HMA VPN Review (2022) – What About This Controversial VPN Provider?
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 be able to. It’s since been rebranded to HMA, and though the competition is fierce, HMA is still one of the most well-known VPNs looking to make the internet freer and more secure.
HMA VPN has been taken over by other parties twice. In 2015, it was acquired by AVG, which was later 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!
HMA VPN Short Review
|Very user-friendly||US Netflix doesn’t work|
|Well-priced||Previously discredited for logging issues|
|Easy to install||Based in the United Kingdom|
|Lots of server locations||Throttles connection when downloading torrents|
|30-day moneyback guarantee|
|Convenient speed test and IP shuffle functions|
|Very good customer service|
HMA VPN is a decent choice if you want to hide your IP and maintain anonymity online. It’s also decently priced, very user-friendly, and has good customer service.
It’s not a perfect VPN though. It can’t unblock US Netflix, it’s based in the UK, and perhaps most worryingly: it throttles your connection if you try to download torrents. But it’s still a good choice for users looking for basic functionality.
- Torrenting allowed
- Works with Netflix
- Zero logs
- Credit card
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. Here’s a summary of how it went:
- 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.
HMA VPN’s speed test results
First, to establish a benchmark, we measured our internet speed without a VPN. We run our usual tests from the Netherlands, but for this review, we tested HMA’s speed from the US. We tested the speed with a nearby server located in the US and then more distant servers from Europe.
HMA VPN also offers its own speed test, so we tried their test too. 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:
|Server||Download (MBPS)||% Download||Upload (MBPS)||% Upload||Ping (MS)|
|The U.K (London)||218.47||98.2%||11.02||99.1%||100|
|The U.S (New York)||204.38||92%||11.04||99.28%||43|
We performed the test from the US, and when we connected to the nearest US server (HMA’s “Lightening Connect” option) the download speed decreased by about one-third, but the upload speed remained more or less the same. Though this is a fairly good result, we found the New York-based server (which is optimized for video streaming) provided faster download and upload speeds.
The ping response time has increased, which is very common when using servers that are further away. But you’ll notice that even servers in Europe that were optimized for streaming offered better upload and download speeds than the “Lightning Connect” server. Since we’d mainly use HMA for streaming, we’d recommend connecting to servers optimized for such.
Overall, 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. These drops are expected when using a VPN. In fact, HMA performed extremely well in terms of speed.
Speed during daily 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 when using HMA from Europe. We didn’t notice a difference in speed whilst online gaming either. The biggest problem with HMA’s speed is that it throttles your connection when downloading torrents. More about that below.
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. Here’s an overview of HMA’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. This information is stored by third-party processors.
- HMA has a 100% no logs policy.
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.
HMA VPN and the UK Government
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. This means that no matter what privacy measures HMA takes, there’s always a risk for government intervention.
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 the specific activity to one person.
Logging policy and privacy
However, at the moment, HMA has a 100% no-logs policy. They don’t just say that. They hired an independent cybersecurity consultant firm, VerSprite, to certify their security and privacy infrastructure.
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.
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. Here’s what we found.
- 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 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:
- 12 months: $4.99/month ($59.88 billed every year)
- 24 months: $3.99/month ($95.76 billed every two years)
- 36 months: $2.99/month ($107.64 billed every three years)
All of these subscriptions come with a 30-day moneyback guarantee. There’s also a 7-days free trial that you can access from the Downloads tab on their official website.
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.
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.
- 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.
- HMA VPN has more than 1100 servers distributed over 190 countries (290 locations).
- HMA VPN does not offer dedicated IP addresses.
Number of servers and their location
HMA VPN has 1100+ servers in more than 240 locations. 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, is 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.
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 them 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.
There was only one way to find out. We put it to the test. We tried downloading several torrents on a few of HMA’s servers to see if it works. Unfortunately, HMA does throttle your connection when downloading copyrighted torrents.
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 – Our Experience with HMA VPN
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.
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)
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