HideMyAss’s reputation and standing are well-known among VPN fans, but how do the Hidemyass (HMA) Free proxy service and HMA Pro stack up to the panoply of other VPN tools out there? In this HidemyAss Review, our team of tech experts set out to find out.
HideMyAss has made waves within the VPN community ever since it handed over sessions logs to law enforcement in 2011, leading to the arrest of a member of LulzSec, a global hacking ring. Concerns about logging notwithstanding, we thought it was only fair to run it through its paces and see how the HMA VPN stands up to the competition.
Here’s how we ranked it according to usability, features, price, performance, and security.
- Compact user interface
- Impressive server network
- Relatively good speed
- BitTorrent is allowed
- Can automatically connect on startup
- Privacy logs are kept
- Protocols determined by operating system
- No ad block features
- Regular prices aren’t the best value
- No telephone support
Setup and Usability
HideMyAss can be obtained from the download page of its website which can be accessed before purchasing a subscription to the VPN. Users simply download the HMA Pro VPN installation package that matches the platform they are using and follow the instructions.
We tested the installation on both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu 17.10). The Windows process was simple and didn’t require much on the user’s end.
For Linux, we had to unzip a bash script and then parse connection options to a command line interface (CLI) tool. User credentials were accepted during the first connection attempt (users add the server location after the script) and we were then able to connect to the server.
Design-wise, we were particularly impressed by the Windows client, which is built as a slender side window that lets users chose between “instant mode” (which offers the quickest connection and setup process), “location mode” (in which the user selects the connection server) and “freedom mode” (in which the fastest server in the geographically closest country is connected to).
When choosing which server to connect to, Windows users can select by city or country and also have the ability to add a particular server that was found reliable to an easily accessible favorites list.
Any additional options that users need to delve into – such as advanced connection settings – can be easily accessed through the pull-down menu on the left of the pane.
Finally, the company also offers a free web proxy service that changes the location of users’ traffic without also encrypting it like a VPN. At the time of writing, the service is suspended, but a message on the former setup page informs users that “we’ll be back with an even better version in a few months” so this may change in coming months.
Rating: 8.8/10 – Streamlined UI and easy setup.
Hide My Ass Features
What kind of features does HideMyAss pack under the hood?
1- Automatic Connection
Need your VPN to encrypt all of your online traffic? That’s perfect, because HideMyAss offers the ability to automatically start running as soon as Windows does.
In addition, users can chose to launch a diagnostics panel as soon as the program starts. This feature is also available for the Android app – which is particularly important given that mobile users often connect through insecure and untrusted networks.
2- Multiple protocol Support
HMA supports OpenVPN-UDP (which it also called Auto-Path). This is the default system protocol. OpenVPN-TCP, PPTP, and L2TP are also available, although the ability to choose is limited according to the operating system being used. We’ve discussed before how important a wide protocol selection is for those using a mixture of newer and older hardware.
3- Business VPN Service
HMA is one of the few providers to operate a dedicated business VPN service with separate pricing for bulk protection of larger numbers of devices. This makes it a suitable option for corporate users.
4- One Click Connection
Hide My Ass has been designed to help users get up and running on their VPN network with minimal efforts.
Almost all supported platforms have been designed with one click connection mode to set up a connection in – literally – one single click.
5- Unrestricted Torrenting
HMA doesn’t enforce any bans or limitations on the use of peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing systems such as torrenting. This means that users can exchange large files over these networks without worrying that it will give the company grounds for immediately disabling their accounts. And if you are worried about your connection dropping and getting caught, HMA does have a kill switch.
Rating: 8.6/10 – A very well-rounded feature offering that didn’t disappoint.
Can HideMyAss Unblock Netflix?
Accessing geo-blocked content on Netflix is of course one of the major reasons users come to VPN services in the first place. So how is HMA’s record in this respect?
HMA was at one time known as one of the main VPNs Netflix targeted because of its vast popularity among viewers. However, that’s changed as now HMA has recently added a server specifically to be used to unblock US Netflix – Liberty Island, New York. It works for both desktop and iOS and Android apps. However, users have been reporting extremely slow speeds due to overcrowding on the server. At the time of testing the VPN, we did not notice any buffering or slow speeds, but it is something you should be conscious about.
One thing we liked is the initiative HMA takes with unblocking Netflix – if Netflix becomes suspicious that the IP address you are using is, in fact, from a VPN, HMA will switch you to a new IP address with little to no drop.
Rating: 8.2/10 – Netflix works, but there is a small caveat.
HMA is available for $11.52 for one month or $6.56 per month when prepaid for 12 months (that’s a current offer of 43% off the regular cost).
While the one month plan isn’t great value considering that it’s a little above the market average and other providers offer a wider variety of features, the current 12 month offer and six months’ price ($8.33/month; 28% saving) are great deals that should be taken advantage of – and quickly!
All plans come with a 30 day money-back guarantee. Cryptocurrency fans will be pleased to know that the company even works with a dedicated Bitcoin reseller, BitmyAss.com.
Rating: 8.5/10 – The regular price isn’t wonderful value, but the current offers are worth grabbing.
How Fast is HidemyAss – Servers and Performance
HideMyAss operates an impressive server network of over 220 machines scattered throughout over 190 countries in the world (there are only 193 member states at the United Nations, so that’s virtually everywhere!).
The latter makes it the VPN network with the widest geographical coverage that we’ve encountered, and also makes it a great choice for users that want some more unusual connection options (servers are available in the Cook Islands, Kirbati, and the Maldives, for example!).
Speed-wise, we were able to achieve performance that was more than adequate for both regular browsing and multimedia use – although we wouldn’t quite describe them as blazingly fast or the best that we’ve seen. We achieved 26.93Mbps on a 40Mbps baseline through Turkey and achieved similar speeds via connections on the European continent.
Rating: 8.2/10 – An extremely wide server network with adequate to fast connection speeds.
How Secure is HideMyAss – HMA Logs
Here we come to what we could call the thorn in the backside of HideMyAss (excuse the pun) – its log-keeping policy.
The company, which has a registered office in London, has complied with law enforcement on multiple occasions leading to users’ arrests – most famously, the case of 23 year old Phoenix resident and LulzSec member Cody Kresinger in 2011.
To address these incidents, the company has put together both a plain English logging policy and a support answer detailing its logging practices. And we think that HMA has done a fine job of explaining why non-zero logging is not prejudicial to users’ privacy.
So let’s set the record straight. HMA is definitely not a zero logs provider. It records basic connection logs detailing bandwidth usage, connection and disconnection times. No activity log is kept, however.
As law-abiding but privacy-concerned citizens, we believe that VPNs should only be used for legal purposes. It’s also likely that agencies with the clout of the FBI will be able to twist any provider’s arm into providing details to help capture those using the internet for cybercrime – and hiding behind a VPN to do so.
Those concerned with multinational signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection, should also bear in mind that the UK is a member of the Five Eyes spying alliance. If you’re requiring a VPN just for regular privacy protection, however, the possibility of basic, aggregated governmental oversight should not be cause for worry.
Rating: 8.2/10. Not zero logs provider, but the company is completely transparent about exactly what it records.
Is HideMyAss Reliable – Customer Support
Support is available through an online knowledge area , via a ticketing system, or through a live chat system. The first is reasonably comprehensive (the Linux tutorials, for example, cover setting the connection up on distributions ranging from Linux Mint to Fedora), although telephone support would have been an appreciated addition.
Our support query was handled expeditiously and politely although some TrustPilot reviewers have reported that during peak hours answers can be a little slower than normal.
Rating: 8.6/10. Good online support system, but no telephone agents.
HideMyAss Rating by SecureThoughts.com
Our Overall rating for HideMyAss is 8.1/10.
We think it’s about time VPN buffs put the Lulzsec incident to bed and acknowledged that basic connection logging is a reasonable provider requirement.
To this end, HMA’s efforts to open up and explain its logging policy have been deservedly appreciated by the user community.
Feature-wise, we think the vast server network and special business plans are the main selling points, although it’s hard to find an area where the VPN truly disappoints.
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