- Jurisdiction: The service falls under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong. The nation is not among the 14-Eyes countries, and the absence of data retention laws makes it an ideal location for a VPN service.
- No-Logging: The service provider made sure that favorable jurisdiction is not for nothing. The service does not log the IP address of the user or of the server to which he/she connects. There is no logging of the user’s activity inside the tunnel as well. However, the timestamps and the volume usage are logged.
- Multiple Server Locations: They have servers across more than 40 locations across the globe. The server network is vast enough to bypass most of the geo-restrictions.
- Strong Encryption: Hidester uses AES 256-bit encryption. It is military grade encryption and the best that any VPN service can provide. With this encryption, the user can rest assured that it will not be an easy task to breach his/her data.
- Kill-Switch: The client comes with a kill switch. A kill-switch is meant to stop the internet traffic if the connection to the VPN drops. This will prevent the user’s data from reaching the internet without the safety of a VPN.
- Snail’s Pace: The speeds on the service are not impressive at all. There is enough speed to browse through the websites, but activities such as streaming and online gaming will not be easy while using the service.
- Few Protocols: For protocols, the service offers three protocols, but one of them is a proxy service. The remaining two are OpenVPN and CamoVPN. CamoVPN is a modified version of OpenVPN. The user does not get anything substantial when it comes to protocol options.
- No IPv6 Support: The client neither supports IPv6, nor there is an option to block the IPv6 requests. A mismatch in the IP requests can lead to IP leak, and therefore compromise the privacy of the user.
Hidester is a VPN service based out of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the business hubs in Asia. The local laws act as advocates for businesses and individuals.
Hong Kong is not among the 14-Eyes countries as well. 14-Eyes is a group of countries with strict surveillance systems in place. What makes them more terrifying is the fact that these countries share intelligence data with each other.
On the other hand, Hong Kong has strict privacy laws, and the local laws don’t mandate the businesses to collect the personal information of users.
One noticeable fact about Hidester is the presence of a proprietary protocol in the service called CamoVPN. We have come across a few VPN services which use in-house developed protocols.
All the VPN services with proprietary protocols were able to yield speeds which were on the higher end of the spectrum. We do expect results along the same lines from Hidester as well.
The security on the protocol and the service, in general, will also be one of the centers of attention in this review.
We also expect the service provider to maintain high standards when it comes to safekeeping the privacy of the user else there won’t be any advantage of the favorable jurisdiction.
All the claims of the service provider such as ‘top speed’ and ‘full access’ will undergo some stern testing in this review.
This review will not only test out this VPN service for you but also deepen your understanding of VPNs.
The performance of a VPN service depends a lot upon the server network if the customers are present across the globe.
The proximity of the user from one the VPN server affects the speed of the service for the user. It the VPN server is not far away from the user, then he/she can expect some good speed as well as performance for his/her location.
A large number of servers in the network also make sure that there is no traffic congestion on the network, and the user does not come across any latency issues on the service.
Presence of servers in a lot of countries helps users to bypass a lot of the geo restrictions. The server network is also an indication of the popularity of the service.
All the mainstream VPN services have impressive server networks which help them provide satisfactory services to the user.
Hidester has got 45 servers in 41 server locations across the globe at the time of this review. The number of server locations is notable. However, the number of servers in the network can see some improvement.
Most of the server locations are in the European continent. However, it is not the only service with this attribute. In fact, the majority of VPN services have a higher percentage of server locations in Europe.
The reason is the high number of VPN users on this continent. Many of the European countries also have strict privacy laws which help the services to maintain no-log servers in this country.
You should know that even if the VPN service has a no logs policy, it is not necessary that the server owner also plays by the same rules. It is therefore very crucial that the VPN services have private servers.
The sizes of VPN server chunks are almost the same for the Asian and the American continents. Hidester has got two server locations in the African continent as well.
Many VPN services deprive the African and the Middle Eastern users of satisfactory service as they don’t provide ample server locations in the area.
Hidester also fails to deliver anything of the essence to the Middle Eastern users.
Another thing that they failed at is to offer a functional server sorting mechanism. There are certain methods availed by the service provider to categorize and identify servers, and we doubt the usefulness of these methods.
But, let us first discuss the dedicated servers on the network. The service provider has marked all the server locations which allow P2P file sharing with a small double-headed arrow next to the name of the location.
Apart from the P2P dedicated servers, there are specialized servers in the list. We would have loved to see dedicated servers for streaming and gaming as well.
There are many VPN services which list out servers for these activities, and thus make the life a lot easier for the user.
One more minor adjustment that the service provider could have made is to list all the P2P servers separately under the P2P tag. It would have saved the user from the hassle of going through the entire server list when looking for P2P servers only.
The only useful categorization option available on the client is to categorize the servers according to the ping rate. It arranges the server locations with their ping rates in increasing order. The categorization helps the user spot the aptest server location for him/her.
There are options to sort the servers under the tags speed, connection, and score as well. But, unlike the ping categorization, the client does not display any data about these attributes. We, therefore, find it difficult to trust the sorting under these tags.
Interestingly, the list remained the same for all these options. The service provider should try to get rid of these redundant options and come up with some better and effective ways to sort the servers.
There is an automatic server selection option on the client in the form of ‘Best Location’ option. However, we found it irrelevant as it connects the user to the closest server location instead of the fastest one.
We found a lot of server locations which gave better speeds when compared to the automatically selected server.
Though there are some anomalies in the way the service provider caters the server options, the server network of Hidester is still an effective one.
Disneyland is not the only thing for which we like Hong Kong. We also love it for the local laws which aid in safekeeping the privacy of users and customers.
It is not a coincidence that Hong Kong is one of the business centers in Asia. It all happened because of the inclusive and fair laws. The jurisdiction does not impose mandatory data retention laws on the businesses.
Hong Kong is home to a lot of the VPN services only because of this reason. Hidester could not have found a better place than this country for their headquarters.
Privacy is the prime reason that regular internet users gravitate towards VPN services. There are so many agencies and organizations which are on a constant lookout for the personal information of users.
This personal information is then used in different ways by various groups. Business houses may use it to maximize their profit by selectively showing ads according to the preference of the user.
ISPs might sell the information for monetary gains. Government agencies can use it to spy on the citizens, and the anti-social groups can use it for all sorts of illegal activities such as blackmail.
We are now seeing the use of this personal information by political groups as well.
Personal data is a valuable asset, and a lot can be gained when it is used in the barter. No one wants to be manipulated by the use of their personal information against them, and therefore, users felt the need to gain control of their privacy and personal information.
When you use a VPN service, all your activities and data are masked from the external parties. Now it is only the VPN service which has the knowledge of your activities on the internet. So, it is of utmost importance that the service provider is reliable and trustworthy.
They do not collect the IP address of the user or the server to which he/she connects. The service never monitors any of the user’s activities inside the tunnel as well. These clauses will light up the eyes of any privacy-concerned being.
If we come to the data which they collect, there is nothing much to worry about over here. Hidester logs information about the connection country, dates of connection and the volume of data transferred while using the service.
They will collect your email address and the transaction information when you subscribe to the service. This information is necessary for the business to file taxes and do other legitimate activities.
They also accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Therefore, the user can avoid giving some more personal information.
You will come across cookies on visiting the official website. However, there is always an option to deny cookies. They also employ analytical services which can again collect some non-personal information.
This information is used to improve the services and enhance the user experience on the website.
Connection Time Analysis
The service provider claims that there are three protocols available on the service, but one of them is only for proxies. It connects instantaneously because of the absence of encryption in the so-called protocol.
The other two protocols available are the OpenVPN and CamoVPN. We did the connection time analysis for both the protocols.
The average connection time was almost identical for both the protocols. The client takes a little less than 7 seconds to connect to the network on an average.
It is not a long wait for the user when connecting to the VPN, and the time is also independent of the protocol in use.
Connection time is indicative of the swiftness of the VPN client, and it is quite evident that Hidester is on the faster side. However, the results are not very precise, and the user may come across a few roadblocks while trying to connect to the network.
Connection time is not an important aspect of the VPN service according to a lot of the folks. But it gives cues about the performance of the client and the service in general. It is not a very wise move to ignore the connection time.
There is nothing more annoying than slow internet speed these days. People are ready to pay a good amount of money to get a high-speed internet connection.
Back in the days, security and privacy used to be the only concern of the VPN users. But the advent and then the growth of services focused on gaming and streaming called for the need of high-speed internet.
The new generation of internet dwellers cannot tolerate slow internet speeds.
Now the VPN services have one more thing to worry about along with the security and privacy on the network. It is only those services on top of the table who have managed to achieve that delicate balance between speed and security.
There are two protocols on Hidester, and we did the speed tests for both these protocols.
First, we connected to the automatic server selection option. The proprietary protocol of Hidester that is, CamoVPN gave only around 3% of the original speed.
This massive drop in the internet speed was not a very good omen, and it also popped our bubble of excitement about the proprietary protocol.
We have come across a few exclusive protocols in our quest to find the best VPN, and one thing that all those protocols had in common was that they were super fast.
We expected something similar from CamoVPN, but not anymore after seeing the first speed test results.
We tried the OpenVPN protocol after this setback, but there was no improvement in speed. The client retained only 3.48% of the original speed. We did not expect things to go so far down south.
We then tried a few other server locations, and somehow the majority of them gave better speeds than the ‘Best Location’ server option.
The highest speed we got was for the UK server with the OpenVPN protocol. We recorded around 53% of the original speed. This was far more satisfying when compared to the ‘Best Location’ server option.
The UK server option gave the best results for CamoVPN protocol as well. There was close to 30% speed retention on this server location for CamoVPN.
The speeds on Hidester are not very impressive, and we think the major reason for this drawback is the lack of servers in the network.
The service has only 45 servers for the 41 server locations in the network. Therefore, we think that there was traffic congestion on most of the servers which ultimately led to such poor speeds.
The speeds on the service are not good enough to perform activities such as streaming and gaming. This can take a large portion of users away from the service.
We don’t think that there is a need to emphasize the importance of security measures on a VPN service. Regular cyberattacks keep everyone informed of the advancements being made by the cybercriminals.
VPN services first encrypt the user’s data and then route this data to their servers through secure tunnels or protocols.
Hidester uses AES 256-bit encryption. This encryption is virtually impossible to breach without the key. It is military grade encryption and the best in the business.
It is such a robust mechanism that it consumes a considerable processing ability of the device, but that is the price that one needs to pay to get the best encryption available.
The service provider advertises three protocols on the service- OpenVPN, CamoWeb, and CamoVPN. Both CmaoWeb and CamoVPN are developed by Hidester and are exclusive to the service. However, CamoWeb is for proxies, and it is not as safe as the other two options.
We consider Hidester as a VPN service with two protocol options. OpenVPN is a tried and tested protocol. It is the most preferred choice of both the VPN users and the service providers and often labeled as the best blend of speed and security.
CamoVPN is the proprietary protocol of Hidester. They claim that it is their version of OpenVPN and does a better job when it comes to bypassing the restrictive firewalls and the geo restrictions.
CamoVPN is supposed to be the better bet if the ISP is throttling OpenVPN.
Now if we move onto additional security features on the client, there is a kill-switch available on the client. Kill switch prevents the user’s data from reaching the internet without the secure wrap of a VPN. The kill-switch stops internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.
There are plenty of options for DNS servers on the service. Hidester provides the user with the option to connect with Hidester DNS servers as well as to a lot of the other DNS servers as well.
We don’t recommend using any third-party DNS server if not necessary as their involvement in the equation increases the complications.
Hidester covered all the bases but one when it comes to security on the service. There is no IPv6 support on the client. There is no option to block the IPv6 requests from the device also. This can lead to a mismatch in the IP, and eventually, leak the IP address of the user.
The service provider should address this chink in the armor of Hidester as soon as possible.
Hidester took care of most of the security concerns on a VPN service, and it will not be an easy task to bypass the secure perimeter of this VPN service.
We generally do not discuss the installation process of a VPN service in our reviews, but this service compelled us to do so.
The installation process is not the regular one for computer applications where you keep pressing the ‘Next’ button until the installation starts.
Hidester asks the user to make a few choices before installing the application to serve him/her with a client which has already got the settings customized according to the needs of the user.
We appreciate this feature on the service as it makes it simple for a regular person to get the VPN settings that will fit his/her needs.
It also eliminates the need for a new user to browse through the internet trying to learn the implications of various option available on the client.
When you start installing the client, the installation window will first ask your location. It will help the service to present you with the most suitable server location according to your choice.
Then it enquires the purpose of the user for using the VPN service. The options include browsing, gaming, torrenting, etc. This choice will further enable the service to adjust the protocol and server settings for the user.
Then the user is asked if he/she lives in a country with restrictive firewalls and geo restrictions.
The user needs to choose between speed and privacy in the next step. This was the toughest choices for us as we find it hard to let go of any of the two attributes.
The following steps are the regular ones in any installation process. The end product is the VPN client with all the necessary adjustments already made according to the needs of the user.
Those who find it tough to stick with one choice for a long time do not need to worry much as well. You can always go into the ‘Settings’ tab of the client to make the necessary adjustments.
User Interface and Experience
It can be tricky when reviewing the user-interface of an application. There can be no fixed guideline when designing the perfect user interface.
The preferences vary with the users, and it is a very tough task to take care of all of them. There are some people who don’t want to get confused by the abundance of options and prefer a minimalistic design.
On the other hand, there are people like us who are always in for more options. People like us want customization options in each and every aspect of the client.
Hidester tried to take care of both sections. The client window can be used either in the ‘Quick’ mode or the ‘Advanced’ mode.
The ‘Quick’ mode displays only the necessary options, that is, the connection button and the server selection option. The ‘Advanced’ mode throws in a few more options and information at the user.
The user can switch between the protocols on the ‘Advanced’ mode window. It also shows upload and download speeds along with the ping rate.
If you think that this is all that Hidester has got when it comes to customizability, then you are so wrong my friend. They have just started.
The options icon will present a few items to the user. The topmost item is ‘Settings,’ and the real fun begins when you select it. Bam! There is a whole new window stuffed with customization options. Let us discuss all the tabs present in this window.
At the top is the ‘General’ tab. It encapsulates options which allow the user to change the appearance of the client according to his/her will. It includes the option to change the theme and change the opacity of the client window along with the options for other modifications.
The next tab is ‘VPN.’ However, the name can be slightly misleading as the tab contains the option to choose the DNS server. It also allows the user to enter the address of DNS servers manually.
There is an option to uninstall the Tap driver in this tab which we think is a bit of an overkill in the name of choices.
Next in line is the ‘CamoWeb’ tab. It contains the option to change ports, switches for TCP and UDP traffic, etc. It has also got a Smart Mode switch. Smart Mode will automatically stop using CamoWeb when not necessary thus giving a better browsing experience.
The next tab is ‘Security.’ We know it sounds like the most important tab, but all it contains is the kill switch.
First the ‘VPN’ tab and now the ‘Security’ tab, Hidester needs to learn how to name tabs according to their content.
After ‘Security’ comes the ‘LAN Proxy’ tab. It allows the user to select the proxy protocol and enter the proxy address along with port information.
The next two tabs are ‘Account’ and ‘About.’ The first one will inform you about your subscription status, and the latter displays information related to the client and the service.
Phew! That was a lot of explanation. But the options don’t end here. Remember that ‘Settings’ was only the first item in the list? It is followed by a few more items such as Help, Tools, Tutorials, etc.
These items are more focused on getting the user accustomed to the client and have nothing much to do with technical customizability of the client.
Hidester servers the user with plenty of options. It gives the user an opportunity to mold the service the way he/she wants.
Platforms and Devices
The platform support for the service is not as broad as much we wanted it to be. The service is available on major platforms only.
You can get Hidester for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. There is no support for any other platform, not even the routers.
The service provider allows the use of 5 devices simultaneously from one user account. However, Hidester giveth, Hidester taketh. The limited platform support stops a lot of users from taking advantage of multiple device support.
Router support would have enabled the user to have the VPN support on most of his/her devices which includes the Smart TVs and gaming consoles. It is therefore essential that the service provider includes routers in the platform list.
In the era of ‘Internet of things,’ it becomes super important that most of the user devices get the security of the VPN.
Good customer support for a service is as important as anything for the service to do well in the long run. It helps create a loyal user base and what form of advertisement is more effective than ‘word of mouth.’
The parameters on which we judge a customer support service are swiftness, ease of access, and competence.
Customer support service includes a lot more than live chat support and the query ticket system. The support page on the website and the website itself have an important role to play when it comes to helping the user.
Hidester promises 24/7 support for the service. Not ‘live chat’ support but only support. If we are to go by their terminology, then every service offers 24/7 support.
There is no live chat option on the website or the client. So, there will be no one-on-one interaction with the officials on Hidester.
If you come across any issue, then there is an option to submit a query ticket. There won’t be an instant reply, but you can expect them to revert back to you within the next 24 hours.
For support page on the website, Hidester redirects the user to its Wikipedia page. Even though we like this idea of using Wikipedia, we did not find the page very useful or informative.
It barely scratched the surface when it comes to giving details about the service.
But let us get back to the query ticket system on the service. We also had a couple of questions, so we submitted a query ticket.
There was a reply twelve hours later, but it was satisfactory. The support service seemed knowledgeable and professional as well.
The query ticket support is satisfactory, but the support page of the service needs to shed a lot more light on the product.
What do we think of Hidester?
Well, it is a well-rounded VPN service with one major drawback, and that drawback is the slow speed on the service.
We don’t recommend many changes in the service other than coming up with ways to improve the speed on the service. It should be the prime focus of the service provider at the moment.
The lack of protocols could be an issue if we were to get extremely critical. But, the available protocol on the service is among the finest protocols. The service is secure enough with OpenVPN protocol, especially when it is bundled with AES 256-bit encryption.
The server network can see some increase in the density. However, the server locations cover a good part of the globe.
There is room for some minor improvements in both platform support and customer support.
The versatility of the service enthralls us and we consider it as one of the best products when it comes to providing customization options.
If you are one of those people who don’t care much about the internet speed as long as it gets the job done, then we suggest you give Hidester a try.