Hotspot Shield 2.88 - 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:

    2.8 stars

    out of 46 votes

    • 5 star: 12
    • 4 star: 7
    • 3 star: 4
    • 2 star: 8
    • 1 star: 15
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 46

  • 4.0 stars

    "Good-Need to improve"

    June 26, 2013  |   By alexndh

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    -Free.
    -Unblocks blocked some websites with my regional.

    Cons

    - Sometimes, speed of web browsing is slow,special when using Open DNS.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "NOTHING BUT TROUBLE"

    June 26, 2013  |   By scuzeme

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    Didn't find any

    Cons

    Hotspot Shield Elite coupled with C/net for 6 months of free elite service (save $20!). It wasn't really a free account, it was a trial. There was no icon indicating that I was connected (as promised). It also installed the free version so when the paid version was turned off, the free version put ads on every page I opened. It added a helper add-on and insisted that I needed it. There was no way to remove the free version without uninstalling the elite version. I was also inundated with offers to upgrade in new tabs opened by Hotspot.

    Summary

    It's clear that C/net has completely turned on users. In recent months, everything I've gotten through C/net has been tied to advertising, unwanted toolbars, add-ons and dozens and dozens of cookies. It is a chore to undo the crap associated with C/net. My C/net account will be closed (it that's even possible), C/net will be removed from Bookmarks and all my newsletters will be terminated. I'm joining millions of web users who say, "C/net is DEAD TO ME".

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Gives me access to my favorite online TV's"

    June 25, 2013  |   By mahiljamaks

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    It's pretty cool that I can access all the netflix and hulu tv shows now when I am on vacation back in Europe.

    Cons

    There is advertising - but it is free.

    Summary

    It is cool tool since it is free and I can watch netflix which I pay for, so why it should be blocked if I am traveling.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Their support is horrible / non-existant"

    June 18, 2013  |   By johnbeichhorn

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    The product seems to work

    Cons

    I bought AnchorFree on my IPhone and wanted to use it on my PC as well - I didn't want to see the ads and you are supposed to be able to load it on multiple devices with a single subscription. I couldn't figure out how to add my PC to my existing account so I contacted their "help desk" their response was:

    "Kelly, Apr 11 15:47 (PDT): Hello, The application only works if you have bought the PC version; then you can add the iOS subscription to it."

    I happened to be talking to the CEO about something and he told me that the above statement wasn't correct, so I tried the help desk again and things went downhill from there. They actually took ONE MONTH to reply to my message and I didn't get any actual help. Their latest reply to me was verbatim as the very first message.

    So I can't really comment on the product and how well it works (I assume it does) but their supports really SUCKS.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "SLOW Internet then Blue Screen of Death in One Day"

    June 17, 2013  |   By daehttub2000

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    Used for Less than one day so I have no input on this.

    Cons

    Unacceptably slower internet speeds reduced browing to nearly dialup speeds with unwatchable video. Blue screen of death in less than a day. Immediately uninstalled.

    Summary

    Windows 7 64 bit with Norton 360 Premier probably doesn't play well with Hotspot Shield. Do not install if you have this setup.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "It works fine and it's free"

    June 17, 2013  |   By JennyDK

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    That's the only reliable free VPN I have ever tried. I work a lot from Starbucks and I was always quite scared about WiFi hackers - since Starbucks is known for their unprotected WiFi. With VPN I am secured and I don't have to worry about it. Hotspot Shield is free and works pretty fine.

    Cons

    You will see their ads.

    Summary

    Definitely worth trying if you need a VPN and you don't want to pay for it.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "MESSES UP MY BROWSER AND SLOWS DOWN COMPUTER"

    June 14, 2013  |   By linacollins

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    It worked fine but it seems to be slow.

    Cons

    Messed up the system, installed some extensions and prevents browsing sometimes for some reason. I just uninstalled it and used another vpn this is HORRIBLE.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "This software & app are horrible!"

    June 13, 2013  |   By DBistrow

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    Quick download/setup

    Cons

    This software is blocking me from sending proper email, especially one's with attachments. Mail was coming back to me "mailer deamon" undeliverable.

    Browser loading is horribly slow, many times I must reload and hope it works or get out and reopen.

    I loaded this on two computers, one desktop, one laptop with fast connection speeds, top speed processors and loads of RAM. Everything is slowed down using the Internet.

    Having multiple browsers open when working is even worse and saving Wordpress files/posts/pages becomes cumbersome.

    I loaded their app on my smart phone and it began blocking syncing and my email. Other apps weren't working properly either. None of these issues existed before the app. It was also turning on and off and offering up an annoying ringtone.

    I decided to uninstall this POS from my phone and in the process it blew out 10 other apps that I use so I had to go back and reinstall them.

    Summary

    Do Not spend your money. I blew $29.95 plus $.99 for the app all non-refundable.

    Want support? Either upgrade further or waster your time in their forum.

    This is NOT worth your time, money or migraine. Move on. CNet staff reviewers are way off on this one. 5-stars? Who are they kidding?

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Protective... to a fault."

    June 13, 2013  |   By SarcasticSalamander

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    Does mask/change your ip.
    Quick browsing.
    Accessible on websites that utilize flash and java.

    Cons

    Littered with DRD infested ads.
    elite only lasts 7 days.

    Summary

    I'd suggest investing in actual VPN software. though there is no way of protecting your computer from hackers, that would be your best bet. Use the hotspotshield when you need to access websites that you can't normally access. use it when you need an ip change for a game forum website.

    DO NOT enter personal information, hotspotshield is funded by various outside parties and that is where all the ads on the side are there for. You don't know what they are doing with your personal information. This is something I recommend installing, and removing the next day. Download, view what you need to view, uninstall it. repeat. use and configure Tor, or just get an actual VPN.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Does it really work?"

    June 10, 2013  |   By antsway

    Version: Hotspot Shield 2.88

    Pros

    Certain ip finders say that my IP address has changed

    Cons

    another 2 that i have tried come back with my correct IP address although the hotspot says different.

    Summary

    another 2 that i have tried come back with my correct IP address although the hotspot says different.

    Updated on Jun 11, 2013

    Ok again try this to check if it really works at hiding your home IP address https://torcheck.xenobite.eu/index.php I am not happy with this although www.whatismyip.com does come up with a different address, would love a reply telling me that it is maybe something i am doing wrong, but i don't think so. At the end of the something is reading my home IP address whilst HOTSPOT says that I am protected.

    Updated on Jun 11, 2013

    Ok again try this to check if it really works at hiding your home IP address https://torcheck.xenobite.eu/index.php I am not happy with this although www.whatismyip.com does come up with a different address, would love a reply telling me that it is maybe something i am doing wrong, but i don't think so. At the end of the something is reading my home IP address whilst HOTSPOT says that I am protected.

    Updated on Jun 11, 2013

    Ok again try this to check if it really works at hiding your home IP address https://torcheck.xenobite.eu/index.php I am not happy with this although www.whatismyip.com does come up with a different address, would love a reply telling me that it is maybe something i am doing wrong, but i don't think so. At the end of the something is reading my home IP address whilst HOTSPOT says that I am protected.

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Results 1-10 of 46

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