With the abundance of hackers, identity thieves, and sketchy companies looking to make a quick buck by selling your data prowling the internet today, online privacy and digital security have never been more important.
Smart internet users like yourself are constantly looking for better ways to protect themselves online, and many are turning to virtual private networks — or VPNs — to shore up their defenses against prying eyes and sticky fingers.
Did You Know: VPNs work by creating a secure tunnel from your computer to the website you want to access. No one can access that tunnel or see what’s passing back and forth through it.
In this review, we’re going to look at one of the largest VPN services on earth and unpack some of its most unique features. We’ve spent a lot of time working with this VPN and we can say with confidence, they’re going to “Hide Your Ass.”
The cheekily named Hide My Ass — or HMA if there are sensitive ears around — was founded in 2005 by a 16-year-old student by the name of Jack Cator. The resourceful youth used open-source coding to architect the service in order to get around restrictions on his school’s network which blocked access to video games and music.1 How’s that for an origin story?
The company has since grown to what they say is the largest VPN network in the world. We think that kinda depends on how you’re measuring things, but the fact of the matter is HMA operates more than 1,070 servers across the globe that allows you more than 290 locations to choose from in more than 210 countries. HMA is quite literally globe-spanning.
But before we get too deep into HMA’s services and functionalities, though, let’s take a quick look at their pros and cons.
This is a pretty solid list in our experience, and the pros definitely outweigh the cons here. But this begs the next all-important question — how much is all of this going to cost?
|5 Connections||7 Day||Free|
|5 Connections||12 Months||$4.99 Per Month|
|5 Connections||36 Months||$2.99 Per Month|
|10 Connections||12 Months||$7.99 Per Month|
|10 Connections||24 Months||$6.99 Per Month|
|10 Connections||36 Months||$5.99 Per Month|
I go into this more in our guide to HMA’s pricing and plans, but as you can see, HMA offers two tiers of service — up to five simultaneous connections and up to 10 simultaneous connections. From there, HMA’s subscriptions are split up by duration. The longer your subscription, the less you’re going to pay per month. The longest duration gives you the best deal.
Pretty standard stuff here, and really reasonable prices for what you’re getting. They aren’t the cheapest service out there, and they aren’t the most expensive, either. For context, HMA sits comfortably on the more affordable end of the “reasonable” spectrum. No month-to-month option, though. That’s a little disappointing.
But overall, we’ve got a great list of features for an affordable price — let’s get into our full experience with HMA!
We decided to go with the five connection, seven-day free trial to get our hands around HMA’s functionalities and service. There weren’t any real surprises while we were securing our plan and setting up our account — everything was fairly straightforward.
We started by entering our credit card information, but we want to point something out here: unlike many VPN companies, HMA does not keep records of your credit card information. All the payment stuff is handled by 2Checkout, a payment card industry data security standard-compliant third party that facilitates transactions.2 This is just a fancy-pants way of saying HMA has your security and privacy in mind right off the bat.
Did You Know: Using a no-log VPN is typically all the privacy assurance you’ll need as there is no link between your traffic and account information. However, some privacy hawks point to account creation as a weak link in a VPNs security posture. These folks typically use cryptocurrency to add a layer of anonymity to their purchases.3
Also, something else to keep in mind if you’re trying out HMA using the seven-day free trial period: you need to cancel the account before your time is up. If you don’t, you’ll automatically be charged $83.88 — the full price of a 12-month, five-connection subscription.
Once we’d entered our payment information, we were asked to create and verify our account. Again, no big surprises here. They do keep track of your email address, but account data cannot be paired with activity usage. Good news for folks primarily concerned with privacy.
Once that was done, we clicked over to the installation files page and downloaded the software onto our computer. Again — no big hoops to jump through here. It was all smooth sailing.
The installation process only took a minute or two, and once it was done, we were prompted to enter our account information. This was simple; it was just our email address and the password we just created.
And when we were done with that, we were off to the races! Let’s take a look now at how HMA functions on a day-to-day basis.
The first thing we noticed when we fired up HMA for the first time was that we were given a quick tutorial. We always love to see this, and HMA’s introductory walk-through is a great way to help folks who may have never used a VPN in their lives get their feet wet. It’s not super in-depth, but it does show you how to connect and where all the critical features are. Bonus points for HMA here.
So out of the box, HMA VPN is configured to connect you to the fastest server available based on your location — they call this Lightning Connect. We flipped the switch and we were connected to the internet using the VPN, masking our IP address, keeping us safe and protected.
But there are a few other features available that we found pretty handy in our day-to-day operations. For one, you can shuffle the IP address you’re connecting through if you’re having trouble getting things to load. This is helpful since you get to avoid disconnecting from the VPN and manually selecting another server.
Did You Know: There are four types of IP addresses — public, private, static, and dynamic, and there are two versions of these four types — IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 addresses are 32 bits long, and IPv6 addresses are 128.4
We also really loved how their server list was organized. It’s broken down by continent, and further refined by country. This is really helpful if you’re trying to access something unique to a specific country.
You can also “favorite” servers for faster connection. See the little heart in the image above? Clicking that automatically moves that server to your favorite list. Finally, at the bottom of the list, we found servers optimized for streaming and P2P file sharing — this is really helpful functionality for folks who are using a VPN for these specific purposes.
We were also really happy to find that our performance hardly suffered while using the HMA VPN. In an anecdotal sense, we noticed no significant slowdowns in our day-to-day browsing and streaming, and when we tested our standard and VPN connections side by side, the differences weren’t super noticeable. Here’s a peek at what we found …
Something to note though: sometimes when we used the “Lightning Connect” feature, we were actually able to achieve faster speeds by manually selecting a server in closer proximity to us. Keep in mind, however, these were all point-in-time tests performed on free-to-use online tools. It’s not a super exact science. That said — overall — we were really happy with HMA’s day-to-day performance.
To really get a sense of what it’s like using HMA VPN, check out this short video we made…
FYI: Just because HMA says a server is located in a specific country, that might not necessarily be the case. Many are virtual servers that use IP addresses that match locations in other countries.
If you want to really be sure you’re on the fastest connection, you can use HMA’s speed test function. This allows you to compare servers based on your physical proximity to them to see which would have the best connection speeds. If you’re looking to make sure your performance is really dialed in, this is how you can do exactly that.
One final thought on the day-to-day of HMA — we loved the user-friendly UI. Similar to what I saw when we reviewed Cyberghost, it’s very easy to navigate. Neither service assumes you’ve got a computer science Ph.D., and they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. For example: when you connect, their ever-present donkey mascot named Jack (get it?) puts on a new disguise. We think our favorite was man-bunned and bearded hipster Jack, but that’s just us.
So that’s about all there is to say on HMA’s day-to-day functionality. So let’s dig a little deeper and see what we can do with some of these advanced functions.
So the first place you’re going to want to look if you’re wanting to poke around a little further is by clicking the “more” tab in the dashboard. This gives you access to some of the cooler features and tools. You’re going to find that speed test functionality we mentioned earlier, and you’re also going to find a really important item we always recommend to anyone looking for a VPN — the kill switch.
Your kill switch is going to automatically terminate your internet connection if your VPN service is interrupted for whatever reason. This is pretty important if you’re planning on torrenting, or if you want to make sure your IP address is never inadvertently exposed for any reason. Super helpful privacy tool here, and we recommend always keeping it on.
If you want to go deeper still, we’re with ya. Click on the settings tab at the top to pull up even more knobs and buttons to fiddle with. Under the “general” category you can make sure HMA will open and engage upon startup, and you can also toggle notifications on and off.
Under privacy, we get a little more complicated. Here you can turn on the IP shuffle function, which will randomize your address periodically to make it harder to pin down your location. You can set your shuffle to occur from every half-hour to every day, but make sure the kill switch is turned on, or you run the risk of becoming exposed while you’re switching over!
And that’s about it! Wait … that’s about it?
We were a little surprised that we couldn’t change which protocols we were using, and we didn’t find any location-based protections. Some services really let you dig deep here. For example, when we reviewed NordVPN, there were quite a few bells and whistles like Dedicated IP addresses and server obfuscation that can help prevent location-based IP protocol detection. That said – you kind of get what you pay for in this industry. Check out my guide to NordVPN’s pricing and features to see what we mean.
All that’s really left to point out with HMA is their split tunneling functionality, which allows some traffic to route through the VPN while other traffic connects traditionally. However, this function is only supported on Android.
FYI: If you’re using a Windows or Android device, HMA uses the OpenVPN protocol. If you’re on macOS or iOS devices, you’re going to be using IKEv2. Both are modern protocols known for their speed and security.5
So before we get to the final verdict on HMA, we did want to point out one last thing — the VPN works exceptionally well on mobile devices.
The HMA mobile app is almost a one-to-one copy of the desktop version. That means the benefits of the simple, user-friendly UI translate well, but you’re also not going to have a whole lot of access to the VPN’s inner workings. Not a super big deal for most people sitting around at the coffee shop, but if you want levers to pull and buttons to push, you might be left wanting.
We do really like the interface, though, and the access to the same number of servers on your phone as you have on your desktop is pretty impressive. It’s pretty amazing to think that our silly Facebook comments are bouncing off satellites and beaming through servers halfway around the world before making our friends laugh. Ah, the future.
So that’s that! That’s pretty much all there is to say about HMA. So what’s our conclusion here?
HMA VPN is a great entry-level VPN. It’s got a pretty solid features list and the price is reasonable. Its day-to-day functionality is pretty bullet- (and idiot-) proof, and it’s hard to criticize their performance. We also love that they prioritize streaming and P2P file sharing. For most folks, you’re going to do just fine with HMA.
That said, if you’re someone who travels often to places with rigorous internet censorship, you might look elsewhere. HMA doesn’t offer the location-specific protections that we found when we analyzed Surfshark, which can mask VPN protocol traffic from oppressive governments. It also doesn’t have the customizability we found when we reviewed IPVanish, which really let us tinker around under the hood. If you’re interested, you can check out our guide to IPVanish’s pricing and plans, or you can review our breakdown of Surfshark’s packages.
At the end of the day, HMA is a smart option for everyday folks looking to start working with a VPN; however, if you’re looking for super advanced functionality or specific features, it might not be right for you. With that in mind, though, we absolutely recommend HMA VPN as a great all-around service and one that makes using a VPN a little more fun.
With the longest subscription durations, HMA costs $2.99 per month for five devices and $5.99 for 10 devices.
HMA uses OpenVPN protocol for Windows and Android devices, and IKEv2 for macOS and iOS systems.
HMA is supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems as well as Apple and Android TV, PlayStation, and Xbox.
Yes, HMA will terminate your internet connection if your VPN service is interrupted.
Yes, HMA actually has dedicated servers optimized for streaming and P2P file sharing.
Shadbolt, P. (2015, May 17). How misbehaving at school made one man a multimillionaire. BBC News.
Mustoe, L. (2020, September 29). What is PCI Compliance? Digital Guardian.
Perna, A. (2018, December 9). The Safest Ways to Buy a VPN Anonymously. Privacy News Online.
Patrizio, A. (2020, May 8.) IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the Difference? Avast Academy.
Harkness, A. (2019, May 15). 5 Common VPN Protocols Explained. NetMotion Software.
Derek Prall is a VPN and cybersecurity expert with more than seven years of experience in the industry. He has spent thousands of hours researching identity theft protection, VPNs, and other ways to keep safe online. To date, Derek has written nearly 100 comprehensive resources for SafeHome.org. As a professional journalist, he has contributed to reputable publications such as TD Magazine, New Jersey Herald, and many others. Learn more about Derek here