HideMyAss (HMA), one of the leading VPN providers from the UK, offers web proxy and VPN services that allow people to hide their IP addresses, unblock websites, and surf anonymously online. With more than 25, 000 anonymous IP addresses – the largest number offered by any VPN service, HMA compares favorably against other VPN products.
In this article, I will show you the ins and outs that make HMA the most popular VPN service over others like ibVPN, StrongVPN and pureVPN. This is a review article about HideMyAss; If you’re looking for the official HideMyAss website, please click here.
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HideMyAss currently has 343 VPN servers in 53 countries (updated on April 17, 2014), comprising approximately 40,500+ IP addresses. There are 176 servers totaling 22257 IP addresses in the United States of America. New VPN servers and new IP addresses are added regularly. It is important for you to find out how many servers are in your country or in the nearby countries because the closer you are to a VPN server, the faster your connection speed will be. Click here to check out VPN servers located in your area .
Aside from having the largest amount of IP addresses, with HideMyAss, it is easy to gain access to localized content. One such example is using HMA to watch American TV shows and videos from abroad. Say that you’re living in Germany and you want to watch Hulu or Netflix shows from outside of the US. All you have to do is connect to any U.S. VPN server so your online identity will appear to be somewhere in the USA. Another example is using HideMyAss to watch the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
HideMyAss works well with most common protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. HMA VPN servers can be grouped together, by protocol. This gives you the ability to choose VPN servers that support specific protocols within specified countries. This feature makes selecting the best protocol for your situation quite easy. Instead of re-directing you to Wikipedia to read lengthy explanations of what each protocol does, here are my suggestions for how to implement the best protocol for your situation.
I recommend that you use OpenVPN protocol whenever possible. OpenVPN utilizes the OpenSSL libraries for encryption and authentication, providing maximum security. Also, OpenVPN can be configured to run on the same port (443) as HTTPS does, making it possible to run almost any application on it. Although it is not always true, generally speaking, you do get faster speeds with OpenVPN over PPTP or L2TP. If you will be using HideMyAss on mobile devices such as iPhones, you should use L2TP, PPTP or IPSec instead.
Is HideMyAss Fast?
Speed is one of the major factors when assessing any VPN service. One question people ask frequently is “How fast is HideMyAss?”. There is really no single answer to the question. Speed depends on a number of factors – the speed of your connection to the internet, your computer equipment limits, and so on. However, the average ratings from HMA customers is 4 out of 5 on speed. That is a pretty decent score.
Here are my recommendations that will help you speed up your VPN connection.
- Use OpenVPN. In most cases, OpenVPN is not only safer but also faster in comparison to PPTP.
- Employ OpenVPN over UDP. By default, all HMA VPN connections are made through TCP protocol when OpenVPN is used. However, you can achieve faster speed if you make OpenVPN use the UDP protocol instead.
- Customize your DNS server. DNS servers like Google public DNS are usually a lot faster than the ones provided by your ISP. It is possible to significantly increase the speed of your DNS inquiries. However, I personally wouldn’t use Google’s public DNS since your DNS queries will be logged by Google. Instead, I would recommend Comodo Secure DNS. Comodo Secure DNS addresses are:
220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168
How Good Is the Support?
My overall experience dealing with HideMyAss customer support was positive. Shortly after I opened my account, I noticed that I couldn’t send emails from the “Mail” program on my Mac. I e-mailed an inquiry to the support team and within an hour I got a response with detailed instructions on how to resolve the issue. At present, they only offers three types of support: Email support, Live chat, and an online user forum.
The Live chat service operates 12 hours a day and is the quickest way to get answers to your questions, especially for sales related inquiries. However, I found the Email support is a better choice when you need technical or billing support. Emails provide trackable records you can save for future reference. HideMyAss forum is a great way to exchange knowledge and experience with other HMA users. Because it is a public forum, you should avoid posting personal information on it. For guaranteed responses you should always use Email support.
HMA Pro VPN – Where the Magic Happens
HideMyAss’s custom-built HMA Pro VPN is the most innovative and feature-loaded personal VPN software I have ever used. The application is nifty and packed with lots of handy functionalities. Below are just some of the highlights of HMA Pro.
This is the feature I personally use the most. With HMA “Speed guide”, you can do a “ping test” to find the VPN servers with the fastest upload and download speed and save the results in your favorites list. Here is a video that demonstrates how to use this feature to locate the fastest VPN servers to connect to.
Randomly Change IP
With the “HMA Pro VPN” software, you can schedule changes to your IP address at set time intervals. For instance, if you have specified the HideMyAss software to randomly change IP address every 45 minutes, you’ll get a different dynamic IP each time it changes.
Secure IP Bind
In order to prevent an application from connecting when a secure VPN connection is not available, you should use HideMyAss “Secure IP Bind” feature. “Secure IP Bind” stops your applications from going online and reverting back to your original IP address in case you forget to connect to the VPN before running the application or your internet connection is crashed and a new connection is established.
Easier Server Selection
To make finding and choosing VPN servers easy, HideMyAss VPN servers are grouped by protocol and country. HMA Pro VPN software updates itself in the background and automatically downloads the newly added servers to your server list. All this is done transparently, without any interaction from you. You have the option to choose servers from your custom VPN server list, which could be built simply by saving the results of the speed test you performed previously. You also can ask the software to randomly select a VPN server within specific regions, or simply choose 1 out of the 10 closet VPN servers to connect to.
Similar to the load balancing concept used by server farms, there is a load balancing option built into HMA Pro VPN. You can use this handy function to find the least loaded HMA VPN server that has the fewest concurrent user connections within a country or a defined group. The end result is that you will be connected to a VPN server with more resources allocated to your connection for fastest speeds.
Is HideMyAss Easy to Install and Use?
In order to use HideMyAss VPN service, you first need to open a VPN account here. Select a username, enter your email address, choose a password and then click “Continue”. Setting up HideMyAss on Mac or PC is simple and there is no complicated networking configuration at all. All you need is to first download the HMA Pro VPN software, then fill in your username and password and hit “Connect”. Now you can surf the Internet anonymously.
Compatibility & Supported OS
HideMyAss VPN service works with any computers, routers, and mobile devices that support PPTP or OpenVPN. The client software – HMA Pro VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux (The GUI for Linux is under development, for now you can use the command line.). If you plan to use HideMyAss on mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad or any Android device, you don’t need to install any additional software as these devices all come with native software support for commonly used VPN protocols.
Nothing Is Perfect
So far we have discussed the benefits of HideMyAss. Like any other product or service, Hide My Ass has its own limitations. Though we found the support (by email, live chat or user forums) helpful and reasonably efficient, adding live telephone support would make life a lot easier, and result in faster turnover in answering customer inquiries. One thing you need to be aware of is HideMyAss logging policies. HideMyAss does keep certain information on its customers. This has made many VPN users question the level of anonymity the service offers. A simple question sent to HMA “What do you EXACTLY log?” got us the following reply:
“We only log the time you connect and disconnect from our service, we do not monitor any traffic and activity such as what websites you visit and who you talk to“.
Try HideMyAss VPN Yourself
Though many VPN service providers offer trials and money back guarantee policies, HideMyAss is the only one I know that offers a 30 day money back guarantee (trial periods of other VPN offerings are usually 7 to 10 days). HideMyAss puts a lot of time and effort into keeping their pricing attractive. When searching online for “HideMyAss discount”, I discovered this HMA discount. It looked like the same promo they were running during the Christmas season. Following the above link, you will notice the price on this discount page is $6.55/month instead of the $11.52/month that is listed on the Pro VPN page. Well, that’s over 40% savings! At the time of this review, this HideMyAss VPN discount page is still alive. Click here to find out if the discount is still available.
If you are in the market for an affordable, reliable personal VPN with timely support, you should definitely consider HideMyAss. HideMyAss VPN is very easy to install and use. The speed is excellent. The price isn’t the lowest in comparison to other providers, but, when considering the price and the quality of the service you get, it’s obvious that HideMyAss is the best VPN service available for the money!
Image Credit: Ethan Kan