HotVPN is a distinctly average provider charging way above the mark for a mediocre service. True, it’s pretty speedy locally and you can access both Netflix and BBC iPlayer, but its secretive approach is unnecessary, especially considering the high level of privacy it offers.
The company has been around since 2006, but there’s only a custom app for Windows, and even then it’s incredibly outdated. If you’re willing to pay what HotVPN is charging, be aware that there are far better options for a fraction of the price.
Pricing & Deals
HotVPN offers three different levels of service – Single VPN, Double VPN and Quad VPN. These are all essentially the same thing, with the key difference being they allow you to route your VPN traffic through one, two or four VPN servers.
The first option is the cheapest, with prices increasing dramatically if you opt for either of the other two.
Get 35% off HotVPN's 3-year plan
HotVPN Pricing & Deals
The Single VPN plan will set you back $11.99 per month, or you can save yourself 30% by signing up for an annual subscription, costing $8.50 on a monthly basis.
You can find slightly bigger savings on the longest plan – three years – which reduces the monthly cost down to $7.80, at a saving of 35%.
The Double and Quad plans are incredibly overpriced, costing $25.99 or a whopping $47.99 per month respectively. Considering there are VPN providers out there that offer Double VPN for a fraction of that, it’s just not worth paying this much.
You can pay for HotVPN with a credit or debit card, PayPal or Bitcoin. There are also a few options for international customers such as WebMoney, Qiwi Wallet and Yandex.
Speed & Reliability
HotVPN’s performance in our speed tests was satisfactory, but nothing more than that. Downloads peaked at 37Mbps in the UK (we test from London) and averaged around 30Mbps across the rest of Europe, which is more than ample for streaming in HD on at least one or two devices.
We were disappointed with speeds over longer distances, however, with the US and Canadian servers struggling to reach a paltry 4Mbps down and 6Mbps up. While this is certainly quick enough for checking your emails and watching the odd YouTube video, it’s not going to be any good for downloading multiple large files at speed.
If you’re planning on mainly connecting locally, you shouldn’t have too many problems with HotVPN, but if you need to connect internationally on a regular basis, this isn’t the right provider for you.
To find out more about our speed testing methodologies, please read How We Review VPNs.
HotVPN’s server location is one of the smallest we’ve seen from a paid provider, covering just 14 different countries. Those located in the US and Europe have got a handful of options to choose from, but there’s a distinct lack of coverage elsewhere in the world.
US-based users will be pleased to hear that there’s city-level choice in the country, although currently only three cities are covered – Brooklyn and Providence on the East Coast, and Tempe in the Southwest. You can also drill down to specific cities in Germany (Berlin and Nuremberg) and, more unusually, Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Tver).
Those located in Africa or Asia should avoid HotVPN, as currently the server network doesn’t extend out to these continents. A server was recently added in Panama to cater to users in South and Central America, but there are providers out there offering far more variety should you need it – our top pick for server choice is HideMyAss!.
Platforms & Devices
HotVPN only currently offers a custom app for Microsoft Windows, but there are manual workarounds for MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux devices. There are step-by-step setup instructions for these on HotVPN’s website, and they include helpful screenshots, making them accessible even to VPN newbies.
Unfortunately it’s not currently possible to install HotVPN at router level, meaning you can’t use it on any other devices, like games consoles. If you’re looking for a VPN with this capability, you should check out our top pick ExpressVPN.
Streaming & Torrenting
When it comes to streaming, HotVPN certainly isn’t the best choice, but it’ll do the job at a push. Netflix is currently working on one out of three US locations (Brooklyn), while BBC iPlayer is accessible through the UK server. This came as a pleasant surprise, especially considering the BBC’s recent crackdowns on VPN providers, but equally could change at any point.
If reliable access to these sorts of sites is a must for you, consider a provider that offers optimized streaming servers, such as CyberGhost.
There’s no mention of torrenting on HotVPN’s website, but after testing it ourselves, it doesn’t look like P2P activity is permitted on any of its servers. When we attempted to connect to BitTorrent, it simply told us it ‘couldn’t be reached’, suggesting it had been blocked by the VPN.
Encryption & Security
HotVPN prides itself on offering “100% anonymity”, but provides a woefully limited amount of information regarding its security features on the website.
The Windows app defaults on startup to OpenVPN, the most secure connection protocol, and users benefit from top-level encryption AES-256. If you subscribe to one of the more expensive plans, you also have the option of routing your traffic through up to four different VPN servers, providing you with quadruple encryption (up to 2048-bit).
We really like the ‘Auto-change IP’ setting, which allows you to set your IP address to update every few minutes, making it harder for third parties to track your exact location. There’s also a ‘Hide DNS’ feature, which our leak tests proved to be working nicely.
We would have really appreciated a VPN kill switch too, as this prevents your true location from being exposed in case of a connection drop. HotVPN covers the essentials but lacks the advanced features that we’d usually expect to see at this price point.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- DNS Leak Blocking
- Double VPN
Put simply, HotVPN won’t do the job in China or other high-censorship countries. The app operates on OpenVPN, the most commonly-used VPN protocol, making it easy for censors to detect and block your traffic. There are also no additional obfuscation tools to mask your connection, so there’s just no way you’ll be able to bypass the Great Firewall.
Despite recent government crackdowns, there are still a handful of providers that provide a reliable service in the country – you can check out our top picks for China here.
It must at least log bandwidth consumption, as it states that “no spamming and similar illegal activities will be tolerated” – how can it identify these sorts of activities if no logs are collected?
HotVPN is the first provider we’ve come across that doesn’t actually disclose where it’s located, which is incredibly concerning. On its website it says “our company is registered in offshore zone”, but there’s no indication as to where in the world this means.
For some reason, it’s explicitly stated that it’s not based in Russia, which raises more suspicions than anything else, as we don’t see the need to mention this at all.
HotVPN also warns users that anyone who breaches the “anti-spam policy” could face legal action, which implies it will share any information it has with law enforcement agencies if necessary.
Ease of Use
HotVPN’s Windows app looks outdated but does its job well. Once you enter your email and password, you’ll be automatically connected to a VPN server, and if you allow the app to remember your password, it will automatically connect you when you start your device.
Your chosen plan will be clearly labeled ‘Your Rate’ – click on this to access the full server list. Locations are organized alphabetically and you can connect to every country via OpenVPN or PPTP (OpenVPN is selected by default).
Behind the ‘IP Settings’ tab on the left-hand side, you can choose your IP type (static or dynamic) and enable IP and country change intervals. We really like the contextual information that comes with these, as it makes them accessible to newbies as well as more experienced users. There’s also an integrated IP checker to save you using a third-party website.
If you’re using HotVPN on Windows, it’s as easy as downloading the client from the website, entering your email and password, and connecting to your chosen server. If you’re planning on installing it on any other device, however, it requires a little more configuration on your end.
Thankfully HotVPN provides detailed installation guides for supported devices on its website, so you shouldn’t struggle at all, even if you’ve never used a VPN before.
HotVPN’s customer support is a massive letdown. We were excited to see “24/7 live support” advertised on the homepage of the website, only to be told it was ‘offline’ whenever we attempted to contact someone.
We sent a message using the contact form provided, and are yet to receive a response days later – this is no good for a provider that promises “permanent technical support”.
In terms of online materials, there are next to none. The only useful resources are the setup guides, which come with helpful screenshots to guide you through the process, but if you have any issues once you’re up and running don’t expect them to be solved quickly.
The Bottom Line
- Decent speeds on local connections
- Currently working with Netflix and iPlayer
- Compatible with five major platforms
- Minimal logging policy
- Very vague logging policy
- No information on jurisdiction
- Limited customer support
- Small server network
- Custom app is Windows only
HotVPN is a fairly basic VPN that’s very overpriced compared to providers of a similar standard. Local speeds are good enough for streaming but don’t expect to be able to do much across longer distances. Access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer is a bonus but torrenting isn’t permitted.
Strong encryption and a minimal logging policy are privacy pluses, but we would have appreciated an integrated kill switch feature. HotVPN is very secretive about its true jurisdiction but claims to be ‘offshore’. Customer support is extremely poor, though, promising 24/7 live chat but not even responding to questions sent via email. A mixed bag that isn’t worth the steep price.