Hide.me's network is a fair size, with 1,400 servers (most supporting P2P) spread across 55 countries. Not bad, but not a patch on ExpressVPN. Most are in North America and Europe, but Hide.me also has locations in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Morocco and Singapore.
Wide protocol support includes PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SoftEther, SSTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2; there's protection against DNS, IP and even IPv6 leaks; 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 five devices simultaneously, and there's 24/7 live chat support if you run into problems.
- Want to try Hide.me? Check out the website here
Hide.me's free plan offers a reasonable 2GB data a month if you register with your email address, 500MB if you don't, but you only get access to five locations (USA, Canada, Netherlands, and two in Singapore), and there's support for connecting just one device at a time.
(ed: The Plus Plan was cancelled shortly after the review was updated)
The Premium plan offers unlimited data transfer and lifts the simultaneous connection limit to five. The monthly plan is expensive at $14.95, the $9.99 a month annual plan is also more expensive than most, but pay for two years up-front and the price drops to a more reasonable $5.41. Still, if you're willing to subscribe for two or three years, you can pick up a CyberGhost or NordVPN account for under $3 a month.
Payment options are good, at least, including Bitcoin, PayPal and many other providers, along with credit cards.
There's also a 14-day refund, though it has an unexpected restriction - it won't apply if you have "consumed a significant amount of your transfer data." The company doesn't say what a 'significant amount' might be, which means the policy isn't nearly as clear as we would like.
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."
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.
There's no sharing of data with third parties. The company does use Google Analytics on its website, but even there points out that "to enhance your anonymity, Hide.me have opted to only allow Google to collect only a portion of the IP address".
Hide.me does say that it will comply with court orders received by recognized legal authorities with jurisdiction over them. But as this is a Malaysian-registered company, that may not apply very often, and even when it does the logs won't show very much.
This all looks and sounds great, but there is still room for improvement. Big VPN names including TunnelBear, NordVPN and VyprVPN have now verified their privacy credentials with public audits. It's an effective way to reassure potential customers that a VPN is living up to its promises, and we hope that other providers will follow.
Hide.me's PC client 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.
The server list doesn't provide any ping times or load information to help you judge performance. A Search box makes it easy to find locations by name, though, and a Favorites system enables grouping your most commonly used servers together for speedier access later.
The Settings dialog is also very well-judged. The opening tab displays the main application and connection settings (Launch on startup, remember selected location, reconnect automatically, prevent DNS leaks). Experts get far more low-level control than with most of the competition, including customizable DNS servers, MTU tweaks, and UDP/TCP and port choices for OpenVPN.
The advanced features continue, everywhere you look. For example, split tunneling support enables defining which apps should 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 also run custom scripts when the connection drops, and gives so much control that you can even define if they're run as the current user, or an administrator.
Even Hide.me's system tray icon is super-charged. Right-click most VPN tray icons and you'll get 'show' and 'exit' options; here, you can connect to the default server, select any of the others, browse your favorites, close the current connection, and open the settings box, too.
We checked out the kill switch by manually closing an IKEv2 connection and the client worked perfectly, blocking internet access immediately, displaying a notification to let us know about the problem and reconnecting within seconds.
Unfortunately, the client didn't work as well when we tried to kill our OpenVPN connection by closing openvpn.exe or stopping Hide.me's service. The kill switch still worked, but the client seemed to lose track of its state, was unable to reconnect, and left our internet access disabled until we rebooted.
It's important to put this in perspective. Our OpenVPN tests are extreme and go far beyond the simple closing of a connection, and you may never experience the type of error we simulated. The client would benefit from smarter handling of connection and network problems, but it's not a huge issue, as even now it does a capable job of protecting your privacy.
We've covered a lot of technical features here, mostly because the client is absolutely stuffed with them, but there's also plenty to offer novice users. Running into problems, for instance? No need to head off to the website, spend ages browsing a FAQ or log into some web dashboard - you're able to raise a support ticket from within the client interface. Now that's what we call convenient.
Most VPNs claim they can help you access geoblocked website, and Hide.me is no exception, with the website promising that you'll 'avoid annoying censorship.'
This wasn't the case with BBC iPlayer. The website suggests Hide.me should be able to unblock it, but this didn't work for us, and all three of the UK servers left us looking at a 'this content is not available in your location' error.
The story improved when we switched to the US and were immediately able to access US-only YouTube content.
Unfortunately, the bad news returned when we tried US Netflix, and were unable to get in with any of our test servers.
Our Hide.me speed tests got off to a great start, with UK speeds hitting 60-65Mbps on our 75Mbps test line, and European locations averaging a very usable 50Mbps.
USA speeds were above average at 50-60Mbps. If you're not so lucky, Hide.me's wide selection of US locations (California, Florida, Nevada, New York, Utah, Washington, more) means you should find a decent server near you.
Even the long-distance servers delivered more than we expected, with Hong Kong averaging 32Mbs, Australia hitting 30Mbps, and Singapore reaching a capable 24Mbps.
Hide.me passed our privacy tests, too, hiding our IP, blocking DNS leaks, and properly cloaking our online activities at all times.
Hide.me is a speedy, reliable and highly configurable service, with an array of unusual expert-level features. It's not cheap, but if you're looking for power then go check out the free version right now, see what it can do for you.
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