Hide.me Review 2015

Summary
  • 7/10
    Features - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Speed & Reliability - 6/10
  • 5/10
    Security & Privacy - 5/10
  • 7/10
    Usability & Compatibility - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Support & Documentation - 6/10
  • 5/10
    Value for Money - 5/10
6.0/10

Summary

Hide.me VPN is a seriously overpriced with some sensational claims of being the best VPN service in the world alongside marketing gimmicks and the list goes on. Even though it offers a good number of servers and some interesting features, we feel that there is a lot of improvement needed in some areas such as transparency and infrastructure.

Located in the South-Eastern Asia, Malaysia is the homeland of the eVenture Ltd, the company behind Hide.me VPN service. Going through their website, we believe that the people operating the company are German.

Founded in 2012, they operate servers in 19 countries on 5 continents: USA, Canada, Austria, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Morocco, Singapore and Turkey.

Hide.me has a very nice status page where one can check the bandwidth use on their servers, including a brief description of each location.

hide.me-status

Features

Hide.me VPN is currently available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Ubuntu & Blackberry. At the moment, they use 6 different protocols (IPsec with IKEv2/IKEv1, SSTP, OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec).

The client has a numerous pack of features like one click connect, auto server, auto reconnect, auto connect on startup or kill switch.

The setup is simple, P2P usage is allowed.

SOCKS5, UPnP port-forward and fixed IPs are available with their Premium pricing-plan.

When it comes to encryption strength, OpenVPN is using AES 128-bit with SHA1 (160-bit) HMAC and 4096-bit RSA. Other protocols use AES-128 and AES-256.

OpenVPN encryption parameters from the connection log:

hide.me-encryption-openvpn

Software

Software installation went very quickly. After downloading the installation kit from the official website, the installation process took less than 10 seconds, achieving everything in a single step.

After launching the client, the menu will provide you with the location selector, a connection log and also with the settings menu. One of the useful features from the settings page is the protocol selector – user has freedom in choosing the desired protocol: SSTP, PPTP or IKEv2. Surprisingly, OpenVPN which is the industry-standard VPN protocol is not available with their software at this time.

hide.me-software

The software provides DNS leak protection by setting static DNS servers on the network interfaces (OpenDNS servers by default, but the user can choose different ones). A Kill Switch feature is also available, meaning that the Internet connection will be disabled if the VPN connection drops, protecting the user from exposing the real IP address.

Other software features include the ability to setup connection MTU parameters, view the connection log for troubleshooting, and auto-connect when application is started.

Overall, the software is good and easy to use, but we are disappointed for its lack of support for OpenVPN, a protocol that is more secure and more reliable than all others.

Using OpenVPN we noticed that they are using certificates signed using a public CA (DigiCert) and this is very bad, making their OpenVPN implementation insecure. Other VPN services are doing the same mistake, such as EarthVPN.

The “Kill Switch” doesn’t seem too effective: we disabled the physical network to simulate a VPN connection drop, then re-enabled it after 1 minute. The VPN was disconnected and the PC was using the ISP connection, essentially not protected. It’s also worth noting that the software was running with administrator privileges, as suggested in its settings interface.

Pricing

In terms of pricing, Hide.me has three different plans:

  • Free will allow you to connect through Netherlands or Canada servers within the limits of 2 GB data transfer.
  • Plus will provide access to all 23 locations and increase the data transfer limit to 75 GB for $10 / month if paid monthly or $65 if paid for a year in advance (discounted to $5.42/month). This pricing plan allows a single simultaneous connection.
  • Premium is $20 / month (if paid monthly), has no limit in bandwidth and data transfer and allows 5 simultaneous connections. The discount is 45% off when paid for one year in advance ($11.67 / month).

hide.me-pricing

There are over 80 different payment methods accepted. Among them: Credit Cards, PayPal, Giropay, UKash, CashU, Bitcoin and others.

The refund window is 14 days, if the traffic does not exceed 500MB.

Logging and Privacy

According to their privacy policy, Hide.me VPN doesn’t store traffic logs. However, connection logs that contain minimum details are kept, as well as the amount of traffic transferred.

All the details associated with the payments are stored on third party service providers as hide.me doesn’t require users to provide personal details when signing-up. Only an email address is required to signup.

In addition, according to the legal page from the website, when an account is terminated, “all data associated with that VPN account including the account itself is deleted from all systems” but the client area account remains stored, though it can be deleted on request.

Speed and Reliability

The connections using SSTP and IKEv2 with their software have been reliable and fast in our tests. OpenVPN with OpenVPN GUI wasn’t really reliable and we experienced many connections drops.

Speedtest results:

hide.me-speedtest

Support

Hide.me VPN is using Zendesk software for ticket support. They do not provide chat support, but we observed an intense use of social media channels for communication with users (they own a blog, a community with thousands answers and topics, a Facebook page, a Google+ and a Twitter account).

Conclusions

The Good

  • Servers all around the world in many locations.
  • Good speed.
  • Numerous protocols available.
  • Solid privacy policy; not asking for customer details on sign-up.
  • A large amount of information available (on the website & in the community).
  • Easy to use, solid software packing useful features.
  • “One-tap connect” app for mobile.
  • P2P allowed, including support for SOCKS5 and port-forwarding.
  • Bitcoin payments accepted.
  • A free plan is available to test their service.

The Bad

  • Seriously overpriced.
  • Insecure OpenVPN implementation.
  • Monthly traffic of 75GBs is very low with the Plus pricing plan. For the same money you can get even unlimited monthly traffic with most competitors.
  • More than a single simultaneous connection is available only with the Premium plan.
  • No support for OpenVPN protocol using their software.
  • The Kill Switch feature was unreliable in our tests.

Final Notes

Having a clean & uncluttered website, a well-documented service, an easy to use software and even fast servers in many locations is not enough nowadays. The service lacks some important features, such as using OpenVPN by default instead of PPTP, SSTP and IPsec. The service price is too high for what they offer and the OpenVPN implementation is bad. For this reason we don’t recommend Hide.me if VPN security is your main concern – not until they will, eventually, work diligently on fixing current issues. For video streaming, only the Premium plan would provide enough bandwidth as 75 GBs / month coming with their Plus package may not be enough for daily streaming. This being said, we are giving them a rating of 6/10.

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