In this day and age, anonymity is becoming almost impossible to sustain, at least when considering internet usage. Even well known sites install various types of malware and tracking cookies on your computer now. At any given time, providers like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft are all tracking your movements. Every company has their own set of reasons for tracking internet traffic, some of which we may never know. The most obvious use of such tracking software is to provide personalized ads that are tailored to your own interests and tastes.
In more severe cases, especially in foreign countries, internet traffic is monitored and even restricted at times. Various websites and online services can be blocked, sometimes even by the government itself.
In these cases, it is necessary to browse the internet using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short. A VPN is a secure network connection that allows anyone using it to browse the internet with complete privacy and anonymity.
Privacy is essentially maintained because you are given an entirely different IP address which masks your real address. Your ISP connects to the ISP of the VPN server, and if anyone were to check out your connection, then only the information and data from the VPN server would be visible. For example, if you’re using a VPN and someone attempts to detect or log your IP address, they would not see your real IP; instead, they would get the listed IP you’re using through the VPN.
Thanks to the custom IP address assignment, users browsing the internet through a VPN can also gain access to blocked websites and web services.
One of the most popular VPN services about is HideMyAss. Currently, HideMyAss uses 309 VPN servers that are spread across 53 different countries all operating with a total of more than 36,515 IP addresses.
What HideMyAss Does
As I already mentioned, a VPN can provide you with the necessary tools to browse the internet with reliable anonymity. You are protected from any outside source, including spies, hackers, and even tracking software. Furthermore, all internet traffic is encrypted and therefore unreadable.
The HideMyAss service also includes an extraordinarily specific software package that improves security and privacy even more.
The software includes a feature called Secure IP Bind, which allows you to force individual applications and programs to use the VPN connection. This feature inherently helps you ensure that any program accessing the internet will use the VPN link instead of the real one. It helps the applications make use of the HMA features like encrypted traffic, and anonymous browsing. It also prevents any applications from accessing the internet if they are not using the VPN connection. Unfortunately, Secure Bind IP is only available for Windows based PCs.
The software can also be setup to connect automatically to a random server at any given time. For example, you can create a list of servers that the service will randomly connect with upon startup. This keeps your IP changing every time you open up the VPN connection.
You can also set the software to change your IP address at certain intervals. Meaning you can automatically change IP at different times so that the address is continuously changing while you browse.
Boost Connection Performance With Speed Guide
The HideMyAss software also includes a pretty useful function called Speed Guide. It will allow you to enhance overall performance of the VPN connection. The Speed Guide is commonly used to find the optimal VPN connection, or server.
There are three Speed Guide tests that can be performed in order to ascertain the fastest VPN link available.
The first test is a Ping test, which measures the mass latency of the connection between your ISP and the VPN’s ISP. The better the Ping rate, meaning the lower it is, the faster the internet connection.
The second test is an Express test, which measures ping rates and download and upload speeds. During the Express test, 100kb of data is sent to every appropriate server in order to evaluate the best connection speeds.
The third and final test, is the Full Test which does the same thing as the Express test, yet in a more comprehensive manner. The Full test will more accurately determine the best connection speeds by downloading and uploading larger test files.
Why HideMyAss is One of The Best VPN Services
HideMyAss is one of the best services available because of a single, and relatively straightforward, reason. It offers the most for your money. The service itself is relatively inexpensive and budget friendly, yet there is utterly no sacrifice in features or customer support. Most of the time, when you go with a less expensive service you are giving up multiple conveniences. That is not the case at all with HideMyAss.
HMA also uses OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), L2TP, and PPTP protocols. This essentially means the service is compatible with any device including mobile smartphones and tablets. With the widespread use of mobile devices today, it’s a good idea to choose a service that at least offers the possibility to hide internet use on alternate devices, in addition to a PC.
In addition, HideMyAss provides you with all the necessary tools required to connect to the VPN service and optimize the connection. Even the most tech illiterate person could set up a VPN quickly and efficiently through HideMyAss.
HideMyAss VPN Service Speed
The beauty of the HMA service is that the speed is excellent in terms of streaming. You can change protocols at any time, of which PPTP is the best for media streaming through Netflix or Hulu.
Of course, the actual performance speed of the VPN connection depends on several factors like the distance to the server, individual speeds of your ISPs service, what kind of activities you are doing (streaming media, browsing internet, downloading large files), and even how many people are using your connection at one time.
The Speed Guide and Load Balancing tools included in the HMA Pro VPN software should help to increase the overall performance. Load Balancing will help you pinpoint which VPN servers have the most traffic at the time you are attempting to connect. This way you can choose an optimal server (by distance, and quality of the connection), that isn’t affected by high traffic rates.
HideMyAss Server Coverage
Coverage, when using any internet based service, is particularly critical, especially in the case of VPN access. The total number of servers directly determines the overall speed of the service while the number of IP addresses determines how many options you have when masking your IP address. It stands to reason that the more IP addresses that exist, the less likely it is for your real IP address to be discovered or tracked.
As I’ve mentioned above, HideMyAss operates with 309 servers spread across 53 countries, all with a total of 36,515 IP addresses which are up for grabs. Just to give an example of what those statistics mean, I’ve included a global map that lists the location of relevant servers.
What Platforms Will Hide My Ass Protect
The HideMyAss software is compatible with Windows 7 (XP, and Vista too), MAC (Tiger, Leapard, Snow Leapard, Lion). A Linux GUI client is on the way and is currently being developed.
In addition, the HMA VPN service will work with any device that supports OpenVPN or PPTP protocols including iPhone, Android, and iPad.
HideMyAss Subscription Plans
With HMA, there are three different tiers, each offering a separate subscription price and discount.
- 1 Month of Service for $11.52
- 6 Months of Service for $49.99 ($8.34 per month)
- 12 Months of Service for $78.66 ($6.56 per month)
At the time of signup, you can choose to take advantage of a 3 to 7 day trial period of which you can evaluate the service and decide whether you would like to spend your hard earned money or not. If you do upgrade to a paid subscription plan and change your mind, there’s a 30 day money back guarantee also offered. You can get your money back anytime within a reasonable 30 day period.
“I have used HMA VPN for quite a while now off and on. The software itself is great! Very stable. I have used it successfully on my mac, iphone and ipad. The support itself is always fast and polite. First instance, HMA accidentally charged my pay pal account for 2 months instead of 1. So i emailed them and had a response and refund with 48 hours of letting them know of the incident. Great Service!” - David A. from the United States
“I’ve been using many VPN providers and I’ve found out that HidemyAss has an overall better price/Speed/Locations than what I used to have. I’m using their Asian servers to lower my latency with my online gaming and it’s working flawlessly. As for speed, I’ve tried European servers and they give me at least 95% (Up to 99% if I’m downloading for a while) of what I get without a VPN. HMA is perfect on dealing with my ISP’s traffic shaping and censoring. I’m really impressed with HMA’s availability on all of my devices and their OpenVPN/PPTP support.” - Stahn A. from Kuwait
“I have tried a few VPN services over a couple of years and, for me, HMA is as good as it gets. For the price and the sheer amount of servers to chose from, you really can’t go wrong.” - Paul H. from the United Kingdom
HideMyAss Does Have Its Flaws
Nothing is perfect, unfortunately, which means that the HideMyAss service certainly isn’t either.
One of the biggest problems with the HMA service is that the software is not updated on a regular basis. Most computer software sees the standard publication of updates on a weekly, or monthly basis. The HMA software can sometimes last for a year at a time without being updated. However, when updates do appear they offer significant improvements over previous versions, if only because there is such a gap between individual builds. This isn’t necessarily a tremendous problem though, seeing as the software itself always works and rarely sees a feature breaking bug. If you’re like me though and you love software updates, just because of the sheer potential they offer then you’ll find yourself a little disappointed with the HMA software.
There truly isn’t support for custom router firmwares. Which means if you have DD-WRT or a similar firmware installed on your router, you’ll be navigating treacherous waters on your own. Of course, the waters aren’t actually all that unsafe, it’s just the looming fact that the task can be a real pain sometimes. It goes without saying, if you’re the person that has custom firmware installed on your router, you’ll have no issues getting the HMA Pro VPN service setup.
Conclusion & Rating
I’ve tried several different VPN providers, and none of them offer the same strong support and connectivity options as HMA. You certainly have an endless supply of VPN connections at your fingertips thanks to HMA’s simple and easy-to-use desktop software. The software also makes it possible for anyone to connect through a VPN, even if you have exceedingly little understanding of how the existing service works.
It’s genuinely as easy as signing up, installing the software and connecting directly to a VPN server. There are no hidden tasks involved and no other steps required. If you want to fine tune your VPN connection by randomly changing servers and optimizing your speed and connection, you can do so with the included desktop software. If you’d rather just sign up and connect, and never deal with the VPN setup again – you can do that, as well.
Not to mention, HMA has an impressive customer support group dedicated to helping you directly with any problems that might occur while using the service. Every time I had to email customer service, they answered right away on the day of, but never more than a day later.
With expansive software, unlimited data transfer, the option to change your IP address at any time, and low cost subscription plans, what more could want?
I give the HideMyAss service a 9.5/10 when compared to other VPN providers and similar software options.