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HMA VPN Review & Test 2022 - Good Overall, But Some Drawbacks
Being on the market for more than 15 years, the UK-based HMA has established an excellent name for itself (literally).
HMA offers over 1,040 servers in 210 countries, including 8 P2P-optimized servers. This makes its server network stand among the largest in the VPN industry. Its website states that the servers are extremely fast, operating at 20 Gbps (you’ll find out in this review if that’s true).
The VPN also has 189 servers optimized for streaming. However, it couldn’t unblock many platforms, including Hulu and BBC iPlayer. On the plus side, I was able to access my Netflix account.
The VPN’s security measures are decent though — it uses AES 256-GCM military-grade encryption and offers a choice of secure protocols. There’s also a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
In the past, questions were raised about the VPN’s logging policy. So I looked into it myself and it has a no-logs policy that’s been audited by a trustworthy cybersecurity company.
HMA offers 2 standard subscription plans. Its 36-month plan is the most affordable at $2.99/month a month. Alternatively, choose from its Family Plans with which you can secure up to 10 of your devices simultaneously or its Business Plans if you have a company. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 7-day free trial for you to try its services and decide whether it’s a good fit for you.
Streaming — Doesn’t Unblock Many Streaming Platforms
HMA couldn’t unblock all the platforms I tested. When it could, I still had to wait for buffering to stop and my streaming quality to improve.
The VPN offers 6 optimized server locations for streaming. There are 4 in the US, 1 in the UK (Donkey Town, yes that is a real place in the UK), and 1 in Germany (Frankfurt). These servers are designed to bypass streaming site VPN blocks effectively.
Theoretically, these servers are a great feature. They mean you don’t have to test heaps of servers to find one that works with your favorite streaming platform. However, I wasn’t impressed with their performance.
HMA unblocked Netflix, ESPN, and YouTube — but nothing else.
The first streaming platform I tested was Netflix. I easily unblocked it with HMA’s optimized New York, Miami, and Liberty Island streaming servers and watched an episode of Atypical. I had to wait around 10-15 seconds for the video to load and it was a little blurry at first, but the quality got better after a short time. These servers are far away from my location, so I expected longer loading times.
I also tested Netflix on the Frankfurt and Donkey Town server and was able to access the German and the UK library in a matter of seconds. Overall, HMA did a great job unblocking different Netflix libraries.
The next platform that I unblocked with HMA was ESPN+. I tried it on the same US servers I tested Netflix on and got almost identical results — slow loading times and lower quality the first couple of seconds. I watched a couple of Formula 1-related videos without any lag.
Next, I tested ITV Hub. Unlike HBO Max, I could log into my account. However, I couldn’t watch any videos. Right after I selected my show of choice, a notification popped up telling me that the video wasn’t available.
Peacock was next on my list. I managed to access the platform and log into my account. However, when I tried to play a video it detected the VPN instantly. So I couldn’t stream anything on Peacock either.
Amazon Prime Video also detected that I was using a VPN even though I successfully logged into my account. After selecting a title, a message appeared asking me to disable my VPN to watch their content.
I had a login error every time I tried to sign into my Hulu and Disney+ accounts with HMA, even though the password and email were correct. So, I contacted HMA’s support team to ask if there’s any way to unblock these platforms.
They told me to make sure that the VPN is properly connected to my device by checking on their website’s “What is my IP address?” page. The IP checker showed that the VPN was successfuly masking my real IP address.
However, Hulu and Disney+ still didn’t work — even after following the HMA rep’s advice. I managed to log into my Hulu account but I couldn’t watch anything because it also detected that I was using a VPN and an error message popped up.
I had a very similar login problem with Disney+ too. I couldn’t even get to the login page; I just got a black screen with nothing on it. The couple of times when the login page actually loaded and I could insert my credentials, I got a login error.
BBC iPlayer didn’t work either, although HMA’s IP checking tool showed my IP was in the UK. First, I tried HMA’s UK streaming-optimized server (Donkey Town). iPlayer worked for about 5 minutes, letting me watch the show I selected. Then, the video stopped and I had to reload the page. When it reloaded, I got iPlayer’s warning message letting me know that the platform only works in the UK.
I also tested a few regular VPN servers in the UK, but the results were the same.
On the UK and Serbian servers my speed dropped to 31.67 Mbps and 33.68 Mbps, which is a 92% decrease from my base speed. When I tested the servers in Germany, I had slightly better results — I got 46.17 Mbps, which is a 89% drop.
The best performing locations were in Croatia and France, where I only had a 78% decrease.
32.67 Mbps (92% decrease)
61.12 Mbps (83% decrease)
95.21 Mbps (78% decrease)
33.68 Mbps (90% decrease)
33.68 Mbps (92% decrease)
94.26 Mbps (73% decrease)
78.55 Mbps (81% decrease)
41.10 Mbps (88% decrease)
46.17 Mbps (89% decrease)
50.04 Mbps (86% decrease)
92.78 Mbps (78% decrease)
240.36 Mbps (33% decrease)
Long Distance Speeds
HMA’s long-distance servers gave me similar results.
I started by testing several locations in the US, including some of its streaming-optimized servers. The Miami one performed best, giving me a download speed of 81.12 Mbps (an 80% decrease), while my upload speed stood at 166.83 Mbps (53% drop). Locations in New York and Atlanta gave me download speeds of 22.25 Mbps and 26.48 Mbps (93% and 94% decreases).
I also tested HMA’s locations in Canada, Singapore, and Japan. Canada gave me a 26.68 Mbps download speed, which is a 93% decrease from my base speed. Ping got to 127 ms, which is acceptable considering that Canada is 7,800 km away from me.
In Japan and Singapore my download speed decreased by 89% and 85% (down to 43.21 and 60.80 Mbps). The ping stood at 272 ms on the Japan server and 279 ms on its Singapore one. While these numbers are way too high for gaming, it’s pretty similar to long-distance speeds on other VPNs I’ve tested.
Are HMA’s Speeds Fast Enough for Gaming? Only on Local Servers
HMA’s speeds are fast enough for gaming on local servers. I connected to the Zagreb, Croatia server and played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam without any lag. The ping was decent at 65 ms, and I could hear my teammates on TeamSpeak very clearly without any cuts.
However, the distant servers gave me ping that was way too high for gaming. If you’re a professional gamer and want reliable speeds and ping, I suggest you take a look at these VPNs for gaming.
Server Network — Optimized for Streaming and P2P Transfers
HMA offers 1,040 servers in 210 countries. It has 189 optimized servers for streaming in 6 different locations, including 4 in the US, 1 in the UK, and 1 in Germany. It also has servers specialized for P2P in 8 locations — 3 in the US, 1 in the UK, and 4 in Europe.
Servers optimized for streaming
Servers optimized for P2P
Miami, Florida, US
Miami, Florida, US
New York, New York, US
New York, New York, US
Seattle, Washington, US
Seattle, Washington, US
Liberty Island, New York, US
Donkey Town, UK
Netherlands (city not specified)
Czech Republic (city not specified)
I really like how neatly the servers are organized in tab menus on the left side of the app’s interface. You can choose from your favorite servers, the most recent ones you’ve connected to, or the ones optimized for streaming and torrenting without having to scroll through the whole list to find them. Additionally, the optimized servers are marked with icons, which is really helpful when you actually want to search through the whole list.
HMA also has virtual servers. Virtual servers give you an IP address of the country you choose — but they're actually based in another country. For example, the virtual server can give you a Russian Ip address though the physical server is located in the UK. This gives you 2 advantages. You can safely access content from Russia without your info passing through a Russian server. And, if the UK is closer to your real location than Russia, your speeds will be much faster. However, if the physical server is much farther from your real location, your speeds may be slower.
Unfortunately, these servers aren’t marked with an icon in the list; the icon only appears when you connect to them. When you use a virtual server, you may not know where it is really located.
HMA manages both its physical and virtual servers. Therefore, it still has full control over its servers even if it rents them from a third party. So, there’s no risk to the privacy and security of your data. On the website, it is also briefly explained why HMA uses virtual servers.
The VPN also offers a large number of city-level servers in different countries. For example, in the US, there are servers in more than 50 cities. There are 3 city-level servers in Canada, Australia, and the UK, and 2 in France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Ukraine.
Security — Military-Grade Encryption and Advanced Features
HMA offers multiple security features. Besides the military-grade encryption, it also has reliable kill-switches, split tunneling, IP Shuffle, and an ad-blocker in its Chrome extensions. Moreover, it didn’t leak my personal information to the websites I was using.
Encryption & Protocols
HMA uses military-grade AES 256-GCM encryption and Perfect Forward Secrecy with elliptic curve Diffie-Hellman key exchange, which means your data is as safe as it gets. It also uses RSA-4096 handshake encryption and data authentication using the SHA-256 hash. All these features make your connection impossible to hack. If someone were to try, it would take them a few hundred years to get the encryption key.
It also offers 2 secure protocols — OpenVPN (TCP/UDP) and IKEv2/IPSec. The OpenVPN protocol is available for Windows and Android, whereas the IKEv2 is available for macOS and iOS. The speeds are faster with IKEv2, but OpenVPN is more secure.
There are guides on HMA’s Knowledge Base page on how to install OpenVPN on macOS if you don’t want to use the IKEv2 protocol. There’s even an option where you can view your OpenVPN connection logs which is helpful if you ever run into some problems with the VPN.
You can install the L2TP and PPTP protocols on some devices, but they are older and less used (PPTP was deemed obsolete after some major security breaches). However, if you would like to try them, you can look them up on HMA’s support page and see if there’s a possibility to install them on your device’s OS. Unfortunately, HMA doesn’t support WireGuard — the newest super-fast protocol on the market.
There are 2 kill switches, which is unique for a VPN. One is a system-wide kill switch, and the other is an app kill switch.
The regular system-wide kill switch cuts your internet connection if the VPN unexpectedly disconnects so that your IP doesn’t get exposed. The app kill switch secures the apps of your choice by blocking internet access to them if the VPN connection drops. The two kill switches are available for Windows and Android, but not for iOS. The system-wide kill switch is also available for macOS.
Keep in mind that none of the kill switches are active by default. This means that, unless you activate them from the Privacy tab, you won’t be fully protected.
IP, DNS, and WebRTC Leaks
HMA manages its own DNS servers and has built-in protection against IPv4, IPv6, and DNS leaks. DNS leaks happen when your DNS requests are accidentally routed through your ISP instead of the VPN. This way, your data will no longer be anonymous and your ISP will see and log your internet activity. Since HMA has total control over its DNS servers, no third party can see your information.
IP leaks are similar, but it’s your IP address that gets leaked — meaning that the websites you access will be able to see you and your location when you access them.
I ran tests on the Tokyo server location and was pleased to see no WebRTC, DNS, or IP leaks.
HMA offers split tunneling in its Android app. This is a clever feature that allows you to choose which apps you want to secure with HMA. This way, you can route traffic on certain apps through the VPN and leave other apps’ traffic unencrypted, so that they pass through your normal ISP network.
For example, I like to run my browser app through the VPN to unblock geo-restricted content. Meanwhile, I make sure my banking app routes through my ISP so that I don’t trigger any alerts on my account.
The IP Shuffle makes it harder for anyone to track your location because you can randomly change your IP address at a time interval of your choice. Though it’s worth noting that this feature is available for Windows, Android, and macOS but not for iOS.
There’s also an IP Refresh if you would like to manually and quickly change your IP. This feature is useful if you want to be completely protected. Since your IP address can change every 10 minutes, no one will be able to backtrace the connection to you.
The auto-connect feature lets you configure when the VPN connects automatically. This is very useful because you can set it to automatically connect and keep you safe when you’re on public WiFi, in case you forget to turn on the VPN yourself. It is available for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS.
HMA’s Chrome extension offers a built-in ad-blocker. This is an awesome addition, especially for all of you that are tired of constantly dealing with unwanted ads like I am.
HMA’s apps are completely safe and malware-free. Before I downloaded the Windows app, I used VirusTotal to check that the installer is clean. I didn’t expect any issues, but I wanted to check just to make sure. Fortunately, the results met my expectations, and there weren’t any viruses or other types of malware in the file.
One thing that HMA is missing is multi-hop. This feature further strengthens your online security and privacy by routing your traffic through 2 or more servers, which makes your data practically untraceable.
HMA is one of the rare VPNs that has a no-logs policy audited by an independent cybersecurity company. It’s been checked by VerSprite, and they rated it as having a “low-risk user privacy impact.”
On top of that, HMA’s parent company — Avast — publishes a warrant canary 4 times a year. This means you can easily check and see all the requests Avast receives to disclose the VPN’s user data to government agencies. The company is taking transparent steps to distance itself from past instances of data sharing.
Aside from the basic personal information that all VPNs collect to create your accounts (such as your email address, username, activation code, and subscription renewal date), HMA also records the date of connection and a rounded amount of data transferred.
There’s an option on the Android app to turn off analytics data sharing with third parties. You can find this option in the Settings menu under the Personal Privacy tab. It is turned on by default, but if you don’t want it, you can turn it off anytime.
Note that HMA’s web proxy extensions are a separate service to the VPN and the audit doesn’t cover them. This means that these extensions keep logs and data such as your IP address, domain names of the websites you visit, and timestamps of requests.
I don’t recommend using the web proxy extensions if you want complete online privacy
The VPN is based in the UK, which is a member of the 5 Eyes Alliance (a group of countries that collects and shares citizen’s online data). This means that if the government requested your data, HMA would be obligated to hand it over. However, considering that the service has a proven no-logs policy, there’s not going to be any valuable data that can be traced back to you.
Torrenting — Offers P2P-Optimized Server Locations
Torrenting is allowed with HMA. However, note that torrenting copyrighted material is against the DMCA. Torrenting is also completely banned in some countries, so you should check the laws and regulations of your country before deciding to do so. My team and I don’t condone or encourage illegal torrenting.
There are 8 server locations optimized for P2P traffic. P2P-optimized servers are give you better connection speeds while protecting your privacy at the same time.
HMA doesn’t consistently work in China. It offers specialized registration URLs in an effort to bypass the Great Firewall, since China blocks the VPN’s main page.
However, even with those, there’s no guarantee HMA will always work in China. In doesn’t offer any obfuscated servers (which mask VPN traffic as regular traffic). So there’s always a chance it will get detected and blocked.
Simultaneous Device Connections — 5-10 Depending on the Subscription Plan
With HMA, you can secure 5-10 devices at once, or even more if you choose to install it on a router. The basic plans allow you to connect up to 5 devices, or you can select a Family Plan if you want to connect up to 10 devices at once. There are also Business plans that let you connect up to 30 devices at the same time.
I tested HMA on all my devices simultaneously and found it performed just as well with multiple connections.
Device Compatibility — Native Apps for Most Platforms
HMA is compatible with all major devices and operating systems, including:
Windows: 7,8, and 10;
Android: Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat, Oreo, and Pie;
macOS: 10.5 and up (Yosemite, El Capitan, High Sierra, Catalina, and others);
iOS: 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Furthermore, you can configure HMA on Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, and more), Apple TVs, Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast.
If you install the VPN on a router (or buy a FlashRouter with HMA pre-installed) you can also connect gaming consoles such as PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
The VPN offers web proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox too.
I can recommend HMA for its compatibility thanks to its wide range of device options.
The set-up and installation process was very straightforward. I installed HMA in a couple of minutes.
I tested the Windows app, and it was very easy to navigate. It is really well organized, and you can easily find all the features and settings you need. Even if you’re not too tech-savvy, it’s easy find your way around the app.
Lightning Connect is a feature that’s meant to choose the fastest server for you, but it wasn’t really accurate. It chose Istanbul as the fastest and nearest server, but I manually found a server that performed better.
There was one technical hitch during my initial test — I couldn’t access any websites. For some reason, I had no internet connection whenever I turned HMA on. Fortunately, there’s a troubleshooting button on the app to help in cases like this. After I ran the troubleshooter, I received a notification to contact HMA’s customer support with the error code.
Not wanting to hang around, I found a post on HMA’s Community Support from a customer who had the same problem as me. An HMA representative had answered the question suggesting the customer apply manual DNS settings by following the steps from a link they’ve sent.
This was easier than contacting customer support
Unfortunately, the suggested fix didn’t work for me. As a last resort, I deleted the app, rebooted my computer, and re-installed it again. Fortunately, it started working.
Apart from this temporary glitch, I was happy with HMA’s apps. It is very easy to use, with a fun and clear interface.
You can pay using all major credit and debit cards — Visa, Mastercard, Amex (American Express). HMA also accepts PayPal, UnionPay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Alipay, Giropay, Sofort, and many others.
HMA’s subscription plans depend on the number of simultaneous connections it allows. The 2 standard subscription plans allow 5 simultaneous device connections. The length of these plans is 12 months and 36 months.
There are also 3 Family plans that allow 10 device connections at once. The shortest is the 12-month plan but there is also a 24-month and 36-month plan, which is the best value option. On top of that, HMA offers Business plans with prices that vary depending on the billing process that companies want to choose — monthly or yearly.
If you’re in the US, you have the option of a 7-day free trial (this isn’t available in other countries; it’s replaced with a shorter 1-month plan). However, you have to create an account and provide your credit card information for the free trial. If you’ve already chosen and paid for a plan but you’re not satisfied with what you got, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee too.
Subscriptions are renewed automatically but, if you want to stop using HMA, you can cancel anytime. You can find the option to manage your subscription in the app’s account settings — it automatically redirects you to HMA’s login page on the website.
HMA has good support, but response times could be improved. It offers email assistance through a ticketing system, but no 24/7 live chat or phone support.
I got in touch with the team when I had an issue accessing Hulu and Disney+. I used the website’s “Help” pop-up window, which I thought was live chat support. I was disappointed to find out that it wasn’t a live chat at all but just a way to send an email. I got a very late reply, 5 days after contacting the team.
The customer support representative apologized and also gave me some instructions on how to fix the login problem I had with Hulu and Disney+. Unfortunately, even after following the instructions they gave me, my issue still wasn’t resolved. I was never able to access either streaming platform.
My experience with HMA’s rep was a little disappointing
Aside from that, the VPN also has extensive help on its website. There are FAQs on the Community page and a bunch of articles in the Knowledge Base to help you with everything you need. They cover installation and configuration of native and non-native apps, to different issues that may come up with the service.
The website is available in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and many other languages, making it pretty accessible. While it has some good points, the HMA customer support could do with improvement in terms of speed so I can’t recommend it. Try one of these VPNs with outstanding customer support instead.
The Bottom Line
HMA is a decent VPN overall. It’s secure and easy to use, and it has server locations around the world.
That said, improvements can definitely be made. The VPN would benefit from working on its speeds, unblocking abilities, and its customer support offering. Despite these imperfections, I had a great experience with HMA and would definitely use it again.
Consistently unblocks Netflix
Allows 5-10 simultaneous device connections
Offers web proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox
Has very easy-to-use and organized apps
Offers a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee