Hide My Ass! Review

UK-based VPN provider HideMyAss! (HMA) offers one of the widest range of endpoint locations and a good set of features, but what's it like in terms of performance and speed?
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Verdict

If you need to access services in specific locations then HideMyAss! is the VPN for you, thanks to its huge range of endpoint countries. If this isn't a key requirement then HMA's many rivals beat it on price, speed and performance.

Pros

  • Decent speeds
  • Large number of servers
  • 190 endpoint countries – more than any rival

Cons

  • Logs some session information

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £59.88
  • £7.99 per month
  • Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
  • £59.88 per year
  • Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
  • £71.76 per two years
  • Connect up to five devices
  • Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec

What is Hide My Ass?

Hide My Ass! (HMA) is a UK-based VPN provider. Of all the many virtual private network services we’ve reviewed, HMA offers the widest range of endpoint locations, covering most of the planet with servers in over 280 locations covering 190 countries and territories.

Related: Best VPN

Hide My Ass – Features and usability

Although owned by Czech anti-malware firm AVG, HideMyAss! is headquartered in the UK, and is therefore subject to Britain’s stringent data retention laws. 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 your IP address, connection and disconnection times, duration and bandwidth usage “to prevent abuse and for diagnostic purposes… Note that no activity of any kind gets logged.”

In 2011, before AVG bought it, the company complied with a court order to hand over data that helped in confirming the identities of individuals involved in the LulzSec hacking case. HMA nonetheless promotes its services as a means of bypassing internet censorship under oppressive regimes, saying that as “we follow UK law, there isn’t a law that prohibits the use of Egyptians gaining access to blocked websites such as Twitter, even if there is one in Egypt”.

In keeping with this, HMA’s glossy client includes a Freedom Mode that lets you “access the web via the closest free-speech country”. Other settings enable automatic connection to the VPN as soon as Windows launches, SOCKS5 proxying and a Secure IP Bond feature, which allows you to specify applications that you want to allow online only when the encrypted VPN connection is up and running.

While HideMyAss! used to be one of the more expensive VPN providers around, it hasn’t increased its prices in a while, putting its fees around the median among the VPN services we test.

A month-to-month subscription costs £7.99, while a £59.88 annual subscription works out at £4.99 a month; a two-year subscription at £71.76 works out at just £2.99 per month. Physical editions containing a licence key are available to buy for the privacy-conscious.

Related: What is a VPN?

Hide My Ass – Performance

HMA’s performance in our heavy-duty data transfer tests was a little below average this time round, but that’s mostly because we’ve cut some of the slowest VPN services out of our tests.

In fact, HideMyAss! proved a bit faster than it was in our last set of tests, delivering 7.52MB/sec (60.16Mbps) and 8.68MB/sec (69.44Mbps) in our HTTP and FTP tests via HMA’s UK endpoints.

Things look even better over in the Netherlands, where we saw FTP download speeds of 8.67MB/sec (69.36Mbps) and HTTP ones of 7.84MB/sec (62.72Mbps). Performance from US endpoints was greatly improved, at 5.3MB/sec (42.4Mbps) via HTTP and 4.2MB/sec (33.6Mbps) via FTP.

We had a better success rate with video streaming than last time and could watch Netflix, Shudder and Crunchyroll in the US, along with BBC iPlayer in the UK. All 4 continued to elude us.

Why buy Hide My Ass!?

The huge number of endpoint locations offered by HideMyAss! makes it particularly good for accessing geo-locked services, or quickly checking to see if your online business is accessible from a specific territory. HMA is also easy to set up and use, and there’s a wealth of information available on its site to help you get up and running.

The subscription rates, while not the absolute cheapest, are now par for the course – around what you can expect to pay most VPN providers for encrypted internet access.

There are clients for all of the major operating systems and instructions for setting up other devices. We had no complaints about performance in terms of speed or functional region-shifting for streaming media. But, although HMA markets itself as a security solution for people in oppressive states, its position under UK law means that it has to keep and disclose connection logs subject to legal demand, which is unlikely to sit well with the privacy-minded.

Verdict

If you need to virtually “be” in a specific location to access a given service, or make sure that your own web services are accessible – and if you don’t care about media streaming – then HMA is definitely the provider to go for thanks to its massive range of endpoint countries.

However, unless you specifically need an endpoint that its rivals don’t offer, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is faster and cheaper, while Private Internet Access’ no-logging policy has been demonstrated in court.

Score


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