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Surfshark vs Hotspot Shield 2023

Table of Contents

    Which VPN is better?

    Author Image Kate Richards
    Kate Richards

    Managing Editor

    Surfshark is a new VPN service, while AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield has been popular with users all over the world for years. Yet Surfshark doesn’t have the shortcomings we usually see in when we put new vendors to the test. For starters, it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which doesn’t have any strict data retention laws. This advantageous location, along with a transparent zero-logs policy, makes it ideal for privacy-conscious users. In addition, by keeping a low profile, Surfshark keeps its 500+ servers uncrowded, so they’re fast and reliable for bypassing geoblocks or heavy censorship. Hotspot Shield, on the other hand, has a few drawbacks when it comes to privacy. Its stance on data logging is intentionally vague, and the US-based parent company can be easily reached by government agencies seeking user information. That company, AnchorFree, is also guilty of using tracking codes to gather (and sell) user data from its various services, even including the Hotspot Shield free version. Where performance is concerned, however, Hotspot Shield competes like the established provider that it is. With 2,500+ servers worldwide, great speeds, and plenty of unblocking power, this VPN is very capable where it counts. Another plus is an excellent user interface across all major platforms. There’s a lot more you need to know about Surfshark and Hotspot Shield. So let’s take a deeper look, category by category.


    Features 9.3/10
    Pricing 9.4/10
    Ease of Use 10.0/10
    Reliability & Support 9.6/10
    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 Kate Richards
    Kate Richards

    Managing Editor


    With VPNs, you tend to get what you pay for. So when I saw Surfshark’s super low prices (you can get it for just $2.30/month), I was a bit skeptical about its rave reviews. To find out if it actually lives up to these claims, I tested every single aspect of Surfshark, including speeds, security features, unblocking abilities, network reliability, and device compatibility. I also took a closer...

    Read all
    Latest positive user review
    Five star vpn

    Best I've ever used. All good, no complaints at all. I had a couple of questions when I first started ... using it, reached out to customer service. They were quick to respond, friendly, and helpful. I'm looking forward to them making the Surfshark Search feature a separate app.More

    Latest negative user review
    Doesn't work for BBC

    The only reason I bought it. Constant error msgs from iPlayer, individual channels like 4 and 5 were a... ccessible--until the latest update. Now nothing works. Spend more money on something that's more reliable.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 $2.3/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 30 Days
    Number of devices per license Unlimited devices
    Starting price $2.99/month
    Money Back Guarantee (Days) 45 Days
    Number of devices per license 5 devices

    Best VPN by category

    Surfshark has everything a top-shelf VPN should have, along with a couple of extras you won’t find in AnchorFree’s popular Hotspot Shield VPN, like live chat support. Hotspot Shield is impressive with its big server network and elegant clients, but we can’t overlook a flawed privacy policy and the shortcomings of the Mac app.

    While both VPNs allow P2P traffic, Hotspot Shield is based in the US, where torrenting is severely restricted. Furthermore, Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer any torrent-specific features. Surfshark, however, explicitly states that P2P is permitted with the VPN, and maintains a list of torrenting websites and clients that work well with the service.

    Both providers focus on ease of use in their Windows clients, along with essential features like quick connect and a kill switch. Surfshark takes things further, however, with split tunneling, obfuscation settings, and DNS leak protection. However, you may prefer Hotspot Shield if you want more server options from your VPN.

    Surfshark performs very well on Android, with an intuitive app running the IKEv2 protocol. Notable features include WhiteLister (split tunneling) and DNS leak protection, but there is no kill switch. Meanwhile, Hotspot Shield offers a very solid, minimalist Android app. It’s easy to use and looks great, but there aren’t many special features or settings.

    Apple users will be happy to know that Surfshark offers the same excellent features for Mac as it does in its Windows version. The only difference is that it runs the IKEv2 protocol by default instead of OpenVPN. Hotspot Shield’s MacOS client looks rather basic compared to what you get on Windows, and there’s no kill switch. It's much too apparent that Hotspot Shield was developed for Windows and later adapted for Mac.

    Surfshark’s iOS app is identical to the Android client, meaning you get plenty of features and fast, stable connections. You’re also allowed to connect as many devices as you want with this VPN – not only rare, but incredibly useful. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield offers the standard five simultaneous connections and an iOS app that gets the job done well, with access to a farther-reaching server network.

    Despite its smaller server presence in the USA, Surfshark was the faster VPN in our tests. We had no trouble reaching popular services like Netflix and Hulu, and streaming was smooth and uninterrupted. That said, Hotspot Shield is excellent for unblocking US content as well, and its bigger US server network may serve you better if you need access to regionally televised sports events.

    The Bottom Line

    Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol and stylish clients have helped to make it a popular service worldwide for a variety of VPN uses. However, Surfshark is a very impressive all-purpose VPN in its own right, for casual and advanced users alike. It’s a powerful and affordable service with helpful live chat support. Most importantly, it comes from a provider that takes your privacy seriously, with user protection policies that don’t leave room for second guessing. This is a rare case of the student showing the old master how it’s done, and we believe Surfshark is only going to get better. Still, Hotspot Shield remains a great pick for users interested in server variety and dependable connections. If you want to get the full range of features, just make sure you’re running it on Windows.

    Time to decide which one is best for you


    Is Surfshark better than Hotspot Shield?

    Yes, Surfshark is better overall than Hotspot Shield. It has 3200 servers in 100 countries, fast speeds, and impressive security features.

    Best of all, you can take advantage of its latest discount and get it for only $2.3 a month.

    What should I keep in mind when choosing between Surfshark 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 Surfshark may be perfect for you due to its performance during the tests .

    Is Surfshark faster than Hotspot Shield?

    Yes, Surfshark 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 Surfshark or Hotspot Shield offer any deals?

    Both Surfshark 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.