Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield VPN is the flagship product of AnchorFree – internet platform which offers different products for the internet privacy.

Hotspot Shield VPN: Features and Infrastructure

They also have Kaboom – the application which lets you share timed messages and photos on any social network and Privacy Wizard – the application which defends the privacy of the applications on your Android smartphone.

As for the infrastructure, the site doesn’t provide all necessary information about the amount of locations and servers available. As we can see from their applications they offer 20 locations all over the world.

Among the features of Hotspot Shield VPN, we can mention the antimalware protection. AnchorFree has a base of more than 3.5 million of potentially dangerous sites and they warn their users when they try to reach such sites.

Usability

Site

The website of Hotspot Shield VPN is available in 13 languages. It is quite simple but lacks necessary information like the location of servers, available security protocols, encryption of data, and limitations of the Free plan. The site seems to be targeted for beginners, people which have their first experience with VPN services and just need to know what VPN serves for.

Supported Devices

Hotspot Shield VPN offers applications for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS and Windows Mobile. Unfortunately, there is no information on the site whether Hotspot Shield VPN is available for routers. Application for Android and iOS are rated well in Google Play Market and App Store.

Hotspot Shield Applications

Hotspot Shield VPN Privacy Options

Hotspot Shield VPN is registered in the USA so all customer data is the subject of data retention laws. Here is what is written about the data which Hotspot Shield VPN may collect:

  • the IP address of the user;
  • general information about user’s real location (to improve the service and to optimize advertisements – as it is stated in their Privacy Notice);
  • personal information (i.e. e-mail address) from those users which decided to use Hotspot Shield Elite pricing package.

By the way, Hotspot Shield VPN doesn’t guarantee the security of the information they collect from users. And there is a wide list of situations when your data may be disclosed to the third parties. Mostly such data will be shared with advertisers which display their adverts to users which use the free version of Hotspot Shield VPN. And, of course, your data may be disclosed as a response to the request of any law enforcement organization.

All these facts sound quite concerning thus Hotspot Shield VPN is not the best choice for those who cares about own privacy.

Hotspot Shield Features

Hotspot Shield VPN Security Options

There is no information on their site but Hotspot Shield VPN protects users from DNS and IP leaks as it was proved in practice.

Protocols

Hotspot Shield VPN offers just one security protocol for its users: OpenVPN. Of course, this is not the worst option but users prefer to have some choice.

Encryption

As Hotspot Shield VPN offers only OpenVPN protocol it uses the best possible encryption option for this protocol - AES 256-bit.

Circumvention of Restrictions

If you prefer using Hotspot Shield VPN for circumventing geo-restrictions of content, it works well. The choice of locations lets you access the sites which you want or circumvent government restrictions or censorship. Of course, it is better to use Elite pricing plan as such sites as Hulu and Netflix are not available in the Free version.

Hotspot Shield VPN Pricing Plans

As for the Hotspot Shield VPN prices, it offers 2 pricing plans - Free and Elite. Free pricing plan has some limits (i.e. only one server is available, some streaming resources are blocked, you can use only one device, it contains a lot of advertisement).

Talking about Elite pricing plan the price of it is $ 12.99 for a 1-month subscription, $ 53.94 for 6-months subscription ($8.99 per month), and $71.88 for a 1-year subscription ($5.99 per month). This pricing plan lets you use up to five devices.

As for exclusive pricing packages, Hotspot Shield VPN offers an unlimited subscription for $ 139.99. It sounds really attractive taking into account that provider claims 30-day money-back guarantee. By the way, when you are trying to upgrade from Free plan to Elite via desktop application it claims 45-day money-back guarantee.

And the icing on the cake – right after download and install of the desktop application you’ll be offered a 7-day free trial for Elite pricing plan together with a 45-day money-back guarantee. Of course, it is a limited time offer but it worth mentioning.

If you are a business owner Hotspot Shield VPN has something for you. They offer business pricing plans for 20, 60 or 100 devices from $19.95 per month.

Hotspot Shield Pricing

Payment Methods

The choice of payment methods is fairly poor. You can pay using debit or credit card or via PayPal. There is no possibility to pay anonymously or use some local payment options.

Hotspot Shield VPN Support

The one thing which Hotspot Shield VPN definitely lacks is online chat. Currently, you are able to submit a request to support, to use knowledge base, to check frequently asked questions. But this is not enough when you need some quick help as it usually takes more than 12 hours to get an answer for your ticket.

Taking into account that you may reside outside the USA in completely different time zone 24/7 support is a must for VPN provider.

P2P and Torrenting

There is nothing said about P2P and torrenting on Hotspot Shield VPN site. But if we go deeper and check their blog you will see that P2P file-sharing and torrenting are technically not prohibited. There are even articles how to hide your real IP-address while you are torrenting. Of course, each article contains the notice that users have to respect copyrights.

And moreover, as Hotspot Shield VPN is located in the USA and does keep some users’ logs it is not a good idea to use this provider for torrenting. Yes, you may try, but keep in mind the Hotspot Shield VPN reserves the right to discontinue the service for those who breaches their Terms and Conditions.

Hotspot Shield VPN Speed and Performance

As upload and download speed is quite crucial for VPN, Hotspot Shield VPN could perform better (especially for upload speed). But generally, the speed and ping are good. All servers perform well without considerable lags.

Conclusions

Hotspot Shield VPN offers a decent free solution for casual travelers or those who needs to protect their data while using open Wi-Fi spots. Keep in mind that free version of Hotspot Shield VPN will be full of advertising and have some restrictions.

As for paid option (Elite pricing plan), it is fairly affordable but lacks privacy and advanced settings. And don’t forget that both pricing plans are not advised for torrenting.