Features and Pricing Summary:
Network: Servers in 190 countries
Software: Win, Mac, iOS, Android
Refund Policy: 30 day guarantee
Retail Price: $11.52 a month
Discount Price: Save 57% Off
Welcome to our review of the HideMyAss (HMA) VPN service. HMA is very well known and has been around since 2005. At the time, the 16 year old founder created the service to get around his secondary school’s restrictions. In other words, he wanted to play video games and go to social media sites at school. It is human nature to find a way to skirt rules we do not like. His ease in doing this led to his determination to fight censorship around the world. HMA has some nice features in their service, and we will discuss them a bit later in this review. But first, we will talk about pricing.
Prices and Discounts
In protecting your privacy, price can be a driving factor in your decision. HMA has 3 lengths for their service, all with clever names relating to their brand. They are current offering a promotion. One month of service is $9.99/mo. For 6 months of the service, the price drops to $6.66/month. We recommend going with the year of service. That is because your rate drops to just $4.99/mo.
In discussing the discounts, we usually discuss accepted payment types as well. HMA accepts 3 major credit cards: Visa; MasterCard; and American Express. They additionally accept 2 other types of payment, those are PayPal and our favorite crypto-currency, Bitcoin. Whereas you can use the subscription feature with Paypal to manage your account, Bitcoin has advantages because of the anonymity. If needed, HMA offers a 30 day money back guarantee, and that is one of the longest in the industry.
The VPN market is very competitive, and HMA knows it. As we mentioned earlier, they have some features that set them apart from the competition. We will take a look at some of those differences now.
While looking at the picture to the right, you see HMA’s main console. IP address settings is a feature that will automatically change your IP address at intervals of your choosing. If you are streaming content however, that is not a feature you would choose. Secure IP bind is another interesting feature. Instead of a normal kill switch, you can force apps to terminate and stop any unencrypted traffic if the connection drops. That is different from the competition because you can pick and choose which apps you want Secure IP bind to apply to, instead of every program. An additional feature we will mention in this section, is the Speed Guide. If you are looking for servers in a specific place, say you wanted a server in the UK, all you would have to do is click the boxes in front of the UK servers, and run one of the speed tests. HMA will start running through the servers you chose, and show you which one has the least amount of lag. Because HMA balances the load for servers, if you choose a server that is more than 30% full, you will receive a pop up box that looks like this. You may adjust those, but 30% is a good number to stay with.
From that point, you can choose to connect to the server or not. Of course, you do not have to utilize any of those features if you do not wish to, the service will still work.
HideMyAss has a massive 890 servers, and those are spread out over 190 countries. In other words, they have servers located in almost every single country in the world. That gives you a plethora of options you may choose from. It also means if you are trying to stream content that is localized to a specific country, you have that choice.
The normal user doesn’t need servers in that many countries, but it is nice to have the ability. If you are planning on traveling, you could choose a server close to you and possibly get better speeds. That happens when the internet path is more direct through a VPN, than it is with the normal service.
If you are planning on streaming content from other countries, speed may become a factor in your choice. You will want to find a provider with fast servers. When we ran the speed test for HideMyAss, we experienced about a 24% speed loss. At 24%, that number is acceptable and reasonable for an encrypted connection. The normal guidelines for speed loss fall between 10%-25%. Also, a difference of 15 ms lag time is great between the two readings. The best protocol to use is OpenVPN (UDP), and that is what HMA defaults to automatically.
Security and Privacy
VPN providers secure your data by using encryption. There are 2 protocols offered in the desktop version, PPTP and OpenVPN. In the case of the OpenVPN protocol, the encryption rate is 256 bit by default. That is the most secure protocol, and the one we recommend. PPTP on the other hand, is an older protocol, and not very secure.
On the support side, HideMyAss provides several different ways of answering questions. They have a live chat feature that is available 24/7, a phone number, a request form, and a knowledge base with helpful tutorials as well as videos to help you get everything set up. In dealing with the chat feature, we found it convenient to use their facebook login option, instead of entering in our info. Some would consider that to be a lazy choice, but it is quite effective. That is something we have not seen with other providers.
HideMyAss supports all major operating systems, and has video and knowledge base guides for each one. Here are the clients that HMA offers.
- Windows – XP or newer
- Mac OS X 10.5 or newer
Please note, the VPN service may be used on DD-WRT and Tomato routers. There are manual set up guides for others, and they may be found on HMA’s website.
Sign Up Process
HMA is well seasoned in the VPN industry, and makes it very easy to sign up for their service. The first step for you is to pick what plan you want. We again recommend the 12 month plan, because it is the most cost effective. It is nice to see that HideMyAss requires a minimal amount of information in getting started. They only require an email address and payment information. Some providers ask for more. They conveniently combine sign up and payment info in the same field, so you would not even have to go to a second page.
Simply pick a payment method, type in your email, and click the pay now button. That is all that is required to get started. After that, choose a user name and password and you are ready to use the service.
How to Use HideMyAss for Desktop
Though HMA has easy to use software, we will demonstrate how to use the service by using the Windows client. After installing, you will see the icon of the HMA donkey on your screen. Begin by clicking that.That will open a starting console screen that looks like this.
- From here, enter your user name and password. Under the Quick VPN location change field, you may set your default location, or you may choose different server groups like the fastest servers in your area. Clicking the country selection tab will give you those options, if you do not want to use the drop down box. Since the protocol field is already set to OpenVPN, there is no need to make a change.
- In the upper right hand corner, click the key button that says “Connect to VPN”.
- After doing that, the red X in the upper right hand corner turns into a green check mark, just as we displayed under features section of our review. Where the connect to VPN button was located now reads Disconnect VPN. If you do not want the console up, just locate the yellow circle with the blue “h” in your system tray, right click, and you may click connect, disconnect, or you may change your IP address.
You may also contact support from the main console, by live chat, email, the knowledge base, or even forums. For OS X users, you may expect a similar procedure, and if you have questions, please investigate the guide on the HideMyAss website.
How to Use HideMyAss for Mobile
The mobile apps for HMA are also very similar on Android and iOS, but we will use the Android operating system to demonstrate.
- Begin by going to the Google Play store, and searching for HideMyAss.
- As soon as it is installed, open the app, and enter your user name and password.
- Push the go button, and it will bring you to the mobile console.
- From that point, you can choose the server, select a favorite server, or search for a server.
- As soon as you connect, click on the verify IP address button. This will ensure that you are connected to the server you wish to be.
- Press the connect button, and enjoy the service.
If you have any issues or questions, clicking the 3 dots in the top right hand corner will bring up helpful troubleshooting guides. Additionally there are still the ones on the website.
Favorite features for HideMyAss:
- Locations in most of the world’s countries
- IP Change and binding features
- Easy to use interfaces
- Stand alone programs for the major operating systems
- Good user and video guides
- 30 day money back guarantee
Thoughts to make HideMyAss better:
- Lower the monthly cost
- Work towards faster speeds
In our final thoughts of this review, HMA is an industry veteran, the graphics are very polished, and their interfaces are easy to use. Their monthly cost is slightly higher than some providers, but the 12 month discount makes the cost more reasonable. They have some great features we really liked, such as the IP binding feature, the IP address changer, and their speed guide. HideMyAss offers new users a very generous 30 day money back guarantee, which is more than enough time to test the service, and make a good decision.