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HideMyAss! (HMA) VPN review

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

HideMyAss review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

HMA’s extensive network of servers, verified no-logs policy, useful apps and interesting feature-set make the venerable VPN a solid choice today, but its relatively high price and issues with content unblocking keep it from the top spot.

For

  • Incredibly wide server network
  • Some dedicated P2P servers
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • No-logging policy

Against

  • Cheaper comparable VPNs exist
  • No Netflix unblocking

Tom's Guide Verdict

HMA’s extensive network of servers, verified no-logs policy, useful apps and interesting feature-set make the venerable VPN a solid choice today, but its relatively high price and issues with content unblocking keep it from the top spot.

Pros

  • +

    Incredibly wide server network

  • +

    Some dedicated P2P servers

  • +

    24/7 live chat support

  • +

    No-logging policy

Cons

  • -

    Cheaper comparable VPNs exist

  • -

    No Netflix 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, now available 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)

HideMyAss! (HMA): Latest updates

There’s not a huge amount to report on since our last review, although it’s noticeable that HMA’s server count has gone down from 1,100 to 1,080. That might look meagre compared to others, but as always, it’s quality over quantity. And with those 290 locations across 210 countries, it's leading the way in coverage. 

It's worth also noting that the latest round of speed testing has revealed the service is working faster than our last tests.

On the downside, it still won't unblock Netflix, so it appears this isn't getting fixed anytime soon.

HideMyAss! (HMA) on paper

Supported platforms: Window, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, Apple TV, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
Supported protocols: OpenVPN UDP & LCP, L2TP, PPTP
No. of servers: 1,080+
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?

Full details of HMA pricing plans are curiously hard to find. Upon visiting the pricing page, you might think the company only offers a VPN free trial, a 12-month plan, and a 36-month plan, but hidden deep in the website you’ll also find two-year plans, business plans, and family plans.

You can start with a free seven-day trial, but you’ll have to hand over your payment details in advance before you can try the service. If you don’t cancel the subscription within seven days, you’ll automatically be charged for a 12-month plan. Thankfully, it’s easy to cancel your trial, and you’ll still be able to use the VPN for the full seven 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.

Jump to 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 but this is for the 10 connections pick only. This is will cost you $6.99 per month billed at $167.76 every two years.

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 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?

HMA has a few relatively unique features hidden away in the preferences menu. You can make the VPN connect whenever you access the internet, and you can also set your IP address to change automatically at a defined interval – from every ten minutes to every day.

Hidemyass review - hma features

(Image credit: HMA)

HMA has not one but two kill switches. The standard kill switch blocks all internet traffic if your VPN fails for any reason. In our testing it worked perfectly, preventing our true IP address from being leaked when the application was forcibly closed.

Setting up an app 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 does have a few dedicated P2P servers, but it’s just that – a few. With five in Europe and three in the US, you won’t have a huge selection. However, we’re glad to see any torrenting support at all, so this is still a plus.

You’ll also be able to set up split tunnelling, which allows you to choose which apps route through the VPN and which use your regular internet connection – great if certain apps don’t play ball with HMA.

Talking of not playing ball... In the US, we had issues accessing Amazon Prime Video, US Netflix and Disney+, meaning we couldn't stream content from any of these services when connected to HMA. However, HMA was able to unblock BBC iPlayer using a UK server.

This could be 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 38 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 capitalize on this most popular of VPN uses. However, seeing how much of a struggle even the top-tier VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN have had recently, we're not hugely hopeful – but you can never rule anyone out in this game.

How good are HMA's apps?

The HMA apps have all recently been updated with brand-new, simplified interfaces. The Windows app now functions like most of the other VPN clients on the market, with an on/off switch, a list of server locations, and a settings dialog.

Unlike many other services, HMA offers not one but two kills switches. So, if your connection drops, you have a system-wide kill switch offering protection, but also an optional extra kill switch to shut down your chosen processes, like a browser or torrent client for example. In our testing all blocks worked and leaks were prevented.

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 options 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)

How fast is HMA?

When testing the connections themselves, even the most distant locations connected within five seconds, and while ping times were naturally longer for locations on the other side of the world, we detected no problems or connection failures. We tested speeds using a variety of speed testing tools and services.

HMA only supports OpenVPN, so there’s obviously no data using other protocols like IKEv2 or WireGuard. On our 1Gbps US line, we got excellent speeds of 270-410Mbps. Over to the UK, also using a 1Gbps line, and results were 340-350Mbps. That’s up there with the very best on the market using OpenVPN, although other services deliver connections more than twice that fact when using WireGuard.

WireGuard can means speeds of over 800Mbps, as is the case for NordVPN and CyberGhost – but unless you have a 1Gbps connection, this may not be a concern for you.

How good is HMA's support?

HMA’s website offers setup guides, FAQs, a community forum, and a searchable knowledge-base. It’s not the most comprehensive support site (ExpressVPN has much better guides and documentation, for example), but it’s serviceable for most users’ needs.

For more complex queries, live 24/7 support is available. We were able to get answers to our questions from a support agent within a few minutes, which is in line with the best providers. We’re glad HMA offers this, because now we’re used to having live chat, we’re not quite sure what we’d do without it.

HideMyAss! Final verdict

HMA is a well-established, reliable VPN with an extensive network. Its connection speeds are good, the technical support is fast, and the various apps are well laid out – but it doesn’t quite offer enough to warrant its premium price.

For those looking for a cheaper and, if we're honest, more reliable service, we'd suggest Surfshark. If you're willing to spend a little more for the very best, we'd instead suggest ExpressVPN.

However, we can definitely recommend HMA to those who want a VPN that has servers in plenty of different nations, as HMA’s servers in over 210 countries far outstrips the competition. And, with its 30-day money-back guarantee, you can test it out risk-free.

  • If you don't fancy splashing the cash, check out the best free VPN
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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.