Hotspot Shield Review 2023

Of course, if we wanted to change our locations or use a different server, we could pull up the server list from the bottom of the screen and select which server location we wanted to connect to. The best part is that there were options to connect to servers that Hotspot Shield optimized for gaming and streaming, perfect for when we wanted to catch an episode or two of “The Office” during our breaks.

Does HotSpot VPN Keep Logs? (No, Here’s Why)

Does Hotspot Shield VPN keep logs? Can you trust it? In the past 9 months, I have been using this VPN and here’s what I know:

HotSpot Shield VPN doesn’t keep logs of you while you’re connected to their server using a single or multiple devices. While it protects your online privacy and hide your IP address from other computers and users, HotSpot Shield logs your real IP address, which will be deleted at the end of your session.

There are some basic things to be aware of. In general, you should opt out of all kinds of logs, including those related to IP addresses. However, you can opt in to specific logs, such as the ones related to network usage.

Avoid VPNs that Keep Logs

First, you should choose a VPN that does not keep logs. Generally, a VPN that does not keep logs will only have logs pertaining to the IP address of your computer.

Then you’ll be able to avoid having your real IP logged by the ISP. The best option for you is one that does not keep logs. The best VPN for this purpose is one that uses a third-party DNS server.

Consider a Free VPN Service

You might want to look for a free VPN service. A free service might be all you need, but it may not be as secure as a paid one. Free VPN services don’t keep logs because it takes a lot of resources to do so, which they don’t have (after all you’re not paying a dime to use the server).

For a reasonable fee, you can download an app, and then log in at a later time.

Alternatively, you can pay for a subscription that includes the most powerful features. The cost is usually lower than the premium options and the longer plans are also cheaper than the Surfshark plan.

A Good Encryption System

Check whether your VPN has a good encryption system. The best encryption methods include AES-256. While AES-128 is impenetrable, AES-256 is even more secure. NordVPN and SurfShark VPN are good examples of services that use this high-level of encryption.

Your personal information is secure, and no one will know if your data is being scrutinized. This means that if you are an American, you will have nothing to worry about.

Ask Questions about Logs

Ask if your VPN keeps logs. Most services have no logs, but a few do. A few of them are more secure than others, and it’s important to understand which ones are safer.

A VPN service should have no logs of your activity. You can read the fine print and make sure it matches your needs. HOTSPOT VPNs are more secure than their counterparts.

Is HotSpot Shield Safe to Use?

The paid version of Hotspot Shield is easy to use. Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll be redirected to a web console.

You can manually select the server location by selecting it from the list. It also has a help center and an antivirus. The company’s website is well-designed and easy to navigate. If you run into trouble, you can send them a support ticket.

Protect Your Online Privacy

A core reason to use a VPN is privacy. Regardless of your choice, you should always be aware of how your VPN works.

You should be wary of companies that store data. You should also avoid any VPN that stores your personal information.

This will protect you from all types of websites. You may even be able to access your email and bank without a problem. When you use a VPN, you can be sure that your data is safe.

Internet Security

A VPN is an important part of your internet security. It can protect your privacy and prevent you from getting spied.

By keeping your data private, Hotspot VPN will not share your data with anyone. This is especially true if you are using it to download torrents or browse the web. Then again, if you are a torrenter, you should find a VPN with this policy.

Is Your Session Recorded?

While most VPNs don’t record your IP address, HotSpot Shield VPN does record your session. This is done because they have to record your IP address to identify you.

The IP addresses used in your session are recorded. The IP address of the provider’s servers is also recorded.

This data is stored for 72 hours and then deleted. It’s a good idea to opt for a VPN with a no logs policy, if you want to protect your privacy.

Conclusion

The Hotspot Shield VPN also offers a no-logs policy. The company claims that it doesn’t log your personal information, but it does keep aggregate connection logs. This could be a major concern for some users.

A VPN that doesn’t monitor your IP address isn’t worth the price. Rather, it should have a no-logs policy. This policy can prevent your online identity from being stolen.

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Hotspot Shield Review 2023

With over 1,800 servers in over 80 countries, you can expect fast speeds from Hotspot Shield.

All of our content is written by humans, not robots. Learn More

By Aliza Vigderman , Senior Editor, Industry Analyst & Gabe Turner , Chief Editor Last Updated on Aug 28, 2023

Hotspot Shield 2023 - Product Image

Editors Rating:
8.9 /10

What We Like

  • Speed: Hotspot Shield performed lightning fast during download and upload speed tests, mainly because of its servers that support speeds up to 1 Gbps.
  • Can access Netflix: This could change, but for now, Hotspot Shield works with Netflix and other video streaming websites.
  • Free option: Hotspot Shield offers a free version that is convenient but capped at 500 MB per day and has a two Mbps speed limit.

What We Don’t Like

  • Only five simultaneous connections per account: Five just doesn’t cut it for some people.
  • Strict data retention laws: The United States is not the best place to base a VPN service in, given its membership in Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, but Hotspot Shield’s zero-logs policy means it has no data to give up in the first place.
  • Slow customer support for non-paying users: If you’re using the free version or simply shopping around Hotspot Shield’s website, there’s no live chat or phone support option. Queries go through email tickets only.

Bottom Line

Total security doesn’t have to sacrifice speed. Hotspot Shield is a perfect example, with super-fast speeds during our upload and download speed tests.

Contents: About Features Free Version Testing Subscription Customer Support App Recap
Recent Update: 1 month ago

Thanks to a recent app update, users may now log-in to Hotspot Shield using their Apple or Google accounts, streamlining the signup process. Keep in mind that if you use the new log-in method, Apple or Google may share your account information with Hotspot Shield.

VPNs, or virtual private networks, play a crucial role in keeping our online privacy intact. With the use of encryption, VPNs protect our data, while also maintaining our anonymity and privacy by rerouting traffic through secure servers that cloak our real IP addresses.

That’s how all VPNs work, but given the variety of available options, differences in speed, performance, and security inevitably exist among VPNs. Some VPNs are faster, more secure, and more reliable, and they are typically the best VPNs to use.

As privacy advocates and digital security experts, we made it our goal to assess the most popular VPN options to test how they perform in the real world. That is to help you pick the right VPN for your unique needs. So here’s our rundown of Hotspot Shield, a California-based VPN famous for its free VPN service. To fully test its potential, though, we focused our tests on the premium version. Here’s how it went.

Features of ‘Hotspot Shield Free’

Number of server locations 1
Supported devices Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome
Simultaneous VPN connections 1
Data limit Unlimited (ad-supported)
Speed limit 1 Gbps

Editor’s Rating

Overall Rating
  • Offers the Hydra protocol for fast speeds.
  • Uses AES-256 encryption, the industry gold standard.
  • Comes with malware detection and 1TB of cloud storage.

Hotspot Shield In A Nutshell

Hotspot Shield is an excellent VPN that provides top-tier features comparable to the best VPNs available, but there are also a couple of drawbacks to consider. The five-device limit on simultaneous connections and slow customer support come to mind. If those are important to you, we recommend exploring other leading VPN options that we have tested personally:

Editor’s Rating:

9.7 /10

Editor’s Rating:

9.5 /10

Editor’s Rating:

9.4 /10

About Hotspot Shield

Selecting a Server in the Hotspot Shield App

Hotspot Shield is a VPN company based out of Redwood City, California. It started in 2008 and at last count, they had over 1,800 servers offering several thousand different IP addresses. Hotspot Shield servers are distributed in over 125 locations in different regions throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Africa.

When it comes to choosing a VPN, more servers often translates to better performance, especially in terms of speed and reliability. Connecting to a larger network means you’re less likely to experience network congestion, which results in faster and more stable connections. Not to spoil anything, but Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested.

One slight drawback of Hotspot Shield is its location. We love supporting homegrown companies, but as far as VPNs are concerned, the United States is not the best place to establish a VPN company.

You see, the U.S. is a founding member of the Five Eyes alliance and a part of the bigger Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes alliances of countries. Member countries of these alliances share communication intelligence among themselves. Additionally, a company within the jurisdiction of member countries can be compelled to share customer information; for instance, for the purpose of criminal investigation.

Of course, no company should tolerate criminals, but the Five Eyes alliance puts their citizens and the companies under their jurisdiction at greater risks of government overreach. Fortunately, Hotspot Shield understands that, and as you’ll see below, has a watertight logging policy that prevents it from collecting and subsequently sharing information with anyone outside the company.

Is the logging policy effective? According to Hotspot Shield, it received 56 government requests in 2018, but it hadn’t been able to produce any data because of the privacy policy.

Hotspot Shield Features

Hotspot Shield Privacy Policy

Moving on with our review, let’s talk about Hotspot Shield’s features. When we test VPNs, there are certain features we look for in relation to how secure VPNs are and how convenient they are to use. Here’s what we found out about Hotspot Shield.

Will Hotspot Shield Log My Data?

Data logging is a major concern when it comes to choosing a VPN. If a VPN logs your IP address, for instance, and the government asks it to provide the IP addresses that accessed a certain server at a certain date and time, they’ll be able to tie your browsing activity back to you.

That’s not good, and is a particular worry for VPN companies in the United States as discussed above. Fortunately, Hotspot Shield has a “no logging” policy just like many other VPNs. The scope of logging policies differ, however, so let’s look at Hotspot Shield’s in particular to get a clearer picture of how much privacy it provides.

Looking at Hotspot Shield’s privacy policy, the data it collects is pretty standard, such as diagnostic data like device and app versions and request timestamps. Once in a while, it may also request that you rate its services, but your response will not be tied to your account in any way.

There are a couple of important points to consider regarding Hotspot Shield’s data collection practices. First, Hotspot Shield does record your IP address at the beginning of each session, but it encrypts and deletes it at the end. This information is not linked to your browsing activity, ensuring your privacy. Secondly, Hotspot Shield also keeps a record of your bandwidth usage and the servers you’ve accessed, but these data points are collected anonymously.

Would it be fair to label Hotspot Shield untrustworthy because of those data collection practices? Not really. The company is forthcoming about what it collects and how it protects the collected data, and that’s a good sign. However, it would also be perfectly understandable if you choose not to use the service because of how much it logs. It’s your data, so only you can decide how much of it you’re comfortable sharing.

Pro Tip: You can learn more about Hotspot Shield’s privacy policy in our Hotspot Shield privacy report. And if you think Hotspot Shield won’t work out for you because of what it logs, you can read our review of ExpressVPN, one of the best VPNs for privacy-conscious VPN users.

Does Hotspot Shield Have A Kill Switch?

Hotspot Shield Windows Kill Switch

If Hotspot Shield’s data collection practices don’t bother you, let’s move on to the inner workings of the VPN, starting with its features. The first thing you should look for when shopping for a VPN is the kill switch feature. In VPN terms, a kill switch is a built-in mechanism that blocks all traffic. That’s critical, because without it, your device will switch over to an unencrypted network without you knowing, exposing your online activity moving forward.

Fortunately, the kill switch is a common feature. Hotspot Shield has it, and it’s turned on by default. Moreover, all its apps, from the Windows and macOS desktop versions to the mobile app versions, offer a kill switch.

Does Hotspot Shield Offer Split Tunneling?

Split Tunneling

Split tunneling lets you route some traffic through your ISP and some through the VPN. Think of it as using VPN on some apps on your computer or smartphone, and using the regular internet on others. For instance, you can simultaneously use your VPN to watch Netflix shows abroad and browse local news articles without a VPN.

The free version of Hotspot Shield doesn’t include split tunneling, which is unfortunate because split tunneling could lower your VPN bandwidth usage. When you turn on the free VPN, all your device’s traffic goes through the VPN server, including traffic from bandwidth-heavy apps. For premium accounts, though, split tunneling is available under the name Smart VPN.

Can I Use Netflix with Hotspot Shield?

Hotspot Shield optimized its premium plans for use with Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and other streaming platforms as well as torrenting. Premium account users can obtain connection speeds of up to one Gbps (depending on your network’s speed, of course), which is perfect for high-definition streaming.

That is, if you pay for a subscription. Hotspot Shield has a free version that delivers only 500 MB of bandwidth per day. You can watch ads to surpass the limit, but isn’t the point of streaming to be able to watch your favorite shows without ads? Additionally, the free version has limited server access, which means you may not be able to connect to the specific Netflix region you want to access.

Hotspot Shield Encryption

VPN Encryption

The standard encryption for your data when using Hotspot Shield is 256-bit AES. This encryption method is pretty much unbreakable. They say it would take 14 billion years to decrypt AES-256 with the world’s current supercomputers using brute-force attacks.

Let’s just say your ISP probably won’t find how many gigabytes of Jackie Chan films you’ve been torrenting. Although, let us just remind you that downloading copyrighted content is illegal, even if you’re using a VPN.

Hotspot Shield Protocols

Internet protocols determine how data packets are dispatched across a network. You can think of protocols as the different routes cars can take to get between their origins and their destinations.

You could take a government highway to get to your safe house in the woods, but then security cameras might have recorded you. Or you could take back roads the whole way, but it might take you days. This is the kind of trade-off you often face between security and performance.

Hotspot Shield, however, developed its own VPN protocol that delivers fast speeds and impressive security.

Hydra

Hotspot Shield bucks the trend of VPNs using popular VPN protocols like SSTP or OpenVPN. Instead, it uses its own proprietary protocol, Hydra.

Hotspot Shield specifically developed Hydra because it found that popular protocols like IPSec and OpenVPN are bound by performance and latency challenges. Hotspot Shield claims that Hydra:

  • Has a faster connection to VPN servers
  • Uses less bandwidth when transporting data through encrypted tunnels
  • Offers connection speeds 2.4 times faster for long-distance connections, compared to OpenVPN

As you will see in our Hotspot Shield speed test results below, there is some truth to these claims. Hydra, and by extension, Hotspot Shield, indeed performed incredibly fast. And when it comes to data security, Hydra did prevent our IP address from leaking out.

But is Hydra better than more widely used, open-source protocols like OpenVPN? We don’t think so. At best, it’s a good alternative that provides about the same speed and security as OpenVPN. However, it’s new and it’s proprietary, so it will take a lot more real-world testing to convince us, but kudos to Hotspot Shield for trying to innovate.

WireGuard

In addition to Hydra, Hotspot Shield offers the WireGuard protocol, which is a lighter and faster alternative to OpenVPN. Users can choose between Hydra and WireGuard, and although both protocols are good, WireGuard is more widely implemented in the VPN industry, so chances are, it will work in more situations.

That said, both protocols are secure, so you can switch back and forth freely depending on what works best for you.

Hotspot Shield Free Version

Connecting to Hotspot Shield

Whenever you hear the words “free VPN”, a little alarm should go off in your head. VPN companies have to make money somehow, in order to pay for their servers and infrastructure. And the saying “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” holds true for most free VPNs. This often means they are giving your data to advertising partners or other third parties; not ideal if you care about privacy.

Free VPNs from reputable companies like Hotspot Shield, however, can prove useful for internet users on a budget. And surprisingly, the free version is quite capable. It no longer has a speed limit, so you can enjoy internet speeds up to 1 Gbps. If your internet is fast, you may even be able to stream or download with Hotspot Shield Basic (free).

That being said, there are a few caveats. For starters, you can only connect one device at a time. The premium version, on the other hand, lets you connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.

You can also access only one virtual server location, so you technically do not have access to Hotspot Shield’s entire network. Specifically, you won’t be able to access servers optimized for streaming and online gaming.

You also have to be wary of the bandwidth limit. Free users can only use 500 MB of data per day, although if you’re on an Android or iOS device, you can watch ads to surpass the limit.

Lastly, the free plan plan doesn’t include these features that are available on any of the paid plans:

  • Anti-phishing
  • Kill switch
  • Smart VPN

FYI: The 500 MB daily data limit doesn’t carry over to the next day. You get 500 MB per day and that’s it. Watching ads on the Android and iOS apps, however, can give you extra bandwidth.

Features Hotspot Shield Basic Hotspot Shield Premium Hotspot Shield Premium Family
Number of server locations 1 115+ (including virtual locations) 115+ (including virtual locations)
Supported devices Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome
Simultaneous VPN connections 1 10 25 (5 devices per member)
Data limit 500 MB per day (watch ads to increase) None None
Speed limit 1 Mbps 1 Gbps 1 Gbps
Encryption Up to 256-bit AES Up to 256-bit AES Up to 256-bit AES
Kill switch No Yes Yes
Split tunneling No Yes Yes
Multi-hop No No No
Netflix access No Yes Yes
Optimized for online gaming No Yes Yes

Still, even with all the limits, Hotspot Shield’s free VPN can provide some level of protection. You’re still connected to a VPN tunnel, which is encrypted, so even if you can access only one location and there’s a bandwidth limit, you can make it work. The free Hotspot Shield VPN is particularly useful for students on a budget.

Testing Hotspot Shield

There’s only one way to find out if Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Hydra results in faster speeds: real-world speed tests of Hotspot Shield Premium. Additionally, we tested whether Hotspot Shield was impervious to DNS and WebRTC leaks.

Limited Speed on the free Hotspot Shield App

Like most people, internet speed matters to us. After all, what’s the use of a secure connection if all we can do online is stare at a blank screen while we wait for our favorite shows to buffer?

Keep in mind that there are many factors that your internet speed will depend on when using a VPN – time of day, location, internet service provider, software, hardware, VPN server location, and so on. We tested Hotspot Shield Premium on a Macbook Pro running Mac OS X Catalina and a Lenovo Thinkpad running Windows 10, which we connected to our 70 Mbps internet.

Download Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN 75.27 mbps
With VPN 52.24 mbps
Windows
Without VPN 77.71 mbps
With VPN 63.36 mbps

As you can see, Hotspot Shield Premium decreased our download speed by around 30 percent on Mac and 18 percent on Windows. While Hotspot Shield performed slightly better on Windows in this category, we’re impressed with the performance on both systems. The speed loss on Mac and Windows was barely noticeable.

We did another test, this time comparing the speed of VPNs, and Hotspot Shield performed even better in the download speed category. In fact, Hotspot Shield recorded the smallest percentage of download speed loss at just three-percent.

Upload Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN 28.18 mbps
With VPN 27.68 mbps
Windows
Without VPN 28.98 mbps
With VPN 21.38 mbps

Next, we tested the difference in upload speeds with and without the Hotspot Shield Premium. In this case, the Windows connection performed a little worse with a decrease of 26 percent compared to only 0.2 percent on Mac.

Ping Speed Tests

Mac
Without VPN 10 ms
With VPN 64 ms
Windows
Without VPN 12 ms
With VPN 66 ms

Finally, we looked at the ping, or latency, in milliseconds. In this category, Hotspot Shield was quite slow.

We saw a ping increase of 540 percent for Windows and 430 percent for Mac. That’s bad news, especially if you’re playing online games competitively, but not so much if you’re browsing or streaming. Overall, besides ping, these are among the fastest speeds we’ve seen from VPNs.

DNS Leak Test

DNS Leak Test

DNS leak tests are important to make sure your device is sending all DNS traffic through the VPN tunnel. If it’s not, then you have a DNS leak, which means your ISP and, possibly, hackers, can still see your real IP address. This type of leak can also happen if you configured your VPN manually, if an attacker got control of your router, or if you chose to do a manual DNS setup.

Hotspot Shield DNS Leak Test

We used a DNS leak test tool to see if Hotspot Shield had any DNS leaks. And the result? Well, the IP address that the leak test tool detected was from the Bahamas, and we were nowhere near there when we performed the tests. That means that Hotspot Shield successfully shielded our IP address from DNS leaks.

WebRTC Leak Test

Do you want to use a VPN with Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Opera? Then you need to know about WebRTC leaks.

WebRTC, otherwise known as Web Real-Time Communication, is a collection of standardized technologies that allow web browsers to communicate with each other directly rather than going through intermediate servers. WebRTC allows for faster speeds for video chat, live streaming, and file transfers. Who doesn’t want that?

Well, there are some security issues that arise from the fact that WebRTC needs your public IP address. Let us explain the difference between public and private IP addresses.

Private IP addresses are what local networks use to identify each other. When you connect a laptop to a router, for example, the router assigns a private IP address to it. Now, private IP addresses aren’t unique, thus, are not traceable; two different networks can assign the same private IP address to two different devices.

Public IP addresses, on the other hand, come from your ISP. They’re globally unique and no two devices can share the same public IP address. Public IP addresses allow users to access the internet directly.

Now, when you’re using a VPN, it should hide your public IP address and block leakage such as WebRTC leaks. A simple WebRTC leak test would tell you if there are leaks; if the IP address on the test tool matches your public IP address, then your VPN is not doing its job. Fortunately, when we tested Hotspot Shield, it didn’t reveal our public IP address.

Hotspot Shield WebRTC Leak Test

Hotspot Shield Subscription

So now that you know what Hotspot Shield Premium has to offer, the real question is… what’s it gonna cost you?

Options

Hotspot Shield Premium Price Plans

Pricing details Basic Premium Premium Family
Monthly plan cost $0 $12.99 $19.99
Yearly plan cost $0 $95.99 $143.99
Number of users per subscription 1 1 5
Number of devices per user 1 10 5
Total number of devices 1 10 25
Maximum connection speed 1 Gbps 1 Gbps 1 Gbps
Server locations 1 (U.S.A.) 115+ 115+
Streaming access No Yes Yes
Data limit per day 500 MB (watch ads to increase) Unlimited Unlimited

You can connect to Hotspot Shield for free for a maximum of 500 MB of data per day. To learn more about their free subscription, read about Hotspot Shield’s pricing. Get started now.

Hotspot Shield offers three different subscription options: Basic, Premium, and Premium Family. Premium and Premium Family share the same VPN features.

However, Premium only gets you one VPN account which can support up to five devices. Premium Family, on the other hand, gets you five VPN accounts that you can share with family members. Each member gets the same features as Premium: A VPN they can use on five devices. So if we do the math, that’s like having five Premium subscriptions for $19.99 per month, only $7 more expensive than the Premium individual plan. That’s a pretty nice deal, and it’s perfect not only for families, but even a group of friends or roommates.

You can choose to pay for Hotspot Shield every month or every year. Like with most VPN services, the monthly price gets lower as your commitment increases. If for some reason, you don’t like Hotspot Shield Premium, you can get a refund using the company’s 45-day money-back guarantee.

Connecting Five Devices Simultaneously with Hotspot Shield

Manual Configurations

Using Hotspot Shield on my Mac

Hotspot Shield has native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux devices as well as a browser extension for Chrome. On smart TVs, Hotspot Shield is available for Fire TVs and Android TVs. However, for routers, you need to configure Hotspot Shield manually.

Hotspot Shield Customer Support

Hopefully, you won’t need to use Hotspot Shield’s customer support, but just in case, here are the details on how you can troubleshoot problems.

Features

Hotspot Shield Customer Support

Hotspot Shield has 24/7 support via live chat, but there’s a catch. You can only access the live chat support if you’re a Premium or Premium Family account holder. If you are, then good! All you need to do is sign in with your account on your browser.

If you’re using the free version, however, or if you have questions before buying services from Hotspot Shield, your only options are Hotspot Shield’s email ticket support and knowledge base. Waiting to hear back after submitting a ticket can take days, but fortunately, Hotspot Shield’s knowledge base covers a wide range of topics, so hopefully, you can get your answers from there.

The Hotspot Shield App

The Hotspot Shield App

The Hotspot Shield App has applications for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The Android app has a 4.1 rating on the Google Play Store. The iPhone app has a 4.5 rating on the iOS App Store.

These are excellent ratings, which shows that users enjoy using the Hotspot Shield app. Of course, we tested it ourselves on an iPad that we use for browsing and research, and we liked the app’s no-nonsense approach. On the homepage was a single power button that connected us to the nearest server automatically. There were no other buttons and no settings to tinker with when connecting.

Of course, if we wanted to change our locations or use a different server, we could pull up the server list from the bottom of the screen and select which server location we wanted to connect to. The best part is that there were options to connect to servers that Hotspot Shield optimized for gaming and streaming, perfect for when we wanted to catch an episode or two of “The Office” during our breaks.

Hotspot Shield Vs. NordVPN

nordvpn-review

NordVPN is a leading VPN with a lot of similarities to Hotspot Shield. They both have high numbers of servers, but NordVPN wins with over 5,200 servers compared to Hotspot Shield’s 1,800 servers. NordVPN also beats Hotspot Shield in that NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, a country not subject to international surveillance alliances or data retention laws. Hotspot Shield’s home base is the United States, which is part of the Five Eye international surveillance alliance and has comparatively strict data retention laws.

Hotspot Shield Premium NordVPN
Log Data No No
Kill Switch Only on Windows Yes
Split Tunneling No No
Netflix Yes Yes
Torrenting Yes Yes
IP Addresses Dynamic Static, shared w/other NordVPN users

Neither VPN logs data that could tie your web traffic back to you, but Hotspot Shield Premium does log more information. It logs the duration of your VPN sessions, the bandwidth consumed, and the domains that you accessed (but on an anonymized basis). This is all information that NordVPN says it doesn’t store.

Both have kill switches and split tunneling, which are essential security features. You should be able to stream from Netflix and torrent files with both VPNs. NordVPN gives you the same shared IP address each time (unless you want to pay extra for a dedicated IP address), while Hotspot Shield will give you a dynamic IP address that changes every time you connect. We prefer how Hotspot Shield rotates its IP addresses regularly, as it makes it harder for hackers to track you.

Now that we’ve gone over how NordVPN and Hotspot Shield’s features compare, let’s talk about their performance during tests.

Of the two, Hotspot Shield was the fastest VPN. Hotspot Shield worked significantly faster on Mac and slightly faster on Windows than NordVPN. Neither system had any DNS or WebRTC leaks.

Overall, if speed is your priority, we would recommend Hotspot Shield. But if you value privacy, I would go with NordVPN.

Recap of Hotspot Shield

Overall, we liked Hotspot Shield’s speed and that it has a free option that is only ad-supported on Android. It is fast, it performs smoothly, and it allows us to go on Netflix and torrent movies.

However, we didn’t like its privacy policy, particularly how much data it collected. Also, it didn’t help that the company is based in the U.S., subject to international surveillance alliance laws. But since everyone has their own priorities, we’ll break it down further.

Hotspot Shield might be the VPN for you if you like:
  • Netflix access: Hotspot Shield works with Netflix and other video streaming services.
  • Speed: Hotspot Shield performed lightning fast on both Mac and Windows computers.
  • Highly-rated app: Both Android and iOS users rated the Hotspot Shield app at least four stars.
  • Free option: Hotspot Shield offers a free version that is convenient but capped at 500 MB per day and has a two Mbps speed limit.
On the other hand, you might want to avoid Hotspot Shield if you can’t stand:
  • Only five simultaneous connections per account: Although you can purchase another subscription or router for more connections.
  • Split tunneling: You’ll be able to access public and private servers at the same time.
  • Strict data retention laws: The United States is a part of Five Eyes and could request your data from Hotspot Shield.
  • Data logging policy: It’s undeniable that Hotspot Shield logs more than it needs to and more than its competitors like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
  • Slow customer support: You can only contact support by submitting a ticket, with no phone or live chat support available.

Downloading the Hotspot Shield app is all it took to encrypt our web traffic in their tunnel. Find out how you can connect.

FAQs

We took a little extra time to address your most frequently asked questions. You’ll find our answers below.

Hotspot Shield’s free version is really free. However, you should know that it has a daily usage limit of 500 MB. In addition, the Android app version is ad-supported.

You can trust Hotspot Shield not to leak your personal information. It passed both our WebRTC and DNS leak tests. In addition, the company says it doesn’t log any browsing information. However, it does log information about the duration of your VPN sessions, though, as well as which VPN servers you accessed. In addition, the company is based in the U.S., which means it’s part of the Five Eyes surveillance group. That may give you some doubts about whether you can trust Hotspot Shield completely, as government agencies could force the company to share customer information, completely legally.

There is no inherent reason why you should remove Hotspot Shield from your device. Obviously, if you’ve come across a better VPN, you may want to delete Hotspot Shield before you install that new service.

  1. Visit the Hotspot Shield homepage.
  2. Click the blue Get Hotspot Shield button in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Choose Try Now under the Basic plan.
  4. Download and install the software on your computer.

To get Hotspot’s free Android app:

  1. Visit the Google Play store.
  2. Type Hotspot Shield free into the search bar.
  3. Click Install.

To get Hotspot’s free iOS app:

  1. Visit the App Store.
  2. Select the search icon in the navigation bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Type Hotspot Shield free into the search bar.
  4. Choose Hotspot VPN and Wifi Proxy.
  5. Click Install.