Before using any public VPN, be very careful which websites or services you use while connected to the VPN, especially discussion forums. I have encountered comments before on TorrentFreak VPN-related articles about users being permanently banned from their favourite forum or website for using a proxy. One such example is tvcatchup.com, which I’ve heard will ban any account that logs in with an IP that belongs to a hosting company (which pretty much all public VPNs use).
Generally most websites that restrict web-access do so either when trying to register a new account (e.g. this forum Myce) or block access temporarily until you access the website without the VPN. If you use a VPN, a good example which you can test yourself is www.irishisptest.com:
[B]Left:[/B] No VPN connected - [B]Right:[/B] Connected to HMA VPN
I use the HideMyAss VPN like a Region changing tool, very handy for getting around region restrictions on certain websites, such as iPlayer in the UK or listening to country-restricted radio stations. For the small amount of BitTorrent I do, I also use the VPN as it doesn’t slow my Internet connection as bad as when directly connected such as when browsing on a second PC not connected, as everything goes over the single VPN connection instead of lots of individual incoming & outgoing connections.
As for my experience with HMA, it has its positives and negatives:
[B]HMA Positive points:[/B]
[li][B]Dedicated proxy IP[/B] - the proxy IP they assign is not shared with anyone else for the duration of the VPN connection.
[/li][li][B]Incoming ports unblocked[/B] - Essential for BitTorrent and most P2P services. Also useful to unblock incoming connections such as when mobile tethering or using public Wi-Fi.
[/li][li][B]Wide range of countries[/B] - If I want to watch RTÃ‰ while abroad, I connect to an Irish server, which most VPN providers don’t have.
[/li][li][B]Good bandwidth[/B] - For most EU servers, it’s like I’m not using a VPN.
[B]HMA Negative points:[/B]
[li][B]They log IP addresses[/B] - While they do hide your IP address, they can reveal it if subject to a court order, such as this example.
[/li][li][B]Susceptible to take down requests[/B] - While I haven’t heard of anyone getting sued for P2P file sharing on HMA, I have seen reports on their forum of people getting DMCA take-down notices HMA passed on from anti-piracy organisations. A work around is to connect to a country that is considered safe for BitTorrent.
[/li][li][B]Quite expensive[/B] - $11.52/month or $78.66/year.
So far I haven’t heard of any anti-piracy organisation or copyright troll targeting P2P users apart from issuing DMCA notices to VPNs that do log IP addresses. The main reason for this is that even if they got the VPN provider to reveal the hidden IP addresses through a court order, they would need another court order to reveal the customers for the IP addresses that were revealed. For customers who connect to servers abroad, the copyright troll would need to go through a court in another country, which would be a lot more hassle and time consuming than just going after the “easy pickings” who don’t go through a VPN.