Hotspot Shield Elite

Access the world with no borders

650 million users access the Internet securely with Hotspot Shield
Note that using a VPN these ways might break terms of service—or even local laws. If you are using the premium Hotspot Shield Elite version this approximate city-level location will not be collected and will not be shared. Especially if you get their VPN router. The more servers there are, the more bandwidth each person connected to a given server will receive. Cons Hard to maintain paid subscription. Also, if you connect to websites or services that don't encrypt traffic via HTTPS, your network traffic may be subject to interception. A paid account is required to access all of the company's servers.

Pricing and Features

AnchorFree Hotspot Shield VPN

I have a 15MB connection and it slowed it down to 7MB, but it was still fairly fast and usable. If your internet connection is slow to begin with, turning on Hotspot Shield makes it so slow you can't use it as I recently experienced at a motel. Also the automatic subscription renewal is on by default. I had to contact customer support to find out how to cancel it and it was very difficult to find where it was, I had to go to a different website and log in to cancel automatic renewal.

They almost have it hidden so you can't cancel automatic renewal easily. Works great on fast WiFi internet connections but practically unusable with slow internet connections.

The only way that you are going to be able to experience success over a prolonged period of time in the business world would be always being open minded to the possibility of changing what you are doing. If you make the mistake of continuing to rely on the solutions that you have used in the past, you may be holding yourself back from making much needed improvements. When this happens, you are limits in terms of how you compete with other operations on the market. It is important for you to stay informed about the latest technology on the market and how it can be useful to your operation.

Also, you may want to learn about how other businesses are using it in order to enhance what they are able to offer to their customers in the market today.

When you have more vpn service reviews to look through, it becomes a lot easier to value the ones that are most meaningful to your business. In addition to offering you additional security on a daily basis, you are going to enjoy the flexibility that comes along with giving your employees access to this technology.

Every person that is working for you would be able to access the network from wherever they may be at the moment, this means that work would get done faster.

Also, there are no more worries about missing deadlines when someone that you are paying for a job is on the road traveling. Instead, they would be able to work from a remote location and hand in any of the documents that you have asked them to complete. Very often, our operations are crippled by what we make available to the people that we choose to employ.

If you know that you have been holding back your company from achieving more, the time is now to commit to doing things differently than you have in the past.

Reading the best vpn service review would be a great way to give yourself insight about how each provider is going to function. While this helps to get rid of the anxiety, it would also allow you to save some money. Hard to maintain paid subscription. They need a different fee collector. It was so hard to renew my subscription that I just quit trying. Re-installation to Elite status is hard as well. Go with the free, if you can handle the ads.

Good luck getting your money accepted for the Elite. I've been using the free version for a little over a year. I've been so hesitant on upgrading because I don't really buy software, however, this is worth my every dollar.

Being the frugal person that I am, i was able to catch this half off deal so I got Elite for pretty cheap: The BIG difference between free and Elite is that there are no ads. Another reason why I upgraded was because of the extra malware protection that Elite had. Hotspot Shield was especially appreciated on our trip to Europe. My baby would not fall asleep without Pandora Nature radio and ability to have Netflix cartoons did let poor parents get some peace!

Thank you, Hotspost Shield for making things happened: Login or create an account to post a review. The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited.

Click here to review our site terms of use. If you believe this comment is offensive or violates the CNET's Site Terms of Use , you can report it below this will not automatically remove the comment. Once reported, our staff will be notified and the comment will be reviewed. Overview Review User Reviews Specs. With over million downloads, Hotspot Shield is the world's most popular Virtual Private Network VPN that allows you to access blocked websites and services online, secures your browsing session, protects you from hackers and WiFi snoopers on public WiFi networks, makes you anonymous and untraceable on the Web and detects and blocks malicious websites.

Reviews Current version All versions. Sort Date Most helpful Positive rating Negative rating. Results 1—10 of 38 1 2 Pros I was able to watch some things. Cons I was unable to log in. Summary Support is worse than useless for this product. Reply to this review Was this review helpful? Pros Performs well to standards implied in list of features.

Cons Impossibly amateurish service. Pros You can access some content. Cons Doesn't actually work as a VPN that masks your location.

Cons Pop up advertising window for the free version Reply to this review Was this review helpful? Pros It does what it's supposed to do, protect you on unsecured WiFi internet connections. Cons It really slowed down my internet connection by half. Summary Works great on fast WiFi internet connections but practically unusable with slow internet connections. Pros The only way that you are going to be able to experience success over a prolonged period of time in the business world would be always being open minded to the possibility of changing what you are doing.

Cons When this happens, you are limits in terms of how you compete with other operations on the market. Summary When you have more vpn service reviews to look through, it becomes a lot easier to value the ones that are most meaningful to your business. Cons Hard to maintain paid subscription. Summary Go with the free, if you can handle the ads.

Pros I've been using the free version for a little over a year. Cons I wish the free version had same features as Elite Reply to this review Was this review helpful? That's not the only reason you need a VPN , either. Because your internet traffic appears to be coming from AnchorFree's servers, your computer, in turn, appears to have the IP address of that server.

That means websites, advertisers, and snoopers have a harder time tracking your movements across the web and discerning your actual location. While using a VPN is always a wise choice for securing important activities such as online banking transactions, VPNs are essential for accessing the internet while traveling or any time you use a public Wi-Fi network.

On a larger scale, people living in countries with restrictive control over internet access can circumvent that control with a VPN.

This technology has long been a key tool of activists and journalists. For some people, VPNs are also a means to access region-locked content. Note that Netflix is fighting back against this kind of cheating, as are other services.

It's important to know what a VPN can and can't do, however. First and foremost, a VPN provides only limited online anonymity.

To really disguise yourself online, you should route your traffic through the labyrinthine Tor network. Also, if you connect to websites or services that don't encrypt traffic via HTTPS, your network traffic may be subject to interception. There's a good chance that you have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that's the case, don't worry! We've got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN. If none of those plans fits your wallet, you might consider using a free VPN , such as the one provided by AnchorFree.

The free version also has bandwidth limits that depend on the device you use. All free accounts are capped at MB per day. AnchorFree also uses Android resources to deliver occasional interstitial ads. TunnelBear also has a limited free version, but it won't serve you ads if you opt to go that way.

VPNs are a mature technology, and there's more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel for your traffic. For the most part, you won't have to worry about picking a particular VPN protocol, but I appreciate services that give consumers that option. The typical VPN service supports multiple VPN protocols and either uses the one it thinks best for a particular situation or allows the user to choose.

Instead, AnchorFree created its own protocol called Catapult Hydra and uses it exclusively. To be clear, in creating Catapult Hydra AnchorFree didn't create a new encryption protocol. A new encryption protocol would require an enormous amount of scrutiny since an undiscovered flaw could be used to break it. An AnchorFree representative recently explained that Catapult Hydra uses the Open SSL library to encrypt the data and that the new protocol is simply "an enhancement of the transport protocol.

While plenty of other VPN services create their own protocols, AnchorFree Hotspot Shield is the only one I'm aware of that relies exclusively on its own proprietary protocol.

I'm always a little leery of security companies that decide to roll their own services when secure, open-source options like OpenVPN exist. I haven't tested the efficacy of AnchorFree's protocol—I'll leave that to the expert researchers. The number of servers indicates the service's robustness.

The more servers there are, the more bandwidth each person connected to a given server will receive. The number of server locations is also important, but I am more interested in geographic diversity. A lot of different server locations gives you more opportunities to spoof your location, and it also means you're more likely to find a nearby server when traveling. Hotspot Shield members get just 25 server locations worldwide to choose from, with some 2, servers in total.

That's a lot of servers, but I'd prefer to see them more widely distributed. It also maintains servers in areas with restrictive internet access policies, including China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. Hotspot Shield customers disappointed by its dearth of servers in Africa should consider CyberGhost , which has a few in the region. This puts Hotspot Shield among the most robust VPN services, but its geographic diversity leaves something to be desired.

Some VPN companies employ what are called virtual servers. These are software-defined servers—a single piece of server hardware running multiple virtual servers onboard. These virtual servers can also be configured to appear in a different location than their host hardware server. Consumers deeply concerned about their privacy may take issue with virtual servers, since your data might be traveling to different countries than you expect. An AnchorFree representative explained that 20 percent of the servers in the US and Western Europe are virtual servers.

But if you're a paying customer, you won't be using any virtual servers. Additionally, all of the VPN servers are physically located exactly where they appear to be. As VPNs become an increasingly popular tool to help secure your privacy online, more attention is being given to what VPN companies are doing to protect your privacy. After all, these companies could monitor your activity as much as ISPs already do.

AnchorFree has gone to great lengths to update its privacy policy to be clearer and easily understood, and should be commended for this. However, it still contains several passages that are confusing and worrying without additional context. Its opening two points are continued throughout the document, and are good touchstones of any VPN service:.

We do not keep logs of your online activities and never associate any domains, or applications that you access while the Hotspot Shield VPN is connected with you, your device, or your email. AnchorFree previously injected an ad linking back to a page on its own domain onto webpages visited by users. Considering that attackers inject code into websites to trick users into visiting malicious portals, I don't think legitimate software should ever engage in this practice.

Thankfully, AnchorFree confirms that it no longer injects ads into websites—nor do any of the other VPN services in my best-of list. The only time you see ads with AnchorFree is if you use the free service on the company's Android app.

AnchorFree notes that some obfuscated location information is shared with advertisers, although paid customers are not subject to this practice. I'd rather AnchorFree found a way to avoid sharing any location information. From the privacy policy:. If you are using the premium Hotspot Shield Elite version this approximate city-level location will not be collected and will not be shared.

In its privacy policy, AnchorFree makes mention of gathering aggregate data about the websites users visit. A company representative explained that each VPN server monitors the sites requested, divorced of information about who requests it, in order to determine if services are being blocked or are otherwise unreachable. Using Twitter as an example, the representative said that if the company were to see tens of thousands of requests for Twitter and only a handful the next day, that would be indicative of someone censoring Twitter in a particular region.

The company takes pains to say that this information cannot be attributed to a specific user. I was troubled by previous wording regarding this specific issue, but have accepted the explanation and no longer consider it to be an explicit threat to privacy. We may also use, but never log or store, your IP address to derive your approximate city-level location.

We use this information to provide and improve the services, troubleshoot, and perform analytics on our services. Our service providers may collect IP addresses for marketing attribution purposes. An AnchorFree representative explained these service providers correlate a download to particular website or other "channel.

The representative explained, "We ensure that these analytics services don't use the data for any other purpose besides attribution of the download to the channel of where this download came from. The information is needed only to know that a device downloaded our application from a specific website. To its credit, AnchorFree completed a transparency report late in that outlined the requests it had received for information from law enforcement and governments.

In it, the company said it provided no identifiable information, and extensively discussed how AnchorFree Hotspot Shield does not store users' real IP addresses. That's great, as is the effort put forth by the company to make a transparency report in the first place.

TunnelBear underwent a code audit to publicly verify its efforts toward customer security. CyberGhost has taken similar efforts. For example, it acknowledges that other companies can still track your movements across the web with cookies and beacons, even when the VPN is active. It also spells out nearly every instance of information gathering carried out by the company, why the information is gathered, and how AnchorFree mitigates threats to user privacy. AnchorFree further adds assurances about its ad operations and is emphatic that it does not sell user data.

Company representatives have made similar assurances to me directly. I ask every VPN company to outline how it generates revenue, as it's important to understand whether or not companies are data-mining or otherwise "selling" their customers.

My AnchorFree contact said that the company only draws revenue from subscriptions, ads served to free users of the Android app, and company licensing. It does say something that so many other companies have signed off on AnchorFree's services, especially those like Bitdefender that stake their reputation on customer security. Some readers may balk at the advertising based model for the free version of Hotspot Shield, but the company argues that these activities are necessary to deliver a quality product, particularly for free users.

Moreover, it contends that what information it collects cannot be tied back to specific individuals. In addition to a company's privacy policy, it's important to know where a company is located in order to understand what legal framework it operates under. Some countries, for example, require companies to retain specific information for set periods of time. In fact, Switzerland is one of the better places to store data, if privacy is a major concern.

I always advise readers to look at a company's policy and decide for themselves if they are comfortable with it. Security companies trade on trust, and if you do not feel that you can personally trust the company, you need to find one you do trust.

Previous versions of the software were pushier than I like to see, affecting the appearance of the browser and such, and I'm happy to see that behavior removed in the current incarnation. Hotspot Shield also no longer installs any toolbars, which is also a step in the right direction.

It's a simple, dark blue window with cyan highlights and a modern aesthetic. This matters, I think, because how a service looks is probably going to inform how we feel about it.

Private Internet Access, for example, barely has a presence on computers and isn't easy on the eyes at all, which makes it less inviting and accessible to the average consumer. The main page shows upload and download speeds, as well as your apparent IP address. A map in the lower right shows a stylized view of the world and doubles as a VPN server selector. When it's not connected, the app shows a large Power button, encouraging you to start a connection.

I like this much more than PureVPN, which has users jump through hoops before connecting.

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