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If you’ve been on the internet as long as I did, the name Hotspot Shield, hits that nostalgia button. It’s been around since 2008, so it seems this Hotspot Shield review might be a bit overdue. Hey, I’m John, the VPN Pro guy, about to answer all the questions you see before you.
Yes, I will cover all of it, even how it goes with Hotspot Shield VPN free vs premium versions.
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0:30 Is Hotspot Shield safe to use?
1:29 Can Hotspot shield ensure a strict no-logs policy?
2:18 How fast is it?
3:01 Is it capable of unlocking streaming content?
4:02 How limited is the free version?
4:32 How does it compare to market leaders?
As promised, I will start with talking about the Hotspot Shield VPN security. Interestingly enough, it runs with a proprietary Hydra protocol. This protocol still utilizes the golden standard – AES-256 encryption. Though it is being gradually displaced by the modern ChaCha20 encryption in market leading VPNs. As per usual, I check if a VPN has a kill switch, and Hotspot Shield VPN does have one and as far as I’ve tested, it works pretty well, preventing leaks during network instability. However, I’ve noticed that Hotspot Shield’s Mac app doesn’t have this feature. But perhaps the biggest downside to me is the lack of any significant extra features. Hotspot Shield VPN doesn’t offer any additional protection besides the encryption, no online protection from malicious links, no split tunneling or port forwarding. Having those is not necessary, but hopefully Hotspot Shield will get new features in the future.
Next, in this Hotspot Shield VPN review, I want to cover privacy. Hotspot VPN 2022 operates from the jurisdiction of the United States, and you and I both know that’s not ideal – the US is part of the 5-eyes intelligence sharing alliance. Furthermore, despite having a legitimate no-logs policy on the premium version, Hotspot Shield free version collects a variety of your data. Yeah, you should be seeing this info on the screen. I wouldn’t want anyone keeping that info for whatever purposes. In 2017, Hotspot Shield had some real privacy issues, with the Center for Democracy & Technology accusing this VPN of pretty much the worst possible thing for privacy. However, in 2020, Hotspot Shield was acquired by the company Aura, and since then didn’t get in trouble. At least, so far.
Okay, this Hotspot VPN review is done with negatives. It has a good server fleet, available in more countries than even some of the best VPNs on the market, which is already commendable. But, Hotspot Shield claims to be the fastest VPN in the world, and the independent study by the Ookla Speedtest.net seems to prove it. Well, I’ve run my own Hotspot Shield VPN speed tests, and I have to give credit where credit is due, I have not expected such performance from a VPN lacking one of the newer tunneling protocols. In my experience, speed like that is enough for almost all online activities.
As I’ve said before in this Hotspot Shield VPN review – it is enough for streaming and torrenting, but can it do these things efficiently? You might know that Netflix and most streaming platforms restrict access for VPN users, now more than ever. When testing Hotspot Shield against geo-blocked content, I had no problems accessing Netflix US and UK, but no luck with other regions. On the other hand, I managed to access Hulu, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer with no issues. However, that only applies to the Hotspot Shield premium version.
To summarize, Hotspot Shield is quite a decent VPN provider. I wouldn’t recommend using the Hotspot Shield VPN free version if you don’t want your data used for market research though, but the premium is kinda worth it. With good performance, streaming access and a lot of value from additional apps, it makes for a good VPN. However, I would still not ignore the implications of US jurisdiction and previous privacy problems, so tread carefully.
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