HideIPVPN review

Unblock 200+ websites with this combo VPN and Smart DNS service

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Image credit: HideIPVPN

Our Verdict

HideIPVPN looks great on the surface, but encryption and technical issues under the hood leave us unsure about its abilities. We would still use it as a website unblocker, but probably not for anything serious.

For

  • Easy to use
  • Smart DNS service included
  • 24-hour trial, no bandwidth or server restrictions
  • Unblocked iPlayer, Netflix

Against

  • Small network
  • Vague privacy policy
  • Windows client quirks
  • Poor OpenVPN setup

HideIPVPN is a combination Smart DNS and VPN service which claims to offer 'blazing fast speed' and the 'highest level security' for a fair price.

The VPN gives you access to a modest 29 locations across 11 countries (North America, Europe, Australia, Singapore), has clients for desktop and mobiles, and supports a wide range of protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IKEv2, SSTP and SoftEther.

A bonus Smart DNS system provides alternative DNS servers which the company says unblocks over 200 websites or services.

Prices are better than most at $6.99 billed monthly, dropping to $5.99 billed quarterly, or $4.99 on the annual plan.

A 24-hour trial enables checking out the VPN before you buy, and there's a full 7-day trial for the Smart DNS service.

Privacy

Much like many other providers, HideIPVPN boasts about its 'No Log Policy' on the front page of its website, but provides no real details to back this up.

As we write, for instance, this is how the support site answers the question: What information do you store?

"We do store your name and your billing details. We do NOT keep any server logs."

Switching to the official privacy policy doesn't help very much. HideIPVPN says it may collect personal information, for instance, but doesn't say exactly what. Well, thanks.

We did find a line saying HideIPVPN collected 'information required to log into our VPN and Smart DNS services through our software or manual created connections', but that's extremely vague. It could mean the system records your username, but deletes it at the end of the session. Or it could mean there's a complete log of every session, with start and end times, incoming and outgoing IP addresses, bandwidth use and more. There's no way to tell.

VPNs have got away with this lack of detail for years, but that may be coming to an end. With top providers like TunnelBear, NordVPN and VyprVPN putting their systems through public audits to verify what they're doing, services which can only offer vague promises on their websites might struggle to compete.

Apps

HideIPVPN's Windows client sports a clear and straightforward look (Image credit: HideIPVPN)

(Image: © Image credit: HideIPVPN)

Apps

HideIPVPN's free trial doesn't ask for credit card details or any other payment information. Just give the company your name and email address and login details arrive within seconds.

Download links point you to the Windows, iOS, Android or Mac clients, or you can explore various tutorials to help set up the service manually.

The Windows client installed without any hassles. Its interface is clear and straightforward, the server list enables selecting locations within each country, and a simple Favorites system allows you to group commonly used servers together.

A handful of settings include a wide choice of protocols (SSTP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP), DNS leak protection and several startup options. 

There's a kill switch, but it's application-based, meaning you must set up apps to be closed when the connection drops. That's more awkward to set up than the usual system-wide kill switch, and increases the risk of some IP leakage before the specified apps shut down.

The client was easy to use and generally worked well, but with a few quirks. It can automatically choose a location, for instance, but this could be further away than you think. We were testing from the UK, but although HideIPVPN has seven UK locations, the client allocated us a server in Luxembourg.

Netflix

HideIPVPN was able to unblock both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer in our tests (Image credit: Netflix)

Performance

Whether you use a kill switch or not, it's important a VPN app can handle the unexpected loss of your connection. HideIPVPN's client did better than some, noticing when we forcibly closed PPTP and OpenVPN connections and automatically reconnecting. But it didn't raise any alerts to warn the user they were now unprotected, leaving at least a brief window when their real IP could be exposed.

The service scored well for website unblocking, giving us instant access to BBC iPlayer, US YouTube and US Netflix content.

HideIPVPN supports OpenVPN connections, but our checks revealed some issues. The OpenVPN executable (the file managing the process) was an ancient version 2.3.9, released December 2015. And although the website says HideIPVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, the OpenVPN configuration on our system was set to use AES-128 with outdated SHA-1 authentication. 

There was better news with our privacy checks, as we couldn't spot any DNS or WebRTC leaks, no matter how many test sites we tried.

Performance

We use OpenSpeedTest to test the performance of every VPN we review (Image credit: OpenSpeedTest)

Our performance tests were a little more mixed. UK speeds were 45-50Mbps, 30% below the best of the rest, but US performance was better at 50-60Mbps, and Australia was average but usable at a typical 20Mbps.

Final verdict

HideIPVPN is a likeable service, great at website unblocking and fairly priced. The vague privacy policy and ancient OpenVPN setup leave us wondering what's happening underneath, though. Try it to unblock Netflix and others, but be careful if you're doing anything privacy-critical.