Hotspot Shield

Category VPN
Reviewed by Rashi
Updated Feb 11th, ’22

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Hotspot Shield Review

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When you hear the word VPN, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Security? Performance? Support? Choosing the right VPN for yourself or your organization can be challenging. One of the main reasons is that so many of them are available on the market, each designed to cater to different needs. It’s only by looking under the hood that the differences become apparent. In this Hotspot Shield review, we hope to accomplish that goal. We’ll cover all the important aspects of the service – its features, performance, pricing, customer support, and apps. In addition, we’ll examine how it compares to its competitors, so without further ado, let’s begin.



Ease of use


Value for Money




Customer Support

Pricing Details

Starting from: $12.99/month

Pricing Model: Subscription

No free trial

Yes, has free version

  • Ultimate Speed
  • Wide Accessibility
  • Free Option Available
  • Media-Friendly
  • Limited Simultaneous connections
  • Strict Retention Laws
Best for
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Desktop - Mac
  • Desktop - Windows
  • Mobile - Android
  • Mobile - iPhone

Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield is a popular VPN service with over 650 million users and multiple servers in over 110 countries. In addition, the website claims to be the #1 earning app for productivity in the US App Store. (When we checked the App Store source, it is listed number 8, which is still an impressive ranking.)

But is Hotspot Shield as fast as the seller claims? 

We put  VPN through our toughest tests to see how the service performs in each category. We found that Hotspot Shield provided fast speeds and unblocked the most popular streaming sites. Its other main strengths include intuitive, dedicated apps, P2P support, and responsive 24/7 live chat support. Hotspot Shield offers two VPN services: a free VPN and a premium VPN. It is one of the largest VPN services within the world, boasting over 650 million users.

Hotspot Shield Free has a daily data limit of 500MB and is an ad-sponsored VPN. With a paid version, you can remove ads and get unlimited bandwidth, access to servers in eighty countries, and a range of bundled security features.

During this review, we put each the free and paid VPN through our strict testing method to visualize how they performed for speed, security, streaming, and more. Hotspot Shield has the quickest connection speeds we’ve seen because of Hydra VPN, its proprietary encryption protocol. Also, all the apps are easy and allow P2P and torrenting traffic on all servers.

What is Hotspot Shield VPN

What is Hotspot Shield VPN?

Hotspot Shield VPN offers high-quality services and offers an impressive number of benefits for regular users. For example, it is useful for unblocking Netflix or other streaming platforms and supports torrenting. In addition, users can take advantage of the free version of the VPN and install it on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices or even get a dedicated browser extension.

Additionally, this VPN uses Catapult Hydra’s proprietary protocol to achieve the best performance results. In 2019, the company even won Ookla’s Speed test badge, indicating that Hotspot Shield VPN can deliver speed to its users.

In addition to the high quality of basic VPN services, it should be remembered that users also get other useful benefits. For example, the premium subscription plan includes  1Password manager, Aura antivirus, and scam call blocker for maximum PC security.

HotspotShield VPN premium

 How private is Hotspot Shield? 

Unlike most other VPNs, Hotspot Shield uses its protocol, called Catapult Hydra. Although Hotspot Shield now also offers IKEv2 support, you won’t be able to use OpenVPN on anything other than routers. While the changes in Catapult Hydra are likely on the performance side, some users may prefer the inherent security of an open-source platform available for review. On the other hand, Catapult Hydra protocol is used by Bitdefender, McAfee, Telefonica, and many other reputable brands, which goes a long way in proving its reputation in the cybersecurity community.

In addition to the protocols themselves, Hotspot Shield offers additional security through its other features. The automatic kill switch worked consistently throughout our tests, ensuring our IP address was not reachable in the event of a VPN failure. Even stopping local client TCP connections was not enough to bypass the kill switch or cause other problems. Another plus is that Hotspot Shield didn’t leak our IP address when changing location within the app – an extremely common issue.

HotsporShield privacy VPN

How to set up Hotspot Shield VPN? 

 Installing Hotspot Shield on your device is as simple as downloading the VPN software through the Hotspot Shield website or an official app store. Then, follow the installation instructions (easy to follow) and log in with your email and password. It’s that easy. All in all, Hotspot Shield has created a great user experience with its native apps. However, one of the main problems is the lack of advanced settings, especially in non-Windows versions. Users of macOS, for example, will have only the option of enabling push notifications and enabling auto-connect.

Hotspot Shield VPN Features 

The list of features that makes Hotspot Shield VPN one of the excellent software available in the market are listed down below:

Privacy Policies

 To learn about a VPN’s security, it is usually necessary to examine its protocol support, encryption, and authentication features. Although it can be difficult, seeing that a service supports a secure protocol like OpenVPN may be reassuring. The services from Hotspot Shield are more difficult to evaluate because, although they now support the standard IKEv2 protocol, they are mainly based on their proprietary Catapult Hydra technology. Despite what some may think, this is not a serious problem. With Catapult Hydra, performance is prioritized, and all encryption aspects follow the same standards.

Data protection is not just about simple formalities. The client implementation is also important, especially when blocking DNS and WebRTC leaks that could reveal the true identity. Fortunately, testing Hotspot Shield’s clients and browser extensions in IPLeak and DNSLeakTest did not reveal any issues, and the service kept us safe from snoopers at all times.

HotspotShield VPN privacy

Server and Server Locations

 Virtual servers, which are software-defined servers, are used by many VPN services. Multiple virtual servers could be hosted on a single machine. On the other hand, a virtual location is a server configured to appear in a location other than its physical location. Neither is inherently problematic, but they prefer to be upfront about their infrastructure and location. If your data is routed through a specific country, it may be subject to that country’s laws or surveillance regulations.

Hotspot Shield tells me that it is based on hardware servers only. That said, he was a virtual place, said that only  90% of his fleet were physically isolated where he seemed to be. Hotspot Shield VPN has been white-labeled in the past, so it’s not surprising that it shares storage space with sister companies. The company measures to protect its infrastructure but does not own all its servers, which is not uncommon.

Hotspot Shield VPN server locations

Uninterrupted Performance

We measured Hotspot Shield’s performance when connected to servers in countries worldwide. So if you want to stream video content from another country, Hotspot Shield’s connection speeds will get the job done with ease. This impressive performance is attributed to the company’s proprietary connection protocol, Hydra VPN. According to this technology, other encryption protocols such as OpenVPN have latency issues. You won’t automatically connect to the closest or fastest VPN server when launching Hotspot Shield. Always choose a US server. We recommend choosing a server closer to your physical location for the best speeds.

Streaming Services

 When you use a VPN, you can bypass all kinds of website restrictions, including content blocks on streaming websites in certain countries and country-specific blocks in places such as China. Measuring a VPN’s unblocking abilities is difficult as many factors are involved. Still, we tried to estimate ​​its effectiveness by testing how the service compares with BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus works. Hotspot Shield offers specialized streaming servers, which should make this easier (so you don’t have to try five different US servers to find one that will serve you  Netflix). Still, to confirm that this works reliably, we test each Service with three separate logins and IP addresses.

The BBC iPlayer uses technology to detect and block many VPNs, but Hotspot Shield got around this for our test logins, allowing us to stream all needed content. Unfortunately, Netflix is one of the most difficult streaming sites to access via VPN, and Hotspot Shield appears to have gone too far. As a result, we could not access US Netflix from any of our test locations. However, there was better news in our last two tests, as Hotspot Shield gave us Disney Plus and Prime Video access.

streaming services with Hotspot VPN

Browser Extensions

 Hotspot Shield provides browser proxy extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users. These extensions can spoof your location, block ads, cookies, and trackers, and protect you from malware. They also include Auto-Protect and Bypass lists, which tell Hotspot Shield to turn on or off automatically when you try to access certain websites.

These two features are useful for websites that don’t work with a VPN or services that need to see your real location. However, these features are quite difficult to find – you have to click on “browser settings” in the extension. Main settings menu that opens a navigation tab. There is also a WebRTC blocking feature to prevent unwanted IP address leaks, but it is disabled by default on both extensions. In addition, the Firefox plugin filters WebRTC requests even when the function is activated.

Application Support

 Moreover, Hotspot Shield is compatible with most major platforms and devices. With the paid plan, you can simultaneously use the VPN on up to five devices. This is an industry-standard device limit. However, we recently reviewed IPVanish and are now running an unlimited device limit. This is the full list of native Hotspot Shield apps:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Apple macOS
  • iOS
  • Google Android
  • Linux
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Android TV

Mobile App

The Hotspot Shield Android app has a clean and simple interface, similar to desktop apps. Once you launch the app and click connect, your virtual location will appear below. The Settings menu also follows a similar pattern to the Windows client, with settings for automatically connecting when your device turns on or when you connect to certain types of networks. There is no auto-off setting, but you do have the option to turn off the VPN when your device is idle, which can help conserve battery life.

Likewise, the iOS app is just as easy as the other clients. It shows a large connect button, a list of locations, and very few advanced settings. The iOS app looks great and is easy to use but has no configuration. It’s pretty common for iOS VPN apps to fail, but Hotspot Shield is particularly easy.

Customer Support

 Hotspot Shield’s 24/7 live chat support is by far the best way to resolve your questions and issues. However, you must sign up for a Hotspot Shield Elite account before using live chat. This makes asking simple questions before purchasing a subscription a little more difficult than expected. There’s email support, but it’s fairly limited, and even then, some requests are limited to premium subscribers.

 Hotspot Shield VPN Pricing Plans

Hotspot Shield is one of the few VPN providers that offer a free subscription tier. However, there are some restrictions. Hotspot Shield’s free Basic subscription limits you to the most basic US VPN servers, one simultaneous connection, and 500MB of bandwidth per day. However, the generosity does not stop there. Hotspot Shield takes the unusual step of capping loose bills at 2Mbps. Even for cell phones, that is extremely slow. Hotspot Shield’s free Android version is also monetized.

The Premium subscription gives five simultaneous connections, provides full access to Hotspot Shield’s servers, and has no data restriction. It costs $12.99 per month. The highest tier, known as Premium Family, will increase the variety of simultaneous connections to twenty-five across five-member accounts and costs $19.99 per month.


  • One member
  • One device
  • Military-grade encryption
  • No browsing device logs
  • One Virtual location


  • One member
  • Five devices
  • Military-grade encryption
  • No browsing device logs
  • 115 Virtual locations
  • Optimized for Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ & more
  • Optimized for Fortnite, Roblox & more
  • Malware & virus protection
  • Real-time threat protection
  • Automatic spam-call blocking
  • Phone number lookup
  • Secure password generator
  • Password breach alerts

Premium Family

  • 5 Members
  • 25 devices
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Privacy first: No browsing device logs
  • 115 + Virtual locations
  • Optimized for Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ & more
  • Optimized for Fortnite, Roblox & more

See all Features

How effective is the Hotspot Shield VPN Free plan?

 You can use the free version of Hotspot Shield on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, but there are many limitations. For example, hotspot Shield Free VPN is limited to 500MB of VPN data per day; that’s barely enough for a 30-minute show on Netflix. But for a month, that can add up to a huge amount of data.

If you try to access the Netflix website (or any other popular streaming platform), you will encounter a paywall for their premium product. Custom apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick are not available for free users. , everyone. Torrenting works with the free app, but the data limit prevents downloading large files.

VPN free

If you use the Android app, you will also see annoying pop-up ads while browsing. This adds to the overhead of the free app but can seem very intrusive, especially considering that Hotspot Shield does share some information, e.g., B. City-level location. With third-party advertisers.

Finally, if you need help or have a problem, Hotspot Shield’s live chat staff cannot help you as they only serve to pay customers. . In general, we recommend “freemium” VPNs over standalone free services because they support the free service through their premium product.

 Hotspot Shield VPN Alternatives

While Hotspot Shield impressed us, it still has a few downsides, including the kill switch that’s not available on macOS or iOS and no private payment option. Fortunately, if these are the deciding factors for you, you have some great alternatives to consider:

  • NordVPN
  • ProtonVPN
  • Express VPN
  • Private Internet Access VPN 3
  • Mullvad
  • IVPN
  • VPN
  • Surfshark

NordVPN is reasonably priced but has all the features you need from a top-notch provider. It has some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen and comes with a range of safety features, including a beeper and leak protection. In addition, it accepts many payment methods, including bitcoin, and offers great support.

Surfshark is another standout provider that won’t break the bank. He is known for his unblocking skills and solid speeds. A big advantage of this provider is that it does not limit the number of devices you can connect to at the same time.

 Hotspot Shield Review Conclusions

Overall, we liked the speed of Hotspot Shield and that there’s a free option that’s ad-only on Android. It’s fast, works smoothly, and allows us to watch movies from Netflix and torrent. However, we didn’t like the privacy policy, especially the collected amount. It also didn’t help that the company is based in the US and governed by the laws of the International Surveillance Alliance. We’ll break it down further.

Hotspot Shield could be the VPN for you if you want to:

  • Access Netflix: Hotspot Shield works with Netflix and other video streaming services.
  • Speed: Hotspot Shield worked at lightning speed on both Mac and Windows computers.
  • Highly Rated App – Android and iOS users rated the Hotspot Shield app with four stars.

So start with the free version today!



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