Hotspot Shield 2.76 - 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 13 votes

    • 5 star: 2
    • 4 star: 0
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 3
    • 1 star: 6
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 13

  • 1.0 stars

    "garbage dont donload it"

    October 23, 2013  |   By feck_you_cnet

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    none dont donload it

    Cons

    dont download it it is garbage

    Summary

    i have tried this program not worth downloading

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Does not always hide your IP"

    November 27, 2012  |   By MRPETERPAN1

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Good for some sites

    Cons

    New technology hacks through Hotspot, so don't think your covered if doing something under the table, cause you can't hide from big brother.

    Summary

    Install their Elite trial and go to Gibson Research "Shields Up".
    You will see your real IP is not blocked at all.

    https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2

    If you want to block your IP use "Start Page" search engine you wil see your IP is really blocked.
    If Gibson can hack Hotspot I wonder who else can.
    BTW "AD Block Plus" stops all the ads and "Block Site Plus" stops their web site opening up pages etc

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Behaves like MALWARE!"

    November 21, 2012  |   By lovinoven2

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    its free I guess

    Cons

    This software is a complete joke. They tell you they protect your privacy but they inject more ads and tracking cookies than if you were to just surf the web normally. To call this security software is a complete and utter joke.

    Let's call it what it is - a junky software used by people overseas to access blocked sites. Plain and simple.

    I wonder if the ad networks that advertise here know that their users are 99% foreign?

    Summary

    avoid at all costs.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Annoying VPN software full of ads"

    November 18, 2012  |  

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    It's free.

    Cons

    - Slows your computer down
    - Your search engine changes to Bing (no way to change it)
    - Pop - up screens now and then,
    - Banner showing to upgrade all the time.
    - New tabs now and then.
    - If you disable it, it cannot go back to the stable state before... you need to reboot

    Summary

    - It used to work for Netflix in the States, now it doesn't.
    - Works for HULU (the free one) and others.
    - In general it's frustrating to use, scared to put money for the full version.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "The Worst Version Ever Invented"

    November 18, 2012  |   By kobster300

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Hides your ip so you can access other things.

    Cons

    Slows down computer
    Ads flooding browser
    More Ads about how you NEED to buy Elite version (thats the most thing they advertise about and its so annoying).

    Summary

    I got Viruses from this
    Blue Screen of death
    as i was uninstalling this piece of crap i got about 3 Blue Screens.
    Dont get it. Please dont. Save your computer from this disaster

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Poorly Developed"

    November 16, 2012  |   By 3oij

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    It's free and has little adverts

    Cons

    If the site detects regions with UTC/GMT or SSL client client parameters, and possible JS, COM, FLASH, JAVA runtime data, you'll still be blocked..

    This is something common with hyped stealth software developed by contractors or uneducated programmers..

    Summary

    If you think I'm a troll or just mad, start it up and go to a properly managed region restricted site like gamestop pc downloads and watch how fast they block you..

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Understand the Fine Print"

    November 10, 2012  |   By lexlex1929

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Anchorfree makes 100+ million a year selling your computer information to governments. Tracking what goes to them with servers around the world? Short Answer of Course. Who needs malware when you have the single bottle neck with a few million people using canned twenty year old technology from the open source community world. It is not impressive, the reason it is so slow. But they wrap it in a nice package and you are to lazy to invest the time it takes to see whose software is on you computer. So, 128bit, most expert will say this is sufficient. But if it is sufficient, then why does the government standard 256bit? Message Digest 5, Streaming, Secure Hash, Rivest Special sauce, who knows. I would still ride a bicycle than dependent on a glossy paint job with 20 year old car.

    Cons

    Sham-ware.,
    It does not take a genius to create a tunnel with many sockets, but it does take a saucy marketing department to sell sugar water that rots your from the inside-out to a ignorant public.

    Summary

    Just another in the new breed of sell you out people, facebook, google, yahoo, are the names everyone knows. These are the bottom feeders. Pat them on the back, for copying and packaging nothing special that is quite ineffective in most of the countries (43) I have been too. with all my devices, android, iphone a Windows, and Apple. ( sigh ) more sham ware -- time to delete of the permanent storage. Erased, "0 and 1" written 24 times across the file space it once occupied. buh-Bye.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "V. 2.76 The Worst in a While"

    November 9, 2012  |   By JSM1963

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Unblocks most sites

    Cons

    YouTube still blocked. Facebook doesn't load pictures. Can't use Windows Live Mail. I was able to do these things only a week or two ago.

    Summary

    I hope they fix these bugs soon.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Very good free VPN software"

    November 6, 2012  |   By trentnimitz68

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Very good free VPN software

    Cons

    Very good free VPN software

    Summary

    Very good free VPN software

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Works great as VPN, sucks as a software"

    November 6, 2012  |   By jeod511

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.76

    Pros

    Good fast vpn which is free unlike most other free ones out there.

    Cons

    Hotspot shield comes with malware just like other people mentioned. I kept getting the ad banner when surfing the net.
    When I tried to uninstall it from control panel my internet stopped working completely. I tried restarting but no luck. Then I had to manually uninstall the driver it installed with my lan driver. After a restart it worked. Now I can't uninstall the software and since their website is blocked in my country I can't really do anything about this piece of annoying malware junk.

    Summary

    Good vpn, bad for computer. Not worth the trouble.

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Results 1-10 of 13

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