Hotspot Shield Elite Review

Reviewed by: André Spiteri

In a Nutshell

Hotspot Shield VPN is one of the primary trusted names in the VPN industry. With a focus on fast connection speeds for an uninterupted online experience, it's one of the easiest VPNs to use. It has some rock-solid security features beyond the usual encryption standards, and it allows up to 5 simultaneous connections with a single account. Is Hotspot Shield as hot as it sounds? Let's take a closer look at this reputable VPN service. To top this all off, Hotspot Shield was named by FastCompany Most Innovative Security Company of 2019. 

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Pros

  • VPN kill switch
  • Simple, one-click connect
  • 3,200+ specialized servers for high-speed streaming & gaming
  • Apps for iOS and Android devices

Cons

  • No Linux client
  • Single month is pricey

Hotspot Shield VPN at a Glance

Best forSecurity-conscious users
Price Range$3.49-$12.99/month
Location3,200+ servers in 70+ locations
NetflixUnblocks Netflix US
LoggingNo logs
Number of Devices5
Operating SystemsiOS, Android, Mac, PC
Browser ExtensionsChrome, Firefox add-on

Privacy

Hotspot Shield is big on security. It's considered one of the most robust online security protections out there to date. For one thing, Hotspot Shield uses TLS 1.2 encryption with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE) and 128/256-bit AES data encryption, whether at work, home, or in public. This way, you can securely access your favorite sites on-the-go when traveling, at a local cafe, airport, campus, office, and more. 

Additionally, Hotspot Shield assigns the same IP address to multiple users and different IP addresses to you randomly to keep anonymity at its highest. This VPN also adds online protection in the form of malware and phishing protection. Hotspot Shield claims to protect you against 3+ million malware sites, phishing sites, and spam sites or content farms.

The logging policy is a little unclear, but still pretty solid. For example, Hotspot Shield temporarily logs your IP address (at the onset of your session), but its servers are set up to automatically delete any IP information at the end of each session. Hotspot Shield doesn’t log any other information either such as browsing history.

Features

Hotspot Shield has a lot to offer both the casual streamer and those more serious about their online security and anonymity. It has excellent security features like an automatic kill switch that shuts down your connection if your service ever goes down (even for a moment), DNS leak protection, and uses TLS 1.2 with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE) and 128-bit/256-bit AES GCM data encryption technology to keep your information secure. Here are a few more features you’re going to love:

  • Free plan

Hotspot Shield offers users a free VPN service. Full disclosure, this is not a great service. It's got ads, and it isn't as fast as the Premium version. If you're just looking for an easy, basic VPN and don't feel like shelling out any cash for it, this is a good option.

  • Incredibly fast

Another thing most users will love is the speed. In fact, Hotspot Shield was voted the fastest VPN service by PC World, so you know it’s going to be really fast. And we’re talking Lightning McQueen fast. Hotspot Shield has its own proprietary protocol (called Hydra) that is based on TLS and OpenSSL, so it’s not surprising that Hotspot Shield streaming is so great. This protocol is said to actually double the download speeds and increase ping times by 70%. What this means is that Hotspot Shield is super fast for smoother, easier streaming from any site.

  • Up to 5 connections

Finally, Hotspot Shield lets you connect up to 5 devices at one time with a single account. So, you can have your tablet, phone, computer, gaming console, and smart TV all hooked up simultaneously to your Hotspot Shield account and get uninterrupted protection.

The Speed Test

As we said, one of the concerns people have when considering a VPN, is how it will affect the speed of their computer. We decided to put this to the test, using 2 different sites (speedtest.net and fast.com)

Checked on Speedtest.net, without VPN:

With VPN (using server based in Germany)

With VPN (set to a server in the United States)

We then did speed tests (from the US server) on Fast.com, where it was shown as 55 Mbps.

Pricing and Deals

Hotspot Shield VPN has several plans you can choose from, and each one gets more affordable as you increase the time you sign up for. Here’s a breakdown:

 1 Month6 Months1 Year3 Years
Pricing per month$12.99$8.99$5.99$2.99

As mentioned, Hotspot Shield also has a free plan, but you will only get the military-grade encryption with this plan. For unlimited bandwidth, ad-free experience, multiple device connection, 24/7 live tech support, and access to 2500+ servers, you’ll have to pay for a plan. The good news is that the 3-year plan is one of the cheapest options you’ll find. All Hotspot Shield plans come with a 45-day money back guarantee.

Torrents

As mentioned above, Hotspot Shield supports torrenting. It even tells you how to get the job done with articles in its FAQ section on the website.

Netflix

Hotspot Shield works well with streaming sites, and particularly with Netflix. This makes sense with the proprietary Hydra technology that it uses. Hydra makes all connections much faster than usual, so you’re streaming will be smooth, clear, and not choppy.

Client Setup

Hotspot Shield software is available for Windows and MacOS. One drawback is there is no Linux client software, so Linux-users will have to find another VPN option.

Apps

Hotspot Shield has an app for iOS and Android devices, so anybody can use this VPN with ease.

How Does Hotspot Shield Compare?

 Hotspot ShieldAvast VPNPureVPN
Price per month$3.49-$12.99$1.67-$6.67$3.33-$10.95
Number of Devices555
Number of Servers2500+552000+
Best forSecurity-conscious usersNo frills, quality VPN servicesTremendous network of servers (internationally too)

Customer Support

Hotspot Shield has an email contact form you can fill out if you have questions. Alternatively, you can send a message via live chat for more convenient communications.

Ease of Use

Hotspot Shield definitely wins points for ease of use. The entire user interface is literally the click of a button. A single button. The design is clean and uncomplicated, and the fact that you simply have to click a button to start or stop your VPN puts Hotspot Shield at the top of the easy-to-use charts.

The VPN will automatically connect to the last country you connected from (or the US, as default), but you can change this by clicking on a drop-down menu. The only other settings you can choose from are whether or not the VPN runs on launch, whether or not you have IP leak prevention, and whether or not Hotspot Shield runs automatically when unsafe hotspots are joined.

FAQs

Q: Does Hotspot Shield have malware protection?

A: Free accounts with Hotspot Shield have basic malware protection. When you pay for Hotspot Shield, you get upgraded malware, phishing, and spam protection.

Q: Does Hotspot Shield have bandwidth limits?

A: Paid subscriptions can enjoy unlimited bandwidth and data usage.

Bottom Line

Hotspot Shield is an excellent VPN option. The single month plan is pricey, but you won’t find too many services that can beat the 3-year plan’s pricing. What’s more, Hotspot Shield offers some of the fastest connections anywhere. And if security is your end-game, Hotspot Shield has the features to keep you happy.

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