HideMyAss Review 2019

BEST FOR: Great access for streaming content

  • Simple user interface
  • Unmatched server locations
  • Reliable speeds
  • 5 simultaneous connections
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HideMyAss Overview

Joel Timothy

Last updated: 16 April 2019

HideMyAss! is one of the biggest names in the VPN industry. Their VPN was one of the first in the market, having launched in 2005. Since then it has managed to amass a large user base. HMA! boasts the largest number of locations offered by any VPN service. They refer to themselves as the “the VPN Donkey,”on a mission to provide quick, easy, and secure internet freedom for all. Recently, they updated their VPN client to a simple one with a sleek design, and this has been greatly appreciated by their users. Power users though still prefer the older version that had many more features. Nevertheless, let’s see in this HideMyAss! Review how the VPN stacks up against others in the market.

Pros

What we liked

  • Pretty good speeds
  • Offers a free trial
  • Unmatched server locations
  • BitTorrent (legal) is allowed
  • 5 simultaneous connections

Cons

What can be improved

  • Keeps logs
  • Prices not the best value

Security & Privacy

Privacy

HideMyAss! is headquartered in the UK, presenting us with the biggest flaw of this giant VPN service provider. The UK is among the worst places where you can base a VPN, and we are not really sure why HMA! chose to register  in the UK. For example, we have seen VPNs operated from the US being registered in a country like Panama that promotes digital privacy, so we’re not sure why HMA! hasn’t done something similar.

Logs

Czech company Avast Software now owns HMA!. However, being headquartered in the UK means that HideMyAss! must be in compliance with local regulations, and its therefore forced to keep user records. They admit:

“We will store a timestamp and IP address when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service, the amount of data transmitted (up- and download) during your session together with the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.”

The VPN also explicitly states what they collect and store:

“When you use our VPN service the only data we collect from you (“VPN Data”) is as follows:

  • username
  • a time stamp when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service:
  • the amount data transmitted (upload and download) during your session;
  • the IP address used by you to connect to our VPN; and
  • the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.”

HideMyAss! claims that the information they collect is kept for between 2-3 months. After that, it is deleted unless your identity or account is being invested. That statement is, however, contradictory, as UK laws require ISPs to keep data logs for 12 months.

From a quick analysis of their terms, you can see that HMA! knows everything about you, and so there is no hiding behind it to commit illegal activities. Actually, they are quite clear about that:

“Our acceptable use policy states that our service is not to be used for illegal activity. We are based in London so operate within the framework of EU and English law. We follow strict data protection regulations and we are only obliged to cooperate with disclosure requests in very specific circumstances described in our logging policy.”

HMA! has been known to present user records to the authorities whenever required to do so. The most high profile case of HMA! doing so happened in 2011 when they handed over usage records of Cody Kretsinger at the request of the police. The user was a member of LulzSec, and she was facing charges of hacking the Sony Pictures website. Following HMA!’s records, she ended up receiving a prison sentence for the crime.

If you are concerned about strict privacy and no data retention, stay away from HideMyAss!. It doesn’t hide anything when it comes to logs.

Security

For data security, HMA! groups encryption into two groups: data channel and control channel.

The data channel uses Blowfish 128-bit cipher with HMC SHA-1 hash authentication, while the control channel uses AES-256 cipher with RSA-2048 handshake encryption and SHA-1 hash authentication. Though the AES-128 may be considered weak, when combined with the secure control channel the weakness is nullified. Perfect forward secrecy is also implemented, using the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange.

The VPN supports various protocols:

  • OpenVPN
  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • OpenVPN

By default, the HMA! VPN client uses OpenVPN.

Pricing & Payment

HMA! offers three different subscription plans. Each of these plans is all-inclusive, so the only variation is in the duration. As usual, the longest subscription gives the best value.

1 month

$11.99

Per month

30-day money-back guarantee

most popular
1 year

Save
42%

$143.88

$6.99

Per month

Plan costs $83.88 for a year.

30-day money-back guarantee

2 Year Plan

$7.99

Per month

Plan costs $119.76 for 2 years.

30-day money-back guarantee

*Although we make every effort to ensure all prices are accurate, we cannot guarantee thet they are always up to date

Here is a break down of the prices.

  • The monthly plan is $11.99, prepaid monthly.
  • The 1-year plan costs $83.88 which translates to $6.99/month. It is prepaid every 12 months.
  • The 2-year plan costs $119.76 which translates to $5.59/month. It is prepaid every 12 months.

30-day money-back guarantee

HideMyAss! offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can take advantage of to test their service. However, you need to understand HMA!’s money-back policy very well. l It has some clauses that can catch you off guard.

You can request a refund only if:

  • Your bandwidth usage is less than 10 GB (the total of upload and download activity through the VPN)
  • You have not exceeded 100 sessions (the number of times you have connected to the service)
  • You have not previously claimed a refund (e.g., for another account)
  • Refund policy doesn’t apply to orders on Google Play and Apple iTunes Store.

If you stand any chance of getting your money back, you need to ensure that you remain within those guidelines. To ask for a refund, you need to fill out a form.

Payment Methods

HMA! accepts various payment methods:

  • Credit cards
  • PayPal
  • Union Pay

This is a pretty unimpressive number of payment options,  and we would love to see HMA! at least implement Bitcoin to allow anonymous payments.

Remember that when you pay for HMA!’s service, your account is kept on auto renewal. You may need to disable this feature, as we have seen complaints of users being charged before the renewal date.

Credit cards
Payment Service
Others
and more!

To disable auto-renewal, log in to the HideMyAss! control panel and navigate to “Billing Management.” You will get an option to turn off this feature. If you experience any difficulties, you can just reach out to the support team.

Performance

The HMA! clients work really well, and we didn’t experience any problems while using any of them. Connecting to a server takes about 10 seconds.

Speed test

Just to give you a hint of how fast HMA! VPN is, we did a few speed tests for this HMA! VPN Review. All speed tests were done using the OpenVPN encryption protocol, which normally results in speed drops but has super solid security.

Below is our first speed test when not connected to a VPN server.

HideMyAss

Here is a speed test when connected to an HMA server near us.

HideMyAss

When connected to a distant server, we got the following speeds.

HideMyAss

Generally, HMA! is not the fastest VPN we have tested. However, the VPN offers pretty good speeds that you can use for streaming HD content without any hiccups.

This speed test was recently conducted on April 18, 2019.

Servers & Location

In terms of servers and locations, a VPN doesn’t get any better. HideMyAss! servers cover more countries than you will find in any other VPN. HMA! boasts 930+ VPN servers in 280+ locations covering 190+ countries.

Not many VPNs come close to that number of countries. Such diversity means that you can connect to virtually any location in the world using HMA! servers. If you want some rare connection options like The Maldives and Cook Islands, HMA! is the VPN for you.

HideMyAss! offers 4,000+ IP addresses shared IP addresses.

Virtual Servers

Unfortunately, not all HMA! Pro VPN servers are located in the country they are indicated to be. While doing this HideMyAss! VPN Review, we noticed that some servers were returning speed results that did not reflect the distance.

We therefore contacted support about the issue and asked them how one can verify actual and virtual servers. They told us that there is no way to do this, and that even support themselves can’t tell which servers are virtual.

This is a negative point for the VPN. Users should be able to know virtual servers because they always result in poor speeds. To know the best HMA! VPN server for your location, you have to use trial and error, especially with HideMyAss! version 3 app. This mostly applies if you do not live in the typical VPN locations offered by other VPNs.

Therefore, even though HideMyAss! has servers in many countries, they may not be usable for people who live there because they greatly slow down internet speed. These servers only become useful when, for example, you are in the UK and you want to connect to a server that will allow you to legally access resources in another country.

Features

Since HMA! revised their service, there is really not much to discuss in the features section. They offer pretty standard features, which we’ve already mentioned. The two different clients offer the same standard features. For this HideMyAss! review, we will therefore discuss more about the features under the various client sections.

It’s worth mentioning that HMA! doesn’t offer split tunneling. The HideMyAss! free proxy is also not yet running, but should be available in the next few months. What the VPN offers in both apps is the kill switch. In the HMA! v2 app, it is usually referred to as Secure IP Bind. More about the feature will be mentioned later.

HideMyAss Setup & User Interface

HideMyAss Review

The Website

The HMA! website is one of the neatest websites with a bit of personality that you can get, and it’s easy to find anything you need. There’s a help button at the top of the website, which makes it easy navigating to the support section. The live chat button also floats on the homepage, and so getting help with HMA! is a cinch.

Getting Started

Getting started with HideMyAss!! Pro VPN is quite easy. On the homepage, there’s a obvious “Buy Now” button that will lead you to the buying page. You will then be presented with the three HideMyAss! plans. The yearly plan is the one selected by default. You can change it to suit your preference.

You will then be redirected to the check out page.

HideMyAss Review

After filling in your details, you can then create a password for your account.

The Windows Client (HMA! Pro VPN Version 3)

HMA! redesigned their client and replaced HMA! v2 with HMA! v3. We say replaced because though the customer support tells us the version is still supported, the website was revamped to only reflect the current version of the app. This is therefore the version that is available for download.

Installation takes about 2 minutes to complete.

Upon launching, you will be presented with one of sweetest-looking clients that we have seen with a VPN. The app is very well designed, and its super easy to use, even for novice users.

HideMyAss Review

Sadly, the features that were made available by the older version of the app are no longer available. The HMA! Pro VPN v3 app only offers various modes that you can use to connect to their server network.

Instant Mode: This mode gives you a quick way to connect and secure your internet. The mode is configured to offer a fast connection by using the server near you. It’s a great option if you normally connect to public wifi hotspots. Once connected, just turn Instant Mode on to secure your data and keep your activities private.

Location Mode: This mode gives you the ability to select a server from any location in the world. It is the mode that makes it possible to reach all the 190 countries that HMA! provides. Connecting to a server should always be based on your particular needs. For example, you can connect to the US, and the VPN will work with US Netflix. Otherwise, if you just want to keep your data secure, just connect to a server near you.

Freedom Mode: The Freedom Mode is a feature that when turned on, it analyses your location and chooses the closest server in a country that does not restrict internet access.

HideMyAss Review

Note: The Instant Mode and Freedom Mode use various algorithms. It’s important to note that these algorithms are not always correct, and you may end up being connected to the wrong place. The Location Mode is therefore the most reliable mode, followed by the Instant Mode, and then the Freedom Mode.

Connecting to an HMA! VPN server is easy, and connection takes about 15 seconds.

HideMyAss Review

Customization Options

HMA! VPN gives you a number of options to customize your VPN experience. However, there are not as many as in the HMA! v2 app.

The client allows you start the app at system startup.

HideMyAss Review

You can also tell it what to do when connected to an unsecured WiFi.

HideMyAss Review

HMA! Pro VPN Client Version 3

The older HMA! VPN client is best suited for advanced users. However, finding it on the HMA! website is not easy, and you have to search for it in the FAQ section or ask the live chat team for a link.

The HMA! Pro V2 app has a number of features that you can utilize.

HideMyAss Review

Secure IP bind is HMA!’s kill switch, and it allows you to select particular apps that you want to secure with the tool. When you lose VPN connection accidentally, Secure IP Bind will shut that application’s access to the internet, and therefore you won’t be exposed.

HideMyAss Review

The speed guide feature allows you analyze servers depending on their proximity to you and their speed. From there you can make an informed decision about which server to connect to.

HideMyAss Review

The Smartphone App

HideMyAss! smartphone app is not any different from the desktop client. The client has the three modes found in the desktop app, and they operate exactly the same way.

HideMyAss Review

 

This app also lacks customization options. You can only enable the Unsecured WiFi Notification.

HideMyAss Review

Compatibility

Netflix

HideMyAss! works with the US Netflix library.

When located in the US, and using certain US servers, HMA! works with Netflix to explore their streaming content library.

Actually, giving users the streaming freedom that they deserve is HMA!’s primary agenda. With their vast server network, you can therefore trust them to provide you with access to almost all locations in the world.

China

HMA! VPN doesn’t work when you are in China.

Customer support

HMA! customer support is offered through various methods:

  • Live chat
  • Email
  • Ticketing system
  • FAQs
  • Troubleshooting guides

The first three help you get in direct contact with the customer support agents, and HMA! is quite good at that. To test the effectiveness of these systems, we tested the live chat and the ticketing system.

The live chat is available 24/7, and they are always ready to address any issues that you might be having. We contacted the live chat support team, and they responded within 10 seconds.

HideMyAss Review

The agent was friendly and helpful. We also submitted a ticket, and it was answered in 4 hours 20 minutes.

Apart from these options, you can also contact customer support using the troubleshooting guides and FAQs to answer any queries that you might have. You can also get advice and news from users in the community forum.

Conclusion

HideMyAss! is a multi-purpose VPN that is also super efficient. Its good on price and works with Netflix, just be careful of the tricky jurisdiction. Unless you’re looking for ultra privacy, HideMyAss! is an excellent VPN choice.

Written by: Joel Timothy

Joel is a tech writer and editor with a special interest in cyber security and internet freedom. He likes helping readers tackle tricky tech and internet issues, as well as maximize the boundless power of the internet.

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