VPN Review: hide.me
As corporations and security services collect ever-larger amounts of data, the desire for anonymity online has only grown among internet users. VPN providers like hide.me make it easier than ever before to conceal your identity with only a few mouse clicks. However, not every VPN provider is created equally: To gauge the extent of this, we've examined hide.me in our latest VPN test.
What is hide.me?
Hide.me is a Malaysian VPN provider, which professes not to create logs, prioritizing the security and privacy of its users. In contrast to most of its competitors, a free version of hide.me exists, which is meant to acclimatize new users to VPNs. What the free and paid versions offer, and how each performs, is discussed in detail below.
Pros and Cons
Wide range of settings
Unexceptional server network
Installation and Features
Since hide.me offers a free version of its software, users are not required to register and/or pay prior to installation, in stark contrast to most other VPN providers. To install, simply select and download the installer compatible with your operating system (and, if desired, manually configure a preferred VPN protocol) before installing the application. Within a matter of minutes, and following the instructions on hide.me's website, we were able to get the program working and the desktop client running.
The desktop client is uncluttered and provides a good overview of the program. Only a few functions accompany the central "Connect to a VPN" button on the main screen. With a click, you can easily navigate to servers in different locations, which are grouped on the basis of countries, sometimes with more specific information provided (for example, it is possible to select between East or West Coast servers in the US). Favorites can be saved, and the search function can be used to find servers in a particular country, however, information about the expected performance of these servers is not provided.
The only complexities arose when opening the settings menu, however, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as hide.me offers a great deal of freedom to its more-advanced users. Basic settings, such as auto-start, server location, and the app's general behavior are auto-configured, however, advanced settings, such as the ability to manually configure a DNS server, or exempt certain programs and apps from your VPN connection through split tunneling, are also available.
A mobile version of hide.me is available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Similarly to the desktop version, the mobile app offers a clear overview of the program's services and features. At the bottom of the screen in the main menu, alongside the "Connect to a VPN" button, server locations and settings can be managed. Not as many settings are available in the mobile app as on the desktop client, however, split tunnel routing can be configured.
In sum, hide.me perfectly blends simplicity with advanced settings, catering equally to those who simply want to surf anonymously with as little fuss as possible, as well as users who wish to customize their VPN experience.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Hide.me possesses a network of 1,400 servers spread across 56 locations. Most servers are located in the US and Europe, with Brazil, Singapore, Morocco, and South Korea serving South America, Africa, and Asia, respectively. In comparison to other VPN providers, the network is not particularly extensive, but solid nonetheless.
Servers can be selected on the basis of their speed (automatically) or location (manually). Outside of Europe, the server network is rather thin, with considerable room for improvement.
Score: 4.0 / 5
The speed of all VPNs which we tested was evaluated using a server in Europe with a 1 GB/s connection. We tested random hide.me servers at different times of the day to more accurately evaluate their performances. More information concerning our methodology can be found in our VPN speed test.
The table below shows the average results from the last 365 days, arranged in order of download and upload speed (descending):
When the test was conducted, hide.me clocked a download speed of 165.0 MB/s and an upload speed of 19.6 MB/s, gaining it a highly-respectable fourth place in our ranking. This is more than solid even set against the heavyweights of the VPN market.
The diagram below shows hide.me's average speeds over the past months.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Security and Privacy
Hide.me offers a variety of protocols: IKEv2 (recommended by hide.me for Windows and Linux users), OpenVPN, SoftEther VPN, and SSTP. IKEv2 supports AES-128 or AES-256 encryption. For Mac users, OpenVPN is recommended: This protocol supports AES-256 and does not have any known weaknesses.
As noted above, hide.me is headquartered in Malaysia, where foreign data privacy laws have no influence upon the company's internal data management processes. For that reason, according to hide.me, connections on any of its servers are not logged or saved. Independent data privacy analysts appear to have confirmed the company's claims: DefenseCode awarded hide.me its "Privacy and Anonymity Certificate."
The integrated kill switch, a sort of emergency shut-off for use in the event of a disrupted connection, ensures that users remain protected, even if the VPN connection is lost. Alongside various on/off toggles and a whitelist for certain connections, user-defined scripts can also be activated.
In sum, hide.me ticks all boxes in terms of security and privacy, leaving little to be desired.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Support and help are easily found in abundance on hide.me's website. Support tickets can be filed and FAQs consulted in the company's support area. A forum also exists for those wishing to dive a bit deeper into the program and its inner-workings.
Problem reports can also be filed using the desktop program, adding a further layer of convenience. During testing, we received an answer to our issue in less than an hour.
Apart from that, the company's website also offers a live chat, which answered our request for help in under a minute.
Hide.me epitomizes what good support should entails: FAQs in multiple languages, a forum, live chat, and in-app support, staffed with diligent and helpful personnel.
Score: 4.7 / 5
Hide.me is known for its free version, which provides 2 GB of data and the usage of 5 server locations. Unlimited VPN surfing requires a 'premium' subscription, which grants access to more than 55 server locations, the establishment of 5 simultaneous connections, and more features. Between the free and premium versions, there is also the well-hidden 'plus' subscription, which offers 75 GB of data. The price varies significantly based on the contract's duration. A 'premium' monthly plan is nearly three times as expensive as the monthly price of a 2-year 'premium' contract. Nevertheless, hide.me's long-term contracts are comparably pricey.
An overview of hide.me's current rates is provided in the table below:
|Free||Premium 2 years||Premium 1 year|
|Price per month||$0.00||$5.41||$8.33|
|Contract period (months)||0||24||12|
|Data volume||10 GB||unlimited||unlimited|
|Number of devices||1||5||5|
|Number of servers||150||150||150|
|Number of countries||5||56||56|
If hide.me were not, relatively speaking, so expensive, it would easily secure a place as one of our favorites. In nearly every regard, hide.me offers good, or even excellent performance, more than making up for its less-than-spectacular fourth place in our speed rankings.
Some room for improvement does exist in regard to hide.me's server network, meaning that the provider does not (yet) pose a serious threat to any of the VPN heavyweights. However, apart from the few points of criticism, and when price is not a major concern, hide.me offers a good VPN choice.
Based on the reviews we evaluated, hide.me was rated 'good'. Users praised the service's simplicity, performance, and level of customer support.