Hotspot Shield 2.09 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Hotspot Shield

CNET Editors' review

The bottom line: The Internet connection protector Hotspot Shield encrypts your traffic to protect you from all kinds of spying while your computer communicates with the rest of the world. It's a must-have utility for anybody who uses public Wi-Fi networks.

Review:
The Internet connection protector Hotspot Shield encrypts your traffic to protect you from all kinds of spying while your computer communicates with the rest of the world. It's a must-have utility for anybody who uses public Wi-Fi networks, but it's also an excellent tool for ensuring on any network connection that you can access sites and data according to your tastes, and nobody else's. Hotspot Shield's Virtual Private Network services are used by more than 10 million at the time this review was written, according to the software publisher AnchorFree, making it the largest VPN in the world.

The browser-independent Hotspot Shield establishes an encrypted connection to the Hotspot Shield servers, and turns all HTTP traffic to the safer HTTPS. By re-routing Web traffic and providing you with a new IP address hosted by AnchorFree, the company is able to ensure that your data isn't plucked out of the open by man-in-the-middle attacks or wireless network spoofing.

In our tests, we noticed that sometimes the program would actually resolve pages faster than when connected without it. This occurs, most likely, because of the geographic location of the company's servers. During a day of hands-on testing on the notoriously pokey CNET public Wi-Fi network, we noticed that Hotspot Shield Elite was remarkably fast. There were no connection lags despite the rerouting, and the program admirably handled high-definition streaming videos from sites such as Vimeo, YouTube, and CNET TV. We'd recommend the program for improving the Wi-Fi speeds alone, nevermind the additional security benefits.

The free version of Hotspot Shield does come at a small cost. The installation opts you in to two toolbars, one from Hotspot Shield and one from Conduit, which redirects your default search and home page. Also, whenever you activate Hotspot Shield, it will open a new tab to AnchorFree.com and begin autoplaying a video. That's seriously annoying, even in a free product that offers such a valuable service. Still, the toolbars and redirects are optional.

Once installed, it appears as a red system tray icon that turns to green when activated. Right-click to toggle it on or off. Choosing the Properties option opens a new browser tab that tells you that you're connected. Hit the Details link to learn more about your connection, including the VPN IP address, amount of data sent in and out, and how long you've been connected. The data transfer rate makes for a useful, quick-and-dirty gauge for people with data caps.

Hotspot Shield now offers an Elite service, which runs ad-free. Elite costs $0.50 per 24 hour session, with a minimum $10 deposit, or $5 per month, or $45 per year. Payment options include credit card, PayPal, prepaid cash cards or mobile phone payments via premium SMS. Aside from Hotspot Shield Elite's preferential bandwidth priority and lack of ads, there are no built-in additional features in Elite. However, at the time this review was written, AnchorFree had arranged a deal with Skype so that new Elite users get two hours of Skype talk time free when signing up.

The company has created multiple ways to circumvent download blockers in countries with strict censorship, too. If you can't access a Web page with the download, you can send an e-mail to win@anchorfree.com for the Windows version or mac@anchorfree.com for the Mac version, and the small installer file will be sent directly to you.

Note that although the Windows version is 2.06, and the Mac version is 1.582, the features are the same.

Even with the installation shenanigans, we highly recommend Hotspot Shield for anybody concerned with privacy. In today's world, that ought to be anybody connecting a computer to the Internet.

Hotspot Shield - Maintain and protect your privacy - Download Video Previews:

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    2.9 stars

    out of 617 votes

    • 5 star: 181
    • 4 star: 100
    • 3 star: 60
    • 2 star: 54
    • 1 star: 222
  • Current version:

    3.0 stars

    out of 12 votes

    • 5 star: 4
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 5
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 12

  • 5.0 stars

    "Great Anonymizer Elite Version"

    December 1, 2011  |   By misstabbycat

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Does exactly what it says. Minor problems are there in all softwares but this one has minimal problems. After free version, I purchased Elite.

    Cons

    None at all.

    Summary

    I have version 2.18

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Terrible software"

    November 21, 2011  |   By noreg

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    - Absolutely nothing.

    Cons

    - Installed plugin/extension in IE and Firefox despite the fact I opted out of all the "options"; hijacked home page.

    - Uber slow; Google News not even accessible despite several tries.

    - BSOD upon uninstalling. On restart, my network connections were malfunctioning. Had to reinstall the **** and uninstall in "Safe Mode" to recover my network connections.

    Summary

    Three hours of my life wasted because of this cr@p.

    How could CNET give this 4.5 stars out of 5?

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Does what it says, perfect for me."

    November 21, 2011  |   By XxShaZZaxX

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Living in Australia, i can now access Pandora, Google Music, and hulu.

    Cons

    none as i can see.

    Summary

    Good product, i didnt get any toolbars.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Pretty good but I can see an issue"

    November 20, 2011  |   By 341562

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Free and fast connection.

    Cons

    With all the major ip tracking websites you will appear to be hidden - but not with this one: https://www.vpnreactor.com/default.aspx
    It my true ip was always visible to these guys?

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Excellent program but pay attention during installation"

    November 18, 2011  |   By RogerCary

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    I take CNET's word for how effective this program is in terms of security. Seems to work fine for me.

    Cons

    Installation shenanigans as mentioned above. During installation be sure to uncheck the "Include the Hotspot Shield Community Toolbar". Then make sure you choose "Custom Installation" & deselect all the options it presents. It is also annoying that upon starting the program it opens a new tab to AnchorFree.com and begin autoplaying a video but that's a small "price" to pay for this programs benefits.

    Summary

    Follow my instructions above & you'll have NO PROBLEMS installing & using this program. If it weren't for the above annoyances I would have given this program a higher rating.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Amazing VPN program"

    November 16, 2011  |   By aLinux

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Its the only one that works rite away for FREE even. I live in Canada and I heard USA gets more TV shows, movies etc... but I could never actually prove that was the truth because its all blocked in Canada but after installing it, I immediately have every TV program imaginable to man on my computer -> HDTV screen. Its so easy to use and yes, there's tool-bars installed for IE, Firefox, etc... but you can pick and chose what you want installed or uninstall then later and yes it changes your start pages and browser default search, but those are simple to change back if needed. After taking two seconds to uninstall the tool-bar(s) and change my default search and start page, its incredible, it has tiny ad across the top (which can be closed as well!) but it will open back up again, they need to make money some how, or just subscribe for $3.75 month and bang its gone, but I've watched many movies, TV shows, etc.. full-screen and the ad does not once interrupt your programming, so enjoy!

    Cons

    Nothing, zilch, this program is a god send, like I said, I've tried so many VPN programs and this is the only one that worked for me and it ranks above the rest with Google and Alexa its a big blessing folks.

    Summary

    Simple install. Watch all your favorite websites and browse the internet with even more protection. I even did benchmark speed-tests to see if its any slower than my normal fast Internet connection, its exactly the same, I cannot believe it, so I think we're using our actual modem speed only this program must just bounce us a new secure I.P. address... its just superb. Thank you so much !!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "This will compromise your browser."

    November 12, 2011  |   By Ghenghis

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    LOL NONE! Not one Pro.

    Cons

    Too many to list. This thing is a nightmare. First of all, it doesn't MASK anything. And it will hijack your browser, regardless if you opt out of all the toolbars and search engines this thing tries to install, all my streams STOPPED working as soon as I installed this thing. Uninstalled, and boom...everything is working again. Just hope I dont have to do some work on the registry tomorrow.

    Summary

    Use at your own risk. If I could give this O Stars or less I would. You have been warned.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Install this at your own risk!!"

    November 12, 2011  |   By jthelw

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    None that I can see

    Cons

    1. It hijacked my homepage on Firefox and will not let me reset it.
    2. I cannot uninstall the toolbar.
    3. I believe it installed malware on my computer

    Summary

    I had to uninstall the software, although the toolbar stubbornly remains. Does anyone know how to remove it - help!!

    Updated on Nov 12, 2011

    Absolutely agree with Mongrel1999 about having a restore point available before trying this....I didn't, and I was sorry.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Dont know about this one.."

    November 2, 2011  |   By bigears625

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Seemed to be working..but who knows??

    Cons

    I opted out of the toolbars and google spyware thing..and low and behold it put it all on there anyway. even automatically changed my homepage to google..!! ***..!!

    Summary

    If you like the google spie controlling your computer..definetly download this product..

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Seems to work"

    October 29, 2011  |   By jcwoos

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.09

    Pros

    Connects immediately when turned on. Also easy to turn off when I am on a network I trust or using Ethernet cable. Puts advertising on the screen but not intrusive and can be minimized by clicking the "x".

    Cons

    Don't know how to determine how secure the connection really is.

    Summary

    If it does what it claims this is a great tool for use in public wi-fi access areas. I just wish there were some way to be sure how effective it is.

    Reply to this review

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Results 1-10 of 12

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