Top Level Overview
Founded in 2005 in the UK, HideMyAss has a dizzying amount of servers (and locations). HideMyAss has the most servers and locations that I’ve ever seen offered with a VPN service. They have servers in 221 countries, which is insane.
Their server number totals over 900! Locations include North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Central America, South America and Africa.
They have over 120,000 IP addresses, which is the most of any VPN offered, ever.
But…they have a slightly dubious privacy status, which I’ll get to in a bit…
First, let’s talk customer service. HideMyAss offers a number of customer service options, including a comprehensive Knowledge Base with an advanced FAQ and Troubleshooting section that includes startup guides for all platforms:Android, Linux, Mac OSx, Windows, Flashrouters and Sabai Technology.
You probably won’t need these though. HMA is super user-friendly. I’ve used this service for years and they have continued to streamline it for the non-techy customer.
In addition to email they have a Live Chat function and, true to their word, a customer service rep always responded quite quickly to any Live Chat requests with a comprehensive and helpful answer. I’m completely sold on their customer service team.
I’ve noticed a trend in the VPN world that increasingly excludes a free trial, but fortunately HMA offers a 7-day free trial. Woohoo! They also have a 30 day money back guarantee, which is one of the most generous I’ve seen in the VPN world.
HideMyAss offers three price plans.
- 1 Month Plan: paid at the start of every month, and is $11.52.
- 6 Month Plan: paid twice a year and is $8.33 per month or $49.99 per payment.
- 12 Month Plan: $4.99 per month or $78.66, paid annually.
I was kind of disappointed that HideMyAss only offers a 2 device connection policy, which I find inadequate for my needs. Many VPNs I’ve seen (for similar prices) will allow for at least three and up to five or six. HideMyAss needs to step it up in this respect.
You can install the software on more devices but you’re allowed a maximum of 2 simultaneously connections for one account. TBH, most average users wouldn’t have more than one connection at a time, so this may suit you.
One way around this is to configure a router and connect all your devices to it – then 1 account is sufficient, because only one connection is made.
HMA has some nice features on its desktop client. One of my favorites is called the Speed Guide, which is an automated list of around 10 of the quickest VPN servers (ranked based on their proximity to you).
HMA is good in that it does the heavy lifting so that you can determine which server will maximize speeds for all of your file sharing and streaming needs. I liked that the client launches on startup and that there is the option to choose a network easily from the search option.
Another feature of the desktop client that I appreciated was the ability to easily switch between IP addresses for extra privacy. HideMyAss has included an easy ‘change IP’ button which makes zipping between addresses even easier.
I also dig that you’re given three initial options for connection to the servers, including “instant,” “location” and “freedom.”
Instant zips you over to the closest server, location allows you to choose a server from a dropdown list and freedom weirdly allows you to connect to the country closest with most freedom of speech.
You can easily view server options, in addition to ‘system preferences’ which included features like (the holy grail of the VPN) the kill switch!
Security & Privacy
Let’s talk location: HideMyAss is based out of the UK, which is bad news for customers who are really concerned with their internet privacy and true online anonymity.
If you just want to secure your connection for banking and to ensure your personal information is protected from fishing, that’s cool.
If you just want to stream Netflix or iPlayer from a country you aren’t allowed to view it in, that’s cool too.
But those determined to avoid government spying might want to look elsewhere, as companies based in the UK are prone to some ‘big brother’ style spying, especially in the wake of the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act.
HMA does claim to be logless, which is pretty much the standard privacy motto coming out of most VPN companies. However, they definitely do keep connection logs that include information like session duration time, bandwidth used and specific connection and disconnection times.
They might also store payment data and user information. Here’s the official line:
When you use our VPN service the only data we collect from you (“VPN Data”) is as follows:
- 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; and
- the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.
We DO NOT store details of, or monitor, the resources (including websites) you connect to or any of the data sent or received over our network, when using our VPN service.
We collect and use VPN Data for the operation of our business to:
- monitor the use of our network for technical purposes and to manage and improve our service;
- prevent and detect fraud against our service (e.g. credit card fraud);
- prevent and detect abuse of our network, such as spamming, file sharing or other illicit activity.
It’s your decision.
Anyway, let’s talk security protocols:
HideMyAss offers 3 protocols, the default of which is OpenVPN, but the system will utilize PPTP and L2TP/IPSec as and when it needs to. I’ve read some reviews elsewhere that totally misrepresent HMA on the security front; I assume they have an agenda for that. The truth is that HMA is super secure, and as secure as any other VPN.
However, a word to the wise for those interested in torrents: P2P may or may not be allowed on certain servers. Torrenting could land you in deep water on HMA because it is an explicit breach of the service.
Speed & Performance
Speeds are not always what I could call ‘great’. I still come across this issue with particular servers and they’ve not solved it in the years I’ve had a connection. I can only think it is an infrastructure issue, and that certain servers get overloaded.
Of course, with the huge amount of servers they have, it is simple enough to switch, but I have been a little aggravated at times when in the middle of streaming audio or film and had to adjust my settings.
I think they know this, and I think it’s the reason that in recent times they have designed the interface with multiple switch options. On mobile you have multiple options to change server, including Secure My Internet, Paranoid Mode, Anti-Censorship, and simply the option to switch IP in one tap.
Mobile performance is always pretty good, I must say. I’d even go as far as to say that on mobile the HMA interface is up there with the best VPNs. Here’s a little look inside the dashboard:
I like that HideMyAss offer multiple options to contact their customer support reps: they offer a comprehensive knowledge base as well as an FAQ section. They also offer an email support system, as well as a Live Chat option that provides quick, courteous and comprehensive responses.
HideMyAss offers a very generous refund policy in the form of a 30-day money back guarantee! They also offer a 7-day free trial, which is fantastic. They have a hell of a lot of users and are confident in their service, so it would seem.
Signing Up & Getting Started
Signing up is easy peasy: You only need to provide an email address and some payment information, of course. You can also use an anonymous email service when you register, which makes sense for privacy’s sake.
HMA allows you to pay with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal and bank transfer. Unfortunately, the service does not allow you to pay with Bitcoin, which for some might be quite disappointing from a privacy standpoint, but ultimately, not that surprising.
The website itself is pretty streamlined and information was quite easy to find, though I could’ve done without all of the donkey motifs. It gets old quick. Reminds me of Mailchimp and their monkey antics.
Once downloaded, the desktop client and mobile client mirror each other to a degree now. Both have been heavily simplified over the past 3 years and to be fair the UI is nicely designed with graphics that work well together.
HideMyAss Review Conclusion
In a nutshell, HideMyAss is a commercial VPN service that will work for average users looking for something fairly affordable, super simple to use, very secure with a couple of device connections, and all topped off with great customer service.
It is not for those who want serious anonymity across all fronts because they are concerned about government snooping or potential data logging of any kind that might impact against them in the future. Let me be frank. If you’re doing something shady; don’t use HMA.
The monthly price is semi affordable, but only 2 connections are allowed. However, the features are good, it’s super easy to get started and there’s always a decent connection available as they have the most servers of any VPN (220 countries covered).
- A silly amount of servers
- Great on mobile
- Extremely intuitive and sleek client
- Only 2 connections allowed
- Control panel may be over simplified for some
- Average performance on desktop
- UK based
- Not a good option for those doing P2P file sharing (naughty, naughty!)