- 5 Simultaneous Connections
- Ad-free Browsing
- Additional Malware Protection
“Hotspot Shield is a no-frills budget option for basic VPN protection with on-off access to streaming services.”
Currently working with Netflix, although access can be intermittent
A no-nonsense solution for secure browsing on the go
If all you want is basic encryption and to hide your IP, this does the job
Launched in 2005, Hotspot Shield is a well-established budget VPN. If your needs are basic, it offers a very affordable entry into the world of online privacy. It’s easy to use, connects very quickly and has servers in most major locations. Speeds are also impressive given the very low price point. It’s the perfect solution for a price-conscious traveller or someone looking to browse privately.
If you are looking for a 100% reliable streaming solution to help you unlock extra content from the big providers, we recommend looking at other VPN providers. Hotspot Shield does however reliably work with BBC iPlayer, which is a plus. We have also found it to work sporadically with Netflix. Similarly, if you are a frequent torrenter, look elsewhere as the company’s incorporation in the US means they comply with law enforcement requests.
Hotspot Shield might not boast the eye-catching speeds of its more expensive competitors but given the price-point, the speeds are pretty impressive and certainly fast enough for streaming video without hiccup. Performance on the China server is also very good given the generally suppressed speeds suffered in that country, making Hotspot Shield Elite a good option for users looking to access China-only services, such as Youku.
Connection time is very impressive, outperforming its rivals comfortably with its snappiness. Latency is also very low, which puts it in the frame for cash-strapped gamers looking for an affordable VPN.
|Max Download Speed||33.33 (FRA)||61.14 (UK)||46.57 (US)|
|Max Upload Speed||41.34 (DE)||36.64 (FRA)||36.14 (US)|
|Average time to connect||2s||8s||13s|
|Tested and working with||BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Kodi, Netflix||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Gaming, Kodi, Torrenting||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Torrenting, Sling TV, Kodi|
|SERVER LOCATION||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
Hotspot Shield may offer a slim choice of server locations but it has the main locations most VPN light users would need, covering off North America, major European countries and Australia.
Asian coverage is very thin but the inclusion of a China server makes HSS an appealing budget choice for users wishing to access China-only content, such as video site Youku. Check our server list below before buying as there are some gaps in coverage, such as Italy, that might affect your decision.
Hotspot Shield could do a lot better on customer support. There is no live chat option and the only support avenue is via a form submission on the site that has a restrictive structure that makes it awkward to ask general questions.
Support request response time was impressively fast but really let down by the quality. Responses were canned and not directly relevant to our questions. We gave up after three attempts to solve our issue. The knowledge base is very basic and is put to shame by competitors’ efforts. The lack of video is also a downside.
All that said, Hotspot Shield Elite is so incredibly simple to use, there’s a fair chance you may not need any support and at this price point, there will always be trade-offs.
You can’t really get much simpler than Hotspot Shield Elite. There is a big connect button and a drop-down menu of server locations below it. Select a location and hit the button. That’s it. Connection time is incredibly quick, so no frustrating wait. The other elements on the app main view, such as network name or links to Netflix, feel a bit superfluous but they are certainly not confusing.
The app is almost simple to a fault in that the options are very limited indeed, with no facility to change protocols or select servers optimised for specific tasks for example. Aside from a couple of toggle switches for IP leak protection and when the app should start automatically, there is little configurability. However, if you just want a one-button VPN, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
Hotspot Shield does some things right in terms of privacy, such as its zero-logging policy beyond recording your IP address for support purposes. However, it does suffer from some issues that make it difficult to recommend for people with high-level privacy and security needs. It’s incorporated in the US and lacks its own DNS servers.
The lack of information or options regarding standard security protocols and features is also a concern. For safer browsing on airport Wi-Fi or watching iPlayer outside the UK, Hotspot Shield is perfectly sufficient. For more stringent privacy needs, look elsewhere.
Torrenters should also find another solution as P2P traffic is not permitted.
|Open VPN (Auto)|
|Open VPN (UDP/TCP)|
|Supports TCP Port 443|
|Supports SSH Tunnel|
|Supports SSL Tunnel|
|First party DNS servers|
|DNS Leak Blocking|
|Anonymous Payment Method|
|Tor over VPN server|