If you’re interested in the prospect of VPN technology, or if you have used VPNs yourself, you may have come across HideMyAss!
HideMyAss! is a tremendously popular VPN that was founded in 2005 by a 16-year-old trying to circumvent his school’s internet restrictions, and has been owned by Avast for a couple years (Avast being one of the world’s largest cybersecurity conglomerates).
If you’ve used HideMyAss! you’ve probably liked it. It’s popular because it works well, after all, but nothing’s perfect. And hey, it’s also possible HMA! wasn’t performing up to your expectations.
The VPN market is thriving and there are a ton of options, so no need to be limited to HideMyAss! Here, I’ll take a look at some great alternatives to HMA!
To set these alternatives in the right context, I will briefly address what you might like about HideMyAss! and what you might dislike.
Probably the biggest point HMA! has going for it is the name power. HMA! has been around for a long time, and is one of the most popular VPNs around. Using HideMyAss! means using a service that countless others have used, which is a great measure of reliability.
Of course, popularity is not everything. HideMyAss! also has a lot of things going for it: a single account can work on up to 5 devices, you get access to 900 servers in over 190 countries (so, nearly every country), customer support is solid, and it performs well overall.
Wow, that sounds perfect—why are we interested in alternatives again? Oh, yeah…
Some of the negatives cut pretty closely to the heart of VPN technology. Depending on your VPN needs and views, HideMyAss! might be a bit of a let-down for giving the United Kingdom’s government information about a user involved with the 2012 Sony hacking, who had used HMA!
This brings into question whether HMA! can really be trusted with a no-logs policy. Sure, most of you reading this aren’t planning on hacking a major corporation or government, but the implications of a VPN having information about users’ activities to hand over in the first place—well, that’s certainly enough to defeat the point of a VPN for a lot of people.
Another, more minor point, is that HideMyAss! costs at minimum $4.99 a month, and that’s if you commit to 2 years. These prices aren’t high per se—they’re pretty normal, all things considering—but you can still find cheaper options that perform well.
A brief note: I won’t highlight features that are basic. For example, unlimited bandwidth is standard for paid VPNs—those with bandwidth caps that aren’t free would be the exception.
Alternative #5: IPVanish
This list is a battle of the titans. All the names here are popular VPN solutions, and IPVanish is certainly one of them. IPVanish is a great pick-it-up-and-go solution.
If you need a really reliable VPN service now, IPVanish is a great option. Its pricing is okay, and it performs very well (perhaps because it owns and directly operates the vast majority of its servers, rather than leaving it to third parties).
While IPVanish is by and large a solid option, it has quite a few downsides that lower its rank in my book.
- Plenty of server and IP options: 1,100+ servers and over 40,000 IPs. About 90% of the data centers and servers are owned directly by IPVanish, rather than third parties, which is a great promise of reliability.
- IPVanish is incredibly easy to use, and across multiple devices. Yes, all the VPNs on this list are easy to use and install, but IPVanish is indeed particularly straightforward. Think of IPVanish’s goal as to be a super straightforward process: you install and use it right away. It’s good for immediate solutions to privacy needs.
- more than the usual 5 or 7.
- In 2016, IPVanish handed over user data to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Now, by all accounts, the user in question was absolute scum. This is beside the point, however; IPVanish at the time had a stated no logs policy, but the handing over of user logs would appear to be a clear indication IPVanish’s states policies cannot be taken at face value. On the other hand, IPVanish has withdrawn its operations in Russia due to conflicts with local law and the zero-log policy—so who knows? I still think it’s better to be safe, and be skeptical about IPVanish’s log policy personally.
- IPVanish’s servers only extend to 60 countries. This is more than enough for most people, but is far behind HideMyAss! As I’ve mentioned, IPVanish directly operates the vast majority of its servers, which is one reason people like it so much. Maybe I can cut IPVanish some slack.
- Limited number of payment options, mostly cards.
- IPVanish isn’t as loaded with features as some of the other options on this list.
- IPVanish has pretty standard pricing, but it’s not the cheapest. There are certainly more affordable options with equally good or better service and features (keep reading!)
Alternative #4: CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is, like many on this list, one of the most popular and well-received VPN services around. Since its establishment in 2011, CyberGhost has developed a reputation: it was the first VPN to publish a transparency report and it services over 20 million users.
The gist for CyberGhost: it’s great for streaming and performs very well, and has decent pricing. It doesn’t have much going badly for it, but because the other VPNs on this list have a ton of great stuff, CyberGhost comes in at #4. Having said that, it is a fantastic VPN and I strongly encourage anyone interested to try it for free.
- CyberGhost is headquartered in Romania, which does not have data retention laws.
- CyberGhost’s prices are on the lower end (for longer commitments, as always) and proportionate to CyberGhost’s quality, this makes it a fantastic value VPN. Plus, CyberGhost has a 45-day money-back guarantee rather than a week-long or 30-day guarantee.
- CyberGhost is really great for streaming. Yeah, all top VPNs are good for unlocking content, but CyberGhost goes out of its way to identify the best servers for streaming or torrenting.
- On the note of servers, CyberGhost gives you access to over 3,000. It’s only 60 countries, but hey, you’ve still got no shortage of options.
- As far as other features go, CyberGhost comes with multiple VPN protocols, an ad-blocker, a malware-blocker, DNS/IP leak prevention, and an automatic kill switch.
- Finally, CyberGhost has a uniquely useful user-interface. The CyberGhost desktop software can be made very small with only the “on” button or expand to a full screen menu that has a lot more tools and options.
- CyberGhost’s customer support can be a little lackluster: there’s no phone support and the knowledge base isn’t all that. Most VPNs don’t have fantastic knowledge bases, but what can I say? There isn’t much else wrong with CyberGhost unless you prefer really straightforward VPNs that only have an “on” switch.
- If we’re comparing to HMA!, more countries would be better.
Alternative #3: PureVPN
PureVPN is one of the best options around. It’s got great features, including access to a huge number of servers, an internet kill switch, and the ability to hide your VPN use. The downside? It can be a bit expensive as VPNs go.
- One of the most highly acclaimed VPNs. PureVPN has been endorsed by the New York Times, Cnet, Mashable, and well-received by the Huffington Post and Wired as well, plus countless others.
- Massive assortment of payment options.
- Very affordable if you have a discount.
- A variety of features/tools: multiple security protocols, protection against IP and DNS leaks, an internet kill switch, and most importantly…
- A tool to make your VPN use invisible to your ISP! This is not unheard of, but far from common even among paid VPNs. Some ISPs may throttle internet speeds if they see your internet connection get encrypted through a VPN—PureVPN can help you avoid the risk of throttling and hide the fact that you’re using a VPN in the first place.
- Expensive without a discount, even if you’re committing to a longer period of time.
Alternative #2: NordVPN
While all VPNs care about privacy, you can kind of get a sense for the different aspects of privacy VPNs value. All VPNs push their ability to unlock entertainment, but some seem much more focused on streaming than others.
NordVPN was founded and operates in large response to government intrusions on internet privacy. NordVPN has its own manifesto (albeit a short one) and spends energy to enforce its image as a pro-privacy tool (that also lets you stream if you want to).
The gist for NordVPN? It’s a great VPN, but much less expensive.
- NordVPN is one of the more affordable VPN options, provided you’re willing to commit to two years or more.
- NordVPN has tools that are good for extra layers of privacy. For example, the double VPN tool lets you encrypt your connection twice, CyberSec lets you block ads, and Onion-over-VPN lets you connect to the Onion Network within the NordVPN app. This is very handy and provides the benefits of both VPNs and Tor for a really private connection.
- NordVPN has a tremendous amount of servers to choose from. In addition to having well over 5,000 servers across 62 countries, NordVPN will let you purchase a dedicated server if you’re interested and has different servers optimized for varying degrees of privacy. You can use a standard VPN server or the Onion over VPN servers (mentioned earlier), for example.
- While NordVPN is definitely one of the best VPNs around, in comparison to HideMyAss! it does not have servers as well spread out geographically. While NordVPN has far more servers, they are concentrated among 62 countries. This is good enough for most users, but is nothing compared to the 190 countries HMA! operates in.
Alternative #1: ExpressVPN
Here’s the thing about top VPNs: they all say they’re the top. They always say “FASTEST VPN IN THE WORLD,” “MOST SECURE VPN IN THE WORLD,” or “WORLD’S MOST POPULAR VPN.”
Of course such things are subjective and there is no clear winner. But, IF there is one, ExpressVPN might be just that.
…You could say ExpressVPN has been well-received.
- ExpressVPN has 148 server locations in 94 countries, for a total of 2,000 server connections available. Few VPNs other than HideMyAss! offer access to well over a hundred countries.
- ExpressVPN has some solid tools included with the package, including multiple protocols, zero-knowledge DNS (an added layer of protection in case you don’t trust a VPN to maintain a no-logs policy), and VPN split tunneling, which lets you put only some of your internet traffic through the VPN (as needed).
- The most unique thing about ExpressVPN is its location: the British Virgin Islands. Yes, an offshore tax haven where billionaires hide their money—well, it’s also a place where ExpressVPN hides your information. Or better yet, where Express barely records anything: this is because there are no data retention laws in the British Virgin Islands. For most VPNs, you have to trust that they won’t keep logs—with ExpressVPN, it’s much more probable they keep their word.
- Let’s suppose you’re not assured by the VPN’s location. In late 2017, Turkish investigators trying to find information about a political assassination were unable to find any logs aiding their investigation. This sounds like a weird thing to call good news—indeed it’s not for the victim’s family—but for ExpressVPN customers, this is a great sign that ExpressVPN lives up to its no-logs policy.
- Unfortunately, ExpressVPN only allows up to 3 simultaneous connections. This isn’t a huge deal but it’s particularly unfortunate because ExpressVPN is a noted top-tier VPN, and the standard is 5.
- In terms of pricing, ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest even if you purchase for a longer period of time. I wouldn’t call it expensive, and I would definitely argue that ExpressVPN’s prices are well-worth it. However, for someone looking to save, ExpressVPN may not be the best option.
Conclusion: which alternative to HideMyAss! do I recommend?
With all these options, how can anyone choose an alternative? Aside from IPVanish, the names listed here have very little they do badly. Even IPVanish is fine for the fast majority of users who just want a quick and easy VPN solution!
You also may have noticed I didn’t talk much about speeds or performance. How odd, right? Here’s the thing: all the items on this list are here because high performance is a given. Sure, some may be faster than others, but internet speed testing isn’t a hard science and while I can say performance roughly aligns with a VPN’s placement on this list, you should take that with a grain of salt.
So while I can’t guarantee specific results for any of you, it is highly likely that any of these will be among the fastest VPNs you try.
In any case, while all of these options are good alternatives to HideMyAss!, some of them are better at different things. I find IPVanish and CyberGhost to be better for fast and easy solutions to VPN needs that are less serious—i.e., streaming and torrenting.
Of those three, NordVPN is consistently the best option for those who are interested in saving money, and ExpressVPN is the most assured in terms of your privacy.
If you really want to save, you can look into free VPN options (even if only temporarily). Of course, you can try all these options for free—so go figure out which one works for you, because paying for a VPN is quite often worth it.