HMA Pro VPN

Hidemyass Pro VPN – A Year Later

In iReview, Virtual Private Network by andre10 Comments

The best service is the one that simply works. HideMyAss(HMA) Pro VPN is just such a service. I have been using HideMyAss Pro VPN for over a year now and hardly ever think about it, and that is exactly what I want from a VPN, or any computer program/service actually.

Setup is simple, just install the software on all of your machines and you are ready to go. When you start the program you will land in the dashboard, an easy-to-use interface to access all settings of HideMyAss. Just enter your username and password and select your preferred IP, then click on connect. Your connection is instantly encrypted and your online identity changed. Your dashboard will update and confirm the new IP address along with your virtual location.

HideMyAss provides Internet Security

I travel a lot, connecting to hundreds of wifi networks around the globe during a typical year. Can you imagine the security and privacy nightmare without VPN? I don’t know who at your friendly coffee shop is bored and just wants to try out Firesheep, and I don’t want to have to worry about shit like that, I have work to do.

It’s got PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols. It’s very simple: just one click and your online identity changes. The software and service work seamlessly together, effectively conceal your online identity and allow you to select any of their 26,000 IP addresses in just about any country to surf anonymously. Using a VPN prevents identity theft and is a safeguard against hacking. HideMyAss Pro VPN, makes it easy to change between your real and other IP addresses. When you stop using the Pro VPN, everything is back to normal. You can change your IP address automatically every few minutes if you want. It works with all major browsers and all wireless networks, home networks, firewalls and router types.

HMA protects my privacy

We live a pretty location independent life, therefore doing most of our business, from writing blog posts to large financial transactions, online. It is bad enough that the US Government feels the urge to spy on its own citizens, yeah visitors too, but the creepy creature next to you in the airport really doesn’t need to know what I am doing online! HMA Pro VPN makes sure he doesn’t!

My email was hacked years ago, not fun. Concerned friends called me early in the morning alerting me to the rather inappropriate sexual content I apparently sent them. Today I must grin thinking about the BS that a**hole sent and it makes for a great story. However, back then it took a lot of effort to regain access to my accounts, not to mention changing ALL of my passwords (before LastPass that is). You might understand that I am a bit paranoid when it comes to privacy and security online.

HideMyAss provides freedom

Many hotels and airports restrict the sites they allow you to access, prohibition comes to mind, WTF? I don’t get it, why is everybody so damn concerned about keeping me safe? Besides who has the time (or interest) to read those long Terms and Conditions they make you agree to every time you want to connect.

I love watching Nikita, yeah, I admit it, and I want to do that while I am stuck in some boring hotel room no matter where I happen to be at the time. It annoys the crap out of me to see that hotels have the nerve to charge customers a small fortune to watch a movie or access the net (well, that one even HMA can’t help with)… We live in the 21st century, one feels like thrown back into those times when my internet connection made those ridiculous beeps to establish a connection…

Performance

My biggest gripe with VPNs in the past has been performance, what good is ‘safe’ when I am painfully crawling along? After a year of using HideMyAss Pro VPN I can say, that this in no longer a concern. At some airports, Charlotte comes to mind (CLT), connecting through the VPN actually improves things, who would have thought?

When connecting the software goes through a list of servers closet to you and selects the server that will offer the best connection. I like the fact that I can change those settings and select other IP locations to fit my needs at that time. HMA usually offers multiple servers at one location and will try to balance the load and advise you where to connect to get better bandwidth. Thus helping you to get the fastest connection possible. Apart from that, there are new servers that are added to their network all the time and the software keeps updating itself.

What other’s are saying

I can rave about HMA all I want, but what are other’s saying? I found plenty of reviews, most of them quite positive. Mohammad N. from Pakistan says, “Over my lengthy test of HideMyAss the VPN performed extremely well. There was one hiccup along the way where I was disconnected from HideMyAss but I reconnected with no problem and got back in business. Your Internet connection isn’t quite as fast when connected to the VPN but it still gets the job done. It really depends on the server you are connected to and how much bandwidth you are trying to push. HideMyAss recommends that you connect to the server closest to your geographic location so the information has to travel the shortest distance possible. Its really crazy when you connect to a foreign server and do a quick Google search. You will see wildly different results come up in the language of the location.” Peter W. from Canada writes, “So far so good, I had a problem setting up on day 1, and got an answer from your support people that suggested a DNS change. Clearly the support people understood the common issues rather than following a script.”

Pricing

IMHO HideMyAss offers very attractive pricing; as usual, the longer period you subscribe the cheaper it gets. Monthly service is $11.52, $50.66 for 6 months and $78.66 for 1 year. I like that they offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so instead of just taking my word for it, you can try HMA PRO VPN for yourself without risk.

HideMyAss and LulzSec case

I did a thorough search to find fault with HMA and didn’t find much. Some people complained their support is hit-or-miss, however, I never encountered that problem myself. Then hackers belong to an Anonymous group named LulzSec hacked into Sony Pictures website in May, 2011 using services from HideMyAss. The attack resulted in the disclosure of more than 100 million Sony customers’ passwords and other personal information. In September 2011, HideMyAss handed over logs to the authorities and right after that one of the alleged LulzSec members was arrested. This is a bigger problem, as anonymity is one of the reason to use their service. To their defense, they received a court order to hand over logs because of suspected illegal activity, ups…. Obviously opinions diverge at this point, some people find that unacceptable other do not. Personally I don’t use a VPN for illegal activities, but to protect my privacy and to get around this outdated concept of censorship. Is it likely to assume that most (if not all) VPN providers will do something similar? yes; after all, they are running a business which is prone to abuse and logging user activity is their only defense. HMA did a great job informing their users openly about the situation, something I highly respect and while I don’t like the fact that they handed over anything, I still feel rather secure using HMA ProVPN.

Summary

After a year of using HMA Pro VPN I am very happy. I can encrypt my Internet connection making it secure, it is inexpensive, easy to use, offers fast connections with servers across many countries, works on most platforms supporting a variety of protocols and has a responsive support team. I did intermittently run into problems sending mail and accessing certain websites. This is less a problem with HideMyAss as it has to do with mail providers and webmasters being overly protective. In most cases briefly disconnecting HMA Pro VPN solves those problems. Be careful with banking websites and PayPal when you are switching countries, their fraud alert system might kick into high gear!

Conclusion

After a year of using HideMyAss, I love it. It is easy to setup, easy to use, reliable, fast… you get the point! If you aren’t using HideMyAss Pro VPN yet, you should definitely give it a whirl, you can’t afford to leave home without it! (But you can leave your AMEX card at home!)

Update (July 2, 2012) :

This post sparked a lot of great comments, which had to do with HideMyAss’ customer support, connection speed and some with IP logging. While I never had any problems with their support, speeds or their logging policy based on my usage of HMA, I felt it was necessary to ask them to address those issues for our readers directly. I love simple solutions, so I quickly crafted an email to support and within 2 days , Pete from HideMyAss’ support answered your questions.

I really like how they approached the issue. Instead of ignoring their customer’s concerns, they used this opportunity to openly address and solve them. That’s the way to take care of customers and the best way to win new ones! I’d like to say Thank You Pete for your help addressing our audience’s problems and concerns! -Andre

Image Credit: Carlos Adampol Galindo

Comments

  1. Which service would you use to get US TV in Europe?
    Does HydeMyAss Server in Germany providing you with US IP address have the same privacy level as a HydeMyAss server in the USA providing you with US IP address

    1. You can use Hidemyass to watch the US TV or streaming content. To watch the U.S. TV in Germany, you’ll need to connect to a VPN server in the U.S.

  2. hidemyass changes my external ip address , but not my internal lan address. Consequently my anonymity isn’t achieved if web sites can see this. Am I missing something with my settings for HMA?

  3. Hi,
    my name is Pete from the HMA-Team.

    @”Hi”:
    I can assure you that the problem you experienced is not related to the security of the VPN server.
    Note that when connecting to a VPN via software, this mostly bypasses your routers firewall and some security settings.
    I suppose you do not have any software firewall installed, and your operating system hasn’t been updated with the latest security bugfixes.
    You should do this to ensure that no one has access to your computer, independent from the fact if you are using a VPN or not.
    In addition, Gmail seems to have caused a great deal of confusion with sending our their warning emails.
    Once you connect to the VPN and access your Gmail account, you do this with a “foreign” IP or at least with a unusual ISP.
    Gmail notices this and sends you a warning email, because for them it look as if someone is trying to get unauthorized access.
    So in most cases the “intruder” is the customer himself.
    Next, we do not hand logs over to authorities, you’re misinformed.
    Please read our privacy policy and terms of service, which clearly state in which cases it can be possible that information gets turned over.
    -> https://vpn.hidemyass.com/vpncontrol/privacy.html

    @Schizoider:
    I’m pretty sure that your connection/Speed issues were caused by your network hardware.
    When unable to connect to a server, that does not mean that it is “offline” or “gone dead”.
    We would have a real problem if that was true 😉
    Most PPTP/L2TP connection issues are caused by incorrect router settings, for example PPTP/L2TP/IPSec passthrough options must be enabled.
    Next thing to try would be using OpenVPN, when supported by your router.
    Contact our support if you need help with the configuration, and check our wiki.

    @IanMtl:
    When experiencing any kind of speed problems, please contact our support.
    There are many things you can do to improve speeds, for example:
    – using our speed guide feature to find the best server for your location
    – trying all protocols: OpenVPN-TCP, OpenVPN-UDP, L2TP, PPTP
    – tweak your network settings (see http://wiki.hidemyass.com/Speed )
    Depending on your own internet connection and location (so distance to the server),
    everyone should be able to get decent speeds.

    @Mary Williams:
    We can understand that you feel uncomfortable with using a VPN service that is based in the UK.
    However, I live in Germany and can assure you that a VPN service based in Germany is not a good idea 🙂
    We might move our “location” to a different country in the not-all-to-far future.

    @Skalar:
    You’re right, from the customers point of view a VPN service that doesn’t log at all would be great.
    But unfortunately providing such a service is not possible. VPN services that claim to not log IPs or not log at all
    are lying you in the face. This is simply not possible, at least not longer than for a short period of time.
    It’s not possible to fight abuse, spam and other incidents when not logging IPs or not logging at all.
    The result is that all VPN servers will get quickly terminated by the server-hoster, resulting in a VPN service
    that has no VPN servers.

    ———–

    We are constanly trying to improve our service, support and VPN server quality+quantity.
    Also, we are grateful for any feedback we receive. Contact us if you have any problems,
    and also feel free to just tell us your opinion, feedback and how you think we could make things better.

    Have a nice day,

    Pete
    HMA-Team

  4. I’ve had the service for 3 months and my exploits have actually gone up since using their service. I was checking my Gmail when Google notified me that someone was logged into my Gmail at the same time as me. I immediately logged out of HMA and l received another email stating that I sent someone an invite and they accepted, then this user set up their Gmail account and linked it to mine.
    I changed all passwords and logged all out while also unlinking this person. I few weeks went by and I decided to try HMA again but with my Smartphone, This was a disaster. They were able to log into my email again and I started getting forwarded email by someone into my personal account. Someone is scanning and dumping packets on HMA and running attacks from WITHIN HMA to its users. I notified HMA that someone was internally attacking their clients but nobody responded.
    In the end you pay to be exploited and HMA really doesn’t hide anything as they handed over logs to authorities. You’re paying for peace of mind that doesn’t exist.

  5. HMA is good if you want to “hide” your identity, but I would not recommend them as an outside-the-US media streaming solution — unless you want a HUGE headache.

    1) PPTP server connection is spotty or unavailable for some routers, even using DD-WRT. This forces you to use their L2TP servers, which have no application-based speed test, so you’re going in blind (you could wind up with a server that’s 3mbps, or one that is 10mbps). Generally, if you’re from Canada, most L2TP servers are slow.

    2) HMA’s L2TP servers are unreliable. There’s a 100% chance of the server going dead, it’s just a matter of when. Several times I was in the middle of watching a Netflix movie and the server would drop, forcing me to log back onto the router and manually switch to another server.

    Hide My Ass turned out to be a Pain In The Ass. However, if you just want to conceal your identity, I guess I would recommend them. It’s just that there are other, far better solutions to geoblocked media streaming.

    One more thing, I’m convinced that HMA people are tanking reviews in their favour. Take a look at their forums and you will see tons of people having problems with the service.

  6. Hi,

    I agree that on the whole Hide My Ass is great service. However, those who use it to thwart geo-limitations on streaming TV content will have wildly varying experiences depending on their time and country of connection. You generally need a bit over 1 mbit/s of download speed to have a reliable and enjoyable experience. When I get home from work around 6:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), that bandwidth is not always available from the Swiss or French servers (as they are just coming out of peak or “prime” time). Later in the evening, performance and bandwidth improve significantly.

    If you are using HMA for its originally intended purpose and are connecting close to the server offering anonymity, then I would agree that the reliability is high. However, add a transatlantic hop and all bets may well be off. The service is MUCH better than the low-end providers, such as VPNTraffic (I had VERY spotty performance from them). For US$6.55 a month, it’s probably worth it. However, more reliabile bandwidth in continental Europe in viewing periods adjacent to Central European prime time would be necessary.

  7. I personally have a problem with where HMA is based, in the United Kingdom, they have to follow the laws of the country where they are and the UK is no privacy friendly at all, their government doesn’t give a rat’s ass about people’s right to privacy. Per head of population they have more CCTV than anywhere else in the world, that is only the start.

    There is no ideal place, but a VPN based in Sweden or Germany inspires me more trust.

  8. Actually, not logging would be the answer to the problem and I don’t see why they should log my activities. Especially, what did I gain then, if I’m in privacy except for HMA? They decide what to do with my data and even if they are the best guys in the world: If there is data, it will be abused. The question is just when.

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