Hide My Ass! is perhaps the most recognizable VPN brand on the planet. They offer 900+ servers in over 190+ countries. Their apps are extremely easy to use and offer military-grade encryption. Despite that, this VPN may not be the best value. There are a variety drawbacks that could make Hide My Ass! the wrong VPN for you.
Once you dig deep, Hide My Ass! VPN seems like a mediocre VPN company with great marketing. Their number of server locations is extremely impressive. But there is little else to justify the price. They do seem to be making solid steps forward, but only time will tell if they can catch the true industry leaders. If so, they’ll need to continue improving their security, native apps, and customer support—and still drop the price.
Security – Multiple Security Incidents / Popular encryption methods (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec) / 256-bit AES Encryption / Intrusive Logs Policy / No Cryptocurrency Payment Options
Connectivity – Comprehensive and Reliable / All major operating systems (Android, Windows, MacOS, iOS, & Linux) / Compatible with Most Streaming and Gaming Devices / Router Support, Dedicated IP Servers / 900+ Servers in 280+ Locations / Five+ Simultaneous Connections
Usability – Extremely Easy to Use / Intuitive Client Design with Decent Server Selection Options / Limited Advanced Features / Currently Undergoing Rapid Development Changes
Service & Support – Somewhat Outdated Knowledge base & Video Tutorials / E-Mail and Chat Support
Pricing – Subscription / All Plans Overpriced / One-Month $11.99, Six-Month $47.94 ($7.99/mo), One-Year $71.88 ($5.99/mo) / Business Plans Available with Additional Simultaneous Connections
- Twice as Many Server Locations as Next Competitor
- Intuitive Setup & Use for VPN Users of All Levels
- Extremely Easy-to-Use App Design
- Competitive Encryption Through OpenVPN
- Wide Selection of Supported Devices
- Unlimited Bandwidth & Server Switching
- P2P Enabled Servers for Torrenting
- Protect Your Home Wifi with VPN Router
- Five Simultaneous Connections with More Available
- Avoid Geoblocks & Censorship While Streaming
- Intrusive Logs Means Potential Data Exposure
- One of the Most Expensive VPNs in its Class
- Average Server Speeds are Middle of the Road
- No OpenVPN Support for iPhone
- No Built-In Ad Block or Malware Protection
- Lacks Some Customizations for Power Users
- No Option for Dedicated Servers
When it comes to encryption, Hide My Ass! is competitive.
AES-256-bit encryption through the OpenVPN protocol is often referred to as “military-grade” in the VPN industry. That’s because it’s used by military organizations to transfer data securely. It is currently considered unhackable, even with all of the supercomputers on the planet. You need this if you’re looking to avoid government censorship.
HMA offers AES-256 bit OpenVPN encryption. That’s a great first step. However, they are getting beaten by the competition in two important areas.
First, there are levels to AES-256 bit encryption. And Hide My Ass! hovers around the bottom of those. We think they use RSA-2048 keys with the SHA-1 hashing algorithm. They may also provide perfect forward secrecy with a Diffie-Hellman key exchange. But we can’t be sure. Encryption info on their site is basic and live support struggles with technical details. Whatever the case, their strongest encryption appears to lag behind other industry leaders.
Second, they do not offer the OpenVPN encryption protocol for iPhone yet. You need 3rd party software and the technical savvy to set up a OpenVPN custom connection on iOS. This is both inconvenient and intimidating. But we expect changes to come soon. In May ‘18 HMA released version 4 of its Windows and Mac apps. This is the first time that they brought OpenVPN to an Apple device. Apple holds developers to high standards. Hide My Ass! took awhile, but they are now following the lead of other VPN leaders in bringing OpenVPN to Apple devices.
Still, some users may prefer other encryption methods. After all, less encryption means faster connection. HMA has a host of older app versions built on other encryption methods. Altogether, they support OpenVPN, IKE/IPSec, L2Tp/IPSec, and PPTP. However, those are being phased out over time. The company also says their v4 apps are built to be added to quickly. They made it sound as if other protocol options are on the way, possibly before the end of 2018.
This is easily where Hide My Ass! fails the hardest.
You should probably look elsewhere if secure browsing is your number one priority.
Record-keeping is a serious factor in VPN security. The most privacy-focused VPNs retain only minimal user data logs. After all, nothing bad can happen to your data if there is no data.
As clearly stated in their logging policy:
“When you use our VPN service the only logging data we collect from you (“VPN Data”) is as follows:
a time stamp when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service;
the amount data transmitted (upload and download) during your session;
the IP address used by you to connect to our VPN; and
the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.”
They go on to say that they do not monitor your browsing history or other data transferred over their network.
Still, this is much more information than other VPN leaders store. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and many others employ a strict “no logs” policy. They don’t record virtually any of the information listed above. The only data they collect relates to service performance. Even that is usually only stored for a very short period of time. Hide My Ass! keeps your data for up to three months. They are forced to do so based on jurisdiction. They may also be forced to turn your data over to government agencies. (More on that in a moment.)
Depending on your anonymity needs, HMA might be disqualified already. But there is more to VPN anonymity than logging policies.
The best VPN services offer DNS and IP leak protection. Providing DNS servers and IPv6 support are essential. Hide My Ass! does neither. There are also advanced techniques, such as double VPN. Don’t expect any of these from HMA. They do have some old support information with steps you can take to prevent DNS leaks yourself. And we haven’t found any evidence of any leaks from HMA, yet. But this will become even more important as the Internet expands.
Predictably, Hide My Ass! also misses other anonymity features as well. Of course, you can use a TOR browser, but there is no built-in TOR support. They do not accept cryptocurrencies either, a potentially anonymous payment method.
HMA only provides the most basic anonymity protection, that which you get with any VPN: your online activity shares IPs with other users on the service.
Online security is a surprisingly philosophical field. That’s why business ethics are so important in the VPN industry.
Sometimes though, ethics are tranceeded by law. Hide My Ass! VPN is run by Privax, a U.K. company. That makes them subject to the most stringent data retention laws on the planet today. They have to keep your information to remain in business. That’s why many VPN companies are headquartered in more privacy-friendly nations. The authorities have even been able to use HMA records to apprehend criminals, which might tell you all that you need to know.
Hide My Ass! started in 2005 by Jack Cator. At 16, he created the original version to unblock websites at school. It was easier to use than similar programs of the time. But more than anything, Jack figured out how to market his product online. And that is the story of HMA. In contrast, VPN companies like Cyber Ghost are built to fight for a free Internet. Who do you think is more likely to protect your online privacy? Or be able to in the first place?
All that said, HMA was acquired by AVG in 2015. And then AVG was acquired by Avast in 2016. Both of these Internet security giants are based in the Czech Republic and offer their own VPN solutions. It is unclear how this may affect Hide My Ass! in the future. For now, Jack Cator remains the CEO. And HMA is much more popular than either of the parent companies’ VPN solutions.
There’s no telling what the conglomerate has brewing. Moving Hide My Ass! out of “14 Eyes” jurisdiction might be the strongest security play they could make. This may allow them to change the HMA logs policy. And that could transform HMA’s entire security outlook.
There was a reported $20 million growth incentive in the AVG-HMA deal. Otherwise, you might expect development to drag until all the dust settled. Instead, we may see Hide My Ass! try to take the industry by storm once again. It will be interesting to see. For now though, Hide My Ass! does not pass the security values test.
Other Security Features
Experienced VPN shoppers look beyond encryption, anonymity, and company values for other security features.
Some of the these are standard among top-tier products. Others are unique to specific providers. As you might expect by now, Hide My Ass! is a little thin on extra protection. Still, they are an industry leader.
Here’s how they do:
Killswitch – Hide My Ass! recently added kill switch support for its apps on Mac and Windows. This is a common feature that severs your Internet connection whenever you disconnect from HMA servers. On Windows, you can enable on individual apps.
Run on Startup – Run on startup is another fundamental VPN security feature. This protects your connection as soon as your operating system starts. This is an important feature for security and general usability.
Split Tunneling – Hide My Ass! does not have native split tunneling support, a make-or-break feature for certain types of users. Online activity can be segregated manually, if you have the skills. But most users aren’t even aware of the possibility.
Wifi Protection – Public wifi is one of the greatest online security risks we face on a day-to-day basis. Hide My Ass! allows you to connect to a server whenever connecting to unsecured wifi. This is a great, and somewhat unique, feature.
Virtual Servers – Hide My Ass! has a very high ratio of virtual servers. This may concern some users. But this is also how they are able to offer so many locations: through virtualized spoofing. More security-focused VPNs, like NordVPN, use none.
Router Support – Setting up a custom connection to your router will help secure your home connection. That means all devices connected through that router go through HMA servers. You can also buy routers with Hide My Ass! VPN pre-installed.
IP Shuffling – Depending on why you are using a VPN, this may be an incredibly useful feature. Added in May 2018, this allows you to set HMA to automatically change servers every so often. Use with kill switch to remain secure.
Hide My Ass! provides the wide range of device support that you’d expect from a service of such popularity.
Native clients are always most important to user adoption. HMA has them for all the most popular devices. There used to be some confusion based on the number of apps available for each device. But there is much less with the latest releases. As long as you use the main downloads page, you should get the most up-to-date versions.
They offer clients for:
- *command line script
If you have the technical knowhow, you can set up custom connections. However, they have limited knowledge base information on how to set these up. There are HMA branded browser extensions. But they are for free proxies, not the Hide My Ass! VPN. This is a nice free service, but do not confuse it with the functionality of something like ExpressVPN’s browser extensions.
Hide My Ass! really shines when it comes to router support. You can set up custom connections, as long as your router is compatible. But even better, you can buy routers from FlashRouters with HMA firmware pre-installed. This allows you to secure everything from your PS4 to your Alexa Voice device with ease.
To educated VPN customers, this may be Hide My Ass!’s only real selling point.
They offer by far more countries and locations than any other noteworthy VPN service. In fact, they have over twice as many as their nearest competitor. This includes many location in places that other VPNs ignore (like Africa and the Middle East). It also offers locations in countries you might call “enemies of the Internet” (like China and Russia). Only 60 or so of these countries have physical servers to match (the others are virtual servers only). But 60 physical locations is strong by itself. And their location count will probably exceed 300 in 2018.
While they don’t have nearly as many servers as VPN services like NordVPN (4000+) or Private Internet Access (3000+), HMA’s nearly 1000 servers still put them amongst the leaders.
Remember, HMA was originally created to unblock websites. All the extra servers help with that. This is especially useful for those who live behind totalitarian firewalls. But it can also be useful for those who want to avoid geoblocking. Geoblocks are used by a variety of online providers to restrict content based on location. This includes Netflix, sports streaming apps, and others. And to help enforce these policies, many have “VPN bans” in place. So in many cases, you need a service that beats both geoblocks and VPN-blocking software.
There is an ongoing battle raging between these services and VPN companies. BBC iPlayer and Netflix seem to be the hardest to beat at the moment, in that order. All but the best VPN companies struggle to beat either. With HMA’s version 4 app release (Mac and Windows only), it is much easier to find streaming-friendly servers via the Quick Access menu in Location Mode.
Few VPN companies currently win across the board. But there are only a few that beat Hide My Ass! (as of Summer ‘18).
Hide My Ass! is among the industry leaders when it comes to speed.
Still, this does not guarantee a fast connection for all users. Connections speeds through a VPN are influenced by too many factors to count. Distance to the VPN server, other users on the server, and protocol used are just a few. This means you can’t trust any VPN reviewer’s speed tests.
What you can trust is community feedback. You can also look at technical specs and speed-related features.
All VPNs get speed complaints, from new users especially. It’s the nature of the business. But Hide My Ass! doesn’t get significantly more than other industry leaders. Especially in cities with lots of servers compared to population, you should be able to find decent speeds.
That makes HMA’s large server network a big positive for speed. They also have a list of “locations optimized for streaming and downloading”. This probably means that servers at those locations have better tech. If you’re using the latest Mac or Windows clients, there are streaming lists built into the app.
Hide My Ass! does add the unique ability to see physical and virtual locations on some servers. This allows you to choose a physical server near you, while still spoofing your IP to a different location. Closer physical servers generally mean better speeds. So this is a welcome feature for streamers trying to beat geoblocks, granted the servers you need can beat VPN bans. By nature, this feature has a limited number of location pairings.
Other than that, HMA has a limited set of features. They don’t offer anything that helps you sort servers by speed. And they don’t have any added technology, like Cyber Ghost’s data compression, that might further boost speeds. However, their OpenVPN encryption setup is pretty good for speed compared to other leaders (by virtue of being slightly less secure).
In this support article on improving HMA speed, they only give three suggestions: (1) choose a closer location, (2) choose a virtual location, and (3) download an older version of the app and use a different protocol. But again, they have plans to add alternative protocols to their apps soon anyway.
Peer to peer file sharing is one of the most common use cases for a VPN.
Speed is maybe more important here than anywhere else. Which is another reason it is good to see that HMA has servers optimized for downloading (linked above). You also need unlimited bandwidth. Otherwise, download speeds slow to a crawl. Hide My Ass! offers unlimited bandwidth by default. That’s great.
However, Hide My Ass! falls short for torrentors in ways their biggest competition does not.
HMA users have been known to experience download slowdowns, server blocking, or account suspensions. That’s not unexpected. And the new IP shuffling feature may help with the first two. But there are reports of users who have received warnings from their Internet service provider or the copyright holders themselves. While some of that could be due to user-inflicted DNS or IP leaks, it does add to the questions about whether user data is truly safe with HMA.
Given their jurisdiction, this is probably an ongoing problem for them internally. They could get in real trouble if they don’t do enough to prevent illegal activity on their service. This part of their business inherently costs them more than other VPN companies. It’s no surprise then that they don’t offer split tunneling. But their recent app update did add a built-in P2P server-sorting feature.
Ease of Use
Depending on your perspective:
You might call Hide My Ass! “extremely easy to use”. Or, you might just call it “basic”. Both fit.
That, plus router support, might make HMA the most family-friendly VPN on the market. Except for their name, of course.
All of the latest Hide My Ass! apps have a consistent look and feel. Esthetically, the design might be the best in the business. They also make it very easy to get started with Instant Mode. With their version 4 update, they have made some marked improvements. And it will be interesting to see if they can start to rival other VPNs in terms of customizability.
VPN users want options without having to create custom connections. Quick Access to Streaming, P2P, and your Favorite servers is a great step. But they have a ways to go if they want to catch the likes of ExpressVPN or NordVPN—even more to approach CyberGhost.
Built-in features from the other VPN leaders include:
Malware & Ad Blockers
Server Speed Tests
Server Crowding Stats
“Recently Used” Servers
Other Specialty Server Types
That’s not to say that HMA is truly bareboned. They have many of the features that all the leaders share. This includes things we’ve already mentioned elsewhere like run on startup, a kill switch, and an auto-connect feature. But it also includes things like TCP/UDP port selection and five simultaneous connections.
Under the Hood
Those who need easy access under the hood will be disappointed for now.
This will probably continue to be the case until Hide My Ass! is done phasing out their older apps. For now, you must access those old apps or create custom connections for alternate protocols and other advanced settings. They do give you access to a diagnostics report that will certainly be useful for experts. Still, you don’t have much room to act on your findings.
Unfortunately, HMA support isn’t known for technical prowess. They are mostly built to handle customer complaints and increase sales. In contrast, e-mail support for NordVPN can help walk you through the options your custom connection needs.
We expect 2018 to change HMA’s scores in a variety of categories. But this one may still be a few years away.
Service & Support
Customer support is not the VPN industry’s strong suit. Hide My Ass! is no exception to the trend.
They don’t do as bad as the industry overall. But they are certainly behind competitors like ExpressVPN and NordVPN in both support info and live customer service.
Their help section is broken down into guides, a knowledgebase, and a community forum. The guides are decent, and some of the knowledgebase articles as well. We’d like to see more updates, but they will probably come after a few more development milestones. Active users will get the most benefits from the community.
Again, live support leaves a lot to be desired. E-mail and chat support are both slow. Either can provide you with much technical detail unless you work your way to the higher levels. If that is what you need, you’ll need patience.
Based on current offerings, Hide My Ass! is overpriced.
Like most VPNs, consumer subscriptions come in tiers with discounts for longer time periods. As is becoming more common in the industry, all plans include exactly the same features. These plans only differ in term length and monthly cost.
They offer the industry-standard 30-day refund. But they recently added a link for a free trial on their pricing page as well. Only a few VPNs offer trials, fewer still the 30-day trial they currently show. (Just be aware, it is setup to charge you for a full year if you do not cancel in time.)
***Please note: HMA will not refund app purchases through in-store app purchases.
They accept credit/debit cards, PayPal, check, or even cash at your local 7-11.
Monthly – $11.99/month
6 Months – $47.94 ($7.99/month)
Yearly – $71.88 ($5.99/month)
That is high, even compared to other leaders.
However, HMA also offers business plans. The only difference there is additional simultaneous connections. But that makes this an interesting option for several different types of users.
10 Simultaneous Connections
Monthly – $23/month
Yearly – $156 ($13/month)
20 Simultaneous Connections
Monthly – $46/month
Yearly – $314 ($26.17/month)
30 Simultaneous Connections
Monthly – $69/month
Yearly – $39.18 ($469/month)
When it first hit the market, Hide My Ass! was ahead of its time. Now, it is playing catch up.
They offer military-grade encryption and extremely user-friendly apps. The support many devices and most encryption protocols. Their recent acquisition by AVG/Avast really increases their chances of regaining the top spot in the industry. They’ve always been amongst the top-performing VPNs on the market. And no one else even comes close to the number of server locations they offer.
However, Hide My Ass! has damning privacy concerns. Their logs policy is much more intrusive than other leaders in the space. If you are a security-concerned VPN shopper, you should probably stay away from HMA (unless they leave the U.K.). They are also lacking customizability in their apps.
Overall, Hide My Ass! is competitive in terms of feature-set and performance. It even leads in areas like server location and usability. Still, other concerns take away from the value too much. In the end, Hide My Ass! is overpriced and difficult to recommend.