HideMyAss review

This VPN service is owned by security firm AVG

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Our Verdict

This VPN service is easy-to-use with a sprawling network of servers, but it's not so great on the privacy or performance fronts.

For

  • Huge network of servers
  • Simple client
  • A part of AVG

Against

  • Supports two simultaneous connections only
  • Below average performance
  • Expensive
  • Complex privacy policy

HideMyAss has been a popular provider of VPN services for more than 10 years, but is now owned by AVG Technologies.

The company offers 940+ servers in 350+ locations across 190+ countries, many more than the bulk of the competition.

Load balancing allows HideMyAss to recommend the server with the minimum load in any location, helping to keep your speeds high.

As we write, the HideMyAss website proudly claims that "our VPN software works on all your devices", and "one subscription pays for all". Sounds good, but they're talking about the ability to use the service on almost any hardware, including smart TVs and games consoles. If you need several simultaneous connections, tough – there's only support for two.

There's no free plan or trial, and even the discounted starter prices are a little high: £6.99 ($9, AU$12) per month, £4.99 ($6.50, AU$9) per month paid every 6 months, or £47.88 ($62, AU$84) per year (there's no Bitcoin option).

You need to check your account carefully, too, because even monthly accounts renew automatically. You can turn off renewal once you know this, but it's not very obvious. It's easy to think you've cancelled renewal when you really haven't, and we've seen complaints from users who have been caught out.

There is at least a 30-day refund, although that also has some conditions. In particular, it's only allowed if you've used less than 10GB data and had fewer than 100 connections.

Privacy

HideMyAss has more terms, conditions and policies pages than just about any other VPN provider, but if you take the time to read them you'll find some interesting details.

When you visit a website the company collects your original IP address along with your user name and password, and stores this for up to two years after you've closed your account.

Some payment details are also held for two years, and communications with support are stored for up to six months. Live chat details, again including your IP address, are held for months by another company entirely.

Like other services, HideMyAss doesn't log your web activity. Unlike other services, it logs your incoming IP address and the IP address of the server you're using. This data is kept for between two and three months – other companies sometimes delete session data as long as the session closes.

There's no space to discuss every issue here, but you should also know that there's no telling where this information could be stored – the company only says it may be at "a destination outside the European Economic Area".

Oh, and although HideMyAss doesn't "sell or rent your personal data to third parties", it may disclose your personal details to "any member of the AVG Group".

Performance

The HideMyAss PC client is focused very much on simplicity. Choose a country or server, connect or disconnect with a click. Reconnect to the same server as required, or set commonly-used servers as favourites for speedy recall later.

The client makes it clear whether you're connected or not. Desktop notifications ensure you see connects or disconnects as they happen, and your current public IP address is always visible at a glance.

What you don't get is much configurability or control, in part because the client is so very basic. You don't get to choose your protocol, for instance, because it only supports VPN (over UDP and TCP).

This approach does at least keep HideMyAss very easy to use, and it's better at hiding your identity than some of the more powerful services. We found the servers passed all our leak tests without any issue at all.

In our performance tests*, HideMyAss was a touch below average: latency increased by 86%, downloads fell by 44% compared to our normal speeds, and upload speeds were reduced by 71%.

Final verdict

This service's data collection policies, basic client and relatively high price make it difficult to recommend, but it does give you one of the largest VPN networks around. If that's your top priority it might just be worth trying.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.