HMA VPN has three subscription plans. The monthly plan is $11.99, which is about average for a single month VPN subscription of this kind.
That price reduces substantially when you commit for a year - to just $83.88 - or the equivalent of $6.99 per month. A two-year subscription costs $119.76 - which is the equivalent of $4.99 per month. And, since we last reviewed HMA, the firm has introduced an extended 36 month plan, which costs just $143.64 or the equivalent of $3.99 per month. These are competitive prices, but not the cheapest we have ever encountered.
HMA also recently introduced its family plan . This increases the simultaneous connections on offer to 10... more than enough for a family of three each using two devices.
All the subscription plans for HMA VPN come with the same features; only the price changes. What's more, all customers are given the opportunity to test the VPN thanks to its generous 30-day money-back guarantee. And, as if that wasn't generous enough, the VPN has a 7-day free trial that lets you test the VPN without providing any payment details at all. This is a very nice touch.
Please note, however, that users must not exceed 10Gb of download usage before they ask for a refund - or this will invalidate the money-back guarantee. In addition, you cannot get a refund if you pay via iTunes or Google Play. So, if you want the option to change your mind, please purchase the VPN directly from HMA. Many people have previously complained about not being able to get their money back, but it is always because of this fine print.
Auto-renewal of subscriptions is enabled by default, so if you don’t want to renew you will need to cancel your subscription in the member's area of its website. Finally, payments can be made via credit or debit card, PayPal, iDEAL, bank/wire transfer, UnionPay and SOFORT. However, HMA does not accept Bitcoin payments.
When it comes to streaming, this VPN is a service that is extremely competent. It can unblock a huge range of TV streams from around the globe, and it manages to unblock highly sought after services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix US. In fact, many consumers opt for this service specifically because it is so good for streaming.
HMA VPN Features
|Routers Supported||Asus routers, Tomato, DD-WRT,Vilfo|
|Bare metal or virtual servers||A combination|
Now that Version 5 of the HMA client is available to all subscribers, an HMA subscription comes with the following awesome features:
1000+ VPN servers in 280+ locations in 190+ countries. HMA has servers in unusual places like the Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, Malawi, Serbia, and many more. If unblocking content in unusual places is important to you; this service is a great option.
Super fast 20Gbps servers (already rolled out across a quarter of its network).
IP refresh tool lets you get a new IP address in the same location (if the IP address you are using is suddenly blocked by a service).
Five simultaneous connections.
Supports OpenVPN, Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN protocols.
Kill switch (Mac, Windows and Android).
New smart kill switch for Windows lets you auto-launch the VPN (with the kill switch enabled) when you launch specified programs.
Split tunneling. Lets you decide what data is sent down the VPN tunnel and which programmes keeps your local IP address instead.
Speed test feature lets you check how HMA servers are performing.
24/7 live chat support.
30-day money-back guarantee (as long as you don’t download over 10 Gb of data during the 30-day period and buy the VPN directly from the HMA website).
No logs policy.
Free HMA proxy service with servers in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the Czech Republic. Excellent free proxy service encrypts the URLs that get stored in your history (in case you forget to use private browsing mode), turns off cookies, and removes scripts.
Speed and Performance
At ProPrivacy.com, we test VPN speeds using a scientific server-based system. Our proprietary system tests VPNs three times a day using the OpenVPN protocol (for fairness across all providers). We test a UK server for local max (burst) speeds. And a Hong Kong, US, UK, and Australian server for averages. In the image below, you can see how HMA's connection speeds averaged over a four-month period stretching from November 2019 to February 2020.
During our tests, we discovered average download speeds of 58 Mbps and burst speed results of 594 Mbps. These are outstanding connection speed results - that have improved since we last reviewed the VPN. These speed test results are stable, which means that this VPN is capable of unblocking HD streams without issues. Thus, we can recommend HMA VPN for data intensive tasks like streaming, gaming, and videoconferencing.
As you can see from the image above, there are faster VPNs on the market. However, HMA compares extremely well to some of the best VPNs on the market, meaning that this is in the top percentile of commercial VPNs. In fact, the burst speeds we recorded are exceptional, and are almost identical to the very fastest VPNs in the world.
IP leaks, WebRTC leaks, and DNS leaks
|WebRTC leak detected?|
|IPv4 leak detected?|
|ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (max/burst)||177.87|
|ProPrivacy.com SpeedTest (average)||63.26|
We tested the VPN thoroughly for IP leaks and DNS leaks using our industry standard VPN leak testing tool. We tested the Windows client and discovered no IPv4 leaks, IPV6 leaks, WebRTC leaks, or DNS leaks. This is excellent and means that the VPN is 100% working as it should. It is also worth noting that this means DNS leak protection is built into the clients by default - which is great.
Below you can see that the VPN only registered one IP address in Austria. We also only detected a single IP address, also in Austria. This demonstrates that the VPN is successfully proxying DNS requests via its own servers. These are ideal results. Also worth noting, the IPv6 test was not reachable because the client was blocking IPv6 connections. Again, this shows that the VPN is working as it should.
Finally, we are happy to report that HMA VPN no longer suffers from WebRTC leaks on either Mac or Windows. This is excellent and means that the VPN is now completely clear of leaks.
Privacy and Security
|IPv6 leak protection|
|WebRTC leak protection|
HMA was acquired in 2015 by the Czech company Avast Software. However, it is still managed and run in the UK. Being based in the UK is enough to put some people off this VPN. The UK is a location where government intelligence is massively overreaching, and where the authorities are able to issue warrants and gag orders that force firms to hand over the data they have on their servers in secrecy. This makes the UK far from an ideal location for a privacy service to be based.
The UK's surveillance habits are only problematic if a VPN stores logs, but HMA has now completely stopped storing any logs whatsoever. While it is true that HMA did used to keep some connection logs for 30 days, this is no longer true. This is what HMA told us about its new policy:
"HMA will not log any identifiable user activity defined as follows:
- Original IP addresses, which could be used to identify the user.
- No DNS query data, which would let us see what sites users visited when browsing (and probably help us identify them).
- Any online activity, which includes sites logged into, services interacted with, apps running, and streams being watched… basically anything done online."
This is good news, and means that users of HMA can be assured that there are no logs stored on file that could potentially be used to identify them and track what they did online while connected to the service.
Finally, it is worth noting that there have been incidents when HMA has handed over logs to the police. In 2011, HMA handed over internet records and personal details about Cody Kretsinger to the cops. Kretsinger was a LulzSec member accused of hacking Sony Pictures; he was imprisoned on hacking charges (in part proven with the help of HMA). In 2017 a judge from Galveston County, Texas was arrested for harassing his ex-girlfriend. He was an HMA user whose IP address was uncovered using connection timestamps.
These kinds of incidents should now be squarely in this providers' past, because the VPN should have no valuable data to provide to the authorities even if it is served a warrant.
|Other protocols||UDP, TCP|
The HMA website claims that it implements its encryption as follows:
“OpenVPN is using OpenSSL with algorithms 3DES, AES 256, RC5, 256-bit encryption for the control channel (e.g. password, authentication, etc.).”
That is extremely vague. After some digging, however, I was able to figure out that HMA implements its encryption as follows:
Data channel: a AES-256-CGM with 4096-bit RSA keys for handshakes, and SHA256 for authentication.
Control channel: an AES-256 cipher with RSA-2048 handshake encryption and SHA-1 hash authentication. Perfect Forward Secrecy is provided courtesy of a Diffie-Hellman key exchange.
Any subscriber using the very latest version of HMA will get these encryption standards, and will find that the encryption is robust on both channels. This means that anybody using HMA is secure against anybody attempting to hack their data. For more information on VPN encryption please read our VPN Encryption: Complete Guide.
Finally, it is worth noting that HMA told us that those standards may revert back to AES 128 CBC with a SHA 1 auth for 'Legacy Users.' This is a slightly confusing statement, and we aren't clear in which circumstances that may occur. However, we would presume that anybody using an up to date machine and the latest client will connect using the standards mentioned above.
|Money-back guarantee length||30|
HMA has excellent options when it comes to customer support. Live chat is available on its website 24/7 and its agents are both helpful and knowledgeable. The agents responded almost immediately, and we found them to be extremely polite. All in all, we found the service outstanding for getting fast responses about unblocking content and installation help.
Admittedly, some of the more techy questions had to be elevated to a more senior tech member of staff. This was done by the customer support agent who told me we would receive a response via email. That email did come to our inbox with the desired information, which is great.
In addition, the website has a community where you can ask fellow users questions about the service; a Blog where you can see useful articles about VPNs, privacy, and using VPNs to access content from around the world. And a knowledge base full of FAQs and guides that will help you to resolve the majority of setup and troubleshooting issues you are likely to experience.
We found these resources to be truly outstanding, and they act as a fantastic counterpart to the live chat support.
The Windows Client
The Windows VPN app is a fully-featured client that is easy to use. It comes with a kill switch to stop you leaking data to your ISP - should the VPN connection happen to drop out. This means you will be able to use HMA for torrenting securely.
On the other hand, HMA specifically told us that "we do not support the use of Torrent to share copyrighted material illegally. If you use our VPN service for such activity, you will probably cause us to receive DMCA notices from the copyright holders, who monitor Torrent trackers." This is usually an unspoken sentiment shared by many providers that allow for torrenting and shouldn't worry you, but there are always other options if this has you rattled.
On a more positive note, the Windows client comes with a lot of excellent features such as auto-connect, IP shuffle for automatically gaining a new IP address in the same location (useful if an IP address becomes blocked by a specific service), and lightning connect (to connect to the fastest server available to you). Unfortunately, split tunnelling is not yet available in the Windows client.
Users get a choice of OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec encryption. And the OpenVPN encryption is implemented securely. Also good news; this VPN is fast and unblocks a lot of content from around the world. As a result, consumers looking for privacy from their ISP, unblocking capabilities, and WiFi protection - will find this VPN to be ideally suited to the task.
On the other hand, it is worth considering whether you are happy paying for HMA - when you can pay a similar price for a VPN that offers tighter security and better logging practices. At the end of the day, this depends on your personal requirements, and if you need a server in one of the more exotic locations that HMA has - this VPN may be extremely interesting!
The Mac client
It also now has the IP shuffle feature, which randomly changes your IP address at user defined intervals. This adds an extra layer of privacy and makes it harder to track HMA users. In addition, Mac users get:
- An app Kill Switch
- Lightning connect
- Speed Test
- Auto Connect
On the whole, the Mac OS X app is easy to use, and we found it to work without crashing. Having a large choice of server locations is useful, and, because this VPN is good for unblocking Netflix and iPlayer; it could be a worthy choice for people who like to stream.
OpenVPN encryption is available, however, it is worth noting that it is not implemented as strongly as it is with many competing VPNs on the market.
The mobile apps (iOS and Android)
If you are looking for a secure VPN for Android or iOS, the HMA clients are pretty good. The VPN has DNS leak protection built into its clients, and the Android mobile VPN app has a kill switch. Unfortunately the iOS app does not yet have the kill switch.
On Android, subscribers get OpenVPN encryption. On iOS users must settle for L2TP/IPsec. Having a large choice of servers is useful, and for those who aren't particularly paranoid about the minimal logging practices - this VPN is probably a good option ( for example it unblocks Netflix US and iPlayer).
If your primary reason for wanting a VPN for a mobile device is to protect your data on public WiFi - this VPN will do the job fine on either Android or iOS - and it will successfully stop hackers from being able to sniff your data.
If you are looking for a VPN with a completely watertight logging policy, you may want to look elsewhere. Being based in the UK is not ideal, and because this VPN stores connection logs (timestamps and bandwidth used) next to an (albeit slightly anonymized) IP address - this VPN may not be suitable for everybody.
The good news, is that on Mac, Windows, and Android this VPN has a kill switch. It also has DNS leak protection built into all of its clients, and it does not suffer from any concerning leaks from our experience. The kill switch is reactive and it is not system level, which means that if the VPN crashes you will leak data to your ISP. However, the VPN did not crash during our tests, so it should perform fine.
Although HMA permits torrenting, it does ask users never to indulge in illegal downloading while using its service. Thus, if you are primarily looking for a VPN for torrenting we would recommend looking elsewhere.
So, why get HMA? HMA is a service that is not expensive, and if you specifically require a server in a more exotic/rare location (that isn’t covered by other VPN providers) this VPN is a good option. It is also true that this VPN can protect you on public WiFi without issues.
Assuming you aren't someone who requires extremely high levels of privacy, the level of service provided by HMA is likely to be more than enough. We are also happy to report that since the last time we tested the VPN, it no longer suffers from WebRTC leaks that must be manually plugged using an extension.
Speed test results were excellent, which means that this VPN is ideally suited for doing data-intensive tasks like streaming in HD or gaming. Also, don’t forget that this is one of the few VPNs that can unblock BBC iPlayer and Netflix US. A VPN that provides excellent value for money and that is suited to 99% of people’s needs.
HideMyAss Review 2020 - Has the Veteran Provider Still Got It?
Osama TahirAuthor Posts by Osama Tahir
HideMyAss is a UK based service available with a price tag of $3.99/mo. It has 1,000 servers across the world, many of which are optimized for streaming as well as torrenting. The VPN has received 4.2/5.0 star rating overall for its streaming efficiency, security features, and customer support.
|Based in||UK [UNSAFE]|
|Servers||1,000+ (190+ Countries)|
|Multi Login||5 Devices|
HideMyAss is one of the oldest VPN services working in an online privacy industry since 2005. It offers 1,000+ servers in 190+ countries, covering even more countries in its network than the likes of PureVPN and ExpressVPN.
In addition, upon testing the VPN for this HideMyAss review, I found it performing exceptionally well for streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. It also delivers decent speeds.
It also bears mention that HMA VPN has revised its logging policy. The company no longer stores any connection or data logs that could be tied to your identity. The live chat customer support is highly responsive and helpful, making the service as a whole quite user-friendly.
Based on these capabilities, HideMyAss has earned a 4.2/5.0 rating overall.
Jurisdiction – Where is HideMyAss located?
HideMyAss is based in the unsafe jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The country is one of the most heavily surveilled in the world and is also one of the core members of the Five Eyes alliance.
Nonetheless, eve an unsafe jurisdiction isn’t much of a problem if the provider has a good logging policy. HMA has a decent but not ideal logging policy, but it does state that the VPN will cooperate with UK agencies if they receive a court order:
In 2011, the provider was involved in a controversy where they gave incriminating evidence of certain users performing illegal activities using their service. The good thing is, HMA openly states its policies and unambiguously states their stance on data logging and compliance with UK law.
Security – Is HideMyAss safe enough?
HideMyAss is a fairly safe VPN service possessing industry-standard security protocols. You can choose between PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN (UPD & TCP) protocols for establishing your VPN sessions.
For encryption, it uses AES-256-GCM, with 4096-bit RSA keys for handshakes, authenticated with SHA256 for Windows and Android. For Mac and iOS, HMA uses IKEv2/IPSec with Apple’s own stack for best compatibility and security.
Additional Security Features
Other than the basic features, HMA also includes some additional security features to further guarantee your online privacy and security.
HMA Kill Switch
HideMyAss offers a Kill Switch that works in two modes: System-wide or on the App level. The System-wide Kill Switch will cut you off from the web entirely if your VPN connection drops. The App-level Kill Switch, on the other hand, allows you to choose specific apps that you want to block from accessing the internet when the HMA VPN connection is interrupted for any reason.
These functionalities give users a lot of control over their online privacy.
HMA IP Shuffle
HideMyAss also offers an IP shuffle feature that periodically reshuffles your IP address for privacy purposes. You can select the frequency of IP shuffle by setting it to switch once a day, twice a day, ever 6 hours, etc.
IP shuffling makes it much harder for trackers and hackers to keep a trace on you online, boosting your privacy while you surf the web in peace.
Logging Policy – Does HideMyAss keep logs?
HideMyAss keeps no personally identifiable logs. The company used to log some bits of information that could get you thinking “do they really need to know that about me?”. I won’t lie that I am a fan of HMA’s service improvements over the years, so it was puzzling why the company hadn’t given the same thought to revamping its logging policy.
Well, they have gone and done just that now. The company has revised its logging policy and they are no longer storing information that could be potentially tied to your identity. For instance, HMA previously stored the timestamps of your connections, subnet of originating IP address (with the last number – or octet – anonymized), the IP of the HMA server you are connected to, and the amount of data transmitted.
In the updated logging policy, HMA is only retaining the day of your connection and the amount of data transmitted, both of which are rounded to the date of your connection and the round figure of your data transfer.
All of this information is deleted every 35 days. In addition, as before, the provider keeps absolutely no records of your online activities or your IP address, which are two most sensitive pieces of information that anyone could maintain about you.
Best of all, the company is going to have its logging policy audited by an independent cyber-security consulting firm VerSprite, which will verify the anonymization of user behavioral data and the disconnection of this data from personal identifiable information (PII) that HMA stores for legal and billing purposes.
If the the company passes the audit, it would join the ranks among the few no-logs VPN providers that have been independently audited.
Therefore, HMA gets full marks for its revisited logging policy and it is certainly a welcome change from the company.
Get HideMyAss30-Days Money Back Guarantee
Leaks – Does HideMyAss leak IP, DNS & WebRTC?
HideMyAss does not leak IP, DNS, & WebRTC when enabled:
HMA successfully protected my IP from leaking:
The VPN is free from any leaking DNS as well:
HMA has no WebRTC leak problem as well:
I also checked HMA’s installation files through VirusTotal and the result came clear.
Servers – Is HMA P2P compatible?
HMA offers 1,000+ servers across 190+ countries worldwide. Thus, HideMyAss has almost every country in the world covered in its network.
HideMyAss also offers p2p-optimized servers that allow you to unblock torrent websites and download files without any IP leaks. These servers have “p2p” label attached next to them:
Does HMA Work in China?
HideMyAss is unreliable for China. There are a number of threads on HMA’s official forums where representatives have confirmed the status of HMA and its functionality within China:
It might work for some users, but generally, it’s not very reliable if you want to bypass censorship within China using HideMyAss.
Speed – How fast is HideMyAss?
HideMyAss offers moderate speeds. To test the VPN’s speed performance, I used speedest.net and a base internet connection of 30 Mbps.
In the performance test, I used three servers, US, UK, and Germany.
The service delivered the fastest speed on the US server:
The UK server was slower, measuring 16.28 Mbps:
Finally, the Germany server was the slowest of the three with 15.75 Mbps:
Thus, HMA is not the fastest VPN you can have, but it performs well enough to be worthy of consideration.
Streaming – Does HideMyAss unblock US Netflix?
HideMyAss works with US Netflix and other streaming services. There are several streaming-optimized servers in its network which are incredibly efficient at unblocking streaming services.
I was able to unblock US Netflix with its California server in a single attempt:
Other Streaming Services
HideMyAss is generally good for streaming purposes. I also tested it for BBC iPlayer using its Donkey Town UK server. This immediately let me access the British streaming service from the outside UK:
Compatibility – How many devices does HideMyAss support?
Interestingly, HMA is compatible with all the leading platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and iOS. The service also supports routers.
A single HMA subscription allows 5 simultaneous connections.
HideMyAss Windows App
The HMA Windows client is very nicely designed and super-easy to use. You can choose your preferred server location for the main screen and click the toggle switch to turn it on or off.
You can also configure settings for the Kill Switch, App Kill Switch, IP shuffle, connection protocol as well as change other preferences.
HideMyAss Mac App
The Mac app of HideMyAss looks and behaves pretty much the same way as the Windows app. It also offers a Kill Switch and IP shuffle like Windows but uses IKEv2/IPSec protocol rather than OpenVPN.
HideMyAss Android App
The Android app has a 4.5/5.0 rating on Google Play Store. It works smoothly and has a great UI. Like the desktop apps, you can choose servers from the main screen:
It offers much the same features as desktop apps with the addition of another cool feature: Split-tunneling. This feature allows you to choose which apps go through the VPN and which are directly accessing the web.
HideMyAss iOS App
The HMA iOS app has a 4.6/5.0 rating on the App Store. The iOS app supports the fewest features out of all other apps of HMA. For instance, it lacks Kill Switch as well as split-tunneling.
It does support IP Shuffling and the strong and fast IKEv2/IPSec protocol. Overall, it is a decent app that offers excellent connectivity but could be improved with the full support of all HMA features.
Pricing – How much does HideMyAss cost?
Currently, HMA follows a relatively costly pricing structure. You can choose your preferred plans from these below-mentioned packages that include:
- 12-month plan ($5.99)
- 24-month plan ($4.99/month)
- 36-month plan ($3.99/month)
As far as their payment methods go, they offer limited options including:
Remember, all these pricing plans come with a generous 30 days money-back guarantee. Furthermore, they have an exclusive 7 days free trial along with 5 devices simultaneous connections benefit in their armory.
Trustworthiness – Trustpilot Ratings, Reddit Reviews & Support
HideMyAss has a 3.9/5.0 rating on Trustpilot based on almost 2,500 user-submitted reviews.
This shows that the provider is reasonably well-trusted by people in the industry.
HideMyAss Reddit Review
The Reddit community by and large does not hold HMA in a positive esteem. This is likely due to the aforementioned Lulzsec controversy that gave HMA a bad name, a memory that is etched too firmly in most Redditor’s minds despite how far the service has come over the years:
HMA has good customer support options. You can reach HMA representatives through live chat, that is pretty quick at responding and answering your queries.
It took me less than 10 seconds to receive a response from this nice guy from HMA customer support Brandon:
So, in terms of customer support, I’m very happy to see that HMA people (or donkeys) are so efficient at their jobs.
Comparison between PureVPN and HideMyAss
I have mentioned the prominent features of both these providers i.e PureVPN with HideMyAss to let you decide about your privacy in the right way.
|Servers||2000+ in 140 Countries||1,000+ in 190+ Countries|
|Compatibility||All Devices||Windows, macOS, Linux,
Android & iOS
|Jurisdiction||Hong Kong||United Kingdom|
|Logging Policy||Zero logs||Keeps connection logs|
|Customer Support||Live Chat & Email Support||Live Chat & Email Support|
|Trust Pilot Score||4.8||3.9|
Do I Recommend HideMyAss?
Yes, I recommend HideMyAss to privacy-conscious people and Netflix fans across the globe.
HMA VPN has a large number of VPN servers, covering over 190 countries and is known to consistently deliver quality service. In addition, I’ve personally tested the VPN for this HideMyAss review and found it to be working perfectly well with streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
The service offers decent security and privacy features as well an excellent customer support. Even the logging policy, which I had misgivings about previously, has been revised with a much stronger focus towards user privacy.
For this reason, the VPN has earned a rating of 4.2/5.0.
Security begins at the network, where your computer touches the wilds of the internet. To protect your devices, you need a virtual private network, or VPN, such as Hide My Ass. The name is very direct and so is the service, with an excellent, straightforward interface. This VPN makes a good impression, but it's on the more expensive side and lacks many of the bells and whistles we have come to expect. If you're taken by Hide My Ass's bright and friendly design (and its donkeys), you'll probably appreciate Editors' Choice winner TunnelBear (and its bears), or its co-winners NordVPN and Private Internet Access.
What Is a VPN?
When you activate a VPN, it creates an encrypted tunnel to protect your data as it passes from your computer to a server controlled by the VPN. From there, your data exits onto the open internet. It's a simple concept, but one with enormous consequences for your privacy and security.
For one thing, it prevents anyone lurking on your local network from monitoring or intercepting your activity. While the airport or coffee shop Wi-Fi network looks safe (it might even be password-protected) it's not really safe unless you're using a VPN. For another thing, a VPN can prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from gathering information about your online activities so it can sell anonymized user data to the highest bidder.
A VPN also makes it more difficult to correlate your online activities with your identity. Because your traffic is exiting from the VPN company's server, you appear to have its IP address, effectively hiding your true location. It also forces even the most determined attacker to try and sort through all the traffic from other users on the same VPN server to find what they're after. For these reasons, and more, you need a VPN in your life.
Note that a VPN only encrypts your traffic until it exits through the VPN server. Provided the website you're accessing uses HTTPS, your data should be secure all the way along its journey. Also, while VPNs can provide a modicum of anonymity, a tool like the Tor network is far better at concealing your identity.
VPNs have long been used by journalists and political activists to circumvent censorship in countries with repressive internet policies. They're also handy if you're looking to circumvent geographic restrictions on streaming content. A VPN can spoof your current location, giving you access to geographically restricted content like BBC streaming or MLB TV. Some VPNs don't appreciate these activities (which may be in violation of terms of service or even local laws) and content providers such as Netflix are also cracking down on users who spoof their location and the VPN services they use to do it.
There's a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that's the case, don't worry! We've got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.
Pricing and Features
If you're looking to try Hide My Ass before you buy it, you're out of luck. The service offers neither a free version nor a free trial. If you're in need of a great VPN, but have nothing in your wallet, you can always try a free VPN. Most of these services place limitations on your service unless you pay, however. TunnelBear, for example, limits its free users to a certain allotment of data, while ProtonVPN's free plan limits speeds and available VPN servers.
Hide My Ass, however, does have a 30-day money-back guarantee, and it offers loyalty rewards for convincing others to sign up. That said, it costs $11.99 a month, putting it on the higher end of VPN services. The current average monthly price for one of my top-rated VPNs is about $10.50. NordVPN also charges an above-average rate, but that gets you an above-average number of VPN servers and allows six simultaneous connections. Private Internet Access, on the other hand, asks only $6.95 per month, and it provides a powerful (if somewhat unfriendly) product in return.
If you are not afraid of commitment, you can get a Hide My Ass subscription for $47.94 for six months or $83.88 per year. Those are decent prices for those durations, but it's worth noting that some VPN services, such as KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, offer lifetime plans, for long-term protection. Notably, KeepSolid also has a wide variety of plans—some as short as a week.
To buy a Hide My Ass subscription, you can use credit cards, PayPal, e-check, or cash at 7-11. What you can't use are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are accepted by many VPN services (Private Internet Access, NordVPN, and others). Crypto payments, and prepaid gift cards purchased with cash, make your transactions more anonymous.
Most VPN services, like Editors' Choice winner Private Internet Access VPN (3 Months Free with 1 Year Subscription at Private Internet Access) , offer at least five licenses without restriction. TorGuard starts you with five and then has low fees for adding as many more as you'd like. Hide My Ass recently changed its pricing plan to finally allow five devices on a single subscription.
There is one way around any VPN device restrictions, however. If you want to protect all the devices on your network, you can use Hide My Ass's handy guide for installing VPN software on your router. Installing VPN on a router means that every single device on your network—from your laptop to your smart fridge—gets the benefit of VPN, and it uses only one of your licenses.
If you want VPN on routers and streaming devices, but lack that DIY zeal, fear not. Other companies, like TorGuard VPN , offer routers and even streaming boxes like the Apple TV with VPN preinstalled.
Despite its impressive geographic coverage, Hide My Ass has nothing in the way of specialty servers. Editors' Choice winner NordVPN ($3.49 Per Month at NordVPN) , on the other hand, has a specific server type for high-speed video streaming, another that routes your VPN connection through the Tor network, others for P2P file sharing and BitTorrent, and yet another that provides double encryption. ProtonVPN also offers built-in Tor access, and a group of specially secured servers called the Secure Core network.
If you're looking for a good VPN for BitTorrrent, I recommend TorGuard. The "tor" in its name refers to BitTorrent, and supporting the needs of downloaders is of utmost importance to the company. To that end, it offers static IP addresses that are unlikely to be blocked, and other add-ons.
There are many ways to create a VPN connection. My preferred method uses the OpenVPN protocol, which is known for its speed and reliability. It's also open-source, and therefore has been picked over for potential vulnerabilities by anyone with the interest to do so.
Hide My Ass uses OpenVPN on Windows, with an older version of the app that supports L2TP, and PPTP, too. There are also two different versions of the macOS app that, taken together, support IPSec (IKEv1 and v2), L2TP, and PPTP. Note that these older versions of the app are being phased out by the developer. The iOS version uses only IPSec, and the Android app uses only OpenVPN.
That's a bit of a hodgepodge, and I am disappointed that Hide My Ass doesn't provide OpenVPN on all platforms. That said, some of the issue is with the platforms. Apple requires developers to jump through additional hoops if they want to include OpenVPN in an app, but many are beginning to move in that direction. I would like to see Hide My Ass do the same, across the board.
Servers and Server Locations
A key differentiator between VPN services is the number of available servers and their geographic distribution. Lots of servers means you're more likely to find a server that's not bogged down with other users. For its part, Hide My Ass has a very respectable 876 servers at its disposal. That said, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TorGuard VPN have well over 3,000 servers apiece. Those are my benchmarks for robustness in the VPN server category.
Geographic distribution of those servers is also very important. Lots of locations means more to choose from for spoofing purposes, but also ensures that no matter where you travel there will always be a nearby server for the best performance. Hide My Ass has a very impressive 286 server locations across some 220 countries. It's easily the broadest list among the VPN services I have reviewed.
The list of available server locations offered by Hide My Ass is particularly noteworthy because it covers regions often ignored by other VPN companies. It has, for example, numerous server locations across the continent of Africa—a rarity among VPN companies. It also maintains servers in China, Russia, and Turkey, which have particularly repressive internet policies.
Some consumers might be concerned about a VPN company's use of virtual servers. These are software-defined servers that make a single physical server effectively operate as several servers. Virtual servers can also be configured to behave as if they are in one country when they're really in another, which is a problem if you're worried about where your data is traveling.
A company representative told me that a full 225 of the 286 server locations offered by Hide My Ass are virtual servers. Only 61 of the server locations are hardware, and 450 of Hide My Ass's 876 servers are virtual. That's far beyond other services. NordVPN, Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, IPVanish, and TorGuard only use physical infrastructure for their server locations.
A company representative explained to me that bulk of the company's physical server infrastructure is located in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Miami, New York, Prague, Seattle, and Singapore. This doesn't quite jibe with what Hide My Ass lists on its website. I'd like to see future versions of Hide My Ass be clearer about when you are connected to a virtual server.
Your Privacy With Hide My Ass
With any security product, you want to be sure that the company behind it will be operating in your best interests. This is especially true for VPNs, which are intended to improve privacy and security. If a VPN company is just as nosey as your ISP, there's not much point in using it.
What is notable is that Hide My Ass will store this data for two to three months, while VyprVPN stores it for only 30 days. Other services hold even less information, or they dispose of it immediately. Hide My Ass says that it retains this data for this period of time in order to improve performance, prevent fraud, and prevent bad guys from using the VPN to send spam. The company, notably, also lists file sharing as one of the illicit activities it requires this information to prevent, despite the company being fine with the use of BitTorrent on some servers.
It might be possible that this information could be used to correlate a user's identity to specific activity online, but it would likely be very difficult. Even with this information, an observer would have to know which VPN server to watch and then compare that activity against Hide My Ass's logs, and be able to parse out the target's traffic from everyone else using the same server.
In the past, some VPN companies monetized users by injecting ads into their web traffic. Hide My Ass says that it does not do that, and goes even further. A company representative explained to me that the company does not profit from user data in any way.
The actual location of a VPN company also matters, as it can inform what protections are afforded to customers. Hide My Ass has its company headquarters in London, and operates under the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. Notably, the UK at large does have mandatory data retention laws. That's not ideal. Many other VPN services operate in countries without mandatory data retention laws, or in ones that have favorable privacy protections for consumers.
I don't believe it is possible to make a determination about the benefits of a company based solely on its location. However, it is important to understand the laws and policies at work in a company with such intimate access to your information. I encourage readers to consider this information, and choose a VPN service with which they can feel comfortable.
Hands On With Hide My Ass
I had no trouble installing the Windows version on my Lenovo ThinkPad T460s, which runs Windows 10.
The app is quite distinctive not just for its name, but for its brightly colored and donkey-heavy appearance. In that way, it's quite similar to bear-themed TunnelBear.
The app presents three scenarios to help you get online quickly. The first is Instant Mode, which simply looks for the fastest, closest server and connects you. This is great for day-to-day use, and will likely reduce the impact of the VPN connection on your web browsing experience.
The second is Location Mode, which lets you select whatever server you desire. You can search the extensive list by country or city, and you can save favorite servers, too. The fast server selection of Location Mode is very handy, but it doesn't offer specialty servers or information about the traffic load on the servers. You're on your own. IVPN and NordVPN, among others, provide stats about each server that can help you decide.
The third and final mode is Freedom Mode. Click it, and you are connected to a VPN server in what Hide My Ass calls the "closest free-speech country." When I tested the feature in my Manhattan corner office, it connected me to a server in Montreal.
While I appreciate the emphasis on real-world applications for VPNs, I think it's better to just have a button to quickly get a person online safely. Most people might not be familiar with the benefits of using a VPN, or understand what the distinction is among the three modes. (Truth be told, I'm not sure I do, either.) A big, simple button similar to NordVPN or TunnelBear, with other options under the hood, seems like the best approach. Still, it's far friendlier and easier to use than, say, Private Internet Access, which is little more than a window to start your connection.
The app includes a few settings, but nothing too in-depth. You can, however, configure the app to activate automatically whenever you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network—a feature I appreciate. There certainly wasn't the kind of advanced features found in other services, which is in keeping with the app's focus on simplicity but out of step with its price tag.
Hide My Ass and Netflix
If you're alive this far into the 21st century, you're probably streaming video and music on a daily basis. Unfortunately, just because you paid for that privilege in one country doesn't mean you can access it in another. Many streaming companies, and especially Netflix, block VPN users in order to prevent them from accessing content that's not meant to be streamed in their country.
I found that Netflix successfully blocked me from using its service while I was connected to Hide My Ass. That's unfortunate. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, TunnelBear VPN, and NordVPN all managed to sneak around Netflix's prohibitions. Do note, however, that VPN blocking is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. The service that works for watching Netflix with a VPN today might be blocked tomorrow.
After reading Netflix's Terms of Service document, it doesn't seem that using a VPN is explicitly forbidden. However, section 6c notes that Netflix will attempt to verify your location. It also says that you're not necessarily entitled to content outside your primary country of residence.
Other services, like Private Internet Access and CyberGhost, include ad and tracker blocking, but Hide My Ass does not offer this kind of ability. If you need these kinds of advanced features, or even just the ability to change which VPN protocol to use, you'd best look elsewhere.
Speed and Performance
Using a VPN makes your web traffic jump through more hoops than normal, or optimal. As a result, you're probably going to see some slowdown in your online experience while the VPN is in use. To get a sense of this impact, I compare the average results from Ookla's speed test tool to find the percent change with the VPN on and off. (Note that Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, which also owns PCMag.) Ookla measures latency as well as speeds for uploads and downloads, which I use in my testing.
I do these tests twice. The first time, I use a server located close to my physical location. This puts the emphasis on speed and performance, and is likely indicative of how most people will use the service. Then, I perform the same tests while connected to an Ookla test server in Anchorage, Alaska, and a VPN server in Australia. The vast distances involved act as a stress test of the service.
In the domestic latency tests, Hide My Ass had an impressively small impact, increasing ping time by only 42.9 percent. TorGuard VPN had the best score in this category, actually reducing latency by a slight 6.7 percent. Results were less rosy in the international latency tests, where Hide My Ass increased latency by 400.3 percent. TunnelBear had the best score in this round, increasing latency by 270.3 percent.
I consider the download speed tests to be the most important of the bunch, and Hide My Ass did not disappoint. It slowed download speeds by only 6.9 percent, not far from the best score in these tests. That's held by TorGuard VPN, which reduced download speeds by only 3.7 percent. That success was short-lived, as Hide My Ass lowered international download speeds by 77.1 percent. In these tests, AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite had the best score, reducing speeds by 39.9 percent.
That was just a bump in the road for Hide My Ass, which performed well in the upload speed tests. It dropped upload domestic upload speeds by 5.25 percent. IPVanish had the best results here, reducing uploads by 2.9 percent. The international upload tests saw a cluster of similar scores, with Hide My Ass in among the rest. In these tests, it slowed upload speeds by 98.3 percent, while Private Internet Access took the best score, reducing speeds by 97.3 percent.
Overall, I am impressed by Hide My Ass's performance, but I still discourage anyone from using speed as the only criteria for selecting a VPN. Still, it is an issue that concerns people. If you're one of them and are keen to get the fastest VPN, I recommend TorGuard VPN. Its low latency and excellent download performance make it a solid choice.
Hide My Ass for Android
It has been quite some time since we last reviewed the Hide My Ass Android app, and I'll be updating this review once we've taken a fresh look at it. At the time, I was impressed with the colorful design, which appears to have remained to this day.
One notable facet of the Android app is that it uses the OpenVPN protocol, which I prefer. All the best Android VPN apps include it, so that's a good mark in its favor.
Hide My Ass for iPhone
We've reviewed the Hide My Ass iPhone app more recently than the Android one, and were pleased with its look and feel on the Apple handset. Its colorful, friendly design fits right in, and will be accessible even to people who have never used a VPN before.
The iPhone version of Hide My Ass only uses the IPSec VPN protocol. That's too bad, although the reason likely has to do with Apple's app developer policies. Still, several of the best VPN apps for iPhone include OpenVPN despite the hoops Apple makes developers jump through. I'd like to see future versions of Hide My Ass include this protocol.
Hide My Ass for Mac
We haven't had the chance to review the macOS VPN app from Hide My Ass. As soon as we get the chance, I'll be sure to update this review.
As with Windows, there are two versions of the Hide My Ass app for Apple computers. One is intended for legacy support, while the other is available from the Apple App Store. The legacy edition supports the L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec IKEv1 protocols. The version in the App Store uses the newer IPSec IKEv2 protocol. I'd prefer it if Hide My Ass used OpenVPN.
Conceal My Donkey
With its cheeky name, great design, and robust service, it's easy to see why Hide My Ass has such an ardent following. Also, donkeys are great. But the service is still on the pricey side, despite offering a very robust global network of VPN servers. It's also a bit disappointing that Hide My Ass relies so heavily on virtual servers.
The VPN space is crowded, and there are many options that excel where Hide My Ass merely meets expectations. TunnelBear is an Editors' Choice winner that has bright colors and bears, as well as an excellent privacy and security pedigree. NordVPN is another winner that combines well-designed apps with powerful technology and a robust network of servers. And Private Internet Access is an Editors' Choice winner that skimps on appearances to offer a powerful security tool at a bargain-basement price. Consider these three, in addition to your friendly security donkey.
Hundreds of server locations spread across almost every nation.
Friendly, simple interface.
Relies heavily on virtual server locations.
No ad blocking.
No free version.
The Bottom Line
Hide My Ass VPN turns heads with its name, and it has solid security and a robust server network, to boot. The downside is its hefty price tag.
This VPN is easy-to-use with a sprawling network of servers and some capable new apps, but the session logging policies may be a concern to some, and there are cheaper services around.
- Servers in 190+ countries
- Responsive live chat support
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer
- Effective system and app kill switches
- Some session logging
- Limited configurability
- There are cheaper VPNs around
- Below-average support website
One of the biggest names in the VPN business, HideMyAss! (HMA) has been protecting its users' privacy for more than 15 years, and it's been owned by security giant Avast since 2016.
The company offers a vast network of 1,000+ servers in 290+ locations across 190+ countries. That's fewer servers than some of the top providers, but many more locations and countries (NordVPN has 5,800+ servers across 59 countries, ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers across 160 locations and 94 countries).
There's P2P support, but only on a handful of locations, in fact just eight via our Windows client (five in Europe, three in the US).
Industrial-strength privacy is provided via OpenVPN and IKEv2 support, AES-256-GCM data encryption, RSA-4096 for handshaking and SHA-256 data authentication.
HideMyAss! has its own DNS service to help avoid DNS leaks and, as a bonus, it blocks access to malicious and phishing sites.
The HideMyAss! website proudly proclaims that it works on all your devices, and it just might have a point. Not only are there custom apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, but there's installation advice to help you manually set up the service on many other platforms. And that includes the ability to configure some routers, which in theory should allow you to use the service with all your smart devices, too.
The apps have been updated to version 5.0 since our last review, and now feature a streamlined new interface, an enhanced Location Picker, improved kill switches and split tunneling on Android. Oh, there's also a Chrome browser extension, and support for Android TV, too.
Editor's Note: What immediately follows is a rundown of the latest changes and additions since this review was last updated.
- The service is now a no-log VPN and should be audited soon to confirm the claim. (May 2020).
Plans and pricing
Head off to the official HideMyAss! pricing page and the company looks distinctly short on plans, with just one-year and three-year options.
In reality, HideMyAss! has more plans than most of the competition, they're just not easy to find on the website. No, that doesn't make any sense to us, either, but there's a summary of what's available in this blog post.
The monthly plan is priced at $11.99. That's in the range you'd expect from a top VPN, but not something that's suitable for more than a very occasional one-off month. (Surfshark gives you two years of service for under $48, or $1.99 a month).
The six-month plan is also more expensive than we'd like at $7.99 a month. The price drops to $5.99 over a year, $4.99 over two years, and $3.99 over three. If you're happy with the company, these aren't bad prices, but many other providers offer much better value. You can sign up with Private Internet Access for just $3.33 a month, for instance, and that's just on the annual plan – there is no need to pay for several years upfront.
A Family plan gets you a year of coverage for everyone in your household, and supports up to 10 simultaneous connections, for $12.99 a month. It's good that this option is provided, but you could buy up to six Surfshark two-year plans for less money.
HideMyAss! Business plans enable supporting more simultaneous connections. These are priced much the same as the Family plan – around $13 a month for 10 connections, $26 for 20, $39 for 30 – and HideMyAss! can do tailored quotes if you need more.
Bitcoin isn't accepted, whatever plan you choose, but HideMyAss! does support cards and PayPal.
A 7-day free trial gives you a decent amount of time to try out the service, something you won't get with most of the competition. You must hand over your payment details, and you're automatically billed for the annual plan when the trial ends, unless you cancel (which is easy to do online).
If you buy, and then run into problems, you're protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. This had some annoying catches a few years ago (it was only valid for customers who used less than 10GB of data and made fewer than 100 connections), but they've been ditched, and if anything, the small print is more generous than most.
For instance, if you've had one refund from a VPN, then most won't give you another, even years later. HideMyAss! will give you as many as appropriate, just as long as there's at least six months between refund requests.
HideMyAss! doesn't log your IP address but there is some session logging (Image credit: Avast)
Privacy and logging
This isn't quite as bad as it first sounds. The main reason for the cluster of documents is that HideMyAss! has moved key sections into separate articles, making them easier to find, and most of these are clearly structured and well-written.
There is some session logging, though. The service records the timestamp of every session connect and disconnect, a subnet of the IP address you used to connect to the service (if you connect from 18.104.22.1683, 22.214.171.124 is logged), the IP address of the VPN server assigned to you, and the amount of data uploaded and downloaded.
Although this is more logging than you'll see with some providers, the absence of a full IP means there's no way to definitively connect any internet action back to your account. HideMyAss! deletes this data after 30 days, too, further limiting any exposure.
While this sounds positive, potential customers have no way to confirm these logging promises tell the whole story. VPN providers such as TunnelBear, NordVPN and VyprVPN have allowed independent companies to audit their systems for logging, privacy and security, and have published the results. That's the only way to begin to reassure users about what a VPN is really doing, and we hope HideMyAss! and the rest of the industry will soon follow suit.
This is the new and improved user interface of the Windows client (Image credit: HideMyAss!)
Signing up for a HideMyAss! trial works much like any other web service you've ever used. Choose a plan, select a payment method (card or PayPal) and hand over your money in the usual way.
A Download page pointed us directly to the correct app for our Windows device, while also giving us links to Mac, Android and iOS builds, and some pointers on using the service with Linux. This isn't as well-presented as high-end competitors such as ExpressVPN – you don't get the same number of tutorials on setting up the service manually, and there's no link to download the Android APK file for manual installation elsewhere – but it covers the basics well.
HideMyAss! has completely redesigned its apps since our last review, with brand new, streamlined and simplified interfaces across the range.
The old 'Instant', 'Location' and 'Freedom' modes have been ditched, and the new versions work much like most other VPN apps: it has a list of locations, an On/Off button, and a Settings dialog with some useful tweaks.
The Location Picker has been nicely streamlined compared to the old app (Image credit: HideMyAss!)
The Location Picker doesn't force you to scroll – and scroll, and scroll – to find what you need. You're now able to view locations by continent or type (streaming or P2P optimized), enter text in a Search box, or save commonly used locations as Favorites for speedy access later.
The Location Picker doesn't have any latency or server load indicators, but there is a Speed Test option which detects your nearest servers and calculates their latencies and download speeds.
The Windows client has not one, but two, kill switches
A sidebar contains a small number of configuration options, including a setting to automatically connect to the VPN whenever you access the internet, and to enable the client's two kill switches. Yes, two: if the VPN drops, a system-wide kill switch protects you by blocking internet access, and an optional app kill switch closes down your chosen processes (your browser or torrent client, say).
We tested the kill switch by forcibly closing the Openvpn.exe process and its TCP connection, and monitoring IP leaks when we switched servers. In all cases the client correctly blocked all leaks, preventing our real IP from reaching the outside world.
The app kill switch is unusual, because as well as terminating specific apps if the VPN drops, it also automatically connects to HideMyAss! when you launch those apps.
This is a nice idea, and it worked during testing, but it doesn't offer enough control. You might not want to connect to the VPN every time you open your torrent client, for instance, but HideMyAss! doesn't care: once it's on the app kill switch list, that's what will happen. The client should treat the auto-connect option as a separate feature and make it configurable for each app.
Tucked away in the Preferences box, an unusual IP Shuffle feature changes your IP address at a defined interval (30 minutes, an hour, a day, whatever you like), making it even more difficult for others to track what you're doing.
You can refine the auto-connect feature, and maybe have it connect to HideMyAss! when you access a public network, but not with networks you trust, when you are, say, at home or work.
Small but thoughtful touches include the ability to view your OpenVPN connection log, which is potentially very useful in troubleshooting connection issues.
The Android app has a very similar user interface to its iOS and Windows counterparts (Image credit: HideMyAss!)
The Android and iOS apps have a near identical interface to the Windows client, and once you've found your way around one, you'll have no problem using the others.
The Android app has an extra feature in its new split tunneling support, though. In a click or two you're able to decide which apps should use the encrypted tunnel, and which are left with your regular connection.
The mobile apps have smarter auto-connect rules, too, and can automatically connect you to the VPN when you join unsecure Wi-Fi networks only, or with any Wi-Fi, or both Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
The various HideMyAss! apps aren't the most powerful we've seen, and despite the redesign, they're not the easiest to use. They're likeable, though, and mostly do a good job, and we expect they'll quickly improve as HideMyAss! uncovers and fixes issues with the new interface.
We used Ookla's SpeedTest and TestMy to measure the performance of HideMyAss! (Image credit: TestMy.net)
We began our HideMyAss! performance checks by choosing a small group of test servers: three in the US, three in the UK, two in Europe, and locations in Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea to represent the rest of the world.
(This required downloading OpenVPN configuration files, so we were happy to find that HideMyAss! provides a wide selection, sensibly named and right up to date.)
Our tests began by connecting to each server in turn, recording the connection time, running a ping check to look for latency issues, and using geolocation to verify that the server was in the location advertised.
There was positive news in every area. All servers appeared to be where HideMyAss! claimed they would be. Connection times were good at around five seconds, even for the most distant locations (some VPNs are twice that, or more), and ping times lengthened for faraway servers, but no more than we expected, and they didn't reveal any problems.
We moved on to checking the best-case download speeds, connecting to our nearest server from both US and UK locations, and measuring download performance using Ookla's SpeedTest and TestMy.
UK speeds were an excellent 69-71Mbps on our test 75Mbps connection, only around 4-5% down on our performance with the VPN turned off.
We made our US checks from a superfast 600Mbps connection, allowing us to see what level of performance the HideMyAss! servers can sustain. Speeds weren't much better than the UK, at 75-80Mbps, well down on the 140-200Mbps we saw in our last review.
Our tests were conducted at the beginning of April 2020, when a lot of the world was in coronavirus-prompted lockdown, with VPN and internet traffic at record levels, so it's possible this had an effect. As there's no way for us to say for sure, we're not going to count these results as a major black mark against the company, this time.
Even if that 75-80Mbps US performance was all you'd ever get, though, that's still more than enough for most purposes, and quick checks from the UK showed even the most distant servers managed very usable speeds (Australia hit 34Mbps, Malaysia managed 25-30Mbps, even Peru's 10-12Mbps was enough for browsing and basic streaming).
HideMyAss! was able to unblock US Netflix in our tests, but not the UK service (Image credit: Netflix)
Point your browser at the HideMyAss! website and you'll read that the service allows you to "stream your favorite TV shows from wherever you are in the world using one of our dedicated streaming servers." Sounds good, but is it true?
The HideMyAss! Windows client enables filtering its location list to display only streaming servers, and right now there are just five of these: two in New York, one in Florida, one in London and another in Frankfurt. That's not exactly a lot of choice, and we wondered whether that would make it easier for streaming websites to detect and block them.
The results were, well, a little complicated. The HideMyAss! UK server got us instant access to BBC iPlayer, and UK Amazon Prime Video, though not UK Netflix. Meanwhile, the US servers got us into US Netflix, and US-only YouTube content, but not Amazon Prime Video.
That's not great, and as the HideMyAss! website doesn't commit to supporting access for any particular service, it's probably not going to change any time soon. Keep in mind that you do get to try the service for a week for free, though, so there's plenty of time to test it for yourself.
HideMyAss! provides support via 24/7 live chat, a web forum, FAQs and a searchable knowledgebase (Image credit: Avast)
The HideMyAss! support site offers a wide range of resources, including setup guides, a searchable knowledgebase, FAQs, a web forum, and 24/7 live chat for anything urgent.
The web content isn't as in-depth or well-presented as some of the competition. ExpressVPN has a host of detailed setup guides, all easily accessible in a couple of clicks from the support page. HideMyAss! doesn't organize its articles quite as neatly, and when you do find them, there's less information, and occasionally some questionable points.
For example, the Windows setup tutorial starts by talking about downloading the latest version of the .NET Framework, for instance, before saying there's nothing out of the ordinary about warnings that the TAP driver isn't signed, and suggesting you fix this by disabling driver signing checks. This isn't necessarily bad advice if you know what you're doing, but it's also seriously advanced stuff with implications for your security, and we wouldn't expect it to appear in a general installation tutorial for all levels of user.
The HideMyAss! web forum isn't a busy place, but post a question there and it's normally answered by a staff member within a few hours. Replies are generally helpful, and if the problem isn’t solved on the forum, the support team will often create a ticket for you or send you a direct email to discuss the issue further.
If you can't wait, live chat is on hand for near instant assistance. We asked about a Windows installation issue, and within minutes, a support agent began giving us a helpful and accurate solution. That works for us, and overall, we think HideMyAss! should be able to help you solve most common VPN issues.
This VPN provider's data collection policies could be a problem for the privacy conscious, and prices are higher than we’d ideally like. That said, the new apps are easy to use, it unblocked US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and you do get one of the largest VPN networks around. If these are your priorities, HideMyAss! might be worth a try.
Starts from $ 399 per month
HideMyAss has been making incremental improvements for a long time, slowly climbing its way higher in our best VPN rankings. The current iteration of the client has a clean look and an impressive spread of features, but unfortunately the polished software thinly veils some concerning issues.
Throughout this HideMyAss review, we’ll talk about the issues with HMA’s huge server network, why it caused Windows Defender to spring into action and its variety of features. It has some high points, overall, but far too many low ones. If you’re looking for a VPN that does just about everything right, be sure to read our ExpressVPN review.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- App kill switch & IP shuffle
- Free trial
- Easy-to-use apps
- Poor privacy
- No monthly plan
- Inconsistent speed
- Works with only some streaming sites
Alternatives for HideMyAss
The way HideMyAss’ options are spread out across multiple menu tabs can make finding all the settings a bit challenging, but the VPN actually offers a variety of nice-to-have features. For starters, it covers the two things we always look for in every VPN: a kill switch and a way to set up some type of automatic connection for when you boot up your device.
HMA’s kill switch is as run of the mill as it gets, blocking traffic only when the VPN disconnects unexpectedly. This is in contrast to some other kill switches, such as AirVPN’s “network lock” feature, which blocks traffic even when you disconnect the VPN on purpose (something you can read more about in our AirVPN review).
The auto-connect options are similarly bog standard. For example, you aren’t able to choose where the VPN will make the connection. Instead, the VPN just chooses your most recently connected location. However, you can set it up to connect automatically only on public networks but not private ones, making this a great way to avoid the dangers of public WiFi.
Beyond these essential items, HideMyAss currently supports two extra features. The first is an app kill switch, which lets you define a list of programs that will trigger the HMA client to block traffic specifically to those apps if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly. Read our Astrill review for another example of this feature.
The second added goodie is something called IP shuffle. Every now and then, at an interval you can set, the VPN will change your IP address (Private Internet Access used to have a similar feature). This can improve security and privacy by making it much harder — practically impossible — for anyone to track your online activity.
However, the kill switch needs to be on for this feature to be effective. Otherwise, every time a shuffle happens there will be a window of vulnerability when your real IP address will be shown. We also want to point out that the HMA kill switch is set to “off” by default, and we urge anyone using it to change this setting as soon as possible for a more secure setup.
HideMyAss on iOS, Android and More
HideMyAss’ final noteworthy feature is that it supports your standard spread of devices, including iOS, Android, macOS, Windows and routers.
The noteworthy part about this is that HMA’s clean and simple mobile app seems to strike a chord with users, fetching an average rating in the Google Play store of 4.4 stars, compared to industry giants ExpressVPN and NordVPN having only 4.1 and 4.2 stars, respectively.
Overall, HMA offers a solid spread when it comes to features. The main thing that’s still losing HMA points in this section is the lack of split tunneling.
In short, split tunneling would allow users to choose on a per-application basis which programs use the VPN’s tunneled connection and which ones use a standard internet connection. You can read more about split tunneling in our ExpressVPN vs CyberGhost article.
HideMyAss Features Overview
Starts from$ 399per month
PayPal, Credit card
Free trial available
Worldwide server amount
1000+ servers in 190+ countries
Windows, MacOS, Linux
Can be installed on routers
Can access Amazon Prime Video
VPN protocols available
Enabled at device startup
Malware/ad blocker included
HMA actually shows different plan options depending on your country. When we connected to the HMA website from the U.S., HideMyAss offered three plans, jumping straight to a yearly plan as the shortest available signup length, instead of starting with a monthly option.
HMA’s annual pricing matches NordVPN’s. If you read our NordVPN review, you’ll see that NordVPN also lets users sign up on a per-month basis, although it’s a bit steep to regularly pay for a VPN this way.
In fact, NordVPN and HideMyAss actually have the same pricing for the two-year period, as well. However, NordVPN actually comes in at about 50 cents less per month than HMA in the three-year time frame. Neither VPN is particularly cheap, though (read our Windscribe review if that’s what you’re after).
Another nice thing to somewhat soften the blow of the $80 minimum you’ll have to pay is that there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives you 30 days to get your money back, on top of the seven-day free trial you can sign up for to test out the VPN completely risk free.
When we looked at the website from a location in Europe, we found that HMA offered a monthly plan for 10.99 euros and that there was no trial. Although this is strange and frustrating, there’s really not much more we can make of this unusual business practice.
When it comes time to pay, your options are very limited. You can either pay through PayPal or a credit card.
The lack of more discreet payment methods — such as the widely popular bitcoin or even cash payments, as we saw in our Mullvad review — leaves more paper trail than many VPN users might like. Read our ProtonVPN review for a service that accepts nearly anything for payment.
The website is also lacking when it comes to actually showing the plans available. If you go to the “price plans” page, you are shown only a seven-day free trial, a one-year plan and a three-year plan, but not a two-year plan.
However, the bottom of the very long homepage shows all three plan lengths. Some site improvements with how the plans are displayed — as well as the addition of a monthly plan and more payment options — would greatly improve HMA’s weakest links.
Ease of Use
The blue and white color scheme is widely popular with VPN providers these days, and HideMyAss has a nice take on a clean and simple interface design (read our Surfshark review for another service with this look). Both the desktop client and mobile apps are visually pleasant and easy on the eyes, even in low light.
HMA’s “quick options” sit on the right side of the screen. From here, you can turn the kill switch and auto-connect options on or off, see how much bandwidth you’ve used since connecting, and a few other things that rotate in and out, such as a “please review us” bubble.
However, with the mention of the nice design out of the way, things start to go downhill. During our installation, we received a Windows Defender notification regarding HMA’s client telling us that running the program could put our computer at risk. This is an alarming notification to see when you’re not expecting it.
It seems like the HideMyAss setup executable file is missing some of the information that lets Windows know what company made the software. Because that information seems to be missing from the files — or at least our computer could not find it — Windows treats the executable as an unrecognizable app and will refuse to launch it without user action.
If you encounter this pop-up, you have to select “more info” and then tell Windows to run the software, even though Windows thinks there is a potential risk. On top of the unpleasant Windows notification, the HMA settings tabs are not laid out as well as they could be, as we briefly mentioned in the “features” section.
Having such a limited number of checkboxes and dropdowns spread across four tabs makes for too much switching from page to page while tinkering with the configuration (read our TorGuard review for a VPN with the opposite problem).
Condensing everything into two tabs — we would argue for just “general” and “connection” — would make messing with the settings a lot smoother and easier.
As always, we ran our first speed test in the U.S., then the UK, and we saw very good speeds. However, almost every VPN service still kicking in 2020 has good performance in these locations (just see our fastest VPN guide).
One of HideMyAss’s biggest claims to fame is its expansive network of servers, so in our next three locations we wanted to really put HMA’s global reach to the test.
|British Virgin Islands||51||126.39||106.31|
First, we went to Japan and saw very poor performance on paper, which is actually surprising because Japan isn’t that far off the beaten path of the greater internet. That said, despite the number we got on paper, we were still able to stream in 1080p on the server in Japan. It just took about 20 seconds to work up from 360p, where it loaded in.
Next, we headed to the British Virgin Islands, which is a favorite spot for many VPN services thanks to the country’s excellent privacy laws. Here we saw good speeds, especially the download speed.
While testing this location, we unknowingly left some updates running in the background while still connected, and we were downloading at a respectable 20 MBps. This actually converts to 160 Mbps, which is even higher than the results we were seeing on paper.
Finally, to really push the envelope of HMA’s massive server network, we connected to the beautiful island country of Cape Verde off the west coast of Senegal, Africa.
Curiously enough, we saw better speeds here than we did in Japan, and likewise saw a boost in performance to match. Videos would load in at 360p, just like in Japan, but would zoom up the scale to 1080p in only a couple of seconds.
Although we’ve certainly seen worse, HideMyAss falls into the category of usable when it comes to speed, rather than fast or responsive.
Assessing the security of a VPN starts with looking at what protocol and encryption it uses. HideMyAss goes with the industry standard setup here, using OpenVPN for the protocol and pairing it with AES-256 encryption.
You can read more about the specifics of what all of this means in our description of encryption and VPN protocol breakdown articles, but to summarize, OpenVPN and AES-256 offer excellent security while also giving decent speed.
As we mentioned, the kill switch and app kill switch can further help improve security, but the kill switch is actually off by default. This could create a problem if you were to use the IP shuffle without first turning on this feature.
That’s because during the shuffle, your real IP address would be momentarily exposed.
The main security concern with HideMyAss actually stems from one of its strengths: its massive network of VPN servers. With so many servers, HideMyAss ended up making some compromises. This means some of the servers are not “bare metal” — meaning physical hardware in the location you’re connecting to — but are instead virtual servers.
These virtual servers are in a location potentially far away from the place you’re actually trying to connect to and simply assign you an IP address that makes you superficially appear to be in a different location.
Although this has performance benefits because the server could be closer to you than the actual location you’re connecting to, there are major drawbacks, as well. For one thing, websites can see through this trick much more easily than if a physical server was in use, so access to geoblocked content can be limited on a network that operates this way.
Virtual Server Issues
The real danger, though, is that virtual servers often can’t be held to the same stringent standards of security that many bare-metal servers are. It’s often unclear how or, in some cases, even who is operating a virtual server. This means your signal could be passing through questionable hardware (read our VPN vs proxy vs Tor guide for more on that).
We saw some strange behaviors during our DNS and IP testing that attest to the unreliability of virtual servers. Often we would be connecting to a server in one location while our IP addresses and DNS requests were going through an entirely different location. For example, from what we can gather, it would seem that the British Virgin Islands server might actually be in the UK.
If you’re looking for a VPN with reliably secure servers, we suggest that you check out our ExpressVPN vs VyprVPN article. ExpressVPN offers solid but basic security — like HideMyAss but with better server and DNS configuration — while VyprVPN gives users tons of protocols and encryptions to choose from (read our VyprVPN review).
The policy states in clear language that anyone using the free HMA proxy unblocker will have their originating IP address and domain names logged, so definitely avoid the free proxy at all costs.
As for the actual VPN, things aren’t as bad. It does not log your IP, DNS queries or browsing history. The HideMyAss VPN collects benign information, for the most part, including things like connection time and the amount of data transmitted. However, we’ve found VPNs lying in their privacy policies before, as you can see in our IPVanish review.
Two major things lose HMA points in this round, the biggest of which is that it’s owned by Avast. Not too long ago, news broke that Avast was collecting and selling user data on a very large scale through its subsidiary Jumpshot.
This data did not include personal information, but it was detailed enough that there is a possibility it could be deanonymized and the information itself could be enough to reveal your identity.
Add the fact that there is no anonymous payment method, such as crypto, and you now have a company with a poor track record providing you a VPN that has your name for payment purposes and email for account maintenance. It’s a less-than-ideal spot to be in. Be sure to check out our NordVPN vs Mullvad article to see how a VPN can offer excellent privacy.
HMA’s server network offers streaming servers in a handful of locations, including New York, Florida, the UK and Germany. However, we saw the exact same results regardless of whether we were using the normal servers or streaming server.
Netflix worked perfectly on the normal servers as well as the New York streaming server, but HMA still didn’t earn a spot in our best VPN for Netflix guide. Additionally, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu were blocked.
BBC iPlayer worked when we connected to the UK normally, but it seems like the software might have been defaulting to the streaming server even when we connected to the UK from the standard server list.
Either way, we were able to get BBC iPlayer working, whether we connected through the normal server list or the dedicated streaming server list. As we saw with Netflix, not only did the site work, but it felt very responsive and the videos loaded quickly.
With that said, however, all the responsiveness and speed is largely squandered when the VPN can connect to only half of the streaming sites we tried. We suggest taking a look at our best VPN for Hulu or best VPN for Amazon Prime Video article if streaming is your main priority in a VPN.
HideMyAss has the largest selection of server locations we’ve seen to date, with more than 290 locations available in more than 190 countries. As we’ve already mentioned, though, many of these servers are not actually in the location they claim to be. Instead, many of HMA’s locations are made up of virtual servers.
HMA does have what sounds like an impressive number of total servers, coming in at around 1,000 servers with 50,000 total IP addresses to offer between them. However, this is only about a fourth the number of servers that NordVPN has, despite having those servers in fewer locations.
This means that the HMA network is spread thin. Because of this, spikes in traffic on the network could very easily lead to noticeable slowdowns.
The HMA customer support can be hit or miss. The page for how to contact the live chat support literally says, “A live chat agent will be with you as they’re free. If an agent is unavailable at that time, just try again a little bit later.”
This means you may or may not get a response, and we were not able to find regular hours for the live chat posted on the site. This makes the knowledgebase and forum better bets if you need an answer on short notice. Although the forum isn’t super active, it still has answers to many of the most common questions you’ll likely encounter.
Likewise, the knowledgebase acts as a fairly simple FAQ that covers the basics of using the VPN client on each of the supported platforms. If the live chat never responds and you can’t find the answer to your question in either the forum or knowledgebase, then you can still send an email to support and simply wait for a reply.
That said, there’s still the free trial for those who are interested in trying HMA out for themselves. If you do, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.
Is the HideMyAss Proxy Safe?
How Strong Is the HMA VPN?
The HMA VPN is about on par with the rest of the industry when it comes to security. It uses the OpenVPN protocol paired with AES-256 encryption, which offers stout security and good performance. It also has a kill switch and an application kill switch to improve security even further.
How Does the HMA VPN Work?
The HideMyAss VPN works on the same principles as any VPN. Your internet connection is encrypted and then transmitted to a server in another location before being directed to your intended destination. This helps secure your connection and makes you appear as though you are in another place.
A great UI and network, but keeps logs.
The service with the largest network on the market, HideMyAss has a great interface and decent pricing. However, as you can read in our full HMA review, it doesn't do that great a job of actually hiding your ass as it keeps logs.
HMA is a VPN with a great name and fun graphics, but if that’s your favorite thing about it, you may want to look for different software.
Why Choose HideMyAss!
Hide My Ass! (HMA) is a VPN from the people at AVG. AVG Technologies was founded in 1991 by Jan Gritzbach and Tomáš Hofer; it is a security software company based in the Czech Republic. The offices of HMA are located in London, Kiev, and Belgrade, and employ over 100 staffers. HMA has more than 930 servers, in more than 350 locations, in nearly 200 countries.
Best VPN for
- Netflix, Hulu, and streaming online
- Torrenting and downloading
- The name! I love the name “Hide My Ass!” It makes me laugh every time.
- Very granular control over Location Mode in desktop version
- Amusing UI graphics
- Supports OpenVPN
- Speed: I experienced a 50% loss in download speed
- Located in a Five Eyes country
- They log your IP
- Failed with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
Pricing and Plans
HMA offers three different service plan options. You can purchase a 12-month plan for $6.99 per month, prepaid annually as $83.88; a 24-month plan for $5.99 per month, prepaid every 2 years as $143.76; or a 36-month plan, which is the best value, at $4.29 per month, prepaid every 3 years as $154.44.
You can pay with credit card, PayPal, cash at 7-Eleven/Ace, bank/wire transfer, Diner’s Club, check, or Union Pay. HMA also offers a “Pay with Gift Card” option that allows you to trade gift cards for account credit.
HMA offers three different connection modes: Instant, Location, and Freedom. Instant Mode is, essentially, exactly what it sounds like. You click and it connects.
Location Mode allows you to select the location of the server you want to use. You can choose by country, by city, or from a list of any favorites you may have saved. I really like how granular the location mode is. It’s nice to be able to choose exactly where you are connecting. Once you make a selection, I used a favorite of Zurich in this example, the software will ask you to confirm your choice. Next, it will connect to your chosen server and then return to the main screen and show your connection. A desktop notification will also appear and show you your public IP address.
Freedom Mode allows you to connect to the nearest free-speech country. That’s not such a big deal for those of us in the States, but for users elsewhere in the world, who want a quick and clean connection option, or if you are traveling the world, this is an excellent way to go. Freedom Mode automatically connects to the fastest server in the closest free-speech country. Once it has connected, it returns to the main screen, shows your connection, and the desktop notification appears and shows you your public IP address.
The speed test results were interesting. You can see a comparison of speed without HMA (top) and with it (bottom). While I did get a faster ping time, my download speed was cut in half; that’s not what you want to see. I didn’t notice any effects on my use, but that’s not to say you wouldn’t see an impact. A 50% drop in download speed is very significant; by contrast, upload speeds only took a 3 Mbps hit.
All the servers that appear in the test are used by HMA, so that all checks out. Nothing unusual popped up in the WebRTC test either. The IPv6 Test also showed no leaks. More good news.
Testing on mobile
The Android app weighs in at less than 13 MB which is typical of other VPNs I’ve seen. The experience on the mobile app was rather different from the desktop version, however. First, you can get a free 7-day trial on Android (if you haven’t already signed up and purchased the desktop version). Second, the options for choosing servers are buried behind the “HELP ME CHOOSE” option on the main screen.
Once you click that, you are given four choices, “SECURE MY CONNECTION”, “CHOOSE A COUNTRY”, “PARANOID MODE”, and “ANTI CENSORSHIP”. Clicking each of these pops up a request to do a speed test-- an option that I was unable to disable and quickly found tedious. Once you’ve dismissed that question, the app moves on and chooses a server for you in all options except “CHOOSE A COUNTRY” in which you scroll through and choose your own. (Clicking the LOCATION option on the main screen will also bring you to the country page AND enable you to choose favorites which, for whatever reason, they didn’t include under the “CHOOSE A COUNTRY” menu. Again, odd difference from the desktop version.)
Once you’re connected, if you click on the IP option, it will display the difference between your public and private IP addresses and offer you the option to change IP again, if you wish.
The key icon, familiar to most VPN users, appears at the top of the mobile screen when the VPN is in use. Clicking the key icon will open a screen that is meant to allow you to cancel or disconnect. On Android 6.0.1 and disconnect and cancel worked as expected.
I didn’t experience any issues at all with speed or performance while using the mobile app for HMA. My biggest complaint, honestly, was that the mobile UI was clunky and not the same as the desktop version.
HMA does keep some logs. They don’t log traffic but they do log timestamps, bandwidth, and your IP address-- which makes them a little more log-happy than some other VPNs. With a London office, they are also in a Five Eyes country-- another potential reason to be wary.
I think the gift card option could probably be employed to pay anonymously. I’ve also seen it reported that they accept Bitcoin, but that was not offered as a payment option on their site.
They’ve also been dinged for falsely claiming to be “100% effective”.
HMA supports three sets of security protocols each with different encryptions. Their OpenVPN uses OpenSSL with algorithms 3DES, AES 256, RC5, 256 bit encryption. Their PPTP uses MPPE protocol for encryption, with RSA RC4 algorithm and 128 bit keys. Their L2TP uses IPSec with 256 bit key encryption and 3DES/AES algorithm.
Many people use VPNs to access blocked content from other countries; HMA failed that test for me. Netflix and BBC iPlayer both refused to play content despite that fact that I was logged into US and UK servers respectively.
I think the HMA is a good VPN, but it’s not my favorite. While the name and UI graphics are amusing, my download speed took a 50% hit and the mobile app was not the same quality of experience I would have expected after using the desktop version. HMA operates in London, inside a Five Eyes country, and they log IP addresses--something other VPNs don’t necessarily do. The price point for HMA is lower than some other VPNs, but you will get what you paid for.
HideMyAss VPN service promises “total privacy and protection,” plus the latest-and-greatest OpenVPN protocol and encryption options.
It claims to give you access to your favourite sites online (like Netflix?).
Is it more like a proxy or a full blown VPN service?
We’ll breakdown all the good (and bad) — from connections to network speeds and more — in this HideMyAss review.
|OVERALL RANK:||#52 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Simple and easy to use|
|LOG FILES:||Some Logging Policy|
|LOCATIONS:||190+ countries, 950+ servers|
|SUPPORT:||Social media and email|
|NETFLIX:||Blocks Netflix USA|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||256-bit AES; OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec|
HideMyAss! (or HMA!) delivered consistent server speeds, delivers good device compatibility, along with A TON of servers. Check it out.
1. Pretty Consistent Server Speeds
HMA’s combined speed tests place them at number 20 out of 78 on our list.
That doesn’t sound amazing, but there’s not a lot that separates the people at the top.
Here’s how the process works.
We like to start by getting a baseline reading of our normal internet connection.
At the time of this review, those benchmark speeds without a VPN were 97 Mbps download and 53 Mbps upload.
Then, we connect to various VPN servers around the world, and use a reputable third-party tool (SpeedTest.net) to get current performance readings.
US Server (New York)
- Ping: 113ms
- Download: 58.98 Mbps (39% slower)
- Upload: 30.38 Mbps (43% slower)
EU Server (Amsterdam)
- Ping: 41ms
- Download: 63.34 Mbps (35% slower)
- Upload: 50.12 Mbps (6% slower)
Asia Server (Hong Kong)
- Ping: 284ms
- Download: 19.25 Mbps (80% slower)
- Upload: 13.09 Mbps (75% slower)
UK Server (London)
- Ping: 45ms
- Download: 64.42 Mbps (34% slower)
- Upload: 43.30 Mbps (19% slower)
These are pretty decent in reality. They’re not the fastest by any stretch. But the US, EU, and UK servers were all pretty consistent, which is a good indicator of overall performance across their other servers.
Unfortunately, that Asia one tanked and dragged them down a bit. However, if you have a ~75% chance at getting the US, EU, or UK speeds, you’d be happy.
2. Tons of Available Servers in Most Major Countries
HMA’s servers reach out across all six inhabited continents.
That’s over 930 servers in 280 locations across 190 countries.
They reach remote destinations like Greenland, cover Africa and the Middle East really well, plus a few in smaller Pacific Islands, too. It seems like the only place they don’t have a server is Antarctica.
That’s significant, because many other VPN companies tout huge server lists, only to have them all highly concentrated in North America and Europe — leaving the rest of the world high and dry.
Here’s how it server count and IPs breakdown by locale:
Generally speaking, the more available servers, the better.
Now, it’s not the end-all, be-all metric. Many VPN companies lie about their servers, in fact. They might lease or rent many of these servers from other companies, thereby ‘artificially’ boosting their total number.
But overall, total size is a pretty good indicator for expected performance. It means your chances of finding a less-crowded server are better. As well as one closer to your physical location (which tend to be faster than ones further away).
3. Good Device Compatibility
HideMyAss! has pre-built apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux, and Android devices. It does not support TOR, however.
The last time I reviewed HMA!, each account only allows for two different devices to be used at one time. This has changed now, and as at February 2019 you can use your HMA! account with up to 5 simultaneous devices.
They also offer a business VPN plan for larger numbers of devices. But it’s also more expensive, too.
Fortunately, HMA! works on routers, too. FlashRouters, in particular, have HMA pre-installed on them, so all you have to do is sign in.
That means you can hook up a router, and then connect as many devices imaginable — including smart TVs and gaming consoles.
You can protect all of these devices with OpenVPN (256-bit encryption), PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. It’s not the most extensive protocol list we’ve ever seen, but again, it covers the basics well.
Most people should just stick with OpenVPN by default, anyway. Unless device limitations force them into L2TP/IPSec. And as a general rule, stay away from PPTP if you can help it.
4. Easy-to-Use App
The HMA! app is really simple to use.
Sign up for an account, grab your install files and authentication code, and you’re good to go. The app is even available in multiple languages, so you’ve got tons of potential options.
Simply login with your access credentials, and you’re a click away from connecting.
You can get connected instantly. Or, switch up your location and adjust settings. That’s about it!
The app also has a built-in kill switch which helps with security.
No complexity or technical skills required. One of the more user-friendly apps we’ve tested.
5. Leak-Free Connection
VPN connections aren’t always as secure as they appear to be.
The little green icon on your app looks good to go. But your ISP (and everyone else) can actually see where you’re sitting.
We ran HMA! through a series of DNS and WebRTC leak tests to specifically look for this problem, and they came out clean in each one.
Unfortunately, they did slightly let us down in the VirusTotal.com test.
But let’s save that for the Cons below.
HMA! delivers most of the features you’d be looking for. No issues or glaring holes there.
Speed is pretty good. Tons of servers. Available for most devices.
But it’s what’s under the hood that scares us a little bit. Read on to find out.
1. Potential Suspicious File in their Install files
A VPN protects you from the prying eyes of aggressive governments, ISPs, or hackers.
But who, exactly, protects you from the VPN themselves?
That’s the key question we’re trying to help you with in this review.
For starters, we take the installation files from every single VPN provider and run them through VirusTotal.com to double-check that they’re not inadvertently infecting your machine.
Case in point:
HMA!’s files game back with a suspicious warning.
This could be a false positive. However, you might want to test your own install files to make sure they’re clean before downloading to your device.
It’s concerning to say the least.
But unfortunately, it’s also just the beginning of a few warning signs.
2. HideMyAss! Collects Some Log Files
Here’s where HMA! lets us (and you) down.
Their logging policy confirms that they hang onto the following data:
- Connect and disconnect timestamps
- Amount of data transmitted (upload and download)
- IP address used to connect to the VPN
- IP address of the VPN server used
Already, that’s not good. You don’t necessarily want your VPN to keep track of your own IP address. Because that still gives them a direct link between online activities and your location (and potentially your identity).
But that’s not all they track. They also collect the following:
- monitor the use of the network for technical purposes and to manage and improve the service;
- prevent and detect fraud against the service (e.g. credit card fraud);
- prevent and detect abuse of the network, such as spamming, file sharing or other illicit activity.
It does on the surface.
However, when you take a few historical events into consideration, you can see where the warning spots start popping up.
“Recursion” was the online name used by Cody Kretsinger, a hacker involved in the Sony Pictures hack of 2011.
“Was” is the key word there. Because Cody’s now sitting in jail. For a very long time.
HMA! handed his information over to the FBI, which was instrumental in Kretsinger’s conviction.
HMA! did their best to justify their actions, but they haven’t managed to live down their reputation.
Of course, we don’t condone using VPNs for illegal activity. But the fact that the VPN provider had information on Kretsinger’s activities and handed it over to law enforcement is worrying for many people.
Especially when you take into account their jurisdiction.
3. Inside Five Eyes Security Alliance
HMA! is owned by Privax Limited, a UK-based organization.
First off, the UK is among the most aggressive when it comes to spying on their own citizens. But as a card-carrying member of the Five Eyes security alliance, it means they also have the help of other aggressive governments like the U.S.
That’s not good.
You already saw why in the last point. When courts come calling, HMA! will hand over your data instantly. They also have a connection to your personal data.
Other HMA! users have been complaining about having their accounts suspended for violating Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) statutes.
So guess what’s happening?
HMA! is definitely logging your activity. They’re willingly sharing it with UK courts. And then those courts are turning around and sharing it with government agencies across the world.
Avoiding any illegal activity while using HMA! is a good start. But it’s also not the point.
Using a VPN isn’t about concealing illegal acts. It’s about keeping your private information private.
And the evidence all says that HMA! fails miserably here.
In this case, the VPN tasked to protect you is also the first one to turn you in.
4. Spotty Netflix Streaming and Torrenting Discouraged
HideMyAss! was a very popular choice for streaming Netflix a few years ago.
Unfortunately, that’s not the same case today.
We were only able to get one server in Amsterdam to successfully stream content.
The others we tried, including New York (U.S.), District of Columbia (U.S.), Montreal and Glasgow all failed miserably.
Their site makes bold claims about unblocking content. However, the facts that we saw through actual tests debunk these claims.
And while HMA doesn’t prohibit torrenting, they also aren’t exactly torrent-friendly, either.
They might not block your torrent client, but users have reported either extra-slow data transfer or outright blocking of torrent servers.
DMCA warnings haven’t added to anyone’s confidence level, either. If you’re getting a warning or an account suspension for violating copyright restrictions, it’s probably because of HMA!’s records of your torrenting activity.
5. Awful Support Speed
HideMyAss!’s support team is available on social media and email.
We manually test each customer support department, too. Just to make sure you won’t be left high and dry when you run into an issue.
So we fired off a short support question to HideMyAss!’s team.
It took about a day to simply get a confirmation email.
And since then?
It wasn’t exactly a hard-hitting question or anything. I just asked about routers and protocols.
Yet, all I’ve been met with since is radio silence.
I even did a few manual inbox searches just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
HideMyAss! Pricing & Plans
HMA! has three individual price tiers. You get the same exact features with each one. The only difference is a slight price break for longer pre-payments.
- $11.99 monthly
- $83.88 every 12 months ($6.99 per month – 42% discount)
- $119.76 every 24 months ($4.99 per month – 58% discount)
There is a 30-day free trial. You’ll need to enter a valid credit card or PayPal to take advantage. But they also provide a 30-day money-back guarantee, too. So that means you’re looking at ~60 days to test drive their service. That’s one of the best deals you’ll find.
The only refund issues are that it has to be the first time you’ve purchased HideMyAss!, and you have to have used less than 10GB of bandwidth. You’ll have to fill out the refund request form.
An annual commitment for $6.99/month is not the cheapest VPN out there. But the lengthy test drive period should be worth a few extra bucks.
Do We Recommend HideMyAss!?
No, we don’t.
HideMyAss! starts out well.
Speed and server numbers were respectable. Plus, they might have the best name of the lot.
But in the end, the privacy concerns are just too overwhelming.
We’re sure HideMyAss! wants to do the best they can in supporting their customers’ privacy. But combine their past logging activities, infamous court cases, and aggressive jurisdiction are just too much to overlook.
Plus, this affects other activities you might be looking for, like Netflix or Torrenting. Both are basically nonexistent at the moment, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong:
I’m all for catching cyber criminals. However, you’re paying a VPN for privacy at the end of the day.
HMA! delivers a lot of things. But based on record after record that we’ve seen, privacy isn’t one of them.
HMA is a popular VPN provider with a large network of 1,000+ servers in 190+ countries.
Some of this VPN’s biggest strengths are its user-friendly interface, impressive speeds, and ability to bypass geoblocks (even Netflix’s!)
It’s newest update, HMA Version 5, includes new design features and an auto-generated diagnostics mode. Arguably the most impressive update is its Lightning-mode feature, which connects you to the fastest and closest server automatically.
HMA also offers robust security; all apps are protected by military-grade encryption. Mac, Windows, and Android users enjoy additional protection from a smart kill switch. The VPN also now maintains a no-logs policy, so you don’t have to worry about your personal information being stored or exposed.
Downsides include the fact that you can’t opt for a month-by-month subscription and the company’s concerning UK headquarters.
Streaming – Does HMA VPN Work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Other Services?
HMA claims to be an excellent VPN for bypassing geoblocks, including Netflix’s notoriously difficult blocks. The VPN’s network even has five specialty servers optimized for streaming so you can watch your favorite content in HD without buffering delays.
I started my streaming tests by connecting to HMA’s US servers. Three of HMA’s specialty streaming servers are located in the US, which is great for accessing US streaming content. I’m pleased to report that I could stream Netflix on every server I tried—and the quality was good, too, with no lagging or buffering issues.
Next, I tried Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. HMA unlocked all these streaming services for me across multiple servers—I wasn’t blocked once. The only major platform I couldn’t reliably access was Disney+. It’s a newer service, but other VPNs like NordVPN do provide access, so I’d like to see HMA step up its game here.
HMA Network and Servers
HMA has 1,000+ servers across 290+ locations in 190+ countries.
This network includes five streaming-optimized servers based in Germany, the UK, and the US.
There are also eight P2P-optimized servers. These are located in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.
I had no problems connecting to the servers that I tested, although speeds varied across locations.
HMA VPN Speeds
I was impressed with the results of my speed tests on HMA’s server network. Before connecting to HMA’s servers, I started with a connection speed of 111.10 Mbps download and 8.05 Mbps upload.
Using HMA’s Lightning Connect, which automatically connects you to the best nearby server, I connected to a local server in the UK. The server gave me 104.00 Mbps download speed and 7.79 Mbps upload speed.
Next, I tested the speed of one of HMA’s streaming optimized US servers. Even though this server was much farther away than my physical location, my download speed only dropped to 101.99 Mbps – although my upload speed took more of a hit.
Unfortunately, these speeds aren’t consistent across all servers. Connecting to a server on the other side of the world in Japan caused my download speed to drop to 24.69 Mbps.
It is worth noting that most of HMA’s servers provide excellent speeds. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a fast server as long as you don’t need to connect to a location that’s too far away.
However, I would have liked to have seen more consistent speeds across all server locations in the network.
Is HMA VPN Good for Torrenting?
HMA offers good support for torrenting. P2P traffic is allowed on designated high-speed optimized servers.
P2P-enabled servers are clearly listed on the HMA app. You can choose and connect with one click.
Security – Is HMA VPN Safe?
When you connect to HMA’s server network, your IP address is hidden, and your data is protected with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. There is also a choice of secure protocols, including UDP and TCP OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP.
HMA offers strong security with little to no configuration.
An OpenVPN connection with a UDP port is the default protocol on all platforms except iOS, which uses an IPsec protocol.
It’s generally a good idea to use OpenVPN protocols whenever possible. They offer the most robust security without the vulnerabilities of older protocols.
Depending on your device, the IPsec protocol can sometimes offer better connection speeds than OpenVPN.
I would recommend avoiding PPTP in most cases. It’s an older protocol that has more security vulnerabilities.
HMA also offers a kill switch on its Mac, Windows, and Android apps. This is a great security feature that will keep your data safe even if your VPN connection suddenly drops.
Excluding iOS apps, all other HMA clients feature IP shuffling. This automatically switches you to a new IP address after a specified period of time and can help you avoid tracking and surveillance.
If you plan on using the IP shuffle feature, it’s a good idea to make sure the kill switch is turned on as well so that your data isn’t leaked while you switch between servers.
When I tested HMA, I didn’t detect any DNS leaks. I was pleased with the safety and security of this VPN overall.
Does HMA VPN Keep Logs?
HMA is based in the UK, which is one of the founding members of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. This isn’t ideal from a privacy perspective.
The UK government is known to spy on its citizens online. Any surveillance gathered by the UK can be shared with other countries in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance as part of the intelligence-sharing agreement.
While this is concerning, HMA now maintains a no-logs policy. This means that it doesn’t store any identifiable information about you or your online activities, including your IP address, the websites you visit, or any data you send or receive. Should a government come to HMA seeking records, HMA would have to provide them—but it can’t provide anything that it doesn’t store.
The only things that HMA records are the date you connect to the VPN (but not the time) and the amount of data transferred, rounded down. HMA collects this info to monitor service capacity and deletes it after 35 days.
Does HMA VPN Have an Adblocker?
HMA does not include an adblocker in its VPN service.
Does HMA VPN Work in China?
Although HMA has worked in China in the past, it does not reliably provide service to customers in China. Many users in China may find that HMA is blocked.
HMA has stated that it will continue to look for ways to provide better access to customers in China. Currently, though, it is not able to guarantee that HMA will function in China.
Price and Value for Money
HMA offers three pricing plans, each with the same features. As is common with VPNs, HMA’s longer subscription plans offer a better value for your money.
The subscriptions are affordable and reasonable for HMA’s quality of service. However, the discounts offered on HMA’s longer plans aren’t as big as those offered by some other high-quality VPNs.
HMA also has a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try out the service risk-free. This is a great option if you can’t decide if HMA is the right choice for you.
You can pay for HMA through PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and UnionPay.
Is HMA VPN Compatible with my Device?
HMA is compatible with all major platforms. There are native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. HMA also provides user-friendly manual installation guides for Linux and routers.
There are a few differences across devices. HMA’s Windows, macOS, and Android apps include a kill switch, IP Refresh, and IP Shuffle. None of these features are available on HMA’s iOS apps.
The Windows app also gives you the ability to choose which apps are covered by the kill switch.
The native Android app offers a useful split-tunneling feature. Split-tunneling allows you to choose which parts of your connection you want to protect with the VPN.
You can connect up to five simultaneous devices with one HMA subscription.
HMA VPN Customer Service
There are several ways to get in touch with HMA’s support team if you run into any issues.
You can submit a request ticket on the website or reach out through HMA’s 24/7 live chat support. You can also get in contact with the support team through social media.
When I tested HMA’s live chat, I received a response within two minutes. The customer support agent was prompt and helpful.
HMA provides other resources on its website, too.
There is a series of guides on topics like cybersecurity, geo-spoofing, and online privacy. These guides are funny and engaging, as well as informative.
There are also detailed installation guides, FAQs, a knowledge base, and a community forum.
HMA’s interface has one of the most user-friendly designs that I’ve tested.
After a fast and easy installation process, you can connect to HMA’s servers with a single click using Lightning Connect. This automatically connects you to the best nearby server.
If you want to manually select your server location, you can choose from an easy-to-browse list. Connecting to any server is as simple as clicking on it.
You can also use the drop-down menu to navigate to your saved favorites or view a list of servers optimized for streaming or P2P traffic.
If you do want to manually customize your experience, the settings are straightforward to navigate. Most features can be enabled with a single click.
There is a sidebar where you can toggle the kill switch and auto-connect. Under ‘Settings,’ you can enable IP Shuffle or choose to automatically connect to the VPN when on an unfamiliar WiFi network.
The automatic kill switch is disabled by default. Make sure to turn it on before connecting to a server if you want to be protected by this feature.
With a large network, fast speeds, robust security, 24/7 live chat support, and reliable access to popular streaming sites, it’s clear that HMA has a good service to offer.
Whether or not HMA is right for you depends on your needs.
If your main goal with a VPN is geo-spoofing to escape censorship or access geo-restricted content, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, HMA is a great option.
HMA’s robust security will also keep you safe while connecting to unsecured public WiFi networks.
On the other hand, if your goal is total anonymity, you may want to look elsewhere. HMA’s UK headquarters is a drawback as the government can request records. HMA may not have any to hand over, but the privacy-conscious may prefer a service where governments don’t even have the jurisdiction to ask.
If you’re looking for a powerful no-logs VPN that can smash geoblocks and is free from the reach of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, check out NordVPN.
If you want unlimited simultaneous connections and prefer the minimal commitment that comes with a month-by-month subscription, check out Surfshark.
Hide My Ass! (HMA!) is a UK-based company, with its claim to fame being its huge number of subscribers — today it has more than 400 million. This provider has seen its fair share of controversy with regards to user privacy. It recently made updates to it service in the hopes of redeeming itself and winning back the loyalty of its subscribers.
We took it for a test run to see how much it has improved and whether it’s worth the money.
Features and pricing
Hide My Ass! offers one product with prices varying depending on the length of term you sign up for. It’s definitely not one of the cheapest services available, which might be an immediate turnoff for some users. A 12-month plan will set you back $6.99 per month, which is higher than the average price for a similar term. What’s more, a lot of top VPN providers will offer an extended plan; for example, a two- or three-year term with even steeper discounts.
If you’re not ready to sign up for a one-year term just yet, HMA! does offer a six-month plan for $7.99 per month or you can pay on a monthly basis for $11.99 per month. These prices are a little above average when you compare to competitors.
Payment options include major credit cards, PayPal, and UnionPay. Unfortunately, for more privacy-conscious users, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t viable payment methods. There is a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you’re not fully satisfied with the service, you can have your payment refunded.
So what do you get for your money? Hide My Ass! has a network of more than 850 servers in over 180 countries. Some are dedicated to accessing streaming sites and certain servers allow P2P filesharing (read: torrenting). All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and you can connect up to five devices simultaneously. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. The VPN can be manually configured with Linux and some routers. Pre-configured routers are available as an alternative.
From a security standpoint, HMA! offers strong encryption, perfect forward secrecy, automatic wifi protection, and the desktop apps come with a kill switch. However, the logging policy issues that plagued the service in the past remain, so privacy is still an issue.
Setup and interface
Getting started with Hide My Ass! is super simple and the updated apps are very user-friendly. Once you sign up for your account, you’ll be given a license key. You can use this or your credentials (username and password) to log into any app. For the purpose of this review, we’ve tested out the Windows client and the iOS app.
Once you’ve launched the desktop client and logged in, you’ll be greeted with the Success! screen. Simply click Got It! to access the main screen of the app. Here you have three choices for modes: Instant Mode, Location Mode, and Freedom Mode.
In Instant Mode, you can click the arrow and you’ll be connected to the fastest server for your current location.
In Location mode, you can choose which server you connect to. Click Change Location to see your options. There is a drop down list which enables you to choose servers based on different criteria. All will show you an alphabetized country list. Clicking on the arrow to the left of each country name will show you specific locations within that country.
Quick Access shows you a list of servers you’ve recently connected to, as well as some recommended options. Streaming will give you a choice of two servers suitable for unblocking popular streaming services like Netflix, one in the US and one in the UK.
Peer to Peer shows you all servers that allow P2P filesharing. Finally, there’s the Favorites option; to mark a server as a favorite, you can click the heart to the right of the server name.
Going back to the main screen, the one other option here is Freedom Mode, which is aimed at users who want to bypass censorship. This mode will connect you to a server in the closest country that is deemed to be free of censorship.
You can access the Settings by clicking the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner of the main screen and selecting Preferences. Here, you’ll see three tabs: General, Network Security, and Kill Switch. In the General screen, you can change your startup options, such as starting when you turn your computer on or when the app launches.
You also have a Personal Privacy section housing one option that relates to Quick Access in Location Mode. If you want to hide your recent history, you can uncheck the box.
Next, we have the Network Security screen in which you can choose settings for automatic wifi protection. You can also turn on the IP shuffle feature which makes it more difficult for someone to detect your location by periodically changing your IP address. One more option in this screen lets you use TCP with OpenVPN. However, this is only recommended if UDP is blocked or throttled. TCP is more stable, but UDP is typically faster.
The final tab is the Kill Switch tab, where you can toggle on this feature so that it works for all applications. You can also add single applications and decide whether or not to apply it to those.
This is a fairly robust app and it’s definitely both aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use.
Many providers will have a mobile app that is unrecognizable compared to the desktop version. However, HMA! has streamlined its product, and the iOS app looks almost identical to the Windows version.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll get to the main screen, which is basically the same as the main screen in the desktop app. Here you can choose from Instant Mode, Location Mode, or Freedom Mode.
The only real difference is that when you select Location Mode, your options are presented in a different manner. You have three tabs: Countries, Cities, and Favorites, but missing are the additional options found in the desktop client, such as Streaming, Peer to Peer, and Quick Access.
To access the streaming servers from the app, you’ll have to go to the Cities list and find the Liberty Island server under US, New York. The UK, Donkey Town server can also be found on this list for access to UK Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Moving on, the settings for the app can be accessed by clicking the menu icon in the top left-hand corner of the screen and selecting Settings. There you have two options: Connection Rules and Personal privacy.
In the Connection Rules section, you can adjust wifi security settings and decide whether to auto reconnect when wifi or cellular connections are interrupted.
The Personal privacy section just has one option: Share usage data with third parties for analytics, which is your consent to “allow app and device usage data to be shared with third parties for analytics.” Bear in mind that this is enabled by default so it might be one of the first things you want to turn off.
Overall, this is a sleek and intuitive app, but some users may be missing additional features such as a kill switch and the option to switch protocols.
Servers and performance
The Hide My Ass! network comprises more than 850 servers covering more than 190 countries. Some of these are virtual servers, but a customer service representative was unable to tell us how many.
As we discussed earlier, HMA offers many options for choosing the right server, including different modes and the ability to mark servers as favorites. Servers that allow P2P are marked with a P2P symbol.
We tested various servers in the US and the UK for performance in terms of browsing, streaming, and downloading. Overall, when browsing, there were no significant issues, aside from there being a noticeable slowdown in page load times when connected to a UK server. This isn’t uncommon for geographically distant servers (the tests were carried out in Toronto, Canada), but could be frustrating, especially for users with already slow internet speeds.
We didn’t see any lag or buffering while streaming 1080p using any of the test servers and were able to play online games with no issues.
HideMyAss! speed test performance
HideMyAss scored a little below average in my speed tests with an average download rate of 40 Mbps.
I ran tests at various times of day on servers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Here are the results broken down by region:
- North America: 72 Mbps
- Europe: 41 Mbps
- Asia: 6 Mbps
As you can see, HMA’s average was ruined by its servers in Asia, which performed abysmally slow. As long as I wasn’t using a server in Asia, I had enough bandwidth to stream 4K video and live stream video in high quality.
It’s important to note that these tests aren’t definitive and can only serve as a general indication of the performance you might see. The inherent volatility of the internet adds a significant factor of randomness. What’s more, you’ll likely see longer wait times with a slow connection, and perhaps smaller or larger discrepancies.
Does HideMyAss! unblock Netflix?
Yes, Hide My Ass! does unblock Netflix! But don’t expect to simply connect to any server and go. When we tested random servers with US Netflix using the desktop client, we had no luck whatsoever. However, if you select the Streaming option from the dropdown within Location Mode, you’ll see two choices: a US server (USA, New York, Liberty Island) and a UK server (UK, Donkey Town). Note that in the mobile app, you’ll have to find these within the Cities list in Location Mode.
Connecting to the US server gave us access to Netflix without issue. Connecting to the UK one enabled access to UK Netflix as well as BBC iPlayer. Many providers only focus on providing US Netflix access, so it’s refreshing to see one that strives to give access to the UK library too. What’s more, BBC iPlayer is seriously cracking down on VPN usage, so the ability to unblock this service is a nice perk.
If you’re looking for Amazon Prime Video, you might have to go elsewhere. HMA! Is having trouble unblocking this service at this time and a customer support representative informed us that there is no estimated timeframe for when it might be working again.
Does HideMyAss! work in China?
Hide My Ass! does not work reliably in China. It used to, but recent HMA! responses in support forums have indicated that the service will no longer work for some users. You could try your luck, but if you need a reliable China VPN, you’d best look elsewhere.
Security and privacy
Hide My Ass! is based in the UK, which means it’s subject to data retention laws. The UK is also a Five Eyes (and Fourteen Eyes) country, which means it is part of an alliance that allows monitoring by external governments. Plus, it’s home to the Snooper’s Charter which imposes regulations on British ISPs that greatly affect user privacy.
For many VPNs, data retention laws in their home country aren’t really an issue. This is because they operate with a real no-logs policy whereby they don’t keep any traffic or connection logs. Even if they do keep connection logs, they can’t be tied to an individual user.
Moreover, Hide My Ass! logs the VPN IP address connected to a session. This is the IP address that a website operator can view and record when you visit it. Since both the real and VPN IP addresses are logged, between the VPN and end site logs, it would technically be possible to piece together all of a user’s internet activity. You may have seen news of a 2011 FBI case involving HMA! in which it handed over logs that were used to track down a LulzSec hacker. Clearly, this is a black mark for privacy.
One way to make this less of an issue and to perhaps confuse things a bit would be to take advantage of the IP address shuffle feature. When enabled in the Network Security screen of the desktop app, this periodically switches your IP address out for a different one. It wouldn’t make you untraceable but could add a layer of obfuscation.
Privacy issues aside, on the security front, Hide My Ass! fares pretty well. It uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is considered military-grade. This is in conjunction with 4096-bit RSA keys and perfect forward secrecy. It uses the OpenVPN protocol over UDP by default, but you can switch to TCP within the desktop client. PPTP, L2TP, IPSec are also available, depending on which app you’re using.
The desktop versions boast a built-in kill switch which can be tailored to work for specific apps. A kill switch will kill the internet connection should the VPN connection drop for some reason. This feature isn’t available in the mobile apps
A live chat customer service representative informed us that there is no DNS leak protection. However, a different company representative assured us that there is in fact DNS and IPv6 leak protection, but no WebRTC leak protection. Indeed, when we tested the service for leaks, we didn’t see any DNS leak issues other than WebRTC leaks. HMA! does use public DNS servers whereas private ones would be preferable from a privacy standpoint.
One handy feature that Hide My Ass! offers is automatic wifi protection, which can be customized in the in the Network Security section of the desktop client or the Connection Rules tab of the mobile app settings.
If you need any help while setting up or using the service, HMA! has a couple of options for you to choose from. Clicking the Help tab on the website, you’ll find a Getting Started section and a Knowledge Base. These each house articles related to setting up, troubleshooting, and general questions. There’s some crossover so you may want to explore both before seeking other options.
In addition, you’ll find a Community button which leads to a forum section. This is segregated into different topics; some appear to be out of date, while others are recently active. Below that, there are some general FAQs.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, or you just want a quick response, you can click the live chat button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The service is prompt and knowledgeable, and agents were able to quickly resolve most issues we encountered. At one point, a representative was unable to answer some security questions and advised he would escalate the issue as an email request. This was responded to in under two hours which is very quick for an email response.
For the most part, HMA! offers a great service. It has fast speeds, unlimited bandwidth, and a decent network of servers. It’s able to unblock popular streaming services such as Netflix US, Netflix UK, and BBC iPlayer. Plus, it offers intuitive apps, strong security, and excellent customer support.
HMA VPN (formerly HideMyAss) is a VPN provider based in the UK with a long and interesting history. While it remains a relatively popular VPN today with a large user base, it did not do very well in testing for this review.
Today, HMA is owned by the cybersecurity company Avast and still has a relatively large user base. Actual testing of the VPN servers and VPN apps revealed mixed results. Keep reading below or jump to the best VPNs list to see more alternatives.
Pros of HideMyAss
- User-friendly apps with strong encryption
- Large server network
- Live chat support
- Works with Netflix
Cons of HideMyAss
- No monthly subscription plans
- Mediocre speeds
- HMA connection logs
- Troubling history of data sharing
- UK jurisdiction (bad for privacy)
- Buggy kill switch (with IP leaks)
Additional review findings
- HideMyAss company history and acquisition by AVG / Avast
- HMA’s use of virtual server locations
- Is HMA a good VPN for torrenting? (No)
Now let’s dive into the HMA review and examine the results.
HideMyAss VPN Pros
1. User-friendly apps with strong encryption
HMA offers user-friendly VPN apps for all major devices and operating systems. Due to the popularity of Windows, I thoroughly tested the HMA VPN client for this review.
In the photo above you can see that the HMA Windows client shows you the connection status, server location, and your new IP address (as well as your original IP).
The Windows client also comes with a number of customization options and features. You can configure how you want the VPN to startup on your device and how the kill switch should work to block non-VPN traffic. Unfortunately, I found problems with the kill switch (more on this below in the “cons” section).
HMA VPN encryption
HMA uses the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, which is implemented through OpenVPN on Windows and Android devices and via IPSec/IKEv2 on Mac OS and iOS:
HMA uses only the highest encryption standard: 256-bit AES. On Windows and Android, we implement it with the OpenVPN protocol in Galois Counter Mode (AES-256-GCM), with 4096-bit RSA keys for handshakes, authenticated with SHA256. On Mac and iOS, we implement it with IKEv2/IPsec, built atop Apple’s own stack, to ensure the best compatibility.
While IPSec/IKEv2 is indeed a secure VPN protocol, the industry standard is OpenVPN. As such, it would be good to see the OpenVPN protocol supported on Mac OS as well. With iOS, the operating system is somewhat restricted to IKEv2. See my comparison of OpenVPN vs IPSec for more info on this topic.
If you are a Mac OS user and you want to utilize the OpenVPN protocol (recommended) then check out my guide on the best VPNs for Mac OS.
2. Large server network
Hide My Ass claims to have “the biggest VPN network” with “1000+ VPN servers in 290+ locations covering 190+ countries.” If you look at their server map and location list, you find some very strange places. For example, HMA claims to have servers North Korea.
I can tell you with 100% certainty that HMA does not have physical servers in North Korea. Instead, they are using virtual server locations, and we’ll explain this more below.
Putting the virtual server issue aside, HMA still has a pretty big server network. This may be beneficial for some users who want or need IP addresses in remote locations – such as North Korea…
There are also some other VPNs with large server networks around the world, particularly NordVPN. But unlike with HMA, NordVPN does not use an virtual server locations.
3. Live chat support
Like many other VPN providers, HideMyAss provides live chat support. Their support staff appears to be located in the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, HMA does not offer 24/7 support.
Their support hours are 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM UK time, seven days a week. However, I tried support on a Saturday morning around 8:30 AM UK time and there was nobody available. So perhaps HMA support is hit or miss.
4. Works with Netflix
Another benefit to HideMyAss is that it works with Netflix.
I tested out American Netflix from my location in Europe and found everything to work without problems. To access Netflix with HideMyAss, I connected to the New York server and streamed videos as normal.
Lastly, I also asked the chat rep if HideMyAss consistently works with Netflix. He confirmed it generally works and they even have a dedicated server for American Netflix streaming called “Liberty Island”.
Cons of HMA VPN
Now let’s look at the not-so-good aspects of HMA VPN.
1. No monthly subscription plans
One strange thing with HideMyAss is that they have removed any option to pay on a month-to-month basis. Instead, HMA VPN only provides you with a one, two, or three-year subscription plan. Here’s what their pricing page looks like.
This recent change may be frustrating for users who don’t want to commit to a long-term plan.
Fortunately, all plans come with a 30 day money-back guarantee. This gives you plenty of time to test out the VPN and cancel your subscription if it doesn’t work well – similar to a free trial VPN service.
I asked one of their chat representatives why they removed the monthly plan, which I remember seeing on their website recently. He explained it was in response to customer requests. He also explained they offer a hidden link for those still wanting the monthly subscription (you can ask support about this).
On the topic of price, HMA is in the middle of the road. I wouldn’t classify it as a cheap VPN, even with the three year plan at $4.29 per month. The one-year plan is also not too cheap, at $6.99 per month.
2. HMA VPN slow speeds
Another problem I observed when testing out HMA for this review was slow speeds. My baseline speed for testing is 160 Mbps (without a VPN). I ran all tests from my location in Western Europe using a wired ethernet connection.
First, I tested nearby servers around the EU. These should have provided speeds close to my baseline speed.
Germany server: 58 Mbps
Using a nearby server in Germany, HMA could only provide about 58 Mbps. This is certainly not good given my (close) proximity to the test server.
Next, I tested a server in Switzerland. Again, I was expecting speeds close to my baseline speed, but it was slower.
Switzerland server: 57 Mbps
I also tested a server in the United Kingdom.
UK server: 51 Mbps
The UK server was the slowest one I tested in Europe.
Next I tested servers in the US and Canada, which also were not great in terms of performance.
New York server: 34 Mbps
Next up was a server in Miami, Florida.
Lastly, I tested a server in Chicago.
Overall these are not good results.
With longer distances between me and the VPN server, you can expect slower performance. However, 34 Mbps on a 160 Mbps line with less than 100 MS latency is certainly not good. As a comparison, I could regularly get around 140 Mbps with ExpressVPN servers in the US .
HMA servers I tested in Toronto, Canada were also similar to US speeds (around 40 Mbps).
If performance is one of your top priorities, I’d recommend checking out ExpressVPN.
3. HMA connection logs
Although connection logs aren’t a deal-breaker for many people, others may find this issue concerning.
HideMyAss explains the data they are logging on this support page:
Yes, HMA keeps connection logs, that means time of connect, disconnect, duration and bandwidth usage. This is done to prevent abuse and for diagnostic purposes.
If you find this logging policy to be concerning, you could always use a verified no logs VPN instead. This is especially true when you consider HideMyAss’s history of handing over customer data…
4. Troubling history of data sharing
No review of HideMyAss would be complete without discussing the case where HideMyAss handed over data logs for a court case.
According to Invisibler,
It appears that the FBI traced a hack into Sony back to an IP address owned by HMA and promptly got a UK court oder, demanding logs from HMA an incident HMA dubbed the “LulzSec Fiasco” in a post on their blog on September 23rd, 2011.
The 25 year old HideMyAss user received a one year prison term, one year home detention, 1,000 hours of community service, and was also ordered to pay $605,663 to Sony Pictures. This isn’t the first time a VPN has shared data about one of its users. IPVanish shared data with the FBI concerting a criminal complaint.
While nobody here advocates illegal activity, this case shows that HMA can and will share data from their customers with third parties. This brings us to our next point, where HMA VPN is located.
5. UK jurisdiction (bad for privacy)
Hide My Ass is a UK VPN service and must abide by all UK laws and regulations. Despite being owned by Avast, which is a cybersecurity company in the Czech Republic, HMA VPN continues to operating under UK jurisdiction. This is an important consideration.
The UK is a member of the 5 Eyes surveillance alliance, which facilitates the collection and sharing of mass surveillance data with other countries. Aside from this formal agreement, US companies can use the UK court system to obtain customer data, such as with the LulzSec case above.
Generally speaking, I would not recommend VPNs that operate under UK jurisdiction due to privacy concerns. However, this really depends on your threat model and reasons for using a VPN.
6. Buggy kill switch (with IP leaks)
For this HMA review, I ran some basic VPN tests to identify any major leaks or problems. I was testing the latest version of the Windows client at the time of this review. Before testing, I ensured all leak protection settings were enabled, as you can see below.
Next, I ran the VPN through some tests with the website ipleak.net. These tests included switching servers and simulating network interruptions to test if the kill switch was effectively blocking traffic.
In some instances, I noticed that the kill switch was not working properly, resulting in an IP address leak (IPv4). Below you can see that my real IPv4 address was leaking out of the VPN tunnel, despite having a connection to an HMA server in France.
I’m not certain what exactly was the root cause of the IP address leaks and this may have been an isolated issue with the specific version I was testing. Of course, you can also run basic VPN tests to verify if everything is working correctly.
Additional review findings
Below are a few items that do not really fit into the ‘pros’ or ‘cons’ category.
HideMyAss company history and acquisition by AVG / Avast
HideMyAss was started in 2005 by a student in England who got fed up with content blocks on his school network. Over the following ten years, HideMyAss grew into one of the largest VPN providers with hundreds of thousands of paying users.
In 2015, AVG acquired HideMyAss as part of a package deal for $60 million. Then, in 2016, AVG was acquired by Avast, which is based in the Czech Republic. We’ve noticed this trend over the past few years, with VPNs getting bought up by various firms. One example is TunnelBear, which was purchased by McAfee. Another example is CyberGhost, which was purchased by Kape Technologies.
Our website www.hidemyass.com and services are operated by Privax Limited, which is a limited company registered in England under company registration number 07207304, with our registered office at 110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JS, United Kingdom.
Finally, their End User License Agreement specifies that the United States will be used for arbitration if there is a dispute. This seems strange, since the company is operating from London.
HideMyAss uses virtual server locations
Another interesting aspect with HMA VPN is how much the company uses virtual server locations. In a nutshell, a virtual server location is when the IP address of a server appears to be in a country where it is not physically located. For example, HMA might have a “Dubai” server that is actually located in Europe. The IP address will be registered to Dubai, but the actual server will be located somewhere else.
The use of virtual server locations is not necessarily bad. Other VPNs offer this to provide more locations around the world, such as with PureVPN. HMA describes this as a “brand-new feature” on their website:
We provide virtual locations for many countries, e.g. Canada, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.
This article is dated September 2019, and this is a bit misleading because HMA has been doing this for years – therefore this is not a “brand-new feature”. Additionally, we’ve found that HMA is not entirely honest about its use of virtual server locations. In fact, many locations that aren’t labeled as virtual are indeed virtual. We’ll have an article on this coming out soon.
Is HMA a good VPN for torrenting?
HMA VPN boasts about its P2P servers.
Despite appearing to be a good VPN for torrenting, it’s not, and here’s why.
First, a customer support agent explained that HMA passes on DMCA complaints directly to the VPN user. This fact alone proves that HMA is logging enough of your data to connect your activities to your identity.
Second, the HMA representative explained that they terminate accounts after multiple copyright infringement warnings. So even though HMA officially allows torrenting, in practice, you will have your account suspended for violating their terms. And when your account is suspended, you will not get a refund because you violated HMA’s Acceptable Use Policy.
Long story short, HMA is definitely not the best VPN for torrenting – there are many better options.
HMA review conclusion
Overall, HMA VPN is a decent VPN provider, but it doesn’t compare to some of the other big names in the industry, such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
If you need a basic VPN and you don’t mind the higher prices, bad jurisdiction, and the other drawbacks we discuss, then you can give it a try. After all, they do offer a full 30 day money-back guarantee on all plans.
If you are looking for top-rated VPN that performed much better in testing (and is currently offer three months free) then check out ExpressVPN.
For a cheaper discount VPN, NordVPN (based in Panama) is another good options.
And finally, the best VPNs list has a lineup of our top recommendations based on the latest test results.