A look at hide.me VPN (and giveaway!) - gHacks Tech News

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A look at hide.me VPN (and giveaway!)

Our team is always looking for things we think our readers will value. We have received compensation for publishing this article.

 

A VPN service should tick all the right boxes: it should offer privacy protections, fast servers in as many regions of the world as possible, clients for all major operating systems and device types, strong encryption and security features, good customer service, and extra features that add more value to the service.

The VPN service hide.me promises all of that. Reason enough to take a closer look at the service to find out if all of its promises are kept and whether it may be the right service for you.

Hide.me is an established VPN service that is operated by the Malaysian-based company eVenture Ltd.

Hide.me is available in two different plans:

  • Free – good for 2 Gigabytes of data transfer per month and limited to 1 simultaneous connection and connections to five locations in the world. The plan offers a good way to test the service without subscribing to a paid plan. It can be used without registration (you may get an upgrade popup though at times).
  • Premium – the paid plan unlocks unlimited data transfers, and raises the simultaneous connections to 10 and server locations to 57 regions in the world. Three different paid plans are available that differ only in the subscription length and price (with longer subscription periods reducing the price per month significantly).

The VPN has a strict policy to log no personal data and does not keep any log files on its VPN servers. The company states furthermore that it does not monitor or log browsing behavior, releases yearly transparency reports, and has been audited by an independent security analyst.

The service’s privacy policy reveals the following about the company’s no-logging policy:

We do NOT keep logs of your VPN sessions, browsing behavior, websites you visit or any activity related to your VPN connection. In addition, we NEVER store VPN connection logs and timestamps that match your incoming and outgoing IP address or session duration.

 

Hide.me operates 1400 servers in 57 different regions of the world. All of these servers are available to premium subscribers and five free server regions are available to free users.

The service supports major protocols like OpenVPN, SoftEther, IKEv2, SSTP, PPTP or L2TP/IPsec (with Wiregard support coming in the future), and all major desktop and mobile operating systems and device types (Windows, Mac Os X and Linux, and Android, Apple iPhone and iPad devices, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions). Users who prefer to set up the VPN manually find instructions on the company site to do so as well.

Customers may purchase pre-configured routers or use instructions to configure routers for use with the service. It needs to be noted that instructions are provided for some routers only. It should be easy enough to use the information as a guideline to apply it to other routers if these support VPN connectivity.

 

The hide.me VPN client

 

The installation of the (32-bit) Windows client is straightforward. It supports Windows 7 and newer versions of the operating system by default and the installer launches the client automatically after installation. It lists options to start a free trial or sign in to an existing account.

The free trial does not require any user registration before it can be used, that is refreshing for a start and while the selection of servers is limited, very user and privacy friendly.

The client is configured to pick the “best location” automatically. You may change that in the interface to a server in any of the available countries instead. Options to select different regions in a country, e.g. Milan or Rome in Italy, or Barcelona or Madrid in Spain, are available as well.

You may change the sort order to ping in the interface; useful to determine which location offers the best connectivity.

Tip: you can add any server region to the favorites for quick access.

The client displays the current IP address and the connection status in the interface. It comes with a kill switch that is enabled by default to disable the Internet connection automatically if the VPN connection drops. The kill switch worked flawlessly during tests and helps protect user privacy by making sure that no connections using the device’s “real” IP address are being made while the VPN is not functional

First time users may want to go through the Settings provided by the application before they establish a connection to a server. A click on the settings icon lists all available options in a new window.

Here is a short list of noteworthy settings:

  1. Set a Custom DNS server under Settings > Network.
  2. Configure Auto Connection functionality, e.g. to automatically connect to the VPN when on (secure|insecure) Wifi.
  3. Configure Split Tunneling to blacklist or whitelist applications when using the VPN. The default is all apps but you can block some apps from using the VPN or allow only select apps to use it.
  4. Enable Stealth Guard to limit all Internet connections if the VPN is not active or limit certain apps from using the Internet if the VPN connection is not active.
  5. Configure the Kill Switch. Ability to whitelist IP ranges to always allow connections and to use custom scripts.
  6. Select the VPN protocol that is used and configure fallback options.

The settings are extensive and provide access to several interesting and advanced options. Besides the ability to switch to any of the supported protocols, it is features such as split tunneling or the stealth guard that set it apart.

The client hides the IP address of the local device properly when it is used. The company’s browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome block WebRTC leaks and may be configured to use Socks proxies.

There were no DNS leaks and all privacy tests were passed in regards to leaking the IP address or user location.

Performance

We used the Speedtest service to measure the performance when connected to various VPN servers that hide.me operates. The 50/10 Internet connection was maxed out at 58.97 Mpbs down, 11.73 Mbps up  and 11ms Ping when tested without VPN connection.

A connection to regions close-by, e.g. Netherlands from Germany, returned nearly the same performance (down 56.17 Mbps, up 11.10 Mbps and ping 23ms).  The performance to free account servers matched the speed of the premium servers.

The performance dropped for connections to long-distance servers but not as much as expected. The various US regions were good for about 50 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up with a ping of about 170ms. Even servers from Asia performed considerably well with 30 Mbps up and 7 Mbps down.

Connectivity and performance are very good, tests downloads completed quickly and services such as gaming worked without any issues while the test device was connected to the hide.m VPN.

Closing Words

Hide.me may not be the cheapest VPN service but its support for various clients, privacy-focus and advanced features make it a great choice when it comes to selecting a VPN provider.

The company’s focus on privacy, wide range of supported operating systems and devices, good selection of locations and server performance, and advanced options are especially noteworthy.

The free non-registration version needs to be mentioned specifically as you can run it without parting with any user information. It is ideal for users who are interested in the service as it can be used to test it without making any commitment. If it suits your requirements, you may upgrade to one of the available paid plans at any time.

Giveaway

Hide.me provided us with 50 Premium Subscriptions of 1 Month Hide.me unlimited to give away to our readers (thanks for that!). We will draw the winners on (date) randomly from the comment list under this article. Please note that we will only include comments with email address in the drawing as we will use the email to provide you with details if you have been selected. We won’t be using the email address for any other purposes.

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