HideMyAss Review 2017

Let us start our HideMyAss review, one of the largest VPN providers on the market today by saying that they have been providing VPN services since 2005. The company was started by Jack Cator in Norfolk, England. He originally started the service as a way for him and some friends to bypass their school’s firewall restrictions. In 2009 he introduced HMA as a subscription service and it expanded rapidly and has never looked back. In May of 2015, Privax, the parent company of HMA was acquired by online security giant AVG Technologies. Privax is based in London, England and AVG Technologies is in The Netherlands. Currently HMA has over 940 VPN servers in 350+ locations. These are spread between over 190 countries around the world. This means they can offer their subscribers a choice of over 120000 IP addresses in geographically diverse locations to help them surf the Internet more securely with greater privacy.

HMA Pro VPN

Pricing and Special Offers

HMA is priced right in line with other leading VPNs that we have reviewed but, size-wise they have the largest network of any VPN provider. They market their VPN service as a single package. Like most top providers, they offer increasing discounts on their longer term plans. Due to these discounts, you can currently sign up for their VPN service for $11.52 a month, $8.33 for 6 months, or $6.55 for 12 months. This means you can save 28% off the monthly price if you subscribe for 6 months and if you sign up for 12 months you will save a whopping 43% off during the HMA Winter special.

HMA VPN pricing

So, what do you get for your $6.55 per month? HMA provides the following benefits for all of their subscribers regardless of their chosen plan:

  • Free custom VPN Software for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android
  • 2 Simultaneous connections
  • Unlimited VPN bandwidth and usage
  • Worldwide virtual IPs from more than 900 servers in 190+ different countries
  • Dynamic IP addressing with a choice of over 120000 IP addresses in geographically diverse locations
  • Choice of VPN protocols: OpenVPN, IPsec, and PPTP
  • The ability to bypass censorship and geo-restrictions
  • Wi-Fi hotspot protection against hackers and identity theft
  • VoIP support to save on long distance costs
  • 30-day money back guarantee

HMA Payment MethodsHMA offers a few different ways to pay for their VPN service. They accept the following credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, JBC, Discover/Novus, Diners, Solo, Carte Bleue and others. You can also pay using PayPal if you prefer to pay all of your online payments from one place. WebMoney is available in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ghana, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivore, and Egypt. Bank and wire transfers are only available for account renewals. Bitcoin is no longer supported.

Risk-Free Trial Period

HMA Pro VPN does not offer a free trial. However, they know that you would like to try out their service for yourself before you decide to buy it so they offer new subscribers a 30-day, 100% money back guarantee.

New orders are covered by the HMA money back guarantee, except for orders made via OneBip or through the Apple iTunes Store, which they are unable to refund. You are entitled to a full refund if all of the following apply:

  • It is the first order made on your account (e.g. renewals do not qualify);
  • You claim your refund within 30 days of your order date;
  • You have complied fully with the HMA TOS;
  • You send an email to info@hidemyass.com stating your VPN user name and the reason for your cancelling the service;
  • You have used less than 10GB of bandwidth (including upload and download);
  • You have not exceeded 100 sessions;
  • You have not previously claimed a refund from HMA under this policy using another account.

If you have exceeded the 10GB bandwidth limit but your original order is for more than one month, they may issue you a partial refund based on your usage. Such partial refunds are made at their sole discretion. Thirty days should be enough time for you to completely test out their VPN service and support. If for any reason, you are not completely satisfied with it and you meet the other criteria, they will refund your full purchase price. No refunds will be given after thirty days from the purchase date.

HMA Network and Server Locations

HMA has the largest network geographically with servers in over 190 countries throughout the world. It has grown in size and performance over the years as technology has advanced. They currently have 940 VPN servers in 350+ locations in 190+ countries around the world. This allows them to offer faster connections to a wider range of restricted sites around the world than many VPN providers. HMA has over 120000+ IP addresses to dynamically allocate to their subscribers across the world. They have servers on nearly every major continent including Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America. The Google Map below shows the scope of the HMA VPN Pro network.

HMA Server Network

The best coverage is in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, The Netherlands, France and Germany. Here is a list of the cities in each region, sorted by country:

  • Africa – 53 servers
    • Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d`Ivoire, Republic of Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Asia – 70 servers
    • Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cocos Islands, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
  • Central America – 6 servers
    • Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama
  • Europe – 318 servers
    • United Kingdom (Virtual): Australia, Sydney; France, Paris; Germany, Frankfurt; USA, New York;
    • United Kingdom (Physical): Berkshire, Maidenhead; Hampshire, Gosport; Kent, Maidstone, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Nottingham; Scotland, Glasgow
    • Netherlands: Alblasserdam, Amsterdam, Dronten, Hague, Rotterdam, Schiedam, Spijkenisse
    • Aland Islands, Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Vatican
  • Oceania – 33 servers
    • American Samoa, Australia, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
  • North America – 436 servers
    • United States of America (Virtual): Australia, Sydney; Canada, Toronto; France, Paris; Germany, Frankfurt; Netherlands, Amsterdam; Republic of Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, UK, London;
    • United States of America (Physical): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California (Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose), Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida (Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando), Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri (Kansas City, St. Louis), Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey (Clifton, Newark), New Mexico, New York (Albany, Buffalo, Manhattan), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre), Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (Austin, Round Rock), Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington DC, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
    • Canada: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec
    • Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands
  • South America – 15 servers
    • Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil (Joao Pessoa, Sao Paulo), Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela

It addition to having more server locations than any other provider, HMA is well represented in popular countries like the United States, Canada, the UK, The Netherlands, France and others. Their network defaults primarily to the OpenVPN UDP protocol but also supports L2TP/IPsec, IPsec and PPTP.

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Privacy and Security

Unlike most of the providers we review, HMA does log some traffic of their VPN users. What is more when requested by the proper authorities, they will hand over that information as they have done in the past. In September 2011, they were instrumental in catching 23 year-old college student Cody Kretsinger, purportedly to be a member of the hacking group LulzSec which hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment. Under a UK court order, they passed on logs of the suspected LulzSec member, alias “recursion”, to the FBI. According to HMA, their TOS states that they do not condone illegal use of their VPN service. It further states that should such illegal activity be brought to their attention by mean of a UK court order they will turn over all logs they have of the users activity.

Specifically, here are a few excerpts of what VPN activity HMA logs directly from their VPN Logging Policy:

When you use our VPN service the only data we collect is as follows:

  • a time stamp when you connect and disconnect to our VPN service;
  • the amount data transmitted (upload and download) during your session;
  • the IP address used by you to connect to our VPN; and
  • the IP address of the individual VPN server used by you.

We DO NOT store details of, or monitor, the websites you connect to or any of the data sent over our network, when using our VPN service.

This VPN data is stored for between 2 and 3 months on our secure servers, after which time it is deleted, except in certain very limited circumstances (see below).

If we are notified or detect that your VPN account has been used in breach of our terms of service, e.g. for spamming, file sharing or other illicit activity, then we may store your VPN data for an extended period of time beyond the normal 3 month maximum.

If your account is identified by us following a notification that it has been used in breach of our terms of service, we reserve the right to suspend your account to prevent further abuse, however, in such circumstances we will never voluntarily hand over your personal data to a third party unless we are legally compelled to do so in accordance with English law.

HMA assigns all of its IP addresses dynamically and they are randomly attributed to their users when they connect to their VPN service. Each IP address is only assigned to one user at a time. This means they know who has what IP address and the time they have it from the logs they generate.

This pretty much spells out their logging policy. They do log and store the information for up to three months. If HMA suspects illegal activity violating their TOS, they will retain the logs longer and turn over the logs when compelled by English law.

We leave it for the user to decide if this policy is suitable for their individual VPN purposes. It should be noted that we think that if privacy, even from your trusted VPN is a real concern to you, then HMA is probably not going to be your best choice. Those who like to use P2P services may also want to check out other VPN providers.

What kind of encryption does HMA offer to users of their VPN service? They implement OpenVPN as their primary default protocol in their Windows, Mac OS X, and Android clients. TLSv1.2 is used for server authentication and control. By default, it uses 1024 bit key exchange and 1024 bit preshared key for verification that the key actually came from a HMA server.

Their PPTP protocol implementation uses MPPE protocol for encryption, with an RSA RC4 algorithm and 128-bit keys. L2TP is implemented using IPsec with a 256-bit key for encryption and uses 3DES/AES algorithms. Finally, HMA implents their OpenVPN using OpenSSL with algorithms from 3DES, AES, RC5, and Blowfish. It uses 128-bit encryption with 1024-bit keys, 256 bit encryption for control channel (e.g. password, authentication, etc). Initial authentication is made using preshared 1024-bit keys. The protocol you use determines the strength of the encryption. For most users the OpenVPN (UDP) default will be their best choice because it has the best balance of speed and security.

HMA Support

HMA is one of the few services that has a 24/7 live chat to answer any technical, sales, order, or billing questions you might have. In our dealings with the staff behind the live chat, we found them friendly, fast, and professional. The answers they provided to our questions were on point. The image below shows a couple typical online chat sessions. The first screenshot shows the response we got for a question regarding protocols and encryption.

HMA 24/7 Online Chat

Additionally, as shown in the second screenshot in the image above they provided links to their support FAQs that they thought would help us as well. Their support page has many useful answers to more common questions that users have asked as well as setup guides for other devices. For more lengthy technical problems, they provide a 365/24/7 email ticketing support system that you can instigate through chat, as well as, through their support page. Below is the support request page from the HMA website.

HMA Support Request

Once you choose a reason for your request from this page you will then be presented with a form to fill out which requires varying information dependent on the request you chose. The basic information necessary for most forms includes your email address, subject, description of the problem, and attachments, such as screenshots or files.

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Hands-On Testing of the HMA Network

HMA has custom software for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. Additionally, they just released new beta software for both Windows and Mac OS X. You can download these custom clients from the HMA customer page by logging into their website. Once you have logged into your customer page, scroll down and then click on the “Software and Help” button. This will take you to the download page where you will then click on the “Download” button to the right of your chosen operating system. This will begin the download of the installation file to your computer for Windows and Mac OS X or transfer you to to iTunes to download the iOS app or Google Play for the Android app.

Connecting with the Windows VPN Client

HMA Software DownloadAs we said before, you can download the Hide My Ass Windows software from the HMA customer page by logging into their website. Once you have logged into your customer page, scroll down and then click on the “Software and Help” button (shown inset top-left). This will take you to the download page where you will then click on the “Download” button to the right of HMA! Pro VPN for Windows (Vista, 7, 8.1, 10). This will start the download of the client installation file to your computer.

Once the client is downloaded to your computer, right-click on the file and choose “Run as Administrator”. This will initiate the installation of the Windows client. The process is illustrated by the images below. The first screenshot shows the welcoming screen. This is the first screen you will see in the installation process. Clicking on the “Next” button will continue the setup process.

HMA Windows Client Install

The next screen you will see is the Terms of Service (TOS) screen. You must agree to the HMA TOS to use HMA Pro VPN so click on the “I Agree” button to continue the setup. Next choose a directory for installation or accept the default one and click on the “Install” button. The file installation to you computer will then commence. After it finishes you will see a screen similar to the right one above. Click the “Finish” button on this screen and the Windows client will launch. This will result in a screen like the one shown below.

This is the Windows client dashboard in its disconnected state. It consists of the following elements. In the upper right is a horizontal menu of support links which are as follows:

  • Encircled question Mark Icon – This will open and send you to the HMA help center page of their website.
  • Knowledge base – This will open and send you to the HMA help center page of their website where you can then open the Knowledge base by clicking on its icon.
  • Email support – This will open and send you to the submit a request page that we looked at earlier in this review.
  • Live chat – This will open and send you to a page where you can select to open a live chat session for your problem.
  • Forums – This will open and send you to the HMA forums page.

Below this is the status. The status currently shows “Not Connected!” with a disconnected icon beside it represented by a big red square with a white “x” in it.

HMA Windows Client Dashboard (Disconnected)

Along the left-hand side of the window is the selection menu which consist of the following:

  • Dashboard – This is the main screen of the client and it has three tabs.
    • Dashboard – This is the main connection screen for the HMA client and the one shown in the above screenshot.
    • Diagnostics – This is a log of the procedural steps used in the connection.
    • Settings – This has connection settings for the client behavior.
  • Country selection – This is where you select your destination VPN server location. It contains two tabs.
    • Country selection – This let’s you choose server by location, by country, or by city.
    • Map overview – This is a graphical representation of the HMA network.
  • IP address settings – This lets you modify IP address settings and check your current IP address for leaks.
  • Secure IP bind – This acts as a VPN kill switch for individual applications.
  • Speed guide – This will let you run various performance test on the VPN servers to find the fastest one for you to connect to from your current location.
  • Proxy settings – This will allow you to set a socks or https proxy to pass through.
  • Billing and packages – This shows your current account information and displays current plan pricing to purchase new plans.

The aforementioned components are static to window changes. We will start our examination of the HMA Windows Pro VPN client with the Dashboard screen which as we previously said has three tabs. The first tab of the Dashboard menu is called “Dashboard” and it has three different states: disconnected, connecting, and connected. A truncated screen of its disconnected state is shown below. We have already described its static components so now lets look at the rest.

HMA Dashboard Disconnect (truncated)

As you can see, the above screen is divided into the following sections:

  • VPN connection status – This shows your current connection status. The status currently shows “Disconnected” with a disconnected icon to the left of it. To the right of this is the “Connect to VPN” button (the text in green with a gold key icon in front).
  • Login – This is where you enter in your “Username” and “Password” (these have been redacted from the above image). Check the box to remember them or you will have to reenter them each time you launch the HMA client.
  • Protocol – This will let you choose your connection protocol. There are two protocols to select between.
    • OpenVPN – This is the default protocol and the best one to use for most of your VPN connections. It will provide you with the best balance of speed and security.
    • PPTP – This should be used if OpenVPN cannot be used to make your connection and for purposes where speed and not security is your goal such as streaming media.
  • Quick VPN location change – This will allow you to quickly choose a location to connect to from the drop down box. Clicking on the “Full view” button to the right of this drop down box will open the Country selection menu.
  • Connection log – This is a short log of the last connection’s procedural steps.

Selecting the OpenVPN protocol, choosing the USA, North Carolina, Ashville location, and clicking on the “Connect to VPN” button results in a screen like the one shown in the image below which has been truncated in the interest of space.

HMA Dashboard ConnectingNotice, the VPN connection status now shows an animated working icon and the word “Connecting…” The “Connect to VPN” button has now been replaced by a “Cancel” button with the text now in red. The gold key from the connect button has been replaced by a stop icon (red circle with a white dash in the center of it).

Once the connection has completed, you will see a screen like the one shown below.

HMA Dashboard ConnectedThe connected dashboard screen has some marked changes from its predecessors. The first of which is the status under the horizontal support menu in the upper right now says “Connected!” and the disconnected icon (red square containing the white “x”) has been replaced by a connected icon (a green square containing a white check mark).

The VPN connection status displays the same connected icon in place of its counterpoint disconnected one with the word “Connected”. The connection duration is now displayed in Hours:Minutes:Seconds format. The button now shows the disconnected icon with the words “Disconnect VPN” in red.

The login section has now been replaced by a new “IP and Country Overview” section. This new section shows your old IP address and ISP location. It also shows the new virtual IP address assigned by the VPN server and its new ISP location. The quick VPN location now shows the USA, North Carolina, Asheville location.

The Connection log section has been replaced by the Quick IP address management section which contains the following three buttons:

  • Change IP address – This will temporarily disconnect you from your current location and then reconnect you with a new IP address.
  • Schedule IP address change – This will let you schedule a regular IP address change.
  • Verify new IP address – This will take you to a website that will verify that your new virtual IP address is where you think it is.

These are similar to the options found under the IP address settings menu that we will look at later in this review.

The second tab of the Dashboard menu is the “Diagnostics” tab. This tab is a running log of the connection process in procedural steps. It also has a button that runs a series of diagnostic tests on your system and logs the results to a file. This log file is used by the HMA support staff to help them identify reasons for any connection difficulties you may be having. Always include a copy of this file when you create a connection ticket.

The last tab on the Dashboard menu is the “Settings” tab. A screenshot of this tab is shown in the image below.

HMA Connection Settings

The above image of the HMA Pro VPN Windows client settings shows that they are divided up into sections which include the following:

  • Launch options – These control the startup behavior of the HMA Pro VPN client.
    • Auto-connect after launch – This will auto-connect to your last location when the client starts up.
      • You must save your username and password by checking the box in the login section of the dashboard.
    • Launch on operating system startup – Launch the client as soon as you log into Windows.
    • Start minimized – Start with the client minimized to the task bar.
  • Load balancing – Enabling load balancing will cause the client to warn and recommend a lower load server if the load balancing threshold on a server has been met and other servers are available in the city, state, country, or location.
    • You can choose the region you want to load balance within from among the city, state, country, or location from the drop down box.
    • The load balance threshold can be set to 20, 30, 50, or 60% load.
  • Auto-Path – If this is enabled, it allows the client software to detect connection issues and automatically route around them if it can.
  • Notifications – If set, this allows HMA to send you notifications of special offers.

The next menu item is Country selection. This menu item has two tabs associated with it “Country selection” and “Map overview”. The first of these, Country selection is depicted by the image below. The top of the window has been truncated in the interest of scroll space.

HMA Country SelectionBecause the HMA network is so large, the country selection process has been placed in different categories to make selection of a server easier. There are some common categories that can help in this process. They are as follows:

  • Random – This has three settings
    • No random – Do not use a random server.
    • Connect to a random server (custom) – The client will let you select servers, cities, and locations with the check box beside them to create your own list of VPN servers to randomly choose one from. This is the way this function is meant to operate. This sort of mimics choosing favorites and then randomizing them when connecting.
    • Connect to a random server – This could connect you anywhere and is not recommended because you could be connected to a low performance server far from your location.
  • Ten closest servers – This is based on the geographic distance from your current location. Theoretically, these should be the fastest servers for you.
  • Servers with the fastest ping – This will show you the ten fastest servers to you based on the last ping test ran. The accuracy of this depends on how long ago the ping test was run. It could be affected by server load as well.
  • Servers with the highest speed test score – This will show you the ten fastest servers from your location based on the speed test.

The rest of the countries have their own category in this form: region – country. These include North America – United States of America, North America – Canada, Europe – United Kingdom, Europe – Netherlands, and so on. This is illustrated in the above image. Each category can be easily compacted and expanded once you find the one you want by selecting the expansion/compaction icon to the left of it (solid arrow to the left of the category). The servers under each category are listed alphabetically by city, then location, and finally server number. They are displayed in two columns from left to right.

To explain this a little more, look at the following practical example of how to use the country selection tab. The country selection tab allows you to list the servers by: all servers, location, and city. This setting is global and will change how the servers are displayed throughout the client. It will also affect how the servers are displayed in the “Map overview” tab, the “Dashboard”, and the “Speed Guide”. You can also do a quick server search by name. This example will use these features and explain how they can help you narrow your VPN server search. First type “tex” in the search box without the quotes and select list by all servers in the drop down box. This will result in the following screen.

HMA List of All Texas ServersThis is a list of all the HMA VPN servers in USA, Texas in alphabetical order by city, then increasing location number, then increasing server number. The list is displayed in two columns from left to right. Notice Austin and Round Rock have no locations or servers associated with them. Dallas has three locations with multiple servers at each. Houston has only one location with multiple servers. This list will let you select any server or bank of servers at any location (server host) in Texas.

Now let us modify our example by changing to list servers by location. This results in the country selection screen shown below.

HMA VPN Server Locations in Texas

Notice your choices have been reduced as the list only contains the locations that are available to choose from in Texas, not the individual servers or banks of servers. You can only choose a location in Texas to connect to. The client will then select the best server at that location performance-wise and connect you to it.

Now let us modify our example again. This time change list servers by to cities. This will result in a country selection like the one shown below.

Texas that Have HMA ServersNotice that you can now only choose your city in Texas that you want to connect to. Locations within the city are no longer shown. Once you select a city, the software will then select the best server at that city performance-wise and connect you to it. Taking this one step further, you would think if you chose North America – United States of America, the software will connect you to what it thinks is the fastest server in the United States from your current location. In this case, it instead connects you to a random server in the United States. The same is true if you choose any other region to connect to.

Now let us take a look at the second tab of the Country selection menu, “Map overview”. The image below shows a screenshot of this tab that has been zoomed in to illustrate how this tab can help you switch HMA VPN servers just from clicking on a map location.

HMA Map OverviewThe above image shows that you are currently connected to Moscow, Russia. The yellow-orange pin with the red line directed to your true location indicates that this is your current connection location. All that is necessary to change to the Austria, Vienna location is to hover the mouse over the blue circle containing five server location and selecting Austria, Vienna from the list that appears as shown in the above image. This will temporarily disconnect you and then reconnect you to the new Austria, Vienna location. This is shown in the image below which shows the Dashboard screen after selecting Austria, Vienna from the map.

HMA Connected to Vienna

The Dashboard image below shows that you have indeed switched servers to the one at Vienna. It also shows that the new server has provided you with a new IP address for your new location and that you have been connected for over seven minutes. You may encounter a load balance warning like the one shown below when changing server locations if this feature has been enabled in your settings.

HMA Load Balance WarningThis warning was displayed when we tried to connect to a server in Netherlands, Amsterdam. These warning can help you to choose less loaded and thus theoretically faster servers. You can check the box to automatically connect to the least-loaded server to forgo this warning in the future.

The next menu item that we want to look at is the “IP address settings”. This menu item has two tabs which include “Settings” and “IP History”. The tab for “Settings” is shown in the image below.

HMA IP Address SettingsThis “Settings” tab is divided in to three sections which are as follows:

  • Current IP address – This shows your currently assigned IP address and allows you to change it whenever you want.
    • Pressing the “Change IP” button will temporarily disconnect you and then reconnect you with a new IP address.
  • Schedule IP address change – This will allow you to schedule regular IP address changes.
    • You can choose a range of time interval for the IP address to be changed from 30 seconds to 9999 minutes and 59 seconds.
    • Each time your address is changed, you will be disconnected from the VPN for a short period of time so do not set this if your goal is to remain connected to the VPN service.
  • IP address check – This will let you verify that your IP address is indeed from the area you are connected to.
    • Select an IP address checker url from the drop down list and click on the “Verify IP address” button. This will open your selected url so that you can see where it thinks you are at.

The second tab, “IP History”, on the IP address settings menu will let you keep a log of all your IP address changes if enabled. It will also let you export and clear this list.

The next menu item that we will examine is “Secure IP bind”. This has only one screen which is shown truncated in the image below. Enabling this feature will allow you to select individual applications that will be killed should the VPN connection drop.

HMA Application Kill SwitchOnce enabled the app will ask if you want to look for browsers and automatically include them in the list as was done above. The tab consist of the following components:

  • “Uninstall IP Binding” – This is activated once you enable the feature. This will remove IP binding from your machine.
  • IP Binding Control – This is a global “Disable” button which allows you to suspend binding for all current apps in your list.
  • IP Binding Settings – This contains the apps that have been entered and lets you select them so they can be enabled or disabled individually for the kill switch.
  • Add New Application Button – This lets you add other executable files to the list to be bound to the kill switch.
  • Buttons to “Enable”, “Disable”, or “Remove” applications from being bound to the kill switch.

Placing browsers on a kill switch can keep them from leaking your true IP address if the VPN connection drops. Tor programs and tools like it are also good kill switch candidates.

The next menu item that we are going to discuss is “Speed guide”. This menu has two tabs: “Speed Guide” and History. The “Speed Guide” tab allows you to run ping, express upload/download, and full upload/download performance test on the servers that you choose. It is shown in the image below.

HMA Speed GuideThis guide lists all of the servers using the current setting list servers by city, along with their geographical distance from your current location. You can select any servers from the list and run a test to see which will give you the best performance. Let us say that you have decided to find the fastest server for you in the UK so you have checked the UK cities and Ireland and decide to run an express test. The results of this test are shown below.

HMA Express Test UKNote that although the list you selected from was by city, the test was conducted as if the client was in “by all server mode”. Selecting the one it recommends from the test UK, Nottinghanshire, Nottingham (LOC1 S1) will bring up the following message.

HMA View Change MessageClicking ok will change the quick location on the dashboard to this location since you are not currently connected and return you to the dashboard where you can then connect to the new VPN server. Note: You cannot be connected while running any of the speed test.

Each time you run a speed test, a log file with the date it was run is created. The second tab on this menu, “History”, will allow you view and compare these log files. It will also let you export them to a comma delimited text file so that you could import them into other applications like a spreadsheet. Finally it will allow you to clear the history.

The next menu item, “Proxy settings” has a single tab as is shown below. It will allow you to pass the VPN encrypted connection through a proxy if you have one at your location as many worksites and universities do.

HMA Proxy Setup

The tab has three options for proxy settings which are as follows:

  • Direct connection to Internet – This is the default and recommended setting if you do not have a proxy at your location that you want to pass through.
  • HTTPS proxy connection – This will open a HTTPS proxy configuration section as is shown in the image above where you can put in the following:
    • Proxy address
    • Port number used by the proxy
    • If it uses authentication you can put in the username and password and save the information.
  • SOCKS proxy connection – This will open a SOCKS proxy configuration section where you can put in the following:
    • Proxy address
    • Port number used by the proxy
    • If it uses authentication you can put in the username and password and save the information.

Only one option can be chosen and if you choose a proxy option, you have to enter the information for it before the proxy settings will save and allow you to close it.

The last menu item, “Billing and packages” just displays your account information with a button that will let you manage it. It also shows specials and current VPN pricing.

The HMA client will let you choose a quick location to connect to from the dashboard dropdown box. Then just click the connect to VPN button. This makes it easy for less technical users to use the HMA service. With just a couple of clicks, you can be connected to the location of their choice. For those who want more control over how your VPN connection works, it will let you change between the OpenVPN and PPTP protocols. It will let you run performance test to determine the fastest server for the location you want to connect to. You can choose servers through a list or graphically on the map interface. It also has features to schedule and change your IP address on a regular basis. Their is also an app kill switch so that lets you can choose individual applications that will not run if the VPN connection drops and it can be configured to pass through a Https or Socks proxy. This makes it appealing to those users who have more technical knowledge. So no matter your expertise, you should be happy with the HMA Pro VPN Windows client.

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Connecting with the Mac OS X Pro VPN Client

HMA Software DownloadAs we said before, you can download the Hide My Ass Mac OS X software from the HMA customer page by logging into their website. Once you have logged into your customer page, scroll down and then click on the “Software and Help” button (shown inset top-left). This will take you to the download page where you will then click on the “Download” button to the right of HMA! Pro VPN for Mac OS X. The client requires at least Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) or newer versions. There is also a link here to install the older client for older Mac OS X versions. This will start the download of the client installation file to your computer.

Once the client is downloaded to your computer, click on the file and open it. This will initiate the installation of the MAC OS X client. The first screen you will see in the installation process is a welcoming one. Continue following the onscreen instructions and clicking the “Next” or “Install” buttons until you see a screen like that shown below.

HMA Mac OS X Installation

HMA Pro VPN App IconThe client is now installed on your machine. Click the “Close” button to close the installation setup wizard and begin using The HMA Pro VPN client for Mac. To start the client find its icon (inset right) in your applications folder and open it. This will open a window like the one shown below. This is the Mac OS X client dashboard in its disconnected state.

Across the top is the branding logo. To the right of this is the status. The status currently shows “Not Connected!” with a disconnected icon beside it represented by a big red square with a white “x” in it.

HMA Pro VPN Mac OS X Dashboard (Unconnected)

Along the left-hand side of the window is the selection menu which consist of the following:

  • Dashboard – This is the main screen of the client and it has three tabs.
    • Dashboard – This is the main connection screen for the HMA client and the one shown in the above image.
    • Diagnostics – This is a log of the procedural steps used in the past few connections. This could be useful to solve connection problems.
    • Settings – This lets you control connection settings for the client behavior.
  • Country selection – This is where you select your destination VPN server connection location. It contains two tabs.
    • Country selection – This let’s you choose server from a list by location, by country, or by city.
    • Map overview – This is a graphical representation of the HMA network that you can use to gauge how far an HMA server is from you and connect to it.
  • IP address settings – This lets you instantly modify IP address, schedule regular IP address changes, and check your current IP address for leaks.
  • Secure IP bind – This acts as a VPN kill switch for individual applications.
  • Speed guide – This will let you run various performance test on the VPN servers to find the fastest one for you to connect to from your current location.
  • Proxy settings – This will allow you to set a socks or https proxy to pass through. This could be useful if you use your VPN at work or in a university environment as many use proxies.
  • Billing and packages – This shows your current account information such as billing cycle, payment plan, etc. and quick-links to manage your account. It also displays current plan pricing.

The aforementioned components are static to menu or tab changes. We will start our examination of the HMA Mac OS X Pro VPN client with the Dashboard screen which as we previously said has three tabs. The first tab of the Dashboard menu is called “Dashboard” and it has three different states: disconnected, connecting, and connected. A truncated screen of its disconnected state is shown below. In the interest of scroll space this and other screenshots in this review are shown truncated with only the relevant information shown. We have already described its static components so now lets look at the rest.

HMA Pro VPN Dashboard (Disconnected)

As you can see, the above screen is divided into the following sections:

  • VPN connection status – This shows your current connection status. The status currently shows “Disconnected!” with a disconnected icon to the left of it. To the right of this is a blue “Connect to VPN” button (the text is in white).
  • Login – This is where you enter in your “Username” and “Password” (these have been redacted from the above image). Check the box to remember them, else you will have to enter them every time you launch the HMA client.
  • Protocol – This will let you choose your connection protocol. There are two protocols to select between.
    • OpenVPN – This is the default protocol and the best one to use for most of your VPN connections. It will provide you with the best balance of speed and security.
    • PPTP – This should be used if OpenVPN cannot be used to make your connection and for purposes like streaming media from your favorite provider where speed and not security is your main concern.
  • Quick VPN country change – This will allow you to quickly choose a location to connect to from the drop down box. Clicking on the “Full view” button to the right of this drop down box will open the full “Country selection” menu.
  • Connection log – This is a short log of the last few connection’s procedural steps.

Selecting the OpenVPN protocol, choosing the USA, Georgia, Atlanta (LOC1 S1)location, and clicking on the “Connect to VPN” button results in the dashboard entering its connecting state. In this state, the VPN connection status will show an animated working icon and the word “Connecting…” and the “Connect to VPN” button will be replaced by a “Cancel” button so that you can cancel the connection if you change your mind.

Once the connection has completed, you will see a screen like the one shown below.

HMA Dashboard Connected Atlanta

The connected dashboard screen has some marked changes from its predecessors. The first of which is that the status in the upper right now says “Connected!” and the disconnected icon (red square containing the white “x”) has been replaced by a connected icon (a green square containing a white check mark).

The VPN connection status displays the same connected icon in place of its counterpoint disconnected one with the word “Connected”. The connection duration is now displayed in Hours:Minutes:Seconds format. The button is now white with “Disconnect VPN” in black.

The login section has now been replaced by a new “IP and Country Overview” section. This new section shows your old IP address and ISP location. It also shows the new virtual IP address assigned by the VPN server and its new ISP location. The quick VPN location now shows the USA, Georgia, Atlanta (LOC1 S1) location.

The Connection log section has been replaced by the Quick IP address management section which contains the following three buttons:

  • Change IP address – This will let you change your IP address immediately. It will temporarily disconnect you from your current location and then reconnect you with a different IP address.
  • Schedule IP address change – This will let you schedule a regular IP address change. It will open the IP address menu to do this.
  • Verify new IP address – This will take you to the website (geoip.hidemyass.com) where you can verify that your new virtual IP address where you think it is.

These are similar to the options found under the IP address settings menu that we will look at later in this review.

The second tab of the Dashboard menu is the “Diagnostics” tab. This tab is a running log of the connection process in procedural steps for the last few connections. It also has a button that will let you run a series of diagnostic tests on your system and log the results to a file. This log file is used by the HMA support staff to help them identify reasons for any connection difficulties you may be having. You should always include a copy of this file when you create a connection difficulty ticket.

The last tab on the Dashboard menu is the “Settings” tab. A screenshot of this tab is shown in the image below.

HMA Pro VPN Mac Settings

The above image of the HMA Pro VPN Mac OS X client settings show that they are divided up into sections which include the following:

  • General – These control the startup behavior of the HMA Pro VPN client.
    • Show status in the menu bar – This will display the status along with the icon (h inside a circle) in the menu bar.
    • Auto-connect after launch – This will auto-connect to your last location when the client starts up.
      • You must save your username and password by checking the box in the login section of the dashboard for this to work.
    • Launch on operating system startup – Launch the client as soon as you boot your system. This along with the previous setting will ensure that you are connected to the VPN after reboot.
    • Show HMA Pro VPN on Launch – If not set the client will start minimized to the menu bar.
  • Auto-Path – If this is enabled, this allows the client software to detect connection issues and automatically route around them if it can.
  • Load balancing – Enabling load balancing will cause the client to warn (if set) and recommend a lower load server if the load balancing threshold on a server has been met and other servers are available in the city, state, country, or location.
    • The load balance threshold can be set to 20, 30, 50, or 60% load.
    • You can choose the region you want to load balance within from among the city, state, country, or location from the drop down box.
    • Check the box to show a warning before load balancing.
  • Notifications – If set, this allows HMA to send you notifications of special offers.

The next menu item is Country selection. This menu item has two tabs associated with it, “Country selection” and “Map overview”. The first of these, Country selection is depicted by the image below. The screen has been truncated in the interest of scroll space.

HMA Country Selection

Because the HMA network is so large, different categories have been designed to assist you in choosing a VPN server. There are some common categories that have been made to aid in this process. They are as follows:

  • Random – This has three settings
    • No random – Do not use a random server.
    • Connect to a random server (custom) – The client will let you select servers, cities, and locations with the check box beside then to create your own list of VPN servers to randomly choose one from. This is the way this function is meant to operate. This sort of mimics choosing favorites and then randomizing them when connecting.
    • Connect to a random server – This could connect you anywhere and is not recommended because you could be connected to a low performance server far from your location.
  • Ten closest servers – This is based on the geographic distance from your current location. Theoretically, these should be the fastest servers for you.
  • Servers with the fastest ping – This will show you the ten fastest servers to you based on the last ping test ran. The accuracy of this depends on how long ago the ping test was run. It could be affected by server load as well.
  • Servers with the highest speed test score – This will show you the ten fastest servers from your location based on the latest speed test.

The rest of the categories are by region – country. These include North America – United States of America, North America – Canada, Europe – United Kingdom, Europe – Netherlands, and so on. Each category can be easily compacted and expanded once you find the one you want by selecting the expansion/compaction icon to the left of it (solid arrow) as is shown in the image below. Else, you can use the button to expand/collapse all categories at one time. The servers under each category are listed alphabetically by city, then increasing location number (LOC#), and finally increasing server number(S#). This list is displayed in a single column.

HMA Server Selection Expanded

To explain how this works a little better, look at the following practical example of how to use the country selection tab. The country selection tab allows you to list the servers by: all servers, location, and city. This setting is global and will change how the servers are displayed throughout the client. It will also affect how the servers are displayed in the “Map overview” tab, the “Dashboard”, and the “Speed Guide”. You can also do a quick server search by name.

This example will use these features and explain how they can help you narrow your VPN server search. First type “tex” in the search box and let us examine how each of these list by selections work. This will bring up North America, United States, Texas as our location. As we previously pointed out you can create server list by the following:

  • All servers – The resultant list contains all the HMA VPN servers in USA, Texas in alphabetical order by city, then increasing location number, then increasing server number. This will let you choose the exact VPN server (S#) in the datacenter (LOC#) within your chosen city in Texas that you want to connect to. This will give you the greatest control over the choice of VPN server that you connect to.
  • Location – The resultant list contains all locations in all cities in Texas. You can choose the exact datacenter (LOC#) within your chosen city in Texas that you want to connect to. Individual servers at datacenters are not shown in this list. The client software will choose what it thinks is the best performing server (S#) at the location you have chosen and connect you to it. This gives you datacenter (location) level control over the choice of VPN server that you connect to.
  • City – The resultant list contains all cities in Texas. You can choose the city that you want to connect to in Texas. Neither individual locations or servers are shown in this list. The client software will choose what it thinks is the best performing server (S#), taking into account all locations within the city you have chosen and connect you to it. Only random will give you less control over the choice of VPN server that you connect to.

Taking this one step further, you would think if you chose North America – United States of America, the software will connect you to what it thinks is the fastest server in the United States from your current location. In this case, it instead connects you to a random server in the United States. The same is true if you choose any other region to connect to. This gives you the least control over the sever that you connect to.

Now let us take a look at the second tab of the Country selection menu item, “Map overview”. The image below shows a screenshot of this tab. Each of the numbered colored circles represents a region with that number of HMA VPN locations. You can zoom in for greater resolution of these VPN locations. The pins without numbers represent single locations.

HMA Pro VPN Map Overview Tab

Control-clicking on a pin with a number will show a list of locations in that region that you can connect to. Depending on the setting in your “Country selection” list servers by, this list will show, individual servers, locations, or cities only. This is illustrated in the image below where the setting has been set to list servers by location.

HMA Map Server Selection

This map shows a zoomed in region of Europe where a numbered circle in the region of Switzerland has been Control-clicked on. A yellow-orange pin with the red line directed from it to your true location indicates that this is your current connection location. The client is not currently connected to another VPN server so clicking on one of the locations i.e., Switzerland, Zurich (LOC 1) in the list will return you to the dashboard with Switzerland, Zurich (LOC 1) placed in quick VPN country change. All that you will need to complete the connection to Zurich (LOC 1) is to click on the “Connect to VPN” button.

If you had already been connected to a HMA VPN server, selecting Switzerland, Zurich (LOC 1) would have prompted you to connect to the new location. If you chose to connect at this prompt, then the client would have disconnected you from your current VPN server and reconnected you to one at Switzerland, Zurich (LOC 1).

You may encounter a load balance warning like the one shown below when changing server locations if this feature has been enabled in your settings.

HMA Load Balance WarningThis warning was displayed when we tried to connect to a server in Netherlands, Amsterdam. This warning can help you to choose less loaded and thus theoretically faster servers. You can check the box to automatically connect to the least-loaded server to forgo this warning in the future.

The next menu item that we want to look at is the “IP address settings”. This menu item has two tabs which include “Settings” and “IP History”. The tab for “Settings” is shown in the image below.

HMA Mac IP Address Settings

This “Settings” tab is divided in to three sections which are as follows:

  • Current IP address – This shows your currently assigned IP address and allows you to change it whenever you want.
    • You must be connected to change this.
    • Pressing the “Change IP” button will temporarily disconnect you and reconnect you with a new IP address.
  • Schedule IP address change – This will allow you to schedule regular IP address changes.
    • You can choose a range of time interval for the IP address to be changed from 30 seconds to 9999 minutes and 59 seconds.
    • Each time your address is changed, you will be disconnected from the VPN for a short period of time so do not set this if your goal is to remain connected to the VPN service.
  • IP address check – This will let you verify that your IP address is indeed from the area you are connected to.
    • Select an IP address checker url from the drop down list and click on the “Verify IP address” button. This will open your selected url so that you can see where it thinks you are at.

If enabled, the second tab, “IP History”, on the IP address settings menu will let you keep a log of all your IP address changes. It shows the Date/Time of the connection, the VPN server name, and the IP address assigned. It will also let save this history to a file using the “Save as” button or clear it using the “Clear history” button at the bottom of the screen. The image below shows its features.

HMA Pro VPN Mac IP History

The next menu item that we will examine is the “Secure IP bind” menu. This has only one screen which is shown truncated in the image below. Enabling this feature will allow you to select individual applications that will be killed should the VPN connection drop.

HMA Mac OS X App Kill Switch

Once enabled the app will ask if you want to look for browsers and automatically include them in the list. The tab consist of the following components:

  • IP Binding Control – This is a global “Disable” button which allows you to suspend binding for all current apps in your list.
  • IP Bindings Settings – This contains the apps that have been entered and lets you select then so they can be enabled or disabled individually for the VPN kill switch.
  • New Application – This button lets you add other executable files to the list to be bound to the VPN kill switch.
  • Buttons to “Enable”, “Disable”, or “Remove” individual applications from being bound to the VPN kill switch.

Placing browsers on a kill switch can keep them from leaking your true IP address if the VPN connection drops. File sharing tools are also good kill switch candidate but remember that HMA does log some user activity.

The next menu item that we are going to discuss is the “Speed guide”. This menu has two tabs: Speed Guide and History. The Speed Guide tab allows you to run ping, express upload/download, and full upload/download performance test on the servers that you choose. It is shown in the image below.

HMA Pro VPN Mac OS X Speed Guide

This guide list all of the servers using by location, along with their geographical distance from your current location. By default the ten closest servers to your location are preselected. However, you can select any servers from the list and run a test to see which will give you the best performance. Let us say that you have decided to find the fastest server from you into Western Europe so you have checked some VPN locations around it and decide to run an express test. The results of this test are shown below.

HMA Speed Test (Express Test)

Note that although the list you selected from was by location, the test was conducted as if the client was in by all server mode. The test suggest Gibraltar, Catalan as your fastest choice. At the last second you decide to connect to the fastest Netherlands server, Netherland, Amsterdam (LOC1 S2). Since you are in select server by location view, choosing this server will bring up a message like the following one.

HMA View Change MessageClicking ok will change the quick location on the dashboard to Netherlands, Amsterdam (LOC1 S2) since you are not currently connected and return you to the dashboard where you can then connect to the new VPN server. Note: You cannot be connected while running any of the speed test.

Each time you run a speed test a log file with the date it was run is created. The second tab on this menu, “History”, will allow you view and compare these log files. It will also let you export them to a file so that you could import them into other applications like a spreadsheet. Finally it will allow you to clear the history.

The next menu item, “Proxy settings” has a single tab as is shown below. It will allow you to pass the VPN encrypted connection through a proxy if you have one at your location as many universities do.

HMA Pro VPN Mac OS X Proxy Settings

The tab has three options for proxy settings which are as follows:

  • Direct connection to Internet – This is the default and recommended setting if you do not have a proxy at you location that you want to pass through.
  • HTTPS proxy connection – This will open a HTTPS proxy configuration where you can put in the following information:
    • Proxy address or name is required to save the settings.
    • Port number used by the proxy
    • If it uses authentication you can put in the username and password and save the information.
  • SOCKS proxy connection – This will open a SOCKS proxy configuration where you can put in the following information:
    • Proxy address or name is required to save the settings.
    • Port number used by the proxy
    • If it uses authentication you can put in the username and password and save the information.

Only one option can be chosen and if you choose a proxy option, you have to enter the information for it before the proxy settings will save and allow you to close it.

The last menu item, “Billing and packages” just displays your account information with a button that will let you manage it. It also shows specials and current VPN pricing. It is shown in the image below.

HMA Billing & Packages

The HMA client will let you choose a quick location to connect to from the dashboard dropdown box. Then just click the connect to VPN button. This makes it easy for less technical users to use the HMA service. With just a couple of clicks, you can be connected to the location of their choice. For those who want more control over how your VPN connection works, it will let you change between the OpenVPN and PPTP protocols. It will let you run performance test to determine the fastest server for the location you want to connect to. You can choose servers through lists or graphically on the map interface. It also has features to schedule and change your IP address on a regular basis. Their is also an app kill switch so that you can choose individual applications that will not run if the VPN connection drops and it can be configured to pass through a Https or Socks proxy. This makes it appealing to those users who have more technical knowledge. So no matter your expertise, you should be happy with the HMA Pro VPN Mac OS X client.

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Connecting with the HMA Android VPN Pro App

HMA Software DownloadAs we said before, you can find the link to the Hide My Ass Android software from the HMA customer page by logging into their website. Once you have logged into your customer page, scroll down and then click on the “Software and Help” button (shown inset top-left). This will take you to the download page where you will then click on the “Download” button to the right of Android 4.0+. This will take you to Google Store where you can download HideMyAss! Pro VPN for Android.

HMA Pro VPN Android Install

Once you get to the Google Store, tap on the “Install” button as shown in the first image above. You will get a message like that shown in the middle image above. The app will not install if you do not accept these terms. Tap the “Accept” button and the installation will continue. Once the installation completes, you will see a screen like the one shown on the left below. Tap on the “Open” button to launch the app.

HMA Android LoginOnce the app launches you will be presented with a login screen like the one shown above on the right. This is the HMA Pro VPN Login screen. Enter in your username and password for your HMA account. If you have forgotten your password, then tap on forgot password to start the process to reset it. If you do not yet have an account, tap on the create an account button to go to the HMA website and subscribe. Once your credentials have been properly entered, click on the “Enter” button to start using the client. This will result in a screen like the one shown on the left below. This is the dashboard screen in its disconnected state. This screen has three states: disconnected, connecting, and connected.

These connection states are shown in the image below. The image below-left shows a screenshot of it in its disconnected state. Notice the background of the dashboard is light. The main components of the dashboard are as follows

  • HMA donkey image – This is for branding and in the disconnected state it looks like it is bored and waiting.
  • The connection switch – In its disconnected state the background for the switch is light gray and it is on the left.
  • Connection status – This says “Disconnected” in this case.
  • Server location – This contains the name of the location of the server you have chosen or the last server that you connected to. The location shown in this example is USA, Georgia, Atlanta (LOC1 S8).
  • IP address – In the disconnected state this will show your true IP address.
  • Account – This contains information about your account.

HMA Pro VPN Android Dashboard States

Tapping the switch causes its background to turn yellow and the switch slides to the right as is shown in the first image above. This results in the connecting screen which is shown in the middle above. Notice the app icon in the top right is flashing different messages as the connection proceeds. The last screen above shows the completed connection. Changes on this dashboard state include the following:

  • The dashboard – The dashboard itself is no longer gray but instead teal.
  • The donkey – The donkey is giving you a thumbs up and carrying a mini flag of the country you connected to.
  • The switch – Its background is bright yellow and it is in its on position to the right.
  • The status – The status now says “Connected”.
  • The IP address – This is now the virtual IP address assigned by the Atlanta VPN server.

These are all visual keys designed to make it easy to tell (with just a glance) if your connected to the HMA network. Tapping on the server location will bring up the Servers screen where you can select another location to connect to. This screen is shown in the image below on the left. Specifically, this is the Servers screen viewed by country in alphabetical order. Selecting a country to connect to will connect you to a random server in a random location if more that one location is available in that country. Scrolling down the list, you will notice that some of the countries have a right pointing arrow to the right of them as is shown in the middle image below. This will expand these countries and let you choose individual locations and servers to connect to. Tapping on a server is all that is necessary to select and connect to it which we will show in a minute.

HMA Server Selection by Country

Although you can slide up through the list of counties to find the one you are looking for this could become cumbersome. A better way to use the Countries list to find the server you want to connect to is to use the responsive search to narrow the list and then select the location from inside it.

This is illustrated by the next set of screen images. First, type “united” without the quotes in the search as is done in the screenshot on the left below. Now tap the arrow to the right of United Kingdom. This will open up a screen similar to the second one in the image below.

HMA Search and Connect

Slide up until the see the London (LOC1 S3) location as is shown in the second screenshot above. Else, you could type “lond” without the quotes in the search to show the London locations. Tap on this location and you will see a screen like the third one above. This is the new server connection confirmation screen. If you have previously connected to another VPN server as was done earlier when you connected to the Atlanta server, you will get a screen like this. If you tap the “No” button the app will return to the servers screen. However, if you tap the “Yes” button then the app will place UK, London (LOC1 S3) in the server area of the dashboard, disconnect from the VPN server you are currently connected to, and then connect to the new server in London and return you to the dashboard as is shown above in the last screenshot.

As you can see, changing VPN locations takes only a minute and a few taps of the screen and is made easier by the responsive search feature. It should be noted that this search is for countries only and not tied to the locations within them so you cannot type London directly into the country search. Once you expand a country to its locations, then you can search for the London locations within that country.

Another way that you can search for and connect to servers is through a favorites list that you create. The first time you open the favorites server view, you will see a screen that explains how to choose a favorite location. The first screenshot in the image below illustrates this. To add a favorite to your list, simply tap on the star beside it. This will turn the outline of the star yellow as is shown in the second screen in the image below. Alabama, Mongomery (LOC1 S2) and Alaska, Anchorage (LOC1 S3) are both favorites that have previously been added to the list. Now add Arizona, Phoenix to your favorites by tapping the star beside it.

HMA Pro VPN Android FavoritesThe third screen above shows the current favorites list. Notice the Phoenix server has been added to the list in alphabetical order by country, then city, then increasing location number (LOC#), and finally increasing server number (S#). All that is necessary to remove a server from the favorites list is to tap on the “X” to the right of it. Remove the Phoenix server by tapping the “X” beside it. This will leave a list like the one shown in the last image above.

Just like tapping the server location will open the Servers screen, tapping on the IP address will bring up a screen that will let you change the virtural IP address assigned by the VPN server you are connected to. This is shown in the image below. Tapping on the IP address on the connected dashboard will display a screen like that shown in the image below. This screen shows your home country flag and true IP address on the top half and the flag of the country you are connected to and the public IP that it assigned you. There is a “Change IP address” button at the bottom the screen. Taping this button will temporarily disconnect you from the VPN server you are connected to and reconnect you with a public IP address.

HMA IP Address an AccountTapping on the account area of the dashboard screen will result in a screen like the last one shown above. This screen displays account information. This information includes your account username, your chosen billing plan, and the number of days till your subscription ends.

The last thing we want to examine on the HMA Pro VPN app dashboard is the menu which can be accessed by sliding right or tapping the menu icon (triple horizontal lines) in the upper left of the dashboard. This menu is shown in the first screenshot of the image below.

HMA About and Help MenusThe menu consist of the following items:

  • About – This contains information on the version number of the app and links to the HMA privacy policy, TOS, and refund policy.
  • Help – This contains a small list of common questions and answers about the Android app.
    • Tapping the donkey will bring up another menu with three items.
      • Getting started
      • Knowledge base
      • Previous software versions
    • It also has a link to sign in to your customer page and a link to the full support webpage.
  • Contact support – This is a support contact form that can be sent from your Android device (shown below left).
  • Account – This information includes your account username, your chosen billing plan, and the number of days till your subscription expires which we previously looked at above.
  • Settings – This contains two general startup settings. (screenshot below middle)
    • Connect to VPN on launch – Connect to the VPN network when the client is launched. Username and password must be saved for this to work. This means you cannot use log out.
    • Launch app on startup – Launch app when your Android device boots.
    • If both are set then the app will connect as soon as the device boots up.
  • Log out – This will log you out of the app and you will have to reenter your username and password when you open the app back up.

HMA Support and Settings Menus

The last screenshot above shows the mini-menu that you can access by tapping on the three horizontal dots. We have already looked at the menu items that the first three point to. The last one, “Tickets”, is to keep track of your support tickets. Now that we have looked at all of the features of the HMA Pro VPN for Android app, there is only one thing left to do and that is to look at how to disconnect from a VPN server. Disconnecting from the HMA network is easy. Tap on the switch on the connected dashboard. This will start the disconnection process and you will see a screenshot similar to the middle one below with an animated icon and the word “Disconnecting”. After the app is completely disconnected, you will see the Disconnected dashboard.

HMA Pro VPN Disconnection

As you can see, HMA has made it easy to install and use their VPN app for Android. Connection is as simple as selecting a location and tapping on the switch on the dashboard. Disconnecting from an HMA VPN server is even easier. Simply tap on the switch on the connected dashboard. No technical knowledge is necessary to use their VPN network if you use their Android app to connect to it. The app uses OpenVPN so you can be sure your Internet traffic is securely encrypted from prying eyes.

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Connecting with the HMA iOS VPN Pro App

HMA Software DownloadAs we said before, you can find the link to the Hide My Ass iOS software from the HMA customer page by logging into their website. Once you have logged into your customer page, scroll down and then click on the “Software and Help” button (shown inset top-left). This will take you to the download page where you will then click on the “Download” button to the right of iOS 8+. This will take you to the iTunes store where you can download HideMyAss! Pro VPN for iOS. Once you have downloaded and launched the app, you will see a screen like the one on the left in the image below. This is the login screen for the app.

Enter in your username and password to authenticate your account. If you have forgotten your password, tap on “Forgot password?” and the app will start the process for you to change it and get another. If you do not yet have an account, tap on “I don’t have an account” and the app will help you create one. Once you have properly entered your account username and password, then you will see a screen like that shown in the middle below.

HMA Login and ConnectionThis is the app dashboard screen. This screen has three different states: disconnected, connecting/disconnecting, and connected. The components of the dashboard in its disconnected state are as follows:

  • Bored donkey – The donkey appeared bored and waiting.
  • Switch – The switch background is gray and it is to the left in its off state.
  • Connection status – This says “Disconnected” and is just below the switch.
  • Server location – This shows the location of the your currently chosen VPN server.
  • IP address – This shows your true IP address in the disconnected state.
  • Help me choose – This will help you choose the best performing server for some common purposes (which we will discuss later in this section of the review) from your location.

The background of the dashboard is light gray in its disconnected state. All that is necessary to connect to the Atlanta (LOC1 S1) location is to tap the switch. When connecting the app will show an animated donkey and the word “Connecting”.

In its connected state which is shown in the last screenshot above, the background is teal, the donkey is giving a “thumbs up” sign and carrying the flag of the country you connected to, the status now says “Connected”, and the IP address shown is the public one assigned by the Atlanta VPN server.

Tapping on the server location of the dashboard will bring up the servers screen where you can choose another country or location to connect to. This screen in shown in the first image below. It is organized as follows:

  • Recommended – This is usually the server closest to your current location.
  • Recent – This is a list of your most recent connections.
  • Country – This is a list of all of the countries in the HMA network arranged in alphabetical order.

You can slide up through the list of countries to find the one you want but a better way is to use the responsive search as is shown in the middle screenshot of the image below. Type “united” without the quotes and you will see a similar screen. Tapping on the United states of America location will highlight and select it. Notice the yellow check beside it. This will connect you to a random US server. You will notice a right-facing arrow to the right of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This means that these can be expanded to allow you to choose your location within that country as is shown in the last image below.

HMA Pro VPN iOS Server Choice

Another way that you can select to view the list of servers is by favorites. The first time you select the favorites view, you will see a screen with information on how to select a server as a favorite as is shown in the first screenshot below. To select a server as a favorite swipe left on the server name. Tap on the “Add your first server” button which will take you to the servers screen in countries view. Now swipe left on Atlanta (LOC1 S1). This will result in a screenshot like the second one in the image below. Notice the star is solid yellow with a white border around it. This means it has been selected as a favorite. Tap on the star to save the selection as a favorite. This will result in the star turning white as is shown in the third screenshot below. The last screenshot shows the favorites view after repeating this procedure with Melbourne (LOC1 S1) and The Netherlands. The favorites view provides an easy way to connect to VPN servers that you like to use on a regular basis.

HMA Pro VPN iOS Favorites

Tapping on the IP address area of the connected dashboard which is shown in the first screenshot below will bring up a screen that will let you change your public IP address assigned by the VPN server. This is illustrated in the second screenshot in the image below.

This screen shows a pin with your home country flag and true IP address in the first half of the screen. The bottom half contains a pin with the flag of the country that you are connected to and the public IP address assigned by the VPN. At the bottom of the screen is a “Change IP address” button. When you tap this button the app will disconnect your from your current VPN server and reconnect you with a new IP address.

hma-ios-changeip-purpose1

Tapping on the “Help me choose” area will bring up a screen like that shown to the right in the image above. It will help you choose the best performing server for some common purposes from your current location. The purposes that it can help you with are as follows:

  • Secure my Internet – This will connect you to the fastest server from your current location. This is shown in the first screen shot in the image below. Tapping the “Connect” button will connect you to the HMA Nashville (LOC1 S1) VPN server.
  • Choose a country – This will display an alphabetical list of countries you can connect to with recently connected ones shown first. This is shown in the second screenshot below. From here you can select a country and the app will select a server to connect you to it.
  • Paranoid mode – This will connect you to a server in an Internet friendly jurisdiction. Tapping the “Connect” button on this screen will complete your connection to Spot Bay as shown in the third screenshot below.
  • Anti-censorship – This will connect you to a server close to you but outside your own country to help you overcome any censorship in your country. The last screenshot below illustrates this. Tapping on the “Connect” button will connect you to a server in Boulfour Town.

Depending on your current location, “Help me choose” will provide different destinations for you but for the same purposes. Simply, tap the “Connect” button to connect to the VPN server and accomplish your goal.

HMA Pro VPN for iOS Purpose

Disconnecting from the HMA network is as easy as connecting. All you have to do to disconnect from the Atlanta VPN server shown in the first image below is to tap the switch. Doing so will result in a screenshot like that shown in the middle below. The last part of the HMA iOS app that we will examine is the menu which can be accessed by swiping right on the dashboard or selecting the menu icon (three horizontal bars) at the top left of it. The menu is shown in the final screenshot below.

HMA Pro VPN iOS Menu

The menu consist of the following items:

  • About – This contains information on the version number of the app and links to the HMA privacy policy, TOS, and refund policy (first screenshot below).
  • Help – This contains a small list of common questions and answers about the iOS app. (second screenshot below)
  • Contact support – This is a support contact form that can be sent from your iOS device (shown below right).
    • The app puts in your email address that you used to sign up for the account.
    • Provide a subject for your problem.
    • Describe your problem as best you can.
    • Include screenshots and diagnostics and then tap the “Send” button.

HMA About, Help and Contact

  • Account – This information includes your account username and your chosen billing plan. (first screenshot below)
  • Settings – This contains two general startup settings. (screenshot below middle)
    • VPN protocols – You can choose between three:
      • IPsec – This is the default for the iOS app. It is secure and provides the best performance for most users.
      • L2TP – This is an alternative secure protocol but could have problems with some firewalls and may require additional setup.
      • PPTP – This should be used if neither IPsec or L2TP work or if speed and not security is your goal.
    • General settings – These control how the app functions on startup.
      • Connect to VPN on launch – Connect to the VPN network when the client is launched. Username and password must be saved for this to work. This means you cannot use log out.
      • Always on VPN – Launch app when your iOS device boots.
      • If both are set then the app will connect as soon as your iPhone or iPad starts up.
  • Log out – Because this will log you out of the app and you will have to reenter your username and password when you open the app back up, the app will display a screen like that shown on the left below before logging you out.

HMA Account and Settings

The HMA Pro VPN for iOS app is very easy for anyone to use. It requires little technical knowledge. To connect or disconnect from the HMA network takes but a single tap on the switch on the dashboard. Changing servers or IP addresses can be done with just a few taps. The default IPsec protocol can encrypt all of your Internet traffic and keep you secure at you favorite Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere in the world.

HMA Speed Test

The speed test we performed on the HMA VPN network was not as fast as some of the best performing ones we have reviewed. They came in about average in terms of performance. You can see from the speed test below that their speed was adequate. Some loss in speed is expected when connecting to a VPN network because of the overhead incurred by encrypting your Internet traffic. This loss was within acceptable values for HMA.

HMA Speed Test

As you can see from the images above, the encrypted connection lowered our base ISP download speed from 66.11 Mb/s to 55.13 Mb/s. This is a drop of about 16% to a server in Atlanta, GA which is an acceptable loss. The loss in connection speed is worth the security and peace of mind offered by being able to encrypt all of your Internet traffic.

Conclusion

HMA has been in the VPN service industry since 2005. It has grown in size and performance over the years as technology has advanced. They currently have 940 VPN servers in 350+ locations in 190+ countries around the world. They have multiple fast servers in popular countries like the US, the UK, Canada, The Netherlands and others. This allows them to offer faster connections to a wider range of restricted sites around the world than many VPN providers. HMA has over 120000 IP addresses which they dynamically allocate individually to their subscribers across the world.

They are based in London in the United Kingdom. HMA logs information about their users while using their services. They keep this information for three months and sometimes longer. Therefore they are probably not the best choice for those who want to use file sharing tools to P2P. They state they will comply with any UK judicial orders and turn over any information the have about suspected subscribers.

HMA has custom software apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. In addition, they have new beta clients for Windows and Mac OS X users. These apps are easy to install and allow their users to connect to VPN servers in their network with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen. Their Windows and Mac OS X clients include an application kill switch that will disconnect the selected apps from the Internet should the VPN connection drop.

All of their apps provide some of the best encryption available in the industry in AES-128. All but their iOS app defaults to OpenVPN because of its balance of speed, security, and overall reliability, but you can also choose to use the PPTP protocol with them. This might be useful for streaming media. Their iOS app recommends IPsec which is considered to be as fast, secure, and reliable as OpenVPN but also can be configured to use PPTP and L2TP as well.

HMA also provides manual tutorials to connect to their service using Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, various routers and some other devices. Their support begins with a 24/7/365 online chat service. They have an extensive FAQ database. More involved issues can be handled by their 24/7/365 email ticketing system.

What we liked most about the service:

  • They have a massive VPN network. This is great for those who travel internationally.
  • They have clients for Windows and Mac OS X
  • They have mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • The have 24/7/365 live chat support for light technical or billing issues and email tickets to help with more complex problems.
  • They have a VPN kill switch that lets you stop selected applications when the VPN connection drops.
  • You can change your public IP address when you want.

Ideas to improve the service:

  • Stop logging user activity like session time, bandwidth usage, true IP and virtual public IP used
  • Remove limitations on their money back guarantee
  • Restore Bitcoin as a payment option

The HMA network covers most major continents. They have servers in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America. They have a relatively fast VPN network. They have a 30-day money back guarantee so you will have plenty of time to test their service and see if it is right for you. Give them a test run and see what you think. If you enjoy the speed and peace of mind offered by their VPN service, you can sign up for unlimited access from just $6.55 per month.

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