After the 2011 scandal involving HMA sharing data with law enforcement, I wanted to see if the VPN could regain its users’ trust. So, I put the VPN through extensive testing and found that my results were mixed.
HMA provides quick speeds and a wide selection of servers, alongside top, military-grade encryption protocols that keep the connection secure. It also has 2 kill switches and an IP shuffle feature that hides your internet activities. I was also surprised to see a verified no-logs policy audited by cybersecurity firm VerSprite, proving HMA no longer stores any traceable user data.
However, my tests showed that HMA can’t access geo-restricted content on most major streaming platforms. While it unblocked Netflix, only some servers worked, and I encountered several errors during streaming. If you’re looking for a VPN that can easily bypass geo-restrictions, check out some of the top-tier VPN services available.
You can test HMA and all its features yourself completely risk-free, as the VPN has a 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee. You just have to buy it directly from HMA’s website.
Private Internet AccessSeptember 2021 Update! HMA has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.99 per month with the 3-year plan (you can save up to 75%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it’s gone. See more information on this offer here.
If you travel often and want to keep watching the content you pay for when it’s blocked abroad, I wouldn’t recommend using HMA. The VPN failed to work with almost all the streaming platforms I tried to access during my tests. Although I could use the VPN to watch Netflix, the results weren’t consistent for other major streaming sites. HMA was blocked from accessing Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and ITV Player. My team and I disconnected from the VPN throughout testing to ensure each website still worked after every proxy error, and this test confirmed that HMA was causing the issues. All the streaming sites worked as intended when we used a top-tier competitor.
If you’re after a VPN that can help you access your favorite streaming sites while you travel abroad, try ExpressVPN and watch the content you pay for from anywhere.
Netflix was the only streaming service that I could access with HMA. I used the VPN’s server in Asheville to watch Netflix US, while my teammates in the UK and Germany successfully connected through servers in their countries. Oddly enough, HMA failed to unblock a single Netflix library when I tried using its specialized streaming servers. The non-optimized server in Asherville allowed me to access US shows in high quality without any connection drops or issues.
HMA couldn’t bypass restrictions on Disney+ and consistently gave me a blank screen when I tried accessing the website. I attempted to view the platform on regular and specialized streaming servers, but it refused to load. This is the message I kept seeing:
To avoid messages like this, I recommend you use ExpressVPN to get past Disney+ geo-blocks — it works every time and provides high speeds for uninterrupted streaming.
Hulu noticed I was using a VPN and stopped me from accessing the website. I tried both regular and HMA’s specialized streaming servers, but both failed to work and I got the site’s error message, too.
I was able to view Amazon Prime Video’s library, but the site detected HMA and removed the option to stream content on every server I tested.
HBO Max didn’t allow me to access the platform and only gave me errors every time I tried to connect, regardless of which HMA server I used. In contrast, I never experienced these issues when using CyberGhost to unblock HBO Max.
Surprisingly, HMA’s specialized streaming server didn’t allow my teammate in the UK to watch BBC iPlayer content with its UK servers. She could view the website, but didn’t have the option to load shows or movies. Instead, she saw this error message:
BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here’s some advice.
When she tried to access the ITV Player, it prevented her from watching shows but allowed her to log in to the platform and view its library. My teammate tried regular and specialized streaming servers, but it refused to work on all of them.
If you want to keep up with your local shows and movies while you travel in places where they’re blocked, you’ll need a VPN with advanced technology for unblocking streaming sites. CyberGhost can bypass geo-blocks from most major streaming sites and you can test out CyberGhost for yourself risk-free for 45 days to access your favorite content with ease.
Throughout testing, HMA provided quick speeds on every server location I tried. There was a slight difference in speed drops between servers close to my location and those far away, but it was barely noticeable. Regardless of distance, every server I tried gave me fast-enough speeds for browsing the internet, streaming, and torrenting.
On the other hand, I saw a major increase in ping, or latency, as I ran speed tests on servers far away from my location. While connected, I tested a couple of online games, such as Counter-Strike, and found the experience to be average. Though the speed was great, the high latency occasionally caused the game to lag. I suggest you use nearby servers with low ping if you want to play online games with HMA.
I was impressed by the fast speeds HMA’s network could produce with most server locations. On average, speeds decreased by 35.86% compared to my regular network speeds of 320Mbps — a decent result considering most servers I tested were far away. From my location in the US, I tested servers in New York City, Mexico City, Manama (Bahrain), and Singapore.
The closest server location, in New York City, slowed my speeds by 11% and produced low-enough ping for any online activity, including online games. The other 3 servers caused notably higher ping and slowed my speeds by about 42%.
I was surprised that the locations in Singapore, Bahrain, and Mexico had very similar speeds, despite ranging between 4,000km and 13,000km from my location.
The speed test feature built into HMA is a convenient addition, but the results were slower than what was displayed on my external speed test. The feature can work great if you need a quick glance at speeds, but free websites, such as Ookla, give you more accurate results.
Unfortunately, HMA’s Lightning Connect failed to choose the fastest server during my tests. The automatically selected UK server didn’t beat the server I manually chose in Canada or the US. This feature is available on both desktop and mobile versions of the VPN application, though I’d recommend manually choosing and testing servers to find the quickest one.
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
HMA provides you with over 1100 servers in more than 210 countries around the world, including the Middle East and Africa — regions that most other VPNs neglect. This gives you a wider selection than what most top-tier VPNs offer. HMA has a handful of servers in smaller countries, whereas larger countries (like the UK) have wide selections of physical and virtual city-level servers. A high number of city-level servers typically means fewer users connecting to the same server at once, and this lack of overcrowding allows reliably high speeds.
This massive network of servers is possible because HMA has plenty of virtual servers. These virtual locations can improve your connection speeds and help you access geo-restricted content in countries that are unreachable with a physical server. However, using a virtual server means that your connection might go through other countries and slow down your speeds.
Throughout my tests, HMA’s app showed if I was currently connected to a virtual server but didn’t show this information on the server location list. The app also didn’t always tell me what country connection was routed through when I used virtual server locations.
In 2019, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor wanted access to user data from all VPN servers based in Russia. When I expressed my concern to HMA’s support team about the VPN’s servers there, the agent confirmed that all its servers in Russia are virtual. This proves HMA’s commitment to upholding customer privacy.
Like many other VPNs, HMA rents a large portion of its servers from third-party data centers. While this practice is common, it does mean that your data may be handled by third-party-owned equipment when you connect through HMA. HMA states that it installs, maintains, and fully controls all of these rented servers, but the arrangement may still worry you if you’re a privacy-minded user. In contrast, IPVanish owns all of its hardware, meaning that users’ connections are never handled by third-party equipment. During my tests, IPVanish’s server network also impressed me with high speeds and the ability to access the majority of popular streaming sites.
Some of the best features HMA has to offer are its unlimited bandwidth and no data caps, which allowed me to torrent large files quickly and easily without slowing the connection. The specialized P2P servers provided me with slightly faster speeds when using uTorrent, and I can fully recommend using them.
If you’re concerned about torrenting on HMA’s servers, rest assured you won’t get in trouble with the VPN — as long as you don’t download copyrighted files. When I asked support, an agent confirmed it was permitted and even gave me a list of the specialized P2P servers.
That said, using HMA to torrent copyrighted material or violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) can lead the VPN to suspend your account. HMA is a great VPN to use for staying safe from malware and hackers while torrenting, but please make sure you only download material that’s in the public domain.
Only a small number of VPNs consistently work in China, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that HMA can’t bypass the country’s notorious firewall. This means you won’t be able to use HMA to access popular sites, search engines, and apps, like Facebook, Google, and WhatsApp. However, the VPN works well in other countries with censored internet access, including Russia, UAE, and Turkey.
If you need to use a VPN to maintain access to popular sites that are blocked in China, I suggest you use ExpressVPN instead. Its obfuscation technology gets past the country’s firewall, so you can use ExpressVPN to access the free web there — as long as you install the ExpressVPN app before arriving in China.
While using a VPN in China safeguards your connection from prying eyes, note that the protection of a VPN doesn’t give you the license to commit illegal acts. That said, there have been no reports of Chinese authorities harassing tourists or visitors for unauthorized VPN use. Instead, the government uses advanced technology to detect and block VPN connections in the country.
I was thoroughly impressed with HMA’s level of security. The VPN relies on the RSA-2048 handshake to establish your connection and uses the AES-256, military-grade cipher to encrypt it. The data’s integrity is authenticated by the SHA-384 hash algorithm, and each of your browsing sessions is protected by Perfect Forward Secrecy — a process that changes the encryption keys each time you connect to the VPN.
HMA connects through the OpenVPN UDP/TCP, IPsec/L2TP, and PPTP protocols, depending on the device you’re using. I was disappointed to find the mobile app using a more outdated protocol. On its Windows and Android apps, HMA connects through the OpenVPN protocol by default. In contrast, HMA’s macOS and iOS apps use the older IPsec/L2TP protocol, which is often blocked by websites and services. Speeds also aren’t as fast when compared to those you’d get with OpenVPN. However, HMA provides you with a setup guide for installing OpenVPN on macOS using TunnelBlick and TunTap drivers. The installation is fairly simple and comes with troubleshooting steps if you run into errors.
HMA’s Windows, macOS, and Android apps have a kill switch you can use to disable your entire internet connection if the VPN connection drops (when you’re changing servers, for example). This feature is disabled by default, so you’ll have to enable it manually if you need it.
On my Windows and Android devices, the kill switch function blocked my internet connection each time I changed the server location or turned off the VPN. This process prevented DNS leaks in the brief period while I was disconnected from the VPN.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the kill switch to work on macOS. I tried disconnecting the VPN on the app, forcing the HMA app to quit, and changing servers, but my network stayed connected even when the VPN connection dropped. On my iOS phone, I couldn’t find the kill switch feature at all.
The app kill switch on Windows is used to prevent specific applications from sending data if the connection is lost. You can easily decide which applications should be closed if your connection drops by adding them to a list within the App Kill Switch feature. Android doesn’t have the same function, but offers split-tunneling — this allows you to select which applications can bypass your VPN connection. HMA’s macOS and iOS apps don’t have either the app kill switch or the split tunneling tools.
IP shuffle allows you to refresh your IP address and is an excellent addition to the VPN. You can manually press the “Refresh” button on the main screen or set a custom frequency for the IP address to change. This makes it even harder for your online activities to be tracked and ensures your privacy remains intact.
Sadly, HMA’s iOS doesn’t have any of these security features, except Lightning Connect. If you’re after a VPN that offers more features on iOS, you can get CyberGhost’s advanced security options on multiple devices.
Although HMA is owned by Avast in the Czech Republic, its headquarters are in the UK and under the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance’s jurisdiction. This means if your user data is collected, it can be shared with other countries that belong to the alliance, including the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I found this alarming, especially since HMA’s history shows several instances of cooperation with government authorities.
Worse, HMA’s headquarters subject it to the UK has extensive data retention laws, which I find highly concerning as a privacy-minded user. These were passed with the UK Investigatory Powers Act, and allow the government to:
In 2011, Sony was hacked by the LulzSec group, which was using HMA to carry out the cyber attack. HMA turned over evidence to the relevant authorities, which resulted in the user’s arrest. This incident completely voided the trust of its user base. Another incident in 2017 led to the arrest of an ex-judge who used HMA to harass an ex-girlfriend. Though it isn’t clear if HMA actively helped in this case, investigators could uncover his IP address using connection timestamps.
At the start of 2020, a third incident arose with Avast, the parent company of HMA. Avast was selling user data through a subsidiary company called Jumpshot, which collected internet activity through a browser extension. Apparently, the data sold was anonymized to protect users, but people quickly discovered the information could easily be traced to individuals. In 2018, Mozilla and Opera heard about this potential privacy threat and removed Avast’s browser extensions from their extension libraries. Once the scandal became widely known in 2020, Avast quickly closed down Jumpshot.
Thankfully, things have changed — HMA now implements a strict no-logs policy that’s very clear about what data the VPN doesn’t collect:
HMA also has an audit to prove its no-logs policy. Trusted cybersecurity firm VerSprite carried out this annual audit in August 2020. As the HMA website fails to discuss the report details, I contacted VerSprite directly online to ask. The support representative has yet to reply to me.
It’s worth mentioning that HMA still collects a small amount of data for analytical purposes. The data is kept for 35 days for any technical issues before it’s deleted. The collected data consists of:
HMA has removed the option to turn off anonymous data collection from its desktop apps. While I managed to switch it off using the Android application manually, this confirms HMA collects your data by default.
Beware of HMA’s free proxy browser extension — it keeps logs of your IP address, what websites you visit, and the files you download. Even though you can bypass geo-restrictions quickly with a proxy, it doesn’t encrypt your connection. Unlike a VPN, a proxy leaves you vulnerable to being monitored or hacked. To keep your device safe online, I wouldn’t recommend installing or using its proxy extension.
HMA has built-in protection against IPv4, IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks. While testing the VPN, I was pleased to find that HMA didn’t leak my actual location when I ran a DNS leak test on its server in San Jose. This means that my privacy and connection remained hidden and secure.
HMA allows you to connect up to either 5 or 10 devices at once, depending on the plan you choose. I thought it was convenient that you can also register your HMA account on unlimited devices — just remember that you’ll only have 5-10 connections at the same time.
Mobile speeds with HMA are slower, likely due to the protocols used. Both OpenVPN (Android) and IPsec/L2TP aren’t the fastest choices for devices that switch between WiFi and cellular networks throughout the day.
For a VPN alternative that offers quicker mobile connections, you can use IPVanish on an unlimited amount of devices, and it uses the IKEv2 protocol for faster connections.
HMA provides native applications for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Android TV. It can be manually installed onto Linux devices and routers by following HMA’s videos and guides from its online Knowledge Base.
Like most other VPNs, HMA doesn’t have a native app for the Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, most smart TVs or gaming consoles. However, you can still protect all the devices you own with the VPN as long as you install HMA on your router. Though the installation process requires a bit of work in the router settings, the reward may be worth your effort as you’ll get blanket protection for all your devices. Again, HMA’s online Knowledge Base is a great resource if you’ll be attempting router installation.
To download HMA, you need to choose a subscription and enter your billing details. Once you’ve signed up, HMA will email the activation code to you, or you can access it through the online dashboard. You can use the code or your username and password to access the native VPN applications.
When I downloaded the client, I ran the file through VirusTotal.com to make sure that it wouldn’t infect my machine with hidden malware. I was pleased to learn that HMA’s installation file didn’t contain any malicious programs.
I tried using the VPN’s apps on my Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, and found that all of HMA’s apps are intuitive and user-friendly. I loved that HMA’s apps even offer useful tips about various features — these little hints can help you navigate the user interface if you’ve never used it before.
While the 4 different HMA apps I tested had a similar look and feel, I noticed that their feature selection varied significantly. Here’s a quick table to help you compare these apps’ features:
|Device||Protocol||Split Tunneling||Kill switch||App kill switch||IP Shuffle|
|macOS||OpenVPN UCP/TDP||x||doesn’t work||x||✓|
Seeing how HMA’s iOS app lacks all the basic security features, I can’t recommend HMA for security-conscious iOS users. The VPN will still help you access geo-restricted content and encrypt your connection with a military-grade cipher. However, you can find higher-quality VPNs for your iPhone or iPad that will protect your device with all the standard security essentials.
HMA delivers live chat support between 9am and 11pm Central European Time, as stated by its customer service team. I spoke to several representatives who quickly and professionally answered all of my questions and concerns.
During testing, I asked an agent if HMA has physical servers in Russia. The representative quickly assured me that it was a virtual server, even though the server list doesn’t explicitly state this. I was impressed with the level of detail of the response, as it helped me feel more secure using HMA’s servers.
If you need help outside of HMA’s business hours, you can choose from its:
HMA doesn’t provide phone support, but I didn’t find it an issue since there’s a friendly and informative live chat option.
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
September 2021 Update! HMA has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.99 per month with the 3-year plan (you can save up to 75%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it’s gone. See more information on this offer here.
HMA offers a 7-day free trial, but requires you to share your payment method details when signing up. It’s crucial that you cancel your trial before the week is up, or you’ll be charged for a whole year in advance. You can do this in 2 simple clicks via account settings on HMA’s website.
There are 5 different payment plans when signing up to HMA. You can choose from a 1, 6, 12, 24, or 36 months subscription, all paid for upfront. To see the full selection, click “View more plans” on the pricing page underneath the list of payment types.
HMA has over 20 payment methods to choose from, including credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, AliPay, and more. Note that there isn’t an option to pay for this VPN anonymously.
Considering how expensive the monthly option is for HMA, I can’t say it’s worth the cost, especially when compared to alternative providers.
HMA offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that can be done through a request form. The form was quick to fill out and easy to send through the HMA website.
It took 11 hours before HMA support replied to me and asked if I definitely wanted to cancel. After I confirmed, the representative began processing my request within 30 minutes, and I received the money back from the third-party payment processor after 5 business days.
While you won’t get a partial refund with HMA, you can claim a full refund every 6 months if needed. Keep in mind that the guarantee only applies if you bought the subscription directly from the HMA website or the Google Play Store. To start the process, all you need is the transaction ID and the email you signed up with. If you purchase through the App Store and want your money back, you need to contact Apple for a refund, as it’s not processed through HMA.
This whole process of getting a refund is much slower than the instant service you can get with top-tier VPN providers. For the most affordable premium VPN with 24/7 support, you can try CyberGhost’s features for yourself risk-free for 45 days using its money-back guarantee.
HMA is a great option if you’re looking for a wide selection of servers and top-grade security features, but I wouldn’t recommend it for streaming.
The VPN offers the broadest range of server locations on a VPN network and can provide fast speeds with almost any server location. The 2 kill switches and IP shuffle feature keep your privacy secure as one of the easiest ways to prevent DNS leaks.
That said, I was disappointed that HMA failed to bypass geo-restricted content on almost every streaming platform during my tests. Additionally, I didn’t like that HMA’s 7-day free-trial automatically forced me into a 12-month contract that charged me upfront. If you want to see whether this VPN is right for you, you can use HMA’s 30-day money-back guarantee to try all its features without risk.
HMA isn’t worth the price as it fails to access almost every major streaming platform. It only managed to access Netflix successfully on a handful of its servers, while other popular streaming services were blocked. This makes HMA difficult to recommend when alternative providers can unblock Disney+, HBO, and more without any issues.
One redeeming feature is that HMA offers specialized P2P servers, making it a good choice for torrenting. If you’re concerned with privacy, it also has 2 kill switches that keep your data safe and prevents any DNS leaks. However, these features weren’t enough for me to recommend HMA. Instead, I recommend ExpressVPN because it has plenty of security features and the ability to unblock every major streaming platform. It also has an independently audited no-logs policy, so you know your information is kept anonymous. You can try ExpressVPN for yourself risk-free with its money-back guarantee to see how it stands up against competitors like HMA.
Yes, you can get HMA for free with its 7-day trial. Be aware that the trial requires your billing information and charges you 12 months upfront after your trial is over. Fortunately, you can quickly cancel it through HMA’s website in the account settings. It only takes 2 clicks to stop the automatic charges.
All paid plans offer the same features but vary in contract length. Each subscription includes a 30-day money-back guarantee, though it’s important to note that this is only available for customers who buy directly from the HMA website or the Google Play Store. This offer isn’t valid if you purchased the VPN through the App Store.
Yes, your data is safe with HMA’s no-logs policy. Its user privacy has been independently audited by VerSprite, a cybersecurity firm that other VPN providers also use.
HMA also relocated all of its physical servers outside of Russia, so it couldn’t be forced into giving the government access to any of the data. This shows how serious HMA is about providing transparency and building trust with its users.
The only product still staining HMA’s reputation is the free VPN proxy browser extension. This extension still collects personal data, including your IP address, websites you visit, and the files you download on your device. As long as you just use the VPN instead of its proxy, you can safely browse the internet.