In this age of the internet, more and more people are shopping, working, finding entertainment and even socializing online. As a result, tools that offer users safe, fast, secure and private connections are crucial.
Enter the world of the VPN (Virtual Private Network). In recent years, a host of companies have jumped on the VPN bandwagon, so how do you choose between them? In this review, we will compare two well known VPN providers — NordVPN vs HideMyAss — on a variety of features.
First, though, let’s take a look at what we know about each company. Launched in 2008, NordVPN is a popular name in the VPN world, and deservedly so. Boasting access to an almost unbelievable 5,000+ servers worldwide, top-notch encryption, good features and support, it is no wonder that NordVPN regularly appears in top ten VPN review lists.
Similarly, HideMyAss has also been around for a while and likewise regularly features in top ten lists. The start-up was launched in 2005 as the brainchild of 16-year-old Jack Cator. HideMyAss is now a part of the well-known cybersecurity company Avast, so we would assume they have great security features. More on that later.
Based solely on overall review rankings, the NordVPN brand undoubtedly comes out best compared to HideMyAss. But, as you might expect, choosing a VPN is not quite that straightforward. If you are looking for popcorn entertainment, then having good speeds and the ability to unlock sites like Netflix is key.
Online journalists and bloggers, however, may be more concerned about keeping their identities hidden from prying eyes. For them, top of the list concerns will be security, leak protection and anonymity features. Other users may want to know how easy each VPN is to use, if there’s help easily available and, of course, the bottom line, how much will it all cost? As you might expect with two brands that regularly make the top ten lists, each has its strengths and weaknesses.
NordVPN scores highly on privacy by being registered in Panama (a country outside the 5 and 14 Eyes groups), and has excellent security features, but it’s not the cheapest on the market. HideMyAss, by contrast, scores on speed and server locations, but surprisingly falls down on privacy and security, not least because it is registered in the UK, a primary 5 Eyes country.
Security and privacy
Security is NordVPN’s strongest selling point. It offer users a 2048-bit handshake coupled with AES-256 encryption. Several tunnelling security protocols are available (L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP, IKEv2, SSTP).
Security is enhanced by Nord’s unique offering of both DoubleVPN and Tor over VPN. DNS, IPv6 and WebRTC leaks are all protected against, and two kill switch types are provided. HideMyAss, in contrast, has similar levels of encryption and a kill switch, but this is where all comparisons end.
Speed and performance
Speed and security are inextricably linked, so it might be expected that greater security comes with slower speed. NordVPN gets around this by having a whopping 5,000+ servers available in more than 60 countries worldwide, with new servers being continually added.
Furthermore, Nord has increased its server efficiency by dedicating some for specialized use, e.g. P2P (good for torrenting); DoubleVPN, Tor over VPN and Obfuscated servers.
HideMyAss has a smaller number of servers available (nearly 900) but they are found in more than 190 countries, by far the biggest geographical range of any VPN provider. The result is that HideMyAss can offer connections to areas that few other services can reach, as well as offering fast speeds, even when connecting to the opposite side of the globe!
Nevertheless, Nord’s huge server number means that, for the regions it covers, its speeds are even better.
Ease of use and support
Both NordVPN and HideMyAss are user-friendly. In each case, customers create an account, choose a payment plan, select the appropriate platform app, and download it to install. The interfaces for both are very intuitive and user-friendly.
Both offer users a quick connect (to the nearest server) or custom connection options. NordVPN, however, wins for support, having a much more extensive online FAQ, guides and troubleshooting library and a more reliable 24/7 live chat helpline.
Torrenting and P2P
Nowadays, anyone looking to download stuff using torrents should opt for anonymity by using a VPN. NordVPN ticks all the boxes: it offers an independently audited no-logging policy, unlimited bandwith, top-grade encryption, numerous security features and P2P-optimized servers allowing good speeds.
HideMyAss however, is not only based in the UK (which means they can be forced to share sensitive information with the authorities) it also has data leaks that might just reveal your real IP address. Another win for NordVPN.
Unblocking Netflix and other entertainment sites
Netflix has stepped up its attempts to block users from trying to get around copyright issues and geo-restricted content, especially users outside the USA. Luckily, however, most of NordVPN’s US servers can skip past these restrictions. Although, of course, a Netflix subscription will still be needed to watch your favorite shows!
HideMyAss is less successful. It is much more hit and miss as to whether a server will unblock NetFlix and have sufficient speed to stream your chosen show.
NordVPN’s Smartplay technology also allows users to get access to various other streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, Pandora and Kodi. In addition, it manages to access the notoriously awkward BBC iPlayer.
For all of these sites, the important features are hiding your identity and bypassing geo-blocking restrictions, which is another reason that NordVPN is constantly adding to its server count. HideMyAss can access some of these, but overall, NordVPN trumps HideMyAss on all counts.
Use in China and other restricted countries
Whilst China’s firewall is almost legendary, there are several other countries (like Russia, Turkey, India and Iran) that try to limit the online freedom of their citizens. To get around these restrictions, NordVPN offers not only specialized obfuscated servers, but added security features like DoubleVPN.
Connection speeds will be slower, but this seems a small price to pay for freedom of expression. HideMyAss may well work if browsing something very benign, but really can’t be recommended.
Users can get both NordVPN and HideMyAss apps that support Mac, Windows, Android, iOS and even Linux platforms. Neither offer a router app, but there is a workaround for HideMyAss.
NordVPN also offers browser extensions that can be installed for Chrome and Firefox to make browsing even more secure. Sadly, HideMyAss on mobiles does not offer the preferred IKev2 protocol but instead relies on OpenVPN. NordVPN wins again.
So, now let’s look at what is for many people an important factor: how much will safety and security online cost me? Both NordVPN and HideMyAss offer a range of payment plans.
Nord’s plans allow connections of up to 6 devices and there is wide range of payment options. HideMyAss’s deals are a little more expensive and the payment options are much more limited. Neither offer a free trial but both have money-back trial periods: 30 days for Nord, and 7 days for HideMyAss.
Verdict: NordVPN or HideMyAss?
In this review, we have compared NordVPN with HideMyAss on a range of features that are important to VPN users. Security is key and NordVPN certainly wins out here. It is based in Panama, a country with no data collection laws, has a no-logging policy and above all offers military grade encryption and security protocols. HideMyAss in contrast is based in the UK and is known to have previously co-operated with investigations.
While it’s a plus for HideMyAss that it has servers in a much larger network of countries, NordVPN makes up for this in both quality and quantity of servers.
Their dedicated P2P, security protocol and Obfuscated servers mean NordVPN is able to offer a much more secure and anonymous service, and for a ridiculously low price if you take the 3-year deal.
All in all, there is no question — the winner of our comparison is NordVPN.