HotSpot Shield in brief:
P2P allowed: Yes
Business location: United States
Number of servers: 2,000+
Number of nation locations: 25
Cost: $71.88 per year
Before people got critical about VPN encryption post-Snowden, a tip choice for encrypting your Wi-Fi tie was AnchorFree’s HotSpot Shield. It was free, easy to set up, and usually compulsory that we demeanour during some ads injected into your browsing.
That use is still around, yet currently we’re looking during HotSpot Shield Elite. AnchorFree’s paid use that removes a ads and offers faster speeds.
What struck me a notation we incited on HotSpot Shield was how elementary and appealing a pattern is. It eschews many pattern ideas we’ve seen for other VPNs so far. There are no interactive maps, mobile-style single-panel interfaces, or elaborate settings.
Note: This examination is partial of our best VPNs roundup. Go there for sum about competing products and how we tested them.
When HotSpot Shield initial opens it offers a vast energy symbol in a core of a window and zero else. Hit a energy button, and HotSpot Shield connects to a United States by default, or your many new tie choice.
The interface afterwards changes to a timer during a tip to uncover we how prolonged you’ve been connected. That timer takes adult a whole top half of a window. It’s a lot of additional space, yet it works.
The reduce half is for a some-more minute information, including information that’s left adult and down from your PC, your stream VPN IP address, and a small, clean designed map display that nation you’re joining from. It’s all really simple, transparent to understand, and uncluttered.
To switch locations click a dump down menu in a reduce right square, and name from one of HotSpot Shield’s 25 nation locations.
To strech HotSpot Shield’s settings, click a “hamburger” menu idol in a upper-left corner, and name Settings from a menu. There’s not a lot to see here. By default, HotSpot Shield is set to run when Windows starts, and it’s also set to forestall IP residence leaks—an critical thing for VPN apps.
Under that are several options to tell HotSpot Shield when it should automatically bond to a VPN server. By default, HotSpot Shield will bond when it detects an vulnerable Wi-Fi hotspot such as a password-free open Wi-Fi network. You can also select to bond when on ostensible protected Wi-Fi networks, and an “Other” setting, that substantially covers any other probable internet connection. Below that is a denunciation environment if you’d rather a app was in French or Korean, and that’s it for a app’s settings.
AnchorFree says that behind a scenes HotSpot Shield can prevent malware we competence confront online, as good as strengthen opposite famous phishing sites and spam. It also has “patented ways” to make your VPN tie demeanour like normal browsing, so it blends in with other online traffic. This VPN also works with Netflix, yet in my knowledge it was a small inconsistent.
HotSpot Shield is accessible for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS, and there are substitute extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
HotSpot Shield is fast. we tested it several times to make certain we wasn’t experiencing a fluke. The association says a use is quick since of a exclusive Hydra Protocol, that is formed on TLS and OpenSSL. AnchorFree says this custom doubles download speeds of vast files and increases ping times.
As of Jan 2018, HotSpot Shield is by distant a fastest VPN I’ve tested. It scored scarcely 64 percent of a bottom speed for download speeds, that is faster than a prior speed champ Mullvad by scarcely 12 commission points.
All of a connectors were quick including a typically slower connectors such as Australia and Japan.
That speed got me wondering how HotSpot Shield was scoring so high, and it competence have to do with what’s going on behind a scenes.
The initial time we connected to HotSpot Shield’s U.S. servers, for example, we got an American IP yet Google suspicion we was in a UK—thus it redirected my browser to Google.co.uk—and Netflix suspicion we was in Germany. HotSpot Shield did give me a few DNS servers in Germany that day, that expected contributed to Netflix’s confusion.
Given this peculiar multiple we attempted regulating some ping and traceroute tests, yet many of them timed out. The day Netflix suspicion we was in Germany, we did conduct to get one successful traceroute from a ostensible tie in California to Vienna, Austria. The elapsed time was 13.612 milliseconds, that is unfit and strongly suggests that a server we was regulating was portion an American IP from executive Europe. we asked AnchorFree about this and a association pronounced it does use practical server locations, where a earthy appurtenance competence be in one plcae yet looks like it’s in another.
As always, take these speed tests with a pellet of salt—as we should with any VPN speed test—because your knowledge competence vary.
Privacy, anonymity, and trust
AnchorFree’s U.S. domicile are located during 1800 Seaport Blvd., Redwood City, CA 94063. Its CEO is David Gorodyanksy and a CTO is Eugene Malobrodsky—they are also a company’s co-founders.
When we initial pointer adult for a service, it asks for an email residence and a password, that is flattering customary for mainstream VPN services. For payments, it usually takes customary options of credit cards and PayPal. There is no ability for unknown or semi-anonymous remuneration forms like Bitcoin or cash.
Even if we could compensate anonymously with HotSpot Shield we substantially wouldn’t wish to once we looked during a service’s remoteness policy—there’s a lot in there not to like if you’re remoteness conscious. AnchorFree says it doesn’t store your IP residence prolonged term.
But it does “collect unknown total information about that websites we revisit and that apps we use.” AnchorFree says it does this for analytics and troubleshooting, and this information is never connected to any of your identifying information such as an email address, home IP address, username, and so on. But that doesn’t annul a fact that your browsing information is still collected by AnchorFree. That competence not worry some users, yet those who are really remoteness unwavering should demeanour elsewhere.
The association also gathers device information like your hardware model, OS version, browser type, language, wireless network, and mobile network information. Again this information is never compared with we and is used for analytics and troubleshooting.
If we use a free, ad-supported chronicle we competence also trickle privately identifying information to HotSpot Shield advertisers. That has zero to do with HotSpot Shield Elite, yet it’s a good sign of because we don’t wish to use an ad-supported use when perplexing to get online unnoticed.
Based on HotSpot Shield’s remoteness process it’s protected to contend this is not a use for high-level anonymity online. But if your regard is to encrypt your web browsing so we can roller safely from anywhere, HotSpot Shield does that. The company’s remoteness policies make it transparent that you’re browsing habits are tracked—albeit in total form.
HotSpot Shield has considerable speeds, good pricing, and a good series of nation locations—though not a quite downright list. The remoteness process is not ideal for those who wish to disguise their browsing activity—anonymized or not—or that internet-capable apps they use. It’s excellent if we only wish to secure your tie during a internal café or airports, yet as a use that’s going to keep we rather unknown there are stronger choices.