Hotspot Shield is a VPN provider based in San Francisco and has been on the market since 2008. The first version of the VPN was released for macOS and Windows only, after which they also launched versions for iOS, Android and browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
Hotspot Shield has had more than 650 million downloads so far. The company that owns the VPN is AnchorFree.
Hotspot Shield is a very popular choice among VPN users, even for casual internet users, because it has both a free version and paid ones.
There are three paid plans: a 1-month plan, a 1-year plan and a 2-year plan.
The 1-month plan costs $12.99/month.
The 1-year plan costs $9.99/month.
The 2-year plan costs $8.99/month.
Hotspot Shield accepts payments via PayPal, NeoSurf, Mint, credit and debit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB. Diners Club International).
There is a 45-day money back guarantee included with all the plans.
If you are thinking about downloading the free version of the VPN, you have to be aware of a few things first. Free VPNs usually come with limitations in bandwidth and the number of servers you want to use. They are also less secure than paid VPNs, because they use weaker encryption protocols. And yet another problem is that free VPN providers don’t respect your privacy as much. Since they are not charging you in any way, they have to earn a living somehow, so many providers sell your info to third-parties for advertising purposes.
Having cleared that up, you should know that Hotspot Shield’s free VPN sits well when it comes to security, because it uses the same military-grade, 256-bit AES encryption as the paid versions of the service.
The free version is limited when it comes to bandwidth and servers, because it only lets you connect to the US servers and it limits you to using max. 500 MB per day. There are also annoying ads that you have to put up with if you don’t want to upgrade to one of the paid plans. The free version doesn’t benefit from the 24/7 tech support offered by Hotspot Shield.
The paid plans give you access to all the servers of Hotspot Shield. They have over 3,200 of servers in over 70 countries and they cover pretty much all the areas of the globe. Hotspot Shield has servers in the Americas (US, Canada, Mexico, Brasil), Europe (UK, Germany, France, Russia, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and more), Asia (China, Hong Kong, India, Japan), Middle East (Iran, Turkey, UAE), Oceania (Australia, New Zeeland).
Hotspot Shield allows up to 5 simultaneous connections, which is an average number in the industry.
This VPN uses the same security features for both the free and paid versions of the VPN. They use 256-bit AES encryption and also have other useful security tools such as the automatic kill-switch feature, Web-Real-Time Communication leak protection, malware detection, ad blocker, tracker blocker and cookie blocker for the Chrome extension.
Hotspot Shield allows you to switch languages in the app.
Another useful feature included with the paid versions is unlimited bandwidth. You also benefit from 24/7 tech support.
Aside from the free VPN version, one of Hotspot Shield’s biggest selling points is its speed. VPNs are known to slow down your connection, because you have to connect through one of their servers first and only after that you can access the websites you want. The problem is that some VPNs slow down your connection considerably, while with others, you don’t even notice a difference in speed.
Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPNs on the market and has some of the best results in speed tests. Speed tests have revealed download speeds of over 90 Mbps on servers in Europe (over 95 Mbps on London server) and approximately 80 Mbps in Hong Kong. US servers were considerably slower, around 30 Mbps.
Torrent users can use Hotspot Shield for P2P file sharing.
HotSpot Shield VPN is also good at unlocking restricted content, whether it’s sports, TV shows, video games and more.