We got to like Hotspot Shield VPN in its free version , but here we want to analyze the paid version. Will he have convinced us? Is it worth paying for a subscription to Hotspost Shield VPN ? Let’s find out now!
Let’s start with a fundamental aspect: Hotspot Shield’s subscription plans cost more than most of the competition . However, savvy users know that price isn’t the only factor to consider, and we can tell, this VPN service is completely worth the asking price. In fact, it offers several very interesting features and functionalities that make this provider worthy of consideration.
Also read: The best VPNs of 2021
Plans and pricing
As we said, Hotspot Shield plans are not the cheapest. There are three payment options available : a monthly plan, which with its cost of € 12.99 / month is 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, allows you to save around 38% with a monthly fee of € 7.99. Finally, the three-year plan guarantees a 77% discount and represents the most advantageous solution considering the monthly cost of only € 2.99 .
One notable aspect is the ability to request a full refund within 45 days of signing up for the three-year plan, which is quite rare, given that on average, the money-back guarantee amounts to 30 days.
» Click here to sign up for 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 within everyone’s reach and which can often create confusion in the choice of a service by the user. Will a given VPN be really safe? Is there to trust a given provider rather than another? There are many considerations to be made, but an excellent starting point could be verifying compatibility with secure protocols such as OpenVPN. Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield doesn’t support OpenVPN , IKEv2, L2TP / IPSec, or other VPN-specific standards, but instead relies on a proprietary technology called Catapult Hydra .
However, the figure is not of concern, as Catapult Hydra is in any case a technology that uses the same security and encryption protocols as anyone else . The problem, if anything, is that for like all proprietary technologies there is no way to understand what happens inside Catapult Hydra, which obviously is the polar opposite 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, even if the code is not public, the functioning of the software is still well documented.
As for client security, our tests on the service through IPLeak and DNSLeakTest did not reveal any problems , testifying how the service is always able to offer a good level of security, including a convenient (and always welcome) kill switch. which blocks the connection in case the connection with the VPN is interrupted, thus preventing the leaking of our IP address.
Speaking again about Catapult Hydra, we wondered if the high performance promised by the service is true. Based on our tests performed through the speedtests of Netflix, Fast and Speedtest, the results immediately seemed encouraging : connecting to a national and nearby server, the speed reached 68-70 Mbps, almost the maximum possible with the our 75 Mbps line. This suggests that you could virtually achieve more with a higher performing line. Moreover, remaining within the European circuit (England, France, Germany) there were no significant differences and our connection remained stable around 65-70 Mbps.
Even in connections to the United States the speed remained excellent (60-65 Mbps). We have to 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 didn’t encounter any problems on the other side of the world either, like 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 all know, Netflix is a bit of the “nemesis” of VPN connections. In fact, the streaming service has always discouraged the use of VPNs, creating many headaches for many users, thanks to a filter that basically prevents them from using the service via VPN. It must be said that to date several VPNs are able to circumvent 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 experience any problems whatsoever: the connection was immediate, simple and performing, with an excellent viewing experience which, moreover, we also checked on YouTube and BB iPlayer, all services that, to varying degrees, apply strong geographical restrictions. In addition, Prime Video and Disney Plus can also be unlocked.
The Windows client and the Apps
Hotspot Shield’s Windows client is perhaps the most straightforward and simple we’ve ever seen on the market . The simplicity is truly incredible, with an almost completely empty panel where a huge on / off button stands out. The instructions are also immediate and clear and connecting to the service is an almost instant operation, so much so that especially from the point of view of connection speed, we are not afraid of making a mistake by saying that Hotspot Shield probably connects faster than almost all its competitors. .
Another great element is the map that shows the location of the IP address in use, with some clearly visible numbers that indicate the amount of data being downloaded and uploaded. Each selected location on the map gives you access to a list of countries to choose from, including specific locations. In general, the menu is of an enviable simplicity and the user experience is linear and free of any complication, even from the point of view of the settings, with few options, but all functional. There are the essential things: the ability to start the client together with Windows, block the risk of IP leaks or enable the kill switch to stop all online activity in the event of a loss of connection to the VPN. There is also the possibility of automatically activating the connection when connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi network.
Too bad for the absence of a list of favorite servers which, as we often say, in our opinion greatly increases the quality of the browsing experience, although this lack does not affect the excellent user experience guaranteed. Finally, we close by pointing out that still in terms of ease of use and attention to the navigability of the service, Hotspot Shield integrates the most important FAQs directly into the client. So, 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, here too the continuity proposed by the company in terms of ease of use should be emphasized: the Android and iOS apps are clear, with a clean interface. Just open them and select Connect so 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 even if, unfortunately, this function is exclusive to the Android version, while it is absent on iOS.
For the rest, except for the stylistic differences (with the iOS app vaguely more aesthetically pleasing), the functions are essentially the same , and both apps offer an integrated malware scanner and a tool to extend the autonomy of the device. Nothing striking, but it must also be said that few people offer this little extra. The only, true, problem of these apps is the absence of a kill switch, partly replaced by an option dedicated to unsecured connections, which warns us in case of connection to an unsecured network, proposing a manual connection, an aspect which we did not like.
In any case, although 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 a choice. ideal for users who are unfamiliar with VPNs.
The possibility of accessing the documentation relating to the most common connection problems from the app, with the possibility of immediately accessing assistance via chat is one of the aspects that we appreciated the most. However, we would have liked to see some 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 has often turned out to be unreachable and it is not clear how the company manages the queues of waiting users. Not exactly a pleasant situation, especially at a time when the market has made great strides from the point of view 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 there is no discount and we sincerely hope that Hotspot Shield will soon take action.
So: is it worth paying that much for a VPN?The answer is “it depends” and with that we don’t want to get around the question. Hotspot Shield has undeniably problems: basic applications, lack of support for OpenVPN, minimal data collection but also has above average speed and performance more than worthy of the title of “VPN Premium”. Obviously, thinking of paying over 12 euros a month is daunting and, if this were the only package available, we would perhaps tell you to desist. However, if you 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 giants in the market, especially if you are looking for a VPN that does not require a lot of experience and technical know-how.