Review

VPN Shield (mini review)


Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Thanks to popular demand (well, at least a couple of post to our Facebook page), we promised to look at VPN Shield, a VPN app primarily aimed at the mobile market.  Unfortunately, the limited about of information available on about this service, most notably any details on its privacy policy, means that we cannot do a comprehensive review…

Pricing and features

A 30 day subscription is a very reasonable $3.99, going up to $24.99 ($2/pm) if you buy a year at once. You can also buy a one trial week subscription, and the Android app comes with a free one day trial.

pricing (2)

Other than being available on a variety of platforms (iOS, Android, Windows 8, and OSX), Hotspot Shield does not offer much in the way of fancy features. You can however choose between Cisco DLTS and OpenVPN encryption (although why any tech-savvy person would want to choose anything other than OpenVPN is beyond us), and can select to connect to servers in a number of countries.

Server options

Payment is made through in-app purchases, or through the Windows 8 app store (we don’t know how OSX purchases are mad).

The Website

The VPN Shield website is a simple one page affair containing very little information, although a Russian language version is available. A bit more detail is provided on the Apple Store and Google Play pages, but this still leaves many questions unanswered.

Privacy and security

Other than being run by a company called STIDIA, which apparent operates out of Luxemburg, we know nothing about VPN Shield. Luxemburg does not apply the (now defunct but still in place in most local legislation) EU Data Retention Directive to VPN providers, but we have no idea what VPN Shield’s privacy policy is.

On the technical side of things, we also have very little information. Cisco encryption is a  proprietary standard, and is usually used to protect passwords for Cisco account. We wouldn’t trust it. OpenVPN should be fine, although no details about the level of encryption or cipher used are known, so we will assume it is the default 128-bit CBC Blowfish.

The Android app

We usually concentrate on the desktop VPN client, but VPN Shield is focused very much on its mobile apps, so we will review the Android app first.

It is certainly easy enough to use – just select the server you want, and hit ‘Connect’.

app

In the settings screen you can decide how you want the app to behave. We strongly suggest changing the VPN type to ‘OpenVPN only’.

Android settings

 All in all, the app connects up fine and does its job in an efficient if unassuming manner.

The Windows 8 App

Although VPN Shield seems to be focused mainly on the mobile market, there are desktop clients for Windows 8 and OSX.

windows 8

Options are pretty basic.

client 1

We have no idea what the Advanced options is on about, but it doesn’t work anyway…

advanced

Why the client is Windows 8 only is beyond us, but access to the Windows 8 app store is necessary to buy a subscription.

Other platforms

VPN Shield is available for Android, Windows, iOS, and Mac OSX.  Judging from the screenshots, the OSX version is identical to the Windows app, and we have no idea about the iOS version.

Performance

We tested connection speeds using the Android app on a Google Nexus 7 2013 tablet using our 20 MB/s UK broadband connection (seeing as the app is primarily aimed at the mobile market).

Tests were performed using TestMy.net, using their Netherlands server.

 TMn NL

No VPN

 TMn UK

Connected to a UK server

 TMn NL

Connected to a Netherlands server

As you can see, speeds were rather inconsistent, something that was confirmed throughout our tests on different servers.

We also tested VPN Shield for DNS leaks using DNSLeakTest.com, and found no problems.

Conclusion

We liked

  • Cheap
  • Works fine
  • OpenVPN option
  • Good Android (and presumably iOS) client

We weren’t so sure about

  • We would love to know more about the OpenVPN encryption used
  • Very inconstant performance results
  • Desktop client was so-so

We hated

  • No privacy policy – we have no idea what data is collected, or what is done with it

VPN Shield is very cheap, and other than very wildly varying performance results, works well. For simple geo-spoofing, evading local censorship, and protecting your data while using public WiFi hotspots, its fine. However, since we know nothing about the company or what they do with your data, anyone who even vaguely cares about privacy should look elsewhere.


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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