How to Turn Off Hotspot Shield Ads
By Brian Flax
Hotspot Shield is a free ad-supported virtual private network that helps protect your privacy online. The developer also offers a paid version of the service that gives you 24/7 technical support, a virtual location and no ads when using the service. Hotspot Shield unblocks censored websites, protects your IP address and enables you to surf the Web anonymously from any Internet connection. Hotspot Shield can be especially helpful when connecting to a public Wi-Fi hot spot, since it encrypts your connection and keeps sensitive data away from prying eyes.
Ad-Supported Free Service
Hotspot Shield offers a free version of the service that you can download directly from its website. It requires no credit card or payment information, and the service is fully supported by advertising. Whenever you connect to the VPN, Hotspot Shield will display ads to help cover the cost of the service. If you're looking for an ad-free experience, you'll have to upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite.
Hotspot Shield Elite
If you don't want ads displayed while your connected to the Hotspot Shield service, you can upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite. As of August 2013, the cost of the Elite service is $30 per year, or $20 for six months. In addition to removing ads, the Elite service also gives you access to 24/7 technical support. If you want to test the service before purchasing a subscription, Hotspot Shield offers a seven-day free trial to the ad-free Elite version. Once the trial has ended, you can choose to upgrade or continue with the free ad-supported service.
If you're not interested in paying for the Elite service, there are other ways to block ads in Hotspot Shield. For example, Adblock Plus is a browser extension you can download to block Google Adsense ads on websites you visit. In addition to removing website ads, the Adblock Plus extension (link in Resources) will also block advertising displayed in the Hotspot Shield free service. When using Adblock Plus, normal website ads will also be blocked. This can affect the layout of websites and may block ads that you would otherwise want to see. Adblock Plus is available for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer as a free download. An alternative is Super Ad Blocker.
Both the free and Elite version of Hotspot Shield offer you the same privacy benefits. The VPN creates a secure "tunnel" between your computer and the Hotspot Shield servers. Websites and services that you visit will see only the IP address assigned by Hotspot Shield, masking the IP address assigned by your Internet service provider. Since data is encrypted before it's sent and received, you may notice a slowdown in your Internet connection. The Elite version of the service offers no additional bandwidth and only removes the ads and offers technical support.
Based in the Washington DC area, Brian Flax holds a Master of Science in education technology, and a Bachelor of Science in entertainment business from Full Sail University. His articles have been published on FindTheBest.com, where he was a daily writer in the smartphones and tablets section.