Hola VPN differs from most other VPN services in that it relies on a community-powered network rather than servers to operate. While many Hola VPN reviews are critical of security, we’ve put its features to the test to see how they stack up against the competition.
Features of Hola VPN
Both the free and premium versions include a wide range of useful features. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics.
The P2P network of Hola VPN is powered by the community and routes your traffic through other idle peers. The main benefit is that it’s cheaper than a global network of servers.
As a result, Hola VPN can provide a free version. Because there is no encryption, the speeds are likely to be faster. According to the service, routing traffic through peers rather than servers makes it more difficult to detect or block traffic.
Kill Switch ensures that external agents cannot exploit your device’s vulnerability if the VPN connection is temporarily lost. When you enable this feature, your device will be unable to connect to the internet until the VPN connection is reestablished. In the Hola VPN client, you can choose which apps to ‘kill’ in the event of a connection drop.
Because some online ads contain malware, the Hola VPN client includes an ad blocker. You can add a separate, free Hola ad blocker to the Hola VPN browser extension.
Hola VPN Technology
To assess the benefits and risks associated with Hola VPN, we must first comprehend the system that it employs to route your traffic.
Hola clients’ requests are routed through VPN tunneling protocols to standard data center proxy servers. The traffic is then routed to the requested website, a different data center, or a peer-to-peer network. The route is determined by an internal algorithm that selects the most efficient, dependable, and cost-effective route.
The P2P network isn’t used by the Hola VPN Chrome extension because it’s only for traffic from desktop and mobile clients. If you have Hola VPN Premium installed on your computer or mobile device, you can prevent it from being used to route traffic from other devices.
Servers and Locations of Hola VPN
The website of Hola VPN contains no useful information about its network of servers, but we were able to discover that Hola VPN has around 1,000 virtual proxy servers spread across 40+ countries. The majority of these countries are in North America and Europe, but there are a few in Asia, South America, Australia, and New Zealand as well. Hola’s P2P network is made up of servers with over seven million IP addresses.
Speed of Hola VPN
Due to the encrypting and routing of traffic through remote servers, you can expect some loss in download and upload speeds when using a VPN.
We used the Hola app’s automatic server selection feature to connect to proxy servers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and India to test speeds. For these tests, we used Ookla’s Speedtest.
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 achieved while connecting to Hola VPN in the various countries, as well as the percentage of speed lost:
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 average loss in download and upload speed in the VPN industry is around 65 percent. In light of this, some Hola VPN servers performed admirably.
There is, however, an anomaly here. As the server location gets closer to your physical location, speed losses usually decrease. Singapore and India are the closest servers to our location. While the large speed loss on the US server is understandable, the India server does not fit the pattern.
To ensure consistency, we repeated the tests an hour later. Without the VPN, our internet speed remained the same, and the losses for locations other than Australia were not significantly different. Australia fared better this time, with losses of only 2.0 percent (download) and 15.3 percent (upload).
Hola VPN Privacy and Jurisdiction
One of Hola VPN’s most serious flaws is its lack of privacy. Israel is not a member of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes Alliance, so the company is based there. Israel, however, is recognized as a third-party contributor to this surveillance group, alongside Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
While Israeli government agencies are not known for censoring online content, there have been instances where they have collaborated with the US on surveillance. Furthermore, when it comes to tracking online data, Israeli agencies have more power than American agencies.
The logged user data also includes browser type, web pages visited, time spent on those pages, and access time and dates, according to the policy. It may also collect and store your IP address, name and email address, screen name, payment and billing information, application details, and data made publicly available on social media platforms.
Given this, anyone concerned about their online privacy should avoid using Hola VPN.
Security and Protocols for Hola VPN
Hola VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption by default, which is the most advanced option available. Users can choose between 192-bit, 128-bit, or DES3 encryption.
IKEv2/IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP are the tunneling protocols that are supported. While the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is simple to set up and is supported by the majority of platforms, it is also easily detected and blocked. Although L2TP/IPSec is more secure and widely supported, it has issues with firewalls. When combined with AES encryption, Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2) is the safest option.
The absence of OpenVPN, on the other hand, is a significant security flaw. Please keep in mind that these protocols and encryption methods are only available to Premium and Ultra customers.
In this Hola VPN review, we must address some more serious security concerns. The most obvious is that traffic is being routed through the device of another person. The detecting agency can link your IP to illegal activity if a user is involved in it.
Results of the Hola VPN Leak Test
To see if the VPN service hides our information, we run IP and DNS leak tests. When using a regular VPN, the test should only display the IP and DNS of the VPN server. The result should be the same whether Hola VPN connects through a proxy server or a P2P node.
Below is an example of one of our tests performed with https://ipleak.net/. The result shows a California-based IP rather than the IP of our device, which is located outside the United States. The VPN passes the test with flying colors.
Another result using https://dnsleak.com/ shows the IP and DNS detected is in California. But the warning also indicates there may be a DNS leak.
This inconsistency is accurate with what we’ve seen in other Hola VPN user reviews, and it’s not a good sign for the VPN service’s security.
Hola VPN and Streaming Services
The ability of Hola VPN to unblock geo-restricted content on streaming platforms is one of its main selling points. The ability to unblock Netflix is likely to pique the interest of the majority of users. We connected to proxy servers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, India, Turkey, and Australia using the automatic server selection feature. For all locations, we could play Netflix content.
Netflix detected that we were using a VPN and blocked the content when we first tried connecting through the automatic server in the UK. We tried the UK server again after testing the other countries and had no problems.
Other services such as Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and the Criterion Channel could also be accessed. However, Amazon Prime in the United States did not work. Surprisingly, the UK server allowed us to access BBC iPlayer content, which is something that most VPNs fail to do.
We give Hola VPN a high rating for streaming capability based on these tests. Please keep in mind that these tests were run on the Premium version. The Hola Free VPN’s Netflix unblocking ability is unlikely to be this good.
Is Hola VPN Good for Torrenting?
Hola VPN does not allow P2P sharing on its network, which may seem strange for a P2P-based service. It blocks BitTorrent traffic, according to its FAQ.
Is it possible to get around geoblocks with Hola VPN?
Geo Bocks are used by some jurisdictions to limit internet access for their citizens. VPN services that support the OpenVPN protocol and use obfuscated VPN servers can get around government restrictions. Hola VPN does neither, and most countries that use geoblocking can block its connections.
Hola VPN clients are available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, routers, and smart TVs, among other platforms. Another option is the Hola extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge, but it has fewer features. The interface is simple to use, owing to the limited number of options.
The Windows client is a modified version of the browser extension rather than a properly designed app, which is a minor usability issue. This means it works like a browser and requires you to change the settings by opening a new webpage within the client. It’s an odd feature that you can’t change the settings within the Hola app itself.
Customer support for Hola VPN Premium subscribers is only available via email. We emailed a few questions in order to get more information on technical issues such as security protocols. We still haven’t received a response three days later as I write this review. All of this, despite being a Premium subscriber. Other Hola VPN reviews give the customer service a low rating for responsiveness.
There is a FAQ section on the Hola VPN website that answers some common questions. However, when compared to other VPNs, it isn’t quite as comprehensive as we had hoped.
Price of Hola VPN
Hola VPN’s basic plan is free to use, but it only allows you to connect one device per account and provides no security or encryption.
You can upgrade to a Premium or Ultra plan to get more features. Premium gives you access to 1,000 proxy servers and allows you to use 10 devices at once. You can use Ultra on up to 20 devices and 1,500 proxy servers.
The following are the prices for these plans:
- 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.
Hola VPN Review – Verdict
Unfortunately, in our Hola VPN review, we couldn’t find many positives. Hola VPN fails to ensure security and internet privacy due to its unsafe P2P network, poor data retention policies, inconsistent performance in IP and DNS leak tests, weak encryption, and outdated protocols. The lack of P2P sharing and poor customer support add to its woes.
Our speed tests revealed good results, and Hola VPN’s ability to bypass geo-restrictions was impressive. If all you want to do is unblock Netflix and other streaming services, this VPN service will suffice.
However, investing in Hola VPN is a waste of money if you only need the most basic security and privacy.