Hotspot Shield review, our experience with elite and free version

09-Sep-2019

Features

HotSpot Shield is a widely known VPN service. This has to do with the fact that they have a large marketing budget and a free variant of their service is available. The VPN service is often referred to as HSS, this is an abbreviation of the full name Hotspot Shield.Hotspot Shield is aimed at people who just want to use a VPN and are not that technically gifted. For example, the service is suitable for people who want to hide their IP easily. In this Hotspot Shield review we discuss the most important features of this VPN service and share our experience.

Hotspot Shield review, our experience with elite and free version

Servers

The amount of servers of Hotspot Shield is not entirely clear. What is clear is that the servers are divided over 25 countries at this moment. It is indicated that the server capacity per location will be supplemented according to the demand of the users. This is a nice tactic, you know which locations there are and therefore also make sure that the capacity at all locations is and remains sufficient. Only with the Elite subscription you have access to all locations. With the free subscription this possibility is much more limited, you only have access to the free VPN servers that are available.

Hotspot Schild software

The software for both the free and the paid version is the same. During the testing of the software it appeared that the software is easy to use on all platforms because a clear interface is used. We do read a lot of experiences on the internet that there are also bad experiences with the software. For example, many people seem to experience difficulties with the stability. This confesses in practice that the VPN connections are sometimes dropped because the software is not stable enough. Apps are available for the most used operating systems. For example, there is an app for iOs that can be installed on the iPad and iPhone. There is also software for computers that use Windows and MacOS (for Apple computers) as operating systems. There are also apps available for Android phones and tablets.

Android app from Hotspot Shield VPN

Many people will want to use Hotspot Shield's VPN connection on an Android phone. Fortunately there is a good app available for Android. The app gives you access to the most used options. So you can select the country you want to connect to. You can also set the connection to start when you start your phone. The latter is an option you will certainly not find in every Android VPN app.

Windows

There is also easy to use software for Windows. As with the mobile apps for iOs and Android, the ability to adjust settings is limited. For example, it is not possible to choose a protocol of your choice. Hotspot Shield uses the OpenVPN protocol on Windows by default.

Chrome and Firefox options from Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield has released an extension and addon for the web browsers Chrome and Firefox respectively. With the addon in the browser it is possible to make a connection to a VPN server of Hotspot Shield of your choice in your browser window. This works easily and quickly when you need a VPN connection for your surfing behaviour. For example when you want to surf anonymously or when you want to watch NPO broadcasts from abroad.

Privacy and security

If you are looking for a VPN service to protect your privacy, we do not recommend Hotspot Shield. As far as we are concerned, the service is too unclear about their logging policy. Moreover, it is a service that operates from the United States. In addition, research by a university has shown that Hotspot Shield stores more data about their users than they provide in their privacy policy. For example, it seems that they display advertisements based on surfing behaviour and even map out the unique registration number of your device and the networks you use.

Protocols

Hotspot Shield makes a number of other choices when it comes to protocol selection compared to other VPN providers. A conscious choice is made for speed, for example. In practice, this means that the L2TP and PPTP protocols are used. According to Hotspot Shield, the advantage is that the connections are set up faster, uberhaubt faster, and that less data has to be sent back and forth. This would be up to 2.5 times faster over long-distance connectionsWe have our doubts about this approach. Especially for people who want to guarantee their privacy, Hotspot Shield is not the best choice in our opinion. Moreover, we think it's a pity that we don't have more control over which protocol is used. There are certain situations in which we want to decide for ourselves which protocol to use.

Kill switch and automatic connection

A kill switch option ensures that all internet traffic is cut off when the vpn connection is lost. This prevents data that you prefer to keep private from being sent and received unencrypted. Fortunately, Hotspot Shield Elite has built this feature into the software, and the automatic startup of the software and automatic connection is also available. This is possible on both smartphones and computers.

Malware protection

One option that Hotspot Shield Elite offers while other providers do not is to block malware. Hotspot Shield Elite maintains a list of known phishing sites and sites with malware and prevents you from connecting to these sites. This is a nice option in itself but not super important in our opinion.

Speed Hotspot Shield

The download speed is good. We reached very acceptable speeds while we were connected during this review of Hotspot Shield. The upload speed, on the other hand, was very bad. The upload speed was more than halved when we tested the speeds for this service.

American Netflix with Hotspot Shield watching

With the paid version of Hotspot Shield it is possible to watch the American Netflix. The VPN service is actively doing its best to keep the American Netflix accessible for users. Our experience with looking at the American Netflix via the VPN servers of Hotspot Shield is very positive, it always worked during the last test week. Netflix from other locations such as Japan sometimes works, but not always. Moreover, Hotspot Shield itself also indicates to only focus on bypassing the VPN blockade for the American version of Netflix.

Torrent with Hotspot Shield Elite

It makes sense that when downloading torrents you want to do so anonymously. With the paid Hotspot Shield Elite, the company allows you to download files via Bitorrent, with the free version, torrent traffic is blocked. Since the upload speed is low, it is possible that your upload ratio is low and therefore your download will be lower, but we do question Hotspot Shield's privacy policy. If you want to download anonymously with torrent, we recommend ExpressVPN.

Costs Hotspot Shield

The costs of Hotspot Shield are reasonable, compared to other VPN providers the prices are average. As with most other VPN providers, the longer the subscription, the cheaper the price per month. Hotspot Shield actually has 3 types of subscriptions to choose from. If you take out a monthly subscription you pay €15.99 per month. If you take out and pay immediately for a year, it will cost you €6.99 per month. For 3 years this amount is converted €3,49 per year.

Free Hotspot Shield subscription

Like all providers of free VPN services, there are certain limitations with this free variant. The restrictions for the free HotSpot Shield edition are: For this review we also tested the paid version. The price of Hotspot Shield Elite is €3,99 per month if you close it for 3 years. If you take a shorter subscription, for example one month, you pay considerably more

. The subscription that you can take out per year already costs €6,99 per month. Nowadays it is also possible to pay with iDeal at Hotspot Shield. Of course with the paid version you have no advertisements and you have access to all servers.

Conclusion, our experiences with Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is an easy to use VPN service, the software is clear and works intiutively. It is also good to use on the most common operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. The software and the VPN service in general does not really add anything. The VPN is simply sufficient for people who want to use a VPN connection in an easy and fast way and the price for the paid service Hotspot Shield Elite is reasonable. The price for the paid service Hotspot Shield Elite is reasonable, but it is also nice that there is a free version available, which of course has certain restrictions, although we do have questions about the privacy policy and it is a pity that there is not much you can set in the client. It seems that they collect and log more data about their users than they report themselves. We think this is a very bad thing and gives the impression that your privacy is not properly safeguarded at Hotspot Shield. If you take the VPN mainly for switching locations and extra privacy protection is not a priority, you can definitely purchase Hotspot Shield Elite.

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