hide.me VPN Review Overview
- 1400+ servers
- Split tunneling
- P2P friendly
- Terrible speeds
- 24 month plan - $5 per month ($119.99 total cost)
- 12 month plan - $8.33 per month ($99.99 total cost)
- 1 month plan - $12.99 per month ($12.99 total cost)
Hide.me promises a lot of things – like providing absolute privacy and security while using their VPN services. However, due to the mixed user reviews online, we decided to test the provider’s claims ourselves in our own hide.me VPN review.
SPOILER: we’re not impressed. Keep reading to find out why we don’t recommend hide.me as a VPN.
EDIT: As of 07/16/20, hide.me has improved their VPN service by a large margin. Until we can take aside the time to do a complete revamp on this review, we will make edits in the appropriate sections and raise hide.me’s overall score accordingly.
Located in a Safe Jurisdiction
While there are always exceptions, we try to avoid VPNs based in a 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes jurisdiction because they’re notorious for data retention laws that disregard your right to privacy.
Hide.me is an “offshore VPN,” meaning they’re not in any of those countries. In fact, they’re based in Malaysia, which is known to have favorable privacy laws.
Strict No-Logs Policy?
Hide.me doesn’t even want to know your name – just your email address, which they encrypt on their own servers. In fact, their servers are set up specifically so user data cannot be stored on them.
Except for how much data you’re using, that is:
So how are they enforcing that 2GB cap for free users if the data traffic numbers are being aggregated?
So it seems there’s a little more than just diagnostic data being logged. While we don’t personally consider this type of data collection to be an issue, it does make us wonder whether there’s any other logging not being properly disclosed.
How hide.me Compares to the Competition
Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!
Good Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols
While some VPN providers address their encryption standards and VPN protocols separately, hide.me lumps them together.
That’s not a problem, as they work together. But the way hide.me does this makes confirming the strength of their encryption difficult. Here’s what we do know:
- OpenVPN – up to 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
- SoftEther – encryption standard not disclosed
- IKEv2 – 128-bit AES for Windows, 256-bit AES for Linux
- SSTP – encryption standard not disclosed
- IKEv1 – up to 256-bit AES
- PPTP – Microsoft point-to-point encryption (not recommended)
- L2TP/IPSec – up to 128-bit AES combined with Microsoft point-to-point encryption
That’s a lot of “up to” without specifying what determines whether you get 256-bit AES, which is the preferred encryption standard.
And that makes us a little nervous, because although 128-bit AES is still very secure, it’s still only half as secure as the military-grade, industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption.
Once again, we haven’t received any response from hide.me support after asking how to make sure we always have 256-bit AES encryption while using their VPN.
However, we suspect the maximum encryption level available to users will depend on your device type and operating system.
For OpenVPN, it could also depend on whether you’re using the TCP or UDP ports (see our Beginner’s Guide to VPN Protocols for more information on this).
Kill Switch and DNS Leak Protection
There are a few other security features we always look for in a VPN. Some of them are must-haves, while others are merely nice-to-haves.
After a zero logs policy, military-grade encryption, and the best VPN protocols, the first of those must-haves is an automatic kill switch.
This feature will end your internet connection if your device stops communicating with the VPN server so your IP address isn’t leaked.
Hide.me’s homepage advertises having an automatic kill switch available for free and premium accounts alike.
But their Kill Switch feature page is a little confusing, first implying it’s only available with the Windows and macOS apps, and later mentioning mobile users too.
The knowledge base article then confirms it’s available for all hide.me apps, but the feature page explains mobile users have to manually activate it themselves.
We’re firm believers the kill switch should be enabled by default, with the option to disable it. Although this isn’t a huge issue, it is a bit of a disappointment.
As for DNS, hide.me uses their own zero-logs DNS servers. However, at the time of writing, we weren’t able to find an option to enable DNS leak protection in the Android app.
As of 07/16/20, hide.me also offers full IPv6 support and a Stealth Guard Firewall feature.
Split Tunneling and TOR Capability
Two nice-to-haves we always look for is whether a VPN offers split tunneling and if we can use their service with The Onion Router (TOR). Hide.me meets both of these expectations, but not as perfectly as we hoped.
Even though the provider doesn’t mention TOR at all, we make it a habit to see if we can use TOR browser while connected to a VPN server.
It drastically slows your internet connection (even without a VPN involved), but TOR does help significantly boost online anonymity and can be a lifesaver for those in countries with draconian censorship laws.
Other than the connection speed issue, no problems whatsoever using TOR over hide.me, which makes us happy.
We would prefer to see a Double VPN (or Multi-Hop, as it’s also called), which routes your connection via 2 VPN servers for a similar effect with less speed reduction, but that’s also a “nice-to-have” in our books (not a must-have).
We were also pleasantly surprised to see hide.me does offer split tunneling, which lets you decide which websites and apps are routed via the VPN server and which ones run via your ISP.
But here’s the catch: you can only get the split tunneling feature if you’re using Windows, macOS, or Android.
It’s not a train smash. But if you’re going to offer a feature like this, we think it only fair you offer it for all users.
Something we have a love-hate relationship with is finding reviews by other VPN comparison sites that have obvious errors. We’re amused by the fact they present themselves as experts, but frustrated by the effect it has on the industry.
One such example is the hide.me review by TheBestVPN. Updated in August 2019, it claims hide.me only has 160+ servers – but the provider actually has 1,400 servers in 57 locations.
07/16/20 EDIT: hide.me VPN now offers 1800+ servers in 70+ locations.
Granted, this is still a relatively small network considering providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN have 3,000+ and 5,584 servers respectively.
We do prefer seeing at least 2,000 servers on a VPN’s network, but we’re more forgiving of relatively newer providers like hide.me, which was founded in 2012.
A major reason we subscribe to the idea that bigger = better when it comes to a VPN’s server network is it helps prevent network overload.
Also known as network congestion, this is basically what happens when a server is trying to handle data quantities that are close to or exceeding its 100% capacity.
Network overload has a very adverse effect on your connection speed. And it happens a lot quicker when a VPN has a huge customer base, but a low server count.
We couldn’t find any information on how many users hide.me has (and, once again, no reply from support) to try figure out the likelihood of network overload on their servers.
It’s going to vary from one server to the next, and even from one moment to the next, so our test results might differ slightly from your experience if you decide to use hide.me.
That said, we definitely weren’t impressed with our results:
Device Compatibility, Usability, and Connections
Hide.me has apps for most devices, but as we mentioned before, the type of features and (possibly) highest encryption level available depends on the device you’re using:
You’re also limited according to your account type. Free accounts only allow for 1 device to be connected, while premium offers up to 10 simultaneous connections.
You can get away with connecting more devices by setting hide.me up on your router – so long as you have a premium account, of course.
We tested a few of the apps for usability. Installation only took about 5 minutes, which we find is pretty standard.
And they were all easy to use – one click to connect to the recommended server.
You can also easily pull out the list of server locations to manually choose one yourself.
And both the DNS leak protection and kill switch seem to work properly.
Subscription Plans and Pricing
Along with the device you’re using, your subscription plan determines the maximum functionality you can expect from hide.me:
- Free – needs to be manually renewed every 30 days
- 1 Month Premium – $14.95
- 1 Year Premium – $119.95
- 2 Years Premium – $129.95
For a VPN that’s either missing some important features or limits their availability, we feel hide.me is overpriced.
You can get a much better VPN service for a better price by opting for one of our Best Overall VPNs.
07/16/20 EDIT: hide.me’s pricing has also been updated as following:
- 1 Month: $12.95
- 1 Year: $99.95
- 2 Years: $129.95 (+2 free months)
No Netflix and No BBC iPlayer
We use Netflix as our standard for testing a VPN’s streaming capabilities because it’s the most popular choice.
Netflix also has one of the strongest proxy detection methods for identifying and blacklisting VPN IP addresses, so we feel it’s a good measuring stick.
Hide.me doesn’t actually mention Netflix specifically, other than in a knowledge base article, but they do tout themselves as being able to help you access HBO Go, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and more.
The problem? That knowledge base article admits they’re completely blocked by BBC iPlayer, while Netflix and Hulu only work on 2 of their US servers.
We tested the Los Angeles and Las Vegas servers as suggested, but to no avail. Netflix immediately shut us out both times with their infamous proxy server error message.
If you’re hoping to stream media, take a look at our guides on the Best Netflix VPNs, Best BBC iPlayer VPNs, and Best Kodi VPNs instead.
On a wholly positive note, hide.me does support torrenting on most of their servers.
Torrenting – file-sharing via a peer-to-peer (P2P) network – has become increasingly popular again in response to the growing trend for streaming services to have exclusivity deals.
It’s practically impossible to keep up with all your favorite shows without breaking the bank, unless you resort to piracy.
Now, we don’t endorse piracy. But there are plenty of legal uses for torrenting, such as updating your games. So we’re glad to see hide.me is at least competent in this area.
If you decide to buy a premium subscription, you’re able to access a list of P2P-friendly servers via your Members Area. But if you’re looking for a more affordable option than hide.me, check out our guide on the Best Torrenting VPNs.
Almost Nonexistent Support
Hide.me advertises “24/7 support via Live Chat, Tickets, FAQs, Emails, & our Community.”
We also found a Press Materials page for journalists, bloggers, and reviewers that explicitly promises 24/7 live chat.
That’s not the case, though. We tried reaching out to them using the live chat button on their website several times. This is what we got:
We checked our inbox regularly, but the only response we got (as of writing) is a generic:
We eventually asked whether hide.me is giving preferential treatment. Finally, we got a response, though it wasn’t satisfactory:
We should add the caveat that we never disclose the fact we’re reviewers while dealing with a VPN provider’s support agents, precisely because we don’t want to get preferential treatment.
Instead, we tell them we’re looking to switch to a new VPN provider. This way, we’re treated the same way a normal user would be – which is what you need to know.
As of writing, we still haven’t received the promised response via email. That’s a big problem, because these weren’t difficult questions, but we couldn’t get an answer at all.
In any case, if you do need to get hold of live support, we recommend using the chat button on the Press Materials page. It seems to be the only one that works 24/7, even if you aren’t guaranteed an answer.
07/16/20 EDIT: hide.me didn’t update their support so to speak, but rather says their support is faster to respond and now provides “real time” answers. We will thoroughly investigate this when rewriting the review! It’s worth mentioning our recent conversation with hide.me’s support went spectacularly well, so updates in a future review seem promising!
How to Cancel hide.me and Get Your Money Back
We don’t recommend using hide.me – namely because they’re over-priced, with unreliable support, slow speeds, and lax security in some areas.
And their complicated cancellation process (and shady refund policy) cements that judgement.
If you recently purchased a subscription and want to switch to a better VPN, here’s what you need to do:
- Find the payment confirmation email sent via Cleverbridge and follow the subscription cancellation link to stop recurring bills
- Open a Support Ticket asking to cancel your hide.me account and request a refund
- If you’re still eligible for the 30-day money-back guarantee, you’ll receive confirmation within 2 days and your refund will be processed within 10 business days
To qualify for a refund, it needs to be within the first 30 days of using hide.me – account renewals aren’t eligible.
You also cannot have used more than an unspecified amount of data in the time your account was active.
Sound a bit dodgy to you too?