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ExpressVPN vs Hotspot Shield 2021

We put these VPNs to the test to find out which is the best!

ExpressVPN is widely considered to be the best VPN currently available, both in terms of speed and security. Hotspot Shield is a popular free VPN, but how does their paid service stack up against the best?

These two VPNs are vastly different in almost every way, especially regarding security. Hotspot Shield only offers 128-bit encryption, and a proprietary Catapult Hydra option, while ExpressVPN has 256-bit encryption, along with OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP as other available protocols. More Info

How do these VPNs Compare?


It’s difficult for any VPN to edge out ExpressVPN’s blazing speed, as it’s considered by most to be its biggest strength. With that said, Hotspot Shield maintains an adequate speed for streaming and downloading. You won’t notice any lagging, buffering, or vastly slow download speed with Hotspot Shield.

VPN vendor ExpressVPN Hotspot Shield
Download speed reduction 18% (UK) 40% (UK)
Upload speed reduction 20% (FRA) 38% (FRA)
Ping time to google.com 24ms 107ms
Average time to connect (sec.) 11ms 12ms
Unblock successful for Netflix-logo Hulu-logo Kodi-logo Espn-logo Youtube-logo Bbc-logo Bbc-logo Netflix-logo Youtube-logo
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Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds

Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.


Server choices is a big liability for Hotspot Shield, as it offers only 27 locations in 27 countries. ExpressVPN doesn’t offer a massive amount of choices like some other top VPNs out there, but with 94 countries and 148 total servers, it still ranks in the top 10 overall.

VPN vendor ExpressVPN Hotspot Shield
Server Locations 148 27
Server Countries 94 27
IP Addresses 1500 27
Dynamic Server Switching
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The Big Mistake When Comparing Number of Servers and What to Really Look For

The ratio of servers to countries is an important factor to look at when choosing a VPN. Only paying attention to location or number of servers can get you in trouble. More servers generally means faster speeds, but if VPN X has a few more servers than VPN Y but twice as many users, VPN X will typically have slower speeds. Ideally, you want a VPN that has a lot of servers in every location. This way you won’t have to worry that server/country that you want will be overburdened and running slow


Both of these VPNs are strong in the area of customer support. ExpressVPN gives its users 24/7 live chat, email ticketing, and a large knowledge base on its website. Hotspot Shield offers the same support as ExpressVPN, with a slightly smaller resource section.

VPN vendor ExpressVPN Hotspot Shield
Email Response Time 0.3 9
24/7 Support
Live Chat
Knowledge Base
Video Tutorials
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How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care

We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.

Ease of Use

ExpressVPN homepage screenshot
You don't need any technical experience to connect with ExpressVPN. Whether you want to bypass the Great Firewall of China or watch US Netflix from anywhere, just click on the country that you wish to connect with.

There is an option for users to select a specific security protocol, otherwise it will connect with OpenVPN.

ExpressVPN does have a kill switch, which they call Network Lock, that will shut off your internet connection should you lose connectivity to their servers. All you need to restore your connection is click "Unblock Internet" and your connection will be instantly restored.

ExpressVPN is available on many different platforms and allows for up to three simultaneous connections.
Hotspot Shield
After signing up and choosing the platform, installation and setup took less than two minutes.

Hotspot Shield connects automatically to the closest server to your location. You can, however, change your virtual location manually by selecting the country you desire from the dropdown list. You cannot choose which server in the country — Hotspot picks for you.

When we turned on Hotspot Shield, we were already streaming Netflix, and it continued to stream without issue. However, when we tried to use Hulu, we experienced an error. You must have a premium account to stream Netflix, and it only works with the virtual US location selected.

There isn’t much configuration to Hotspot Shield, which is suitable for those who aren’t technically savvy. You can turn on/off automatic startup and turn on the kill switch option. Other than these few settings, there is not a lot to personalize.




Visit ExpressVPN Website

Which VPN Will You Choose?

Hotspot Shield’s free VPN is serviceable if you have minimal needs, but the paid version doesn’t offer much more, especially in comparison to ExpressVPN. On the other hand, ExpressVPN is an elite VPN in every way and maintains a very fair price, so the choice here is easy. More Info

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