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Hotspot Shield guide and more free VPNs

About Hotspot Shield

The Hotspot Shield VPN can protect your data on a public Wi-Fi, let you browse the Web anonymously, and allow you to bypass Internet filtering and censorship.

Hotspot Shield FAQs

  • What is a VPN?

    A VPN, or virtual private network, can create a secure point-to-point connection through a public network to safeguard your data, dodge geographical restrictions, and skirt content filtering and censorship. Free VPNs may offer limited abilities such as a monthly data cap or display ads. A paid VPN can provide unlimited data and a variety of exit points to skirt geo-restrictions. While a VPN can protect your network transmissions, it's not an end-to-end solution to guarantee online privacy. A VPN is just one part of a toolkit that protects your privacy. You could include Tor software for end-to-end privacy.

  • What does Hotspot Shield do?

    The Hotspot Shield VPN is available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices as either a free or subscription service. The free version presents ads and limits you to U.S. servers. The paid Elite version is ad-free and offers exit nodes in more than 20 regions, including the U.S., India, Japan, and the United Kingdom. One paid subscription lets you run the VPN on five devices.

How do I get it, and how much does it cost?

Hotspot Shield

Subscriptions for the Elite version range from one month for $11.99 to a lifetime subscription for $99.95. Of course, the free version is free. You can also get a seven-day free trial of Elite.

VPN alternatives

VPN by Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access offers a paid VPN that offers exit nodes in 25 countries, is easy to use, and offers a collection of security settings if you want to strike a balance between the level of encryption and networking speed.


TunnelBear offers a free version of its friendly VPN with a 500MB of data cap each month. (To get an additional 1GB per month for free, you can tweet to TunnelBear.) Choose from 20 exit regions, including the United Kingdom and France.

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.