HotspotShield Free Review 2023: 8 Cons and 2 Pros
HotspotShield Free: A Free VPN With Many Drawbacks
- User data could be sold to advertisers
- Advertisements displayed on the mobile app
- Servers only in 3 countries
- Technical support is not available
- Only basic platforms are supported
- Low download (45 Mb/s) and upload (5 Mb/s) speeds
- Very below-average response speed (131 ms)
- VPN is not audited
- Unlimited data transfer volume
- Can connect from 5 devices
The HotspotShield Free is a free VPN from the American company Intersections, LLC. The service is aimed at less demanding users and serves as an advertisement for the paid variant HotspotShield Premium.
The advantage of HotspotShield Free is the free VPN’s unique unlimited data transfer volume by comparison. In our tests, we measured sufficient download speeds of 45 Mb/s, and the ability to use the VPN on 5 devices simultaneously is a positive.
The HotspotShield Free has implemented DNS leak protection and an important security feature, kill switch. Ad-blocking, malware, and tracker blocking are available in the Chrome extension.
The downside of HotspotShield Free is the lack of security auditing; in the past, VPNs have been tainted by reputational information about the sale of user data. Sharing it with third parties is a common mischief of free VPNs.
HotspotShield Free Subscription: Discount Code, Free Trial, Money Back Guarantee…
- Your Price:
Free (5 devices)
HotspotShield Free is free for an unlimited time. No payment information is required to obtain the service.
The same operator also offers a paid HotspotShield Premium, which has more features and supports more platforms. It offers 3,200 servers in 41 countries around the world, and the user can connect to any of them.
The price of the most affordable subscription option, HotspotShield Premium, is $8.68 per month. The order is covered by a money-back guarantee within 45 days.
- Your Price:
HotspotShield Free and Supported Devices: Android, iOS, macOS…
- Device limit: 5
- Android: YesAndroid is supported by 99 % of reviewed VPNs
- Android TV:NoAndroid TV is supported by 38 % of reviewed VPNs
- Apple TV:NoApple TV is supported by 18 % of reviewed VPNs
- Fire TV:NoFire TV is supported by 44 % of reviewed VPNs
- Chromebook:NoChromebook is supported by 21 % of reviewed VPNs
- Chromecast:NoChromecast is supported by 16 % of reviewed VPNs
- iOS:YesiOS is supported by 100 % of reviewed VPNs
- Kodi:NoKodi is supported by 22 % of reviewed VPNs
- Linux:NoLinux is supported by 62 % of reviewed VPNs
- Mac:YesMac is supported by 98 % of reviewed VPNs
- NAS:NoNAS is supported by 26 % of reviewed VPNs
- nVidia Shield:NonVidia Shield is supported by 16 % of reviewed VPNs
- Playstation:NoPlaystation is supported by 20 % of reviewed VPNs
- Raspberry Pi:NoRaspberry Pi is supported by 18 % of reviewed VPNs
- Roku:NoRoku is supported by 16 % of reviewed VPNs
- Router:NoRouter is supported by 54 % of reviewed VPNs
- Windows:YesWindows is supported by 100 % of reviewed VPNs
- xBox:NoxBox is supported by 20 % of reviewed VPNs
- Brave : YesThe Brave browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Chrome :YesThe Chrome browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Edge :NoThe Edge browser add-on is offered by 19 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Firefox :NoThe Firefox browser add-on is offered by 35 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Opera :YesThe Opera browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Safari :NoThe Safari browser add-on is offered by 0 % of reviewed VPNs.
- Vivaldi :YesThe Vivaldi browser add-on is offered by 45 % of reviewed VPNs.
During our testing, we were able to connect from 5 devices simultaneously under one account, although the HotspotShield Free website states a limit of one device.
Device support is one of the weakest aspects of HotspotShield Free. The app is only available for Windows and macOS desktop devices and Android and iOS mobile devices.
The Linux alternative is not supported, nor can HotspotShield Free be used on smart TVs, game consoles, or other types of devices. It is also not supported to run on a router that can secure all devices connected to the same network.
The free HotspotShield Free can be used via extensions for Chrome, Brave, and Vivaldi browsers.
HotspotShield Free App: User-friendliness, whitelist, server selection…
- App Languages: 🇺🇸 English +9 more🇩🇪 German 🇪🇸 Spanish 🇫🇷 French 🇵🇹 Portuguese 🇷🇺 Russian 🇰🇷 Korean 🇯🇵 Japanese 🇹🇷 Turkish 🇦🇪 Arabic
- Whitelisting: YesWhitelisting is supported by 52 % of reviewed VPNs
The HotspotShield Free interface on the mobile app and desktop is very similar. After selecting a server or clicking the connect button, detailed connection information is displayed. This includes the current connection speed, server load, and current IP address. The desktop version also includes a measurement of the internet connection speed.
The HotspotShield Free environment has a dark theme, with the option to switch to a light look only in the mobile app. A very annoying part of the mobile app is the video ads that are displayed and played when the VPN connection is active or inactive.
The mobile app, HotspotShield Free, is only available in English; on a computer, you can choose from 10 different languages.
All variants of the app offer to automatically start and connect to the VPN when the device is turned on. A whitelist feature is available, where you can select apps and websites that will connect directly to the internet even when the VPN is turned on. You can also use the blacklist to select apps (on mobile) and websites (on desktop) that always activate VPN protection when visited.
HotspotShield Free Connection Speed: Upload, Download & Latency
- Traffic limit: Unlimited
HotspotShield Free does not limit the user in any way by the amount of data transferred, making it a rather exceptional offering among free VPNs. On mobile devices, this is offset by an annoying ad in the form of a 30-second video that must be viewed every 15 minutes. Repeatedly playing ads can extend the duration of unlimited VPN use to several hours.
During testing, connecting to the HotspotShield Free servers was fast.
We achieved average download speeds of 45 Mb/s, placing HotspotShield Free in the lower half in the context of all the VPNs reviewed. Connection speeds may fluctuate when using a private network, and such speeds could cause complications when playing 4K videos. For this, a download speed of 50 Mbps is stated as the minimum required.
The average upload speed achieved during testing was 5 Mb/s. Thus, HotspotShield Free is not suitable for transferring large amounts of data.
In repeated tests, we measured an average response time of 131 ms, which can be described as insufficient compared to other VPNs. For example, Surfshark achieved a response rate of 10 ms, while Private Internet Access measured an average of 11 ms. For response speed, a lower value is better. Too high a response rate can cause annoying stuttering when gaming or making video calls.
HotspotShield Free Server Locations
- Number of servers: 800The average number of servers for the reviewed VPNs is 1679.
- Number of countries: 3The average number of countries available for the reviewed VPNs is 40.
Europe 🇬🇧 United Kingdom North America 🇺🇸 USA South America Asia 🇸🇬 Singapore Africa Oceania
Users of HotspotShield Free can connect to servers in as few as 3 countries, with the added options of New York and Los Angeles in the US.
All of the 800 servers in HotspotShield Free support all of the features offered. On the other hand, there are no servers specifically optimized for torrenting or streaming video.
The small selection of servers is one of the common limitations of free VPNs. For example, Atlas VPN Free offers servers in 2 countries, while TunnelBear VPN Free gives users a choice of 47 countries.
For the paid version, HotspotShield Premium, the choice is broader, with 3,200 servers in 41 countries around the world.
HotspotShield Free Security Features: DNS Leak Protection, Kill Switch…
- DNS leak protection : YesDNS leak protection is offered by 93% of the reviewed VPNs.
- Kill Switch: YesKill Switch is supported by 82% of the reviewed VPNs.
- Multi-Hop: NoMulti-Hop connection is offered by 20 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Tor: NoTor support is offered by 16 % of the reviewed VPNs.
HotspotShield Free has implemented DNS leak protection, which is one of the basic security features. No DNS requests were leaked during our testing.
The application is equipped with a kill switch feature that disconnects the device from the Internet if the connection to the VPN server fails. Thanks to this procedure, the user’s IP address and location will not be revealed, and the transmitted data cannot be compromised.
Not available with HotspotShield Free is the multi-hop feature, where the connection is routed through two different VPN servers simultaneously. The advantage of this is a higher level of security and privacy, while the disadvantage may be a lower connection speed. Multi-hop, also known as double VPN, is supported by, for example, NordVPN or Ivacy VPN.
In the HotspotShield Free settings, you can choose from a pair of protocols. The modern and fast Wireguard supports more and more services, while the Hydra protocol was developed directly by the VPN operator.
All transmitted data is protected by 256-bit AES encryption, which is considered very secure and is used by the US military, among others.
Two-factor user account authentication is not supported by HotspotShield Free. The Tor connection feature is also unavailable.
HotspotShield Free & Streaming: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime…
- Amazon Prime: YesAmazon Prime streaming is supported by 52 % of reviewed VPNs
- Disney+: YesDisney+ streaming is supported by 54 % of reviewed VPNs
- HBO: NoHBO streaming is supported by 57 % of reviewed VPNs
- Hulu: NoHulu streaming is supported by 48 % of reviewed VPNs
- Netflix: NoNetflix streaming is supported by 64 % of reviewed VPNs
- YouTube: YesYouTube streaming is supported by 92 % of reviewed VPNs
HotspotShield Free offers very limited options for streaming video.
In our test, we were only able to unblock streaming video from Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and YouTube platforms. Attempts to unblock streaming video from HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix were unsuccessful despite repeated attempts.
Servers specifically optimized for video playback are not available at HotspotShield Free. As this is a free service, this is not surprising. The paid variant, HotspotShield Premium, has such servers.
Additionally, on a mobile device, video playback was complicated by a 30-second ad that had to be viewed every 15 minutes to keep the VPN connection active. For uninterrupted video viewing, it is preferable to use one of the paid services. For unblocking the stream, the paid option HotspotShield Premium or CyberGhost VPN is suitable.
Features of HotspotShield Free: AdBlock, Static IP…
- Blocks Ads: YesAd blocking is offered by 44 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Blocks Malware: YesMalware blocking is offered by 35 % of the VPNs reviewed.
- Blocks Trackers: YesTrackers blocking is offered by 38 % of the VPNs reviewed.
HotspotShield Free offers ad-blocking, malware, and tracker blocking in Chrome Extensions. You can hide annoying ads on websites, prevent malicious code from being stored on your computer, and prevent tracking codes from being loaded.
Camouflage is not available for HotspotShield Free. Only available on some paid services, this feature can disguise a VPN as a regular Internet connection. It can be used, for example, when using the Internet in countries where VPN use is problematic.
HotspotShield Free does not offer a static IP address, even for an additional fee.
HotspotShield Free‘s CPU usage and App Performance
The application is not demanding on the performance of the device; during our testing, it only put minimal load on the computer. After shutting down the application, it remained running in the background and still consumed some power. To exit the process completely, the application must be shut down via the system tray icon.
The mobile version of the app, HotspotShield Free, was also uncomplicated and did not cause problems using the phone.
HotspotShield Free Torrenting Servers
- Torrenting servers: YesTorrenting support is offered by 88 % of the reviewed VPNs.
While HotspotShield Free itself supports torrenting, it is not suitable for this type of traffic.
For transferring large files, the low speed is very limiting; during our tests, we measured HotspotShield Free‘s average download at 45 Mb/s and average upload at only 5 Mb/s. Unsurprisingly, the VPN doesn’t run any servers specifically optimized for P2P file sharing.
A more suitable solution for regular torrenting is to either get the paid variant of HotspotShield Premium or a VPN with high transfer speeds and a good level of security. For example, we can recommend NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
What is the country of origin of HotspotShield Free?
- VPN Provider: Pango LLC (an Aura company)
- Country of origin: 🇺🇸 USA
HotspotShield Premium is operated by AnchorFree, Inc., which is based in Redwood City, California. The company is owned by its parent company, the Pango group, which develops several products to provide security and privacy on the Internet. Along with the free VPN, it offers a paid option called HotspotShield Premium.
AnchorFree, Inc. is based in the US, and they are a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes group. These countries monitor users’ internet activity and may share the information they receive with each other for legitimate reasons. At the same time, they can put pressure on VPN operators to cooperate with authorities and provide access to user data.
HotspotShield Free and Privacy: Logging Policy, Security Issues…
- No-Logs Policy: YesThe No-Logs Policy is followed by 79% of reviewed VPNs.
HotspotShield Free asserts that it does not store any user data.
However, in 2017, AnchorFree, Inc. faced accusations of collecting user data, including IP addresses and device identifiers, and then selling it to advertisers.
Since the free service HotspotShield Free is not audited by an independent company, the promised level of security cannot be verified. According to available information, all servers are equipped with hard drives that enable long-term data storage.
To ensure the highest possible level of privacy and security, it is unwise to use free VPNs that are available. We recommend choosing audited VPN services that utilize RAM memory and guarantee zero log storage.
HotspotShield Free Support: Chat, e-mail…
Technical support is very limited for the free version. There is an FAQ section on the HotspotShield Free website, or you can ask a chatbot a question. However, it can only answer a limited range of questions.
Contacting a technical support person directly is not possible.
HotspotShield Free FAQ
Is HotspotShield Free a trusted VPN?A shadow of doubt hangs over the trustworthiness of HotspotShield Free. Neither the app nor the service itself is audited by an independent company, and in 2017 its operator faced accusations of selling its users’ data to advertisers. In the context of other VPNs reviewed, HotspotShield Free cannot be considered a trustworthy service.
Does HotspotShield Free sell its users’ data?We can’t answer this question definitively. In 2007, the operator HotspotShield Free faced accusations of reselling IP addresses, device identifiers, and other user data to advertisers.
Who owns HotspotShield Free?The operator of the HotspotShield Free service is AnchorFree, Inc., an American company located at 155 Constitution Drive, Menlo Park, California. AnchorFree is part of the Pango Group, which is owned by Aura, an Internet security company.
HotspotShield Free 💵 VPN Price: Free 📱 Device limit: 5 🎞️Unblocks Netflix: No 🔌 Router Support: No 📄 No-Logs Policy: Yes 🛡 Kill Switch: Yes 🖥️Number of servers: 800 🗺️Country of origin: USA
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