| HideMyAss! is one of the oldest and most popular VPN providers around. Their massive number of servers and locations, untouchable by anyone else in the industry, combined with solid speed test results and a very intuitive user interface can more than make up for some privacy concerns, and certain advanced feature shortcomings.|
- Huge number of servers in nearly every country on the planet
- Very simple to use
- Good speed test results
- Free web proxies for anonymous browsing
- Excellent customer support
- A bit costly compared to competition
- Only two simultaneous connections
- No advanced features to speak of
- Some privacy concerns
The HideMyAss Speed Tests
Unlike most VPN providers, HMA does not make many speed claims on their website. But, they certainly could. My tests have shown that their servers can more than hold their own. For the majority of locations, download speeds were never more than a couple of megabits slower than the baseline no VPN tests (if you’re interested, this is how I run my speed tests). And even for the other countries, while the performance drop was higher, it was not all that significant.
Upload speeds were slightly more erratic, sometimes coming very close to the baseline test, other times being a good 30-40% slower.
I also noticed and was impressed with how consistent the speed was across multiple tests of the same location. Every time I disconnected and reconnected the VPN and ran a fresh test, the results were steady. That’s a good thing.
If you’re wondering how HMA speeds compare with other top VPN providers, take a look at the handy-dandy table on the homepage. It shows the speed differences between each provider‘s closest (and presumably fastest) server to my physical location.
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A veteran of the industry, HideMyAss has been around since 2005. They are currently owned by Avast Software, a leading antivirus and security software company. HMA is not only one of the original consumer VPN providers, but also one of the largest. With their ever increasing popularity over the years, they have grown their hardware to over 926 servers in 220 countries around the world. Those are big numbers.
Privacy and Security
Being owned by a security company, I would expect HideMyAss to have industry-leading security features. Unfortunately, while they’re passable, they’re far from top notch. HMA implements 128-bit Blowfish data encryption, which falls short of the AES-256 standard used by most competitors. Things don’t look much better in the hash authentication and handshaking encryption departments, where HideMyAss uses SHA1-160 and RSA-1024 respectively. Again, both could be better.
Privacy is also a weak spot for HideMyAss. Reading over their logging policy reveals they collect and retain several key bits of information. Specifically, the policy states they log the following:
- 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
- The IP address of the individual VPN server used by you
This data is more than sufficient to uniquely identify you and track your online activity when needed. Combine that with the fact that HMA is based in the UK, which has strict mandatory data retention laws and is consider the worst western country in the world when it comes to privacy, and I would stay clear of this provider if privacy is your primary concern. Instead, use one one of the other VPN providers that get top marks for privacy.
None of the HideMyAss legal documentation or policies seem to mention BitTorrent usage, and least not that I could find. So, if it is your intent to use P2P networks, treat carefully, especially considering some of the privacy concerns mentioned above.
On the plus side, all checks I usually do to find DNS or WebRTC leaks passed with flying colors. The HMA server setup appears to be solid in that respect.
HideMyAss is all about ease of use, and it shows. Both their website and clients could not be much simpler to understand and navigate, making this service a great choice for novice VPN users.
However, software simplicity does come at a cost. There are only three options to choose from. You connect to the nearest server, which will give you the best possible speeds, pick a specific country or city from HMA’s massive list, or use Freedom Mode. The latter will connect you to the closest free-speech country, and frankly, is not much more than a gimmick.
Other features are pretty much non-existent. So, if you’re more advanced and looking for kill switch protection or the ability to fine tune your connection parameters, you may want to look at one of the other fast VPN providers.
HideMyAss also doesn’t allow you to select the protocol. They force you to use OpenVPN on the Windows, MacOS, Android and Linux clients, and IPSec on the iOS client. On the bright side, OpenVPN is, in my humble opinion, by far the best choice. So, kudos to HMA for at least picking it as their go-to.
There are several free services HMA offers which anyone can take advantage of. Through a Firefox or Chrome extension, you can gain access to things like an IP checker and a web proxy service. The latter is especially nice for anyone looking to browse content that is geo-restricted at their location. Note, that with the free proxy service, there is no support for encryption, streaming or gaming. Anyone looking to do one of these things will have to get a full paid VPN subscription.
The number of simultaneous connection under HMA’s acceptable use policy is set at 2. That is definitely on the low end. Anyone who abuses this limit is subject to account suspension, so be sure to keep tabs on how many devices you have connected at any given time. If you need for more connections, your best bets are either Nord VPN which allows up to 6 connections, or Buffered and Private Internet Access which both allow 5.
Other than the number of concurrent connections, HMA has few other limitations. There are no time of day or bandwidth restrictions. As long as you don’t use the VPN service to spread viruses, hack, send spam or any other frowned upon internet behavior, you should be in the clear.
On the customer support front, HideMyAss does score very well and offers everything I have come to expect from a top VPN provider. You can get in touch with support using either e-mail or live chat. HMA has also built out an extensive knowledge base, which should answer most, if not all, of your questions.
Support responsiveness is snappy. Even at odd times on weekends, I have received knowledgeable and helpful chat replies in just minutes. HMA also does social media very well. They regularly post helpful and engaging content on their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.
Your HideMyAss subscription comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. There are, however, a few caveats. These rules have been put in place to cover HMA against abuse by less than honest users.
The biggest limitation of the refund policy is that you must have used less than 10GB of data (this includes both upload and download), and have not connected to the service more than 100 times. You can also only request a refund once and cannot do so for renewals. These restrictions are all fair enough and should not be an issue for anyone wanting to evaluate the service. But, you do need to keep them in mind.
This is where HideMyAss truly shines. With 926 servers in 220 countries, they are the undisputed champions of VPN server locations. Only PureVPN’s servers come close with 2070 machines in 131 countries, but even that is still quite a ways off country wise.