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Is it still quick as lightning but not very good at hiding asses? Read my HideMyAss review to learn more!
The humorously-titled HideMyAss (which now seems to prefer the HMA abbreviation) has demonstrated great longevity, given that Jack Cator started it 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.
I had the impression from a few years back that HMA VPN offered fast speeds but wasn’t very good if you need optimal security. So before I started this HMA VPN review, I decided to check whether that’s still the case. To find the answer, I’ve looked at these questions:
- Is HMA VPN safe to use?
- Does it unblock Netflix?
- Does it allow torrenting?
- Is HMA fast enough to buy?
I invite you to join me in this quest of learning the truth about HMA VPN.
Security and privacy features
HideMyAss has never been famous for its security or privacy. Even its homepage speaks more about unblocking websites than staying safe online. It also doesn’t provide an extensive list of features that would help users make sure their personal details aren’t up for grabs.
So, is HMA VPN safe? I guess we’ll have to find out for ourselves.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
HMA VPN encryption holds the standard. It offers the military-grade AES-256-GCM cipher that is virtually unbreakable and would require billions of years to brute force.
Here are the tunneling protocols that HideMyAss VPN has to offer:
- OpenVPN UDP
- OpenVPN TCP
While the list doesn’t include L2TP/IPsec and many others, I was happy to find that HMA propagates only the safest protocol options.
Starting with the client version v5, HMA offers a second, smarter kill switch version for Windows. While the regular Kill Switch shuts your internet connection down if there’s a problem with your VPN, the App Kill Switch will turn-on the HMA client whenever you launch an application on a list (think uTorrent or Popcorn Time). This means that, for example, your torrent download will begin only after HMA has started.
You can easily turn both of them on or off from the Preferences menu. There you will also be able to create a list of apps that will start a VPN connection when you launch them.
No IP or DNS leaks
HMA VPN 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 2019. I tested HMA VPN while connected to a US server and found no IP, WebRTC, or DNS leaks.
This means your identity won’t leak via your real IP, and your online activities won’t be seen by your ISP via DNS requests.
Privacy-unfriendly location: the United Kingdom
For those wondering where HMA VPN is located, I have some bad news. It’s the UK – one of the primary members of the Five Eyes alliance.
There aren’t many worse locations for a VPN than this – in addition to intelligence agency surveillance concerns, the UK also has data retention laws and an overall intrusive attitude.
Therefore, even if HideMyAss had a real zero-logs policy, it still would have to comply with any request by law enforcement, putting your privacy at risk. More on that – in the next chapter.
Does HideMyAss VPN keep logs?
HMA VPN has reduced the amount of information it logs after launching client version v5, yet there still are numerous privacy concerns.
- Email address (used to create an account)
- Username (if using version 3.5 or below)
- License Key
- Timestamps of your connections
- The amount of data transmitted (upload and download) per session
- The subnet of your IP address (the last octet is anonymized, so 126.96.36.1993 becomes 92.145.233.000)
- The IP address of the individual VPN server you’re using
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 VPN either by email or live chat, your IP and messages will be stored for six months. When it comes to phone contact and other methods, your personal information can be stored “for as long as necessary.”
HideMyAss! accepts neither cryptocurrencies nor any other anonymous payment options. But if it did, the anonymous account creation process is here already – you only need to provide your email address, which should be a secure one, of course. In any case, those looking for maximum privacy should choose another VPN service – HMA is just not safe enough, with or without crypto payments.
Other technical features
These are the HMA’s extra security and privacy features:
- Split tunneling
- IP shuffle (makes you harder to track while connected to one location)
- Use TCP only (ditching the faster but somewhat less secure UDP)
Seeing no Tor over VPN or stealth protocol, I find this a bit lacking.
Speed and performance
When it comes to VPN speeds, it’s always best to test for yourself – your home or work is the most relevant location to you.
However, in my HideMyAss speed test, I’m trying to determine how fast it is on average.
- Download: 250 Mbps
- Upload: 235 Mbps
- Ping: 4 ms
Then I connected to servers on different continents and calculated absolute speeds (in Mbps), as well as the percentage loss from the base speed.
- Download: 35 Mbps (86% drop-off)
- Upload: 111 Mbps (53% drop-off)
- Ping: 37 ms
US, New York
- Download: 25 Mbps (90% drop-off)
- Upload: 74 Mbps (69% drop-off)
- Ping: 111 ms
- Download: 23 Mbps (91% drop-off)
- Upload: 33 Mbps (86% drop-off)
- Ping: 313 ms
In conclusion, I can say that HideMyAss! offers inconsistent speeds. Our first speed tests showed drop-offs of 20% or less, but now I got 90% or more. It doesn’t help that many of HMA VPN’s 1000+ servers are virtual, and the company’s been lying about their actual number.
In any case, these speeds should be enough to stream in HD without experiencing buffering.
Does HideMyAss VPN support my device?
Probably yes. HMA! has custom apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
This VPN allows 5 simultaneous connections per account, meaning you can use it on all your devices at the same time and still save a slot for an uninvited guest.
When it comes to HMA!’s apps, they’ve made an unorthodox decision to introduce a new client while keeping the old one. HMA v5 is a highly simplified version with significantly fewer options, focusing on ease-of-use and design. In the meantime, the old version, more suited for experienced users, has most of the v5’s features and more.
HMA VPN desktop apps: Windows, macOS, and Linux
HMA VPN apps for Windows and macOS are pretty similar in terms of design and features. Both offer AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and more. The two most important Windows-only features are OpenVPN protocol and the App Kill Switch.
After launching the app, you will see the main screen with a default option to connect to the fastest server. Alternatively, you can select any of the 290+ locations on your own. Clicking “More” at the top right will show your connection status and offer to do a speed test, while the cogwheel on the top left opens Preferences.
Linux users can choose OpenVPN software or manual configuration using command lines. HMA VPN for Linux supports Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, and other distributions. What’s missing here is the kill switch, IKEv2 support, Leak Shield, and other features tailored for the graphic client.
HMA VPN mobile apps: Android and iOS (iPhone & iPad)
HMA’s apps for Android and iOS offer virtually the same level of security as their desktop counterparts.
HideMyAss for Android doesn’t have the new App Kill Switch but offers split tunneling. In the meantime, iOS version uses IKEv2/IPSec instead of OpenVPN, but doesn’t have a kill switch (like most iOS VPNs) and split tunneling.
Other platforms for HideMyAss
HideMyAss doesn’t have apps for other platforms but they do offer four pre-installed routers:
- Netgear R6400 AC1750 DD-WRT for 1-4 devices
- Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 DD-WRT for 4-8 devices
- Netgear Nighthawk R7800 X4S AC2600 DD-WRT for 8+ devices
- Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT for 8+ devices
They’re sold by FlashRouters and come with their Privacy App that lets you manage the router from your smartphone or laptop, switch locations, and set a global kill switch.
Installing HMA! on a router might be a good idea because that removes the limit of simultaneous connections and the need to install the client on every device. This also lets you protect IoT devices and others that are not compatible with HideMyAss, such as Smart TVs or game consoles.
If you already have a router, chances are you’ll be able to set HMA! on it. This VPN provider supports DD-WRT, Tomato, and OpenWRT, among others.
Comparing HideMyAss v5 and v2
If you’re wondering what are the differences between HideMyAss client v5 and v2, here’s the table that should help decide which one is the right for you.
|HideMyAss v5||HideMyAss v2|
|3 connection modes|
|Grouped by continents|
I personally would recommend v5 for novice users and v2 for those who are familiar with VPNs and want to choose their connection mode or customize startup.
What’s new in HMA v5?
- V5 has ditched the three connection modes and renamed Instant Mode to Lightning Connect which chooses the best server for you
- The Refresh IP option will come handy when you don’t want to change the server, but your desired website is still blocked after the first attempt
- The new location list groups all countries by 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
- The side-panel explains additional features l
- An in-built speed test will help you find the fastest server in a specific location, filtering only those that support P2P or streaming.
What’s different in HMA v2?
The older HMA v2 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. 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. 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, I rate the v2 interface and some of the features quite highly, but there are some shortcomings if we compare the old or the new app to industry leaders.
Netflix and other streaming devices
HideMyAss! unblocks Netflix US if you use its specialized streaming servers in New York or Miami. I found the speeds to be good enough for watching your show in Ultra HD, with the Florida server delivering a somewhat slower connection.
Unfortunately, the streaming servers in the Netherlands, the UK, and Japan didn’t work with Netflix. In fact, HMA couldn’t even load the website properly, giving a site error. Therefore, HideMyAss for Netflix is a good choice only if you’ll be happy with the US library as your sole option.
Speaking of other platforms, I managed to unblock BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and HBO with HMA VPN. Amazon Prime is not available yet, but the customer support assured they’re looking for solutions to this.
What about Kodi? Since it allows for a range of official and unofficial add-ons, you can definitely find ways to make HMA work on Kodi.
Does HideMyAss support torrenting?
Yes, HMA! VPN allows torrenting and provides good speeds, but only on P2P-optimized servers.
It has a kill switch, split tunneling feature, and no leaks, which is a big plus. But if I were you, I’d be cautious about torrenting with HMA VPN. 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 hide 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.
Support: HMA!’s live chat, tickets, and guides
HideMyAss VPN customer service provides the following support resources:
- 24/7 live chat
- Support ticket
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 also allows for generating a diagnostic report to 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.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with HMA customer service by creating a support ticket or via the HMA 24/7 live chat. It took a bit longer compared to some top VPNs, but we got what we wanted and the representative was both polite and knowledgable.
Pricing: can you get a better VPN than HMA for that much?
Here are HMA!’s pricing plans in the US during Cyber Week:
- 1 month for $11.99
- 6 months for $8.99/month
- 12 months for $5.99/month
- 24 months for $4.99/month
- 36 months for $3.99/month
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 and requires your payment details. After the trial, you will be automatically charged $83.88 for a 12-month plan.
HMA VPN refund policy allows for a 30-day money-back guarantee that also applies after the 7-day trial, but comes with strings attached – it works only if you don’t exceed the bandwidth and session limits. To me, that’s a very sneaky and desperate move that isn’t clearly addressed in HMA’s documents.
In their “How can I cancel my subscription?” article, updated July 18, 2018, HMA states 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 I HideMyAss?
As our HideMyAss review shows, this is quite a middle-of-the-pack service with some cool features, but also some oversights.
If real security and privacy are important to you, it probably makes sense to get something off our Best VPN Services list.
However, there’s one feature unique to HMA – those 190+ countries. So if 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 won’t find a better VPN than HideMyAss.