If you’re concerned about Big Brother tracking your activity online, a VPN delivers a safe and anonymous approach for browsing the web. We took a closer look at NordVPN and HotSpot Shield to see which is the better VPN option for you! Read on to find out who wins!
- Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome extension
- 25+ servers
- Unlimited bandwidth
- 5 Connections
- Close to no loss in connection
Netflix BBC, Amazon, Hulu, HBO
Android & iPhone apps
AES-128-bit, Catapult Hydra encryption, IPv6
- No log acitivity
Inquiry via online form
- Free Trial: 7 days
- iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, smart TVs
- 2,200+ servers in 56 countries
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 6 Connections
- Non significant loss in connection
Netflix, BBC, Amazon, Hulu streaming
Android & iPhone apps
256-bit AES, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP
- No log acitivity
Round the clock availablity
- Free Trial: 30 days
More people are employing virtual private networks, or VPNs, than ever before. With so many threats to users’ identities and privacy concerns, a safe way to connect to the internet is vital, as is getting around limiting geo-restrictions and censorship laws. Our experts have decided to compare VPN providers to find the best options for consumers.
For this VPNs comparison, we have two top-ranked services, HotSpot Shield and NordVPN, battling for the crown. We took each service for a short trial, and the results surprised us. See how each VPN stacks up below!
How We Compare VPN Services
To truly understand how each solution performs, we perform an in-depth analysis of several factors the best VPNs offer. These characteristics include server availability, speed, privacy, security, and pricing, as well as other key considerations.
VPNs that offer more servers give customers the ability to access far more content while benefiting from better browsing speeds. Moreover, great VPNs offer multiple connections for each account, and a variety of applications for different devices. HotSpot Shield delivers over 25 server options, which is somewhat under the industry average, though they do offer apps for iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, and Chrome. Users also have the ability to connect up to 5 devices to the service simultaneously.
NordVPN has over 2400 servers around the world and provides all its clients with an unlimited amount of bandwidth. The company offers apps for the same systems, but adds a solution for Linux which is relatively unique. Furthermore, clients can connect 6 devices to the service at a time.
Available Streaming Services. Streaming service with a VPN can bypass pesky geo-restrictions and let you access more content. HotSpot Shield showed no issues connecting to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and services such as Amazon Prime and Hulu. NordVPN also connects to Netflix, and many of the same services its rival offers, ending this category in a draw.
Split Tunneling. Some VPNs furnish the ability to use a masked connection for some online activities while leaving others unconnected to the VPN. While NordVPN, unfortunately, doesn’t offer this capability, HotSpot Shield does provide this function via its Google Chrome extension.
Protocols. A VPN’s protocols define how secure and reliable a connection is, and how fast the connection can be. HotSpot Shield utilizes a proprietary protocol known as Catapult Hydra though they don’t share what encryption it uses. NordVPN utilizes IPsec and IKEv2, each of which is known for their strong security.
Money Back Guarantee. If you find a service doesn’t match your needs, it is useful to be able to return it risk-free. It was nice to see both companies offer refund policies, but HotSpot Shield stands out with an impressive 45-day money-back guarantee.
Kill Switch. Should your security connection suddenly fail, a kill switch can swiftly terminate it to prevent any attacks and intrusions. Both competitors provide clients with this feature to enhance their privacy.
Speed. VPNs can sometimes affect browsing and streaming speed, though the best ones minimize this impact. Each service performed well in our tests though we were impressed with HotSpot Shield’s blazing fast connections.
Zero-Log Policy. It’s important for users’ privacy that companies disclose if they collect any user data and how they use it. Both HotSpot Shield and NordVPN vow to not copy nor store their clients’ browsing and transaction details with strict zero-log policies.
Security and Privacy
Privacy is a major component of any VPN comparison, and how each service protects its users is vital. HotSpot Shield uses Catapult Hydra, a proprietary protocol that is mostly unknown, whereas NordVPN opts for customizability with several protocols available. Both companies provide their clients with kill switches, which users can find helpful if their secure connection suddenly drops. In addition, thanks to NordVPN and HotSpot Shield’s zero logs policy, your data will not be copied nor stored on their databases.
Offering easy access to a support agent is a big advantage for a VPN provider. NordVPN stands out in this category with a variety of channels available including email, e-form, and live chat directly on their website. HotSpot Shield, on the other hand, only accepts inquiries via an e-form, though they get points for timely responses to questions. Users who prefer a more active support staff may prefer NordVPN over its rival.
Affordability is also an important consideration, as customers need a combination of features and value. HotSpot Shield has four payments plans for its Elite package. Where 1 month will run you $12.99, the price comes down to $8.99 a month if you choose the 6-month subscription. A year will cost you $5.99 a month, or you can opt for a one-time payment of $119.99. The company also offers a generous 45-day money back guarantee. HotSpot Shield does have a free version but you won’t have access to streaming sites or their list of servers outside the US, and you will be subject to ad pop-ups.
By comparison, NordVPN offers a single month for $11.95, a 1-year subscription for $5.75 a month, a 2-year plan for $3.29 a month, or a 3-year subscription for $2.75 a month. They also offer a standard 30-day money-back guarantee.
Too Close to Call a Winner
Both NordVPN and HotSpot Shield performed well and gave our tech experts much to think about. HotSpot Shield won the speed race, and despite its more mysterious protocols, the company has not reported any breaches or major issues. They also offer a great variety of plans, including their onetime option. NordVPN is a robust vpn provider, with uninterrupted Netflix access, sophisticated protocols, and the company’s emphasis on personalization and ease of use makes them a great choice for tech-savvy users and beginners alike. Read more about our services on our VPN review, and let us know which VPN comparison you would like us to make for you.