Offering a popular free version and cheap premium plans, hide.me claims to be one of the best value VPNs in the world. But will the free version keep you safe online, and how do its paid plans stack up to other premium VPNs?
To find out, I performed extensive tests on every feature that hide.me offers. I explored speeds, streaming capabilities, and safety with the free and paid versions. In addition, I found out everything there is to know about its privacy policies.
After my tests, I recommend hide.me if you want a safe, privacy-friendly premium VPN for a low price. The free version is nice, but it comes with slow speeds, data restrictions, and a limited network. Luckily, you can test all hide.me features using its 30-money-back guarantee. I requested a refund to ensure it was trustworthy, and my money was quickly returned.
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Streaming — Excellent for Smooth Online Video Playback9.8
hide.me is one of the best VPNs when it comes to streaming, but only with a premium account. I could make it work with just a handful of platforms on the free option. For example, I streamed Netflix Originals (a limited version of the site) and Max with the free servers near where I live in the US. However, you won’t be able to stream for more than a few hours a month because of the free plan's 10GB data limit.
I actually didn’t find any streaming platforms that didn’t work with the streaming-optimized servers that are available with a paid plan. There were also only a few instances where I had to do any troubleshooting. The only issue is that some services had long load times, but this wasn't a regular thing.
In the table below, you can see the services our international team could make the VPN work with:
|Amazon Prime Video
Worked With: Netflix
With hide.me’s optimized servers, I could watch movies and shows on Netflix in HD. Its streaming-optimized servers are a little different than some of its competitors because they aren’t designed to work with one specific platform. They’re just situated in different countries and are meant to work well with every service — which was the case for me when I tested the streaming servers where I am in the US.
I had zero playback issues while watching Netflix. That means videos loaded nearly instantly in perfect quality and played without buffering, even when I skipped around. That said, I could only make it work with Netflix Originals with normal servers, so I suggest sticking with the optimized ones.
Worked With: Disney Plus
Free servers don’t work with Disney+, but I was able to watch it with the nearby premium servers.
I encountered a common problem with the free servers that often happens with Disney+. The screen just loaded indefinitely without ever letting me log in. Luckily, there were practically zero load times with the optimized servers. There were no buffering or playback issues either.
Worked With: Max
The hide.me servers worked great with the former HBO Max.
It took about 10 seconds for my video to resolve into HD quality
While it took a while for the quality to warm up, the videos played without load times or buffering. I could also watch it with normal servers. But, I still recommend using the streaming ones to save you time finding the right connection.
Worked With: Hulu
I was eventually able to make the VPN work with Hulu. In my first test with a non-optimized server, I could log in to my account and see all the titles. But every time I clicked on one, it would give me an error. This was strange since I’m in the US and was on a US server.
Once again, the streaming server came to my rescue. It let me load videos in just a few seconds, and they played back in HD right away.
Worked With: BBC iPlayer
I also needed to see if hide.me could work with platforms outside the US, so I called on my international team for testing. The results were positive and my colleague in the UK reported that the VPN worked great with BBC iPlayer, but only when using the premium streaming servers.
As you might expect by now, there were no issues with the streaming experience. I could quickly load videos in HD and watch without buffering.
Also Worked With: Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, ESPN+, Paramount+, ITV, Crunchyroll, YouTube, and more
My team reported smooth streaming on all platforms with hide.me, encountering issues only when not using its optimized servers.
For example, Amazon Prime Video gave me errors with normal servers but worked great with the US streaming location. Crunchyroll had a bit of a fuzzy picture at first, and it took about 12 seconds to load its videos. Other than that, myself and my team found that the tested streaming platforms worked flawlessly.
Important: The vpnMentor team stands against copyright infringement. We recommend VPNs that offer secure, no-logging services to protect your privacy, not for illegal purposes. Always comply with local laws and streaming platforms' rules while using a VPN.
Speed — Fast on Most Servers, but Slow on Very Distant Ones8.4
We got fast speeds on hide.me’s premium servers unless they were very far away. When they were over 9,000 km away, the speeds would take a substantial dip. The free servers are also quite slow. I tested every free location, and they always dropped my speeds by at least 90%. This was regardless of how far away they were.
There are 3 main categories we look at when recording connection speeds:
- Download speeds. This shows how quickly you can receive information. It's important for things like streaming, torrenting, and browsing. It’s measured in Mbps (megabits per second).
- Upload speeds. This lets you know how quickly you can send data. You’ll want this to be fast when you’re sending emails or uploading videos. It’s also measured in Mbps.
- Ping. References how fast your data can travel. It lets you know how much latency you’ll have, so it’s crucial for gaming. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms).
To make sure we get fair results, we use a dedicated tester that records all our tests from the same location with the same connection. She tests each server at least 10 times at different hours and creates averages. This way, small dips in speed don’t affect our charts. The tests below were done with the WireGuard protocol because it was the fastest.
Our tester lost 5% of her speeds on nearby servers, and 50% on distant ones
With its servers in Europe, hide.me never dropped our tester’s speeds by more than 7Mbps. That makes sense because she’s in the UK. So, hide.me gave us some of the best nearby speeds we’ve recorded. I’ve only tested a few providers that are faster at that proximity.
However, on long distance servers, you can find VPNs that are faster. For example, ExpressVPN is about twice as fast once you get on servers over 8,000 km away. There are special 10Gbps servers, but I didn’t notice any speed differences with them. For example, the Brazilian server is marked as such, but it was quite slow.
Since hide.me is one of the most popular VPNs, our tester continuously runs tests on it each week. After looking over results for several months, I can see that the speeds in our chart are representative of how it normally performs. Week after week, we consistently had fast speeds on every nearby server.
She only lost 3% of her download speed, and her ping remained low
Ping rates were great, and our upload speeds barely fell at all on nearby servers. So, as long as you stick to servers in your general area, you shouldn’t have any issues while streaming or browsing. Ping rates held up the best on free servers that were local, but they were still too slow for gaming.
While we got okay speeds on the Los Angeles server (8,300 km away), locations farther away than LA were always twice as slow or more. It seems strange because Sao Paulo is only a little bit farther from the UK than Hollywood is.
We lost 74% of our speed and the ping was 20 times slower
One good thing is that the speeds never fell much further than this. Even though Australia is almost twice as far away as Brazil, the speeds were similar. However, hide.me has some work to do when it comes to long-distance speeds if it wants to catch up with the very best VPNs.
Gaming — Too Much Lag for Competitive Play4.8
Even with low ping rates, I still couldn’t use hide.me for satisfying gaming sessions. It’s best to have a ping below 80ms if you want to play games without lag. When it’s higher, there will be a noticeable pause between when you press a button and when your character reacts. This makes it impossible to play at your best, and it’s just not much fun.
I had problems moving my character and the game kept on freezing up
I tested it out with a fast-paced shooter, so I’d notice even small timing issues. It didn’t take long to load up Counter Strike: Global Offensive, but once the game started, I had big problems. At first, there were tons of glitches that caused my character to fall through the floor. Once we lost and the game reset, I could actually move my character. Unfortunately, the lag meant there was at least a second delay each time I tried to shoot my gun.
Every VPN will raise your ping levels at least a little because your connection is being encrypted and rerouted. I also need to mention that I could still play and enjoy slower-paced card games like Hearthstone with hide.me. Things could get choppy here and there, but it wasn’t a big issue.
However, there are many VPNs that let you play any online game with minimal lag on nearby servers. So, hide.me is falling a bit behind its competitors in this category.
Server Network — A Fairly Large Selection With Great Features9.0
You get 2,400 servers in 89 countries with hide.me, which gives you a lot of options. This is slightly more locations than the average VPN offers, but some of the very best providers do give you more servers. However, I like that hide.me’s servers are pretty well-distributed around the world.
Most of the servers are in Europe (with 30+ locations). It even has some rarer locations like Bulgaria and Croatia, which you don’t see in a ton of VPNs. There are 10+ in the Americas and 20+ in Asia and the rest of the world. This is somewhat typical for VPNs, but there are some with more servers in Asia and Africa. For example, Surfshark has 25+ locations in Asia and several more African options.
8 countries come with city-level servers: the UK, Switzerland, the US, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Australia. The US has the most locations, with 13 regions offered. These let you pinpoint your location more accurately, so you can find the fastest nearby servers. Some VPNs come with a little more, but this is a solid selection.
The Multihop tab lets you route your traffic through 2 different servers
It also lets you connect to 8 different locations with its free tier. These are in the Netherlands, Spain, Central US, East US, West US, Canada, Germany, and the UK.
It owns all of its servers, so you don’t have to worry about any middleman. Many VPNs have to rent at least some of their infrastructure due to costs. So, this is one big benefit of using hide.me. Below you’ll find a few more cool privacy features hide.me’s network offers that help it stand out.
I love hide.me’s “Best Location” feature. Most VPNs have a version of this that’s meant to automatically set you up with a fast server. What I like about hide.me’s version is how customizable it is. You can set the “Best Location” to give you the server with the lowest ping, the lowest load, or the one that’s closest to you.
Very few VPNs offer something like this. The only minor issue is I hope it’s a little more transparent with how it calculates this in the future. Currently, there’s no easy way to see any of these measurements for yourself in the app.
No Virtual Locations
Unlike most VPNs, all of hide.me’s servers are physically located. Virtual servers aren’t actually in the country where they set you up with an IP. This does come with some benefits because it lets providers connect you to countries where it’s dangerous to house servers. However, I like that with hide.me, you always know exactly how far away a server really is.
Every subscription to hide.me comes with dedicated IPs, which is pretty rare. Most VPNs make you pay at least a few dollars extra to get static IPs. These can be helpful for avoiding geo-restrictions or if you need a static address for things like running a website. But, it is a little complicated to set up. You have to go to your account on hide.me’s website and enable “Fixed IPs”.
You then select which country you want to switch to a static IP in your app. You’ll get an IP address that you can copy and paste into your VPN’s “Custom Location” section. Afterwards, you’ll connect to this dedicated address every time you access that country/city. While I wish it could be set up quicker, it’s great that you don’t have to pay extra.
Security — Tons of Features to Keep You Safe9.6
Security is one category where hide.me excels as it has just about every feature the top VPNs offer. First of all, it comes with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. This is nearly unbreakable, and it’s the standard for all top ranked VPNs.
It also uses Perfect Forward Secrecy, which just means it’s constantly generating new encryption keys for added security. That made sure it passed all of my leak tests on 16+ servers. You also get the standard leak protection, including WebRTC.
It also comes with a kill switch. This blocks your connection in case the VPN suddenly disconnects, and it’s a crucial feature that makes sure you never go online without protection. I also love that it operates its own DNS servers and gives you the option to insert a custom DNS. As you might expect, the app is also completely virus and malware free. I was able to test this by running the .exe file through VirusTotal.
In addition to its more unique features that I’ll elaborate on below, it has a few more interesting options. Bolt “Fast Proxy” is a Windows feature that makes sure you connect via TCP. I’ll explain this further in the protocols section, but it’s meant to increase your speeds. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any difference during my tests.
You can also set the VPN to auto-connect under several different conditions. This includes automatically connecting when you turn on your device, when you access a new WiFi network, or when you access a certain IP.
I thought this was obfuscation at first, but StealthGuard actually gives you more auto-connect options. Many VPNs use the word stealth to describe technology they use to hide your VPN use, which is what threw me off. However, StealthGuard just makes sure you don’t go online without a VPN connection. You can also use it to make sure your selected apps don’t go online until hide.me connects first.
This is hide.me’s ad-blocker, and it comes with tons of options. You can set it up to block ads, malware, trackers, force SafeSearch with search engines, and it even lets you set up parental filters. While it won’t block everything, I appreciate that you get hide.me’s ad-blocker with regular subscriptions (you don’t have to pay anything extra).
You can use this feature to choose what traffic goes through the VPN. For example, I like to keep my banking app out of the VPN tunnel. That way, I don’t have to worry about scaring my bank while I’m using hide.me to protect my privacy online.
You get a ton of different protocols to connect to with hide.me, including the leading options. Here’s a short breakdown of each one and what they offer:
- OpenVPN. This protocol is considered the safest protocol because it’s open source. That means it’s constantly being checked for vulnerabilities by security enthusiasts around the world. The company also claims every connection through OpenVPN will be obfuscated.
- WireGuard. A safe protocol running on newer technology. It’s also the fastest protocol as was seen in our tests.
- IKEv2. This is an older protocol. But, it works well for mobile devices because it’s good at switching between different networks.
You’ll also have the option of connecting to SoftEther or SSTP protocols. They’re decent choices if the ones above aren’t working, but you most likely won’t run into many situations where they’re necessary.
This is a double VPN feature, and hide.me lets you run your traffic through any combination of its servers. I like this because most VPNs only let you connect to set pairs of servers. That’s if they even offer double VPN at all.
I was also impressed by how little this decreased my speeds. Most of the time, routing your traffic through 2 servers substantially lowers your speeds. In this case, it actually only lowered my download rates by about 20 Mbps on average.
However, this isn’t a feature I really use. That’s because hide.me offers such powerful encryption that there isn’t much reason to send your connection through a second server. But, it’s nice that it’s there for people who want to be extra cautious.
Privacy — An Excellent Policy That Has Been Proven10.0
This is one of the most trustworthy VPNs around due to its independent audits and very clear no-logging policy. It’s also headquartered in a privacy-friendly country. Plus, hide.me is owned by eVenture Ltd, an IT security company that has never had any controversies. Now that it owns all of its server network, there isn’t much more hide.me could do to improve when it comes to privacy.
It’s also involved with i2Coalition — an organization fighting for internet freedom. This means that hide.me follows i2Coalition’s VPN Trust Initiative (VTI), which are a set of principles that ensure a provider is transparent and more privacy-friendly. It makes VPNs promise not to siphon data, practice false advertising, and more.
Does hide.me Keep Logs? No
Hide.me never records your IP address or browsing activities. The only data it retains are your email address and your monthly data usage. For enhanced privacy, you can register using a newly created email.
As soon as you delete your account, all of your information is removed
I appreciate hide.me’s policy because most VPNs do store some additional anonymized information like timestamps, details on your device, or even the servers you connect to. You’re also just as safe using the free service because it follows the same policy.
Was hide.me Audited? Yes
Its policy was audited by a reputable firm in 2015. This audit was carried out by Leon Juranic of DefenseCode LTD. He’s a renowned cybersecurity expert, and he reported that the company follows its policy. It’s also been releasing transparency reports since 2012. These show you every time legal requests are made of the company. Each of these reports have proved that hide.me has no relevant customer data to share.
Based in Malaysia
Malaysia is outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, and it has no data retention laws, so it’s a great place to run a VPN. The 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance is an agreement between several governments to share data on their citizens. It always makes me a little uneasy when a VPN is headquartered within its jurisdiction, so this is just one more reason hide.me is super privacy-friendly.
Does hide.me Work in China? Yes
You can use hide.me in China.
They recommend you use its obfuscated version of OpenVPN to connect in China
There aren’t many VPNs that reliably work in China, so I’m happy hide.me still can. While many VPNs have been banned in China, the government rarely goes after individuals for using them. However, my team and I don’t condone any illegal activities. We recommend you read up on the laws before deciding to use a VPN in China.
Torrenting — Great Speeds With Solid Security & Privacy10.0
I was able to increase my torrenting speeds while connected to hide.me. With no VPN connected, it would have taken me 12 minutes to complete a 700 MB file. Once I got on hide.me’s Texas server, I could finish it in only 3 minutes. You can also use its Shadowsocks proxy to potentially increase your speeds further, but it wasn’t necessary for me.
It works with a variety of applications including qBittorrent and Deluge, and you can also use port forwarding, but it takes a bit of setting up. You enable it on your account page, and it utilizes a dynamic version of the process called UPnP. This is considered safer than static port forwarding, but hide.me recommends only enabling port forwarding on one device because you’ll get the best protection using VPN protocols.
While torrenting is legal in most countries, downloading copyrighted files isn’t. I recommend you only download files in the public domain to make sure you don’t break any laws.
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