Hotspot Shield test and review
Hotspot Shield is an interesting offer for VPN service. The company prides itself on having the fastest servers in the world – based on tests conducted by speedtest. The application itself provides one free server, which can be used by any person for free. Unfortunately, in the Internet you can come across a lot of negative opinions about Hotspot Shield, especially in Google Play. What is it like in reality?
Is VPN Hotspot Shield safe?
Hotspot Shield boasts the use of the latest and most secure encryption technologies currently. All network traffic is encrypted with a 256-bit AES cryptographic key as standard. As part of the VPN service, you can use more than 3200 servers located in more than 80 countries around the world. Hotspot Shield ensures that it doesn’t collect or sell any logs of your online activity.
Hotspot Shield controversy
Hotspot Shield currently provides a free version of its service and partly works in the freemium model. At least theoretically, because in practice, as a free user, we get access to only one server, which is geolocated in the United States. Additionally, as a non-paying user, you can only count on 500 megabytes of free transfer per day and limited capacity. The first thing that is noticeable when trying to install an app on a smartphone is the huge number of negative reviews on Google Play and AppStore. While you may try to blame customers who wanted to get the full version of the service for free, the accusations mainly concern payment problems and automatic charging of customers for premium service without their consent.
Hotspot Shield itself was founded in 2005 by AnchorFree. In 2019 the name of the company managing the VPN service was changed to Pango. Here we come to the darker side of Hotspot Shield. The company was accused in 2017 by the non-profit Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) of sharing and selling its clients’ metadata directly to advertisers. In addition, in February 2018, a security breach was discovered in an application that caused a leakage of real data, including the user’s actual IP address, country of location and wi-fi network name to which the device was connected. Hotspot Shield offers a 45-day trial period with a money-back guarantee, but many users regret in online forums that it’s very difficult to actually recover the money, and the VPN provider’s support department is virtually non-existent. The trial version is of course an advantage, but the company has a lot of work to do in order to gradually rebuild the damaged trust.
How much does Hotspot Shield cost?
A monthly subscription to the VPN service costs USD 12.99, or about PLN 50. If we decide to choose the annual variant, we will have to pay 7.99 USD per month (less than 34 PLN) for it. Before deciding to purchase, it’s worth checking out the completely free trial version, which offers access to one server located in the United States.
Does Hotspot Shield allow me to watch Netflix?
Despite Hotspot Shield assurances of full support for streaming services, we didn’t manage to launch Netflix. We were greeted either by an error message or there was still Polish geolocation and you couldn’t watch content in another language. In case of YouTube it was possible to bypass the regional blockade with Hotspot Shield.
What data download and upload speeds does Hotspot Shield achieve?
With the VPN tunnel off, the speeds we achieved were 144 Mbps for download and 142 Mbps for upload at 1 millisecond ping.
After selecting the Polish server and running a testing program, the download speed achieved was around 125 Mbps and the upload speed was 128 Mbps. The Internet is running smoothly, and the impact of the VPN tunnel is practically unnoticeable. We can easily watch high resolution content and play our favourite online game.
The results from the American server were a big surprise for us. Unfortunately, it was a negative surprise… The download speed dropped to 75 Mbps, i.e. by almost half. It was even worse with the upload speed – only 30 Mbps. Despite the low ping, the Internet wasn’t working well, and the quality of the connection caused jams and consequently the need for constant image caching when trying to watch a video on YouTube. It seems that the promised high speeds are a pious wish and the title of the fastest VPN was clearly outnumbered.
The server, located in the United Kingdom, gave quite an average result – 79 Mbps download speed and 61 Mbps upload speed. However, the connection quality was much better, compared to a server from the USA.
The last VPN node tested was a German server. The download speed of 84 Mbps and upload speed of 68 Mbps is satisfactory, but we have to admit that the competition can be faster.
In general, there is still a lack of connection quality and data transfer speed. We had high expectations for Hotspot Shield, which unfortunately weren’t met. Particularly puzzling was the low upload speed, which was clearly different from the average of other VPN tests.
Does Hotspot Shield enable torrents downloading?
Unfortunately, when buying a subscription, we won’t find special servers to use P2P. Using torrents on standard nodes is possible, but speeds can fluctuate very much. Additionally, if you like to seed, Hotspot Shield won’t be a good choice. For some reason VPN has big problems with upload speed.
The convenience of Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield applications are very well thought-out and offer everything in one place. Additionally, a counter of transmitted data can be a useful feature, which indicates how many megabytes have been sent and received by a VPN client. The application also displays information about our new IP address, current server load and the method of connection to the Internet. As a standard, it has a kill switch function, which interrupts data transfer in case of automatic connection breakage. Another useful feature is the ability to automatically connect to the VPN in case of detection of a public wi-fi network. Thanks to this, we will always be protected and our home software for blocking ads will have an easier task.
We have very mixed feelings about Hotspot Shield. Its price is relatively exorbitant and the speeds offered by the provider are at most average. On top of that there is also the scandal related to collecting and selling confidential data of its users. Although everyone deserves a second chance, VPN Hotspot Shield has a difficult task in terms of acquiring new users. Find out how to choose the right VPN for your needs!