What started as a tool to access games and music websites at school, transformed into an international multi-million dollar business. Jack Cator created HideMyAss (now HMA) in 2005 as he was unhappy that his school’s network administrator had put restrictions on certain sites. Fast forward 15 years, and HMA has millions of subscribers worldwide.
The company operates the most extensive server network we’ve ever tested in terms of locations, with 1,000+ servers in more than 190 countries. That will give you access to several IP addresses and help you unblock over six billion webpages, according to the website. And some of these servers are optimized for torrenting and P2P file-sharing.
Furthermore, HideMyAss uses security and privacy features of the highest levels. According to the website, the service offers AES 256-bit encryption, a no-logs policy, a kill switch, and IP Shuffle, among other options. You can test all these features before you fully commit thanks to a 7-day free trial and a 30-day refund policy.
We decided to put such a well-known VPN service under our microscopes to see if it genuinely delivers what it claims. So keep scrolling to see how HMA fares in our transparent tests, as per our VPN evaluation methods.
- HideMyAss Pros and Cons
- Interface and Design
- HideMyAss Server Network
- HMA VPN Speed Tests
- Can HideMyAss Unblock Streaming Platforms?
- HMA VPN Torrent Support
- HideMyAss Security and Privacy
- Customer Support
- HMA Pricing
- The Wrap-up
|Money-back guarantee||30 days|
|Allowed simultaneous connections||Five devices|
|Supported streaming services||US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video|
|Encryption||Military-grade AES 256-bit|
|Protocols||OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP|
|Special features||Smart Kill switch, torrent and P2P support, DNS leak protection, IP Shuffle, split tunneling|
|Customer support||24/7 customer support with a live chat feature (from 9 am to 11 pm EET).|
|Server locations||290+ locations|
|Number of servers||1,000+ servers across 190+ countries|
|Compatible devices||Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, macOS, as well as Chrome and Firefox extensions|
|Legal Jurisdiction||The United Kingdom (inside Five-Eyes jurisdiction)|
|Free trial||7 days|
HideMyAss Verdict – Pros and Cons
On the surface, HideMyAss (HMA) seems like an ideal VPN service. But after we put it to the test, we found a couple of flaws, especially in terms of privacy. First of all, despite its no-logs policy, the company keeps records of your connection timestamps and HMA IP address. And if you’re using the free web proxy, then the provider will collect your actual IP and the encoded URLs of the websites you visit.
Furthermore, HideMyAss VPN cannot unblock the majority of streaming platforms. And the speed rates will cause you a bit of a problem on some servers, which could result in some buffering issues.
It’s not all bad, however. The company does have more than 290 server locations all over the world, the most extensive network we’ve ever tested. HMA even allows you to switch IP addresses and stay anonymous with IP Shuffle. And, of course, you’ll have the protection of the AES-256 encryption, which prevents third parties from monitoring your online activities.
- Military-grade encryption.
- Vast server network.
- IP Shuffle.
- Smart kill switch.
- DDoS and DNS leak protection
- Split tunneling.
- Torrent support.
- Netflix access.
- 7-day free trial.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- UK headquarters.
- User data collection.
- Live chat support unavailable 24/7.
- Inconsistent speeds.
- No access to Hulu and BBC iPlayer.
- No Smart DNS.
- Pricey monthly subscription fees.
While HideMyAss VPN does have its share of benefits, the drawbacks are too many to ignore. A virtual private network’s main priority should be the customer’s privacy, yet HMA collects some (not all) of your sensitive data. One might make an exception for the sake of speed or unlimited Internet access, but the company offers none.
Therefore, we cannot recommend HideMyAss VPN.
Interface and Design
Let’s kick things off with HMA’s website, which we thought had a clear and pleasant design. The colors blue and white dominate the pages, with a bit of yellow here and there reflecting the company’s logo. The main page has shortcuts to features, pricing, tools, and compatible apps on top, while the bottom right has a live chat button that allows you to contact customer support.
As you scroll through the main page, you’ll find HMA’s most essential features. That includes speed, network coverage, a no-logs policy, unblocking capabilities, app compatibility, reviews, and subscription plans. And, of course, there are several “Buy Now” and “Get It Now” buttons throughout the website so that you can quickly make a purchase.
We first tried the HideMyAss VPN on our Mac device. The app is easy to use and navigate as you’ll start off with an Off connection button after you log in, with a picture of a donkey above it. You can choose between two connection modes: Location Mode or Lightning Connect.
The first one allows you to select your preferred server location by clicking on the tiny arrow right next to the server on display. Then, enter your desired HMA server in the search bar. Alternatively, you can scroll through the entire list that HMA provides and click on the server you want. Furthermore, you’ll find dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting on the left-side panel, as well as the various regions that HMA covers.
As for Lightning Connect, it connects you to the best available server based on your location. All you have to do is click the Off connection button.
And if you want to customize the Mac app or enable tools like the kill switch, then you’ll need to click the More on the top right of the screen. You can also hit HMA VPN on the top left of your device, followed by Preferences. Then, choose privacy -> Activate kill switch.
The Android mobile app isn’t that different from the Mac desktop client. The design and functionality are pretty much the same, as the first thing you’ll see is a blue screen with a donkey picture and connect button underneath it. HidMyAss VPN will connect to the best server near you if you choose Lightning Connect.
Otherwise, you can select a specific server by clicking on the small arrow next to the server location on the screen. That will take you to the full server list, where you can see the servers you marked as favorites, as well as the servers you recently used (Quick Access).
Users gave HideMyAss VPN a 3.9/5 rating on Trustpilot, which isn’t bad. Most customers praised client support for their help and quick response time, with one user writing:
“Excellent support. Clear instructions and they solved my problem.”Michele, HMA user on Trustpilot
Google Play and App Store users were far more generous, giving HideMyAss VPN 4.5 and 4.6 stars, respectively. That’s because the apps are straightforward to use and navigate.
HMA VPN has dedicated apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux. It also has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Therefore, you can automatically install the service on almost any device, whether smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Moreover, you’ll be able to connect up to five devices using just one HideMyAss VPN account. That means you can protect all your devices simultaneously or even share your account with family and friends.
HideMyAss VPN Server Network
HMA VPN has arguably the most expansive server network in the industry, and definitely the broadest we’ve ever tested. Although other VPNs we reviewed had more servers, no one matches HideMyAss VPN in terms of presence. The company operates 1,000+ servers in 290 locations across 190+ countries. That’s almost every nation on the planet.
Here is the full list of servers and the countries in which they are located:
- Aland Islands
- Czech Republic
- The Faroe Islands
- San Marino
- Svalbard and Jan Mayen
- The United Kingdom
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- The British Virgin Islands
- The Cayman Islands
- The Dominican Republic
- Saint Lucia
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- The Turks and Caicos Islands
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- The United States
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Falkland Islands
- Trinidad and Tobago Uruguay
- American Samos
- Christmas Island
- Cocos Islands
- Cook Islands
- Hong Kong
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- Norfolk Island
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- The Pitcairn Islands
- Republic of Singapore
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
The Middle East
- Saudi Arabia
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- The Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- Republic of Djibouti,
- Republic of the Congo
- Saint Helena,
- Sao Tome and Principe,
- Sierra Leone,
- South Africa,
The HideMyAss VPN Speed Test – How Fast Is It?
Speed is an essential VPN feature as a lot of people use these services for streaming and torrenting. If your provider has slow servers, you won’t be able to fully enjoy your favorite programs due to buffering issues. Even other web pages will take time to load.
Therefore, we had to test HideMyAss VPN’s speed rates to see how it fares in comparison with other VPNs and if it was fast enough for users. But please note that no matter which service you choose, your connection speed will drop due to the encryption levels and rerouting process.
- First test: No HMA VPN connection
The first test we conducted was without a VPN connection. That way, we could see how fast our Internet speed is and how HMA VPN will affect it.
- Second test: US server
People who use VPNs for streaming usually connect to US servers as the country is home to the most popular services. That includes American Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime Video. So we connected to HMA’s New York server, and the speed rates dropped significantly, even more than we expected.
- Third test: UK server
Next, we connected to another popular VPN destination, which is the UK. The region is home to several restricted streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and BT Sport. As you can see, speed dropped even further to 3.57 Mbps.
- Final test: Nearby server
For our last test, we connected to a server that was near to our actual location. Speed rates improved a little, but we expected them to increase much more than that.
HideMyAss VPN Speed – Is It Fast Enough?
Other virtual private networks we tested registered much better scores than HideMyAss. If you’re streaming live shows or sports in HD, there’s a big chance that you’ll encounter buffering issues. In fact, even torrent downloads might take more time than usual.
But with that being said, HideMyAss does provide dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting. Speed rates picked up a little when we tested them, meaning they are better than other servers. Still, we recommend faster premium VPNs.
Can HideMyAss Unblock Streaming Platforms?
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people use VPNs to bypass the geo-restrictions that streaming services impose. Most of these online video platforms are only available inside their broadcasting regions. As a result, if you try to access them from abroad, a geo-error message like the following will appear on your screen: “Video not available in your location.”
Furthermore, most streaming services ban the majority of VPN IP addresses. So even if you use a VPN, you may not be able to unblock the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer from abroad.
Therefore, we tested the HideMyAss VPN with the most popular streaming channels to see if it can unblock them successfully. We started with the streaming giant Netflix, which is available almost everywhere, but with different libraries. The US catalog features the most extensive lineup of films and series, so we connected to an American HMA VPN server.
The VPN gave us access to the US library using several American servers, and we were able to watch shows that are only available in the USA like Star-Crossed.
However, those same servers could not give us access to other streaming services like Hulu. We connected to servers from New York, Washington, and California, but HMA VPN couldn’t unblock Hulu from abroad.
Then, we attempted to access BBC iPlayer, a service that is known for blocking VPN IP addresses. A lot of VPNs fail to access this platform, and HideMyAss is one of them. Despite verifying that our British IP address, we couldn’t play any video on BBC iPlayer.
HideMyAss VPN has five servers dedicated to streaming located in the US, Germany, and the UK.
Smart DNS Proxies
VPN apps are compatible with the majority of operating systems. But some devices don’t have VPN clients, like gaming consoles, routers, and Smart TVs. Therefore, several providers offer a Smart DNS proxy, which you can set up on almost any device. This tool only reroutes the URLs that expose your location to give you access to several streaming services.
However, Smart DNS proxies don’t offer the same privacy features that VPNs provide. First, they don’t hide our IP address, which means anyone can determine your actual location and digital identity. And second, they don’t use encryption. Still, a lot of users only care about Internet access, without much concern towards online privacy. In other words, they prefer Smart DNS proxies over VPNs.
HideMyAss VPN, though, does not offer a Smart DNS proxy feature. We contacted their customer support service for verification, and one of their employees confirmed the news.
Does HideMyAss Support Torrenting?
HMA VPN supports torrenting and P2P file-sharing activity. You can use this VPN to download/upload movies, series, and music using torrents, without worrying about copyright trolls tracking you down. In fact, HideMyAss has eight dedicated servers for P2P activity located in Europe and the USA.
- The Czech Republic
- France (Paris)
- Germany (Frankfurt)
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom (London)
- The United States (Miami, New York, and Seattle)
HideMyAss Security and Privacy
Virtual private networks are famous for their privacy and security prowess. They must offer the best features to protect your online anonymity. HideMyAss VPN had some inconsistent scores in that area. While the provider employs several premium services, some aspects are a bit shady.
HideMyAss VPN is headquartered in the United Kingdom, the country that helped create the Five Eyes alliance. The latter is a cooperation between the UK and four other nations (the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) in the field of data monitoring and sharing. In other words, websites and companies must submit user information to the authorities upon request.
HMA VPN is also open about how many warrant letters and subpoenas it received from law enforcement agencies. The number reached 102 requests, most of which were from the UK. In 2017, HMA responded to 39% of all requests, while in 2018, the response rate dropped to just 3.23%.
And while we have to commend Avast (HMA’s parent company) for its transparency, these stats are quite alarming for a VPN service.
For instance, HMA collects your connection timestamps, part of your actual IP address, as well as the IP of the HMA server you’re using. Most premium VPNs don’t keep such information stored on their servers. And it’s even worse if you’re using the Free Web Proxy because HMA will log your actual IP address, the encoded URLs of the websites you visit, connection timestamps, and accessed files.
We thought that these actions are very intrusive and could compromise your identity and location. Moreover, since HMA shares your data with the authorities, your sensitive information can make their way to government agencies.
Here’s what HideMyAss won’t collect when you use its VPN service:
- Your whole actual IP address
- DNS queries and browsing history
- Online activities and sites you visit
When you connect to an HMA VPN server, you’ll enjoy the highest level of encryption that is available so far on the market. The company uses the Advanced Encryption Standard with 256-bit keys. It is the same encryption that top government agencies like NSA use to protect classified information.
To break AES-256, you’ll need a device that can go through trillions of possible combinations. That’s something that the world’s supercomputers can’t achieve even when they’re combined. Therefore, no one will be able to monitor your online activities.
Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection
A kill switch is your last line of defense in case your VPN connection drops. Just like any other product, virtual private networks can sometimes malfunction, which could have catastrophic circumstances in terms of privacy. Therefore, top VPNs offer kill switches that terminate your Internet connection in case they stop working.
That way, your traffic won’t leak to your ISP’s servers.
HideMyAss VPN offers a Smart Kill Switch that you can activate on your whole system or on an app-by-app basis. That means you can choose which applications you want to protect with the kill switch.
We also tested HMA VPN for any potential IP and DNS leaks while we connected to one of its Canadian servers. We used an IP checker to verify that HideMyAss successfully switched to an IP address from Canada. The results showed that there were no leaks.
If you want to guarantee that your anonymity remains intact, then HideMyAss offers an excellent solution in IP Shuffle. As the name suggests, this feature will continuously change your IP address to a different location. And the best thing about it is that you get to choose the interval. You can start from every ten minutes to an hour or even a day.
But while this will make it difficult for anyone to track you, its only drawback is the brief disconnection while your IP address changes. Therefore, we recommend you enable the kill switch if you want to use IP Shuffle to prevent any potential leaks.
Global software group AVG bought HideMyAss VPN for $40 million in 2015. Then, a year later, Avast acquired AVG Technologies, and HMA became one of its products. The Czech multinational company is a household name in the cybersecurity sector. However, its antivirus product has been caught in a privacy scandal of its own.
Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek admitted that the company collects and shares user data with third parties for advertising purposes. And since HMA is one of its products, it could mean that the mother company is also putting its hands on your sensitive information. That includes details like age, gender, and other installed apps.
“As we are part of the Avast Group, information may be shared with members of the Avast Group in order to execute on the provisions of this service, for direct marketing, or to help our product development.“
That’s another red flag in terms of privacy.
HideMyAss Customer Support
No matter how thorough and detailed a VPN’s website is, some users might have questions regarding the service. Therefore, your VPN must have a responsive and helpful customer support service.
We were quite impressed with HideMyAss VPN’s client support as they provided quick and precise answers to our problems. We contacted via live chat, and an employee answered within seconds. However, the only thing we didn’t like was that the chat feature isn’t available round the clock, only from 9 am to 11 pm EET.
You can also reach out via support ticket, which is labeled “Get in Touch” at the bottom of the Help page. Another feature we really admired was the HideMyAss Community, where you’ll find plenty of topics and discussions. You can also give the FAQs section a try if your problem is similar to the most common issues.
Is HideMyAss VPN Expensive?
Just like any other VPN service, HMA VPN offers great value in long-term subscription plans. That means you’ll end up paying the most if you purchase the monthly package, which is a bit expensive. Here are the different pricing plans that HideMyAss offers to customers:
- 1-month plan: $11.99 per month
- 12-month plan: $83.88/year ($6.99/month – save 42%)
- 24-month plan: $119.76 every two years ($4.99/month – save 58%)
- 36-month plan: $143.64 every three years ($3.99/month – save 67%)
You’ll benefit from a great discount if you choose the three-year plan. However, you’ll find VPNs that offer better features for that price, if not cheaper.
You can pay for your HideMyAss subscription with your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card. The VPN also supports UnionPay and PayPal. HMA still does not accept Bitcoin or other crypto payments that help you maintain your online anonymity.
But on the bright side, you’ll benefit from a 30-day refund policy no matter which subscription plan you choose. It allows you to fully test HideMyAss VPN for 30 days before you commit to it. You can cancel anytime during that period if you’re unhappy with the service.
What About a Free Trial?
HideMyAss VPN is one of the few providers that still offer an extensive free trial period. You can test the service free of charge on your iOS or Android mobile devices for an entire week. However, you’ll still have to submit your credit card information as the free-trial is pre-authorized.
Wrapping up the HideMyAss VPN Review
HideMyAss VPN has its high and lows, but in our opinion, it’s not worth the hassle. It provides some excellent features like top-level encryption, IP Shuffle, smart kill switch, and a vast server network. HMA also allows you to test it out before you make up your mind with a one-week free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
What do you think about HideMyAss VPN? Tell us in the comment section below.