HMA Pro in brief:
- P2P allowed: Yes
- Business location: Czech Republic
- Number of servers: 1,080+
- Number of country locations: 210+*
- Cost: $59.88 per year
- VPN Protocol: OpenVPN (Windows)
- Data encryption: AES-256
- Data authentication: AES-256-GCM or SHA1
- Handshake: 2048-bit TLS and SHA-256
If there's one thing you can say about HMA (Hide My Ass) it
doesn't sit still very often. Since last we looked, the well-known
Avast-owned VPN service released a new version of its app, and it's
time to kick it around a bit and see what's new. The new look is
quite different from that smartphone-style app that we looked at in
2019, and overall it's a pretty good new design.
When you first open HMA it has two primary columns. On the left
is something a little more smartphone-like with a large on/off
slider, a big tile at the bottom with your selected VPN location,
and in between those two elements, your home IP—when you connect,
it also adds your VPN server's IP address. This default view has an
animated version of the HMA donkey mascot, Jack. When you activate
the VPN, Jack puts on a variety of disguises to indicate you're on
the VPN. Sometimes those disguises are amusing, while other time he
looks like a total jack… well, you know.
HMA Pro 5 with an active connection. Image: IDG
On the rightmost panel are a number of smaller boxes that can
either display information or provide quick links to take actions
such as opening preferences, activating auto-connect, or watching
your current bandwidth usage. This area doesn't appear to be
customizable, though you can dismiss boxes that aren't useful.
To get into the settings, click the cog icon in the upper-left
corner. This opens a second window with a number of pretty standard
options. What's nice is that a number of features aren't activated
by default, giving users the option to turn them on, such as the
internet kill switch, an app-specific kill switch, and
Under Settings Connection HMA has a very
easy-to-use way to manage your PC's saved Wi-Fi networks. By
default HMA won't try to connect, or even ask to connect, when
you're on a private network such as your home network. Changing a
Wi-Fi network from private to public or vice versa is as simple as
tapping a slider next to each network's name.
There isn't anything in the way of power-user features. No
multi-hop, no VPN protocol options, or anything like that. If you
need these kinds of features then HMA is not the best option.
One notable issue with HMA is its country selection options. HMA
offers more than 200 country options with multiple locations in the
larger countries. If all you care about is getting a connection for
that country then just select the country you want, and HMA will
take care of the rest.
However for some countries, including the United States, there
are virtual location servers. So instead of a U.S. server actually
being in the United States it pretends to be there, but the
physical machine is actually in, say, Brazil or Singapore. If you
don't like using virtual location servers that aren't really where
they're supposed to be, then try choosing a specific location
manually from within the app.
You can also see which servers are meant for P2P and which are
for streaming by clicking the P2P and Streaming
menu items within the country locations window.
Overall, HMA is fairly simple to use, though virtualized country
locations may complicate it for some.
HMA has always been a top performer and that continues this time
around. It has dropped a bit, but is still inside our top 10 VPNs
for speed (at this writing). HMA retained 36.21 percent of the base
download speed across five locations and multiple testing days.
That should be more than enough for most uses.
Privacy, anonymity, and
HMA requires an email and password to sign up for an account,
which is standard for VPN services. As for payments, HMA accepts
credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal and PayNearMe. There are
no cryptocurrency options as of yet, and HMA does not accept cash
an audit by Versprite verified that. The company says it doesn't
log originating IPs, DNS queries, browsing history, or the content
of data that runs through its network.
On the server side, HMA does log the day you last connected to
its servers but not the time of day, and it logs bandwidth usage in
order to plan for new network capacity and server improvements. All
of this data is kept for 35 days.
From the VPN clients, HMA logs connection events such as a
connection, disconnection, failed connection, and so on. This
information is not tied to user data. HMA also logs application
events, which basically means how you use the app such as using a
new feature, uninstalling, and so on. It also logs crash reports
that are sent and generated by users. All of this data is stored
for two years and then deleted on a rolling basis.
policies out there that collect even less data, and many VPNs
aren't collecting data about how people use the app. That said, for
most people this feature should be fine. But if you're extra
concerned about privacy, then I'd say HMA is not for you.
HMA has a lot of things people want: tons of servers, heaps of
country connection options, fast service, and a relatively
easy-to-use app. It's also available at a good price. It doesn't
have a lot to offer those who want extra features or customization,
or those looking to maximizing privacy. But if all you need is
something to get Netflix overseas or a simple app for connecting
while on public Wi-Fi, HMA can get the job done.
*HMA uses virtual servers meaning some of its country
locations are not physically located where they appear to
Editor's note: Because online services are
often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements
over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately
reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or
our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this