A VPN service with free and premium packages
Hotspot Shield is a VPN, also known as a virtual private network, which can be used when browsing the internet to give you privacy and anonymity. It turns a public network into a private one, which protects your identity from third parties trying to track your data. It connects to a range of different servers, hiding your IP address and displaying an alternate one. This is a popular way for businesses to connect, and for IT experts to prevent data access from hackers and identity thieves.
Two modes for access
Hotspot Shield or HSS has two modes for users to choose between. There is a free mode, which gives you access to one virtual location in the US and is supported by adverts. It provides standard definition streaming, but won’t connect to popular streaming services. The second way of accessing the VPN is through premium mode, which works through a subscription for one month, one year, or two years.
The features of the premium plan include an ad-free experience. You gain access to over seventy virtual locations to choose from, and high definition streaming. Once you are on the premium payment plan, streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer aren’t blocked, but you will need to use the right servers. The speeds of the free version are x1, whereas the premium plans, give you x4 speeds.
The speeds that Hotspot offers make it one of the fastest VPNs around. It uses its unique protocol called Catapult Hydra . Generally, speeds slow down when using a VPN, but the connection remains fast and in some cases was quicker than the connection without a VPN. Switching between connections is quick too, clicking on a new location gets you connected to the fastest server within a few seconds.
There are FAQs to support free users, whereas the paid subscription will give users 24/7 customer support. You are able to connect five different devices to one premium account, which means you can take advantage of this VPN in several different locations or share it with family members. Free members get the option to try a premium account for free on a trial basis.
HSS was created by AnchorFree, who are known for their low latency products that promote security. They have produced several other products, including a Chrome extension for Hotspot. This only encrypts browser traffic, whereas the full VPN will impact the apps you use as well.
The interface for this VPN is smart-looking, clean and easy to navigate, with a large start button to get you connected. You will see a clock showing the length of your connection, with the option to stop. There is a simple one-page settings menu that gives you access to everything you need, although advanced users might want more detail. HSS is designed to connect when Windows launches. It will find your last-used network and, once connected, you can switch to an alternative.
Hotspot Shield is known for its security, which means no IP or DNS leaks. They offer data protection through encryption and block phishing. The app also provides an automatic killswitch to protect your data in case your VPN connection drops for any reason. There is concern over the privacy and logging policies. While they don’t keep activity logs, some data is recorded during your session such as your IP address
There is concern over the privacy and logging policies for Hotspot Shield. While they don’t keep activity logs, some data is recorded during your session such as your IP address, although it is deleted at the end of the session. Since VPNs focus on privacy and anonymity, it is surprising to see that Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer an anonymous payment method, such as Bitcoin.
Other options exist
Although Hotspot Shield has its advantages, it isn’t necessarily for everyone, perhaps you want more control over the settings, or it could be that you need something even simpler. There are alternatives on the market that could suit your needs if you don’t get along with this VPN.
One alternative comes from the same company AnchorFree, they have created Betternet Free VPN, which is a service without data limits. Although the speeds are considerably slower than the premium version of Hotspot, it is free and straightforward to use. You don’t need to register for an account, just click and connect.
If it is a premium package that you are looking for, a viable alternative is IPVanish. It is a great option for fast connection speeds and privacy, and also offers multiple device connections, but won’t work with all streaming sites. It does give you the option to use an anonymous payment method as Bitcoin is accepted.
A popular and useful VPN
Hotspot Shield has over 650 million users, which is a sign they are doing something right. The choice of packages they offer is appealing, and the standout selling point is the speeds that you can get, which means smooth HD streaming through a VPN is a reality. The lack of DNS leaks and access to streaming services have no doubt contributed to its popularity. Overall, it is the ease of use and good customer service that makes this product stand out.
The latest version of the application has improved some issues experienced by users through particular servers. An internal web-server was removed to fix an issue with CVE-2018-6460. There was also a flaw in the Hot Spot Shield that was reported and fixed.