The digital age came with the adoption of the internet as a preferred means of communication. This opened up a new avenue for transferring information from one end of the world to another. It also cleared the path for a new threat landscape for malicious entities to exploit. Cyberthreats keep expanding yearly. It is only logical that people find means to protect themselves.
A VPN acts like a shield between your data and unwanted prying eyes. It ensures there is a layer of protection that discourages hackers from penetrating your network. There are hundreds of VPN service providers. In this article, my focus is on Hide.me, a VPN service that has been around for about eight years.
Hide.me has over 1800 servers in 47 countries and offers better than average speed and excellent streaming capabilities. Netflix, DAZN, and BBC iPlayer are some of the popular streaming services it works with. Its security components include industry-standard encryption, a kill switch, safe VPN protocols, Stealth Guard, split tunneling, and Tor over VPN. Privacy remains a strong point as it is audited, proven to abide by its No-Log Policy, and operates in privacy-friendly territory.
Its subscription plans are expensive, but it has a highly-coveted free service where users have access to five servers, a 10GB data limit, and premium security features. It supports a wide range of devices, and you are allowed 10 simultaneous connections per account. Troubleshooting guides, an online community, 24/7 live chat, and email support are points of contact users can get help from.
Hide.me has about 1800 servers spread across 72 locations in 47 countries. Its server network is inter-continental, spanning regions like Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. Servers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America account for a significant number of its server collection.
I had a conversation with support personnel and was able to find out its server network comprises only physical servers. Although Hide.me rents these servers, they go through a thorough vetting process that ensures your data is safe. It has dedicated servers for streaming, clear to see for premium subscribers on its applications.
Those servers are optimized for specific streaming sites, making it easier to bypass geo-restrictions on them. All servers support P2P file-sharing and are torrent-friendly. Hide.me advises that you use Stealth Guard for any torrenting activity to ensure active protection.
Speed and Performance
Performance is an essential aspect of VPNs to many users—especially users involved in high-speed gaming, torrenting, or streaming in high-definition. Using a VPN typically reduces your rate. Top VPN services like ExpressVPN ensure that the speed reduction is as minimal as possible.
I decided to see if Hide.me is really a fast VPN, as some reviews say. Connecting to a local server on a 100Mbps resulted in an impressive 7% download speed loss. I also tested connections to long-distance servers, and the results met my expectations. Servers in Germany averaged a 10% speed loss, and servers in the USA averaged a 42% speed loss. Australia had the worst reduction in speed with a 70% decline.
It is important to note that depending on the rate your ISP gives you, your experience is likely to differ. A decline in speed on a 100Mbps network will not have the same effect as one on a 10Mbps network. Switching servers might be a good idea if you are experiencing lags. Overall, this VPN service can deliver fast connections, but it’s not as consistent as the top VPNs.
Safety and Security
Security is one of Hide.me’s strong points. While using its desktop application, I came across multiple security features. It gave me some assurance that it is interested in protecting users’ data. Hide.me supports IKEv2, WireGuard, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP), SoftEther, and SSTP. Users can select which of these protocols they intend to use.
256-bit encryption, the most secure encryption algorithm in the world, protects your data in transit. It is unthinkable for prying eyes or hackers to access your data with this encryption in place. Hide.me has leak protection, IPv6 support, custom DNS settings, a kill switch, split tunneling, and Stealth Guard to help prevent IP address exposure.
Split tunneling and Stealth Guard allows you to select applications that will only work under the VPN server’s protection. It also has advanced security settings, including using a random port each time you connect to a server.
This makes it difficult for ISPs to hinder VPN use as they cannot block all ports. You will have no issues using Tor over VPN as I tested its compatibility, and it worked well. Overall, using Hide.me made me feel safe and allowed me to control my security structure.
Anonymity and Privacy Features
Operating from Malaysia ensures it is under the jurisdiction of a privacy-friendly country. It is also a member of the i2Coalition–a coalition of VPN service providers that work together to improve their service and ensure users’ privacy.
I always rate VPN services that have gone through audits from external security companies, and Hide.me can have my stars. DefenseCode was in charge of the audit and gave it a privacy and anonymity certificate. A yearly transparency report stamps Hide.me’s position on my list of VPNs that take users’ privacy seriously.
Cross-platform compatibility is important to users who own several devices. Hide.me has native applications for Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, and Roku. It also offers a pre-configured Vilfo router and instructions for manually configuring other routers. It also has instructional guides for other devices like Blackberry, Kodi, and Linux devices.
Hide.me has browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These extensions come in the form of a proxy you can use, but I will advise against its use as it does not offer any form of protection. Only use them along with the VPN service running. The extensions are free and only allow you to connect to Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. I was pleased to see that all applications have the same features.
Hide.me’s premium users can use it on as many devices as they want, but it only allows 10 parallel connections per user. Although by taking advantage of a router, you can have as many links as you wish.
Streaming and Torrenting
The moment I discovered Hide.me has dedicated servers for streaming, I had high expectations for its unblocking powers. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Netflix, Disney+, DAZN, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, ESPN, Hulu, and HBO Now all have dedicated servers, and they work seamlessly.
Netflix optimized servers in Italy, the US, UK, and Germany all gave me easy access to Netflix libraries in those countries. I wasn’t impressed with its server in France as I tried several times before it worked. Hide.me easily bypasses geo-restrictions on streaming services in the US and UK. I hope they can expand and add more reliable servers for other countries.
All servers support P2P activity, and you can use Hide.me with any torrent client. It has a page on its website that guides you in ensuring the secure download of torrent files. It recommends enabling the Kill Switch, Stealth Guard, and using a SOCKS proxy. Using this VPN for streaming or torrenting should give you no problems.
Plans and Pricing
I consider Hide.me’s pricing plans to be expensive. Other VPNs offer the same features for less, especially on extended subscriptions. Its cheapest plan is the 2-year plan, and it costs $4.99 monthly with two free months. Other paid subscription packages include $12.95 for its monthly plan and $8.32 per month for its yearly plan.
There is also a free plan that gives you limited access to its services. You don’t need to register to use this plan. You have access to almost all security features premium users enjoy.
Some of the limitations include access to only five servers, a 10GB data limit, usage on a single device, lack of advanced configurations, and no WireGuard. I recommend trying out its free service if you’re on a budget or not looking for a long-term commitment.
Payment options include American Express, Paypal, VISA, MasterCard, and Bitcoin. It has a 30-day refund policy.
User Experience and Customer Support
Hide.me’s user interface is consistent across various platforms. I effortlessly downloaded the application and connected to a server in less than 2 minutes. The main menu has a simple setup, with a central button to connect and disconnect. You also have access to notifications, settings, and a server menu from the main menu.
The server menu has a search box and tabs for all servers, streaming optimized servers, favorite servers. Overall, the app is very straightforward. The only issue I have with the app is that the connection cuts off periodically without any interference. Unfortunately, the kill switch is not as reliable as I expected it to be.
Customer support is available via 24/7 live chat, email, a knowledge-base page on its website, and an online community. I decided to try the live chat, but I found it unreliable. Instead of chatting with a live chat agent, I found myself typing on a support ticket. After several tries, I was connected to an agent and received a prompt response.
Does Hide.me Work in China?
The great firewall of China remains the standard for countries with heavy censorship. VPNs that can get past China’s firewall are highly sought after. Hide.me uses obfuscation technology to bypass regions with heavy censorship or regions that clamp down VPN usage. It calls its obfuscation tool TLS-Crypt and makes it available for only premium subscribers.
Along with handling its DNS servers, Hide.me also supports SoftEther–a multi-protocol approach to bypassing firewall inspections. It has these features to pave the way for users to overcome restrictions in those countries. Its website and applications are restricted by the Chinese government, making it difficult for users living in China to use it. It is vital to download the VPN before entering Chinese borders.
I cannot verify if it works in China, but it has features that show promising potential. Hide.me is ready to assist you in using its services in China; just contact the support team.
Pros and Cons
Some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Hide.me includes the following:
1. Advanced Security Features
Hide.me has several advanced security features and gives you some control over the security of your connection.
2. Excellent Support
Its support structure is commendable. It has several resources on its knowledge-base that can help with any troubleshooting problems. Its online community, 24/7 live chat support, and ticketing system help you unblock any difficulties you encounter.
3. Ten Simultaneous Connections
The average number of simultaneous connections VPN services allow is 5. 10 simultaneous connections is an upgrade, and users with several devices will applaud it.
1. Expensive Subscription Plans
Its subscription plans are more expensive than premium VPNs with more features. NordVPN is cheaper and offers better services than it.
2. Random App Crashes
It needs to work on its applications as there are periodic crashes and disconnections without any interference from users.
3. Unreliable Kill Switch
Having an unreliable kill switch can lead to data exposure. Users want to be sure of safety and privacy when using a VPN.
Recommendation and Conclusion
I enjoyed using Hide.me because of its strong security features, decent speed, streaming prowess, quality customer support, and privacy stance. Although its app needs some work and is not budget-friendly, I believe it does enough to make me rate it above average. I will recommend using its ad-free package if you’re looking for free VPN services. Until it reduces the price of its subscription plans, I believe other VPN services offer more for a lesser price.