CyberGhost vs Hotspot Shield

Read the websites of CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield and you’ll see a lot of bold claims. Both VPN providers promise users fast speeds, total privacy, and a reliable connection to geo-restricted content from services such as Netflix, Hulu, and BBC.

So how are you supposed to choose between these two great VPN services? We’ve put CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield head to head to help you decide. 

Pricing

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

1-month plan

$12.99 per month

$12.99 per month

1-year plan

$71.88 (equivalent to $5.99 per month)

$95.88 (equivalent to $7.99 per month)

2-year plan

$88.56 (equivalent to $3.69 per month)

N/A

3-year plan

$99 plus two months free (equivalent to $2.75 per month

N/A

Refund period

45 days

45 days

First off, It’s worth noting that Hotspot Shield also offers a very popular free VPN, however this comes with some serious restrictions in terms of speed and data. This review is about the premium version, which provides unlimited bandwidth and many other benefits.


A good tactic when signing up to a VPN plan is to pay as much as you can afford up-front. Almost every VPN provider provides big discounts on its longer subscriptions. 


CyberGhost is a good example — customers can pay month-by-month, or up-front for one, two, or three years. There are unbelievable discounts available on these longer subscription periods.


Hotspot Shield is less impressive when it comes to pricing. While Hotspot Shield’s monthly plan costs the same as CyberGhost, there’s a smaller discount on the one-year plan. Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer any longer-term plans, so no further discounts are available.


There’s no risk involved when committing to a longer subscription with either VPN provider. If you’re willing to try out CyberGhost or Hotspot Shield, there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee across all plans.

CyberGhost


While both VPN providers charge the same amount for a monthly subscription, CyberGhost offers some incredible discounts on its longer plans that Hotspot Shield can’t match.

Features

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

Connections

7

5

Operating systems

Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire

Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Browser extensions

Chrome, Firefox

Chrome

Split tunneling

Android only

Yes

Bonuses

Free anti-malware and ad-blocking software

Built-in malicious site blocking

CyberGhost lets users connect up to seven devices on one license, while Hotspot Shield only allows up to five. Of course, this won’t be a problem unless you have more than five devices, or you plan to share a license among family members.


CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield both offer user-friendly PC, Mac, and mobile apps that work extremely well. However, Hotspot Shield is weaker in this area. Unlike CyberGhost, it doesn’t offer apps for Linux or Amazon Fire. CyberGhost also offers a Firefox extension, whereas Hotspot Shield does not.


Hotspot Shield offers “split tunneling” across various operating systems. CyberGhost only allows split tunneling on its Android app. This feature lets you split your network traffic so that some goes through your VPN and some through your regular ISP or Wi-Fi connection.


CyberGhost offers free anti-malware and ad-blocker software as a bonus feature. Although Hotspot doesn’t offer extra software as such, it will block malicious sites that appear on its blacklist.

CyberGhost


CyberGhost wins our “features” round due to the greater number of simultaneous connections it allows, plus its wider range of desktop apps and browser extensions.

Security

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

Protocols

OpenVPN with TCP/UDP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec

Catapult Hydra

Data/control-channel encryption

AES-256-CBC, RSA-4096

AES-128 or AES-256, RSA-2048 

Killswitch

Yes (always on)

Yes

Most VPNs allow users to connect via several different protocols. Each protocol has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of security, reliability, speed, and compatibility. Almost every VPN provider supports the OpenVPN protocol, but Hotspot Shield is different.


Hotspot Shield uses its own proprietary VPN protocol called “Catapult Hydra.” Catapult Hydra encrypts data to AES-128 or AES-256 (OpenVPN uses the latter standard). However, unlike OpenVPN, Catapult Hydra is not open source, so we don’t have a clear understanding of how it works.


CyberGhost is more conventional, providing access to the “usual” set of VPN protocols including OpenVPN, IKEv2 and L2TP. CyberGhost also has a higher standard of control channel encryption than Hotspot Shield.


Both CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield feature a “killswitch,” which prevents accidental data leaks by cutting all connectivity if the user’s VPN drops out. CyberGhost’s killswitch is “always on.”


Hotspot Shield suffered a major security incident in 2018. A cybersecurity researcher alleged that the service was “riddled with bugs” that exposed users’ IP addresses and other personal information. Hotspot Shield patched these security issues within a week of the investigation. There’s no record of any such security incidents involving CyberGhost.

CyberGhost


When it comes to security, CyberGhost beats Hotspot Shield hands-down. 

Speed & servers

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

Number of Servers

Over 6100

Over 3,200

Countries

88

70+

Speed is Hotspot Shield’s “thing.” Some VPNs prioritize security or anonymity, but Hotspot Shield prioritizes speed. That’s why it uses its own proprietary VPN protocol, Catapult Hydra.


It’s difficult to measure a VPN’s overall speed because so much depends on where the user is located and what they’re trying to do online. However, it is fair to say that Hotspot Shield is a very fast VPN.


CyberGhost is fast, too — considerably faster than some other VPN services. It can handle streaming, torrenting, and other high-bandwidth activities without any issues. However, Hotspot Shield works extremely hard to ensure its connection speeds are as fast as possible, and it has an excellent reputation for speed.


Both VPN providers also have a lot of VPN server locations. CyberGhost has nearly twice as many servers as Hotspot Shield. Despite this, Hotspot Shield still manages to provide a speedy and reliable service.

Hotspot Shield


Hotspot Shield claims to be the fastest VPN provider available — and there certainly seems to be some truth in this. If you only care about speed, Hotspot Shield could be the best VPN for you.

Privacy

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

Logging policy

No logs except optional diagnostics data

Claims to keep “no logs”

User info required

Email address

Email address

Cryptocurrency payments accepted

Yes

No

Home jurisdiction

Romania

United States

Many people use a VPN because it can provide privacy and anonymity. The best VPN providers shield your online activity from your Internet Service Provider, third-party advertisers, and the state.


That’s right — the state can’t spy on your online activity if your VPN provider doesn’t keep any record of it. So, when a court tells a VPN provider to provide the personal information or browsing activity of one of its users, the response should be: “We don’t have that information.”


Both CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield claim that their users are anonymous and that they keep zero logs of user activity. CyberGhost does have a diagnostics feature which transfers some aggregate data to its tech team, but this is optional. 


Privacy is a very difficult area for Hotspot Shield. In 2017, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Hotspot Shield. The CDT claimed that Hotspot Shield keeps logs of its users’ activities and sells them to third-party advertisers — despite promising complete anonymity.


CyberGhost lets users sign up anonymously using Bitcoin and other anonymous payment methods, whereas Hotspot Shield only accepts credit cards.


If you want a VPN that you can be sure is private and anonymous, Hotspot Shield is not a good option.

CyberGhost


CyberGhost easily wins this round — it makes a great effort to maintain its customers’ privacy, whereas there are some serious questions about Hotspot Shield’s privacy practices.

Content unblocking

CyberGhost

Hotspot Shield

Netflix

Yes

Yes

BBC

Yes

Yes

Amazon Prime Video

Yes

Yes

Hulu

Yes

Yes

For many people, content unblocking is the whole reason they use a VPN. Want to watch British TV from the United States? A VPN should allow you to connect to a UK-based VPN server and access BBC iPlayer.


In reality, not all VPN providers provide reliable access to geo-restricted content. Some VPNs struggle to access popular streaming services or only offer access to content from a very limited range of regions.


But CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield excel in this area. These are two of the best VPNs on the market when it comes to accessing censored or restricted online content.

Tie


Both VPN services are extremely good at unblocking geo-restrictions from around the world.

Our pick

CyberGhost


CyberGhost is a great all-round VPN provider. It has earned its place at the top of the VPN market alongside others such as ExpressVPN, IPVanish VPN, and PureVPN.


Hotspot Shield is fast and good at unblocking restricted content. If that’s all you care about, it’s definitely worth trying it out. However, if you care about privacy, Hotspot Shield is probably not the VPN provider for you.


Either way, both CyberGhost and Hotspot Shield offer a 45-day money-back guarantee period, so you can try them both with no risk attached.

Alex Grant
 

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