Why choose Hotspot Shield VPN
Premium quality VPN features that get you fast speeds, Netflix unblocking and some great extras
iPhone & iPad
Best VPN for
Netflix, Hulu, and streaming
Torrenting and downloading
Security and privacy
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+ and more
- Very fast performance
- Easy to use
- Bonus apps included
- Weak website support
- Few apps
HotSpot Shield is one of the biggest names in the VPN world. This is thanks to its ability to offer plenty of speed while combining that with an easy to use interface that makes it appealing to everyone.
This definitely falls in the premium category both in price for short term deals and the high-end features. Not only does this work well as a VPN but it comes bundled with other useful apps like 1Password to help with security further.
If you want a VPN to get around geo restrictions, then this is a great option with working servers for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more. It even supports P2P torrenting worldwide.
The website support could be better and the fact there are limited dedicated apps may be a problem for some.
So is this the best VPN for you? Read on in this HotSpot Shield review to find out.
Pricing and plans
HotSpot Shield pricing is simple, split into three levels. You can go for the least commitment at a month to month payment of $12.99 per month.
Or go for a little more contract time at a year and the pricing works out at $7.99 per month, paid as a lump sum up front at $95.88 for the year.
The lowest price option sits at $2.99 per month which is available if you go for the three month deal. This is charged all at once, costing you a total of $107.64 for the three years.
All plans come with a very impressive 45 day money back guarantee, so you can effectively try before you decide to buy.
HotSpot Shield also offers a free version of the software which is limited to a 2Mbps speed, is US servers only and limits data to 500MB per day.
Testing and performance
HotSpot Shield is a very, very fast VPN thanks to the use of its own proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. Putting this to the test, those claims have proven to be accurate.
In the US we tested using a 600 Mbps connection, using US servers, and found that speeds were as fast at 410 Mbps with a low of a still speedy 330 Mbps. That puts this at double the speed of many of its competitors.
This works internationally too, thanks to many servers dotted about the world. A UK test, on a 600 Mpbs line, via a European data centre, came in at up to 210 Mbps with a low of 200 Mbps. That's not the fastest we've seen it but does place it above high-end ExpressVPN at time of testing.
HotSpot Shield is based in over 80 countries and 122 cities with its many servers, all of which are P2P torrent friendly.
The VPN apps, which are available for desktop and mobile come in the forms of Windows, Mac, Android and iOS – plus there's now one for Android TV. That's useful but is a far cry from the many options available on lots of other VPN offerings, including console and Amazon Fire Stick apps to name a few. If you don't want those, then there's not much you're missing out on. With up to five devices available for use at the same time, there's not that many more device apps needed really.
That said, you can also set this up on a router, allowing you to have any device connected to that, hidden behind the safety of the VPN.
You also get access to a whole bunch of other apps including 1Password, for keeping your logins on all sites secure. A robocall and spam blocker is another useful app (known as Robo Shield in the US). Finally there's Identity Guard, as it's known in the US, which helps protect you from identity theft protection.
HotSpot Shield is a great option for torrenting thanks to all those P2P friendly servers. It's also great for viewing shows and movies thanks to geo blocking evasion for the likes of Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and more.
Privacy and security
The privacy of HotSpot Shield is worth mentioning since the company operates its Hydra Catapult protocol with AES-256 and AES-128 bit encryption for double 2048-bit RSA certificates. This, the company claims, has been evaluated by experts from more than 60 percent of the world's largest security companies that use the SDK to provide VPN services.
Testing HotSpot Shield's browser attachments and clients with IPLeak and DNSLeakTest didn't reveal any issues, meaning there should be solid snooper protection constantly. The app also features a kill switch to make sure you stay secure even if your connection should drop out.
When closing multiple local TCP connections there was no crashing or leaking of the IP, just new connections started. That's some great automation that suggests some very high level programming, which is a reassuring result.
When it comes to logging the security continues as the company has a no logging policy that reads:
"Our VPN products do not log or otherwise record IP addresses, device identifiers, or any other form of identifier in combination with your VPN browsing activity. Simply put, this means that our VPN products do not store any information about what any specific user browsed or accessed through a VPN connection."
It does go on, to be totally transparent, and says there is some logging, but only for VPN sessions time and bandwidth consumed – so nothing revealing.
Should you sign up?
HotSpot Shield does it all for a reasonable price, if you go for the longer term deal. That means you get superb security and speeds with that proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. But it also gives you the privacy of no logging and the ability to use P2P torrents across all its many servers worldwide.
This is a tough VPN to fault so the lack of more clients is the most major flaw, but with new ones added like Android TV and a router option, even that isn't much of a downside anymore. The fact this gets you around geo blocks on Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ just make this even more useful and worth the money. And that's not taking into account all the free extra security apps you get thrown in too.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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