Hotspot Shield 2.74 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Hotspot Shield

CNET Editors' review

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

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.

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 619 votes

    • 5 star: 182
    • 4 star: 100
    • 3 star: 60
    • 2 star: 54
    • 1 star: 223
  • Current version:

    2.2 stars

    out of 10 votes

    • 5 star: 3
    • 4 star: 0
    • 3 star: 0
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 7
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 10

  • 1.0 stars

    "Redirects Everything.Would be better with out anything."

    October 26, 2012  |   By paidweekly

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    Junk. Free is not good.

    Cons

    Hard to uninstall

    Summary

    You Have to spend your day reviewing ads that your not searching for.Waste of time.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Works, but at what cost?"

    October 26, 2012  |   By Bhilithinn

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    It does what it claims to do.

    Cons

    Frequently opens internet explorer without my permission. Annoying ads, and even redirects me sometimes. Makes my browsers run more slowly.

    Acts a lot like malware.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Works, but extremely difficult to remove"

    October 25, 2012  |   By analhamster

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    Works as expected.

    Cons

    Does not properly uninstall, you will be left with the hotspot shield toolbar (which I specifically refused on installation) and various changed registry keys, which can only be removed by manually editing the registry. Hotspot shield's uninstaller does not completely remove the program.
    This is blantantly malware behaviour and I strongly suggest the CNET editor rating be adjusted to reflect that. Users who trust this website's editor ratings will be deceived into installing what amounts to malicious software. Do not install this program unless you are absolutely sure you never want to see the back of it.

    Summary

    It works, but try to uninstall it and you will find it leaves a particularly stubborn bit of malware.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Nice aapp for wifi"

    October 25, 2012  |   By OrangeRoIt

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    Nice aapp for wifi

    Cons

    ................

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Absolutely Horrible."

    October 23, 2012  |   By bloodyabstract

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    None at all.

    Cons

    Crashed my computer. Got the blue screen of death. Don't buy this or use the free version unless you would like to go buy a new computer.

    Summary

    I downloaded this program, installed it. Then I opened up google chrome and it doesn't even work for one. Then I tried to uninstall the program and it crashed my computer like I got the blue screen of death. Rebooted my computer and it took FOREVER, then manually uninstalled the program and my computer was right back to normal. Take my word for this program, DO NOT get this.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Used it previously and it worked fine...PREVIOUSLY"

    October 22, 2012  |   By Wolven Spectre

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    None... does not work with free version on Opera or Chrome

    Cons

    Cant even get it to show its preferences and keeps locking up and freezing. Takes FOREVER to connect to the VPN servers.

    Summary

    If I could give it a -1 star I would... HSS, what happend to you??

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  • 1.0 stars

    "What the hell happened!"

    October 20, 2012  |   By lady_dukes

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    NONE so far.....

    Cons

    everything It does not do what it says it does.......see the write up below

    Summary

    I have had hot spot for a couple of years and it worked fine, I live in the UK and watch US Tv all the time, I used to spend every Sunday catching up on all my TV programming. up till 4 weeks ago.
    My Macbook hard drive failed and It was replaced so I've had to download a newer version of Hot spot and it Does not work I can no longer watch any USA based media, NO ABC, NO Hulu, NO NOTHING and I'm really annoyed I want my old hot spot back ;(

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Highly Useful"

    October 17, 2012  |   By mchrislaw

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    I travel frequently. And as Netflix is not available outside USA, my monthly subscription meant nothing. Installing Hotspot Shield has given unrestricted 'anywhere' access to Netflix no matter where I go.
    2.74 version is even more fluidic.

    Cons

    Ads, the price for the free software.

    Summary

    Overall, an amazing software that does not costs me anything but does everything I need.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Just updated to 2.74 and works fine"

    October 16, 2012  |   By mahiljamaks

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    I travel a lot outside from USA (especially to Europe) and this app allows me to watch my favorite series on Netflix from other countries. That's great since I pay for Netflix so I simply want to use it wherever I am.

    Cons

    There are ads.

    Summary

    It is definitely good choice, it is free and gives me what i need.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Installs cookies, cookies cookies"

    October 16, 2012  |   By MRPETERPAN1

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.74

    Pros

    Hide my IP

    Cons

    Advertisements by the hundreds. Every page you go on has hotspot advertising. I have a $5000.00 Autodesk Maya program and their damn advertisement from hotspot installed itself as a header advertisementin Maya.
    Had to uninstall all my autodesk programs and reinstall after uninstalling hotspot. Lost whole days work.
    It also install 50-60 ad tracking cookies which CCleaner had to clean, even though firefox is set to delete cookies.
    Not worth the headache. They hide you IP and sell you butt to the entire advertising community. You will have hundreds of spy cookies after awhile.

    Summary

    Spies

    Updated on Oct 18, 2012

    I would like to retract the comment about Hot Spot Shield placing many cookies into my computer. Possibly it's the advertisements placing the cookies. The part about their Advertisement appearing at the top of my AutoDesk Maya program is true. I text chatted with their support member and he was unaware of the problem.

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Results 1-10 of 10

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