ExpressVPN vs Hide My Ass

There are a lot of VPNs on the market, and new services arriving all the time. This alone makes choosing difficult, and many VPNs rely on technical specifications, without explaining what they mean or how they help you. Although VPNs are a great way to improve your online privacy, to newcomers, they can seem like they’re more trouble than they’re worth. We’re here to tell you that this isn’t the case. To prove it, we’ve thoroughly tested two major providers, ExpressVPN and Hide My Ass.

In this comparison, we break down every feature they offer and list them side by side. What’s more, we’ll be explaining what these tools do and breaking down the jargon as we go. Perhaps more importantly, this post will help you understand the impact that each VPN will have on your day-to-day online activities. Ultimately, we will explain which Virtual Private Network (VPN) is best for your needs.

In a rush and just need the quick conclusion? ExpressVPN scored highest and came out on top because of its epic speeds and vast server network. Keep reading to find out exactly how we came to that conclusion.

Summary

ExpressVPN

  • Fast servers all over the world
  • Great for watching TV, making calls, or browsing the web securely
  • One of the best around for security
  • Offers 24/7 support and apps for most devices

Hide My Ass

  • 200+ locations to choose from
  • Specific servers for streaming and torrenting
  • Good set of security tools built-in
  • Affordable long-term protection

ExpressVPN vs HMA pricing

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Subscription periodsOne monthOne month
Six monthsSix months
One yearOne year
Two years
Three years
Special offerSave almost 50% and get three months free with a 1-year planCut the cost of a 3-year plan by 75%
Highest price per month$12.95$11.99
Lowest price per month$6.67$2.99
One-year price$99.95$59.88
Money-back guarantee30 days30 days

VPNs tend to be fairly expensive if you’re only looking for short-term protection, and these two are no exception. ExpressVPN costs slightly more, at $12.95 (GBP £10.25) per month, while Hide My Ass charges $11.99 (£9.49) for one month’s coverage. This is about the industry average, with ExpressVPN sitting towards the higher end of the spectrum. Note that we’re discussing the prices of a five-connection HMA plan—expect to pay a few dollars more per month if you want to secure 10 devices at a time.

Both providers offer discounted rates for users who are willing to sign up for longer periods of time. For instance, a six-month plan costs $59.94 (£47.46) with ExpressVPN and $53.94 (£42.71) with HMA—a saving of 29 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

ExpressVPN’s annual plan is its cheapest, and comes with three months extra free. This effectively reduces the price to $6.67 per month (which is 49 percent off). HMA charges $59.88 (£47.41) for its one-year subscription, which averages out at $4.99 (£3.95) per month, or 58 percent off. There’s also a three-year plan that drives the monthly cost down to just $2.99 (£2.37).

These services both include a 30-day money-back guarantee. Essentially, this means you can sign up, try them out as much as you like, then cancel for a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. Additionally, HMA offers a seven-day free trial though you will have to enter payment information to take advantage of this. We recommend setting a reminder too, since it’ll automatically sign you up for the one-year plan if you forget to cancel within the week.

Best Deal for ExpressVPN:Get over a year of protection for $6.67 per month.

Best Deal for Hide My Ass:Save more than 70 percent with HMA’s 3-year plan.

ExpressVPN vs HMA features

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Simultaneous connections55 or 10, depending on plan
Operating system appsWindows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Firestick, routersWindows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS
Manual install devicesSome Linux systemsRouters
Split tunnelingWindows, MacOS, Android, routersAndroid only
Free extrasSmart DNS service, extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and VivaldiAutomatic wi-fi protection and a browser extension for Chrome

ExpressVPN and HMA both have a five-connection limit (unless you’re on one of HMA’s more expensive plans). This should be enough for most people, and with apps for all major platforms, you can use either service on just about any device. That said, ExpressVPN offers an Amazon Firestick app and its own custom router firmware, which is a huge advantage since it lets you more easily secure every system on your home network.

These services allow you to let certain apps pass through the VPN unencrypted. This feature is called split tunneling, and it’s helpful for things like torrenting anonymously while ensuring your less-sensitive apps send data as quickly as possible. ExpressVPN provides split tunneling functionality in all versions except iOS (including its router app), while HMA only offers it on Android.

HMA has its Chrome extension that can protect your browser without rerouting data from other apps. Further, its main apps can be configured to connect automatically whenever you use a public wi-fi network. ExpressVPN offers extensions for a wider range of browsers, but these are essentially just another way to control the main app. ExpressVPN also has a Smart DNS service called MediaStreamer that lets you access US streaming services on devices that don’t normally support VPN apps. You could use this feature to watch Hulu on games consoles or Smart TVs while traveling abroad, for instance.

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Streaming service
Netflix10+ libraries including Netflix US, UK, Japan, and CanadaSeveral libraries including Netflix US, UK, and Germany
HuluYesYes
HBO MaxYesYes
Amazon Prime VideoYes (11 regional libraries)No
BBC iPlayerYesYes
ABCYesNo
CBSNoYes
NBCYesYes
ITVYesYes
Channel 4YesYes

Most streaming services aren’t available worldwide. Those that are often change the available content from one country to another in order to comply with international licensing agreements. VPNs can help you regain access to your usual content, provided they go undetected by the streaming service you’re trying to use.

ExpressVPN performed extremely well here, working with platforms like  HBO Max, ABC, and BBC iPlayer. Notably, it was even able to access several Netflix and Prime Video catalogs; no small feat given many VPNs struggle to access any. Hide My Ass has improved its streaming capabilities recently but still had issues with ABC and Prime Video. To its credit, it worked with notoriously stubborn platforms like BBC iPlayer.

Which of these VPNs work in China?

China’s Great Firewall is a collection of web-filtering and surveillance tools used to restrict access to certain types of content and monitor what citizens do online. Everything from Wikipedia to Google is blocked in China, as are most VPN websites. However, despite the government’s best efforts, there are still a handful of VPNs that work on the mainland.

Unfortunately, HMA is not one of these. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, works perfectly with no additional setup or configuration required. While the main website is inaccessible, there is a mirror site that works in China (just ask staff for the address before your visit).

Setup and interface

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Automatic setup wizardWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, routersWindows, Android, MacOS, Linux, iOS
Main location selectionList-basedList-based
Extra settings pagesYesYes
Mobile-friendlyYesYes

ExpressVPN boasts clean, well-designed apps that are almost identical no matter which version you’re using. The server list is searchable and neatly separated by continent, plus you can favorite specific locations for quicker access. There aren’t a ton of settings to play with but those that are included all come with a short description explaining what they do. This is a small inclusion but one that’s extremely helpful for anyone new to VPNs.

ExpressVPN app

HMAs apps let you connect in a single click. It has specific servers for tasks like streaming and torrenting, and again, these can be favorited. The apps are pretty easy to use, although many of the settings are listed in two places: the advanced tab and the settings menu, which makes things seem a little cluttered. On the plus side, every option says exactly what it does.

Hide My Ass app

Servers and performance

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Server countries94215
Total number of serversApproximately 3,0001,100

These services have both taken very different approaches to network design. ExpressVPN has around three times as many servers overall, and covers a very respectable 94 countries. Meanwhile HMA has a smaller network but lets you get an IP address from almost anywhere in the world.

There is a caveat to this, though. Many of HMA’s servers are virtual, meaning they’re not actually where they say they are. Virtual servers are usually used to provide access to locations where it’d be impractical, expensive, or dangerous to maintain a physical presence, though HMA relies on them for most of its network. There’s no real difference for the user, but virtual servers can make it more difficult to tell which country’s privacy laws apply.

How do these VPNs perform? To find out, we ran multiple speed tests for each, on different servers, at different times of day. ExpressVPN delivered an average download speed of 135 Mbps, while HMA averaged 40 Mbps. In other words, neither should struggle with everyday tasks like streaming, gaming, or torrenting, though ExpressVPN may be the better choice for users with slow internet, since it has a significantly smaller impact on speed.

Here are all the locations ExpressVPN and Hide My Ass support:

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Afghanistan
Aland Islands
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Armenia
Angola
Anguilla
Andorra
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bermuda
Bhutan
Bolivia
Botswana
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei Darussalam
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Central African Republic
Chad
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Islands
Cook Islands
Colombia
Comoros
Congo
Côte d'Ivoire
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Eswatini
Ethiopia
Equatorial Guinea
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Fiji
Finland
France
Gabon
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Ireland
Isle of Man
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Jersey
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macau
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
Niue
Norfolk Island
North Korea
North Macedonia
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Palau
Palestine
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Islands
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Republic of Djibouti
Republic of the Congo
Romania
Rwanda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Helena
Saint Lucia
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Sweden
Syria
Switzerland
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Turks and Caicos Islands
Tuvalu
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vatican
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yemen
Zambia
Zimbabwe

At first glance, the table above makes it seem like HMA is the obviously better choice. However, we question the usefulness of many of its locations. Most of ExpressVPN’s servers are physically present in their respective countries, meaning nearby users can connect to them for higher speeds than if they’d chosen a distant server.

HMA’s servers are predominantly virtual, though, meaning they’re better suited to bypassing region locking. Here’s the thing: how many geo-restricted services are there in Svalbard, Nauru, or Christmas Island? Moreover, why would anyone ever need a North Korean IP address? While having more server choice is always a good thing, having 200+ locations to choose from seems more like a marketing gimmick than anything actually useful.

Security

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
VPN protocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, LightwayOpenVPN
OpenVPN data encryptionAES-256AES-256
OpenVPN control channel encryptionRSA-4096RSA-4096
Cloaking technologyUndisclosedNone
App securityThreat manager, local traffic blocker, parallel connections feature, kill switchKill switch, automatic wi-fi protection, IP address rotator
DNS statusPrivate DNSPrivate DNS

HMA and ExpressVPN have quite a bit in common. For instance, they each use private DNS servers to prevent your traffic from passing through a third party. Further, both VPNs have 256-bit AES encryption with 4096-bit RSA keys—explaining this can get complicated quickly but suffice it to say this level of security is effectively impossible for anyone to crack. Each service has a kill switch too; this ensures you can’t accidentally browse unprotected when your connection to the VPN drops suddenly.

HMA also has an IP rotator feature. This changes your IP address periodically, making you significantly harder to track from one site to another. ExpressVPN, however, includes a threat manager that stops your apps from sending data to known trackers and a tool that lets you block other devices on the network from communicating with your device. Unlike its rival which only supports OpenVPN connections, ExpressVPN also supports IKEv2 and L2TP, as well as Lightway, its own speedy open-source protocol.

Privacy

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
HQ baseBritish Virgin IslandsThe UK
Connection logsSome analytical data storedDay of connection, total data transferred (rounded down)
Activity logsNoneNone
User details for signupEmail addressEmail address
Anonymous payment optionsBitcoin, various prepaid cards
Various prepaid cards

It’s important to know where your VPN is based, since this decides which country’s laws the service must obey. For instance, if a provider was based in Russia, it’d have to provide the government access to its servers, which is obviously no use from a privacy standpoint.

ExpressVPN operates out of the British Virgin Islands, which don’t have mandatory data-retention laws. Accordingly, it keeps no personally-identifiable information and only logs analytical data like your total daily bandwidth usage and chosen server.

HMA is based in the UK, a country that’s a member of the Five Eyes security alliance (meaning it can share your data with several other countries) and increasingly hostile to online privacy. However, it has revamped its privacy policy and no longer keeps any activity logs. The only data stored is for analytics purposes and can’t be linked to you personally. Even this is deleted after 35 days so there’s no need to worry about your privacy.

Both services accept prepaid cards in case you’d like to sign up without entering your bank details. ExpressVPN also accepts Bitcoin for an even more anonymous registration.

Configuration

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Address allocationSharedShared
Dedicated IP address possibleNoNo

These VPNs (like most) use shared allocation systems. In other words, everyone using the same server will share a single IP address. As you might expect, this makes it effectively impossible to tell which user visited a specific site, and every additional person who connects increases the complexity significantly. Now, neither ExpressVPN nor HMA logs your activities, so this system is essentially redundant, but it’s still nice to have as a failsafe.

You may have seen other VPNs offering dedicated IP addresses. These are addresses that only you can access, and they usually cost a little extra each month. Dedicated addresses are less likely to be blacklisted by websites since there’s much less traffic coming from them, and can be helpful if you use services (like online banking platforms) that often flag foreign login attempts.

It’s worth noting that they fail to provide any of the plausible deniability that a shared IP address does, making it easier to piece together your online activities. Neither of these VPNs offer dedicated addresses, but plenty of their rivals do, so this is worth thinking about if you decide to keep shopping after reading this comparison.

Customer service

 ExpressVPNHide My Ass
Live chatYesNo
Ticket supportYesYes
Email supportYesYes
Phone supportNoNo
Searchable knowledge baseYesYes
Video guidesYesYes

The easier it is to get help, the better. VPNs are pretty complex programs, after all, and there are often several possible causes for every problem. ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat, allowing users to get help in seconds, and a ticket system for more technical issues. There’s also a searchable knowledge base with video walkthroughs for tasks like changing proxy settings.

HMA could really use some work in this area. Its site indicates that it has around-the-clock live chat, but this seems to have been removed years ago, judging by the trail of confused users in the forum. Additionally, whenever questions are asked in the forum, support staff answer them in private messages, which is no help for anyone with the same issue.

In its defense, HMA does offer a robust ticket system and attempts to reply to users within 24 hours. It also has video guides on the HMA YouTube channel and a searchable knowledge base of its own (though this could do with an update).

The winner: ExpressVPN

Hide My Ass is a solid choice for everyday browsing. It offers decent speeds, a strong security of security features, and more locations than most other providers on the market. However, ExpressVPN is the better choice overall, and we’re about to explain why.

First off, ExpressVPN provides 24/7 customer support. This is extremely helpful, since it means you can resolve most issues in minutes instead of having to wait a day. Additionally, this VPN works in places like China and the UAE, so you can continue browsing safely no matter where you go. It even has its own router app, so securing an entire network is fairly straightforward. Simply put, ExpressVPN is extremely fast, privacy-conscious, and versatile, and we’d say that’s worth paying a little extra for.