Hotspot Shield 2.78 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Hotspot Shield

CNET Editors' note: Learn how to uninstall 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:

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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:

    2.3 stars

    out of 18 votes

    • 5 star: 3
    • 4 star: 3
    • 3 star: 1
    • 2 star: 1
    • 1 star: 10
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 18

  • 1.0 stars

    "Not recommended"

    February 12, 2013  |   By maunruh

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    NONE ! I wouldn't recommend this to my worst enemy

    Cons

    I only recommend this if you have a google / youtube account and want it to be identified you as a hacker and then have to change all your passwords because it was identified as an account being hacked

    Summary

    HA HA HA HA This is a joke

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Unsafe & unreliable"

    January 13, 2013  |   By Anon892

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    Free and fast

    Cons

    Unsafe, may work great sometimes, will often fail, even within one browser with multiple taps some of them may reveal true ip.

    Summary

    If you really need to hide your IP DO NOT rely on Hotspot Shield.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Better deals out there."

    January 8, 2013  |   By DeeMoShow

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    It protects you from other hacks on a wireless network, Lets you access US networks from anywhere in the world.

    Cons

    It's expensive, and there's another program that does the same thing for free; iPhone app is unreliable, unremovable crap.

    Summary

    There is another program called Freegate, It protects you from hackers, It shields your IP, let's you access a US site from wherever you are, and more. And best, it's FREE. Download that instead. This is a waste of money.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (1)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Junk. Not worth buying"

    January 4, 2013  |   By Spaceship_X7

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    None. The paid version is a rip off.

    Cons

    Doesn't work

    Summary

    HotSpot is garbage. After paying for the Elite version I had nothing but trouble downloading and installing it. After that I still keep getting all the advertisements and ads to buy this product. I tried reinstalling it but it didn't work. I sent an email to support but have received no answer. The I tried to cancel this subscription bit it won't let me log in to do that. I read to late all the complaints about this product. Just trying to save you some grief. Don't buy this junk.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Great for getting to US internet"

    December 26, 2012  |   By mahiljamaks

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    I am traveling overseas and hotspot shield helped me again to get to my Netflix account from India. Great thing is that I can use all the services I am used to even from abroad - which is not possible without Hotspot Shield

    Cons

    Ad banners may be annoying.

    Summary

    I am glad I have it, it's great service for free.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Possible correlation to PayPal and Discover Card theft."

    December 24, 2012  |   By thdsn2002

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    Seemed to be a popular VPN from the number of CNET downloads.

    Cons

    Shortly after installing HotSpot Shield with the AnchorFree-HotSpot Shield toolbar I noticed redirects to web pages I had not intended to visit. I remember in particular seeing a PayPal login page that had a very different look than the official PayPal login page that came up when I typed the URL in myself. The address bar also had a HTTPS reference in red strikeout font. Hmm... I thought HotSpot Shield was supposed to guaranty encrypted connections. A day or two later, I got a call from PayPal and within a few minutes later from Discover about suspicious activity occurring on my accounts many miles away in Minnesota. I think an attacker was able to inject some malicious code into the objects HotSpot Shield puts on third party pages to get you to reconnect to the service, etc. I found that the service, by the way, disconnects rather often with the free version.

    Summary

    HotSpot Shield may be a good option for things like watching Hulu or programs that are blocked in other countries, but I wouldn't trust to use it while visiting banking or email sites or even Facebook.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "No way this is a "security" firm."

    December 22, 2012  |   By cyfan2001

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    It makes people feel good.

    Cons

    Wanna know what a joke this company is? Create an account and "forget" your password. When they email you, they will email you your actual password. That means they 1) Store your password in it's original text form which is completely vulnerable to hackers; and, 2) they believe that email is secure. So let me ask you, is this the type of "kiddie hacker" programming you want to trust your VPN security to?

    Summary

    Run. Run fast. Run far. Far far away from this company and software.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Worst software ever."

    December 15, 2012  |   By tickytacs

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    Nothing at all.

    Cons

    Hard to deinstall, slow piece crap, constantly messing up internet, crap

    Summary

    Worse piece of **** I have ever come across.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "I had credit card details stolen using Hotspot shield."

    December 8, 2012  |   By Jem93

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    Hotspot Shield software allowed me to watch programs that were blocked at my location

    Cons

    My credit card details were stolen during a transaction that I completed using Hotspot sheild...so don't think it makes you safe. It doesn't!

    Summary

    Beware of using this software.

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    Was this review helpful? (4) (1)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Don't waste your time."

    December 1, 2012  |   By rogerbultot

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.78

    Pros

    Works immediately upon installation.

    Cons

    Ads in free version not worth it. Annoying as hell.

    Summary

    Don't waste your time trying this product.

    Reply to this review

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Results 1-10 of 18

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