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Hide.me VPN free review: Security features put to the test

Verified by Amy Reeves

These days, the  importance of a virtual private network (VPN) cannot be overstated, offering essential protection for your data, masking your IP address and enhancing online privacy. With years of experience testing myriad VPNs, the Independent Advisor team brings a discerning eye when it comes to choosing VPNs that offer a balance of tough security and features that can enhance your online experience. Hide.me’s free VPN service is a stand-out option that offers robust security features and a generous data cap. In this review, we’ll be diving into the pros and cons of Hide.me’s free plan, leveraging our expertise to give you a thorough and informed overview of its performance and value.

30-second review

Rating: ★★1/2

Hide.me’s free VPN service is a decent all-rounder in the world of free VPNs, offering users 10GB of monthly data. The service is lauded for its strong security, employing AES-256 encryption, a kill switch and a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. Hide.me also has annual transparency reports detailing the requests it receives for user data and how it manages these. Additional features, such as split tunneling, are also a nice bonus that other free VPNs don’t include. On the other hand, Hide.me’s free VPN doesn’t support multihop connections and it lacks an ad blocker, which is a feature common in many other free VPNs. In our tests, the significant drop-off in speed when connected to any of the servers is what ultimately let it down.

How we research and rate free VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
500+
customer reviews read
100+
hours of research
25
competitors compared
4
vpn experts consulted

Dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date and accurate information, our reviewers research and analyse each VPN so you can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a reputable source of security. Independent Advisor will only recommend a provider after careful auditing of verified customer feedback and industry expert opinion, alongside rigorous testing and head-to-head feature comparisons.

Our free VPN review scores are determined by the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30%)
  • Features and functionality (30%)
  • Reputation and credibility (25%)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10%)
  • Customer experience (5%)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are verified by our in-house team of fact-checkers, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible. To find out more, read our article on how we review VPNs.

Hide.me VPN free overview

  • Data limit: 10GB per month
  • Number of servers: 5
  • Number of locations of servers: 8
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 1 device
  • AES-256 encryption: Yes 
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited no-log policy: Yes
  • Headquarters: Malaysia​

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Very robust security features and transparency No ad-blocker
Excellent customer support, which includes live chat for free users Slow download and upload speeds on every free server
Includes some advanced feature such as split-tunneling Does not unblock streaming sites

How does Hide.me VPN compare to other free services?

Hide.me doesn’t match Proton VPN’s unlimited data for free users, but of the services that have a data cap, it matches PrivadoVPN free and Windscribe free with a generous 10GB (technically, Windscribe users can get a permanent 5GB extra if they tweet about the company, raising their limit to 15GB). However, Hide.me offers some of the widest compatibility of the group with support for 19 platforms. Unfortunately, it is lacking in most other areas, such as servers and locations, where it hovers just above Atlas VPN’s free service. Hide.me is also the only free VPN in the group, apart from Proton VPN, that doesn’t allow free users to unblock streaming sites. It does, however, allow for torrenting, alongside Windscribe and Atlas VPN. 

VPN Servers Countries Data limit/month Platforms supported Torrenting Unblocks streaming Audited no-log policy
ProtonVPN Free 152 3 No limit 6 No No Yes
PrivadoVPN Free 12 10 10GB 6 No Yes** No
Windscribe Free 11 11 2GB – 15GB* 12 Yes Yes** No
Atlas VPN Free 3 3 5GB 4 Yes Yes** Yes***
Hide/me Free VPN 5 5 10GB 19 Yes No Yes
*>2GB data requires email verification, social media promotion
** Limited library access; video/audio quality reduced by bandwidth limits
*** Its iOS app had a security audit in 2021, and others are coming this year, but at the time of writing the logging policy has not been independently verified
Best alternative to
NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers in the world, offering top-notch encryption, incredible speeds, and extra features to make all your online activities more secure.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
24/7 customer support
AES-256 encryption
VIEW PLANS At NordVPN

Hide.me VPN free features

The free version of Hide.me VPN offers a selection of features that make it a good choice for basic VPN usage. It also offers a no-logs policy, which means your internet activity isn’t recorded, and it has been independently audited to confirm this. 

The service also includes split tunneling, which allows you to decide which apps use the VPN and which apps use your internet service provider’s (ISP) network, and a kill switch that automatically disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection drops. This prevents your data from being exposed if there’s a problem with the VPN. The free plan also comes with AES-256 encryption, a strong standard of encryption used widely in the industry. It also allows 10 simultaneous connections, which is higher than many other free VPNs offer. 

What’s more, the free version includes a 10GB per month data limit, which is at the upper end of what is typically offered on a free VPN. However, it’s worth nothing that there are some limitations. Hide.me’s free VPN doesn’t support advanced features, such as multihop or the ability to unblock streaming platforms.

Server count and countries

Although the number of available servers is limited compared to the paid version, the free plan does provide access to servers in five different locations: the US East, US West, the Netherlands, Canada, and Germany. Hide.me has more than 2,100 servers in total, but the exact number available to free users in their five locations is not clearly stated. Our team reached out to Hide.me’s customer support for clarity and were told: “We support WireGuard, IKEv2, OpenVPN, SSTP and SoftEther on all servers. You can use these protocols with either free or paid plans and these protocols are available on all servers. We don’t differentiate between free and premium plans regarding our no-logs policy, encryption and security.”

As for the type of servers, we’ve seen some anecdotal evidence that Hide.me uses RAM-only servers, but, again, the customer support team would not confirm this. The benefit of RAM-only servers is that every time they are reset, all data is wiped. 

Encryption and privacy

Hide.me offers high-level security features even for free users. It uses AES-256 encryption, which is considered the gold standard in data encryption and ensures that your data is secure and unreadable to any potential eavesdroppers. Hide.me also operates on a strict no-logs policy, meaning it does not track or store any user activity or data, ensuring user privacy. This policy has been independently audited by Leon Juranic from DefenseCode Ltd, providing further assurance. What’s more, the company has released an annual transparency report since 2017, outlining how it manages data.

The Hide.me app provides a user-friendly interface, where these security features are seamlessly integrated. Once connected to a VPN server, your connection is automatically secured with the encryption, and within the app’s settings menu you can choose from the IKEv2, OpenVPN or WireGuard VPN protocols. For tech-savvier users, there’s even the option to set up a custom DNS; this is a lot of control on offer for free users. Plus, the no-logs policy applies regardless of whether you’re a free or a premium user, so you don’t have to worry about your privacy being compromised.

Compared to other VPN providers, Hide.me stands out with its independently audited no-logs policy and strong encryption. While many VPNs offer similar levels of encryption, not all have their no-logs policy independently audited, which sets Hide.me apart.

Other features

Stealth Guard

This tool allows free users to block internet connection to specific apps when the VPN connection is inactive. You can also set it to restrict your entire network’s activity to an established VPN connection, which will stay active even when the app isn’t running. 

Split Tunneling

A rarity on free VPN plans, split tunneling allows you to select certain apps that can use your VPN connection and others that are restricted to your regular network. This is handy because some apps, such as online banking applications, are not compatible with VPNs.

Hide.me free VPN performance test results

To determine whether a VPN fulfils our anticipated standards of security, speed and dependability, Independent Advisor follows an extensive evaluation process that tests a service on the following lines:

  • Connection speed: Our initial approach is to gauge the speed of the internet when no VPN is connected using resources such as Speedtest.net. Following this, we link up with the VPN and perform a second speed test. It’s normal for a VPN to cause a minor decrease in speed because of the overhead associated with encryption, but our priority here is to spot major reductions that might interfere with your online browsing or streaming. We meticulously scrutinise download and upload speeds, along with latency, across various server locations to evaluate their efficacy and measure how much degradation has occurred from the baseline value when no VPN is connected.
  • Security verification: To protect your confidentiality, we utilise tools such as IPLeak.net to locate any possible DNS leaks that could reveal your actual location, even when you’re linked to a VPN. Furthermore, we investigate potential WebRTC leaks that could unintentionally expose your IP address.

Our researchers observed these rigorous criteria while assessing the performance of Hide.me’s free VPN.

Download Speed (Mbps) Degradation (% of base value) Upload Speed (Mbps) Degradation (% of base value) Latency Latency % increase from base value
No VPN 289.33 86.08 5ms
UK to UK 48.67 16% 4.47 5% 10ms 100%
UK to New York 50.22 17% 4.65 5% 178ms 3460%
UK to Singapore 23.73 8% 4.46 5% 230ms 4500%
screenshot of speed tests with no VPN
Speed with no VPN. This is our baseline. The numbers along the bottom of the image are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test, measured in megabytes.

Looking at the data in the table above, it becomes quickly evident that there are notable speed reductions when using Hide.me’s free VPN, compared with the baseline speeds without a VPN. The download speed, initially clocking in at 289.33Mbps without a VPN, experienced a significant decrease when connected to all the tested VPN servers. The UK server provided a speed of 47.67Mbps, the New York server offered a speed of 50.22 Mbps and the Singapore server recorded the lowest speed of 23.73Mbps. This suggests that the distance between the user and the VPN server may impact the download speeds, with longer distances generally resulting in slower speeds.

screenshot of vpn speed test
Speed with UK to UK connection.

In terms of upload speeds, the baseline speed without a VPN was 86.08Mbps. However, the speeds with the VPN connected to all three server locations were markedly lower, all clocking in around the 4.5Mbps range. There was not a significant difference between the upload speeds of the three servers, despite their varied geographical locations.

This data indicates that Hide.me’s free VPN does cause a substantial decrease in both download and upload speeds, potentially due to the encryption process and the distance to the VPN servers. However, despite this reduction, the speeds achieved are still suitable for many online activities such as browsing and streaming, depending on individual user requirements.

WebRTC Leak Test

Web Real-Time Communication, better known as WebRTC, facilitates direct connections between web browsers for instantaneous communication. This technology powers applications for voice and video chats in real-time.

However, a noteworthy security concern associated with WebRTC is what is known as a WebRTC leak. This occurs when WebRTC inadvertently discloses your true IP address, even when you’re utilising a VPN or proxy to conceal it. This can take place because WebRTC requires your actual IP address to establish a direct browser connection, potentially circumventing the VPN or proxy. The significance of a WebRTC leak lies in its potential to undermine the privacy and anonymity that a VPN or proxy is designed to maintain by exposing your real IP address.

In our tests of all of Hide.me’s free servers, we are pleased to say there were no instances of WebRTC leaks. Our IP was protected each time. 

Breaches and audits

Hide.me has not had any major data breaches in the past five years and the company has been conducting annual transparency reports since 2012. In these reports, the company details the types of data requests it receives, including those related to illegal activities, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and law enforcement and police requests. Throughout 2021, Hide.me received several requests related to each of these categories. However, as a no-logs VPN provider, Hide.me asserts that it has no data to hand over in response to these requests. Therefore, even though it cooperates with every request it receives, Hide.me maintains that it does not possess any user data to surrender.

What’s more, Hide.me has passed an independent audit of its no logs policy and is a member of the VPN Trust Initiative, which is a consortium of VPN providers focused on improving digital safety.

Overall, Hide.me is a reputable VPN provider with a good track record of security and privacy. The company is transparent about its operations and has a strong commitment to user privacy. 

Compatibility and apps

Hide.me’s free VPN is compatible with a wide range of devices, operating systems and browsers. These include:

Devices and Operating Systems

  • Windows
  • Android phones and tablets
  • iOS
  • macOS
  • Amazon FireTV
  • Linux
  • Blackberry
  • Router
  • Qnap
  • Synology

Browser extensions

Hide.me VPN offers proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox, which allows users to access blocked websites and content without having to install a full VPN client. However, it’s worth noting that proxies can help users access blocked content by masking their IP addresses but, unlike VPNs, they do not provide encryption or the same level of privacy and security. 

Mobile and desktop apps

We tested the mobile VPN app for Android and desktop app for MacOS. Both are very straightforward to set up and feature a user-friendly interface that is designed to be intuitive, even for novices. The apps support IKEv2, OpenVPN and WireGuard security protocols, which are conveniently located in a Settings menu. You can also set them to automatic and let the app choose the best protocol. 

Like many free VPNs, you can enable an automatic VPN connection as soon as a wifi or mobile network connection is established. In this settings menu, you can also enable the kill switch, split tunneling and Stealth Guard, which can block internet connection to certain apps when the VPN connection is inactive. 

In the Locations menu, Hide.me has handily grouped all of the free servers at the top of the menu, making them quick and easy to find. Other free VPNs we’ve tested have buried them among other sub-menus, which took some time to deduce. 

Hide.me VPN also offers a router app. This app filters and secures traffic for all devices connected to the router, eliminating the need to set up apps on each individual device.

Customer support

Free users of Hide.me can contact customer support in the following ways:

  • Request support directly from the VPN Client: Users can submit a Support Request from the Hide.me VPN client app. This feature is available on both Windows and macOS computers, as well as iOS and Android devices.
  • Support Ticket: Users can open a support ticket on the Hide.me website to contact support directly.
  • Live chat: Hide.me stands apart from many of its competitors by offering 24/7 customer support via live chat. We tested the service and, indeed, you can chat to a human representative within seconds.

Hide.me also has a bustling user community, where you can ask other users for help or share information. The company also has a huge knowledge base of FAQ articles and tutorials, as well as bespoke setup guides for each compatible device and operating system.

Hide.me offers one of the best and fully-featured customer support experiences for free users that we’ve seen from the free VPNs that we’ve tested. Its live chat connects you in seconds, and we had responses to our support requests within six hours. 

What do customers say?

Hide.me receives a phenomenal 4.9 out of five star-rating on Trustpilot, with 95 per cent of its reviews at the full five stars.  Users cite the excellent customer service and reliability of the connection.

“Excellent service! Your free option made me choose you. I worked perfectly! But to be able to do more, I will purchase the full option.”

Apple App Store users also score the service highly, giving it 4.5 out of five stars. Again, users cite the customer service – and live chat, in particular – as a benefit that keeps them using the VPN. 

“This app is really seriously awesome. No extra fees and charges and a good amount of GBs. It works on all devices and the only reason you would need to upgrade is if you want extra servers or more GBs, but I’ve never needed more.”

  • Booi69, via Apple App Store

On the Google Play Store, Android users give Hide.me a rating 4.2 out of five stars. Once again, most users cite the excellent customer service.

“An excellent free VPN choice, and a pretty decent one if you want all the functionality of the paid version. I use it a lot, being able to choose from a variety of free & in different countries, is invaluable to me. 5 stars!”

  • Ian Bradley, via Google Play Store

The rare negative reviews on each platform largely stem from a user’s problem with a connection, which the Hide.me team is active in responding to.

Independent Advisor’s verdict

The free VPN from Hide.me is a decent all-rounder with one of the more generous data limits, strong security measures and some nice features like split tunnelling, a kill switch and support for torrenting. What’s more, it has some of the best customer service we’ve seen from a free VPN. A superb live chat and a support team that responds to tickets within hours. When looking for something that makes Hide.me stand out from the crowd, its customer service is a difference maker. But is it enough? 

With other free VPNs offering unlimited data, the ability to unblock streaming sites and more free server choice, it feels like Hide.me probably needs to up its game in one of these areas to stay relevant. We also found a huge drop-off in download and upload speeds when connecting to any of the free servers, even the ones closer to home. The speeds were still fast enough for most online activity, but for heavy internet users and those wanting to stream, you might want to consider other options. 

Score: ★★1/2

Score Breakdown

Reputation ★★½
Privacy ★★½
Performance and features ★★½
Plans and pricing value ★½
Customer experience ★★★

Frequently asked questions about free VPNs

Although a free VPN doesn’t require an upfront monetary commitment, the notion of “free” often comes with certain limitations. These can include capped data allowances, a narrow choice of servers, slower connection speeds or services that are bolstered by ads. Many suppliers offer free VPNs as stripped-down iterations of their fee-based offerings, intending to entice users into upgrading for an expanded set of features and enhanced capabilities.

The level of security offered by a free VPN primarily depends on the VPN provider. Some free VPNs, especially those offered by reputable firms also offering paid services, are generally safe, as they adhere to strict privacy standards to maintain their good standing. Conversely, some free VPNs could jeopardise your data privacy. They might monitor your online behaviour, capitalise on your data by selling it to marketing companies, or, in certain instances, may even harbour malware. Consequently, it’s crucial to exercise judgement and select a free VPN service that is open about its privacy protocols and has a favourable track record.

While certain free VPNs may allow access to streaming services, this is not a consistent feature across all providers. Streaming platforms frequently adopt tactics to hinder VPNs, and numerous free services lack the required resources to regularly bypass these restrictions. Additionally, the data caps and slower speeds often associated with free VPNs can affect the streaming quality, even for users who can access these platforms. For more dependable access to streaming services, it’s generally recommended to choose a paid, or premium, VPN service.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Jeff Meyer

Writer

Jeff is a highly experienced editor and journalist with extensive experience in the tech industry, as well as for the automotive and DIY sectors, writing for both B2C and B2B brands.

Jeff has tested all manner of tech, from cameras to phones to EVs and home appliances. In his 23 years as a writer and editor, Jeff has written for global tech titles like TechRadar and Digital Camera World, as well as brands such as eBay, Canon, Panasonic, Eero, and many more.

His expertise extends to topics such as solar panels and VPN, a topic where he is a regular contributor.

In addition to editorial, Jeff also has many years experience producing video and podcasts. He is also passionate about renewable energy and green living, and explaining this technology to new audiences.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.