Alternative VPN Choices for You
The features of the company's package are:
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 24-hour VPN free trial
- Seven-day smart DNS free trial
- Three simultaneous connections
- Self-installing app
- Easy-to-use interface
- Unlimited data throughput
- Multi-package discounts
- Kill switch
- On-demand server speed tests
- P2P allowed on some servers
- HTTPS proxy
- Accepts PayPal and Bitcoin as well as credit cards
- OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, SSTP, SoftEther, and PPTP
- Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, iOS, and Android
The company operates 28 servers in eight countries. There are six servers in the USA, two in Canada, six in the UK, three in Germany, four in the Netherlands, three in Poland, and one each in Singapore and France.
The concurrent connection allowance has some restrictions. You can't connect to the same server twice at the same time. However, as most country locations offered by the service have multiple servers, you would just need to connect to a different server in the same country each time in order to qualify for the maximum of three simultaneous connections.
The smart DNS service allows "unlimited" simultaneous connections. However, all of those connections need to come from the same IP address, which means from behind the same router.
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Speed and Performance
I conducted speed tests of the HideIPVPN app with the protocol of the system set to OpenVPN using UDP. I used IPLocation.net to detect the physical location of the servers accessed for the test. The US1 was found to be in Manassas, Virginia. The second North American test was run through the Canada1 server of HideIPVPN, which IPLocation reported as being in Montreal. All North American tests were measured on a connection to a test server in Miami.
For a test of transatlantic performance, I connected to a test server in London. These tests ran through the UK1` server of HideIPVPN, which IPLocation told me was in Gosport, Hampshire.
In each case, five test runs were performed with testmy.net from the Dominican Republic with unprotected connection running to each test server used for a baseline comparison. Graphs show highest, lowest and average speeds for each server and location. See our full speed test explanation for more detail.
These speeds will probably seem slow to you. This is because the regular internet service in the Dominican Republic is much slower than available internet in Europe or North America. However, if you're on vacation or are retiring to a warmer country, these are the local conditions that you are likely to face when connecting to internet TV services from home.
HideIPVPN didn't cause speeds to slow too much. This was a respectable performance.
While connected to the UK1 server, I accessed the test site ipleak.net reported my location as in the UK and spotted calls to 60 different DNS server addresses. Four of those DNS servers were in Georgia, USA, and the rest were all in Belgium.
Another test site, doileak.com placed me in the United Kingdom and also saw that my computer was accessing DNS servers in the United States and one other place. DoILeak reported those other DNS servers as being in the Netherlands.
My internet service provider does not use IPv6 addresses and so I was unable to test for IPv6 leaks.
Pricing and Plans
HideIPVPN has five different service plans. In each case, you can choose to take out a subscription to the service for one month, three months, or one year. The top package includes access to all of the servers run by the company.
If you know that you will never need to access all of those server locations and only want a VPN to get into one specific country, you can save money by picking a country-specific plan. The first of these gives you access to the HideIPVPN servers in the United States. The company has servers in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Jose, Buffalo, Texas, and Chicago.
You could choose a plan to just get access to servers in the UK. There are seven in total -- four in London, and three in Maidenhead. The third country-specific plan gives access just to the three HideIPVPN servers in Poland, two of which are in Warsaw and one is in Katowice.
If you just want to use the VPN for protection when downloading with the BitTorrent system, you could just opt to get access to the German and Dutch servers of HideIPVPN. This includes a total of eight servers -- three in Germany and five in the Netherlands. You also get access to these servers with the Ninja package, so that is the only other plan with which P2P activity is allowed.
HideIPVPN also runs a smart DNS service. You can read about the smart DNS concept later on in this review. If you just want a way to get into TV services abroad, the smart DNS option could be your best solution.
There is no limit on the number of connections that you can make with the DNS service. With each VPN plan, you can connect three devices to the service simultaneously. However, you are not allowed to share an account.
A smart DNS is included with the Ninja package and each of the three country-specific VPN packages includes the use of a smart DNS just for that country.
HideIPVPN accepts payments by credit card, PayPal, and Bitcoin. The company offers a 30-day refund period. However, there are conditions to that courtesy. You are only allowed a refund on the first month that you have ever subscribed to HideIPVPN. So, if you have had a subscription before, you don't get a money-back guarantee with the next subscription. Similarly, if you are paying on a repeat billing agreement, it is only the first period of that agreement that you are eligible for a refund.
You can only get a refund if you use Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. There is no refund agreement for users of mobile operating systems. Although you can install a VPN and a smart DNS on routers and set-top boxes, there is no guarantee that the service will work on all types of these devices, so you can't get a refund for the reason that you installed the service on a router and it didn't work.
Given the limitations on the refund policy, it is better to take advantage of the free trial offered by HideIPVPN before taking out a subscription. The VPN free trial lasts for one day and gives you access to the Nina package. The smart DNS package can be tried out on a seven-day free trial.
Privacy and Security
HideIPVPN offers six different encryption protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, SSTP, SoftEther, and PPTP. Of these, we at BestVPN.com recommend OpenVPN as your best option. This is probably the most comprehensive VPN system available because not only does it include good security procedures for data, but its methods of authenticating remote servers combat the danger of your connections possibly being intercepted by someone who poses as that server.
A useful security feature contained in the app is the "Application Killer." This is what other VPNs call a "kill switch." This utility doesn't actually terminate the apps running on your computer. However, it does block their access to the internet. This is an important privacy measure because it only stops those apps from connecting when the VPN is not engaged. Under these circumstances, any communication out of your computer would carry your real IP address and compromise you privacy protection.
OpenVPN is a library of procedures rather than one rigid protocol. Implementations of the system can use one of a number of ciphers to protect data. The strongest cipher available to OpenVPN is AES, which is the encryption system that HelpIPVPN uses. The strength of encryption lies in the length of the key used for encoding data. The top VPNs use a 256-bit key. This is the key length used by HideIPVPN for its AES encryption.
The session establishment and AES key distribution procedures of OpenVPN use a second encryption cipher. HideIPVPN uses RSA encryption with a 2048-bit key. This creates strong security, but the company uses a much stronger method for session establishment for its SoftEther implementation, which is RSA with a 4096-bit key.
Many VPNs organize the collection of payments from customers through a separate company so that they do not need to retain any personal details on their users within their business. HideIPVPN doesn't so that. If you pay by credit card or even with PayPal, you have to give you real name when signing up. This is because those details are used as part of payment verification procedures. HideIPVPN will also get your home address. If you want to avoid revealing those details, you should use Bitcoin to pay for the service.
You also need to give an email address in order to create an account. That should be a real address, because the company will send you account confirmation emails. However, if you don't want to give your regular email address, set up a burner webmail account for communications with the company.
Ease of Use
HideIPVPN's logo is the masked face of a cartoon Nina warrior. This Ninja theme runs through the whole site, forming the main theme for its illustrations. The site looks very good and is well planned. IT explains the concepts of VPNs well and even includes lots of technical details scattered through the text.
Overall, the HideIPVPN website is attractive and friendly, while still demonstrating competence. The company has managed to create an impression that gives you confidence in its abilities, while still being approachable and fun.
The main navigation medium of the site is a menu at the top of the screen. This stays fixed in the window as you scroll down the page. There are more navigation links at the bottom of the site's pages.
The company maintains a blog on the site. This gives some interesting reading about online privacy and also additions to the HideVPN service. The blog gets new posts about three times a month.
The company also runs a Facebook profile, which you can follow. This usually just directs the public's attention to the new blog posts available on the company's site. However, HidePVPN runs occasional promotions on its social media outlets and you can win a free service with some of those. These offers are also available on the company's Twitter feed. HideIPVPN also has a Google+ account.
You can access a live chat window by clicking on the gray oblong at the bottom left of each page in the site. If there is someone from the help desk manning the live chat utility, you will see the message "Live Chat" in this field.
You will need to enter your name and email address in order to start a conversation. If there is no one available on the live chat, the access tab has the message "Contact Us." When you click on this field, you open a message window.
The live chat support desk operators aren't very knowledgeable. I asked a straightforward question about the encryption used in the VPN and the person who was supposed to be helping with my problem couldn't answer.
The Support menu item takes you through to the website's FAQ page. The answers on this page are very comprehensive and should give you all of the information you need to feel comfortable about signing up. The buttons at the top of the page take you through to tutorials and guide on how to install different elements of the service package - i.e., the VPN, the smart DNS and the proxy server.
There is a small contact form at the bottom of the FAQ page. However, questions entered in this section don't get logged as support tickets. I entered a question in this form and never received a reply.
You can get to a more detailed support ticket form through the Contact Us link in the footer of the site, or through the Client Area. You reach the Client Area from the Log In link in the top menu of the site. Support tickets raised through this avenue do get logged and you can see the progress of each in the Open Support Tickets section of the Dashboard.
Click on the name of you active service package to get the username and password for the VPN app. You can change both of these. This package details page is also where you get the VPN software. You can install the
As HideIPVPN places restrictions on its refund policy, it is better to test the system with the company's free trial offer before signing up for a subscription. Make sure you have a clear diary on the day that you sign up because you need to make sure that the service gives you all of the functionality that you are looking for.
You get to the Free Trial form from the Home page of the site. Look for the "Get My Free Trial Now" button. Enter your name and email address into the form and click on the big green button at the bottom.
Email address has to be real because the credentials are sent there. These are for the Client Area on the website where you download the app. The VPN username and password is different.
To pay for the service, go to the Pricing page, select a subscription period, and then click on the "Order Now" button beneath the description of your chosen plan. This takes you through to the Shopping Cart.
Enter you email address. If you already have an account after getting the free trial, click on the Login button and enter your username and password instead.
Click on a payment type, check the Terms of Service box and press the green button to proceed.The format of the payment screen varies according to the payment type that you chose.
You will receive confirmation of your account by email. If you already tried the free trial, the paid service will run on the same account. However, you will see that the expiry date of your access has been extended.
The software download and installation instructions are accessible from the Support page or through the package details in the Client Area.
The Windows VPN client
The installation wizard will install a shortcut on your Desktop. Click on the shortcut to open the app. The first time you access the system you will need to enter your VPN username and password. Check the "Remember password" box so that you don't have to keep typing these credentials in every time you open the app.
The app can use five different VPN methodologies and you can choose which one you prefer for the connection by pushing one of the VPN Protocol buttons at the top of the window.
The side menu gives you access to the Settings page. The facilities in this section of the app enable you to dictate whether the app runs whenever Windows starts and also whether it should connect to a default VPN server automatically.
The OpenVPN Protocols option at the bottom of the window lets you decide whether you want to run your connections to a VPN server using the Transmission Control Protocol or the User Datagram Protocol. UDP is more lightweight and is better for modern apps that require rapid data transfers, such as IP telephony, online gaming, and video streaming.
The kill switch of the HideIPVPN app is a little complicated. A lot of VPN companies that decide to include a kill switch in their apps just create the option to impose a system-wide block on internet access until the VPN is active. In the HideIPVPN implementation, you have to nominate each app that you want to control. This function is available from the "Application Killer" button in the app's left-hand menu.
Back on the main screen of the app, you need to select a server before you connect. Click on one of the flag-decorated buttons to select a country before accessing the drop-down list of available servers.
This list just shows the server names in alphabetical order. You can get this list reorganized so that the order is based on which server is quicker to reach from your location, which the fastest first in the list. You get this reordering by clicking on the "Sort by speed" button next to the server drop-down list.
Click on the Connect button to contact your chosen service. The connection process takes a while, but once the VPN link is active, the Connect button changes to show the label "Disconnect.
HideIPVPN has custom apps for Windows, Mac OS X, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. You can also install third-party apps to use the VPN on Linux machines. The service can also be installed on routers and set-top boxes. However, the refund guarantee only applies to the Windows, Mac, and Linux implementations of the service.
The smart DNS and proxy server access of HideIPVPN gives you other options for getting into sites overseas that restrict access to people in the same country.
A proxy service routes your connections through a mediating server, presenting your request for Web pages from its address rather than from yours. As sites with regional restrictions check on the source address of a request, a proxy service should enable you to bypass restrictions.
A smart DNS service routes your traffic optionally. Web addresses don't really exist on the internet, so before your browser can go and fetch a page form a web server it needs to know the internet address of that host. The internet address is commonly known as the IP address and a domain name server stores the IP addresses for all the website names (domains) in the world.
A smart DNS replaces the IPs of regionally restricted web services with the address of its proxy server. So when you use a smart DNS service, access to the BBC iPlayer will be diverted through the proxy, while access to other websites, such as that of Yahoo.com will travel by the regular route.
You can sometimes face difficulties using proxies, because some proxy systems strip out potentially risky elements in a web page, which can include anything with a program behind it, such as buttons or video players.
A VPN is a type of proxy. However, it has extra security features because it completely encrypts all of the connection between your computer and the proxy server. If you live in China, or another country that blocks, or monitors internet traffic, you need a VPN, because you need to sneak past government controls. Even your internet service provider is unable to look at your internet traffic when you use a VPN. In some instances, when accessing video streaming services, this level of privacy is necessary because some ISPs practice throttling, which is the intentional slowing of certain types of internet traffic.
So, whether a VPN, a smart DNS, or a proxy is best entirely depends on your specific circumstances. The free trial offered by HideIPVPN gives you the chance to try out all three options.
I tested the abilities of HideIPVPN's smart DNS, proxy server, and VPN service to see whether each of them could get me into popular video streaming sites.
When accessing Netflix through the smart DNS service, I got the local library for my location, not for the country that I had nominated in the HideIPVPN app.
HideIPVPN offers a competent VPN solution and also includes alternative methods to get into regionally-restricted sites. This is a great service for those who want to watch streaming services from abroad. Unfortunately, none of the methods available was able to get me into an overseas version of Netflix.
HideIPVPN has put a lot of thought into its service. The website is well designed and packed full of information. Including the smart DNS service in the custom app was a really good idea, and makes that feature really easy to use. The staff at HideIPVPN tells me that they will crack the Netflix problem, too. Let's hope they do.
We will keep an eye on this VPN because it seems to be evolving its services rapidly. In the meantime, be aware that there are lots of caveats to its refund policy. As such, make sure to take out the free trial and check that it gets you into all the sites you want to access before you commit money to a subscription.
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