A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted tunnel between the local computer and the Internet so that IP addresses detected when visiting websites are different from the actual ones. This provides a layer of protection by masking the actual public IP address (as assigned by the ISP) and hence also the location.
Hotspot Shield is one such VPN service that provides access to different IP addresses geographically and also offers online malware protection.
The free version of Hotspot Shield provides VPN access from one region only while the paid/elite version offers country based VPN selection. More details about thatÂ can be found here.
The free version is sufficient if wanting to test websites (for webmasters) or for simply browsing the Internet anonymously especially over public Wi-Fi or from public locations. This is far better than using public proxies for browsing that often are offline or extremely slow.
Download and install it from here.
On the first run, choose the default network settings and hit “Continue”.
The virtual location can be changed in paid/elite version to any of the different regions as below. The free version has only one virtual location enabled.
To check if the IP address assigned is different and that VPN is working, either click on “Test protection” from within the main Hotspot Shield interface or go to www.whatismyip.com and note the IP address details. These should be different than the regular IP addresses provided by local ISP.
To configure further settings, click the gear icon at bottom right. Various options like configuring protection interval, displaying the Hotspot Shield icon and restart options can be set from here.
To turn on/off Hotspot Shield , right click on the Hotspot Shield icon from system tray and choose Connect or Disconnect (ON/OFF).
This is a simple and useful VPN service that offers some degree of online anonymity without reducing the browsing speed.
Do try it out.