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Hotspot Shield Free vs Elite Comparison

Most recommended


  • Virtual locations: 115+
  • Connection speed: Up to 1 Gbps
  • Device connections: 5
  • Data limits: Unlimited
A good choice too


  • Virtual locations: 1
  • Connection speed: Up to 2 Mbps
  • Device connections: 1
  • Data limits: 500MB per day

Choose the Best VPN Between Hotspot Shield Free vs Elite

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated VPN Service in This Comparison

12 users answered this survey. Please help us improve this review!

41.67% of users selected Hotspot Shield Elite, 58.33% selected Hotspot Shield Free. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

Hotspot Shield Free vs Hotspot Shield Elite is a comparison often made by consumers looking for a reliable virtual private network (VPN) service. Both versions of Hotspot Shield offer encrypted internet connections and anonymous browsing, but there are some key differences to consider before making a decision.

The free version of Hotspot Shield does have limitations in terms of server access and data usage – users only have access to one U.S.-based server and are restricted to 500MB of data per day. In contrast, the Elite version offers unlimited server switching and data usage, as well as access to additional services like malware protection and ad blocking.

Another distinction is that the Elite version includes customer support, while the free version does not. Additionally, the Elite subscription allows for up to five simultaneous connections, while the free version only allows for one.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual’s needs and usage – those looking for a more comprehensive, supported VPN experience may prefer Hotspot Shield Elite, while casual internet users may find the free version sufficient.

When it comes to protecting your online privacy, there is no better solution than Hotspot Shield. There are two different versions of the software: Hotspot Shield Free and Hotspot Shield Elite. In this blog post, we will compare the two versions and help you decide which one is right for you.

Hotspot Shield Free Review: The Most Affordable For Beginners!

Hotspot Shield Free is one of the most popular free VPNs on the market. While it doesn’t offer the same level of features and security as paid VPNs, it’s still a decent option if you’re looking for a budget-friendly VPN. Hotspot Shield Free has consistent speeds and can unblock all platforms.

It offers access to 1,800 servers in 80 countries and comes with apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, and Amazon Fire TV. The 45-day refund policy is pretty decent, although the 500MB of transferred data per day limit might be a turnoff for some users.

However, there are some downsides. The speed can be slow, and you’re limited to just 500MB of data per day. Additionally, the logging policy is non-transparent, so we don’t recommend this VPN for anyone who is looking for complete privacy.

Overall, Hotspot Shield Free is a good choice for those who are looking for a free VPN with decent features.

  • The most affordable options for testers and beginners;
  • Consistent speeds;
  • 45-day refund policy;
  • Decent security features for a free plan;
  • Unblock all the platforms;
  • Access to 1,800 servers in 80 countries;
  • Available apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, and Amazon Fire TV;
  • Superb Hydra protocol;
  • Good for bypassing Chinese Firewall;
  • Easy to install;
  • Good for torrenting;
  • Decent money-back guarantee period;

  • Slow speed connection;
  • Limited to 500MB of transferred data per day;
  • Non-transparent logging policy;
  • Only one device for simultaneous connection;
  • Netflix proxy error may prevent you from streaming;
  • No dedicated support for free users;
  • Not recommended for fast streaming;
  • Targeted ads on the Android version;

Hotspot Shield Elite Review: The Best For Unlimited Streaming!If you’re looking for a top-notch VPN service, Hotspot Shield Elite is definitely worth considering. It offers unlimited data for streaming, compared to free 500MB, and access to 3,200+ servers across 70+ countries. You can also connect up to 5 devices simultaneously.

What’s more, the speed is up 1 Gbps and the connection is stable. Additionally, there are no ads and you don’t have to pay extra for streaming content. Plus, the interface is slick and approachable.

However, it should be noted that Hotspot Shield Elite is quite expensive. Additionally, there is no third-party audit and WireGuard support is limited. Nevertheless, this VPN service provides decent global coverage and is P2P-compatible.

  • Unlimited data for streaming, compared to free 500MB;
  • Offers a family plan for Premium users;
  • Access to 3,200+ servers across 70+ countries;
  • No ads;
  • No extra payment for the streaming content;
  • Easy to unblock Netflix and other popular streaming platforms;
  • Can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously;
  • Slick and approachable interface;
  • The connection is stable;
  • The speed is up 1 Gbps;
  • Split tunneling;
  • 24/7 live chat customer support;
  • P2P-compatible;
  • Decent global coverage;

  • Quite expensive;
  • No third-party audit;
  • Limited WireGuard support;
  • Limited transparency;
  • Gathers anonymous data;

What You’ll Get With the Hotspot Shield Free Version:

  • Limited to 500MB of data per day;
  • Lots of ads;
  • Only 1 virtual location within the US;
  • Premium Payment Wall if you want to stream content;
  • No dedicated support;
  • Netflix proxy error stopping you from unblocking content;
  • Slower speeds;

With the free version of Hotspot Shield, users can enjoy secure and private browsing with up to 500MB of data per day. This allows for basic web browsing, but may not be sufficient for streaming or downloading large files [1].

Additionally, the free version only offers access to virtual locations in the United States, Australia, Japan, and the UK. Users may also experience some ads while using the service.

If users want to stream content, they may encounter a premium payment wall. And if any issues arise, there is no dedicated support for free users.

Some users have also reported difficulties accessing Netflix with the free version, as it may trigger a proxy error. The speed of the connection may also be slower compared to the Elite version.

What You’ll Get If You Upgrade to the Hotspot Shield Elite Version:

  • No data limit;
  • No ads;
  • Access to virtual locations all over the world;
  • Dedicated 24/7 support;
  • Faster speeds and reliable connections;
  • Unblock streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more;

The elite version of Hotspot Shield removes the limitations of the free version. Users can enjoy secure and private browsing without any data limit.

Additionally, there are no ads while using the elite version. And users have access to virtual locations all over the world, not just a few select countries.

If any issues arise, there are dedicated 24/7 support for elite users. The connection speeds are also faster and more reliable, allowing for seamless streaming and downloading. Plus, popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more can be easily unblocked.

Overall, upgrading to Hotspot Shield Elite may be worth it for those who need a more robust and reliable VPN service [2].

What Can You Do With 500MB of Data Each Day?

  • Browse the internet. You don’t need a lot of data to use Google;
  • Check emails. Although you can remain caught up on emails without consuming too much of your 500MB limit, be weary of attachments such as photos and videos;
  • Use social media. If you want to save data, stick to the basics on social media platforms and resist the urge to watch videos or upload your own content;
  • Shop online. By shopping online, you can save data because most sites are built for fast loading;

You can make your free daily data last even longer by following these tips from the experts. When you use Hotspot Shield’s free version on your mobile phone, webpages will load faster and images will be cached so you don’t have to download them every time you visit a site. In addition, disable any apps that store user data in the background to prevent an unexpected loss of data.

However, if you regularly upload, download or stream any media online, 500MB of data per day probably won’t be enough. You may also experience issues when attempting to download torrents as 500MB wasn’t a lot of data to work with.

The elite version upgrade provides more than simply increased security and anonymity for users who want to watch videos, download torrents, and play games.

Comparison of Hotspot Shield Free vs Hotspot Elite

Accessing Virtual Locations

A significant VPN advantage is the freedom to access content that’s geo-blocked or otherwise restricted. Many entertainment websites have geo-restricted content, which can only be viewed by people within certain geographical areas. By using a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and gain access to this content [3].

Accessing Virtual Locations

Hotspot Shield Free only allows access to a single server in the United States, meaning you can’t surpass any US geo-restrictions. If you upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite though, you gain access to over 25 virtual locations worldwide. Once connecting through one of these new areas, you’re given a local IP that tricks websites into thinking you’re really close by – even if the reality is quite different.

Browsing the Internet

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is beneficial for anyone who often uses public Wi-Fi hotspots. When you connect to a VPN server, your browsing traffic will be encrypted, meaning that anyone nearby trying to snoop on your network will only see gibberish. If you’re using Hotspot Shield Free, you’ll have to put up with ads while you browse (which is how the service can remain free). This can be especially annoying on a smartphone where you already have limited screen space. Elite users get to enjoy ad-free browsing.

Speeding Up Your Connection

Using a VPN to connect to the internet can help improve your connection speed, which is ideal for gamers. If you’re noticing a strong lag while playing your favorite game, try accessing it through a virtual location that’s closer to the server. Reducing the geographical distance between you and the server could eliminate gameplay lag altogether.

You’ll find that the paid, Elite version of Hotspot Shield offers a quicker connection than the free one. The speed of your connection will depend on various factors such as your device and where you are located.

Streaming Access

If you want to stream video content, Hotspot Shield Elite is a more beneficial option than the free version of Hotspot Shield. The free version only allows for 1GB of daily bandwidth and also displays an Elite Payment Wall when trying to access services that use up a lot of bandwidth, like streaming websites. However, these streaming restrictions can be bypassed by upgrading to the Elite membership.

With Elite, you can stream as much content as you want without worrying about going over your bandwidth limit [4].

Multiple Devices

Another advantage of upgrading to Hotspot Shield Elite is the ability to use it on up to 5 devices simultaneously, rather than just one with the free version. This allows for better protection and convenience for those who are using multiple devices or want to share their account with family members.


A major downside of the free version is the presence of ads while using the service. These can be distracting and annoying, but they are not present in Elite membership. Upgrading also removes the advertisements from any websites you visit while connected through Hotspot Shield.

Help and Support

With Hotspot Shield Elite, you’re never alone – a dedicated support team is always ready and willing to help with any questions or issues you may have. They are experts at what they do, so you can be confident that all your problems will be solved efficiently and effectively.

Help and Support

With Hotspot Shield Free, there’s no need to worry about complex installation procedures. Just download the program to your desired device.

Upgrading to Elite is easy – simply log in to the app and enter your activation code. You can find this code in the confirmation email you received after making your purchase.

Local Speeds

Hotspot Shield Elite also offers faster connections and superior local speeds, providing a smoother browsing and streaming experience. This is due to access to more virtual locations and dedicated servers in those areas.

Features For Gamers

  • Hotspot Shield Free offers basic VPN protection for gaming, including hiding your IP address and encryption of personal information;
  • Hotspot Shield Elite offers advanced VPN protection for gaming, with additional features such as optimized servers for lag-free gaming and dedicated customer support;
  • Both versions allow access to blocked gaming sites, but Elite offers a larger network of virtual locations to choose from;
  • In terms of bandwidth, Hotspot Shield Free has a 500 MB daily limit while Elite has an unlimited bandwidth allowance;
  • Ultimately, gamers looking for serious protection and the ability to access a wider range of virtual locations may want to consider upgrading to Hotspot Shield Elite [5];

Server Network

Although Hotspot Shield has 1,800 servers in 80 countries and 35+ cities, the free app only allows the use of one server. The app lists Premium servers that can’t be used until you upgrade (they are placed plainly so as to encourage buying a plan). I found the limited capabilities of the free version extremely frustrating.

HotspotVPN’s global server coverage is unrivaled, with servers in the Americas, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Africa.
It also has unique server locations in countries where most other VPNs don’t operate – China, India, United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam Laos Egypt Israel, and Kenya.

A VPN can help you access previously restricted content from all over the world, as well as hide your online activity from government monitoring in some countries. Although VPNs are technically illegal in China, there have been no reports of anyone being penalized for using one.

One advantage of the VPN’s use of virtual servers is that they allow a VPN to offer you IP addresses to unblock restricted content in countries where VPN access is banned or restricted, without operating physical servers there. The risk of losing your data to hackers is also low when you use virtual servers.

Additionally, Virtual servers have been known to cause Speed issues. That way there’s no risk of accidentally sending traffic data through a country that might put it at risk. For “security reasons”, Hotspot Shield doesn’t mention the real locations of its virtual servers.

Another downside is that you may not be able to access certain servers depending on the device you’re using. For example, some experts were not able to see the Kenyan server when logged into  Windows 10 app and had to instead use an Android phone.

Currently, spoofing your location to access multiple servers is only possible in a few countries. The US is one of these countries; it has 27 city servers located in places like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, and Seattle. By utilizing these city servers, you’re able to stream content that’s exclusive to specific states — something you couldn’t do previously.

The app also has an automatic “Best Server” selection tool to ensure you get a server with the quickest speeds. The Elite plan offers a much more robust server network than the free version. The additional servers give you access to more content and allow for greater flexibility in terms of location spoofing. If you’re someone who frequently travels or wants to unblock restricted content, Hotspot Shield’s Elite plan may be worth considering.

In addition to general information, the Windows app also provides data about server load, latency, peak speeds, and daily data transmitted once you have connected to that particular server. This is beneficial if you’re looking to stream or game as it allows for more informed decisions.

With Hotspot Shield, you can save the servers you frequently use under the “Quick access” section for easy retrieval or search for the server you need using the provided search box.

Switching servers is also quick, approximately 10 seconds. The kill switch ends the internet connection to your device for only a brief moment and will reconnect you once you’re on the new server [6].


The Hotspot Shield website states that they use AES-256 and SHA256 encryption to protect your data, which is the same level of encryption used by banks and the military. Your internet traffic also goes through a tunneling protocol to ensure privacy and security.


Both plans offer malware protection for websites and can block ads, but the Elite plan takes it one step further with an option for ransomware protection. This feature detects and blocks any attempts to access or encrypt your personal files.

Additionally, it offers 24/7 customer support, unlike the free plan’s limited support via email and community forums.


Hotspot Shield is not a secure way to browse the internet.

A quick Google search showed me that the company has had several scandals in the past, mostly due to its unscrupulous logging practices.

In 2016, the CSIRO Report found that Hotspot Shield used a JavaScript tracking code on its Android apps. By doing this, they collected user information that was then sold to third-party advertisers. In some cases, the VPN also used this information to direct users to eCommerce websites [7].

In 2017, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) filed a complaint against AnchorFree Inc. with the Federal Trade Commission (FDC). The CDT alleged that Hotspot Shield’s service lacked transparency about data sharing and traffic redirection activities.

In 2018, cybersecurity researchers discovered a flaw that allowed hackers to access sensitive information like WiFi names and locations.

Encryption & Protocols

Hotspot Shield Free offers 128-bit encryption, while Hotspot Shield Elite offers 256-bit encryption. Both offer the choice between IPSec and OpenVPN protocols.

Kill Switch

Hotspot Shield Elite offers a kill switch feature, which will automatically disconnect your internet if the VPN connection drops to prevent any data leaks. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.

IP, DNS, and WebRTC Leaks

Both Hotspot Shield Free and Elite protect against IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. However, Hotspot Shield Elite offers an additional layer of protection with a dedicated leak protection setting.


Hotspot Shield Elite offers an auto-protect feature, which automatically enables the VPN when certain apps are launched or when accessing specific websites. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.


Hotspot Shield Elite offers SmartVPN, which allows you to access a faster and more stable VPN connection, particularly when streaming or downloading large files. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.

Identity Guard

Hotspot Shield Elite offers an Identity Guard, which notifies you of any potential security threats to your online accounts and helps protect against identity theft. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.

Password Protection

Hotspot Shield Elite offers password protection, allowing you to securely store and manage your passwords in one place. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.

Anti-Malware Protection

Hotspot Shield Elite offers anti-malware protection, scanning and blocking any potential threats while browsing the internet. This feature is not available with Hotspot Shield Free.


Both Hotspot Shield Free and Elite allow for torrenting, but Hotspot Shield Elite offers optimized servers specifically for P2P traffic.

Bypassing Chinese Restrictions

Although Hotspot Shield works in China, you will not be able to access the VPN’s website as soon as you arrive there. This is because non-government-approved VPN sites are blocked by the Chinese government. Therefore, it is advised that you download the app before entering the country. The Chinese government typically combats VPNs by prohibiting the use of technology and isn’t commonly known for penalizing individuals who break this law.

By using obfuscated servers, HSS is able to avoid detection by the Great Firewall. Obfuscated servers use a special logarithm to prevent firewalls from detecting that you are employing a VPN [8].


Hotspot Shield Free is completely free to use, while Hotspot Shield Elite offers monthly ($12.99), yearly ($7.99/month), and two-year ($2.99/month) subscription plans [9].


In conclusion, Hotspot Shield Elite offers additional features and improved security for a small price increase. However, if budget is a concern, Hotspot Shield Free still provides strong encryption and protection against leaks. Both options allow for torrenting and bypassing Chinese restrictions. It ultimately depends on the user’s unique needs and preferences when deciding between the two versions of Hotspot Shield VPN.


Is Hotspot Shield Free unlimited?

No, the free version of Hotspot Shield only allows for 500MB of data usage per day.

Is there a limit on simultaneous connections with Hotspot Shield Free?

Yes, the free version only allows for one simultaneous connection while Hotspot Shield Elite allows for five simultaneous connections.

How do I get Hotspot Shield Premium for free?

Unfortunately, there is no way to get Hotspot Shield Premium (Elite) for free. However, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial to test out the premium features before deciding to purchase a subscription.

Is Hotspot Shield Free VPN safe?

Hotspot Shield is a secure VPN service. With features like DNS leaks, strong encryption, and proprietary tunneling protocols, you can be sure your data is safe [10].

Does Hotspot Shield keep logs?

The short answer is no, neither the free nor the Elite versions of Hotspot Shield keep logs of user activity. This means that they cannot provide any information to outside parties regarding a user’s online activities while using the VPN service.

However, it should be noted that Hotspot Shield does collect some basic technical information, such as connection times and bandwidth usage, for internal analytics and troubleshooting purposes. This information cannot be linked to individual users and is deleted regularly.

Who owns Hotspot Shield?

Hotspot Shield VPN is a service offered by Pango Inc., which is incorporated in Delaware, USA [11].

Is NordVPN better than Hotspot Shield?

This is subjective and depends on individual needs and preferences. Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have a large global network of servers, strong security measures, and allow for torrenting. However, NordVPN has more server locations, advanced features such as double VPN and obfuscated servers, and allows for up to six simultaneous connections.

On the other hand, Hotspot Shield offers faster speeds and has a free version (though with limited features compared to their paid Elite plan). Ultimately, it’s best to research and compare both options to see which better suits your specific needs.

Does Hotspot Shield hide my activity from my ISP?

Hotspot Shield is a VPN that employs high-level encryption protocols to keep your information secure from prying eyes. Whether you’re concerned about being tracked by your ISP, hacked, or monitored by government agents, Hotspot Shield can give you the peace of mind and online privacy you deserve.

Is Hotspot Shield a good VPN for gaming?

Hotspot Shield offers fast speeds and reliable connections, making it a good option for gaming. Additionally, Hotspot Shield can bypass geo-restrictions and give you access to blocked content. However, some gamers may prefer the advanced features offered by other VPNs such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN. As always, it’s best to research and compare different options to find the one that meets your specific needs and preferences.

How do I cancel my Hotspot Shield Free Trial?

If you signed up for the Hotspot Shield Free Trial through their website, you can cancel by logging into your account and going to the “Subscription” section. There should be a button to cancel the trial.

If you signed up through iTunes or Google Play, you will need to cancel through those respective platforms.
For further assistance, Hotspot Shield offers 24/7 customer support via live chat or email [12].

What is the latest version of Hotspot Shield?

The newest version of Hotspot Shield for Windows, 2.87 was just released [13].

Useful Video: Hotspot Shield review: Should you get it?

Final thoughts

Hotspot Shield Free is a great option for people looking for basic online security and privacy, but it does have some limitations. The biggest drawback to Hotspot Shield Free is that it caps data usage at 500MB per day, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to watch videos or stream music. Additionally, the free version of Hotspot Shield doesn’t include the malware protection or ad-blocking features that are included in the Elite version.

On the contrary, Hotspot Shield Elite offers all of the features of Hotspot Shield Free, as well as unlimited data usage, malware protection, and ad blocking. It also includes a built-in firewall to protect your computer from malicious websites. If you’re looking for comprehensive online security and privacy, Hotspot Shield Elite is a good choice.


  1. https://www.wizcase.com/blog/hotspot-shield-elite-vs-free/
  2. https://www.wizcase.com/blog/hotspot-shield-elite-vs-free/
  3. https://blog.hotspotshield.com/hotspot-shield-free-vs-elite-version/
  4. https://blog.hotspotshield.com/hotspot-shield-free-vs-elite-version/
  5. https://www.vpnmentor.com/reviews/hotspot-shield/
  6. https://www.vpnmentor.com/reviews/hotspot-shield/
  7. https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/hotspot-shield-vpn
  8. https://www.vpnmentor.com/reviews/hotspot-shield/
  9. https://download.cnet.com/Hotspot-Shield-Elite/3000-2144_4-75609924.html
  10. https://cybernews.com/best-vpn/hotspot-shield-review
  11. https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/hotspot-shield-vpn
  12. https://support.hotspotshield.com/hc/en-us/articles/203412120-How-do-I-cancel-auto-renewal-of-my-Premium-subscription
  13. https://www.hotspotshield.com/blog/hotspot-shield-2-87-released-a-free-hotspot-shield-vpn-offer/