Reviews

HMA VPN Review

By August 10, 2020 September 8th, 2020 No Comments
HMA review

HMA VPN Review Overview

4.10/5
Rated #6 VPN / 45

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Pros

  • Works with streaming platforms
  • Military-grade encryption
  • P2P friendly

Cons

  • Stores a lot of logs

HideMyAss! VPN, more commonly marketed as HMA, has an inspiring origin story, but a troubled history.

The question on everyone’s mind is… does the name change (at least as far as marketing is concerned) also mean a business model change? And if so, has it been for better or worse?

Of course, this is the question we set out to answer with our HMA VPN review!

Located in a 5 Eyes Nation

If you take a look at the HMA “About Us” page, there’s a brief but inspiring tale to be found. Jack Cator created HMA as a website proxy back in 2005 at just 16 years old. The reason? He wanted to get around his school’s firewall.

Just below that snippet of history, HMA says “Even though we are based in the UK, we’re also a member of the Avast family, the largest and most trusted company in the world.”

We’d like to think this is just an innocent nod at the fact HMA became a subsidiary of Avast in 2016. Incidentally, this is also only due to Avast taking over AVG Technologies, who acquired HMA in 2015.

But it’s also a hasty diversion from the fact HMA is based in the UK, one of the founding nations behind the 5 Eyes Alliance, a global surveillance supergroup.

It doesn’t matter that Avast, the new parent company, is based in the Czech Republic. What matters is UK-based Privax Limited is still the operating company:

When it comes to VPN providers and the 5 Eyes Alliance, we strongly prefer no connections whatsoever. Unfortunately, HMA fails that litmus test by default.

Strict No Logging Policy

While HMA was known to log a variety of things in the past, they are now a no logs VPN and abide to a strict no-logs policy. This has been verified via an independent audit with the cyber-security company Verspite.

The Provider had this to say on the matter:

“This new privacy-first attitude has been articulated in our
brand-new No Logging Policy, which brings a whole new level
of security and anonymity to our customers, and has been
certified by the security pros at VerSprite, so you know it’s
legit. We’re proud of the changes we’ve made, and we look
forward to further improving the privacy of others — and
ourselves — in the years moving forward.”

This is just a quick edit and we plan to revisit their logging policy in detail in the future – but so far, so good!

Military-Grade Encryption and the Best VPN Protocols

Let’s move onto the nuts and bolts of HMA’s service as a VPN – i.e. their security features.

HMA is upfront about the fact they use military-grade encryption: 256-bit AES-GCM, the most secure encryption standard. The provider takes it a step further by also revealing they use 4096-bit RSA keys with SHA256 authentication.

Window and Android users also benefit from OpenVPN, the VPN protocol we fully recommend using. Mac and iOS users get short-changed here, but the IKEv2/IPSec protocol setup is generally recognized as the most secure option Apple permits.

HMA also includes a smart kill switch feature, which is advertised for Windows users only but is also available for Mac and Android.

We’re also quite pleased with the fact there’s a split-tunneling feature. This allows you to decide which apps and browsers connect via the VPN and which simultaneously use your regular connection.

Last, but certainly not least, HMA also provides robust leak protection for IPv4, IPv6, and DNS. While not specified on the provider’s site, we also found HMA passes our WebRTC leak tests.

Decent Server Park + TOR-Over-VPN

For a VPN provider who’s been in business for 15 years and has a huge international company like Avast backing it, HMA has a surprisingly low server count.

While other providers who have been around for just as long typically have upwards of 3,000 servers, HMA only has 1,000+ spread over 290+ locations in 190+ countries:

However, size isn’t always the best indicator of server quality, which is what matters at the end of the day.

We’re quite happy with how well HMA managed to spread their servers across the globe, ensuring no matter where you are in the world, there’s at least one server nearby.

Unfortunately, it’s not all happy news here.

HMA is missing one of our favorite privacy features: a Double VPN, also known as a MultiHop. This feature allows you to connect to a second VPN server via the first one, doubling your encryption and making it even harder for surveillance groups to suss out your real IP.

Usually, a provider not offering this feature isn’t too big of a deal. While not as secure or ideal, the TOR-over-VPN method offers a reasonable alternative.

Tor Browser

Fortunately, HMA works flawlessly with TOR Browser…albeit with slower speeds (but that’s to be expected!)

How HMA Compares to the Competition

Price$3.49/mth$6.67/mth$2.75/mth$2.99/mth
Rating
Servers5572300064341000
Multiple ConnectionsUp to 6Up to 5Up to 7Up to 5
Speed 93 % 79 % 79 % 86 %
LoggingNo logsNo logsNo logsSome
Support24/7 live chat24/7 live chat24/7 live chat24/7 Live Chat
Killswitch
Refund30-Day Moneyback Guarantee 30-Day Moneyback Guarantee 45-Day Moneyback Guarantee 30-Day Moneyback Guarantee
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Take a look at How We Rate VPN Providers!

Speed

Arguably one of the most important aspects of a VPN is the connection speed it offers.

This rests on a lot of different factors, not all of which can be controlled by the user. For example, the distance between yourself and the server you connect to or whether that server is suffering network overload.

This is why there is no definitive answer to the question “What is the fastest VPN?

But we have a few tricks up our sleeves to get as objective an understanding of how fast a VPN is as possible. Here’s what we got with HMA:

No VPN

US Server

UK Server

While our internet speeds are admittedly pretty terrible to begin with due to a new move, that’s by no means HMA’s fault. In fact, as you can see from the speed tests above, they offer competitively high speeds!

Device Compatibility and Connections

HMA has all the bases covered when it comes to device compatibility:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Routers

There are also browser proxy plug-ins for Chrome and Firefox – though if you’re going to use those, we recommend doing so while also connected to the VPN.

As for connections, HMA isn’t as consistently clear as one would hope.

In this FAQ, dated September 2019, the provider says “there aren’t any limitations whatsoever…” While simultaneous connections aren’t specifically mentioned, connection attempts, reconnects, and “anything else” are:

However, in this FAQ from December 2019, HMA reveals there are, in fact, limitations – 5 simultaneous connections, to be exact:

Subscription Plans and Pricing

One way HMA most certainly breaks the mold is by not offering a public monthly subscription.

Instead, you seemingly get the following options:

However, both of the longer subscriptions include a “Save x%”, suggesting there might be a hidden monthly subscription offer. And after contacting HMA’s live chat support, we were given this link to monthly pricing ($11.99).

HMA also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, though we couldn’t find a straight answer as to what HMA’s refund policy actually is.

The Cancellation and Refund Policy redirects you to the Cancellation FAQ, which in turn sends you to the Refund FAQ, which sends you back to the Policy page and sets you on an endless loop.

Again however, after contacting support, we were assured there is, in fact, a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Unblock (Most) Websites for (Almost) Unlimited Streaming

One area HMA is very strong with is its streaming capabilities.

Before the Netflix anti-VPN software was introduced in 2016, HMA was allegedly considered one of the best streaming VPN services available. The provider has been struggling since, but seems to have finally caught up.

HMA now has special streaming-optimized servers available, 3 of which are in the US. However, you can use just about any of their servers to stream – and if you get stuck, hitting the IP Refresh button almost always works.

Pretty much the only limit is with accessing Disney+. Granted, it’s a new streaming platform, but there are already other VPNs that work with Netflix. If HMA can catch up, the VPN will become a streaming machine!

Torrenting

HMA has P2P-optimized servers available and claims to keep speed impact to a minimum:

However, since 2017, users have been complaining they can’t connect to a torrent network at all – or when they do, the speed is so drastically slow they might as well not be connected at all.

With that said, we didn’t have any such issues when we tested the P2P connections. So HMA gets a tenuous thumbs-up for torrenting an make our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

Usability and Support

Overall, HMA is a very user-friendly VPN.

The installation is quick and easy and we were happy with the default settings regarding VPN protocol, though you need to manually enable the kill switch.

It’s also extremely easy to switch and browse servers.

However, their support was a bit more complicated.

In the beginning, we thought we’d need to give them a less than satisfactory score for support, as we tried contacting their live chat and didn’t have any luck. Both times, we were automatically given a list of FAQ articles and the option to leave a message:

Fortunately, the second time around, we had far better results. In fact, we suspect the first time might have been an issue on our end.

HMA’s live chat agent was quick to respond and very friendly, offering answers to both questions (refund policy and monthly sub):

There are also a lot of FAQ articles available (though finding the one you’re looking for can often be frustrating) and a Community forum.

Overall, we were very pleased with HMA’s usability and support!

How to Cancel HMA VPN and Get Your Money Back

If you do decide to give HMA a try, but find the provider isn’t meeting all of your needs or expectations, here’s how to cancel your subscription and get your money back:

  1. Log into your HMA VPN Control Panel
  2. Tap “Cancel subscription” near the bottom
  3. Confirm by tapping “Yes, cancel”
  4. After confirming, wait a few minutes before refreshing the page and make sure “Auto-renewal” is marked “OFF”
  5. Open a support ticket requesting a refund. Make sure you have the Order Confirmation email ready to provide HMA with information if asked.

That’s it! HMA isn’t clear on the full terms and conditions of their refund policy or how long you can expect it to take for a refund to be processed, unfortunately.

FAQs

How much does HMA VPN cost per month?

HMA does not offer a monthly subscription plan, unfortunately – only 1-year and 3-year subscription offers at $59.88 and $107.64 respectively.

Does HMA VPN work for Netflix?

Yes, HMA works very well for streaming the US and UK versions of Netflix.

Is HMA VPN legitimate?

HMA VPN is a legitimate VPN provider that has been in the industry since 2005.

Is HMA VPN a good VPN?

HMA has a few noticeable issues, including a somewhat invasive logging policy and a history of providing user information to the authorities when asked. These issues prevent HMA from being a good VPN in our experience.

Does HMA VPN hide our IP address?

Yes, HMA will successfully hide your IP address. There were no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks during our tests.

Does HMA VPN charge monthly?

No. You can opt for a 1-year or 3-year subscription period and will be charged accordingly. HMA VPN does not appear to have a monthly option anymore.

Is VPN a zero-logs VPN?

No. While HMA claims to be a no-logs VPN, their Privacy policy reveals a number of logs that are kept and can be used to identify you if you also elect to send crash reports.

Can you cancel HMA VPN anytime?

Yes, HMA VPN allows you to cancel your subscription’s auto-renewal at any time you choose. However, the provider has a 30-day money-back guarantee and isn’t clear on the terms of their refund policy. It’s better to use the 7-day free trial period to test the service against your needs.

Is HMA VPN safe in China?

No, HMA VPN is no longer able to provide a consistent, reliable service to customers living in or traveling through China, many of whom report HMA VPN is now blocked.

Mandee Rose

Mandee Rose

Mandee Rose is the editor and lead writer & researcher at TheVPNShop. A technical writer and blogger with 6+ years of experience in the cybersecurity sector. During her college years, she chased the dual-major of Cyber Security and Journalism while simultaneously offering freelance services online. As a result, Mandee was able to combine both of her passions by writing for companies like LatestHackingNews, BestVPN, Tactical Engine, Hoxhunt, AI Jobs (Medium Blog), and more. Today, she continues sharing her technical knowledge via investigative writing on topics like VPNs, programming, data breaches, artificial intelligence, and other infosec concepts.