- Free version
- Multi-OS support
- Based in Malaysia
- Multihop tool
- Excellent UI
- Stealth Guard
Hide.me VPN Review
A VPN devoted to privacy protection.
Updated: August 17,2022
Hide.me VPN is another VPN that claims to be the safest, fastest VPN that respects your privacy. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to recognize this as a sales pitch.
Nonetheless, I will approach the service from a technical standpoint, examine their claims, and what the program offers. I'll go through all of their features and let you know what I think of them, as well as whether they serve any function or are just there to fool people with technical terms that don't really mean anything.
- Number of Servers: 2000
- Maximum connections: 10
- Kill switch: Yes
- Supported protocols: IKEv2, OpenVPN, SoftEther VPN, WireGuard, and SSTP
- Price range: Free - $9.95/monthly
- Number of server countries: 75
- Ad blocking: No
- Split tunneling: Yes
- Streaming services supported: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, ESPN, BBC iPlayer
- Best price: $2.49/monthly with a two-year plan
- Free plan has limited speed and data
Hide.me VPN Price Plans
Hide.me VPN offers four pricing plans.
The first one is the free plan, which offers 10GB of data per month and limits your speed to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. It also gives you access to five free servers to choose from, and you can only use it on one device. The servers are located in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S. East, and the U.S. West. Honestly, with a free plan, you can at best browse the web and nothing more.
The following three plans are almost identical in that you have access to all hide.me VPN features. The only difference is the length of the subscription plan:
- $9.95/month – this plan gives you access to all of the features and server locations.
- $4.99/month – this plan is identical to the $9.95 one, but it’s billed every six months.
- $2.49/month – this is the best value plan as it gives you access to all features and server locations, but it’s billed every two years.
As you can see, the longer you’re willing to commit to the service, the cheaper it gets. And if you decide to go with the two-year plan, you get a significant discount and access to 2TB of encrypted cloud storage.
Hide.me VPN supports several payment methods, including cryptocurrencies. You can pay with your credit card, PayPal, SEPA, SOFORT, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ether, Horizen, ZCash, and Monero.
If you need to cancel your membership for any reason, you may do so within the first 30 days, no questions asked.
Is Hide.me VPN Safe?
Before I get to the features and functionality, I'd want to know whether the Hide.me VPN is as secure as it claims. Since there is no way for me to test what they do with data, I scoured the internet for any possible leaks of hide.me VPN user data and found none.
That is always a good sign, meaning that they either keep the data secure or don’t store any data worth stealing. But what about requests from authorities?
The first thing you should know is that the company behind it is registered in Malaysia, which is not a part of the 5/9/14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance. This means that the government cannot demand user data from the company, and even if it did, hide.me VPN would be unable to provide it since it doesn’t maintain logs on its customers. Their only logs are temporary and get deleted regularly during the day. I don't have any reason to think differently right now. Therefore I'm going to trust them until proven otherwise.
The company is a part of the i2Coalition, which upholds the VTI principles for privacy and security. Hide.me also releases annual transparency reports, which show how many complaints regarding illegal activities, digital millennium copyright act complaints, and police requests the company has received since 2013.
The only thing the company can provide to the authorities is the email address used to register an account, but the hide.me premium account users may remove their own email address.
Installation and User Interface
The installation process is pretty straightforward. To be able to download the VPN, you must first register. The registration gives you access to a free plan, but that alone won’t be enough for my tests. I chose one of their plans, downloaded it, and installed the application with little difficulty.
Hide.me VPN can be downloaded and used on Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV. It also provides browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. These aren’t standalone products but are meant to be used as an additional level of protection.
If you want to go a step further, hide.me offers several instructions if you want to set up its VPN on your router. Since each router is a bit different, there is no one-click solution, so if you aren’t sure what you are doing, I would advise sticking with one of the apps.
Now that we know the firm is registered in Malaysia and has a no-log policy, let's look at what security features the hide.me VPN service has to offer.
The first thing you should know is that the company uses the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption. This means that your data is safe from prying eyes, and even if someone were to intercept it, they would not be able to read it.
Hide.me offers a number of protocols to choose from, including IKEv2, OpenVPN, SoftEtherVPN, WireGuard, and SSTP. After all, they are all described as the fastest and most secure in the program itself, so it may be a bit confusing as to which one you should use.
Hide.me VPN protocols on the Windows OS
Here is a short overview of each protocol's properties:
- IKEv2 - Open-source protocol that offers fast connection speeds, is mobile friendly, and has fast network switching capabilities.
- OpenVPN - Open-source protocol with the strongest encryption but slower speeds.
- SoftEtherVPN - Open-source protocol that excels at bypassing firewalls and geolocation blocks.
- WireGuard - Works the same as SoftEtherVPN but offers better encryption.
- SSTP - A Microsoft-developed protocol that offers good security and is difficult to detect and block.
For normal browsing, I recommend using the IKEv2 protocol. Still, if you live in one of the countries that extensively censors and restricts the internet, I recommend using SoftEtherVPN or WireGuard. Only premium users have access to WireGuard.
A kill switch is a program that immediately cuts your internet connection if the VPN suddenly disconnects for any reason. This prevents your data from being exposed since it won’t automatically default to your ISP's connection.
The hide.me kill switch is available on all desktop and mobile operating systems. However, you won’t find the kill switch feature on the browser extension since it is intended to be used in combination with the installed program.
There are some reports of hide.me VPN having a faulty kill switch, so I’ll pay special attention to it when we get to the testing.
The Stealth Guard feature ensures that you don't inadvertently use an app or service that might violate your privacy if you didn’t use a VPN. It’s only available for desktop operating systems.
The feature comes with three settings:
- Disable Stealth Guard - The default setting that allows all apps to connect to the internet when the VPN is inactive.
- Bind internet to VPN - None of the apps will be able to connect to the internet without a VPN being enabled first.
- Limit apps to VPN - It enables you to choose which applications would only operate when the VPN is active.
Stealth Guard Feature on the Windows OS
In principle, the Stealth Guard feature functions as a firewall. If you already have a firewall, you don't need to use Stealth Guard. I did a quick test of this feature and didn’t find any problem.
This hide.me feature allows you to choose which apps will use the VPN connection and which ones will use your ISP's connection.
So, suppose you want to view geo-restricted streaming video while still being able to use a browser without a VPN slowing down your internet connection. In that case, you may use split tunneling to route your streaming app via the VPN while leaving your browser to use your normal ISP connection.
Split tunneling on Android
You would think that there isn’t anything you can complicate here, but I’ve seen some VPNs horribly complicating the whole process. Luckily, with the hide.me VPN app, everything was pretty easy and intuitive.
To test it out, I used my Android phone device and set Chrome to use the VPN tunnel and Firefox to use the standard connection. I checked my IP address on both browsers and got two distinct IP addresses. Working as intended, moving on to the next feature!
This feature allows you to route your connection through two VPN servers. So, if you want an extra layer of protection, you can enable this feature, and your data will be routed through two VPN servers of your choosing instead of one.
Multihop on the Windows OS
You should know that the more hops you have, the safer you are. Each server will require additional encryption and description, which slows down your connection but increases safety. Hide.me VPN behaved the same while testing this feature. I honestly didn’t expect anything different to happen.
WebRTC is a technology that allows browsers to communicate directly with each other without going through an intermediary server. The problem is that it can leak your IP address, even if you are using a VPN. Hide.me VPN offers WebRTC Leak Protection as part of the browser extension, which you can get for free. I’ll be testing this feature as part of my privacy test.
The WebRTC feature on Chrome
Testing Hide.me VPN
Now that we know all the features that hide.me offers, it’s time to see how this VPN performs. As part of this hide.me review, I ran privacy and speed tests.
For the privacy test, I used hide.me VPN with a free account and a premium account. The tests were done on Windows 10 21H2, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS - Jammy Jellyfish, and macOS 12.5 Monterey with the WebRTC chrome extension enabled. Since the VPN comes with five VPN protocols, with WireGuard being locked behind the paywall, I decided to test all of them.
The first test I ran was the DNS leak test on ipleak.net and browserleaks.com. None of the websites found my true IP address via browser or torrent, and my geolocation was also obfuscated. This applied to both the free and premium subscriptions.
My super secret European HQ is safe!
Next in line was the same test using Android and iOS mobile devices. Almost everything was the same except the geolocation map, which was expected since it uses my phone's GPS position instead of my IP address.
Remember that the browser addon should be used with the VPN software and not as a standalone VPN. I just wanted to see what a web browser extension without the hide.me VPN app could do on its own, and it behaved just as I expected. It managed to hide the IP address, but it’s unable to hide my geolocation.
Kill Switch Test
As mentioned before, some reports say the hide.me kill switch is faulty, so I spent some time checking out this claim.
I used the same devices during this test, but this time, I had to forcibly drop one connection and see how the VPN would react. Would it try to connect to another network I had set up, or would it stop all outgoing connections?
Ten out of ten times, on all devices, the kill switch worked without any issues. So either the claim was false, or the company fixed the problem. In any case, I'm not presently encountering any issues on this front.
I’ve used Windows OS with the IKEv2 protocol for speed testing because it’s the fastest and most reliable option.
The test was performed on VPN server #1 in Frankfurt, which was the closest to me. My download speed is 252.38 Mbps, with an upload speed of 75.47 Mbps and a ping of 2 ms without the VPN being turned on.
Without VPN enabled
With a hide.me premium account on the same server, I noticed a small drop of 8% in download and 50% in upload speeds while ping stayed the same. There is a small increase in upload latency, but nothing to be concerned about.
With a premium subscription
While using the free plan, everything went as expected with the speed penalties applied. The download speeds dropped by 98%, upload speeds dropped by 98%, and ping skyrocketed by 6000%.
With a free subscription
With the imposed limitations, the free account is good for web browsing and little else. In contrast, the premium account provides speeds that surpass the recommended VPN speeds for gaming, streaming services, or anything else you want to do.
The program was developed and released in 2012 by eVenture Limited with the intent to make VPNs accessible to everyone and not just the tech-savvy bunch. In 2015, hide.me VPN was audited by the founder and CEO of Defense Code Ltd., which stated that hide.me truly has a zero log policy, which I also agree with. I have no doubt that hide.me VPN is safe if used properly, just like any tool.
The company decided to retire IKEv1, L2TP, and PPTP protocols at the end of 2019 and replace them with more secure protocols: IKEv2, SSTP, OpenVPN, and SoftEther. These protocols are now industry standard.
As previously mentioned, hide.me had some issues with the kill switch, but it seems the problem was fixed, since I was unable to duplicate the issue after testing on five different devices.
There are three ways to get in touch with hide.me customer support - live chat, email, and a ticketing system within the app. I tried all three of them, and they all worked as intended. The best thing about it is that customer support is available for all users, not just premium users like with many other VPNs.
The only thing I didn’t like is that they don’t have a phone number you can call in case of an emergency. But, other than that, the support is fantastic.
Hide.me VPN vs. Windscribe VPN
When it comes to the feature set, both VPN providers are on the same level. Both offer military-grade encryption, a strict no logs policy, split tunneling, a free plan, and support for numerous protocols, including WireGuard.
The only area where Windscribe has a slight advantage is that it has a built-in malware and ad blocker. But, other than that, the hide.me VPN app is a better choice thanks to the larger server network, higher speeds, and lower price.
Hide.me VPN vs. Surfshark VPN
Surfshark is one of the relatively recent additions to the VPN industry (it was founded in 2018), but it can already compete with some of the best VPN providers out there. It has all the features you need, including a built-in ad and malware blocker, support for numerous protocols, and more.
The only area where hide.me has a slight advantage is the price, which depends purely on the plan. A monthly hide.me VPN membership costs $9.95, whereas Surfshark costs $12.95, while a two-year subscription costs the same for both VPNs at $2.49. If you’re looking for a free VPN, then hide.me is the way to go since Surfshark only has a free trial.
All things considered, don’t expect hide.me VPN to be able to take on the Great Firewall of China and win every time. Even bigger and more established VPNs are struggling with such a feat.
Still, if you are looking for a VPN capable of unlocking streaming content, torrenting, and hiding your true identity, you don’t have to look any further. Hide.me is more than capable of handling the task at hand, just don’t forget that geolocation masking won’t work on a mobile device.
When it comes to gaming, the ping penalty is a bit on the higher side, but I’ve seen and played on worse. It’s not an overly enjoyable experience, but it’s quite possible. The only drawback is that this applies to the premium account.
The speed and data limitations of hide.me's free account will only allow for casual web browsing. You won’t be able to use a streaming service or play online games without encountering issues.
The good news is that a free plan is completely reliable regarding your safety and privacy. It provides the same level of security as the premium account, and you are not being harvested for data that is then sold to a third party for profit.
While writing our review of hide.me VPN, we found no reason to believe the company isn’t trustworthy. We are convinced that hide.me is fully dedicated to the anonymity of the internet and is fighting against internet censorship in any way it can.
Hide.me VPN doesn’t keep your data. Therefore, it is unable to sell it to any third parties.
Hide.me is based in Malaysia.