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 stream, 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, NordVPN is faster and better at streaming, while Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN’s no-logging policies have been demonstrated in court.
- More endpoint countries than any rival
- Streams Netflix US
- Keeps logs
- Mediocre performance
- Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
- £59.88/year, £95.76/two years, £129.24/three years
- Connect up to five devices
What is Hide My Ass!?
UK-based VPN (virtual private network) provider Hide My Ass! (HMA) is, of all the many VPN services we’ve reviewed, the one with the widest range of endpoint locations, covering most of the planet with servers in over 190 countries and territories.
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Hide My Ass! – Features and usability
Although owned by Czech anti-malware firm Avast, HMA 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, along with connection and disconnection times, duration and bandwidth usage “to prevent abuse and for diagnostic purposes.”
In 2011, long before it came into Avast’s ownership, 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. In a blog post that covers the service’s role in allowing protesters against the Egyptian government to gain access to websites such as Twitter, which were blocked by the local government, the company states that it follows UK law and “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 that allows you to specify applications that you want to allow online only when the encrypted VPN connection is up and running
While HMA used to be one of the more expensive VPN providers around, it hasn’t increased its prices in a while, making both monthly and two-year subscriptions pretty good value compared to the rest of the market.
HMA no longer offers monthly subscriptions via its UK or U.S. websites, although users of its European sites can still get a one-month subscription for €10.99. Instead, you can pay £59.88 per year, £95.76 per two years, or £129.24 per three years, the latter working out at £3.59 a month. Retail editions containing a licence key are available to buy for the privacy conscious and also tend to be cheaper than buying online.
For online shoppers, there’s a seven-day free trial, but note that it requires your payment information and automatically renews to become a one-year subscription if you don’t cancel it.
Related: What is a VPN?
Hide My Ass! – Performance
|HideMyAss! (HMA) HTTP||89.84Mbps||89.44Mbps||20.96Mbps|
|HideMyAss! (HMA) FTP||127.68Mbps||125.1Mbps||21.8Mbps|
HMA’s had a second bad month in a row in our performance tests. In the UK, we got HTTP speeds of 89.84Mbps (11.23MB/s) – even lower than August – but improved FTP speeds of 16MB/s. The Netherlands was slightly slower at 89.44Mbps for HTTP and 12.7MB/s for FTP, while US results remained extremely poor. Despite repeated test attempts from various endpoint locations, 20.96Mbps was the most we could squeeze out of our US HTTP tests, with FTP at 2.72MB/s (21.8Mbps).
Its region-shifting performance has always been a little variable, particularly in the UK. We couldn’t watch iPlayer or All 4, but Shudder and Netflix in the U.S. didn’t pose a problem.
Should I buy Hide My Ass!?
Hide My Ass! is completely upfront about the legal history and status of its service, which is laudable. However, the fact that it has handed over logs in the past is an enduring red flag for privacy enthusiasts.
Its pricing is reasonable, but neither its speeds nor its streaming performance are among the best around right now. However, it does have loads of endpoint servers exiting from IP addresses in a massive range of countries.
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 stream, 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, NordVPN is faster and better at streaming, while Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN’s no-logging policies have been demonstrated in court.
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