One of the biggest appeals to the Dot Com Lifestyle is the ability to work from anywhere you have an Internet connection. I’ve been halfway around the world and back, but I’ve been able to maintain my freelance writing business throughout all of my trips. Even John goes to the local Apple Store to edit and upload his Dot Com Lunch videos when he’s away from home.
But this mobile lifestyle certainly comes with its risks, because you’ll increasingly come to rely on public Wi-Fi hotspots offered by libraries, coffee shops and airports. You might think that you feel reasonably safe when you’re using your home Internet, but how secure can you feel about your private data when you’re at the Starbucks? You need to protect your privacy and identity on the go. Hotspot Shield is the “world’s most trusted privacy solution” and we’ll be taking a closer look at it with today’s review.
What Is Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield is a software solution that you install on your Windows, Mac or iOS device that effectively protects you against Wi-Fi threats and other security breaches. This goes much further than your standard antivirus or anti-malware program, because those will not protect you against the threats you may face with insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots.
With over 120 million downloads on PC and Mac, plus over 8 million downloads on iOS mobile devices, Hotspot Shield provides you with anonymous browsing. Normally, when you are surfing through the web, all sorts of agencies are tracking and recording every click and every step that you take. This includes social networks, search engines, ISPs, government agencies and more. With Hotspot Shield, your identity is masked and your online activities won’t be tracked. This IP privacy means that no one can track your location or activities.
Because you gain access to Hotspot Shield’s Virtual Private Network (VPN), you gain an added advantage. Not only is your IP masked, but it is effectively being shown as if you are somewhere else in the world. More specifically, Hotspot Shield allows you to access US-only content from outside the US (like Pandora) and it also allows you to access UK-only content from outside the UK (like BBC iPlayer).
One-Click Solution and Setup
After you sign up for a free account, you gain access to the web-based Hotspot Shield dashboard. The Elite package provides several benefits, like faster performance and the removal of ads, as well as advanced malware protection.
The dashboard is where you can access the download links for the Hotspot Shield software. As mentioned, it is available for Windows PCs, Macs and as an app through iOS App Store. Below that, you can see your basic statistics, like the amount of time you’ve spent protected by Hotspot Shield, the number of threats that were scanned, and the number of malicious threats that were blocked.
The actual software itself is very simple. You link it up to your account and click to activate it. Then, you can choose what virtual location you’d like to use. In the above screenshot, I used the United States and streamed some Colbert Report through Hulu; this site and service is not normally accessible in Canada.
The Hotspot Shield Elite software runs in the taskbar tray in the bottom corner of Windows. Even if you click to close it, it will continue to run in the background to protect your browsing session and to allow access to US-only or UK-only content. There are some basic settings that you can change, but the default configuration generally works just fine. It’s all very easy to use.
How Much Does It Cost?
The free version, as you can imagine, is a completely free download, but it is ad-supported and your access will be slower. That’s why it is worthwhile to consider the Elite package instead. That way, you get an ad-free experience, Firefox and IE toolbars, secure gateway to access blocked and censored sites, masked IP address, and dedicated customer support.
There is a special offer right now that will give you one year of Hotspot Shield across up to five devices of your choosing for $29.95. Similar VPN products from other providers can easily cost $99 or more per year. To further sweeten the deal, Hotspot Shield is offering an extra 20% off when you sign up with discount code JOHNCHOW. That brings you down to under $24 per year. Just enter the discount code during the checkout process.