Hide My IP Review 2019 – It’s Imperfect but has its Uses
Hide My IP is not a conventional VPN service. It uses Smart DNS to provide users fake IP addresses in order to change your apparent location on the web.
This is a key difference from other VPNs, most of which use protocols like OpenVPN.
This Hide My IP review will focus on security features and overall performance for the common needs of us netizens, such as streaming, bypassing geo-restrictions, and of course, maintaining privacy.
Oh, you should see our popular VPN reviews page if you want to check out other providers as well.
- Servers located in 60+ Countries
- Unblocks US Netflix
- Inexpensive Pricing
- Wide Device Support
- No DNS/IP Leaks
- 3-day Free Trial
- Decent Customer Support
- Poor Usability
- Based in the US
- No Support for OpenVPN or other Secure Tunneling Protocols
Strong Points of Hide My IP
Every VPN has some strengths that make it standout in this competitive industry. Here are the main strong points of Hide My IP:
Smart DNS Proxy
Hide My IP provides Smart DNS server addresses for free that you can configure in your PC or device’s network settings. This feature can be availed for free, and you do not require any software client for this to work.
If you scroll down below, you will find links to instructions for different platforms and operating systems. All you have to do is:
- Choose a server location from the drop down menu and click the blue “Get My DNS Proxy” button
- It will reveal a DNS address. Note it down
- Now scroll down and click on an operating system or device to get instructions for setting up Smart DNS
This is a nice feature the company is offering for free and it will allow you to unblock a lot of geo-restricted content.
But be warned: it won’t secure or encrypt your online activities.
Hide My IP hosts a decent server network. It is by no means as extensive as those provided by the leading premium VPN services.
Nonetheless, with more than 100 servers spread across 66 countries, the geographical distribution is reasonably good.
DNS, IP & WebRTC Leak Test
One of the most important determinants of the strength of a VPN is to check whether it is leaking your IP, DNS, or WebRTC.
I found no IP leaks when I tested Hide My IP through IPleak.net:
However, I couldn’t run WebRTC and DNS tests through Hide My IP’s windows-based app. In fact, there are a lot of websites I couldn’t open through this service.
This is probably a technical issue with the app-based version, since I had a better experience using the Chrome extension.
Performing DNS leak test with the service’s Chrome app, it successfully prevented my DNS from leaking:
The same success was repeated during the WebRTC leak test:
So, although I have reservations about the Windows native client of Hide My IP, its browser extensions perform way better in terms of security.
Torrenting safely is one of the main reasons why people use VPNs. The regulations against torrent websites have gotten way stricter than they were in the past.
Many popular torrenting websites have been shut down by authorities over legal issues, while some are simply inaccessible from certain countries.
You can unblock these torrenting websites through Hide My IP. However, without tunneling protocols and the fact that I wasn’t able to test DNS and WebRTC leak for this VPN, I can’t really recommend it for safe torrenting.
But if you only want to access blocked torrenting sites without worrying about your online security, this service is good enough for that.
It Unblocks Netflix
Duping Netflix with proxy and VPN services is not easy. Netflix is growing smarter with its VPN detection capabilities, and a lot of VPNs are no longer able to get past its defences.
In fact, I couldn’t even open Netflix with Hide My IP’s windows client running in the background (I’ve run out of patience with that desktop app).
But when I gave the Chrome extension of Hide My IP a try, it was able to unblock US Netflix in a single try!
Let me tell you this now, though: the browser extension is not very intuitive to use at first, and you will need to change a few settings before you can unblock streaming sites Netflix. Here’s how you can do it:
1a. Get Hide My IP for Chrome here.
1b. Get Hide My IP for Firefox here
- Click on the Hide My IP icon next to browser’s address bar:
- Hover your mouse cursor on “More Locations” to find “Enter the Code” button:
- Enter the license key provided to you after purchasing the subscription:
- Notice that the “Floating IP Network” (Premium) is now a selectable option (keep WebRTC checked):
- Connect to a US server (I choose Los Angeles):
- Now visit Netflix and voila!
Pricing & Plans
Hide My IP is available for $29.95 dollars. This is the Standard service that remains valid for one year.
The Standard service is different from Hide My IP premium. For reasons I’m unable to understand, you can’t access the webpage with details and purchasing options of the premium version directly from the main website.
You will have to use this link to land on that page, which looks something like this:
The premium version supports 5 multi-logins, which is a feature that the easily accessible Standard version lacks. It is about $5 more expensive than the Standard.
Hide My IP accepts several different payment methods including Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and PayPal.
They also accept cryptocurrencies which is a great option. Anonymous payments are only possible through cryptocurrencies, which is why I think more VPN providers should accept bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as payment.
Many VPN services offer free trials for a few days. Although Hide My IP does not advertise it, they do have a 3-day free trial.
Personally, I think the free trial period should last at least a week to allow consumer sufficient time to make their mind about a service, but 3 days is better than no free trial at all.
You can avail this 3-day trial through Hide My IP free download on the official website.
One of the most impressive features of this service is that you can download Hide My IP for a wide array of devices and operating systems.
However, it does not have dedicated apps for all of the devices it supports. The apps are only for Windos, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux devices.
Here is the compatibility of Hide My IP by operating system.
The service also supports a lot of routers:
Even Televisions aren’t left out:
Gaming consoles aren’t left out of the party either:
In addition, Hide My IP has browser extensions for Firefox and Google Chrome.
This is seriously commendable. Other VPN providers should learn from the example of Hide My IP and improve their device compatibility.
The customer support service is available through phone, email, and ticketing form. You can contact support by phone on weekdays from 9AM to 4PM.
You can find a form on the bottom right of Hide My IP’s website and write a message to them. They will reply to you within 1-2 hours on the email address you provide:
It was through the customer support that I learned how Hide My IP can be used to unblock streaming websites like Netflix US. They replied to my query through e-mail in less than 2 hours.
Not too shabby, to be honest, but a live chat feature could be a great improvement to their customer support.
Areas of Improvement
Despite rounding up a solid package of online privacy, Hide My IP needs some improvements. These are outlined below:
To start with, Hide My IP is not very upfront about the extent to which they log user information. Every page of the website reveals some new information which contradicts information on the next page.
For instance, in the FAQ section, the provider categorically states that they don’t keep traffic or activity logs:
That’s really nice.
But clicking on their privacy page, my eyebrows couldn’t help but twitch a little. Here is what it says:
That’s a lot of information!
Particularly, I call your attention to the fourth point. Hide My IP keeps logs on how you use their products, services, websites, or network.
In simple terms, this is clearly user activity logging, which is something the company just mentioned they do not log on the FAQ page.
And that isn’t the end of it. This is only the list of logged information that Hide My IP has been kind of enough to mention.
The first sentence under the “Collected Personal Information” states that the information they log includes, but is not limited to the listed information.
Now let’s see how they are going to use our collected information.
That seems fair enough, but considering the company doesn’t entirely reveal their true logging policy, I can’t help but suspect they use our information for purposes that could be a clear violation of our privacy.
But wait, this VPN doesn’t stop being shady here. Head over to the terms of service page and you’ll find this:
Okay, so let’s get this straight:
Hide My IP doesn’t keep logs your personal information, but they will hand over any such information if the authorities come asking for it.
Either these guys have magical powers or they are plain lying to us about being “no-logs” service provider.
Protocols & Encryption
I mentioned before that Hide My IP is not a conventional VPN service. Well, the fact is, Hide My IP shouldn’t strictly be considered a VPN.
This is because Hide My IP does not use any tunneling protocols which define all that VPNs are about. Rather, it uses Smart DNS proxy which lacks the encryption capabilities of VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP etc.
Smart DNS services are effective at changing your apparent location which permits bypassing of geo-restrictions.
VPNs, on the other hand, add layers of encryption that ensure a secure connection between your device and the websites you are communicating with.
However, what you lose in terms of security, you gain in speed and Smart DNS services can offer greater speeds, but that is not a general rule.
In short, Hide My IP is not a service you should rely on if better online security is what you are after.
Based in the US
This basically means that any personal information about you which Hide My IP is privy to will be immediately handed over to the government authorities should they come asking for it.
If privacy is something you are concerned about, then a service that logs your information AND is located in the US is not exactly the solution you need. Therefore, the US jurisdiction is another significant drawback of Hide My IP.
I have tried using the service on a number of different laptops, so I’m sure it’s not just a problem with just my computer.
Hide My IP has a really poorly functioning Windows client. You can hardly do anything, open any websites, with its desktop client running on the background.
The browser extensions work much better, but Hide My IP will have to seriously improve the functionality and performance of its app if it wants to satisfy customers in the extremely competitive VPN industry.
Alternatives to Hide My IP
Here are some other VPN reviews worth checking out if you are an internet privacy seeker.
Hide My IP Trustpilot Review
Another user praised the service without really conveying any important information (in a hurry, I guess?)
This Hide My IP review found this VPN to have a logging policy that should turn any user away who values their privacy.
The service does manage to score some points by way of its ability to unblock Netflix, wide device compatibility, leak prevention, and decent customer support.
Nonetheless, to compete in the VPN industry, the service must seriously look into its flaws and improve future versions of its apps by making them more usable and more functional.
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