HideMyAss VPN Review 2020

HideMyAss Review
HideMyAss

Overall
3.6









  • Price









  • Service









  • Apps









  • Speed









  • Policy









Summary

HMA is one of the most recognizable VPNs around, and while previously lacking have been making positive strides in recent years.

Pros

  • 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Well-designed apps.
  • 5 concurrent connections.
  • Fun for beginners.
  • Works with US & UK Netflix + BBC iPlayer.

Cons

  • Use virtual servers.
  • Located in ‘5-eyes' country.


HideMyAss (HMA) has been around for years and their donkey logo is one of the most recognisable in the industry.

Their reputation has been mixed for some time now but over the past few months there has been a number of big changes. The question is, how have they improved HMA’s overall service?

This is exactly what we'll be finding out in this review.

Packages

HMA has recently slimmed down its available packages with just a one year and three year deal now available. The prices of these two deals remain unchanged.

  • 1-Year: £4.99 per /mo ($6.99)
  • 3-Years: £2.99 /mo ($3.79)

Pricing from HMA website

The big difference is that HMA have now introduced a 7-day free trial that lets anyone who is interested try their full service for a week at no charge.

This will no doubt be a popular change but 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.

There is 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 variety of different methods including the usual credit and debit cards, PayPal, UnionPay, Skrill Wallet, and Neteller.

Unfortunately, anonymous payment by BitCoin is still not currently an option.

Service

Protocols

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

Logging

This is perhaps the area where HMA has made the biggest changes. It now professes 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, HMA admits that they will still be logging some ‘behavioural data’. They didn’t specify what this was and insisted it 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 is still collecting it is far from ideal

They are no longer keeping a log of your connecting IP Address, which is certainly a big step forward.

Server Location

HMA’s server network is, on the face of it, very impressive.

They offer more than 930 servers in 280 different locations and 190 countries around the world. These are spread across six continents and cover just about every country you can think of.

World map showing HideMyAss' server locations

HideMyAss' server locations

This 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.

Virtual servers can be useful to access the internet services of countries like Iran and China, but they can also offer poor performance and also affect speeds in the country where they are actually located too.

As HMA is 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.

Concurrent Connections

All HMA subscribers are allowed to connect up to five devices to the HMA network simultaneously. This is a recent improvement as previously HMA only offered two concurrent connections.

This is pretty standard for most VPNs these days, but with other providers going as high as ten or even twelve concurrent connections it is something that HMA might want to review sooner rather than later.

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 leak test, a WebRTC leak test, and a limited free web proxy service available to all users too.

They also offer a Smart Kill Switch which cuts your internet connection if your VPN connection drops out. If you are a Windows user, you can even configure this on an app-by-app basis too

There is a Split-Tunnelling feature which allows users to specify which apps are rerouted though 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

Streaming

Surprisingly, HideMyAss now works with all the most popular streaming services which wasn't the case when we have tested them in the past.

Both US and UK Netflix work fine when using the dedicated ‘Streaming' servers available from within the HMA apps.

The service also works for streaming the UK's popular BBC iPlayer service.

Apps

Mobile Apps

HMA offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. We tested out their service on an Apple iPhone XR device using the latest version of their iOS app.

HideMyAss' mobile app screen

HideMyAss' mobile app.

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 three options. Instant Mode allows you to connect to the fastest available server with a single click.

Location Mode lets you choose which server to connect to, and Freedom Mode enables you to connect to the nearest server in a country without online censorship and surveillance.

In the top left of the screen is a settings menu which includes options to manage your account setting, access HMA support, and view a limited number of settings.

The app is slick, easy-to-use and looks great – a significant improvement on their previous versions.

Desktop Apps

The HMA desktop apps are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux devices and have been restyled in much the same way as their mobile apps.

HideMyAss' desktop app screen

HideMyAss' desktop app.

We tested the Mac OS app which featured the same three homepage features of Instant Mode, Location Mode, and Freedom Mode.

There is no access to settings or account details through the desktop app which is slightly annoying as it means you need to log into your account through your desktop browser to make any changes to these.

Having these basic settings available through the app would be nice.

But aside from the that, the HMA desktop app looks great, is simple to use, and does the basics very well indeed.

Other apps

HMA is currently only available on the desktop and mobile operating systems mentioned above.

It can also be manually set up on some VPN-enabled routers and they have recently added apps for Apple TV and Android TV devices. Other manual setups might be possible with the help of the HMA customer support team

Top Tip

If you need an Amazon Fire TV VPN, ExpressVPN has a very good app.

Speeds

Over the years HideMyAss hasn't been known for its speeds.

We've been pretty underwhelmed yearly when we sit down to review their service.

This year surprised us a little because the speeds have seen a dramatic improvement. However, this isn't without a caveat.

That is HideMyAss' use of ‘Virtual Servers'.

As we discussed earlier these are connection points that aren't physically located in the country you're connecting to. You could, in theory, connect to Vietnam but the actual server may be in Singapore.

We ran some speed tests but without further investigation which is outside the scope of this review, we can't say for certain that in every case the physical location of the server matched the location of where we connected to.

We tested their service on 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 over previous years. However, with the caveat that 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.

Encryption & Policies

Encryption

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 Android or Windows device, you will be connected to OpenVPN using 256-bit AES encryption with 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

Policies

HMA’s privacy policies, and specifically its logging practices, have long been the biggest single criticism of their service.

There is no denying that things have got much better with the latest incarnation of their VPN. They have made many notable improvements with the promise of more improvements in the pipeline.

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 is also based in one of the five eyes countries, specifically the UK. This means it is subject to the UK’s domestic law which is among the most intrusive in the free world.

HMA has a track record of complying with local law enforcement and if asked, they will hand over private details over to the authorities. It remains to be seen how the changes they have made to their logging practices affect this cooperation

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.

Verdict

The latest incarnation of HMA is a big improvement on its predecessors. It has slick and well-designed apps, a large server network, reasonable prices and a free trial now available to all.

Their connection speeds are much improved, they work with most streaming services, and their encryption has been stepped up significantly too.

There have also been notable improvements to their privacy policies too and 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.

30-day money back guarantee

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 3 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

Comments

  1. Avatar Peter

    One of my favorite VPN provider at this moment. Service is very good. Speed around 3-4MB/s in my own country (def not my max connection, but good enough). I like it.

    • Christopher Seward Christopher Seward

      Hi Peter,

      They’re not personally my favourite but thanks for taking the time to leave feedback as it will help others make a decision.

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