Hotspot Shield is a well-known free VPN. Right now, along with a free-of-charge version, you can get an Elite plan with expanded features. Paid subscribers have access to a larger selection of servers, their speed is better, and there are no bandwidth limits. There is one thing the users still desire to know: “Is the premium plan of Hotspot Shield good for torrenting?” My duty is to answer this question.
Does Hotspot Shield Allow Torrenting?
Hotspot Shield doesn’t allow torrenting with a free subscription. Even if it did the speed is so slow that it would be practically impossible to use it. The Elite plan provides considerably faster connection and it doesn’t limit the data usage. However, here is a trick – you still can’t really use it for torrenting. Well, strictly saying you CAN but it doesn’t mean you SHOULD. The company does allow torrent traffic on specific servers but its Terms of Service warn you to be careful with copyrighted materials. This makes me think that Hotspot Shield simply won’t protect your privacy during questionable online activities.
Is It Safe to Use Hotspot Shield for Torrenting?
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the main security features:
- Military grade encryption protocol;
- Kill switch;
- Perfect forward secrecy and 128-bit AES cipher;
- IP and WebRTC leak protection;
Those were positive points about Hotspot Shield. Unfortunately, the service has some major issues:
- The 5 Eyes jurisdiction;
- Questionable logging policy
- They do not specify their security protocol;
- Occasional DNS leaks;
- Lack of anonymous payment methods.
I carefully examined the Hotspot Shield’s website to find out what encryption protocol it implements. The provider persistently uses the term ‘military grade encryption’ but never pinpoints to any particular protocol. In the world of VPNs ‘military grade’ refers to OpenVPN, which is the strongest encryption to date. However, in the case of Hotspot Shield, I can’t state that they use exactly this technology. Such secrecy in terms of the encryption type seems a little bit weird. The only thing is known for sure is that their protocol is enhanced with perfect forward secrecy and AES-256 bit cipher.
The provider implements a kill switch to secure user traffic if a VPN connection breaks. IP & DNS leak protection is in place as well but it doesn’t provide a 100% safety because my tests detected DNS leak.
The most worrisome detail about Hotspot Shield is its USA jurisdiction. While the country doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws, every person and legal entity registered here is subject to the strict copyright legislature. Moreover, America is a member of the 5 Eyes spy alliance notorious for monitoring people’s web activities without their knowledge. The government has the right to obtain any data from companies operating there, including information about their clients. It means that Hotspot Shield is obliged to surrender everything it has on its subscribers.
Despite the service’s claims not to store any personal information, it records some sensitive logs. For instance, it knows data about your network, device you use for connection, its operating system, and language. They may seem like minor details but they are able to help detect a particular use.
One more drawback is that Hotspot Shield is involved in user data trade. The company allows the third parties to insert tracking codes into their software and monitor user browsing habits. It was even busted when redirecting user traffic through affiliates’ networks.
All these facts together clearly show that Hotspot Shield is not safe and good for torrenting. However, if you still want to give it a try, you may want to learn more about its features. Here is my full Hotspot Shield review.
Hotspot Shield Prices
Hotspot Shield offers a free plan including 500 MB of data per day. Unlimited bandwidth is available only with a premium subscription that costs $12.99 if you are willing to pay monthly. You can significantly reduce the price with a 3-year plan that costs as low as $3.49 per month. There are shorter-duration plans as well: a 6-month subscription is priced at $8.99 per month and an annual tariff is $5.99 per month.
Hotspot Shield Alternatives for Torrenting
If you want to have a truly trouble-free experience during your favorite pastime, I urge you to change a VPN provider. Unlike Hotspot Shield, NordVPN doesn’t log a bit about its clients or their connections. The rights holders don’t have a chance to catch users even if they download copyrighted files. Your traffic will be reliably protected against any prying eyes thanks to the best encryption in class. To keep it short, NordVPN packs everything necessary to provide fast, anonymous, and comfortable P2P connections.
Hotspot Shield for Torrenting Conclusion
Despite the fact that Hotspot Shield provides certain servers for torrent traffic, I don’t recommend this service for torrenting. The company has less-than-perfect logging policy and it is based in the 5 Eyes country. Hotspot Shield doesn’t disclose what kind of security protocol it uses, which makes me question its reliability. Moreover, the users are at risk of data leaks. Switching Hotspot Shield to a more trustworthy provider is the best thing you can do for your safety.