HMA VPN Review: is it really that good?
HMA VPN is a virtual private network that has the playful alternative title of “HideMyAss.” It’s a relatively standard VPN offering that still manages to provide an impressive network size with over 1,100 servers across nearly 200 countries. It’s also one of the few VPNs that has been externally audited to ensure that it keeps no logs. Check out our thoughts below to make your own mind up about HMA VPN.
Check out our “What is a VPN?” page to learn about how VPNs work and why so many internet users flock to them.
A VPN is a network of servers spread across various locations around the globe. Through the use of a VPN, online users can hide browsing history, internet activity, IP addresses, and personal data. That extra level of security is important to many users. Additionally, VPNs are often used for streaming and torrenting (also known as peer-to-peer or P2P, this basically means sharing files between groups of users). The main goal of a VPN is to increase a user’s privacy and anonymity so that internet users can rely on security.
HMA VPN has lots of different servers to choose from, and it has some cool features. However, it doesn’t quite live up to its speed claims and doesn’t seem to unlock much other than Netflix. It’s a good choice for browsing securely, but there are better VPNs out there with more in-depth features.
Pros & Cons
It’s important to weigh the positives and negatives of any VPN before deciding which one to choose. We’ve collected our thoughts on HMA VPN for quick reference.
- Underwent an independent security audit by firm VerSprite
- Decent sized server network at over 1,100
- Military-grade encryption measures
- Compatible with most devices
- Uses OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols
- IP shuffling features is unique and very effective at keeping your activity private
- Effective at unblocking Netflix services
- Works with:
- Not super configurable
- Not effective at unblocking basically anything other than Netflix
- Only five simultaneous connections allowed
- Relatively pricey, even with longer-term plans
- Monthly and six-month plans are hard to find on its website
Paying month-to-month costs you on the expensive side of industry norms at $12 per month. A year’s subscription is still on the expensive side at $5 per month. For its lack of unblocking effectiveness, lack of WireGuard protocols, and low customizability, we think this price is pretty expensive.
The VPN also provides long-term plans for two or three-year intervals, but even these are higher-priced than some of its more feature-heavy competitors, which is an issue.
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Limited time offer Billed $120.96 in 3 yearsSave 71%
Still, the security on offer here is quite good, and the company provides both a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
When you use the internet, you don’t want to be bogged down by slow speeds. Unfortunately, VPN networks can often have spotty speeds or rates that are difficult to predict, since the speed may depend on the location you connect to.
HMA VPN’s speeds aren’t the fastest in the industry as it claims. Far from it, actually. Still, it does manage speeds that are decent, in the 100-150 Mbps range. Part of this is doubtless due to the fact that the company has not yet upgraded to the WireGuard protocol, which is usually exponentially faster than OpenVPN.
HMA VPN has a decently sized network of 1,100+ servers. What we like the most, though, is that it spreads these servers well, with locations in almost 200 countries across the globe. That provides a wider usage range and better user experience. Plus, given its audited no-logs policy, the servers are friendly to P2P file sharing (otherwise known as torrenting).
|Decent connection limits||connect up to 5 devices simultaneously, or 10 on a family plan|
|Simple installation||updated from its older versions to be more user-friendly|
|No logs||HMA VPN was audited by VerSprite to back up its no-logs policy|
|Apps||iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, routers, Linux, smart TVs, and popular gaming platforms|
|Security measures||uses 256-bit encryption, 4096-bit keys for digital handshakes, and more|
|Several protocols||OpenVPN, IPSec, IKEv2|
|Decent server network||has over 1,100 servers|
|Subscription packages||monthly, yearly, and two-year intervals|
|Money-back guarantee||up to 30 days|
|24/7 site support||round-the-clock availability and on-site live chat|
The interface is also easy to use, with a searchable list of servers that can also be browsed according to country and city.
HMA VPN provides an easy-to-use app that is compatible with many common and popular operating systems. It can be run on Windows, MacOS, and Linux and provides users with several helpful online resources both for installation and usage guides. It has an effective kill switch to protect users if the server is disconnected, and its desktop and laptop apps allow for either Lighting Connect to the best available server or manual (but simple) searching of server locations.
We think most users, even the ones who are new to VPNs, will be able to use the desktop and laptop versions of HMA VPN quite easily. The only minor quibble is that there is less configurability here than some of its competitors offer. So, if you’re a techie person, you might want to look elsewhere to be able to have control over protocols, encryption, and additional features.
The mobile apps at HMA VPN are pretty good and should feel familiar to anyone who uses the VPN on desktop or laptop. Its interface is simple to use and involves a connect button and location information for various available servers. It’s compatible with both iOS devices and Android ones.
In an interesting alternative to some other VPNs, the mobile apps actually have an additional feature that HMA’s desktop version lacks: split tunneling. This allows users to control which websites and apps on their mobile device use the VPN and which use the usual ISP server. Other than that, you should experience essentially the same interface and features on mobile as on desktop. We think HMA VPN has actually done a really good job here, since other companies often seem to throw the mobile platforms under the bus.
- English (US)
- English (UK)
- English (AU)
However, the very fact that it has undergone an independent audit on these matters puts it above many other VPNs.
Split tunneling is a feature many VPNs offer that allows you to hand-select which apps or websites will go through the VPN’s services and which will use your usual ISP. Often, many veteran VPN users like this feature as it provides a measure of control over data and speeds.
HMA VPN provides split tunneling options on desktop as well as mobile versions, using MacOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.
HMA VPN uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. For reference, that is the same level of security that many modern militaries and financial institutions use, and it would take even the world’s fastest supercomputer literally millions of years to stumble upon the key by brute force alone. Other security measures here include IP and DNS leak protections, protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2 (though not WireGuard, unfortunately), and a useful IP Shuffle feature that you can set up to change your IP at specific intervals.
It doesn’t appear that HMA VPN offers dedicated browser extensions for ease of use, so you’ll need to connect to the servers via the VPN client.
A kill switch cuts you off from the internet if you lose connection to a VPN server. It’s a standard feature among most VPNs, as it prevents your computer from reconnecting to the internet via your ISP when you think you’re still protected by the VPN’s server’s security measures. Thus, it keeps you from being exposed to outside threats without being aware.
HMA VPN has an effective kill switch that is available not just on desktop and laptop but also on mobile devices. In tests, the kill switch is effective and prevents users from thinking they’re connected safely to the VPN server when they are exposed. Plus, it usually connects back to a VPN server quickly. With the new Smart Kill Switch the company offers, you can also set specific apps or sites to use the kill switch instead of the whole client (or designate apps that will always load through the VPN servers).
Some VPNs have upgraded their servers to RAM-only disk drivers. This means that any data stored about user information or activity is stored as Random Access Memory, which is automatically erased whenever the server is booted or taken offline. In theory, this should prevent any collection of logs whatsoever.
While HMA VPN has not upgraded to RAM-only, it is one of the few VPNs whose privacy protocols and no-logs policies have actually been verified. So we won’t count it against them, but we expect them to upgrade eventually, and we’d like another audit in 2021 or 2022.
HMA VPN is based in the United Kingdom, which is, unfortunately, one prominent member of the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance of nations. This means that there are some potential privacy problems with the government demanding the company turn over user data. However, given that its no-logs policy has been independently verified, there almost certainly won’t be much data to hand over.
Still, we’d prefer the company re-establish headquarters in a nation that is more privacy-friendly and whose laws support a free and open internet (i.e. torrenting, getting around geo-blocks, and more).
As we’ve stated above, the firmware you use for your router needs to be able to support OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. Typically, you’ll need a DD-WRT router. You can purchase the firmware through FlashRouters, which is helpfully linked on the HMA VPN page itself. Many VPNs, in our experience, really lack support for router installation even when they offer complete router compatibility, so this level of resources was a nice break from the norm.
HMA VPN has been audited by external entities for its privacy or security measures. That is somewhat rare among VPNs, as only a handful of the most popular companies have done so. External audits mean that an outside entity comes in and evaluates whether or not the company abides by its promised no-logs policy and other security and privacy policies.
In fact, the audit by outside party VerSprite gave HMA its lowest risk rating back in the middle of 2020, so it’s still a relatively fresh audit. We’d like to see more commitment to this kind of transparency and verification of privacy protocols from all VPNs.
ExpressVPN is a competitor of HMA VPN that has developed a new protocol called Lightwave. It is reportedly more secure than OpenVPN or WireGuard, but some users have suggested that it tends to be slower on average than VPNs that use the older protocol. Regardless, only ExpressVPN is using Lightway at this time.
How to install
HMA VPN is easy to install and simply requires you to download the program and click install. There are options for server selection, but the Lightning Connection default automatically sets you up on the best available server. That’s great for newbies, but it might be a little dull for tech-savvy users. After installation, you have some limited configurability options, such as the Smart Kill Switch and split tunneling features. But most of the setup is done for you and is ready to go from the moment you click Connect.
Customer support is available around the clock by phone or email, and HMA VPN also provides users with an on-site live chat system for troubleshooting problems.
There are plenty of educational resources available through the company’s blog, as well. We like the company’s dedication to being available for clients in this way, so this gets a big thumbs up from us.
Streaming and Torrenting
Streaming is one of the major reasons users are flocking to VPNs. Services like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and others block specific shows and features depending on where you live, and that can be annoying and unfair. By using a VPN, you can trick these services into thinking you’re in a different location and effectively unblock those features.
HMA VPN is not a VPN for this purpose. This is probably the VPN’s major fault. It reliably unblocks just Netflix, but struggles with other popular sites and services like YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
Torrenting is another popular reason for purchasing subscriptions to VPNs. It’s a way of sharing files and downloads between users anonymously and safely. HMA VPN’s servers are torrent-friendly, and the company underwent a security audit from external organization VerSprite in order to assuage fears of any logging.
Gaming and Consoles
HMA VPN appears to be pretty good for gaming, with robust security features for desktop or laptop gaming and dedicated clients for Playstation and Xbox. It’s also pretty easy to install and use, provide you simply follow the clickable directions.
Many people are turning to VPNs for gaming purposes in order to protect their private data from prying eyes. Given HMA’s full name (HideMyAss), this is primarily the goal of HMA as well. Its security features should keep you from IP leaks, malware, and usage tracking.
Desktop and Laptops
The desktop and laptop version of HMA VPN is compatible with a range of operating systems, including MacOS, Linux, and Windows. We also really like its IP Shuffle feature, which regularly changes your IP address at set intervals to add an extra layer of protection against anyone trying to track your usage. Given its high level of encryption and security protocols, your activity should be quite safe. However, we’d like the company to include easy-to-use browser extensions in the future as well as migrate over to using the more efficient (and speedier) WireGuard protocol.
HMA VPN doesn’t appear to offer extensions for browsers, but that’s not a huge issue. It works on all major operating systems, so you should be able to boot up its native client and use it for browsers like Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and similar ones. One quibble, again, is that the client for HMA VPN doesn’t have a lot of flexibility or manual customizability like other VPNs provide. This could be a problem for users who want more control over the way they browse the internet.
The VPN’s Lightning Connect feature is great, connecting you automatically to the best available server. It also protects you from IPv4, IPv6, and DNS issues.
Mobile and Tablets
Not much functionality is lost on mobile apps versus the desktop or laptop versions. The interface is simple to use, provides automatic connection measures, and uses military-grade encryption. Since you can connect up to five devices at once, you should be able to implement HMA VPN on iPhones, Androids, and even tablet devices like Amazon Kindle Fire.
The company also has a good resource center online with information about devices, installation, and troubleshooting. If you run into any trouble, you can always do live chat with a support team member or call the office 24/7.
HMA VPN has a dedicated app for routers so that you can connect all your home devices through a single connection. Given its five-simultaneous-connection limit, this is an awesome tool. It’s also useful to connect devices that might not normally be compatible with a VPN. The company also has a link on its website to the best compatible DD-WRT routers, including Linksys and Netgear options. That’s very helpful, as many companies don’t include this data in easy to find locations.
HMA VPN does a lot of things well. Its security features are good and we appreciate that it is one of the few VPNs that has been verified through an independent audit. However, it’s not great at unblocking streaming services, which is one of the most common reasons for using a VPN. It also doesn’t provide users with as much customizability or configurability as other competitors, nor does it open-source its code like a few other VPNs.
Split tunneling is good, the kill switch is effective, and encryption protocols are top-level. However, the VPN doesn’t use WireGuard and has only middling speeds in contrast to its online boasts. If it were priced differently, these wouldn’t be huge issues, but HMA VPN is pretty expensive in comparison to some other options.
If you’re after reliability and security, though, it’s not a terrible choice. After all, its security and privacy policies are great and it has been in operation for over 15 years. That’s dedication and longevity that many other providers can’t offer.
Does HMA VPN help unblock Netflix?
HMA VPN effectively unblocks Netflix. Unfortunately, that’s the only streaming service you can rely on it to unblock consistently. If you need to watch your favorite show on Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, or Hulu, you’re better off going with a cheaper VPN that is more effective.
Is HMA VPN free?
HMA VPN is not free. You pay for a subscription on a monthly, yearly, or multi-year basis. In fact, its prices for these subscriptions are quite high, especially when you consider that there are issues with its features. It doesn’t have quite the amount of features or quite the robustness we’d expect for these prices.
Is HMA VPN good for torrenting?
HMA VPN’s servers are torrent-friendly. Plus, the company has been audited by external entities to ensure that it abides by its strict no-logs policy. We’d like to see it move to a RAM-only storage policy, though, as that would add even more torrent-friendliness to the mix. In short, yes, this is a good VPN for torrenting.
Is HMA VPN legal?
VPN services like HMA VPN operate legally and are legal services. However, some countries restrict or ban the use of VPNs, so its legality for you is largely based on where you live. You’ll need to check your local laws regarding the use of VPNs and internet privacy to be sure, but HMA VPN as a company is doing nothing illegal.