Hotspot Shield is provided by Aura, a US-based company. They offer free and paid options including a family package. The free option is supported by ads, so it’s not actually free, since you’re being pitched to in lieu of paying an upfront subscription cost. The free plan is decent enough but is limited in device connections, virtual locations, connection speed and data limits, among others. You could get more benefits when you purchase a paid plan.
Pricing & Plans
The paid version of Hotspot Shield is called the “Premium” version, and it allows you to use the service without being hassled by advertisements.
The Premium packages also allow you to hook up to servers in a broader selection of nations than the free version, to get customer support and to get malware protection included as part of the package.
Pricing details are as follow:
There are certain differences with the premium and the premium family plans. For full details of all packages, see below:
|Device Connections||1||5||25 (5 per member)|
|Connection Speed||Up to 2 Mbps||Up to 1 Gbps||Up to 1 Gbps|
|Data Limits||500MB per day||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Streaming Mode||No||Optimized for streaming||Optimized for streaming|
|Customer Support||Support Center Only||Yes||Yes|
Free Trial/ Money-back Guarantee
Hotspot Shield has a free VPN option but is limited in features, as mentioned. You can also try their premium accounts, risk-free, for 45-days.
Hotspot Shield also offers a free 7-day free trial for their premium plan.
Privacy & Anonymity
Provider Logging Policy
The information they collect when they use their services include the following:
- Usage Information – how you interact with their services, such as how often you use their services, how much bandwidth you use, and when and for how long you use their services.
- Device Information – the device you use to access their services, including the browsers and Aura apps you use. For example, they may collect device identifiers, browser types, device types and settings, operating system versions, mobile, wireless, and other network information and application version numbers.
- Diagnostic Information – the nature of the requests that you make to their servers such as what is being requested, information about the device and app used to make the request, timestamps, and referring URLs.
- Location Information – unless otherwise expressly stated, they do not collect your location information based on your device’s GPS or other device sensor data. However, we may collect your approximate location by calculating an imprecise latitude and longitude based on your IP address to provide you with better service
Hotspot Shield do not log any information that associates your identity with your VPN browsing activity. They do not maintain any records that show what you were browsing or accessing through a VPN connection.
Torrents are allowed, but the company will warn you and eventually terminate your service if you get DMCA complaints.
On the face of it, this provider might have a good privacy and torrent policy, but it doesn’t really have the levels of privacy that torrent users will want overall. There are better options out there for P2P.
To get 24/7 customer support, you would need to have a premium account with Hotspot Shield. The free option support is limited.
The Hotspot Shield website also has a comprehensive knowledge base that contains tutorials on how to get started with their service depending on the platform you’re using, payment & subscription questions, accounts & devices and troubleshooting issues.
They also have a live chat option and a support center where you can submit a request.
The Hotspot Shield client is very easy to use, but it’s not particularly agile where letting you configure your settings is concerned. You won’t find options for setting a different protocol or encryption strength, but it uses OpenVPN at 256-bit, which isn’t bad.
Hotspot shield works with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. There are apps available for both mobile operating systems, so you don’t have to configure your smartphone or tablet manually. The client has an area where you can selectively use protection, with options that include the major streaming sites. Beyond that, control is limited.
The client is certainly simple enough, however, that non-techie types will find their way around without any difficulty.
VPN Server Locations
Hotspot Shield has 1800+ servers in over 80 countries including 35+ cities around the world.
In this regard, Hotspot Shield did very well. It brought our speed down from approximately 38Mbps to just over 20 Mbps on a US server. Ping time was short, and it made the connection quickly.
IPCheck and DNSLeak Test
Our IP address was successfully hidden, but DNS did leak with Hotspot Shield turned on. You might want to configure your DNS settings manually with this provider.
- Military grade encryption
- 1800+ servers in 80+ countries
- OpenVPN, IPsec VPN protocol
- Patented Hydra protocol
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Link to up to 5 devices (for premium plans)
- Works on multiple platforms
- Free Option (limited features)
- Easy to use
Additional Bonus Features
Hotspot Shield features Hydra VPN protocol which is verified by experts as one of the fastest and most secure in the market.
The premium plans also include malware and virus protection and an automatic spam call blocking.
This service has a very user-friendly client, which will likely be very enticing to some users. The options are very easy to set.
Areas for Improvement
The client could offer more protocol options and better feedback on your connection, as well. Exiting it proved difficult, and our browser was immediately directed to the company’s homepage when we did, which was a nuisance.
To enjoy the full features of Hotspot Shield and enjoy use of this product on several devices, we recommend subscribing to their premium plans. The premium plans would be a far better option as compared to their free option. You can test out their premium service for 7 days to know if Hotspot Shield is the right VPN provider for you.