Despite a couple of flaws that can be annoying, especially if you use Facebook or Gmail, AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield Elite is an otherwise good tool that does its job well. The shield's job is to protect your online privacy, especially when you're connecting to the Internet via wireless hot spots.
The installation isn't the usual drag-and-drop routine; you need to have admin rights to install it, but as soon as the application is on your computer, you'll notice the change. First of all, your browser can't connect to the Internet until you register the trial version using an e-mail address. Interestingly, the e-mail sent by AnchorFree ended up in the Junk Mailbox, which we found odd, since it's from a security company. What we liked, though, is the product's simple interface: it's a shield that is placed in the Menu bar when you launch the application. It communicates using colors: red is off and green is on. And it's that simple. Hotspot Shield excels in simplicity, and we love the the fact that the application is ad-free.
Unfortunately, the second thing we noticed was that we couldn't connect to our Facebook account. If you have recognized devices activated, the social network will block your account. In addition to that, our Mail application stopped fetching e-mails from our Gmail account. This is pretty annoying if you use Gmail for communication. Except the aforementioned flaws, however, Hotspot Shield performed well during our testing. The load time of the Web sites we visited was visibly faster, so the browsing experience was good (and safe), which is the primary role of the app. Although Hotspot Shield primarily aims to protect the online presence of those who connect to the Internet through hot spots, it can easily become the choice of privacy-conscious individuals as well.
We liked the feeling of a protected online presence, but if the shield works against you, then it isn't quite the tool you need. Also, users only have eight days of free protection, and they need to opt for one of the available offers if they want to have all their browsing information shielded from prying eyes.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Hotspot Shield Elite for Mac 1.585.