Just like every other VPN in the market, HMA! also claims that it is the Best VPN out there. It promises to secure your anonymity online but user reviews about it haven’t been great lately. So I decided to put things to the test and check out just how much weight there is in those opinions about this popular VPN service.
HMA! makes some tall promises on its very unique and flashy website but does it actually live up to them is what I need to find out in this comprehensive HideMyAss VPN Review 2019
HideMyAss VPN! Encryption and Protocol Support Review
The industry standard for encryption is the military grade AES-256 encryption, as it’s the most secure data encryption standard out there. You cant decipher data encrypted under this standard even if you have a thousand supercomputers working 24×7 for hundreds of years.
And HMA! deploys this standard, so I can mark it safe under this metric for transferring your data securely over its connections.
For tunneling protocol support, it offers three different protocol variations:
Out of these three, OpenVPN is considered the most secure since its open source and free from major security vulnerabilities. I recommend that you use this protocol by default, whether you use HMA! or any other VPN.
PPTP is not secure as its an old protocol standard and is considered to be weak, so it useless even if its there.
L2TP/IPSec is best for iOS platforms as OpenVPN is known to be a bit slow there. If you don’t encounter speed issues, keep to OpenVPN, but if you do, shift to L2TP/IPSec, because its relatively secure, even if on a lesser scale than OpenVPN.
HMA! DNS Leak Protection Review
Hiding your real IP online is not something that can easily be done just by offering you a server to re-route your connection through. Your IP can easily be leaked if the VPN you are using doesn’t offer protection against WebRTC or DNS leaks.
In our study on DNS leaks, we came across a lot of VPNs that promised robust security but they couldn’t even hide your real IP online. Most users don’t know about this but this is something you shouldn’t take lightly if you are planning to buy out a subscription to a new plan.
So does HMA! protect against DNS, WebRTC and other kinds of leaks?
Surprisingly, it surely does!
WebRTC and HTTP Request Leaks
IPv4/IPv6 and Torrent IP Leaks:
After how I found multiple security aspects of this service shaky and unreliable, I wasn’t expecting HMA! to be full leak proof at all. HMA! would have been a great choice for Torrenting due to being so clearly leak-proof only if its logging policy and jurisdiction would not have been so unsuitable.
HideMyAss! App File Check Review
Apps, even if they come from known or trusted providers, can carry engines or malware that can potentially harm your device or compromise your data or even both.
To be extra sure that your system doesn’t get compromised like that, you need to run an app check.
The best site I use for this task is Virustotal.com.
I usually check apps for desktop as they are often the ones that have high chances of carrying malware or a suspicious engine.
HMA!’s Windows app came clear out of this test with no engines detected in 60 different tests.
If you have ever been thinking of subscribing to HMA!, then you seriously need to take a look at these security flaws that just cannot be ignored.
The United Kingdom.
This is where Privax Limited, which in turn owns HMA! is based.
Privax Limited was acquired by the renowned security firm Avast, which has multiple online privacy-related products, back in 2015. And although Avast is based in the Czech Republic, HMA! still operates out of the UK.
The UK is not at all a safe place for any VPN to be based out of. In our study on jurisdictions, the UK was up there among the most dangerous locations in the world as far as data security is concerned. If a VPN is based there, it is vulnerable to propositions like government gag orders, data extradition requests, etc.
Your data is not safe if it’s parked in the UK making HMA! an unsuitable choice if you are looking for a safe and anonymous provider to get associated with.
All VPNs say that they carry zero logs but always, there is some data being stored in the background as we verified in our study on different logging policies across the entire industry.
But as long as a VPN doesn’t store personally identifiable information, it can be considered safe for users, but does HMA! fall into that category?
No, it doesn’t. Here’s why:
- Connection timestamps
- Bandwidth logs
- IP address of the user
- IP address of VPN server a user connects to
And it’s not just about storing sensitive information, its also about the time period its stored for that makes the whole thing even more dangerous for a user.
HMA! stores all of these logs for a period of 30 days. That’s a month in which your sensitive data is kept with HMA! and if you combine that with the fact that the location of storing data is within the UK, then there’s no room left for you to put your trust in HMA! at all.
The provider has also been involved in cases in the recent past where it divulged sensitive user data to authorities that led to jail time for some of its users.
One thing’s a given, you should never do anything illegal while using HMA! at all as the provider will surely give up your data if the order from any authority arrives. And even if you are a user who doesn’t indulge in anything illegal, subscribing to HMA! is not advisable.
HMA! Offers three types of pricing plans generally but there is currently a limited time long term plan that’s also available.
You will be able to access all of HMA!’s features in every single plan.
- Monthly Subscription Plan: $11.99 billed once.
- Yearly Subscription Plan: $83.88 billed once ($6.99/month).
- Two Yearly Subscription Plan: $119.76 billed once ($4.99/month).
- Special Plan: Three Yearly Subscription Plan: $107.64 billed once ($2.99/month).
So are these plans and their price tags justifiable for the service that HMA! Offers?
Not quite in my opinion as HMA!’s pricing plans are not just overpriced but they are contradictory as well.
The monthly plan is priced too high at nearly $12. The price range for such a plan should not exceed more than $7-8 unless you are ExpressVPN.
After the monthly plan, HMA! Jumps straight to the yearly deal, which is a bit strange since there should be an intermediary plan like a 6-month deal. It seems as if HMA! Wants to push users towards buying the bigger plans, hence the monthly deal feels like it’s just there to make the other plans look good and cheaper.
But HMA! You’re not too smart with this!
The new value deal that offers the plan at $2.99/month requires you to subscribe to the three-year plan and cough up a hefty sum of $107.64 billed once, which is actually a lower sum in comparison to the price you will need to pay for the 2-year plan at the same provider.
I really don’t understand the logic behind the pricing strategy that HMA! follows.
The pricing is confusing and would not make it easy for any user looking to subscribe to the service.
And while the price of $2.99/month looks cheap, the lack of features and failure on many critical fronts makes HMA! Seems like a bad choice considering that you can get a powerful VPN like Surfshark for a lesser price tag.
HideMyAss Free Trial and Payment Method Review
HMA! offers you a total period of 60 days in which you can safely test its service.
To get the first 30 days of trial activated, you just need a valid Paypal or credit card number.
For the second set of 30 days trial, you will need to pay for the plans but you are still liable to the refund offer that remains valid for this period.
The amount of days that you can use HMA! for free is certainly a lot more than what you can get at other providers that just offer a refund period and not a free trial service. But HMA! offers both.
The 30-day free trial does require a credit card or Paypal number but there are providers like NordVPN that don’t even require that, so HMA! needs to work on removing this barrier here even if it means lessening the number of days for which the trial remains valid.
HMA!’s refund policy might sound friendly but do remember that if you cross the 10 GB bandwidth limit, you will not remain liable to claim a refund, so tread carefully.
As for the payment methods, you can use just three methods to pay for HMA!’s pricing plans:
- Credit Cards
The payment options cover the two most popular payment methods but since HMA! doesn’t offer Bitcoin or any other crypto-based payment support (This allows the user to keep its payment info private), I still believe that the brand needs to go a long way in understanding the current industry dynamics and what exactly the customers want from it.
PureVPN offers 15+ payment methods and it’s an industry-leading service so HMA! has a lot of benchmarks in different areas that it can refer to and correct or even betters its current service standards.
Present in over 190 locations worldwide, HMA! Has one of the most diverse server distributions in the industry.
The total number of servers they offer is 940+ which is just above average since many top VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer anywhere between 2000-4000 servers in their lists.
But the number of servers stop mattering beyond a certain number if the users on the network don’t face traffic bottlenecks and hence slower speeds. So whether a VPN is offering a 1000 or 3000, the difference is not too much in terms of performance in speeds.
The number of locations where a VPN offers servers in is an incredibly important factor influencing user experience. This is because the closer a user is to a certain server, the faster the speeds will be since there is not much distance the connection hop has to travel.
And this is where HMA! Scores some major points. Its 190+ locations for servers have spread the world over. Except for Antarctica, users in all 6 inhabitable continents can be very close to a certain server from the HMA! Server network.
Most VPN providers don’t offer many servers outside European and North American regions since most VPN users reside in these places, but HMA! Has servers in as odd places as Guam, Bhutan, Palestine, Yemen, Kenya, Malawi and even in North Korea.
I haven’t seen any other VPN covering these places as ferociously as HMA! Has done.
And on top of this, most of these servers are actual bare metal servers.
Speeds loss is understandable with VPNs since they have heavy encryption, protocol support and re-routing over their connections, that puts stress on speeds causing them to get lowered down. But there is some degree to which this speeds loss is bearable, beyond that and the speeds can become frustrating or even unusable.
The maximum speed loss for a VPN should be in the range of 25-40% and HMA!’s speeds often lie within that range thankfully.
I use an internet connection speed of 50 Mbps, so I don’t like any VPN that causes the speeds to recede below the 30 Mbps mark.
I conducted speed tests on 5 different HMA! servers, all from different continents and here are the average speeds from it:
- Ping: 72 Ms
- Download Speeds: 32.16 Mbps
- Upload Speeds: 27.92 Mbps
With HMA!, you can get speeds more than this, but on some servers especially the ones in the Middle East and Canada, you can expect speed losses of more than 50% at times. Europe and Asia Pacific have the fastest speeds with around 35% speed loss on most servers.
HMA! Torrenting Review
VPNs which don’t support Torrenting, explicitly mention it so, but HMA! isn’t like that.
It mentions nowhere whether it supports Torrenting or not, but many users have complained about different forums that HMA! is not suitable at all for Torrenting.
Many users received DMCA notices, experienced slower speeds or even complete cut-offs while using HMA! for Torrenting, and I personally experienced it too.
Just a simple book download worth 2 Mbs took over 3 minutes, which is a far cry from HMA! reasonably good speeds on general browsing. So, don’t go for it if you indulge in heavy Torrenting.
HideMyAss VPN Netflix Unblocking Review
I was expecting HMA! To unblock Netflix US and in many other countries, but I stand disappointed. That’s because, whenever I tried to connect to Netflix using any of HMA!’s servers, I got this infamous Netflix proxy error.
Netflix has different content libraries for different countries its offers its services in and while some content on it remains available in all countries, some doesn’t. And that’s where VPNs come in. But Netflix complicated this issue when it put up a VPN ban on its site as it used its firewall to weed out VPN based connections to its service.
Nowadays, only a handful of VPNs work towards unblocking Netflix US and other regional libraries offered by the streaming giant and I can say it conclusively that right now, HMA! Is not among them.
Nothing different or unique here as HMA! just offers client app support for only the most popular platforms out there including the following:
For Firestick, Kodi and other niche device aficionados, HMA! isn’t the right choice for you since it doesn’t offer native support for any such platform.
HMA! does offer router support though so you can easily route all of your devices through the connection automatically.
On a single account, you can use the service on 5 different devices at the same time, a major improvement by the provider since some time back, you couldn’t log in to more than 2 devices simultaneously.
As far the usability of the apps are concerned, they are incredibly easy to configure and use. Single click connection initiations and simple server swaps by just clicking/tapping on the desired location once, are just some of the major UX USPs of HMA! apps.
HMA! had a lot of user complaints in the past about its slow and almost non-existent customer support. They only offered email based support back in those days, which for obvious reasons, is not suitable for a technical service like a VPN.
Now with the addition of live chat support by HMA!, such problems have gone away.
The chat support execs manning their live chat are fast and give detailed answers to your queries. I asked them about Firestick support and got a fairly satisfactory answer, so I can say that their support is definitely up to mark and according to industry standards.
Now to the final call!
Do I recommend you to subscribe to HMA!?
A Big No!
HMA! doesn’t support Netflix, Torrenting or any other streaming based activity, it keeps logs of sensitive value and that too for a period of over 30 days and it’s based in the UK, which is not a very safe jurisdiction for VPNs to be in.
It does have some good positives like above average speeds, friendly trial policies, multiple device support with good UI and UX designs and live chat support to handle all of your troubleshooting issues. But the negatives are too much to ignore, even in the face of these positives.
So don’t go for HMA!, because its overpriced for the service it offers and doesn’t contain many good features that you can get at other providers and that too, for a lesser price tag.
For a much better and cheaper VPN, you can go for Surfshark or if you have the budget, then go for ExpressVPN, but for now, don’t even think about subscribing to HMA!.