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, Hide My Ass! is definitely the provider to go for. However, Kaspersky Secure Connection is faster and cheaper, while Private Internet Access's no-logging policy has been demonstrated in court.
- Large number of servers
- More endpoint countries than any rival
- Doesn't work for Netflix or BBC iPlayer
- Review Price: £59.88
- Connect up to two devices
- Supports OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Clear information on connecting other devices without dedicated clients
- £7.99 per month
- £35.94 per 6 months
- £59.88 per year
What is Hide My Ass?
Hide My Ass! (HMA) is, of all the many virtual private network 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.
Related: Best VPN
Hide My Ass – Features and usability
Although owned by Czech anti-malware firm AVG, Hide My Ass! is headquartered in the UK, and 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 purpose.”
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 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 specify applications that you want to allow online only when the encrypted VPN connection is up and running
Sadly, it didn’t work for watching BBC iPlayer from a UK endpoint, although we were able to catch up with US Netflix without any trouble.
Hide My Ass! is one of the more expensive VPN providers around; a month-to-month subscription costs £7.99, while a £59.88 annual subscription works out at £4.99 a 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 hovered around the average mark with a quick and stable 6.4MB/s (FTP) to 6.9MB/s (HTTP) via its UK endpoints – that’s around 52Mbit/s.
Things look even better over in the Netherlands, where we saw FTP download speeds of 8.8MB/s and HTTP ones of 7.2MB/s. VPN connections to the US are almost invariably slower than those to closer geographic endpoints, and Hide My Ass’s steady 2.12MB/s was below average, but is still fine for browsing news sites that don’t yet support GDPR and streaming the latest big-budget TV series.
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, 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, Kaspersky Secure Connection is faster and cheaper, while Private Internet Access’s no-logging policy has been demonstrated in court.