Hotspot Shield was first released by AnchorFree in 2008 and now has over 500 million users around the world. Hotspot Shield is best known for its free account, used by the majority of downloaders, but it also offers an Elite addition at a very preferential rate. The service offers 20 locations to choose from.
Hotspot Shield:The Pros
- 45 day money back guarantee
- Excellent speed
- Simple to use, even as a beginner
- Easy navigation and shortcuts to favourite sites
- Low pricing
- Free 7 day trial of the Elite account
Hotspot Shield: The Cons
- Based in the US
- Some personal information is stored though it is not linked to your online activity
- It doesn’t use OpenVPN, it uses proprietary encryption instead
Hotspot Shield: The Story
Hotspot Shield first found fame as the most popular VPN used during the Arab Spring. Since then, it has been a valuable tool for people around the world suffering website blackouts.
Hotspot is easy to use for beginners and once you have downloaded the app, there are buttons leading you directly to the most popular sites including Netflix and Facebook. There are very few settings which can be good for new users but may frustrate more seasoned VPN users.
You can start by using the free version of Hotspot Shield and then sign up for a free trial of the Elite account. However, do be wary that must enter your credit card details and will be automatically charged the monthly tariff once your free trial is up. If you don’t want to continue with the Elite account, just remember to cancel your subscription.
One of the main concerns of any VPN user is privacy and though it seems that Hotspot Shield’s security is strong and secured, as it uses its own proprietary encryption protocol, Catapult Hydra, instead of OpenVPN, it is impossible to verify this. The reason for the use of Catapult Hydra is to optimize the performance of the VPN given the high traffic of having such a huge user base and given how cheap the app is, many users are willing to trust Hotspot Shield.
Though Hotspot does store personal information such as your email address and bank details, these are not attached to your online activities and any browsing or connection data is deleted at the end of your VPN session.
Customer care for those using the Elite version of Hotspot Shield is generally good though customer support does seem to be under strain from such a large user base. Users of the free version get significantly slower responses. However, there is a Hotspot Shield Help Centre which offers various guides and resources sorted by platform.
Hotspot Shield: Pricing
The most popular version of Hotspot is free, but if you would like to upgrade to the Elite version, this is usually around $8 per month on an annual subscription. Alternatively, you could make a one off payment for a lifetime subscription of around $160.
These prices are subject to change and you may be able to find deals online. However, these are certainly already very competitive compared to the rest of the market.