Alternative VPN Choices for You
|Bare metal or virtual servers
The features on offer vary depending on which plan you choose.
- No logs
- 35 servers in 28 countries worldwide. This includes a few more unusual locations, such as Brazil, Mexico, India, and Morocco
- 75 GB data (Plus plan) or unlimited data (Premium plan)
- 1 connection (Plus plan) or 5 simultaneous connections (Premium plan)
- PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, OpenVPN, SoftEther and SSTP VPN protocols
- Apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS
- Automatic WiFi protection
- Kill switch
- P2P on selected servers.
- SOCKS proxy
- Static IP (optional)
This is a decent feature list, but most VPNs offer unlimited data and multiple simultaneous connections for a half or less the price of Hide.me’s Premium Plan.
Note that the full range of VPN protocols are only supported in Windows, including SoftEther. Most other apps primarily use IKEv2, although as this is a secure and fast protocol this is not a major issue.
Automatic WiFi protection
This automatically detects when your device connects to an unsecured WiFi network and offers to enable the VPN for you. I have not tested this feature, but it could be useful protecting you from hackers when using public WiFi hotspots.
Hide.me is notable for supporting the SoftEther VPN protocol, an open source alternative VPN platform that is also referred to as SSL-VPN. This is because it is based on HTTPS and therefore uses SSL/TLS encryption and TCP port 443.
Much like running OpenVPN over TCP port 443, this makes SoftEther VPN traffic look similar to regular secure HTTPS traffic. This makes it difficult for firewalls to block.
The SoftEther SSL-VPN protocol is therefore great for overcoming VPN blocks, and I have heard reports of it being effective at defeating VPN censorship in China and Egypt. As already noted, please be aware that SoftEther is supported on Windows systems only.
Speed and Performance
BestVPN.com has recently introduced a groovy new speed test system that provides a scientific and objective way to measure and compare VPN speed performance. Please see here for more details.
Average global download speed results are our baseline measure for how fast a VPN is. It must be said that Hide.me’s results here are not amazing. Even when connected to a nearby server people with fast internet connections will likely be disappointed to find speeds capped at a little over 50 Mbits/s.
DNS lookup time is a good measure of how fast users perceive their connection to be as it affects web page loading times. Faster lookup time= faster web page loading (i.e. lower is better). Although not the fastest we have recorded, Hide.me’s DNS lookup times are pretty good.
VPN connection time measures long it takes between hitting the “connect” button in your VPN client, and the VPN connection to be established. It is probably the least important of these speed measurements, but no-one enjoys hanging around.
|BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst)
|BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average)
|IPv4 leak detected?
|WebRTC leak detected?
We run basic test IP leak tests by visiting ipleak.net. These include IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak tests and Ipv4 and IPv6 WebRTC leak tests.
Please see A Complete Guide to IP Leaks for a full discussion of what all this means. Basically, though, if we can see our real IP address or an IP address belonging to our real ISP when using the VPN, then fail.
That UK IPv6 WebRTC address in this Windows test belongs to our ISP (BT Broadband). Oops. Fail. Note that the test was performed with the “Prevent DNS leaks” setting enabled.
Both Netflix and BBC iPlayer blocked me when using Hide.me.
Check out our Netflix VPN and iPlayer VPN guides for VPNs that actually work.
12 month Plan
$4.99 per month
6 month Plan
$6.65 per month
1 month Plan
$9.95 per month
It has to be said that this makes Hide.me one of the most expensive VPN services on the market.
Hide.me offers a 14-day money back guarantee, but this is only valid if bandwidth usage is not more than a rather low 500MB.
Payment can be made via PayPal, credit/debit card, iDeal or Wire transfer. Hide.me also accepts payment via a range of cryptocurrencies.
This potentially allows you to pay for the service anonymously, but please remember that no matter how anonymously you pay, a VPN will always know your real internet (IP) address.
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Ease of Use
Hide.me offers custom apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile.
Somewhat confusingly, in addition to full desktop clients for Windows and Mac, Hide.me offers cut-down apps for Windows 10 Store and macOS App Store.
Hide.me also provides detailed manual setup guides using various VPN protocols for Windows, macOS, Linux (Ubuntu and Fedora), iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry 10, a selection of routers, Kodi, and more.
The Android App
The Android app has a similar look and feel to its desktop cousins.
Settings options, however, are very basic. The internet did cut off until a VPN connection was re-established upon a regular disconnect so it can be said to have a kill switch, but this did not survive a force-closing of the Hide.me app.
There is no explicit DNS leak protection option, but I did not detect any IP leaks. Overall, the app is simple works well.
The Windows and macOS Store apps
Hide.me tells me that new features are slowly being added to these apps, although at present they are fairly basic. The Windows app supports IKEv2 and PPTP, while the macOS app supports IKEv2 with IKEv1 as fallback. They otherwise appear to be identical.
I found the Windows app to be very buggy - it crashed every time I tried to change location away from ”default” - but the macOS app worked well.
Neither app features a kill switch per se., but both apps cut my internet connection when I simulated a disconnect. Interestingly, they also maintained my connection to the VPN server even when I force-closed the apps.
This must be because they leverage Windows’ and macOS’ built-in VPN functionality, which act independently of the apps.
Hide.me Free Plan
Users are limited to three sever locations (Canada, Netherlands and Singapore), 2 GB data transfer per month, and 1 connection (although I can see no reason why different accounts cannot be used on as many different devices as you like).
Windows users do not have access to the OpenVPN and SoftEther VPN protocols, although this is not a major problem as IKEv2 is very good.
The pricing page says that bandwidth is also severely limited for free users, although it promises a minimum of 3 Mbits/s.
A quick non-scientific test on speedtest.net produced the following results:
The first result is without a VPN, the others to the nearest VPN server from my UK location.
These results are not bad for a free VPN service and are likely the result of busy servers rather than any deliberate throttling.
The plan must be renewed every 14 days but, it is still a good service. Overall, the plan is fine for checking your email and web surfing, but the 2 GB per month restriction limits its usefulness.
|Live chat support
Other than the setup guides, support is primarily via 24/7 live chat, although a ticketed email option is also available. I initially found the live chat staff to be friendly and knowledgeable, but this experience soured somewhat as time went on.
As expected, when I asked a highly technical question I was asked to submit a ticket to the tech department. Again, initial imprisons were undermined by poor responses later. It was only when, rather annoyed, I told support that I was reviewing Hide.me for BestVPN.com that I regained their full attention.
I would, therefore, characterize the quality of support as rather uneven.
Privacy and Security
Logs and Legal
One of Hide.me’s strongest points is that it keeps very few logs. “Non-persistent” connection logs are “securely erased every few hours,” but even these do not record your real IP address or timestamp.
Again, this is not connected to your real IP address. It almost goes without saying, of course, that Hide.me does not monitor your internet activity (it keeps no usage logs).
So other than keeping track of bandwidth, I think Hide.me’s claim to have a “0% Log Policy” is fair. It can do this because Hide.me is based in Malaysia. The internet in Malaysia is quite censored but this does not appear to affect VPNs, who are not required to keep logs. Which is great.
Payments are processed by Paymentwall Inc. and Cleverbridge AG. In many ways this is good, as it means that Hide.me does not know your payment details. It does mean, however, that some payments are processed by a US company, which might worry the more NSA-phobic out there.
It is also worth noting that neither of these companies is known for protecting customers’ privacy.
The Hide.me website uses only a single Google Analytics tracker, and “to enhance your anonymity, hide.me have opted to only allow Google to collect only a portion of the IP address. Google Analytics may also store a web cookie to facilitate the identification of users who revisit the site.”
This is, of course, not as good as using no trackers at all, but is nevertheless quite non-invasive.
The SOCKS5 proxy offered by Hide.me is itself unencrypted, as it is intended to be used with the VPN which secure encryption. The primary advantage doing this is that if the VPN connection is interrupted, then the proxy will lose the connection.
This means the SOCKS proxy can act as a per-app kill switch for any app that supports the SOCKS5 protocol. Which includes almost all browsers and P2P torrent clients.
Hide.me also claims that running P2P torrent traffic through the SOCKS proxy with the VPN running will optimize traffic, resulting in “much higher transfer rates with P2P-Applications.” I have never heard of this before, so cannot comment on how true this claim is.
For more information on SOCKS proxies, please check out my Ultimate Proxy Server Guide.
You can assign each device a static IP if you wish. These may be shared with other users, so although they are static IPs, they are not dedicated IPs.
This is good for privacy, but not so useful for evading website VPN blocks. It is handy for bypassing NAT firewalls, however, including the one used by Hide.me. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is fully supported.
The real test of a VPN provider’s technical security is in the details of the OpenVPN encryption it uses. By default, Hide.me uses the following settings:
Control channel: an AES-256-GCM cipher with RSA-8192 handshake encryption. Additional authentication is not required with GCM, but HMAC SHA384 hash authentication is also specified in the encryption suite. Perfect Forward Secrecy is " is enabled by default." I will assume this means a standard Diffie-Hellman Exchange (DHE) is used, but it may be higher.
Data channel: an AES-256-CBC cipher with HMA SHA-256 hash authentication.
This is a great setup and is extremely secure. In fact, it is the first time I have ever encountered ultra-strong 8192-bit RSA keys. I asked Hide.me about this;
“I can positively confirm that we are using 8192 bit RSA key. You can verify that by connecting to our OpenVPN server. At hide.me, we know that might be an overkill, but we want to make sure that even the most security-conscious user gets what he or she wants. “
As we shall see, however, other security aspects are much more worrying. The desktop clients have a kill switch, but they will not survive if clients crash. I also detected a WebRTC IPv6 DNS leak, even when the Windows DNS leak protection option was enabled. This is not good.
There is much to like about Hide.me. It offers a no logs VPN service with a decent feature list and 24/7 live chat support. Unfortunately, I found the quality of that support to be rather uneven and was disappointed by Hide.me’s speed test results.
And the fact that my real IP was exposed via a WebRTC IPv6 DNS leak when using the service is very worrying!
The elephant in the room, however, is Hide.me’s pricing. For $10 per month (base price) I expect a hell of a lot more than a measly 1 connection and 75 GB data limit. And $20 per month (base price) for 5 connections and unlimited bandwidth is insanely expensive!
It is said that you get what you pay for, but Hide.me does not live up to this promise.
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