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HideMyAss! (HMA) VPN review

Avast’s HideMyAss! VPN gets a facelift

HideMyAss review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

HMA’s extensive network of servers, 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
  • Content unblocking isn't up to scratch

HideMyAss! (now rebranded as the family-friendly HMA) is one of the longest-running VPN services available today, with a 15-year history of user privacy protection. With servers in over 190 countries, HMA also has one of the widest VPN networks, along with custom apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

In our HideMyAss! review, we’ve comprehensively tested this VPN service to help you decide if it’s the right privacy solution for you.

Hidemyass review - HMA homepage

(Image credit: HMA)

Plans and Pricing

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

The monthly plan is priced at $11.99, which is more expensive than most. Similarly, the six-month plan is a little expensive at $7.99. Paying upfront for a year costs the equivalent of $6.99 per month, two years $4.99 per month, and three years a competitive $3.99 per month.

The family plan doubles the amount of devices you can connect simultaneously from five to ten, but it starts at a pricey $12.99 per month, coming down to a minimum of $5.99 a month on a three-year plan. 

Business plans extend this to even more simultaneous connections ($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

Features

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.

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

On that note, 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.

Interface and in use

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.

For our performance tests, we used US, UK, European, Hong Kong, Australian, and South Korean servers. 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 then tested connection speeds in the UK and the US using TestMy.net and Ookla Speedtest. On our 75Mbps UK connection, we got an excellent 69–71 Mbps, which was only slightly slower than not having the VPN connected.

On our 600Mbps US connection we got speeds of 75–80Mbps, which was significantly slower than when we previously tested HMA. This may be because this time we were testing during the coronavirus-prompted lockdown when VPN traffic was at a record high – but while other services we tested also seemed to suffer, others delivered excellent results regardless.

hidemyass review - HMA app

(Image credit: HMA)

Trying to stream geo-blocked content using HMA was a mixed bag. When connecting from the US to the UK, we could access BBC iPlayer and UK Amazon Prime Video, but not UK Netflix. Trying to connect from the UK to the US gave us access to US Netflix but not Amazon Prime Video. This is a rather poor showing compared to VPNs like ExpressVPN that gave us access to all these services without issue.

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 190+ 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.

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.

The competition

If you’re considering HMA for its vast international network, NordVPN’s is even bigger, currently boasting over 5,200 servers in 59 countries. Paying for three years upfront with NordVPN costs the equivalent of $3.49/month, which is also cheaper than HMA’s $3.99/month.

ExpressVPN also has more servers than HMA, with over 3,000 connection points spread out across 94 countries. Its 12-month plan costs $6.67/month, less than HMA’s $6.99/month, and also tops our guide to the very best VPNs.

HMA: 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.

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 190 countries far outstrips the competition.

Specs

Supported platforms: Window, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, Apple TV, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
Supported protocols: OpenVPN UDP & LCP, L2TP, PPTP
No. of servers: 1,000+
No. of countries: 190+
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

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