Based in the UK, HideMyAss, aka HMA VPN, dwarfs all the other VPN providers in the market with its commanding market share of over 20 million well-satisfied customers from all around the world. Established in 2005, the VPN provider boasts of a well-established network of over 940 servers, located in over 190 countries. It’s one of the VPN services that I certainly had to do a review on, Is HMA actually worth your money? How does HideMyAss compare against other major VPNs such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, and VyprVPN? We’ll begin this HideMyAss review with a brief outlook of its pros and cons.
HideMyAss Review 2020
HMA Pros and Cons:
- Free Anonymous Email
- Free Disposable Email
- 20 Million Active Users
- 30 Days Money Back Guarantee
- 940+ Servers, 350+ Locations
- They Keep an activity log (Login & logout times – UK regulation)
- UK Based Provider
- A day’s wait for an email response
- No live telephone support
With a service base that spans over 8 million subscribers per month, none of the other VPN services even come close to the level at which Hide My Ass operates. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why this particular VPN provider is so popular:
HideMyAss VPN Compatibility and Interface
HideMyAss provides it’s users with a wide array of supported platforms on which it’s VPN client can run on. This is for both stationary and handheld devices. The OS platforms include Windows, Mac and Linux for PCs, and Android, Windows and iOS for handheld devices.
For Linux though, a command-line interface is the default for HideMyAss Pro VPN clients, but users can make a special request to get the alpha version, which happens to be a well-customized service.
While checking the application, we found that it is beyond easy to navigate through it. Despite having so many features, the HMA application did not give us any trouble.
In other words, no matter what a user’s VPN comprehension level is, he/she will be able to operate the app without having any issue. As a test, we ran the Android HMA client. Here’s how it looks like:
HideMyAss VPN Servers
As has been mentioned, HideMyAss VPN has an impressive record of servers distributed around the world, with more than 356 in the US and 300+ in Europe. Their numbers in the US make them the largest server owners there, and the second largest in Europe.
HideMyAss has more than 350 server locations in nearly 200 countries. You can see the full list below:
- Aland Islands
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- San Marino
- Svalbard and Jan Mayen
- United Kingdom
HideMyAss VPN provides 256-bit encryption through it’s OpenVPN and L2TP protocols, and 128-bit encryption through its PPTP protocol.
The OpenVPN encryption protocol for TCP and UDP both has 128-bit encryption but OpenVPN-UDP is said to offer better speeds and an ability to bypass more restrictions.
The PPTP protocol comes with MS-Chap version 2 authentication while L2TP comes with a 3DES/AES algorithm. HIdeMyAss has other features to improve your security as you browse the web. Here’s a couple:
This free service has been an alternative for new users who are not quite familiar with the concept of IP masking and unblocking geo-restricted domains. Its heavy traffic does a lot to cut down on speed despite being a free service.
This feature allows you to send anonymous emails to anyone through an email address you come up with by yourself. You can configure the email address to get deleted by setting a timer that dictates how long the address is to stay active.
IP – Port Proxies
HideMyAss provides its users with an up-to-date database of public proxies that they can use after a one-off lifetime purchase of US$24.95. The list will be sent to them daily and sorted out with the fastest proxies first, and organized in terms of connection time, region location, proxy type as well as anonymity level.
This nifty feature allows you to upload a file and protect it with a password. Users can share these files as long as they have the required password to open them. They can also specify that only the people using a specific IP address can access and download such files. Aside from this, there’s a self-destruct feature that’ll allow users to set a time upon which a specific file will auto-delete itself.
You have a choice of 3 privacy tools that can be used to maximize your security online. They are:
- IP Checker: This plugin allows you to check what region your acquired IP address claims you’re in.
- Panic Button: You’re able to hide all your open tabs through one click of this button.
- Web Proxy: This is the button that activates HideMyAss’s free proxy service.
Secure IP Bind
This feature allows a user to bind particular applications, thus allowing them to only be connected to the Internet via a VPN. In the event that there’s no active VPN connection, the application disconnects, preventing your real VPN address from being revealed. This feature is however only available to Windows users but Mac users can apply a secure IP bind by configuring their firewall.
HideMyAss Pro VPN allows you to monitor all connection processes through the connection log accessed on the Dashboard. You also get to fine-tune the HMA VPN connection through the “Diagnostics and Settings” tab from the Dashboard. Also, a new user can access the “Knowledge Base” as a resource for all they would need to know about the service.
Schedule IP Address Change
As the name suggests, this feature allows you to change your IP address to a new random IP at a set interval. While this feature greatly improves your anonymity, the only setback is the brief disconnection that happens every time your IP is changed.
This feature allows users to enjoy the fastest server connection by automatically switching to a less loaded server based on a regional setting.
When it comes to a VPN’s privacy, its headquarter’s location matter a lot. HideMyAss launched back in 2005 and is located in the United Kingdom.
To be brief, that’s not a good sign. The United Kingdom is part of the Five Eyes association, which means that the government might or will ask the provider to submit personal information about its users.
In fact, HideMyAss had its fair share of data collecting and sharing in the past. A while ago, a hacker named Cody Kretsinger was arrested by the FBI for hacking into Sony Pictures’ website.
The FBI got all the information they need from HideMyAss. Apparently, the hacker used their service to disguise his IP address as he visited Sony’s website. To defend their action, HideMyAss came up with a lengthy post:
“Being able to locate abusive users is imperative for the survival of operating a VPN service, if you can not take action to prevent abuse you risk losing server contracts with the underlying upstream providers that empower your network.
Some providers choose not to do session logging and instead try to locate the abusive customer by using the intelligence from the complaint, for example, if someone hacks XYZ.com they may monitor traffic to XYZ.com and log which customers have a connection to this website.
Ask yourself this: if a provider claims not to do any form of logging, but is able to locate abusive customers, how are they able to do this without any form of logging?”
That’s just a small chunk of what they had to say. However, knowing the whole story matters a lot here, it’s the users’ privacy after all. That’s why we recommend that everyone sees the full post.
Judging a Judge
Back in 2015, disgraced judge Chris Dupuy was arrested for harassing an ex-girlfriend and another woman. He started to post fake advertisements about them, featuring them in the Escort section of a website (we’re not gonna mention the URL).
We agree it’s a despicable thing to do. But what’s interesting about this case is the method by which the judge was caught. Hardcastle, the investigator, stated that he started tracing the masked IP addresses from the ads.
He witnessed masked IPs in Venezuela, Colombia, and Germany. Apparently, the sophisticated software he was using to cloak his whereabouts had a somewhat unsophisticated name: hidemyass.com.
We did mention the word “sophisticated,” which implies that the judge was not using HMA’s free proxy, but it’s premium service. As a more sold proof, Venezuelan and Colombian servers are only available to those with a premium account.
Despite stating that they log no user IP address or any information that may compromise their customers, some details in the policy just don’t add up.
First, we came across this:
“We are a UK based LTD company and only comply with UK law.”
Second, if customers are using their free proxy, they should know that everything is being recorded. This is what HMA collects when users operate through their free service:
- Originating IP addresses.
- Encoded URLs of the websites they visit.
- The timestamps of their connection.
- Files accessed on the websites visited via the proxy.
VPNs are created to secure a user’s privacy, but that’s not always the case for anonymity. What we presented above may be alarming, but these are the cases reported so far.
Being based in the UK may raise some concerns about HMA’s true intentions when it comes to users’ privacy. However, the provider claims that it collects no logs now, which is something to think about.
User-Friendly Website and Online Access Panel
As part of the unique customer experience, HideMyAss redid their website to include catchy terms and phrases that would appeal to any prospective client. The website is of a professional standard and quite easy to navigate through.
The site also provides for online access to the panel from which you’re meant to configure your connection; a smart little addition that the guys at HideMyAss sought to include.
For the purpose of writing an objective review, we had to test out the VPN’s speed over different regional IP addresses. Our results were that there was a minor decrease in overall Internet bandwidth on both PPTP and OpenVPN protocol. We recommend using OpenVPN since it gives you good speed and ample security online. Here’s a snapshot of our results:
Customer Support For HideMyAss VPN
To be honest, when we contacted live-chat support, they were very helpful and fast in replying. This kind of support helps users the exact time they face any problem with a service.
However, what we did not find as appealing is the short 14 hours per day that the customer chat support facility is available. It really can be stressful when you run into an issue beyond your scope and have no one available to help.
We had to ask them for ourselves to make sure that what the users claim is true. This is a review after all. We contacted their chat support, and apparently, everything is true.
This feature only operates from 9 a.m to 11 p.m. It is a good period of time, but still, if it’s competing against the likes of ExpressVPN and other top providers, its limited shift (if we can call it that) does not stand tall next to them at all. Here’s the conversation that we had with their support agent:
So what would a user do if he/she ran into an issue after the clock ticks 11 p.m? The best resort to turn to would be the HideMyAss community where problems and solutions are discussed and exchanged.
HideMyAss VPN Pricing Plans
The pricing packages offered by HideMyAss Pro VPN are actually not bad. The monthly subscription isn’t that expensive as some other providers are, but it gets better if users opt for longer subscriptions. Here are the available plans:
- $9.99 per month.
- $5.99 per month for a year.
- $3.99 per month for 3 years.
For a service that has been there since 2005, their plans haven’t changed for a long while, until now. The monthly subscription stayed the same, but the provider added long-term plans that bring down the fee to an impressive 67%. This goes to show how much the company is committed to staying consistent.
Automatic Renewal and Money Back Guarantee
Automatic Renewal for HideMyAss VPN means that the service automatically renews itself by deducting the required service charge.
On the other hand, their money-back guarantee stipulates that if within 30 days a customer is not impressed with the level of quality of service, then they are entitled to a full refund of the payment they made.
If we were to compare the provider’s refund policy with other VPNs on the market, a 30-day money-back guarantee is a great way to start. Some providers offer a 7-day refund policy, while others go all the way to 45 days.
30 days is a fair enough duration to test the service’s quality, which is why most VPNs in the industry stick to it.
A free trial is another excellent way to see if the service can live up to your expectations or not. In fact, not a lot of VPN providers offer that, excluding one or two.
But the most important part about having a free trial is that users should not be required to submit any credit card information in the process. In HideMyAss’s case, you do have to provide that.
The provider does have a free trial on Android, iOS, and Mac. But the trial, according to the support team, is pre-authorized. We went ahead and asked them what “authorized” means, and apparently, it’s where users submit their credit card info. This is how the conversation went down:
We don’t totally agree with the method, but at least, they do offer a free trial.
HideMyAss VPN Conclusion
The remarkable customer base enjoyed by HideMyAss VPN is a clear indication that they do deliver on what they promise. The standards they keep are high enough for everyone to remain happy and low enough for the majority to afford.