Hotspot Shield VPN surfaced as one of the most important products of Anchor Free, the US based company by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that aimed at assuring complete privacy to the users over the internet. In order to satisfy this much desired dream of handing over the users, full control of their online data, Anchor Free came up with Hotspot Shield VPN in the later part of 2005.
At present, Hotspot Shield holds the distinction of being among the few free ad-supported VPN services, and is supposed to be the biggest of all the VPN providers with its customers spread across a staggering 190 countries.
As its website claims, Hotspot has set new standards for its pan universal users over the internet. Its free version is ad-supported which is at times quite irritating as well. However, there are no such advertisements in its paid version and it is believed to have even faster servers.
The VPN is available for iOS Mobile, Android Mobile as well as for their respective tablet devices apart from its support to Windows and Mac OS for computers and notebooks.
It claims to protect your identity from theft and hides your IP by providing a different IP, based in the US, thereby assuring 100% security online. As expected and nothing that new, it lets you open Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, YouTube, Skype and many similar sites from your place if they are blocked otherwise.
It protects the users from 3.5 million malware threats and ceases to log any information that could pose a threat to your personal identity. This is what we inferred from the information we gathered from its website. However, most of the times the story within is different from the projected one. So lets test this VPN at our own end and to come out with a more lucid and transparent review.
The paid version of Hotspot is available with the name of Hotspot Shield Elite and can be had in different price ranges as mentioned below:
- Monthly Recurring billing VPN plan @ $4.99 per month
- Annual Limited offer VPN plan @ $29.95 per year
- Pay As You Go VPN plan @ 0.50 per day, along with a minimum deposit of $10.
These paid versions are way better than Hotspot's free services since they are ad-free and run on comparably faster servers.
The VPN company allows you to pay for its services via varied modes such as Prepaid Cash Cards, Mobile Phone Payments (through SMS) PayPal and Credit Card.
We checked out Hotspot Shield's upload/download speed through Speedtest.net. Though, there are many other online tools that you can utilize for this purpose as well. The results may be different depending on the location and the use of computing device in which you have installed the VPN. This is what we have found by testing the its speed at our computer.
Original Internet speed Hotspot Shield VPN
Server location for Original connection: India
Server location for Hotspot VPN connection: US
Download speed (Mbps)
Upload speed (Mbps)
Original Internet Connection
Hotspot VPN Connection
The VPN connection is lagging behind the original internet speed only by few fractions that indicates its appreciable performance. However, if we go into depth then even this much speed could have been better since here the comparison is not with the normal internet connection but with the other VPN companies in the industry.
As per the test we performed, the upload and download speed for the normal connection came out to be 6.58 Mbps and 4.03 Mbps, respectively. Likewise, the readings for Hotspot shield were observed as 9.94 Mbps and 2.58, respectively. Hence as we can see here, the VPN is close to the normal internet speed but still it is not fair enough to beat the other competitors in the market.
The free version could be shaky at times, paid version however could remain persistent till a long time, say for 4-5 hours as we tested it at our end.
Hotspot Shield VPN is compatible with all the Windows and Mac Versions such as :
- Windows 7
- Windows XP
- Windows 2000
- Windows Vista
- Mac OS X (10.5 Leopard)
- Mac OS X (10.6 Snow Leopard)
- Mac OS X (10.7 Lion)
Alongside, it also works fine on all your iOS and Android backed smartphone and tablets. However, it does not support Linux, which could be termed as one of its demerits. Hope the VPN company comes out with a Linux version as well
Take it as an advantage or a disadvantage, Hotspot Shield VPN provides you with the IP addresses based only in the United States. However, it has recently launched its UK edition as well, with the name of Expatshield, still it has comparably very limited servers than the other VPN providers in the industry.
The VPN works in all the known browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Internetm Explorer.
Hulu, YouTube and other streaming sites that we tested on Hotspot Shield VPN were more than good. We were impressed by the speed with which it played the Youtube video. Hulu was also much above par.
While accessing the internet in anonymity, you would surely not like anyone's intrusion, not even the ads. But to your misfortune, the sponsored Ads would keep on making your surfing experience a miserable one, in the free version. Hence for uninterrupted internet usage over the VPN, switching over to the paid version would be a wise decision.
There is no specific trace route tool from Hotspot Shield VPN. You can test it though through certain tools available online
HotSpot shield VPN from Anchor Free provides following features as additional security measures at its end:
- Built-in 'Malware protection plus' that come handy in detecting and blocking malware infected websites, which could affect your PC harshly otherwise.
- In addition, it turns all the HTTP sites that you navigate, into HTTP(S) to make your browsing experience more safe and secure.
- It also keeps you at bay from phishing and spam sites
You can find plenty of information regarding Hotspot shield Elite VPN on its website. The FAQ section provided there contains ample information to let you have the tidbits of the VPN. In addition, paying for Hotspot Shield Elite version also entitles you to avail dedicated support both through email and live chat, but in English language only.
The VPN from Anchor Free does not log any of the user's personal information. Though it automatically records some non-personal information used only in the aggregate.
- Attractive VPN client interface
- Easy to Use
- Cost-effective VPN plans
- High security standards
- Multiple Billing & Payment Options
- Availability of Free VPN
- No need to provide userid and password
- Servers based only in the US
- Not compatible with Linux
- No trace route tool
- Speed is not remarkable
- Too much ads (in free Hotspot VPN)
Hotspot Shield VPN is no doubt the best VPN available in the industry in the contemporary times. It allows you to login to the anonymous world of internet by merely providing the access codes, thereby setting you free from the obligation of entering your user id and password. And it is quite easy-to-use as well, by running and installing the small sized exe files at your PC, Mac or other computing device. You can buy it at much slashed rates as compared to others in the industry and it also accompanies multiple payment options.
However together with these pluses, hotspot Shield VPN also owns certain cons to its name that are worthy to be taken care of before the users turn their backs to it and switch over to some other VPN provider.
It has servers located in the United States, and speed is also not that much appreciable, though it worked fine to run streaming websites. The free version is all flocked with too many ads, fare enough to make your VPN experience miserable, anyways the paid version thankfully takes care of this problem.
In short, along with numerous benefits that you can avail by using Hotspot Shield VPN, there are certain demerits as well that may tend you to sit back and try any other VPN. If the company succeeds in taking care of these flaws, it can enhance its customer base to a higher level, for sure.
Hotspot shield VPN is simple to use, whether it is free or paid version. In both the cases, you would need to download an exe file that you can on your computer to install the VPN. For free access, you can simply download the file and start using it. For paid version, you will need to register with the website followed by furnishing the necessary payment details.
After installation of hotspot VPN at your computer, you will notice a simple and attractive client interface. It connects you to a US server and allows to set security standards as per your own wish through OpenVPN. You can also test the VPN connection by clicking its 'Test Protection' link.
By clicking the settings icon below (the first icon on the bottom right), you can configure the VPN settings for new or unknown networks.
Online Client Area:
To access the hotspot shield VPN facility. The site gives an in-depth information of the whereabouts of the VPN.
You can proceed to the Buy Now link to purchase the VPN and start using it. After registration, you will receive an Access code in your inbox. You can use this code to browse through the blocked websites freely.
The good thing about Hotspot Shield VPN is that you need not provide user id and password prior to start using it. Additionally, it also sets you free free from the obligation of choosing a server; the VPN client automatically connects you to a US server. Next you can download the Exe file that will allow you to install and run the VPN freely. In short, all you need is to simply run it and turn it!