Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Hotspot Shield VPN Review 2022: Is It Legit? Is It a Scam?

Last Updated: October 27, 2022
In our comprehensive Hotspot Shield VPN review, we tested both the free and paid versions to determine how well they functioned in speed, privacy, streaming, and more.
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Hotspot Shield VPN Review 2022: Summary

Hotspot Shield logo

Hotspot Shield provides both a free and paid VPN service and a paid premium service.

It is one of the most widely used virtual private network (VPN) providers, with over 650 million active users.

Daily data use is capped at 500 MB with Hotspot Shield’s free ad-supported VPN service. 

When you upgrade to the commercial version, advertisements disappear, and you gain access to infinite bandwidth, servers in 70 countries worldwide, and a suite of built-in security options.

In our comprehensive Hotspot Shield VPN review, we tested both the free and paid versions to determine how well they functioned in speed, privacy, streaming, and more.

Pros
  • No IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks exist in the applications
  • A subscription unlocks premium content on HBO, Hulu, DAZN, and torrenting sites
Cons
  • Mac OS X, Android, and iOS do not have a VPN kill switch.
  • Rarely effective in China
  • Advertisers get access to user data through a free app
  • U.S.-based, privacy-hostile headquarters
  • Prior controversy over the no-cost VPN service

Hotspot Shield VPN Review 2022: In-depth

Hotspot Shield

If you’re looking for a simple VPN to set up and use, you shouldn’t go for Hotspot Shield.

While Hotspot Shield claims to have around 3,000 servers in over 80 countries, these are just statistics.

The developers of Hotspot Shield say a 45-day, money-back guarantee back their product. 

Even though someone is always available to answer questions via email or live chat, most customers are still dissatisfied.

You can find it on the website if you require more information about a certain topic.

Remember that Hotspot cannot offer phone assistance, but this is not unusual among VPN companies.

When you sign up for the premium subscription, you’ll be capable of using the services on up to five devices at once.

These gadgets can run any operating system from Android and iOS to Mac OS X and Windows, as well as Linux and access points.

Almost all VPNs are compatible with routers; however, not all VPN providers allow you to set up the VPN on a router.

The VPN industry norm allows a maximum of five devices per account.

Still, the interoperability with routers has a multiplier effect, protecting all of your Internet of Things devices (including smart lamps and microwaves) that link to the internet via the VPN router.

Hotspot Shield offers setup guidelines and expert help to assist you in obtaining your router set up, and the firm also supplies routers with the VPN already installed.

Speed And Performance

Hotspot Shield

As part of this Hotspot Shield VPN review, we conducted tests at a variety of times of day to guarantee a representative sample and to verify that VPN connections remained stable throughout time.

The speeds of 30–37 Mbps seen in tests conducted in a UK data center are comparable to those of 28–30 Mbps in previous testing rounds, suggesting no constant speed performance.

The upgrade to IKEv2 resulted in a speed reduction, but the 20–25 Mbps achieved were still respectable.

These speeds are nothing to scoff at and will provide enough performance for most tasks; unless you’re using an internet service over 100Mbps, you probably won’t even feel a slowdown.

Logging Policy

You won’t magically have improved protection just because you use a virtual private network. You can redirect your internet traffic to the VPN service rather than your ISP.

It might come back to haunt you if your VPN maintains logs of your activity.

If your VPN keeps track of your IP address, and the government requests the IP address of the user who accessed a specific server on a particular date and time, the government will have a direct line of sight to your identity.

This situation is comparable to one in which a VPN allegedly assisted law enforcement in apprehending a cyberstalker.

Hotspot Shield, like the majority of VPNs, claims not to record user activity.

When you use Hotspot Shield, your information is protected from hackers and cybercriminals since the service “doesn’t log any information that could be traced to you.”

It’s a good concept, but it’s not very specific. Consequently, we verified what Hotspot Shield captures to have our views organized.

Our Hotspot Shield security report has additional details, but in short, Hotspot Shield logs the following information:

  • The Length of VPN connections
  • The bandwidth used per session
  • A user’s visited domains are recorded in an anonymous version so that Hotspot Shield cannot determine the identity of the user accessing the domains.
  • Especially for services that don’t need customers to create accounts, the phone passwords that the system provides to identify between users are a crucial identifier.
  • Financial data
  • Details about payments and invoices
  • Details for confirming your identity
  • The Exchange of Information (via email, phone, or chat)

Encryption

The company claims that with Hotspot Shield, your access to the VPN server is encrypted, and your IP address is hidden.

It is achieved by employing the nearly unbreakable AES-128-CBC cipher.

It was widely embraced by government and business organizations for use with personal paperwork.

Deciphering it would require an infinite amount of time since there are too many variables for even today’s powerful computers to solve.

Furthermore, the AES-256 cipher is used by the vast majority of VPNs because it is the most secure option.

It makes sense that Hotspot Shield would opt for the quicker AES-128 encryption algorithm.

Hotspot Shield’s verification process is based on the trustworthy SHA-256 hashing algorithm.

VPNs are the norm, while some providers use stronger algorithms like SHA-512. In general, this encryption suite is robust but has significant limitations.

Tunneling Protocols

Hotspot Shield

The company claims that you can choose whatever tunneling protocol you like, and your network will be secure.

Furthermore, there is a wide variety of tunneling protocols, each with benefits and applications.

However, Hotspot Shield only allows you to choose between two protocols in its more complex configuration options.

Catapult Hydra, Hotspot Shield’s custom tunneling mechanism, is founded on OpenSSL, the encryption standard utilized by HTTPS internet sites, and the pervasive OpenVPN protocol.

Even though nothing is revealed about it, this is likely the hidden ingredient that allows them to travel at such high speeds.

IKEv2 is a relatively dated protocol, but it is still commonly used in situations where a reliable connection is essential.

Because of the ease of switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data, it is ideally suited for using portable electronic devices.

The fact that so many antivirus programs that also offer VPN services rely on Catapult Hydra is a reassuring sign.

Security vendors like McAfee and Bitdefender can benefit from working only with services that adhere to stringent standards.

Even so, being open-source or doing a public audit accessible to everybody would be tremendously beneficial.

Possible IP Address Leaks On Android App

We found that the Hotspot Shield Android application was unreliable in our tests.

However, we did find one instance in which Hotspot reported a secure VPN connection was in place on the smartphone, but leak testing revealed our true IP address. 

However, other reviewers have also identified leakage in the Android application, and while we could not reproduce the finding, it has been reported.

Smartphone leaks are even more dangerous to some extent than those on desktop VPN clients. 

That’s because your smartphones will be subjected to many more dangers than your personal computer while you’re out and about in the wide, wonderful (and full of cybercriminals) world.

Here is a list of the top Android VPNs to use if you require a leak-free Android VPN app.

Server Count Is Misleading

Hotspot Shield

Over 3,200 VPN servers in more than 80 countries are available, according to the Hotspot Shield website.

But the number of servers and the scope of an international presence are not both above market norms. A minor hitch exists, though.

This is mostly due to the prevalence of “virtual servers” in these areas.

Servers can be placed in one area, but they can be made to appear to users as though they are accessing them from another location.

While not essential, virtual locations are utilized with other VPNs as well.

Jurisdictions

The United States is also the place of Hotspot Shield’s incorporation (US). It is crucial because protecting personal information online in the United States is difficult at best.

When you use an ISP in the United States, they can store and share your data, the National Security Agency (NSA) is engaged in mass surveillance, and governments can try to acquire data from businesses with court orders.

Hotspot Shield’s disclosure report makes it obvious that the company is frequently engaged by law enforcement agencies in the United States and elsewhere to assist them in identifying users based on IP addresses associated with Hotspot Shield’s VPN servers.

Hotspot Shield, however, can provide any information because it does track its users in any way.

Over a hundred requests for information have been made to it since 2016. However, it has never actually surrendered anything.

Privacy Problems

There was critical confidentiality with Hotspot Shield in 2017.

For the entirety of our Hotspot Shield VPN review, we’ve been moaning about this one particular weakness, and we continue to believe it requires correcting before we can truly suggest the service. 

The Center for Democracy and Technology has released a report claiming the corporation “logs connections and uses third-party tracking to offer customized advertising.” 

Nonetheless, this VPN service records information about your connections (so-called accumulated data), including the URLs you browse and the programs you utilize for online messaging and other purposes.

A huge no to fraudsters’ prevention would be to do this.

Ad And Malware Blocker

You can protect your desktop and smartphone software against infection with Hotspot Shield.

To shield you from cyber threats, the VPN consults a directory of far more than 3.5 million verified or untrusted websites.

It can prevent you from visiting malicious websites, including trojans, online scams, corrupted sites, and spam.

But the company claims that the Hotspot Shield browser add-on provides additional functionality.

In addition to safeguards against viruses and advertisements, you may also prevent cookies from being stored on your computer and prevent WebRTC from being used

Mobile Apps

Hotspot Shield

The Hotspot Shield phone applications are very similar to the desktop versions.

Additionally, the interface is uncomplicated, with a sizable auto-connect option and a sidebar that displays the region to which you are now connected. 

If no servers are available, the word “auto” will appear.

To view the public servers, select the “auto” menu option. The desktop application for Hotspot Shield places its settings page in the top left corner. 

When you select it, you’ll be sent to the tab where you may customize your Hotspot Shield VPN settings.

You may control when your VPN connects and disconnects your device from the connection hub.

Additionally, you may decide which programs you want to have VPN protection for and add trustworthy Wi-Fi networks.

Pricing

Hotspot Shield Pricing

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN plan is quite limited compared to its paid counterparts, with speeds capped at 2Mbps, access restricted to just one geographical area (the United States), and a 500MB daily cap.

The only real benefit is being able to browse the available apps.

Protecting up to five devices with a premium VPN starts at $12.99 per month, with a discount of $7.99 for an annual subscription.

That’s far more than you’d pay for a VPN of average quality. Still seems like a good value if you’ll put into practice the antivirus, call blocker, or password manager features. However, 

Private Internet Connectivity offers a three-year package protecting up to ten devices for only $2.19 per month, making it one of the most cost-effective VPNs available if you only require that feature.

The Family plan from Hotspot Shield is a great choice if you have a large family. 

You can protect up to five individuals and ten devices for just $19.99 per month or $11.99 per year.

For the VPN, spyware, spam call blocking, and password vault, the total monthly cost is $18.40, or $2.40 per user.

In Summary, the best VPNs in 2022 are;

Review Verdict

This Hotspot Shield VPN review goes into great depth, covering topics including the service’s essential features and installation instructions.

How much information was collected, among other aspects of its privacy policies? 

The fact that the corporation is headquartered in the United States, a member of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership, didn’t help.

However, this is not a universal truth; people place different values on different things.

👉 Get NordVPN’s FREE Trial

There is a solution, and we advise you to use NordVPN.

NordVPN dominates the VPN market because of its consistently positive client reviews. 

All over the web, customers are raving about how much they appreciate the platform, including its rapid transfer rates, online security options, streaming content, solutions to torrenting, and user-friendly web browsing capabilities.

Hotspot Shield VPN Review 2022: Is It Legit? Is It a Scam? - EarthWeb
Hotspot Shield

In our comprehensive Hotspot Shield VPN review, we tested both the free and paid versions to determine how well they functioned in speed, privacy, streaming, and more.

Price: $12.99

Price Currency: USD

Operating System: Windows, Mac, Android & iOS

Application Category: VPN

Editor's Rating:
3.25

Pros

  • No IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks exist in the applications
  • A subscription unlocks premium content on HBO, Hulu, DAZN, and torrenting sites

Cons

  • Mac OS X, Android, and iOS do not have a VPN kill switch.
  • Rarely effective in China
  • Advertisers get access to user data through a free app
  • U.S.-based, privacy-hostile headquarters
  • Prior controversy over the no-cost VPN service

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Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.

Latest Stories

Last Updated: October 27, 2022
In our comprehensive Hotspot Shield VPN review, we tested both the free and paid versions to determine how well they functioned in speed, privacy, streaming, and more.
Hotspot Shield VPN Review
EarthWeb is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Stay on top of the latest technology trends — delivered directly to your inbox, free!

Subscription Form Posts

Don't worry, we don't spam

Written by Trevor Cooke

The only safe internet is a private internet. You’ll see me at parties talking about cybersecurity, privacy, and VPNs. Yes, I’m that guy.

Latest Stories

4.7/5