If you’ve been shopping around for a quality VPN service, you’ve likely already run across NordVPN and HideMyAss VPN. HMA VPN has a slightly ribald marketing strategy that seems to stick in your head, and despite a tamer marketing strategy, NordVPN is highly competitive with HMA. It’s tough knowing which service is the best, especially given that most people have different needs.
As I frequently say, there’s no such thing as a perfect VPN provider, so today we’re going to run through each one of these service’s features to find their strengths and weaknesses. Before we get started, however, I’d like to point out a bit of a shift in HMA VPN’s service. They were recently purchased by AVG, and went through a change in ownership. There haven’t been any drastic changes to the service yet.
I curious to see what the future holds for this service, though, since changes in ownership usually mean different management and a lot of changes. For those of you who aren’t aware, AVG is a massive security-centric company that produces as ton of great security tools, such as their free antivirus product. With that fact out of the way, let’s move on to pricing options.
NordVPN vs HideMyAss Pricing Comparison
I think that both providers are pretty reasonable when you start looking at long term savings options.
However, I wouldn’t recommend buying the subscriptions a month at a time. When you consider their monthly subscription options, both HMA and NordVPN are priced near the high end of the market. However, once you look at the monthly cost of the 6-month and 1-year plans, they are closer towards the middle of the market.
The following outlines HMA VPN’s pricing model:
The following outlines NordVPN’s pricing model:
I should also mention that NordVPN has a 30-day money back guarantee. The length of HMA VPN’s free trial is 30-days as well, so both providers give you a whole month to test out their service risk free. I should also clue you in to a free service offered by HMA. If you visit their website, they have a free HTTP proxy that will help you unblock websites.
The free HTTP proxy is incredibly useful if you only need to unblock one or a handful of sites while traveling, and don’t necessarily need to commit to a full VPN service. All you have to do is copy and paste the URL into their search bar and press the send button.
HMA VPN Features
I think the largest noteworthy feature of HMA VPN is the size of their expansive network of servers. Right now they have servers in 190+ countries around the world, which is more countries indexed by Reporters Without Borders Internet freedoms index. I think HMA VPN has servers in more countries than any other provider I’ve ever seen.
In addition, HMA VPN includes browser extensions and a software interface that comes with anti-DNS leak protection. However, my biggest disappointment with their service is the fact that you only get two simultaneous connections per account. The following outlines their main features:
- Web browser extensions
- Free HTTP proxy service
- 2 simultaneous connections per account
- Servers in 190 countries around the globe
- Anti-DNS leak protection and IP checking/verification tools
I think HMA VPN has a great set of features, but NordVPN has a few that I prefer a little more, as we’ll see in the next section.
NordVPN has some great features that help it compete with HMA VPN. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a network of servers anywhere near as large as HMA VPN. But you may not see any value in terminating VPN connections in a lot of countries outside of your geographic neighborhood. I do like NordVPN’s pricing, since you can get it for only $5.75 per month with an annual subscription.
Also, it’s great for Bittorrent downloaders since P2P traffic and Bittorrent downloads are permitted through the servers. I think my favorite feature, however, is the number of simultaneous connections they allow. It’s pretty common in the VPN industry for providers to only allow up to 2 or 3 simultaneous connections per account. Most free trials are only limited to 1 connection at a time.
But NordVPN allows up to 6 simultaneous connections, which will secure almost every single users devices – and I’d imagine most families as well. That way you don’t need to buy an extra account to secure multiple devices.
In fact, I think two of NordVPN’s strongest advantages are their low pricing with the annual subscription and the number of simultaneous connections. If you divide the monthly cost by each device, it only costs about $0.95 cents per device per month, which is extremely cheap and reasonable.
Also, understand the size of their network isn’t really anything extraordinary, but it isn’t terrible either. To date they operate servers in 57 countries around the world, making sure to keep servers in all the most popular geographic regions like the US, Canada, Europe, the UK, Asia, Hong Kong, and select South American locations.
I do wish they had more global locations, but for the price, it’s pretty good. As they claim on their website, the following are the features included in their service:
- Double data encryption
- Servers in 57 countries
- Fast speeds
- No logs
- Automatic VPN kill-switch
- DNS leak resolver
- Encrypted chat and web proxy extensions
- Accepts Bitcoin payments
- 24/7 customer support
- Permits P2P and Bittorrent traffic.
All in all, I think they have a great service with a decent set of features.
Speed Test Comparison
I did test each service by initiating a speed test using speedtest.net while the tunnel was up. In addition, I pinged Google’s DNS servers through the tunnel look for any variance in latency or dependability issues.
The following are the results of NordVPN’s speed test:
- Download: 4.58Mbps
- Upload: 0.82 Mbps
- Ping to speed test server: 88ms
- Ping to Google DNS server: 139ms
For comparison, the following are the results of HMA VPN’s speed test:
- Download 4.62 Mb
- Upload 0.32 Mb
- Ping to speed test server: 104ms
- Ping to Google DNS server: about 135ms
I’m not sure why I had lost so much upload bandwidth with HMA VPN. Other than that, however, they were more or less the same. HMA VPN had an insignificantly better download speed, but it’s latency to the speed test server was 16ms slower. Really, I didn’t see a clear winner during the speed tests here.
I suppose I’ll have to give the victory to NordVPN, but only by a hair. The only reason I think NordVPN tested better was because I retained more of my upload bandwidth when using their tunnel. But for all intensive purposes regarding normal web browsing, streaming video, and downloading files, I didn’t notice much overhead on my Internet connection.
Final Thoughts – Which is Best?
This was actually a pretty close race, and I think these two providers are extremely comparable. However, I have to give the victory to NordVPN. I do like HMA VPN a lot, especially now that AVG owns them, but NordVPN was just a little bit better in my opinion.
Here are the reasons I liked NordVPN slightly more than HMA VPN:
- NordVPN is cheaper (see here for pricing)
- NordVPN permits 6 simultaneous connections per account versus HMA VPN’s 2 connections
- NordVPN performed slightly better in the speed test
- NordVPN comes loaded with extra features like double data encryption
You can feel free to disagree. HMA VPN is hard to dislike, especially given that they have a free proxy service and a 30-day free trial (as opposed to a money back guarantee). All in all, these are two great services that are very affordable if you opt for the annual subscription.