HMA is one of the most recognizable VPNs around, and while previously lacking have been making positive strides in recent years.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Well-designed apps.
- Decent download speeds.
- Easy to use.
- Works with US & UK Netflix + BBC iPlayer.
- Use virtual servers.
- Located in ‘5-eyes' country.
- Charges for more connections.
HideMyAss (HMA) has been around for years and their donkey logo is one of the most recognisable in the industry. While it had a bit of a cartoonish feel to it, underneath HMA was still a highly reputable VPN.
But their reputation has been mixed for a few years now. Speeds have been sub-par, apps were not updated for a long time, and overall customer satisfaction was mixed at best.
But in recent times there has been several big changes. Apps have been given a radical overhaul, the website has been updated, and a more professional brand has been created.
The question is, how have these changes improved HMA's overall service? This is exactly what we'll be trying to find out in this review which looks at every bit of the HMA VPN service, its clients, and its policies.
If you are considering signing up for HMA VPN, you need to read our detailed VPN review first.
Over the years, HideMyAss VPN hasn't been known for its speeds. We've been pretty underwhelmed yearly when we sit down to review the HMA VPN service and run speed tests on them.
Last year we reported a notable improvement in the HMA VPN speeds, though. However we did factor in rather a significant caveat: HideMyAss' use of Virtual Servers, about which more below.
Our HMA VPN speed test was run on many servers but we can still not be 100% sure where our speed test results are from real or virtual servers.
We ran our speed test then a UK residential internet connection to mirror the likely connection type you would be using.
Our connection speed without VPN was: 60.57 Mbps.
The following are a selection of results when connected to HideMyAss:
- UK – 56.75 Mbps
- France – 56.71 Mbps
- Netherlands – 58.14 Mbps
- Switzerland – 56.72 Mbps
- Sweden – 58.56 Mbps
- New York, US – 56.29 Mbps
- Australia – 55.30 Mbps
The speeds achieved certainly aren't the fastest we've encountered but they're not too far off the mark.
They're certainly a marked improvement on what HMA VPN used to return. But as we have already noted, we can't guarantee all servers were physically located where they're suggesting they are.
Please note speed tests are not 100% reliable. They are merely a glimpse of performance at a certain period. Your results may differ depending on your location, time of usage, services accessed, device used and many other factors.
The logging policy is perhaps the area where HMA has made the biggest changes. It now professes on its website to be a no-user logs VPN and has even deployed an external auditing company to verify this claim.
While this change is very welcome and long overdue, there is a slight catch.
In their press release announcing the change, Hide My Ass VPN admits that they will still be logging some ‘behavioural data' and user details such as your email address. No further information about this data logging has come to light in the past twelve months.
HMA VPN insists any data collected would be anonymised and kept separately from user account details.
But it is never that difficult to unanonymise data like this, so the fact that HMA VPN is collecting it at all is far from ideal and does challenge the idea of them as a no logs policy VPN, especially given their UK jurisdiction.
However, they are no longer keeping a log of your connecting IP Address, which is progress.
All HMA VPN subscribers are allowed to connect up to five devices to the HMA network simultaneously. There was a time when HMA only offered two simultaneous connections, so this is definitely a step forward.
Having said that, five simultaneous connections is pretty standard for most VPNs these days. Other providers offer ten or even twelve concurrent connections, while a few offer unlimited simultaneous connections.
Five will be enough for most HMA VPN users, but we suspect it is only a matter of time before this number needs to be increased.
You can increase this to ten concurrent connections but the package prices increase significantly and it's something we haven't seen elsewhere. We're not hugely impressed with the increased prices for what others offer as part of their standard pricing.
HMA VPN is based in the UK. While UK citizens may think this is a good thing and like the idea of staying local, bear in mind that this is not necessarily a good thing.
Being based in the UK means that HMA VPN is based in a five eyes country with what Edward Snowden has described as “the most draconian online surveillance laws in the democratic world”.
At the present moment, there is nothing in UK law that is forcing British VPNs like Hide My Ass to log user data, and the HMA VPN logging policy shows that it doesn't. But British data retention laws have been moving that way and privacy-conscious users might want to consider a VPN with an offshore location where such concerns are unlikely to come up.
HMA VPN customer support is pretty good among its rival VPN providers.
It offers a 24/7 live chat support service that is responsive and helpful. We have run a number of queries past their 24/7 live chat support team and whether it was a technical issue, related to security features, or a simple query about their servers, they were always able to offer a prompt and fast response.
Email customer support and a packed FAQ section are helpful too but it is the live chat support that most people will be using and we were impressed.
HMA's server network is, on the face of it, very impressive and it has grown even further since last year.
The VPN servers network offers more than 1,070+ servers in 290+ different locations and 210+ countries worldwide. These are spread across six continents, focusing on Europe and North America and cover just about every country you can think of, and then some.
However, it includes places like Greenland, North Korea, and Iran, which does raise a few questions.
The fact is that the majority of HMA's servers are not physical servers. They are a prolific user of virtual servers, which are located in one country but spoof the location of another.
A virtual server can be useful to access the internet services of countries like Iran and China. A virtual server will give you IP Addresses from these countries. But they can also offer poor performance and also affect speeds in the country where these servers are actually located too.
As HMA is still yet to confirm how many of its servers are virtual and where they are located, there is a chance their use could affect the entire HMA network. Details of which server locations are available can be found on their website.
We like a large VPN server network as much as the next person, but not if it risks compromising the integrity of the server network as a whole. Our fear with HMA VPN is that this is exactly what happens.
Does HideMyAss work in China?
There was a time when HMA was one of the go-to VPNs for China. They even offered (virtual) servers based in China.
But these days, they are apologetically open about the fact that HMA does not work behind the Great Firewall in China. They do not have workaround suggestions or even old apps that might still function.
When we spoke with their customer support team, we were told some hollow words about ‘working on a solution' but there seemed little confidence this was coming any time soon.
There are lots of top quality VPNs that can work inside China, but HMA is not one of them.
Security and Safety
Protocols and Encryption
HMA offers OpenVPN as its standard protocol to all Windows and Android users. OpenVPN is the most secure and reliable VPN protocol so this is just fine.
Mac and iOS users have to make do with IKEv2/IPsec which is the protocol that interacts with Apple's operating systems the smoothest. Nevertheless, we would like to see OpenVPN added as an option.
There is no WireGuard protocol available on HideMyAss VPN at the moment and no indication of when it might be introduced.
WireGuard is a fast and secure VPN protocol that has been adopted by many top VPNs so far. HMA is very much behind the curve on this one as with the lack of OpenVPN on all devices.
Our previous review of HMA found their encryption policies left something to be desired, so we are relieved that the latest version appears to have fixed this issue.
If you use HMA on an Android or Windows device, you will be connected to OpenVPN using 256-bit AES encryption with 4096-bit RSA keys for handshaking, authenticated with SHA256.
On Mac and iOS devices you will also get 256-bit AES connections but through the IKEv2/IPsec protocol as this is more compatible with the operating system.
This is a marked improvement on what came before and means HMA is now up there with the very best when it comes to encryption and keeping you safe from hackers.
HMA's user privacy policies and specifically its logging practices, have long been the biggest single criticism of their service.
But while they now claim to be a no user logs VPN, there are still questions they need to answer about the anonymised data they continue to collect:
- Why do they need this?
- What is it used for?
- Who is it made available to?
While HMA might be able to make their no user logs claim stand up on a technicality, the fact remains that they do still harvest more user data than most of their rivals. If you want a VPN that offers no user logs policies, the fact is that there are many better options out there than HMA.
HMA has a track record of complying with local law enforcement and if asked, they will hand private details over to the authorities. It remains to be seen how the changes they have made to their logging practices affect this cooperation.
HMA will still hide IP Addresses effectively. The questions are all about its broader data retention policies.
In the past they have also been known to suspend accounts they deem in breach of the law and actively discourage users from downloading BitTorrent files. However, they do now seem to have “P2P” tagged servers which could signal an easing on this policy.
Other Notable Features
HMA offers a number of additional privacy tools alongside their core service. These include an IP Checker, which can tell you what people can find out about your IP Address.
There is also a DNS and a WebRTC leak test and a limited free web proxy service available to all users too. Their Lightning Connect feature sounds very futuristic but in reality, lightning connect is another way of describing their quick connect button.
They also offer a Smart Kill Switch feature too. This kill switch will cut your internet connection if your VPN connection drops out. If you are a Windows user, you can even configure the kill switch on an app-by-app basis too.
A kill switch is an essential VPN feature these days, so it is good to see HideMyAss VPN has a good kill switch.
There is a Split-Tunneling feature that allows users to specify which apps are rerouted through the VPN connection.
And the handy IP Shuffle feature lets you set HMA to automatically change your IP Address within the same location anywhere from once every ten minutes to once a day
There is no denying that the latest incarnation of HMA is feature-heavy and with lots to play with. The question is whether these little toys make up for deficiencies elsewhere in their service.
HMA offers user friendly apps for iOS and Android devices. We tested out their service on an Apple iPhone device using the latest version of their iOS app. We also put their Android app through its paces.
There is no doubting that HMA has dramatically improved their mobile app, which is now one of the best designed and most user-friendly we have come across.
Once you log in, the app homepage offers a simple blue screen with a large quick connect button in the middle.
You can change location by tapping the Location button, which opens a selector in a new window.
Advanced features and settings can be accessed easily from the bottom of the app window.
The app is slick, easy-to-use and looks great – a significant improvement on their previous versions.
The HMA desktop apps are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices and have been restyled in much the same user-friendly way as their mobile apps.
We tested both the Windows app and the Mac OS app, which have also been redesigned to offer a quick connect button from the main screen.
The desktop apps have changed quite rapidly over the years and while a little too often, they've always changed for the better.
It's nice to see features like their Kill Switch able to be enabled/disabled and a neat app-based Kill Switch which we haven't such much of from other providers.
Apart from the Kill Switch functions, there aren't a whole lot of others. An IP Shuffle will periodically disconnect you and connect you to a new host gaining a new IP Address.
You can also force using TCP connections as opposed to the default UDP.
But aside from that, there isn't much more. The HMA desktop app looks great, is simple to use, and does the basics very well indeed.
Hide My Ass has expanded its range of apps quite significantly since our last HMA VPN review.
In addition to the standard apps for Mac and iOS, Windows and Android devices listed above, there is a Linux app and help for setting the service up on Apple TV and Android TV, and for Playstation and Xbox games consoles.
Other manual setups might be possible with the help of the HMA customer support team.
Sadly there is still no Amazon Fire TV app which is a big letdown if you utilise one.
Does HideMyAss have browser extensions?
Yes. There are HMA browser extensions available for both the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers.
Does HideMyAss support VPN routers?
Yes. HMA is compatible with a number of VPN-enabled routers, including popular models from Linksys, Asus, and Netgear.
Full details of which routers are compatible can be found on their website and the customer support team are always ready to help with advice and guidance.
Surprisingly, HideMyAss now works with all the most popular streaming sites, which hasn't always been the case in our previous HMA VPN reviews.
When it comes to online streaming, HMA is a VPN provider that is undeniably up there with the best.
Plus, with their unlimited bandwidth promise, you can stream as much as you want without worrying about restrictions.
Does HideMyAss work with Netflix?
Not only does HMA VPN claim to be able to unblock US Netflix, but Hide My Ass actually says it can unblock any Netflix service around the world. This is a bold claim and not too many other VPNs will claim to unblock all regional Netflix services.
In theory, all you have to do is choose a VPN server in the country where your chosen Netflix service is based and then log in. HMA says its service will work with any Netflix platform, so in theory, there is no limit to what Netflix shows you can watch.
There have been some user reviews of Netflix not working with some HMA servers, including Netflix US. But we tried Netflix US on multiple servers and didn't encounter any problems. The same was true with UK Netflix as well.
The problem with these big boasts is that they are hard to verify absolutely. But in our tests, we have no problem access Netflix using Hide My Ass VPN.
Does HideMyAss work with BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer is another streaming platform that tries to block VPNs, but again we had no problem watching BBC iPlayer shows with Hide My Ass.
All you need to do is connect to a UK server and you should have no trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer and watching whatever you want.
Does HideMyAss work with Disney+?
No. While HMA VPN is a great tool for most streaming sites, Disney+ is one that it cannot unblock at the moment.
Does HideMyAss work with Amazon Prime Video?
Amazon Prime video is another streaming site that works hard to block VPNs.
HMA VPN can unblock Amazon Prime Video but it is not perfect. We had no problem with the US services but others such as the UK and German ones are hit and miss and we're not convinced they work.
There is a bit of trial and error involved by the customer service team is always on standby to help if you encounter any problems.
Does HideMyAss work with other streaming services?
We tested HMA VPN with a few other streaming platforms and the results were mixed.
HMA VPN doesn't have specific streaming servers but it claims that these sites should work on all servers. This doesn't appear to be the case in our tests but it is still possible to get most sites working with a bit of trial and error.
Prices and Plans
HMA has slightly expanded its available subscription plans over the past year, with a one year, two years, and three years deal now available. Prices have gotten considerably cheaper since our last review, which is excellent news.
- 1-Month: $11.99 per month (£7.99)*
- 6-Months: $8.99 per month (£6.39)
- 1-Year: $4.99 per month (£3.29)
- 2-Year: $6.99 per month (£2.89)**
- 3-Years: $2.99 per month (£2.39)
* HideMyAss seems to offer different selections of packages based on your location or certain other factors. While we were offered a 1-Month package when visiting from the US, we didn't see this initially from the UK.
** The 2-year package also wasn't available when visiting from the US but was from the UK.
The 7-day free trial that we made a fuss about last year either shows or doesn't, depending on where you visit from.
A free trial is a rare thing on a VPN these days so it is nice to see HMA VPN offering one. Users should be aware that they do still have to enter payment details and will be billed for a one-year deal at the end of the trial period.
To confuse things further, HideMyAss lets you select between 5 and 10 concurrent connections, which alter the prices further.
There is still a 30-day money-back guarantee available to all users which is excellent, although there have been some loose reports of HMA being slow to pay up.
They accept payment by a huge variety of different methods including the usual credit and debit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, UnionPay, Skrill Wallet, and Neteller.
Unfortunately, payment by Bitcoin is still not currently an option.
The latest incarnation of the HMA VPN service is a big improvement on its predecessors. It has slick and well-designed apps, a professional website, a large server network, reasonable prices and a free trial now available to all.
Connection speeds are much improved, they allow unlimited bandwidth, they work with most streaming services, and their encryption has been stepped up significantly too.
There are a host of security features such as a kill switch and split tunneling available too. You can also get a different IP Address regularly by using their IP Shuffle feature.
There have also been improvements to their privacy policies too but it is clear that HMA know they had a lot of room for improvement in this area.
They deserve credit for their efforts but the truth is that they still have some way to go before their privacy protections are on a par with their competitors. More privacy improvements have been promised and we can't wait to see if HMA can catch up with the pack.
The excessive use of virtual servers is an issue too and while their streaming provisions with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime are great, there is still room for improvements with others.
HMA VPN is an impressive VPN provider if you're after private internet access. But it still has some way to go before it can compete with the big boys.
30-day money back guarantee