AnchorFree Hotspot Shield review

A cheap and simple to use VPN that sidesteps geo-blocks, but it doesn't offer perfect anonymity

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£19
  • £19 inc VAT
  • Limited advanced options; Imperfect anonymity

Hotspot Shield is one of few VPN apps to support Windows Phone and there's also a Chrome browser extension, but you can't set the service up on a router.

It provides a choice from 20 virtual locations, among which Tokyo is the sole Asian representative. While the client has no advanced options, you can configure it to connect automatically if it detects either a secured or unsecured wireless connection.

The presence of eight icons showing various unblocked services suggests that geo-unblocking is the primary focus here certainly, we were able to watch Netflix US content without issue. Performance was good: Hotspot Shield seems quick to connect, disconnect and change country, and we saw high speeds with no packet loss.

However, the service doesn't have its own DNS servers, which gives third parties the potential to aggregate information on its users. Whoer.net also rated our UK connection at only 40% anonymity, chiefly because it detected multiple IP addresses associated with our session. This seems a harsh mark, as none of these belonged to us or our own ISP.

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This is a comparatively cheap service, with a one-year, five-device licence costing just 19 and a 'lifetime' plan 64. While we're not convinced that it offers perfect anonymity, it could be a cheap and effective way to secure a public wireless connection or view content from other territories. 

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