Hide My Ass VPN – 75% OFF
HideMyAss! Has one of the largest global server networks of any VPN, covering nearly every country on earth. It’s one of the fastest too with reliable, buffer-free access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer via dedicated streaming servers.
HideMyAss! has been a popular independent provider of VPN services since 2005, it claims it has over 400M subscribers. Now it is owned by security giant Avast. The company offers a vast network of 950+ servers in 280+ locations across 190+ countries, many more than the bulk of the competition.
Techradar’s verdict: This VPN service is easy-to-use with a sprawling network of servers, but the session logging policies are a concern.
What can a VPN do for you?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a service that lets you access the web safely and privately by routing your connection through a server and hiding your online actions.
You start the VPN client (software) from your VPN service. This software encrypts your data, even before your Internet Service Provider or the coffee shop WiFi provider sees it. The data then goes to the VPN, and from the VPN server to your online destination — anything from your bank website to a video sharing website to a search engine. The online destination sees your data as coming from the VPN server and its location, and not from your computer and your location.
There are a number of good reasons to use a VPN:
- It encrypts your activity on the web.
- It hides your activity from anyone who might be interested in it.
- It hides your location, enabling you to access geo-blocked content (e.g. on Netflix and other sites).
- Makes you more anonymous on the web.
- Helps you keep the connection protected when using a public WiFi hotspot.
Performance is the king
There is a good news to start with. All servers appear to be where HideMyAss! claimed they would be; connection times were speedy, even for the most distant locations; ping times lengthened for far-away servers, but no more than we expected, and they didn’t reveal any problems.
Many comparison test show that HideMyAss! is very fast, particularly on local connections, with speeds reaching up to 329Mbps, what is really fantastic! You can also expect up to 200Mbps (and beyond) connecting to nearby countries, which is very competitive. Into the US from Europe is naturally slower, around 82Mbps, but still enough for HD streaming. Long distance is mostly reasonable, with Japan to New York approaching 51Mbps, although speeds out from Australia are largely underwhelming.
HideMyAss! connects fairly quickly each time at around 9 seconds on average. Once connected there was very little fluctuation in performance and barely any connection dropouts, so as long as you have a stable internet connection you shouldn’t have any issues.
Servers and their locations
HideMyAss! is the leading VPN for choice of locations. Almost every country on earth is covered, so if you live away from the usual, popular locations then you’re seriously in luck.
65 city-level servers in the US alone is unbeatable and, while the 950 servers servicing all these cities isn’t the highest number we’ve seen, we’ve also never found it to impact performance.
With 5000+ available IP addresses it ranks among the very top VPN providers.
Security and Privacy
HideMyAss! is one of the least private providers among our high-scorers. AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN protocol, a kill switch and first-party DNS servers are all must-haves, and we’re happy to see them here, but there’s not much room for advanced users to tinker.
It has built-in DNS and IPv6 leak protection, too, which we found to be working.
Hide My Ass! is based in the UK, which means it’s subject to data retention laws. The UK is also a Five Eyes (and Fourteen Eyes) country, which means it is part of an alliance that allows monitoring by external governments. Plus, it’s home to the Snooper’s Charter which imposes regulations on British ISPs that greatly affect user privacy.
The desktop versions boast a built-in kill switch which can be tailored to work for specific apps. A kill switch will kill the internet connection should the VPN connection drop for some reason. This feature isn’t available in the mobile apps
One handy feature that Hide My Ass! offers is automatic wifi protection, which can be customized in the in the Network Security section of the desktop client or the Connection Rules tab of the mobile app settings.
Here’s one of HMA!´s weak points. Their logging policy confirms that they hang onto the following data:
- Connect and disconnect timestamps
- Amount of data transmitted (upload and download)
- IP address used to connect to the VPN
- IP address of the VPN server used
Already, that’s not good. You don’t necessarily want your VPN to keep track of your own IP address. Because that still gives them a direct link between online activities and your location (and potentially your identity).
But that’s not all they track. They also collect the following:
- Monitor the use of the network for technical purposes and to manage and improve the service;
- Prevent and detect fraud against the service (e.g. credit card fraud);
- Prevent and detect abuse of the network, such as spamming, file sharing or other illicit activity.
This kind of session logging won’t matter if you’re just using the VPN to protect regular internet activities like collecting email or online shopping. But if you’re downloading torrents or doing anything else where someone might record and investigate your IP address, it provides a means for them to relate those actions back to your HideMyAss! account, and that could cause problems later.
That said, they’re only retained for 30 days before being deleted. HideMyAss! maintains that this is to improve the service from a technical standpoint and to prevent illegal user activity.
Does HideMyAss! unblock Netflix?
Yes, Hide My Ass! does unblock Netflix! HideMyAss!’s dedicated servers for the most popular services take all the guesswork out of accessing your favourite streaming sites.
BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and the rest – our regular testing finds HideMyAss! to be one of the most consistent VPNs for the job. Connecting to the US server gave us access to Netflix without issue. Connecting to the UK one enabled access to UK Netflix as well as BBC iPlayer. Many providers only focus on providing US Netflix access, so it’s refreshing to see one that strives to give access to the UK library too. What’s more, BBC iPlayer is seriously cracking down on VPN usage, so the ability to unblock this service is a nice perk.
Torrenting is permitted on all HideMyAss! servers, with support agents even regularly recommending optimized options for the best possible performance.
This can change at any time, so it’s important to confirm the service still works by testing it from your device and location. But right now, HideMyAss! seems to be very effective at unblocking streaming websites.
Apps and user experience
Sleek and simple, we love HideMyAss!’s range of apps and programs. Even if you’ve never used a VPN before you shouldn’t have any trouble whatsoever.
Being able to search the server list is a big help, as is being able to favorite locations, and the options menu is straightforward and clearly labelled.
The Windows app opens with a very simple interface containing only three tabs, and three buttons:
- Instant Mode: You’ll be connected to the fastest server for your current location.
- Location mode: You can choose which server you connect to. Click Change Location to see your options.
- Freedom Mode: This mode will connect you to a server in the closest country that is deemed to be free of censorship.
A well-designed Location Picker helps you choose nearby servers, P2P or streaming-optimized locations, as well as providing a Favorites list for easy access to commonly-used places. It doesn’t provide ping times or server load figures to highlight the fastest or slowest locations, but otherwise works very well.
Fortunately, the client also has some genuinely valuable extras. You don’t just get an option to automatically connect to the VPN when you access an unsecured wireless network; you can have the client ask you what to do. An unusual IP Shuffle feature periodically changes your IP address, making it even more difficult for others to track what you’re doing. And a handy Diagnostics screen displays the OpenVPN connection log, potentially very useful in troubleshooting connection issues.
The mobile apps definitely do a basic job well, but they lack some of the advanced features of the desktop client – like the kill switch, which we’d really like to see included in the future.
All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and you can connect up to five devices simultaneously. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. The VPN can be manually configured with Linux and some routers. Pre-configured routers are available as an alternative.
Unlike the majority of its elite rivals, though, HideMyAss! has no browser extensions of any sort – something we’d really like to see in the future.
Hide my ass! is a perfectly good VPN service if you consider the choice of servers and locations, as well as the speed on offer. It’s also perfectly good for securing public Wi-Fi and online privacy. However, there are no browser extensions, it’s based in the UK and keeps logs. Ultimately, then, it should be avoided if you plan to use it to infringe copyright by streaming content you shouldn’t, download movies or do anything that breaks the law.