption
- Unpredictable speeds
- No live chat for free version users
- Lack of Technical support
Hotspot Shield Review: Conclusion
Hotspot Shield is one among the top five best free VPN services we have reviewed. It provides the security and protection against cyber-goons, surveillance agencies, ISPs and any other entity trying to spoof your personal information.
It also allows you to access geo restricted websites such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, BBC iPlayer, ITV, and many more. You can use Hotspot Shield VPN to access Facebook and YouTube as well from regions where they are inaccessible.
So if you are looking to smash the geo restrictions, Hotspot is a good solution but for technical and heavy internet users looking for high online security, we would suggest other paid VPN services.