- More security features than Hotspot Shield VPN
- P2P dedicated servers
- A more extensive server network of over 5,550
- Least packet data loss for better gaming
- Overall faster speeds than NordVPN
- Offers a Chinese server
- A super-fast Hydra protocol
- Allows more simultaneous device connections than NordVPN
NordVPN is a prominent VPN launched in 2012, while Hotspot Shield was released in 2008. They may serve similar functions of providing security and privacy for their users, but there are significant differences in how they operate.
In this NordVPN vs. Hotspot Shield comparison, I’ll explore each VPN’s virtual servers and compare their speeds, streaming and torrenting capabilities, gaming features, logging policies, device compatibility, usability, and pricing.
So, before you commit your money to either, read this head-to-head comparison to know which is better.
NordVPN vs. Hotspot Shield (Overview Table)
|NordVPN||Hotspot Shield VPN|
|Servers:||5,500+ servers||1,800+ servers|
|Speed:||8.27 Mbps drop||4.27 Mbps drop|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx||Hydra, WireGuard, IKEv2|
|Streaming:||Hulu, Amazon Prime, NRK, France.TV, BBC iPlayer||Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, BBC iPlayer|
|Torrenting:||On all servers, no seeding||On all servers + seeding|
|Gaming:||24.08 ms ping + 2.1% packet loss||28.69 ms ping + 2.8 % packet loss|
|Logs:||Verified no-logs policy||Verified no-logs policy|
|Security:||AES 256-bit encryption, two kill switches, Double VPN, obfuscation, Onion Over VPN, WiFi Protection||AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, Tor Over VPN, Obfuscation, PKI encryption, Traffic Proxy|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, consoles, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, Chrome extensions|
|Customer Support:||24/7 live chat||24/7 live chat|
|Best Deal:||NordVPN||Hotspot Shield|
NordVPN has a superior server network with over 5,550 servers in 60 countries compared to the 1,800+ servers in 80 countries offered by Hotspot Shield.
Regarding US servers, NordVPN still has the upper hand with over 1,800, while Hotspot Shield offers 25 US servers. So you’ll have more luck unblocking content exclusively in the US with NordVPN than with Hotspot Shield.
NordVPN is also the only one with specialized servers, like P2P servers designed for torrenting. I’ll touch on those later.
However, Hotspot Shield has more African servers, with four (Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, and Algeria), compared to NordVPN’s single South African server.
Both VPNs have three Middle Eastern servers; Cyprus, UAE, and Israel for Hotspot Shield, and UAE, Turkey, and Israel for NordVPN.
Of the two VPNs, NordVPN is the only one that uses RAM-only servers.
For those that don’t know, RAM-only servers run on volatile memory, which means they’re wiped clean every time the server is switched off.
I contacted Hotspot Shield’s customer support, who confirmed they don’t have any RAM-only servers. So that’s one win for NordVPN.
The famous great wall of China is hard to penetrate, and the few VPNs allowed to operate there are subjected to serious censorship laws. NordVPN doesn’t have a server in China, but Hotspot Shield does.
Therefore, Hotspot Shield is your best bet to access content and apps only found in China.
Fortunately, both VPNs offer obfuscation, which is vital if you want to beat the heavy VPN surveillance in China—more on that in the security section.
Despite Hotspot Shield having more servers in Africa and a Chinese server, NordVPN has the upper hand because it has more global and US servers. So the winner of this round is NordVPN.
Is NordVPN Faster Than Hotspot Shield?
Hotspot Shield VPN was faster than NordVPN in multiple tests I conducted using different servers and protocols.
The fastest speed recorded by Hotspot Shield was 28.86 Mbps when using the Hydra protocol and a South African server, while the fastest result from NordVPN came from the OpenVPN UDP protocol and the South African server, registering 24.08 Mbps.
To ensure uniformity and balance, I used these protocols:
- NordLynx (NordVPN) and Hydra (Hotspot Shield)
- IKEv2 (NordVPN and Hotspot Shield)
- OpenVPN UDP (NordVPN) and WireGuard (Hotspot Shield)
The three servers I used across all tests included:
- South Africa, which was the closest
- United States (Seattle)
- New Zealand is the furthest server from me.
Based on average speeds over nine different speed tests for each VPN, Hotspot Shield scored 25.73 Mbps, while NordVPN trailed behind with 21.73 Mbps.
This barely scratched the threshold for streaming 4K content.
Surprisingly, the slowest NordVPN result was from the Nordlynx protocol through the South African server, scoring 18.16 Mbps. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield’s worst performance was through the WireGuard protocol and a New Zealand server, which scored 22.76 Mbps.
There was no single instance where NordVPN outperformed Hotspot Shield.
Speed & Performance Tests
To paint a clearer picture of how all the 18 tests panned out, here’s a breakdown showing the speed drops for each VPN across different servers and protocols.
|US Server||South Africa Server||New Zealand Server|
|NordVPN (NordLynx)||8.22 Mbps drop||11.84 Mbps drop||9.71 Mbps drop|
|Hotspot Shield (Hydra)||2.18 Mbps drop||1.31 Mbps drop||5.37 Mbps drop|
|NordVPN (IKEv2)||6.89 Mbps drop||6 Mbps drop||10.38 Mbps drop|
|Hotspot Shield (IKEv2)||3.69 Mbps drop||3.19 Mbps drop||2.72 Mbps drop|
|NordVPN (OpenVPN)||6.23 Mbps drop||5.92 Mbps drop||9.2 Mbps drop|
|Hotspot Shield (Wireguard)||7.61 Mbps drop||5.14 Mbps drop||7.24 Mbps drop|
|Average NordVPN Speeds||21.73|
|Average Hotspot Shield Speeds||25.73|
Hotspot Shield was overall better across all servers and protocols, registering the most negligible speed drop on the Hydra and South African servers. So it wins this round over NordVPN.
|Streaming Service||NordVPN Works?||Hotspot Shield Works?|
Finding the servers I needed to unblock all these streaming sites was easy for both VPNs. NordVPN comes with a search function where you type the country’s name, and a list of servers is provided. The same was available for Hotspot Shield.
All the servers I chose worked on the first attempt for both VPNs, so I didn’t waste time testing each server to find the right one.
However, I had issues streaming 4K content with NordVPN on most servers.
I had to switch to HD, where the streaming became smooth without buffering. Conversely, Hotspot Shield was smoother even for 4K movies and shows, especially when using the Hydra protocol.
However, NordVPN is the only service that offers SmartDNS, which works seamlessly on my Samsung TV.
I also did some specific Netflix tests to see how each VPN unblocks specific libraries from different regions. I successfully experimented with Netflix US, UK, Japan, Germany, and France.
|Unblocks:||Netflix US?||Netflix UK?||Other Netflix Libraries?|
|NordVPN||Yes||Yes||Netflix JP, GE, FR|
|Hotspot Shield||Yes||Yes||Netflix JP, GE, FR|
For this, I streamed Inglourious Basterds, which isn’t available in my region but in the UK Netflix library.
I used the fastest protocols for each VPN, and the streaming was smooth without incidents. But again, Hotspot Shield handled the streaming better than NordVPN, especially when I cranked things to the highest resolution.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield unblocked Hulu, Disney+, NRK, France TV, BBC iPlayer, and the selected Netflix libraries without issue. There were also no issues with HD streaming, although Hotspot Shield was slightly better at handling 4K content.
So Hotspot Shield wins this round.
Both VPNs offer P2P support, but NordVPN edges out Hotspot Shield, as it’s the only one that has P2P dedicated servers (5000+). They’re easy to find – just tap the P2P option and connect to the fastest server on the list.
But that’s not to say that using Hotspot Shield was a hassle. It was just as smooth, and since it has a smaller server network, going with the fastest server from the speed tests and combining it with the Hydra protocol worked perfectly.
Another area where NordVPN is better than Hotspot Shield is the availability of SOCKS5 Proxy, which boosts download speeds. With this, you can cut your download waiting times significantly.
And while both VPNs don’t support port forwarding, customer support confirmed that seeding is possible on Hotspot Shield, which you can’t do on NordVPN.
Speaking of torrenting, NordVPN is very clear on the issue of intellectual property infringement. While the VPN service is happy to provide users with the security they need to navigate risky torrent sites, it prohibits the distribution of copyrighted material through its servers.
Hotspot Shield prohibits the same and explicitly declares that it will respond and comply with any DMCA notice. In short, you can’t use its servers to download copyrighted content illegally.
Here’s NordVPN’s policy
And here’s Hotspot Shield’s policy.
The following section shows how the two VPNs performed in the P2P tests.
For this, I tested how fast each VPN was regarding torrenting.
I used the Free Download Manager client and downloaded a 372 MB file.
I set each VPN to the fastest server and protocol.
- OpenVPN UDP plus a P2P South African server for NordVPN
- Hydra plus a South African server for Hotspot Shield.
This is how the two fared.
|Average Download Speed||Max Download Speed||Download Completion Time|
|NordVPN||0.856 MiB/s||1.1 MiB/s||5 minutes, 38 seconds|
|Hotspot Shield||1 MiB/s||1.8 MiB/s||3 minutes, 26 seconds|
Once again, Hotspot Shield was faster than NordVPN by a small margin.
Both VPNs offer P2P support, but neither offers port forwarding for security reasons. Although NordVPN has P2P dedicated servers, Hotspot Shield is faster and allows seeding. So Hotspot Shield VPN wins this round.
To see how efficient each VPN was in gaming, I ran ping and data packet loss tests, and here’s the breakdown of how things went down.
|NordVPN||South Africa||OpenVPN UDP||24.08 Mbps||2.1%|
|Hotspot Shield||South Africa||Hydra||28.69 Mbps||2.8%|
I ran the tests twice for each VPN using two games. The first one was Asphalt 9: Legends, which doesn’t have a lot of data requirements, and Fortnite, which is a little heavier.
NordVPN had the least packet data loss with 2.1%, while Hotspot Shield followed closely behind with 2.8%. Overall, there was negligible difference in how smooth the two games were. On paper, NordVPN performed better, but you’ll need a keen eye to notice that difference.
Here are the screenshots showing how the two tests panned out.
NordVPN had the least packet data loss at 2.1% while Hotspot Shield stood at 2.8%. Gaming was smooth on both VPNs, even on Fortnite, but NordVPN won this round because it was a little better than Hotspot Shield.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have an airtight logging policy and never share user information with anyone. However, while both VPNs only store user email addresses and payment information for service delivery, Hotspot Shield takes a different approach toward some user data.
Here’s a screenshot showing the data that Hotspot Shield VPN logs and the reasons behind it.
As for payment options, which I’ll cover in detail in another section, NordVPN offers cryptocurrency options. These include Bitcoin, XRP, and Ethereum.
Meanwhile, Hotspot Shield doesn’t offer cryptocurrency payment methods, so NordVPN outshines it there.
Additionally, NordVPN has its headquarters in Panama, which has no data retention laws and isn’t part of any surveillance alliances. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield is located in the United States and is part of some surveillance alliances.
Still, you can rest easy knowing there hasn’t been any incident where Hotspot Shield was forced to hand over user data. Plus, there’s nothing to hand over since nothing is ever saved.
This next section further breaks down the type of user data covered by the logging policies.
As you can see below, both VPNs have all their bases covered, so you can rest easy knowing that nothing that can land you in trouble sees the light of day.
|Traffic Logs?||Connection Logs?||IP Address?||Server Location?|
Both VPNs were also audited, with NordVPN undergoing three audits as of 2023.
The most recent one was done in the last two months of 2022, and nothing out of place was discovered.
Meanwhile, Hotspot Shield has had one audit conducted in 2018, which also didn’t trigger any red flags. Furthermore, Hotspot Shield is open-source.
In comparison, NordVPN isn’t fully open-sourced. Just a few products, like its Linux application.
Additionally, since VPN providers are prohibited from giving their customers a heads-up of any legal request for user data, NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have found a clever way of getting around this.
NordVPN publishes and constantly updates a Warrant Canary, subtly notifying users whenever they’re served with a subpoena to release user data.
Hotspot Shield also has its version called Transparency Report, which helps the same function with occasional updates.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have verified no-logs policies. However, unlike NordVPN, Hotspot Shield VPN is based in a country with data retention laws, but that doesn’t affect its commitment to its strict no-logs policy. Both VPNs have transparency reports, but NordVPN wins this round because it has more audits.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have standard security features like AES 256-bit encryption across all protocols and servers.
I ran each VPN through the Wireshark app, both using a South African server, to confirm if the encryption does work, and the results returned were right on the mark.
On top of the robust encryption, NordVPN and Hotspot Shield offer kill switches for IP leak protection. NordVPN even offers two kill switches on Windows.
However, the VPN kill switch button isn’t available on macOS.
I also tested for DNS and IP leak protection, and the following sections explain my findings.
WebRTC & IP Leak Tests
I used the Seattle server for both tests, and since I couldn’t see my IP address, the DNS and IP leak protection features work as claimed. Here are the screenshots.
IP and DNS Leak Protection
As illustrated below, the two VPNs also passed the IP and DNS leak protection with flying colors. I didn’t see my actual IP address either, and that’s reassuring.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield VPN automatically provide DDoS protection; you don’t have to pay an extra dime. This, combined with their low packet data losses, makes them ideal for online gamers.
Obfuscation is another security feature both VPNs offer, which is necessary if you live in a country where VPN censorship is very high and risky.
For NordVPN, you can activate obfuscation by switching to the OpenVPN protocol (UDP or TCP) and tapping on any Obfuscated servers. Currently, NordVPN offers 105 obfuscated servers worldwide.
Meanwhile, Hotspot Shield offers a feature called Traffic Obfuscation that works automatically on the Hydra protocol. This makes it much faster than NordVPN, earning it a win.
Tor Over VPN
Another feature both VPNs share is the Tor Over VPN (Onion Over VPN on NordVPN). This fortifies your security and privacy when you access Tor sites, meaning you don’t have to download a Tor browser.
Like in obfuscation, NordVPN offers Onion Over VPN servers that work with all protocols. But expect some reduction in speeds.
For Hotspot Shield, the Tor Over VPN also works automatically like obfuscation, and there’s nothing you need to do on your end.
Public WiFi Protection
Both VPNs offer protection when you connect to unsecured public hotspots.
I confirmed this by testing it at my favorite hangout joint, where I was given access to their public WiFi connection.
On both VPNs, you get dedicated buttons for controlling how you want the VPN to behave whenever you try connecting to a new public hotspot.
NordVPN has a Trusted WiFi network button, but only on Windows.
Hotspot Shield, on the other hand, has a “Notify on public WiFi” feature in the settings, which, once toggled, alerts you anytime you connect to an unsecured wifi network you haven’t used before.
I checked both VPNs with Wireshark again, and the results were as expected.
So hackers can’t see what you’re up to, whether you’re using NordVPN or Hotspot Shield in your favorite hotel or cafe.
Extra Security Features
There are extra security features offered by each VPN.
NordVPN has Double VPN servers that encrypt your traffic twice, offering you an extra layer of protection. There are about 82 Double VPN servers at the moment. Hotspot Shield doesn’t have a Multihop feature.
The Dark Web Monitor is another NordVPN feature. It periodically sweeps the dark web to check for any leaked info tied to your email address.
You also get Meshnet on NordVPN, which allows you to link remote devices so you can access them over encrypted VPN connections no matter where you may be.
This is perfect for remote work and remote gaming.
Finally, there’s Threat Protection, which blocks ads and malicious domains.
I ran the Threat Protection through the AdBlock tester, and I got a score of 72/100.
Hotspot Shield also has unique features like PKI Encryption, a built-in security feature that enables mutual validation between your devices and the servers you access every day.
There’s also the Traffic Proxy that acts as the go-between for your device and the internet, making it easy to bypass any restrictions imposed by your local network.
Finally, there’s DNS Filtering and Non-VPN Protection, which blocks high-risk websites and filters out harmful and inappropriate content to further bolster your online security and protection.
Both VPNs offer encryption, IP leak protection, obfuscation, DDoS protection, and public wifi protection. Both VPNs also provide unique security features on top of the standard ones, each working uniquely. So this is a tie.
Devices & Connections
NordVPN is compatible with more device types than Hotspot Shield.
You can install NordVPN on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, FireTV, Android TV, Gaming Consoles, and Raspberry Pi, among others. On the other hand, Hotspot Shield works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android Smart TVs, routers, and Chrome. There’s no Firefox or Edge support, and neither does it work on unique platforms like Raspberry Pi.
However, unlike Hotspot Shield, NordVPN is the only one that offers SmartDNS support, and it worked smoothly on my Samsung TV, allowing me to unblock and stream a selection of streaming platforms like ABC Go US, Amazon Prime US, Disney Plus US, Fox Now US, HBO Now US, and Netflix Originals.
Hotspot Shield lacks Smart DNS, but you can run it on any Android TV that supports the direct installation of Hotspot Shield VPN for Android.
Furthermore, you can connect a maximum of 10 devices simultaneously with Hotspot Shield, more than NordVPN, which only offers six.
Both VPNs have ample support for routers, but you must manually configure them. Here’s a quick overview of all the apps that work with each VPN.
|Compatible OS?||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, consoles, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android Smart TVs, routers, Chrome extensions|
|Smart TVs?||Android TV, FireTV, + SmartDNS||Android TV, FireTV|
|Router Support?||Yes (manual)||Yes (manual)|
|Browser Extensions?||Chrome, Firefox, Edge||Chrome|
NordVPN wins this round because it works on more devices than Hotspot Shield.
It even supports SmartDNS so it can work on smart TVs that don’t support VPNs.
You can use split tunneling on NordVPN and Hotspot Shield. I have a lot of banking and money transfer apps on my smartphone, like PayPal and Wise, and they usually cause me problems when I open them with an active VPN. So this feature is a lifesaver.
However, NordVPN doesn’t offer split tunneling on macOS or iOS, just on Windows and Android.
Hotspot Shield also has a pretty detailed split tunneling feature that offers two options. You can either use the Bypass VPN to choose the websites and apps you want to exclude from the VPN connection or the Route via VPN, which allows you to select the apps and websites you want to use in the VPN tunnel.
However, split tunneling on Hotspot Shield only works with the Hydra protocol.
This is a tie because both NordVPN and HotSpot Shield offer a split tunneling feature that’s very efficient and, at the same time, limited in one way or another.
Both VPNs offer Live Chat support, direct mail, and several resources to help you troubleshoot any problem.
I was impressed by the speed and technical know-how of the live agents for both VPNs. All my conversations started with a chatbot before being directed to live agents when I requested it.
Every question I asked on both VPNs was sufficiently addressed, and I had no complaints. For example, I needed to know how the VPN special features like Traffic Proxy worked with Hotspot Shield since they didn’t have any actionable button, and customer support quickly clarified that they all work automatically.
Meanwhile, the NordVPN live agent confirmed they didn’t have any plans to add a split tunneling feature on the macOS version when I asked about it.
Everyone was on top of their game.
But the area where NordVPN edges out Hotspot Shield is the provision of tutorials, product guides, troubleshooting tips, and support guides.
On the other end, Hotspot Shield has FAQs and a very intuitive blog.
NordVPN and Hotspot Shield have reliable customer support, especially Live Chat.
But NordVPN has the upper hand as it has more resources for troubleshooting problems. So it wins this round.
Both VPNs have user-friendly apps, and the ones I tested, Windows, macOS, and Android, were smooth but had some slight differences.
For example, NordVPN for Windows has more features than its counterparts, with the macOS version not having features like split tunneling. Below is a screenshot showing the settings option on macOS and Windows versions.
The features on Hotspot Shield for Windows and Android are easier to find than on macOS, where you must open a new window through the system settings.
For instance, I had trouble finding a configurable kill switch until I asked for directions from customer support, yet it was hidden away in the system settings.
Overall, I didn’t experience trouble connecting to any server on both VPNs, and the apps were smooth, no matter what device I used.
Navigating the different apps from both VPNs was very easy, despite the few shortcomings of each. So this is another tie.
Price & Value
Hotspot Shield is cheaper than NordVPN. Here’s an overview of their best price plans.
NordVPN price plans are in three groups; monthly, annual, and biennial.
You save more by buying the biennial plans than the monthly ones.
Hotspot Shield has two price plans; annual and monthly.
As mentioned, NordVPN offers cryptocurrency payment methods ranging from XRP, Ethereum, and Bitcoin. Hotspot Shield doesn’t provide any of that.
However, you can pay for your Hotspot Shield subscription through VISA, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club International. There’s also PayPal support. Meanwhile, NordVPN offers MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover, JCB, and Google Play. There’s no PayPal.
Hotspot Shield is also the only service between the two that offers a free version.
But it has limited features like a maximum of 1 device connection, 800 servers, one member account, and only support for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome.
The Premium and Premium Family options come with a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is longer than the 30-day limit offered by NordVPN.
NordVPN has more payment options and even supports cryptocurrency.
But ultimately, affordability is the most critical factor here, and that makes Hotspot Shield VPN the winner of this round.
NordVPN vs. Hotspot Shield (Overview Table)
Here’s a detailed recap of how each VPN held its ground across all the key areas.
|Servers:||5,500+ servers||1,800+ servers||NordVPN|
|Speed:||8.27 Mbps drop||4.27 Mbps drop||Hotspot Shield|
|Protocols:||OpenVPN, IKEv2, NordLynx||Hydra, WireGuard, IKEv2||Tie|
|Streaming:||Hulu, Amazon Prime, NRK, France.TV, BBC iPlayer||Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NRK, France.TV, BBC iPlayer||Hotspot Shield|
|Torrenting:||On all servers, no seeding||On all servers + seeding||Hotspot Shield|
|Gaming:||24.08 ms ping + 2.1% packet loss||28.69 ms ping + 2.8 % packet loss||NordVPN|
|Logs:||Verified no-logs policy||Verified no-logs policy||NordVPN|
|Security:||AES 256-bit encryption, two kill switches, Double VPN, Obfuscation, Onion Over VPN, WiFi Protection||AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, Tor Over VPN, Obfuscation, PKI encryption, Traffic Proxy||Tie|
|Devices:||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, consoles, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, routers, Chrome extensions||NordVPN|
|Simultaneous Connections:||6||10||Hotspot Shield|
|Customer Support:||24/7 live chat||24/7 live chat||NordVPN|
|Best Deal:||NordVPN||Hotspot Shield|
Who Have You Got in Your Corner?
This was a tight race because each VPN has something unique to offer, so I wouldn’t blame you if you’re still undecided on the VPN to go with.
If you want an affordable virtual private network with fast streaming and torrenting speeds, then Hotspot Shield is what you should go for.
But if security and user privacy are more critical for you, then NordVPN packs that extra punch and still delivers decent performance regarding fast connection speeds.
Protect private web traffic from snooping, interference, and censorship. All plans are covered by a no-hassle 100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days of service.