The United Kingdom's large VPN provider Hide My Ass! (HMA) has been offering VPN subscriptions since 2005. They are widely considered the largest provider of VPN service, both in subscribers and in the number of locations in which servers can be found. The company has been targeted for their questionable storage and sharing of customer data, so they are not a good match for those whom total anonymity is the goal of obtaining a VPN. The features which are included are solid and at the cutting edge, allowing users to select servers based upon ping rates and the current server loads, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of connecting to a VPN.
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- Encryption type
- Customer support
- Extra features
HMA offers three plans, each of them identical in their available features. The only difference is the terms of the subscription. All plans are paid in advance for the entire term.
- Kick-Ass (Monthly) - $11.52/month
- Half-Ass (Semi-Annual) - $8.33/month
- Smart-Ass (Annual) - $6.55/month
Customers must select automatic or manual renewal for their membership. Automatic renewal requires customers to notify HMA in order to discontinue their account while manual renewal requires the customer to manually pay their bill at the end of each term. Manual renewals expire if no payment is made.
HMA offers choices to their customers of four encryption protocols. The VPN tunnels can be encrypted with OpenVPN-TCP, OpenVPN-UDP, PPTP, and L2TP. The Review Team recommends using either of the OpenVPN protocols whenever possible, as it is considered to be the protocol which is the more secure. iOS users currently cannot use OpenVPN, but L2TP is comparable to OpenVPN in security for those with an iOS device.
The Review Team found more variation in the raw independent speed test date for HMA than for any other company. As a general rule, the servers which performed the best with the highest download and upload rates were those which were located in the United States. Servers in other countries did not perform as well generally, and resulted in the overall average speed calculations being very low and well beneath many of the companies which have been reviewed by the Review Team. HMA's average download time was 6.19 Mbps and upload time was 1.89 Mbps, which is significantly below the average download and upload speed for non-VPN speed in the United States of 20.8 and 5.2 Mbps, respectively.
One area which HMA sets themselves apart is that when users open their application dashboard, the current speeds of different servers is displayed, so that users can select the fastest server in their desired location. This feature addresses the complexity of VPN speeds as well as makes the company more transparent.
HMA offers their customer three ways to receive support. They can browse the extensive FAQ Knowledge Base which gives them access to several how-to resources. These articles are quite comprehensive and organized well.
For those who want more assistance, customers can submit an email help ticket via web form. This method of contacting the company has been problematic for many customers, with long delays - sometimes going as much as days or weeks to receive an answer.
Live chat is available for customers and prospective customers alike. Agents are available whenever the chat bubble is displayed at the bottom of the company's pages. Some customers report that this features is only available at times, but the Review Team checked randomly during a 24-hour period and did not see many examples of the chat feature not being available. Wait times vary, but are usually short and chat requests are answered within minutes.
HMA has several additional features which allow users to have a superior experience while connected to their VPN. Of note are the tools which allow for users to see the current speeds of different servers to help them decide to which one they want to connect and the VPN kill switch (Secure IP Bind) which allows customers to terminate their connection with the VPN should the server go down.
Users can also change their servers quickly and seamlessly, with the click of the Change IP button in their dashboard. Subscribers can also set a timeframe for automatic IP changes, which can be scheduled in advance and will occur automatically. HMA alerts users when signing into a server if it is experiencing higher traffic and recommend a comparable server with a lower current load.
- Free trial
- Money back guarantee
Hide My Ass! (HMA) does not offer new customers a free membership on their website. There are reports of customers contacting the company and receiving a 48-hour free trial at their request. The company does not have an official policy on to whom they might offer a free trial and states that it is based upon manager discretion only.
Money Back Guarantee
A 30-day money back guarantee is available for new customers. In order to qualify for this guarantee, several limitations exist and many conditions must be met.
- Users must be new customers - renewals are not eligible for a refund
- Request for a refund must be within 30 days of the date of the order
- Customer must not have exceeded 100 sessions or 10 GB of bandwidth during their first 30 days or less
- Users must have fully complied with all of the company's terms and conditions
- User must not have previously requested a refund with another account
- Purchases made through Apple iTunes Store with OneBip are not eligible for refund
- Refund requests must be initiated by emailing [email protected], and include the VPN user name and reason for the request
There is considerable information from former HMA subscribers that the company does not always honor their customers' requests for a money-back guarantee. These limitations are vastly different from many companies in the industry who offer a full and unconditional money-back guarantee and have testimonials from customers to prove that they operate with integrity within this aspect of their business.
There are many disgruntled former customers who claim that the company would not honor their request for a cancellation and that the billing term was difficult to change from automatic to manual renewal. Both require that customer remain proactive and communicate with the company and make certain that all requirements are met in their communication with HMA.