NordVPN vs. Hotspot Shield 2024 — Which One Is Better?

Updated on: June 24, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Ahmad
Updated on: June 24, 2024 Writer

Short on Time? Here’s the Final Verdict:

  • 🥇 NordVPN  — Winner in Extra Features, Privacy, Servers, Streaming, Torrenting, and Plans & Pricing. NordVPN is very secure and private, comes with 6,266 servers in 111 countries, works with all popular streaming sites, has excellent torrenting support, and is really affordable and provides good overall value.

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are pretty good VPNs. Both are secure, have good streaming, P2P, and gaming support, and offer easy-to-use apps for all major OS.

Each of these VPNs brings industry-standard security features to the table, including military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy.

They also come with some extra and advanced features, such as:

  • Perfect forward secrecy.
  • Obfuscation.
  • Split-tunneling.
  • Full leak protection.

But NordVPN is simply better. It offers better privacy, includes a lot more extra features, has a large server network of 6,266 servers in 111 countries, and is also better for streaming and torrenting. That said, Hotspot Shield is still a decent pick since it’s secure, fast, and user-friendly.

I tested both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield on a long list of metrics, including security, additional features, privacy, server count and distribution, speeds, streaming and torrenting support, gaming performance, censorship bypass abilities, user-friendliness, pricing, and customer support. I found that NordVPN beats Hotspot Shield overall. However, they did tie in some areas, so I suggested reading the full comparison to get a better picture of which VPN is the better option for you.

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NordVPN vs. Hotspot Shield — Quick Overview

NordVPN Hotspot Shield
💸Starting Price Starts at $3.39 / month Starts at $2.99 / month
📱 Number of Devices 10 10
🔐Security 256-bit AES encryption,
No-logs policy (audited),
Kill switch,
RAM-only servers, Perfect forward secrecy,
Full leak protection.
256-bit AES encryption, No-logs policy,
Kill switch,
Perfect forward secrecy,
Full leak protection
🌍 Number of Servers 6,266 servers in 111 countries 3,200+ servers in 85 countries
⚡️ Speeds Very fast speeds on nearby servers, and fast speeds on distant servers Fast speeds on nearby and distant servers
🎥Streaming Support Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Max, and Amazon Prime Plus. Works with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
🔽P2P Support
(4,500+ servers in 45+ countries)

(3,200+ servers in 85 countries)
💻 Apps iOS,
Android,
Windows,
macOS,
Linux,
Android TV,
Fire TV,
Chromebook
iOS,
Android,
Windows,
macOS,
Linux,
Android TV,
FireTV,
Chromebook.
❓Customer Support 24/7 live chat,
Email support,
In-depth library
24/7 live chat,
Email support,
In-depth library
💰 Money-Back Guarantee 30 days 45 days

Security — Both VPNs Are Secure

256-bit AES Encryption No-Logs Policy Kill Switch Leak Protection RAM-Only Servers Perfect Forward Secrecy
NordVPN
(Full leak protection)
Hotspot Shield
(Full leak protection)

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are pretty secure VPNs. They both have industry-standard security features, including.

  • 256-bit AES encryption. Military-grade encryption ensures that all online traffic remains secure and unreadable to unauthorized parties.
  • Kill Switch. Disconnects you from the internet when the VPN connection goes down to prevent data leaks.
  • No-logs policy. Neither VPN logs your online activities or IP address. That said, Hotspot Shield’s free version collects your geo-location and shares it with advertising agencies.

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield offer full leak protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. But I don’t like that Hotspot Shield’s IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection is only available on Windows.Security — Both VPNs Are Secure

Both VPNs use perfect forward secrecy, a feature that regularly changes the encryption key for each VPN session. This ensures that even if a hacker obtains one key, they’ll only get access to a small portion of data, and your past and future sessions will remain secure.

But only NordVPN has RAM-only and colocated servers. RAM-only servers wipe all data every time they’re rebooted, so the VPN can’t keep any information long-term. And its colocated servers are exclusively managed by NordVPN’s staff, which means nobody from the outside has any access to them.

Each VPN also uses secure VPN protocols. NordVPN comes with NordLynx, which is built around WireGuard, a super fast protocol. Also, it has OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, which are both secure. And Hotspot Shield has Hydra, which is its proprietary protocol that’s really fast. In addition, Hotspot Shield also comes with WireGuard and IKEv2/IPSec.Security — Both VPNs Are Secure

NordVPN is the only one of the two that offers multi-factor authentication. This means you’ll have to enter an app-generated code or security key every time you log in, which adds another layer of security.

Winner (Security): It’s a tie

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are both very secure VPNs. They come with industry-standard and advanced security features, like full leak protection and perfect forward secrecy, as well as secure protocols.

Extra Features — NordVPN Takes The Win Here

Split-Tunneling Obfuscation Blocks Ads Blocks Malicious Sites Tor Support Smart DNS Other Features
NordVPN Double VPN, Dark Web Monitor, Tapjacking protection, Meshnet, SOCKS5 support, Dedicated IPs.
Hotspot Shield Speed test

NordVPN has a lot more extra features than Hotspot Shield, so you get much better variety and value.

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield offer split-tunneling, which lets you choose which apps are routed through the VPN tunnel and which apps use your local network.Extra Features — NordVPN Takes The Win Here

They also come with obfuscation. This feature hides your VPN traffic from your internet service provider (ISP) and governments. It is particularly useful if you want to prevent anyone from seeing your VPN usage to enjoy more privacy.

Each VPN has good Tor support, which means you can surf the dark web while connected to the VPNs. But I prefer NordVPN because it has dedicated Onion Over VPN servers that let you browse the dark web in a regular browser like Chrome.Extra Features — NordVPN Takes The Win Here

But only NordVPN has an ad, tracker, and malware blocker, called Threat Protection, which worked pretty well in my tests. I was also happy to find out that Threat Protection scans downloaded files for malware, which is pretty cool since not a lot of VPNs that have ad blockers do that.

NordVPN also offers the following features that Hotspot Shield doesn’t:

  • Double VPN. Routes traffic through two VPN servers instead of one to provide an extra layer of security.
  • Dark Web Monitor. Notifies you if any information linked to your NordVPN account, like your email address and password, has been compromised in a data breach.Extra Features — NordVPN Takes The Win Here
  • Tapjacking Protection. Alters you if it detects that an Android app uses a screen overlay, which is typically used to steal information, like your password.
  • Meshet. Lets you connect up to 60 devices and encrypt their connection. This is a great feature for gaming and securely sharing files.
  • SOCKS5 proxy support. This technology changes your IP address but doesn’t encrypt your traffic, allowing you to get faster speeds.
  • Dedicated IP addresses. For a small fee, NordVPN lets you buy a static IP address that only belongs to you. It can be useful if you want to access sites that block shared IP addresses (like bank websites) and avoid reCAPTCHAs.

Extra Features — NordVPN Takes The Win HereAnd unlike NordVPN, Hotspot Shield has a built-in speed test, which works well and is really accurate. I think this is useful, as you don’t need to use third-party speed testing tools to determine your VPN speeds.

Winner (Extra Features): NordVPN

NordVPN is the clear winner in the extra features category. Although both VPNs offer split-tunneling, obfuscation, and Tor support, NordVPN comes with a lot more additional features, like an ad, tracker, and malicious site blocker, a good malware scanner, Dark Web Monitor, double VPN connections, Meshent, SOCKS5 support, and more.

Privacy — NordVPN Takes The Lead

Logs User IP Addresses Logs User Traffic Audited No-Logs Policy Headquarters Open-Source Apps
NordVPN Panama
(outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance)
Hotspot Shield US
(part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance)

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have great privacy features, but NordVPN has a slight edge. Both VPNs follow a strict no-logs policy — neither VPN logs any information about your online activities or your IP address. However, only NordVPN’s no-logs policy has been confirmed by an independent audit.Privacy — NordVPN Takes The Lead

And if you’re using Hotspot Shield’s free plan, it will share your location with advertisers, allowing them to target you with all kinds of ads. That’s pretty bad for your privacy.

Plus, only NordVPN’s headquarters are outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances, which is a group of countries that share data with each other. Hotspot Shield is based in the US, which is part of that group. The good news is its no-logs policy makes sure it doesn’t have any data to share — that is unless you’re using the free plan.Privacy — NordVPN Takes The Lead

And only NordVPN allows cryptocurrency payments, which provide much better privacy than regular payment methods like credit cards and PayPal.

Winner (Privacy): NordVPN

This was tough, but in the end, I think NordVPN is a bit better in terms of privacy. Although both VPNs have a strict no-logs policy, Hotspot Shield is yet to undergo an independent audit. I also don’t like that its free users aren’t entirely protected by its no-logs policy. Plus, NordVPN is located in a privacy-friendly location and accepts cryptocurrency payments.

Servers — NordVPN Wins This Round

Number of Servers Number of Countries Virtual Locations P2P Servers Obfuscated Servers Dedicated IP Addresses
NordVPN 6,266 111
Hotspot Shield 3,200+ 85

NordVPN has a better server network than Hotspot Shield. NordVPN has servers in more countries and has more servers overall, so it’s less likely you’ll connect to an overcrowded server.Servers — NordVPN Wins This Round

I also really don’t like that Hotspot Shield’s server availability varies across platforms. For instance, I could only find the Toronto server on iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux, while the UAE server was only listed in the Windows, Android, and Linux apps. With NordVPN, you get access to all of its servers on every OS.

But it’s great that both VPNs support torrenting on a lot of servers. NordVPN has 4,500+ torrenting servers in 45+ countries, while Hotspot Shield allows P2P traffic on all of its 3,200+ servers in 85 countries. Both VPNs also support obfuscation across all servers.

Hotspot Shield is the only one of the two that has virtual servers — these servers give you an IP address that matches the location of the country you’re connecting to, but they’re physically located somewhere else. Although some people believe these servers are less secure, that’s not really the case — they offer the same level of security as physical servers.Servers — NordVPN Wins This Round

Only NordVPN supports double VPN connections and has dedicated IP addresses. And while both VPNs allow Tor traffic on their servers, NordVPN provides more convenience via its Onion Over VPN servers.

Winner (Servers): NordVPN

This was a close one, but I think NordVPN is the better pick when it comes to server variety. NordVPN has more servers in more countries, supports double VPN connections, and even offers dedicated IP addresses.

Speeds — Both VPNs Provide Fast Speeds

Website Load Time HD Video Load Time 4K Video Load Time Time to Download a 20 GB File
NordVPN Instantly on nearby servers, 2 seconds on distant servers Instantly on nearby servers, 1–2 seconds on distant servers Instantly on nearby servers, 2–3 seconds on distant servers 11–13 minutes on nearby servers, 16–17 minutes on distant servers
Hotspot Shield Instantly on nearby servers, 1 second on distant servers Instantly on nearby servers, 2 seconds on distant servers Instantly on nearby servers, 3 seconds on distant servers 13–15 minutes on nearby servers, 16–18 minutes on distant servers

Both VPNs are fast, as they provided me with smooth connections for all online activities in my tests.Speeds — Both VPNs Provide Fast Speeds

I ran tests on both nearby and distant servers with the 2 providers. On nearby servers, sites, HD videos, and 4K videos loaded instantly, and it generally took me 11–15 minutes to torrent a 20 GB file. And on distant servers, sites took 1–2 seconds to load, HD videos loaded in up to 2 seconds, 4K videos took up to 3 seconds to load, and the same 20 GB torrent took around 16–18 minutes to download.Speeds — Both VPNs Provide Fast Speeds

Winner (Speeds): It’s a tie

I couldn’t pick a winner since both VPNs are pretty fast. In my tests, I had good streaming, torrenting, and browsing speeds on both nearby and distant servers.

Streaming — NordVPN Is Slightly Better For Streaming

Number of Streaming Services the VPN Works With Works With Netflix Works With BBC iPlayer, Max, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ Smart DNS
NordVPN 10+
Hotspot Shield 5+

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have good streaming support — NordVPN works with 10+ streaming services, while Hotspot Shield works with 5+ streaming sites.Streaming — NordVPN Is Slightly Better For Streaming

Each VPN works with Netflix, with both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield claiming to be compatible with 10+ Netflix libraries. My international colleagues and I also found that both providers work with other popular sites available in our regions, including BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Max, and Amazon Prime.Streaming — NordVPN Is Slightly Better For Streaming

But only NordVPN offers a smart DNS feature, which lets you use the VPN on devices that don’t natively support VPNs, like your PlayStation or Xbox gaming consoles, and certain smart TVs.

What’s more, NordVPN also has SmartPlay on all of its servers, which mixes VPN and smart DNS technology.

Winner (Streaming): NordVPN

Both NordVPN and Hotspot are good picks for streaming, but NordVPN is a bit better. They work with heavy-hitters like Netflix, Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, but NordVPN works with more platforms, it’s the only one of the two that has a smart DNS feature, and it also has SmartPlay.

Torrenting — NordVPN Is Better

P2P Servers Works With Top P2P Apps Port Forwarding SOCKS5 Proxy Support Kill Switch No-Logs Policy
NordVPN 4,500+ servers in 45+ countries
(independently audited)
Hotspot Shield 3,200+ servers in 85 countries

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are good for torrenting. NordVPN allows P2P traffic on 4,500+ servers in 45+ countries, and Hotspot Shield allows torrenting on all of its 3,200+ servers in 85 countries.Torrenting — NordVPN Is Better

They work really well with top torrent clients, like Vuze, uTorrent, and BitTorrent. In my tests, I had no issues accessing and downloading files on my device on any of these services.

Each VPN has great security features for torrenting, but NordVPN is much safer. They both have a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and full leak protection, but only NordVPN protects you against annoying ads on torrenting sites, malicious P2P sites, and malware-infected downloads. Plus, NordVPN’s no-logs policy is also audited.Torrenting — NordVPN Is Better

NordVPN is the only one of the two that has SOCKS5 proxy support, which is great in case you need to prioritize speed over security.

Winner (Torrenting): NordVPN

NordVPN is much safer for P2P file sharing than Hotspot Shield. I like that both VPNs allow torrenting on most of their servers and come with full leak protection and a kill switch, but only NordVPN protects against ads, malicious torrenting sites, and malware-infested downloads.

Gaming — Both Are Equally Good

Ping on Local Servers (Pakistan) Ping on Distant Servers
(US)
Lag-Free Gaming Anti-DDoS Protection Router Support Cloud Gaming Support
NordVPN 18–20 ms 145 ms
(only minor lag, not game-breaking)
Hotspot Shield 17–20 ms 117 ms
(only minor lag, not game-breaking)

I had a great gaming experience with both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield. I didn’t experience any lag when gaming on nearby servers, but I did notice some slowdowns when connected to Hotspot Shield’s more distant servers. The good news is it didn’t ruin my game.Gaming — Both Are Equally Good

Both VPNs protect you against DDoS attacks, which force you offline. But, I was disappointed to find out that neither VPN has anti-DDoS protection on their servers. Since both VPNs change your IP address, a lousy loser won’t be able to DDoS you directly, but they can DDoS the VPN server you’re connected to, which would force you to disconnect and reconnect to another one.

It’s great that both have router support, though you’ll have to manually set up the VPN on your router to make it work. The process can be a bit technical, but it’s good to know you have the option to protect your connection when gaming on your PlayStation or Xbox.Gaming — Both Are Equally Good

I’m a huge fan of NordVPN’s Meshnet feature, which is unique to NordVPN. It’s an awesome feature for hosting LAN parties and making sure every player on your team (up to 60) is securely connected to the internet.

Winner (Gaming): It’s a tie

NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are great VPNs for gaming. Both VPNs offer router support, low ping on local servers, and anti-DDoS protection (though not on their servers). I also really like NordVPN’s Meshnet feature, which lets you host secure LAN parties for up to 60 people.

Bypassing Censorship — Neither VPN Is Good In Restrictive Countries

Obfuscation Works in China
🇨🇳
Works in Russia
🇷🇺
Works in Iran
🇮🇷
Works in Indonesia 🇮🇩 Works in Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦
NordVPN
Hotspot Shield Maybe Maybe Maybe Maybe Maybe

Bypassing Censorship — Neither VPN Is Good In Restrictive CountriesI don’t recommend either VPN for use in restrictive countries. They both offer obfuscation, which hides your VPN traffic to evade censorship, but both NordVPNs and Hotspot Shield’s reps told me they can’t guarantee the VPN would work in restrictive countries.Bypassing Censorship — Neither VPN Is Good In Restrictive Countries

If you need a VPN to use in a restrictive country, I recommend ExpressVPN — it works well in countries like China, Indonesia, Russia, and Iran.

Winner (Bypassing Censorship): None

Neither VPN is good for using in countries like China, Russia, Iran, and Indonesia. The best option for use in restrictive countries is ExpressVPN.

Apps & Ease of Use — Both Are Great Picks

iOS App Android App Windows App macOS App Linux App Smart TV App Router Support Other Apps
NordVPN Chromebook
Hotspot Shield Chromebook

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have apps for all major operating systems, including iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android TV, Fire TV, and Chromebook. You can also manually set them up on your router.

I like both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield’s Android apps — they’re beginner-friendly and packed with a lot of useful features. That said, NordVPN’s iOS app is much better than Hotspot Shield’s, which is missing the kill switch, which is a super important feature.

Apps & Ease of Use — Both Are Great Picks

Their desktop apps are easy to use, too. NordVPN and Hotspot Shield’s Windows apps come with all the features the VPNs have to offer and have a clear layout that’s ideal for beginners. However, I don’t like that Hotspot Shield’s macOS doesn’t have a kill switch. On the other hand, NordVPN’s macOS app can be a bit harder to install since the VPN has two versions of its macOS app that come with slightly different features.

Winner (Apps & Ease of Use): It’s a tie

When looking at apps and ease of use, both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield do a great job. They both offer apps that are easy to use and full of features. NordVPN stands out with its top-notch security features across all platforms, while Hotspot Shield shines with a very strong Windows app. Also, both VPNs are great for beginners and advanced users alike.

Plans & Pricing — NordVPN Provides Better Value

Starting Price Free Plan Simultaneous Connections Payment Options Money-Back Guarantee
NordVPN $3.39 / month 10 Credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Pay, and cryptocurrencies. 30 days
Hotspot Shield $2.99 / month 10 credit cards and PayPal 45 days

NordVPN has better plans than Hotspot Shield. Although it allows fewer simultaneous connections, it’s cheaper and offers a lot more than Hotspot Shield.

NordVPN has a tier-based 1-month, a 1-year, and a 2-year plan (Standard, Plus, and Complete). The Standard subscription offers the best value if you’re looking for a solid VPN product — it starts at $3.39 / month and gives you access to all of the VPN features. The Plus subscription adds NordVPN’s password manager, NordPass, and the Complete subscription adds its cloud encryption service, called NordLocker.
Plans & Pricing — NordVPN Provides Better Value

Hotspot Shield has 2 tier-based monthly and yearly plans. The Premium plan comes with access to all VPN features and starts at $2.99 / month.

Hotspot Shield also has a Basic plan, which is free. With it, you get unlimited bandwidth, access to 3 server locations (the US, the UK, and Singapore) connection speeds that are capped at 2 Mbps, and 1 device connection. It’s decent, but I don’t like that the VPN shares free users’ geo-location with advertisers.Plans & Pricing — NordVPN Provides Better Value

But only NordVPN accepts cryptocurrencies, which is a secure way to pay for your subscription. Both providers also accept credit/debit cards and PayPal.

And only Hotspot Shield offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more generous than NordVPN’s industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested both, and I had no trouble getting my money back with either VPN.

Winner (Plans & Pricing): NordVPN

NordVPN is cheaper than Hotspot Shield. It allows fewer simultaneous connections, but its plans are much more affordable and offer better value. I like that both VPNs offer a money-back guarantee and that they accept PayPal and credit/debit card payments.

Customer Support — Both Offer Great Support

Live Chat Email Support FAQs Tutorials Troubleshooting Guides Phone Support
NordVPN ✅ (24/7)
Hotspot Shield ✅ (24/7)

I had a good experience with both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield’s customer support.Customer Support — Both Offer Great Support

Both VPNs have excellent support centers on their websites. NordVPN’s support articles and FAQs are well-categorized and make it really easy to find what you’re looking for. Hotspot Shield’s support library is equally well-structured and offers detailed articles — the only thing it lacks is video guides, which NordVPN offers.

Each VPN’s 24/7 live chat support is pretty good. In my tests, I didn’t have to wait for more than 10 seconds to get connected to a NordVPN or a Hotspot Shield live chat agent, and every agent I spoke with was friendly and knowledgeable.Customer Support — Both Offer Great Support

And they both have good email support. I was impressed by Hotspot Shield’s email support response speed. The email reps got back to me in under 5 hours every time I sent them a question. NordVPN’s email reps were also fast — I typically got a response within a day.

Winner (Customer Support): It’s a tie

Both NordVPN and Hotspot Shield offer great customer support. They each provide 24/7 live chat, friendly and knowledgeable email support, and a good number of support articles, guides, and FAQs.

Overall Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN is a fast and secure VPN that comes with a lot of cool extra features. It has excellent streaming, torrenting, and gaming support and comes with very beginner-friendly apps for all major OSs.

Hotspot Shield is a decent VPN, too. It has good security and privacy features, solid streaming and P2P support, and user-friendly apps. It also has surprisingly good customer support and a decent free plan. What I don’t like is that not all of its server locations are available on all apps.

I have no doubts about recommending both, but I still think NordVPN offers more value. It has a lot more security features, it’s better for streaming, and it provides better privacy and overall value.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hotspot Shield faster than NordVPN?

Not really. NordVPN and Hotspot Shield are pretty much equally fast on all servers — in my tests, I had decent speeds for streaming, torrenting, and browsing on both nearby and distant servers with both VPNs.

Is NordVPN safer than Hotspot Shield?

Both VPNs are very secure, but NordVPN has more extra security features that offer an additional layer of security and privacy. These include features like its ad, tracker, and malicious site blocker, its malware scanner for downloads, its dark web monitor, and its tapjack protection.

Which one is better for streaming — NordVPN or Hotspot Shield?

NordVPN has a slight edge when it comes to streaming, as it works with more streaming sites (10+) compared to Hotspot Shield (5+), and it’s the only one of the two that has a smart DNS feature, which lets you use the VPN on devices that don’t have native VPN support, like gaming consoles and some smart TVs.

That said, both VPNs are really good for streaming — they work with popular streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Max, and Disney+.

Is NordVPN better at bypassing censorship than Hotspot Shield?

Neither VPN is good for getting around internet restrictions in countries that ban or limit VPN use. Although they both offer obfuscation, there’s no guarantee that they would work in restrictive countries like Russia, China, or Iran.

That’s why I recommend ExpressVPN instead, as it works really well in censorship-heavy countries.

Read more about the best VPNs in 2024

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About the Author
Muhammad Ahmad
Updated on: June 24, 2024

About the Author

Muhammad Ahmad is a former writer for SafetyDetectives. He's technology and marketing enthusiast who strives to explore the most up-to-date issues in internet freedom and cybersec. In order to share new insights with his readers, Ahmad is always on the lookout for new helpful angles to explain.

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