HMA VPN Review (2020) – What About This Controversial VPN Provider?
HMA is one of the more popular VPNs of recent years. HMA VPN was previously known as “Hide My Ass”, but recently the provider has chosen to use the name HMA VPN instead.
HMA VPN has changed a lot since its inception. Hide My Ass used to be the way to access certain websites in countries where you shouldn’t actually be able to access them. Today it is one of the most well-known VPNs that want to make the world freer and more secure for the average internet user.
HMA VPN has been taken over by other parties twice. In 2015, it was acquired by AVG, who in turn was acquired by Avast in 2016. Both are also well-known providers of antivirus software. To see how this has affected the quality of the VPN, we have conducted an extensive review of HMA VPN. Read our findings here!
- Simultaneous connections: 5
- Torrents: (only files that are not protected by copyright)
- Operating systems: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux
- Protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec en PPTP
- Log policy: No logs
- Servers: 1100+ servers in 190+ countries
- Price: From $2.99 per month
- Money-back guarantee: 30 days
Speed – How Fast is HMA VPN?
If you like to stream videos, download torrents or just want to surf with a VPN, it is important you have a VPN that has as little effect on your internet connection’s speed as possible. That’s why we looked at HMA VPN’s speed.
First, to establish a benchmark, we measured our internet speed without a VPN. Next, we ran HMA VPN to see how it affected our internet speed. We tested the speed with a nearby server located in the Netherlands and a more distant server located in the US. You can read the results below.
HMA VPN’s speed test results
We used speedtest.net to test our internet speed. See the test results below. HMA VPN also offers their own speed test, so we also tried their test. In the end, the difference in results between speedtest.net and HMA VPN’s speed test was negligible.
By the way, HMA VPN’s speed test is actually a very handy feature. You can quickly generate an overview of the fastest servers in your area. And you can also compare more distant servers to see which one offers you the best speeds. It’s a very useful little tool to determine which server is the fastest for you.
These are the results of our speed tests:
Speed without VPN (speedtest.net)
These are the speeds of our internet connection without a VPN. We use these results as a baseline measurement to compare the other results.
Server in the Netherlands (speedtest.net)
The above results represent our internet connection speed when HMA VPN is connected to a Dutch server. The download speed has decreased by about one third, but the upload speed has remained virtually the same. Therefore, this is a pretty good result.
Server in the United States (speedtest.net)
These are our speeds whilst connected to a HMA VPN server in the United States. We specifically chose a streaming server because we would use this VPN mainly for streaming the US version of Netflix. As you can see, the ping response time has increased, which is very common when using servers that are further away. In addition, the download speed has decreased a little further than with the Dutch server, whilst the upload speed has remained the same.
It might look like the download speed has dropped significantly, but if we compare the results to the speed results of other VPNs, HMA VPN is actually doing great.
Speed during everyday use
When we had HMA VPN running during our daily activities, we didn’t notice any loss of speed. We didn’t experience any buffering issues on YouTube, and Netflix also loaded quickly – we just didn’t manage to get access to the US version of Netflix. Furthermore, downloading (legal) torrents was very quick and worked well. We didn’t notice a difference in speed whilst online gaming either.
Conclusions on HMA VPN’s speed
- HMA VPN achieves excellent speeds.
- HMA VPN is very suitable for streaming and downloading content.
- HMA VPN has a handy speed test function, to easily choose a fast server.
- We didn’t notice a speed difference with HMA VPN while gaming.
- There was no noticeable difference in speed during daily use.
Security – How Secure is HMA VPN?
When we test a VPN, we always look at security. We consider, for example, the strength of the VPN protocols and encryption, but we also check whether a VPN safeguards your anonymity and guarantees your privacy. Of course, you want a VPN with which you can safely use the internet. Below you can read all about the security of this popular VPN provider.
Like most premium VPNs, HMA VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption. Currently, this is the highest encryption standard for commercial VPNs. In addition, this provider mainly uses OpenVPN, which is the safest protocol to date. They also offer some other protocols depending on the device you are using. Below are the protocols HMA VPN offers:
- OpenVPN (both TCP and UDP): OpenVPN is currently the security standard for VPN protocols. So, all good with HMA VPN.
- L2TP/IPsec (manual): HMA VPN offers L2TP/IPsec, but only for specific devices. You also need to install it manually. Some other VPNs make this option a lot easier to access.
- PPTP: this is a somewhat older protocol that achieves reasonable speeds. The disadvantage is that PPTP is no longer stable and secure. We would therefore advise against using this protocol. During testing, we discovered that PPTP is no longer standard in the latest version of HMA VPN. This means that HMA is also increasingly moving away from outdated VPN protocols.
- IKEv2/IPsec: IKEv2/IPsec is the protocol used for iOS. iOS does not support OpenVPN. In terms of encryption protocols, currently, IKEv2/IPsec is the best protocol for iOS.
Logging policy and privacy
HMA VPN is based in the UK. They are therefore in a less favorable location regarding data retention and privacy than some other VPN providers. The United Kingdom is part of the 5-eyes countries and has a less favorable privacy climate than, for example, the British Virgin Islands, where ExpressVPN has its headquarters.
As for their logging policy, we must conclude that HMA is not a 100% no-log VPN. While it is true that it doesn’t track the sites you visit, it does keep rounded timestamps of your sessions and rounded figures of your data usage. These fall under “Generalized Session Data” and are kept on the server. HMA registers whether you have used HMA VPN after 12 am or 12 pm and keeps a record of your license ID (this is the ID associated with your account). Your connection time and data usage are rounded (e.g. 1298mb is rounded to 1000mb, 323 seconds to 300 seconds).
On the basis of this data, HMA VPN can determine which user utilized HMA VPN during which part of the day, approximately how long they were connected and approximately how much data they used. This data is deleted after 35 days. In addition, data without a license_id is also sent to HMA VPN’s database. This data includes the exact timestamps, the data usage and for how long the VPN was used. There is no license_id associated with this data. Finally, some functional details are kept of the users’ devices to determine when an application was last updated or installed.
In itself, it is understandable that HMA VPN wants insight into this type of information so as to be able to maintain their VPN servers. All in all, the biggest disadvantage is that your license ID is included in the Session Data. This is the ID you receive when you take out a subscription. Therefore, your license ID is linked to your personal information.
HMA VPN’s kill switch is a very nice feature. This feature cuts off your internet connection as soon as a malfunction occurs with the VPN. Thus, the kill switch ensures that you’ll never be online unprotected, unless it is your choice to go online without a VPN.
In addition to the regular kill switch, HMA VPN also has an app kill switch. This seems to work on a combination of split tunneling and kill switch. With the app kill switch you can set for which specific app you want a kill switch. This way you don’t have to turn on the kill switch for the entire VPN. Also, the app kill switch will automatically connect to the VPN when you open that specific app. This is a handy extra.
What information does HMA VPN need?
Depending on your payment method, you must provide your full name when creating your account. This is a disadvantage when it comes to your privacy. Note that this is not necessary with most other providers. In addition, you cannot pay with Bitcoin or other anonymous cryptocurrencies.
New HMA VPN is hopefully more secure than previously
Five years later, a man was arrested who allegedly harassed his ex-girlfriend while using HMA VPN. The information HMA VPN had logged was sufficient to trace specific activity to one person.
Since then, HMA VPN has been acquired by Avast. We hope that this acquisition has resulted in an improved level of privacy. Still, we think there are too many holes in HMA VPN’s log policy to give them a high mark for security.
Conclusions on HMA VPN’s Security
- HMA VPN uses 256-bit encryption.
- You can choose from various VPN protocols, including OpenVPN.
- HMA VPN has a kill switch, and an app kill switch as an extra feature.
- For some payment methods, you need to enter your full name to create an account.
HMA VPN’s User-Friendliness
When we take a close look at the user-friendliness of a VPN provider, we pay attention to the ease of installation and the appearance of the VPN’s software. We also looked at HMA VPN’s website, their subscriptions and their customer service.
HMA VPN’s website
HMA VPN’s website is fairly standard. It contains information about HMA’s features, pricing and how to download the VPN. Furthermore, they have some tools on the website to check if there are any DNS leaks or WebRTC leaks. You can also see your IP address via the IP address tool.
Under the heading “Download” you will find software for all kinds of different devices and operating systems. This information is presented very clearly.
The Account page is very simple. No bells and whistles, just your account information and links to other pages, such as the Download page and the Support page. This is certainly one of the better account pages we’ve seen.
HMA VPN’s installation process
With most VPN providers today, it is quite easy to download and install their software. HMA VPN is no exception. The HMA VPN software is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux. You can also install HMA on your router.
Installing HMA VPN is simple. You download the software or app from the site or the app store; install the software (the app is installed automatically upon download); open the software; log in and you can use it immediately.
If you need help installing a VPN, check out our VPN Setup section. The steps you need to take can vary slightly depending on the device.
HMA VPN’s appearance and user-friendliness
HMA VPN has a very clear and playful look and feel. All information is easy to find, both in the app and the desktop version. In addition, HMA VPN does not give you too many setting options. This is something we very much appreciate from user-friendly VPNs.
HMA’s software looks like this on smartphones:
Prices and payment options
HMA VPN is not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive VPN either. HMA VPN offers three possible subscriptions. The longer the subscription, the cheaper it is per month. Please note that you pay per subscription period and not per month. You must therefore pay a six-month subscription every six months, a subscription for a year every year and so on.
These are the subscription types available from HMA VPN:
- 1 week: free trial
- 12 months: $4.99/month ($59.88 billed every year)
- 36 months: $2.99/month ($107.64 billed every three years)
With the 12 and 36-month HMA VPN subscriptions you have a 30-day moneyback guarantee.
HMA VPN accepts various payment options, including:
- Credit card
HMA VPN has fantastic customer service. While testing the service, we contacted HMA’s chat support several times. On every occasion, we were in contact with a real person within minutes, and each time we were provided with an adequate answer to our question. No automatic replies, no links to the support page, just a real answer.
One caveat about HMA VPN’s customer service is that it is only available in English. You may be able to get help by email in another language, but the chat is only in English.
With regards to customer service, we also looked at HMA VPN’s Support page, which we found to be in good order. Just like, for example, NordVPN, HMA VPN has created a support database. Here you can easily find the answers to most of your questions.
Conclusions on HMA VPN’s user-Friendliness
- HMA VPN’s website, Support page and Account page are very clear and well-organized.
- Installing HMA VPN is very straightforward, even for people without any technical knowledge.
- HMA VPN’s software and app are easy to use and visually attractive.
- HMA VPN is well priced and offers convenient (but not anonymous) payment methods.
- HMA VPN has fantastic customer service.
HMA VPN’s Server Network
When looking at a VPN’s server network, it is important to consider the number of servers and their various locations. With HMA VPN this is organized as follows.
Number of servers and their location
HMA VPN has 1100+ servers in more than 190 countries. The number of countries may seem a bit excessive, but HMA VPN adheres to the ISO 3166 list of countries, which contains 249 countries instead of 195. There is a reason for this. The British Virgin Islands, for example, are officially part of the UK. In reality, however, there are distinct differences between the two. So, from a VPN perspective, it was not logical to put the two together as one country.
We very much welcome this system. However, the total number of servers is rather small compared to the number of countries. As a comparison: some other providers have three times as many servers located in only half the number of countries. In most countries, HMA VPN has at least two servers. In popular countries there are many more and in some small island nations there is only one VPN server available.
It’s very easy to choose a server anywhere in the world with HMA VPN’s software. During our tests, we had no problems establishing a connection.
One last thing, HMA VPN does not offer dedicated IP addresses.
Conclusions on HMA VPN’s server network
- HMA VPN has more than 1100 servers distributed over 190 countries (290 locations).
- HMA VPN does not offer dedicated IP addresses.
HMA VPN’s Options
In addition to standard functionalities, HMA also offers some extra features that may be of interest to VPN users. Consider, for example, servers for special purposes and the ability to measure your speed from within the software.
HMA VPN and Netflix
Unlike many other top VPNs, HMA VPN does not have servers that work with the US version of Netflix. We tested several servers and were unable to get it to work. However, we could watch our local version of Netflix while HMA VPN was on.
HMA VPN gives you access to streams that are less strict with blocking VPN users. European streams to watch Formula 1, for example, such as the Swiss SRF.
HMA VPN and torrents
HMA VPN has torrent servers, but they clearly state that you are not allowed to download copyrighted content through their network. You can therefore download torrents via HMA VPN with ease, just make sure that you don’t download copyright-protected films, series or music.
It’s a fairly straightforward policy, but it’s hard to imagine how they can comply with this requirement without keeping logs. There are two possibilities. HMA VPN allows torrent traffic in its entirety and only displays the warning against downloading copyright-protected content to protect themselves from claims. The second option is that they don’t allow it and can somehow track this type of traffic.
You can use split-tunneling with HMA VPN, but only on Android devices. Unfortunately, on other devices, this feature does not work. With split-tunneling you can decide for each app whether you want the traffic to go through a VPN server or not. This is a very useful and easy-to-use feature. Therefore, we are disappointed that it only works on Android.
HMA VPN’s speed test
Although some other VPNs also offer a speed test tool and it is certainly not a new feature, we want to highlight HMA VPN’s speed test tool. Not only are the results very objective, you can also select the servers for which you want to run the speed test. This makes it very easy to see which server is best for you. This feature is especially useful if you want to use a US server. Rather than guessing which US server is best, you can compare them all with HMA VPN’s handy speed test.
In addition to a standard VPN, HMA VPN also offers the option to use a proxy with your browser. This is not the same as connecting via a VPN, but it is a handy tool for quickly unblocking something in your browser.
You can find HMA’s web proxy on their website. A web proxy is a free proxy service that allows you to unblock sites via the HMA VPN website itself. This used to be a very popular way for people in other countries to gain access to certain sites. Today, however, it is much safer to use a VPN.
IP Shuffle and IP Refresh
Within HMA VPN’s software you can indicate that you want your IP address to be refreshed after a certain period of time. This means that you regularly change VPN servers. In this way, it is even more difficult for other parties to track you online. This is because you are never connected to one specific VPN server for long.
Conclusions on HMA VPN’s options
- HMA VPN allows downloading of legal torrents.
- The US version of Netflix does not work with HMA VPN.
- HMA has some useful extra features such as the speed test and IP shuffle.
Conclusions – Our Experience with HMA VPN
|Very user-friendly||Logging policy is not airtight|
|Well-priced||US Netflix does not work|
|Easy to install||Previously discredited for logging|
|Lots of server locations|
|30-day moneyback guarantee|
|Convenient speed test and IP shuffle functions|
|Very good customer service|
All in all, HMA VPN is a solid VPN provider. Most basic functionalities are present and HMA VPN is also very user-friendly. In some ways, HMA VPN is a bit like TunnelBear: it is a decent provider with a nice look and feel, but it lacks some functionalities that make other VPNs just that little bit better. In particular, the fact that the US version of Netflix does not work is likely to steer many users towards other VPN providers. In our opinion, the logging policy is also less airtight than with other providers, such as with ExpressVPN.
Do you have a question about HMA VPN? You may find the answer to your question below.
Yes, you can download torrents with HMA VPN’s special torrent servers. Just make sure that you only download torrents that are not copyright protected.
The prices of HMA VPN are as follows:
- 1 week: free trial
- 12 months: $4.99/month ($59.88 billed every year)
- 36 months: $2.99/month ($107.64 billed every three years)
VPNOverview Expert’s Opinion