Not every VPN service allows torrenting on its servers. Therefore, the Internet is crowded with users who are wondering what providers are able to help with their p2p file sharing needs. HideMyAss advertises itself as a service that permits torrents and this fact probably allowed it to gain many subscribers. But is the service really good for file sharing or it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? It’s time to take a closer look at this provider and answer the question whether you can really use HideMyAss for torrenting.
Is HideMyAss Safe for Torrenting?
Unfortunately for HideMyAss’s clients, the provider doesn’t have a favorable jurisdiction. While VPN services that strive for privacy are registered in off-shore territories or countries without compulsory data retention laws, HideMyAss runs its business in the United Kingdom. The UK is a well-known member of 5 Eyes Intelligent Alliance meaning that the government monitors what its citizens and visitors do, including their online activity. Therefore, HideMyAss is obligated to keep and store data regarding their users’ online trips and hand it over to the law enforcement agencies on their demand.
What does it mean for you as a VPN client? The service collects connection logs and retains them for 30 days (however, the way they destroy data allows keeping your logs for up to 3 months). It means that in cases if HideMyAss is forced to provide information about its subscribers it can tell your connection time, the amount of data you consumed, your real IP address, and IP addresses of servers you hooked up to. It is really not that much data but it still can pose a threat to your privacy.
What is even worse, ‘in very limited circumstances’ logs can be stored on the provider’s services for more than 3 months. If you look at HideMyAss’s logging policy you will see that file sharing is one of such circumstances. As you understand, torrenting is file sharing, so be ready that the service will have some records on your activity.
HideMyAss Software and Features
HideMyAss can boast some of the most friendly and straightforward software interfaces in the industry which is definitely a big plus for VPN novices. On their apps, you are able to choose from three modes – Instant, Location, and Freedom. The Location mode suits your torrenting needs best – you can select specific servers in particular countries, including those that support p2p file sharing. With the other two modes, the app will connect you automatically to the fastest server based on your current location.
Unfortunately, starting with HideMyAss’ apps version 3 for Mac and Windows, the built-in speed test is not longer available. On the bright site, you can still download and install version 2 which is more features-packed and is a good choice for tech-savvy users.
Free Web Proxy
HideMyAss’ web proxy had been on vacation for awhile but now it finally made a comeback. And it is absolutely free! This technology allows substituting your real IP address with the one of a proxy server while not encrypting your data. If you are confident that sites you visit are safe, proxy enables you to download at higher speeds than a VPN. Moreover, you can use both proxy and a VPN tunnel for extra security since they will do a double work to change your IP address. Thus, you are twice harder to track.
HideMyAss web proxy has four locations to select from (UK, US, Germany, and the Netherlands) and now it offers some extra features such as encrypt URL, disable cookies, and remove script.
Kill switch is an essential tool to provide security while you download from torrent sites. It disconnects you from the network and stops any traffic if a VPN server is down. Thus, your identity will not be compromised.
HideMyAss was one of the first services to introduce this security mechanism. Their own version of this technology is called Secure IP-Bind and it is actually more safeguard than a regular kill switch. This tool enables you to identify a specific IP with which you have access to the Internet. When your IP address changes, Secure IP-Bind will cut the connection off. With a kill switch you can safely use HideMyAss for torrenting and not be scared that your true IP might become known.
Locations and Servers Optimized for Torrenting
HideMyAss tries to safe face proclaiming that they ‘do not support the use of Torrent to share copyright material illegally’. However, if you do want to download something from torrents the service kindly provides its servers in Frankfurt, London, New York, Amsterdam, and Prague, all optimized for this purpose. If you hook up to one of these locations you will get excellent speeds, great performance, and consistent connection – everything you want for a smooth process. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use other facilities since the service deliberately blocks ports for P2P.
Personally, I don’t recommend using New York servers since it is one of the least torrent-friendly places. On the contrary, the Netherlands has one of the most lenient copyright laws so whenever it is possible, try to use a server in Amsterdam.
Aside from torrenting, you can utilize HideMyAss server network for other purposes. The provider has 950+ servers in 190 countries and this is superior to almost any service around. This means that you can obtain IP address of virtually any country to get access to blocked content or simply to mask your real IP.
If you think it is just hot air you should know about some cases where users’ accounts were actually canceled for downloading torrents. Since HideMyAss knows when you connect to its servers, how much bandwidth you used, and your real and newly-assigned IP addresses, it can compare this information with data regarding an offensive action and figure if it was really you who downloaded infringing files.
Torrent Features HideMyAss is Missing
While technically you can use HideMyAss for torrent, the service definitely lacks some features to be really torrent-friendly. For example, the provider has no measures to prevent users from IPV6 leaks. It means that while you are torrenting, your real IP address may occasionally be exposed. For a sensitive activity that torrent downloading is such leakages can pose a real thread to your anonymity.
Another useful feature HideMyAss is missing is split tunneling. Thanks to this technology you are able to run some of your programs or apps with a VPN while for other activities you can use a regular internet connection. For example, you can combine your torrent client with a VPN tunnel and at the same time, you are able to surf the net being connected as usually.
HideMyAss for Torrenting Final Thoughts
Strictly saying, you can employ Hide My Ass for torrent but the provider didn’t really cater its service to the enthusiasts of file sharing. They restrict torrenting only to specific server locations and not all of them are in torrent-friendly countries. Moreover, HideMyAss records user’s data and this is probably the worst thing a VPN provider can do. When it comes to hiding your ass from the law enforcement agencies, the service does little to actually hide it. So my verdict is that you can torrent with HideMyAss but it doesn’t mean you should.