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HideMyAss! (HMA) VPN review

HideMyAss! (HMA) is secure and usable, but struggles with streaming

HideMyAss review
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

With its wide server network coverage, good apps, and audited no-logs privacy policy, HMA is a good choice for a VPN service. However, issues like poor unblocking capabilities and steep prices make it hard to put HMA among the best of the best.

Pros

  • +

    Incredibly wide server network

  • +

    Some dedicated P2P servers

  • +

    24/7 live chat support

  • +

    Audited no-logging policy

Cons

  • -

    Cheaper comparable VPNs exist

  • -

    No Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer or Disney+ unblocking

HideMyAss! (HMA) is one of the longest-standing VPN companies out there with a 15-year history, and it's now owned by security powerhouse Avast. That's a good thing as it means a certified no-logs policy for superb levels of privacy.

The servers of HMA, having grown for a decade and a half, are some of the most widely sprawling of any service, comprising over 1000 servers in over 210 countries. The apps are also decent in coverage with all the major platforms covered.

This HideMyAss! (HMA) review will lay out all you need to know about this VPN to decide if it's the one for you.

HideMyAss! (HMA) review - HMA homepage

(Image credit: HMA)
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HideMyAss! (HMA): Latest updates

There’s not much of a difference from our last review, with the only “major” change being that the number of servers went down to 1040, from 1080. While some other services have way more servers, these are quality servers, and HMA still has a huge coverage with over 290 locations in over 210 countries. 

Performance has stayed much the same, with a slight decrease compared to our previous tests.

Unfortunately, the service still can’t unblock Netflix and other major streaming services.

HideMyAss! (HMA) on paper

Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, Apple TV, Android TV, Chrome
Supported protocols: OpenVPN UDP & LCP, L2TP, PPTP
No. of servers: 1,040+
No. of countries: 210+
Country of registration: UK
Payment options: Credit card, PayPal
Real name necessary? No
Encryption protocol: AES-256
Data usage: Unlimited
Bandwidth usage: Unlimited
Max. no. of simultaneously connected devices: Five/ten
Customer support: 24/7 chat and email
Privacy policy: No logging

How much does HMA cost?

The first time you visit HMA's website, it may appear that there’s only a VPN free trial, a 1-year plan, and a 3-year plan on offer. However, if you look thoroughly, you’ll find a huge range of available periods (opens in new tab), plus business and family plans.

The 7-day trial gives you an excellent opportunity to try out the service, but do note that you need to give out your payment details, and if you don’t cancel the subscription before the end of the trial, you’ll be charged as if you paid for a 1-year plan. Fortunately, it’s easy to cancel, and when you do you can still use the service for the full 7 days.

For five connections you'll pay, on a 12-month plan, $4.99 per month, billed as $59.88 at once. Jump that to 10 connections and it'll be $7.99, at $95.88 annually.

Plump for a 36-month plan, for five connections, and it'll cost you $2.99 per month at $107.64 billed at once. Or extend to the 10 connection option for $5.99 per month charged at $215.64 every three years.

There's also a 24-month option, and this will cost you $4.99 per month billed at $119.76 every two years – interestingly, the same monthly price as the 12-month plan. If you fancy signing up for just 1 month, you'll be shelling out $11.99.

The family plan lets you connect to 10 devices at once, but it starts at $7.99 per month for the annual plan, is $6.99 per month for the two-year option, and is $5.99 per month for the 3-year plan. So, yes, this is identical to the normal plans, they're just calling it a family plan.

Business plans extend this to even more simultaneous connections ($12.99/mo for 10, $23.99/mo for 20, $32.99/mo for 30) and tailored quotes are available on request.

While the longer basic plans offer decent value for money, HMA cranks up the price of its family plans just to increase the number of connections – and in the grand scheme where some providers like Surfshark and IPVanish are offering unlimited connections on basic plans that are cheaper than HMA's, it’s hard to justify paying almost double just for extra connections.

  • More: Grab yourself a bargain with the best cheap VPN

How private is HMA?

In the preferences menu, HMA has a few interesting tucked-away features in the preferences menu. If you wish, you can set up your IP address to change automatically at a set period of time, the shortest period being every ten minutes and the longest every day.

Interestingly, the service has two kill switches instead of one. The usual first one stops all internet traffic if the VPN shuts down somehow. We tested this, and it worked flawlessly. Our real IP address stayed hidden when the VPN connection was suddenly closed.

Hidemyass review - hma features

(Image credit: HMA)
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Setting up the other kill switch will also terminate specific apps if the connection drops and auto-start the VPN when you launch those programs. That’s a really nifty feature if you’re using it as a torrenting VPN but can’t trust yourself to remember to fire up your VPN for every session.

The service also boasts a certified no-logs policy. This means that the policy isn't just words on the company's website but rather this has been audited by an independent company. In this case the audit was carried out by VerSprite in 2020 which gave the VPN a pass with a "low-risk" user privacy and impact rating.

  • More: If you love streaming, check out our Netflix VPN list

How good is HMA for streaming and torrenting?

HMA only has a few dedicated P2P servers, 5 being in Europe and 3 in the US. That isn’t a big selection but at least there is torrenting support, which is always an advantage, so depending on your needs it just might be enough.

The service has the split tunneling feature, which will give you the option to pick the apps that will use the VPN and the apps that will use your standard internet connection.

As for streaming, there’s bad news there. We tried to connect to all the major streaming services - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer. Unfortunately, HMA failed to connect to any of those, making this VPN unsuitable for watching geo-blocked content, at least for now.

This is likely due to HMA having spread itself quite thin on the ground server-wise. While its 1,000+ servers are plenty, having them dotted over a huge 210+ countries means that each location has a much smaller number of individual IP addresses to choose from – even the usually well-populated Netherlands only currently has 113 addresses. Therefore, there’s a much higher chance of it being detected and blocked by streaming providers.

Do we have any hope of this improving? Well, the HMA website does have dedicated Netflix pages, so at some point the brand was certainly trying to capitalize on this most popular of VPN uses. However, seeing how much of a struggle even the top-tier VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN sometimes have, we're not hugely hopeful – but you can never rule anyone out in this game.

How good are HMA's apps?

Not that long ago, all the HMA’s apps received a refurbishing to their interfaces. The Windows app is now quite similar to other VPN apps, with just having a switch to turn it on and off, a server list, and the settings section.

As mentioned before, HMA has two kill switches. The standard one blocks your connection if the VPN fails, while the other optional kill switch is used to terminate any chosen processes. For instance, a torrent client or a browser.

IP Shuffle is another stand-out feature for HMA which allows you to change your IP address without reconnecting. This keeps you more securely hidden and can be done with a simple Refresh button selection. You can also set the app to automatically change your IP however often you require.

The iOS app is near identical to the Windows client but the Android app packs in more. Split tunnelling is a welcome feature which lets you use a VPN IP address on some apps but not on others as you require – ideal if you want to keep your banking local, for example. The TCP option helps you potentially improve connection reliability. There's also a Contact Support area that lets you send messages within the app.

hidemyass review - HMA app

(Image credit: HMA)
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How fast is HMA?

In our tests, we had no issues with connecting to any servers, and we experienced no connection failures. No more than five seconds were needed to connect for even the farthest servers in the world. All our tests were done using various speed testing tools and services.

The only supported protocol is OpenVPN, so, unfortunately, there is no WireGuard, and no blazing speeds that come with it. Still, we got solid speeds with OpenVPN, reaching 220-225Mpbs in the UK. For the US, the performance was much better, with speeds reaching 380-400Mbps. Just looking at the OpenVPN, these results are among the top, but there are still way behind when compared to other services that have WireGuard.

With WireGuard, several VPNs like Hide.me, TorGuard and CyberGhost reached speeds over 800Mbps – but unless you have a 1Gbps connection, this may not be a concern for you.

How good is HMA's support?

On HMA’s website, you can find various setup guides, FAQs, and a community forum. It’s not the most detailed and organized support site as compared to some other services (ExpressVPN for instance), but it should be good enough for most users.

For anything more advanced, there’s 24/7 live chat support. We asked a few questions to test the response, and within a few minutes we got all the answers we need. This is similar to what the best providers offer, and we have to say we’re glad the live chat is available and responsive, as we’ve gotten quite used to it.

HideMyAss! review: Final verdict

HMA has been in the VPN business for a long time and its main advantage over the others is that it has pretty much more locations than anyone else (opens in new tab), with its huge coverage of over 210 countries. While it doesn’t support WireGuard, the performance is good for OpenVPN, and the apps are well made. In addition, having an audited privacy policy is always a plus.

However, no WireGuard is still a disadvantage, and poor unblocking capabilities are even more so. All this combined, and the service seems a bit pricey too, as there are other comparable VPNs that are cheaper, like Surfshark (opens in new tab) for instance. If you don’t mind spending a little more for the very best, you might want to take a look at ExpressVPN (opens in new tab).

Still, HMA is a solid choice, especially if you want plenty of locations to choose from, and with the 7-day free trial you can test out the service with no fuss, just remember to cancel the subscription before the trial ends, or else you’ll be charged.

HideMyAss! (HMA)

Luke is a freelance writer and editor with over two decades of experience covering tech, science and health. Among many others he writes across Future titles covering health tech, software and apps, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and plenty more. He also likes to climb mountains, swim outside and contort his body into silly positions while breathing as calmly as possible.

With contributions from