Hide.me is one of our top-rated VPNs for a reason, but does its free counterpart measure up in terms of both privacy and performance?
We thoroughly tested the free version of Hide.me’s VPN service so we could find out:
- Is Hide.me Free VPN secure?
- Will it work with Netflix?
- Does Hide.me offer fast speeds?
- Is Hide.me Free easy to use?
- Will it work in China?
In this detailed review of Hide.me’s free VPN, we’ll answer all of these questions, and many more.
Again, this review is exclusively for the free version of Hide.me. If you want to know all about Hide.me’s premium VPN, head over to our full Hide.me review.
Hide.me Free Pros & Cons
Hide.me Free Key Summary
|Top Download Speed||81Mbps|
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|IP, DNS or WebRTC Leaks||No|
|Jurisdiction||Malaysia (Privacy Haven)|
|IP Addresses||Not disclosed|
|Works in China||Unreliable|
|Support||24/7 Live Chat|
Want to find out more? Read on to find out what we really thought of Hide.me’s free VPN service, starting with its background and logging policy.
About & Logging Policy
Who is Hide.me Free?
Hide.me is an independent company, founded in 2012 “to provide internet security and freedom for every internet user” (in its own words).
Hide.me is currently based in Malaysia – an excellent choice for a VPN service. In Malaysia, there are no data retention laws that require VPNs to keep persistent logs of customer connections or network activities.
Hide.me states it will comply with court orders from a recognized legal authority, but it can’t be compelled to hand over free VPN user information that it doesn’t have.
Hide.me is also one of very few VPN services to publish an annual transparency report detailing any data requests it receives from various organizations and authorities. It recently published its report for 2018, which you can read here.
Hide.me doesn’t collect any personally identifiable data from its free VPN users whatsoever, and only maintains non-persistent logs of connection data, including:
- Randomly generated VPN username
- Internally assigned IP address (assigned for duration of connection only)
- Total amount of monthly data traffic
This data is used for troubleshooting purposes and erased every few hours. Even better, it can’t be linked back to individual Hide.me Free users and can be deleted upon request.
Speed & Reliability
Incredibly fast downloads of 80Mbps
According to Hide.me, the free VPN doesn’t put any speeds caps on users’ traffic, which should mean that they experience speeds similar to premium users.
This was evident in our tests, as we found Hide.me to be the fastest free VPN we’ve seen so far, with a very minimal drop in speeds while connected.
It is worth noting, however, that we burnt through most of our data running a few speed tests on the free version of Hide.me VPN, which should give you an idea of how little you’ll be able to do with the monthly data cap.
Speed results from our physical location in London (100Mbps fibre optic connection) to a Amsterdam test server.
Before using Hide.me Free:
When connected to Hide.me Free:
Download speed without Hide.me Free: 91Mbps
Download speed with Hide.me Free: 81Mbps
Our download speed loss when Hide.me Free is running: 11%
Even Hide.me’s upload speeds were very impressive for a free service, at over 70Mbps when we connected to a nearby country. Ping times over just over 10ms make it an ideal free VPN for gamers, too, if they’re prepared to deal with the data cap.
Only five locations to choose from
Hide.me’s free VPN service comes with just five server locations in four countries:
- The Netherlands
- The US – although users in the US can choose between East and West Coast local servers
While the free version of Hide.me goes some way to covering popular countries in three different continents, it just won’t be enough choice for some, especially if you don’t live close to the available VPN servers.
Offering such a small number of server locations is fairly standard for a free VPN service. Hide.me’s premium plan offers 57 server locations.
If you need more servers then your best option (without paying) is TunnelBear Free.
Streaming & Torrenting
Not recommended for streaming or torrenting
We absolutely can’t recommend Hide.me’s free VPN service for streaming from any popular sites.
Netflix was working through Hide.me’s West Coast US server a few months ago, but this has now been blocked for some time. When we looked on Hide.me’s knowledge base to try and find out why, we discovered that Netflix is only currently available to paid users.
Watching BBC iPlayer is impossible as there are no free Hide.me VPN server locations in the UK. Take a look at our best VPNs for BBC iPlayer if accessing this service is a dealbreaker for you.
Streaming will burn through Hide.me’s free monthly data allowance after just a couple of hours, anyway. If you’re mainly planning on using a VPN for streaming, check out our top VPN streaming recommendations here.
Torrenting is permitted on three of Hide.me’s free VPN server locations, but the data cap will be a massive setback once more. It is our number two free VPN for torrenting, though, thanks to its no-logs policy and kill switch feature, beaten only by rival provider Windscribe.
Not the most reliable option for China
The free version of Hide.me VPN offers a couple of solutions for visiting websites anonymously in China, including the SoftEther connection protocol, which uses HTTPS to hide your VPN connection and allow you to bypass the Great Firewall.
SoftEther isn’t available on Hide.me’s Android or iOS apps, though, so it’s only really a reliable solution for desktop users.
Hide.me’s free users are encouraged to contact tech support before attempting to use the VPN in China, as not all servers will work. The Chinese government has also now blocked Hide.me’s website, so you need to download the VPN before traveling.
Thanks to its SoftEther protocol, Hide.me Free should also work well for users in other high-censorship countries such as Turkey and Iran. Its small server network means that speeds will definitely suffer when connecting out from these locations, though.
Platforms & Devices
Available on all major platforms plus routers
Hide.me has free native VPN apps for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. It also provides manual VPN setup guides for other platforms such as Linux.
The biggest drawback for those on Hide.me’s free plan is that they can’t use the VPN on multiple devices at the same time.
Also, you can set up Hide.me at router level but the 2GB data limit will be a major frustration as you’ll quickly run out of data.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
Hide.me also offers free browser extensions for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. They include protection against WebRTC leaks, two extra Hide.me server locations (US and Germany), and don’t come with a data cap.
These are SOCKS proxies rather than full VPN extensions, meaning that while they spoof your IP address they don’t encrypt your traffic unless used alongside Hide.me’s desktop app.
Encryption & Security
Just as private and secure as the premium app
DNS Leak Blocking
IPV6 Leak Blocking
Supports TCP Port 443
VPN Kill Switch
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
Hide.me Free will keep you incredibly safe online. All apps are encrypted with top cipher AES-256, ensuring nobody will be able to see what you’re doing while connected to the VPN.
You can choose between a range of different VPN connection protocols when you connect to any of Hide.me’s free VPN servers, including:
- OpenVPN (our preferred protocol)
- SoftEtherVPN (good for China)
There’s also an ‘Automatic’ protocol setting, but we’d advise manually selecting OpenVPN if possible.
The free apps also offer a VPN kill switch and protection against DNS and IP leaks, which our tests confirmed to be working. Hide.me also operates its own DNS servers to ensure your personal information is protected while connected to the VPN.
We were pleasantly surprised to see split tunneling included in Hide.me’s free Windows, MacOS, and Android apps, a feature that allows you to route certain traffic outside of the VPN tunnel. Hide.me’s port randomization offers an extra layer of security, or you can manually select a port if you prefer.
Ease of Use
Simple apps with hassle-free setup
How to Install & Set Up Hide.me Free
Hide.me’s free apps are simple enough for VPN beginners, and the advanced security settings should appeal to more experienced users too. Unlike most free VPN services, Hide.me doesn’t display any ads at all, which is very refreshing to see.
Hide.me’s main screen keeps it simple, and you can find the VPN server locations behind the ‘Change’ button in the bottom right. Hide.me helpfully displays the free locations at the top of the list. You can find the settings menu by tapping on the cog symbol in the top right.
Good online support with 24/7 live chat
|24/7 Live chat support||Yes|
Hide.me’s live chat is available 24/7, and is great for answering any basic questions you may have, but not so effective for more technical VPN queries. For those, you have to email Hide.me’s technical support team, but responses weren’t as quick as we would’ve liked.
Despite this, the support section of Hide.me’s website is well organized and includes a helpful FAQs page and simple VPN setup guides accompanied by screenshots.
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