Hotspot Shield VPN Review - Super Fast But Is It Safe to Use

Hotspot Shield VPN Review: Super Fast But Is It Safe to Use?

Hotspot Shield VPN is one of the best VPNs with breakneck speeds and 3,200+ servers in over 80 countries. It was in the VPN industry since 2008.

Hotspot Shield now has 650 million users worldwide, and it has been reviewed as the fastest VPN by several well-known media. And in this Hotspot Shield review, I will cover more details about Hotspot Shield, including features, speed test, customer support, the free plan, and more.

Let’s get started!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links that I receive a small commission for at no cost to you. You can read my full affiliate disclaimer in the footer.

Hotspot Shield VPN Reviews Overview

HotspotShield-Official-Website
Visit HotspotShield Website

Hotspot Shield VPN Key Summary

Logging PolicySome anonymous data
IP, DNS or WebRTC LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (5-eye Member)
Servers3,200+
IP AddressesUndisclosed
Countries80
Simultaneous device5
Unblock US NetflixYes
Dedicated IPNo
TorrentingUnlimited
Works in ChinaYes
Support24/7 Live Chat/Ticket
Free TrialYes
The Cheapest Price$5.99/mo over 12 months
Refund Policy45 days money-back guarantee
Official Websitehotspotshield.com
Coupons&DealsGet 54% off

Hotspot Shield VPN Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Incredibly fast speeds
  • 3,200+ servers in over 70 countries
  • Link up to 5 devices simultaneously
  • User-friendly applications
  • Works well in China and provide Chinese IP
  • Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
  • Apps for all popular platforms and devices
  • Offer a free version and a 7-day free trial
  • 24/7 live tech support
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Base in the United States
  • Doesn’t support cryptocurrency payment

What is Hotspot Shield VPN?

Hotspot Shield was first in business since 2008 by Pango, formerly AnchorFree Inc, based in Redwood City, California. And today, it has grown a vast server network with over 1,800 servers across 80+ countries worldwide.

Hotspot Shield was acquired by Aura on July 1, 2020, and it became a part of Aura’s digital security suite with Identity Guard, FigLeaf, Intrusta, and Privacymate.

Hotspot Shield has kept a high growth rate because of the promotion strategy of the free version. It is also one of the VPNs with most users, with over 650 million users worldwide. That’s a bit unbelievable.

However, numerous users do not mean you have the best products and services. Hotspot Shield had repeatedly been embroiled in controversy over its privacy policies.

Logging Policy

Hotspot Shield is located in Redwood City, California. It means that Hotspot Shield operates under the United States local laws. You may be sensitive to this. Because the United States is a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes international surveillance alliances.

I also found Hotspot Shield accused of ‘undisclosed data sharing practices’ with advertising networks by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), which partnered with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to get this result. After that, the CDT filed a complaint with the United States federal government.

AnchorFree rejected the CDT’s allegations and stated that it does not store user IP addresses. Users’ online privacy has always been its absolute priority. But this is somewhat in conflict with its privacy policy and marketing materials.

This case had a significant negative impact on the reputation of Hotspot Shield. And Hotspot Shield updated marketing materials and privacy policy to improve transparency.

And now, Hotspot Shield was a part of Aura, and the privacy policy complied with Aura. However, I found it is possible that Hotspot Shield still cooperates with law enforcement and government agencies, even it does not have any data to share with.

If you worry about that, Hotspot Shield may not be the best choice for you. But this still has many other alternatives. ExpressVPN is located in privacy heaven, and it’s worth your consideration.

Hotspot Shield VPN Speed Test

Hotspot Shield promotes its website that it was named the world’s fastest VPN by Speedtest for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. Plus, it was reported by many famous media such as TechRadar, CNET, ZDNet, and PCMag.

But is it self-promotion? How fast is Hotspot Shield speed?

So I want to verify whether this is true through real tests. I used to pick seven servers according to the distance from our physical testing lab in Seattle, US. But in this time, I was surprised to find that Hotspot Shield provides Chinese IP. It means that you can get access to Chinese online content with Hotspot Shield.

  • Short-distance Servers: US, CA
  • Long-distance Servers: UK, JP, HK, AU, SG, CN
HotspotShield-US-Baseline
HotspotShield-US-Baseline
HotspotShield-UK
HotspotShield-UK
HotspotShield-AU
HotspotShield-AU
HotspotShield-HK
HotspotShield-HK
HotspotShield-CN
HotspotShield-CN
HotspotShield-US
HotspotShield-US
HotspotShield-CA
HotspotShield-CA
HotspotShield-JP
HotspotShield-JP
HotspotShield-SG
HotspotShield-SG
hotspot-shield-speed-test-comparison
hotspot-shield-speed-test-comparison

Our baseline download speed is 272.46Mbps before connecting to Hotspot Shield’s network. And the download speed was reduced to 114.78Mbps while connecting to local servers. As for the Canada server, the download speed dropped to 125.22Mbps, it’s faster than the US server.

There is no issue while watching streaming in HD or torrenting download.

For long-distance servers, Hotspot Shield is still fast and reliable except for the higher network latency.

I have to admit that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN that I have ever tested.

However, Hotspot Shield free version has a 2 Mbps max internet connection speeds and a 500 MB daily data limit. If that’s not enough for you, the Hotspot Shield premium plan is worth your consideration.

Hotspot Shield VPN Server Locations

Hotspot Shield has a fairly-sized server network with 3,200+ servers in 80+ countries, and even it mixes physical servers with virtual servers. However, you couldn’t figure out which kind of server it is. Hotspot Sheild doesn’t give any corresponding hints, physical or virtual.

hotspot-shield-servers
hotspot-shield-servers

Hotspot Shield’s servers are mainly located in the Americas, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. And you can get an IP address in popular countries like the US, the UK, and Australia. Hotspot Shield also provides city-level servers in the following countries:

  • United States(27 Cities)
  • Canada(4 Cities)
  • France(2 Cities)
  • Italy(3 Cities)
  • Spain(2 Cities)
  • United Kingdom(2 Cities)
  • Australia(6 Cities)

You will be assigned an IP address while connecting to Hotspot Shield’s servers. The IP address is dynamic and shared with many other users. While virtual servers could add an extra layer of protection, a dedicated IP address does have many benefits for particular users.

For the Hotspot Shield free version, only the US server allows users to connect.

Hotspot Shield is compatible with my devices?

Apps

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Hotspot Shield is compatible with popular platforms and devices such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. Hotspot Shield allows you to connect up to five devices simultaneously, but the free version only supports one device.

Hotspotshield-devices
Hotspotshield-devices

However, you can protect more devices via the router. Hotspot Shield works with many popular routers like Asus, GL.inet, Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link, and others. But you first need to install open-source firmware, such as DD-WRT or FreshTomato.

Game Consoles & Streaming Devices

Hotspot Shield does not provide dedicated apps for game consoles, and powerful wireless routers are the right choice for the problem. It’s good news that you can enjoy your favorite TV shows and movies with Hotspot Shield via the following devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Android TV box
  • smart TV

Browser Extensions

You can easily find Hotspot Shield’s browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox via the browser web store. And there is only one server selection for the free version and nine servers for the premium plan.

The browser plugin offers Sword, Tracker blocker, WebRTC blocker features to protect your online privacy from leaking. But it is essentially a proxy and less secure than a VPN application. Comparatively speaking, I recommend using Hotspot Shield’s apps.

Hotspot Shield VPN unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer & torrenting?

Hotspot Shield’s servers are fast enough for streaming service, and we tested Hotspot Shield’s apps to ensure if it can successfully unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and others.

Hotspot Shield doesn’t provide streaming mode or optimized servers like Cyberghost VPN, and you need to test the servers until you can get access to geo-blocked content, which is indeed a bit clumsy.

However, we found that most of Hotspot Shield’s US servers can unblock the Netflix US library. There are 27 city-level available servers, and even you have any issues while unblocking US Netflix.

We can also access other Netflix libraries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the UK. But it’s not reliable like others while connecting to Brazil servers. We can watch streaming videos in HD without any issues due to Hotspot Shield’s super-fast download speeds.

The Hotspot Shield free version doesn’t work well with streaming services and even offers a US server. We also tested other servers such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more. Hotspot Shield was able to unblock all of them.

Torrenting

Hotspot Shield does not provide labeled P2P sharing servers, but all premium servers allow torrenting and P2P traffic.

Hotspot Shield offers many features to help you download torrents anonymously, including Kill Switch and DNS leak protection. It’s an effective way to prevent your identity and personal information from monitoring by agencies or your ISP.

However, Hotspot Shield may not be the safest option for P2P because of its disturbing privacy policy, as I talk about above. If you are looking for a VPN provider for torrenting privately, NordVPN is the right choice with dedicated P2P-sharing servers.

Hotspot Shield VPN Works in China, UAE & more?

The GFW blocks many premium VPN providers in China, but a few VPNs could work, and Hotspot Shield is one of them.

I tested Hotspot Shield and found it is consistently reliable and fast while bypassing the high-level censorship in China.

Hotspot Shield Speed Test in China

Here are my testing results from my China physical location. I used Hotspot Shield via China Mobile on macOS with IEKv2 protocol.

HotspotShield-CN-Baseline
HotspotShield-CN-Baseline
HotspotShield-CN-UK
HotspotShield-CN-UK
HotspotShield-CN-HK
HotspotShield-CN-HK
HotspotShield-CN-US
HotspotShield-CN-US
HotspotShield-CN-AU
HotspotShield-CN-AU
HotspotShield-CN-JP
HotspotShield-CN-JP
hotspot-shield-speed-test-china-comparison
hotspot-shield-speed-test-china-comparison

Hong Kong and Japan servers perform better because they are very close to China. For long-distance servers, the download speed does not drop too much except for higher network latency. I also can watch streaming or YouTube in HD with no buffering in China.

Hotspot Shield is also the fastest VPN for China that I have ever tested. However, ExpressVPN is still the No.1 recommended VPN for China with competitive features, no-log privacy policy, pretty fast speed, reliable connection, and more.

Hotspot Shield Encryption & Security

Protocols

  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • Hydra

Encryption

  • AES-256

Security

  • DNS Leak Blocking
  • IPV6 Leak Blocking
  • VPN Kill Switch

Advanced features

  • Ad Blocker
  • Split Tunneling

Hotspot Shield doesn’t use the protocols that most of the VPN industry uses today, and it developed its protocol called the Hydra protocol. This in-house protocol effectively balances speed and security, making Hotspot Shield one of the fastest VPNs out there.

Hotspot Shield will encrypt your online traffic with standard AES-256 encryption and leak protection. I also tested it and found no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.

However, hotspot Shield also doesn’t provide DNS Leak Blocking and IPV6 Leak Blocking features for macOS. I would like to see its improvement.

VPN Kill Switch feature could prevent your privacy from leaking in the event of a sudden internet disconnection, but it’s only available for Windows.

Overall, if you want to enjoy more advanced security features, Hotspot Shield still has many aspects of improving and enhancing. And there are other choices available like NordVPN with AdBlocker, DNS Leak Protection, Split Tunneling, and more advanced features for popular devices. Hotspot Shield does not provide dedicated apps for game consoles, and robust wireless routers are the right choice for the problem. It’s good news that you can enjoy your favorite TV shows and movies with Hotspot Shield via the following devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android TV
  • smart TV

Hotspot Shield Supports Ad Blocker?

No. Hotspot Shield is used to supporting ad blockers for Windows, but it has been removed today. And NordVPN does provide this feature on applications.

Hotspot Shield Offers Dedicated IP Addresses?

No. You will be resigned a dynamic IP address while connecting to Hotspot Shield’s servers, and the IP address is shared with multi-users, not dedicated IP.

And Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer dedicated IP service. If you need that, please have a look at NordVPN with five countries dedicated IP selections.

Hotspot Shield Customer Support

Hotspot Shield does provide a 7/24 live chat support, but it’s only available for memberships who have successfully logged in.

hotspot-shield-app-support
hotspot-shield-app-support

Also, there is a support center for all users. Hotspot Shield has listed common questions and issues there.

Hotspot Shield-support
Hotspot Shield-support

I found Hotspot Shield’s live chat support is friendly and responsible. But before you get started to chat with a live agent, the chatbot will first ask some questions.

Hotspot Shield VPN is easy to use?

How to Install & Set Up Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield is very straightforward to use because of the simple interface and functions. You can easily download Hotspot Shield apps on your needs and connect the close servers to you.

hotspot-shield-application
hotspot-shield-application

Hotspot Shield automatically picks the fastest and most secure protocol for your connection by default. And you can have a test to determine which protocol is perfect for you. I need to mention that I recommend using the IEKv2 protocol on macOS if you are in China.

Browser Extensions

Hotspot Shield’s browser extension is very easy to download and use, but it’s not as secure as dedicated apps.

Hotspot Shield VPN Pricing Plans & Refund Options

Hotspot Shield VPN Coupon

Hotspot Shield currently provides 54% off for an annual plan. Here is Hotspot Shield’s latest coupon code.

Hotspot Shield VPN Coupon Special offer

45-day money-back guarantee
Save 54%
Coupon applied automatically

Hotspot Shield Pricing Plan

Hotspot Shield offers a free plan with limited streaming access, up to 2 Mbps connection speed, only US server, and only one device connection.

And you can subscribe to the premium plan with two options, billed $12.99 monthly and $71.88 annually. Besides, you can enjoy Identity Guard, 1Password, and Robo Shield service with the premium plan.

Hotspot Shield is a bit expensive, but you can get what you pay for.

Free1 Months12 Months
Price0$ 12.99/mo$ 5.99/mo
Simultaneous device155
24/7 live chatNoYesYes
0Billed $12.99
every month
Billed $71.88
every year
Get it NowGet it NowSave 54% Now
31-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

Hotspotshield-Payment
Hotspotshield-Payment

Hotspot Shield accepts credit card and PayPal payments, but it doesn’t support any cryptocurrency. It’s not very friendly for users who take their privacy seriously.

Hotspot Shield does offer a 7-day free trial to allow you to try all premium features, and it also provides a 45-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with Hotspot Shield, you can enjoy the refund policy, no more questions asked.

How to Download Hotspot Shield?

After you subscribe to Hotspot Shield, you can log in to your account and download the Hotspot Shield apps on your platform or device.

Hotspot Shield - Download
Hotspot Shield – Download

You can click the ‘Hotspot Shield VPN’ on the client area’s left sidebar and click the ‘Download Now’ button or ‘Text me the link’ button to download it. It’s not complicated at all.

Hotspot Shield VPN FAQs

Is Hotspot shield safe to use?

Hotspot Shield encrypts your online traffic with AES-256 encryption, and it uses an in-house protocol called Hydra, which effectively balances speed and security. Hotspot Shield is safe to use even it’s based in the US. If you take your privacy seriously, Hotspot Shield may not be the right choice.

Is hotspot shield free?

Hotspot Shield offers a free version with limitations. You can enjoy the free version with up to 2 Mbps connection speed, 500 MB daily data limit, only a US server. If you have a good experience with it, you can upgrade to unblock more features.

Is Hotspot Shield the world’s fastest VPN?

Hotspot Shield was named the world’s fastest VPN by Ookla’s Speedtest.net in October 2019. And I tested it on both short and long-distance servers. Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN out there that I have ever tried.

Does Hotspot Shield work in China?

Yes. Hotspot Shield is one of the best VPNs that can bypass the GFW in China, and it’s the fastest VPN out there. Not only do you get access to Chinese online content, but you can break the limitations with Hotspot Shield.

Does Hotspot Shield unblock Netflix?

Yes. Most of Hotspot Shield’s US servers could unblock the Netflix US library. It also allows you to access other libraries like the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. You can watch streaming videos in HD with Hotspot Shield.

Hotspot Shield VPN VPN Alternatives

Hotspot Shield VS NordVPN

Hotspot Shield is the right choice for streaming, torrenting, and gaming with super fast speed, but lacks some advanced security features. NordVPN is the right choice for security with double protection, block malware and ads, ultra-fast connection, and dedicated IP address.

Click here to Visit NordVPN or Read NordVPN Review.

Hotspot Shield VS ExpressVPN

Hotspot Shield is well-known for its fastest speed, but it is not the best choice for privacy compared to top-tier VPN providers. ExpressVPN is a strong competitor which is located in privacy heaven. ExpressVPN is also super fast and very reliable in China.

Click here to Visit ExpressVPN or Read ExpressVPN Review.

The Bottom Line

Hotspot Shield VPN Review Summary

Kris Wu

Speed
Security
Price
Easy of use
Service

Summary

Hotspot Shield is much faster than other competitors, which makes it stand out. You can easily watch streaming videos in HD with the guarantee of speed. It can unblock many Netflix libraries, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO, and others. Hotspot Shield is the right choice for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

Hotspot Shield also works well in China. Surprisingly, you can get access to Chinese websites with China IP address. It’s also the fastest VPN for China out there.

However, Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer more advanced security features, and it operates under the US local law. Hotspot Shield may not be perfect if you put your privacy first. Anyway, there are other available options.

4.5

If you have used Hotspot Shield VPN, please share your honest review (good or bad).

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