Hotspot Shield Elite Review

Reviewed by: André Spiteri

The Gist

Billed as the most trusted privacy solution around, Hotspot Shield’s features sure make an impression. Its anti-malware protection and ad blocker are a particularly nice touch. It’s also unbeatable when it comes to value for money - the only service around that offers a lifetime of online security for a low one-time fee.

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Hotspot Shield Elite Highlights

  • Free tier
  • Anti-malware protection
  • Ad-free browsing

Pros

  • One-time fee
  • No logging
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Up to 5 simultaneous connections

Cons

  • Some features aren’t available on all platforms
  • Low number of virtual locations

Features

Hotspot Shield is available both as a free version and as a paid version, the so-called Hotspot Shield Elite.

Both versions feature 256-bit AES encryption via OpenVPN and support all major operating systems. However, the free version has a number of limitations, including limited bandwidth and a paywall that prevents access to Netflix, Hulu and other popular streaming sites.

Hotspot Shield assert that they keep absolutely no logs, neither for paid nor free users. That said, the free version is supported by targeted ads, which kind of begs the question of how anonymous the service actually is.

Of course, Hotspot Shield’s elite plan is your best bet. You’ll get unlimited bandwidth, support for up to five simultaneous connections and access to premium servers, as well as ad-blocking and malware detection features.

Speed and Reliability

Somewhat predictably, the connection can be a bit patchy on the free tier, especially during peak times.

On the other hand, paid members enjoy unlimited bandwidth and access to faster premium servers, which considerably improves the service’s reliability and performance. Hotspot Shield also uses its own proprietary DNS servers via mother company AnchorFree.

Flexibility

Hotspot Shield Elite supports up to five simultaneous connections and works on all major operating systems.

On the downside, the number of virtual locations is relatively low (20 countries) and the service only works with OpenVPN, which may lead to issues with older devices. In addition, some features may not work on all platforms.

Customer Support

You can get in touch with customer support by opening a support ticket.

There is also a comprehensive knowledgebase with guides, FAQs and even release notes for various app updates.

Hotspot Shield’s blog is well worth checking out. Not only is it regularly updated with useful information on how to make the most of your VPN, but the posts sometimes include promotional codes with great discounts.

Value for Money

At $11.95 a month, Hotspot Shield Elite is quite pricey. However, it’s simply unbeatable if you pay for a chunk in advance.

Buying a year’s subscription upfront brings the price down to $2.50 a month, whilst buying two years’ worth upfront costs $2.08.

You can also pay a one-time fee of $99.95 and get unlimited usage forever. No other VPN service we reviewed offers this kind of deal, and it’s a darn good one!

Conclusion

Despite its low number of virtual locations, Hotspot Shield impressed us with its performance and features. It’s also incredible value - no other VPN on the market offers lifetime membership for a one-time fee.

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Last Updated: May 2016

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