Bitdefender VPN Review

bitdefender vpn review

Bitdefender isn’t just a VPN, it’s a comprehensive security suite known as Bitdefender Total Security, which releases a new version each year.

We are always skeptical when these companies include a VPN as part of their security software package (alongside an anti-virus and firewall, for example) because it typically isn’t as good as a dedicated VPN from a different provider.

Is Bitdefender’s VPN any different, though? It apparently piggybacks off Hotspot Shield‘s technology and so we expect it to be pretty much identical. More on this later.

Let’s find out!

Bitdefender VPN Specs & Offers

VPN Name Bitdefender VPN
Leak Test No Leaks
Logging Policy Logs
Speed Slow
Torrenting Torrenting & P2P Discouraged
Netflix No Netflix
Jurisdiction Outside of Eyes
Servers / Countries 2000 / 25
Max Connections 10
Kill Switch Does Not Have Kill Switch
Anonymous Payment Methods Not Available
Free Trial Available
Refunds 30 Days
Customer Support Live Chat, Email, Ticket, Forums, Phone
Price Starting From $3.33

Bitdefender VPN Pros

Customer Support: Four different ways to talk

As you would expect with a large company such as Bitdefender, their customer support is very good. You can choose between four different channels to chat with a support agent:

  • Over the phone
  • Through an email ticketing system
  • Through live chat
  • On a community forum where knowledgeable users and official representatives answer questions

This means that a solution is never too far away.

Product Documentation: Forum meets knowledge base

Bitdefender has an extensive knowledge base that covers common questions asked about their products, as well as how-to videos.

We recommend searching the forum and knowledge base first before reaching out to customer support—it is likely your query has already been asked and answered.

Bitdefender VPN Neutral Points

Pricing & Plans: Three options for your needs

Buying Bitdefender VPN can mean you end up with more value than purchasing Hotspot Shield by itself, plus you get the entire Bitdefender security suite on top.

Bitdefender’s 2019 Total Security Suite includes the basic VPN and costs just under $85 for one year. While you can’t pay for the Total Security Suite on a monthly plan, you can purchase a one year’s subscription to Total Security 2019 and pay an extra $6.99 per month for the Premium VPN, or $3.33 per month if you get a yearly plan.

For comparison, buying Hotspot Shield for 3 years will get you to $3.49 per month.

So, to reiterate your options—

  • Buy Total Security 2019 and get their basic VPN for free with a 200MB cap
  • Buy Total Security 2019 and add the VPN to it either monthly or annually

We recommend the second option if you’re going to buy Bitdefender since the basic VPN doesn’t do much.

Actually, we do have a third option… read our conclusion.

Note of Warning: You can’t use Bitdefender’s Premium VPN as a separate product unless you already have a Bitdefender security solution installed.

Refund Policy: 30-day money-back guarantee

If you’re not happy with Bitdefender’s VPN (or indeed their Total Security suite) you can get a full refund with no questions asked.

Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee. All you need to do is email and ask for it.

Note: The 30 days starts ticking from the moment of purchase, not from when the product is installed.

Product Interface: Nice and simple

Bitdefender Premium VPN is simple enough to use. It looks a lot like Hotspot Shield did before their re-design and has a user-friendly main screen. You can either hit ‘Connect‘ and let Bitdefender choose the most optimum server or select your own from the drop-down list.

The configuration is very limited, though. You only have 3 options that have nothing to do with anything technical:

  • Toggle on/off notifications
  • Choose whether the VPN launches on start-up
  • Choose whether Bitdefender automatically connects when you’re on an unsecured Wi-Fi network

We can’t complain, though—just like Total Security 2019, the VPN is designed to be as user-friendly as possible and, as a result, is a simple product.

Encryption and Protocols: Not the most transparent

Bitdefender Premium VPN supports the following protocolsL2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, and OpenVPN.

In an ideal world, Bitdefender would be using AES 256-bit encryption but we can neither confirm nor deny this.

Device Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS

Bitdefender’s VPN is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. But you’ll need to select the correct Bitdefender product to go with your device of choice.

Here’s a brief breakdown of products that work with each device:

  • Mobile Security for iOS
  • Mobile Security for Android
  • Antivirus for Mac

These options all include the basic VPN limited to 200MB. For Mac and Android, there’s an option to purchase a subscription for the Premium VPN. For iOS, there’s currently no option to do that.

This means if you’re looking for the best VPN for iOS, Bitdefender is not your friend.

If you buy a Total Security License covering 5 or 10 devices, you can use it on up to 5 or 10 devices that Bitdefender supports.

Bitdefender VPN Cons

Servers and Locations: Got money? You get 2000

The idea of a complete security suite sounds great but you can certainly tell that the developers’ focus was not on the VPN element of the product.

Buying the security suite alone doesn’t give you full access to their VPN (a bit cheeky if you ask us!) and so you’ll be restricted to 200MB of data per day and the inability to pick your own location and server.

If you want to choose which server to connect to, you’ll need to fork out for a Bitdefender Premium VPN license.

Doing so gives you access to nearly the same number of servers and locations as Hotspot Shield–2000 across 25 locations.

VPN Speed and Performance: 75% slower, ouch!

OK, so the number of servers on offer may not rival the likes of ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but it’s about quality over quantity, right?

We tested Bitdefender’s speeds by connecting to their U.S. server from Europe:

Now, this might not look so bad, until you learn that our regular download speeds are 200Mbps when not connected to a VPN. So these results represent a ~75% reduction.

Netflix Test: You wish!

We weren’t surprised to learn that Bitdefender doesn’t work with Netflix. We tried out several key servers (e.g. those in the U.S.) to see if it could join the list of VPNs that can unblock Netflix, but none of them worked.

We got the typical Netflix proxy error.

Torrenting Policy: You’re on your own

As a ‘family-friendly’ cybersecurity company that primarily creates anti-virus solutions, Bitdefender does not support torrenting or P2P activity over their VPN service.

Though Bitdefender VPN piggybacks on Hotspot Shield’s engine, it turns out there are some differences between the two services and their stance on torrenting is one of these.

Suffice it to say, Bitdefender is not the best VPN for torrenting.

Payment Methods: Credit and debit and bank transfer only

Bitdefender accepts major payment methods such as credit or debit cards, PayPal and bank transfer only. It’s not very privacy-friendly as it offers no cryptocurrency options or gift cards.

Logging Policy: Collects IP addresses

Since Bitdefender Premium VPN uses Hotspot Shield’s network and servers, we need to look at both companies’ privacy policies.

Firstly, Bitdefender states:

“We collect for this service only randomly generated or hashed user and device IDs, IP addresses and randomly generated tokens to establish VPN connection for the sole purpose of providing the VPN service.”

That doesn’t tell us much aside from the fact that Bitdefender can see which devices you’ve installed the VPN on.

Hotspot Shield on the other hand collects:

  • Your username and email address
  • IP address
  • Device information
  • Network information

And while they claim this isn’t disclosed to any third parties, we never like to see VPN services openly admitting to logging anything. An anti-logging policy is the best policy.

Kill Switch: Nope

Unfortunately, Bitdefender Premium VPN doesn’t include a kill switch.

This is exactly what we meant when we said that non-dedicated VPN companies usually don’t offer a full product.

The absence of a kill switch means that there is nothing to kill (hence the name!) your internet connection should your connection to the VPN drop. In this scenario, this would leave your IP address and data in view of the very people you are trying to hide it from.

Bitdefender VPN as a Business

Bitdefender is a Romanian anti-virus and cybersecurity company that was founded in 2001 and is currently headquartered in Bucharest, Romania.

It is estimated that there are over 500 million people who use Bitdefender’s products worldwide and this makes them a serious player in the cybersecurity market.

In fact, the company ranks fifth in the global market share for Windows anti-malware and anti-virus software.

We do not know the reason why Bitdefender decided to use Hotspot Shield’s underlying services – but we do know that white labeling services is a common practice and we’re sure it’s bringing some decent revenue for Hotspot Shield.

Jurisdiction

Bitdefender, LLC is registered in Romania which is outside the 14 Eyes group of countries who agree to share intelligence.

Hotspot Shield, on the other hand, is in California, which does fall under the alliances.

Romania is a popular destination for privacy companies. One other VPN company in Romania is CyberGhost.

Bitdefender VPN Conclusion: Forget about the VPN

This is a very simple VPN product, as can be expected for any non-standalone services.

Who is this VPN for? Your guess is as good as ours. Probably for those who want to feel safe but aren’t actually safe?

If you want to use Bitdefender products and want to simply waste money, go ahead with the basic or premium VPN.

Otherwise, we would recommend that you go ahead and purchase a dedicated VPN service such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN that can do everything Bitdefender can and so much more.

There’s no doubt that Bitdefender’s Total Security suite can be a fantastic product, but its VPN is not.

It’s fine for basic users who want a secure VPN while out and about for general browsing, but we can’t recommend it for more advanced, demanding, or privacy-conscious users who require a full-scale product that includes everything a top-end VPN has.

Best VPN for macOS

macOS is the second most popular operating system in the world. Although it isn’t quite as widely used as Windows, there are still plenty of options in terms of VPN services out there.

Picking the best VPN for MacBooks and iMacs is no different from picking the best one for your Windows-based machine. At the end of the day, the best VPN services in the market are compatible with macOS; they’d lose out on a huge market if they’re not!

You might think that using a VPN for privacy and safety-related purposes is not necessary on macOS due to the reputation it has for being largely impenetrable. This is far from the case, however—macOS systems are increasingly being targeted by criminals.

As the popularity of Apple products is higher than ever before with more and more people relying on macOS, this is a trend that’s only going to increase.

Simply put, it’s now more important than ever to get the best VPN for macOS if you own an Apple device.

Why Use a VPN?

There are two main reasons why more people are beginning to use VPNs – online security and privacy concerns. VPN usage is now widespread, and no longer a shady practice or niche area for the more technologically savvy.

What’s more, there are plenty of other reasons to use a VPN besides security. Whether you’re trying to access U.S. Netflix from Europe or want to unblock websites that have been restricted by your government, getting a VPN is the right thing to do.

People who own an iMac, MacBook, or any other product that uses macOS need a high-quality VPN service just as much as Windows users. Unfortunately, there are a lot of VPN providers out there who provide a decent native app for Windows and then just reproduce a half-baked version for macOS that doesn’t do a good enough job.

In some cases, this can be dangerous as they can expose your information to people who are watching such as your ISP.

The VPNs listed here have been chosen because they fit a variety of needs, run seamlessly, are easy to use, and well-designed. Given that these are characteristics that make Apple’s macOS-backed products so popular, it’s no coincidence that the five best VPNs for macOS meet these criteria too.

Our Picks: The 5 Best VPNs for macOS

We have combed through virtually every VPN available on the market to not only determine which are the best overall, but also handpick the best options for macOS users.

1. ExpressVPN: The all-around best VPN for pretty much everything

ExpressVPN is easily the clear winner and by far the best VPN for macOS. Often featured at the top of every VPN-related list, ExpressVPN is a leading service that does just about everything… and then some.

You’ve probably heard of ExpressVPN already. We only feature it on every top list we compile!

With over 2,000 servers located across 148 different locations—from the U.S. to Australia and virtually everywhere else in-between—you won’t be restricted by choice or stuck with servers that don’t work.

Connected to a U.S. server that isn’t working with Netflix? Report it to ExpressVPN and move on to a different one. They’ll get it sorted and you’re guaranteed to find a server that works.

The speeds of these servers are nothing to be concerned about, either. You will notice very little in terms of speed reduction when connected to most of their servers; ExpressVPN does not throttle your speeds up or down and their servers are blazing fast.

Torrenting and P2P activities are allowed, and the servers are quick enough to handle it.

ExpressVPN is compatible with all devices through router support and a range of native apps (yes, there’s a dedicated app for macOS!). You can easily protect all your devices. Installation and setup are easy and only takes a couple of minutes once your payment goes through.

Speaking of payment, there’s a whole host of payment methods for you to choose from, including Bitcoin for anonymity.

If you still aren’t 100% convinced, we recommend giving ExpressVPN a spin anyway; they offer a 30-day money back guarantee with no questions asked. At $12.95 month-to-month or $99.95 ($8.32 per month) annually, you get true value for money.

Try ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN: Slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN but just as good

Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN always manages to place at the top of VPN lists. As a renowned provider of a trustworthy, robust, and secure VPN service, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the best VPNs for MacBooks and iMacs.

NordVPN has managed to gain trust due to its location in Panama, a jurisdiction that falls outside the scope of interference from authorities such as the U.S. and UK governments and intelligence agencies. They guarantee that no customer information or usage data will ever be collected or distributed to third-party organizations.

The sheer size of its service has also helped to make it hugely popular. No matter what you want to do with your subscription to NordVPN, you can probably do it. Need double security? Use their double VPN servers. Are you based in a country that monitors internet usage? Their obfuscated servers will provide additional protection.

Not only are there lots of different types of NordVPN servers, there are also plenty to choose from. The NordVPN network is huge and they truly provide global coverage. This means you will always be able to find a server suited to Netflix, for example.

As we mentioned above, NordVPN comes with all the same bells and whistles as ExpressVPN but with a slightly lower price point. Their one-month rolling plan is $11.95, but you can save a lot more by subscribing for one, two, or three years.

As you can see in the picture above, if you choose a 3-year plan billed at a mere $107.55, it will only cost you $2.99 per month—that’s less than your average cup of coffee!

It’s slick, packed full of features, and has a great native iOS app. Try NordVPN risk-free by taking advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try NordVPN

3. Hotspot Shield: A brilliant option for the privacy-conscious

You may have heard of Hotspot Shield on social media. They’re famous for using social channels to advertise their service, including on Snapchat and Tinder. It just goes to show you how broad their user base must be.

Hotspot Shield’s premium offering is both affordable and private with strict adherence to current best practices (e.g. strong encryption and use of OpenVPN) alongside their promise not to collect and distribute user data.

They currently offer over 2,500 servers in almost 30 locations around the globe. When we tested them in our comprehensive Hotspot Shield review, they turned out to be fast, responsive, and great on performance overall.

If you want to use a VPN on your macOS device primarily because you want to play games, stream a lot of content, or participate in P2P activities, Hotspot Shield won’t weigh you down.

With a single subscription, you can connect up to five different devices to the Hotspot Shield network at the same time. From MacBooks to iPhones and games consoles, Hotspot Shield works with every device when you set it up on your router.

If you simply want to protect your macOS device, there is a native macOS app.

At $12.99 per month for a rolling subscription, their pricing is similar to ExpressVPN. A 3-year subscription gets you down to $3.49 per month, which makes it one of the cheapest VPNs on the market without losing out on quality.

You can try out Hotspot Shield risk-free with their 7-day money-back guarantee.

Try Hotspot Shield

4. CyberGhost: A VPN service that’s always evolving

Millions of people around the world rely on CyberGhost to deliver a reliable service packed with brilliant features. They are by far one of the best VPNs for macOS and have a native app that installs quickly and seamlessly.

In under 10 years, CyberGhost has gone from a startup known only by a few people to a name known around the world. We love how they’re always keeping up with the times and constantly introducing new features for their loyal users.

Like many leading VPNs, CyberGhost is located outside of the 5, 7, and 14-Eyes agreements that compel nations such as the U.S., UK, and Canada to share intelligence and information with each other.

Rather, it’s based in Romania, a country that does not fall under any of these agreements. It also operates a guaranteed zero-logging policy, as well as using OpenVPN and AES-256 encryption. This means your information is safe and will never be compromised when using CyberGhost.

CyberGhost supports Netflix, torrenting, and P2P, so it’s always easy to find a suitable server—they’re all fast, perform well, and capable of streaming or downloading lots of content.

For as little as $2.75 per month—virtually nothing, really—you can take advantage of all these features and more with a premium CyberGhost subscription. If you prefer to pay monthly and don’t mind spending more, you can pay $11.99 per month.

If you do decide to go ahead and invest in CyberGhost, you can always get your money back within 30 days thanks to their 30-day no strings money-back guarantee.

Try CyberGhost

5. IPVanish: Blazing fast and designed for macOS

With an app designed specifically for macOS, IPVanish delivers a brilliant service for Apple fans. When we tested IPVanish as a whole, we found that it’s a ridiculously fast and nifty VPN that automatically connects you to the fastest server.

With its blazing fast speeds, you’ll be able to stream media, download files, and participate in P2P activities without those annoying lags.

IPVanish operates its service over three protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP. It doesn’t log any of your information or activities.

The more time you buy, the cheaper IPVanish gets. Their monthly rolling plan starts at $10.00, which makes it the cheapest out of all the VPNs featured on this list. This drops down to $3.74 when you purchase a 2-year subscription.

There’s a 7-day money-back guarantee if you’re interested in taking it out for a spin.

Try IPVanish

So, which VPN do we recommend?

It should come as no surprise that the VPN we recommend for macOS is ExpressVPN. It’s just about the best VPN service going for virtually anything. When in doubt, go with ExpressVPN. It’s a good rule of thumb.

Having said that, any of the VPNs featured on this list will get the job done. What makes the best VPN for you depends on your individual circumstances and what you want to use it for. Some VPNs are great for privacy, while others are better for streaming content and P2P torrenting.

It’s all about doing your research and finding out what works best for you and falls within your budget.

If you want more recommendations, see our top 10 list of the best VPNs.

Top 5 Free (or Freemium) VPNs That Actually Work

You know you need a VPN to access your favorite Netflix content, hide your browsing habits from ISPs and governments, or protect your data from third party advertisers. But how does it actually work?

How VPNs Work

To put it simply, VPNs (which stands for Virtual Private Network, in case you’re wondering) work by connecting you to a secure network of servers. When you’re connected to this network, your traffic (Google searches, for example) is routed through the network to a server that acts as an intermediary. This server then sends your traffic request to the site you’re trying to access.

All while encrypting your data.

By doing this, both your computer (your network and anybody watching, such as your ISP) and the site you’re visiting can only see the VPN server. This detaches your internet activity from your IP address and keeps you hidden and secure.

Some VPNs do a better job of this than others. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check if you’re using a good, trusted, and secure VPN, especially when it’s free.

Why use a free VPN? What’s the difference between free and paid?

Glad you asked.

With our extensive testing of various VPN services, we’ve learned that there’s a distinct difference between free and paid VPNs. The bottom line is that you’ll always be better off with a paid VPN. In most cases, you get what you pay for.

Some VPNs start as low as $5-10 per month. If you’re serious about your privacy, this is a worthwhile expense.

But if paying is not an option, read on.

Generally speaking, free VPNs are the same as regular VPNs, but with restrictions such as:

  • Limited bandwidth
  • Limited access to servers and locations
  • Slower performance
  • Limited protocols and encryptions
  • No access to Netflix or torrent-friendly servers

Found a free VPN with high data allowance? It’s probably very slow and useless for streaming. Got a free VPN with good speeds? You’ll probably only have enough data allowance for one episode of your favorite Netflix show. Two if you’re lucky.

Since these VPN services need to earn money somehow, they’re also more likely to mine your data so that it can be sold on to third-parties like marketing agencies.

Not all free VPNs are like this and you’ll be pleased to know that there are some fantastic ones out there. We’ve tested these so that you don’t have to—just download them and go!

It’s worth noting that these are freemium VPNs. This means they have free plans in addition to their paid, premium options. This is because VPNs that are 100% free tend to be really bad because they have no way to make money, which means they have limited resources to develop their service.

Best Freemium VPNs

Without further ado, here are the 5 best freemium VPNs we’ve tested. For in-depth reviews on each one, check out our full list of VPN reviews.

1. Windscribe

Windscribe is our favorite freemium VPN service. It’s very popular with their users, too. A Canadian-based company, Windscribe operates servers all over the world and was founded in 2015 by Yegor Sak (who is quite active in talking to the community!).

Freemium Plan Details
Windscribe’s free version is pretty good as far as free VPN plans go. With the free plan, you get 10GB/month with access to servers across 10 different countries. You also get the same speeds as their premium users, and none of your information is monitored, mined, stored, logged, or sold on to third parties. Plus, there’s a built-in firewall and ad blocker.

Freemium Plan Limits
Limitations with Windscribe do begin to show up when you start to look at what’s on offer to premium members. For premium members, Windscribe offers over 50 different locations and there are no data caps.

Read our verdict of Windscribe here
Get Windscribe Free

2. Hide.me

Another relatively good freemium VPN service is Hide.me. The company’s based in Malaysia and calls itself the “world’s fastest VPN” that lets you “take back your freedom.” Bold statements, right?

Freemium Plan Details
When using Hide.me’s free service, you still get the good stuff like IP leak protection, a kill switch, one-click connect, and split tunneling. Malaysia is not part of any intergovernmental agreements (e.g. 5 Eyes) either, so your information is safe. Also, the connection speeds are respectable, and you won’t be bombarded with ads.

Freemium Plan Limits

On their free plan, you can only connect to certain countries and none of these include Europe or the United States. This might be a dealbreaker for some of you. In addition to this, your data transfer is capped at 500MB that only renews every two weeks.

Read our verdict of Hide.me here
Get Hide.me Free

3. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is a well-known VPN provider and you have probably come across them in one form or another before. They have apps for virtually everything, including browser extensions and mobile devices. While they don’t exactly get the best press online, it’s far from being a ‘bad’ freemium service, particularly when you compare it to what’s available!

Freemium Plan Details

When using the free version of Hotspot Shield, you will still manage to pull impressive download speeds and your traffic is protected and encrypted to the same extent as their premium plan.

Freemium Plan Limits

You’ll only be able to use one of their servers based in the United States, and this can only be accessed from a single device. When accessing content from certain sources, (e.g. the BBC or Hulu) you’ll see a premium payment wall. As for Netflix, it doesn’t work at all. They’ve also opted to include banner ads as part of the freemium plan, and you’re limited to 500MB per day. Still, this is far better than Hide.me’s 500MB every two weeks.

Read our verdict of Hotspot Shield here
Get Hotspot Shield Free

4. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN hasn’t been around for all that long, but they’ve certainly made an impression on us. It’s a private and secure service that’s available across several devices, including Linux and iOS. Their founders are scientists who met each other at CERN and started the secure ProtonMail project, so they don’t mess around with their technology.

Freemium Plan Details

Built with security in mind, ProtonVPN has an ultra-secure core architecture that is backed up with AES-256 encryption, supplemented with 2048-bit RSA, HMAC, and SHA256. It uses the OpenVPN protocol, too, which is the industry standard for security. All this is available for both free and premium users. Unlike the other freemium plans we’ve looked at, ProtonVPN doesn’t have any data caps or limitations.

Freemium Plan Limits

Although there are no data limits, you can only use ProtonVPN’s free version on one device and, at the time of writing, there are only three countries that include free servers. It also doesn’t work with Netflix. Speeds are OK, but they’re not the best.

Read our verdict of ProtonVPN here
Get ProtonVPN Free

5. TunnelBear

One of the most newbie-friendly VPN services in existence, TunnelBear is known for all the right reasons. The best thing about TunnelBear by far is how easy it is to use; it’s a plug-in-and-play VPN that works without you needing to configure settings or manually install additional components. It’s worth noting that TunnelBear is now owned by McAfee, A US-based company, which brings with it some potential concerns.

Freemium Plan Details

Aside from how easy it is to use, TunnelBear’s free users benefit from not having any of their data or information logged and disseminated. Unlike Hotspot Shield, there are no ads, and the speeds are respectable.

Freemium Plan Limits

Data transfer is capped at 500MB per month on the freemium plan. Tweeting about the company gets you an extra 1GB (clever, right?). Like the other freemium VPNs we’ve reviewed, you can only access a small handful of locations and servers, and it doesn’t work with Netflix.

Read our verdict of TunnelBear here
Get TunnelBear Free

VPNs With Amazing Free Trials

Most VPN providers will offer some form of free trial for their premium VPN service. In almost all cases, a free trial will give you complete access to the VPN product for a certain amount of time. That means anywhere between 1 and 30 days. After the trial period, you’ll have to subscribe to a premium plan to keep using the service.

These VPNs offer the full premium product during their free trial period:

1. Trust.Zone

Trust.Zone’s free trial lets you use their VPN service for 3 days. You’ll be able to access 141 locations—not quite as many as the 164 offered to their subscribers—and unlimited bandwidth.

Also included is 1GB of data transfer and one simultaneous connection at any given time. (Premium subscribers get unlimited data transfer and can have three simultaneous connections.)

Although the Trust.Zone trial is only for 3 days, it still provides you with an opportunity to try out their VPN and test out over 140 different locations.

Read our verdict of Trust.Zone here
Get Trust.Zone Free

2. HideMyAss

HideMyAss is owned and operated by McAfee, the California-based security technology company. There’s a 7-day free trial on offer for all new customers. After the 7 days, you will be automatically billed for a 12-month subscription, so make sure to stop this by canceling before the trial period ends.

During the trial period, customers can access the full HideMyAss VPN product. This includes total privacy and protection, strong encryption, OpenVPN protocol, and consistent server speeds in locations all around the world.

Read our verdict of HideMyAss here
Get HideMyAss Free

3. VyprVPN

VyprVPN offers a 3-day trial for either one of their paid plans. So you can choose between the regular plan for up to 3 devices, or the premium plan which gives you a 5-device limit, access to the cloud server, and the Chameleon protocol which blocks VPN blockers.

Its slick desktop app is easy to use and VyprVPN delivers on speed, features, and a variety of locations. Full access to the VyprVPN product includes all the great security features paid-up members get, such as the choice of encryption or protocols used.

Read our verdict of VyprVPN here
Get VyprVPN Free

VPNs With Perfect Money-Back Guarantees

Instead of a free trial, some VPNs offer money-back guarantees. This may be a better option since the “trial period” tends to be longer. As long as you’re willing to pay upfront and get the money back later, this is essentially a type of free trial you can take advantage of.

Typically, the money-back guarantee is valid between 7 to 30 days. If you purchase a VPN subscription and aren’t satisfied, you can get your money back simply by asking for a refund within the given time period.
By doing this repeatedly, you can use premium VPN services for months without spending any money.

Here are three great VPNs that have awesome money-back guarantees:

1. ExpressVPN

Often called the best VPN money can buy, ExpressVPN offers their first-time customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Their guarantee lasts for exactly 30 days: if you place an order on the 1st of the month, you can contact customer support for a refund at any point before the 30th.

Money-back guarantees are often much better because you get to access the full product rather than a watered-down version, and this is the case with ExpressVPN. You’ll be able to access awesome features such as:

  • Foreign Netflix content
  • Super-fast speeds on ultra-secure servers
  • Worldwide locations
  • 24-hour live chat support

Read our verdict of ExpressVPN here
Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you explore the full NordVPN service without any restrictions (they also have a free trial, but this is only for 7 days). Their customer support team is available 24/7 and you can get your money back without any questions asked.

NordVPN is another fantastic VPN service that is virtually identical to ExpressVPN in all but name. It regularly features highly on VPN review sites because of its:

  • Secure, strong encryption and protocols
  • Compatibility with Netflix
  • No logging and torrent-friendly policy
  • Double data protection

One downside is that NordVPN is more expensive if you want to pay month-to-month as opposed to annually. So that’s something to consider if think you might subscribe to their service long-term.

Read our verdict of NordVPN here
Visit NordVPN

3. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is a well-known VPN provider that offers new customers a 7-day money-back guarantee. Although this timeframe pales in comparison to Express or Nord, it’s still enough time to get familiar with the service and decide whether it’s for you.

All refund requests must be made in writing and submitted via email to helpdesk@privateinternetaccess.com.

Private Internet Access offers fast speeds, a variety of locations, and a budget-friendly price. They don’t log or keep any information. You can also make Bitcoin payments.

Read our verdict of PIA here
Visit PIA

VPNs Don’t Need to Cost Money

If you look around and do your research, it’s easy to get all the benefits of a VPN without paying any money. While we do recommend investing in a good VPN if you plan to use one in the long-run, for occasional or temporary use there are many options available.

Free VPNs, free trials, and money-back guarantees all let you access a VPN at no cost. Obviously, the quality of the service, as well as the service limitations, will vary greatly depending on which plan you go with (hint: premium VPNs are always better). We hope we’ve helped you go over some of these differences in this post.

For those of you that simply want the best with no hassle, check our list of the best VPN reviews.

Hotspot Shield VPN Review

Hotspot Shield has been around since 2005. For over a decade it’s been praised for incredibly fast speeds and a clean interface.

To boot, Hotspot Shield has a free version as well as a paid version with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

But is all of this true? Is the aforementioned what’s attracted a whopping 650 million users?

Let’s find out.

Hotspot Shield VPN Specs & Offers

VPN Name Hotspot Shield
Leak Test No Leaks
Logging Policy Some Logs
Speed Average
Torrenting Torrenting & P2P Allowed
Netflix Unblocks Netflix
Jurisdiction Inside Five Eyes
Servers / Countries 2000 / 70
Max Connections 5
Kill Switch Has Kill Switch
Anonymous Payment Methods Gift Cards
Free Trial Available
Refunds 45 Days
Customer Support Live Chat, Email, Ticket
Price Starting From $2.99

Hotspot Shield VPN Pros

Servers and Locations: Global reach

Hotspot Shield boasts over 2000 servers to connect to. And they’re spread out between 70 countries (up from 25+ since our last update).

Those countries are scattered across the continents, making it easy enough to access geo-blocked content.

With these nice changes happening, Hotspot Shield VPN has a lot of pros.

Netflix Test: Anywhere you want

Hotspot Shield VPN was made for people who love Netflix. You’re able to stream Netflix on all available servers.

But then there’s more. The VPN also gives you access to other streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, CNN, Vimeo, BBC, and HBO.

Accessing geo-blocked content by bypassing restrictions is undoubtedly one of Hotspot Shield VPN’s specialties.

Torrenting Policy: All clear

If you’re looking for a VPN to use for torrents then we have great news! Hotspot Shield VPN has no restrictions when it comes to torrenting.

You’re even able to download across all of their servers, on any platform the VPN is available for.

But let’s take a look at their privacy policy below before we jump to any conclusions.

Payment Methods: Plenty of options, including gift cards

Hotspot Shield accepts payment in the form of credit cards, PayPal, or money transfers such as Webmoney, Giropay, iDeal, and others.

For anonymous payments, it seems that Hotspot Shield has chosen less “volatile” ways of paying other than cryptocurrencies. They accept gift cards from major companies.

Refund Policy: 45-day money-back guarantee (very generous!)

Luckily, there is a refund policy if you change your mind.

Hotspot VPN offers a 45-day money-back guarantee. Most VPN providers offer a 7 or 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s a little odd to see the number “45” here.

The return policy varies from device to device – for instance, iTunes and Microsoft customers will have to go through the payment processors directly. For all other customers, they can simply submit a ticket with the purchase information.

Don’t lose your receipt and make sure you read through all their articles. The return policy is a little tricky with this one.

Sign-Up Process: Download first or create an account (you choose)

There are different ways to sign up for Hotspot Shield VPN.

You can either download the app directly from the website and then make an account. Or you can create an account and then download the client compatible with your system.

We’ll show you how to sign up by downloading the software first since it’s easier and faster!

Head to hotspotshield.com. On the fairly slick interface, you’ll see a blue button that reads “Get Hotspot Shield.” Click it.

The VPN will automatically begin downloading. Hotspot Shield chooses the client that’s compatible with your device for you.

Run and install the app on your device. Then open it.

Now you can choose to start the seven-day free trial. Or, if you’ve already created an account, simply sign in.

If you wish to try the 7-day trial, you still need to fill in your payment details.

You’ll then receive an email confirmation with a link to set up your password. Click the link and create your new password, and you’re good to go.

If you want to skip the free trial and sign-up right away then head to the website and purchase your preferred plan.

Product Interface: Less is more

Once you’re all set up, the app should look like this:

When you connect keep in mind that the default server is set to the United States. But you can always change it to the server you want to connect to.

The interface shows you the bandwidth you’ve used, the virtual address you’re using, and how long you’ve been connected to the server.

If you want to enable the kill switch, click on the button at the upper left-hand corner of the application. It will reveal a settings menu:

Click on settings. From there you can turn on the kill switch.

Within settings, you can also toggle whether or not you want Hotspot Shield VPN to run automatically when you open your device.

You also have the option to turn it on or off automatically for both safe and unsafe WiFi hotspots…

But that’s it. There are no ways to change your encryption type or the VPN protocol.

In fact, this simplicity reflects on the VPN when you want to change the servers.

You simply can’t choose any of the servers out of the 2000 they advertise. You can only pick the region and they will automatically assign you to a random server.

This is nice for casual users who want a simple and pretty looking VPN.

IP and DNS Leak Test: Passed

We ran the Hotspot Shield VPN servers through some IP and DNS leak test. We’re quite happy to report that we didn’t have any leaks.

It’s worth mentioning that other reviews have reported DNS leaks. We suggest trying it out on your own. Make sure you keep the kill switch enabled.

Encryption and Protocols: Strong on encryption

Hotspot Shield encrypts all your traffic using TLS 1.2 together with ECDHE.

They also use a strong 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption. And a Chacha20 Poly1305 that you can configure manually.

Hotspot Shield VPN also runs on a protocol named Catapult Hydra. It was developed by AnchorFree themselves and is also used by McAfee, BitDefender, Cheetah Mobile, and other cybersecurity companies.

Device Compatibility: Nicely integrated devices

Don’t worry if you have many different devices that you want to be protected. Hotspot Shield VPN is compatible with iOS, Windows OS, macOS, Android, and even routers.

Downloading is pretty easy too. Since the VPN is available on the App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft store.

It’s quite a lot of information to include for a support ticket.

Product Documentation: Some solid stuff there

Hotspot Shield VPN also features a knowledge base on their website. Head there to find an answer for your inquiry if you don’t want to jump to talking with support.

Their knowledge base offers a fair amount of information across six different subtopics:

  1. Getting Started: allows you to pick which OS your device is running on. And offers solutions to questions tailored to the OS you chose.
  2. Payments and Subscription: answers questions like “how to get a refund, “how to manage your subscription,” “how to activate subscription,” and errors you’re receiving with your subscription.
  3. Manage Account Devices: teaches you how to edit your account, such as changing your password, updating account information, and adding or removing devices from your account.
  4. Troubleshoot Issues: for troubleshooting your connection, with inquiries regarding installation and internet speed.
  5. View release Notes: this is where you can see notes on the updates they’ve done on the software.
  6. Frequently Asked Questions: the FAQs helpfully answers questions like “how to stream,” “how to sign up,” “how to activate your account,” and a whole lot more!

The Hotspot Shield VPN knowledge base page is definitely full of knowledge!

On top of that, they make educational (and somewhat funny) videos like this:

Customer Support: Swift responses through live chat

Hotspot Shield offers both live chat support and a ticket system. Their customer support team responds pretty fast too!

To connect to their chat support you’ll have to enter your name and email address. And type in your concern, of course.

A representative will connect with you shortly to assist with your concern. We found the support team to be very helpful.

When your chat is over they’ll send you a transcript of the conversation to your email address. This is a great feature. If you have any other questions you can simply reply to the emailed transcript.

The ticket system is categorized by four sub-topics to choose between:

  1. How-to questions.
  2. Technical issues.
  3. Purchasing inquiry.
  4. Feedback.

They also let you attach files to further explain your inquiry.

The ticket system will ask for your name, email address, subject of your concern, description, physical location, and platform you’re using.

Kill Switch: Yes!

On top of the strong encryption, and their own protocol, Hotspot Shield also features a kill switch. As it should.

A kill switch is honestly one of the most important features a VPN should have. Afterall a worthy VPN must be able to ensure your safety if your connection to the server drops.

Hotspot Shield VPN Neutral Points

VPN Speed and Performance: Somewhere in the middle

When it comes to speed Hotspot Shield VPN won’t exactly wow you. But it’s not the worst either.

Some reviewers have even presented data that the VPN’s speeds were faster than their own connection. They might want to call their ISP.

We found our speeds to be consistently around 35% slower, with ping increase of 20-30 ms in the US.

Pricing & Plans: Decent (but expensive for EU customers)

How much will it cost you?

The month-to-month subscription will cost $12.99, which makes it safe to say that this VPN is pretty pricey.

But, of course, if you choose a plan that’s not paid month-to-month it becomes cheaper. As usual, the longer the plan the less you’re paying per month.

Signing up for 1 year comes out to $5.99 per month, for a total of $71.88 upfront.

Then there’s the extra long-term plan. It’s as low as $2.99 per month (down from $3.49 originally) but you have sign-up for three years. That adds up to $107.64 upon checkout.

EU customers end up paying way more for some reason…

The regular monthly payment is €15.99, or around $18.60 per month. That’s a 43% increase from the original $12.99 price!

The price increases don’t look good for EU visitors.

The annual plan isn’t any different. It comes out to €6.99 per month, for a total of €83.88 annually (or a 32% increase from USD).

The three-year plan? €125.64 in total, or $140.95. Nearly 31% increase from the USD prices.

So what’s up with this pricing model? We’ve seen some VPN services simply replace the dollar sign with the euro sign, but increasing the prices on top? That’s just weird business practice.

Weird pricing model aside, three years is a fairly long commitment to a VPN. Sometimes, it may even be worth it — like with the case of NordVPN. There are reasons to believe that your money is well-spent, though. Keep reading on and read about the business itself below.

Be sure you’re committed to Hotspot Shield VPN before choosing the three-year plan!

Hotspot Shield VPN Cons

Logging Policy: Is anything private anymore?

So far this VPN sounds pretty great but now we have to ask, “Does Hotspot Shield VPN log user information?”

According to the privacy policy, they don’t log any of your IP addresses. Nor are they tracking activities like the websites you visit or the applications you use while connected to their servers.

But, if you read further, they do admit to collecting some personal information. That being any information you share with Hotspot Shield VPN.

What information could that be? Well, it’s your username, email address, IP address, and mobile ID.

Of course, they assure users that they never share this information. And that the information is only collected to make the experience better.

But then they do also collect device-specific information like hardware model, the operating system you’re using, language, and your network information.

It’s enough data collection to cause worries to the paranoid.

Hotspot Shield VPN as a Business

Hotspot Shield VPN was founded in 2005 under the company AnchorFree Inc., and has been around ever since. Its co-founder, and current CEO, is David Gorodyansky.

As of now, the company has an estimated total revenue of $26.7M, with approximately 77 employees.

AnchorFree recently received an investment of $295M, bringing the total funding to $358M.

They also have over 3.9M followers on Facebook and 94.9K followers on Twitter. Impressive.

Jurisdiction

Their company is located in Redwood City, California. That means they’re under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes Alliance.

Hotspot Shield VPN Conclusion: Alternatives, alternatives, alternatives…

Hotspot Shield VPN features tons of perks that are worth restating. Unlimited streaming and torrenting are perfect for everyone who loves binge-watching and collecting content. And their badass security is available on almost all platforms! Plus, the chat support is great. Which is complemented by a knowledge base that has everything you want to know.

We have two main issues.

Our first is their confusing and seemingly contradictory privacy policy. The fact that the VPN is under the Five Eyes Alliance jurisdiction makes this extra-worrying, despite strong security.

The second is the weird pricing structure for EU residents. And though their speed isn’t exactly terrible there are alternative VPNs that have faster connections. But of course, choosing your VPN is entirely up to you.

Would we suggest using this Hotspot Shield VPN? It’s a maybe. If you’re not quite content with what Hotspot Shield VPN offers there are tons of other VPNs you can still check out.

You can read our ExpressVPN review and see how the two products compare.

Otherwise, here are some VPNs on our top 10 list you can check out for comparison.

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