Hola is a unique community-powered VPN service that makes use of advanced routing technologies to “make a better Internet”. It is based in Israel and currently used by more than 160 million people, which makes it the biggest peer-to-peer VPN network currently out there.
Speed & Performance
Hola is definitely a peculiar provider since the free version effectively acts as a proxy service rather than a VPN. Since there was no encryption to slow down our connection speed, our tests all yielded impressive results. You can see the report submitted by our testing team located in Belgrade, Serbia (Europe) in the table below. Note that our benchmark speed was 74.97 down and 4.88 up.
|Location||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
|New York, US||110||71.84||4.85|
Hola offers its free plan for Windows, macOS, and Android while iOS users have to purchase a premium subscription. Additionally, you can also install it as a browser extension on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Hola’s client for Windows is basically a tweaked version of Chrome, which is something we have never actually seen before.
As a free user, you can install your Hola software on one device while premium memberships allow up to 10 simultaneous connections.
Hola VPN has an unspecified number of virtual servers spread across 200 locations paired with millions of IP addresses. Apart from this, not much is really known about Hola’s server network since the official website offers minimal information. The official FAQ section discusses the costs of running VPN servers at great length but fails to provide any info regarding the actual server network employed by Hola.
Safety & Security
The aforementioned Windows client comes with a pretty decent ad-blocker and a video boosting functionality that had no visible effects on our streams. However, we did not like the fact that the client kept on logging things we did on our computers. A VPN client has no business storing records of unrelated app usage.
Hola covers IKEv2/IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP connection protocols. The default encryption is AES-256, but you can also opt for AES-128/192 and DES3 (also known as Triple DES). Note that this security package is reserved for premium customers only; free users do not receive any traffic protection.
Our IPleak.net, our results were more than disappointing since they always pointed right to our real location. With that in mind, even if Hola had the best possible security suite, it would mean next to nothing since its main purpose would be to protect your real data from leaking out.
Hola does not come with a killswitch feature, which means if something manages to compromise your VPN connection, your data will simply leak out.
Logging & Privacy
Logging practices is where Hola really crumbles down as a cybersecurity company. The collected and recorded information includes:
- Log data – Browser type, websites you visit, timestamps, time spent on those sites.
- Personal information – Name, email address, and IP address. If you decide to sign up for Hola using a third-party account (Gmail, for example), Hola will retrieve all the information stored by Google.
- Social network accounts – If you choose to register with Hola using your Facebook account, for example, the company will gain access to basic information held on your personal account. This may include your real name, email, profile picture, birth date, personal description, friends list, and more.
As you can see, Hola literally logs EVERYTHING! Connection + activity logs can be used to mount successful attacks against you and steal personal information you would never want out in the public.
In spite of all the bad things mentioned in this Hola review, it still remains a good unblocking service. If the website you are trying to access does not recognize your real IP address, you will most likely be able to geo-spoof it.
Having said that, Hola does not work with major streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer. When it comes to Netflix US, we actually did manage to access it once during our testing phase, but since we were unable to do it again, we cannot say that it works with the popular streaming platform.
Surprisingly, Hola does not allow torrenting on its servers, in spite of the fact that we are talking about a P2P network. Any attempt at using BitTorrent-based apps will be identified and blocked. VPN companies usually forbid illegal torrenting but have no actual mechanisms of enforcing their policies due to zero-logging. Hola, on the other hand, monitors and logs everything, so it has no problems identifying and blocking your P2P traffic.
Plans & Pricing
As already mentioned in this Hola review, the basic version is completely free of charge. It is a proxy service, even though the company claims that it currently operates in hybrid mode with ultra-fast servers that are light years ahead of regular proxy servers.
If you decide to purchase a premium subscription, you will gain access to traffic protection (VPN protocols and encryption) as well as up to 10 simultaneous connections, 200 server locations, and unlimited data.
Hola’s premium subscription costs $11.95 for 1 month, $6.99 per month for 1 year ($83.88 billed every year), $3.99 per month for 2 years ($95.75 billed every 2 years), and $2.99 per month for 3 years ($107.55 billed every 3 years).
Every purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and the accepted payment methods include credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, and Discover), PayPal, Alipay, iDEAl, SOFORT, and Gyropay.
Customer support is another field where we find Hola seriously lacking. There is no live chat or ticket system of any kind. Basically, all you can do is try and find an answer to your question inside a rather poor FAQ section or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and hope for the best.
Hola VPN Pros & Cons
At the end of this Hola review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Free version
- No ads
- Good platform coverage
- Decent encryption package for premium users
- IKEv2/IPSec is available to premium users
- Up to 10 simultaneous connections with a paid subscription
- Unlocks a wide array of blocked sites
- Connection and activity logs
- IP and DNS leaks
- No killswitch
- Unintuitive Windows client
- Torrenting is not allowed
- Does not unlock major streaming platforms
- No live chat