Hotspot Shield Review 2018 – A Convenient Option for Many Users

We all know that government agencies and private hackers are out to get their hands on our private information. Hence, we need to take some serious measures to protect our privacy on the internet.

Luckily, VPNs provide us an easy way of securing our sensitive data. However, you never know how efficient a VPN is until you try it out yourself.

We save you the trouble of doing this through our VPN reviews.

Comparison: Hotspot Shield with Best VPN Providers

VPN ProvidersHotspot Shieldpurevpnipvanish
Servers2000+ in 25 Countries750+ in 140+ Countries1000+ in 60 Countries
Multi Login5510
Money Back Guarantee45-Day15-Day7-Day
Torrent FriendlyNoYesYes
ProtocolsPPTP & L2TPPPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2 & OpenVPNPPTP, L2TP, IKEv2 & OpenVPN
Visit ProviderVisit ProviderVisit Provider

Hotspot Shield Review | A Prominent VPN Service

Hotspot Shield is one of the most frequently downloaded products that promote online liberty. Our Hotspot Shield review will tell you why this VPN service is globally adored.

After thorough examination and testing of Hotspot Shield, we discovered an interesting reason behind the popularity of this service. In our experience, Hotspot is a feasible option for many users because it is free of cost.

However, this service also has much to offer to customers who are willing to pay for the VPN.

The paid version of Hotspot Shield known is known as Hotspot Shield Elite. This version is considered more secure and competent than the free version. The difference between free and paid version will remain the key focus of this Hotspot Shield review 2018.


Hotspot Shield Pros

  • Free Version
  • 7 Days Free Trial
  • 45 Days Money Back Guarantee
  • User-friendly apps
  • Compatible with major platforms
  • Torrenting support
  • Netflix compatible

Hotspot Shield Cons

  • Sketchy logs policy
  • Below average customer support

Hotspot Shield Features


Hotspot is compatible with all the prominent platforms and provides the following features to its users.

  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Servers from 25 countries
  • L2TP, PPTP protocols
  • Access to Netflix and Hulu
  • Standard Kill Switch
  • Browser Extension
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • P2P compatibility
  • IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection
  • 45 days money back guarantee
  • Unlimited bandwidth

Packages Offered by Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield Free Review

Many people reading this Hotspot shield review will already be familiar with this version. As per our research, there are some notable differences between the application of this version and of Hotspot Shield (Elite).

According to AnchorFree, despite some similarities, the free VPN version does not come with certain features of Hotspot Shield. The installation process followed by the application is the same; however, the Hotspot Shield login system blocks certain functions.

Limitations of Free Hotspot Shield

The moment you connect Hotspot Shield (Free), your browser will be attacked by assorted advert parasites. This will automatically open multiple tabs containing different promotions. This is an annoying experience for the user.

  • The free version of Hotspot Shield does not require you to login.
  • You cannot switch your VPN to another country/server.
  • You can bypass most geo-restrictions, but not all of them.
  • Annoying promotions and advertisements keep popping up all the time.
  • You can only link up one device to the Hotspot server
  • The bandwidth limitation is 500 MB per day

The free service does not unblock streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others. You may be able to bypass the geo-restrictions, but a payment wall will stop you along the way.

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Hotspot Shield Elite Review


With Hotspot Shield Elite, you can unlock the full potential of the VPN. There are many functions and features in this version not present in the free version. This Hotspot Shield VPN review has laid them out below.

  • The most significant benefit associated with the Elite version is server swapping.
  • You can mask your real IP with random IPs from US, UK, Japan and Australia.
  • You can bypass all the geo-restrictions implemented by aforementioned countries.
  • This version has unlimited bandwidth.
  • Hotspot Shield Elite is compatible with different devices.
  • Hotspot Shield Elite is an ad-free service.
  • You can link up to 5 devices on this account.

With Hotspot Shield Elite installed on your PC, Android and iOS device, you can breakthrough all restrictions. Say goodbye to all annoying promotions and advertisements you encountered while using the free version. With the Elite version, no promotions will invade your browser the moment you connect Hotspot Shield.

Hotspot Shield Pricing Review

As this Hotspot Shield review discussed earlier, this VPN service has two versions: free and paid. There is no cost associated with the free Hotspot Shield version. As a result, the features associated with free version are limited. Furthermore, the free version is often used as a platform for different promotional campaigns, which means you are bombarded with advertisements.

Hotspot Shield Elite presents 4 basic package plans:

  • $4.64 per month for 36 months, coming to $167.04
  • $8.13 per month for 12 months, coming to $97.54
  • $12.78 per month for 6 months, coming to $76.68
  • $18.59 per month for 1 month

The price goes as low as $4.64 per month, if you are willing to make a long-term commitment with Hotspot.

But, still, you may still think: why pay for it when you can have it for free. Let us face it. Those who are concerned about their privacy and security will not probably go for Hotspot Shield Elite. Need a reason, there are too many to prescribe.

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Hotspot Shield Review – Customer Support


Hotspot Shield has around 600 million users worldwide. This makes one think that their customer service representatives might have their hands full. Moreover, as it appears, this might exactly be the case.

Understandably, there is no 24/7 chat available to the users. Instead, you are required to fill out a form and mail your query to Hotspot Shield.

The free users typically receive a reply within a day or two. We contacted the service for this Hotspot Shield review and got our answer after 27 hours. The answer was concise but it did manage to satisfy our curiosity.

Besides this, there are guides related to different issues available on Hotspot Shield’s website.

Hotspot Shield Review – Payment Options


Hotspot Shield Elite provides a variety of payment options to choose from.

You can buy Hotspot Shield Elite by transacting through:

  • Visa,
  • Master Card
  • American Express
  • JCB
  • UnionPay
  • Discover
  • PayPal

Hotspot Shield Compatibility

Compatibility is one of the core characteristics to look for while purchasing a VPN. Hence, we will analyze the compatibility of this VPN service in this section of the Hotspot Shield review.

Hotspot Shield Elite is compatible with devices like PC and Mac. This means that you can enjoy using its different versions of Windows. Moreover, it is also one of the best VPN for Mac OS X.

Hotspot Shield Elite is also has custom apps for iOS devices and Android powered Smartphones.

Hotspot Shield Review for Windows


To access the Windows client of this VPN service, you have to visit Hotspot Shield’s official website. The good news is that Hotspot Shield is free to download for Windows 10 and other operating system.

The Windows client of Hotspot Shield is exceptionally well-designed and user-friendly. Most importantly, it doesn’t overwhelm you with options immediately after you open it. According to our understanding, this may be one of the reasons why casual users prefer Hotspot Shield over other VPN service.

The client allows you to connect with Hotspot Shield’s server with just one click. However, you can access the setting page to configure the VPN as per your liking.

On the setting menu, you can turn on features such as Kill Switch, Auto-connect and IP leak protection.

Once you are connected, the client shows you the data usage during a particular session. Overall, in our Hotspot Shield review, using the Windows client of the service was a pleasing experience.

Hotspot Shield Review for Browser Extensions

The browser extension of Hotspot Shield works as a proxy service rather than a complete VPN. These extensions provide secure surfing through a particular browser. You can add Hotspot to your Firefox and Google Chrome.

Hotspot Shield Review for Chrome Browser Extension


It only takes a minute or two to install the Hotspot Shield extension on your Chrome. After that, a small Hotspot logo appears on top right corner of your browser. You can click that logo to access the Hotspot software and configure it as per your requirements.

Through this extension, you can connect to the servers of Germany, India, Russia, Canada, France, Netherland and Singapore. The elite users can also access the servers of the US and the UK.

Tracker, Ad and Malware Blocker


The chrome extension comes with features to block trackers, ad, malware and cookies. In our Hotspot Shield review, these added features proved to extremely efficient.

While we turned on the ad blocker, we experienced absolutely no advertisement from any website we visited. However, the blockers were sometimes irritating as they automatically logged us out from some of our online accounts.

Hotspot Shield Review for Firefox Browser Extension

Compare to the Chrome extension, the Firefox extension of Hotspot Shield is extremely basic. This extension does not let you connect to the server on our own. Instead, it picks an optimized location for you. Overall, the Hotspot Shield add-on for Firefox has offer little to offer.

Hotspot Shield Review for Android

Hotspot Shield APK apps can be downloaded from its official website and Google Play Store. They are identical to the Windows client of Hotspot Shield and offer similar features. However, it is important to know that just like the Windows’s client, you do get ads with these apps.

Hotspot Shield Review for iPhone

Once again, the iOS app of Hotspot Shield is barely distinguishable from its Windows client. You can download the app from iTunes, Hotspot Shield’s website and some other sources.

Our Hotspot Shield review discovered that the app uses L2TP/IPSec protocol. This makes it one of more secure VPNs for iOS.

Hotspot Shield Review for Mac

Hotspot Shield has a custom client for Mac. The client is different from Hotspot Shield’s apps on the other platforms.

The app comes with 128-bit SSL encryption to secure your data. Furthermore, it has malware protection to safeguard your system against online threats.

Nevertheless, we advise Mac user to keep themselves updated as Hotspot Shield is regularly adding new features to this app.

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Compatibility Limitations

Hotspot Shield Elite is not compatible with Linux, DD-WRT, Tomato Router and many other operating systems and gaming devices. Hence, Hotspot Shield Elite might not be able to serve the needs of diverse market segments with divergent preferences.

Hotspot Shield Protocols & Encryption Review

Hotspot Shield review learned that the VPN service uses an unconventional protocol called Catapult hydra. This protocol has been developed by AnchorFree and is based on OpenSSL and TLS.

This protocol provides superior speed with a standard encryption to secure your connection. This means you do not get added protection with this protocol.

Other than this, you do get PPTP and L2TP options with Hotspot Shield. PPTP is the protocol for users who are willing to compromise on their security for extra speed. While L2TP uses an advanced encryption which makes it comparatively slow.

That’s why, we recommend Hotspot Shield’s L2TP option for users who demand foolproof security on the net.

Hotspot Shield Review – Logging Policy

Hotspot Shield’s privacy and logging policy is a mixed bag. The company states that it does not keeps logs. Nevertheless, there also lots of areas where they mention using customer data for a variety of purposes.

The service also teams up with few third parties as their free version is supported by advertisement. According to Hotspot Shield, they only provide anonymized IP address to the advertisers not the actual one.

In addition, they also state that they do not sell the browsing history of the users to the advertisers.

To conclude, this hotspot shield review found the stated privacy policy to be a bit problematic. In our opinion, Hotspot Shield’s strategy of handling customer logs merits certain amount of skepticism.

Hotspot Shield’s VPN Server

The premium version of Hotspot Shield provides over 2000 servers from 25 countries. These numbers are impressive for anyone who is familiar with VPN services.

In contrast, Hotspot free version choses a server for you. This means this software doesn’t allow you to switch between the servers of your liking. We tested the free version for this Hotspot Shield review and connected to the servers of Germany and Kuwait.

The servers of Hotspot Shield provide efficient speed for your browsing activities. However, there are other, faster VPNs available.

Signing Up Process

To sign up for Hotspot Shield Elite, you have to visit their website and click on the pricing option on the top of the page. After this, select your preferred pricing plan and choose your method of payment.

Next, download and install the custom client that is compatible to your system. You can do this by utilizing Hotspot Shield Elite free download option. Finally, enter the Hotspot Shield Elite’s login credential and enjoy unrestricted access to the internet.

Hotspot Shield Review for Free Trial

You can also make a free Hotspot Shield Elite account to test out the paid service of this VPN. For this, you have to sign up for a 7 days trial after launching the app. However, you will need to enter the credentials your credit card to access the trial.

Remember, if you do not cancel the trial before 7 days, you will be charged for a month of service. Once you sign up for the trial, you lose your 45 days refund privilege.

Anyways, our Hotspot Shield review finds the free trial option to be extremely impressive. This is because Hotspot Shield already provides a free version to its users.

There are plenty of free ways to access this VPN service. This means there is no need for you to look up the web for Hotspot Shield crack.

Access Hotspot Shield’s Free Service

Hotspot Shield’s free service does not require you to give away any information. This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of this service. Furthermore, you can access Hotspot Shield on numerous devices by separately installing it on them.

Hotspot Shield Speed Test

For this Hotspot Shield review to be conclusive, we conducted some speed tests on the VPN service.

As we know, every VPN service provider loves to brag about the performance they provide. Moreover, they highlight the benefits of their service and ignore their shortcomings. Hence, we considered it mandatory to evaluate Hotspot Shield Elite’s performance via thorough examination.

The criteria set for our performance test is based on three distinct elements: ping, download speed and upload speed. Our test gauges performance of Hotspot Shield Elite based on its influence on the aforementioned elements.

Before connecting to Hotspot Shield, our download speed was 84.70Mbps and the upload speed was 4.79Mbps. In addition, our ping was 4ms.

After connecting to the service, our ping boosted up to 148ms while our download speed dropped drastically. In fact, the new download speed was approximately 85% of the previous one. However, our upload speed increased to some degree.

Hotspot Shield Review for Streaming Services

As stated before in this Hotspot Shield review, the free version of this VPN cannot unblock streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Instead, whenever you try to access these sites from Hotspot Shield, a payment wall pops up.

Nevertheless, the Hotspot Shield Elite fares well in unblocking geo-restricted video content. It is also versatile because of its compatibility with services like BBC iPlayer, HBO and Pandora Radio.

Netflix Support

Hotspot Shield is somewhat unpredictable when it comes to Netflix. Nevertheless, as of now, the VPN service is unblocking Netflix through its US connection. This Hotspot Shield review also found the Canada server of the server to be compatible with Netflix.

Still, we recommend that you keep yourself updated regarding Hotspot Shield’s Netflix compatibility. You can do this by being a frequent visitor on the Hotspot Shield’s website.

P2P and Torrenting Support

Hotspot Shield is one of the few VPNs that openly support torrenting and other P2P activities. It even provides a guide to anonymous torrenting on its website.

Not just that, Hotspot Shield has the tools to empower your connection for anonymous torrenting. Our Hotspot Shield review recommends this service for torrenting thanks largely due to its military grade encryption.

We consider Hotspot Shield’s L2TP protocol to be a perfect safeguard from forces who would otherwise restrict your torrenting operations.

Hotspot Shield Review on Reddit

Being a big player in the VPN market, Hotspot Shield is the subject of debate on various online forums. In particular, Redditors have lot to say about this VPN service.

Understandably, some users on reddit have a cynical attitude towards free VPN services.

Other users have complains about Hotspot Shield’s customer service.

Alternatives to Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield provides a number of strong features and that too for free. But some users may demand a VPN service with a better encryption or more servers for that matter. If you are one of those users than we have got you covered. Below, we have reviewed some alternatives to Hotspot Shield.

1. NordVPN Review
2. CyberGhost Review
3. Private Internet Access Review
4. TunnelBear Review
5. Windscribe VPN Review

Hotspot Shield Review – FAQs

What is Hotspot Shield?

Hotspot Shield is a VPN service developed by the software company AnchorFree. It has around 600 million users, which makes it one of the most popular VPNs in the world.

The reason behind Hotspot Shield popularity is its free version that offers up to 500 MBs of bandwidth a day. There is also a paid version of this service called Hotspot Shield Elite. The Hotspot Shield Elite service offers more freedom and security to the user.

As our Hotspot Shield review has established, this VPN service has many shortcomings. But putting them aside, Hotspot Shield is big name for a reason. The service has made itself more accessible than its competitors and in doing so, have built themselves a global brand.

Is Hotspot Shield Reliable?

The VPN users who demand efficient customer service might not dub Hotspot Shield as reliable. Moreover, the logs policy of this service might not be able to satisfy users who demand utmost privacy.

Still, in a way Hotspot Shield is reliable. It is a reliable service for those who want to unblock geo-restricted content without constraining their financial limitations. Hotspot Shield also has lot to offer to users who desire a convenient way of securing their connection.

Final Verdict & Recommendations

Hotspot Shield has a staggering 600 million users worldwide. It is one of the most commonly known VPN service thanks mostly to its free client.

On the other hand, the paid version of this software does not have the features to turn many heads. Similarly, it’s a bit on the expensive side when compared to some of the other players in the market.

Our Hotspot Shield review has highlighted the good and bad of this service. But we still recommend that you try it for yourself. After all, the best thing about Hotspot Shield is that you can easily access it free.

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Salmi's Biography :

A business school grad specializing in marketing, Salmi found his love for writing during studies. Salmi now pursues a career as a digital privacy & security advocate for VPNRanks working as a blogger. Salmi loves reading about sci-fi & technology while cricket is his game of choice. When the world cries ‘online freedom’ Salmi stands resolute raising his voice for the rights of netizens everywhere.

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