HideMyAss Review: Features and Tests
|Pros of HideMyAss||Cons of HideMyAss|
What is of interest about HMA?
First, it’s the fact that it has a 7-day free trial. However, it does require a bank card to activate it.
- HideMyAss is rightfully considered one of the fastest VPNs.
- It claims it has 190+ countries available.
- Supports Netflix and Hulu.
- HMA offers apps for every OS save for Linux which only has a script that functions like an app, settings for routers, and other platforms.
- Low energy consumption
What is the reason for its popularity?
The features of HideMyAss are sufficient to accomplish the most widespread tasks.
Moreover, the service has been in operation since 2005, which makes it one of the world’s oldest ones. During this time, HMA has changed its owner twice, become a subject of a scandal, and a victim of hackers.
What can be disappointing about HMA?
- lacking traffic protection on the default settings;
- the necessity to subscribe for 1 year to activate the free trial;
- absence of modern expanded functionality (doesn’t have certain useful modern functions);
- unavailable in some countries (similar policy to Avast);
- doesn’t have a 1-month plan;
- based inside the FVEY (5 Eyes) alliance.
In this article, I’ll describe all the discovered and proven advantages and disadvantages of HMA VPN without bias and in as much detail as possible, give an in-depth report on the provider’s security flaw and a way to solve it.
You can make use of this quick navigation to skip ahead to the section you need:
- 7 differences between HideMyAss and other VPNs
- Free use of HideMyAss
- Research of HideMyAss (Pros, cons, tests, advice)
- Analysis of prices and plans of HideMyAss VPN
- History of HideMyAss and information about the owner
- My conclusion
Take a look at the major characteristics of HideMyAss:
|Supported platforms||Apps for all OSs, apart from Linux, router setup instructions|
|Security issues||Insufficient traffic protection with default settings|
|Encryption standard||AES 256|
|VPN protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2 on Mac and iOS|
|Servers||190 countries available (but servers aren’t in all locations)|
|Streaming||US Netflix, Hulu and others|
As you see in the table, the service has a security issue on Windows. There are also other flaws present that I will talk about in the next chapters.
All VPNs work according to the same principle but also all have differences that may include tunnelling protocols, encryption standard, presence or absence of a Kill Switch, addons for Kodi, and Popcorn Time, etc.
What are the peculiarities of HideMyAss VPN?
- The biggest number of available countries
HMA offers IP addresses in 190 countries, which is more than twice as much as its closest competitors – CyberGhost VPN (90 countries) and ExpressVPN (94 countries). At the same time, HMA VPN doesn’t pretend that there are physical servers in every country on its list. Some of the locations are virtual (IP Spoofing).
- Doesn’t waste too much energy on Android
Most of the VPN apps for Android conserve charge quite a bit but not fully. Using HMA on Android almost doesn’t affect the time it takes the battery to deplete.
- IP Shuffle
This rarely seen function allows changing a virtual IP address automatically. HMA allows you to set up 6 variants of time intervals between such changes.
- Expanded Auto-connect to VPN settings on Android
What are they for? They make the VPN launch automatically when one of the conditions you see in the screenshot is fulfilled. For example, if you toggle the “You connect to unsecured Wi-Fi” option on, the VPN will turn on automatically in public and unknown Wi-Fi networks.
- Neat animated GUI
Most VPN services make rather toneless functional apps. However, a little humor and graphics won’t hurt functionality one bit. The HideMyAss apps are proof of it with its jackass mascot that “explains” the provocative name of the service in a politically correct manner.
Expanded kill switch on Windows
HMA allows you to block the traffic at an unexpected VPN connection failure in two ways:
1) Activate Kill Switch. It blocks the connection for all the apps on the device.
2) App Kill Switch. It blocks traffic of only the apps you designate.
On Mac, only the regular whole traffic-blocking kill switch is available. The other platforms don’t have this functions at all.
OpenVPN is only available on Windows and Android
On Apple devices, only IKEv2 is present.
Out of the aforementioned features, I appreciate the availability of 190 countries the most. It’s really great but if you need to solve a sensitive task, the following information will be useful to you:
All the exotic locations as well as some of the more popular ones, have a serious drawback: they are all situated in the same sub-network 188.8.131.52/23.
For example, 184.108.40.206 is supposed to be Prague, the Czech Republic; 220.127.116.11 – Manama, Bahrain; 18.104.22.168 – Amman, Jordan, and so on.
What’s so bad about it?
The fact that this sub-network can be blacklisted on the website you want to sign up or in from a virtual IP address. If that’s the case, HMA will be useless to you as it won’t offer an alternative address in the country you need.
Other VPN providers offer IP addresses rented from different hosting services. Their sub-networks and owners are not the same.
As I said at the very beginning, HMA is a paid VPN service. But at the same time, HideMyAss is available free of charge for 7 days.
What are the peculiarities or restrictions of the trial version of HMA?
There are no restrictions, ads, or other differences from the fully paid version. All the locations are available at the max speed, all features and options are operational.
How do I use HMA for free correctly?
Unfortunately, to start using HMA for free, you have to subscribe for 1 year. You can use your credit card or PayPal for that. If you don’t have either, then you won’t be able to buy the free or the paid version. The provider doesn’t support any other payment methods.
So, you have subscribed and started using this VPN. To make sure the provider doesn’t withdraw the money after 7 days of using the service, you have to cancel your subscription in advance before the trial period ends.
You can do it in the control bar of your account:
You can use this free version only once.
To verify the claims about the features, discover the real characteristics, pros, and cons, I conducted a series of tests using the powerful Wireshark utility as well as public online services.
All the available platforms of HMA were tested fully including the security tests in difficult real conditions (unstable cellular Internet, switching from one access point to another, issues with the connection to a VPN server).
I divided the test results and recommendations on how to use HMA into several sections:
- Security of HideMyAss
- HideMyAss features tests
- HideMyAss for Windows
- HideMyAss for Mac
- HideMyAss for Android
- HideMyAss for iOS
- HideMyAss for Linux
- HideMyAss for other platforms
Let’s start with the most important thing: HMA doesn’t fully protect your traffic with the default settings.
It’s seen in the screenshot. Inside the green frame is the IP address of the VPN server. Ideally, all of the device’s traffic should go to it and from it to the websites you visit. That includes messengers.
However, as you can see, there are many other IP addresses marked with red. It means that some part of the traffic doesn’t get inside the VPN tunnel.
Is HideMyAss not secure?
That’s not entirely true. It does indeed fail to intercept a part of the traffic, thus allowing a data leak on Windows, but that data isn’t connected to the web browsers you use. This is the traffic of system functions and apps.
Anyhow, unprotected data is observable by the ISP. It’s a significant flaw in HMA’s security.
What to do?
To eliminate the data leak, you need to turn the kill switch on in the HMA settings:
Thanks to it, the processes not intercepted by HMA are blocked and only go to the Internet through a VPN tunnel.
As a comparison, there’s the test result of NordVPN: with the kill switch both on and off, its software doesn’t allow a data leak.
Does HMA have any advantages in terms of security?
There’s one characteristic that is common among high-level VPN services: having its own DNS servers in the same locations as its VPN servers.
A DNS server receives queries with a domain name and sends back its IP address. It’s required for the computer or some other device to find the website in the network and to connect to its server (not the same thing as a VPN server). Thus, DNS queries contain information about the resources that you visit.
You can only hide this information from third parties by using a VPN service’s own DNS servers.
That’s what HMA does:
As you see at the picture, the IP addresses of the VPN and DNS servers are in the same location.
It should be noted that HMA doesn’t have any IPv6, DNS and WebRTC leaks.
Speed is important to do these and many other things. The faster the provider is, the less it affects the endpoint internet speed.
1. Speed of HMA
The second biggest advantage of HideMyAss after its number of countries is its high speed. Almost all the servers I’ve tested showed the speed of more than 20-30 Mbps. There are quite a few of those with speeds of 70-90 Mbps and higher.
5 out of 10 tested HMA locations*
|Location||Download/upload speed (Mbps)|
*- average approximate speed is shown. The test was carried out for 3 days. During this time, the speed was changed slightly.
HMA has at once three advantages for US Netflix:
1) The provider efficiently copes with the protection of the streaming service.
2) To start viewing, you don’t need to look for a suitable server. The application itself offers a good option.
3) The speed of the Netflix servers is sufficient even for 4K quality.
However, HMA was able to unblock only US content. On other locations (JP and UK), Netflix did not work even on a specially configured server for streaming:
The US streaming server works with Netflix as well as Hulu. This is a big plus for HMA. There are very few VPN services that support Hulu.
Thus, HideMyAss is good for streaming US content but is not suitable for other regions.
- Make watching free movies secure with the best VPNs for Kodi.
- Configure VPN for Popcorn Time with our review.
HMA is good for torrenting and there are 4 reasons for this:
1) The policy of the provider allowing the use of torrents;
2) The presence of specially configured servers for torrenting:
3) Availability of Kill Switch;
4) In the settings of the torrent client, it is easy to specify the interface through which the connection to the P2P network will take place:
The screenshot shows the example of the qBittorrent configuration. It is easy to find HMA on the list of interfaces and use it. If this interface is disabled, then data will not get into the network unprotected. This setting can be used instead of Kill Switch.
During testing, I activated Kill Switch and chose the HMA interface for the most secure torrenting. The speed was generally good.
I shall note that HideMyAss does not have a Port forwarding feature. Therefore, it was not possible to connect to all participants of the P2P network. Unfortunately, this affected the maximum download speed.
Remember that HMA does not have Kill Switch on Android. Without this feature, sooner or later your ISP provider will learn about the use of torrents. In some countries (especially the US and European countries) torrenting can lead to real fines.
Do you want to download torrent content at the highest possible speed and without security problems on Android and iOS? Use a VPN with Port forwarding and Kill switch on mobile platforms. You will find it in our ranking review of VPNs for torrenting.
4. Google search and use of Gmail
HMA does not hinder access to Gmail and does not affect Google search in any way (with some VPNs, the search engine requires confirmation that a user is not a robot).
5. IP leak test with intermittent connection
How does HMA work on mobile platforms with unexpected Internet outages, uprooting between different access points, etc? I conducted an expanding test using our special software to record any changes in the IP address of devices.
As expected, HideMyAss does not provide 100% security on mobile platforms due to the absence of Kill Switch:
As you can see from the screenshot, when the Internet connection is dropped, an automatic reconnection occurs, and for a few seconds the traffic remains unprotected.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this issue can reveal your activities while torrenting or performing other sensitive tasks.
6. Other problems with HideMyAss
We did not find any other significant shortcomings, except those that have been described in detail in the article. On the contrary, I liked the stability of the connection and low energy consumption on Android and other platforms.
However, I would like to mention some minor flaws:
- There is no ready-made application for Linux, only a script is available (read about this below).
- Inconvenient and time-consuming setup of HMA on routers.
The Windows version is the most “packed” one. It has an extended Kill Switch and OpenVPN protocol. In general, HMA for Windows is convenient to use. The application works clearly, does not crash when turned on and off, does not block the connection after sleep mode and does not have other minor annoying problems encountered with many other VPNs.
What features and settings are available with HideMyAss for PC?
- OpenVPN protocol (UDP and TCP)
- Common Kill Switch and Kill Switch for individual applications
- Special lists of servers for torrenting and streaming
- 190 countries
- IP Shuffle (auto-change of an IP address)
Pros of using HideMyAss on Windows:
- 7-day free trial (for all platforms)
- Connection stability, auto-connection works stably after sleep mode
- Good protection of the addresses of visited sites (for all platforms)
- The functionality of the paid and trial versions is the same
- US Netflix and Hulu support
- With default settings, all traffic is not protected
- No Split tunnelling (there is such a function on Android)
You can download HMA for Windows from the official site page only after registration.
The HideMyAss VPN application for Mac looks like the PC version but differs in functionality:
- IKEv2 protocol
- Only common Kill Switch
- No problem with a data leak without Kill Switch with HMA for Mac
Other functions and settings are the same as the Windows applications.
I reckon it is convenient to use HMA on Mac. The application uses the IKEv2 protocol built into the system, which guarantees security but deprives the choice of VPN protocols.
But at the same time, Split Tunneling and alternative protocols are lacking.
You can download HMA for MacOS only from the official site after registration (it is not at the Apple App Store for Mac).
HMA for Android has both advantages over other applications of the provider and disadvantages:
Advantages of HMA for Android:
- The presence of Split Tunneling (the choice of individual applications for use without a VPN)
Disadvantages of HMA for Android:
- No kill switch
- No list of servers for torrenting
- No choice of VPN protocol and its settings
I liked the fact that the application does not significantly affect battery life. After sleep mode, the device quickly and without failures restores the VPN connection.
However, from the application, it is not possible to configure a permanent connection to the VPN, which operates even in sleep mode.
- Check out our Top 10 VPN Apps for Android. There you will find the most powerful and functional services available on this mobile platform.
The iOS version is the least functional. With HMA on iPhone and iPad, in addition to selecting countries and setting connection options (auto-connect, launching the application when the system boots up), only the configuration of IP Shuffle is available.
HideMyAss Features for iPhone and iPad:
- IKEv2 protocol support by iOS methods
- 190 countries
- No kill switch
- There are no VPN connection settings
I prefer more functional VPN services for iOS. HMA allows you to protect traffic on a device and hide an IP address but does not allow a user to choose individual applications for this, configure a port and protocol.
You can install HideMyAss from the Apple App Store.
Although HMA did not create an application for Linux, it offers a good alternative - a console script with visualization. The .sh command file that needs to be launched from a console, is available on the official website. All missing utilities, including OpenVPN, will be installed automatically.
After installation, you will need to enter your username and password:
In addition to the script, you can run HMA on Linux from a console, configuring the VPN server address on the parameters.
More information about installing HideMyAss on Linux can be found on the official website.
On other platforms, HMA is only available through a third-party OpenVPN client or PPTP settings.
For Android TV, in some cases, it is enough to install the .APK file intended for a mobile platform. In case of failure, you can configure the VPN on the router to which the TV is connected.
HMA for Chrome or Firefox can be used only through the VPN application for the OS in which the web browser is installed.
When it comes to the operation of our VPN service, we do not collect or store your IP address, your DNS requests, your application or online services use, or the websites you visit.
But is this true?
Further in the text, we can see that nevertheless some data is registered. I mean the mask of an IP address:
The subnet of your originating IP address.
E.g. We anonymize the last octet to protect your privacy: 92.143.234.000 We don’t collect exact IP addresses that could ID you.
This means that if your IP address is 22.214.171.124, then the HMA will register 36.125.20.000 in its database. Although it is not possible to pinpoint a user's location at this address, with these data, it is not difficult to compare a user’s activity with the recorded activity of the user's Internet provider. The probability that two people will use the HMA from the same subnet is negligible.
This may lead to the disclosure of a user's identity.
So does HideMyAss keep logs?
HMA prices depend only on the duration of the subscription. The cheapest one is the longest subscription for 3 years. It costs $ 4.29.
But is it a lot or a little?
If you compare HMA with VPN services of the same or higher level in terms of technical capabilities, then the price is higher than the average on the market and significantly higher than the minimum price.
For example, Surfshark is the cheapest VPN from the TOP list, costs from $ 1.99 per month for a 2-year subscription. NordVPN is the number one provider in the world, offers an average price of $ 3.49 per month.
I also would like to note the absence of a monthly subscription. Instead, the provider offers a 7-day free trial with automatic payment for a 1-year subscription after the period is completed. If you cancel your subscription within 7 days, the service remains active until the end of the trial period.
|83.88 (6.99 per month)||1 year|
|154.44 (4.29 per month)||3 years|
Both plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
There are only two ways to pay for the provider’s services - by a credit card and PayPal. The choice of payment methods is much less than most other good VPNs have.
The image was taken from Google Maps
HMA has an interesting history. In 2005, Jack Cator who was a 16-year-old boy launched the “Cator” website, which he and his friends used to gain access to entertainment content and games from the school network. At the same time, Jack promoted the site at various venues. Thanks to this, he attracted more than a thousand users, then he placed an advertisement.
This business started to yield a profit. In 2009, Jack dropped out of college and opened the VPN service. It is 2009 that is considered to be called the year HMA VPN was founded (It was called HideMyAss! then, and later it was termed HideMyAss).
In 2012, HideMyAss became well-known after providing information about one of their users to the authorities in 2012.
Moreover, according to the CSIRO research 2016, HideMyAss did not bring their users 100% protection (perhaps we are talking about the same drawbacks that were described in this article).
In 2015, the service, still managed by Privax Limited (established in 2010 in London), was sold to AVG for $ 40 million. In 2016, along with the acquisition of AVG by Avast, Privax Ltd was transferred to Avast.
Privax Limited Address:
110 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JS
So, is it worth using HideMyAss VPN?
Yes, if you need a large choice of VPN locations with good speed, and it doesn’t matter that most of their IP addresses belong to the same subnet or if you want to unlock US Netflix.
No, if you are going to use a VPN not only on a computer or smartphone, but also on gaming and TV platforms. HMA also logs a user's subnet, which significantly reduces privacy.
HMA provides high-quality services. Their applications work stably and without failures, not overloading a processor. The provider is good for normal use but with the Windows version, it is necessary to activate Kill Switch to protect all traffic. Especially if you are going to download torrents.
+ trial period
+ 190 available countries
+ Personally owned DNS
+ Stable pro-level applications for major OS
+ Kill Switch (but only on desktops)
+ US Netflix support
+ Low energy consumption
- Trial period is available only after subscribing
- 100% data security on Windows is provided only after changing the default settings
- No choice of VPN protocols
- Partially logs
- No Netflix support for non-US regions and Hulu
- Absence of some modern features that many other competitors have (applications for TV platforms, Kodi, etc.)
- Most countries have a similar IP address (common subnet)
- The United Kingdom jurisdiction (“5 eyes”)
- Absence of 1-month subscription
- No cryptocurrencies support and many other popular payment methods are unavailable
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