hide.me is a Malaysian-based VPN provider with a large German presence. Though there are some minor downsides, and their Premium (best) plan is on a more costly end of the spectrum, recent updates to their Windows app, plus a logging audit and revamped transparency policy have substantially improved their offering.
Hide.me is a Malaysian-based VPN service run by eVenture Ltd. The company offers a free VPN and two levels of paid service. To find out whether you can get all of your internet privacy needs satisfied by the free version, or whether you need the Plus or Premium versions, read this review. You’ll learn what the features of Hide.me are, how much it costs, how to install and use it, and whether its performance stands up to the claims on its website.
Two of the biggest worries when choosing a VPN are whether its security methods are strong enough and whether it keeps logs. This VPN service called in an auditor to confirm that it keeps no activity or connection logs at all, even for the free version. The encryption options offered by the service include 256-bit key Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, which is the best standard that any VPN on the market offers. Straight off, this VPN is looking like a good bet.
Be careful when you search for this VPN – don’t opt for HideMe VPN by Tigervpns Ltd. That’s another VPN, which doesn’t have the same high quality of performance that Hide.me offers.
Servers in 27 countries
Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices
Allowance of five simultaneous connections with Premium plan
The free version of Hide.me has limited features – this is standard practice for VPNs that offer a no-charge app alongside their paid VPN services. If you want to use a VPN to get into streaming services back home, you need to connect to a server in the same country as the site that you want to get videos from. The free version only allows access to servers in Canada, the Netherlands, and Singapore. If the country you need to access isn’t one of those, the free app won’t be any use to you for streaming.
Another limitation of the free version is that it doesn’t allow you to use OpenVPN or SoftEther. These are the better protocols available at the moment. You get a data throughput limit of 2GB per month. If you like to download files or play games online, this could get chewed up very quickly.
All in all, using the free version doesn’t give you a proper chance to test the paid version. Fortunately, Hide.me has a 14-day money-back guarantee period for the paid service. Note: You can only get this refund if you have used less than 50 MB of data before you ask for your money back. You can also get a one-day free trial of the Premium plan if you email the support desk and ask for it.
The main difference between the Plus plan and the Premium plan is that you get an allowance of five simultaneous connections with the Premium version. The other difference between the two plans is that the Plus plan has a data throughput limit of 75 GB per month.
You can pay for a subscription with credit cards, PayPal, Sofort, GiroPay, CashU, or Bitcoin.
The free plan gives you the following features:
Access to servers in the Netherlands, Canada, and Singapore
Speeds of at least 3 Mbps
2GB of data per month
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP), Internet Key Exchange version 1 (IKEv1), and Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) protocols
Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS
Automatic WiFi protection
Servers for peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading
Plus and Premium users get these extras:
14-day refund period
Use of more than 30 servers in 27 countries
Speeds of up to 150 Mbps
75 GB data throughput allowance with the Plus plan
OpenVPN and SoftEther VPN protocols
Premium customers also get unlimited data throughput and an allowance of five simultaneous connections.
The full server list includes locations in Washington DC, San Jose, Miami, Salt Lake City, and Seattle in the US. There are two locations each in the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia.
VPNs give you greater privacy online. However, total anonymity can never be achieved because the VPN company knows what you are doing on the internet. Therefore, when you subscribe to a VPN, you need to be sure that the company won’t make information about your activities available to law enforcement agencies, or lawyers with a court order to force the VPN to hand over the information that it holds on you.
There are two ways to tackle this issue. Firstly, you should select a VPN based in a country that is far away from where you live and from where the copyright owners of the entertainment that you want to download reside. The second privacy assurance that you need is that the VPN won’t retain records of your activities. Thus it won’t have any information to hand over, should legal pressure be applied.
Hide.me is based in Malaysia, which is a good location for protection against actions by copyright lawyers. The cost of implementing legal proceedings in a foreign country is much high. It may make legal action economically unviable. The company claims that it keeps no connection or activity logs at all. However, as the free service and the Plus plan have data throughput limits, there must be some record-keeping on each customer.
Personal details and account payment information are held by outsourced payment collection agencies. Thus, Hide.me never holds identifying information about its customers. Tracker codes for Google Analytics are included in the Hide.me website, but not the app.
The company claims that its software is incapable of recording which sites and internet services its customers connect to while using the VPN. All records on terminated connections, other than aggregated data usage counts, are deleted every two to three hours.
The OpenVPN implementation of the app is probably the best option available. However, there are other protocols available, too. L2TP and IKEv2 are good alternatives, but the IKEv2 implementation is only available on Windows and Linux. L2TP is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and iOS devices. This implementation uses AES encryption, but with a 128-bit key, which is less secure than the AES with a 258-bit key, which is used for OpenVPN.
Logs & Legal
OpenVPN is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, and Linux users. The security details of this option are shown in the table alongside. This is probably your best security option when you use Hide.me.
SSTP and PPTP are two other protocol options available in the app. PPTP was an early VPN system that was created by Microsoft. It is now considered to be out of date and to have weak security. SSTP was invented by Microsoft to replace PPTP. It’s a good option if, for some reason, you don’t want to use OpenVPN. This protocol mimics the security methods used by HTTPS, which is the encryption system used to secure webpages in transit.
The app has one more VPN protocol option, which is SoftEther. This is a multi-protocol platform that was created in 2014. It is a new system, and you would be better off sticking with OpenVPN in the Hide.me client interface.
The website is well laid out. It imparts information without overwhelming potential customers with technical information. The only criticism is that there is no section that gives precise details of the security measures that the VPN implements.
A great feature of this site is that it is available in a long list of languages. Apart from English, you can see the site in German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Indonesian, and Arabic.
The Hide.me support system is very comprehensive and is one of the service’s best features. There are many ways to access customer support. A live chat system is manned 24/7. The staff at this help desk can answer many questions that you have about the VPN. However, they aren’t able to solve technical problems. You get to the live chat by clicking on the blue oblong at the bottom right of the website.
You don’t have to enter any identifying information to ask a question.
If the live chat team can’t help you, the technical team can be contacted through a web form or via email. You get to the Support Center by clicking on the black oblong on the right-hand edge of the website.
You can access a user forum from this page and also scroll down to read an archive of FAQs. Technical support is available through a support ticket system. You need to enter an email address and elect a topic from a dropdown list in order to ask a support question. A technician will reply to your question by email.
You can also contact the support team directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the address you need to contact in order to get the one-day free trial of the Premium package.
If you get the free trial, you’ll already have an account set up before you sign up to the subscription service. If not, you need to go to the Pricing page and click on the Buy Now button below either the Premium or Plus plan description.
Chose the length of subscription that you want to take out, then select a payment method. You have to enter a valid email address to set up an account, because your account details will be sent there.
You will receive your account credentials by email. Click on the button in the email to get started.
You will be taken to your account dashboard when you click on the button in the email. Click on “VPN Clients” to get to the app download page.
Click on the button for your operating system to get the installer file on your computer. The app will install itself once you click on the downloaded file.
The Hide.me Windows VPN Client
A guide overlay opens the first time you open the app. This gives you an overview of the features and explains how to use the service. Log in to the app with the username and password in your welcome email.
The layout of the app is straightforward. The top section shows your connection status. You’ll also see your plan type and your IP address in this screen. The “Data Transfer” line shows a cumulative data usage record.
Next to the Connect button is your selected location. This location selection is defaulted to “Automatic,” meaning the app will select the server that gives you the fastest connection. When you click on this field, a dropdown list allows you to select a server location.
There’s a “P2P” symbol next to each server location. This is green if the location is good for masking P2P downloads and red for servers that torrenters should avoid.
Select a server and click Connect to turn the VPN on. The connection status will change in the app and the reported IP address will be different, displaying an address in the same country as the server location you chose.
Visit the Settings section by clicking on Settings at the bottom of the app. This section includes important features. You can change the language of the app and turn on the kill switch. This prevents any app on your computer from connecting to the internet if the VPN is disengaged. If you’re in a repressive country, using the kill switch is essential for your protection.
The third tab of the Settings section gives you the option to change the VPN protocol that the app uses. This defaults to IKEv2. Although this is a good VPN protocol, BestVPN.com always recommends OpenVPN as the best protocol, so select that option.
Performance (Speed, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 Tests)
These speed tests were performed using testmy.net. The test location was in Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands. The internet service for the test line is a residential package, Fusión Contigo, provided by Movistar. This package promises connection speeds of up to 30 Mbps.
The test results that you see below include five runs of a connection without the VPN engaged. Unfortunately, testmy.net doesn’t have a test server in Spain, so these connections were made to the closest available test location: the UK. The next results that you see in the two graphs are the stats for five runs of speed tests to the same server in the UK with the Hide.me server in Spain mediating the connection. You will also see the results of five test runs connecting to the testmy.net UK server mediated by the Hide.me VPN server in London, UK.
Test scenarios also include five test runs on an unprotected connection to Miami, and then five test runs on a connection to the same location, but with the US East Coast Hide.me VPN server engaged. IPLocation.net reported that the US East Coast server was located in Orlando, Florida.
For these tests, the VPN settings were set to use OpenVPN over User Datagram Protocol (UDP). The first graph shows the results for downloads, using the above test conditions. The second shows upload performance in all of the test conditions described above.
The performance of the VPN showed that it had very little impact on speeds. Although the Hide.me server in Spain slowed down the connection to London a little, the impairment was so slight that it could be categorized as insignificant.
The standard BestVPN.com tests include checks on performance for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) leaks. However, the residential Movistar internet service used for these tests does not employ that addressing system.
I checked for IPv4 , Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), and Domain Name System (DNS) leaks with the sites ipleak.net and doileak.net. I accessed these sites while connected to Hide.me’s London server. The app performed well in all tests.
I tried getting into streaming service in the UK and the US while located in Spain. I first turned on the Hide.me VPN with the London server selected. The VPN was detected by Netflix UK and BBC iPlayer. The Channel 4 website, however, allowed me to watch a show.
With the Hide.me US East Coast VPN server engaged, I tried to access content on Netflix US, ABC.com, and NBC.com. Netflix and ABC blocked access to content because they both detected the VPN. However, I was able to watch shows on the NBC website.
Hide.me has an app for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS devices. The VPN can also be set up manually on Blackberry phones, and Ubuntu and Fedora 24+ versions of Linux. You can find scripts on the Hide.me website that will help you set up the VPN on Asus WRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato routers, plus Kodi boxes.
Hide.me Review: Conclusion
Hide.me is a very good app, as long as you’re not relying on it to get you into the Netflix library for another country. The security levels offered by the app and the privacy procedures of account setup are very reassuring. The company’s location in Malaysia and its zero logs policy are other good points about this service. Symbols on the server list in the app advise users which servers are good for P2P and which you should avoid. This is a great feature that few VPNs include.
14-day money-back guarantee
Excellent user support
I wasn’t so sure about:
Data limit for refund
Couldn’t get into Netflix
The only downfall of this VPN is its inability to get into popular streaming services, such as Netflix, the BBC, and ABC. This could be a very good VPN for anyone, as long as access to streaming services isn’t a priority.