Hotspot Shield Free VPN

Why do I need a VPN?

Private Internet Access has the best score in this test, lowering speeds by That's a lot of servers, but I'd prefer to see them more widely distributed. It can be slow depending on connection sometimes, not really the products fault, but more so my internet connection. If you use the Firefox plug-in, there's no limit on your data and you can use any server you wish, as often as you like. Thank You for Submitting Your Review,! Some countries, for example, require companies to retain specific information for set periods of time.


It usually fixes itself, but if not, a reinstall or network setting reset fixes this issue. Sometimes I accidentally reconnect after disconnecting and I have to wait for it to reconnect again before I can get out. This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices. Stability improvements Bug fixes. Improvements on VPN connection stability and performance.

Aug 30, Version 4. Excellent product and customer service Oct 14, Works most of the time, some minor issues Dec 20, Information Seller AnchorFree Inc. Family Sharing With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app. The New York Times. A quiet hero for Internet privacy and security around the world". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 October Center for Democracy and Technology.

Archived from the original on The virtual private network says it provides a way to browse the web "anonymously and privately," but a security researcher has released code that could identify users' names and locations. Internet censorship circumvention technologies. Program Think Blog Great Cannon. These are software-defined servers—a single piece of server hardware running multiple virtual servers onboard. These virtual servers can also be configured to appear in a different location than their host hardware server.

Consumers deeply concerned about their privacy may take issue with virtual servers, since your data might be traveling to different countries than you expect. An AnchorFree representative explained that 20 percent of the servers in the US and Western Europe are virtual servers.

But if you're a paying customer, you won't be using any virtual servers. Additionally, all of the VPN servers are physically located exactly where they appear to be.

As VPNs become an increasingly popular tool to help secure your privacy online, more attention is being given to what VPN companies are doing to protect your privacy. After all, these companies could monitor your activity as much as ISPs already do. AnchorFree has gone to great lengths to update its privacy policy to be clearer and easily understood, and should be commended for this.

However, it still contains several passages that are confusing and worrying without additional context. Its opening two points are continued throughout the document, and are good touchstones of any VPN service:. We do not keep logs of your online activities and never associate any domains, or applications that you access while the Hotspot Shield VPN is connected with you, your device, or your email.

AnchorFree previously injected an ad linking back to a page on its own domain onto webpages visited by users. Considering that attackers inject code into websites to trick users into visiting malicious portals, I don't think legitimate software should ever engage in this practice.

Thankfully, AnchorFree confirms that it no longer injects ads into websites—nor do any of the other VPN services in my best-of list. The only time you see ads with AnchorFree is if you use the free service on the company's Android app. AnchorFree notes that some obfuscated location information is shared with advertisers, although paid customers are not subject to this practice. I'd rather AnchorFree found a way to avoid sharing any location information.

From the privacy policy:. If you are using the premium Hotspot Shield Elite version this approximate city-level location will not be collected and will not be shared. In its privacy policy, AnchorFree makes mention of gathering aggregate data about the websites users visit. A company representative explained that each VPN server monitors the sites requested, divorced of information about who requests it, in order to determine if services are being blocked or are otherwise unreachable.

Using Twitter as an example, the representative said that if the company were to see tens of thousands of requests for Twitter and only a handful the next day, that would be indicative of someone censoring Twitter in a particular region.

The company takes pains to say that this information cannot be attributed to a specific user. I was troubled by previous wording regarding this specific issue, but have accepted the explanation and no longer consider it to be an explicit threat to privacy. We may also use, but never log or store, your IP address to derive your approximate city-level location.

We use this information to provide and improve the services, troubleshoot, and perform analytics on our services. Our service providers may collect IP addresses for marketing attribution purposes. An AnchorFree representative explained these service providers correlate a download to particular website or other "channel. The representative explained, "We ensure that these analytics services don't use the data for any other purpose besides attribution of the download to the channel of where this download came from.

The information is needed only to know that a device downloaded our application from a specific website. To its credit, AnchorFree completed a transparency report late in that outlined the requests it had received for information from law enforcement and governments.

In it, the company said it provided no identifiable information, and extensively discussed how AnchorFree Hotspot Shield does not store users' real IP addresses. That's great, as is the effort put forth by the company to make a transparency report in the first place. TunnelBear underwent a code audit to publicly verify its efforts toward customer security. CyberGhost has taken similar efforts.

For example, it acknowledges that other companies can still track your movements across the web with cookies and beacons, even when the VPN is active. It also spells out nearly every instance of information gathering carried out by the company, why the information is gathered, and how AnchorFree mitigates threats to user privacy. AnchorFree further adds assurances about its ad operations and is emphatic that it does not sell user data. Company representatives have made similar assurances to me directly.

I ask every VPN company to outline how it generates revenue, as it's important to understand whether or not companies are data-mining or otherwise "selling" their customers. My AnchorFree contact said that the company only draws revenue from subscriptions, ads served to free users of the Android app, and company licensing. It does say something that so many other companies have signed off on AnchorFree's services, especially those like Bitdefender that stake their reputation on customer security.

Some readers may balk at the advertising based model for the free version of Hotspot Shield, but the company argues that these activities are necessary to deliver a quality product, particularly for free users.

Moreover, it contends that what information it collects cannot be tied back to specific individuals. In addition to a company's privacy policy, it's important to know where a company is located in order to understand what legal framework it operates under. Some countries, for example, require companies to retain specific information for set periods of time.

In fact, Switzerland is one of the better places to store data, if privacy is a major concern. I always advise readers to look at a company's policy and decide for themselves if they are comfortable with it. Security companies trade on trust, and if you do not feel that you can personally trust the company, you need to find one you do trust. Previous versions of the software were pushier than I like to see, affecting the appearance of the browser and such, and I'm happy to see that behavior removed in the current incarnation.

Hotspot Shield also no longer installs any toolbars, which is also a step in the right direction. It's a simple, dark blue window with cyan highlights and a modern aesthetic. This matters, I think, because how a service looks is probably going to inform how we feel about it. Private Internet Access, for example, barely has a presence on computers and isn't easy on the eyes at all, which makes it less inviting and accessible to the average consumer.

The main page shows upload and download speeds, as well as your apparent IP address. A map in the lower right shows a stylized view of the world and doubles as a VPN server selector. When it's not connected, the app shows a large Power button, encouraging you to start a connection. I like this much more than PureVPN, which has users jump through hoops before connecting. One notable setting is that Hotspot Shield can be configured to connect automatically on unsafe Wi-Fi networks.

That's a great option. While you should use a VPN as often as possible for maximum security, this feature means you don't need to remember to switch on the VPN. The streaming company has been very aggressive about cracking down on people spoofing their location in order to access Netflix content that isn't available in a particular geographic market. Note, however, that any VPN service could work fine today and be blocked tomorrow. Also, Netflix outlines in section 6c of its Terms of Use that the company will attempt to verify your location, and that you are not guaranteed content outside of your primary country of residence.

The document doesn't seem to explicitly ban the use of VPNs, but Netflix clearly takes a dim view of the practice. In addition to securing your traffic, Hotspot Shield can also warn users whenever they land on known phishing websites or sites that host malware as determined by a database of more than 3.

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