Hide My Ass (HMA) is one of the few VPN services to be headquartered in the UK, even though it's owned by Czech anti-malware firm AVG.
Unlike many countries in which VPNs are popularly based, the UK has mandatory data-retention laws in place, and HMA notes that, although it doesn't log any of your activity while connected – such as which websites or IP addresses you connect to or what data was transferred – it does log connection and disconnection times, duration and bandwidth usage "to prevent abuse and for diagnostic purposes".
While this makes it less appealing to the torrenters and privacy purists who make up a certain percentage of VPN customers, Hide My Ass nonetheless provides an excellent range of privacy-orientated features and the most comprehensive selection of international servers anywhere. More than 900 VPN endpoints are located in both commonplace locations such as the USA, UK, Japan and Germany, and more unusual places, spanning Aruba, Palau and Zimbabwe for a total of over 190 countries.
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As well as being incredibly useful for anyone who needs to test that their online content or service is properly accessible from anywhere in the world, the Hide My Ass client can be configured to cycle from server to server at regular intervals, making it harder to pinpoint activity from a user who'd rather not be easily identifiable.
HMA also supports SOCKS5 proxies and has a Secure IP Bond feature – this allows you specify applications that you want to allow online only when the encrypted VPN connection is up and running as a means of ensuring privacy.
In our tests, HMA gave us convenient access to iPlayer and region-locked YouTube channels, as well as being one of the services that had servers that allowed us to access Netflix – although not all of its US servers worked for the latter purpose.
We were also pleased to find that most of the servers we tried provided remarkably smooth video streaming. Selected European servers did reasonably well in our FTP download speed tests, although slow results from US servers were surprising given the smooth streaming quality we saw from Netflix.
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Hide My Ass provides OpenVPN-based clients for Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS, as well as instructions for using its service with Linux or with a router. It only supports two simultaneous connections from the same account, though – far fewer than most of its rivals.
One-month, six-month and one-year subscriptions are available, priced at £7.99, £35.94 and £59.88 respectively. Hide My Ass can also provide a dedicated static IP address in the country of your choice, in case you need a permanent endpoint for any reason. You can pay for your HMA subscription in both bitcoin and a variety of US gift cards.
Hide My Ass isn't cheap, it lets you connect only two devices at a time, and its UK location doesn't provide the same peace of mind to some users as countries without data-retention legislation on the books. However, if you're looking for a VPN provider with reasonable performance and a huge range of geographic endpoints, HMA is a strong candidate.