Hotspot Shield VPN is a simple VPN client that is perfect for a wide base of consumers. Unfortunately, it’s that simplicity that may turn some users off. For the technically-minded computer user who wants to know exactly how things work, Hotspot Shield will come across as a disappointment.
On the other hand, for the user that simply wants to download the software and go, this offering from AnchorFree is perfect. There is no need to tweak settings or configure the details; the software does it all for you.
We are comfortable recommending Hotspot Shield VPN for the computer user who craves a user-friendly VPN client. For those who want to know exactly what their VPN is doing, how and when, there are other offerings on the market that may be more suitable.
If you want to try out a VPN just to see if it is for you, Hotspot Shield is the one to try. This company is one of the only to offer a free version. The version does have ads and is offered with limited functionality, but it is a great way to try out a VPN for the first time.
If you already know that you want to subscribe, Hotspot Shield offers an Elite version with two payment models. You can subscribe annually for $29.95 with a major credit card or PayPal. You can also pay every two weeks via Mopay. If you choose to pay every two weeks, you will end up spending about $83.00 by the end of a year.
The company offers a seven day risk-free trial with its Elite service. The company requires absolutely no payment information for those wishing to take advantage of the trial.
- Two Week – $2.49 with your mobile phone via Mopay
- Annual – $29.95 with major credit card or PayPal
It’s important to note that the Elite version is only for computer users. If you want to use the service on your mobile device, you will be charged separately.
You can contact AnchorFree’s customer support team via email or Web forum. When testing the email support system, we were somewhat displeased. One email received a short reply fairly quickly, and our second email received no response at all.
The site offers chat for Elite customers but the hours that agents are available is difficult to clarify. When we attempted to contact a support agent via chat, we received a message that no agents were available.
You know yourself well. If you will need to rely on customer support to help you through the process of installing and using your VPN, we suggest you look to another VPN provider. If, on the other hand, you are relatively comfortable handling your own tech issues, Hotspot Shield is a decent choice.
Privacy and Security
While we would love to provide potential subscribers with the exact type of privacy and security offered by Hotspot Shield, we are unable to. The company is not forthcoming with the level of encryption used. When the information was requested from support, we were told that the VPN client utilizes OpenVPN protocol. We cannot, however, confirm this information.
If privacy and security are the reason that you are thinking about subscribing to a VPN, we caution you that AnchorFree is not transparent with this information. Install and use the VPN client at your own risk.
The HotspotShield Website
The AnchorFree website is attractive and easy to use. We had no difficulty locating the VPN client or installing the software. If there is any downside to the site, it is the lack of information provided by the company.
We chose to sign up for the Elite seven day trial to complete this review. We were required to enter only our email and choice of password to begin taking advantage of the trial version. Installation was straightforward and, once installed, the software began to work immediately.
The interface, like installation, is simple. We were able to change our server location as we wished. We did find that, unless we chose our own location, the default server was in the USA.
As we’ve said, Hotspot Shield protects computers. If you want to pay an additional fee, you can also protect your iOS or Android device.
What we like about HotspotShield:
- Ease of use
- Risk-free trial
- Free basic client
- Low cost
- Solid performance
What we don’t like about HotspotShield:
- Free version supported by intrusive ads
- Lack of response to technical queries
- Installation a bit sloppy for iOS
If you are on the hunt for a simple, cheap VPN that provides basic protection, Hotspot Shield is a great choice. On the other hand, if you are technical-minded and looking for superior protection, we suggest you keep looking.
While we liked the ease of use and the availability of a free version, we cannot overlook the fact that customer support was lacking and security information is not provided. We want to know how we are being protected and it makes us wary when a company won’t tell us. Hotspot Shield does what it says it will, but we don’t like that we don’t know how it’s doing it.