The Hola VPN made its debut on the internet towards the end of 2012, originating from a company known as Hola Networks Ltd., headquartered in Israel.
Throughout its existence, they assertively state that their VPN application has catered to the needs of approximately 180 million users.
Hola stands out from its competitors due to its unique approach as a primarily free service. While other VPNs typically offer limited free access alongside their paid subscriptions, Hola differentiates itself by being a free provider that also provides paid subscription options.
However, Hola is not your typical VPN.
It distinguishes itself as the world’s first peer-to-peer VPN, operating on a groundbreaking principle. Instead of relying on a network of servers scattered across the globe, Hola leverages the connections of its users to establish tunnels for transmitting signals. This innovative peer-to-peer approach sets Hola apart from traditional VPNs.
Curious. Does this approach prove to be superior or inferior?
Discover more insights in this comprehensive review of Hola VPN.
Table of Contents
Overview of Hola VPN Review
|OVERALL RANK:||#73 out of 78 VPNs|
|USABILITY:||Easy to install and use|
|LOG FILES:||Some Logging Policy|
|SUPPORT:||Contact Form, No Response|
|NETFLIX:||Blocks Netflix USA|
|ENCRYPTION/PROTOCOL:||No encryption; Peer to Peer Proxy Tunneling|
Hola VPN Pros
Be prepared for a rather unfavorable review.
The VPN service we are discussing here is plagued with numerous issues and poses significant risks. It has been exposed for exploiting its users’ internet connections, exposing them to potentially dangerous situations.
However, it must be acknowledged that the speed of this VPN was surprisingly commendable, enabling swift downloads.
With that said, let’s delve into the few positive aspects I can muster about this service.
1. Fast Internet Speeds
Even the most exceptional VPNs in the world inevitably introduce some degree of speed reduction to your overall performance. This compromise is the price you pay for achieving anonymous web browsing.
However, when it comes to the fastest VPNs available, you might be surprised.
A truly efficient VPN minimizes the impact on your speed to such an extent that it becomes almost unnoticeable, allowing you to browse without significant slowdowns.
During our testing, we examined two of Hola VPN’s connections. Unlike conventional VPNs that rely on server networks, Hola operates as a community-based VPN, utilizing the internet connections of other users in the chosen country.
Consequently, we conducted tests on two connections—one originating from the EU and the other from the US.
The results from our EU test were promising, as the speeds remained consistently high, with minimal disruptions.
EU Speed Test
- Ping: 37 ms
- Download: 84.61 Mbps (12.7% Slower Than 97 Mbps Benchmark)
- Upload: 38.83 Mbps (38.7% Slower Than 53 Mbps Benchmark)
While our US test yielded satisfactory download speeds, the performance took a sharp decline below acceptable levels when it came to uploading data.
US Speed Test
- Ping: 183 ms
- Download: 32.47 Mbps (60% Slower Than 97 Mbps Benchmark)
- Upload: 7.97 Mbps (85% Slower Than 53 Mbps Benchmark)
Out of the 78 VPNs we’ve reviewed, we rank Hola VPN at number 19 in terms of speed.
2. Easy to Install and Use
The installation process for Hola as a Google Chrome browser add-on was remarkably smooth and efficient, taking less than a minute to download, install, activate, and commence its functionality.
Hola conveniently appears as a drop-down menu, presenting a selection of the most popular sites within the region you are connected to.
In my case, I opted for a connection in the UK to access content from the BBC and put it to the test.
Upon establishing the connection, I encountered an unexpected obstacle. My entire system came to a grinding halt, causing a freeze that lasted for approximately a minute while waiting for the BBC website to load.
Fortunately, the issue resolved itself, and I was rewarded with a consistent stream of British broadcast journalism.
Feeling optimistic, I proceeded to connect to Canada for my next test.
The connection was established promptly, and I attempted to access Netflix. However, it proved unsuccessful as it fell victim to Netflix’s VPN blocking measures.
Overall, the entire experience, from installation to usage, was unproblematic and without any notable issues.
It’s worth noting that I was utilizing their premium service, which meant that although my computer was being connected to other systems, I was not actively participating in their peer-to-peer network.
Hola VPN Cons
Now, after acknowledging the two positive aspects, it’s time to confront a multitude of significant concerns head-on.
Prepare yourself, as what follows is far from pleasant.
It’s not merely about Hola logging your information (which they do), or even selling access to your internet connection to paying users (yes, they engage in that as well). The issue goes beyond their lack of any encryption standards (which we’ll delve into shortly).
This company has been unequivocally caught engaging in dubious practices. Their service exposes you to online threats, while they profit from your personal internet bandwidth without compensating you, all while masquerading as a free service.
I cannot even attempt to find humor in this situation. It is truly horrifying at such a profound level.
1. Logs A Lot of Information
While logging typically ranks as one of the most alarming practices a VPN company can adopt, in the case of this particular product, it falls lower on the list of concerns.
Many free VPN companies engage in logging, often attempting to conceal this fact through technicalities. When you come across a VPN that adheres strictly to a no-logging policy, it is a clear indication of a reliable choice.
From the outset, it becomes evident that Hola logs comprehensive details about your internet activities. They capture information such as the browser you use, the specific web pages you visit, and even the duration of your visits.
This immediately raises the question: What purpose does this VPN serve? The very fact that Hola openly acknowledges these logging practices renders its functionality utterly futile.
However, their concerning practices don’t end there.
Not only does Hola retain records of your internet activity, but they also possess access to your personal information, which encompasses the IP address you aim to conceal, as well as your billing details.
In addition to retaining your information, Hola goes a step further by sharing it. The identities of these “subsidiaries and affiliated companies” remain unknown, yet they receive an extensive amount of personal data about you.
2. Located in Israel (Cooperative with Surveillance Alliances)
Hola operates from Israel, which lies outside the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes surveillance alliance.
At first glance, this might appear favorable. However, it’s important to note that Israel maintains a cooperative relationship with the alliance, despite not being an official member.
The 14 Eyes alliance comprises the United States, France, Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Spain. These nations collaborate to share intelligence, meaning that if one country possesses certain information, it is accessible to others within the alliance.
While the Israeli government is not an official member of the alliance, in the event of pressure to disclose information, they are known to comply.
3. Proxy Tunneling, Security Risks, No Encryption
Typically, this is the point where we delve into the security aspects of a VPN. Which protocols do they employ to establish secure tunnels for your signal? What level of encryption do they utilize to safeguard your online activities?
The industry standard mandates the use of the OpenVPN protocol and AES-256 encryption to ensure a genuinely secure and protected browsing experience.
However, Hola diverges from the norm as it operates on a peer-to-peer VPN network. Instead of maintaining servers across the globe at their expense, Hola leverages the bandwidth of its users.
When you connect to a specific location, such as the UK, you are actually establishing a connection with an idle system of a Hola user in the UK, assuming their IP address. This distinctive approach sets Hola apart from conventional VPN services.
Hola asserts that their peer-to-peer networking somehow provides greater anonymity and security compared to military-grade encryption.
However, personally, I find it difficult to accept this claim.
So, essentially, Hola expects me to believe that connecting to other people’s computers, while they simultaneously connect to mine, is somehow superior to utilizing encryption that cannot be breached by modern supercomputers.
Furthermore, did you notice the part where Hola acknowledges that there are potential loopholes for criminals to exploit and gain access to your information? How can this be considered more secure than utilizing the most robust VPN tunneling protocols available?
Alarmingly, Hola remains tight-lipped about the security measures in place while routing your connection across the globe. After conducting some investigation, I discovered that they don’t even utilize a standard VPN protocol. Instead, they send your information through proxy connections, without any form of encryption or protection.
Their intentional vagueness on this matter is deeply concerning, as it leads to a false sense of security among their users. Such deceptive practices are unethical and increase the potential dangers associated with using their service.
3. DNS and WebRTC Leaks Detected
Even the most robust VPNs can be vulnerable to leaks that compromise their effectiveness. Whether it’s a DNS leak that bypasses your VPN tunnel or WebRTC leaks caused by APIs that undermine your anonymity, the outcome remains unchanged: your original IP address is exposed.
As part of our standard procedure, we conduct six tests on each VPN we review. When we subjected Hola to these tests, it failed half of them, highlighting its susceptibility to potential leaks.
- https://ipleak.net/ – Passed
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/check-ip – Passed
- https://ipx.ac/run – Passed
- https://browserleaks.com/webrtc – Failed
- https://www.perfect-privacy.com/dns-leaktest/ – Failed
- https://dnsleak.com – Failed
Additionally, we took the precaution of scanning Hola’s installation files using virustotal.com to ensure that the downloads from their website are safe and won’t harm your computer.
We conducted a thorough scan for 66 viruses using VirusTotal, and fortunately, no threats were detected. This outcome is a positive indicator of the safety and integrity of the downloaded files.
4. No Servers Worked With Netflix
Netflix and VPNs have a complicated relationship.
There was a time when they coexisted harmoniously, enabling users to access Netflix content from any location around the globe.
However, everything took a drastic turn when Netflix launched an offensive against proxies and VPNs.
Employing sophisticated VPN blocking systems, Netflix has effectively restricted access for the majority of users.
Consequently, the capability to stream Netflix content successfully has become a distinguishing feature of some of the most reliable VPN services available.
Regrettably, Hola is not among them.
During our testing, we examined five of its connections, only to find that all five were blocked by the streaming service.
5. Torrenting Did Not Work
While Hola does not have explicit language prohibiting torrenting, our attempts to utilize it for torrenting purposes were unsuccessful.
Torrenting operates on a peer-to-peer model, much like Hola’s approach. However, this community-based connection also exposes users to potential risks.
Many individuals seek VPNs to safeguard their private information from hackers who exploit vulnerabilities within torrenting services.
If you’re in search of a reliable VPN for torrenting, Hola is not the ideal choice. To assist you in your quest, we have compiled a list of the top VPNs recommended for torrenting.
6. Limited Device Support
Up until this point, my level of trust in Hola has been considerably low, and unfortunately, it was further diminished when I examined their device support list.
Initially, when I reviewed Hola’s device support list, I was quite impressed. It encompassed a wide range of devices, including browsers, computers, mobile devices, gaming systems, routers, content streaming smart devices, and televisions.
Notably, each icon represented a clickable link, and as I proceeded to explore the list, I found that every link in the top row led to a respective destination.
However, my enthusiasm diminished when I attempted to click on the Xbox link.
To my surprise, confusion struck me as I questioned the inclusion of the Xbox in the list, given that it wasn’t supported. I assumed it must have been an oversight or mistake. Intrigued, I proceeded to test my theory by attempting to click on the PlayStation link.
To my disbelief, frustration engulfed me as I traversed through the entire second row, only to encounter the same error message for each device. Despite the visually appealing infographic displaying a plethora of devices compatible with Hola, it turned out that only half of them were actually functional.
Aside from their deceptive and disrespectful approach, it is crucial for VPNs to offer compatibility beyond computers and phones. With an increasing number of users relying on VPNs to stream content from platforms like Kodi directly to their televisions, such limited compatibility proves to be a significant hindrance.
7. No Servers, No Kill Switch, History of Misconduct
As mentioned earlier, Hola operates differently from traditional VPNs in that it doesn’t rely on dedicated servers maintained by the company. Instead, by joining their free service, you essentially become part of their server network.
If you prefer to use the service without allowing others to access your system, you are required to subscribe to their premium plan, which comes at a cost.
Its tagline should be “Enjoy the Benefits, but Beware of Glaring Security Risks.”
Further deepening my concerns regarding the security of Hola is its alarming absence of a built-in kill switch feature. A kill switch plays a vital role in terminating a user’s VPN session instantly if their connection becomes unstable.
However, considering that Hola lacks proper encryption, it is somewhat understandable that they do not provide a kill switch.
One aspect that many users fail to realize until it’s too late is that by signing up for this free service, they unknowingly agree to become exit nodes for Hola.
An exit node serves as a gateway for internet traffic. Consequently, if someone connects to your system through Hola and engages in illegal activities, it appears as though you are responsible.
Moreover, Hola faced a significant controversy three years ago when it was discovered that they were utilizing their free subscribers as a massive botnet, which they sold to users of their paid Luminati service for exorbitant prices like $20 per gigabyte.
In 2015, a Luminati user exploited this immense botnet, consisting of unsuspecting individuals, to launch an attack against a website known as 8chan.
8. Non-Existent Customer Support
Finding customer support for Hola is quite a challenge.
They deliberately conceal the contact link, burying it at the very bottom of their page, almost as if they hope users won’t stumble upon it easily.
Instead of relying on the help email address, I decided to click on the “contact us” link, anticipating the presence of a chatbot or a contact form for easier communication.
Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed once again as there was no alternative option available. The “contact us” link led me to a simple email address, prompting me to open my Gmail and send my question.
I specifically wanted to inquire about VPN protocols and encryption levels, considering the lack of transparency on their website. I thought that if the customer service department could provide me with honest information, I would at least appreciate their candor.
And that’s the end of it. A concise and open-ended inquiry, where I even seized the chance to inquire about torrenting and TOR, hoping to be pleasantly surprised by their response.
However, it has now been two days, and disappointingly, I have not received any form of communication from them. Not even a simple acknowledgment to confirm the receipt of my email.
Hola VPN Costs, Plans, & Payment Methods
Hola prominently positions itself as a free service, putting it at the forefront of their offerings. This emphasis is evident throughout their website.
You understand the idea.
However, it’s worth noting that there is a premium plan available, as mentioned earlier. This plan offers the same features as the free version, with the added benefit of not allowing other users to connect through your equipment.
The premium plan is priced at $14.99 per month for a monthly subscription, $7.69 per month for an annual plan, or $2.99 per month for a 3-year plan. Rest assured, all plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.
When it comes to payment options, Hola only accepts credit card and PayPal. They do not offer the option for anonymous payments.
Do I Recommend Hola VPN?
Where do I even begin?
Hola VPN has shown itself to be riddled with security flaws. They engage in extensive logging, cooperate with surveillance alliances, and lack essential encryption protocols. In terms of security, it is undoubtedly one of the weakest VPNs I’ve encountered.
Furthermore, using Hola exposes you to new threats. While they claim that relying on the bandwidth of other users is safer than utilizing top-notch encryption, I find this assertion hard to believe.
The limitations continue as you can’t stream Netflix or engage in torrenting activities. So, what purpose does Hola serve other than making unsuspecting users part of a botnet exploited by their Luminati service users?
Their customer service is laughable, and their bright and colorful website is filled with misleading information, as evidenced by their faulty device compatibility list.
The only way I could ever consider supporting Hola is if someone paid for their premium service, and even then, it would only be suitable for basic tasks like unblocking region-restricted YouTube content.
If your intention involves any level of privacy, I strongly advise looking elsewhere.
Avoid Hola VPN at all costs. It lacks the necessary security for public Wi-Fi networks and protecting your valuable data.
Based on our review, Hola VPN ranks at a disappointing 68 out of 78 among the VPNs we’ve evaluated.
The Hola VPN review highlights several important aspects that potential users should consider. While the service offers fast internet speeds and is easy to install and use, it also has significant drawbacks. Hola VPN logs a lot of user information and is located in Israel, which cooperates with surveillance alliances. Moreover, the lack of encryption, proxy tunneling, and security risks pose concerns for user privacy and security.
DNS and WebRTC leaks have also been detected, and the service does not work with Netflix or support torrenting. Furthermore, Hola VPN has limited device support, lacks servers and a kill switch, and has a history of misconduct. Finally, customer support is non-existent, which can be frustrating for users seeking assistance. Considering these drawbacks, it is difficult to recommend Hola VPN as a reliable and secure VPN solution. Users should explore alternative options that prioritize privacy and security to ensure a more robust and trustworthy VPN experience.
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