Looking for a way to keep your online activity private and secure? Virtual private network (VPN) services can help by hiding your information from cybercriminals and other prying eyes. If you’re on a budget, Hotspot Shield offers a free VPN service with solid security features to protect you from online threats. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the benefits and features of Hotspot Shield’s free VPN service.
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What is Hotspot Shield's Free Service?
Here at FireTVSticks, we understand how important it is to protect your online privacy and security. That is why we assess the safety and security of free VPNs to help you stay secure on a budget.
VPNs create a private network from a public internet connection, which means your IP address is hidden and your data is encrypted. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone to track your online activity.
Hotspot Shield is a reliable VPN with a 500MB daily data limit on its free version. It’s user-friendly and has over 160 servers for free users.
We’ve thoroughly reviewed their free service, testing their ability to keep your privacy intact even with heavy internet use. Keep reading to discover if Hotspot Shield is the right choice for you in today’s digital world!
Hotspot Shield (Free) Quick Overview
|Data Limit/Month||15GB (can be increased by watching ads)|
|Number of Free Locations||3 - United Kingdom, United States, Singapore|
|Number of Free Servers||160+|
|Number of Connections||1|
|AES-256 Encryption||✅ Yes|
|No Logs Policy||⛔ No|
|Is Outside the 5,9 and 14 Eyes Alliance||⛔ No|
|Support Available||Limited - Browse FAQ's online|
|Unblocks Streaming Services||Limited|
Hotspot Shield (Free) Features
If you’re looking to utilize Hotspot Shield without spending any money, you can receive up to 500 MB of data every day. It’s worth noting that mobile users will have to endure ads in order to access the service, which can be a bit bothersome since they may continue to appear even after closing the connection. Nevertheless, those using Windows or Mac systems can use the Hotspot Shield service without being subjected to any advertisements.
Number of Servers and Locations
When comparing Hotspot Shield’s free version to its premium version, there’s a significant difference in the number of servers available. While the premium version offers over 800 servers, the free version only has around 160. Additionally, the free version only allows access to UK, US, and Singapore servers, limiting its accessibility. The free version also has data limits. To fully access all content, a premium subscription is necessary.
Encryption and Security
Hotspot Shield uses Advanced Encryption Standard with 256 bits, known as AES-256, along with its own VPN protocol, Hydra, which supports Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) and is known for its high level of security.
However, Hotspot Shield’s no-logs policy must be made more apparent as it stores specific information, such as the duration of your VPN sessions, bandwidth usage, device hashes, and accessed domains. Although the company claims that the collected data is anonymised and cannot be traced back to users, it has not yet audited its privacy policies to verify these claims. Most VPN providers share third-party audits of their products to prove their security and privacy claims, but Hotspot Shield VPN has yet to release audit results. TunnelBear, another VPN provider offering a free version, has conducted annual audits for five years to establish its credibility.
Hotspot Shield has released a transparency report covering its services between 2016 and 2018, which confirms that the company has never disclosed any user information. The report also indicates that the company does not store browsing activity data but collects users’ IP addresses to match them to the best VPN server. This IP address information is encrypted and deleted at the end of the VPN session.
Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango Inc., which Aura acquired in July 2020, a US-based company. It is worth noting that the US is part of the Five Eyes Alliance and has a history of issuing warrants demanding sensitive user information, making it less than ideal for a VPN service.
Access to restricted content within your country can be gained by using the free version of Hotspot Shield. Additionally, some free streaming services and their libraries can be unblocked such as Pluto TV.
What's Not Included
Ad-free browsing, access to streaming content, and up to 10 connections are only available in the Hotspot Shield premium plans. Even though the premium version of Hotspot Shield offers additional features that the free version doesn’t, the latter still provides a decent user experience. Both the free and paid versions prioritize user privacy and security by offering essential protocols.
Hotspot Shield (Free) Performance Tests
We tested the download speed, upload speed and latency of Hotspot Shields free server. We ran the tests on a Windows 11 PC connected via Gigabit Ethernet and the speed test website speedtest.net.
Though a decrease in internet speed is expected when using a VPN, large drops can negatively impact your streaming or browsing experience. Below are the results of our tests.
|Location||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Latency|
|No VPN||940 Mbps||920 Mbps||9ms|
|UK to UK||608 Mbps||370 Mbps||18ms|
|UK to Singapore||429 Mbps||26 Mbps||160ms||UK to United States||320 Mbps||55 Mbps||108ms|
DNS Leak Test
We used IPLeak.net to check for DNS leaks, which can reveal a user’s location even when connected to a VPN. The screenshot confirms that no DNS leaks were found when connected to one of Hotspot Shield’s free servers.
Hotspot Shield (Free) Apps and Compatibility
Hotspot Shield’s free service is compatible with various devices and operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, Chrome, iOS and Android devices.
Fire TV / Android TV App
Unfortunately, Hotspot Shield’s free version does not provide apps compatible with Fire TV or Android TV. Users will need to upgrade to a premium plan to utilise their services on these particular devices.
The desktop app provides essential security and privacy features including the option to switch VPN protocols (Hydra/Wireguard), split tunnelling, and a kill switch to ensure data protection. The kill switch is a valuable addition for free users and is often only available under paid plans by other VPN providers. The user-friendly interface allows for easy navigation and quick connections.
The mobile app shares a similar user interface with the desktop app and provides users with the same VPN protocols, kill switch, and split tunnelling settings. Furthermore, users will notice a timer banner that displays the remaining free connection time. Once the free time expires, users can watch an advertisement to extend their connection time.
Is Hotspot Shield (Free) Better Than Other Free VPNs?
For users seeking a free VPN, Hotspot Shield is a strong choice due to its many beneficial features that rival other well-known VPN services. While Proton VPN is highly regarded as one of the best free VPN services, it only offers 152 servers. In comparison, Hotspot Shield boasts 160+ servers. PrivadoVPN and Hide.me also offer free versions that are popular with internet users, but they come with monthly data caps of 10GB. Hotspot Shield VPN, on the other hand, provides uncapped data usage (with an initial daily limit of 500MB that can be increased by watching ads). Therefore, in terms of server count and data usage restrictions, Hotspot Shield is a top contender against its competitors.
However, like all free VPNs, Hotspot Shield does have some drawbacks. For example, it only allows one simultaneous connection, unlike most free versions which allow users to connect three or more devices. Additionally, the free version includes ads that must be watched to bypass the 500MB daily data limit, which can be a hindrance to a seamless user experience. On the other hand, Proton VPN’s free version is completely ad-free.
For individuals looking for a VPN service on a budget, Hotspot Shield’s free VPN could be an ideal option. It offers a decent number of servers and all the necessary protocols needed for a safe and secure browsing experience.
However, it is important to note that there is a daily data usage limit of 500MB. For those using an Android or iOS device, this limit can be increased by watching some ads. If you’re looking for a free VPN without a data cap, try Proton VPN for unlimited data.
Compared to other free VPN services, such as TunnelBear (which has a 2GB data limit) and Atlas VPN (with limited server count and compatibility), Hotspot Shield is a better option.