HideMyAss Review: A Solid VPN with One Fatal Flaw

Last updated: November 24, 2021

Owned by veteran internet security firm Avast, the personality-filled HideMyAss offers a smooth, seamless VPN service backed by over 910 fast servers throughout the world. Complete with a 30-day money-back guarantee, HMA VPN is an affordable and risk-free way to secure yourself and your privacy with a VPN.

However, many users haven’t been so keen to adopt HideMyAss in recent years. In 2011, HideMyAss was at the center of a privacy scandal where the company violated its own privacy policy by providing the FBI with VPN user data. Though the company’s heart was in the right place, its reputation has continued to suffer.

But is HideMyAss still worth trying? With an updated privacy policy and a robust network of secure servers, it’s still a popular VPN company for a reason. Read on to learn more as we dive deep into the details of one of the world’s most widely used VPNs.

Key features: HideMyAss review

HideMyAssKey Features Table

HideMyAss VPN offers users a range of features similar to those found in other VPNs. However, some of the key features in our review were either noticeably absent or simply not up to snuff.

For starters, HMA VPN offers users up to five simultaneous connections. While that’s probably more than enough for even the most advanced VPN users, larger networks with more users and/or more devices might feel limited by this capacity — especially with other leading VPNs offering at least this amount, if not double or more. Users can double this amount by paying extra, though the resulting fees are close to those of more capable VPNs. As a result, HideMyAss is likely best for one or two users with limited devices.

HideMyAss VPN is also compatible with most major operating systems, including iOS and Android for mobile users. Android users can also use HideMyAss with Android TV, streaming directly to their Android devices. For the truly tech-savvy, HideMyAss is also directly compatible with most routers.

Security features leave some things to be desired, however. While HideMyAss offers an Internet kill switch and split tunneling, it doesn’t offer the double-hopping or obfuscation features that more privacy-minded users might want.

HideMyAss’s biggest drawback is its United Kingdom jurisdiction. As we’ll explore later in our review, the United Kingdom isn’t a safe jurisdiction, meaning that VPN user data and privacy are at risk of government spying and seizure. This jurisdiction is what led to the LulzSec privacy incident in 2011.

Summary: HideMyAss is a solid VPN and offers many of the same key features as other leading providers. However, its limited security features and UK jurisdiction could pose some major privacy concerns for users.

Unblocking features: HideMyAss review

Streaming Service / Website
Netflix US, UK (Sometimes)
Hulu Yes
Amazon Prime Video Yes (Sometimes)
Disney+ Yes
BBC iPlayer Yes
Channel 4 No
Sky Go No
ITV Yes
Great Firewall of China Yes (Sometimes)

Many early Internet users may remember using HideMyAss’s free proxy to unblock websites and other online resources while using restricted networks. As a VPN service, HideMyAss continues to offer this feature but on a less-than-impressive scale.

User experiences were mixed in our review. While many users could unblock Netflix, they could only do so on U.S. servers— if at all. While Netflix UK poses no problems given HideMyAss’s UK jurisdiction, accessing Netflix for other countries is less reliable.

Thankfully, users can fully unblock Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. HMA VPN is also able to unblock the notoriously strong restrictions of BBC iPlayer.

Unfortunately, HideMyAss can’t access Channel 4 and Sky Go at the time of writing. Further, while the HideMyAss VPN is usually able to block the Chinese firewall, results are mixed when connecting from mainland China. One likely reason for this is that the firewall itself blocks HideMyAss’s URLs.

While many users report decent and reliable performance using HideMyAss in China, it may require a few more workarounds than other VPNs.

Summary: Though HideMyAss can unblock most major streaming services, its unblocking capabilities are limited compared to other major competitors like ExpressVPN or NordVPN. Users connecting from China also might have a harder time.

Servers and performance: HideMyAss review

Performance Factor
Servers 910+
Countries 280+
Average Speed(s) Varies (30.6 Mbps from US)

HideMyAss boasts over 910 servers in 280 locations. Though other VPNs may offer more servers, HideMyAss’s variety of countries and VPN server locations are (literally) world-class. As a bonus, the VPN server list is pre-sorted based on best performances, and there are even dedicated servers for video streaming.

HideMyAss List of Servers

Switching between servers on HideMyAss was probably the fastest and smoothest we’ve experienced for any VPN. While our VPN connection speed did drop, we still achieved the respectable speeds shown in the speed test screenshots below.

Speed test information with HideMyAss VPN on

With HideMyAss on, a speed test resulted in a download speed of 30.6 Mbps compared to 64.47 Mbps (with 25Mbps upload speed) running a speed test with the VPN off. While this is almost half the speed we had when not connected, it was still fast enough for most uses. However, users with slower connections may beg to differ.

Speed test information with HideMyAss VPN off

Summary: Despite having fewer servers than other leading VPNs, HideMyAss still offers an excellent variety of servers and pretty decent speeds for already fast connections. However, slower connections may find the more than 50% speed dropoff to be crippling.

Security features: HideMyAss review

Security Feature
VPN Protocols OpenVPN, LT2P, PPTP, IPSec
Data Encryption AES-256
Control Channel Encryption 3DES, AES 256, RC5, 256 bit
App Security Killswitch
DNS Private DNS (OpenVPN)
Split Tunneling Yes
Double Hop No
Obfuscation No

HideMyAss uses super-strong AES 256-bit encryption — the same standard used by the U.S. government to protect classified information. Combined with Cisco’s OpenVPN DNS servers, HideMyAss was virtually leak-proof in our review, as verified by tests from dnsleaktest.com, shown below.

Complete test results form DNSLeakTest.com showing that the VPN had no DNS leaks.

In other words, HideMyAss truly does (ahem) hide your ass.

While HideMyAss uses OpenVPN / UDP as its default VPN protocol, users can also switch to OpenVPN / TCP, L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec. Though switching is easy, performance may vary depending on the user’s choice of protocol.

HideMyAss’s app security is largely reliant on a smart kill switch that closes your connection should the VPN disconnect. While many other VPNs also have a killswitch, HideMyAss has the unique feature of allowing you to select specific apps to kill or keep running, rather than just shutting everything down.

Other common security features are somewhat lacking, however. While you can use the split tunneling feature to choose which apps use the VPN, HideMyAss isn’t capable of double hops or obfuscation. As a result, some users may not be able to secure their privacy or hide their activity as well as they’d like.

Summary: HideMyAss’s strong encryption, range of VPN protocols, and basic security features put it on par with other leading VPNs. However, a lack of double-hopping and obfuscation is a massive downside for privacy-minded users.

Privacy and torrenting: HideMyAss review

Privacy Feature
Activity Logs Yes
Connection Logs Yes
Anonymous Payment No
Safe Jurisdiction No (United Kingdom)
Torrenting Supported No
Dedicated P2P Servers No
DNS Leak Protection Yes

Regarding privacy, HideMyAss has a notoriously checkered past.

In 2011, the VPN provider came under fire from Privacy International for releasing a user’s VPN data to the FBI. Although the release resulted from a court order, it spurred massive concerns over VPN user privacy and HMA VPN itself.

Though HideMyAss has since updated its logging and privacy policies, it remains somewhat broad.

A look at its privacy policy page confirms that it collects the following VPN user data:

  • A subnet of your IP address (HMA VPN claims to hide the last octet)
  • The IP address the VPN assigns you
  • A timestamp of every one of your sessions
  • The amount of bandwidth you used during the session

HideMyAss keeps this data for up to three months.

While not as private as some users would like, HideMyAss’s policy is at least very upfront about what information it collects and how the company uses it. The privacy policy also goes on to state that:

“Privax does NOT store the originating IP addresses of our users when connected to our VPN service, and thus cannot identify users when provided the IP address of one of our servers… We are also completely unable to disclose any information about the applications people use, the services they employ, or the websites they visit while using our VPN. We simply do NOT store this information.”

Unfortunately, neither this statement nor HideMyAss’s updated policies and audit procedures have been enough to put potential users entirely at ease. Plus, with an “unsafe” jurisdiction in the United Kingdom, users can’t be entirely certain that their data is safe from seizure.

That’s why it’s often better to go with a service like ExpressVPN, which has an iron-clad privacy policy and jurisdiction in the privacy-centric British Virgin Islands.

Summary: Despite updated privacy policies and promises of anonymity, HideMyAss simply isn’t as private as other VPNs. As a result, more privacy-minded users should look elsewhere.

Device compatibility: HideMyAss review

Platform / Browser
OS Compatibility Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV
Browser Compatibility Chrome, Firefox (NOT Safari)
Router Compatibility Asus routers and flashrouters; Netgear flashrouters; Linksys flashrouters

HideMyAss is compatible with most major operating systems for both desktop and mobile devices, including Android TV. You can also download browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but not Safari.

Want to connect your Apple TV, PS3, PS4, or another device to the HMA VPN? While there’s no native app for them, chances are you’ll be able to do this manually.

HideMyAss is also compatible with several routers. The on-site “Getting Started” section suggests running a manual installation on a compatible router and connecting your device to that router.

HideMyAss’s list of recommended routers includes:

  • Asus RT-N16, RT-N18U, RT-N66U, RT-AC66U, RT-AC68U, RT-AC87U, and RT-AC3200 running stock firmware
  • Pre-configured routers from Flashrouters. These include:
    • Netgear R7800 Nighthawk X4S with DD-WRT
    • Netgear R6400 V2 DD-WRT
    • Asus RT-AC5300
    • Linksys WRT3200ACM DD-WRT

Summary: HideMyAss is highly compatible with most operating systems, browsers, and routers. However, the browser extension is currently unavailable for Safari users.

User interface and support: HideMyAss review

Interface / Support Feature
Easy User Interface Yes
Automatic Setup Yes
Server Location Selection Yes
Mobile-Friendly Yes
Extra Settings Options Yes
Live Chat Yes
Email Support Yes
User Guides and Tutorials Yes
Jack the Donkey Yes

One of HideMyAss’s standout features is its quirky personality, embodied by Jack the Donkey.

Jack comes out in full force in customer relations and support, where he’s also the voice — and purported author — of the HideMyAss blog. The blog includes news and plenty of articles on privacy, online freedom, and free access to the internet.

With technical support, it’s all business. The support center’s main page has three sections for ease of reference: Getting Started, Knowledge Base, and Community.

Screenshot of HideMyAss support page

The Community section is a surprisingly active forum where HMA VPN users, support staff, and tech enthusiasts are always available for help and advice. The Getting Started and Knowledge Base sections are clear and straightforward, although the formatting is “dense” in some areas.

If you’d rather speak to a human (and not a donkey), customer support is available 24/7, 365 days a year. You can also submit a support ticket or contact a support specialist via email or live chat.

Summary: HideMyAss provides plenty of charm and personality with its Jack the Donkey persona. Even users who aren’t sold on the schtick will enjoy the live support, robust support documentation, and helpful community.

Pricing: HideMyAss review

Subscription Period
1 Month Price $11.99/mo
6 Month Price $8.99/mo (25% off)
1 Year Price $4.99/mo (58% off)
2 Year Price $4.99/mo (58% off)
3 Year Price $2.99/mo (75% off)
Money-Back Guarantee Yes
Anonymous Payment No

HideMyAss has five plans: A rolling monthly plan, a 6-month plan, a 12-month plan, a 24-month plan, and a 36-month plan.

While the rolling monthly rate is just about the average for most VPNs, longer subscription periods get progressively cheaper. Users who want more simultaneous connections can also pay an additional monthly premium.

As you’d expect, the 36-month plan is the best value, offering 75% off the usual price. The 24-month and 12-month plans both save 42%. Mobile users can also try the service for seven days free of charge. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Summary: HideMyAss’s pricing is as affordable as most other VPNs with longer subscription periods. It offers a very good value.

Given HideMyAss’s privacy controversies, many users are curious about how well it stacks up to other leading VPNs on the market. Before you decide on a VPN, take a look at these comparisons so you can make the right choice.

ExpressVPN

One of the largest and most popular VPNs on the market, ExpressVPN boasts over 3,000 servers in over 90 countries. Despite covering fewer countries than HideMyAss, ExpressVPN’s massive number of servers and enhanced security tools provide superior performance.

ExpressVPN and HideMyAss share a few common features. Both support up to five simultaneous connections, and both use strong AES 256-bit encryption to secure your data.

HMA VPN might have the advantage of supporting even more simultaneous connections at an extra cost. However, when it comes to privacy, ExpressVPN wins by a long shot.

With a safe jurisdiction and a strict no-log policy, ExpressVPN is ideal for privacy-minded users. Although this comes at a slight premium, with a one-month plan starting at $12.95, you can enjoy their quality features and more savings with their 15-month plan!

Learn more in our ExpressVPN review.

Verdict: ExpressVPN offers far more capable and privacy-centric solutions compared to HMA VPN. While it’s offered at a slight premium, users can take advantage of special discounts to save even more on ExpressVPN.

Surfshark

With over 3,200 servers in 65 countries, Surfshark offers similar premium performance to ExpressVPN while also beating HideMyAss’s VPN server numbers. Notoriously easy to use, Surfshark users enjoy a simple user interface and excellent security features.

Surfshark’s greatest benefit is its unlimited number of simultaneous connections. Backed by the same AES 256-bit encryption as HMA VPN and other VPNs, Surfshark is an excellent solution for those with many devices. Longer subscriptions are also similarly priced to HideMyAss’s plans.

Learn more in our Surfshark review.

Verdict: Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections are invaluable for users with many devices. While some users report slower performance, Surfshark’s pricing and security features can go head-to-head with the best.

NordVPN

With more servers than any other VPN covered here, NordVPN boasts a whopping 5,500 servers in 60 countries. This large number has helped guarantee NordVPN’s renowned performance and speed, with most users reporting speeds of 90+ Mbps. That’s almost triple what you can get with HMA VPN.

Like ExpressVPN and Surfshark, NordVPN also exists in a safe jurisdiction. That makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a great combination of privacy, security, and performance in their VPN provider.

Learn more in our NordVPN review.

Verdict: NordVPN is an excellent choice. Despite being slightly more expensive than other VPNs, its pricing is still less expensive than HideMyAss.

Is HideMyAss still worth it?

Though HideMyAss is a perfectly good VPN, it simply can’t match the performance and value of most other leading VPNs on the market. Combined with its chequered privacy history and unsafe jurisdiction, we can’t endorse HideMyAss as a recommended VPN service provider at the time of writing. Especially not over some heavy hitters like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

However, some users may still prefer HideMyAss for its near-unparalleled variety of server locations, Android app compatibility, and, lest we forget, Jack the Donkey. Even so, we’d still recommend any of our best VPNs over HMA VPN.

To learn more about some of the heavy hitters in the VPN world, check out our VPN reviews page.

Published on: March 4, 2021