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Hide.me VPN review

A fast, powerful VPN absolutely stuffed with expert-level tweaks

Hide.me Website
(Image: © Hide.me)

TechRadar Verdict

This is a capable VPN, and although the Windows app had some technical issues, it offers above average speeds and some of the best expert-level options we've seen anywhere. Give it a try.

Pros

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    High-speed WireGuard and OpenVPN connections

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    10GB/month limited free plan

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    Unblocked Amazon Prime, US Netflix, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer

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    Hugely configurable

Cons

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    Some small kill switch issues

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    No security audit

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    Complex desktop apps might intimidate newbies

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    Above average prices on monthly and annual plans

EVenture Limited subsidiary Hide.me is a Malaysia-based company which has been making waves in the VPN business since 2011.

Hide.me's network is a fair size, with 2,000 servers (up from 1,900 last time) spread across 75 locations. That's not bad at all, but the likes of ExpressVPN (3,000+ servers across 94 countries) and CyberGhost (6,400 in 88) give you even more options.

The company piles on the features, though. Wide protocol support includes WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEther and SSTP, plus there's protection against DNS, IP and even IPv6 leaks, and port forwarding is available if you need it. The service can be used on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, consoles and smart TVs, you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, and there's 24/7 live chat support if you run into problems.

Hide.me claims to support P2P on most servers. We verified this by connecting to five different locations, and had hassle-free torrenting in each case.

And unlike some of the competition, Hide.me doesn't just make vague promises about its unblocking abilities. Its Unblock page lists the many sites it supports, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, ShowTime and more.

Hide.me MultiHop Feature

MultiHop lets you connect from one location and exit from another to prevent tracking (Image credit: Hide.me)

Recent additions include MultiHop VPN, where you connect to one location and exit from another. The extra hop may slow you down a little, but it can help bypass VPN blocking and makes it more difficult for anyone to identify who you are. Some VPNs have similar features – NordVPN's Double VPN, for example – but they often restrict the servers you can use. MultiHop VPN enables choosing any entry or exit server from Hide.me's full location list.

A VPN Bolt feature for Windows claims to accelerate speeds by routing all traffic through TCP rather than UDP. This doesn't sound like the best idea as TCP is normally slower, but Hide.me applies other tricks, too – hardware offloading, multiplexing through TLS 1.3 channels, encryption via AES-GCM (x64) or ChaCha-Poly-1305 (ARM) – and the results were impressive (more on that later).

Hide.me has been paying attention to industry developments, too. The company doesn't just support WireGuard (which alone is more than some providers), it also supports the protocol's new ability to run in the Windows kernel for even better performance.

Hide.me pricing

Hide.me's monthly plan is fairly priced at $9.95, down from $12.95 in our last review. Most providers charge somewhere in the $10-$13 range, although a few are significantly cheaper (Mullvad asks around $6).

The annual plan is available for a relatively expensive $6.66 a month. Others typically charge $4-5 for annual subscriptions, and a few cost even less (you'll pay a monthly $3.33 for Private Internet Access, $3.29 for Atlas VPN).

The two-year plan offers the best value at $3.84 ($4.16 on renewal), but again, there's a lot of cash to be saved elsewhere. Atlas VPN's three-year plan costs $1.99 a month, for instance. Looking at the totals, paying $99.95 to Hide.me gets you coverage for two years with two months free – but three years protection at Atlas VPN costs $71.49.

Hide.me Payment Methods

You can pay for your plan by credit card, PayPal or even with cryptocurrency (Image credit: Hide.me)

Whatever your preference, a wide range of payment options includes cards, Bitcoin, PayPal and many other providers.

If you hand over your cash and regret it later, no problem: you're protected by a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

You'd rather pay nothing at all? Surprisingly, Hide.me might be able to help. Its free plan offers a reasonable 10GB data a month, but you only get access to five locations (US, Canada, Netherlands, and two in Singapore). Also, there's no WireGuard or streaming support, and you can connect just one device at a time. It does support P2P, though, surprisingly – good news, even with the data limit.

Hide.me No Logs

Hide.me keeps no logs on its users (Image credit: Hide.me)

Privacy

Hide.me has a strict "no logging, ever" policy, the company claims, saying: "Logs can easily link actions back to you, and some VPN providers pass these onto law officials when told to do so. We can't, as we don't have any. Simple."

The Privacy Policy goes on to rule out both activity and session logging, explaining that: "We do NOT keep logs of your VPN sessions, browsing behavior, websites you visit, or any activity related to your VPN connection. In addition, we NEVER store VPN connection logs and timestamps that match your incoming and outgoing IP address or session duration."

Hide.me does keep a running total of data transfer usage, but that's no surprise for a service where some plans have bandwidth limits. It also keeps your email address, but that's to be expected, too.

Hide.me says it will comply with court orders received by recognized legal authorities with jurisdiction over them. But again, that's to be expected, and if the logs don't show anything significant, that won't matter at all.

The company claims this is supported by a 'comprehensive audit', and that 'Hide.me has been certified as the most anonymous VPN service in the industry.'

It turns out that audit dates from 2015, though. There's little information on the scope of the audit, and no report you can read. Hide.me deserves real credit for realizing the importance of audits so long ago – many providers still don't get it, even today – but we think it's probably time to take another one, something more thorough, where everyone can read the full results.

Windows App

This is the user interface of Hide.me's Windows app (Image credit: Hide.me)

Apps

Hide.me's Windows app is simple and straightforward. The opening screen has little more than a large Connect button which plugs you into the nearest server, but the full location list (countries, expandable to cities in some cases) is just a click away, and status information about your current IP address and location is always visible.

Windows App Locations

Hide.me displays its available servers in a list instead of on a map (Image credit: Hide.me)

Every location has a ping time to help you judge distance. You can sort locations by name, or ping time to display the fastest servers at the top. A search box makes it easy to find locations by name, though, and a Favorites system enables grouping your most-used servers together for speedier access later.

A dedicated tab displays the best locations for streaming. These are listed by country, rather than streaming platform, and your choices are Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States.

Connection times were good in most cases, with WireGuard getting us online in 2-4 seconds, and OpenVPN being very similar at 4-6 seconds (we've seen other providers take two to four times as long).

Even if it does take longer to connect, the app makes good use of notifications to keep you informed about what it's doing. You can just switch back to your other apps, and the notification lets you know when you're protected.

Hide.me's MultiHop feature gives you another option, which could offer even greater privacy. Choose an entry server of New York, say, and that's where you'll connect, but you'll be redirected through Hide.me's network to your pick of exit servers: let's say London. Websites will think you're in the UK, and even if an attacker manages to compromise the London server, they won't be able to link the activity to your account (you've accessed it using the New York server, not your own IP).

Whether this is really necessary is open to question, and the extra hop will slow you down a little, but we're happy that users have the option.

Settings

You can tweak many aspects of Hide.me's VPN service in its settings menu (Image credit: Hide.me)

Settings

The Settings dialog begins with all the main options you'd expect. It can launch when your system starts; optionally connect to the best location, or the last one you used; protect your traffic with a kill switch if the VPN drops, and reconnect automatically to get you back online at speed.

There's real depth here. The app supports no less than five protocols (WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEther, SSTP), for instance, with a stack of configuration options: IKEv2 stealth mode, custom and random ports, tunnel via IPv4 or IPv6, and more.

Here's another. Like most VPNs apps, Hide.me has a Best Location option which automatically selects the best server for you. But unlike anyone else, Hide.me allows you to choose what 'best' means: the lowest ping time, the nearest location or the lowest load.

The advanced features continue everywhere you look. For example, split tunneling support enables defining which apps use the VPN, and which will use your regular connection. And the client doesn't just have a single on/off kill switch setting to define what happens if the connection drops. It can run customs scripts, too, maybe closing apps, running others, whatever you like. An expert-level extra means you can define whether scripts are run as the current user, or an administrator.

Hide.me Settings

Hide.me allows you to search for specific features in Settings, and will highlight them to point them out clearly (Image credit: Hide.me)

There's a lot to explore, and sometimes we couldn't remember where to find a particular setting. Fortunately, the app has a settings Search box. If you know you want to customize the Best Location feature, just type 'best' in the Search box, click the link, and the app will take you to the right page, and even highlight the option for you. A neat touch we've not seen with anyone else.

Hide.me Mac App

The Mac app looks pretty much identical to the Windows version, but doesn't have all its advanced features (Image credit: Hide.me)

Mac app

Hide.me's Windows app stands out for its low-level technical tweaks, but the Mac version can't quite match its level of power.

You can't tell this from the interface, which is a near clone of the Windows edition. If it wasn't for the color and position of the close and minimize buttons, you would struggle to tell them apart.

The Mac app outperformed its Windows cousin just a little in real-world use, with connection times a second or two shorter.

Click Settings, and you'll find a decent number of advanced options. WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocol support; a kill switch; auto-connect when you access untrusted networks; and split tunneling. Furthermore, if anything doesn't work as expected, you can even raise a ticket from within the app.

But there are also a lot of advanced Windows features which haven't made it to the Mac. There's no VPN-wide custom DNS option; no custom MTU; no way to tweak how Best Location is chosen; no Hide.me Bolt speedups; no IPv6 tunnel option; no IKEv2 configuration tweaks; and no real kill switch configurability beyond on or off.

If you're not interested in VPN technicalities then none of that is likely to matter very much, and this is still a decent Mac app. It's not difficult to use, performance is good, and it has more features than most.

But it also doesn't stand out in quite the same way. The Windows app has tweaks and settings you won't find anywhere else; the Mac edition is much closer to the competition.

Hide.me iOS App

Hide.me provides some impressive mobile apps (Image credit: Hide.me)

iOS app

The mobile apps can't compete with all this desktop power, but they still outperform most of the competition.

The iOS version is simple and straightforward. Just tap Enable and the app connects you to the nearest server, or you can choose an alternative location from a list.

This isn't the fixed text list we sometimes see elsewhere, though. You can sort locations by name or ping time. A Favorites system helps you save your most-used locations in one place, and there's a Search box to help you find everything else.

That's just the start: iOS VPN apps often have no significant settings at all, but Hide.me's offering beats many Android apps.

There's support for IKEv2, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP and WireGuard, for instance. The app can automatically connect when you use Wi-Fi or mobile networks. There's a kill switch. Experts can even choose a custom DNS server.

If you're not interested in technical tweaking, that's okay. Hide.me tucks it all away in the Settings menu, so you'll only see it if you go looking. But it's good to have this power available, and you don't need to be an expert to benefit from it. Just the ability to change protocol alone could mean you're able to fix connection or speed problems with just a couple of taps.

Hide.me Android App

Hide.me's Android app is very similar to the iOS version, but also includes split tunneling (Image credit: Hide.me)

Android app

Hide.me's Android app has all the features of its iOS cousin, and looks almost identical. That's good news if you use both apps, because once you've learned one, you'll also know how to use the other. It also shows us that Hide.me pays real attention to usability, and that's a very positive indicator for the future.

There are a handful of extras. The most significant is support for split tunneling, where you're able to define which apps use the VPN tunnel, and which don't. If you're only using Hide.me to unblock a few sites, say, you could use this to pass your browser traffic through the VPN, but allow other apps to use your regular internet connection.

You also get more finely tuned control over network use, for example optionally allowing your device to access other devices on your network. And there's a new 'IKEv2 Alternative Configuration' option on the Protocols list, which apparently might help you connect if regular IKEv2 fails.

It's an impressive mix of power and ease of use, but the best part is it's very easy to check out any of this. You don't have to register to use Hide.me's free plan, or hand over any personal details – just install it from your app store, explore the various screens and see how it works.

And if you don't understand something, or there's some other problem? You can even raise a ticket from within the app. Now that's what we call convenient.

Hide.me Kill Switch

Hide.me provides a kill switch, and it's highly configurable, but not without issues (Image credit: Hide.me)

Kill switch

We checked out the Windows app's kill switch by manually closing an IKEv2 connection and everything worked as it should – our internet access was blocked right away, a notification warned us about the problem, and the app reconnected within seconds.

Our connection remained protected when we switched servers, too, a weak point with some apps. (Switch locations and some apps just close the first connection, then try to connect to the new server, leaving your traffic exposed in the meantime).

The system didn't perform as well when we switched to OpenVPN, though. It still blocked internet access when the connection dropped, but didn't cover us when we changed locations.

The problems really began when we tried our most extreme tests, forcibly closing the OpenVPN.exe and WireGuard.exe processes and checking what happened. You're unlikely to see either process crash in real life, but our goal is to see how robust an app really is, and how well it handles unexpected events.

In both cases, Hide.me's kill switch correctly blocked our internet access, preventing unprotected traffic leaving our system, and the app said it reconnected: great.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to access any websites, perhaps because the kill switch was effectively still active. We closed the app, but our internet was still dead. We had to reboot our device to restore normal working order.

We don't know exactly what the problem was, but it's important to keep this issue in perspective. These were the extreme boundaries of our stress testing, and even here, the kill switch worked – our internet connection was protected. And in the more common situations, where the VPN just dropped, the app worked very well.

Hide.me Unblocking

Hide.me promises a lot on the unblocking front, but it delivers, too (Image credit: Hide.me)

Netflix and streaming

Most VPNs claim they can help you access geoblocked websites, and Hide.me is no exception, with the company promising that you'll 'avoid annoying censorship.'

And this turned out to be correct, as Hide.me got us access to UK Netflix and US Netflix in all three tests with both; a perfect result.

We've seen Hide.me fail with Amazon Prime Video in the past, but not here: it worked perfectly this time. And the good news continued with Disney Plus, where Hide.me scored another three successes out of three.

These are great results, which put Hide.me right up there with some of the best unblocking VPNs around (CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield, NordVPN, ProtonVPN and Surfshark similarly unblocked everything in recent reviews).

Keep in mind, though, that you only get this level of success from the paid product – Hide.me's free plan doesn't support unblocking streaming sites.

Speedtest.net performance benchmark

We used several different speed testing services to help determine Hide.me's performance (Image credit: Speedtest.net)

Performance

We assess VPN speeds by running multiple automated speed tests using several platforms (SpeedTest's website and command line app, nPerf.com, SpeedOf.me and more), from both a UK data center and a US home with a 1Gbps+ cable connection.

OpenVPN performance was amazing, with median speeds of 440-450Mbps in the UK, 550-580Mbps in the US. That's more than twice as fast as many rivals, with only Mullvad's 480-490Mbps getting close to competing.

WireGuard speeds were even better at around 900Mbps in both the US and UK, trampling all over most of the competition. Hide.me isn't out on its own this time, mind you, as IPVanish reached 890Mbps, and TorGuard topped the performance charts at 950Mbps. But 900Mbps is still an outstanding result, of course.

Hide.me scored very well in our final privacy tests, too, with ipleak.net, dnsleak.com and dnsleaktest.com confirming that it correctly shielded our IP, allocated us a new address from our chosen country, blocked DNS leaks, and properly cloaked our online activities at all times.

Hide.me review: Final verdict

Hide.me is a speedy and highly configurable service, with an array of unusual expert-level features. If you're looking for power then go check out the free version right now, see what it can do for you.

Mike Williams
Mike Williams

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.