HMA (HideMyAss) VPN review: Does it truly hide you online?

Aliu Isa Last updated: June 1, 2022
Disclosure

HideMyAss VPN offers fair online protection but lags behind in user convenience. This HMA review covers all about it.

HideMyAss VPN came into the scene in 2005 and blew our minds away. It had the largest servers globally, provided online safety and security for its large subscribers, and was the darling of everyone. But before long, this seemingly perfect VPN became enshrined in many controversies, from data leaks to IP address leaks and data logs. These conflicting situations triggered the need to review HMA (HideMyAss) VPN for you thoroughly.

HMA (as it’s called now) rose to its promise to “offer more value for money” in light of all the commotions. It updated its privacy policy and improved its services to win back the trust of its users.

The big question, however, is, has HideMyAss been able to redeem itself?

This extensive HMA VPN review addresses that question following hands-on testing of the latest versions of the VPN’s desktop and mobile apps. You will also find the answers to other pressing questions here, such as:

  • How fast is HMA?
  • How effective is HMA in China?
  • Does HMA protect user’s privacy?
  • Will HMA be able to unblock streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix US, and BBC iPlayer?
  • Should you invest in the VPN? 

After going through this review, you will be able to decide if HMA is worth your time or you should better go with a market leader such as ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Let’s get started.

Overview of HMA (HideMyAss) VPN

HMA (aka HideMyAss) VPN is capable of unblocking streaming websites at a decent speed. While it used to keep logs, it no longer does. Also, it offers hundreds of servers across the globe and has a strong security layout.

In general, if you are looking for a VPN that allows you to stream videos and surf the internet without data leaks, then HMA is a fine option to consider. It’s also a workaround for those looking to torrent safely. However, it is not ideal for use in countries like China.

RankNo. 20 of top 50 in the market
Speed rank7/10
Average speed40 Mbps
Video streaming4K, HD video quality
Streaming7/10
Security rank9/10
Type of encryption256-bit AES
Kill switchYes
Logs dataNo
Protocols usedL2TP, IPSec, PPTP, OpenVPN
Value for money8/10
Least monthly subscription cost$2.99
Money-back guarantee30 days
Websitewww.hidemyass.com

HMA VPN servers and network coverage

The main reason why most users look for VPNs is the liberty to change IP locations. If a service doesn’t offer enough locations, it is simply not worth trying.

HAM VPN surely recognizes this point, which is evident from its diversified network. Interestingly, HMA VPN offers servers from more than 210 countries. This is even more than ExpressVPN that offers 94 countries. At present, their website lists 223 different countries with physical or virtual servers offering over 290 locations.

Now you might think HMA must have thousands of servers to maintain this huge choice of locations. However, in reality, the provider has a very modest network of roughly 1100 servers.

It means that, while it offers more locations, it doesn’t have enough servers from one location. This scarcity of servers isn’t something a VPN should exhibit since it directly affects the servers’ speed due to network congestion.

How fast is HMA VPN?

When I tested HMA VPN’s speed, I wasn’t overly impressed. Its average download rate appeared 40Mbps with substantial latency.

It’s a score that’s a little below the average speed rate compared to other VPN services.

However, I made HD video conference calls and streamed 4K videos without encountering buffering problems or compromising quality.

I also tested different HMA VPN servers from other locations, including Europe, North America, and Asia. Here is what I got:

  • Europe: 42Mbps
  • North America: 73Mbps
  • Asia: 7Mbps

As seen from the results above, HMA servers in Asia are relatively slow. Yet, the servers in Europe and North America are good enough to stream live videos of 4K or HD quality. In fact, upon connecting to these servers, I didn’t witness any buffering or lags while surfing.

Note that these tests are not cast in stone. They only indicate the performance you may observe when you review HideMyAss VPN for yourself. The unavoidable instability of the internet impacts the randomness of its speed. Besides, you will likely witness a longer wait time with a slower connection with large or small inconsistencies and vice versa.

What security features does HideMyAss offer?

In terms of security, HMA does an excellent job of safeguarding traffic. From robust data encryption to thorough online privacy, you can find all premium features with this service.

Strong encryption

HideMyAss VPN uses the most potent form of encryption — AES 256-bit encryption. But beyond that, it also uses 4096-bit RSA keys and perfect forward secrecy, all for military-grade protection.


Programmed Wireless network protection

This feature offers protection each time when using a wireless network. You will have to enable it, though, for it to work. To do this, head on to the “Connection Rules” section on your mobile app client or the Network security tab on your desktop setting.


Multiple connection protocol choices

HMA VPN offers a wide range of connection protocols across its apps. But your choice of VPN protocol depends on the apps you use. Although the service uses OpenVPN over UDP by default, users can choose to use TCP of the desktop client. However, you should only use it when the UDP throttles because, although TCP is more stable, UDP has a more incredible speed. Besides, you can also find other protocols here, including L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec.


Private DNS servers

HMA uses private DNS servers provided by Avast. A private DNS is a better option (from a security point of view) than other public servers such as those offered by Google. But its advantages are in question given Avast’s record of data retention.


DNS Leak protection

HMA, true to its claim, offers protection against WebRTC and DNS leaks. However, it does not have inbuilt IPv6 leak protection, which may leak your real IP. (I also noticed this leak while testing HideMyAss; explained later in this review.)

Therefore, when using this VPN, make sure to disable the IPv6 on the safe side.


Kill Switch

Kill switch prevents your information from going out by cutting off the internet connection when the VPN drops suddenly. Thankfully, you can easily find this feature with HMA VPN too.

With HMA, the kill switch is present as a flexible feature with customizability. You can either set it up to disable the entire internet connectivity of your device when the VPN goes off. Alternatively, you can use the “App Kill Switch” option to work on selected apps such as torrent clients or web browsers.

The only problem here is that you’ll merely get this setting on desktop apps only.


IP Shuffle

This is another handy feature that changes your IP address from time to time, thereby giving additional protection against online tracking.


Does HMA log my data?

For most leading VPNs, including the newer ones like Surfshark, data logging isn’t a matter of concern since the countries they are based in have no specific data retention laws. Thus, they easily work with a no-logs policy.

Unfortunately, HideMyAss VPN is based in the United Kingdom, a part of the Five Eyes alliance. It means VPNs based in this country are subject to government surveillance. The same applied to HMA as well (though, things have changed now).

Earlier, HMA used to store its customers’ identity including VPN-connected IP addresses, original IP addresses, and timestamps. This became a source of controversy when the FBI in a 2011 case revealed that HMA furnished them with a suspect’s data.

Things became more worrisome recently when Avast (the parent company of the VPN since 2016) was found selling browsing data (which experts say can be de-anonymized) to others via an intermediary called Jumpshot.

Although Avast later terminated its connection with Jumpshot, it remains unclear if the latter had collected any information about HMA VPN users.

Thankfully, HMA has learned its lessons from these incidents. It has also updated its privacy policy and no longer retains or gives out user’s logs.

HideMyAss data logging review

But it still collects minimal data, such as the date of VPN connection, approximate timestamps (morning or evening), and the amount of data used (rounded to the nearest hundredth Mb). This anonymous information remains stored with the provider for 35 days.

Besides, the service also keeps a record of your subscription and billing information for 2 years to manage your account.

Also, its free unblocker proxy still logs some data such as your original IP address, domain names, and timestamps that it retains for 30 days. However, HMA only stores this data to prevent attacks on its network.

What devices are compatible with HideMyAss VPN?

With a single regular HMA subscription, you can connect 5 devices simultaneously. However, if you have more devices or want a subscription for your family, you can also subscribe to plans offering 10 simultaneous connections.

Also, HideMyAss VPN offers apps for the following:

  • iOS 9 and above
  • Android 5.0 and above
  • Windows 7 and above
  • MacOS 10.5 and above

Plus, it offers a web browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. However, rather than serving as an actual VPN, these extensions work more like proxies securing your browser traffic alone and nothing more. Also, HMA allows users to install VPN on routers and Linux systems manually.

HMA VPN user experience: hands-on testing

The newly designed HMA apps are fun, user-friendly, and modern. You can test this yourself by availing of the HMA VPN free download option. Upon signing up for an account, you will be provided with a license key. It serves as your gateway to any app, but you can use your log-in details (password and username) if you wish.

The desktop app is also appealing. Here, you will find the server list arranged in regions to choose your preferred location. If you don’t have any location specifications, use the VPN’s Lighting Connect feature that links you to the fastest server around.

Besides, you can also connect to the dedicated peer-to-peer or streaming servers optimized for torrenting and high-quality video streaming.

Since it’s always wise to secure your connection with a VPN, HideMyAss allows you to stay private always with an auto-launch feature. To enable this feature, simply head to the setting screen check the options for the app’s launch on startup.

While testing the VPN for this review, I also noticed that HideMyAss had compressed its mobile apps to look like its desktop version, albeit with reduced features.

There’s the Connection Rules section that features an auto Wi-Fi protection which you will have to enable—so, for each time you use public Wi-Fi, you get automatically protected.

It also provides a Personal Privacy feature to secure your data from third parties. However, this option only revolves around sharing your personal information with third parties for analytical purposes. You will have to click on the “allow app and device usage data to be shared with third parties for analytics” to give your consent. Also, this option is enabled by default. Therefore, make sure to turn off this feature right after installing the app on your device (before any other configurations).

In general, HMA mobile apps are intuitive and smooth, but many users are likely to miss its protocol selection and kill switch since it’s hidden.

Does HideMyAss work with Netflix and other platforms?

HMA can unblock Netflix in Germany, the US, and the UK. In fact, it can also support watching other geo-blocked streaming platforms – thanks to its dedicated streaming servers. For example, during my review, I connected to a UK streaming server, and not only did HideMyAss unblock Netflix UK for me, but I could also stream BBC iPlayer.

However, bad news for those who love Amazon Prime or Disney+, HMA will not work for these streaming sites. Though it enables you to access most Netflix libraries, other than that, you will likely face errors.

Do you also enjoy Kodi? If yes, you may have to consider alternative best VPNs for Kodi since HMA won’t help you.

Does HMA VPN allow torrenting?

For the best torrenting experience, a VPN should have unlimited bandwidth and fast speed. HMA VPN satisfies this criterion in addition to offering optimized dedicated P2P servers.

Moreover, its other privacy features, like IP Shuffle and app kill switch, make this VPN further suitable for safe torrenting.

Will HideMyAss VPN work in China?

Before now, HMA VPN worked well in China, but this is no longer the case. Recently, HMA has admitted its services exhibit accessibility issues for some users in China.

So, while it might work for some, it may fail for others. Hence, if you are looking for a reliable stealthy VPN, pick one from this list of the best VPNs that work in China.

How is HMA customer service like?

HideMyAss VPN offers excellent customer support. For starters, if you are having trouble setting up an account or using the VPN, you can click on the Help Tab on the site. It will lead you to a Getting Started and Knowledge Base section. Each of the sections has various articles related to troubleshooting, setting up, and general questions.

Also, the service provides you with a dedicated Community forum where you can find information categorized into various topics. Though some of them might be obsolete, some others are active too.

If none of these options answer your queries, you can explore the Customer Support options. HMA offers support via live chat and email. But it isn’t available 24/7. Rather you can use these services from 9 am to 10:30 pm GMT +1:00.

While this timed support may be a downside, what is worth mentioning in this review is that HideMyAss has arranged it all in-house instead of outsourcing. This certainly ensures you’ll come across a knowledgeable support team promptly answering your concerns. Also, you don’t have to worry about the privacy of your data.

HMA VPN customer service screenshot 1
HMA VPN customer service screenshot 2

In my case, when I inquired them about a matter (as seen in the image above), I got an email response almost immediately, letting me know I will get an answer soon.

Pricing and subscription plans

In the past, HMA used to have a high price which many complained about. Eventually, the service reviewed its pricing plans and reduced costs alongside offering HideMyAss VPN free download with a 7-day trial. Currently, its longest subscription plan for 36 months boasts the cheapest cost.

HMA VPN pricing screenshot 1

A downside to this is that you can no longer use HideMyAss for free.

Also, there is no option for a monthly payment. The shortest plan you can subscribe to is for 12 months. Therefore, it’s not ideal for those looking for a short use VPN.

That said, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, HMA VPN engages third parties in payment processing, which may cause delays in refunds.

HideMyAss VPN supports all major payment options, including credit cards and PayPal. Sadly, it does not accept cryptocurrencies.

HMA VPN pricing screenshot 2

Is HideMyAss safe? (HMA raised some serious alarms to me)

While HMA generally offers modest features, some of its attributes raised red flags. For instance, although the provider claims not to log users’ data, respect privacy, and provide security, the conflicting headquarter location and app glitches raise questions on its claims.

Below I highlight some of the issues that I observed during this HideMyAss pro service review.

HMA location is terrible for privacy

Since HMA is located in the UK, it is subject to the country’s data privacy laws. Although it’s a protegee of Avast, a cybersecurity company with its base in the Czech Republic, HideMyAss VPN runs its operations from the UK.

As stated earlier, the UK, a member of the Five Eyes Surveillance alliance, works with other member countries to collect and share their residents’ data. Alongside this formal agreement, US establishments can obtain their customers’ information using the UK court.

While I would not endorse the use of VPNs with base in the UK owing to privacy concerns, it all comes down to the purpose of the VPN and your threat model.


Inefficient kill switch that leaks IP

While testing HideMyAss for this review, I enabled the kill switch to check for IP leaks.

After that, I ran the VPN through several tests while simulating deliberate internet interruptions, switching servers, and VPN disconnections. Ideally, my internet connectivity should go down during such switches.

However, I observed the kill switch wasn’t working effectively in some instances, leading to occasional IP leaks.

Though this wasn’t the case throughout, you can’t really trust such a service that periodically exposes your real IP online, thereby risking your safety.


Should you use HideMyAss VPN?

While HMA VPN has a fast speed and is suitable for streaming BBC iPlayer and Netflix, it cannot unblock robust platforms. Its privacy policy has been greatly improved upon while also offering better torrenting options for users. But if you are looking for a liable China VPN, it’s not HMA. Besides, it’s not ideal for users looking for a short-use VPN.

To help you decide better, here is a quick review of the major pros and cons of HideMyAss VPN.

Pros:

  • Does not log data anymore
  • The server network is quite large
  • Offers live chat support
  • Enables P2P torrenting
  • Can unblock the UK and US Netflix, including BBC iPlayer
  • Speed is fast enough for streaming
  • Features a 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Does not work in China
  • Some servers are slow
  • It has a minimum term of one year
  • History of data sharing
  • Has no monthly subscription plans

Alternatives to HMA VPN

While HMA VPN isn’t entirely useless, some other VPNs have more to offer. Sometimes, all it takes to know the worth of a product is by comparing it with industry-best products. Hence, this honest review of HideMyAss compares this VPN with two of the best services in the industry — ExpressVPN, and NordVPN.

ExpressVPN provides user-friendly apps with an extensive server network, military-grade encryption for optimal privacy and security, and a tremendous unblocking ability. What’s great about it is that it works perfectly in China.

Also, it offers more pocket-friendly subscription plans, which range from monthly to yearly payments. Also, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. But the best part is that it doesn’t log data and is deliberately located in the British Virgin Islands to avoid government invigilation.

If you are looking to cut costs, NordVPN is another great option to consider. It has hundreds of servers across the world with stellar unblocking abilities. Also, it costs less than other top-notch VPNs without compromising on privacy and security. Besides, the provider has an effective customizable kill switch and has greater device compatibility. What’s more? This service works fine in China.

Here is a quick feature-by-feature comparison of HMA with the two leading VPNs of today.

Test parametersHMA VPNExpressVPNNordVPN
Overall rating3.49.69.5
Average speed40Mbps135Mbps115Mbps
Type of encryption256-bit AES256-bit AES256-bit AES
Torrent enabledYesYesYes
Logs dataNoNoNo
Kill switch YesYes (except iOS app)Yes
Unlocks US NetflixYesYesYes
Unlocks HuluYesYesYes
Unlocks Amazon PrimeNoYesYes
Unlocks BBC iPlayerYesYesYes
Least monthly price$2.99 $8.32$3.30
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days30 days

Conclusion

HideMyAss VPN has gone through a lot in its fifteen years of existence. While it does have its pros and cons, it also has improved significantly over the years. For one, it now offers a user-friendly and attractive platform with many inbuilt features. Also, it has tons of servers, and they all have a good performance.

However, as this unbiased review of HMA VPN has highlighted, the VPN’s blotchy privacy policy, Avast’s record, and the inability of HideMyAss to support anonymous payment don’t make this service worth recommending. Perhaps, you can easily find much better alternatives in the market, such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, that never risk your privacy.