- Highly Configurable Application: There are multiple attributes available related to connectivity, protocol, and client behavior. Because of these options, the user has the complete control over the application allowing him to make adjustments for his own benefit.
- Customizable Split Tunneling: You can choose the applications whose data you wish to permit or restrict through the VPN tunnel. This gives flexibility to the user to avoid unnecessary usage of VPN.
- Port Selection: When it comes to connectivity, hide.me has made sure that the users experience consistent connection. For achieving that, you have the option of changing the port for OpenVPN and IKEv2 manually.
- Stealth Mode for VPN Restricted countries: If your ISP or the government doesn’t permit you to use the VPN, and they block its usage, then at that time Stealth Mode can be used which shows the VPN traffic as the standard internet traffic hiding the VPN usage.
- Fallback Protocol to hold the security: The name itself indicates the working of this attribute. If the selected protocol stops functioning, the application will automatically secure the connection using the protocol that you choose as Fallback Protocol.
- Their Client, Your Language: It’s easy to understand the features and their usage if they are available in your native language. Considering that, hide.me has made its application available in fifteen plus languages.
- hide.me Browser Extension: hide.me offers browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. However, you do not get the option to select the servers in the extension.
- Custom MTU Size: The size of the data packets can be adjusted whenever required. If the transfer rate is considered, larger MTU size is preferred, but for some applications and online gaming, smaller MTU packets are chosen due to the higher response rate.
- Kill Switch with Additional Options: In most of the applications which have a kill switch, the only function is to stop the data flow if the VPN connection drops. In hide.me’s case, you can choose when you wish to kill switch to perform its operation. Also, you have the provision to add a whitelist.
- Limited Bandwidth: You can only use 2 GB of data for the Free plan and Plus plan allows 75 GB data transfer. If you wish to enjoy unlimited data transfer, then you need to purchase the Premium version
- Limited Servers for Free Plan: Only three server locations are available on the Free plan. But if you purchase the Premium plan, then this limitation won’t be there.
- Connection Error: If you use the internet while connecting or disconnecting the VPN application, it won’t allow you to the browser as the kill switch stops the data. The connection won’t get established, and you will need to reconnect it manually. The main screen will show the status as ‘connecting,’ but no attempt will be successful.
hide.me is a virtual private network service provided by eVenture Ltd., an online security company founded in 2013. The purpose of the company is to help the internet users to access all the websites that are available on the internet without having to be restricted by the government or the ISP.
On top of that, the goal of the company is to provide the best privacy and security protection for the users, making it possible for them to browse the internet anonymously.
We were having high hopes regarding this product considering the reputation that the product has. However, there are some issues which need to be addressed by the company. We have discussed that all in this detailed review.
It’s important to bring the attention of the users about the facts which they may not have noticed earlier. But if we keep those issues aside, there are some brilliant elements which are worth mentioning.
hide.me has a superior client when it comes to features, and in this review, we have appreciated their efficiency, but have also discussed the hiccups that we faced during the review process.
If you wish to know about the product, you need to go through every aspect that review has covered.
It’s true that they have servers right across the globe, but the server density is uneven. If Servers are placed smartly, then the VPN provider can satisfy the user base with minimal servers.
In North America, there are multiple server locations, only in three countries: The United States, Canada, and Mexico.
By adding only two server locations for Canada, a good speed cannot be assured. Now, out of these two servers, one is available for free users. Due to this, the free server may experience heavy load, and the Premium users are left with one server. If all the Premium users who are located in Canada, connect to this server, low performance is expected.
So, Canadian users need to connect to the nearby servers which are in the United States.
As the United States has nine server locations, the speed can be high for the users who connect to these locations. There is one another server which is placed in Mexico. That server can be beneficial for the southern users on North America.
When we move to Europe, as we have mentioned in many other reviews, there is no scarcity of servers. Looks like the Europeans are more concerned about their privacy then any other part of the world (eh!) Providers place their servers all over Europe as the European VPN market always gives a good response if the service is good.
If you look at the map added above, you will realize that the server density in Europe is very high. It is because they have chosen twenty-five plus server locations in twenty plus countries. This itself concludes high performance for Europe, but servers should be maintained properly.
In Asia, they have selected a few countries, but that’s done wisely. If we provide you with a closer look, you will see that almost all South-East Asia is covered with the help of placing servers in Singapore, Japan, India, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Indian server provide an advantage to China’s user base which can use the application with the help of Stealth mode.
According to the provided map, apart from these continents, there are only four server locations in the other three continents.
For Oceania, two server locations are added in Australia. As Australia and New Zealand are two of the ‘Five Eyes,’ we expect that here the user base is very large. For satisfying the Oceanians, more servers are required.
You may not want to consider purchasing the application if you want to route traffic from Africa or South America as you will find only one server location in each continent.
Overall, what matters is how the servers and user-server ratio are maintained. If the load is maintained low, then there is no requirement of adding any more servers, but if it increases, the users may experience low speed.
When you are not connected to the VPN, your true IP address will remain visible on the bottom left corner of the main screen. As soon as you get connected, it will show the changed IP address instead of the original one.
When you click on the “Details” button, a pop up will appear showing you your changed IP, its location, IPv6 Capability, and IPv6 address.
This helps the users to know if the established connection is reliable or not. We had rechecked the IP address using third-party websites which confirm that the connection is secure and the IP address has changed.
When the initial connection fails, the app tries to connect to another protocol at the same time, and that protocol is the Fallback Protocol. You may need to compromise with speed if that occurs, but at least it confirms the connectivity. You can select the Fallback Protocol of your choice. It automatically connects to provide the best possible speed and security.
However, the Fallback Protocol that you select must be different from the primary protocol otherwise it may not be useful. For instance, the OpenVPN is used for the primary connection, then you can select Fallback Protocol amongst the other ones: IKEv2, SSTP, and SoftEtherVPN.
Advanced Network Settings
Adding primary DNS server and secondary DNS server of your choice is the distinctive feature that not many VPN providers provide. We have learned from the support team that hide.me uses nameserver 22.214.171.124 and name server 126.96.36.199.
You also have the option of altering the data packet size by configuring MTU, which is ‘1400,’ by default. You can use small packet size which has higher response and takes less time to travel through the network. However, when large data transfer takes place, higher MTU size is better as the overhead size decreases.
It also has an option of allowing sleep while VPN remains active. These advanced network settings are required to be changed, but only when asked by the hide.me’s support team or only when ‘you know what you’re doing‘. 🙂
Protocol configuration is available for IKEv2, OpenVPN, and SoftEther VPN protocol. You can also disable or enable Stealth mode even while VPN is turned ON. Stealth mode is recommended for bypassing ISP throttling. By default, for IKEv2 and IPSec SA port numbers are 80 and 443 respectively that you can adjust anytime.
For OpenVPN, the option of using UDP or TCP is available for which you can choose to have a random port connection every time it gets connected.
In the case of SoftEtherVPN, UDP acceleration is available, and a number of TCP connections could be increased up to 8. Half-duplex mode is also offered through which you can permit data transfer only in an open direction enhancing the security.
The protocol settings directly affect the performance of the app. Careful use is required, and as hide.me has provided so much control to the user, it could cause positive as well as negative effects.
Split tunneling is the requirement by which you can access both, the regular network as well as the VPN network. Here, it is delivered with a few advanced options, and it is one element for which hide.me could be recommended for users who require a well-functioning Split Tunnel.
You can simply click the “+Add” button to add the application to the list. Now you have two options:
- Do not allow the selected apps to use the VPN
- Only allow the selected apps to use the VPN
Then all you need to do is to select one according to your requirement or else you can choose all apps to use VPN but well, if this option isn’t available, the client would automatically be using VPN for all the apps so, the purpose for this particular option isn’t clear.
When you click on the “+Add” button, you can choose only to select the Windows apps. That automatically filters all other apps and let you pick some specific apps.
Kill Switch Configuration
The kill switch acts as the guardian of our data whenever the VPN connection drops. That’s done by blocking the internet which avoids the data flow outside the VPN tunnel.
After that, whenever the virtual private network is ready for connection, it unblocks the internet again, and you can use it as usual.
You can also add a whitelist in which you can add the websites for which you wish to permit connection even if the VPN connection drops. This helps to prevent unwanted interruptions that may happen due to the internet blocking.
There is a separate tab with the heading ‘Custom Script.’ The name itself indicates that it allows adding a custom script from the local drive. However, we do not have any more information about this feature. We suggest the users should not use it without the instructions provided by the hide.me’s support team.
Logging or No Logging?
This VPN service can help you to get free from the internet restrictions as imposed by your government or ISP, meaning that you can visit any website that you previously couldn’t while using the regular connection.
Moreover, there is no censorship in your online activity which implies that you can enjoy any website on the internet as they are meant to be enjoyed without any worry about the logging of your DNS requests.
We can understand that this is required in case if we reach them out or if we forget the password. Other than this not even the IP address is stored.
We doubted the connection logs that are visible in the application. We had access to the connection logs, so we thought that there could be a possibility that the provider is are also storing it. However, by the discussion with the support team, we could conclude that no connection logs are really stored.
This sort of data is only required when there is a connection error. To fix those errors, debug mode is added which sends the data to the concerned developer.
Also, this service has gone through various security audits that ensure it doesn’t have any hidden logging system to monitor your browsing data. With no logging for your browsing activity, the online activity stays private and secure.
However, there is just one issue when it comes to the data logging.
The bandwidth that we have used is recorded, and so, they know how much data every user is utilizing. This is required for the free users, and Plus plan users because of the bandwidth limit.
This is done for every session for which the user connects to the VPN. If that’s the case, they ‘may’ know about the total time for which a user may have used the application.
However, when we contacted the support team, they stated that they only record the bandwidth used and not the timestamp.
Connection Time Analysis
The instant connection is bliss, and that’s what we are getting here. If you are someone who could not wait to start browsing, and always require instant VPN connection then using hide.me would be a perfect choice for you.
|Trial No.||Time is taken to establish a connection (Seconds)|
|Average Time In Seconds||4.86|
In the analysis, you can see that the highest connection time was 8.36 seconds which isn’t even the lowest one for many of the VPN services. However, in a few cases, it took longer time or else connection failed, but that is a very rare case. Hence, we can state that hide.me is reliable for establishing an instant connection. And, it should also be mentioned that it takes a few seconds to get disconnected.
If you are using the Free Plan, it may occasionally show the error which is shown below.
It may be because of the high traffic on the free servers. If you face the same error use “Task Manager” and “Force Quit” for Windows and Mac respectively to shut down the application abruptly.
After that, you can try to reconnect to it. This is the only way by which you can use the client again. The other option is to change the server location while it shows connecting and if you would be lucky, you will get connected.
If you use the paid version, this problem may get solved as the traffic gets distributed over all the servers available worldwide.
After using the hide.me’s Premium plan, we found that the connection time doesn’t differ much to the previous case. We received the same connection time as the previous case when we connected to the server which was having the lowest ping for the Premium plan.
If we don’t consider the first case, the precision of the connection time is also high. With the lowest connection time of 3.62 seconds and highest connection time of 6.38 seconds, the range is smaller than three seconds. Hence, you can easily predict when the connection will get established ‘if the application works normally.’
Speed is one of the chief deciding factors when it comes to the selection of a VPN provider. Unfortunately, if you are going to use hide.me’s Free Plan, you are going to experience tremendously reduced speed. It’s because of the limited number of servers, but if you go for the Plus or Premium plus, this may not be the case.
The downloading and uploading speeds without connection were 17.35 Mbps and 4.99 Mbps respectively, but it has reduced to 1.88 Mbps and 1.33 Mbps after the connection. When you get the access of Plus Plan, you get chance of accessing all the servers, and then this reduced speed will not come in your way for browsing and torrenting.
After this, by using the Premium plan, we performed the speed tests for various servers. With the help of sorting options, we identified the server with the lowest latency. hide.me also shows recommended servers separately, and in our case, Canada’s and the Netherlands’ servers are added to this category.
We also connected to VPN with the US’ and the UK’s server locations. Also, the test was also done for the best server which was automatically chosen by the application.
Initially, we checked the speeds without the VPN connection which were 41.06 Mbps for downloading and 26.11 Mbps for uploading.
As we mentioned above, the first test was conducted for the server having the lowest latency, and it was the server closest to our location. As the ping was only 48 ms, we were not expecting a major decrement. However, it delivered speeds of 5.22 Mbps and 11.24 Mbps for downloading and uploading respectively.
Even if we consider the upload speed satisfactory (with a reduction of 53%), the case isn’t the same with the download speed. For downloading, the speed is reduced by 87%. That means, if your ISP provides 10 Mbps speed, only 1.3 Mbps will be delivered after connection.
Nothing to get upset as the other speed tests are still left for discussion which may provide promising results.
In the Second speed test, we established VPN connection using the ‘Best Server’ which was selected automatically. However, the best server isn’t the best one, and we don’t suggest using this option. The reason is the speeds delivered: 2.49 Mbps (Download Speed) and 3.78 Mbps (Upload Speed). The heavy reduction implies that usage of this option would not even allow you to do efficient browsing.
One of the recommended servers (location: Canada) shows ‘Page Error’ stating ‘Error Fetching Resource.’ There could be a possibility that the error is because of the website on which we check the speeds. However, this error only appeared for this server.
The other recommended server was situated in the Netherlands. Actually, there were two recommended server locations from the Netherlands, and we connected to the ‘default server location.’ For that, the upload speed is acceptable: 20.69 Mbps; there is only a reduction of 20%. But again, similar to the first case, improvement is required for the download speed as it’s only 10.40 Mbps.
The UK has three server locations, and the connection was established with the default one. For which, the speeds experienced were 13.94 Mbps for downloading and 20.37 Mbps for Uploading. Now, it’s the third case where we are facing dissatisfaction with the download speed. We can conclude the upload speed good enough, but not the download speed.
In the next test, we received the highest download speed in comparison to the speed tests conducted for other servers.
By connecting to the United States’ default server, we got the download speed of 16.99 Mbps. The reduction is comparatively less than the other cases. However, this time it fails to satisfy the users when it comes to uploading speed as it is only 5.54 Mbps.
If we compare the United Kingdom’s server to the United States’ server, we can see that it has a lesser download speed. But because the United States’ server’s upload speed is extremely poor, we can’t recommend using it. So, if we look at all the tests, the best option is to connect to the United Kingdom’s servers.
Obviously, every user has their own requirements and may want to connect to various locations as per their need.
hide.me uses AES 256-bit key which is the highest level of encryption that encrypts all your data, and for advance security, there are many configuration features that one can find in the settings menu.
It offers most of the prominent protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, SoftEtherVPN, and SSTP. If you need to bypass firewalls, SoftEtherVPN is the most reliable one, and when it comes to performance and security, OpenVPN stands above.
The security features such as Kill Switch, Custom Script Selection, and Port Selection, make it a trustworthy VPN provider.
Also, DNS Leak test and LAN blocking secure your data from reaching to any third-party.
They cover almost every Major platform developed by Apple and Windows. It is also available for Ubuntu, Android, and Blackberry, and thus, all the users with different choices can use it without any compatibility issues.
The problem of one simultaneous connection (for Free and Plus plan users) is solved by installing this application on a router.
Once you get connected to the router, you can manage your VPN connection from the GUI of the selected protocol. For an established connection, it shows a green color.
It also provides extensions for our favorite browsers: Chrome and Firefox which are used in most of the cases. However, an extension for Safari isn’t available right now.
User Interface and User Experience
hide.me has provided many amazing features that are beneficial for the users who wish to configure application according to their requirement.
Starting from the main screen, the option provided to discover the details about the connection information is highly useful. The Privacy Check is a small, but a significant element.
We have already discussed most of the features placed in the “Settings” option in the previous sections.
They could have added kill switch, split tunneling, and protocol options inside the settings menu. However, if they do that, it may become tough to explore all the features in one go and require more learning curve for novice users. So we can argue that it is built with simplicity in mind.
That’s why they have distributed these options under separate tabs. This kind of distribution helps the user to identify the required feature easily. You may also check the other applications such as CyberGhost and VyprVPN which are loaded with features.
However, hide.me surely has more features than both of these VPN providers. The features added are related to the connectivity, client behavior, protocol, and security.
They have covered all the parts except the browsing related attributes. Some applications offer features such as ‘Ads Blocker’ and ‘Malicious Site Blocking’ which widen the utility of a VPN application.
Although these features are not related to the VPN, they can consider adding them for the benefit of the user.
When it comes to server sorting options, you can click on the “Change Location” provided on the bottom right corner of the main screen. By that, you can discover the complete list having the recommended servers on the top. But connecting to the recommended server is not recommended as have high latency and low speed was rendered in our experience.
On the top right corner, you will get the option to sort it “By Country Name” or “By Latency.”
Some specific servers are marked with “NOP2P” which should not be used for torrenting and file sharing. But for other servers, no information is provided. They could provide a separate list for P2P optimized servers which would be beneficial for all the users who wish to perform file sharing.
If we talk about the experience, the features and the server sorting options have played their part, but for improving the client, they need to work on the connectivity.
If the connectivity improves, the user may get a satisfactory experience.
Although, the connection time is very less, sometimes, there is an issue that blocks the internet. First, we thought that it’s the kill switch which is causing the issue, but we were wrong.
When we tried to load a page and pressed the connect button at the same time, application blocked the data flow. That can be because of the kill switch.
When you look at the client at the same time, it will show connection status as: “connecting,” but won’t connect even if you wait for a minute, and displays error related which is shown below. Now, here the issue appears.
If you choose the ‘Re-enable Internet’ option, then your internet will start working normally, but no VPN connection will get established. If you select another option “Reconnect the VPN” then it will show status as ‘connecting,’ but no successful connection can be expected.
After that, if you try to disconnect the VPN, the status will change to ‘disconnecting,’ but it won’t disconnect properly. Also, you can’t close the application while it’s connecting or disconnecting.
So, the only way to close the application left is by selecting the ‘End Task’ from the task manager.
This heavily reduced the quality of user experience for the users who are facing this issue.
You can reach out the customer support through live chat, generating a ticket, and by joining the community. They will ask you for the information about the registered email and reply to your issue through it after you select the category of the issue (Billing, Sales, and Technical).
When we opened live chat, the same dialog box appeared which was there was the Generate Ticket” option. It took some time, but after that, we received a reply to our query through email.
“Join Community” could also be a better option. Here, communities work in two different languages which are English and German. The users of other languages might face a problem here.
They are divided into five categories: Announcements, Tutorials, Support & Question, Off-Topic, and Proposals. After you join the community, you can ask a question to other users or else read the questions discussed already. You can also put suggestions and proposals of new ideas that you wish to include in the app.
This way hide.me helps their users, and at the same time, they take steps towards the own improvement. As far as direct support is concerned, you can email them the query directly to which they always reply as soon as they can in my experience.
We are keeping track of developments made by different VPN applications. There is a lot of improvement in the “support Team” of hide.me. The live chat is now more consistent, and the response time has also decreased.
hide.me is one of the best VPN providers when it comes to providing service for the Free plan. Even though it’s free, everything apart from speed and connection error is up to the mark. For the Premium plan, higher speed was obtained due to a greater number of servers. But the connection issue is still present.
There are very few VPN services which provide No Log policy for the Free plan. The Premium and Plus plan are only required if you have a requirement of more than 2 GB per month or if you wish to access all the servers.
In terms of security, several protocols and various leak protection features are implemented if your major aim of purchasing a VPN client is to transfer data safely without anyone’s interference.
It is completely adjustable and customizable for your needs, especially with the port forwarding feature that allows you to activate the SOCKS5 proxy and other proxies in your connection.
All in all, if you want to use a high-quality VPN with good security and privacy features, this is the one that is recommended for you.