Hotspot Shield VPN – Review

Hotspot Shield VPN – Review

Hotspot Shield VPN stands out as one of the best free VPNs available on the Virtual Private Network market today. But is the paid version just as worthy? Is it worth paying for a Hotspost Shield VPN subscription? Read on to find out.

Let's start with a key fact: Hotspot Shield's subscription plans cost more than most of the competition. However, the most savvy users know that the price is not the only factor to take into consideration and, we can say, this VPN service is completely worth the asking price. In fact, it offers several very interesting features and functions that make this provider worthy of consideration.

Read also: The best VPNs of 2022

Plans and prices

As we said, the Hotspot Shield plans they are not the cheapest. There are three payment options available: a monthly plan, one of the most expensive together with ExpressVPN which, as you know, is certainly not a cheap service. The annual plan, on the other hand, already saves you some money. Finally, the three-year plan guarantees a more substantial discount, making it the most advantageous option considering the monthly cost.

A notable aspect is the possibility of requesting a full refund within 45 days of signing up for the three-year plan, an aspect quite rare, given that on average, the money-back guarantee amounts to 30 days.

1 month | €12.99 per month 1 year | €7.99 per month with one-time billing for 3 years | €2.99 per month with one-time billing » Click here to subscribe to Hotspot Shield VPN «


As you know by now,  verifying the security of a VPN is a complex task that requires time, resources and technical skills. Therefore, it is not a task for everyone and which can often create confusion in the choice of a service by the user. Will a given VPN really be secure? Should one provider be trusted over another? There are many considerations to make, but an excellent starting point could be checking compatibility with secure protocols such as OpenVPN. Unfortunately,  Hotspot Shield does not support OpenVPN , IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec or other VPN-specific standards, but instead relies on a proprietary technology called Catapult Hydra .

However, this data is not worrying, given that  Catapult In any case, Hydra consists of a technology that uses the same security and encryption protocols as anyone else. The problem, if anything, is that like all proprietary technologies there is no way to understand what happens inside Catapult Hydra, which obviously is at the antipodes if you think of systems like OpenVPN whose code is open source.

On the other hand it must be said that Hotspot Shield offers the services of Catapult Hydra to companies such as McAfee, Bitdefender and Cheetah Mobile, with a well-verified and certifiable collaboration which means that, although the code is not public, the functioning of the software is in any case well documented.

As far as client security is concerned, our tests on the service using IPLeak and DNSLeakTest did not highlight any problems, demonstrating how the service is always able and in any case to offer a good level of security, including a convenient (and always welcome) kill switch that blocks the connection in case the connection with the VPN is interrupted, thus preventing the leaking of our IP address.

P performance

Speaking again of Catapult Hydra, we wondered if the high performance promised by the service corresponds to reality. Based on our tests performed through the Netflix, Fast and Speedtest speedtests, the results immediately seemed encouraging to us: by connecting to a nearby national server, the speed stood at 68-70 Mbps, almost the maximum possible with the our 75 Mbps line. This suggests that you could virtually achieve more with a better performing line. Furthermore, remaining within the European circuit (England, France, Germany) there were no considerable differences and our connection remained stable at around 65-70 Mbps.

Even in connections to the United States the speed remained excellent (60-65 Mbps). We should add that many distant servers were also faster, for example in Brazil, India, Japan and Singapore, which pushed our connection to 65-70 Mbps. We also encountered no problems on the other side of the world, such as in Australia, where the connection remained at a very acceptable value of 55-65 Mbps, with a result that is still more than good even in the context of premium VPNs.


As we well know, Netflix is ​​kind of the "nemesis" of VPN connections. In fact, the streaming service has always discouraged the use of VPNs, creating quite a few headaches for many users, thanks to a filter that essentially prevents them from using the service via VPN. It must be said that to date several VPNs manage to bypass Netflix's defenses, but the platform is still an excellent test to adequately skim the performance of the now thriving virtual network market.

Hotspot Shield did not register any problems whatsoever: the connection was immediate, simple and performing, with an excellent viewing experience which, moreover, we also verified on YouTube and BB iPlayer, all services which, to varying degrees, apply severe restrictions geographical. Furthermore, it is also possible to unblock Prime Video and Disney Plus.

The Windows client and the Apps

The Hotspot Shield Windows client is perhaps the simplest and most immediate ever on the market . The simplicity is truly incredible, with an almost completely empty panel in which a huge on / off button stands out. Even the instructions are immediate and clear and connecting to the service is an almost instantaneous operation, so much so that especially from the point of view of connection speed, we are not afraid to make a mistake by saying that Hotspot Shield probably connects faster than almost all of its competitors .

Another excellent element is the map which shows the position of the IP address in use, with some clearly visible numbers which indicate the amount of data being downloaded and uploaded. Each selected location on the map offers access to a list of countries to choose from, including specific locations. In general, the menu is enviably simple and the user experience is linear and free of any complications, even from the point of view of the settings, with few options, but all functional. The essentials are there: the ability to launch the client together with Windows, block the risk of IP leaks or enable the kill switch to stop all online activity in case of loss of connection to the VPN. There is also the possibility of automatically activating the connection when you connect to an unsafe Wi-Fi network. An aspect that we consider very positive, given that it is an option offered by very few other providers.

It is a pity only for the absence of a list of favorite servers which, as we often say , in our opinion, the quality of the browsing experience greatly increases, although this lack does not affect the guaranteed excellent user experience that much. Finally, we conclude by pointing out that, still on the subject of ease of use and attention to the navigability of the service, Hotspot Shield integrates the most important FAQs directly into the client. Therefore, in case of problems, you will have the solutions to the most common cases at your fingertips, with a button that will send you directly to the chat with live assistance. For us, this is another point in favor of Hotspot Shield.

As for the applications, the continuity proposed by the company in terms of ease of use should also be underlined: the Android and iOS apps are clear , with a clean interface. Just open them and select Connect so that you can access a small map and conveniently select the server to connect to. Here too the map offers some welcome extras, such as the ability to configure the app to connect to the fastest available server although, unfortunately, this feature is exclusive to the Android version, while it is absent on iOS.

For the rest, except for the due stylistic differences (with the iOS app slightly more aesthetically pleasing), the functions are substantially the same , and both apps offer an integrated malware scanner and a tool to extend the device autonomy. Nothing striking, but it must also be said that there are few who offer this little extra. The only, true, problem with these apps is the absence of a kill switch, partly replaced by an option dedicated to unsafe connections, which warns us in the event of a connection to an unsafe network, proposing a manual connection, an which we didn't like.

In any case, even if not at the top in terms of customization and settings, the apps work very well and stand out from the rest of the market (like the client) for the extreme ease of use which, as you will understand, makes Hotspot Shield an ideal choice for users who are new to VPNs.


The ability to access from the app to documentation on the most common connection problems, with the ability to immediately access support via chat is one of the aspects we appreciated the most. However, we would have liked to see a few more support articles in the database.

In any case, there is a 24/7 chat service dedicated to Premium users even if, unfortunately, this service was often unreachable and is not clear how the company manages queues of waiting users. Not exactly a pleasant situation, especially at a time when the market has made great strides in terms of direct assistance, also considering how thorny it can be to deal with a VPN that just doesn't want to leave you free to navigate. If for certain freemium services this is also understandable, for a Premium service discounts cannot be made and we sincerely hope that Hotspot Shield will soon take measures.


So: it's worth it pay that much for a VPN? The answer is “it depends” and we don't want to get around the question. Hotspot Shield undeniably has problems: basic applications, lack of support for OpenVPN, minimal data collection but it also has above-average speed and performance more than worthy of the title of "Premium VPN". Obviously, thinking of paying more than 12 euros a month is discouraging and, if this were the only package available, we would perhaps tell you to desist. However, if we consider the other subscription proposals, especially the three-year one, then the situation changes and the service, in its immediacy and speed, can be an alternative to the other market giants, especially if you are looking for a VPN that does not require a lot of experience and technical know-how.

» Click here to subscribe to Hotspot Shield VPN

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