While we recommend that everyone use a virtual private network (VPN) as a basic level of privacy protection, there is a problem inherent in all VPNs. Because a VPN requires you to connect to a server that’s some distance from your immediate location, and then it encrypts your connection to the internet, your surfing speed can suffer. Thanks to their own protocol called Hydra, Hotspot Shield avoids slowdowns and in some cases can even increase your surfing speed. We’ll take a quick look at how the software accomplishes this and then examine the other benefits Hotspot Shield brings with it.
Most VPN providers use pre-existing protocols to get their job done, such as OpenVPN or Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol. While those protocols are perfectly fine for helping you surf the internet anonymously, Hotspot Shield built its own protocol from the ground up and gave it the very cool-sounding name of Hydra. Hydra is effective because sometimes when VPN links are being established, packets of data can get lost and the service will try to restore them. Hydra has a new strategy for dealing with this packet-loss phenomenon, giving it the ability to relay your connection at truly mind-boggling speeds.
So just how fast is Hotspot Shield?
In testing, it has actually improved download speeds by 26 percent over no VPN at all – something that is almost unheard of in the industry. With connections to nearby servers, Hotspot Shield is 1.4 times faster than the nearest VPN competitor, while it is 2.2 times faster over longer-distance connections. In fact, the service is so speedy, that it was named the world’s fastest VPN by Ookla, an independent company that runs the Speedtest.net website.
What else does it offer?
Hotspot Shield also compares favorably to other VPN providers in terms of the features it offers including military-grade encryption; a large number of servers (3,200); servers all over the world (more than 80 countries); the ability to use the service on up to five devices with one subscription; malware and phishing protection; and unlimited bandwidth.
What does it cost?
Like many VPN services, Hotspot Shield offers a free “Basic” version. With it, your use will be capped at 500 MB a day and you’ll only be able to connect to one server, located in the US. You still get the military-grade encryption, plus the malware and phishing protection, so it’s certainly worth a try. Stepping up to the “Premium” service, which costs $95.88 per year gets you significant benefits including unlimited data; unlimited streaming; the ability to connect to all servers around the world; and the ability to install the service on up to five devices. The Premium service is also optimized for streaming services including Netflix, iPlayer, BBC and more.