HMA VPN Review
HMA VPN is a decent VPN tool with good security features. It uses military-grade encryption, offers a huge number of servers, and supports torrenting. Also, its no-logs policy has been independently audited. Unfortunately, HMA lacks the WireGuard tunneling protocol, offers inconsistent speeds, and struggles with most streaming services.
Formerly known as HideMyAss, HMA VPN has become one of the most recognizable names in the VPN industry – and not only because of its tongue-in-cheek nature.
In this HMA VPN review, I’ll try to find out whether HMA is still worth a damn. Exploring its speeds, streaming capabilities, and security features will help me decide if HMA deserves to be featured on our list of the best VPNs anytime soon.
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HMA VPN pros & cons
- No-logs policy
- A huge selection of countries
- A free 7-day trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supports torrenting
- Inexpensive long-term plan
- No WireGuard protocol
- Weak Linux version
- Doesn’t unblock Netflix
- Average speeds
Speed and performance: is HMA VPN fast?
HMA VPN mostly relies on the OpenVPN tunneling protocol. Even though this protocol has two versions: a faster one (UDP) and a slower one (TCP), the former isn’t usually able to keep up with the likes of WireGuard.
So, I tested the speeds of OpenVPN UDP, the faster version of OpenVPN. It’s a shame I couldn’t compare the results with the protocol’s TCP variation, as it didn’t work with my device.
- Baseline (without VPN): 1 ms/300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Location||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)|
Average download speed: 89.5 Mbps
Average upload speed: 113.5 Mbps
As you can see, the speeds of HideMyAss VPN are a real roller-coaster, going from a staggering 240 Mbps to a measly 43 Mbps.
For example, the US Florida server decreased my download speed by only 20%, which is great. However, the Australian server decreased the speed by 85.7%, making my websites load slower.
Overall, the results are decent, but not mind-blowing. I'd like to witness faster speeds in the future - with the implementation of WireGuard, hopefully.
Streaming: does HMA VPN work with Netflix?
Some VPN services are still able to trick Netflix into letting you watch geo-blocked content. One of the methods is having specialized servers for streaming - as HMA VPN does.
So, this VPN offers six locations for streaming: Germany (1), the UK (1), and the USA (4). Unfortunately, none of these worked with Netflix, even though my expectations were high. On a brighter note, you may have some luck with HMA’s other servers.
When I tried to access DAZN and BBC iPlayer, I was also left with nothing new to watch: HMA VPN simply couldn’t unblock these pages. I was only able to unblock geo-restricted videos on Youtube, which is something most VPNs are capable of.
Is HMA VPN safe for torrenting?
It’s a good idea to use a VPN for torrenting. It’s much safer, especially if you download copyrighted content (not that we encourage doing so - VPNs don’t make illegal activities legal).
So, HMA VPN offers eight P2P-optimized locations: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Netherlands, UK, USA Florida, USA New York, and USA Washington. During my tests, the onset of file downloading was pretty slow, however, the speed increased to 6-9MB/s and remained somewhat stable for the rest of the time.
HMA VPN features
Even if HMA is not stuffed with special features like, say, Windscribe VPN, there are a few interesting things to discover.
When you’re struggling with your internet speed, choosing the fastest server is the only solution if you want to use a VPN at all. Luckily, HMA VPN makes it easy for you by having a built-in speed test feature that allows you to connect to the best server in your situation.
One notable feature that HMA VPN has is IP Shuffle. It works like this: the application periodically reconnects you to a different VPN server, making sure that your IP constantly changes. In this way, you don’t have to do this manually.
There’s also a button on the main screen (called IP Refresh) that changes your IP address in case you can’t access a website or a streaming service with your current one.
The auto-connect options of HMA let you customize your VPN connection. You can choose to automatically connect to the VPN when you’re connected to an unsecured wifi or cellular data network.
The Android application of HMA VPN offers a feature called split tunneling. It allows you to select the apps that use the VPN traffic once you’re connected to a HMA server. It’s really easy to use - you simply get a list of all your phone’s applications and need to mark the checkboxes of the apps that should use encrypted connection.
Is HMA VPN safe?
HMA VPN is a safe VPN - in April 2020, it underwent an independent audit, becoming an official no-logs VPN. When it comes to the VPN's jurisdiction, though, it's worth knowing that the service is based in the UK, which is, unfortunately, a Five-Eyes country (and one of the least privacy-friendly ones at that).
Encryption and protocols
Just like the majority of the best VPNs on the market, HMA VPN uses AES-256 encryption, more precisely - its CBC variation. This type of encryption is immune to various attacks, including brute-force attacks and is used by companies that deal with sensitive data.
Now, when it comes to tunneling protocols, HMA’s selection might seem a bit lacking, as each of its applications offers only a single protocol: either OpenVPN or IPsec. This is a bit unusual, because most of the time VPN apps support at least two or three tunneling protocols.
- OpenVPN TCP. This is the more stable protocol, however, it’s considered to be the slower one of the two.
- OpenVPN UDP. Sometimes a bit less stable than the TCP variation, OpenVPN UDP offers significantly better speeds.
- IPsec. A reliable protocol available only on HMA’s macOS and iOS applications.
It’s possible to pick your preferred variation of OpenVPN when using the applications that support it. By default, HMA VPN uses OpenVPN UDP - you can change this in the Settings menu.
In short, you need to know that all the following personal data is not logged in any shape or form:
- Your original IP address and DNS queries
- Browsing history and online activity
- The exact amount of data you’ve transferred
- The timestamps of your connection
However, there’s certain info that HMA VPN does collect. It includes:
- The length of your session
- The rounded amount of data transmitted (they only keep the first digit, e.g., if you've sent 3,954MB, they will round it to 3GB)
The official site of HMA claims that this information is completely anonymous and stored only for a limited amount of time - 35 days, to be exact.
You also have to provide your email, and the VPN stores your activation code together with the subscription renewal date. All of this info is needed for your account management.
It’s good to know that HMA’s no-logs policy was independently audited by VerSprite, a cyber-risk consulting company. The VPN service got the highest possible rating of “low risk user privacy impact”.
If you think you don’t need a kill switch, think again: without it, your original IP address can be instantly exposed if the VPN suddenly shuts down.
To minimize any identity risks, HideMyAss VPN has implemented a reliable kill switch into its Windows, Mac, and Android applications.
However, it’s not activated by default - you have to go to Settings and tick the appropriate boxes yourself. You can choose to activate only the regular kill switch (that shuts down your internet connection if the VPN gets disconnected) or the App kill switch (which blocks internet access to specific apps).
Also - keep in mind that if you add an application to the App kill switch list, you will automatically be connected to a VPN server when you open said app.
Servers and locations
In comparison to the majority of other VPNs, HMA’s collection of countries is truly outstanding. As of today, it offers 209 countries/territories and 1,070 servers.
|Regions||Number of countries/territories|
A good chunk of HMA’s servers is virtual. In other words, the actual server is based in another country than its geo-location data. In some cases, that’s inevitable: there are countries where it’s downright impossible to own a VPN server (at least without compromising user privacy), for example, Russia or North Korea.
When it comes to picking the server location of your choice, I like how HMA displays a list with the servers grouped according to the regions of the world. That’s quite convenient, even though I wouldn’t complain if the VPN also displayed a map.
In addition, you can connect to a server that’s solely dedicated to P2P file sharing or streaming, however, the selection of these servers could be a bit wider.
Interface and ease of use
All of the applications of HMA VPN (with the exception of Linux) are quite similar both design-wise and in terms of functionality. Just like TunnelBear VPN, HMA has a mascot that changes its appearance depending on how you’re using the VPN.
The choice of the animal is quite obvious, as HMA is an acronym for HideMyAss (the Ass part being another name for a donkey).
So, HMA VPN offers native apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS (there’s only a script version for Linux). It’s also possible to use the VPN with your router (you can even buy a router with HMA already pre-installed). This will help you use HMA VPN on your Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox, Playstation, and other devices.
Tunneling protocol: OpenVPN
Overall, the Windows app of HMA functions pretty well. I like the fact that the main screen displays whether you have the kill switch, App kill switch, and auto-connect enabled. You can also see your current download and upload speed.
In the Settings menu, you’ll find the IP Shuffle feature, auto-connection settings, your account info, and other options. In short, the application is really easy to use and won’t confuse even beginner users.
Tunneling protocol: IPsec
The macOS application has a similar interface to the Windows app. However, it uses the IPsec tunneling protocol instead of OpenVPN and doesn’t have an App kill switch. In addition, logs aren’t as easily accessible in this version.
What I like about the Mac version of HMA VPN is the fact that it has a kill switch and auto-connection options, which is more than some VPN apps for macOS can offer.
Tunneling protocol: OpenVPN
As I’ve mentioned before, HMA VPN doesn’t have a full application for Linux - there’s only a script version. I tested it and found it a bit annoying to use. Honestly, I’d prefer using a manual connection over this script - it didn’t even successfully connect to the server.
HMA VPN mobile apps
Tunneling protocol: OpenVPN
The Android version of HMA VPN is truly great - it has most of the features present in the Windows app, like IP Shuffle and the auto-connection options. There’s also the split tunneling feature, which isn’t present on any other HMA application.
However, there’s no integrated kill switch: when you tap on the feature, the application opens the VPN settings of your smartphone. Also, I encountered some connection problems: the app would disconnect me from a server when the phone was locked (at least according to the notifications).
Tunneling protocol: IPsec
The iOS application of HMA VPN is similar to the Android version. However, it uses a different tunneling protocol - IPsec instead of OpenVPN.
It also doesn’t offer the split tunneling feature. However, it does include the IP Shuffle and Lightning Connect features.
HMA VPN offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These are fairly standard, allowing you to choose from five different locations. They also offer WebRTC blocking, keyboard shortcuts, and the possibility to automatically connect to a specific proxy when visiting a specific site.
Plans & pricing
So, the $2.99/month price of HMA VPN is among the absolute lowest ones in the market - but you get to pay it only if you’re ready to commit for three years. That’s longer than some marriages last, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to remain faithful to a single VPN for such a long time.
You can also subscribe to HMA VPN for $3.99 a month (or $95.76 for two years) if you buy the 24-month plan, or $4.99 a month (or $59.88 a year) when buying the 12-month plan.
Other plans are significantly more expensive, going up to $8.99/month for a six-month subscription and $11.99 for a single month.
What I found really interesting is the fact that the American users of HMA VPN don’t get the free 7-day trial version that’s offered to users from the UK and a few other countries.
However, the trial version isn’t given on a whim - you still have to enter your payment details and be quick enough to cancel the subscription before the VPN charges you for a whole year once the trial period is over.
Speaking of canceling, the VPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all its plans, so you’ll have plenty of time to make sure the service fits your needs.
It’s also worth mentioning that HMA VPN allows for five simultaneous connections and has a wide selection of payment methods to choose from (credit cards, PayPal, wire transfer, etc.).
In terms of customer support, HMA is no different than many other major VPN brands. It offers lots of help options, catering to beginners and advanced users alike. For example, there are tons of self-help resources for troubleshooting and setting up the application, as well as a community forum (unfortunately, it’s far from active).
Those who are less tech-savvy (or have an unusual problem) can make use of HMA’s ticket support or live chat.
I reached out to customer support about the TCP connection issue I had on my Windows device. It took a bit longer to get an agent on the line than usual (around 3 minutes). Once I got the agent, I was happy with the communication. Unfortunately, the agent wasn’t able to resolve my issue.
Is HMA VPN any good?
HMA VPN is a good tool for your basic VPN needs like hiding your real IP address and keeping yourself anonymous online. However, it lacks some of the features that make a VPN truly great.
That’s why, despite its immense popularity, HMA VPN doesn’t have the right to rest on its laurels – not yet. For example, its creators should definitely add more tunneling protocols, including the dearly missed WireGuard.
I’d also like to see more unity among the apps (i.e., a more widespread addition of split tunneling). The Linux version should also undergo more development, as right now it’s almost unusable.
On a brighter note, I can see how HideMyAss got so popular in the first place. It’s really easy to use, has a massive selection of countries and servers, and offers a good price. However, that’s not enough in today’s fiercely competitive VPN market, and HMA VPN should really step up its game to not make an ass of itself in the future.
More on VPN providers from CyberNews:
NordVPN vs. Surfshark: two great VPN services compared
ZenMate VPN review: would we recommend using it?
Hotspot Shield review: good choice for entertainment and most simple tasks
Does HMA VPN work in China?
No. Currently, HMA VPN is blocked in China because it doesn’t offer any special features that would help it bypass the Great Firewall of China. Instead, you can check out our list of the best VPNs for China.
Is HideMyAss free?
There is a free 7-day trial version of HMA. However, it’s unavailable in certain countries like the US.
Is HMA VPN trustworthy?
Yes. Despite privacy issues in the past, HMA was independently audited and officially declared a no-logs VPN in 2020.
Does HideMyAss work with Netflix?
No. Even though HMA VPN offers specialized streaming servers, these didn’t let us unblock Netflix.