HideMyAss! VPN Review

HideMyAss! VPN Review

HideMyAss! has been around since 2005 and has been acquired by the antivirus giant Avast. Having been around for such a long time HideMyAss! Or HMA!, in short, has racked up a huge user base that now reaches over 400 million users globally. As with many of the best VPN providers, it has no limitations on the bandwidth offers a huge list of servers in around 280 locations. It`s not very clear how many servers and locations they have exactly because it looks like HideMyAss! has varied info on that but considering it`s one of the oldest players on the market we can assume there is no shortage of them.

HideMyAss! Features

  • 280 Countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • 5  connected devices
  • OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP and IPSec protocols
  • Multiple platform support 
  • Good pricing options
  • Military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 support
  • P2P optimized
  • Works with Netflix,d BBC iPlayer, HBO, etc
  • Kill switch
  • DNS and IPv6 leak protection
  • Chrome and Firefox extensions

Privacy

HideMyAss! is based in the UK which is not the most ideal location for a VPN service. The UK is part of the Five-Eyes alliance. This means the countries that are part of the alliance (Australia, Canada, US, New Zealand, and the UK) share surveilled data and they practice different data retention. The Five-Eyes countries are considered to be the worst location for a VPN provider to be based in.

Another concerning thing about HMA! is that it actually logs some data for 30 days. It stores timestamps and the IP addresses of the servers you connect to and the amount of data uploaded and downloaded. The data cannot be tied to a specific person. Nonetheless, if you prefer a VPN that has a very strict do-not-store policy you might want to look for another VPN provider. You can read about the privacy and data collection here.

Compatibility

HideMyAss! Is compatible with most major operating systems including:

  • Windows, 
  • Mac Os
  • iOs
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Routers
  • Game consoles and Smart TVs

Installing HMA! On your router is pretty effortless and this will get VPN protection on ALL your devices. As with most of the providers, you can install it on different devices at once. HMA! is limited to five devices.

The installation process is easy and there are simple guides for installing on the router so even if you haven`t tinkered around in your router settings before you should be able to install it with no issues.

HMA! doesn’t clearly state that it works with torrenting or any of the popular streaming services like Netflix like some of the other VPNs do but it does. Since this is a gray area of VPN usage they might just want to avoid those clear statements on their web page.

Support

HideMyAss! has extensive Knowledge Base article pool, Getting Started Guides and a Community Forum. You should be able to solve all your problems using the guides and the knowledge base but if you get stuck there is also the Help widget. At the time of the test, the chat widget did not have a live customer support agent available and the only option was to leave your contact info and your question for the support to get back to you. Not having a live chat, matters in those rare occasions when you have an urgent issue so if that’s important to you look for a VPN provider with 24/7 chat or phone support.

Installation and app usage

Most of the VPN services are really easy to set up these days and HMA! doesn’t differ in that sense. It takes just a few minutes to set it up on your desktop and the interface is fairly easy and looks good. You can choose between Instant Mode, Location Mode, and Freedom Mode.

  • Instant Mode – auto-connects to the best server nearby
  • Location Mode – lets you pick a location if you need to access certain geo-located services. The list displays your recent servers for your convenience and a list of Recommended servers based on speed and proximity. It also indicates which servers are P2P friendly and you can favorite the ones you will be using more regularly. You can also filter servers by Streaming servers, P2P servers, Favorites, and All
  • Auto-connects to a free-speech country to unlock websites and news. Curiously, there isn’t much info on the Freedom mode on HMA!s knowledge base other than it connects you to the nearest location with least censorship.

The mobile app is almost identical to the desktop and anyone will be able to navigate the app.

Security and Speed

There are three types of protection available: OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. HMA! Uses AES-256 encryption and offers DNS Leak Blocking, First-Party DNS, IPV6 Leak Blocking and VPN Kill switch. 

In terms of speed, HMA! is not the fastest VPN you can find but it’s good enough. The speed depends of course on the server location and for most users, the speeds are plenty fast. For example, the UK servers we tested showed a decent 65-70Mbps and the US servers averaged around 58-69 Mbps and all the servers were stable in terms of connection and speed. For more distant servers like Hong Kong, you might see a drop to 30-38Mbps Connecting to a server takes 2-4 seconds even for some of the more further locations. 

We tested upload and download speeds using speedtest.net. The baseline for comparison (No VPN) was 93Mbps down and 92Mbps up.

Speed Test

As always, the download and upload speeds decrease the further away server locations you choose. The drop in internet speeds was impressively low when using Instant Mode. This picks the best location for you automatically and in general, picks the closest one. During the test, HMA! connected to Finland and we saw a consistent 6% drop. This is pretty much non-existent and we are very happy with the Instant Mode.

There was only a 6% speed drop using the instant Mode to connect to a server in Finland

As we picked random servers further away the speeds dropped. Your number can differ depending on the day and time and whether a specific server is 100% up but looking at the different tests the drop in speeds are on par with the competition. Connecting to the USA from Europe was actually pretty satisfactory and a Download speed drop from 93 to 47 (49%) is not too shabby.

London, UK server showed a drop of 60% down and 76% up
You can connect to USA servers via Netherlands to get better results.
California, San Jose (West Coast of USA)
Thailand, Bangkok showed a significant upload speed drop of 91%
Torrenting speeds went from max1Mbps to around 350-450kBps

Netflix and Torrenting

Some VPN providers clearly state whether they are compatible with Netflix or torrenting but HideMyAss! Doesn’t flat out claim that. The fact though is that they fully support P2P file sharing and streaming and if you dig into the manuals and knowledge base you can see that you can access all major geo-blocked services like Netflix or HBO with no issues.

When selecting a server to connect to you even have small P2P icons indication which ones are P2P optimized.

Pricing

HideMyAss offers the same familiar pricing options as most competitors. You can go for the one month plan if you just need the service for a short period but for longer use we recommend the cheapest option and get the three-year plan with just $2.99 per month. This is a 75% discount per month compared to the single month purchase. The one-year and two-year plans are a bit pricier (compared to NordVPN eg) but a dollar a month is very insignificant and we suggest going for the 3-year plan anyway. HMA! also has a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans and the app offers a 7-day trial so you don`t even need to make any purchases if you wish to trial the service for some time. Just remember to cancel the subscription before the 7-day period is over. For some reason, the mobile app offers 1, 6 and 12-month subscriptions so I suggest making the purchase over the web.

You can pay by Credit Card, Paypal, UnionPay or Bitcoin.

Pros and cons

Pros
  • 5 devices in one account
  • Decent speeds
  • 280 locations
  • 30-day moneyback
  • Device and router support
Cons
  • UK jurisdiction
  • Stores some data
  • Shorter plans are expensive

Verdict

HideMyAss! Has been on the market for a very long time and has a very good reputation. Everything on the technical side is what’ you would expect, the speeds are good, the connection times are fast and you have all the essential bells and whistles included. The Kill Switch, the wide range of locations and the competitive long-term pricing are alluring but the fact that it’s based in the UK is a bit worrisome. If you are not too concerned about the few data points that do get collected HMA! is a solid choice but there are options that trump HMA! In some aspects.

Privacy features
Security
Speed
Ease of Use
Price
Average

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