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HMA VPN review: Privacy and security features tested

Verified by Molly Dyson

A long-standing provider in the VPN world, HMA, formerly known as HideMyAss, was founded in 2005 and has been a subsidiary of the Czech cybersecurity company Avast since 2016. HMA has 1,090 servers in 290 different locations, which is more than some of its competitors. 

The provider is headquartered in London; with the UK being part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, this could be a negative for the privacy-conscious. However, it does follow a strict no-logs policy, which has been independently audited. All of its servers are encrypted with AES-256, which is the highest level of cyber-security, but it seriously lacks extra privacy features.

60-second review

Rating: ★★★

HMA offers 1,090 servers in an outstanding 290 locations, including 210 different countries. It takes its users’ privacy seriously and follows a strict no-logs policy, which has also been independently audited. However, HMA is located in the UK, which is part of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance. 

HMA’s privacy features are also not available for all of its customers. Features like split tunnelling and the kill switch are only available on certain devices. As well as this, there are very few VPN protocols available, whereas most providers have at least two or three.

How we research and rate VPNs

100+
hours performance testing
600+
customer reviews read
100+
hours of research
25
competitors compared
3
VPN experts consulted

Our reviewers are committed to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, extensive head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews, and the opinions of industry experts.

Our HMA VPN review score is determined by the following categories:

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

We researched and tested 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 and download speeds, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are fact-checked by our in-house team, so you can be assured our content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Read our article to learn more about how we review VPNs.

HMA overview

  • Lowest price: £2.39/m for a 36-month subscription for up to five connections
  • Free version: No
  • Maximum number of connected devices: 10
  • Number of servers: 1,090+
  • Encryption: AES-256
  • VPN protocols: OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), IPSec 
  • No-log policy: Yes
  • Audited: Yes
  • Headquarters: United Kingdom

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
AES-256 encryption Headquartered in the UK
No logs policy independently audited Few protocols available
Slow internet speeds

How does HMA compare?

HMA offers its customers more than 1,090 servers, and although this is not as high as most of its competitors, its unique server locations do make up for it. Its servers are located in 290 different places, which includes 210 countries; this gives users lots of choice. Its no-logs policy has been independently verified and the VPN is encrypted by AES-256. 

With HMA, the maximum number of devices you can connect is 10, but users can also choose a slightly cheaper VPN plan with only five connections. In terms of privacy and security features available, HMA does not offer as many protocols as other providers, and some of its privacy features are only available on certain devices.

VPN provider Price Free version? Number of servers Maximum number of devices Netflix BBC iPlayer Disney+ Amazon HBO Max Audit?
HMA From £2.39/m No 1,090+ 10 Yes
NordVPN From £2.79/m No 5,500+ 6 Yes
Surfshark From £1.78/m No 3,200+ Unlimited Yes
ExpressVPN From £5.25/m No 3,000+ 5 Yes
CyberGhost From £1.92/m No 9,700+ 7 Yes

Some prices exclusive of VAT or local taxes. Prices correct as of 25/7/2023
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

How much does HMA cost?

HMA offers two different types of paid plans, supporting either five or 10 device connections. The website’s pricing page only displays select plans; users who choose five connections can pay every 12 or 36 months, whereas the 10-connections plan allows for payment to be made every 12, 24, or 36 months. Like with most other VPNs, choosing to subscribe to the longest plan is always the most cost-effective. 

There are a few other options available for the five-connection plan that aren’t clear on the provider’s website, but you can find these by clicking the “more plans” button below the listed payment methods – these include one-month, six-month and two-year subscriptions. 

Customers can enjoy a seven-day free trial of HMA’s VPN (only five connections), and users who activate a paid plan have the option of trialling the service risk-free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Subscription term 5 connections 10 connections
Monthly £7.99 ($10.30) / month N/A
6 months £6.39 ($8.24) / month (£38.34/$49.42 up front) N/A
12 months £3.29 ($4.24) / month (£39.48/$50.89 up front) £5.99 ($7.72) / month (£71.88/$92.65 up front)
24 months £3.39 ($4.37) / month (£81.36/$104.87 up front) £4.99 ($6.43) / month (£119.76/$154.34 up front)
36 months £2.39 ($3.08) / month (£86.04/$110.90 up front) £4.59 ($5.92) / month (£165.24/$212.95 up front)

Payment options

HMA offers fewer payment methods than other providers we’ve reviewed, and we were disappointed to see no crypto or Bitcoin payment methods available. Paying via digital currency is becoming increasingly popular for privacy and security reasons. 

Ways to pay for HMA:

  • Credit or debit card
  • PayPal
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HMA features

HMA offers a range of privacy and security features for its subscribers. These include a no-logs policy, which has been independently verified, and users can benefit from the highest level of encryption – AES-256.

HMA also has a kill switch and split tunnelling features available, but these are not available for all devices, which is where the service lets itself down. Adding to this, the company is headquartered in the UK, which is part of the intelligence-sharing alliance Five Eyes, and in 2012 HMA was requested to submit information about one of its users.  

Lightning connect

HMA’s lightning connect feature is a great tool that connects you to the fastest server available. This takes away the hassle of having to manually search through the server list in order to find the fastest one.  

IP shuffle 

The IP shuffle tool acts as an added layer of security. The feature allows users to seamlessly change their IP address quickly, which is useful if you’ve been accessing sensitive information and are concerned that your current IP address could become known to third parties. This feature is available for all of HMA’s apps.

Advanced leak protection  

HMA’s built-in advanced DNS leak protection feature protects against IPv4, IPv6 and other DNS leaks. The advanced leak protection works to prevent data from being leaked onto the web – this is available for all of the provider’s apps.

Server count and countries

When it comes to VPN servers, we were quite impressed with HMA’s server count and the locations available. It offers more than 1,090 servers in 210 countries, with 290 different locations. The company offers more locations than its main competitors NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Surfshark. However, HMA does disclose that some of its servers are virtual – this means these servers are physically located outside of the chosen country but use that country’s IP address. Virtual servers can be especially useful if the desired countries’ laws prohibit VPN servers, or if there are other laws to navigate. 

All of HMA’s servers offer up to 20Gbps connection speeds, and the provider states they’re ideal for streaming and P2P connections.

No-log policy and headquarters

HMA says it prioritises its users’ privacy and security by following a strict no-log policy, which is an important privacy feature that most VPN providers offer. Simply put, it means none of your IP addresses or data is logged or stored on any of the provider’s servers. 

HMA’s no-log policy includes:

  • Hiding your real IP address
  • Not logging your DNS queries 
  • Not logging web sessions, apps, streams and anything else you do online
  • Data transfer
  • Timestamps of your sessions are not collected

Like other leading VPN providers, HMA’s no-logs policy has been independently verified by cyber security consultancy VerSprite. 

HMA is headquartered in London, which means the company will follow UK data laws, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It should also be noted that the UK is part of Five Eyes, which is an intelligence-sharing alliance. This sparks some privacy concerns, and some of those came to light in 2012 when HMA was ordered to submit information about a user who had taken part in a cyber-hack. At the time, the company provided the data it held, saying illegal use of the VPN violated its terms of service.

However, the company’s no-logs policy has been independently verified and users’ data and sessions are not logged, so in theory, any future subpoenas should be fruitless. 

Kill switch

Another privacy feature that is often offered by VPN providers is a kill switch, which is the ultimate layer of protection and one that most users look out for when choosing a VPN.

This additional layer of privacy automatically turns off a user’s internet connection in the event that your VPN connection cuts out. This protects IP addresses, the potential of any data being exposed and your real location being revealed. 

HMA’s kill switch is unfortunately not available for all of its apps, which can only be seen as a downside. Currently, the kill switch is only available on its VPN for Android, Windows and MacOS.

Split tunnelling

Split tunnelling is a popular privacy feature adopted by most VPN providers, and it works by giving users the option to route some of their internet or app traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel and choose which internet traffic to route outside of it. 

Connecting to a VPN, no matter which provider you choose, affects users’ internet speed. As well as functioning for privacy reasons, split tunnelling allows you to not route all of your internet or app traffic through the secure encrypted VPN tunnel. By not routing all of your traffic through the VPN tunnel, you’ll require less bandwidth and could benefit from faster internet speeds.  

Unfortunately, this feature is currently only available for HMA’s Android users, which is something you may want to consider before subscribing if you require split tunnelling for other devices. 

Encryption and privacy

Privacy is key when it comes to VPN providers – no matter what you require the service for, privacy will likely always be top of the list. Similarly to most of HMA’s competitors, its VPN is encrypted by AES-256 – the highest level of encryption that is so tough to crack it’s adopted by governments and often used to protect classified information.  

Most VPN providers offer two or three different protocols, but HMA’s applications offer just one, and this differs depending on which device you’re using.

HMA’s protocols:

  • OpenVPN TCP: Can slow down your internet connection, but is considered to be more stable than UDP
  • OpenVPN UDP: A fast protocol that sometimes has an unreliable connection  
  • IPSec: This protocol is fast and reliable, but available only on iOS and MacOS applications

HMA’s performance test results

A typical VPN comes armed with a bunch of privacy and security features in order to protect your online identity. By connecting to a VPN, a significant amount of your bandwidth is consumed by your connection, and this affects your internet speed. 

With that being said, we have tested how much our speed was affected by connecting to one of HMA’s VPN servers. There are three main components to check with or without using a VPN: download speed, upload speed and latency (ping).

  • Download speed: Refers to the rate at which digital data is transferred from the internet to your device.
  • Upload speed: The rate that data is transferred from your device to the internet. 
  • Latency (ping): The time it takes for a set of data to be transmitted to a server on the internet and back to your device again. 

In order to perform a fair speed test, our researchers tested their internet speed without connecting to HMA – this established a baseline speed. From here, we could test the speed while connecting to varying servers and work out the degradation speeds for both download and upload. To conduct this research, our reviewers used the Ookla Speedtest.

HMA VPN speed test no VPN
Speed test result without HMA turned on. This is our base line. 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 (Ookla)
Download speed (Mbps) Upload speed (Mbps) Latency (ping) Percentage of base download speed Percentage of base upload speed
No VPN 74.24 18.59 12ms
UK to UK 68.91 17.14 14ms 93% 92%
UK to US 68.36 15.03 102ms 92% 80%
UK to Aus 4.55 6.56 248ms 6% 35%

Our researchers found that overall, HMA’s VPN affected our download and upload speed quite considerably, and for the Australian server the results were very poor. 

In fact, connecting to the Australian server is the worst-performing speed result we have seen in comparison to other VPN providers we’ve reviewed. Our download speed was a mere 6 per cent as fast as our non-VPN connection – this is far from ideal. The upload speed wasn’t much better either, according to our tests, at just 35 per cent as quick as our non-VPN speed. Both of these results are well below average degradation, and we even performed the Australian server speed test more than once at different times of day to make sure we were correct. 

HMA VPN speed test UK to Australia
Speed test result when connected to a HMA VPN server in Australia from the UK (Ookla)

Not surprisingly, connecting to a UK server was quick, and both our download and upload speed were minimally affected. Our download speed was 93 per cent and our upload speed was 92 per cent as fast as the non-VPN connection. Both of these are comparable to some of the top VPNs we’ve reviewed, and we consider them to be excellent results. The latency (ping) was also only 2ms slower, which is ideal for audio and video streaming. 

HMA VPN speed test UK to UK
Speed test result when connected to a HMA VPN UK server from the UK (Ookla)

Connecting to one of HMA’s US servers gave us mixed results. Our download speed was 92 per cent slower than the non-VPN connection, though this is similar to other services we’ve reviewed and considered to be of excellent speed. The upload speed, however, dropped by 20 per cent. This speed is still acceptable, but there are plenty of other VPNs we’ve reviewed that had better US upload speeds. 

HMA VPN speed test UK to US
Speed test result when connected to a HMA VPN US server from the UK (Ookla)

WebRTC leak test

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is an open-source tool that allows your browser to form connections with the websites you visit. WebRTC is responsible for high-quality network, audio, and video communications.

In order for two devices to communicate, they need to know each other’s IP addresses – this is where the issues with security and privacy arise. Although it’s a very useful tool, it can leak real IP addresses. 

A WebRTC leak test can show if there is any potential exposure of your real IP address. Our researchers tested to see if our IP address was being leaked when not connected to HMA – and it was. 

When connected to HMA, our real IP address was hidden and there were no potential leaks, meaning our identity and data were protected.

Breaches and audits

Most VPNs protect customers’ data by adhering to a no-logs policy, and HMA is no exception to this. With any company that aims to protect sensitive data, it’s always reassuring to have this verified by an independent audit.

HMA’s no-log policy has been independently audited by cyber-risk firm VerSpite, which declared the provider as a low-risk user privacy impact company and therefore clarified the provider keeps no logs from its users. 

Throughout HMA’s time in business, there have been a couple of notable instances where their privacy policy has come under scrutiny. The provider has been taken over by other companies twice. In 2015, it was acquired by AVG, which was later acquired by Avast in 2016. Both companies are well-known antivirus companies. 

In 2012, the UK government sent HMA a court order demanding it send information about Cody Andrew Kretsinger’s use of the VPN to hack Sony as a member of Lulzsec hacking – a computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks. HMA provided the information it held on Kretsinger. 

At the time, HMA claimed that if the information was requested by another country it would not provide it, but since it is headquartered in the UK, there was no other choice.

Compatibility and apps

HMA has apps that work on the following computers and devices:

  • Computers: Windows and MacOS
  • Mobile devices: Android and iOS
  • TV systems: Amazon Fire TV (however, there is no dedicated VPN app for Firestick)

Desktop app

HMA VPN desktop app screen shot
HMA’s donkey mascot features prominently throughout the desktop app

HMA’s desktop app’s interface window is quite large compared to some other VPNs we have reviewed. The only reason we didn’t like the size is that it would get in the way if you wanted to have this open in front of your browser screen. 

The blue design is quite likeable, but the quirky animals are not, in our opinion. For those who don’t know, HMA’s icon is a donkey wearing sunglasses, and this appears above the location on and off button. 

One feature we did like about HMA’s app was the speed test. This can be handy to test individual server speeds to determine which one is suitable for you. However, HMA’s lightning connect will automatically find the fastest server for you. 

Overall, the app is quite basic. There are no options to set up user profiles and you also can’t favourite servers like you can with other VPN providers. 

Mobile app

HMA VPN mobile app screenshot
HMA’s iPhone app is fairly basic and lacks many of the features available on Android

HMA’s mobile VPN app is quite average and is certainly no-frills if you’re not an Android user. As previously mentioned, split tunnelling is only available for Android users. 

On the mobile app, users can connect to any server using wifi or cellular. Again, there were not many features available, especially for iPhone users. There is only one protocol to choose from, too.

Router compatibility

Another way to utilise your VPN is to have it installed directly onto your router.  Configuring your router to run HMA will protect any devices that are connected to your home or office network. 

HMA is compatible with the following routers:

  • Asus routers
  • Netgear routers
  • Linksys routers

Not all routers are compatible to run a VPN, and as a general rule of thumb, the router provided by your internet provider is usually not compatible. HMA has tutorials and how-to guides to help you set up the service on your router.

Customer support

There are very few ways to contact HMA’s customer support team, and this is definitely a negative for the provider, and customer reviews we’ve read have also highlighted this. If customers require support, the only line of communication is a support form. 

There’s a help button, which at first we thought would turn out to be a live chat – unfortunately, this was not the case. Through this support form, users can ask their questions and provide an email address, choose an operating system, as well as attach screenshots of the issue. This mode of communication is not ideal for urgent enquiries. 

The other way to seek help from HMA is to make use of its many how-to guides in its knowledge base. You’ll find guides to help with setting the VPN up on various apps and devices, as well as troubleshooting common issues. 

What do customers say?

HMA has been in business for 18 years, so we were surprised to see its customer reviews were poor from Trustpilot, Apple App Store and Google Play Store. We found customers were mostly dissatisfied with HMA’s customer support, slow connection speeds and unstable VPN connections. 

  • Trustpilot: 1.7 (2,654 reviews)
  • Apple App Store: 4.4 (2,900 reviews) 
  • Google Play Store: 4.1 (62,200 reviews)

“Their customer support ataff is so lazy and they do not reply. They replied to me after more than three months and then again disappeared without solving my query. Now I am using another VPN for my professional work.”

“[I experienced a lot of] dropped connections and often abysmal speeds. They lie about the location where you will appear after connecting to a remote location in another country. It seems you select New York, for example, and when you check the IP address with “What’s My IP Address?” it will show London, UK or Miami.”

“The VPN server worked just fine for the first few days of subscribing. In the last five days, the VPN server doesn’t connect to the correct country selected. I have tried to contact customer service and have not heard a word back but they continue to charge me!?”

“Hands down the very best VPN on the market. Absolutely amazing; I’m blown away. I’ve used it before in the past and paid for a year’s subscription before and I absolutely love it. You guys are geniuses.”

Independent Advisor’s verdict

After reviewing HMA and considering all of its features, we found the provider’s downsides to be pretty noteworthy. 

The number of security features does not match up to HMA’s competitors. There is only one VPN protocol available per type of device, and this is coupled with split tunnelling not being made available for all devices. Adding to this, HMA is based in the UK, which is a part of Five Eyes. In 2012, HMA was ordered to hand over information about one of its users regarding a high-profile hack, and the information was handed over – if you’re looking for online privacy, this may not be the best VPN for you. 

HMA does have some positives despite the above; its no-logs policy has been independently audited and it does use AES-256 encryption. There is also a seven-day VPN free trial, and not many providers offer this, so you could try the service risk-free. 

Overall, HMA simply isn’t as good as most other providers in numerous areas, based on our research and testing. Its speed tests were not the best, and for some servers, the results were very poor.    

Overall score: ★★★

Score breakdown

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

rachel

Rachel Sadler

Home Tech Writer

Rachel is a seasoned writer who has been producing online and print content for seven years. 

As a home tech expert for Independent Advisor, Rachel researches and writes buying guides and reviews, helping consumers navigate the realms of broadband and home security gadgets. She also covers home tech for The Federation of Master Builders, where she reviews and tests home security devices. 

She started as a news and lifestyle journalist in Hong Kong reporting on island-wide news stories, food and drink and the city’s events. She’s written for editorial platforms Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media. While in Hong Kong she attended PR events, interviewed local talent and project-managed photoshoots. 

Rachel holds a BA in English Language and Creative Writing and is committed to simplifying tech jargon and producing unbiased reviews.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.