Hotspot Shield VPN Review
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are one of the most popular online services used by individuals and businesses all over the world. Their benefits are endless. One of the major players in the field is Hotspot Shield VPN.
Hotspot Shield is one of the most popular VPN service providers out of the United States. It's owned and operated by AnchorFree and operates right from Silicon Valley. Its reputation is as one of the best VPNs in the global market space. And it's free.
Is My Privacy Protected with Hotspot Shield?
The statement on their website does nothing to clarify their position on personal data:
Hotspot Shield does not share any personal information about you with advertisers. Nevertheless, advertisers may be able to collect certain information independently from you or your device when serving ads from the Hotspot Shield application....
They also state:
AnchorFree does not tie your unique identifiers to Personal Information about you, and all browsing information or other similar information relating to your online activities transmitted by you to our servers when using Hotspot Shield is cleared after your VPN session is closed.
The company states that it does not store IP address along with the activity logs. As mentioned earlier, logs are kept only when using the network. Privacy and logging policy are still a grey area in the services offered by this company. An automatic kill switch option is not available.
How Much is Hotspot Shield? Is There a Free Trial?
Hotspot Shield gives away an exclusive lifetime free subscription plan, a feature that has made them a popular choice with occasional Internet users. Their free subscription plan requires no registration, one of their unique policies as compared to other free VPN subscription plans in the global marketplace.
The free plan is basic and can be used on multiple device platforms, but the plan comes with ads, the only downside to the free service.
Elite subscription plans are available for individuals and businesses using the Internet on a regular basis. Based on usage and requirements, a subscriber could get a plan that is perfectly suited to their needs. The Elite monthly plan is priced at $12.99, or $53.94 for six months. If you are an extensive user you can try the annual plan at $71.88. For unlimited users, there's a lifetime subscription plan with a one-time fee of $119.99.
Free subscribers can find the option of subscribing for the elite package right on the main page of the app. Desktop app subscribers of the elite plan get a 45-day money back guarantee, which is commendable. A seven-day free trial is offered to paid subscribers, which can be accessed after providing payment details on the app.
Hotspot Shield Speed Test
Down to speed, you can login to any of the servers to check out the performance. We logged in from London to test the speed and overall performance of the service. A general comparison on connection speeds with and without Hotspot Shield VPN astounded us by showing remarkable performance. The speed of a VPN connected network was almost as high as the one without it. Upload speeds were excellent. You might foster doubts about the encryption standards of HotSpotShield (lackluster encryption allows higher speeds). Security tests for IPv6 leak and WebRTC were also conducted and the results came out positive with no IP, WebRTC and DNS leaks. IPv6 protection also worked smoothly, and remember, some of you may not be able to test this feature because your ISP won't allow it. DNS leak test results were inconsistent across multiple browser extensions. The Elite subscription plan was able to perform P2P sharing smoothly and we had no problem accessing Netflix and BBC.
How is Customer Service at Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield will be valued by certain customers because customer support requires no contact information at any stage. If you don’t like to talk over the phone to get VPN issues resolved, then this is the best VPN service for you. At the same time, this is a major drawback because you can't expect reliable customer support. There's no accountability to the anonymous customer. It is totally inefficient, slow, and lackluster. You drop your queries and issues into the official customer support portal and you can expect detailed instructions to get a problem resolved. In certain cases, you can simply enter the problem in the search box and click it to find your result, which is a plus. Support tickets are raised from your end and replies are by email. Very slow and a little bit frustrating.
Hotspot Shield has a strong software platform, and it's the same for both free and elite subscribers. Usability of the software app is very sleek, but the number of controls is limited, which some of you may find to be not up to the mark. You can download the app on all major operating systems and browsers. Free subscribers have the option of connecting with US servers alone, and there are toggle switches that let you choose language preferences, IP leak protection, and an auto-start feature.
Proprietary encryption software named Catapult Hydra was developed by AnchorFree, and it's very effective and applied to all servers and all tiers of membership. Security provided by this protocol is strong and the company has not revealed much technical detail because it's proprietary.
Elite subscribers also enjoy an unlimited bandwidth, and this, for the VPN savvy out there, helps you bypass all types of restrictions, geographic, firewalls and other sorted blocks to unfettered surfing. If you have a limited bandwidth capability because of your ISP, you can get rid of that restriction using Hotspot Shield VPN. Web Real Time Communication and IPv6 leaks are protected because of the built-in protection feature of Hotspot Shield. AnchorFree has an extensive database of all kinds of online malware such as Trojan software, phishing, infected pages, scams, and the like, and they are used by Hotspot Shield to give malware protection to its subscribers. They also have a super strong antivirus platform giving the best in class online protection. Subscribers connect with their servers with all devices. Chrome browser extensions are also available, which should be perfect for some. On the whole, the provider has decent feature specifications.
Is Hotspot Shield Safe?
Hotspot Shield claims it delivers one of the best levels of security in the VPN market space. The encryptions used for both free and paid plans are the same. The servers operated by the company use TLS 1.2 with perfect forward secrecy (ECDHE), which operates in a 128-bit AES encryption, very decent security.
Hotspot Shield is best known in the market for its free subscription plan and data from the company alleges more than 85 percent of the users are free subscribers. However, the company uses ads and promotions to monetize, increasing the probability of security flaws. Privacy intrusions in the form of user data and Internet activity sharing make you vulnerable to hackers and threats. Non-technical and occasional Internet users will find the high-speed network connection offered by this company more useful than others.