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Hotspot Shield Review – A ‘Free’ VPN With Some Disadvantages

Hotspot Shield Review – A ‘Free’ VPN With Some Disadvantages

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VPN protection shield
depends on United States of America
records contact records
the price $7.99 per month.
supports Email and chat
Recovery 45 days

Hotspot Shield is a popular VPN service that underwent a rough patch a few years ago, being accused of unfair business practices and suffering a bug that leaked user data. After two years (and a few new owners), Hotspot Shield has had the chance to recover from those rough times. So let’s see what this Hotspot Shield VPN review revealed.

We’re here today to see how well Hotspot Shield has put their problems behind their backs. Are the apps still suffering from leaks? Have they implemented privacy policies that provide greater protection for their user data? Could this be a VPN Trust your private data? Let’s find out.

Hotspot Shield VPN Overview

Hotspot Shield is one of the oldest VPN services. The service was launched in 2008, and gained notoriety for its use by opponents during the Arab Spring protests in early 2010. The problems surfaced in 2016 when a team of academics cited Hotspot Shield in a research paper for using tracking libraries in their VPN service. One year later, in 2017, the Center for Democracy and Technology accused them of unfair and misleading business practices. In 2018, another researcher discovered a data leak.

These negative events caused in many locations Stop recommending the service. The VPN got off to a fresh start in 2019 when it became part of the Pango family of products. Then, in July 2020, Pango (and Hotspot Shield) was acquired by a company called Aura.

Given all of that, this was a perfect time to take another look at Hotspot Shield. Here are the pros and cons we found during our research and testing, along with some interesting facts about Hotspot Shield and its parent companies (we’ll try to explain the company’s tangles up in full later).

+ Pros

  1. Continuous promotions for its customers
  2. No IP address or DNS leak detected in Windows client
  3. Easy to use / geared for non-technical users
  4. A range of privacy products are included
  5. 45-day money-back guarantee

– Negatives

  1. Possible IP address leaks on Android app
  2. Definitely not the “world’s fastest VPN”
  3. Their server count is misleading
  4. Limited Payment Options
  5. Doesn’t work well with Netflix and streaming
  6. Based in the US (bad privacy jurisdiction)
  7. Expensive prices

Interesting facts for Hotspot Shield VPN:

  • Hotspot Shield VPN, AnchorFree, Pango and Aura (Basic Info)
  • Connect 5 devices to Hotspot Shield at the same time
  • A free version of Hotspot Shield is available

Hotspot Shield VPN Promotions

Hotspot Shield has millions of users around the world. That in and of itself tells you that they must have some pretty cool properties. Here are the pros we discovered during testing and research for our Hotspot Shield review.

Constant Upgrades for Hotspot Shield VPN Apps

We are happy to report that Hotspot Shield VPN continues to be developed. Recent improvements we’ve noticed include the addition of a Linux client, as well as the addition of a kill switch and other features to the Android VPN client. They recently gave you the option to use the OpenVPN protocol when installing Hotspot Shield on a router. However, they still do not support the WireGuard VPN protocol, which we found to be much faster than OpenVPN.

Hotspot Shield VPN now supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome browser, and some OpenVPN-enabled TVs and routers.

No IP address or DNS leak detected in Windows client

We ran our standard VPN tests with the Windows version of Hotspot Shield and encountered no leaks. Combine this with having a kill switch in the Windows client, and you should feel safe that your data won’t leak onto the Internet.

Here is a basic leak test with Windows (no leaks).

Hotspot Shield is a VPN for Windows and it had no leaks in our tests.

Easy to use / geared for non-technical users

The Hotpoint Shield VPN apps I tested for this review were easy to use. The interface is dominated by a large call button as shown below.

Press the button and the client will enroll you in Hotspot Shield VPN. You can select a specific site, or let Hotspot Shield take care of it for you. We also noticed this basic user-friendly layout in our ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison.

As they gradually add more advanced capabilities such as Smart VPN (Hotspot Shield’s version of split tunneling), this service generally feels geared towards beginners And people who want something that works without much of a fix.

There are other easy-to-use VPN services on the market, especially NordVPN and IPVanish, but even these services offer more features than Hotspot Shield VPN.

A range of privacy products are included

In 2019, Hotspot Shield was acquired by a company called Pango. Pango Hotspot Shield combines with many other products to create a privacy suite. This includes password management and identity theft protection.

We also see the same thing happening with Aura, the new parent company of Hotspot Shield.

There are certainly advantages to assembling products. We see this trend with other services as well, such as NordVPN and NordPass.

for example, 1 password It is a high-quality password manager, there is no doubt about it. But after our extensive testing of password managers, we found that other password managers were better.

We also see Identity Guard to “protect your digital and financial identity” from risks. There are many types of services like this that we covered in our guide on identity theft protection.

45-day money-back guarantee

This is where Hotspot Shield stands out. Usually, the top rated VPN services offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Many services offer less than that.

Hotspot Shield stands out by giving you a 45-day money-back guarantee. If you want a VPN that gives you plenty of time to thoroughly test it, Hotspot Shield should be at the top of your list of VPNs to investigate. The only other VPN I’ve seen that offers a 45-day money-back guarantee is CyberGhost VPN.

Disadvantages of Hotspot Shield VPN

While Hotspot Shield is very popular and certainly has its good points, it also has a number of issues that you should be aware of. In no particular order, they are:

Possible IP address leaks on Android app

In our tests, the Hotspot Shield Android client worked most of the time. With that being said, we’ve had one instance where Hotspot said the phone is secured with an active VPN connection, but our leak test returned our real IP address. We weren’t able to replicate the result, but other reviewers have also reported leaks in the Android client.

Mobile leaks are in some ways more serious than leaks in desktop versions of VPNs. That’s because your mobile devices are in a big, beautiful world (and full of hackers) where you’re likely to be exposed to far more threats than your home computer might see. If you need an Android VPN client that doesn’t leak, check out this list of the best Android VPNs.

Definitely not the “world’s fastest VPN”

Hotspot Shield VPN frequently and proudly states that it has been named “The World’s Fastest VPN” in Ookla’s Speedtest Awards 2019. But we would never accept marketing claims at face value without running our own tests.

I ran speed tests to review Hotspot Shield on a 500Mbps connection from my US location. In general, the speed tests were not impressive.

First, I tested the Hotspot Shield server fairly close to my actual location, at Seattle: 76 Mbps.

It’s not terribly slow, but it’s not fast either.

Next, I tested the Hotspot Shield server with the format Los Angeles. Speeds were a little better than before, but still not great at around 82Mbps.

He was the last American server I tested on New York. Speeds were similar to other sites: 80 Mbps.

Next, I tested the servers in Canada. Speeds were slower than Hotspot Shield’s US servers.

Here was a speed test using Hotspot Shield server in format Toronto:

With these speeds, Hotspot Shield is definitely not the best VPN for Canada.

Finally, I ran a long distance speed test with a server in the UK: 45Mbps.

In general, these are not very good speed test results. Hotspot Shield is by no means the fastest VPN.

If you want a VPN with the best speeds, I recommend checking out NordVPN using the WireGuard protocol.

Their server count is misleading

Hotspot Shield claims to have 3,200+ VPN servers in more than 80 countries. Both the number of servers and the number of countries are above average for the industry. However, there is a small snag.

many of These sites are virtual servers. These are servers that are physically located in one location, but configured to function as if they were located in another location. You can see this blog post announcing the addition of more virtual server locations.

Virtual locations aren’t necessarily a deal breaker, and we also see their use with some other VPNs. However, it is good to see transparency with virtual sites.

Limited Payment Options

While many VPN services accept a range of payment options, Hotspot Shield only accepts credit, debit, or PayPal cards.

All three of these options are convenient and safe, but they aren’t particularly special. Being able to pay for your subscription with cryptocurrency, gift cards and other alternative payment methods may enhance your privacy.

If you want a VPN with more payment options, including cryptocurrency, you can check out Surfshark or NordVPN.

Doesn’t work well with Netflix and other streaming services

Many VPNs claim to work with Netflix. However, in our tests we found that only a few people offer Netflix streaming without being blocked.

With Hotspot Shield, we were unable to log into the United States Netflix library. This is definitely a drawback for those who want the best VPN for Netflix.

Getting (or blocking) access to Netflix and other streaming services is an ongoing war between streaming services that want to block you and VPNs that want to unblock content so you can watch it wherever you are in the world.

Many VPNs dedicate significant resources to this endeavor, simply because more people are turning to VPNs to unblock their favorite content. Check out the best VPNs for streaming here.

Based in the United States (harmful to privacy)

The United States is not a good location for a VPN or any other business involving privacy.

The country is at the heart of many international monitoring organizations. Most of them were created for the Cold War era, and they keep working, they keep spying on anyone and everyone they can. The United States government has the authority to monitor people who use telecommunications networks in the United States.

It also has the power to force private companies to do the dirty work for the government. This includes forcing a company to spy on you, which could violate their privacy policies and terms of service. We’ve seen this happen with IPVanish VPN, PureVPN, and others.

With such spying, it is easy to see why there are no leading VPN services like ExpressVPN and NordVPN in the USA.

Hotspot Shield VPN is expensive

Hotspot Shield pricing is nothing if not simple. The premium version (the one we review here) is $7.99 per month, billed annually. That comes to $95.88 per year. That’s not too bad, and it’s on par with the prices for one-year services like ExpressVPN and HideMyAss.

However, unlike most VPN services, HotSpot Shield does not offer multi-year discounts.

Somewhat mitigating the relatively high price of Hotspot Shield is the set…

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