It’s quick as lightning but not very good at hiding asses. A decent choice for the casual user – read our HideMyAss review to learn more!
The humorously-titled HideMyAss (which now seems to prefer the HMA abbreviation) has demonstrated great longevity. Jack Cator began the product in 2005 at the age of 16. HideMyAss has grown significantly since then, but better VPNs have overshadowed its success. Currently, this once-startup named Privax Limited belongs to Avast – one of the better-known cybersecurity companies in the world.
HideMyAss is based in the UK – one of the worst offenders of online privacy.
If you need a VPN solely for popcorn time, HideMyAss might be a good choice, but we wouldn’t recommend it for serious VPN users. Read more about this VPN provider in our HideMyAss review below.
- Rank: #21
- Based in: UK
- Servers and locations: 1,000+ servers in 190+ countries
- Logs: keeps logs for 30 days (except IP address)
- Encryption and protocols: OpenVPN, military-grade encryption (AES-256)
- Netflix: Yes, streaming optimized on some servers
- Torrenting: Yes, P2P optimized on some servers
- Apps: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox
- Support: 24/7 live chat
- Price: from $4.29/month
- Free version or trial: No
- Website: hidemyass.com
Security and privacy features
HMA has the following security and privacy features:
- AES-256-CBC encryption
- OpenVPN protocol
- Kill switch
- Split tunneling
This is not an extensive list of features, which is disappointing.
Additionally, the service has been shown to have serious WebRTC leaking issues in the past. The Windows version of HMA had a “vanilla” WebRTC leak, which meant you could be connected to an HMA VPN server, and your public IP address would leak through the browser’s WebRTC functionality. Finally, it seems to be no longer the case with the new client version v5 introduced in September.
Starting with the client version v5, HMA offers a smarter version of a kill switch for Windows. While the regular kill switch shuts your internet connection down if there’s a problem with your VPN, this one will turn-on HMA client whenever you launch an application that’s on the list. This means that your torrent download will begin only after HMA has started.
Does HideMyAss keep logs?
While HideMyAss has reduced the amount of information it logs after launching client version v5, there still are numerous issues with security and privacy protection.
For starters, their company is registered in the UK – one of the primary members of the Five Eyes alliance. There aren’t many worse locations for a VPN than the UK – in addition to intelligence agency surveillance concerns, the UK also has data retention laws and an overall intrusive attitude.
- Email address (used to create an account)
- License Key
- Timestamps of your connections
- The amount of data transmitted (upload and download) during your session
- The subnet of the IP address used to connect to our VPN (the last octet is anonymized, so 220.127.116.113 becomes 92.145.233.000)
- The IP address of the individual VPN server used by you
Using a version 3.5 or below also means that your username is being collected. Please also be aware that Free HMA Web Proxy collects your IP, connection timestamps, and files accessed on the websites. Browser extensions also log your IP in addition to domain names and timestamps of requests.
All this data is being stored on HMA’s servers for 30 days.
Whenever you contact HMA eother by email or live chat, your IP and messages will be stored for six months. In case of phone contact and other methods, your personal information can be stored “for as long as necessary.”
To sum up, there are some good features we can commend HideMyAss for (such as having a kill switch), but there’s too much bad to concentrate solely on the good. Choose HMA VPN only if your activities are not very sensitive.
Speed and performance
When it comes to VPN speeds, it is always best to test for yourself – your home or work is the most relevant to you.
However, in our HideMyAss review, we’re trying to determine how fast it is on average. We went ahead and tested it, and it’s not as fast as it claims.
Our test started in Europe, with a base (no-VPN) speed of 262 Mbps, 215 Mbps upload, and virtually non-existent latency. We tested these speeds 3 times over 2 days to ensure that we’re getting pretty regular results.
We’ll calculate the speeds for servers in four different locations, both as absolute speeds (in Mbps), as well as in the percentage loss from the base speed.
- Download: 30 Mbps
- Upload: 82 Mbps
- Dropoff: 89%
US, New York
- Download: 18 Mbps
- Upload: 83 Mbps
- Dropoff: 93%
- Download: 7 Mbps
- Upload: 4 Mbps
- Dropoff: 98%
- Download: 8 Mbps
- Upload: 5 Mbps
- Dropoff: 97%
In conclusion, we can say that HideMyAss! offers inconsistent speeds that seem to be getting worse. Our first speed tests showed losses of only about -20% or less, but that was a few months ago. Now, we’re faced with speed losses of around -90% or more.
HMA offers some good coverage. Their servers number 1,000+, which isn’t that much to brag about, but they do claim to have servers in more than 190 countries. That, my friends, is a hell of a lot.
Of course, you have to take that with a grain of salt, since they’ve been found to exaggerate how many physical servers they have (as opposed to virtual servers). But more on that further below.
HMA’s virtual servers
Another issue we’ll have to bring up in this sad section is HMA’s use of virtual servers. Virtual servers, as you know, claim to be in one location (for example, Hong Kong), but are physically located in another place (like Seattle, Washington). This is because servers that are closer to your physical location are faster, but you still get the benefits of the virtual location’s IP address.
In that way, for best speeds, if I’m in Germany, I can connect to a US virtual server, which is actually located in the UK. The use of virtual servers is fairly common with VPN providers, but usually, they will identify which servers are virtual and which aren’t.
For example, HMA identifies these virtual servers when you search for them. Usually, they show up as “Virtual Location (via Real Location)” as we can see here when looking for UK servers:
Easy enough to identify, right? Actually, no. According to recent research, HMA has been lying about how many virtual servers they’re actually using. In their study, the researchers write that:
The provider offering the most ‘virtual’ vantage points by far is HideMyAss. An analysis of more than 150 of their endpoints reveals relatively few physical locations. Dozens of locations in North, Central or South America, for instance, appear to be based out of the Seattle area, while dozens more vantage points appear to be based out of Miami, Prague, London and possibly Berlin. HideMyAss specifically advertises ‘virtual’ locations separately from physical servers, but still includes many clearly virtualized vantage points (like North Korea) in their list of physical servers.
What this means is that HMA is lying about how many real, physical servers they have in certain locations – and lying is never a good thing.
Does HideMyAss support my device?
HMA! has custom apps for:
There is no router app, but HMA! supports routers – you can configure yours by following the instructions on their website.
When it comes to using the VPN, HMA! has made an unorthodox software decision. They have introduced a new client but have also kept the old version. HMA v5 is a highly simplified version of the client. It offers significantly fewer options and instead focuses on simplicity and design.
We can’t really argue – it looks great. On the other hand, the older version has almost all the same features and more. That’s why this HideMyAss review will cover both the new v5 and the old (18.104.22.168) versions, since version 2.x is where HMA!’s actual strengths lie.
HideMyAss! version v5 has ditched the three connection modes used in the previous version and renamed Instant Mode to Lightning Connect which basically chooses the best server for you. On the main screen, you’ll also find a new Refresh IP option. This one will come handy when you don’t get your desired website unblocked in the first attempt. Instead of choosing different servers, you will get another IP to make you score faster.
The new location list groups all countries according to the continents. Clicking on the country will connect you to the fastest server, and if you want a city-specific location, you just have to click the drop-down menu.
Another new element is the side-panel that will explain additional features l
Moving further, we encounter an in-built speed test which will come handy when you want to find the fastest server on a specific location, filtering only those that support P2P or streaming.
The older HMA Pro client has a very basic, no BS feel. It’s clear and well-structured, the options have useful explanations, and it’s difficult to get lost.
HideMyAss greets you with a login screen, which leads to a “Dashboard.” You’ll see a menu on the left with the primary functions. Each item has a submenu on the right, and there are also some useful support links at the top.
The “Dashboard” menu lets you log in (if you haven’t done so already) and connect to VPN. It has a Quick VPN location change drop down menu and a Connection Log. You’ll also see a Diagnostics tab where you can test your connection – not useful for most users, but the report can certainly help HideMyAss’ Support.
The “Dashboard” Settings tab offers some important choices:
- Startup configuration
- Load balancing: If the server you are connecting to has a load of over 30%, it will notify you of an alternative server in the same city. HMA! will also offer to connect to the less crowded server automatically.
- Auto Path: This is an interesting one: when Enabled, Auto Path will search for the fastest route to the VPN server, instead of simply using the chosen settings (works only with OpenVPN).
In general, we rate the interface and some of the features quite highly, but there are real shortcomings if we compare the old or the new app to industry leaders.
HideMyAss for Netflix and Kodi
HideMyAss!’s servers used to be blocked from streaming Netflix, but not anymore. Fortunately, the VPN has managed to bypass the Netflix filter with its specialized server.
Netflix has its own speed test Fast.com, which we used to check the nominal speed before testing if HideMyAss unblocks the content. Our speed in Europe without a VPN was 37 Mbps. Our speeds with HMA ranged from 13-33 Mbps.
Netflix worked on the New York and Melbourne servers, but didn’t work for these servers:
- San Jose and LA
- Montreal or Toronto
All in all, we can say that we expected both better speeds and better unblocking capabilities from HideMyAss. The biggest issue was that of all US servers, only one in the East Coast is optimized for streaming and none seemed to work in California. Therefore, we can recommend HideMyAss for Netflix only if you live around New York or London. If not, your last chance is down in Australia.
It is unclear how good HMA is for HBO, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, etc.
What about Kodi?
Since Kodi allows for a range of official and unofficial add-ons, you can definitely find ways to make HMA work on Kodi.
However, depending on what you’ll be using Kodi for, we’d recommend you reconsider since the VPN provider has been shown to keep logs and work with authorities.
HideMyAss for P2P and torrenting
Yes, HMA! allows torrenting and provides good speeds.
But while you may be fast, you won’t be protected. If we were you, we’d keep our torrenting activities away from HMA. Here’s why:
- The company is based in the UK – a country that couldn’t care less about your privacy
- HMA! has cooperated with the authorities in the past and doesn’t make it a secret that they may do it again if necessary
To make sure you’re safe while torrenting, choose one of the best VPNs for P2P instead.
HideMyAss has the following support resources:
- Support ticket
- 24/7 live chat
Their website is easy to navigate and you’ll find no trouble getting to the Support section. You can get there straight from the app as well, which allows to generate diagnostic report which might help solve your issue faster.
HMA! doesn’t have the highest number of guides and troubleshooting articles, but they do cover a lot of the more important topics. There are also community forums with lots of threads on general VPN usage or issues specific to different versions of the app.
If that has failed to get your issues taken care of – get in touch with HMA support staff by creating a support ticket or via the 24/7 live chat function. It took a bit longer compared to some top VPNs, but we got what we wanted.
Pricing: can you get a better VPN than HMA for that much?
HMA! has three pricing plans in the US and the UK:
- 12 months for $6.99/month
- 24 months for $5.99/month
- 36 months for $4.29/month
According to their customer support, HMA! might keep the deprecated monthly plan in some countries, which means you might need a VPN to get one. We found that Germany still offers a monthly plan for €10.99 which roughly converts to $12.
You can pay by credit card or PayPal – there’s no crypto option. There is a 7-day free trial, which actually is a money-back guarantee. After it, you will be automatically charged $83.88 for a 12-month plan because you have to leave your credit card details before downloading the client.
There’s also a regular 30-day money-back guarantee, which applies after the 7-day trial, but comes with strings attached, though. It applies only if you don’t exceed the bandwidth and session limits.
This is a very sneaky and desperate move. In their “How can I cancel my subscription?” article, updated July 18, 2018, they state nothing about bandwidth or (re)connect limitations whatsoever. Yet on December 20, 2018 article “How to apply for a refund,” it’s written that you won’t get your money’s worth if you used 10 GB or more of bandwidth, or had 100 or more sessions.
Should you buy HideMyAss?
As our HideMyAss review shows – it may sound cool, but there’s nothing cool about being lax on online privacy. This company has shown time and again that they are not the champions of anonymity we hoped them to be. If you need a VPN for truly sensitive activities – move along, this is not the VPN you are looking for.
Even if you’re lax on online privacy yourself, you can get much better VPN service for the same price, be it NordVPN or CyberGhost. There’s only one feature unique to HMA – those 190+ countries. So unless you’re caught in some Tinder love triangle in Bermuda and still have some episodes of Turkish police comedy Behzat C to watch on Netflix, you can do well without this provider.