Voted as the "Best VPN service 2012", HideMyAss (HMA) is unarguably the most popular personal VPN on the market. Compared with other VPN services, it offers the broadest VPN server coverage, the best bang for your buck and the most comprehensive VPN software – HMA! Pro VPN.
Recently, however, HideMyAss has sparked a lot of discussions about its speed, customer support and its fiercely debated logging policy. Unfortunately many Hidemyass reviews don't reliably address any of these points because they are either biased, factually inaccurate or overly promotional.
In this article, I will tell you the five most important aspects about HMA you should be aware of before signing up. I will explain what makes this UK-based service so popular and how its logging policy may affect you based on our lab test results and my own experiences.
I hope this information will give you a good understanding of whether you should use HideMyAss.
Broadest VPN Coverage
One of the main reasons HideMyAss is popular is because it has the broadest VPN server coverage on the market today. Consisting of 374 VPN servers located in 53 countries with over 44,000 IP addresses, its extensive geographic coverage offers you two major benefits: speed and increased anonymity.
The speed of your VPN connection is be influenced by many factors such as network congestion, server load, your physical distance from a server and so on. Of all these factors, your distance from the server is the most important.
Generally speaking the closer you are to the server the faster your connection. Because HideMyAss runs a large number of VPN servers around the world, you can always find a server nearby with a fast connection.
To find the fastest servers near you, use the "Speed guide" feature in the HMA! Pro VPN software, which can locate the fastest, and least loaded VPN server for you.
Tip: Make sure to check out server locations near you.
With more than 44,000 IP addresses to choose from, you can maximize your anonymity, security by changing your IP address randomly, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to track you. HideMyAss makes rotating your IP address easy by allowing you to automate the process using the HMA Pro VPN software.
With servers in 53 countries you can virtually live in any of those countries and enjoy their local, often region restricted, content. For instance, to access Hulu from U.K., you connect to a HideMyAss VPN server in the U.S. which provides you with an American IP address and voila, there you go.
Of all the VPN services (PureVPN, VPN4ALL, StrongVPN etc…) we have tested, HideMyAss offers the best value and the simplest pricing options. Instead of offering Deluxe, Premium, Mobile, Unlimited packages like many other VPN providers do, HMA offers one plan with discounts based on subscription length. No matter if you choose 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year, you get the same features and the same services. The only difference is you save a lot more on a longer subscription.
Tip: You save the most by choosing the 1 year subscribtion.
Many VPN service providers will charge more if you exceed your allocated bandwidth and many require you to purchase a separate account for your mobile device such as your iPhone. In contrast, HideMyAss offers every customer unlimited data transfer and the ability to simultaneously connect two devices. I'm using it on my iPhone and also installed it on my router to protect all my computers at home, all with just one account.
Powerful VPN Software
Packed with advanced features, HMA! Pro VPN is the most powerful personal VPN software on the market. HMA! Pro VPN can be installed on Mac, Windows and there is an Alpha version for Linux.
Though you can use HideMyAss without their software, I recommend you install it should you need some of the advanced features it offers such as: Speed guide, Load balancing, Scheduled IP changes, Secure IP bind. Following are the top 3 notable features you should know.
Speed is what VPN users care about the most. The "Speed guide" feature in HMA! Pro VPN can check the connection speed to each VPN server and allows you to save the fastest ones as favorites for later use.
Scheduled IP Changes
HMA! Pro VPN allows you to put "IP address changes" on auto pilot. You can schedule IP address changes at any given interval, for example every 10 minutes. By changing your IP periodically, you increase your anonymity making it harder to track you.
Secure IP Bind
The "Secure IP bind" feature allows you specify what applications must use VPN in order to be allowed to access the Internet. You can use this feature to prevent a program such as uTorrent from accessing the Internet in the event your VPN gets disconnected.
If you use BitTorrent, it's a good idea to apply the "Secure IP bind" to your the BitTorrent software to ensure you're only downloading when HideMyAss is connected and your original IP is hidden.
Though "Secure IP bind" only works on Windows, you can archive similar functionality on a Mac using Firewall software. In a nutshell, "Secure IP bind" is just a set of (firewall) rules which regulate your network traffic.
To help you see how HMA! Pro VPN works, I have created a short video to give you a tour of it.
No HideMyAss review would be complete without addressing the logging issue. So what happened? In 2011, the FBI arrested Cody Kretsinger, a computer hacker involved in hacking Sony Pictures. HideMyAss provided information (access logs) after received a court order (something similar to a subpeona in the US) forcing them to comply. For details of the case, check out: Can a VPN Offer 100% Anonymity?)
To choose the best VPN that serves your needs it is important to clearly understand the logging issue, because there is more to it than meets the eye. Here's why: All network servers have the ability to automatically generate logs, that is, write events to a file (one or more) about their activity, most of it mundane and irrelevant to all but the network administrator, some of it relevant because it allows for the identification of individual users and their activity.
Non-logging VPN providers choose to turn this ability off, others overwrite those log files immediately, leaving no trace of those logs, and logging providers retain log files for a period of days to years.
Some VPN providers are required by law to retain data about their customers, i.e. the European Union passed a data retention directive which most EU countries choose to comply with while courts in other EU countries ruled the directive unconstitutional because of privacy concerns. Interestingly the US currently doesn't legally require any data retention.
Logically a VPN provider can only supply logs to law enforcement if they have them, but having logs doesn't simultaneously mean easy access. Access depends on the privacy laws of the country the VPN provider operates in.
Because all network servers have the ability to auto-generate logs, it would be possible for law enforcement to require a non-logging VPN provider to keep logs and prohibiting the provider from telling its customers about it using what is called a "gag order." Unless a VPN provider would be willing to shut down their business before complying with those proceedings (something very few providers openly state) your anonymity would still not be 100% guaranteed, logging or not.
HideMyAss keeps logs, so if that is a show-stopper for you, don't sign up with HMA. But unless a VPN provider is willing to defend its customers privacy and anonymity to the extend of going out of business over the issue, the difference between logging and non-logging VPN providers is merely the degree of difficulty and cost involved to get access to a customer's Internet activities.
For most people the main reason to use a VPN is to unblock region restricted content, to secure their Internet traffic at Wi-Fi hotspots and to hide their activity from their ISPs, having few reason to worry about their VPN provider's logs in the first place. However, knowing a VPN provider's logging policies is an important part of the purchase decision. I sent a quick email to HideMyAss' support asking about their logging policy and got the following response:
- Q: Do you keep any logs and for how long?
I have been using HideMyAss for the past 3 years and I am satisfied with their customer support. They responded to my last support inquiries in less than 24 hours. However, I've heard complaints about slow responses of their support team from others.
My guess is, as they are expanding rapidly, their support team is constantly trying to catch up with the growing demand for support. Even though HideMyass provides support through email, live chat, forums and social media, not all customers are satisfied. Fortunately, Danvers Baillieu, the Chief Operating Officer of HMA, has made a promised to improve their customer support.
We understand that our support has recently not been up to the standard it should be and that in many cases replies have taken far too long. We have been working behind the scenes to address this and have recently recruited more support staff, who are currently undergoing training. We are also making improvements to our software and our site overall which we believe will reduce the number of unnecessary tickets. I can only apologize for your bad experiences to date, but would like you to be assured that radical improvements are imminent: live chat will be available more often and we will be introducing telephone support as well.
At the moment, we don't have any update on this issue. We hope HideMyAss has brought its support back up to standards. If you have any updates, please let us know.
Is HideMyAss for You?
First consider your needs before choosing any VPN. Ask yourself "What will I be using the VPN for? Am I using it to increase my anonymity and privacy, to access restricted content, or to improve my online safety?" Because HideMyAss keeps logs, choose a no log VPN if anonymity is important to you.
If you plan to use a VPN for unrestricted and uncensored access such as watching another country's TV programs online, consider signing up with HideMyAss. Its extensive VPN server coverage, large pool of IP addresses, and feature-packed HMA! Pro VPN software make HideMyAss compare favorably to other VPN services. Its competitive prices and the ability to connect with two devices concurrently makes their offer very hard to beat.
5 Things You Must Know About HideMyAss was last modified on