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Virtual private network used for securing internet connections and preventing tracking

Virtual private network used for securing internet connections and preventing tracking

Vote: (9,680 votes)

Program license: Free

Program by: AnchorFree Inc.

Version: 11.3.1

Works under: Windows


Program license

(9,680 votes)


Program by


AnchorFree Inc.


Works under:


Hotspot Shield is a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, program that keeps your browsing protected. This program comes in both free and paid versions that provide slightly different experiences when using the program. Many businesses and IT workers use this program, but it's also good for individual users who want some extra protection while browsing.

Different Versions

Hotspot Shield has two different versions to choose from. One version is completely free. The free version lets you use a single virtual location and there are some advertisements running alongside the program. You can stream video in standard definition and visit your favorite websites. While some of the features are watered down, you're still getting the protection and anonymity you expect when browsing online.

The premium mode must be paid for. This gives you access to many other features and it might be worth the cost depending on your needs. The advertisements will be removed while you're browsing. You also get to choose from 70 different virtual locations as opposed to just one. You can stream high definition video from popular streaming services. You also gain access to stronger servers that provide faster browsing speeds.

There is also a difference in support and number of devices you can connect simultaneously. Free users can read through the FAQ section to find answers to their questions while premium users gain access to customer support. This allows you to ask questions and get direct support for your technical needs. Free members can only connect one device at a time while premium users can connect five devices simultaneously.

If you plan on using VPN-protected browsing whenever you're online, then the premium plan might be best because of the higher speeds. If you only plan on using a VPN every now and then, then the free plan would probably work better for you.

Speed Protocols

Using a VPN will slow down your browsing because your signal is going through a different server. This means that the signal has a longer pathway. Hotspot Shield uses a unique protocol that ensures your connection remains fast whether you're using the free or premium version. Known as the Catapult Hydra protocol, this keeps your connection fast even if you're switching between different servers. In fact, it should only take a few seconds to connect to a new server.

Easy Settings and Features

You'll find that Hotspot Shield is very easy to setup and use. The interface is simple to navigate and there are large buttons so you can quickly find the functions you're looking for. The settings menu is a single page with all the major functions laid out for you. There is also an advanced view for those who want more detailed tools.

Connecting to a server is simple. Hotspot Shield will automatically connect to your last used server. You can also pick a server manually or have the program switch to the fastest server for your needs. For example, some servers might be better for streaming while others are better for browsing certain websites. There is also a timer that shows you how long you've been browsing through the VPN and you can cut the connection with the click of a button.


There are some pros and cons to privacy with Hotspot Shield. As with any other VPN this program will prevent DNS or IP leaks. This means that outside entities won't be able to spy on you or track your location. Your signal is encrypted and it will also block any phishing attempts. If the VPN connection drops for any reason, then the program will automatically stop browsing so that no information is given out. It will also alert you if the connected has dropped.

At the same time, there are some logs kept on your browsing with Hotspot Shield. They don't log your activity, but they do record your IP address whenever you use the program. This log is deleted when your session is finished. This is unusual for VPNs and you may want to keep it in mind.

Something else to keep in mind is that Hotspot Shield doesn't allows anonymous payment types. This means no Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payments. If you don't use Bitcoin, then this won't really matter. If you want to remain as anonymous as possible, then this might impact whether you use Hotspot Shield or another VPN.

Blocked Services

If you've used a VPN before, then you know that some services are blocked. This is usually from the service provider's side and not the VPN provider's side. Many malicious users keep themselves anonymous and the service provider doesn't want to risk being hacked. While there will be some blocked services with this program, you'll find that some servers are meant specifically to get around this. For example, there are some servers meant for connecting with streaming and social media websites.

The servers are clearly labeled so you can easily find the right one for this. You won't have to experiment with each server to find one that works.


  • There are both free and premium versions to choose from
  • This VPN supports high definition streaming and works with most websites
  • The interface is simple and you should have no problem configuring the VPN


  • There are some privacy concerns with IP logging
  • You cannot use anonymous currencies like Bitcoin

Hotspot Shield is a program that connects you to a free VPN service, securing your connection when you use public WiFi hotspots and allowing you to access some websites and online services if you're outside of the USA.

A Simple VPN Client

Compared to other programs in its category, Hotspot Shield is very easy to use, as it requires little configuration on the user's part. Once you install the program, you can choose between several languages for the user interface and can opt to have it automatically connect to the service when you're using a public WiFi network.

To use the VPN service, all you have to do is press the connect button. A confirmation will appear once the connection is established and there's a tray icon which is colored green when you're connected to the VPN and red when you're disconnected.

Browse Securely and Access US Websites From Anywhere

As a program that connects to a free VPN service, Hotspot Shield helps you protect your privacy and security, especially when you use unsecured public WiFi networks. It creates an encrypted tunnel between your PC and the Internet, preventing data from being intercepted along the way. The service also comes in with a built-in security feature that blocks access to websites known for distributing malware.

While it's a great tool to protect your privacy when you use free WiFi networks, it can also come in very handy if you're outside of the US and want to browse certain websites. Hotspot Shield gives your computer a USA-based IP address, which allows you to bypass geographic restrictions and access certain websites such as Hulu or view YouTube videos that are made to be only accessible from within the United States.

Decent Quality for a Free Service

The Hotspot Shield application and its VPN service are completely free to use with no time or bandwidth limitations. However, the service is ad-supported and the ads can get a bit annoying at times, as they may cover part of the page you're viewing in your browser. If you want to use the service without ads, you'll have to upgrade to the paid "Elite" version of the service.

Overall, the VPN service is very reliable and offers decent data transfer speeds. During times when a lot of people are using the service at the same time, it can take a little longer for the application to connect to the service, though the process rarely takes more than a minute at most. Using the Hotspot Shield application may slow down your Internet connection somewhat, but it's still fast enough to watch streaming videos without difficulty.


  • Simple to install and use.
  • Protects your privacy while using public WiFi networks.
  • Gives you an IP address from the US to bypass geographic restrictions.
  • Completely free to use with no limitations.


  • Continuously displays ads while connected to the service.
  • Can slow down your Internet connection slightly.