20th April 2015
SmartHide VPN has a lot of really unique features, but some pretty steep drawbacks as well.
- up to 10 connections
- great referral program for discounted service
- fast connection
- unlimited bandwidth
- limited server locations
- poor customer service
- high monthly rates
Overall Score: 57/100
This score is much lower than the 97/100 scored by our top rated VPN – Express VPN.
SmartHide VPN has a lot to offer their customers – if you’re willing to pay the price.
To get SmartHide VPN, go here: SmartHide VPN
In this digital day and age, everyone has streamlined their lives with online apps, bill pay, shopping, etc.
While the convenience of these advancements continues to grow, so does the criminal base that is quietly taking advantage of users of these services.
Particularly on public Wi-Fi networks, as you access your personal information, you are at risk for having your information stolen and your privacy compromised.
Many people have turned to VPNs to not only solve this problem, but also give them unmitigated access to content and services, no matter where they are.
VPNs not only encrypt your data and protect your privacy, but by changing your IP address they give you access to any content you want, regardless of your geographic location.
There are several VPNs on the market, and for someone new to the concept, it can be difficult to sift through the technical jargon and determine which one is the best for your needs.
Here I’ll show you not only how to evaluate a VPN’s worth, but review SmartHide VPN to see just how much you’re getting for your money with them.
Will SmartHide VPN Work on My Operating System?
First and foremost, when you start looking at VPNs, you want to ask yourself if their software is compatible with the operating systems you use.
Keep in mind that you can use VPNs on multiple devices most of the time, so you want to make sure their software is going to work with everything you use to connect to the internet.
SmartHide VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android systems. If you’re using devices that run iOS or Linux, keep in mind that their software will not work on those devices.
Rating: 3/5 – Not compatible with iOS or Linux
What Kind of Features Does SmartHide VPN Have?
Looking through a VPN’s features is an easy way to separate the best from the herd.
These vary a lot from company to company, so don’t sell yourself short – make the most informed decision as consumer, and get the most bang for your buck.
Feature #1: Multiple Connections
A VPN that allows you to use their software to connect to multiple devices simultaneously will save you a lot of money in the long run.
You’ll be able to protect all of your gadgets, without having to purchase additional service plans or software.
SmartHide VPN allows an unheard of 10 simultaneous connections with their VIP service plan.
For their more standard service plans, you get only one or two, depending on which plan you select. Hey, at least they’re honest – you get what you pay for.
Rating: 4/5 – More money for more connections
Feature #2: Money Back Guarantee
As with anything you buy, the company selling it to you should have a strong return policy so you’re not out your money if things don’t go your way.
VPNs are no exception, particularly since they’re an online service. I was really impressed with SmartHide VPN’s refund policy.
They offer all of their customers a 30 day money back guarantee, so you have an entire month to decide if you like their service and still get a refund.
Rating: 5/5 – 30-day money back guarantee!
Feature #3: Number of Servers
The number of servers a VPN has to offer matters because it means their customer base has a wider distribution.
This not only gives you a larger selection of geographical locations, but of faster connections, since you can pick a server with less traffic for a better experience.
SmartHide VPN doesn’t have very many servers – only 10 worldwide.
Though most of them are located in the US and UK so you can get the most unlimited access, this still really limits the pool users have to choose from.
Rating: 2/5 – Only ten servers worldwide
Feature #4: Referral Program
This isn’t the most common feature, but it’s definitely a perk that you’ll want to keep your eyes out for when you’re shopping around for a VPN.
Many companies actually offer free service to their users that refer new customers to them. I was really surprised to find that SmartHide VPN does in fact have a referral program.
If you get a friend to sign up with their service, they’ll give you a digital coupon for 50% off the new member price of your service for the next month – pretty awesome, right?
But it doesn’t even end there. You can actually get 10% off your next month’s service with SmartHide VPN just for sharing them on your Facebook!
Rating: 5/5 – Great referral program perks
Feature #5: Data Logging
If you’re shopping around for a VPN, chances are you’re at least somewhat concerned with your online privacy.
Much of the benefit of using this type of connection is that you can browse anonymously.
That being said, the last thing you want is a company that charges you for privacy software, then logs your internet activity.
SmartHide VPN doesn’t log any of their users’ activity, just the IP addresses.
Though that sounds a little disconcerting, it’s really only so their support staff can link your connection back to your account when they offer you tech support.
Rating: 4.5/5 – No activity logging
Feature #6: Bandwidth
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data allotted to users of a server connection.
This can significantly impact your browsing experience – particularly if you use streaming services – so pay close attention to this one.
SmartHide VPN doesn’t impose any bandwidth limitations on their users, so you never have to worry about all those Netflix binges making you max it out.
Rating: 5/5 – Unlimited bandwidth
How Secure Is It?
With VPNs, security is the name of the game. The safer your information, the better the deal, so make sure you’re not getting sold short on things like encryption and VPN protocols.
This is a buyer’s market – make ‘em work for your money.
With SmartHide VPN, you get super strong 256-bit encryption, with multiple options for VPN protocols, including port forwarding.
Rating: 5/5 – Very secure connection
What’s the Set-Up Process Like?
A lot of people are pretty familiar with the concept of VPNs, but for the average Joe, this software can seem a little intimidating.
L2TP, 256-bit, Mbps…a lot of this terminology can be a bit baffling for a lot of people, and the idea of actually using a VPN may seem a bit out of reach.
For this reason, only the best software is both comprehensive and easy to set up. SmartHide VPN is definitely one of those.
While their features may seem a little all over the place on their website, getting the connection set up is as easy as downloading the software from their website and installing.
From there, you’re guided through the process of selecting the servers you would like to use, and it’s smooth sailing from there on out.
Rating: 5/5 – Set up is a no-brainer
Is it Easy to Use?
Once you get your VPN set up, it’s time to log in and start using that secure connection. VPNs earn points for being fast and easy to connect to, and having a simple process for switching servers.
Again, you shouldn’t have to be a tech-junky to use one of these. SmartHide VPN has very simple, but eye-catching software.
Their dashboard is slick and professional, but not overloaded with complicated features and settings.
Rating: 5/5 – Simple, straightforward software
When you install SmartHide VPN’s software, you’re automatically prompted to enter your login credentials.
Though there is still a space to enter your username and password on the software dashboard, you usually stay signed in, even after closing and reopening the program.
Changing servers is a snap with SmartHide VPN. Simply select from the drop down menu on the main page of the software and hit connect.
You can even select the language you want the web content to be in!
What If I Need Help?
With online and digital products in particular, great customer service is absolutely key to not losing your mind through the whole experience.
Technical problems are bound to occur at some point, and you need to make sure that someone is going to be there to answer your questions when problems arise.
This is probably the most important part of evaluating a VPN’s customer service. Since VPNs are a digital product, they’re used around the world in every time zone. If your service stops working at 2 a.m. in their service department’s time zone, you don’t want to have to wait seven hours until “typical” business hours resume.
SmartHide VPN claims to have 24/7 customer service, so you should be able to reach them for service or support any time, no matter what time zone you’re in.
Rating: 2.5/5 – 24/7-ish customer service
The more ways you can get in touch with customer service, the faster and more efficient your support is likely to be.
Being able to reach customer service in a few different ways gives you options when you’re on the go – or when it’s the middle of the night and you’re trying to wake everyone up.
This is where it gets a little confusing with SmartHide VPN.
On their website they claim to have phone, Skype, and e-mail support, but there’s only a way to contact them with a support ticket (aka e-mail) through Kayako. Talk about misleading.
Rating: 1/5 – Only e-mail support available
Customer Support Test
To see just how “24/7” SmartHide VPN’s customer service was, I sent them a couple of support tickets to gauge their response times and service efficacy during a few different times of the day.
I wanted to see how their promptness varied between off and peak business hours.
E-mail Support Test #1-Thursday/10:22 a.m.
Initially, I was having some trouble connecting to SmartHide VPN (not their fault I might add).
I contact them in the later part of the morning, hoping to resolve the issues so I could give their servers a workout that afternoon.
No such luck. Unfortunately, they didn’t get back to me until much later, and I had to wait overnight to use their connection.
Result: 16 hours 28 minutes
Rating: 1/5 – Lengthy wait time
E-mail Support Test #2-Friday/11:51 p.m.
My second request for information was even less successful. After 36 hours with no response, I finally gave up on waiting.
Result: No response
Rating: 0/5 – Unresponsive customer service
Sometimes you can chock up long wait times to high volumes of service requests during a certain time of the day.
However, being that these inquiries were at two very different times and still received such poor service tells me that SmartHide VPN’s customer service may not be as round the clock as they claim.
Overall Support Rating: 1/10 – Slow and unresponsive customer service
How Fast is SmartHide VPN?
A slow VPN connection doesn’t do anybody any favors. For streaming and downloading, you’re going to want to make sure their servers can keep up with the volume of users.
I put SmartHide VPN to the test, comparing it with my own home connection.
Without SmartHide VPN
With SmartHide VPN
As you can see, SmartHide VPN was just barely slower than my original connection.
All things considered, this is really good for a VPN connection, and my internet activity didn’t feel hindered in the slightest.
Rating: 5/5 – Very fast connection
How Much Does SmartHide VPN Cost?
And now it all comes down to brass tax – what are you going to spend out of pocket every month?
Prices on VPNs can vary wildly, so it really just depends on how much you’re willing to spend versus what kind of features you’re after.
SmartHide VPN is actually a little on the more expensive side.
Though they have a few different service plan options, even their lowest rate is on the high side of average, and their VIP plan is an unheard of $50 a month! Too rich for my blood.
Rating: 2/5 – Plans are a little pricey
The X Factor
This last category usually comes down to marketing – how good are they at laying out the information, and overall product presentation?
Streamlined websites and straightforward marketing are great, but things like cluttered pages, vague information, and even grammatical errors can really turn some customers off.
Unfortunately, this was the case with SmartHide VPN. Their website is filled to the brim with information, but very little of it is useful, or even makes sense for that matter.
Product information is very disorganized – it’s almost impossible to tell what comes with each service package.
In addition, the wording of everything is very odd, as if it was in another language and just run through Google Translate without adjusting any of the grammar.
Whatever the case may be, it makes the information you can find choppy and difficult to understand.
Overall, the site is just a bit of a mess, and for having such a great product, it doesn’t do the best job of selling it.
Rating: 2/20 – Chaotic website
For the most part, SmartHide VPN turned out to be a pretty great VPN, with just a few drawbacks. We covered a lot, so let’s go back over the finer points:
- compatible with Android, Mac, and Windows
- up to 10 connections
- 30 day money back guarantee
- referral program for half off service
- 10% discount when shared on social media
- unlimited bandwidth
- no data logging
- easy to set up
- easy to use
- fast connection
- secure 256-bit encryption
- not compatible with iOS or Linux
- very few servers
- poor customer service
- high monthly rates
- poorly designed website
Overall Score: 57/100
Overall, SmartHide VPN has a lot of great features, but there are significant drawbacks where cost and customer service are concerned.
Evaluate your budget, and decide how much you’ll need to lean on tech support before you sign up with SmartHide VPN.