Last Updated: January 21, 2021
- Company location: Israel
- Number of servers: N/A
- Zero-Log Policy: No
- Protocols: PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2
- Stealth VPN: No
- Double VPN: No
- Ad-blocker: Yes
- Torrenting: No
- Free version available
- Perfect for streaming
- Great speeds
- Poor security features
- Only virtual servers
- No torrenting allowed
Hola VPN works differently from most other VPN services, as it uses a community-powered network instead of servers. While many Hola VPN reviews aren’t pleased with the security, we’ve tested its features to determine how it measures against its competitors.
Hola VPN Features
Both the free and premium version comes with a ton of fantastic features. Let’s take a look at all the details.
Hola VPN’s P2P network is community-powered and routes your traffic through other idle peers. The main benefit is that it’s cheaper than a global network of servers.
This is why Hola VPN can offer a free version. The speeds are likely to be better as there is little encryption involved. The service claims that routing traffic through peers instead of servers makes it harder to detect or block the traffic.
If the VPN connection is temporarily lost, Kill Switch ensures that external agents can’t exploit your device’s vulnerability. Enabling this feature stops your device from connecting to the internet until the VPN connection is reestablished. The Hola VPN client allows you to select which apps you want to ‘kill’ in case of a connection drop.
As some online ads carry malware, the Hola VPN client comes with a built-in ad blocker. The Hola VPN browser extension gives you the option to add a separate, free Hola ad blocker.
Hola VPN Technology
To evaluate the benefits or risks around Hola VPN, we have to understand the system it uses to route your traffic.
Hola clients’ requests first reach the standard data center proxy servers using VPN tunneling protocols. The traffic then goes directly to the requested website, another data center, or the P2P network. The route is based on an internal algorithm for choosing the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective way.
The Hola VPN Chrome extension doesn’t use the P2P network, as it’s only for traffic from desktop and mobile clients. If you use Hola VPN Premium on your computer/mobile, you have the option to block your device from being used to route traffic from other devices.
Hola VPN Servers and Locations
Hola VPN’s website provides no useful information on its network of servers, but we managed to find out that Hola VPN has around 1,000 virtual proxy servers spread across 40+ countries. Most of these countries are in North America and Europe, but some are located in Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. The servers are paired with over seven million IP addresses that form Hola’s P2P network.
Hola VPN Speed
When using a VPN, you can expect some loss in download and upload speeds due to the encrypting and routing traffic through remote servers.
We tested speeds with the automatic server selection feature on the Hola app to connect to proxy servers in the US, the UK, Australia, Singapore, and India. We used Speedtest by Ookla for these tests.
The speeds we received on our internet connection without a VPN were 8.4 Mbps (download) and 2.92 Mbps (upload).
Here are the speeds while connecting to Hola VPN to the respective countries, along with the percentage losses in speed:
The US (60.1% download speed loss; 31.8% upload speed loss)
The UK (30.6% download speed loss; 23.3% upload speed loss)
Australia (55.5% download speed loss; 32.5% upload speed loss)
Singapore (9.0% download speed loss; 22.9% upload speed loss)
India (59.3% download speed loss; 20.5% upload speed loss)
The VPN industry median for download and upload speed losses is about 65%. Considering that, some Hola VPN servers performed exceptionally well.
However, there’s an oddity here. Typically, speed losses decrease as the server location gets closer to your physical location. The servers near our area are in Singapore and India. So, while the US server’s large speed loss is understandable, the India server doesn’t fit the pattern.
We conducted the same tests an hour later to check for consistency. Our internet speed without the VPN remained the same, and losses for locations other than Australia weren’t much different. This time, Australia performed better at losses of just 2.0% (download) and 15.3% (upload).
Hola VPN Privacy and Jurisdiction
Privacy is one of Hola VPN’s most significant problems. The company is based in Israel, which is not a part of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes Alliance. However, along with Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, Israel is recognized as a third-party contributor to this surveillance group.
While Israeli government agencies are not known to censor online content, there are cases where they have worked closely with the US on surveillance activities. Plus, Israeli agencies have more expansive power than American ones when it comes to tracking online data.
The policy also mentions that the logged user data include browser type, web pages visited, time spent on those pages, and access time and dates. It may also collect and retain your IP address, name and email address, screen name, payment and billing information, details of applications installed on your device, and data made publicly available on social network platforms.
Given all this, anyone concerned about internet privacy issues should avoid Hola VPN.
Hola VPN Security and Protocols
Hola VPN’s default is 256-bit AES encryption, which is the most advanced option out there. Users can change this to 192-bit, 128-bit, or DES3.
The tunneling protocols supported are IKEv2/IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP. While Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is easy to set up and supported by most platforms, it’s also quickly detected and blocked. L2TP/IPSec is more secure and widely supported, but it can struggle with firewalls. Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2) is the safest if used with AES encryption.
However, the absence of OpenVPN is a significant failing in the security department. Also, note that these protocols and encryption methods are for Premium and Ultra customers only.
There are bigger security issues we have to point out in this Hola VPN review. The most obvious one is that traffic is being routed through someone else’s device. If a user is involved in illegal activity, the detecting agency can link your IP associated with it.
Hola VPN Leak Test Results
We conduct IP and DNS leak tests to check if the VPN service hides our details. With a regular VPN, the test should only show the VPN server’s IP and DNS. Even though Hola VPN’s connection goes through a proxy server or a P2P node, the result should be the same.
Below, you can find a sample of one of our tests using https://ipleak.net/. The result shows a California-based IP and not the actual IP of our device located outside the US. The VPN passes the test.
This inconsistency matches what we have found in other user-written Hola VPN reviews and is not a good sign of the VPN service’s security.
Hola VPN and Streaming Services
Hola VPN prides itself on its ability to unblock geo-restricted content on streaming platforms. Most users are likely interested in the Netflix-unblocking capacity. We used the automatic server selection feature to connect to proxy servers in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, India, Turkey, and Australia. We could play Netflix content for all locations.
When we first tried connecting through the automatic server in the UK, Netflix detected that we were using a VPN and blocked the content. After testing the other countries, we tried the UK server again and didn’t experience any issues.
We could also connect to other services like Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and the Criterion Channel. US Amazon Prime didn’t work, though. Interestingly, the UK server let us play BBC iPlayer content, which most VPNs fail to manage.
Based on these tests, we rate Hola VPN’s streaming capability high. Please note that these tests were conducted using the Premium version. The Netflix unblocking capability of the Hola free VPN is unlikely to be this good.
How Good Is Hola VPN for Torrenting?
It may seem strange for a P2P-based service, but Hola VPN doesn’t allow P2P sharing on its network. Its FAQ states that it blocks BitTorrent traffic.
Can Hola VPN Bypass Geoblocks?
Some jurisdictions use Geoblocks to restrict their citizens’ internet access. VPN services that use obfuscated VPN servers and support the OpenVPN protocol can bypass such government restrictions. Hola VPN does neither, and its connections can be blocked by most countries that use geoblocks.
Ease of Use
Hola VPN clients can be downloaded for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, routers, and devices like Xbox and Smart TVs. The Hola extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge is another option, but it comes with fewer functions. The interface is easy to use, mainly because there are very few settings.
One minor usability issue is that the Windows client is a modified version of the browser extension instead of a properly designed app. This means that it works like a browser and requires you to open a new webpage within the client to change the settings. Not having the ability to modify the settings within the Hola app itself is an odd feature.
Hola VPN offers customer support for Premium subscribers through email only. We mailed a few questions to get some more guidance on technical aspects like the security protocols. By the time of writing this review three days later, we still haven’t received a reply. All of this, despite being a Premium subscriber. Other Hola VPN reviews also rate the customer support very low on responsiveness.
The Hola VPN website does have a FAQ section, which answers some common queries. But compared to other VPNs, it’s not quite as extensive as we’d hoped.
Hola VPN Price
Hola VPN’s basic plan is free to use, giving you one device per account without security or encryption.
To enjoy more features, you can upgrade to a Premium or Ultra plan. Premium allows simultaneous use on 10 devices and gives you access to 1,000 proxy servers. Ultra gives you usage on 20 devices and 1,500 proxy servers.
Prices for these plans are:
- One month – $14.99
- One year – $7.69/month
- Three years – $2.99/month
- One month – $29.99
- One year – $19.99/month
- Three years – $7.99/month
Hola VPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, except for purchases made on the Apple App Store.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find many positives in our Hola VPN review. The unsafe P2P network, poor data retention policies, inconsistent performance in IP and DNS leak tests, weak encryption, and outdated protocols are just some of the reasons why Hola VPN fails to ensure security and internet privacy. The lack of P2P sharing and poor customer support add to its woes.
Our tests did show good performance on speed, and Hola VPN’s ability to unblock geo-restrictions was impressive. If you are solely interested in unblocking Netflix and other streaming channels, this VPN service will fit your needs.
But if you require even the most basic security and privacy, spending money on Hola VPN is a waste.
Yes, Hola VPN has a free version, but it doesn’t offer any security or encryption.
You can download Hola VPN apps for computers and mobile devices or use the Hola VPN extension for browsers.
Yes, Hola VPN does an excellent job of unblocking Netflix content.
No. As it lacks essential features, our Hola VPN review rates it very low on safety. While it does an excellent job of unblocking geo-restricted content, we wouldn’t recommend using it for anything else.
No. Based on its inconsistent performance on our IP leak tests, we believe that Hola VPN cannot be relied on to hide your IP.