Keeping your files safe and encrypted on your computer is one thing, but what about when you browse the Internet? When you surf the Web, your data is frequently available for snooping by advertisers, hackers, and spies. But virtual private networks, or VPNs can prevent all that. When you connect to one of HideIPVPN’s servers, for example, your traffic is encrypted, and your IP address obscured. This service can certainly keep you safe, and is among the best VPN services, but its limited list of servers holds it back.
What Is a VPN?
When a VPN is active, the service creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the destination website, and all data flows through that tunnel. If you’re using the public Wi-Fi network at, say, a coffee shop, you can log into your email or even your bank’s website without worrying about someone (or some three-letter agency) eavesdropping or intercepting your data. It’s important to remember that the data is only protected while in transit. If the destination website is not using HTTPS, that part of the connection is unencrypted. Anyone at that point of exit can see and harvest that information.
Not only is your Web traffic protected with a VPN, but it can also obscure your IP address, making it much more difficult for advertising trackers to get a fix on your location and identity. VPNs can also be used to protect the identity of journalists and activists living and working under oppressive regimes, and they can allow the open Internet to be accessed from within countries with tight restrictions. On the lighter and (questionably legal) side, VPNs can be used to spoof your location so as to view region-locked streaming content, such as Netflix, though those services are fighting back.
Many VPN services include other features and a range of geographically diverse servers from which to choose. Our Editors’ Choice winners Private Internet Access$2.91 at Private Internet Access and NordVPN$2.99 at NordVPN – Limited Deal excel in all of these areas, all at reasonable prices.
Pricing and Features
In addition to VPN services, HideIPVPN also offers Smart DNS. This lets you use HideIPVPN’s DNS to resolve URLs without relying on your ISP’s DNS. It’s a technical distinction, but a determined snoop can use DNS look-ups to monitor your Web traffic. If you’re interested in a stand-alone Smart DNS plan, you can try it free for seven days or $4.95 a year. Billing cycles are available in one-, three-, and 12-month packages.
Smart DNS installation is available for a wide range of devices, including standard desktop and mobile operating systems as well devices like the XBox One, PlayStation 4Best Price at Amazon, Roku, and Apple TV$149.99 at Apple Store, among others. You’ll have to perform the installation yourself, however. TorGuard, which offers many of the same features as HideIPVPN, goes further by providing routers and streaming boxes with its software preinstalled.
First-time VPN users will probably be confused by all this, and they won’t get much more help from HideIPVPN’s VPN subscription page. The company offers three country-specific plans called US VPN, UK VPN, and Poland VPN. Each offers Smart DNS and proxy services for $5.99 a month, as well as pricing for three-month and annual contracts. If you like paying in advance, a year of country-specific HideIPVPN will cost you $71.88. Unless you really need to use a U.K. or Polish IP address, we don’t recommend using these plans.
Our recommended choice for HideIPVPN is the VPN and Smart DNS package, which costs $9.99 a month, or $119.88 a year. This does what the name implies, but it also gives you access to servers located in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S., and Poland. It’s easily HideIPVPN’s best offering in terms of geographics choices for servers, but it’s not the broadest assortment of choices among services we’ve reviewed. Unlike NordVPN and many other significantly cheaper competitors, HideIPVPN does not offer any servers in Australia or the entire continent of Asia. Furthermore, HideIPVPN only offers three licenses for all your devices—five licenses is the norm among competitors. F-Secure Freedome$49.99 at F-Secure offers three licenses for $39.99 per year, and seven for $79.99—a better deal than HideIPVPN.
Alternatively, you can purchase a plan aimed at BitTorrent and P2P downloading. For some users, perhaps those interested in pirating popular films, this might be a good choice. Note that HideIPVPN does expressly forbid the use of its services to download copyrighted materials, but several VPN services go further and forbid the use of BitTorrent altogether. Note that this plan, unlike all the other offerings from HideIPVPN, does not include Smart DNS.
Can’t make up your mind? HideIPVPN offers a 24-hour fully functional free trial of its service. However, claiming that trial requires clicking a single link at the bottom of the screen, and then you receive an email with your assigned username and password in clear text. While this will unlock the client software, it doesn’t give you access to the customer portion of the website. We’d like to see HideIPVPN streamline its free trial setup, though we definitely appreciate that it has one.
HideIPVPN has native apps for OS X, iOS, Windows, and Android. If you want to simply use HideIPVPN’s service without its handy front end, you can download configuration files for Linux, Chromebook, Windows Phone 8.1, and routers that support DD-WRT. This last one is of particular note, because once your router is hooked into a VPN service it provides protection to all connected devices.
The service also offers a few other handy security features. It does not log your activity by default, meaning there is no trace of what you do. You can disable this feature if you need logs for troubleshooting purposes, however. It also supports SSTP, OpenVPN, SoftEther, PPTP, and L2TP/IPSec VPN protocols. If you opt to download the native app, HideIPVPN will also shut down applications you specify with its Kill Switch feature any time your VPN connection is disrupted.
Hands-On with HideIPVPN
In our testing, we used a Dell Latitude E7250 laptop running Windows 7. We had no trouble installing the HideIPVPN application, although we were surprised that we had to provide additional authorization for the installer to add a Tap-Windows Provide V9 Network adapter. One click is all that was needed, but we haven’t encountered this issue with any other VPNs.
The app itself takes a skeuomorphic approach to design, with toggles instead of buttons or check-boxes. It’s handsome, if a bit dated. Hotspot Shield Elite$2.99 at AnchorFree – 2 Yr Plan and Spotflux Premium have much cleaner, more modern designs. However, we like that HideIPVPN manages to contain itself to a single, tabbed window, unlike VyprVPN$5.00 at Golden Frog.
Flags with country abbreviations let you select a server location, and a pull-down menu even lets you specify which server. But these servers lack descriptive names, making the selection all but useless. Moreover, the app provides no information about the server’s function or performance. NordVPN lists server status, estimated latency, and even specific servers for double-encryption or high-speed video streaming. TorGuard$9.99 at TorGuard clearly marks its BitTorrent-friendly servers, which we’re sorry to see that HideIPVPN does not do.
Speed and Performance
No matter which VPN service you use, your Internet performance will take a hit. There’s no way around it. To measure what kind of impact each service has, we use the online speed tests at Speedof.me and Speedtest.net, the latter of which is owned by Ookla, which in turn in owned by our publisher, Ziff Davis.
In our tests, we average the results from both services and compare it to baseline network performance. Because the quality of service can change at the drop of a hat, we take our baseline measurements immediately after testing with the VPN.
Normally, we use virtual locations in Australia when testing VPN services, but HideIPVPN does not have servers in Australia. Instead, we chose the servers most distant from our New York headquarters: Poland. As with all of our testing, we used Ookla’s test servers in Fairbanks, Alaska, for both our VPN and baseline test. Speedof.me does not let us select a test server; it instead automatically selects the closest available servers.
In the Ookla tests of HideIPVPN, our connection latency increased by 133.8 percent. Download and upload rates were reduced by 7.4 percent and 36 percent respectively. These were the best results we’ve recorded, though the download rate was edged out slightly by NordVPN and F-Secure Freedome.
Speedof.me recorded a 731-percent increase in latency, a 15.6-percent decrease in download rate, and a 9-percent decrease in upload rate when HideIPVPN was engaged. On the Speedof.me side of our results, this wasn’t a very impressive showing. However, its latency is nearly half that of F-Secure Freedome and Spotflux Premium.
These numbers might look intimidating, but it’s important to remember that latency is measured in milliseconds. Though sites typically load slower when VPN is turned on, it’s not as if you have to endure dial-up-style speeds again. In fact, I found HideIPVPN to be quite peppy, and even media-heavy sites loaded quickly. Streaming video was another matter. Netflix looked quite rough, and streaming 4K video barely managed to load. We were happily surprised, however, to see that YouTube defaulted to HD video, and that it looked clear and crisp.
Hide and Seek
In the last few years, security has become a household topic, and regular people are more interested in managing their personal online security than ever before. We’re not surprised to see many VPN companies improving their products, adding more features and easy-to-use GUIs in response.
We appreciate that HideIPVPN supports so many platforms and protocols, and that it includes the handy Kill Switch feature to ensure your data stays secure. We also like that the service does not keep logs, and that it allows P2P and BitTorrent (albeit over just one server), features more advanced users will appreciate. It demonstrated quite peppy Internet throughput, too, which is something that all users will like.
However, HideIPVPN could stand to have a facelift, and its somewhat inscrutable pricing structure could use an update, too. It’s also disappointing that the service has so few servers, and has none at all in Australia, Asia, Africa, or South America. HideIPVPN is a solid service that delivers good performance, but consider Editors’ Choices NordVPN or Private Internet Access if you’re looking for a better-rounded VPN service.