You’ve probably heard many positive things about Hotspot Shield and NordVPN (especially if you browse Reddit). Although both VPNs are very respectable, I wanted to dig deeper. So, I stacked up NordVPN vs Hotspot Shield for everyday activities to see which is better.
The tests I performed included streaming, gaming, and torrenting. This article also shows whether these VPNs work with popular streaming platforms (like Netflix US and Disney+) in different locations. I also compared NordVPN and Hotspot Shield’s no-log policies and security features.
My result is: NordVPN offers more value for your money, although Hotspot Shield comes very close. The winner is slightly faster and has more consistent unblocking capabilities. Additionally, only NordVPN provides advanced security features and a reliable no-logs policy. For more information, keep reading the complete analysis — it’s easy to follow and without unnecessary technical jargon.
Best alternative to NordVPN
Not only does ExpressVPN offer similarly fast performance and robust security features, but it offers a more extensive server network than NordVPN which covers considerably more countries. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free as its backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings
|Hotspot Shield VPN
|⭐ Overall Rating
|Our Score: 9.4/10
|Our Score: 9.1/10
|💲 Lowest Monthly Price
|$3.39/month on the first 2-year subscription
|$2.99/month on the first yearly subscription
|🗓️ Price on Renewal
|$99.48 per year(subject to change)
|$154.77 per year(subject to change)
|NordVPN offers 67% off (24-month plan)
|Hotspot Shield offers 77% off (12-month plan)
|💸 Money Back Guarantee
|📺 Streaming & Unblocking
|Can access Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more
|Can access most streaming platforms but might require server switching
|🌍 VPN Servers
|61 countries with 6,088 servers
|80 countries with 1,800 servers
|Max 7% speed drop — excellent for UHD streaming & gaming
|Max 23% speed drop — but still good enough for 4k movies and online gaming
|🎮 Gaming Performance
|Low in-game latency
|Generally low ping and gaming-optimized servers
|🧑🤝🧑 P2P Support
|Yes, it has a network-wide P2P traffic and torrenting-optimized servers
|Yes, on all servers
|🔐 Security Protocols
|NordLynx (WireGuard-based), OpenVPN, IPSec/IKEv2, and IPSec/L2TP
|Catapult Hydra (based on OpenSSL), WireGuard, IPSec/IKEv2
|🔌 Kill Switch
|✅ IP/DNS Leak Protection
|🏢 Based in Country
|⚠️ Does VPN Keep Logs
| Works in China
|#️⃣ Number of Device Connections
|💻 Device Compatibility
|Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and routers (with custom firmware for ASUS WRT)
Plus a SmartDNS service to easily stream on game consoles and Smart TVs
|Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and routers
|🔧 Customer Support
|24/7 live chat, knowledge base, FAQs, email, Facebook, and Twitter
|24/7 live chat (paid users only), knowledge base, FAQs, and email
See More NordVPN Features
Streaming and Netflix Access — NordVPN is More Reliable
Streaming platforms may restrict access to their content based on your IP address (it reveals your geographical location). NordVPN and Hotspot Shield can change your IP address, making it appear as if you're in a different country.
|✅Yes, including popular Netflix libraries like the US, UK, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland
|☑️ Yes, but not as reliable (might require trying several servers)
|☑️ Yes, but not as reliable
|☑️ Yes, but not as reliable
|Amazon Prime Video
NordVPN works flawlessly with most streaming platforms. I watched Shameless (US) on my Netflix US subscription after connecting to a New York server while traveling. Similarly, a server in London allowed me to stream Doctor Who on my BBC iPlayer account.
Selecting a server in the US lets you obtain a US IP address
Hotspot Shield works for Netflix US and other popular platforms, too. I accessed my HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video using the US-based streaming servers. Although, there were some hiccups. Hulu and ESPN+ didn't work at first — I had to switch locations to work around the VPN block.
Hotspot Shield couldn’t access Hulu on the first try, but worked on subsequent attempts
However, only NordVPN has SmartDNS to avoid geo-restrictions on devices without native VPN support. For example, it allowed me to access US content on Disney+ from my PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Kodi.
Both VPNs let you access your accounts on popular streaming services from nearly any country. However, NordVPN does it more reliably and has SmartDNS.
Server Network — Both VPN Networks Have Their Advantages
|Total Countries With Servers
|Number of Servers
NordVPN has a higher number of servers, while Hotspot Shield covers more countries. Thanks to availability in popular regions, both work great while traveling. Some locations are exclusive — NordVPN has servers in Cyprus, Serbia, and Slovenia, while Hotspot Shield offers locations in Egypt, China, and Russia.
Because NordVPN has more servers, you’re less likely to run into server overcrowding (where too many users are crammed on the same server). This helps you avoid sudden slowdowns or disconnections. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield can provide IP addresses for a wider selection of countries.
Both providers use a mix of physical and virtual servers. Physical servers are located in the associated country, whereas virtual servers are located elsewhere but will still provide you with an IP address for their associated country. Virtual servers can be used in regions where a physical server would put your privacy at risk due to intrusive laws.
Because of this, NordVPN has a predominantly physical server network but also utilizes virtual servers in specific regions. Hotspot Shield uses a similar setup.
Additionally, these VPNs offer specialty servers optimized for certain activities. Hotspot Shield has gaming and streaming-optimized locations. NordVPN provides specialized servers for torrenting, obfuscation (to hide you are using a VPN), and extra security (Double VPN and Onion Over VPN).
Winner - draw
Hotspot Shield has servers in more countries, whereas NordVPN has a larger number of servers. Both come with optimized servers for specific use cases. It’s a tie.
Speed — NordVPN Is Slightly Faster
Both VPNs gave me excellent speeds on multiple servers and unlimited data usage. NordVPN showed the best results with NordLynx, while Hotspot Shield was the fastest with Catapult Hydra. My base speeds (without a VPN) were 127Mbps for download and 18Mbps for upload.
The speed loss was minimal when connected to NordVPN’s nearby server. Even with the faraway US location, my speeds dropped by only 7%. That’s excellent for 4K streaming (which requires only 25Mbps). As a bonus, NordVPN’s obfuscated servers can prevent ISP speed throttling.
I had the best speeds using NordVPN’s NordLynx protocol
Hotspot Shield reduced my speeds by 23% on the US-based servers, but it was still fast enough for bufferless UHD streaming. The results on nearby servers were better.
Catapult Hydra shows a little better upload speeds but gets significantly slower on far-away locations
|NordVPN Average Download Speed
|Hotspot Shield Average Download Speed
|NordVPN Average Upload Speed
|Hotspot Shield Average Upload Speed
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a Hong Kong server
It was a tight competition, but NordVPN is slightly faster (especially on far-away servers).
Gaming — NordVPN’s Servers Offer Lower Latency
To compare Hotspot Shield vs NordVPN, I benchmarked in-game latency (ping) in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0. The values here are provided in milliseconds.
|Hotspot Shield (Catapult Hydra)
|Connected to a UK server
|Connected to a US server
|Connected to a Hong Kong server
Both VPNs were suited for gaming. Hotspot Shield offers gaming-optimized servers with lower ping, albeit for a limited number of titles. However, NordVPN had a consistently lower ping on every server I tested.
My in-game ping remained low enough to score some frags
On Windows, NordVPN even lets you host private LAN parties with Meshnet. This feature allows creating an encrypted network that connects users to the fastest servers for secure, low-latency gaming. Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer anything similar.
Both VPNs are well-suited for online gaming. Still, NordVPN offers lower ping and allows you to easily create secure LAN sessions.
Torrenting — NordVPN Offers Safer and Faster Torrenting
Hotspot Shield and NordVPN have network-wide P2P support for reliable torrenting. They also don’t limit your bandwidth — there are no restrictions on how much data you can download or upload. However, NordVPN is more dependable.
NordVPN’s P2P-optimized servers are faster for torrenting. Alternatively, it also lets you configure a SOCKS5 proxy — this hides your IP address like a VPN server but does not encrypt your connection, offering faster speeds at the expense of some security.
NordVPN is also the safer option for torrenting because of its more trustworthy no-logs policy and RAM-only servers, which ensure that your user data is never accessible or stored. Hotspot Shield, on the other hand, collects some of your personal information — more on this later.
Security — NordVPN Has More Security Features
Hotspot Shield and NordVPN use military-grade encryption to safeguard your information. They implement perfect forward secrecy, which generates unique encryption keys for every session. In short, this makes your connection virtually indecipherable — and even if an attacker were able to do so, they’d only have access to a single session of data.
|AES-256-GCM with 4096-bit DH key, SHA-512 HMAC authentication
|AES 128-bit, RSA certificates with 2048-bit key
|All operating systems
|All operating systems, except for iOS
|DNS/IP Leak Protection
|OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IPSec/IKEv2, IPSec/L2TP, and NordLynx (proprietary protocol based on WireGuard)
|IPSec/IKEv2, WireGuard, and Catapult Hydra (proprietary protocol)
|Private DNS servers
|Tor Over VPN servers
|RAM-only servers wipe data
|Ad & malware blocker
|Double hop servers
Both VPNs have their proprietary security protocols. NordVPN offers speed-oriented (and secure) NordLynx — a proprietary WireGuard-based protocol. Hotspot Shield provides a custom Catapult Hydra, initially created by AnchorFree, which is nearly as fast and just as safe.
My tests showed that these VPNs don’t leak your IP/DNS/WebRTC information. In addition, they protect you against accidental data exposure with an internet kill switch (it terminates your internet traffic if you lose your VPN connection). The only difference is that NordVPN also has an app-level kill switch, which allows advanced users to specify only certain apps to be blocked from accessing the internet upon a VPN connection failure.
Unlike Hotspot Shield, NordVPN can route your web data through 2 servers for extra security (Double VPN). You can also use NordVPN’s obfuscated servers to conceal VPN usage from ISPs, websites, and network administrators. NordVPN also lets you route your encrypted traffic via dedicated Tor servers, which apply even further layers of encryption and IP masking.
NordVPN’s security settings are also highly customizable
NordVPN has many more out-of-the-box security features. For example, Dark Web Monitor alerts you if your info was leaked to the dangerous dark web. Threat Protection blocks ads and trackers (useful for YouTube and Yahoo News). NordVPN’s Android app also alerts you if it detects a malicious app overlay (otherwise known as tapjacking), which can lead to further security vulnerabilities.
In terms of additional security features, Hotspot Shield’s Premium plan only offers Robo Shield (spam and scam call blocker for iOS in the US and Canada) and basic website threat detection. Both VPNs also offer automatic WiFi protection that connect the VPN when you’re on unsecured public hotspots.
Hotspot Shield offers a configurable kill switch, leak protection, and automatic WiFi protection
Both VPNs offer top-grade encryption, IP/DNS/WebRTC leak protection, and a reliable kill switch. However, NordVPN comes on top with its advanced features such as server obfuscation, double VPN, and built-in malware blocker.
Privacy — Only NordVPN Has a Strict No-Logs Policy
NordVPN doesn’t collect, store, or share your web data with anyone. Its no-logs policy has been verified by audits performed by well-known firms PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Deloitte. The provider is also located in privacy-friendly Panama, outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances — which are international government surveillance networks.
Hotspot Shield logs most of your personal details, including usage data, used devices, and server requests. Pango Group (its owner) discloses that it may use your information for advertising, third-party providers, and their “trusted partners.” While it does state that it anonymizes logged data, it has never been audited to check whether this is really the case. Plus, the company is headquartered in the US — the center of the 5 Eyes Alliance.
Hotspot Shield can share a lot of your personal information
Both services use Private DNS servers, meaning they handle your web requests (instead of your ISP). However, only NordVPN runs its infrastructure on RAM-only servers that wipe your data after every session. NordVPN also lets you pay with cryptocurrency to remain anonymous, whereas Hotspot Shield does not.
NordVPN’s independently audited no-logs policy is much more trustworthy than Hotspot Shield’s anonymized data logging, which has never been verified by a reputable firm.
Works in China — Neither Offer Reliable VPN Service in China
Unfortunately, neither NordVPN nor Hotspot Shield make any promises about working in China. While it’s possible that you may get spotty usage with both VPNs in the country, it’s much more likely that they will outright fail to work.
If you need a VPN that reliably works in China, I recommend you take a look at the alternatives in our best VPNs for China in 2024.
Winner - draw
As neither VPN provides support for China, I can’t recommend either.
Installation & Ease of Use — NordVPN Is More User-Friendly
Both VPNs are available on popular operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. They also have apps for Amazon Fire TV Stick, Smart TVs (like Android TVs) and browser extensions. Installing both VPNs usually takes only a couple of minutes.
You can configure both VPNs on routers to encrypt data on all your devices. NordVPN supports more router models and has custom firmware for ASUS. While Hotspot Shield VPN does provide setup guides for routers, it doesn't offer as many resources for router installation.
NordVPN has intuitive apps for desktop devices. You can quickly connect to the fastest nearby server, use an interactive map, and easily access specialized servers.
You can select specialty servers for different use cases on NordVPN’s desktop apps
Android and iPhone apps are just as eye-pleasing. The interface was designed to help you connect with a few taps. Yet, the mobile app has roughly the same level of customization.
The Android app offers extra features like Tapjacking protection
Hotspot Shield’s interface isn’t that enjoyable, but it’s still easy to find the server you want. There’s also a built-in speed tester to help you find the fastest location.
Select a country to access a list of available servers
The mobile versions of Hotspot Shield look similar. They have a minimalistic design and let you select the optimal location within seconds.
It’s also possible to configure protocols, split tunneling, and trusted WiFi networks
You can use NordVPN’s split tunneling to select apps or websites that should or shouldn’t use a VPN. For example, you could set a torrenting client to always use an encrypted connection while your browser is set to use your regular internet, letting you stream local content at full speed.
Hotspot Shield’s Android app has split tunneling too. The Windows version provides a similar SmartVPN feature that allows you to exclude websites and apps from the VPN tunnel.
These VPNs are easy to install and use. NordVPN slightly outmatches Hotspot Shield because of the more intuitive interface and greater support for routers.
Reliability & Support — NordVPN Offers 24/7 Support to Anyone
|Customer Support Features
|Hotspot Shield VPN
|24/7 Live chat
|Yes, responds immediately
|Yes (only for Premium subscribers)
|Step-by-step setup guides
|Yes, with pictures, and video guides on an official YouTube channel
|Yes, with pictures
|Searchable knowledge base
|Exhaustive FAQ section
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield come with detailed tutorials, troubleshooting guides, ticket support, and FAQs to help you find the information you need. They regularly publish blog posts, some of which introduce the latest updates to the service.
However, only NordVPN offers publicly available 24/7 live chat and phone support. Anyone can reach the support staff with any questions. In contrast, Hotspot Shield’s online chat is available only to active Premium subscribers, and it doesn’t offer phone support whatsoever.
NordVPN’s support staff is more responsive. It also offers phone support unlike Hotspot Shield, if that’s what you prefer.
Tips on Choosing Between NordVPN and Hotspot Shield
I tested Hotspot Shield and NordVPN from every possible angle to help you understand which is better for streaming, gaming, and browsing. But if you still want to test them yourself — here are the criteria I used:
- Fast speeds — Encryption slows your connection, but top-notch services maintain streaming-ready speeds.
- Server networks — A well-distributed global network lets you find a low-ping location nearby and avoid server overcrowding.
- Bypassing geoblocks — You need a VPN that avoids geoblocks for international streaming platforms (like Netflix) to access your accounts from anywhere easily.
- Robust security features — AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, and built-in malware blockers keep your data safe during day-to-day browsing.
- Respectable privacy practices — Check if the VPN has an audited no-logs policy and RAM-only servers to protect your information from prying eyes.
- Easy to use — Make sure that VPN works on your devices and browsers, supports multiple simultaneous connections, and has 24/7 live chat support.
- Trustworthy money-back guarantee — A money-back policy gives a chance to test the VPN without financial risks.