Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Download Editors' Rating:
4.5
Outstanding
Average User Rating:
2.9
out of 646 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    2.52
  • Total Downloads:
    28,601,158
  • Date Added:
    Mar. 27, 2012
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    7.68MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    61,716
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:

Editors' Review

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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 people 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 rerouting 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.

Recent changes include automatic detection of Wi-Fi connections nearby, the ability to work on corporate networks, and no longer requiring administrative privileges to install.

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 cost. The installation opts you into a toolbar, which redirects your default search and home page, and a desktop icon. 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 icon that turns to green when activated in both your system tray and in your browser. Clicking will toggle it on or off. Choosing the Properties option opens a window 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's paid upgrade is called Elite, which runs ad-free and on faster servers. Elite costs $0.50 per 24-hour session, with a minimum $10 deposit, or $5 per month, or $29.99 per year. Payment options include credit card, PayPal, prepaid cash cards or mobile phone payments via premium SMS. Along with built-in site malware protection, Hotspot Shield Elite comes with tech support, preferential bandwidth priority (read: faster Internet speeds) and serves you no additional ads from AnchorFree.

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 number and the Mac version number don't match, AnchorFree says 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.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    1.7

    out of 7 votes

    • 5 star 0
    • 4 star 1
    • 3 star 0
    • 2 star 2
    • 1 star 4
  • All Versions

    2.9

    out of 646 votes

    • 5 star 193
    • 4 star 102
    • 3 star 61
    • 2 star 56
    • 1 star 234
  • My rating

    0 stars

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Results 1–7 of 7

2 stars

"Way too burdensome to use, even for free."

April 14, 2012  |  By Martian

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

Speed seems OK...until all the windows start opening

Cons

Every time I change to a different news story (link) a whole new window of advertisements pops up and a box asking permission to use Adobe Flash...every new link I open, I have two additional window open (slowing machine) that I have to close.

Summary

If you do only a little surfing requiring this type of program...OK. If you do major surfing, this program is a hassle beyond belief.

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1 stars

"Be aware. Highly questionable operation."

April 08, 2012  |  By InsaneBasura

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

For whatever it's worth it did do its job quite efficiently.

Cons

It also installed a Firefox plugin without asking. Apparently AnchorFree thinks it's ok to change things on your computer without your permission.

More disturbingly it did something to my router or network settings. I have no idea what or how to fix it. Quite frequently my router software's taskbar icon will pop up a message saying "Internet disconnected" for a couple of seconds until the connection is automatically restored.

I also suspect use of this software may have messed up my previous router, which would get redirected to sedoparking.com when doing address bar searches.

Summary

Either AnchorFree is a shady business or they're incompetent people incapable of upholding an acceptable standard in terms of secure and reliable operation. I would not trust them. Shouldn't have to begin with. Free software is usually fine, but VPN services mess around with your network and router stuffs. You should only trust that to a company that has proven itself to be trustworthy.

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1 stars

"too intrusive"

April 03, 2012  |  By mrtymcgrth

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

pestiferous

Cons

unnecessary

Summary

I use good security software, have NEVER had a virus or malware survive since 1986; plan to continue that record!

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4 stars

"Installs and works well."

April 01, 2012  |  By swanjame

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

Installs and works well.

Cons

Occasionally disconnects, leaving you connected to the internet sans coverage without warning you. The only thing that happens is the small item in the taskbar silently changes color.

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2 stars

"Hard to live with those Banners And Ads"

March 31, 2012  |  By uruway2000

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

It does his job, and I suppose that the paid version with no Ads should work OK, but with this Advertising Demo is hard to say how it really works

Cons

I use Mozilla firefox as default browser, but when I surfing the Web, Hotspot constantly opens IE, with Ads, and all slow down.

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1 stars

"did not work"

March 30, 2012  |  By h_bretman

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

none that I could find

Cons

did not do what I wanted it to do

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1 stars

"Slows down and won't allow some of my regular connects"

March 28, 2012  |  By pjmckenna

 |  Version: Hotspot Shield 2.52

Pros

Not at this time

Cons

Won't bring some of my regular connections up on screen and is very difficult to work around.

Summary

I am not going to be using it on a regular basis

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Results 1–7 of 7

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 2.52
Version 2.52:
  • Various bug fixes.
  • New graphical interface.
  • Automatic network detection.
  • Connection status icon.
  • General
    Publisher AnchorFree
    Publisher web site http://anchorfree.com
    Release Date March 27, 2012
    Date Added March 27, 2012
    Version 2.52
    Category
    Category Security Software
    Subcategory Encryption Software
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Windows Vista, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows
    Additional Requirements None
    Download Information
    File Size 7.68MB
    File Name HSS-3.42-install-hss-561-conduit.exe
    Popularity
    Total Downloads 28,601,158
    Downloads Last Week 61,716
    Pricing
    License Model Free
    Limitations Not available
    Price Free

    Previous Versions:

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