Hotspot Shield VPN Review – 2019

Hotspot Shield logo

Hotspot Shield is a renowned VPN service provider based in Silicon Valley that offers an app and browser extension in both free and premium versions. While it’s a highly popular service – with more than 600 million users worldwide – the company’s data-gathering policies are questionable, which means it might not be the best option for business owners seeking total privacy. The company has recently been accused of tracking, logging, and selling customers’ information to third-parties, which goes against its claim of ensuring complete user anonymity. Hotspot Shield is better for unblocking than for privacy.

Hotspot Shield VPN features

The free version of Hotspot Shield offers access to a small number of servers, with a 500 MB bandwidth cap, and a limited IP range. It comes standard with dedicated malware protection that protects web browsers from known malicious websites.

The premium version has access to 2,500 servers across 25 different countries, with no bandwidth cap and support for torrenting. IP leak protection and a kill switch are built-in, which immediately disconnects from the Internet if the VPN connection is lost.  The paid version also offers a ‘Speed Boost’ feature, which provides access to dedicated servers with low traffic and more IP ranges.

Hotspot Shield pricing

The free version of Hotspot Shield VPN doesn’t require any registration and can be used on an unlimited number of devices.

The Premium Elite version is available for:

  • $12.99/month, billed monthly
  • $8.99 for access for 6 months, billed at $53.94 every 6 months
  • $71.88 for access for 12 months, billed annually
  • A $119.99 one-time fee, which offers access for life

Hotspot Shield customer support

Customer service is available via live chat and email. The live chat feature is available through the company’s official website, which is powered by Zendesk. While convenient, this outsourcing of customer service may be a deal breaker for businesses that need to maintain the highest levels of privacy. Their ticketing system is thorough, yet slow at times.  It can take up to 16 hours to receive a response.

What’s lacking

Hotspot Shield isn’t compatible with The Orion Router or any third-party proxies. In fact, all users are limited to the Catapult Hydra protocol, which is the company’s proprietary routing protocol. They’ve also stopped supporting the widely-acceptable OpenVPN protocol.

Also keep in mind that because Hotspot Shield is a US-based company, it’s subject to the privacy laws of the United States.  There are also reports of questionable user-data gathering policies. And last, but certainly not least, there’s inconsistency with speeds.

Pros

  • App for Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android
  • Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Malware protection for free users
  • No Tor Browser support

Cons

  • Questionable data-gathering policies
  • Inconsistent speeds
  • No phone-based customer support

Rating breakdown

  • Overall Rating: 3.5
  • Features: 3.5
  • Price: 3.5
  • Ease of Use: 4
  • Customer Service: 3

 

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