There’s little contest between ExpressVPN, one of the top 3 services of its kind currently on the market, and HideMyAss, a VPN that might be decent for light applications, but is certainly not secure enough for more sensitive data.
Sure, the former is more expensive than the latter, but the difference is worth it, especially when the stakes are high. You don’t have to take our word for it, either. To get a better idea of why we feel the way we do about ExpressVPN vs HideMyAss, read our more detailed comparison below.
Security and privacy
ExpressVPN is as secure and private as they get. The service uses the highest standard AES-256-CBC encryption with a 4096-bit RSA handshake and SHA-512 hash authentication, which means that any of your data passing through ExpressVPN’s servers is virtually indecipherable. In terms of security protocols, this VPN offers a choice between OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, as well as IPsec and IKEv2 on iOS devices. The “Network Lock” or kill switch that comes with ExpressVPN is safe to use since it does not leak your IP, DNS queries, or WebRTC requests.
HideMyAss, on the other hand, also uses AES-256-CBC encryption and a kill switch, but OpenVPN is their only security protocol and, more worryingly, the service was shown to have WebRTC leaks on Windows and IP traffic/WebRTC leaks on Mac.
Unfortunately, there’s more. HideMyAss is based in the UK, a member of the 5 Eyes alliance, and, while the location alone is not necessarily condemnable in and of itself, the fact that the VPN provider has actively participated in several arrests is. Yes, like you, we have a bad opinion of crime and, yes, we want the bad guy caught. When it comes to VPN services, however, their involvement in such cases undermines their claims to privacy and their trustworthiness.
Meanwhile, you need a VPN you can trust, because otherwise, why would you buy such a service to begin with? In the ExpressVPN vs HideMyAss debate, the former is a stellar example, while the latter is a mix of issues you want to avoid. Unlike HideMyAss, ExpressVPN operates from the British Virgin Isles, well away from the prying eyes of any intelligence alliance, and upholds a strict no-logging policy. They keep no logs of your online activity that can be traced back to you, which is a major plus. This was more or less confirmed in 2017 when one of their servers was seized by Turkish authorities and the latter could recover no useful information about their suspect.
Speed and performance
The one plus on HMA’s side is its above-average performance, but this is not to say that it is actually faster than ExpressVPN. With modest 1000+ servers spread across an impressive number of 190+ countries, HideMyAss comes with decent download/upload speeds. During our tests, we got around 100 Mbps download/upload in London, UK, 100 Mbps in New York, US, and under 10 Mbps in Tokyo, Japan.
Compared to other VPN services on the market, the results were noteworthy, but ExpressVPN, a provider employing a fleet of more than 3000 servers in 90 countries, still came out on top. Using Express, we were able to get over 110 Mbps in the US, just over 100 Mbps in the Netherlands, and slightly over 60 Mbps in Singapore.
Of course, these numbers can vary greatly depending on your particular location and configuration. According to our tests, however, the ExpressVPN vs HideMyAss comparison is fairly balanced in terms of speed and performance with only a slight advantage for ExpressVPN.
Netflix and torrenting
When it comes to by-passing geo-blocked content on Netflix, both ExpressVPN and HMA are excellent contenders. Though servers owned by HideMyAss were blocked from Netflix for some time, this is not the case at present, which means that you can use this VPN to access the entertainment platform to your heart’s content. The situation is similar with ExpressVPN. We have tested their US and Netherlands Netflix servers and all have worked without fail.
Finally, a big plus for both VPNs is that they come with above-average speeds, which means the quality you get while streaming is almost as good as what you would otherwise get on a regular connection.
However, we can’t really recommend HideMyAss in terms of torrenting because, while you can achieve fast downloads using this VPN, its faulty security measures are a dangerous no-no from our point of view. ExpressVPN offers similar or better download/upload speeds, allows P2P file-sharing in all locations, and has much stronger security features to keep your transfers away from curious eyes. A clear win in the ExpressVPN vs HideMyAss match.
Which is best for users in China?
There are reports stating that HideMyAss does function well in China, but given its history with leaks and malfunctioning features, we would stay away from this VPN when trying to browse sensitive information in censorship-heavy regions.
Meanwhile, ExpressVPN appears to work more reliably in such situations. Its security features are much more convincing and you can even avoid being seen on their “shop” by downloading the VPN from their .onion page.
Still, there are some issues with ExpressVPN in China or, more specifically, with the fact that it is not ideally suited to by-pass Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Customer reports claim that Express is dependable in China, but the fact that they don’t provide a “stealth protocol” to avoid DPI is somewhat of a disadvantage.
The bottom line of our ExpressVPN vs HideMyAss comparison is fairly straightforward. HMA’s saving grace is the fact that it provides users with above-average speeds. This makes it suitable for streaming and gaming, for instance, but it does not actually guarantee your online security and privacy, which, at least for some users, defeats the purpose of a VPN. On the other hand, ExpressVPN offers everything HMA can give you plus airtight online protection.
Sure, at $8.32 a month for a 12-month plan, ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive than HideMyAss, which can be purchased for $4.99/month on a two year offer. But ExpressVPN makes up tenfold for this minimal difference in pricing, which is partly why we recommend it as the better service.