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Private Internet Access vs Hotspot Shield 2023

Table of Contents

    Which VPN is better?

    Author Image Daniel Krohn
    Daniel Krohn

    Cybersecurity Researcher

    A fierce competition is taking place between two US-based VPNs: PIA and Hotspot Shield.

    Both VPNs have large networks of servers, with PIA offering 3,000+ servers in over 30 countries and HotSpot Shield having 2,000+ servers in over 20 countries. They also both allow P2P and torrenting. Yet while Hotspot Shield offers a limited free VPN service and a 45-day money-back guarantee, PIA only offers a 7-day money-back guarantee.

    These two VPNs also provide user-friendly client apps. However, HotSpot Shield doesn’t have an app for Linux and has an extension for Chrome only. PIA has apps for all platforms (including Linux) and browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. Hotspot Shield takes the lead for unblocking restricted streaming services like Netflix, which PIA fails to do. On the other hand, although both providers claim to keep no logs, Hotspot Shield has been accused in the past of leaking sensitive user information to third parties for advertising purposes.

    Read on to see these American VPNs battling it out across several important categories.


    Features 9.5/10
    Pricing 8.0/10
    Ease of Use 9.6/10
    Reliability & Support 9.8/10
    Features 9.1/10
    Pricing 9.0/10
    Ease of Use 9.0/10
    Reliability & Support 8.6/10


    Review by our expert
    Author Image Matthew Amos
    Matthew Amos

    Senior Editor


    Private Internet Access has one of the cheapest VPN subscriptions available — you can sign up for as little as $2.19/month. With such a low price, I wondered whether PIA could really stand out against its higher-priced competitors. It’s been around for 10+ years, so it could be one of the best-value VPNs out there. I decided to find out just how good it is by looking into the company’s lo...

    Read all
    Latest positive user review
    Best VPN I have used

    I have been using PIA for three years and I have been very pleased. My internet connection is 270MB up...  and 270MB down. I get on average 250MB up and 250MB down. I have found that turning on the wire guard speeds up my internet speed by 50mb.More

    Latest negative user review
    PIA is a perfect backdoor to your computer

    Briefly said, all my accounts were compromised few days after PIA installation only on Chrome, includi... ng services that I have never used like Facebook Ads (corrupted from far far away in Kazakstan). Yesterday, someone changed my PIA email for a one-shot usage email and stole around 100 euros on my VISA for payment to PIA - Private Internet Access. There is no doubt that PIA is a perfect and complete security hole direct to your computer and personal stuff.More

    Review by our expert
    Author Image Kennedy Otieno
    Kennedy Otieno

    Cybersecurity Researcher


    Hotspot Shield claims its proprietary Hydra protocol makes it faster than most VPNs — but is that true? I tested HSS on my fast internet connection (it allows up to 1Gbps speeds) to discover how it does with streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Mostly, I had a seamless internet experience — watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video without buffering. Its 1,800 servers in 80 countries ...

    Read all
    Latest positive user review
    Great Interface, easy to use and smooth/zippy.

    It just feels well put together. Turns on automatically, which is no bad thing (if you don't like that... , turn the damn thing off with a click). The speed is consistently above average, and on a couple of inadvertent occasions, the Kill Switch operated as it should. I especially like the GUI, which is really simple, solid, yet has a refined/slick feel - far superior to a few I've tried but won't name here. I see no issues with it, although the security issues pointed out in the article are a bit alarming. I'm using the 'Business' version. Nice VPN, IMO.More

    Latest negative user review
    Blocked by Real-Debrid on just about every us city and nearly all countries

    Easy to connect speed pretty good multiple platforms not great from streaming.. which is where you nee... d the speed. Nord vpn and Express are both cooperative providers with real-debrid meaning no connection problems. Even if you do find a server that connects frequently this is blocked during streaming.More


    Starting price $2.19/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 30 Days
    Number of devices per license 10 devices
    Starting price $2.99/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 45 Days
    Number of devices per license 5 devices

    Best VPN by category

    Although both VPNs offer impressive sets of features, PIA is more trustworthy when it comes to protecting your online privacy. It also offers more features at lower prices.

    Both VPNs support torrenting on certain servers, but PIA is more secure for torrent use.

    PIA and HotSpot Shield both offer user-friendly clients for Windows, but PIA’s Windows app is easier to use and includes more built-in features and options.

    The PIA client for Android uses OpenVPN as its default protocol, which is the most secure protocol used today. This is one of the many advantages it has over the Android app from Hotspot Shield, advantages that include far greater ease of use.

    PIA offers a simple and easy-to-install app for Mac that supports all the major security protocols. Its interface and capabilities exceed those of HotSpot Shield’s Mac client.

    Even though PIA’s app for iOS doesn’t support OpenVPN, you can easily set the protocol up manually on your device. Once you overcome that hurdle, you’ll find that the app is filled with easily accessible features and is much simpler than that of Hotspot Shield.

    While PIA operates more servers in the US than Hotspot Shield, you can’t use it to stream geoblocked American services such as Netflix. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield can bypass almost any restriction on US-based providers without compromising your connection speed.

    The Bottom Line

    PIA wins this competition by gaining the upper hand in several key areas. It provides stronger encryption, more security features, and dedicated IPs. PIA is also more trustworthy when it comes to privacy, as it has always honored its guarantee that no logs are kept. And while Hotspot Shield is considered cheap, PIA actually offers cheaper prices and better customer support.

    Even though both VPNs support P2P, PIA is more secure for torrenting and other file sharing activities. On the other hand, HotSpot Shield offers a longer refund period and succeeds in bypassing geo-restrictions on US Netflix, so this competition was definitely not one-sided. To help you choose, see what users have to say about PIA and HotSpot Shield.

    Time to decide which one is best for you


    Is Private Internet Access better than Hotspot Shield?

    Yes, Private Internet Access is better overall than Hotspot Shield. It has 29650 servers in 84 countries, fast speeds, and impressive security features.

    Best of all, you can take advantage of its latest discount and get it for only $2.19 a month.

    What should I keep in mind when choosing between Private Internet Access and Hotspot Shield?

    When choosing a VPN, you want to pay close attention to its number of servers, overall speed score, pricing, and the number of simultaneous device connections it offers. While some VPNs provide a flawless online experience, others will really slow you down.

    If you’re ready to commit, then Private Internet Access may be perfect for you due to its performance during the tests .

    Is Private Internet Access faster than Hotspot Shield?

    Yes, Private Internet Access is faster than Hotspot Shield. Since your VPN is your computer’s main connection to the internet, you need to use a service that won’t slow you down by more than 20%.

    If speeds are important to you, then I recommend you take a look at ExpressVPN. It’s the fastest service out there, provides unlimited bandwidth, and you won’t experience any slowdowns even when you connect to the other side of the planet. You can try it out risk-free. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund if you don’t like it.

    Do Private Internet Access or Hotspot Shield offer any deals?

    Both Private Internet Access and Hotspot Shield offer deals on occasion. You can check out the current coupons and discounts here. However, ExpressVPN has the best deals. Right now, you can get a 49% discount and up to 3 months for free with a new subscription.