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Hide.me review: A dependable VPN that’s loaded with advanced features

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
4.61
per month

This Malaysia-based VPN isn’t the perfect all-rounder, but its distinctive strengths make it well worth a look

Pros 
Generous free tier
Excellent feature set
Reassuring security profile
Cons 
Shorter plans are expensive
Slower than other VPNs
Didn’t unblock all streaming services
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Hide.me is a VPN service, which can protect your privacy and disguise your location by routing your internet connection through a secure remote server. Its strong encryption means that even your ISP can’t monitor what you’re doing online, and by choosing a server in a different country you can gain access to websites and streaming services that aren’t normally accessible in your location.

One thing that’s immediately unusual about Hide.me is that you don’t need to pay to use it: you can sign up for a free account and enjoy secure browsing forever. However, free users get only five locations to choose from – Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and east- and west-coast locations in the USA – and are limited to 10GB of data transfer per month. That’s plenty for posting messages anonymously or checking websites that are blocked in your location, but if you want to use the VPN for peer-to-peer downloading it’ll get eaten up pretty quickly, and video streaming isn’t permitted at all.

A Hide.me paid subscription lifts all of those restrictions. You can choose from the full set of 1,900 servers in 47 different countries, use as much data as you like, and connect up to ten different devices at once. Hide.me offers apps for Windows, macOS and Linux, with mobile support for Android and iOS, plus Amazon Fire TV devices and Chrome and Firefox browsers. If you have a suitable router, you can also configure it to use the VPN connection for all your network traffic – and for those who don’t, the Hide.me website includes a few recommended models with setup guides.

The service itself isn’t particularly cheap either. A monthly subscription costs £12.99, and even if you sign up for a full year, the up-front cost is £99.99, equivalent to £8.33 a month. The best deal is a two-year subscription at £119.99 – just 20% more than the annual price – which comes with two free months, so the effective price works out to a reasonable £4.61 per month. As a bonus, the package includes 2TB of cloud storage, which could be handy for backups.

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Hide.me review: What’s it like to use?


We tried out the Hide.me app for Windows, and to be honest we found it a bit confusing at first. The window opens with a big button in the middle labelled “Enable VPN”; this connects you to the last location you used, which is shown in the bottom-right corner of the window. At the bottom-left, you can see your current location and IP address as it appears to external sites, while buttons at the top corners give access to notifications and advanced settings.

It’s a lot to take in, but after a little clicking around you’ll get the hang of it. Clicking the Change button switches you to the Location Selection view; by default this displays a long list of countries, some of which can be expanded to select individual towns. A ping time is shown for each server, so you can immediately see which location is likely to be most responsive.

There’s also a list of servers that are optimised for particular video streaming services in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey the UK and the US – and if you click on the Multihop tab you can define your own Double-VPN route, from a choice of 68 entry points around the world and 104 exit points. This will be overkill for most people, but if you want to do the absolute utmost to cover your tracks, this degree of flexibility sets Hide.me apart from other VPN providers. Another unusual touch is that, while there’s no true static IP option, you can connect to specific servers by their hostname, and thereby keep your external address consistent across sessions.

Once you’re connected, the Details button in the main interface takes you to a web page that pinpoints your virtual location on a map, and shows all the other information external servers can see about you. It’s interesting to see that this includes an IPv6 address – unlike many VPNs, Hide.me fully supports both new and legacy IP standards. The page includes links to free DNS and WebRTC leak tests too, so you can confirm the security of your own connection.

In the top-right of the main app interface, you’ll see the final two icons. The little beaker takes you to the Labs settings, where you can try out features that are still in beta, while clicking on the cog icon opens the full Settings page – which includes the Labs page, making the first icon rather redundant.


There are plenty of controls to explore. You can configure custom DNS settings, and tell the software whether or not to automatically enable the VPN for multiple types of known and unknown network. A Split-tunnelling option lets you specify which apps should always or never use the secure connection, and there’s a choice of five protocols to choose from, so you can experiment and find the one that gives you the speed and security you want.

The Android client is similar-looking but, in our view, more logically laid out. Here, the Location and Settings buttons are along the bottom of the screen, with the Notifications feed moved onto the Settings page. You get the same extensive auto-connect options – with an option for mobile data connections too – plus Kill-switch and Split-tunnelling options. The mix-and-match Multi-hop feature is available too, though it’s here flagged as beta.

In short, whether you’re using it on desktop or mobile, Hide.me is one of the most configurable VPNs around – and if you need help, there’s 24/7 live chat support, as well as the option to open a request for assistance via a form on the website.

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Hide.me review: How fast is it?

For short-range privacy protection, Hide.me is very fast indeed. Using a Windows 10 laptop and a 200Mbits/sec domestic Virgin fibre line, we connected to a local server in London and used the Google speed test service to measure download speeds. This resulted in an excellent speed of 190.5Mbits/sec, indicating that you can use Hide.me to conceal your identity within the UK with almost no slowdown at all.

Performance isn’t quite so impressive when you want to use servers in other countries. Hide.me’s New York server gave us 77.2Mbits/sec, while servers in Brazil and Sydney delivered 84.1 and 44.3Mbits/sec respectively. These speeds are nowhere near what our ISP connection is capable of, but absolutely fast enough for most things you’re likely to want to do – including video streaming, as we’ll discuss below.


Things fell further when we switched to an Android tablet. With the VPN disabled, we got a download speed of 61.9Mbits/sec, but connecting through a UK server gave us only 20.1Mbits/sec, and choosing a server in the US saw that fall further, to 15.9Mbits/sec.

The good news is that, as we mentioned earlier, the Hide.me software supports split-tunnelling on both desktop and mobile. This means only the apps that need to go via the VPN will be slowed down; everything else can continue to use the full bandwidth of your ISP connection.

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Hide.me review: Is it good for video streaming?

It’s generally reckoned that a 25Mbits/sec connection is fast enough to stream 4K video in HDR, and the connection speeds we saw using Hide.me on Windows were comfortably in excess of that. Our mobile connection was slower, but it should have no problem streaming in HD, and that’s fine for a smaller screen. We found the range of video services on offer was a mixed bag, however.

Connecting a Windows laptop to a US-based Hide.me server enabled us to access the American libraries of Netflix and Disney+ in a web browser, and the optimised streaming servers also promise access to US-only services like ESPN, HBO Go and Hulu. However, we weren’t able to use a UK server to watch home-grown content: BBC iPlayer, BritBox and Now TV all detected the VPN and refused to play – a blow to holidaymakers and expatriates.


We then tried switching to the native streaming apps running our Android tablet. Here iPlayer did work through the VPN, but when we connected to a US server, Netflix continued to offer us the UK library, while Disney+ wouldn’t load at all.

We’ve no doubt that the VPN developers are working to get around these problems, but right now Hide.me wouldn’t be our first choice for unblocking streaming services. We’ve found rivals like ExpressVPN or NordVPN offer faster connections and are more compatible across more streaming services on both PC and mobile devices.

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Hide.me review: Is it secure?

Hide.me’s company headquarters is in Malaysia, far away from the British authorities and well outside the “Five Eyes” and other data-sharing alliances. That means that you can be pretty confident that no one in Europe or the US will be able to get their hands on the company’s records.

Even if they do, the company promises that it doesn’t monitor your activity and doesn’t keep records of the sites you’ve been accessing. Hide.me has even been audited and certified by an independent security expert to confirm that no user data is stored – although that was back in 2015, so it’s not quite as impressive a NordVPN, which was audited by PwC in 2018, and then again in 2020.

As we’ve mentioned, the Hide.me software itself also has plenty of features to safeguard your privacy. The Multi-hop feature applies a double layer of obfuscation to your location, while the Auto-connection options and Kill-switch help ensure that you’ll never accidentally send sensitive information over an unencrypted link.

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Hide.me review: Should you buy it?

Hide.me’s subscription packages are comparatively expensive, especially if you don’t want to sign up for more than a year. We weren’t able to unblock all video streaming services with it, and we found it wasn’t particularly fast for location spoofing either, although it proved extremely quick for UK-to-UK connections.

Still, Hide.me does have several key benefits. For occasional use, the free 10GB tier is an outstanding offer. And when it comes to advanced features, Hide.me is one of the most comprehensive and configurable VPNs we’ve seen. We love the way you can tweak its behaviour to achieve your perfect balance of security and speed, and the fixed IP and IPv6 options mean it’s more likely than most to cope with tricky servers.

So while Hide.me isn’t ideal for beginners or video junkies, it definitely has a place of its own in the VPN pantheon. For technical users, it may well be worth the money for a VPN service that puts you firmly in the driving seat.

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