PIA Vs. HMA

PIA Vs. HMA

Private Internet Access and HideMyAss are arguably the two biggest names in the VPN industry. At the time of this article, they are currently the #1 and #2 rated VPN services on my site. Despite the close ranking, PIA and HMA pursue very different business models. In fact some might argue that they are opposite ends of the spectrum.

Different Business Models

make it rain

PIA is the epitome of keep it simple stupid. They have servers in 13 different countries. This number sounds miniscule compared to the 172 countries for HMA, but who on god’s green earth really needs VPN servers in 172 countries? The average VPN user is going to commonly connect to servers in 2 or maybe 3 countries on a regular basis. By deploying servers in relatively few countries, PIA is able to keep their price low. They cost roughly ½ of HideMyAss on a monthly basis ($6.95 vs. $11.52). HMA’s strategy allows them to have servers close to almost everyone on the planet. This means they should be able to offer better speeds to far more people around the globe. This is a major benefit for those customers who are mostly interested in the security and privacy benefits of a VPN as opposed to accessing geo-graphically restricted content. I personally am a cheap bastard. I don’t want to help fund the overhead to have a server in every country across the globe.

Software

Software for both Private Internet Access and HideMyAss is good. PIA has desktop software for Windows and Mac users. Unbuntu users are left in the cold, but OpenVPN configuration instructions were given for using a terminal window in version 12.04. Oddly, they have an OpenVPN Android app, but only provide how to instructions for iOS L2TP and OpenVPN protocols.

private internet access mac software

private internet access mac software

HMA Pro software is available for Windows, Mac and even Linux. They also have apps for iOS 5+ and Android 4+. I like the HMA software better because there is more to it. This all goes back to the business model though. PIA tries to keep costs low and service quality high. HMA tries to conquer the world with a little style.

hma pro softare

While the simplicity of the Private Internet Access software will appeal to many, I personally prefer the more robust client offered by HideMyAss.

 

Customer Base

HideMyAss was the unquestioned leader in terms of subscribers for several years. Unfortunately, they have started going sideways for the last 1-2 years. While they still have and eye popping 250,000-300,000 subscribers, their base is smalling than the 400,000 Private Internet Access subsribers. Since HMA charges almost twice as much, they might actually clear more at the end of the day. A recent article cited their revenue at over eleven million pounds. Given that the average PIA user only pays an average of $4.25 a month between the various plans, HMA is a more lucrative company. Of course, this doesn’t take into account their substantially higher overhead costs.

Tools

HideMyAss is without a doubt a far more innovative company. They recently launched an entirely new service called HideMyPhone. Some of the advertised features have been available with Google Voice for ages, like protecting your real number for online dating. The main plus is the prospect of using international numbers to make cheaper calls from home. VOIP is a lucrative game so they stand a chance of making a killing if the service catches on. That’s a big if though. HMA also has an incredibly popular free proxy service. It was actually the forerunner to the VPN service. Other tools allow for anonymouse emails, quickly hide browser windows for when looking at porn, and the list goes on and on.

Torrent Policy

Many people use a VPN for a layer of protection when downloading torrents. Even the worst VPN providers will simply turn off your service if they receive too many copyright complaints. The best VPN providers have a no logging policy. PIA is especially highly regarded for its no logging emphasis on privacy. HideMyAss states that users can use torrents without issue in countries, like Russia. Unfotunately, most if not all the countries where it is safe to download torrents offer slow connection speeds. For these reasons, Private Internet Access is substantially better than HideMyAss if you are looking to download torrents.

Servers

Comparing the number of servers a VPN provider has is largely a marketing ploy. Few companies describe in detail the quality of their servers. Who knows, maybe they are running a thousand single core xenon machines from 1999 (I doubt it). The point is throwing it the number of servers a company has without detailed specs isn’t a fair comparison by any stretch of the imagination. While HideMyAss has 829 servers to cover 172 countries, Private Internet Access has 700+ servers for a mere 13 countries. Published data also indicates that PIA has more users. Fewer servers shouldn’t be able to handle more users, unless maybe they are better servers. If I were you, I wouldn’t read into this stat much.

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