With a subscription-based VPN like our own NetShade, you access the Internet through a shared third-party VPN server. With Hop, you access the Internet through your own VPN server sitting in your home. Your IP address is your own, and not shared with anyone until you decide to share it.
Hop costs $49/year.
No, NetShade and Hop will coexist. They fill different roles.
Routers support the traditional implementation of a VPN, where you connect and securely access the computers and devices on your local network. Hop supports the "VPN service" type of VPN, which adds address translation and Internet routing capability. Therefore, with Hop you can access the entire Internet though a secure tunnel to your home. Hop is essentially your own private VPN service.
VPN usage is legal in the vast majority of the world's countries. Among countries that block VPN usage (China, Singapore, etc,) most do not have laws explicitly outlawing VPN usage, but rather they block VPN access as part of their broader Internet censorship endeavors. Of course, it's always illegal to do illegal things (downloading copyrighted material, hacking, etc) whether you use a VPN or not. It's best to research relevant laws if you plan on travelling to countries with limited Internet freedom.
With Hop, your Internet activity is strongly encrypted between you and your home. Hop protects you from eavesdropping by the ISPs or WiFi operators you use while travelling.
Hop isn't geared toward anonymity the way a conventional VPN service is. Hop is excellent at securing your communications and unblocking Internet content, but all your traffic ultimately emanates from your home Internet connection. So if you're after anonymity, it's best to use something like NetShade or Tor.
Only under heavy usage. In the standard use case, your home computer will be unattended while you connect to it from elsewhere, meaning that no Internet slowdown will be felt. However, if you're using your home Hop computer while other people are connected to it, and downloading lots of content, you're likely to feel a slowdown. Leaving your Hop server turned on should have no perceptible performance impact when nobody's connected to it.
Getting a reliable VPN server to run out of your home is no small feat, so we've invested a huge amount of time and effort into making Hop run reliably as a server. There will always be issues we can't control, (kernel panics, home routers behaving badly, cats knocking out power cords, etc), but Hop tries very hard to handle all the nitty gritty for you, and just work.
If you find that Hop isn't going to work for you, we're good about giving refunds.
To run Hop, you need at least one Mac which can sit a home and act as your Hop server. You can connect to that server from any device, provided it has either the Hop Connect app (preferred, macOS & iOS), or the OpenVPN Connect app (more convoluted but works on almost all platforms).
Hop was written by a lifelong Mac user and former Apple engineer who respects the temple that is your Mac. Hop tries to play nicely in the Mac ecosystem. It does some low-level wrangling, but does so in a Mac-friendly way. We also provide a complete uninstaller, so you can reliably erase all traces of Hop if you decide not to use it.